Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

by Gelongma Karma Migme Chödrön | 2001 | 940,961 words

This page describes “buddha is omniscient, independent, without a teacher” as written by Nagarjuna in his Maha-prajnaparamita-sastra (lit. “the treatise on the great virtue of wisdom”) in the 2nd century. This book, written in five volumes, represents an encyclopedia on Buddhism as well as a commentary on the Pancavimsatisahasrika Prajnaparamita.

Part 1 - The Buddha is omniscient, independent, without a teacher

Now let us explain the expression Evaṃ mayā śrutam ekasmin samaye as a whole (sāmānyataḥ), ‘Thus have I heard at one time’.[1]

Question – The Buddhas are omniscient (sarvajñā); independent and without a teacher (ācārya), they do not follow the teaching of others (paradeśanā), they do not adopt the doctrines of others (paradharma), they do not use borrowed systems (paramārga). They preach the Buddhadharma without having heard it from another. How can they say: “Thus have I heard (evaṃ mayā śrutam)?”

[66b] Answer – 1. As you have said, the Buddha is omniscient, independent, without a teacher; he preaches the Dharma without having heard it from another. But the Buddhist doctrine is not the only utterance that has come from the mouth of the Buddha (buddhakaṇṭhokta); it is also all the truths (satya) and all the good words (subhāṣita) propagated in the world (loka). (see notes on the authenticity of a Buddhist text) Skillful words (nipuṇa), well spoken (subāṣita) come forth everywhere in the Buddhadharma. Thus the Buddha said in the Vinaya: “What is the Buddhadharma? The Buddhadharma is that which has been spoken by five kinds of people: 1. that which the Buddha himself has spoken (buddhabhāṣita); 2. that which the disciples of the Buddha have spoken (śrāvakabhāṣita); 3. that which the sages have said (ṛṣibhāṣita); 4. that which has been said by the gods (devabhāṣita); 5. that which apparitional beings have spoken (upapādukabhāṣita).”[2] – Furthermore, in the Che t’i tö tao king (Śakradevendrābhisaṃbodhisūtra), the Buddha said to Kiao che kia (Kauśika):[3] “The truths (satya), good words (subhāṣita), words that are skillful and well spoken, spread throughout the world, all constitute my doctrine.”[4] Finally, it is said in the Tsan fa kie (Buddhastotragātha):

The good words in the world
Are all derived from the Buddhadharma.
These good words are faultless
And are no different from the words of the Buddha.

Although they are found elsewhere
These are good words, faultless.
They are all
Fragments of the Buddhadharma.

Even among heretics
There can be good words.
Thus the insect that gnaws wood
Soon takes on the name [of the wood that it eats].

The doctrine of beginning, middle and end,
The destruction of specific and general characteristics
Is like the iron that comes out of the gangue.

Who would think
That a forest of eraṇḍa[5]
Could contain the gośīrṣa[6] sandalwood?

Who would believe
That a bad seed
Could contain the wondrous honey fruit?

Then we would believe
That the works of heretics
Themselves contain good words.

Good and true words
All come from the Buddha,
Like the perfume of the sandal wood (candana)
Comes from Mo li chan.[7]

Withhold Mo li chan
And there would be no more sandalwood.
Similarly, withhold the Buddha
And there would be no further good words.

2. Furthermore,[8] the phrase Evaṃ mayā śrutam is an expression used by the disciples of the Buddha such as A nan (Ānanda), etc. Since it partakes of the marks (lakṣaṇa) of the Buddhadharma, it is called Buddhadharma. Thus the Buddha, at the time of his parinirvāṇa, was at Kiu yi na kie (Kuśinagara) between two Sa lo (śāla) trees; lying with his head to the north, the Buddha was about to enter into nirvāṇa. At that time, Ānanda, still under the influence of the afflictions (anunaya), had not yet dispelled or eliminated passion (rāga). His heart was plunged into a sea of sadness from which he was unable to come out. Then the sthavira A ni lou teou (Aniruddha) said to Ānanda: “You, keeper of the basket of the Buddhist texts, you ought not to founder in a sea of sadness like an ordinary person (pṛthagjana). All conditioned dharmas (saṃskṛtadharma) are transitory in nature (anityalakṣaṇa). You should not be sad. Moreover, the Buddha has entrusted the doctrine to you and now, in your despair, you forget the task which he entrusted to you. Therefore ask the Buddha the following questions: After the Buddha’s parinirvāṇa, what path (mārga) shall we follow? Who will be our teacher (ācārya), our critic and our guide [66c] (chaṇḍaka)? What will be our refuge (uposatha)? What words will we place at the beginning of our Buddhist texts? You should ask the Buddha about these things to come (anāgatavastu).”

