Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “punishments for killing” 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 7 - Punishments for killing

Furthermore, in the three times (tryadhvan) and the ten directions (daśadiś-), veneration of the Buddha is primordial. Now, as the Buddha said to the upāsaka Nam t’i kia (Nandika),[1] the killing of living beings has ten punishments.[2] What are these ten?

1) The mind is always infected by poison (viṣa) from lifetime to lifetime without interruption.

2) Beings abhor [the murderer] and feel no joy in seeing him.

3) [The murderer], always full of evil intentions, contemplates evil things.

4) Beings fear him, as though they saw a snake (sarpa) or a tiger (vyāghra).

5) During sleep (middha) his mind is disturbed; when awake (avabodhi), he is not at peace.

6) He always has bad dreams.

7) At the end of his life (jīvitaparyavasāna), he dreads a bad death.

8) He plants the causes and conditions (hetupratyaya) leading to a short life (alpāyus).

9) After the destruction of the body (kāyabheda) at the end of life (jīvitaparyavasāna), he falls into hell (niraya).

10) If he reappears among men, he always has a short life.

Moreover, the ascetic says to himself: “All living beings (jīvin),= including insects (kṛmi) hold onto their life. Why clothe and feed oneself if, for one’s own existence, one kills living beings?”

Finally, the ascetic must always cultivate (śikṣate) the virtues (dharma) of Great Men (mahāpuruṣa). Of all the Great Men, the Buddha is the greatest. Why? He is omniscient (sarvajñā), he has the fullness of the ten powers (daśabalaparipūrisamanvāgata), he can save beings and always practices loving-kindness (maitrī) and compassion (karuṇā). By observing morality and abstaining from murder, he has become Buddha; he also teaches his disciples (śrāvaka) the practice of this loving-kindness and compassion. The ascetic who wants to engage in the practices of the Great Man should also avoid murder.

Footnotes and references:


There are numerous references in the Buddhist texts to the Nandikasūtra (cf. Kośa, IV, p. 85; Kośavyākhyā, p. 380, 381; Karmavibhaṅga, p. 33, 42). However, the original Sanskrit is lost and the sūtra is known only by a Tibetan translation entitled Dgaḥ ba can gyi mdo (Kanjur Mdo XXVI, no, 31: cf. OKC, no. 1000; Csoma-Feer, p. 281). One of the Karmavibhaṅgas in Chinese, the Fen pie chan ngo pao ying king, T 81, is very close in content to the Nandikasūtra.

The upāsaka Nandika (in Pāli Nandiya) belonged to the family of the Śākyas; he had at least two conversations with the Buddha; one, on the various kinds of disciples, took place in Kapilavastu in the Nyagrodhārāma (Saṃyutta, V, p. 397, 403; Tsa a han, T 99, no. 855, k. 30, p. 217c; T 99, no. 856,, k. 30, p. 218a; Nan t’i cho king, T 113, p. 505b); the other, on the eleven conditions needed to destroy evil, took place at Śrāvastī, during the rainy season (Aṅguttara, V, p. 334; Tsa a han, T 99, no. 858, k. 30, p. 218b).


Cf. Nandikasūtra in Feer, Extraits, p. 244–245; T 81, p. 899b12–15.