The glossary contains definitions of all important personal and place names appearing in the translation, as well as major Sanskrit terms and numerical categories. A few names of very minor figures and some Sanskrit names of flowers, birds, types of perfume, etc., that appear only once or twice in the text have been omitted. Sanskrit words are also shown with full diacritical marks when appropriate. Skt = Sanskrit; Ch = Chinese (Pinyin); J = Japanese.
Ajatashatru (Ajātaśatru) A king of the state of Magadha in Shakyamuni’s time. He made Magadha into the most powerful kingdom in India at that period. Later in his life he converted to Buddhism.
Ajnata Kaundinya (Ājñāta Kauṇḍinya) One of the five ascetics who heard Shakyamuni’s first sermon and converted to his teachings. The eighth chapter of the Lotus Sutra predicts that he will become a buddha named Universal Brightness.
Akanishtha (Akaniṣṭha) The highest heaven in the world of form. Beings living in this heaven possess a pure body, free from all suffering and illness.
Akshobhya (Akṣobhya) Immovable. A buddha mentioned in the seventh chapter of the Lotus Sutra. He became an important figure in esoteric Buddhism.
Amitayus (Amitāyus) Infinite Life. A buddha mentioned in chapters seven and twenty-three of the Lotus Sutra. Also known as Amitabha (Amitābha), or Infinite Light, he became the central figure in the Pure Land teachings of Chinese and Japanese Buddhism.
Ananda (Ānanda) A cousin of Shakyamuni and one of his ten major disciples. He accompanied Shakyamuni for many years as his personal attendant and heard more of his teachings than any other disciple. He is accordingly known as foremost in hearing the Buddha’s teachings. At the First Council held after Shakyamuni’s death to put in order his teachings, Ananda is said to have recited the teachings from memory. The words “This is what I heard” that appear at the beginning of most sutras refer to this recitation.
Aniruddha Also called Anuruddha. A cousin of Shakyamuni and one of his ten major disciples, known as foremost in divine insight. The eighth chapter of the Lotus Sutra predicts that he will become a buddha named Universal Brightness.
arhat A “worthy,” one who has attained the highest stage of Hinayana enlightenment, and is the highest among the four kinds of voice-hearers. Such a person has gained freedom from transmigration in the six paths of existence. The Lotus Sutra urges people to reject the goal of arhat and instead strive for the highest level of enlightenment, that of buddhahood. See also four-stage enlightenment.
asamkhya (asaṃkhya) An ancient Indian numerical unit, indicating an uncountably large number.
Asita A seer who in a later existence becomes Devadatta, as related in the twelfth chapter of the Lotus Sutra.
asura A class of contentious demons in Indian mythology who fight continually with the god Indra (also known as Shakra). In Buddhism asuras constitute one of the eight kinds of nonhuman beings who protect Buddhism.
Avalokitasvara Perceiver of the World’s Sounds. Another name for this bodhisattva is Avalokiteshvara (Avalokiteśvara), or Freely Perceiving. Known as Guanyin and Kannon in China and Japan.
Avichi (Avīci) The hell of incessant suffering, the most terrible of the eight hot hells. One who commits one of the five cardinal sins or slanders the correct teaching is said to fall into this hell.