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42
ii.
SADDHARMA-PUNDARÎKA.

staying, living, existing, Sâriputra, in countless, innumerable spheres in all directions, &c., and who are preaching the law to gods and men (&c., as above till) the right path. Such is the law they are preaching to creatures. And those creatures, Sâriputra, who are hearing the law from the present Tathâgatas, &c., shall all of them reach supreme, perfect enlightenment.

I myself also, Sâriputra, am at the present period a Tathâgata, &c., for the weal of many (&c., till) manifold; I myself also, Sâriputra, am preaching the law to creatures (&c., till) the right path. Such is the law I preach to creatures. And those creatures, Sâriputra, who now are hearing the law from me, shall all of them reach supreme, perfect enlightenment. In this sense, Sâriputra, it must be understood that nowhere in the world a second vehicle is taught, far less a third.

Yet, Sâriputra, when the Tathâgatas, &c., happen to appear at the decay[1] of the epoch, the decay of creatures, the decay of besetting sins[2], the decay of views, or the decay of lifetime; when they appear amid such signs of decay at the disturbance of the epoch; when creatures are much tainted, full of greed and poor in roots of goodness; then, Sâriputra, the Tathâgatas, &c., use, skilfully, to designate that one and sole Buddha-vehicle by the appellation of the threefold vehicle. Now, Sâriputra, such disciples, Arhats, or Pratyekabuddhas


  1. One MS. has °kashâyeshu in the plural, literally 'the dregs.'
  2. Klesakashâya, which Burnouf renders by 'la corruption du mal.' I think we might paraphrase the term used in the text by saying, the time when the besetting sins or natural depravities show themselves at their very worst.