Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “purnavardhana or pundravardhana (city and district of bengal)” 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.

Appendix 1 - Pūrṇavardhana or Puṇḍravardhana (city and district of Bengal)

Pūrṇavardhana was a city and district of Bengal, the name of which is attested under different spellings;

a. The correct Sanskrit form is Puṇḍravardhana, ‘Growth of sugar-cane’, in Tibetan, Li kha ra śiṅ ḥphel or Bu ram śiṅ ḥphel (Mahāvyutpatti, no. 4113). It is found in the Sumāgadhāvadāna (Mitra, Nep. Buddh. lit., p. 237, 238) and the Mahāvyutpatti, no. 4113). But it is the corresponding Prakrit form, Puṇḍavardhana, that is most frequent both in the Sanskrit texts and the Chinese transcriptions; cf. Divyāvadāna, p. 21, 402, 427; Mahāmāyūrī in S. Lévi, Catalogue géographique des Yakṣa, p. 40., v. 97; Avadānakalpalatā,. T II, p. 861, v. 4; Mūlasarvāstivādin Vinaya, T 1447, k. 1, p. 1053; A yu wang king, T 2043, k. 3, p. 140b9 (where Puṇḍravardhana is transcribed as Fen t’o po t’o.

b. The Sanskrit form Puṇyavardhana ‘Increase of merit’ is attested by the Chinese translations Fou tseng (113 and 9; 32 and 12) in Sumāgadhāvadāna, T 130, p. 845c17, and Tcheng tseng tch’ang (77 and 1; 32 and 12; 168), in A yu wang king, T 2043, k. 3, p. 143b10.

– The variant Puṇṇavardhana is attested by the following transcriptions:

Fou na p’an to (57 and 2; 163 and 4; 75 and 10; 162 and 9) in A yu wang tchouan, T 2042, k. 2, p. 107b25.

Fen na p’o t’o na (18 and 2; 163 and 4; 38 and 8; 170 and 5; 163 and 4) in A yu wang king, T 2043, k. 3, p. 143b16.

Pen na fa t’an na (37 and 6; 163 and 4; 9 and 4; 57 and 12; 163 and 4) in Hiuan tsang, Si yu ki, T 2087, k. 10, p. 927a15.

The Sanskrit form Pūrṇavardhana ‘Full growth’ is represented by the following transcriptions and Chinese translations:

Fou leou na po t’an (40 and 9; 75 and 11; 163 and 4; 157 and 5; 75 and 13) in Mppś, T 1509, k. 3, p. 76c22.

Fou leou na po t’o na (40 and 9; 75 and 11; 163 and 4; 157 and 5; 170 and 5; 163 and 4) in Saṃyuktāgama, T 99, k. 24, p. 170a2.

The translation Man fou (85 and 11; 40 and 9) occurs in the Ekottarāgama, T 125, k. 22, p. 660a5; the Sumāgadhāvadāna, T 128, p. 837c14; and the A yu wang tchouan, T 2042, k. 2, p. 105c1.

