Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “objects and distribution of the vimokshas, abhibhus and kritsnas” 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.

Objects and distribution of the vimokṣas, abhibhus and kṛtsnas

Every utilization of these three types of dharmas realizes a mastery over the object (ālambanābhibhavana).

1) The kṛtsnāyatanas are impure (sāsrava).

The first three vimokṣas, the seventh and eighth vimokṣas are impure. The others are sometimes impure (sāsrava), sometimes pure (anāsrava).[1]

2) The first two vimokṣas and the first four abhibhvāyatanas are contained (saṃgṛhīta) in the first and second dhyānas.

The śubhavimokṣa (3rd vimokṣa), the last four abhibhvāyatanas and the first eight kṛtsnāyatanas are contained in the fourth dhyāna.[2]

3) The first two kṛtsnāyatanas are called ākāśāyatana. The ākāśāyatana contains the vijñānāyatana.[3] The vijñānāyatana contains the first three vimokṣas, the eight abhibhvāyatanas and the [first] eight kṛtsnāyatanas, all of which have as object (ālambana) the visibles of the desire realm (kāmadhāturūpa).

The four next vimokṣas (nos. 4–7) have as object the formless realm (ārūpyadhātu), the marvelous qualities of pure dharmas (anāsrvadharma) and the good (kuśala: read chan instead of jo) in [the four] fundamental [absorptions] (maulasammapatti), because the fundamental formless absorptions (ārūpyamaulasamāpatti) do not concern the levels lower than them.

The absorption of the cessation of concepts and feeling (saṃjñāveditanirodhasamāpatti) constituting the eighth vimokṣa), being neither mind (citta) nor mental event (caitasikadharma), has no object (anālambana).

The seventh vimokṣa, namely, the absorption of neither identification nor non-identification (naivasaṃjñānanāsaṃjñāyatana) alone has as its object the four formless aggregates (ārūpyaskandha) and the pure dharmas (anāsravadharma).[4]

Footnotes and references:


We may recall that the absorption of worldly order practiced by ordinary people (pṛthagjana) is śuddhaka, i.e., kuśala sāsrava ‘good but mixed with impurities’. The absorption of supraworldly order practiced as Path by the saints (ārya) who have seen the Buddhist truths is anāsrava ‘free of impurities’. See above, p. 1027F, 1035–36F, and Kośa, VIII, p. 145, n.


Thus the eight vimokÔas are distributed over eleven levels: cf. Kośavyākhyā, p. 689: “These vimokṣas occur in the other eleven levels, except for the seven threshold absorptions, viz., 1) the desire realm, 2–3) the anāgamya and the dhyānāntara. 4–11) the eight levels made up of the [four] dhyānas and the [four] samāpattis.” – See also Vibhāṣā, T 1545, k. 84, p. 434c–435a: The first two vimokṣas occur in the first two dhyānas, the anāgamya and the dhyānāntara… The third vimokṣa occurs in the fourth dhyāna… The fourth vimokṣa is in the ākāśānantyāyatana…The fifth vimokṣa is in the vijñānānantyāyatana… The sixth vimokṣa is in the ākāśānantyāyatana… The seventh vimokṣa is in the naivasaṃjñānāsaṃjñāyatana… The Vimokṣa of saṃjñāveditanirodha also.

Why are there no vimokṣas in the third dhyāna? On this point see Kośa, VIII, p. 209.


This passage is obscure; there is possibly a gap.


The object of the vimokṣas, etc., is treated in the same manner in Vibhāṣā, T 1545, k. 84, p. 435a16–28; Kośa, VIII, p. 208–209.

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