THE ULLAMBANA SUTRA
homage to the Ullambana Assembly of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
I have heard, at one time, the Buddha dwelt at Shravarsti in
the Garden of the Benefactor of Orphans and the Solitary.
Mahamaudgalyayana had just obtained the six penetrations and
wished to cross over his father and mother to repay their kindness
for raising him.
Thus, using his way eye, he regarded the world and saw that
his deceased mother had been born among the hungry ghosts, having
neither food nor drink, she was but skin and bones.
Mahaudgalayana felt deep pity and sadness, filled a bowl with
food and went to provide for his mother. She got the bowl, screened
it with her left hand, and with her right hand made a fist of
food. But, before it entered her mouth, it turned into burning
coals which could not be eaten.
Mahamaudgalyayana called out and wept sorrowfully, and hastened
to return to the Buddha to set forth all of this.
The Buddha said, "your mother's offenses are deep and
firmly rooted. You alone do not have enough power. Although
your filial sounds move heaven and earth, the heaven spirits,
the earth spirits, twisted demons, and those outside the way,
Brahmans, and the four heavenly king gods, are also without
sufficient strength. The awesome spiritual power of the assembled
Sangha of the ten directions is neceessary for the liberation
to be attained.
I shall now speak a dharma of rescue, which causes all those
in difficulty to leave worry and suffering, and to eradicate
obstacles from offenses.
The Buddha told Maudgalyayana: "The fifteenth day of the
seventh month is the Pravarana day for the assembled Sangha
of the ten directions. For the sake of fathers and mothers of
seven generations past, as well as for fathers and mothers of
the present who are in distress, you should prepare an offering
of clean basins full of hundreds of flavors and the five fruits,
and other offerings of incense, oil, lamps, candles, beds, and
bedding, all the best of the world, to the greatly virtuous
assembled Sangha of the ten directions. On that day, all the
holy assembly, whether in the mountains practicing dhyana samadhi,
or obtaining the four fruits of the way, or walking beneath
trees, or using the independence of the six penetrations, to
teach and transform sound hearers and those enlightened to conditions.
Or provisionally manifesting as bhikshus when in fact they are
great Bodhisattvas on the tenth ground--all complete in pure
precepts and oceanlike virtue of the holy way--should gather
in a great assembly and all of like mind receive the pravarana
If one thus makes offerings to these Provarana Sangha, one's
present father and mother, parents of seven generations, as
well as the six kinds of close relatives, will escape from the
three paths of sufferings. And at that time attain release.
Their clothing and food will spontaneously appear. If the parents
are still alive, they will have wealth and blessings for a hundred
years. Parents of seven generations will be born in the heavens.
Transformationally born, they will independently enter the celestial
flower light, and experience limitless bliss.
At that time the Buddha commanded the assembled Sangha of the
ten directions to recite mantras and vows for the sake of the
donor's family, for parents of seven generations.
After practicing dhyana concentration, they then may accept
the food. When first receiving the basin, place it before the
Buddha in the stupa. When the assembled sangha has finished
the mantras and vows, then they may accept it.
At that time the bhikshu Maudgalyayana and the assembly of great
Bodhisattvas were all extremely delighted and the sorrowful
sound of Maudgalyayana's crying ceased.
At that time Maudgalyayana's mother obtained liberation
from one kalpa of suffering as a hungry ghost.
Maudgalyayana addressed the Buddha and said, "this disciple's
parents have received the power of the merit and virtue of the
triple jewel, because of the awesome spiritual power of the
If in the future the Buddha's disciples practice filiality
by offering up the Ullambana basins, will they be able to cross
over their present fathers and mothers as well as those of seven
The Buddha replied "good indeed, I am happy you asked that
question. I just wanted to speak about that and now you have
also asked about it.
Good man, if bhikshus, bhikshunis, kings, crown princes, great
ministers, great officials, cabinet members, the hundreds of
officers, and the tens of thousands of citizens wish to practice
compassionate filial conduct, for the sake of the parents who
bore them, as well as for the sake of fathers and mothers of
seven lives past, on the fifteenth day of the seventh month,
the day of the buddhas' delight, the day of the Sangha's
Pravarana, they all should place hundreds of flavors of foods
in the Ullambana basins, and offer them to the Pravarana Sangha
of the ten directions.
should vow to cause the length of life of the present father
and mother to reach a hundred years without illness, without
sufferings, afflictions, or worries, and also vow to cause seven
generations of fathers and mothers to leave the sufferings of
the hungry ghosts, to be born among men and gods, and to have
blessings and bliss without limit.
The Buddha told all the good men and good women, "those
disciples of the Buddha who cultivate filial conduct should
in thought after thought, constantly recall their present fathers
and mothers when making offerings, as well as the fathers and
mothers of seven lives past. Every year, on the fifteenth day
of the seventh month, they should always, out of filial compassion,
recall their parents who bore them and those of seven lives
past, and for their sakes perform the offering of the Ullambana
basin to the Buddha and the Sangha and thus repay the loving
kindness of the parents who raised and nourished them. All Buddhas'
disciples should respectfully receive this dharma."
At that time the bhikshu Maudgalyayana and the four-fold assembly
of disciples, hearing what the Buddha said, practiced it with
of the Buddha speaks of Ullambana Sutra
words for repaying parents' kindness.