Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “description of indrasalaguha or indrashailaguha” 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 5 - Description of Indrasālaguhā or Indraśailaguhā

Indrasālaguhā, or more likely, Indraśailaguhā. The reading, Indrasālaguhā ‘, ‘Cave of the Indrasāla [tree]’, has, as evidence, the Pāli form, Indasālaguhā, the inscription at Bārhut (2nd century B.C.) idasālaguhā, the inscription of Tch’ang a han T1, k. 10, p. 62c1, Yin t’o so to k’ou.

– On the other hand, the reading Indraśailaguha, ‘Indra’s rock cave’, is attested by the Sanskrit fragments (Waldschmidt, Bruchstücke, p. 61, n. 2), by the Chinese transcriptions and translations Yin t’o lo che che (Tchong a han, T 26, k. 33, p. 632c29), Yin t’o lo che lo kiu ho (Hiuan tsang, Si yu ki, T 2087, k. 9, p. 925b4), Che k’ou (Fa hien, in T 203, k. 6, p. 476a). According to Waldschmidt, the Pāli form Indasāla should be the proper reading, and Indraśaila would be a faulty Sanskritization. Waldschmidt also mentions the reading ‘Sālahöhle von Indraśaila’ in Tibetische Lebensbescreibung, transl. by Schiefner, p. 255, where the two variants śaila and sāla are juxtaposed. This combined reading is probably a recent invention and was already known to Buddhaghosa who explained that the cave was between two mountains and an indasāla tree grew at its entrance (Sumaṅgala, III, p. 697: sā dvinnaṃ pabbatānaṃ… saṅkhaṃ gatā).

– When the Buddha was in this cave, Sakka (Indra) came to ask him a series of questions that are recorded in the Sakkapañhasutta. We have several versions: Sanskrit version in Waldschmidt, Bruchstücke, p.58–113); Pāli version in Dīgha, II, p. 263–289; Chinese translations in Tch’ang a han, T 1 (no. 14), k. 10, p. 62b–66a; Tchong a han, T 26 (no, 134), k. 33, p. 632c–638c; Ti che so wen king, T 15; Tsa pao tsang king, T 203 (no. 73), k. 6, p. 476a–478b (tr. Chavannes, Contes, III, p. 53–69.

– The Chinese pilgrims who visited this cave found fragments of the Sakkapañhasutta engraved on the rock: Fa hien, p. 180; Watters, Travels, II, p. 173).

– The visit of Indra has been represented on the monuments at Bārhut (Cunningham, Bhārhut, pl. XXVIII, 4), at Sāncī (Fergusson, Tree and Serpent Worship, pl. XI, XXIX, 1); at Bodhgayā (Coomarasamy, Bodhgayā, p;. XLVII, 1); at Gandhāra (Foucher, Art Gréco-bouddhique, I, fig. 246, 247; Hallade, Composition plastique, pl. XXI, 127; XXIV, 140; at Mathurā (Vogel, Mathurā, pl. LO, b; LIII b).

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