Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “the buddha shakes the trisahasramahasahasralokadhatu in six ways” 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 5.1: The Buddha shakes the trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu in six ways

Sūtra: Then the Bhagavat, on the same lion-seat, entered into the concentration called Lion’s Play and, by the action of his [miraculous] superknowledge, shook the trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu which trembled in six different ways (Atha khalu Bhagavāṃs tasminn eva siṃhāsane niṣaṇṇaḥ siṃhavikrīḍitaṃ nāma samādhiṃ samāpede. tathārūpaṃ ca ṛddhyabhisaṃskāram abhisaṃskaroti sma yathāyam trisāhasramahāsāhasrolokadhātuḥ ṣaḍvikāram akampata).

Śāstra: Question. – Why is this samādhi called Lion’s Play (siṃhavikrīḍita)?

Answer. – 1) Just as the lion (siṃha) who has taken a gazelle (mṛga) plays with it as a master (aiśvaryena krīḍati),[1] so the Buddha, having entered this samādhi, can upset the world in every way and thus make it shake in six different ways.

2) Moreover, [sometimes] the lion plays, and when he plays, all the animals are reassured; in the same way, when the Buddha enters this samādhi, he shakes the trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu in such a way that beings in the three evil destinies (durgati) simultaneously attain cessation (nirvṛtti) and all will reach salvation (yogakṣema).

3) Finally, the Buddha is called the man-lion (puruṣasiṃha) and the samādhi of the Lion’s Play is the samādhi of the Buddha’s Play. When he enters this samādhi, he causes the great earth (mahāpṛthivī) to shake in six different ways and all beings deep in the hells (niraya) and the two unfortunate destinies (durgati) all receive deliverance (vimokṣa) and are reborn amongst the gods. Such is his ‘Play’.

Question. – Why does the Buddha enter this samādhi?

Answer. – To shake the trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu, to take beings out of the three unfortunate destinies (durgati) and bring them to the threefold Path (mārgatraya).

Moreover, by means of three kinds of samādhi, the Buddha has already shown his Buddha body but there are people whose faith (śraddhācitta) is not profound (gambhīra). And so the Buddha [now] shakes the great earth so that these beings, knowing the immensity of the miraculous power (ṛddhibala) of the Buddha who shakes external objects, [may be filled] with pure faith (śraddhāviśuddhi) and joyful thoughts (cittamuditā) and will all escape from suffering.

Question. – But the arhats and devas also can shake the earth. Why speak only about the miraculous power of the Buddha here?

Answer. – The arhats and devas are unable to shake it at its base; only the Buddha can make it tremble in six different ways.

Question. – Why does the Buddha shake the trisāhasramahāsmahasralokadhātu?

Answer. – So that all beings know that everything is empty (śūnya) and transitory (anitya). There are people who claim that the great earth (mahāpṛthivī), the sun and the moon (sūryacandramas), Sumeru and the great ocean (mahāsamudra) are all eternal (nitya). This is why the Bhagavat shakes the earth six times and gives the reason (hetupratyaya) for it: Beings will know that it is not eternal.

[117a] And just as a man who wants to soil his garment (vastra) first walks into the dust (rajas), so the Buddha first shows his miraculous power to the beings of the trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu; then, when their minds are softened (mṛduka, snigdha), he preaches the Dharma to them. This is why he shakes the earth in six ways.

Question. – What are the six ways?

Footnotes and references:


Hence the Sanskrit expressions mṛgarāj and mṛgarāja to designate the lion.

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