Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “morality of the bhikshu” 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 5 - Morality of the bhikṣu

Note: Cf. T 1439, p. 500c–503a: Pāli Vin., I, p. 56, 94–97; F. Spiegel, Kammavākya, Liber de officiis sacerdptum buddhicorum, 1841.

As for the bhikṣu, he [must] hnave the three robes (tricivara), the begging bowl (pātra),[1] three masters and a chapter of ten monks (daśavarga)[2] conforming to the ordination ritual (upasaṃpadādharma).

On the whole, the discipline of the bhikṣu involves 250 rules; in detail, 80,000 rules.[3]

After the third proposal (tṛtiyā karmavācana),[4] he obtains the immense discipline [that makes him a bhikṣu].

In general, that is what is called morality or śīla.

Footnotes and references:


The tradition of the begging bowl and the three robes is part of the ritual; cf. Vin., I, p. 94: paṭhamaṃ upajjhaṃ gāhāpetabbo, upajjhaṃ gāhāpetvā pattacīvaraṃ acikkhitabbaṃ, ayan te patto, ayaṃ saṃghāti, ayaṃ uttarāsaṅgo, ayaṃ antaravāsako, gaccha amumhi akāse tiṭithāhīti.


The Chinese character seng (9 and 13) is the usual equivalent of the Sanskrit saṃgha, but when preceded by a number, it renders the Sanskrit daśavarga “chapter of ten monks.” Cf. J. Filliozat, Fragments du Vin. des Sarv., JA, 1938, p. 50, n. 4.

According to the Vinaya, the chapter must consist of ten monks to confer ordination (Vin., I, p. 319); however, in central India (majjhima janapada) where there are fewer monks, a chapter of five monks can validly confer ordination (Vin., I, p. 197, 319).


See above, p. 850F, n. 2.


See above, p. 850F, n. 3.