Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “story of the schism of kaushambi” 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 schism of Kauśāmbī

The bhikṣus of the kingdom of Kiu chan mi (Kauśambī) [were quarreling amongst themselves] for futile reasons; the feelings of anger increased and they were split into two groups. An end [to the schism] was attempted but after three months there was no success.

The Buddha went to their community and, raising his right hand marked with the sign of the wheel, he [tried to] stop them, saying:[1]

You others, O bhikṣus,
Do not provoke quarrels (vivāda).
By continuing in bad feelings
One exposes oneself to very heavy punishment.

You are seeking nirvāṇa
You have renounced material profit,
You are living in the holy Dharma,
Why are you quarreling? [167c]

In worldly people, quarrels
May still be excused.
But among monastics
How can they quarrel?

The monastic who nourishes in his heart
The poison [of hatred] is doing harm to himself.
It is like fire, flashing forth from a cold cloud
Which burns the body.

The bhikṣus said to the Buddha:

“Let the Buddha, the teacher of the Dharma (dharmasvāmin), remain humble and silent (alpotsukas tūṣṇīṃbhūtas tiṣṭhatu); as for us, we cannot remain silent when we are attacked.”[2]

Persuaded that these men could not be saved, the Buddha rose up into the sky (upari vihāyasā prakrāntaḥ) in the very midst of the assembly[3] and went away. He entered into a forest[4] [and there [entered into] meditative stabilization of tranquility (śamathasamādhi).

The sin of anger is so serious that it happens that one no longer accepts the words of the Buddha; this is why anger must be chased away and patience cultivated. Besides, by cultivating patience, one easily obtains loving-kindness (maitrī) and compassion (karuṇā); thanks to these, one reaches Buddhahood.

Notes on this story:

For the schism of Kauśambī and particularly the last quarrel that caused the Buddha to leave the city, see:

Pāli sources: Majjhima, III, p. 152–154; Vinaya, I, p. 341–342, 349–350; Jātaka, III, p. 486–490; Dhammapaddaṭṭha, I, p. 53–56 (tr. Burlingame. Legends, I, p. 176–178); Sārattha, II, p. 304.

Sanskrit sources: Kośambakavastu, Gilgit MS, III, 2, p. 181–186.

Chinese sources: Tchinga a han,T 26, no. 72, k. 17, p. 53b–c; Tseng yi a han, T 125, k. 16, p. 626b seq.; Wou fen liu, T 1421, k. 24, p. 160a;Sseu fen liu, T 1428, k. 882b; partially versified version in Ta tchouang yen louen king, T 201, no. 51, k. 9, p. 304a–305b (tr. Huber, Sūtrālaṃkāra, p. 246–253).

Footnotes and references:


These stanzas have nothing in common with those which the Vinaya, I, p. 349–350, and the Majjhima, III, p. 154, make the Buddha pronounce in this circumstance; on the other hand, they show an undeniable resemblance to the version of the Sūtrālaṃkāra, tr. Huber, p. 246–247.


Cf. Vinaya, I, p. 349; Majjhima, III, p. 153: Aññataro bhikkhu Bhagavantaṃ etad avoca: Āgametu, bhante, Bhagavā dhammassāmi; appossukko, bhante, Bhagavā diṭṭhadhammasukhavihāraṃ amuyutto viharatu; mayaṃ etena bhaṇḍanena kalahena viggahena vevādena pañnnāyissāmā ti: “A certain monk said to the Bhagavat: Lord, let the Blessed One, the teacher of the Dharma, be patient! Lord, let the Blessed One remain tranquil in the Blissful Abode that he has attained in this life. As for us, we recognize ourselves to be in the middle of this altercation, this dispute, this struggle and this argument.” – Similar reply in the Gilgit MS, III, 2, p. 186: Evam ukte Kośambakā bhikṣavo Bhagavatam etadavocan: Dharmasvāmī Bhagavān dharmasvāmī Sugataḥ. Ete ’smākaṃ vakṣyanti duruktāni durbhāṣitāni, vayam eṣām kimarthaṃ marṣayāma iti: “The monks of Kauśambī said to the Bhagavat: “The Blessed One is the teacher of the Dharma, the Well-gone One is the teacher of the Dharma, but for us, why should we pardon those who speak insults and heresies?”


This journey in the air is also mentioned in the Gilgit MS, III, 2, p. 186; Wou fen liu, T 1421, k. 24, p. 160a23; Sseu fen liu, T 1428, k. 43, p. 882c25. The Pāli sources do not give this detail.


In the forest of Pārileyyaka, where a lone elephant brought him food and drink; cf. Saṃyutta,III, p. 95; Udāna, p. 41–42; Vinaya, I, p. 352–353; Jātaka, p. 489; Dhammapadaṭṭha, I, p. 58–60; Tchong a han T 26, k. 17, p. 536a; Wou fen liu, T 1421, k. 24, p. 160a.

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