Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “the transformed saha universe compared with the padmavati universe” 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 10.9: The transformed Sahā universe compared with the Padmāvatī universe

Sūtra: The universe Houa tsi (Padmāvati) has been mentioned which belongs [to the Buddha] P’ou houa (Samantakusuma), where the bodhisattva Miao tö (Mañjuśrī), the bodhisattva Chan tchou yi (Susthitamati) and other very powerful bodhisattvas dwell (tadyathāpi nāma Padmāvatī [134b] lokadhātuḥ Samanatakusumasya tathāgatasya buddhakṣetraṃ yatra Mañjuśrīḥ kumārabhūtaḥ prativasati Susthimatiś ca bodhisattvaḥ anye ca mahaujaskā bodhisattvāḥ).

Śāstra. – Question. – Why compare [the Sahā universe thus transformed] with the Padmāvatī universe?

Answer. – Because the [Padmāvatī] universe always has pure lotuses and the [Sahā] universe, after it has been transformed, resembles it. In making comparisons (upamāna). we customarily compare the smallest with the biggest; in this way we compare the beauty of a man’s face with the full moon (pūrṇamāsa).

Question. – But in the ten directions, there are other pure universes (pariśuddhalokadhātu) such as the Ngan lo (Sukhāvatī) of the Buddha A mi t’o (Amitābha), etc. Why take only the Padmāvatī universe as comparison?

Answer. – The universe of the Buddha Amitābha is not like the Padmāvatī universe. Why? Although the Buddha [Lokeśvararāja] guided the bikṣu Fa tsi (Dharmākara) in the ten directions to contemplate the pure universes, the qualities (guṇa) and the power (bala) of this bhikṣu were [too] weak and he was unable to see the supremely pure universes. (also see Appendix 6) This is why the universes are not alike.

Furthermore, when the Buddha [Śākyamuni] transforms the [Sahā] universe, he gives it a resemblance (sādṛśya) to the Padmāvatī universe. This is why it is compared here to the Padmāvatī universe.

Question. – There are other great bodhisattvas such as P’i mo lo k’i (Vimalakīrti), Kouan che yin (Avalokiteśvara), Pien ki (Samanatabhadra), etc. Why mention only the bodhisattvas who reside in the [Padmāvatī] universe and be limited to citing the bodhisattvas Wen chou che li (Mañjuśrī) and Chan tchou yi (Susthitamati)?

Answer. – From all the pores of his skin (ekaikaromakūpa), the bodhisattva Samantabhadra ceaselessly emits buddha-universes with Buddhas and bodhisattvas who fill the ten directions; as he transforms beings, he has no fixed residence. Dividing and transforming his body, the bodhisattva Mañjuśrī penetrates into the five destinies (pañcagati) and sometimes acts as a śrāvaka, sometimes as a pratyekabuddha and sometimes as a Buddha. It is said in the Cheou leng yen san mei king (Śūraṃgamasamādhisūtra):[1] “The bodhisattva Mañjuśrī in the past was the Buddha Long tchong tsouen (Nāga…); for 72 koṭi of lifetimes, he was a pratyekabuddha”; his previous abodes [can be listed and described]. But for the bodhisattva Samanatabhadra, it is impossible to count, describe and know his [successive] abodes because, if he abides anywhere, it is in all the universes [without distinction]. This is why the sūtra does not mention him here.

Besides, by speaking of ‘other very powerful bodhisattvas’, the sūtra refers to Samantabhadra and all the great bodhisattvas as a whole (sāmānyataḥ).

Footnotes and references:


Chou leng yen san mei king, T 642, k. 2, p. 644a.