Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “description of celestial flowers (divypushpa)” 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 7.4: Description of celestial flowers (divypuṣpa)

Question. – What is a celestial flower?

Answer. – The celestial flower is one the perfume of which goes against the wind (prativātaṃ vāti).[1] Celestial garlands (divyamālya) remain suspended above the Buddha; celestial unguents (divyavilepana) are spread out on the ground before the Buddha; celestial powders (divyacūrṇa) are scattered above the Buddha.

Question. – Celestial lotuses (divyapadma) are blue (nīla), red (lohita) pink (rakta) or white (avadata). Why are they not yellow (pīta)?

Answer. – Because yellow is an attribute of fire (tejo ’pekṣate) and fire is foreign to aquatic flowers. These precious celestial lotuses have a stem (daṇḍa) of jade (vaiḍūrya), a corolla (vedikā) of diamond (vajra), leaves (pattra) of golden sand from the Jambū river (jāmbūnadasuvarṇa). They are tender and perfumed. Taking also leaves from the celestial tree (tamāla or Xanthochymus pictorius), they gather around the Buddha.

Question. – The gods can get celestial flowers (divypuṣpa) as offerings, but how can men (manuṣya) and amanuṣya get them?

Answer. – Thanks to the bases of his miraculous power (ṛddhibala), the Buddha emits great rays and the earth trembles in six ways; the gods rain down all sorts [123b] of marvelous flowers that fill the trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu as offerings to the Buddha. The manuṣya and amanuṣya can gather these flowers and offer them in turn.

Moreover, it is customary in India to call celestial (divya) anything that is beautiful. Even though the flowers of the manuṣya and amanuṣya do not come from the heavens, they can, nevertheless, be described as ‘celestial’ because of their beauty. Thus it is not wrong to say that the manuṣya and the amanuṣya offer celestial flowers.

Footnotes and references:


Among the Trayastriṃṣa gods, the odor of the magnolia flower (kovidāra) called ‘pārijātaka’ is propagated for a hundred yojanas with the wind, for fifty yojanas against the wind. By contrast, the smell of flowers in the human world does not go against the wind. – Cf. Kośa, III, p. 162–163.