When Ānanda heard this advice, his sadness decreased a little and he found the strength to think about the path. He helped the Buddha to lie at the edge of the bed and asked him these questions.

The Buddha said to Ānanda: “Henceforth after my departure, you yourself will be your own refuge (ātmaśaraṇa), the Dharma will be your refuge (dharmaśaraṇa), and you will have no other refuge (ananyaśaraṇa). How, O bhikṣu, will you be your own refuge, how will the Dharma be your refuge, and how will you have no other refuge? The bhikṣu considers his own body (kāyam anupaśyati); he always dedicates to it his full attention (ekacitta), his wisdom (prajñā), his zeal (prayatna), his energy (vīrya) and he rejects the worldly desires and resulting dissatisfactions (loke ‘bhidhyādaurmanasya). In the same way, he considers the body of another, then his own body and that of another at the same time. The same for the smṛtyupasthānas of feeling (vedanā), mind (citta) and dharmas. Then it can be said that this bhikṣu is himself his own refuge, goes to the Dharma for refuge and has no other refuge.[9] Henceforth the Kiai t’o kiai king (Pratimokṣasūtra) will be your great teacher (mahācārya). You should carry out bodily activities (kāyakarman) and vocal actions (vākkarman) according to the instructions of the Pratimokṣasūtra. – After my Nirvāṇa, your guide (chaṇḍaka), O bhikṣu, will be the punishment according to the rule of Brahmā (brahmadaṇḍa).[10] – If someone is in a state of mind of panic (abhihatacitta), he should be taught the Chan t’o kia tcgan yen king (Saṃthakātyāyanasūtra); then he will be able to obtain the Path.[11] – As for the precious basket of the Dharma (dharmaratnapiṭaka) compiled during three incalculable periods (asaṃkhyeyakalpa), it must begin with the following phrase: “Thus have I heard at one time (evaṃ mayā śrutam ekasmin samaye); the Buddha was dwelling in such and such a place, in such and such a country, in such and such a grove…” Why [this beginning]? Sūtras all began with this formula among the Buddhas of the past (atītabuddha); sūtras all will begin with this formula among the [67a] Buddhas of the future (anāgatabuddha); finally, the Buddhas of the present (pratyutpannabuddha), at the moment of their parinirvāṇa, also teach this formula. Henceforth, after my parinirvāṇa, sūtras must also begin with this formula: Evaṃ mayā śrutam skasmin samaye.

By that, we know that [the content of the sūtra] was taught by the Buddha, but it is not the Buddha who says: Evaṃ mayā śrutam. The Buddha, who is omniscient (sarvajñā), independent and without a teacher, cannot say: “Thus have I heard.” If the Buddha said: “Thus have I heard”, the objection could be made that the Buddha did not know the thing [before having heard it]. At the request of Ānanda, the Buddha has taught this formula, a formula to be pronounced by his disciples. [Therefore] this expression Evaṃ mayā śrutam is irreproachable.

3. Furthermore, so that the Buddhadharma may remain in the world for a long time, the āyuṣmat[12] Mo ho kia chö (Mahākāśyapa) and other arhats questioned Ānanda, asking him: “Where did the Buddha preach the Dharma for the first time? What dharmas did he preach?” – Ānanda answered: “Thus have I heard at one time (evaṃ mayā śrutam ekasmin samaye); the Buddha was dwelling in the country of Po lo na (Vārāṇasī), in the residence of Sien jen (Rṣipatana) in Mṛgadāva); he preached the noble truths on suffering (duḥkhāryasatya) to five hundred bhikṣus. At the beginning, I understood nothing about the self. But by pondering correctly (yoniśomanasikāra) on the Dharma, I obtained the eye (cakṣus), knowledge (jñāna), the ear (śrotra) and awakening (buddhi).”[13]

