Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “path of the shravakas” 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.

Appendix 1 - The path of the śrāvakas

The various prajñās characterizing the Path of the śrāvakas in its various phases:

1) The saṃbhāramārga and the prayogamārga:

the saṃbhāramārga, “path of accumulation of merit” and the prayogamārga, “preparatory path”, are characterized by the naivaśaikṣanāśaikṣa, such as: acquisition of the roots of good (kuśalamūla), acquisition of noble lineages (āryavaṃśa), meditation on the disgusting (aśubhabhāvanā) and mindfulness of breathing (ānāpānasmṛti), foundations of mindfulness (smṛtyupasthāna), and finally, acquisition of the four roots of good leading to penetration (nirvedhabhāgīya). These last constitute the preparatory path par excellence; they are studied in Kośa, VI, p. 163 seq.

2) The darśanamārga and the bhāvanamārga:

The darśanamārga ‘path of seeing the truths’ and the bhāvanamārga ‘path of meditation’ are characterized by the śaikṣa knowledges.

a. The darśanamārga consists of eight moments of patience (kṣānti) and eight moments of knowledge (jñāna) in order to arrive at full understanding (abhisamaya) of the four noble truths (by reason of four moments for each truth).

b. The bhāvanamārga has as result the destruction of the nine categories of passions of each of the nine levels: kāmadhātu, four dhyānas and four ārūyasamāpattis. The destruction of each category of passions involving two moments – a moment of abandoning (prahāṇa or ānantaryamārga) and a moment of deliverance (vimuktimārga) – the ascetic destroys the totality of the passions at the end of 144 moments. The 143rd moment, by means of which the ascetic abandons the ninth category of the passions of the ninth level (called naivasaṃjñānāsaṃjñāyatana or bhavāgra), bears the name of vajropamasamādhi (cf. Kośa, VI, p. 228). The 144th moment is a vimuktimārga that makes the ascetic an arhat or aśaikṣa.

3) The niṣṭhāmārga:

The niṣṭhāmārga “final path”, attained by the arhat, is characterized by the aśaikṣa knowledges, the main ones of which being the knowledge of the destruction of the defilements (āsravakṣayajñāna) and the knowledge of the non-production of defilements (āsravānutpādajñāna): they are defined in Kośa, VI, p. 230 seq.

For more details on the śrāvaka path, see Kośa, V, p. IV-XI; Obermiller, Doctrine of P.P., p. 18–26.