Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “vow not to kill” 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.

Part 2 - The vow not to kill

Sometimes a person pledges [publicly to observe] morality (śīlaṃ samādadāti) and expresses his resolve (cittotpāda) aloud: “From today on, I will no longer kill living beings”; sometimes, without moving or speaking, he just ratifies his resolution by means of a personal oath: “From today on, I will no longer kill living beings”: this is called the morality of abstaining from murder (prāṇātipātaprativiratiśīla).[1] According to some, this abstention from murder is sometimes good (kuśala), sometimes neutral [i.e., undefined from the moral point of view (avyākṛta)].

Footnotes and references:


The solemn statements in the course of the refuge (śaraṇagamana) and ordination (upasaṃpadā) ceremonies will be described in the second part of the present chapter. But in the preliminary note, we have seen that abstaining from sins may be derived from a simple inner resolution independent of any statement. It seems that at the beginning, the practitioners of the Greater Vehicle “took the precepts” by means of personal oath (cf. Hôbôgirin, Bosatsukai, p. 142); later, they had a separate ceremony, otherwise closely copied from the ritual of the Lesser Vehicle (cf. Bodhisattvaprātimokṣasūtra, ed. N. Dutt, IHQ, VII, 1931, p. 259–286).