Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “the buddha stretches out his tongue and smiles a third time” 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.

Act 4: The Buddha stretches out his tongue and smiles a third time

Sūtra: Then the Bhagavat put out his broad tongue and covered the trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu with it. Having lighted it up, he began to smile. From his tongue there shot out innumerable millions of prabhedakoṭis of rays; on each of these rays appeared lotuses of precious jewels with a thousand petals golden in color; on these lotuses sat magical Buddhas cross-legged preaching the six virtues; beings who heard them were established in supreme complete enlightenment (Atha khalu Bhagavāṃs tasyāṃ velāyāṃ jihvendriyaṃ nirṇāmayāmāsa. yenemaṃ trisāhasramahāsāhasraṃ lokadhātuṃ jihvendriyeṇācchādāmāsa. taṃ sphuritvā smitam akarot. tasmāj jihvendriyādanekāni raśmiprabhedakoṭiśatasahasrāṇi niśceruḥ saśmimukhe caikaikasmin ratnamayāni suvarṇanirbhāsāni sahasrapattrāṇi padmāny utpannāny abhūvan. teṣu padmeṣu nirmāṇabuddhāḥ paryaṅkaṃ baddhvā niṣaṇṇā abhūvan ṣaḍpāramitādharmadeśanāṃ deśyantāḥ. ye ca sattvās tāṃ dharmadeśanāṃ śṛṇvanti te niyatā bhavanty anuttarāṃ samyaksaṃbodhau).[1]

Śāstra: Question. – The Buddha Bhagavat is venerable (bhadanta) and respected (gurukṛta). Why then does he put out his broad tongue (prabhūtajihvā): one would say out of thoughtlessness?

Answer. – Three times the Buddha shot out rays of light previously that illumined the beings of the ten directions and brought them to deliverance (vimokṣa). Now, wishing to preach the Mahāprajñāpāramitā which is profound (gambhīra), difficult to sound out (durvigãhya), difficult to understand (duravabodha) and difficult to believe (durgrāhya), he puts out his broad tongue as a test (sākṣin), for the words pronounced by such a big tongue are necessarily true.[2]

The Buddha’s journey to Śālā:

Note: In this story the Mppś combines two episodes of the Buddha’s life: the first, taken from the Piṇḍasūtra, tells about the Buddha’s trip to a village of brahmins and his return with an empty bowl; the second, taken from the Brāhmaṇadārikāvadāna, telling about the offering of the brahmin lady, the disbelief of her husband and the final triumph of the Buddha. There are numerous versions of the sūtra and the āvadāna in question. The way in which they are combined here allows us to grasp in a vivid way the literary processes used by the Buddhist compilers.[3]

Once, having spent the Rains Retreat (varṣa) in the country of Chö p’o t’i (Śrāvastī), the Buddha started out to travel followed by Ānanda and was about to enter a village of brahmins (brāhmaṇagrāma). Knowing that the miraculous power of the Buddha would convert his subjects, the king was very worried and agitated. “If he comes here today, would everyone still love me?” he said to himself. And so he issued the following edict: “Whoever gives food to the Buddha or listens to his words will be fined five hundred kārṣāpaṇas.” Hardly had the edict been issued than the Buddha arrived; preceding Ānanda and holding his begging bowl, he entered the village to beg for his food. All the inhabitants had closed their doors and did not respond; the Buddha returned with his bowl empty (dhautena pātreṇa). (see Appendix 4)

At that time, there was an old woman in a house[4] [in place of lao ch jen, read lao niu jen as in the rest of the story], who had in her hands a chipped clay dish (bhinnamṛdbhājana) full of foul broth (saktu) which she had come out onto her doorstep to throw away. She saw the Buddha who was going away with his empty bowl. Seeing the Buddha – with his major marks (lakṣaṇa), his minor marks (anuvyañjana), his golden color (suvarṇavarṇa), his ūrṇa, his uṣnīṣa and his aureole one armspan in breadth (vyāmprabhā) – returning with an empty bowl and without food, the old woman thought: “A being as marvelous as this ought to eat the food of the gods. If he is embodied and begs with his bowl, it is surely out of loving-kindness (maitrī) and compassion (karuṇā) for all beings.” Filled with pure faith (śraddhāviśuddhi), she wanted to make an offering (pūjā) to the Buddha; but not having what she would have liked to give, she said, quite confused, to the Buddha: “I would very much like to make offerings to you but I do not have the means. Here is some spoiled food. The Buddha can take what he needs.” Knowing the purity (viśuddhi) of her mind (citta), her faith (śraddhā) and her veneration (arcanā), the Buddha stretched out his hand and received in his bowl the food which was given to him.[5]

