Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

by Gelongma Karma Migme Chödrön | 2001 | 941,039 words

This page describes “story of the patience of kshantirshi” 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 patience of Kṣāntirṣi

Note: The exploit of Kṣāntirṣi has already been told above, Traité, I, p. 264F. To the other Chinese sources noted above, add Tch’ou yao king, T 212, k. 23, p.731a; Ta tche tou louen, T 1509, k. 26, p. 252a29.

The ṛṣi Tch’an t’i (Kṣāntirṣi) was practicing patience (kṣānti) and loving-kindness (maitrī) in a great forest. One day, king Kia ki (Kali) with his courtesans (gaṇikā) went into the forest to walk about and amuse themselves. His meal being finished, the king stopped to sleep. The courtesans, who were wandering in the flowering forest, noticed the ṛṣi and went to pay their respects (vandana) to him. Then the ṛṣi praised loving-kindness and patience to them; his words were so fine that the women could not get enough of them and stayed with him for a long time. King Kali woke up and, not seeing his courtesans, seized his sword (asipattra) and follow their footprints.

When he saw them standing by the ṛṣi, his jealousy broke out; with furious eyes and brandishing his sword, he asked the ṛṣi:

“What are you doing here?”

The ṛṣi replied:

“I am here to cultivate patience and practice loving-kindness.”

The king said:

“I will put you to the proof at once. With my sword, I will cut off your ears (karṇa), nose (nāsa), hands (hasta) and feet (pāda). If you do not get angry, I will know that you are cultivating patience.”

The ṛṣi answered: “Do as you will.”

Then the king took his word and cut off his ears, nose, hands and feet, asking him: “Is you mind disturbed?”

The ṛṣi answered: “I am cultivating loving-kindness and patience, my mind is not disturbed.”

The king said:

“Your body lies there powerless; you are speaking the truth when you say that you are not disturbed, but nobody would believe you.”

Then the ṛṣi made this vow:

“If I am really developing loving-kindness and patience, may my blood (śonita) become milk (kṣīra).”

At once his blood changed into milk; the king was astounded and went away with his courtesans. But then in the forest, a nāga took pity on the ṛṣi, made thunder and lightning and let loose his thunder-bolt; struck by its poison, the king collapsed and died before he reached his palace.

This is why we say that it is necessary to exert patience toward one’s persecutors.

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