Day 20 completes Chapter 15, The Appearance of Bodhisattvas from Underground, and concludes the Fifth Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.
Having last month heard Śākyamuni’s response to the questions posed by the Bodhisattvas from Underground, we consider Maitreya’s puzzlement.
Thereupon Maitreya Bodhisattva and the [other] Bodhisattvas [who had already been present in the congregation before the arrival of the Bodhisattvas from underground], eight thousand times as many as the sands of the River Ganges in number, thought:
‘We have never before seen these great Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas who sprang up from underground, stood before [Śākyamuni,] the World-Honored One, joined their hands together towards him, and made offerings to him. [Now we see that their leaders] inquire after him.’
Thereupon Maitreya Bodhisattva-mahāsattva, seeing what the Bodhisattvas numbering eight thousand times as many as the sands of the River Ganges had in their minds, and also wishing to remove his own doubts, joined his hands together towards the Buddha, and asked him in gāthās:
We have never seen
These many thousands of billions
Tell me, Most Honorable Biped!
Where did they come from?
They have gigantic bodies,
Great supernatural powers, and inconceivable wisdom.
They are resolute in mind.
They have a great power of patience.
All living beings are glad to see them.
Where did they come from?
They are each accompanied
By as many attendants
As there are sands
In the River Ganges.
Some great Bodhisattvas are each accompanied by attendants
Sixty thousand times as many as the sands of the River Ganges.
They are seeking the enlightenment of the Buddha
With all their hearts.
The number of these great teachers is sixty thousand times
The number of the sands of the River Ganges.
They came together and made offerings to you.
Now they protect and keep this sūtra.
The attendants or disciples accompanying
Each [of the other great Bodhisattvas] number
Fifty thousand times or forty thousand times
Or thirty thousand times or twenty thousand times
Or ten thousand times or a thousand times
Or a hundred times as many as the sands of the River Ganges,
Or a half, a third, or a quarter
Of the number of the sands of the River Ganges,
Or as many as the sands of the River Ganges Divided by a billion;
Or ten million nayuta, a billion or fifty million,
Or a million, ten thousand, a thousand or a hundred,
Or fifty, ten, three, two or one.
[The great Bodhisattvas] who are accompanied
By less attendants are even more numerous.
Some [great Bodhisattvas] have no attendants
Because they prefer a solitary life.
They are the most numerous.
They came together to you.
No one will be able to count
All [these great Bodhisattvas] even if he uses
A counting wand for more kalpas
Than the number of the sands of the River Ganges.