Entry into the Gloomy Forest

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This sutra, Entry into the Gloomy Forest (Skt. Tamovanamukha; Tib. མུན་གྱི་ནགས་ཚལ་གྱི་སྒོ།, Wyl. mun gyi nags tshal gyi sgo) is an account of the extraordinary life of the brahmin Pradarsha, his conversion to Buddhism, and his founding of a monastic community in the Gloomy Forest, a place, located in present-day Punjab, which we can identify as the Tamasavana Monastery. The text describes the exceptional circumstances surrounding Pradarsha’s birth and going forth as a monk, the miraculous founding of the Gloomy Forest monastic settlement, and the Buddha Shakyamuni’s account of Pradarsha’s deeds and prayers in his previous lives that led to his present circumstances. Although the sutra does not explicitly identify itself as a “past life account”, it shares many of the recurrent themes typical of this genre. Most notably, it illustrates how past existences shape present ones through the power of former deeds and aspirations. At the sutra’s conclusion, the Buddha teaches that the results of actions are unfailing and that one should therefore strive to exclusively perform deeds that are wholesome. The main objective of the scripture, however, appears to be to provide an account of the founding of a particular Buddhist community. The theme of religious conversion to Buddhism runs through this text, starting with the conversions of Pradarsha and his fellow brahmins and culminating with the conversions of myriad gods and other non-human beings.[1]

Text

The Tibetan translation of this sutra can be found in the General Sutra section of the Tibetan Kangyur, Toh 314.

References

  1. 84000 Translating the Words of the Buddha.