Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “miracle of aduma” 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.

It is said in a sūtra that the Buddha was in the land of A-t’eou-mo (Ādumā), seated in meditation under a tree (niṣaṇṇaḥ pratisaṃlayanāya). Suddenly there was a heavy rainstorm with lightning and thunder. Four cowherds (gopālaka) and two workmen (kārṣaka)[1] were so frightened by the noise that they died. A few moments later, calm returned and the Buddha went out to walk (caṅkrame caṅkramyate).

A vaiṣya, having bowed down to the Buddha’s feet, walked along after him and said: Bhagavat, for a moment there was thunder, lightning and four cowherds as well as two workmen were so frightened by this noise that they died. Did the Bhagavat not hear the crash?

The Buddha said: I heard nothing.

The vaiśya: Was the Buddha sleeping at that moment?

The Buddha said: No, I was not asleep.

The vaiśya: Had you entered into the absorption of non-identification (asaṃjñisamāpatti)?

The Buddha: No, I was conscious (saṃjny eva sammanaḥ), and I was just in meditative stability.

The vaiśya exclaimed: That is wonderful (āścaryaṃ bata)! The dhyānas and the samāpattis of the Buddha are great and profound (mahāgambhīra). Being in meditation, fully conscious and fully awake (saṃjny eva samāno jāgram), he did [220b] not hear this great noise!

Notes on the story of Ādumā:

Meeting the Buddha between Kuśinagarī and Pāpā, a minister of the Mallas called Putkasa spoke to him about his teacher Ārāḍa Kālāma and his extraordinary power of concentration: one day when he was deep in meditation, Ārāḍa did not hear the noise of a caravan of five hundred wagons that passed by close to him. The Buddha affirmed that he too possessed a similar power of absorption and gave him as proof an incident that had occurred in the village of Ādumā (in Pāli, Ātumā).

This miracle appears in the various recensions of the Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra: Sanskrit Mahāparinirvāna, p. 272–276; Mahāparinibbāna in the Dīgha, II, p. 131–132; and various Chinese translations: T 1, k. 3, p. 19a21; T 5, k. 2, p. 168b13–21; T 6, k. 2, p. 183c23–184a3; T 7, k. 2, p. 198a17–198b4 (see E. Waldschmidt, Lebensende des Buddha, p. 155–157, a comparative study of these versions). The miracle is also told in Lieou tou tsi king, T 152, k. 7, p. 42c23–29 (tr. Chavannes, Contes, I, p. 281) and Mūlasarv. Vin., T 1451, K. 37, p. 391b3–18. Here is the Sanskrit version of the Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra:

Eko ‘yaṃ Putkasa samaya Ādumāyāṃ viharāmi bhūtāgāre. pūrvāhṇe nivasya pātracīvaram ādāyādumāṃ piṇḍāya … sphoṭatyāḥ śadbam. Prasannaś ca me puruṣo vaśīkṛtaḥ.

Footnotes and references:


Most other sources say four oxen (balivardaka) and two workmen (kārṣaka).