Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “udaya-sutta and the sundarika-sutta” 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.

The Udaya-sutta and the Sundarika-sutta

The Buddha was begging his food one day in Śrāvastī. There was a brahmin from the P’o-lo-to-che clan (Bhāradvāja) who lived there. Several times the Buddha went to his him to beg alms. The brahmin had the following thought: “Why does this śramaṇa come repeatedly as if he were a creditor (ṛṇa)?”[1]

Then the Buddha spoke these stanzas:

The seasonal rains always fall anew,
The five grains always grow anew.
The fields are cultivated always anew,
The harvest is reaped always anew.

One takes rebirth always anew,
And one dies always anew.
But since the noble Dharma is realized always anew,
Who therefore would be born or die always anew?[2]

Having heard these stanzas, the brahmin thought: “The Buddha is a great saint who has completelyunderstands my mind.” Shamefully, he took the alms-bowl (pātra), went back into his house, filled the bowl with excellent food and offered it to the Buddha. [225b] The Buddha did not accept it and said: “I am being given this food for having spoken a stanza. I will not eat it.”[3]

The brahmin asked: “To whom should I give this food?”

The Buddha said: “I see nobody among gods and men who can digest this food. Take it and throw it on the ground somewhere where there are few plants (alpaharite) or in the water where there are no insects (aprāṇaka udake).”[4]

The brahmin followed the Buddha’s orders, took the food and threw it in the water where there were no insects. Immediately the water boiled; smoke and fire came out as though red-hot iron had been plunged into it.[5]

Seeing this, the brahmin was frightened and said: “It is extraordinary (adbhuta) that the magical power (ṛddhibala) contained in this food should be so great.” He returned to the Buddha, bowed down before the Buddha’s feet, confessed his sin (āpattiṃ pratyadeśayat), asked for the going-forth (pravrajya) and received the precepts (śīla). The Buddha said to him: “Good! Come!” At that moment, the brahmin’s beard and hair fell off by themselves and he became a śramaṇa.[6] Gradually he cut through his fetters (saṃyojana) and attained the Bodhi of the arhats.

Notes on the story of Udaya-sutta and the Sundarika-sutta:

Here the Traité is apparently combining two sutras from the Saṃyukta: 1) the Udayasutta of the Saṃyutta, I, p. 173–174 (Tsa, T 99, no. 1157, k. 42, p. 308a3–b18; Pie tsa, T 100, no. 80, k. 4, p. 401b11–c19) and 2) the Sundarikasutta of the Saṃyutta, I, p. 167–170 (Tsa, T 99, no. 1184, k. 44, p. 320b21–321a23; Pie tsa, T 99, no. 98, k. 5, p. 408b25–c26.

Footnotes and references:


Saṃyutta, I, p. 173–174: Sāvatthi nidānaṃ. Atha kho Bhagavā pubbaṇhasamayaṃ nivāsetvā pattacīvaraṃ ādāya yena Udayassa … Pakaṭṭho yaṃ samaṇo Gotamo punappuaṃ āgacch ati ti.


Saṃyutta, I, p. 174.


Saṃyutta, I, p. 168, where the Buddha answered thus:

Transl. – “I cannot profit from the fact that I have chanted a stanza. The Buddhas refuse what is offered to them for having chanted a stanza. This rule is in force, O brahmin, wherever it is a question of the Dharma.”

This stanza is also cited in Saṃyutta, I, p. 173; Suttanipāta, p. 14, 85. – For gāthābhigīta, see Edgerton, Dictionary, p. 50.


Saṃyutta, I, p. 168–169: Atha kassa cāhaṃ imaṃ havyasesaṃ dammī ti… vā chaḍ dehi appāṇake vā udake opilāpehi ti. This is a stereotyped phrase: cf. Vinaya, I, p. 157. 158, 225, 352; II, p. 216; Majjhima, I, p. 13, 207; III, p. 157.


Saṃyutta, I, p. 169: Atha kho… brāhmaṇo taṃ havyasesaṃ appāṇake udake opilāpasi… divasamtatto udake pakkhitto.


In contradiction to the sources that it uses, the Traité has the brahmin being ordained by means of ehibhikṣukā upasaṃpadā, one of the four kinds of ordination mentioned in the Mahāvastu, I, p. 2, l. 15. This is a quick ordination and undoubtedly the oldest form. The texts render it by the well-known formula: Sa Bhagavatā ehibhikṣukayā ābhāṣitaḥ, shi bhikṣo cara brahmacaryam iti. Bhagavato vācāvasānaṃ eva muṇḍaḥ saṃvṛttaḥ saṃghāṭīprāvṛtaḥ pātrakaravyagrahastaḥ saptāhāvaropitakeśaśmaśrur varṣaśatopasaṃpannasya bhikṣor īryāpathenāvasthitaḥ: “He was summoned with the phrase Ehi bhikṣukā by the Blessed One who said to him: ‘Come, O monk, practice the religious life.’ As soon as the Bhagavat finished speaking, the neophyte found himself with his head shaved, clothed in the monastic robe, a begging-bowl and a flask in his hand, with hair and beard that would have grown in seven days, similar in his posture to a monk ordained for a hundred years.” Cf. Divyāvadāna, p. 48, 281, 341, 558.