Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “return of the buddha to kapilavastu” 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 3 - Return of the Buddha to Kapilavastu

Note: this appendix is extracted from and belongs to chapter V part 4:

“The disciples native to Kapilavastu were numerous. When the Buddha returned for the first time to his own country, the three Kāśyapa brothers as well as the thousand bhikṣus who originally had followed the brahmanical rule and practiced austerities in the mountains, had a sad appearance. ”

To interpret this episode which told here in a very concise way, refer to Sūtrālaṃkāra, tr. Huber, p. 222: Shortly after the Buddha had attained enlightenment, the Buddha converted Uruvilvākāśyapa, his brothers and their followers, a thousand in number. They freed themselves from the kleśas and their hair fell out. [As Jaṭilas, they wore matted hair]. They accompanied the Sublime One to Kapilavastu as has been fully described in the Life of the Buddha. King Śuddhodana was converted and tamed, but the Śākyas were proud of their caste. As for the Buddha Bhagavat, one could never grow weary of looking at him whose body was perfect, neither fat nor lean. But the brahmins and the others who practiced mortification for a long time had become emaciated; inwardly they had intellect but outwardly they were very ugly. They were in no condition to follow the Buddhist practices. At that time, the king, the Buddha’s father, had this thought: “If I make the Śākyas enter into the religious life, they will be in a condition to follow the Buddha.” Having thought thus, he had the drum beaten and made this proclamation: “You would oblige me by sending one man from each family of the Śākyas to enter into the religious life.”

– See also the passage of the Mūlasarvāstivādin Vinaya translated by Feer, Extraits, p. 62–63.

The first return of the Buddha to Kapilavastu, the city of his birth, is told in detail in Mahāvastu, III, p. 112–117; Ken pen chouo… p’o seng che, T 1450, k. 9, p. 143 sq. It is represented at Sāncī (Foucher, Beginnings of b. Art,, pl IX, 2) and on the bas-reliefs of Gandhāra (Foucher, Art Gréco-bouddique, I, p. 459–464). Errors excepted, the Pāli sources say nothing of the edict issued by Śuddhodana requiring each family to send one son and that the number of forced recruits rose to five hundred: Mahāvastu, III, p. 176: rājā Śuddhodana āha: kulāto kulāto ekaḥ… abhiniṣkramanti pravrajyāyā. The same edict is mentioned in the Fo pen hing tsi king, T 190, k. 53, p. 900b (transl. Beal, Romantic Legend, p. 353); Tchong hiu mo ho ti king, T 191, k. 13, p. 974b; Ta tchouang yen louen king, T 201 (no. 47), k. 8, p. 299b; Ken pen chouo…p’o seng che, T 1450, k. 9, p. 144b (cf. Rockhill, Life, p. 53). Hiuan tsang (Watters, Travels, II, p. 11) visited the place, near Kapilavastu, where the Buddha admitted “eight princes and five hundred Śākyas” into the order. But it is probably necessary to distinguish the ordination of the 500 Śākyas from that of the eight princes along with the barber Upāli, which took place not at Kapilavastu but at Anupiya in the country of the Mallas where the Buddha stayed for some time after having left his natal city (Vinaya, II, p. 180; Dhammapadaṭṭha, I, p. 133; IV, p. 127; Manoratha, I, p. 191).