Then he began to smile and emitted rays of five colors that lighted up heaven [115b] and earth and returned to him through his ūrṇā (woolly tuft between his eyebrows). Joining his palms together (añjaliṃ praṇamya) and bending his knee (jānumaṇḍalaṃ pratisthāpya), Ānanda said to the Buddha: “Bhagavat, I would like to hear the reason why you smile.”[6] The Buddha said to Ānanda: “Do you see this old woman who, out of a mind of faith (prasādacitta), has given me some food?” Ānanda replied that he saw her. The Buddha continued: “This old woman who has given food to the Buddha will receive the reward for her merit for fifteen kalpas among gods and humans and will not fall into the bad destinies (durgati). Later, she will receive a human male body, will leave home (pravrajita) and practice the Path. She will become a pratyekabuddha and will enter nirvāṇa-without-residue (nirupadhiṣeṣanirvāṇa).”[7]

There was, at that moment near the Buddha, a brahmin who spoke the following stanza:

You are of the solar race, from a family of Kṣatriyas,
You are the crown prince of king Śuddhodana,
But you are a great liar about this food.
How could [the gift] of such foul food have such a great reward?[8]

Then the Buddha put out his broad tongue (prabhūtajihvā) and, covering his face with it up to his hair-line (sarvaṃ mukhamaṇḍalaṃ avacchādayati yāvat keśaparyantam), he said to the brahmin: “You have read the texts (śāstra): the person who has such a tongue, would he tell lies (mṛṣāvāda)?” The brahmin replied: “The person whose tongue can cover his nose (ghrāṇa) tells no lies; what can be said about the person whose tongue reaches his hairline? I fully believe that the Buddha does not lie, but I do not understand how such a small gift (dāna) can assure such a great reward (vipāka).”[9]

Then the Buddha said to the brahmin: “Have you ever seen something extraordinary (adbhuta) and rare (durdṛṣa)?” The brahmin replied: “I have. Once I was travelling with some other brahmins and I saw a nyagrodha tree (Ficus indica) the shade (chāya) of which covered five hundred chariots (śaṭa) without being completely used up. That was an extraordinary and rare thing.” The Buddha then asked him: “What was the size of the seed of that tree (kiyatpramāṇaṃ tasya vṛkṣasya bījam)?” He answered: “It was a third as big as a mustard seed (sarṣapatṛtīyabhāgamātram).” The Buddha said: “Who would believe you when you say that such a big tree could come from such a small seed (kas te śraddhāsyati iyatpramāṇasya bījasyāyaṃ mahāvṛkṣo nirvṛtta iti)?” The brahmin asnwered: “Nevertheless, that is so, Bhagavat; I saw it with my own eyes, it is not a lie.” The Buddha said: “It is the same for me: I see that this old woman who has given alms to the Buddha with faith and pure mind will attain a great fruit of retribution (mahāvipākaphala), just like a big tree comes from a tiny seed. Besides, the Tathāgata is a field of merit (puṇyakṣetra) filled with marvels.”[10]

The brahmin’s heart opened and his mind was liberated. Prostrating himself on the ground with all five limbs (pañcamaṇḍalakena candanaṃ kṛtvā), he repented of his error and said to the Buddha: “It was foolish of me not to believe the Buddha.” The Buddha preached the Dharma in many ways to him and the brahmin obtained the first fruit of the Path [namely, srotaāpattiphala].

Then raising his hand, he uttered a great shout and addressed the villagers thus: “The gates of immortality (amṛtadvāra) are open to all beings! Why do you not enter therein?” All the brahmins in the village paid the five hundred kārṣāpaṇas and went with the king to the Buddha and paid homage to him. They all said: “When one can attain the taste of immortality (amṛtarasa), who cares for five hundred kārṣāpaṇas?” The inhabitants went in a crowd and the royal edict was abrogated. The king of the brahmins and his ministers (amātya) and subjects took refuge (śaraṇaṃ gataḥ) in the Buddha and the Dharma. All the villagers attained [115c] pure faith (viśuddhaśraddhā).[11]

It is thus that the Buddha puts out his broad tongue (prabhūtajihvā) to [convert] the unbelievers.

