Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “gifts practiced by shakyamuni in his jatakas” 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.

Gifts practiced by Śākyamuni in his jātakas

Note: In the course of his previous existences, Śākyamuni made countless offerings to the Buddhas, seeking for enlightenment in order to liberate beings. The Mppś limits itself here to mentioning several of these offerings, but a much longer list may be found in Lalitavistara, p. 171–172 (tr. Foucaux, p. 153–154).

[1. Lesser gifts]. – Thus, when the Buddha Śākyamuni produced the Bodhi mind (pratamacittotpādakāle) for the first time, he was a great king called Kouang ming (Prabhāsa) – seeking Buddhahood, he practiced generosity more or less. – When he took on a new existence, he was the master-potter (kumbhakāra) who gave bath utensils and honey syrup to another Buddha Śākyamuni and his saṃgha.[1] – Then when he was reborn, he was the wife of a great merchant (mahāśreṣṭhibhāryā), who offered a lamp to the buddha Kiao tch’en jo (Kauṇḍinya). Various deeds of this kind are called lesser gifts of the Bodhisattva.

[2. Middling gifts]. – In his previous existences, the buddha Śākyamuni was a merchant’s son who gave a garment to the buddha Ta yin cheng (Mahāghoṣa) and built ninety stūpas to him fter his parinirvāṇa. – Then, when he was reborn, he was the great king who offered to the buddha Che tseu (Siṃha) garlands made of the seven jewels (saptaratnamayanicaya). – Finally, when he was reborn, he was the great merchant (mahāśreṣṭhin) who offered to the buddha Miao mou (Sunetra) an excellent palace and lotuses made of the seven jewels (saptaratnamayapadma). Deeds of this kind are called middling gifts of the Bodhisattva.

[3. Higher gifts]. – In a previous existence, the buddha Śākyamuni was a recluse (ṛṣi) who, seeing the grace and beauty of the Buddha Kiao tch’en (Kauṇḍinya) threw himself at the feet of this Buddha from the top of a high mountain; then, with peaceful body, he stood to one side. – He was also the bodhisattva Tchong cheng hi kien (Sarvasattvapriyadarśana) who offered his body as a lamp to the Buddha Je yue kouang tö (Candrasūryavimalaprabhāsaśrī).[2] Various deeds of this kind, where the Bodhisattva sacrifices his body (kāyajīvita) to offer it to the Buddhas, are the higher gifts of the bodhisattva. These are the three gifts of the Bodhisattva.

It is the same also when the bodhisattvas, from their first production of Bodhi mind (prathamabodhicittotpāda), make gifts to beings; first, they give food (āhāra); then their generous intentions increasing (dānacittavardhana), they give them the flesh of their body (kāyamāṃsa). First, they give all kinds of excellent drinks; then, their generosity increasing, they give them their body’s blood (kāyaśonita). First they give them paper, ink and canonical texts, then they give the dharma teachers the fourfold offering (pūjā) of garments, robes, food and drink; finally, having obtained the dharmakāya, they preach all kinds of sermons (dharma) to countless beings (aprameyasattva), thus practicing generosity of the Dharma (dharmadāna). It is by means of such [progressions] that, from the virtue of generosity, there ensues [an increase of] the virtue of generosity.

Footnotes and references:


On the gift of the Buddha to the former Śākyamuni, see above, Traité, I, p. 225F and notes.


The action of this bodhisattva who later became the Buddha Bhaiṣarāja is fully described in the Saddharmapuṇḍarīka, p. 405–408. See text, Traité, I, p. 579.