Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “the dharani without obstacles” 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.

Bodhisattva quality 4: the dhāraṇī without obstacles

4. asaṅgadhāraṇipratilabdha:

Sūtra: These bodhisattvas have obtained the dhāraṇī without obstacles (asaṅgadhāraṇīpratilabdha).

Śāstra: Question – The sūtra has already said that the bodhisattvas have obtained the dhāraṇīs (dhāraṇīpratilabdha); why does it repeat here that they have obtained the dhāraṇī without obstacles (asaṅgadhāraṇī)?

Answer. – 1) Because the asaṅgadhāraṇī is very important. Just as the samādhi called ‘King of Samādhi’ is the most important of all the samādhis in the way that a king is relative to his subjects; just as the ‘Deliverance without Obstacles’ (asaṅgavimokṣa) [Note: this is the deliverance acquired when one reaches Buddhahood] is the most important of all the vimokṣas, so the asaṅgadhāraṇī is superior to all the dhāraṇīs.

2) Furthermore, the sūtra says first that the bodhisattvas have acquired the dhāraṇīs, but we do not know what kind of dhāraṇī. There are small dhāraṇīs such as those obtained by the cakravartin kings, the ṛṣīs, etc.: for example, the śrutadharadhāraṇī, the sattvaprabhedadhāraṇī, the namaḥśaraṇāparityāgadhāraṇī. Other people can likewise possess the lesser dhāraṇīs of this kind. But this asaṅgadhāraṇī cannot be obtained by heretics (tīrthika), śrāvakas, pratyekabuddhas and [even] the beginning bodhisattvas (ādikārmikabodhisattva). Only the bodhisattvas full of immense merit (apramānapuṇya), wisdom (prajñā) and great power (mahābala) are able to possess it. That is why it is spoken of separately here.

3) Finally, these bodhisattvas who have assured their own interest (anuprāptasvakārtha) desire only to benefit beings, preach the Dharma to them and convert them ceaselessly. They use this asaṅgadhāraṇī as basis. This is why the bodhisattvas always practice the asaṅgadhāraṇī.