Commentary to the above story:

Question. – In the case of the brahmin, the Buddha put out his tongue and covered his face with it. How is it that here his tongue and his rays extend as far as the trisāhasramahāsmahasra-lokadhātu?

Answer. – When it was a matter of people of little faith, the Buddha’s tongue [was limited] to covering his face up to his hair-line, but here it is a matter of the great interests of the Prajñāpāramitā, so his long tongue covers the entire trisāhasramahāsāsralokadhātu.

Question. – If it is already extraordinary that all the inhabitants of one village should be able to see the Buddha’s tongue, is it not still more extraordinary that when he preaches the Prajñāpāramitā, all the great assemblies (apramāṇasaṃnipāta) of this region and others should also be able to see it? Besides, the range of the human eye does not go beyond a certain number of li and you assume here that it extends to an entire trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu! Since the eye does not see that far, that is difficult to believe.

Answer. – The Buddha uses his miraculous power (ṛddhibala) skillfully (upāyena) so that all beings can see his tongue cover the trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu. If the Buddha did not communicate his miraculous power to them, even [the bodhisattvas] of the ten bhūmis would not know the Buddha’s mind (citta), but if he does communicate his miraculous power, the animals (tiryagyoni) themselves [know the mind of the Buddha. [It is thanks to this intervention] that, in one of the following chapters of the Prajñāpāramitā, all the people see the assembly of the Buddha A tch’ou (Akṣobhya) and contemplate it face to face.[12] And when the Buddha had spoken of the various splendors (alaṃkāravyūha) of the universe of Buddha A mi t’o (Amitābha) and when Ānanda had said to him: “I would like to see them”, the Buddha caused the entire assembly to see the splendors of the universe of Buddha Wou leang cheou (Amitāyus).[13] It is the same for seeing the tongue of the Buddha.

With his long tongue, the Buddha covers the trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu, then he begins to smile. The reasons for this smile are the same as above.

Question. – Previously, the Buddha had emitted rays (raśmi) from his tongue; why does he again emit rays from his tongue?

Answer. – 1) Because he wants all beings to have solid faith (śraddhā).

2) Moreover, the color of his tongue is like the pure light of coral (pravāḍa, vidruma). In order to produce all these characteristics, he sends out rays again.

3) Finally, these rays change into precious lotuses with a thousand petals and golden in color (sahasrapattrāṇi suvarṇanirbhāsāni ratnamayāni padmāni). These lotuses, the rays of which shine like the rising sun (sūryodaya), come from his tongue.

Question. – Why does the Buddha create precious lotuses of this kind by metamorphosis (nirmāṇa) on these rays?

Answer.- Because the Buddha wishes to sit on them.

Question. – He could sit on a mat (mañca, kaṭvā); why does he need these lotuses?

Answer. – 1) The mat is the usual seat of worldly (loka) people and of lay people (avadātavasana) [but not of the Buddha].

2) Furthermore, the lotuses are delicate (ślakṣna) and the Buddha wants to manifest his miraculous power (ṛddhibala) by sitting on them without crushing them.

3) He wishes also to adorn the seat of the holy Dharma (saddharmamaṇḍa).

4) In general, lotuses are small and do not have the purity of perfume [116a] (gandhaviśuddhi) nor the size of those of the Buddha. The size of the lotus among people is no greater than a foot. On lake Man t’o k’i ni (Mandākini) and lake A na p’o ta to (Anavatapta),[14] the lotuses are as large as a chariot wheel (rathacakra). In heaven, the precious lotuses are even larger. The lotus on which the Buddha is seated cross-legged is a hundred thousand prabheda times larger. It forms a floral platform of marvelous perfume on which one can sit.

