Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “description of venuvana (bamboo park)” 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 4 - Description of Veṇuvana (bamboo park)

Note: Veṇuvana is one of the five vihāras of Rājagṛha, as explained in Chapter V part 5.

The Veṇuvana, or Bamboo Park, was given to the Buddha by king Bimbasāra (Vinaya, I, p. 39 sq.; Kou k’iu hien tsai yin kouo king, T 189, k. 4, p. 651c; Tch’ou fen chouo king, T 489, k. 2, 767a; Sseu fen liu, T 1428, K. 33, p. 798b; Ken pen chouo… p’o seng che, T 1450, k. 8, p. 138b).

– When he stayed at Veṇuvana, the Buddha settled by preference at Kalandaka or Karadakanivāpa (cf. Dīvya, p. 262, 143). According to some sources, this field was the property of a citizen of Rājagṛha called Kalandaka; he had made a gift of it to the heretics, but with the help of the yakṣas, he later recovered it and offered it to the Buddha (Fo pen hing tsi king, T 190, k. 45, p. 860c–861b; Beal, Romantic Legend, p. 314–315; Tchong pen k’i king, T 196,k. 1, p. 163b; Hiuan tsang, in Beal, II, p. 160 and Watters, Travels, II, p. 156).

– A king fell asleep in this field and, about to be bitten by a snake, awoke in time at the noise of a kalandaka (squirrel, jay or magpie). Out of gratitude, he planted the field with bamboo so that the kalandakas living there would always have food (nivāpa). Hence the expression Kalandakanivāpa. The commentaries on the Udāna, I, p. 60, and on the Suttanipāta, II, p. 410, tell the story without mentioning the name of the king. But we know from the Chinese sources that it was Bimbasāra (Tchong hiu mo ho ti king, T 191, k. 11, p. 965b–c; Ken pen chouo… p’o seng che, T 1450, k. 8, p. 137c–138b; Rockhill, Life, p. 43).

The Veṇuvana was an ideal place of retreat for the monks, “neither too far nor too close to the city, good for coming and going, easy of access for those who wished to see the Buddha, not too busy during the day, sheltered from noise and shouting during the night, isolated and concealed from people, auspicious for meditation” (Vinaya, I, p. 39; Majjhima, III, p. 13; Tchong a han, T 26 (no. 145), k. 36, p. 655b). It was surrounded by a wall eighteen cubits high with a gate and towers (Samanata, III, p. 576; Suttanipāta Comm., II, p. 419).

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