World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Golden Light Sutra

Article Id: WHEBN0000317318
Reproduction Date:

Title: Golden Light Sutra  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Mahayana sutras, Buddhist texts, Tiantai, Vaipulya sutras, Humane King Sutra
Collection: Mahayana Sutras, Vaipulya Sutras
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Golden Light Sutra

The Golden Light Sutra or Suvarṇaprabhāsa Sūtra (Sanskrit: सुवर्णप्रभासोत्तमसूत्रेन्द्रराज, IAST: Suvarṇaprabhāsottamasūtrendrarājaḥ), also known by the Old Uygur title Altun Yaruq, is a Buddhist text of the Mahayana branch of Buddhism. In Sanskrit, the full title is The Sovereign King of Sutras, the Sublime Golden Light.


  • History 1
  • Translations 2
    • Chinese Translations 2.1
    • Translations into Western languages 2.2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Bibliography 5
  • External links 6


11th~13th century, chrysographic Tangut version.

The sutra was originally written in India in Sanskrit and was translated several times into Chinese by Dharmakṣema and others, and later translated into Tibetan and other languages. Johannes Nobel[1] published Sanskrit and Tibetan editions of the text.[2][3][4] The sutra is an extremely important Mahayana sutra, and one of the most popular Mahayana sutras of all time.

The name of the sutra derives from the chapter called "The Confession of the Golden Drum", where the bodhisattva Ruchiraketu dreams of a great drum that radiates a sublime golden light, symbolizing the dharma or teachings of Gautama Buddha.[5]

The Golden Light Sutra became one of the most important sutras in Japan because of its fundamental message, which teaches that the Four Heavenly Kings (Chinese: 四大天王; pinyin: Sì Dàtiānwáng) protect the ruler who governs his country in the proper manner.[6]

The sutra also expounds the vows of the goddesses Sarasvatī (Chinese: 大辨才天; pinyin: dà biàn cái tiān), Lakṣmī (Chinese: 大功德天; pinyin: dà gōng dé tiān) and Dṛḍhā to protect any bhikṣu who will uphold and teach the sutra.[7]

Taken at face value, one might take the main theme of the sutra literally, which is the importance for leaders to be good examples for the kingdom. In Chapter Twelve, the sutra speaks in verse form about the disasters that befall a kingdom when its ruler does not uphold justice, and the benefits of kings who lead an exemplary life. In the Chapter on the Guardian Kings, the Four Guardian Kings have a dialogue with the Buddha, explaining in vivid detail all the benefits a kingdom will have if its ruler enshrines the essence of the sutra and offers daily praise. The sutra contains some elements of early tantra, in that in chapter two, the sutra describes four Buddhas who dwell in the four cardinal directions. These same four comprise later Buddhist mandalas in the same positions, such as the Womb Realm.

Hence, historically the sutra won great esteem as a sutra for protecting the country, and often was read publicly to ward off threats. Its first reading as a court ceremony was around 660 AD, when the Tang dynasty of China and Silla of Korea defeated the state of Baekje of Korea and were threatening Japan.

In 741 Emperor Shōmu founded provincial monasteries for monks (国分寺) and nuns 国分尼寺) in each province. The official name of the monasteries was the Temple for Protection of the State by the Four Heavenly Kings Golden Light Sutra (traditional Chinese: 金光明經四天王護国之寺). The 20 monks who lived there recited the Sovereign Kings Golden Light Sutra on a fixed schedule to protect the country. As Buddhism evolved in Japan, the practice gradually fell out of use, and is no longer continued today.


The Golden Light Sutra has been translated into Chinese, Saka ("Khotanese"), Old Turkic,[8] Old Uyghur,[9] Tangut, Classical Tibetan, Mongolian,[10] Manchu, Korean and Japanese.

Chinese Translations

Three canonical Chinese translations have survived:[11]

  • Jin guangming jin T663 translated by Dharmakṣema (385-433)
  • the synoptic Hebu jin guangming T664, by Baogui, written in 597
  • Jin guangming zuisheng wang jin T665, by Yijing (635-713)

An extracanonical version, ascribed to Paramārtha (499-569) is extant in a Japanese manuscript.

Translations into Western languages

Some translations into Western languages exist from Sanskrit[5] and Tibetan, but there are no known translations from other languages such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or Mongolian.

In 1970, Emmerick produced an English translation of the short, condensed Sanskrit version of the Sutra of Golden Light into English.[12]

In Tibetan, there are three versions of the Sutra: the 21, 29, and 31 chapter versions. The 29 Chapter Version was probably the most popular in Tibet and Tibetan Buddhist regions.

In 2007, the

  • The Sutra of Golden Light: The 21 Chapter Version, published by the FPMT

External links

  • Bagchi, S. ed. (1967). Suvarṇaprabhāsasūtram, Darbhanga: The Mithila Institute. Digital Sanskrit Buddhist Canon. (NB: in Unicode)
  • Tyomkin E. (1995). Unique Sanskrit Fragments of the “Sutra of Golden Light” in the manuscript collection of St Petersburg Branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, Manuscripta Orientalia. Vol. 1, (1), 29-38.


  1. ^ Claus Vogel (1999). Johannes Nobel. In: Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB). Band 19, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, ISBN 3-428-00200-8, p. 301
  2. ^ Nobel, Johannes (1937). Suvarṇabhāsottamasūtra. Das Goldglanz-Sūtra: ein Sanskrittext des Mahāyāna-Buddhismus. Nach den Handschriften und mit Hilfe der tibetischen und chinesischen Übertragungen, Leipzig: Harrassowitz
  3. ^ Nobel, Johannes (1944/1950). Suvarnaprabhāsottamasūtra. Das Goldglanz-Sūtra: ein Sanskrittext des Mahāyāna-Buddhismus. Die tibetische Übersetzung mit einem Wörterbuch. Band 1: Tibetische Übersetzung, Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 1944. Band 2: Wörterbuch Tibetisch-Deutsch-Sanskrit, Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 1950.
  4. ^ Nobel, Johannes (1958). Suvarnaprabhāsottamasūtra. Das Goldglanz-Sūtra: ein Sanskrittext des Mahāyāna-Buddhismus. I-Tsing's chinesische Version und ihre tibetische Übersetzung. Band 1: I-Tsing's chinesische Version übersetzt, eingeleitet erläutert und mit einem photomechanischen Nachdruck des chinesischen Textes versehen. Band 2: Die tibetische Übersetzung mit kritischen Anmerkungen, Leiden: Brill
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Zieme, Peter (1996). Altun Yaruq Sudur: Vorworte und das erste Buch: Edition und Übersetzung der alttürkischen Version des Goldglanzsūtra (Suvarṇaprabhāsottamasūtra), Turnhout: Brepols
  9. ^ Radlov, Vasilij V (1913 - 1917). Suvarṇaprabhāsa: (sutra zolotogo bleska) ; tekst ujgurskoj redakcij, Sanktpeterburg. Imperatorskaja Akad. Nauk. XV. Reprint, Osnabrück. Biblio-Verlag 1970.
  10. ^ Kotwicz, Władysław (1930). Altan gerel: die westmongolische Fassung des Goldglanzsūtra nach einer Handschrift der Kgl. Bibliothek in Kopenhagen; Berlin: Akademie Verlag.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Emmerick, R. E. The Sūtra of Golden Light: Being a Translation of the Suvarṇabhāsottamasūtra. London, Luzac and Company Ltd., 1970
  13. ^
  14. ^


See also

The 29 and 31 Chapter Versions are currently being translated from Tibetan into English by Erick Tsiknopoulos and the Sugatagarbha Translation Group.[14]


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.