by Gelongma Karma Migme Chödrön | 2001 | 941,039 words
This page describes “eleven rules for the cow-herder (gopalaka)” 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.
The craft of cow-herding and in particular the eleven rules to be observed for the well-being of herds have been described in almost identical terms by many texts. The documents can be classified into two groups: the Mahāgopālakasutta and the Gopalalāvadāna.
1) The Mahāgopālakasutta:
The Mahāgopālakasutta is attested by two Pāli editions and four Chinese versions:
(i) Majjhima, I, p. 220–224 (tr. Chalmers, I, p. 157–159; Neumann, I, p. 514–523.
(ii) Aṅguttara,V, p. 347–353 (tr. Woodward, V, p. 224–227; Nyanatiloka, V, p. 514–518).
(iii) Chinese Saṃyukta: Tsa a an, T 99 (no. 1248), k. 47, p. 342.
(iv) Chinese Ekottara: Tseng yi a han,T 125, k. 46, p. 794.
(v) A single sūtra transl. by Kumārajiva under the title Fang nieou king, T 123, p. 546.
(vi) A single sūtra transl. by Hiuan tsang under the title Yuan k’i king, T 124, p. 547.
2) The Gopālakāvadāna:
The Gopālakāvadāna, development of the preceding sūtra which has come down to us in Sanskrit fragments and two Chinese collections:
(vii) Kalpanāmaṇḍitikā, ed. Lüders, p. 177–178
(viii) Ta tchouang yen louen king, T 201 (no, 61), k. 11, p. 316b–319a (tr. Huber, Sūtrālaṃkāra, p.308–313).
(ix) Ta tche tou louen, T 1509, k. 2, p. 73b–74c.
The translation of the eleven rules of the ox-herder present some difficulties. S. Lévi has compared the Pāli text with the Chinese versions no. iii, iv and viii (Aśvaghoṣa, Le Sūtrālaṃkāra et ses sources, JA, July-Sept., 1908, p. 140–144). The comparison of all these sources would take us too long, but here below we will give the Sanskrit and Pāli text of the eleven rules.
Note: the following extract is copied from chapter IV part 14.
How many rules for the cow-herder (gopālaka) should be kept so that his herd (gogaṇa) prospers, how many rules should he neglect for his herd to decrease and lose its prosperity? The Buddha answered: If he observes eleven rules, the cow-herder is able to make his herd prosper. What are these eleven rules?
- He knows their colors.
- He knows the distinctive marks.
- He knows how to brush them.
- He knows how to heal their wounds.
- He knows how to make smoke for them.
- He knows the good paths.
- He knows what the herd needs.
- He knows the fords.
- He knows the good pastures.
- He knows how to milk them.
- He knows how to pay respect to the leaders of the herd.
The cow-herder who observes these eleven rules can make his herd prosper. In the same way, the bhikṣu who knows eleven rules can make his good dharmas progress.