Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “canonical definitions of the six anusmriti” 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.

II. Canonical definitions of the six Anusmṛti

1. Buddhānusmṛti (Buddha-anusmṛti)

Pāli formula: Anguttara, III, p. 285; V, p. 329: Idha ariyasāvako Tathāgataṃ anusarati … devamanussānaṃ buddho bhagavā ti.

Sanskrit formula: passim. Iti hi sa Bhagavān tathāgato ‘rhān …śāstā devamanuṣyānaṃ buddho bhagavān.

Transl. – First the holy disciple recollects the Tathāgata, saying: Yes, this Blessed One, fully and completely enlightened, endowed with knowledge and practice, well-come, knower of the world, supreme leader of men to be tamed, instructor of gods and men, the awakened one, the blessed one, is worthy of homage.

2. Dharmānusmṛti (Dharma-anusmṛti)

Pāli formula: Anguttara, III, p. 285; V, p. 329: Puna ca paraṃ ariyadhammaṃ anussaratipaccattaṃ veditabbo viññūhī ti.

Sanskrit formula: Mahāvastu, III, p. 200, l.9–11; Mahāvyut., no. 1291–1297: Svākhyāto Bhagavato dharmaḥ sāṃdṛṣṭiko … pratyātmavedanīyo vijñaiḥ.

Transl. – Then the holy disciple recollects the Dharma, saying: The Dharma has been well enunciated by the Blessed One: it receives its retribution in the present lifetime; it is without frenzy; it is independent of time; it leads to the good place; it says “Come and see”; it is cognizable inwardly by the wise.

The present translation departs somewhat from the Pāli commentaries: see Manorathapūraṇī, II, p. 256, 333.

3. Saṃghānusmṛti (Saṃgha-anusmṛti)

Pāli formula: Anguttara, III, p. 186; V, p. 330: Puna ca paraṃ ariyasāvako saṅghaṃanuttaraṃ puññakkhettaṃ lokassā ti.

Sanskrit formula reconstituted by the help of the Mahāvyut., no. 1119, 11220, 1121, 1122, 1772, 1773: Supratipanno Bhagavataḥ śravakaṃgaḥ … ’nuttaraṃ puṇyakṣetraṃ lokasya.

Transl. – Then the holy disciple recollects the Community, saying: Of good conduct is the Community of the Blessed One’s disciples; of logical conduct is the Community of the disciples of the Blessed One; of correct conduct is the Community of disciples of the Blessed One, namely, the four pairs of individuals, the eight classes of individuals. This Community of disciples of the Blessed One is worthy of sacrifice, is worthy of offerings, is worthy of alms, is worthy of being greeted with joined palms: this is the best field of merit for the world.

4. Śīlānusmṛti (Śīla-anusmṛti)

Pāli formula: Anguttara, III, p. 286; V, p. 330: Puna ca paraṃ ariyasāvako attano sīlāni … aparāmaṭṭhāni samādhisaṃvattanikāni.

Sanskrit formula reconstituted according to the Sanskrit Mahāparinirvāṇasūṭra, p. 132 and the Mahāvyut., no. 1619, 1621, 1622–27: Śīlāny akhaṇdāny acchidrāny … vijñapraśastāny agarhitāni vijñaiḥ.

Transl. of the Pāli. – Furthermore, the holy disciple recollects the correct precepts unbroken, without cracks, unstained, without spots, liberating, praised by the wise, free of thoughtless attachment [to his own benefit], leading to meditative stabilization.

Transl. of the Sanskrit. – Precepts without breakage, without cracks, without stains, without spots, liberating, without attachment [to one’s own benefit], well achieved, well taken up, praised by the wise, not blamed by the wise.

5. Tyāgānusmṛti (Tyāga-anusmṛti)

Pāli formula: Anguttara, III, p. 287; V, 331: Puna ca paraṃ ariyasāvako attano cāgaṃ … yācayogo dānasaṃvibhāgarato ti.

Transl. – Furthermore, the holy disciple recollects his own renunciation (i.e., his own generosity), saying: This is a gain for me, this is a great gain for me, for me in the midst of people who are prey to avarice, to living at home, my mind free of the stain of greed, giving freely, my hand extended, happy to give gifts, accessible to requests, happy to distribute gifts.

6. Devatānusmṛti (Devata-anusmṛti)

Pāli formula: Anguttara, III, p. 287; V, p. 331–332: Puna ca paraṃ ariyasāvako devatānussatiṃ bhāveti … mayham pi tathārūpā paññā saṃvijjatī ti.

Transl. – Furthermore, the holy disciple practices the recollection of the deities, saying: There are the Caturmahārājika, Trāyastriṃśa, Yāma, Tuṣita, Nirmānaratin, Paranirmitavaśavartin gods. There are the Brahmakāyika gods and the higher gods. It is because they were endowed with such faith, such discipline, such generosity and such wisdom that these deities, having left this world, have been reborn there [in their paradise], This same faith, this same discipline, this same learning, this same generosity and this same wisdom is in me as well.

This passage of the Anguttara has its correspondant in the Chinese Saṃyuktāgama (T99, k. 33, p. 238a21-26; T 100, k. 8, p. 433a22-27) with the difference that the latter omit the phrase: “There are Brahmakāyika gods and gods higher than them.”

Therefore, according to the Pāli sources, recollection of the deities can guarantee a rebirth among the six classes of gods of the kāmadhātu (from the Caturmahārājikas up to the Paranirmitavaśavartins), among the Brahmā gods of the rūpadhātu, and even among the gods higher than the latter, namely the formless deities of the ārūpyadhātu

On the other hand, for the Sanskrit-Chinese sources, recollection of the deities allows access only to the six classes of gods of the kāmadhātu.

This is one of the rare divergences that can be detected between the Pāli Nikāya and the Sanskrit Āgamas. It is of importance as will be seen, p. 1420F.