Similarly, it is said at length in the Tsi fa king (Dharmasaṃgrahasūtra?):[14] When the Buddha entered into nirvāṇa, the earth trembled six times, the rivers reversed their courses, a violent wind blew up in a tempest, black clouds arose on the horizon in the four directions. There was thunder and lightning, hail and rain came down in floods; here and there stars fell. Lions and other wild beasts began to howl; gods and men uttered great moans, all wailing: “The Buddha has passed into Nirvāṇa. Alas! the eye of the world (lokacakṣus) is extinguished.” At the same time, plants, forests, grasses, trees, flowers and leaves suddenly split open. Sumeru, king of mountains, trembled from its very base. Waves rose up in the sea, the earth quaked terribly. Mountains and cliffs crumbled, trees snapped and smoke arose from the four quarters of the horizon. There was great panic. Ponds and rivers became soiled with mud. The stars appeared in full daylight. People began to wail, the gods lamented, the goddesses choked with their tears. The śaikṣas suffered in silence; the aśaikṣas told one another that all conditioned dharmas (saṃskṛtadharma) are transitory (anitya). Thus the gods, mānuṣas, yakṣas, rākṣasas, gandharvas, kiṃnaras, mahoragas and nāgas all felt great sadness.

The arhats who had crossed the sea of old age (jarā), sickness (vyādhi) and death (maraṇa) said to one another:

We have crossed the river of worldly passions,
We have destroyed old age, sickness and death with disgust.
We have seen that the body is [like] a chest containing four great serpents.[15]
Now let us enter into the nirvāṇa of cessation without residue.

The great arhats everywhere, gave up their bodies at will in the mountains and forests, near rivers and springs, in the valleys and ravines, and entered into [67b] parinirvāṇa.[16] Other arhats took their departure into the sky (ākāśa) like the king of the swans (haṃsarāja). They manifested all kinds of miraculous powers (ṛddhibāla) so that the multitude of men might obtain pure faith (śraddhāviṣuddhi). Then, after their parinirvāṇa, the devas, from those of the six realms of desire (kāmaloka) up to those of the pure abodes (śuddhāvāsa), seeing that the arhats had all entered into nirvāṇa, had this thought: “The sun of Buddha has set. The disciples who cultivate all kinds of dhyāna, samādhi, liberations (vimokṣa) and wisdom, their light, too, is extinguished. Beings suffer all kinds of sickness: desire (rāga), hatred (dveṣa) and stupidity (moha). Now that these physicians of the Dharma (dharmabhaiṣajyācārya) hasten to enter into nirvāṇa, who then will heal them? Like the lotus (puṇdarīka), the disciples, arisen in the immense ocean of wisdom, are now withered. The tree of the Dharma (dharmavṛkṣa) has been cut down; the cloud of Dharma (dharmamegha) has dissipated. The king of elephants (ajapati) of great wisdom has withdrawn, the offspring of the elephants (gajapota) follow after him. The merchants of the Dharma (dharmavaṇij) have gone, from whom can we request the jewel of the Dharma (dharmaratna)? A stanza says:

The Buddha has gone to rest forever: he has entered into Nirvāṇa.
The multitude of those who have destroyed the bonds has likewise departed.
Thus the universe is empty and without knowledge.
The shadows of ignorance thicken, the lamp of knowledge is extinguished.

Then the devas prostrated at the feet of Mahākāśyapa and uttered this stanza:

Elder! You have given up desire (rāga), anger (āghāta) and pride (māna).
Your body is like a column of red gold (raktasuvarṇastambha).
From head to toe, you are majestic, marvelous, peerless,
The clarity of your eye is pure like the lotus.

