Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “community endowed with the five pure skandhas” 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.

III.1. Community endowed with the five pure skandhas

The perfection of these five elements (skandhasaṃpad) has already been discussed above (p. 1349F).

Question. – These five elements have already been used to praise the Buddha. Why use them again here to praise the Community? [223c]

Answer. – Here the praise of this perfection is about the five pure elements (anāsravaskandha) insofar as they are possessed by the disciples.

The perfection is of two kinds: i) real perfection (bhūtasaṃpad); ii) nominal perfection (nāmasaṃpad). If one praises the perfection to be obtained or already obtained by the disciples of the Buddha,[1] this is nominal perfection. If one has in mind the perfection of the Buddha, this is real perfection.

Furthermore, here the praise [of the Community of disciples] is made in order to distinguish it from the heretic (tīrthika) communities, wandering monks (pravrajita) and lay people (gṛhastha).

The communities of heretics and lay people boast of their prosperity, their nobility or their power. The communities of wandering monks boast about their wrong views (mithyādṛṣṭi), their asceticism (duṣkacaryā), their ties (saṅga), their wisdom (prajñā), their teachings (upadeśa) and their critics (vivāda). Here, in recollecting the community of monks, speaking about discipline (śīla), concentration (samādhi) and wisdom (prajñā) would not be enough. This is why the Buddha himself celebrates all the qualities (guṇa) of the śrāvakasaṃgha, its origins (maula), its establishment (āvastha), the perfection of its discipline (śīlaskandhasaṃpad) and so on up to the perfection in knowledge and vision of deliverance (vimuktijñānadarśanaskandhasaṃpad).

Based on the discipline element (śīlaskandhāśrita), the Saṃgha is unshakeable (acala). – It bends the bow of concentration (samādhidhanus). – It lets fly the arrow of wisdom (prajñeṣu). – It destroys the enemies, the disturbing emotions (kleśāmitra) and obtains deliverance (vimukti). – It produces knowledge (jñāna) and vision (darśana) in regard to this deliverance.

In the same way, a strong man (balavān puruṣaḥ) first makes his feet steady, bends his bow, lets fly the arrow and destroys his enemy. He frees himself thus from a twofold fear: he avoids offending the king and he escapes from the dangers of battle. Knowing and seeing precisely that his enemies have been destroyed, he experiences joy (muditā).

This is why we use the five [pure] elements to praise the Community.

Footnotes and references:


The Saṃgha actually includes both śaikṣas and aśaikṣas in its ranks.