Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “story of the trick of the kashmirian” 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.

Story of the trick of the Kaśmirian

A bhikṣu, native of Ki pin (Kaśmir), learned in the three baskets (tripiṭaka),[1] who followed the rules of the forest-dwellers (araṇyadhrma), went to the royal palace one day where a great reception was being prepared. The gate-keeper (dvārapāla), seeing the coarseness of his garments, closed the gate and refused him entry. This happened several times; as a result of the coarseness of his dress, the bhikṣu was not allowed to enter. He had recourse to a trick (upāya); he borrowed a fine robe and went back to the palace. Seeing him, the gate-keeper allowed him to enter without stopping him. The bhikṣu entered the gathering and was given all kinds of delicate food.

First [165b] he made offerings to his robe and, as the guests asked him why he was doing that, he answered:

“I came several times and was refused entry. Today, thanks to this robe, I am able to take part in the reception and get all these fine foods. Since it is actually to my robe that I owe them, I am giving them to my robe.”

The ascetic who obtains honors while practicing virtue (guṇa), morality (śīla) and wisdom (prajñā) likewise says to himself that he owes these honors to his qualities and not to himself. This consideration is a mental discipline called patience.

Notes on this story:

The Kaśmirian bhikṣu whom the Mppś presents here is without a doubt the well-known arhat K’i ye to who, “seven hundred years after the Buddha, appeared in the kingdom of Ki piu” and was visited by emperor Kaniṣka. Three stories are dedicated to him in the Tsa pao tsang king, T 203, no. 91–93, k. 7, p. 483a–484b (tr. S. Lévi, Notes sur les Indo-Scythes, JA, 1896–97, p. 24–33).

This arhat was known for his scorn for washing; warned of the visit of Kaniṣka, he refused to arrange his garments:

“I have heard the words of the Buddha: the monk who has gone forth considers his appearance vulgar; virtue is his only occupation; why should I go out to meet the king with elegant garments?”

Calmly and silently, he remained seated stiffly and did not go outside (c. T 203, K. 7, p. 484a20–23).

– He is presented here in the same spirit in coarse garments in the king’s palace.

Footnotes and references:

1.

A monk who knows the three baskets is called tripiṭa in Sanskrit (cf. Avadānajātaka, I, p. 334; DivyāvadÌa, p. 61, 505) and more rarely, tripiṭaka (Divyāvadāna, p. 54. In Pāli, he is called tipiṭaka (Milinda, p. 18; Jātaka. IV, p. 219).