Praises of King Yama and His Followers
At that time from within the Iron Ring Mountain,
Lord Yama and his following of infinite ghost kings came before
the Buddha in the Trayastrimsha Heaven. They were
the Ghost King Evil Poison, the Ghost King
the Ghost King Great Argument, the Ghost King White Tiger,
the Ghost King Blood Tiger, the Ghost King Crimson Tiger,
the Ghost King Spreading Disaster, the Ghost King Flying Body,
the Ghost King Lightning Flash, the Ghost King Wolf Tooth,
the Ghost King Thousand Eyes, the Ghost King Animal Eater,
the Ghost King Rock Bearer, the Ghost King Lord of Bad News,
the Ghost King Lord of Calamities, the Ghost King Lord of Food,
the Ghost King Lord of Wealth, the Ghost King Lord of Domestic
the Ghost King Lord of Birds, the Ghost King Lord of Beasts,
the Ghost King Lord of Mountain Sprites, the Ghost King Lord of
the Ghost King Lord of Life, the Ghost King Lord of Sickness,
the Ghost King Lord of Danger, the Ghost King Three Eyes,
the Ghost King Four Eyes, the Ghost King Five Eyes,
the Ch'i Li Shih King, the Great Ch'i Li Shih King,
the Ch'i Li Ch'a King, the Great Ch'i Li Ch'a King,
the No Ch'a King, the Great No Ch'a King,
and other such great ghost kings.
With them were hundreds of thousands of minor
ghost kings who dwelt throughout Jambudvipa; each presiding over
Aided by the Buddha's awesome spiritual strength
and the power of Earth Store Bodhisattva, Mahasattva all these
ghost kings joined Lord Yama in the Trayastrimsha Heaven and together
they stood to one side.
Then Lord Yama knelt down, placed his palms
together, and said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, aided by
the Buddha's awesome spiritual strength and the power of Earth
Store Bodhisattva, I have been able to come to this great assembly
in the Trayastrimsha Heaven, with all these ghost kings and, to
our benefit, join in together.
There is now a small doubt that I should like
to express, and we hope the World Honored One will be compassionate
and resolve it."
The Buddha told Lord Yama, "I will answer
whatever you want to ask."
At that time Lord Yama looked respectfully
at the World Honored One, made obeisance, turned his head to acknowledge
Earth Store Bodhisattva, and then said to the Buddha, "World Honored
One, I observe that Earth Store Bodhisattva uses hundreds of thousands
of expedient means to take across beings who are suffering for
their offenses within the Six Paths of rebirth. I see that he
does so unstintingly, without the least fatigue.
Although this Great Bodhisattva uses his inconceivable
spiritual penetrations to do such deeds, it doesn't take long
for the beings whom he has helped in gaining release from retributions
to fall again into the bad paths.
"World Honored One, since Earth Store Bodhisattva
has such great inconceivable spiritual power, why are beings not
able to rely on it, to stay in the good paths, and to be freed
once and for all?
Please, World Honored One, explain that for
The Buddha told Lord Yama, "The beings of
Jambudvipa have stubborn and obstinate natures, difficult to tame,
difficult to subdue.
This Great Bodhisattva continually rescues
such beings throughout hundreds of thousands of eons and causes
them to obtain liberation quickly.
For those beings undergoing retributions even
in the worst destinies, the Bodhisattva applies the strength of
expedients to extricate them from their own basic karmic conditions
and lead them to understand the events of their past lives.
But because beings of Jambudvipa are so bound
by their own heavy bad habits, they keep revolving in and out
of the various paths over and over as this Bodhisattva labors
throughout many long eons to entirely effect their rescue and
"They are like people who in confusion, lost
their way home and took a bad road by mistake. On that treacherous
road were many Yakshas, tigers, wolves, lions, serpents,
Those confused people were sure to be harmed
in an instant on that dangerous path.
But then they met a knowledgeable guide, skilled
in neutralizing all harm, including the toxins of the Yakshas
The mentor began to guide the travelers off
that road and told them, 'Beware, everyone! What business brought
you onto this road? What kinds of special skills do you have to
avoid all that harm?'
Hearing that, the confused travelers realized
they were on a dangerous path and turned back, attempting to escape.
"The kind guide then told them to join hands,
led them off the dangerous path, and helped them avoid the deadly
peril. When they reached a safe path, the travelers grew happy
and at peace.
Their mentor then said to them. 'Take care,
confused ones, never to go back into that road again. Once on
it, it is hard to get off; it can destroy a person's very nature
The travelers who had been confused expressed
their deep gratitude and as they were about to part the mentor
said to them, 'If you see any other travelers, whether you know
them personally or not, be they men or women, tell them that the
poisons and evils on that path could harm their natures and lives.
Do not allow them to unwittingly bring about their own deaths.'
In the same way, Earth Store Bodhisattva,
replete with great compassion, rescues beings who are suffering
for their offenses and enables them to be born among humans and
gods where they enjoy wonderful bliss.
"Once those offenders obtain release from
the suffering they experienced in the paths where their karma
took them, they should never go down those roads again.
They are like the lost people who mistakenly
took a wrong road and were lead off it by a kind mentor. They
now know to never take that road again.
