Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “story of the lazy bhikshu admonished by a demon” 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 lazy bhikṣu admonished by a demon

A young forest monk (āraṇyaka), alone in the forest, was lazy in practicing dhyāna. In this forest there was a deva, a disciple of the Buddha; he entered into the body of a corpse, approached the young monk singing and dancing, with this stanza:

[174a] In the forest, little bhikṣu,
Why are you lazy?
If you do not fear me when I come during the day
I will return again during the night.

The frightened bhikṣu arose from his seat and reflected on himself. During the night, he fell asleep again. The deva came to him [in the form of a monster] with ten heads, spitting fire from the mouths, fangs and claws like swords, eyes red as fire. Looking at the bhikṣu, he said that he would chase and grab him [and added]: “In this place, it is not allowed to be lazy. What are you doing there?” Very scared, the bhikṣu began to reflect: he meditated on the Dharma with special vigor and obtained arhathood. Thus, by means of effort on oneself, exertion, conscientiousness, one can attain the fruit of the path.

Notes on this story:

Cf. the avadāna of a disciple of Upagupta, in A yu wang tchouan, T 2042, k. 6, p. 122c (tr. Przyluski, Aśoka, p. 384); A yu wang king, T 2043, k. 10, p. 166a: This disciple loved to sleep and was unable to obtain the path: Upagupta made him go to the araṇya and sit in dhyāna; the disciple feel asleep at once; Upagupta made a seven-headed piśaca appear in the air upside down. The disciple did not dare to sleep out of fear of the piśaca; he reflected on the nature of the Dharma, understood completely and became an arhat.