Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “why is the buddha called sugata” 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 6 - Why is the Buddha called Sugata

He is also called Sieou k’ie t’o (sugata). Su means ‘good’ and gata means either ‘to go’ or ‘speaking’ (gad). Therefore the expression means the ‘Well-gone’ or the ‘Well-spoken’.

The Buddha has transcended by all kinds of deep concentrations (gambhīra samādhi) and numberless great wisdoms (apramāṇā mahāprajñā). Thus a stanza says:

The Buddha has omniscience (sarvajñāna) as his chariot,
By means of the eightfold noble Path, he has gone to nirvāṇa.

This is why he is called Sugata, well-gone.

2. He is Sugata, well-spoken, because he preaches the doctrine according to the true nature (satyalakṣaṇa) of the dharmas and without being attached (abhiniveśa) to the doctrine. Taking into account the degree of wisdom (prajñābala) of his disciples, he uses every skillful means (upāya) and the power of his superknowledges (abhijñā) to convert them (parināṃa). He alone knows who can be saved, who is sick or weakened, what each one needs to be saved, to whom it is suitable to preach generosity (dāna) or discipline (śīla) or nirvāṇa, to whom he can expound the system (dharma) of the five elements (pañcaskandha), the twelve causes (dvādaśahetupratyaya) or the four truths (caturāryasatya), etc., in order to introduce them into the Path. It is under aspects such as these that he knows the extent of knowledge (jñānabala) of his disciples and that, consequently, he preaches the doctrine. This is why he is called Sugata, well-spoken.

Definition of Sugata according to the Visuddhimagga:

Four explanations in Visuddhimagga, p. 203: Sobhanagamanattā sundaraṃ ṭhānaṃ gatattā sammāgatattā sammā ca gadattā Sugato. “He is Sugata because his path is noble, because he goes to a good place, because his walk is correct, and because he speaks (gad) correctly,”

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