Having praised him thus, they said to Mahākāśyapa: “O venerable Kāśyapa! Do you know, O Śākya, the ship of the Dharma (dharmanāva) is broken. The citadel of the Dharma (dharmanagara) is crumbling. The ocean of the Dharma (dharmadhārā) is drying up. The standard of the Dharma (darmapatākā) is being turned upside down. The lamp of the Dharma (dharmapradīpa) is about to be extinguished. Those who proclaim the Dharma are about to leave. Those who practice the Path are becoming more and more rare. The power of the wicked is ever growing. In your great loving-kindness (mahāmaitrī), it is necessary to found solidly (avasthāpayati) the Buddhadharma.”[17]

Then the Great Kāśyapa, whose mind is like a clear tranquil ocean, replied: “You have spoken truly. It is truly as you have said. Before long, the universe will be without knowledge (jñāna) and plunged into shadows.” Then Kāśyapa the Great, by his silence, accepted their invitation. The devas prostrated at the feet of Kāśyapa the Great; at once they disappeared and returned home.

Then after some time, Kāśyapa the Great thought: “What shall I do so that this great doctrine, acquired with difficulty by the Buddha during three incalculable periods (asamkhyeya kalpa), will remain for a long time?” Having pondered thus, [he said]: “I know how to ensure a long life for this doctrine: it is necessary to compile the Sieou tou lou (Sūtras), the A p’i t’an (Abhidharma) and the P’i ni (Vinaya) and make the three baskets of the Dharma (dharmapiṭaka). In this way, the Buddhadharma will last for a long time and the people of the ages to come will receive it and practice it. Why is that? From age to age, with painful effort and out of compassion (anukampā), the Buddha exerted himself to acquire this doctrine and has proclaimed it to men. We must likewise comply respectfully with the Buddhadharma, spread it and develop it.”

Then, having pronounced these words, Kāśyapa the Great went to the top of [67c] Mount Sumeru. He struck the bronze gaṇḍī[18] and recited this stanza:

Disciples of the Buddha!
Keep well the memory of the Buddha.
We must recognize the benefits of the Buddha.
Do not enter into nirvāṇa.

The sound of the gaṇḍī and the sound of the words of Kāśyapa the Great spread throughout the entire trichiliomegachiliocosm (trisāhasramahāsahāsralokadhātu) and all heard him. The disciples endowed with miraculous powers (ṛddhibāla) assembled around Kāśyapa the Great who said: “The Buddhadharma is about to be extinguished. The Buddha, who for three incalculable periods (asaṃkhyaya kalpa), by difficult effort and out of compassion (anukampā) for beings, has acquired this Dharma, has entered into parinirvāṇa. Those of his disciples who know the Dharma (dharmajñā), retain the Dharma (dharmadhara) and recite the Dharma (dharmabhānaka), have all entered nirvāṇa along with the Buddha. Now that the Dharma is about to be lost, it is necessary to have the greatest compassion (karuṇā) for beings to come. Having lost the eye of wisdom (prajñācakṣus), they will be stupid and blind. In his great kindness and great compassion (mahāmaitrīkaruṇā), the Buddha has had pity for beings. We should respectfully comply with the Buddha’s doctrine. Let us wait until we have compiled the baskets (piṭaka) of the sacred words and then we will enter into nirvāṇa as we please.”[19]

All who had come to the assembly accepted this command and remained. Then Kāśyapa the Great chose a thousand individuals.[20] With the exception of Ānanda, all were arhats, having acquired the six superknowledges (abhijñā), liberation (vimokṣa) complete and without any doubt. All had acquired the three knowledges (vidyā), mastery of samādhi (samādhivaśitā). They could practice the samādhis in a forward or reverse direction (pratilomānulomataḥ). All were without obstacles (avyādhāta). They recited the three baskets (tripiṭaka) and understood the inner (ādhyātmika) and outer (bāhya)[21] sacred scriptures. They recited and knew fully the eighteen kinds of great sūtras of the heretical sects (tīrthika)[22] and all of them were able to conquer the heterodox (pāṣaṇḍa) in debate.

Footnotes and references:


Other old commentaries on this phrase have been noted by P. Demiéville, Les versions chinoises du Milindapañha, BEFEO, XXIV, 1924, p. 52–57.


Passage taken from the Sarvāstivādin Vinaya, Che song liu,T 1435, K. 9, p. 71b1–2.. When the Mppś refers to the Vinaya, it always quotes the Sarvāstivādin Vinaya word for word. These two texts, the Sarvāstivādin Vinaya and the Mppś, have both been translated by Kumārajīva and are known to us only as translations by this author.

