“Sutra” is a Sanskrit term that means “words of Sakyamuni Buddha”, who founded Buddhism over 2,500 years ago in India. In essence, the intent of his numerous sermons and discourses was to teach that universal compassion of Amida Buddha embraces and sustains all beings with infinite light and immeasurable life and leads them to enlightenment.
The sutras which are contained in Jodo Shinshu Service Books are all meant to lead us to awaken to these virtues of Amida Buddha. Sutra chanting is a distinct practice in Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, in which the words of the Buddha are to be read aloud with one’s innermost heart in praising the virtues of Amida Buddha. The harmonious sound of chanting lead many followers to awaken to the wisdom and compassion of Amida Buddha and to listen to the teachings. Their gratitude to Amida Buddha was expressed through chanting.