Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “the buddha shows his ordinary body (prakrityatmabhava)” 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 7.1: The Buddha shows his ordinary body (prakṛtyātmabhāva)

Sūtra: Then the Bhagavat made his ordinary body (prakṛtymatmabhāva) appear to all the beings of the trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu. At that moment, the Śuddhāvāsakāyika, Brahmakāyika, Paranirmitavaśavartin, Nirmāṇarati, Tuṣita, Yāma,Trāyastriṃśa, Caturmahārājika gods,[1] as well as the manuṣya and the amanuṣya of the trisāhasramāhasāhasralokadhātu, bearing heavenly flowers (divya puṣpa), celestial garlands (divya mālya), heavenly unguents (divya vilepana), celestial powders (divya cūrṇa), celestial lotuses, blue (nīlotpala), red (kokanada), white (puṇḍarīka), purple (padma), and leaves of heavenly trees (tamālapattra), gathered around the Buddha (Atha khalu bhagavān punar eva yādṛk trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātau sattvānām ātmabhāvaṃ prākṛtam upadarśayāmāsa. Atha khalu śuddhāvāsakmayikā devā brahmakāyikāś ca paranirmitavaśavartinaś ca nirmiāṇaratayaś ca tuṣitāś ca yāmāś ca trāyastriṃśāś ca cāturamhārājakāyikāś ca ye ca trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātau manuṣyāamanuṣyāś ca te puṣpamālyavilepanacūrṇāni divyāni nīlotpalakokanapuṇḍarikapadmāni divyāni ca tamālapattrāṇi gṛhitvā yena tathāgatas tenopasaṃkrāntāḥ).

Śāstra: Why does the Buddha make his ordinary body (prakṛtyātmabhāva) appear to all the beings of the trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu?

Answer. – 1) Wishing to preach the Mahāprajñāpāramitā, the Buddha first enters the Samādhirājasamādhi. The wheels on the soles of his feet emit rays and [the other parts of his body], including the uṣṇīṣa, shine forth with brilliant light. Just as at the end of a kalpa, at the time of the great fire, the mountains such as Sumeru parvatarāja catch on fire and are successively consumed by the fire, so the Buddha’s rays fill the entire trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu and reach to the universes of the ten directions as numerous as the sands of the Ganges, which all were illumined by them. The beings who saw these rays attained [122c] anuttarasamyaksaṃbodhi in the end. Therefore, to preach the Prajñāpāramitā, the Buddha first manfests his miraculous power (ṛddhibala).

2) The Buddha smiles through all the pores of his skin (sarvaromakūpa).

3) The Buddha emits his ordinary light (prakṛtiprabhā), namely, his aureole which is one armspan in width (vyāma).

4) He covers the trisāsramahāsahāsralokadhātu with his tongue (jihvā) and begins to smile.

5) He enters into the Siṃhavikrīṣitasamādhi, and the trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu shakes in six ways.

6) Seated on the siṃhāsana, the Buddha manifests his light, his splendor, his color and his lofty form. By this miraculous power (ṛddhibala), he touches beings profoundly and those who have faith reach anuttarasamyaksaṃbodhi.

7) And finally here, for those who have doubts, he shows his ordinary body (prakṛtyātmabhāva) and those who hesitate then attain deliverance by faith (śraddhāvimukti) and say to one another: “What I am seeing now is the real body of the Buddha.” By the power of the Buddha, these people of the trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu, seeing the ordinary body of the Buddha, come near him without confusion; and then the beings of the trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu, full of joy (ānanda), cry out: “This is truly the body of the Buddha.” Indeed, the Buddha always had this body, when he was born, when he became Buddha and when he turned the wheel of Dharma. This is why beings say that that is truly the body of the Buddha.

Footnotes and references:


These are the gods of the kāmadhātu and rūpadhātu. In order to undestand the explanations that will follow, one must bear in mind the division of the gods into these two realms:

Kāmadhātu serves as dwelling for six groups of gods: Caturmahārājika, Trāyastriṃṣa, Yāma, Tuṣita, Nirmāṇarati and Paranirmitavaśavartin.

Rūpadhātu with its four dhyānas serves as dwelling place for seventeen groups of gods.

First dhyāna: Brahmakāyika, Brahmapurohita, Mahābrahmānas.

Second dhyāna: Parīttābha, Apramāṇābha, Ābhāsvara.

Third dhyāna: Parīttaśubha, Apramāṇaśubha, Śubhakṛtsna.

Fourth dhyāna: Anabhraka, Puṇyaprasava, Bṛhatphala and the five Śuddhavāsikas: Abṛha, Atapa, Sudṛśa, Sudarśana, Akaniṣṭha.

See the comparative study of the sources in Kirfel, Kosmographie der Inder, p. 191–192.

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