5) Finally, after the kalpa fire, everything is empty (śūnya); then by the causal power of the merits of beings (sattvapuṇyahetupratyayabala), the winds (vāyu) come from all the directions and, interacting and mixing with one another, they are able to support the great waters (mahāpaḥ). On these waters there is a man with a thousand heads, two thousand arms and two thousand legs called Wei mieou (Viṣṇu). From his navel (nābhi) comes a precious lotus, golden in color, with a thousand petals, the light and rays of which are like the combined light of a thousand suns. On this lotus there is seated cross-legged a man who, in turn, possesses an infinite light. He is called Fan t’ien wang (Brahmādevarāja) who mentally gives birth to eight sons who, in their turn, give rise to the heavens, the earth and people.[15] Brahmādevarāja has eliminated all sexual desire (rāga) and all hatred (dveṣa) without residue; thus, when people cultivate (bhāvayanti) the pure practice of the dhyānas (dhyānaśuddhacarya) and abandon sexual desire (rāga), they are said to follow brahmanic conduct (brahmacarya). (see Appendix 5) And the wheel of Dharma which the Buddha put into motion is sometimes called dharmacakra and sometimes brahmacakra. (see Appendix 5) This Brahmādevarāja is seated on a lotus; this is why the Buddha, who conforms to current usage (saṃvṛtyanuvartanāt), also sits crosslegged on a precious lotus to teach the six pāramitās, and those who listen to this sermon necessarily reach anuttarasamyaksaṃbodhi.

Question. – The Buddha Śākyamuni creates innumerable thousands of prabhedakoṭi of Buddhas by emanation. How can they all preach the Dharma at the same time? It is said in the A p’i t’an (Abhidharma): “There cannot be two minds (citta) at the same time (ekakṣaṇa): when the apparitional (nirmita) Buddhas speak, the master who creates them (nirmātṛ) must be silent; when the creating master speaks, the apparitional creations must be silent.” (see Appendix on Nirmita) How do these [apparitional Buddhas] preach the six pāramitās all at the same time?

Answer. – What has been said there holds for the creations (nirmāṇa) of the heretics (tīrthika) and śrāvakas, but the immense power of concentration (apramāṇasamādhibala) inherent in the creations of the Buddha is inconceivable (acintya). Thus, when the Buddha speaks, the innumerable thousands of prabhedhakoṭi of apparitional Buddhas speak at the same time as him. – Moreover, the apparitional creations of the tīrthikas and the śrāvakas are unable in their turn to create [other] apparitional creations, whereas those of the Buddha Bhagavat can create them in turn. – Moreover, after their death, the tīrthikas and śrāvakas cannot make the fictive beings [that they have created] last (adhitiṣṭhanti),[16] whereas the Buddha, after his own parinirvāṇa, can make the apparitional being [that he has created] persist as if it were no different from the Buddha himself.[17] – Finally, what the Abhidharma says, that there cannot be two minds at the same moment, holds true also for the Buddha. At the moment when the emanated being speaks, he is without thought; but when the Buddha thinks about his emanationed creations and wants them to speak, then they all begin to speak.

Question. – The Buddha now wants to preach the Prajñāpāramitā; why does he have the emanated Buddha preach the six pāramitās?

[116b] Answer. – The six pāramitās and the Prajñāpāramitā are identical and not different. Without prajñāpāramitā, the [first] five pāramitās would not be called ‘pāramitā’. Without the prajñāpāramitā, the virtue of generosity (dānapāramitā) would be classed among the perishable dharmas (kṣayadharma) of the world or would lead to the parinirvāṇa of the arhats and pratyekabuddhas: it is when it is joined with prajñāpāramitā that it is called pāramitā and leads to Buddhahood. This is why the prajñāpāramitā and the six pāramitās are identical and not different.

There are two kinds of prajñāpāramitā, that which is adorned (alaṃkṛtā) and that which is not adorned. It is like a person who takes coral (pravāda, vidruma) and adorns their body with it, and a person who does not have coral and does not adorn themselves with it. Or also, when the king comes accompanied by his retinue (parivāra), we say: “The king is coming”; when he does not have a retinue, he is said to be “solitary”. This is the way it is in universes as numerous as the sands of the Ganges in the east and in the ten directions.

Question. – If the Buddha has miraculous power (ṛddhibala) such that innumerable thousands of prabhedakoṭi of fictive Buddhas (nirmāṇabuddha) go in the ten directions to preach the six pāramitās and save the entire world, all beings will find salvation and there would be nobody else [to save]!

Answer. – Three obstacles (āvaraṇa) [oppose universal salvation]: i) beings plunged in the three bad destinies (durgati) cannot understand [the teaching of the Buddhas]; ii) and iii) gods and humans who are too young, too old or too sick, as well as the non-perceptive gods (asaṃjnideva) of the formless realm (ārūpya) cannot hear or understand [the teaching of the Buddhas].

Question.- Why cannot all those who hear and understand [this teaching] find the Path?

