Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “community consisting of four pairs and eight classes of individuals” 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.4. Community consisting of four pairs and eight classes of individuals

“In the Community, there are four pairs of individuals (catvāri puruṣayugāni) or eight classes of individuals (aṣṭāu puruṣapudgalāḥ).” (See Appendix 11) 

It is due to these eight noble individuals (aṣṭāv āryapudgalāḥ) that the Buddha speaks of it as the ‘best field of merit for the world’.

Question. – [In the Dakṣiṇīyasūtra] the Buddha said to the vaiśya Ki-kou-tou (Anāthapiṇḍada): “In the world there are two fields of merit (puṇyakṣetra), the śaikṣas and the aśaikṣas.”[1] [According to this same sūtra, “the śaikṣas are eighteen in number and the aśaikṣas are nine in number.”[2] Why then does the Buddha, in the present passage speak only of eight [noble individuals]?

Answer. – In the place where the Buddha was explaining at length (vistareṇa), he spoke of ‘eighteen plus nine’; but here, where he is summarizing (saṃkṣepeṇa), he mentions only eight. However, these twenty-seven are included (saṃgṛhīta) in these eight:

1–2) The śraddhānusārin and the dharmānusārin are included in the srotaāpattiphalapratipannaka, or in the sakṛdāgāmiphalapratipannaka, or in the anāgāmiphalapratipannaka.

3) The kulaṃkula is included in the sakṛdāgāmiphalapratipannaka.

4) The ekavīcika is included in the anāgāmiphalapratipannaka.

5–9) The five kinds of anāgāmin, [namely, i) antarāparinirvāyin, ii) upapadyaparinirvāyin, iii) sābhisaṃskāraparinirvāyin, iv) anabhisaṃskāraparinirvāyin, v) ūrdhvasrotas] are included in the arhattvaphalapratipannaka.

10–11) When they pass into the path of meditation (bhāvanāmārga), the śraddānusārin and the dharmānusārin are given the names of śraddhādhimuktika and dṛṣṭiprāpta. This śraddhādhimuktika and dṛṣṭiprāpta are included in the [first] fifteen classes of Śaikṣas.

The nine fields of merit [of the aśaikṣa] are included in the arhattva.

Footnotes and references:

1.

Dakṣiṇīyasūtra in the Tchong a han (T 26, k. 30, p. 616a8–11) corresponding to Anguttara, I, p. 62–63.

2.

Ibid. p. 619a11–13, cited in Kośavyākhyā, p. 566, l. 25–26.