Words are our Best Weapon Against the Lies of History (Truth in the Root of the Word).
Earth Store (Ksitigarbha) Bodhisattva, “the one who encompasses the earth”. “Earth” means stillness, hardness, stability, vastness and versatility. It represents our mind which creates all dharma and accommodates all matters. It is the foundation on which everything grows…
“If I do not go to the hell to help, the suffering beings there, who else will go?
… if the hells are not empty I will not become a Buddha. Only when all living beings have been saved, will I attain Bodhi.” – Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha
The Buddha told Empty Space Store Bodhisattva, “Listen attentively, listen attentively, I shall enumerate and describe them to you. If there are good men and women in the future who see Earth Store’s image, or who hear this sutra or read or recite it; who use incense, flowers, food and drink, clothing, or gems as offerings; or if they praise, behold, and worship him, they shall attain twenty-eight kinds of advantages:
They will be remembered and protected by gods and dragons.
Their good roots will increase daily.
They will accumulate superior causes of wisdom.
They will not retreat from Bodhi.
Their food and drink will be abundant.
Epidemics will not touch them.
They will not encounter disasters of fire and water.
They will not be trouble by thieves.
They will be respected by all who see them.
They will be aided by ghosts and spirits.
Women will be reborn as men.
If born as women they will be daughters of kings and ministers.
They will have upright and proper appearances.
They will often be born in the heavens.
They may be emperors or kings.
They will know their past lives.
They will attain whatever they seek.
Their families will be happy.
All disasters will be eradicated.
They will eternally be apart from the paths of karma.
They will always arrive at their destination.
At night their dreams will be peaceful and happy.
Their deceased relatives will leave suffering behind.
They will receive the blessings from their past lives.
They will be praised by the sages.
They will be intelligent and their roots will be keen.
They will have magnanimous, kind, and sympathetic hearts.
They will ultimately attain Buddhahood.
It is indeed efficacious.
Story of Earth Store Bodhisattva
Earth Store Bodhisattva is known as Ti Tsang (or Di Zang) Bodhisattva in China, Ksitigarbha in Sanskrit, and Jizo Bosatsu in Japan.
The name of this Bodhisattva means “the one who encompasses the earth”. Earth means stillness, hardness, stability, vastness and versatility. It represents our mind which creates all dharma and accommodates all matters. It is the foundation on which everything grows, including the Buddhist Way. Store means deepness, profundity and subtleness. It represents the immeasurable treasures.
According to Earth Store Sutra, Earth Store Bodhisattva was appointed by Shakyamuni to be the headmaster of Buddhism on Earth during the period from the Nirvana of Shakyamuni to the advent of Maitreya, the next Buddha born on Earth. He is also said to be an incarnation of Enma (or Yama), the king of the Hell. In broader sense, he is the master of the Six Paths (i.e. Hell, Ghost, Animal, Man, Asura and Deva). Thus, he is described as occupying a position between deva/men and the hell for saving all beings from suffering. Undoubtedly, his status is well-respected by all Buddhas and other beings in the Ten Dharma Realms including human beings.
Earth Store Bodhisattva, one of the Four Great Bodhisattva in Buddhism, is the Bodhisattva with the greatest vow. His vow is:
“If the Hell is not empty I will not attain Buddhahood”
As the Hell is the lowest in the Ten Dharma Realms, the vow implies that Earth Store Bodhisattva will be the last one to become Buddha amongst all.
Earth Store Bodhisattva is so compassionate that he renounces the states of Buddha, in order to rescue the beings from suffering and help them to attain enlightenment.
Earth Store Sutra describes the past life of Earth Store Bodhisattva. Before being a Bodhisattva, he was a young Indian girl of the Brahmin caste. Because her mother was impious, she was tortured and suffered in hell after she died. The young girl was terrified, thus made a great vow to save all beings from such torments.
As Earth Store Sutra was sermoned by Shakyamuni to his mother in Prayastrimsat, (not on Earth!) this Sutra is also known as the Sutra of filialipiety. If morality is the first step in cultivating Buddhist Way, filialipiety is the first step in morality. That is why this Sutra is so important for all Buddhist beginners.
The Earth Store Sutra also reveals the virtues and merits of Earth Store Bodhisattva and the method to cultivate the Buddhist Way. Therefore, the Sutra is one of the most popular sutras in Buddhism. People read and recite it as their daily practice in the cultivation of the Buddhist Way.
Like other Bodhisattva, Earth Store Bodhisattva is represented by many images and symbols, such as Six Ti-Tsang, Six Messengers, Yen Ming Ti-Tsang, etc. He always holds a piligrim staff and a cintamani (a disc of sun) surrounded by the ten kings of hell. It indicates that “He who delivers from the torments of hell.”
Earth Store Bodhisattva is also well known in Japan, Korea and other countries. In Japan, he is the guardian of travellers by land, and he helps the women in labour. He also performs the role of a prolonger of life and protector of women and children.
Read the Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva here