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Lama Zopa Rinpoche and other teachers recommend Kṣitigarbha mantra and practice for times of disaster, especially hurricane and earthquake, because of the great Bodhisattva’s vow

Lama Zopa Rinpoche and other teachers recommend Kṣitigarbha mantra and practice for times of disaster, especially hurricane and earthquake, because of the great Bodhisattva’s vow

In times of great danger, many Mahayana Buddhists call out to Tara for rescue, or Avalokiteshvara for compassion — but in times of impending great natural disasters, such as hurricane, typhoon, tornado, earthquake, Buddhists inevitably Kṣitigarbha (or Jizo as he is widely known in Japan and even China). During these times — and during peaceful times of good fortune, as well — Ksitigarbha’s Sanskrit mantra is chanted:

Om Ah Ksitigarbha T-haleng Hum

Which is pronounced as:

Ohm ah ku-shi-ti-gurb-ha tu-ha-leng Hum

In Japan, the Ksitigarbha mantra is:

Namaḥ samantabuddhānāṃ, ha ha ha, sutanu svāhā

Chinese Buddhists, as with other Buddhas, recite the name mantra:

Námó dìzàng wáng púsà 南無地藏王菩萨

Korean Buddhists recite:

Namo jijang bonsai

 

 

A modern image of Ksitigarbha.

 

 

Teachers recommend his practice for disaster and difficulties

Many teachers, such as Lama Zopa Rinpoche, also recommend recitation of the Ksitigarbha Pranidhana Sutra, especially in times of difficulty or disaster. [ Downloadable pdf: Ksitigarbha-Sutra] [Also, a feature length animated film is embedded below.]

For really difficult times, recite the longer mantra (see Sadhana below). Neither mantra requires empowerment or initiation. Also effective is a recitation of the prostration prayer:

I prostrate, go for refuge, and make offerings to the bodhisattva Ksitigarbha who has unbearable compassion for me and all sentient beings who are suffering and whose minds are obscured, who has qualities like the sky and liberates sentient beings from all suffering and gives every happiness. Please grant blessings!

 

A giant statue of Ksitigarbha Earth Store Bodhisattva at Hsiang Te Temple in Taiwan. Photo: Bernard Gagnon.

 

 Lama Zopa explains the benefit of practice — beyond the relief during times of disaster: “This practice is especially beneficial for those who have heavy problems, serious health problems, big projects, or financial difficulties. I suggest it is extremely powerful to recite every day for protection, at least four or five times or more, depending on how crucial it is.” In Japan and China, he is also prayed to (as Jizo) when a loved one passes away. In sutra, he is known for rescuing people from hell.

Shakyamuni Buddha himself praised Ksitigarbha in sutra:

You have generated stability of thought and the pure altruistic thought of bodhichitta and have eliminated the sufferings of immeasurable sentient beings. I see sentient beings receiving happiness as from a wish-granting jewel, and like the vajra you cut the nets of others’ doubts. You offer holy offerings to the foe destroyers, the qualified ones gone beyond, with great compassionate thought and perseverance. You liberate sentient beings from their sufferings with oceans of wisdom. Because you have no fear (delusions), you have gone beyond samsara.

Serene contemplation of Ksitigarbha video with Chinese Namo chanting:

 


 

He Who Encompasses the Earth

His name literally can translates as “He who encompasses the Earth” or “Earth Treasury” or even “Essence of the Earth” — and, in part, this is why he is called upon for “earthly” matters such as earthquake and hurricane/typhoon. His direction is south”, the direction of the Earthly element. He is called upon for help because he, of the Bodhisattvas, has vowed to help us now. According to Sutra, as explained in the Lama Yeshe archive:

“According to sutras preserved in the Chinese canon, Ksitigarbha has vowed to help beings realize enlightenment during the period between the parinirvana of Shakyamuni Buddha and the coming of Maitreya.”

 

Temple statue of Ksitigarbha.

 

It is this great vow to help all beings in the here-and-now of our earthly realm that endears him to Buddhists, and why his name is called in time of Earthly disaster. He also has a wrathful form in Tantric Buddhism, Vajra Garbharaja, who embodies the fiercest elemental forces of nature. (Vajra means indestructible, Raja means King.) Also, as the embodiment of Earth-element based Enlightened activity in our world now (the time between Shakyamuni and Maitreya), he represents the cultivation and growth of both earthly crops and Dharma practice (realizations.)

 

Tibetan thangkha of Ksitigharba.

 

One of the most popular of the four great Bodhisattvas

A wooden Ksitigarbha statue.

He is one of the four great Bodhisattvas — and the most popular after, perhaps Avalokiteshvara, and found in most of the great temples. (The other two Bodhisattvas are Samantabhadra and Manjusri.)

Kṣitigarbha is the only one of the four great Bodhisattvas portrayed as a monk, and not just a monk but a wandering mendicant with the great beggar’s staff. His face is kind and gentle and unperturbable, eyes half closed in contemplation though he is walking with his staff. He is treasured and revered for his great vow to help all beings, including people trapped in hell. In his left hand, in statues and thangkas, he often holds a wish-fulfilling gem (wish-granting jewel), similar to Ratnasambhava, the Buddha of the South (earth). In his right hand he holds a towering “beggars” staff, that of a mendicant monk. In Tibetan thangkas, he is often depicted as a classical seated Bodhisattva with crown, but the majority of depictions are his monk aspect. However, even when regally adorned in his samboghakaya aspect, he still wears the robes of a monk.

Ksitigarbha is depicted as a wanderer with staff — like Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings — to convey that he wanders the six realms, to help all beings. This aspect of Ksitigarbha is the “wanderer of the six realms.” Famously, he helps even beings in hell, not just on earth or other realms.

 

 

 

Long Mantra Dharani

In Jampgon Mipham’s A Garland of Jewels, Shakyamuni Buddha revealed the longer Dharani of Ksitigarbha, said to be especially efficacious:

CHHIM BHO CHHIM BHO CHIM CHHIM BHO / AKASHA CHHIM BHO / VAKARA CHHIM BHO / AMAVARA CHHIM BHO / VARA CHHIM BHO / VACHIRA CHHIM BHO / AROGA CHHIM BHO / DHARMA CHHIM BHO / SATEVA CHHIM BHO / SATENI HALA CHHIM BHO / VIVA ROKA SHAVA CHHIM BHO / UVA SHAMA CHHIM BHO / NAYANA CHHIM BHO / PRAJÑA SAMA MONI RATNA CHHIM BHO / KSHANA CHHIM BHO / VISHEMA VARIYA CHHIM BHO / SHASI TALA MAVA CHHIM BHO / VI AH DRASO TAMA HELE / DAM VE YAM VE / CHAKRASE / CHAKRA VASILE / KSHILI PHILE KARAVA / VARA VARITE / HASERE PRARAVE / PARECHARA BHANDHANE / ARADANE / PHANARA / CHA CHI CHA CHA / HILE MILE AKHATA THAGEKHE / THAGAKHI LO / THHARE THHARE MILE MADHE / NANTE KULE MILE / ANG KU CHITABHE / ARAI GYIRE VARA GYIRE / KUTA SHAMAMALE /TONAGYE TONAGYE / TONAGULE / HURU HURU HURU / KULO STO MILE / MORITO / MIRITA / BHANDHATA / KARA KHAM REM / HURU HURU

 

The story of Tsitigarbha animated feature length (The opening is quite dramatic with a depiction of hell, since Tsitigarbha is know for “rescuing even from hell” but this animated feature is a reasonable retelling of the story of the Great Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva):

 

  

Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva

The full sutra is hundreds of pages long. Often recited by practitioners is Chapter 2, which contains the vow of Ksitigarbha to “caretake” the realms between the time of Shakyamuni Buddha and the future Buddha Maitreya:

“Reflect on how I have toiled for repeated aeons and endured acute suffering to take across and free stubborn beings who resist being taught and who continue to suffer for their offences.

Those not yet subdued undergo retributions according to their karma. If they fall into the evil destinies and are enduring tremendous suffering, then you should remember the gravity of this entrustment I am now giving you here in the palace of the Trayastrimsha Heaven:

Find ways to liberate all beings in the Saha world from now until the time when Maitreya comes into the world. Help them escape suffering forever, encounter Buddhas, and receive predictions.

At that time all the division bodies of Earth Store Bodhisattva that came from all those worlds merged into single form. Then he wept and said to the Buddha, “Throughout long eons I have been receiving the Buddha’s guidance and from that have developed inconceivable spiritual power and great wisdom.

My division bodies fill worlds as many as grains of sand in billions of Ganges Rivers. In each of those worlds, I transform myself into billions of bodies. Each body takes across billions of people, helping them to return respectfully to the Triple Jewel, escape birth and death forever, and reach the bliss of Nirvana.

Even if their good deeds within the Buddhadharma amount to as little as a strand of hair, a drop of water, a grain of sand, or a mote of dust, I will gradually take them across, liberate them, and help them gain great benefit.

I only hope that the World Honored One will not be concerned about beings of the future who have bad karma. ” In that way he addressed the Buddha three times: “I only hope that the World Honored One will not be concerned about beings of the future who have bad karma.”

 

Ksitigarbha in traditional Chinese form, as a monk.

 

 

Shakyamuni Buddha’s mission for Ksitigarbha

Then, later in the Sutra, in chapter 13, Shakyamuni Buddha reinforced that vow, with a great mission:

“Earth Store, Earth Store, remember this entrustment that I am again making here in the Trayastrimsha Heaven in this great assembly of hundreds of thousands of millions of indescribably many Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, gods, dragons, and the rest of the Eightfold Division.

I again entrust to you the gods, people, and others who are still in the burning house and have not yet left the Triple World.

“Do not allow those beings to fall into the evil destinies even for a single day and night, much less fall into the Fivefold Relentless Hell or the Avichi Hell, where they would have to pass through thousands of millions of eons with no chance of escape.

“Earth Store, the beings of southern Jambudvipa have irresolute wills and natures. They habitually do many evil deeds. Even if they resolve to do good, they soon renounce that resolve. If they encounter evil conditions, they tend to become increasingly involved in them.

For those reasons I reduplicate hundreds of thousands of millions of bodies to transform beings, take them across, and liberate them, all in accord with their own fundamental natures.

“Earth Store, I now earnestly entrust the multitudes of gods and people to you.”

 

 

 

Many names of Ksitigarbha

Kṣitigarbha is known by many names — a good thing, since English-speaking Buddhists struggle with the pronunciation of his name — Sanskrit: क्षितिगर्भ Kṣitigarbha; Chinese: Dìzàng, 地藏; Tibetan: Sahi-sning-po; Japanese: Jizō Bosatsu; Korean: Chijang Posal; Mongol: Gachar-un Jiruken, Earth Treasury Bodhisattva (sometimes Earth Store ore Earth Womb Bodhisattva) as translations of Sanskrit to English. (For a full list of names in other languages, see below.)

Pronunciation: difficult for some English-speaking practitioners

Kshiti-Garbha.. क्षितिगर्भ

K – as in /Kelp

sh – as in shelf (but with a bit of a “ch” in the aspiration)

i – as in it

t – as in with   (the “th” sound)

i – as it it

g – as in gallon

a – as in the “uh” sound in hut  (not a long a and not an ah sound)

r – as in rough

bh – b (with a breath of air, like “buh”  (aspirate and expel the sound)

a – as in uh sound in hut

OR

k-shittihgurrbhuh

(But don’t say “kay” as some people do, it’s the “cuh” sound (the sound of the letter K not the pronunciation of the letter kay  (which sounds like kay.)

You roll past the K with a soft “cu” sound (cu-shih).

 

 

 

A short practice from Lama Zopa

For more detail, visit Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive

As an immediate and useful daily practice, here is what Lama Zopa recommends:

“It is good to recite daily the Sutra Prayer [after the mantra] praised by Buddha to Ksitigarbha and the Prayer that I have added [below]. Sometimes you may recite the long praise to Ksitigarbha explained by Buddha [yet to be translated into English] along with the Prayer, if you can.

