It was translated from Sanskrit into Chinese by the Tripitaka Master Kumarajiva in the beginning of the 5th century. The bulk text itself consists of the written version of a talk which the Buddha Sakyamuni gave at the Jeta Grove in Sravasti. The talk concerns the wondrous adornments that await the righteous in the Western Pure Land (Chinese: 西方極樂國), as well as the beings that reside there, including the Buddha Amitabha. The text also describes what one must do to be reborn there. The sutra is often recited as part of the Evening recitiation (Chinese: 晚課). It is also frequently recited at Buddhist funeral services, in the hopes that the merit gained by reciting the Sutra may be recieved by the departed.
A common format for the recitation of the Amitabha Sutra may include some or all of the following:
- Praise for the Incense Offering (盧香讚)
- Praise to the Lotus Pond (蓮池讚)
- The Amitabha Sutra (佛說啊彌陀經)
- Pure-Land Rebirth Dharani (往生咒).
- Hymn to Amitabha (彌陀偈)
- Recitation of Amitabha Buddha’s Name (佛號)
- Transfer of Merit (迴向)
Pure-Land Rebirth Dharani
The Sanskrit version of the Dharani is pronounced:Namo Amitābhāya tathāgatāya. Tadyathā: amrtod bhave, amrta siddham bhave, amrta vikrānte.Amrta vikrānta gāmine, gagana kīrti kare, svāhā!
In Chinese, the Pure-Land Rebirth Dharani is called Wang Sheng Zhou (往生咒). It runs thus:南無阿彌多婆夜。哆他伽多夜。哆地夜他。阿彌利都婆毗。阿彌利哆。悉耽婆毗。阿彌唎哆。毗迦蘭帝。阿彌唎哆。毗迦蘭多。伽彌膩。伽伽那。 枳多迦利。莎婆訶。
An alternate version of the Dharani begins with the characters 曩莫 (Nang-mo) instead of 南無 (pronounced Na-mo).
During recitation of the Amitabha Sutra, it is correct to recite the Dharani three times.
- Infinite Life Sutra (Longer Pure Land Sutra)
— A short guide to the Amitabha Sutra, intended for an audience with some background in Mahayana Buddhist ideas.
A di đà kinh 佛說阿彌陀經