Tathāgatagarbha Scriptures

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Tathāgatagarbha Scriptures
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Citation: Radich, Michael. "Tathāgatagarbha Scriptures." In Vol. 1, Brill's Encyclopedia of Buddhism: Literature and Languages, edited by Jonathan A. Silk, Oskar von Hinüber, and Vincent Eltschinger 261–73. Leiden: Brill, 2015.

There is no traditional rubric of tathagatagarbha scriptures, though modem scholars (e.g. Takasaki, 1974) have treated several scriptures as belonging to a thematic class, namely the Tathāgatagarbhasūtra, the Anūnatvāpūrṇatvanirdeśaparivarta, the Śrīmālādevīsiṃhanādasūtra, the (Mahāyāna) Mahāparinirvāṇamahāsūtra, the Mahāmeghasūtra, the *Mahābherīhārakasūtra, and the Mahāyāna Aṅgulimālīya (or Aṅgulimālīyasūtra). This classification is based in the first instance on the use of these and related works as proof texts in the Indian treatise Ratnagotravibhāga (Mahāyānottaratantra). The category is thus in some sense conceptually coherent even in an Indian context. Moreover, many of these texts take on a very significant role in East Asia where, again, they are often appealed to in various groupings.
      The notion of tathāgatagarbha (embryo of the tathāgatas), a Mahāyāna innovation, signifies the presence in every sentient being of the innate capacity for buddhahood. Although different traditions interpret it variously, the basic idea is either that all beings are already awakened, but simply do not recognize it, or that all beings possess the capacity, and for some the certainty, of attaining buddhahood, but adventitious defilements (āgantukakleśa) for the moment prevent the realization of this potential.
      The grouping considered here is confined to works thought to be early (prior to c. 400 CE), and of Indic provenance, thus excluding such texts as the Wushangyi jing (無上依經; T. 669), a text almost certainly compiled in China (Takasaki, 1966, 49-53). Also left aside is a small group of texts with possible tathāgatagarbha coloring, but less central to the tradition, namely the Dhāraṇīsvararājasūtra, the Ratnadārikāsūtra, the Sāgaramatiparipṛcchā, the Gaganagañjabodhisattvaparipṛcchā, and the Ratnacūdasūtra. Other works that are connected with the tathāgatagarbha doctrine include the Laṅkāvatārasūtra and the *Tathāgatotpattisaṃbhavanirdeśa (originally an independent work which eventually was incorporated into the *Buddhāvataṃsaka collection).

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