Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “four gardens of the trayastrimsha gods” 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 8 - The four gardens of the Trāyastriṃśa gods

Note: This Appendix is extracted from Chapter XIV part 5.4:

“... when the gods enter the Nandanavana garden of the king of the Trāyastriṃśa gods, their minds become soft and gentle, they are joyous, content and no gross minds arise in them. When the asuras come with their armies, they feel no aggressive attitudes. But it happens that ‘Śakro devānām indraḥ’, at the head of an army of gods, enters the Pāruṣyavana and, because this garden, where the trees, flowers and fruits have an unpleasant smell, is coarse, the army of gods feel aggressive thoughts arising in themselves”.

The Trāyastriṃśa gods with Śakra as king live in the city of Sudarśana on the summit of Mount Meru. This city has four parks:

  1. Caitraratha,
  2. Pāruṣya,
  3. Miśra,
  4. Nandana.

(Tch’ang a han, T 1, k. 20, p. 132b; Mahāvastu, I, p. 32; Divyāvadāna, p. 219; Lokaprajñapti in LAV., Cosmologie, p. 304–305; Jātaka, VI, p. 278; Kośa, III, p. 161; P’i p’o cha, T 1545, K. 133, p. 692a).

These sources mention the beneficent influence of the Nanadanavana and the maleficent influence of the Pāruṣyavana.

– Tch’ang a han, T 1, k. 20, p. 132b:

“Why is it called Pāruṣyavana? Because when one enters it, one’s thoughts (chen t’i) become harsh (paruṣa)…
Why is it called Nanadanavana? Because when one enters it, one is happy and joyful.”

– Jātaka V, p. 158: Nandane ti nandijananasanatthatāya Nandanavanasaṃkhāte Tāvtiṃsabhavave.

– P’i p’o cha T 1545, k. 133, p. 692a:

“In the Pāruṣyavana, when the gods want to go to war, armor and weapons appear according to their needs…
In the Nanadanavana, all kinds of marvels and joys are gathered and they go from one to another without getting tired.”

Samyutta, I, p. 5 (cf. Tsa a han, T 99, l. 22, p. 153c) says that those who have not seen the Nandana do not know happiness (Na te sukhaṃ pajānati ye na passanti Nandanaṃ), and Aṅguttara, III, p. 40 (cf. Tseng yi a han, T 125, k. 24, p. 681a) speaks of those who walk in the Nandana, joyous, happy and content among the five sense pleasures (te tattha nandanti ramanti modare samappitā kāmaguṇehi pañcahi).

Originally the abode of the Trāyastriṃśa, with all its wonders, was shared with the asuras, but when Magha was born as Śakra among the Trāyastriṃśa gods, the company of the asuras displeased him and, having previously made them drunk, he expelled them from his palace, the five walls of which he had guarded by the nāgas, suparṇas, kumbhaṇḍas, yakṣas and the Cāturmahārājika gods. Cf. Jātaka, I, p. 201 seq; Dhammapadaṭṭha, I, p. 272 seq (tr. Burlingame, Legends, I, p. 319). It is undoubtedly wrong that the Mppś claims that the asuras still had access to the Nandanavana.