Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “why is the buddha called anuttara” 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 8 - Why is the Buddha called Anuttara

[72b] He is also called A neou to lo (anuttara), i. e., Without superior. Why is he Anuttara?

1. Nirvāṇa is the highest dharma. The Buddha alone knows this nirvāṇa; he has not learned it from another. Besides, he guides beings and leads them to nirvāṇa. Just as nirvāṇa is without superior among all the dharmas, so the Buddha is without superior among beings.

2. Furthermore, no-one is his equal and, a fortiori, surpasses him in discipline (śīla), samādhi and wisdom (prajñā). This is why he is called Anuttara.

3. Furthermore, A indicates negation and uttara means refutation. All the systems of the heretics (tīrthika) can be refuted and destroyed because they are false (asatya) and impure (aviśudda). But the doctrine of the Buddha cannot be either refuted or destroyed because it escapes any discussion (sarvavivādasamatikrānta); it is true (satya) and pure (viśuddha). This is why he is called Anuttara.

Definition of Anuttara according to the Visuddhimagga:

Visuddhimagga, p. 204: ibid., p. 207: Attanā pana guṇehi visiṭṭhatarassa kassaci abhāvato natthi etassa uttara ti Anuttaro “There is no-one better endowed with qualities than him; no-one surpasses him.”