Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “parable of the perfume of flowers (pushpagandha)” 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 - Parable of the perfume of flowers (puṣpagandha)

Note: this appendix is extracted from Chapter XXI part 3:

“The perfume of flowers (puṣpagandha) and of the Tagara does not spread very far; the perfume of discipline spreads throughout the ten directions.”

Literally, the perfume of flowers and the scent of woods, but Mou hiang (75; 186) “scent of woods” assumes an original Sanskrit Tagara (cf. Rosenberg, Vocabulary, p. 248); this is a highly-scented tree known as Tabernaemontana coronaria (see above, Traité, I, p. 600F, n. 2). The present comparisons are borrowed from a stanza of the Gandhasutta (Aṅguttara, I, p. 226; Dhammpada, v. 54; Dhammapadaṭṭha, I, p. 422; Jātaka, III, p. 291; Milinda, p. 333; Kośa, III, p. 163; Sanskrit Udānavarga, p. 71; Tibetan Udānavarga, p. 26):

Na pupphagandho paṭivmatam eti,
Na candanaṃ tagaraṃ mallikā;
satañ ca gandho paṭivātam eti,
sabbā disā sappuriso pavāti.

In Sanskrit:

Na puṣpagandhoḥ prativātam eti
na vāhnijāt tagarāc candanād vā
satām tu gandhaḥ prativātam eti
sarvā diśaḥ satpurusaḥ pravāti.

The Gandhasutta from which this stanza is borrowed explains that plant perfumes go with the wind and not against the wind (anuvātaṃ gacchati na paṭivātaṃ), whereas the perfume of a virtuous man who observes the five sīla goes with the wind, against the wind and in both directionsat the same time (anuvātaṃ pi gaccchati, paṭivātaṃ pi gacchati, anuvātapaṭivātaṃ pi gacchati). We have seen above (Traité, I, p. 523F) that among the Trāyastriṃśas, the perfume of the Pārijātaka flowers is propagated a hundred yojanas with the wind, fifty against the wind.

The Gandhasutta has come down to us in several versions: Aṅguttara, I, p. 225– 226; Tsa a han, T 99, no. 1073, p. 278c–279a; T 100, no. 12, k. 1, p. 376c–377a; Tseng yi a han, T 125, k. 13, p. 613b–c; Kiai tö hiang king, T 116, p. 507b–c; Kiai kiang king, T 117, p. 508a–b.