Rice Seedling Sutra

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Rice Seedling Sutra (Skt. Śālistamba-sūtra; Tib. སཱ་ལུའི་ལྗང་པའི་མདོ་, Wyl. sA lu'i ljang pa'i mdo) — a short sutra of the Mahayana in which the bodhisattva Maitreya explains the meaning of a very brief teaching on dependent origination that the Buddha had given earlier that day while gazing at a rice seedling. In the sutra, the Buddha said "bhikshus, whoever sees dependent arising sees the Dharma. Whoever sees the Dharma sees the Buddha." It is these words of the Buddha that Shariputra was requesting Maitreya to explain.


This is most probably one of the oldest mahayana texts (1st or 2nd cent. BC) and inspired Chandrakirti's treatises, especially his Introduction to the Middle Way.[1]

There doesn't seem to be any extant complete Sanskrit text of this sutra. However, it is quoted extensively in surviving Sanskrit treatises.[2] Mainly based on these, several Sanskrit reconstructions have been carried out which are claimed to include about ninety percent of the Rice Seedling Sutra.[3]

Early Translations

  • There are four Chinese translations, the first and earliest having been carried out during the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317–420 ᴄᴇ).
  • Tibetan translation by Yeshé Dé: Dergé Kangyur, General Sutra section, Toh. 210

Modern Translations

In English

In French

  • Philippe Cornu and Patrick Carré, Soûtra du diamant et autres soûtras de la voie médiane (Paris: Fayard, 2001) (translated from Tibetan and Chinese versions)


  • Śālistamba[ka]ṭīkā by Kamalashila
  • Śālistamba[ka]mahāyana­sūtra­ṭīkā by Nagarjuna
  • Śāli­stambaka­kārikā by Nagarjuna


  1. Philippe Cornu, Dictionnaire Encyclopédique du Bouddhisme, page 532.
  2. 84000: Like Yaśomitra’s Abhi­dharma­kośa­vyākhyā, Candrakīrti’s Prasannapadā, Prajñākaramati’s Bodhi­caryāvatāra­pañjikā, Śāntideva’s Śikṣasamuccaya, and also a critical non-Buddhist treatise, the Bhāmatī by Vācaspatimiśra.
  3. 84000: The first reconstructed edition was prepared by Louis de La Vallée Poussin (1913). Without having access to this, N. Ayaswami Sastri (1950) produced another reconstruction. Another one was produced by V.V. Gokhale (1961). Finally, a thorough comparative study and new reconstructed edition was carried out by N. Ross Reat (1993), taking into account Sanskrit, Tibetan, Pāli, and Chinese sources; Reat also provides a complete English translation. This work also illustrates the many parallel and similar passages in Pāli suttas.

Further Reading

  • Geshe Sonam Rinchen, How Karma Works: The Twelve Links of Dependent Arising (Snow Lion, 2006)
  • The Dalai Lama, The Meaning of Life, translated and edited by Jeffrey Hopkins (Wisdom, 2000)
  • N. Ross Reat, The Śalistamba Sūtra (Dehli: Molital Baranasidas, 1993)
  • Geshe Yeshe Thabkhe, The Rice Seedling Sutra (Snow Lion, 2020, ISBN 978-1614296430)

Teachings Given to the Rigpa Sangha

  • Do Tulku Rinpoche, Rigpa Düsseldorf, 30 May 2021 (see below for recordings)

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