Answer. – They do not all find the path. Why? Because of their fetters (saṃyojana) and the obstacles [constituted by] actions (karmāvaraṇa). People whose fetters are heavy have a mind obsessed with fetters; this is why they do not all find the Path.

Question. – Now that the Buddhas of the ten directions and the apparitional Buddhas whom they have delegated preach the six pāramitās, why do we, who are free of the three obstacles (āvaraṇa), not hear them?

Answer. – Actually, beings are living in a bad age and enter into the three obstacles; they are living in an epoch after the Buddha. The retribution of evil actions (karmāvaraṇa) consisting of the errors and sins of the world or the obstacle constituted by heavy fetters (stūlasaṃyojanāvaraṇa) has plunged beings into an epoch after the Buddha, and many people are chained (āvṛta) by heavy fetters; sometimes their desire (rāga) is small but their hatred (dveṣa) is considerable; sometimes their hatred is small but their desire is considerable; sometimes their desire is small but their delusion (moha) is considerable; sometimes their delusion is small but their hatred is considerable. Thus there is mutual interchange in the order of importance [amongst the fetters]. As a result of the obstacle consisting of the fetters (saṃyojanāvaraṇa), people do not hear or do not understand the apparitional Buddhas who are preaching the Dharma and do not see the rays of the Buddha. How then would they find the Path? Thus, when the sun (sūrya) rises (udati), blind people (andhapuruṣa) who do not see it claim that the world has no sun or moon (sūryacandramas); is that the fault of the sun? [116c] When thunder and lightning (meghavidyut) shake the earth, deaf people (badhira) do not hear it; is that the fault of the sound (śabda)? Actually, the Buddhas of the ten directions are always preaching the Dharma and always delegating the apparitional Buddhas to preach the six pāramitās in universes of the ten directions, but those who are affected by the blindness or deafness of evil actions do not hear the sound of the Dharma. Therefore they are not all in a position to hear and to see. Although the Ārya (here, the Buddha) has great loving-kindness (mahāmaitrīcitta), he cannot cause everyone to see and hear. But when peoples’ sins (āpatti) are almost destroyed and their merits (puṇya) are on the rise, then they succeed in seeing the Buddha and hearing the Dharma.

Footnotes and references:


Cf. Pañcaviṃśati, p. 7–8; Śatasāhasrikā, p. 11–12.


As we have seen above, the 27th mark, prabhūtajihvatā, goes along with the cryptorchidy of the Buddha. Its symbolism seems to have varied in the course of time: according to the Āloka, p. 919, it was a reward for gentleness of words (ślakṣnādivacanāt prabhūtajihvatā); in the Mppś and, as we shall see later, the Dīvyāvadana and the Mūlasarvāstivādin Vinaya, it is a proof of truth.


References to the Piṇḍasūtra:

1) Four different versions: i) Saṃyutta, I, p. 113–114 (tr. Rh. D., Kindred Sayings, I, p. 143–144: Geiger. I, p. 177–178; – ii) Tsa a han, T 99 (no. 1095), k. 30, p. 288a; iii) Tseng yi a han, T 125, k. 41, p. 772a–c (tr. in Hôbôgirin, p. 159b, with some inaccuracies: thus P’o lo yuan means ‘Garden of the brahmins’ and not ‘Garden of Benares’; the Buddha of the Bhadrakalpa called Kiu leou souen is Krakucchana and not Krośa); – iv) Dhammapadaṭṭha, III, p. 257–258 (tr. Burlingame, Legends, III, p. 72–73).

2) Numerous allusions: Mppś, T 1509, k. 9, p. 121c; Milinda, p. 154 (tr. Rh. D., I, p. 219); – Legend of Aśoka: Divyāvadāna, p. 350; A yu wang tchouan, T 2042, k. 5, p. 119b; A yu wang king, T 2043, k. 8, p. 159c (tr. Przyluski, Aśoka, p. 357); – Ta tchouang yen louen king, T 201 (no. 54), k. 9, p. 308b (tr. Huber, Sūtrālaṃkāra, p. 267); Ken pen chouo… yao che, T 1448, k. 18, p. 94c; – P’i p’o cha, T 1545, k. 76, p. 392a22.

References to the Brāhmaṇadārikāvadāna: This is the fourth avadāna in the Divya, p. 67–72. – It is also in the Mūlasarvāstivādin Vinaya; Ken pen chouo… yao che, T 1448, k. 8, p. 36a3–37a5. – A slightly different story in Kieou tsa p’i yu king, T 206 (no. 31), k. 1, p. 55c–516a (tr. Chavannes, Contes, I, p. 393–395.


