Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “buddha’s preferences for gridhrakutaparvata” 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 - Buddha’s preferences for Gṛdhrakūṭaparvata

Question. – If it is true that the Buddha resides preferentially at Rājagṛha, why does he dwell more often on the Gṛdhrakūṭaparvata rather than at Veṇuvana?

Answer. – I have already answered that question: the āryas and contemplatives (dhyāyin) are happy in sheltered places.

Question. – But at Rājagṛha there are four other mountains: the Pi p’o lo po nou (Vaibhāravana). etc. Why does he stay less often there than at Gṛdhrakūṭaparvata?

Answer. – 1. Of the five mountains [of Rājagṛha], the Gṛdhrakūṭaparvata is the best. Why is that? Because its monastery (vihāra) is close to the city but difficult of access; this is why the crowds do not go there. But as it is near the city, begging is not tiring. That is why the Buddha resides frequently on the Gṛdhrakūṭaparvata and not elsewhere.

2. Moreover, it is on the Gṛdhrakūṭaparvata that the sthavira Mo ho kia chö (Mahākāśyapa) compiled the three baskets of the Dharma (dharmapiṭaka). When he had saved the beings who could be saved, he wanted, like the Buddha, to enter nirvāṇa.[1] In early morning (pūrvāhṇa), having taken his bowl and his cloak (patracīvaram ādāya), he entered Rājagṛha to beg (rājagṛhaṃ piṇḍāya prāvikisat). Then he ascended Gṛdhrakūṭaparvata[2] and said to his disciples; “Today I will enter [78c] nirvāṇa-without-residue (nirupadhiśeṣanirvāṇa).” Having spoken thus, he enterd his house and, seated cross-legged (paryaṇkam ābhujya), he perfumed his body with pure absorptions (anāsravasamāpatti). The disciples of Mahākāśyapa entered Rājagṛha and said to the officials: “Do you know that the sthavira Mahākāśyapa has today entered into nirupadhiśeṣanirvāṇa?” At these words, all the officials felt very sad. They said: “The Buddha has already disappeared (niruddha) and now Mahākāśyapa who protected (pālayati) the Buddhadharma also wants to enter nirupadhiśeṣanirvāṇa!” At twilight, officials and bhikṣus met at the Gṛdhrakūṭaparvata. That same night, the sthavira Mahākāśyapa came out of his concentration (samāpatter vyutthāya), entered the assembly and sat down.

He praised impermanence (anityatā):

“All conditioned dharmas (saṃskṛtadharma), the results of causes and conditions (pratītyasamutpānna), are impermanent; non-existent yesterday, existent today, tomorrow they return to non-existence; therefore they are impermanent. Being impermanent, they are suffering (duḥkha). Being suffering, they are without substance (anātmaka). As they are without substance, the sage (paṇḍita) should not be attached (abhiniviśate) to ‘me’ and ‘mine’ (ādymātmīya). If he is attached to ‘me’ and ‘mine’, he experiences immense sadness and suffering. The mind (citta) should experience disgust (saṃvega) in the presence of all the universes (loka) and seek renunciation (vairāgya).”

Proclaiming in every way the suffering at the heart of the universes (lokadhātu), he freed his mind in order to enter into nirvāṇa. When he had finished preaching, he put on the robe (saṃghātī) that he had received from the Buddha[3] once more and, taking his robe (cīvara), his bowl (pātra) and his staff (daṇḍa), he rose up into space like the golden-winged bird (garuḍa), [assumed] the four bodily postures (kāyeryāpatha); seated, lying down, walking and standing. In his one body there appeared innumerable [79a] bodies that filled the universes of the east, then these innumerable bodies became one single body again. From the upper part of his body there came forth fire (agni), while from the lower part there came forth water (udaka); then from the upper part there came forth water, while from the lower part there came forth fire.[4] And he repeated the same phenomenon in the directions of the south, the west and the north. The community felt disgust for the world (lokasaṃvega) and all its members rejoiced. Then Mahākāśyapa with his robe, his bowl and his staff made the following vow on the summit of Gṛdhrakūṭaparvata: “I wish that my body will not rot.

