The Sanghāta is one of a special set of Buddhist sutras called dharma-paryāyas, or ‘transformative teachings,’ that function to transform those who hear or recite them in particular ways.
In general, the recitation of Mahāyāna sutras is one of the six virtuous practices specifically recommended for purification, and the recitation of this sutra in particular has far-reaching karmic consequences that last for many lifetimes, as the Sanghāta Sūtra itself explains in detail. Within the sutra, the Buddha provides numerous descriptions of the ways in which the sutra works on those who recite it to clear away their seeds of suffering, and to assure their future happiness all the way up enlightenment.
The sutra also includes some forceful teachings on death and impermanence, including a teaching on the physical and mental processes that occur at the time of death.
Although it was visited often and with great enthusiasm for centuries by Mahāyāna Buddhists in India and Central Asia, the wondrous world of the Sanghāta Sūtra was largely forgotten by Buddhist communities from the eleventh century onwards. In 2002, the text was re-introduced to Buddhist practitioners by academic scholars in North America.
Since then, the Sanghāta has become the subject of renewed activity: the text has been translated into many modern languages, recited, studied and copied by thousands of Buddhists worldwide, due in large part to the efforts of Lama Zopa Rinpoche. After over one thousand years of quiet slumber, this discourse of the Buddha has again taken a vibrant place at the center of the spiritual life of practicing Buddhists around the world.