Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “why is the buddha called samyaksambuddha” 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 4 - Why is the Buddha called Samyaksaṃbuddha

He is also called San miao san fo t’o (samyaksaṃbuddha). Why?

1. Samyak means perfectly, sam means fully, and budh means understanding. The expression thus means “He who understands all dharmas perfectly and completely”.[1]

Question. – How does he understand perfectly and fully?

Answer. –

He understands suffering (duḥkha) as suffering (duḥkhalakṣaṇa),
He understands the origin (samudaya) as origin,
He understands cessation (nirodha) as cessation,
He undertands the Path (mārga) as the Path.

Therefore he is called Samyaksambuddha.

2. Furthermore, he knows that all the dharmas are truly unchangeable (abhedya), without increase or decrease. Why are they unchangeable? When the functioning of the mind (cittapravṛtti) is stopped (sthita) and destroyed (niruddha), when the path of speech (abhilāpamārga) is cut, he understands that dharmas are motionless (acala),[2] like nirvāṇa itself. This is why he is called Samyaksaṃbuddha.

3. Finally, the languages (adhivacana) of all the universes (lokadhātu), the ten directions (daśadiś), the languages of beings (sattva) in the six destinies (gati), the history of previous lives (pūrvajanmanidāna) of beings and their birthplaces (utpādasthāna) in future generations (anāgatajanma), the natures of the mind (cittalakṣaṇa) of all beings in the ten directions, their fetters (saṃyojana), their roots of good (kuśalamūla) and their outcome (niḥsaraṇa): all the dharmas of this kind he knows in detail.[3] This is why he is called Samyaksaṃbuddha

Footnotes and references:


Cf. Visuddhimagga, p. 201: sammā sāmañ ca sabbadhammānaṃ pana buddhattā sammāsambuddho.


We know that the Mahāyāna schools equate saṃsāra and nirvāṇa. Cf. Madh. vṛtti, XXV, v. 19–20, p. 535 (Stcherbatsky, Buddhist Nirvāṇa, p. 205; LAV., Madhyamaka, MCB, II, 1933, p. 29; Laṅkāvatāra, p. 42,; Madhyāntavibhaṅga, p. 160; Saṃgraha, p. 127, 265.


The Buddha derives these consciousnesses from his abhijñās. There is a short bibliography of the abhijñās in Saṃgraha.