When Mi lö (Maitreya) becomes Buddha, my skeleton (asthisaṃghāta) will reappear and with him I will save beings.” Having reflected in this way, he penetrated right into the rock forming the mountain summit as if entering soft mud; and after he had penetrated into it, the mountain closed up once more.[5] In future generations, the human lifespan will be 84,000 years and a man’s height 80 feet. When the Buddha Maitreya comes, the height of the Buddha will be 160 feet, his face will measure 24 feet and his halo (vyomaka) will be 10 li. Then, when beings learn that the Buddha Maitreya has appeared in the world (prādurbhūta), all together will embrace the religious life (pravrajita) to follow the Buddha. When the Buddha will proclaim the Dharma in the assembly (saṃgha) for the first time, 99 prabhedas of human beings will attain the state of arhat and will be endowed (samanvāgata) with the six superknowledges (abhijñā); in the second great assembly, 96 prabhedas of human beings will attain the state of arhat; in the third there will be 93 prabhedas.[6] These in turn will save innumerable men. At that time, people will often be lazy (kusīda) and the Buddha Maitreya, seeing men in that state, will strike Gṛdhrakūṭaparvata with his fingers; then the skeleton of Mahākāṣyapa, clothed in his saṃghati, will appear and prostrate at the feet of Maitreya, rise up into space and [once more] manifest the transformations (pariṇāma) described above. Then the disciples of Buddha Maitreya, full of astonishment, will ask: “Who is this man? We say ‘man’ but he is so tiny. He is dressed in monk’s robes and can accomplish the transformations.”

The Buddha Maitreya will reply:

“This man is a disciple of the past Buddha Śākyamuni. He is called Mahākāśyapa, He is the foremost of the bhikṣus who dwell in the forest (araṇyavāsin), who have no desire (alpeccha), are content [with little] (saṃtuṣṭa) and follow the strict observances (dhūtaguṇavādin).[7] He is a great arhat who possesses the six superknowledges (abhijñā) and the deliverances (vimokṣa). During his time, the human lifespan was 100 years; births were rare and deaths were frequent. If, with his minuscule body, Mahākāśyapa was able to accomplish such great things, why do you not accomplish such miracles with your great bodies and your sharp faculties (tīkṣṇendriya)?”

Then the disciples, shamefully, will experience great disgust (saṃvega) [for the world] and the Buddha Maitreya, conforming with the dispositions of the assembly, will preach all the truths (dharma). Some will become arhats, non-returners (anāgamin), once-returners (sakṛdāgamin), enterers into the stream (srotaāpanna); others will plant the roots of good (kuśalamūla) [which will make them] pratyekabuddhas; others will acquire the patient acceptance of unborn dharmas (anutpattikadharmakṣānti) and will become irreversible bodhisattvas (avaivartikabodhisattva); finally, others will be reborn among gods and men (devamanuṣya) and enjoy all kinds of happiness. – From that we know that the Gṛdhrakūṭaparvata is a blessed and propitious place. The āryas love to reside [79b] there. The Buddha, the chief of the āryas, frequently resides on the Gṛdhrakūṭaparvata.

3. Moreover, the Gṛdhrakūṭaparvata is the residence of Buddhas of the past (atīta), the future (anāgata) and the present (pratyutpanna). Thus it is said in the Fou leou na mi ti li tseu king (Pūrṇamaitrāyaṇīputrasūtra):[8]

“The Buddha said to Pūrṇa: ‘When the trichiliomegachiliocosm (trisāhasamahāsāhasralokadhātu) will be burned up [at the end of] the kalpa, I will return and will always stay on this mountain. But weighed down by their fetters (saṃyojanāliṅgita) and unable to see the qualities (guṇa) of the Buddha, beings will not see me.’ “

4. Moreover, the Gṛdhrakūṭaparvata is pure and fresh. It welcomes the Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the three times. No place is equal to it. That is why the Buddha stays there often.

5. Moreover, the Mahāyāna sūtras were most often preached at the Gṛdhrakūṭaparvata, rarely elsewhere. Why? Because this place is pure and constitutes a marvelous retreat. The Buddhas of the three times and the bodhisattvas of the ten directions praise (varṇaṃ vadanti) and honor (pūjayanti) this place. The devas, nāgas, yakṣas, garudas, gandharvas, kiṃnaras, mahoragas and other very powerful deities protect (pālayanti), honor and venerate (satkurvanti) this place. A stanza says:

This Gṛdhrakūṭaparvata
Is the residence of the Buddhas,
The refuge of the ārya:
It protects them all.
Suffering is abolished there,
Alone, it keeps the true Dharma.