* * *

According to the Divyāvadāna, p. 21 and the Mūlasarvāstivādin Vinaya, T 1447, k. 1, p. 1053a, Puṇḍravardhana marks the eastern limit of the Madhyadeśa; beyond that are the frontier lands (pratyanta) where the Buddhist discipline is more tolerant and allows the use of baths and shoes. By contrast, according to the Pāli sources, (Vinaya, I, p. 197; Jātaka, I, p. 49, etc.), the eastern limit of Madhyadeśa is the villages of Kajaṇgala and Mahāsālā. The latter information is confirmed by the Sarvāstivādin Vinaya, T 1435, k. 25, p. 182a (tr. Chavannes, Contes, II, p. 264–265) which comments: In the region of the East, there is the village of P’o lo (38 and 8; 122 and 14 = [Mahā]sālā) whose surname is K’ie lang (9 and 5; 163 and 7 = Kajaṅgala); beyond K’ie lang are the frontier kingdoms (pratyantajanapada).” From the Avadānaśataka, II, p. 41, we know that Kajaṅgala has, as its Sanskrit correspondent, Kacaṅgalā. If one is content with comparing all this information, one is tempted to identify Puṇḍravardhana with Kajaṅgala. However, such is not the case; Hiuan tsang, who, in 638, visited western Bengal (Irana) and eastern Bengal (Puṇḍravardhana and Karṇasuvarna), informs us in the Si yu ki (T 2087, k. 10, p. 927a) that Puṇḍravardhana was 600 li farther east than Kajaṅgala (transcribed as K’ie tchou wou k’i lo: 123 and 10; 75 and 2; 30 and 10; 113 and 4; 122 and 14), and that he had to cross the Ganges to get from one city to the other. The pilgrim lingers over the description of Puṇḍravardhana: the region was 4,000 li and the city more than 30 li. It had 20 Buddhist monasteries sheltering 3000 monks of both the Greater and Lesser Vehicles. It had about 100 temples consecrated to the gods and the Digambara Nirgrantha (Jains) were especially numerous (cf. Beal, Buddhist Records, II, p. 194–195; Watters, Travels, II, p. 184–185).

For a long time, archeologists have hesitated about the exact site of Puṇḍravardhana; they agreed on placing it in the ‘Bengal Presidency’, but proposed identifying it sometimes with the modern district of Pabna (Cunnungham), sometimes with the present Rangpur (Fergusson). The discovery of an ancient inscription in Brāhmī which mentions the gifts made to the Ṣaḍvargikas by the inhabitants of Puṇḍranagara, has cleared all doubts: Puṇḍravardhana is the present Mahāsthān Gaḍ in the district of Bogra. [On this inscirption, see D. R. Bhandharkar, EI, XX, 2, p. 83; Idem., Important fragmentary Inscriptions found at Mahāsthān, Bogr District, IA, LXII, 1933, p. 177–178; B. M. Barua, The old Brāhmī Inscription of Mahāsthān, IHQ, X, 1934, p. 57–66.

– For a description of the site, see P. C. Sen, Puṇḍravardhana – its Site, IHQ, IX, 1933, p. 722–735].

It is known from many texts that the Buddha, on the invitation of Sumāgadhā, the daughter of Anāthapiṇḍada, came by means of magic to Puṇḍravardhana, where he found the arhat Piṇḍola seated in a cave. On this occasion, the Buddha described to his monks a former lifetime of Sumāgadhā: At the time of the Buddha Kāśyapa, there lived Kañcanamālā, daughter of Kṛkin, the king of Benares; to ward off the bad effects of a wicked thought of her father, she offered herself as victim and submitted herself to the judgment of the Buddha Kāśyapa.

– This story is the object of the Sumāgadhāvadāna (J. Filliozat, Catalogue du Fonds Sanscrit, Paris, 1941, p. 93, no. 156); the four Chinese translations (T 125, k. 22, p. 660a–665b; T 128; T 129; T 130) have been studied by T. M. Tokiwai, Studien zum Sumāgadhāvadāna, Darmstadt, 1898. Numerous allusions to this avadāna are found in the texts: Divyāvadāna, p. 402; Tsa a han T 99, k. 24, p. 170a; A yu wang tchouan, T 2042, k. 2, p. 105c; A yu wang king, T 2043, K. 3, p. 140b (cf. Przyluski, Aśoka, p. 266).

The same sources relate another incident that took place at Puṇḍravardhana at the time of Aśoka. The Nirgranthaputras who, as we know from Hiuan tsang were numerous in Puṇḍravardhana, had depicted images of the Buddha that showed him prostrating before the Nirgrantha. Aśoka became angry and sent an army of yakṣas and nāgas against them which, on a single day, put to death 18,000 Nirgranthas. Cf. Divyāvadāna, p. 427; A yu wang tchouan,T 2042, k. 2, p. 107b; A yu wang king, T 2043, k. 3, p. 143b (Przyluski, Aśoka, p. 278).

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