Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “dharma, obtaining its retribution in the present lifetime (samdrishtika)” 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.2. Dharma, obtaining its retribution in the present lifetime (saṃdṛṣṭika)

The Dharma obtains its retribution in the present existence (saṃdṛṣṭika): as it eliminates the various problems of the world caused by lust (rāga) as well as the various teachings (upadeśa) and arguments caused by wrong views (mithyādṛṣṭi), body (kāya) and mind (citta) find happiness in it. Thus the Buddha said:

Observing morality is happiness:
Body and mind do not burn;
One sleeps well and, on awakening, one is happy;
One’s fame extends afar.[1]

Moreover, in this Dharma of the Buddha, the linking of causes and conditions (hetupratyaya prabandha) produces the following fruit: Because of [221c] the purity of his morality (śīlaviśuddhi), the yogin has no regrets (kaukṛtya). His mind being without regrets, he produces the joy inherent in the Dharma (dharmopasaṃhitaprāmodya). By means of the joy of the Dharma, his body and mind have pleasure (praśrabdhi) and happiness (sukha). His body and mind having pleasure and happiness, he can concentrate his mind. Concentrating his mind, he understands in accordance with the truth (yathābhūtaṃ prajñanāti). Understanding in accordance with the truth, he finds disgust (nirveda). Finding disgust, he becomes detached from desire (virajyate). Detached from desire, he obtains deliverance (vimukti), he obtains the fruit of retribution (vipākaphala) of deliverance, he obtains nirvāna.[2]

As for the heretics (tīrthika), their Dharma is void (śūnya), painful (duṣkaracārin) and without result.

[Story of Jambuka].

This is why we know that the Dharma of the Buddha ‘obtains its fruit in the present lifetime’.

Question. – If the Dharma of the Buddha obtains its fruit in the present lifetime, how is it that, among the disciples of the Buddha, some derive nothing from it?

Answer. – The yogin who knows the words of the Buddha and applies them constantly cannot fail to receive his reward (vipāka). In the same way, the sick person (glāna) who follows the orders of a good physician (vaidya) and takes all the medicine (pratipakṣa) cannot fail to be cured.

On the other hand, if the yogin does not conform to the Buddha’s instructions and does not apply them constantly, his immorality (dauḥśīlya) and his distractions (cittavikṣepa) will cause him to obtain nothing. But it is false that the Dharma is not good.

Moreover, if those who have not attained bodhi do not arrive at nirvāṇa in the present lifetime, in the future lifetime they will, nonetheless, have wealth and happiness and, little by little (kramaśas), they will attain nirvāṇa. Finally, their efforts will not be in vain. Thus the Buddha said: “Those who have gone forth from home (pravrajita) in view of nirvāṇa will all reach nirvāṇa, some slowly (mandam) and other quickly (śīghram).[3] Thus the Dharma ‘obtains its fruit in the present existence’ (sāṃdṛṣṭika).

Footnotes and references:


Udānavarga, VI, 3, p. 149.


Phrases borrowed from the stock of nava prāmodyapūrvakā dharmāḥ: Mahāvyuty., no. 1586–1595: Prītimuditasya prītir jāyate, prītimanasaḥ kāyah … vimukto ’smīti jñānadarśanaṃ bhavati.

Saṃyutta, IV, p. 79; II, p. 95: Pamuditassa pīti jāyati, pītimanassa kāyo … vimuccati, vimuttasmiṃ vimuttamhīti ñāṇaṃ hoti.


Unidentified passage. On the superiority of the monastics’ morality, see above, p. 839–846F.

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