Prayer:

I prostrate, go for Refuge, make offerings, please grant blessings. The Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, who has unbearable compassion for me and all sentient beings (whose minds are obscure and who are suffering), who has qualities like the sky and liberates sentient beings from all the sufferings and gives all the happiness. (Recite three times.)

With hands folded in prostration, you can visualize doing the prostrations to all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas; the saying of the word “prostration” becomes prostration. When you say the word “Refuge,” think that you are asking to be free from the two obscurations (to be able to achieve enlightenment). When you say the word “offering,” you think that all the offerings that you have are then offered. When you ask for blessings, you think in your mind that the whole path to enlightenment is the blessing to be received.

THE MANTRA

This is the mantra that Ksitigarbha heard from Buddhas equaling the number of sand grains of the river Ganga. He made offerings to them and then received this mantra. (This is the story of the mantra, to receive all of the benefits.) This mantra is to be used for any difficulties, problems; it is the best one to do for any problems in any situation. Even reciting four or five times, just a few times, it is very powerful. It is powerful to recite or just to think of the name of the Bodhisattva. It is very, very powerful. (The extensive benefits of this mantra will be translated.)

 

Long Mantra:

CHHIM BHO CHHIM BHO CHIM CHHIM BHO / AKASHA CHHIM BHO / VAKARA CHHIM BHO / AMAVARA CHHIM BHO / VARA CHHIM BHO / VACHIRA CHHIM BHO / AROGA CHHIM BHO / DHARMA CHHIM BHO / SATEVA CHHIM BHO / SATENI HALA CHHIM BHO / VIVA ROKA SHAVA CHHIM BHO / UVA SHAMA CHHIM BHO / NAYANA CHHIM BHO / PRAJÑA SAMA MONI RATNA CHHIM BHO / KSHANA CHHIM BHO / VISHEMA VARIYA CHHIM BHO / SHASI TALA MAVA CHHIM BHO / VI AH DRASO TAMA HELE / DAM VE YAM VE / CHAKRASE / CHAKRA VASILE / KSHILI PHILE KARAVA / VARA VARITE / HASERE PRARAVE / PARECHARA BHANDHANE / ARADANE / PHANARA / CHA CHI CHA CHA / HILE MILE AKHATA THAGEKHE / THAGAKHI LO / THHARE THHARE MILE MADHE / NANTE KULE MILE / ANG KU CHITABHE / ARAI GYIRE VARA GYIRE / KUTA SHAMAMALE /TONAGYE TONAGYE / TONAGULE / HURU HURU HURU / KULO STO MILE / MORITO / MIRITA / BHANDHATA / KARA KHAM REM / HURU HURU

 

Short Mantra:

OM AH KSHITI GARBHA THALENG HUM

 

PRAISE BY BUDDHA TO KSITIGARBHA

You have generated stability of thought and pure thought [altruism/bodhicitta] and eliminated the sufferings of immeasurable sentient being. I see [sentient beings] receiving happiness like the wish-granting jewel, and like the vajra you cut the nets of doubt [of others]. You offer the Destroyer, Qualified-Gone-Beyond-Ones holy offerings with great compassionate thought and perseverances. You liberate the sentient beings from the sufferings with oceans of wisdom. Because you have no fear [delusions], you have gone beyond samsara.

This is especially beneficial for those who have heavy problems, serious healthy problems, big projects or financial difficulties. I will suggest that it is extremely powerful to recite every day, at least four or five times or more, depending on how crucial [the problem] is; also, for protection. Even to grow crops well and to protect land and crops. It explains in the Sutra the extensive benefits and qualities, like the sky, of the Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha; like skies of benefit to all beings. There have been experiences, similar benefits received by those who practice Ksitigarbha.”

 

Names in other languages

Ksitigharbha in Chinese 地藏

Longer name (Bodhisattva King Ksitigarbha) in traditional Chinese: 地藏(王)菩薩

Longer name (Bodhisattva King Ksitigarbha) in simplified Chinese: 地藏(王)菩萨

In Tibetan, Sahi-sning-po ས་ཡི་སྙིང་པོ

 

 

 

 

 

 

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