The text cited here has its correspondent in all the other Vinayas; Pāli Vinaya, IV, p. 15: dhammo nāma buddhabhāsito… dhammupasaṃhito. – Mahāsaṃghika Vinaya, Mo ho seng k’i liu, T 1425, k. 13, p. 336a21: “The doctrine is either what the Buddha has pronounced or else that which he has approved and sanctioned; what the Buddha has approved and sanctioned are his śrāvaka disciples and other men who have pronounced it and the Buddha has approved with his sanction.” – Dharmagupta Vinaya, Sseu fen liu, T 1428, k. 11, p. 639a16: “The doctrine in padas is what the Buddha has pronounced, what the śrāvakas have expressed, what the ṛṣis have expressed and what the devas have expressed.” This passage is identical with the Pāli. – Mūlasarvāstivādin Vinaya, Ken pen chou… p’i nai ye, T 1332, k. 26, p. 771b22: “The word ‘dharma’ means the doctrine that the Buddha and the śrāvakas have pronounced.” – The bodhisattvas appear in the definition of the doctrine in “Nandimitra’s Relation”: In the collections of the holy Dharma, there are texts that have been pronounced by the Buddha, others by the bodhisattvas, others by the śrāvakas, others by the ṛṣis, others by the gods, others by the sages; they can inspire fairness and benefit.” Cf. S. Lévi, Les seize Arhat protecteurs de la loi, JA, 1916, p. 20–21.


Kauśika (in Pāli, Kosiya) is a rather rare, it is true, epithet of Indra-Śakra. It occurs already in the Ṛigveda (I, 10) and Mahābhārata (3, 9,9 and 135,20). See Macdonell, Vedic Mythology, p. 62, and W. Hopkins, Epic Mythology, p. 123. – It occurs in Buddhist texts: Dīgha, II, p. 270; Majjhima, I, p. 200, 202, 315, 403. This epithet, which means ‘belonging to the Kuśika family’, is a survival from the time when Indra was the god of the Kuśika clan, according to Rhys Davids (Dīgha, tr. II, p. 296).


I [Lamotte] have not succeeded in identifying this text, but in Aṅguttara, IV, p. 163–164, there is a conversation between Indra and some bhikṣus where the latter also affirm that everything that is well said has been said by the Buddha. Indra congratulates the monks on their speech: “That is a fine doctrine. Do you know it from your own enlightenment or do you hold it from the Buddha?” The monks reply: “When, at a distance from a large granary, one sees some people who are carrying grain in a basket, in their robes, in their hands, one can easily deduce where that grain came from; in the same way, all that is well said, every good word, is the word of the Blessed One.” (Yaṃ kiṃci subhāsitaṃ sabbaṃ taṃ Bhagavato vacanaṃ).


eraṇḍa, according to Monier-Willimas: the castor-oil plant, Ricinus communis or Croton polyandron; or Palma Christi.


gośīrṣa, according to Monier-Williams: a kind of sandalwood (brass-colored and very fragrant).


Mo li chan, also transcribed by the characters Mo lo chan (Przyluski, Concile, p. 207) and Mo lo ye chan (S. Lévi, Catalogue géographique des Yakṣa, JA, Jan.-Feb., 1915, p. 41) is most likely Mount Malaya where gośīrṣa candana is collected, below, k. 10, p. 132a.


This paragraph gives the ultima verba of the Buddha before his entry into parinirvāṇa. At the request of Aniruddha, Ānanda asks five questions of the dying Buddha who answers with five pieces of advice. I [Lamotte] do not find this episode in the other stories of the parinirvāṇa where Aniruddha appears only once to learn from Ānanda if the Buddha has entered into nirodhasamāpatti. Cf. Dīgha, II, p. 156; Tch’ang a han, T 1, k. 4, p. 26b28; Pan ni yuan king, T 6, k. 2, p. 188b26; Ta pan nie p’an king, T 7, k. 2, p. 205a10; Ken pen chouo… tsaa che, T 1451, k. 38, p. 309b6.


