Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “preaching the dharma disinterestedly” 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 9: preaching the Dharma disinterestedly

9. nirāmiṣadharmadeśaka:

Sūtra: They preached the Dharma disinterestedly (nirāmiṣadharmadeśakaiḥ).

Śāstra: It is out of loving-kindness (maitrī) and compassion (karuṇā) that they preach the Dharma to beings, without greed for robes (cīvara), food (āhāra), fame (yaśaś) or power (prabhāva). If they preach the Dharma, it is with great loving-kindness and great compassion because their minds (citta) are pure (viśuddha) and because they have attained acquiescence in the doctrine of the non-arising of phenomena (anutpattikadharmakṣānti). Some stanzas say:

The learned preacher, rational, skillful in speech,
Who preaches the Dharma well and stimulates people’s spirits
But who transgresses against the doctrine and commits wrongdoings
Is like a cloud that thunders but cannot produce any rain.

The accomplished person, learned and wise,
But reticent, clumsy in speech and not eloquent,
Cannot reveal the precious treasure of the doctrine:
He is like a small shower without thunder.

The undisciplined person without wisdom
Who preaches badly and lacks good behavior
Is an evil teacher without shame:
He is like a little cloud with no thunder and no rain.

The learned person, wise and eloquent,
Who preaches the Dharma skillfully and stimulates people’s spirits,
Who observes the doctrine fearlessly with an honest heart,
Is like a great cloud that thunders and rains abundantly.[1]

The great leader of the doctrine, guardian of the mirror of the doctrine,
Who illuminates the Buddhadharma, treasury of wisdom,
Who, guardian and propagator of the sayings, who rings the bell of the doctrine,
Is like an ocean-going ship that assures to all the crossing of the sea.

Like the king of the bees gathering nectar [99a]
He preaches according to the counsel and intentions of the Buddha.
He helps the Buddha, illuminates his doctrine and saves beings:
Such a teacher of the doctrine is very difficult to find.

Footnotes and references:


These first four stanzas seem to be a versification of a passage of the Aṅguttara, II, p. 102 (cf. Tseng yi a han, T 125, k. 18, p. 635a) devoted to the four types of rain-clouds (valāhaka): The person who speaks and does not act (bhāsitā no kattā) is compared to a cloud that thunders and does not rain (gajjitā no vassitā); the person who acts but does not speak (kattā no bhāsitā), to a cloud that rains but does not thunder (vassitā no gajjitā); the person who does not speak and does not act (n’eva bhāsitā no kattā), to a cloud that neither thunders nor rains (n’eva gajjitā no vassitā); the person who speaks and acts (bhāsitā ca kattā ca), to a cloud that both thunders and rains (gajjitā ca vassitā ca).