The Kanmuryoju Kyo sutra (観無量寿経)

"Kanmuryoju Kyo" (The Sutra of Contemplation on the Buddha of Immeasurable Life) is one of the Mahayana Buddhist sutras. It is also called "Kanmuryoju Bukkyo" or "Muryojukan Gyo" and is abbreviated as "Kangyo."


The original text in Sanskrit has not yet been found.

Bussetsu Kanmuryoju Kyo sutra

"Bussetsu Kanmuryoju Kyo:" Volume 1, by Kyoryoyasha in Liu-song

It is one of the basic sacred sutras of the Jodo (Pure Land) sect in Japan and, together with "Bussetsu Muryoju Kyo" (the Sutra of the Buddha of Immeasurable Life) and "Bussetsu Amida Kyo Sutra" (The Sutra of Amida Buddha), they are generally called the "Jodo Sanbu-kyo" (the three main sutras of the Pure Land sect).


Buddha (Gotama Siddhattha), owing to the request from Vaidehi, the wife of Bimbisara, preached 13 sermons by meditating on Amida Buddha, the Land of Utmost Bliss, and the bodhisattvas Kannon and Seishi Bosatsu with the introductory part describing 'Oshajo no higeki' (Tragedy in Osahjo), in which a prince called Ajase (a king of Magadha, in India, during the time of Shakyamuni Buddha) was tempted by his bad companion Devadatta to have his own father Bimbisara confined and starved to death. He also preached by allocating those who leave this world to be born in the Land of Utmost Bliss to one of the nine patterns of passing on to the next life (Kuhon) ranging from jobon josho (upper grade: upper birth) to gebon gesho (lower grade: lower birth). Lastly, Buddha preached by instructing Ananda, one of the 10 major disciples of Buddha, "be sure to keep the name of 無量寿仏 within your mind at all times."

Other translations into Chinese

"Kanmuryoju Kyo sutra:" Volume 1, by Mitta DONMA in Liu-song
Could it be a lost book?

It is said that the document existed within the book entitled "Kaigen Shakkyo roku" (Kaigen era (in China) Catalog of the Buddhist Canon), edited by Chisho; however, it is the description from a record of Buddhist sutra translations scattered and lost in early days, and the document isn't named as a translated Buddhist sutra in the article of Mitta DONMA in "Kosoden" (biographies of high-ranking monks). Therefore, the translators may have confused and misunderstood that there were two translations, but now it is commonly known that only Bussetsu Kanmuryoju Kyo sutra exists.

Other translations are thought to have been prepared in the ages of the Later Han and Eastern Jin dynasties, but both are lost.

Translations into other languages

Translation into the Uighur language

Although the remaining pieces of a translated writing in the Uighur language were discovered in Dunhuang City by the Otani Expedition, the writing is regarded as a duplicate translation from the Buddhist sutras translated in words of Chinese origin (it is said that the translation in the Uighur language was prepared in middle Asia or China).

Translation into Tibetan

The Tibetan translation of the document hasn't yet been found.

Preparation of notes by:

Eon (in the Sui dynasty): The second volume of "Kanmuryoju Kyo Gisho" (Commentary on the doctrine of Kanmuryoju Kyo sutra).


Jizang: The first volume of "Kanmuryoju Kyo Gisho"

Tao-cho: The second volume of "Anrakushu" (A Collection of Passages Concerning Birth in the Pure Land)

Shandao: The fourth volume of "Kanmuryoju Kyosho" (Commentary on the Meditation Sutra) (also known as "Kangyo shijosho")

The Jodo (Pure Land) sects in Japan commonly believe that the documents compiled by Shandao are the commentaries of Kangyo.

Honen: "Kanmuryoju Kyo Shaku" (Commentary of Kanmuryoju Kyo)

[Original Japanese]