The same sermon on the four smṛtyupasthānas was already spoken to Ānanda at Beluva (Dīgha, II, p. 100); Tch’ang a han, T 1, k. 2, p. 15b; Ken pen chou… tsa che, T 1451, k. 30,p. 387b) and at Sāvatthi (Saṃyutta, V, p.163) and to the bhikṣus at Mātulā (Dīgha, III, p. 58, 77; Tch’ang a han, T 1 (no. 6), k. 6, p. 391; Tchong a han, T 26 (no. 70, k. 15, p. 520b): Tasmāt ih’ Ānanda attadīpā vihāratha… dhammadīpo dhammasaraṇo anaññasaraṇo.


Brahmadaṇḍa was inflicted by the Buddha upon Chanda: “Let Chanda say to the bhikṣus whatever he wishes, but let the bhikṣus not speak to him, nor admonish him, nor advise him.” (cf. Dīgha, II, p. 154; Vinaya, II, p. 290: Channo bhikkhu yaṃ icccheyya… na anusāsitabbo).

The same prohibition in Tch’ang a han, T 1 (no. 1), k. 4, p. 26a. The punishment is even more severe in the Mahīśāsaka Vinaya, Wou fen liu, T 1421, k. 39, p. 102a: “It will be forbidden for any bhikṣu, bhikṣuṇī, upāsaka, upāsikā to meet him or to speak to him.” – See also Sammapadaṭutha, II, p. 110–12 (Burlingame, Legends, II, p. 166) and Rh.D., Theragāthā, tr. chap. LXIX.


In this sūtra the Buddha praises the good meditation, without content or object, which prepares the way to nirvāṇa. He congratulates Saṃtha Kātyāyana (in Pāli, Sandha or Saddha Kaccāyana): cf. Aṅguttara, V, p. 323; Saṃyutta, II, p. 153) for having no concept whatsoever of what is. And the gods venerate Saṃtha, saying: “Homage to you, excellent man, for we have not that on which you meditate!”

We have several versions of this sūtra with important variants – in Pāli, in Aṅguttara, V, p. 323–326; – in Sanskrit, from a citation in Bodhisattvabhūmi, p. 49–50; – in Chinese, in Tsa a han, T 99 (no. 926), k. 33, p. 235c–236b, and T 100 (no. 151), k. 8, p. 430c–431b; from citations in Yu kiu che ti louen by Asaṅga, T 1579, k. 36, p. 189b, and by Ta tch’eng tchang tchen louen by Bhāvaviveka, T 1578, k. 2, p. 276c (tr. L. de La Vallée Poussin, Le Joyau dans la main, MCB, II, 1932–33, p. 127).

Here is the Sanskrit text of this sūtra which, with the exception of some additions which I [Lamotte] have made in brackets, corresponds exactly with the Pāli version: Iha Saṃtha bhikṣur na pṛthivīṃ niśritya… kiṃ tvaṃ niśrtya dhyāyasi.

Poussin, who several times has mentioned the importance of this text, comments: “Two schools read confirmation of their metaphysical theses in this old sūtra and the meeting is rather thorny. Maitreya-Asaṅga’s school thinks that the son of Kātyāyanī meditates on ineffable reality, on the dharma called tathatā which it discovered some centuries after the redaction of the sūtra and of which old scripture knew nothing. Bhāvaviveka says that the son of Kātyāyanī meditates on the void, for only voidness exists in the universe; he makes the son of Kātyāyanī a precursor of Bhāvaviveka… The sūtra teaches nothing other than right meditation.” (LAV., Dogme et Philosophie, p. 92; see also idem, Madhyamaka, MCB, II, 1932–33, p. 55).


āyuṣmat: ‘life-possessing’, honorific title applied to royal personages and Buddhist monks (Monier-Williams).


In telling this episode of the Council of Rājagṛha, the Mppś, according to its custom, follows the Sarvāstivādin Vinaya word for word (Che song liu, T 1435, k. 60, p. 448b; Przyluski, Concile, p. 230).


The Tsi fa king, which the Mppś takes as its pattern in the narrative of the first Council, should be very close to the Kia ye kie king, T 2027. Przyluski has commented that the account in the Mppś “is rather similar to the Kia ye kie king, especially in the verse sections.”

