Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

by Gelongma Karma Migme Chödrön | 2001 | 941,039 words

This page describes “introduction (explanation of the word bhagavat)” 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.

Introduction (explanation of the word Bhagavat)

Sūtra: Bhagavat

Śāstra: Now let us explain this word.


This chapter is devoted to the synonyms of the name of Buddha. The first ten constitute a traditional formula of praise: bhagavāṃs tathāgato ‘rhaṃ samyaksaṃbuddho vidyācaranasaṃpannaḥ sugato lokavid anuttaraḥ puruṣadamyasārathiḥ sasta devamanusyanam buddho bhagavāṃ. Cf. the Dhvajāgrasūtra of which we have the Sanskrit version (Waldschmidt, Bruchstücke, p. 47), the Pāli version (Saṃyutta, I, p. 210) and the Chinese version (Tsa a han T 99 (no. 981), k. 35, p. 255b; Tseng yi a han, T 125, k. 49, p. 615a). This formula is very frequently encountered in the Pāli Nikāyas, e.g., Dīgha, I, p. 49; III, 237: Majjhima, I, p. 37, 69, 179, 285, 290, 344, 356, 401, 412, 502, 521; II, p. 55, 133, 238; Saṃyutta, I, p. 219; II, p. 69; III, p. 85; IV, p. 320; V, p. 197, 343, 445; Aṅguttara, I, p. 168, 207; II, p. 33, 56, 66, 147; III, p. 2, 10, 31053, 65, 153, 212, 285, 312, 341; IV, p. 3, 5, 109, 225, 270, 284, 288, 324, 406; V, p. 15, 183, 204, 329, 333, 336.

On the other hand, it is much more rare in the Chinese Āgamas, either because the afore-mentioned sūtras do not have a correspondent in the Chinese collections or because the formula is omitted in the parallel sūtras of the same collections. It may be assumed that the Pāli school above all contributed to the success of this formula. However, it is not completely absent in the Chinese Āgamas. Tchong a han, T 26 (no. 132), k. 31p. 623a; no. 146, k. 36, p. 656c27; (no. 161), k. 4, p. 685a; Tsa a han, T 99 (no. 546), k. 20, p. 141c; (no. 981), k. 35, p. 255b; Tseng yi a han, T 125, k. 6, p. 574a27; k. 14, p. 615a. – It is also found in later texts, e.g., Lalitavistara, p. 3; Saddharma-puṇḍarīka, p. 17, 65, 67, 151, etc.; Mahāvyutpatti, no. 1 sq.

The early commentators gave etymological explanations of these epithets, imaginary for the most part: see, e.g., the Che hao king (T 782); Buddhaghosa’s explanations in Visuddhimagga, I, p. 198–213 (tr. Nyanatiloka, II, p. 313–340) to be compared with Upatiṣya’s commentary in Kiai t’o tao louen, T 1648, k. 6, p. 426; Kumārajīva’s notes in the Tso tch’an san mei king, T 614, k. 2, p. 277a; Harivarman’s commentary in his Tch’eng che louen, T 1646, k. 1, p. 242. – Other references in Hôbôgirin, Butsu, p. 192.

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