Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “theory of nirmita” 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.

Appendix 6 - The theory of nirmita

Note: This Appendix is extracted from Chapter XIV part 4:

“There cannot be two minds (citta) at the same time: 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.”

Undoubtedly the Mppś is referring here to the theory of nirmita explained in the Kāraṇaprajñapti, which is one of the seven books of the Abhidharma: Che chö louen, T 1538, k. 6, p. 526a:

“Why are beings created (nirmita) by the Nirmātṛ, i.e., the Buddha Bhagavat, of fine color, handsome, pleasant to see, their body adorned with the thirty-two marks of the Great Man, silent while the Buddha speaks and speak when the Buddha is silent; whereas the beings created by the śrāvakas, of fine color, handsome, head shaved, clothed in robes and having the marks of the śramaṇa, speak when the śrāvakas speak and are silent when the śrāvakas are silent?

– The Buddha Bhagavat dwells always in samādhi and has mastery of mind (cetovaśitā); he enters into samādhi and comes out quickly and with no difficulty; he never abandons the object (ālambana) of his mind. This is not the case for the śrāvakas. On the contrary, the Bhagavat is omniscient (sarvajñā): he has obtained mastery of knowledge (jñāna) and mind (citta), and he has reached the other shore (pāraṃgata). This is why the beings created by the Buddha… are silent when he speaks, speak when he is silent, whereas the beings created by the śrāvakas… speak when the śrāvakas speak and are silent when the śrāvakas are silent.”

This text shold be compared to a canonical stanza, the Pāli version of which is in Dīgha, II, p. 212:

Ekasmiṃ bhāsamānasmiṃ sabbe bhāsanti nimmitā |
ekasniṃ tuṇhīm āsīne sabbe tuṇhī bhavanti te ||

and the Sanskrit version in Madh. vṛtti, p. 331, and Divyāvadana, p. 166:

Ekasya bhāsamāṇasya sarva bhāsanti nirmitāḥ |
ekasya tūṣṇīṃbhūtasya sarve tūṣṇīṃbhavati te ||

“When one speaks (i.e., the creator), all the created beings speak; when one remains silent, all remain silent.”

This holds for all śrāvaka creations, but not for those of the Buddha for, says the Kośa, VII, p. 118, “the latter has perfect mastery of concentration: at will, the magical beings speak one after the other; they question and the Buddha responds; the Buddha questions and they respond.” This is also the opinion of the Divyāvadana, p. 166, if one applies the corrections proposed by L. de La Vallée Poussin in Kośa, VII, p. 118, n. 3: yaṃ khalu śravako nirmitam abhinirmiīte yadi praśnaṃ pṛcchati. nirmito vyākaroti.

I [Lamotte] am not sure that the Mppś has completely understood its sources: according to it, “when the Buddha speaks, the innumerable thousands of prabhedhakoṭi of apparitional Buddhas speak at the same time as him.”