by Gelongma Karma Migme Chödrön | 2001 | 941,039 words
This page describes “culiamalunkya-sutta” 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.
Taking his robe and his begging bowl, he went to the Buddha and said:
“If the Buddha will explain these fourteen difficult questions for me and satisfy my mind, I will remain his disciple; if he does not succeed in explaining them to me, I will seek another path.”
The Buddha answered this fool (mohapuruṣa):
“At the beginning, did you have an agreement with me that if I explained these fourteen difficult questions, you would be my disciple?”
The bhikṣu said “No.”
The Buddha continued:
“Fool! How can you say today that, if I do not explain that, you will not be my disciple? I preach the Dharma to save people stricken by old age (jarā), sickness (vyādhi) and death (maraṇa). These fourteen difficult questions are subject for debate (vigrahasthāna); they are of no use to the Dharma and are only futile proliferation (prapañca). Why ask me these questions? If I answered, you would not understand; at the time of death, you would have understood nothing and you would not be liberated from birth, old age, sickness and death.
– A man has been struck by a poisoned arrow (saviṣaśalya); his relatives and his companions (jñātiparivāra) have called a physician (bhiṣaj-) to remove the arrow and apply an antidote.
The wounded man says [to the physician]:
“I will not let you take out the arrow until I know what is your clan (gotra), your name (nāman), your family (jāti), your village (grāma), your father and mother and your age (āyus); I want to know from which mountain the arrow came from, what kind of wood (kāṇḍa) and feathers (pattra), who made the arrow-head and what kind of iron; then I want to know if the bow (dhanus) is of mountain wood or animal horn; finally, I want to know where the antidote comes from and what is it name. After I have learned all these things, I will let you take out the arrow and apply the antidote.”
– The Buddha then asked the bhikṣu:
“Will this man be able to know all these things and only after that let the arrow be removed?”.
– The bhikṣu answered:
“The man will not succeed in knowing all that for, if he waited to know it all, he would be dead [before the operation].”
The Buddha continued:
“You are like him: the arrow of wrong views (mithyadṛṣṭiśalya) dipped in the poison of thirst (tṛṣṇāviṣa) has pierced your mind; I want to remove this arrow from you, my disciple; but you are unwilling to let me take it out, and you want to know if the world is eternal or non-eternal, finite or infinite, etc. You will not find what you are looking for, but you will lose the life of wisdom (prajñājīvita); you will die like an animal and fall into the shadows.”
Gradually the bhikṣu [170b] understood the words of the Buddha deeply and later attain arhathood.
Notes on the Cūḷamāluṅkya-sutta:
Cf. Cūlamāluṅkyasutta in Majjhima, I, p. 426–432 (tr. Chalmers, I, p. 304–307; Oldenberg, Bouddha, p. 311–312; Tchong a han, T 26, no. 221, k. 60, p. 804a–805c; Tsien yu king, T 94, p. 917b–918b.
As in Milinda, p. 144–145, the Buddha responded to Māluṅkyāputta by not answering him at all (sthāpamīya vyākaraṇam).