The account of the Council in the Mppś has been translated by Przyluski in his well-known Le Concile de Rajagṛha, ch. III, p. 57–73. I [Lamotte] cannot do better than to reproduce his translation with a few slight modifications. In my notes, I use mainly the other sources gathered by him, of which here is the list with references to the Taisho edition:

1) Among the sūtras and commentaries: Kia ye king, T 2027, vol. 49, p.4b–7a. – A yu wang king, T 2043, k. 6, p. 150a–152c7, and A yu wang tchouan, T 2043, k. 3–4, p. 112a–114a25. – Fo pan ni yuan king, T 5, k. 2, p. 175a–175c21 and Fan ni yuan king, T 6, k. 2, p. 190c–191a. – Three short extracts from Fen pie kong louen, T 1507; an extract from Ta pei king, T 380, k. 5, p. 971b11; an extract from P’ou sa tch’ou t’ai king, T 384, k. 7, p. 1058a–b.

2) Among the Vinayas: Cullavagga, XI, of the Pāli Vinaya, II, p. 284–293, and Wou fen liu, T 1421, k. 30, p. 190b–192a. – Sseu fen liu, T 1428, k, 54, p. 966a–968c, and P’i ni mou louen, T 1463, k. 4, p. 818. – Mo ho seng k’i liu, T 1425, k. 32, p. 490b–493a. – Che song liu, T 1435, k. 60, p. 447a–450a.

Przyluski has purposely set aside the narrative of the council in the Mūlasarvāstivādin Vinaya. We will have to rely on the Chinese version of Ken pen chou… tsa che, T 1451, k. 39, p. 402c–407c, the Tibetan version of the Dulwa, XI, p. 651 sq., the English translation by E. Obermiller of Bu ston, II, p. 73–91. We should not forget the information furnished by the commentaries of Vasumitra. Cf. P. Demiéville, L’origine des sectes bouddhiques d’après Paramārtha, MCB, I, 1931–32, p. 25–30.

A detailed bibliography of earlier works on the first Council will be found in Mahāvaṃsa, tr. Geiger, p. LI-LIV.


These are the four elements. Cf. Mppś, k. 12, p. 145b, the “Sūtra of the Comparison of the Four Venomous Snakes” and the various versions of the apologue entitled “The Man in the Well” (Chavannes, Contes, p. 83–84; III, p. 257; IV, p. 158, 235–238). J. Ph. Vogel, The Man in the Well, RAA, XI, 1937, p. 109–115.


The parinirvāṇa of the arhats following the Buddha’s death and the anxiety of the gods are also mentioned by the Kia ye kie king (Concile, p. 3–4), the Legend of Aśoka (Concile, p. 27) and the Ken pen chou… tsa che, T 1451, k. 39, p. 402c: “Eighty thousand bhikṣus died at the same time as Śāriputra, seventy thousand at the same time as Maudgalyāyana and eighteen thousand at the same time as the Buddha.”


In the Kia ye kie king (Concile, p. 4) and also in the Legend of Aśoka (Concile, p. 28), the devas and especially Śakra and the four devarājas, invite Kāśyapa to gather up the doctrine.


In the legend of Aśoka (Concile, p. 28) also, Kāśyapa called the assembly together by striking a gaṇḍī which resonated throughout Jambudvīpa and the trichiliocosm. – Other sources, Kia ye king, Tchouan tsi san tsang (Concile, p. 5, 95) simply say that Kāśyapa called together the saṃgha. – In the P’ou sa tch’ou t’ai king (Concile, p. 126) Kāśyapa sent his five hundred arhats to all the universes of the ten directions to announce the council. They brought back with them, in Sahāloka, 804,000 individuals.


Also in the legend of Aśoka (Concile, p. 32) Kāśyapa forbids the arhats to enter nirvāṇa before they have compiled the scriptures.


The first Council brought together five hundred participants according to most sources, one thousand according to the Mahāsāṃghika Vinaya (Concile, p. 204) and Hiuan tsang, Si yu ki, tr. Beal, II, p. 161; Watters, Travels, II, p. 160. The Mppś is aware of these numbers; here it speaks of one thousand members, but later (p. 69c) of five hundred. Therefore its account is not homogeneous, as Przyluski has noted.


According to Przyluski, this concerns the canonical and extracanonical scriptures, or else the Buddhist and non-Buddhist scriptures.


For these eighteen great sūtras, see Bukkyô daijiten, p. 941b.