Nagarjuna: Praise To Satisfying Sentient Beings

Nagarjuna: If one benefits sentient beings, that is the best of offerings to me.

Nagarjuna: Praise To Satisfying Sentient Beings

In the Indian language: Sattva radha nastavam.

In the Tibetan language: sems can mgu bar bya ba’i bstod pa

In the English language: Praise to Satisfying Sentient Beings

Homage to Manjushri!

1 Respecting me is [to work for] the welfare of sentient beings,

because respect [for me] is not otherwise.

Whoever did not give up compassion, that one respects me;

Whoever, having forsaken compassion, came to abide [or] fall,

That one can be lifted up from there by compassion, but not by others.

2 Whoever subsequently engaged in compassion for sentient beings,

That one not only pleased me, that one also carried the responsibility of the Teachings.

Ethics, learning, compassion, and wisdom and clarity,

Whoever possesses these always pleases the Sugatas.

3 I myself achieved this attainment by benefiting sentient beings;

Therefore, it is only for sentient beings’ sake that I have perfectly held this body.

Those whose minds intend to harm sentient beings: why [would they rely on me]?

Since they do not look to me [for guidance, I] will not teach its meaning.

4 Although the benefit to sentient beings was little,

that one will [receive the benefit of having made] an offering,

Since whatever pleases the mind [of the Buddha] is an offering.

While having a harmful nature or having harmed others,

One may have offered in a good manner, but that will not become an offering.

5 [My] wives, sons, wealth, and great kingdom,

Flesh, blood, fat, eyes, and even bodies:

Overpowered by compassion, I gave away these fully to anyone.

Thus, if harm is done to them, harm will have been done to me.

6 Therefore, if one benefits sentient beings, that is the best of offerings to me.

Harm done to sentient beings is the worst of extreme harms to me.

Since I and sentient beings experience happiness and suffering similarly,

How could one causing harm to sentient beings be my disciple?

7 I pleased the Buddhas and cultivated virtues in dependence on sentient beings.

I attained the perfections by thoroughly abiding in the welfare of many sentient beings.

My mind that strove for the welfare of sentient beings subjugated even the Mara’s force.

Having practiced such, in such ways toward sentient beings,

I thereby purified and perfected (became Buddha).

8 If living beings, who are like cherished relatives of many lifetimes, did not exist,

By observing [whom], in this case, would compassion [and] love have been established? Equanimity, joy, and so forth, objects of minds; emancipation, and so forth, [focusing] on whom;

For whose purpose [having generated] compassion, did the mind that strove [for others’ welfare] meditate on patience for a long time?

9 I gave away [to others] elephants, and so forth, many migratory sentient beings.

So that sentient beings would also become vessels, I gathered them with generosity.

Because sentient beings were [subject to] various [sufferings], I increased [my] compassion.

If I do not protect sentient beings, then for whose sake did I achieve these [two] purposes?

10 If there were no sentient beings—since there would be no continuum of life with corresponding harms from the very many unbearable delusions in samsara—[then] in dependence upon what [did I] attain this benefit?

The great nature of Sugata, this great wonder, [that which] became the ornament of samsara—

If I were to lack compassion for sentient beings, then for whose sake did I thoroughly accomplish these [qualities]?

11 For as long as my teachings, [which bring] benefit to sentient beings, blaze in this [universe],

For that long, you, who wish to bring the highest benefit to others, should [also] remain.

By understanding that which I have practiced well through study,

not being weary for the sake of sentient beings,

Without discouragement, take the pure essence from this body.

This completes the Buddha’s speech to the Sixteen Great Hearers in the passage called Salty River from the Collection of Bodhisattva Teachings, compiled into verses by Nagarjuna as Praise to Satisfying Sentient Beings. It was translated by the great abbot Dipamkarashrijnana and the translator Bhikshu Tsultrim Gyalwa.

From the Tibetan translation, it was translated into English by Sera Je Trehor Lharampa Venerable Geshe Tsulga (Tsultrim Chöphel) and Thubten Damchoe and edited with Venerable Yeshe Chodron on April 21, 2008 at the Kurukulla Center for Tibetan Buddhist Studies.

The 2008 English translation was further revised by Thubten Damchoe and Venerable Yeshe Chodron on October 21, 2015 after consulting Verses on Satisfying Sentient Beings with Commentary by Chö Je Ngawang Palden of Urga for clarification.

Any mistakes found within are the sole responsibility of the revisers.

By this merit, may the embodiments of great compassion—His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama and all other holy gurus—have long, stable lives, and may all their wishes be spontaneously fulfilled. May all sentient beings quickly generate great compassion in their minds and never forsake it in the beginning, middle, nor end of the path to complete and full enlightenment.