Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “acquiring the dhyanas” 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.

Question. – Does the acquisition of the dhyānas involve other modalities?

Answer. – The absorptions of delight (āsvādanasamāpatti) are acquired by birth (upapatti) or by regression (hāni). The pure (śuddhaka) dhyānas are acquired by birth or by abandonment (vairāgya). The anāsrava concentrations are acquired by abandonment or by regression.

The anāsrava concentrations of nine levels, namely, the four dhyānas, the [first] three ārūpyasamāpattis, the anāgamya and the dhyānānantara are able to cut the fetters (saṃyojana). Actually, the anāgamya and the dhyānānantara are associated with the sensation of equanimity (upekṣendriya).


The three modes of acquiring the dhyānas are: birth (upapatti) or the transfer from one level to another after death; detachment (vairāgya) which makes the passing from a lower level to a higher level; regression (hāni) which causes the passing from a higher concentration to a lower concentration of the same level. The ideas developed here occur in the Vibhāṣā (cited by the Kośavyākhyā, p. 678); Kośa, VIII, p. 164–167, summarizes them in the following kārikās: Atadvān labhate śuddhaṃ vairāgyeṇopapattitaḥ; anāsravaṃ tu vairāgyat; kliṣṭaṃ hānyupapattitaḥ.