Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “scattering of flowers over the buddha” 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 7.5: Scattering of flowers over the Buddha

Sūtra: They scatter (avakiranti sma) [all these offerings], from celestial flowers (divyapuṣpa) to leaves of the celestial tree (tamālapattra), over the Buddha.

Question. – Why do they scatter these flowers on the Buddha?

Answer. – As a sign of respect (satkāra) and as offering (pūjā). Moreover, when the Buddha’s rays shine forth and they see the Buddha from afar, they feel great joy (ānanda) and want to pay homage to him; this is why they scatter flowers on him. Finally, the Buddha is the supreme field of merit (paramapuṇyakṣetra) in the threefold world (traidhātuka); this is why they strew flowers on him.

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Sūtra: These precious scattered flowers form a great belvedere high in the firmament having the dimensions of the trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu (Taiś cāvakīrṇaratnapuṣpair upary antarīkṣe trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātupramāṇam ekaṃ kūṭāgāraṃ saṃsthitam abhūt).

Śāstra: Question. – How can [these few flowers] form such a belvedere in the firmament?

Answer. – These flowers that have been scattered were not numerous, but nevertheless they form a great belvedere. This teaches beings that a small cause (hetu) has great effects (phala).

Question.- How does this belvedere rest in the air without falling?

Answer. – By his miraculous power (ṛddhibala), the Buddha wishes to show beings that the Buddha is a field of merit (puṇyakṣetra), that the reward that he has received is imperishable and that even after having become Buddha, his merits are indestructible.

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Sūtra: From this belvedere hang garlands and bouquets of flowers of different colors (mixture of the five colors): these bouquets and garlands fill the trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu (tataś ca kūṭāgārāt tāni paṭṭadāmāni puṣpadāmāni miśravarṇāni lambante sma. taiś ca puṣpadāmbhiḥ paṭṭadāmabhiś cāyaṃ trisāhasramahāsāhasro lokadhātuḥ paripūrṇi ‘bhūt).

Question. – If the Buddha himself has miraculous power (ṛddhibala), why is it necessary that the flowers scattered [by beings] are transformed into a belvedere?

Answer. – The Buddha wishes that beings have pure faith (śraddhāviśuddhi); when these people see their offerings change into a belvedere, they feel great joy (pramuditā) and as a result of this joy, they gain great merit (puṇya).