By a device of compilation, the Mppś places the following story also in Śālā, the city of the brahmins. – In the Divyāvadāna, p. 67. the scene tales place in Nyagrodhikā, and the woman who makes the offering to the Buddha is the wife of one of the brahmins who came from Kapilavastu to Nyagrodhikā (Kapilavastuno brāhmaṇasya dārikā Nyagrodhikāyāṃ niviṣṭā). – The story in the Mūlasarvāstivādin Vinaya (T1448, k. 8, p. 36a) begins as follows: “Then the Bhagavat left Rājagṛha and went to To ken chou ts’ouen (‘the village of the tree of many roots’, or Nyagrodhagrāma). Wearing his robes and carrying his begging-bowl, the Buddha entered this village to beg for alms. At Kapilavastu there was a married woman, etc….” – In the Kieou tsa p’i yu king (T 206, k. 1, p. 515c), the scene took place outside the city of Śrāvastī.

The village of Nyagrodhikā of which the Divya and the Mūlasarvāstivādin Vinaya speak is probably the same as the Nigrodhārāma of the Pāli sources. We must distinguish two Nigrodhārāmas, one near Rājagṛha (Dīgha, II, p. 116) the other near Kapilavastu (Vinaya, I. p. 82; Mahāvastu, III, p. 101, etc.). In the latter was the tree at the foot of which the ascetic Kaṇha had practiced his austerities, a tree which bore fruit eternally by decree of the god Sakka. The Buddha, walking by this tree, began to smile and told the Kaṇhajātaka (Jātaka no. 440, IV, p. 6 seq.) to Ānanda who asked him why he smiled. According to the Divya, p. 70, the village of Nyagrodhikā took its name from a marvelous fig tree that could shelter five hundred chariots in its shade.


Cf. the story in the Divyāvadana, p. 67: adrākṣīt sā brāhmaṇadārikā Bhagavantaṃ dvātriṃśatā mahāpuruṣalakṣaṇaiḥ … prasādena Bhagavate śaktubhikṣāṃ dattavatī.


Here the Mppś summarizes in two lines a long development about the smile and the prediction of the Buddha which occurs in stereotyped form many times in the Avadānaśataka (to be precise, in 20 places, e.g., p. 4–6, 10–12, 19–21, etc.) and the Divyāvadāna (p. 67–69). Here are the main lines of this development: It is a custom that, at the moment when the Buddha Bhagavats show their smile, blue, yellow, red and white rays (nīlapītalohitāvadātā arciṣaḥ) flash out of the Bhagavat’s mouth, some of which go up and some of which go down. Those that go down penetrate into the hells (naraka); those that go up penetrate to the gods from the Cāturmahārājikas up to the Akaniṣṭas who cry out: “anityaṃ duḥkhaṃ śūnyam anātman” and chant two stanzas. Having travelled through the trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu, the rays return to the Bhagavat from behind (pṛṣṭhataḥ pṛṣṭhataḥ). According as to whether the Buddha wishes to show such-and-such a thing, the rays return to him by a different part of the body. If they disappear in the back (pṛṣṭha) of the Buddha, it is because he wants to reveal past actions (atītaṃ karma); if they disappear into his front (purastāt), it is because he wishes to predict the future (anāgata). The returning of the rays into the soles of his feet (pādatala) of the Buddha predicts a birth in hell (narakopapatti); into his heel (pārṣṇi), a birth among the animals (tiryagupapatti); into the big toe (pādāṅguṣṭha), a birth among the pretas; into the knees (jānu), a birth among men (manuṣyopapatti); into the palm of the left hand (vāma karatala), the royalty (rājya) of a balacakravartin; into the palm of the right hand (dakṣiṇa karatala), the royalty of a cakravartin; into the navel, a birth among the gods (devopapatti); into the mouth (āsya), the bodhi of the śrāvakas; into the ūrṇā, the bodhi of the pratyekabuddhas; into the uṣṇīṣa, the anuttarasamyaksaṃbodhi of the Buddhas. Then in prose and verse, Ānanda asks the Buddha the meaning of these rays and smile, and the Buddha answers by applying to a particular case the symbolism just described.


