Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “having obtained the fearlessnesses” 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 11: having obtained the fearlessnesses

11. vaiśāradyaprāpta:

Sūtra: They have obtained the fearlessnesses (vaiśāradhyaprāptaiḥ).

Śāstra: The bodhisattvas are endowed with the four vaiśāradyas.

Question. – The bodhisattvas have not ‘done what had to be done’ (kṛtakṛtya) and have not acquired omniscience (sarvajñāna); how can the sūtra say that they have acquired the four vaiśāradyas?

Answer. – The vaiśāradyas, the fearlessnesses, are of two types: the vaiśāradya of the Buddha and the vaiśāradya of the bodhisattva.[1] These bodhisattvas do not possess the vaiśāradyas of the Buddha but they have acquired those of the [99b] bodhisattva. This is why they are called vaiśāradyaprāpta.

Question. – What are the four vaiśāradyas of the bodhisattva?

Answer. – 1) He preaches the Dharma in the assembly with assurance because he remembers everything that he has heard, because he has acquired the dhāraṇīs and because he always remembers without forgetting.

2) In the assembly he preaches with assurance because he knows all beings, the means of liberating them, the strength or weakness of their faculties (indriya) and, in this way, he preaches the Dharma to them according to their needs (yathāyogam).

3) In the assembly he preaches the Dharma with assurance because he sees in the [four] directions – east (pūrvasyāṃ diśi), south (dakṣiṇasyāṃ diśi), west (paścimāyāṃ diśi) and north (uttarasyāṃ diśi) – in the four intermediate directions (vidiś) and also at the zenith (upasiṣṭād diśi) and the nadir (adhastād diśi), that there is nobody who can come and make any objection (codana) to which he would be unable to reply correctly.

4) In the great assembly he preaches the Dharma with assurance for he authorizes all beings to set objections for him; he answers appropriately according to their wishes and he is able to cut through the doubts (saṃśayacchedana) of all beings.

Footnotes and references:


The vaiśāradyas of the Buddha are listed in the Mahāvyutpatti no. 131–134; those of the bodhisattva, ibid., no. 782–785. See also Saṃgraha, p. 59, for a short bibliography of the vaiśāradyas.