Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “candraprabha-jataka” 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.

Again, prince (kumāra) Yue kouang (Candraprabha) went out for a ride one day. A leper (pāmavat) saw him, stopped his chariot and said to him: “I am gravely sick (glāna), tired (ārta) and in pain. Will the prince, who rides for pleasure, be the only one to enjoy himself? I would like him, with a mind of great compassion (mahākaruṇācitta), to cure me.” Having heard this, the prince questioned his physician (vaidya) who told him: “The blood (śoṇita) and marrow (majjā) are needed of a man who, from his birth up to his adolescence, has never been angry (dveṣa); we will smear [the sick man with this marrow] and give him to drink [this blood]; then he will be cured.” The prince said to himself: “Supposing such a man existed, he will hold onto his life and preserve it. What can be done? It is impossible to find someone who will sacrifice his body spontaneously.” Then the prince commanded a caṇḍāla to cut into his flesh, break his bones (asthi), extract the marrow (majjā), smear the sick man with it and give him his blood to drink.

By giving his life, his wife and his children in this way, the bodhisattva spares them no less than he would pieces of rubbish. Considering the things that he gives, he knows that they exist due to conditions (pratyaya) and that, if one looked for a reality in them, one would find nothing: [indeed] everything is pure (viśuddhi) and like nirvāṇa. Until he attains the acquiescence of the non-production of things (anutpattikadharmakṣanti), this is how his body born of bonds and actions (bandhanakarmajakāya) practices the perfection of generosity (dānapāramitāparipūri).

Notes on the Candraprabha-jātaka:

Here the Mppś seems to have grouped into a single story two jātakas from the Ratnakūta (cf. Ta pao tai king, T 310, k. 111, p. 640c9–631a22; Maitreyaparipṛcchā, T 349, p. 188b21–188c8; see also Ling liu yi sinag, T 2121, k. 10, p. 55b17–55c2): the first jātaka tells how prince Kien yi ts’ie yi (Sarvārthadarśana)took his own blood to give a sick man a drink; the second, how prince Miao houa or Lien houa (Utpala) broke one of his bones and took the marrow to smear over a sick man. The Mppś attributes both of the exploits to pronce Candraprabha, also mentioned in the Ratnakūta (T 310, k. 111, p. 631a25–631b12; T 349, p. 188c9–18) as having given his eyes to a blind man. However, Utpala seems to have the monopoly of “the gift of the marrow”, for it is he again who writes a text of the holy Dharma with one of his broken bones as pen, his marrow as ink and his skin as parchment (see traité, I, p. 144–145, as note: The gift of the marrow).