Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “samantarashmi offers to pay homage to buddha shakyamuni” 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 9.5: Samantaraśmi offers to pay homage to Buddha Śākyamuni

Sūtra: Then the bodhisattva Samantaraśmi said to the Buddha Ratnākara: Bhagavat, I will go [to the Sahā universe] to see the Buddha Śākyamuni, greet him and offer my services; I will also see the bodhisattva-mahāsattvas who will also accede to the state of buddhahood (bhūyastvena kumārabhūta), who have attained the dhāraṇīs and the samādhis and acquired mastery over all the samādhis (Atha khalu Samantaraśmir bodhisattvo Ratnākaraṃ tathāgatuṃ etad avocat. gamiṣyāmy ahaṃ bhagavaṃs tāṃ Sahāṃ lokadhātum taṃ ca Śākyamuniṃ tathāgataṃ darśanāya vandanāya paryupāsanāya tāṃś ca bodhisattvān mahāsattvān bhūyastvena kumārabhūtān dhāraṇīsamādhipratilabdhān sarvasamādhivaśipāramitāṃ gatān).

Śāstra. – Question. – The Buddhas are all equal (sama) in regard to morality (śīla), samādhi, wisdom (prajñā) and skillful means. Why then does the bodhisattva Samantaraśmi want to go to see the Buddha Śākyamuni [when he is already at the side of the Buddha Ratnākara]?

Answer. – The bodhisattvas never tire (asaṃtuṣṭa) of seeing the Buddhas or hearing the Dharma; they never tire of seeing the assemblies (saṃgha) of bodhisattvas. The bodhisattvas who all experience disgust (saṃvega) for the things of the world (lokadharma) are never tired of the three things just mentioned.

Thus, leaving the pure abodes (śuddhavāsa), the vaiṣya Cheou (Hastaka), (see Appendix 4: story of Hastaka) came to see the Buddha; he had a subtle (sūkṣma) body; he was flexible; like a straw, he could not stand upright. The Buddha said to the vaiśya Hastaka: “Make a coarse body (audarikam ātmabhāvam abhinirmīhi) appropriate to this realm for yourself.” The vaiśya followed the Buddha’s advice and made for himself a body of a size appropriate for the earth. Having bowed down to the Buddha’s feet, he stood to one side. The Buddha asked: “Of how many things (dharma) have you never wearied in order to have been able to be reborn in the heaven of the pure abodes (śuddhāvāsa)?” He replied: “I took rebirth in the heaven of the Śuddāvāsa for never having tired of three things: i) I never tired of seeing the Buddhas (buddhānām ahaṃ darśanāyātṛptaḥ) or of paying homage to them; ii) I never wearied of hearing the Dharma (saddharmaśravaṇayātṛptaḥ); iii) I never tired of serving the community (saṃghasyopasthānāyātṛptaḥ). When the Buddha dwells in Jambudvīpa, the four assemblies always follow him, listen to his Dharma and question him on the subject. In the same way, the Śuddhāvāsa gods always follow me, listen to my sermons and question me [128b] about them.”

If the śrāvakas do not tire of hearing the Dharma, what then could be said of the dharmakāya bodhisattvas (dharmatākāyabodhisattva)? That is why the bodhisattva Samantaraśmi comes to see the Buddha Śākyamuni and the bodhisattva-mahāsattvas who will accede to the state of Buddhahood (bhūyastvena kumārabhūta) and who have obtained the dhāraṇis and the samādhis. In the chapter devoted to the praise of the bodhisattvas, we have said what should be understood by those who have “acquired mastery of all the samādhis”.

Question. – The Buddha is the only one to have obtained mastery (vaśita) of all the samādhis. Why do you say here that the bodhisattvas also have obtained mastery of all the samādhis?

Answer. – There are two kinds of samādhi, those of the Buddha and those of the bodhisattva. The bodhisattvas in question have acquired mastery of the bodhisattvas samādhis and not those of the Buddha.

Thus, in the Tchou fo yao tsi king (Buddhasaṃgītisūtra),[1] it is said: Wen chou che li (Mañjuśrī) wanted to see the assembly of the Buddhas (buddhasaṃgīti) but did not succeed because the Buddhas were each returning to their starting point. Mañjuśrī went to the place where the Buddhas were gathered; a woman was seated beside the Buddha, deep in samādhi.[2] Mañjuśrī bowed down to the Buddha’s feet and asked: “Why should this woman be able to sit close to the Buddha when I cannot?” The Buddha replied: “Wake this woman, make her come out of samādhi and ask her yourself.” Then Mañjuśrī snapped his fingers to rouse her but with no success. He shouted but did not succeed in rousing her; he pulled her by the hand but did not succeed in rousing her; by his bases of miraculous power (ṛddhipāda), he made the trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu shake but still did not succeed in rousing her.

Then Mañjuśrī said to the Buddha: “Bhagavat, I cannot rouse her.” Then the Buddha emitted great rays (raśmi) that illumined the universes at the nadir (adhodiglokadhātu) and at once a bodhisattva named K’i tchou kai (Apahṛtanīvaraṇa) arose from the direction of the nadir and, bowing down to the feet of the Buddha, stood to one side. The Buddha said to bodhisattva K’i tchou kai: “Wake this woman up.” Then the bodhisattva K’i tchou kai snapped his fingers and the woman came out of her samādhi.

Mañjuśī asked the Buddha: “Why was I, who made the trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu tremble, unable to rouse this woman, whereas the bodhisattva K’i tchou kai made her come out of samādhi merely by snapping his fingers once?”

The Buddha said to Mañjuśrī: “It is because of this woman that you first produced the thought (cittotpāda) of anuttarasamyaksaṃbodhi, whereas it is because of the bodhisattva K’i tchou kai that this woman has for the first time produced the thought of anuttarasamyaksaṃbodhi.This is why you were unable to rouse her. In regard to the Buddha’s samādhi, your power (anubhāva) is incomplete (aparipūrṇa); you have acquired mastery (vaśita) over the bodhisattva’s samādhi.

[128c] Since you have rarely entered the Buddha samādhis, you do not have mastery over them.”

Footnotes and references:


Tchou fo yao tsi king, T 810, k. 2, p. 765c–766c. – There is also a Tibetan translation of the Buddhasaṃgītisūtra entitled Saṅs rgyas bgro ba, Mdo, XVII, 9 (cf. Csoma-Feer, p. 264; OKC, no. 894, p. 343).


In T 810, p. 766a14, this woman is called Li yi (172 and 11; 61 and 9).

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