Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “temptation of anuruddha (visit of the manapakayika-devatas)” 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 1 - The temptation of Anuruddha (visit of the Manāpakāyikā-devatās)

Note: this appendix is extracted from the story found in Chapter XVII part 1:

Thus, when the āyuṣmat Anuruddha was sitting in absorption in a forest, some goddesses (devatā), the beautiful Tṛṣṇā, etc., with their beautiful and wonderful pure bodies, came to tempt him. Anuruddha said: “Let these sisters become blue and not show any mixed colors.” He wanted to contemplate the impurities of their bodies in this way, but he did not succeed in seeing any. And it was the same when, at his request, they took on a yellow, red and white color. Then Anuruddha closed his eyes and did not look at them. He said: “May these sisters go away.” At that moment, the goddesses disappeared. – If their celestial shapes, the reward of their merits intruded on Anuruddha in this way, what could be said about the five objects of enjoyment that are the fruit of retribution of the immense qualities of the bodhisattvas, except that they solicit the bodhisattva even more?

The visit of the Manāpakāyikā devatās to Anuruddha is told in a sūtra in the Aṅguttara, IV, p. 262–266 which, errors excepted, has no correspondent in the Chinese Ekottarāgama. Here is a condensed translation:

One day, the Buddha was residing at Kosambī in the Ghosita park, At that time, the venerable Anuruddha had withdrawn and was resting; then numerous deities with charming bodies (manāpakāyikā devatā) came to him, greeted him and stood to one side, saying to the venerable Anuruddha:

“Venerable Anuruddha, we are the deities of charming body; our sovereignty and our power extend in three areas: We are able spontaneously (ṭhānaso) to assume whatever color (varṇa) we wish; we are able spontaneously to produce whatever sound (sara) we wish; we are able to obtain whatever bliss (sukha) we wish. O venerable Anuruddha, we are the deities of charming form and we extend our sovereignty and power in these three areas.”

Then the venerable Anuruddha said to himself:

“May these goddesses become all blue (nīla), with blue faces, blue garments and blue ornaments.”

And these goddesses, knowing his mind, became all blue, with blue faces, blue garments and blue ornaments.

Then he thought:

“May they become all yellow (pīta) …, all red (lohita) …, all white (odāta), with white faces, white garments and white ornaments.”

Immediately, knowing his mind, they transformed themselves according to his wishes.

Then one of the goddesses sang (gāyi), another danced (nacci), yet another snapped her fingers (accharikaṃ vādesi) … But the venerable Anuruddha averted his senses (indriyāni okkhipi) from them. At once, understanding that the venerable Anuruddha was displeased, they disappeared.

Other details may be found in the Anuruddhasutta of the Saṃyutta, I, p. 200 (cf. Tsa a han, T 99, no. 1336, k. 50, p. 368c; T 100, no. 356, k. 16, p. 490b), and in the commentary of Buddhaghosa in Sāratthappakāsinī, I, p. 293–294.

Here, in italics is the translation of the sutta, and in roman letters, the translation of the commentary.

Once the venerable Anuruddha was dwelling among the Kosalas in a forest.

Then a certain deity, belonging to the Tāvatiṃsa gods, called Jāminī, who was formerly, in the immediately preceding lifetime, the wife of the venerable Anuruddha, approached the venerable Anuruddha.

Having approached him, she spoke the following stanzas to him:

Turn your mind to where you have formerly lived,
Among the Tāvatiṃsa gods, whose every wish is fulfilled;
Accompanied and surrounded by the daughters of the gods, you shine.

[Anuruddha replied]:

The daughters of the gods have an unfortunate destiny, established in a corporeal existence
And those who desire the daughters of the gods have a bad destiny.

[Jālinī] answered]:

Those who do not see the Nandana [park], the abode of divine heroes,
The glorious Thirty-three Gods, do not know bliss.

[Anuruddha replied]:

O foolish one, you do not understand the meaning of the arhats’ saying:
All formations are transitory, given up to arising and cessation;
As soon as they arise, they cease; to pacify them is bliss.
[For me] now there is no further rebirth among the gods.

When he had said this, the goddess Jālinī felt a powerful attraction for the venerable one and she did not have the strength to separate from him. Endlessly returning, she swept his cell, brought water for him to rinse his mouth, a toothpick, food and drink. The venerable one did not spurn her but accepted her gifts. One day, the venerable one, whose robe was worn out, was making his begging round; she laid a celestial garment on a pile of garbage and went away. Seeing this garment, the venerable one gathered it up; examining it and recognizing that it was a garment that would suit him, he took it away. Out of it he made the threefold monastic robes: two disciples of high rank joined Anuruddha in making the robe; the teacher furnished the needle. The robe having been made, when the venerable one went on his begging round, the goddess procured alms for him. Sometimes alone, sometimes with another, she stayed close to the venerable one.

Finally, with two companions, she went to the cell of Anuruddha and said to him:

“We are the [goddesses] of charming body (manāpakāyikā) and we take every imaginable shape.”

Anuruddha said to himself:

“They speak thus; I must test that; may they become all blue (nīlaka).”

Knowing the venerable’s mind, they became all blue. Then they became yellow (pīta), red (lohita) and white (odāta). They thought: “The venerable one appreciates our beauty”, and they began a show: the first one sang (gāyi), the second danced (nacci) and the third one snapped her fingers (accharaṃ pahari). But the venerable one averted his senses (indriyāni akkhipi). Then, understanding that the venerable one did not appreciate their beauty and, not receiving any affection or sweetness from him, they gave up and went away.

Seeing them depart, the venerable one wished that they would never return and, defining his arhathood, he spoke this stanza:

The cycle of births is destroyed; there now is no further rebirth.

On this Jālinī, see also Theragāthā, v. 908; Dhammapadaṭṭha, II, p. 173–175 (tr, Burlingame, Legends, II, p. 201–202).