Moreover, they exhort others not to enter
that road by saying, 'We took that road ourselves when we got
confused, but we escaped and now we know better than to ever enter
that road again. If we were to set foot on it again, we would
get confused and be unable to recognize it as the dangerous path
we descended into before. That being the case, we might lose our
The same holds true for falling into the bad
destinies. Due to the powerful expedient means of Earth Store
Bodhisattva, beings can be freed and can gain rebirth as humans
If they were to then turn around and enter
into the bad destinies again, then those with heavy karmic bonds
might remain in the hells forever with no chance of escape."
At that time the Ghost King Evil Poison placed
his palms together respectfully, addressed the Buddha, and said,
"World Honored One, each of us countless ghost kings of Jambudvipa
bestows benefit or inflicts harm on beings differently. But our
karmic retributions are such that we and our followers roam in
the world doing much evil and little good.
When we pass a household, a city, a town,
a garden, a cottage or a hut where there are men or women who
have cultivated as little as a hair's worth of good deeds, who
have hung but one banner or one canopy, who have used a little
incense or a few flowers as offerings to images of Buddhas or
Bodhisattvas, or who have recited the sacred Sutras or burned
incense as an offering to even one sentence or gatha in
them, we ghost kings will respect such people as we would the
Buddhas of the past, present, and future.
We will instruct the smaller ghosts, each
of whom has great power, as well as the earth spirits, to protect
such people. Bad situations, accidents, severe or unexpected illnesses,
and all other unwelcome events will not even come near their residences
or other places they may be, much less enter the door."
The Buddha praised the ghost kings, "Excellent,
excellent, that all of you ghost kings join Lord Yama in protecting
good men and women in that way. I shall tell Lord Brahma and Lord
Shakra to see that you are protected as well."
When that was said, a ghost king in the assembly
named Lord of Life said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, my
karmic conditions are such that I have jurisdiction over the lifespans
of people in Jambudvipa, governing both the time of their births
and their deaths.
My fundamental vows are based on a great desire
to benefit them, but people do not understand my intent and go
through birth and death in distress. Why is that?
"When women in Jambudvipa have just borne
children, be they boys or girls, or when they are just about to
give birth, good deeds should be done to increase the benefits
of the household, thus causing the local earth spirits to be immeasurably
pleased. The spirits will then protect the mother and child so
that they experience peace and happiness; they will bring benefit
to the entire family.
After the birth, all killing for the purpose
of offering fresh meat to the mother should be carefully avoided,
as should parties that involve consumption of alcohol, eating
of meat, singing, and playing musical instruments. All those things
can keep the mother and child from being peaceful and happy. Why
At the difficult time of birth, uncountable
evil ghosts, including mountain sprites, goblins, and spirit-beings,
desire to eat the strong-smelling blood. I quickly order the local
earth spirits of that household to protect the mother and child,
allowing them to be peaceful and happy and to receive other benefits.
When people in such households witness those
benefits, they should do meritorious deeds to express their gratitude
to the earth spirits. If instead, they harm and kill, and have
big parties involving feasting and entertainment, then the retributions
that result from such offenses will be born by they themselves
and will bring harm to the mother and child as well.
"Moreover, when people of Jambudvipa are on
the verge of death, I wish to keep them from falling into the
Evil Paths, regardless of whether they have done good or evil.
But how much is this power of mine to help
them increased when they have personally cultivated good roots!
When those who do good in Jambudvipa are about
to die, hundreds of thousands of ghosts and spirits from the Evil
Paths transform themselves and appear as the parents or other
relatives in an attempt to lead such people to fall into the Evil
How much more is that the case for those who
have done evil deeds!
"World Honored One, when men or women in Jambudvipa
are on the verge of death, their consciousnesses and spirits become
confused and dark. They are unable to discriminate between good
and evil, and their eyes and ears are unable to see or hear.
That is why relatives of those deceased should
make generous offerings, recite the sacred Sutras, and recite
the names of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Such good conditions can
cause the deceased to leave the Evil Paths, and all the demons,
ghosts, and spirits will withdraw and disperse.
"World Honored One, if at the time of death
beings of any kind have an opportunity to hear the name of one
Buddha or Bodhisattva or to hear a sentence or gatha of
a Mahayana Sutra, I observe that such beings can quickly be freed
from the pull of their accumulated minor bad deeds that would
otherwise send them to the bad paths.
The exception to that is crimes involving
killing that warrant Fivefold Relentless Retribution."
The Buddha told the Ghost King Lord of Life,
"Because of your great compassion, you are able to make such great
vows and protect all beings in the midst of life and death.
When men or women in the future undergo birth
and death, do not withdraw from your vow, but liberate them all
so they gain eternal peace."
The ghost king told the Buddha, "Please do
not be concerned. Until the end of my life I shall in every thought
protect beings of Jambudvipa both at the time of birth and at
the time of death, so that they all gain tranquility. I only wish
that at the time of birth and of death they will believe what
I say, so that they all can be liberated and gain many benefits."
At that time the Buddha told Earth Store Bodhisattva,
"This great Ghost King Lord of Life has already passed through
hundreds of thousands of lives as a ghost king, protecting beings
during both birth and death. Only because of this Great Being's
compassionate vows does he appear in the body of a ghost, for
in reality he is not a ghost.
After one hundred seventy eons have passed,
he will become a Buddha named No Appearance Thus Come One. His
eon will be called Happiness, and his world will be named Pure
Dwelling. That Buddha's lifespan will be incalculable eons.
Earth Store, the circumstances surrounding
this great ghost king are thus. They are inconceivable, and the
people and gods whom he takes across are countless."