Sutra of the Three Bodies

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Sutra of the Three Bodies (Skt. Trikāyasūtra; Tib. སྐུ་གསུམ་པའི་མདོ།, ku sumpé do, Wyl. sku gsum pa'i mdo) [1] — as the title suggests, this sutra describes the three bodies of the Buddha. While the Buddha was dwelling on Vulture's Peak in Rajagriha, the bodhisattva Kshitigarbha asked whether the Tathagata has a body, to which the Buddha replies that the Tathagata has three bodies: a dharmakaya, a sambhogakaya and a nirmanakaya. The Buddha goes on to describe what constitutes these three bodies and their associated meaning. The Buddha explains that the dharmakaya is like space, the sambhogakaya is like clouds, and the nirmanakaya is like rain. At the end of the Buddha’s elucidation, Ksitigarbha expresses jubilation, and the Buddha declares that whoever upholds this Dharma teaching will obtain immeasurable merit.[2]


  1. The title in full is The Noble ‌Mahāyāna Sūtra the Three Bodies (Skt. Āryatrikāyanāmamahāyānasūtra; Tib. འཕགས་པ་སྐུ་གསུམ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།, Wyl. ’phags pa sku gsum zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo)
  2. 84000 Translating the Words of the Buddha

Tibetan Text

  • Toh. 283, Degé Kangyur, vol. 68 (mdo sde, ya), folios 56a–57a

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