Definitions

Sutra

Sutra

[soo-truh]
Sutra: see Sanskrit literature.
Pali sutta

In Hinduism, a brief aphoristic composition; in Buddhism, a more extended exposition of a subject and the basic form of the scripture of both Theravada and Mahayana traditions. Since the early Indian philosophers did not work with written texts at all, and later philosophers often disdained them, there was a need for very brief explanatory works that could be committed to memory. The earliest sutras were expositions of ritual procedures, but their use spread, and eventually nearly all Indian philosophical systems had their own sutras. Seealso Avatamsaka-sutra, Diamond Sutra, Lotus Sutra, Tripitaka.

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The vajrasamadhi-sutra (lit. sutra of the vajra samadhi) is one of the supreme teachings given by Vairocana-shakyamuni Buddha. Over the centuries the sanskrit manuscript of the vajrasamadhi-sutra has vanished and today, most people deny that the sutra was spoken by the buddha, believing it to have been the work of East Asian hands (Vide Robert E. Buswell, "Cultivating Original Enlightenment: Wonhyo's Exposition of the 'Vajrasamadhi-Sutra', U. of Hawaii Press, 2007; as well as Buswell's, "The Formation of Ch'an Ideology in China and Korea: The 'Vajrasamadhi-Sutra', a Buddhist Apocryphon," Princeton U. Press, 1989).

In the vajrasamadhi-sutra, the Buddha lectures to an assembly of bodhisattvas, shravakas, arhats and all the various classes of beings which exist in the universe, on the subtlest doctrines concerning existence, nonexistence and perfect enlightenment. The overall tone of the sutra is of repentance in order to purify karma and become a perfect buddha. The leading intercolutors in the sutra are shravaka ananda, bodhisattva kshitigarbha, arhat shariputra and the bodhisattva cittaraja (mind-king).

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