Cf. Divyāvadāna, p. 69–70: Bhagavān āha. dṛṣṭā tavaiṣā Ānanda brāhmaṇadārika … nāma pratyekabuddho bhaviṣyati. The rays returning into the Buddha’s ūṛṇā already showed that this woman would attain the bodhi of the pratyekabuddhas. The Buddha further predicts that for the fifteen kalpas that separate her from this bodhi, she will escape the bad destinies and be reborn among gods and humans. In place of the ‘fifteen kalpas’, the Divya (p. 69) and the Mūlasarvāstivādin Vinaya (p. 36b) read ‘thirteen kalpas’; I [Lamotte] think that the first reading is better: it is that of the Avadānaśataka, I, p. 128, 133..

From the Divya and the Mūlasarvāstivādin Vinaya, we know that the pratyekabuddha will have the name Supraṇihita, in Chinese Chan yuen.


This stanza is missing in the other sources.


Cf. Divya, p. 71: Tato Bhagavatā mukhāj jihvāṃ nirṇamayya … saṃprajmanan mṛṣāvādaṃ bhāṣeta. no bho Gautama.

But in the Divya and the Mūlasarvāstivādin Vinaya, the Buddha puts his tongue out only after having convinced the brahmin by the parable of the fig-tree.


Cf. Divya, p. 70–71: Bhagavān āha. kiṃ manyase brāhmaṇa, asti kaścit tvayāścaryādbhuto … atha Bhagavān asminn utpanne gāthāṃ bhāṣate.
yathā kṣetre ca bījena pratyakṣas tvam iha dvija ….
evaṃ mayā brāhmaṇa dṛsṭam etad alpaṃ ca bījaṃ mahatī ca saṃpad iti.


This last paragraph is peculiar to the Mppś: it aims to show the linkage between the two episodes artificially connected here.


It is because the Buddha communicates to them his miraculous power that the listeners to the Prajñāpāramitā have seen with their own eyes the assembly of the Buddha Akṣobhya; but, continues the Aṣṭāsāhasrikā, p. 465: “when the Bhagavat withdrew his miraculous power, the Bhagavat Akṣobhya, tathāgata, arhat and completely enlightened, was no longer visible” (pratisaṃhṛte ca Bhagavatā tasmin … samyaksaṃbuddhaḥ saṃdṛśyate sma).

- For the Buddha Akṣobhya who already appears in the Prajñā literature and the Saddharmapuṇḍarīka before becoming one of the five dhyānibuddhas, especially venerated in the Shingon sect, see Hôbôgirin, Ashuku, p. 39–40.


The Mppś is referring here to the Sukhāvatīvyūha, v. 39 (tr. M. Müller, SBE, XLIX, 2, p. 49–61: Evam ukta āyuṣmān Ānanda Bhagavavtam etad avocat … taṃ ca bodhisattvagaṇaṃ taṃ ca bhikṣusaṃgham.


Mandākinī and Anavatapta are two of the seven large lakes of the Himālaya (Aṅguttara, IV, p. 101; Jātaka, V, p. 415; Sumaṅgala, I p. 164). Anavatapta has already been described; there is a detailed description of Mandākini in Sārattha, I, p. 281.


This is the classical myth of the birth of Brahmā, told in the Mahābhārata (3.272.44; 12.207.13) and which gives to Viṣṇu the name padmanābha, and to Brahmā the epithets padma -ja, -jāta, -bhava, -yoni, -saṃbhava, etc. Although the usual mount of Brahmā is a swan, the Hindu iconography often shows him seated on a lotus. The Mppś is not the only Buddhist source that tells this Hindu myth; it is also found in another work, also translated by Kumārajīva, the Tsa p’i yu king, T 207 (no. 31), p. 529b (tr. Chavannes, Contes, II, p. 53–54). Ki tsang also records it in his Tchong kouan louen chou, T 1824, k. 1, p. 14c.


For this special meaning of adhitiṣṭhati ‘to make last or endure’, see Kośa, VII, p. 119, n. 2.


It is thus that, after their parinirvāṇa, the Buddhas Prabhūtaratna and Suśanta left behind an apparitional Buddha, in a way their ‘double’, in order to convert beings. The śrāvakas are unable to prolong themselves thus after their death, but they can use a certain adhiṣṭhāna: thus Kāśyapa, the Buddha’s disciple, caused his skeleton to last until the coming of Maitreya (Kośa, VII, p. 120).