6. Finally, it is there that the innumerable bodhisattvas of the ten directions, wise, marvelous and very powerful, come to see the Buddha Śākyamuni, greet him, pay their respect to him and listen to his Dharma. This is why the Buddha preaches the Mahāyānasūtras so often on the Gṛdhrakūṭaparvata, The Prajñā is the most important of these sūtras and, since he wishes to preach it today, why should it not be on the Gṛdhrakūṭaparvata?

We have just explained in summary (samāsataḥ) why the Buddha resides on the Gṛdhrakūṭaparvata.

Footnotes and references:


The nirvāṇa of Mahākāśyapa, on which the Pāli sources are silent, is related in a whole series of texts in greater or lesser detail: Tseng yi a han, T 125, k. 44, p. 789a; Mo ho mo ye king, T383, k. 2, p. 1013b; Mi lö hia löta tch’eng fo king, T 456, p. 433b; Divyāvadāna, p. 61–62 (= Ken pen chouo…yao che, T 1448, k.6, p 25a–b; Ken pen chouo… tsa che, T 1451, k. 40. p. 408c–409c (tr. J. Przyluski, Le Nord-Ouest de l’Inde, JA, 1914, p. 522–528); P’i p’o cha, T 1545, k. 20, p. 99b, and especially k. 135, p. 698b: Kośa, VII, p. 120; A yu wang tchouan, T 2042, k. 4, p. 114a–116b (tr. Przyluski, Aśoka, p. 327–340); A yu wang king, T 2043, k. 7–8, p. 152 sq.; Fa hien tchouan, T 2085, p. 863c (tr. Legge, p. 92–93); Hiuan tsang, Si yu ki, T 2087, k. 9, p. 919b–c (tr, beal, II, p. 142–144; Watters, II, p. 143–146). – Because of their precision, here is a translation of two of these sources:

T 456, p. 433b: At that time, Maitreya with his disciples went to the Gṛdhrakūṭaparvata. Having come to the foot of the mountain, peacefully and with slow steps he climbed the Lang tsi mountain (94 and 7; 157 and 6; probably Kukkurapada, ‘Wolf-track Mountain’). Having come to the summit, he tapped the mountain with his toes. Then the great earth shook eighteen times up to the top of the mountain. Maitreya then struck the mountain with two fingers of his hand and, like a cakravartin king, opened the gate of a large city. Then with heavenly-perfumed oil, king Brahmā anointed the head of Mahākāśyapa, struck the great gong gaṇḍi and blew the great conch of the Dharma (dharmaśaṇkha). Mahākāśyapa awoke from nirodhasamāpatti, threw his upper garment over his shoulder (ekaṃsam uttarāsaṅgaṃ kṛtvā), knelt on his right knee (dakṣiṇaṃ jānumaṇḍalaṃ pṛthivyāṃ pratiṣṭhāpya) and, with his palms of his hands pressed together (añjaliṃ praṇamya), he took the saṃghāṭī of the Buddha Sākyamuni [of which he was the holder] and offered it to Maitreya, saying: “The great Teacher Śākyamuni, tathāgata, arhat samyaksaṃbuddha, when he was about to enter into nirvāṇa, entrusted me with this religious robe to offer to you, O Venerable One.” Then the great assembly asked Buddha Maitreya: “Who is on the summit of this mountain, this man with the head of an insect, tiny, ugly, carrying the robe, who made offerings to the Venerable One?” Then the Buddha Maitreya said to his great disciples: “Do not scorn this man… it is Mahākāśyapa.”

