Special Topics

Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva's Birthday

The meaning of the word "Ksitigarbha" in Chinese is Earth Store (Dìzàng; 地藏). After the religious belief in Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva was first introduced in China, because Kim Gyo-gak, a monk from the Korean kingdom of Silla, was regarded as the incarnation of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, more and more people developed faith in this Bodhisattva and his famous quote, "I vow not to attain Buddhahood until the Hell is empty." became even more famous than before. It is said that July 30th of the lunar calendar was the day Kim Gyo-gak attained liberation and for this reason, this date is recognized as Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva's Birthday.

Earth Store Sutra Chanting Service

How do Buddhist monasteries celebrate Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva's Birthday? According to the 3rd chapter of Record of the Verified Meaning of the Pure Standards of Pai-chang, during the morning service on July 30th of the lunar calendar, monastics
•   Prostrated on each recitation of Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva's name for 12 times while circumambulating the Buddha status
•   Recited the chapter of The Benefits Derived from Seeing and Hearing of The Fundamental Vows of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Sutra
•   Chanted Mantra to Loosen the Knots of Oppression "an san tuo la, qie tuo suo po he" for 108 times
•   And finally, recited Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Verses
In addition, monasteries held Earth Store Food Service. This was a tradition used to worship Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva with vegetarian meals, lectures, and praises. Later, Earth Store Food Service was replaced by Earth Store Sutra Chanting Service in China, but remains popular in Japan and is still held in temples there.
In Taiwan, Buddhist monasteries hold Earth Store Sutra Chanting Service and Earth Store Repentance Service in July of the Lunar calendar and some of these events can last up to 49 days. Through these assemblies, practitioners recite The Fundamental Vows of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Sutra to repay kindness with offerings to their parents to pray for the sentient beings in the realm of animals, hungry ghost, hell can be relieved of their suffering.

Issue 354 of Life MagazineDharma Drum Publishing Corporation
Text: Chiu Hui-Min (邱惠敏)
Translation: Hsiao Chen-An
Min Shi, Greg Aiani

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