Exposition of Karma

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In the Tibetan canon, Exposition of Karma (Skt. Karmavibhaṅga; Tib. ལས་ཀྱི་རྣམ་པར་འགྱུར་བ།, Wyl. las kyi rnam par ‘gyur ba) is classified as a sutra belonging to the Shravaka yana, and in the Dergé edition of the Kangyur it is listed in the sutra section under “various sutras belonging to the Hinayana.”

It takes places in Shravasti, in Prince Jeta’s Grove, where the Buddha is staying with a large following of 1,250 monks. The Buddha is visited by a brahmin youth named Shuka, who requests the Buddha to explain how karmic ripening can lead to such a great diversity of beings. In response, the Buddha explains that individual karmic results are the reason for the diversity of beings, and he teaches in detail fifty-one categories of negative and positive consequences together with the specific actions that function as their causes. Next, the Buddha lists ten negative consequences for transgressing each of the five precepts: abstaining from taking life, abstaining from stealing, abstaining from sexual misconduct (here transgressing the vow of celibacy), abstaining from lying, and abstaining from consuming intoxicants. Lastly, the Buddha explains the karmic advantages that result from building and worshipping a caitya of the Tathagata. Also enumerated are the advantages gained through making offerings and leading a religious life, living a secluded life, becoming a Buddhist mendicant, and developing confidence.[1]


The Tibetan translation of this sutra can be found in the General Sutra section of the Tibetan Kangyur, Toh 339


  1. 84000 Translating the Words of the Buddha.


The Sanskrit word caitya can refer to a stupa, but also to a shrine (containing an image or a stupa), a sacred place of worship, or any sacred object.