Vibhāṣā, T 1545, k. 135, p. 698b: At the time of nirvāṇa, why does the Buddha not keep the body of emanation (nirmāṇakāya) in order to continue to preach the Dharma and benefit beings after his nirvāṇa? Why, on the other hand, does the sthavira Mahākāśyapa, after his parinirvāṇa, keep his body and remain for a long time? The sthavira Mahākāśyapa had gone to Rājagṛha to beg his food and after he had eaten, he climbed the mountain of Ki tsou (172 and 10; 157: Kukkuṭapāda). This mountain had three peaks and looked like a cock’s foot. The sthavira penetrated to the middle and, seated with crossed legs (paryaṅkaṃ baddhvā), he made the following declaration: “I wish that my body with my patched robes (pāṃśukūla), my bowl (pātra) and my staff (daṇḍa) may remain for a long time, for 57 koṭis and 60 hundred thousands of years, without decaying. When the Tathāgata Maitreya, the fully enlightened arhat (samyaksaṃbuddha), will appear in the world (pradūrbhūta), I will give him [this robe] that belonged to the Buddha.” Having made this vow, he entered parinirvāṇa and then the three peaks of the mountain closed into one over the sthavira who remained in perfect posture. When the Buddha Maitreya will appear in the world, he will lead numberless men and gods to the summit of this mountain and say to the assembly: “Do you want to see the great disciple Kāśyapa who was foremost among all the disciples of Śākyamuni who practiced the rules of strict austerity (dhūtaguṇa)?” The assembly will answer: “We would like to see him.” Then the Tathāgata Maitreya will strike the summit of Kukkuṭapādaparvata with his right hand and the peak will separate again into three parts. At that moment, Kāśyapa with his patched robes, his bowl and his staff will rise up into space (ākāśa). The immense crowd of gods and men, seeing this miracle (prātihārya), will cry out at the miracle (adbhtadharma) and their hearts will be moved. The Bhagavat Maitreya will preach the Dharma as is proper and all will be able to see the truths.


He ascended the Gṛdhrakūṛaparvata and still more precisely, according to most of the sources (T 1451, p. 409b; T 1545, p. 698b; T2042, p. 114c; T 2085, p. 863c; T 2987, p. 919b) the mountain ‘cock’s foot’ (kukkutpāda), probably a mountain chain making up part of the Gṛdhrakūṭaparvata massif; at least this is what may be inferred from the passage from T 456, p. 433b, translated above. Fa hien placed the Kukkuṭapāda three li south of the bodhi tree (T 2087, p. 868c), Hiuan tsang placed it 100 li east of the Mo ho river (T 2087, p. 919b), and Yi tsing, near the bodhi tree (Chavannes, Réligieux éminents, p. 47). – We know from Hiuan tsang and Yi tsing (l.c.) that this mountain was also called Gurupāda, the mountain of ‘Teacher’s foot’. – In the place of the reading ‘Cock’s foot’ (Ki tsou: Kukkuṭapāda), three sources at least (T 383, p. 1013b; T 456, p. 433b; T 1861, p. 270c) read ‘Wolf-track’ mountain (Lang tsi). Watters, Travels, II, p. 144, followed by Demiéville, Origine des sectes bouddhiques, MCB, I, 1931–32, p. 30, propose Kokapāda as the Sanskrit equivalent. I [Lamotte] would assume that the three Chinese versions translated by Lang tsi an original Sanskrit having by mistake Kukkurupāda, ‘Dog’s-foot’, in place of Kukkuṭapāda, ‘Cock’s-foot’. – Finally we note that two sources, apparently among the oldest (T 125, p. 789a; T 453, p. 422b) locate the nirvāṇa of Kāśyapa at the village of P’i t’i (81 and 5; 64 and 9: Videha) in the country of Mo kie (Magadha).


In the Saṃyutta, II, p. 221 (tr. Rh. D., Kindred Sayings, II, p. 149; tr. Geiger, II, p. 284), Kāśyapa tells Ānanda how he exchanged his robe made of patches of material (paṭapilotikānaṃ saṅghāti) for the tattered used rags (sāṇāni pāṃsukūlāni nibbasanāni) of the Buddha. – The same sūtra occurs in the Chinese version of the Saṃyuktāgama, T 99 (no. 1144), k. 41, p. 303b; T 100 (no. 119), k. 6, p. 418c. – On the other hand, in Hiuan tsang, T 2087, k. 9, p. 919c, the robe which Kāśyapa had to give back to Maitreya is the monastic robe of the Buddha, all embroidered with gold, a gift of his aunt.


In other words, Kāśyapa, according to the words of T 2042, p. 1145a, accomplished the 18 pariṇāmas: these are the abhijñādharmāṇi of the Mahāvyutpatti, no. 210 sq. In mentioning the multiplying and then the reducing to a single one of Mahākāśyapa’s body, the Mppś is referring to the sixth and seventh abhijñākarman: eko bhāvā bahudhā bhavati, bahudvā bhūtvāiko bhavati. – As for the phenomenon of emitting fire from the upper part of the body and water from the lower part and vice versa, this is known as the twin miracle (yamakaprātihārya). The Buddha accomplished this on several occasions (cf. Nidānakathā, p. 77, 88, 193; Sumaṅgala, I, p. 57; Mahāvastu, III, p. 115; Divyāvadāna, p. 161, 378) and the saints often produced it at the moment of their entry into nirvāṇa (see above, the nirvāṇa of Gavāmpati). On the mechanism and meaning of this miracle, see Dhammapadaṭṭha, III, p. 214–215 (tr. Burlingame, Legends, III, p. 45–47); P’i p’o cha, T 1545, k. 135, p. 698c..


According to some sources, when the rock closed up over Kāśyapa, he at once entered into nirvāṇa (Mūlasarvāstivādin Vinaya, T 1451, k. 40, p. 409a; Legend of Aśoka, T 2042, K. 4, p. 115a; Vibhāṣā, T 1545, K. 135, p. 698b; Hiuan tsang, T 2087, k. 9, p. 910). – According to other sources, and the Mppś is one of these, Kāśyapa is merely slumbering or in nirodhasamāpatti and will enter nirvāṇa only after having given the Buddha’s robe back to Maitreya (Ekottarāgama, T 125, k. 44, p. 789a; T 456, p. 433b).


According to the numerical system adopted by the Mppś (below, k. 5, p. 94b), wan, in Sanskrit prabheda, is equivalent to 10,000. – In other sources, the three assemblies of Maitreya are of different numbers: Tseng yi a han, T 125, k. 44, p. 978a, attributes to them 96, 94 and 92 koṭis of members [the koṭi, in Chinese yi, equals 10,000,000]. These are also the numbers in Maitreyavyākaraṇa, v. 77080 (ed. S. Lévi, Maitreya le consolateur, ML, Paris, 1932, II, p. 388: prathamaḥ saṃnipāto ’sya… muktānāṃ śāntacetasām.


Cf. Divyāvadāna, p. 61: ayaṃ śrāvakaḥ Kāśyapo… agro nirdiṣṭaḥ. – In the Aṅguttara I, p. 23, Kāśyapa was already proclaimed the foremost of the dhūtavāda or dhūtaṅgadhara; in the corresponding passage of the Tseng yi a han, T 125, k. 3, p. 557b, he is said to be the foremost of those who practice the twelve dhūtas. – The dhūtāṅgas or dhūtaguṇas are the very strict rules favored by some Buddhists, in number either twelve or thirteen: Vinaya, V, p. 131, 193; Mahāvyutpatti, no. 1127–1139; Milinda, p. 359; Dharmasaṃgraha, ch. LXIII, p. 13 (to be compared with Fa tsi ming chou king, T 764, p. 661a); Visuddhimagga, p. 59, to be compared with Kiai t’o tao louen, T 1648, k. 2, p. 404b (cf. P, V, Bapat, Vimuttimagga and Visuddhimagga, Poona, 1937, p. 16 sq.). Kern, Histoire, II, p. 16–18; Manual, p. 75–76, has a good paragraph on the dhūtāṇgas.


Pūrṇa Maitrāyaṇīputra, in Pāli Puṇṇa Mantānīputta, the most famous of the preachers (Aṅguttara, I, p. 23) plays only an eclipsed rôle in the canonical scriptures: he preaches the pratītyasamutpāda to Ānanda in the Saṃyutta, III, p. 105 (cf Tsa a han, T 99 (no. 261), k. 10, p. 66a) and debates with Śāriputra in the Rathavinītasutta of the Majjhima I, p. 146 sq. (cf. Tchong a han, T 26 (no. 9), k. 2, p. 430a: Tseng yi a han, T 125, k. 33, p. 733c). On the other hand, he is rather important in the Greater Vehicle; thus, in the Saddharmapuṇḍarīka, the Buddha says that Pūrṇa Maitrāyaṇīputra, having fulfilled the tasks of a bodhisattva, will attain the state of samyaksaṃbuddha after numberless and measureless kalpas, and will be the tathāgata Dharmaprabhāsa who will be born in the very land of the Buddha.

NOTE: The lengthy Sanskrit and Pāli quotations have been abbreviated.

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