Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “goshringasutra” 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.

Finally, have you not heard that one day the Buddha, apeaking to Tch’ang (Dīrgha), the general of the Yakṣas (yakṣasnānī), praised the three good disciples A-ni-lou-t’o (Aniruddha), Nan-t’i-kia (Nandika) and Tch’e-mi-lo (Kimbila)? The Buddha said [to Dīrgha]: “If the entire world with its gods and men thinks about these three sons of noble family (etān trīn kulaputrān prasannacittenānusmaret) with faith, it will obtain immense benefits during the long night (dīrgharātram).”

It seems that it would be better still to honor the Saṃgha, for these three men did not constitute a Saṃgha,[1] and if the Buddha attributes such fruits to recollecting these three men, then how much more fruitful still to recollect he whole Saṃgha with pure faith. This is why, O dānapati, one should recollect the Saṃgha with all of one’s strength. A stanza says:

This group of holy people
Is a formidable army:
It destroys king Māra, our enemy;
It is our companion on the way to nirvāṇa.

Thus the śrāmaṇeras explained the holy qualities of the Saṃgha to the dānapati in many ways. Having heard them, the dānapati and his entire family, great and small, saw the four noble Truths (ārysatya) and attained the fruit of srotaāpanna,

This is why the saṃgha should be recollected wholeheartedly.

Notes on the Gośṛṅgasūtra:

Cūḷagosiṅgasutta in Majjhima, I, p. 205–211 (Tchong a han, T 26, k. 48, p. 729b–731a). Being in Nādikā in the Giñjakāvasatha, the Buddha paid a visit to three of his disciples, Anuruddha, Nandiya and Kimbila, who were meditating in the Gosiṅgālavama. He congratulated these three monks for living together on the best of terms like a mixture of milk and water, looking after one another fondly.

The friendly words between the Teacher and his disciples were interrupted by the arrival of the yakkha Dīgha Parajana who had come to greet the Buddha and who said:

“Truly, it is a great benefit for the Vajji people (in Sanskrit (Vṛji) that the Tathāgata stays among them and that these three venerable disciples are also present.”

It is then that that the Buddha answered Dīgha with the phrase alluded to here by the Traité:

Sadevako ce pi Dīgha loko samārako sabhahmako sassamaṇabrāhmaṇI pajā … sadevamanussāya dīghaarattaṃ hitāya suchāya.

“If the world with its devas, māras and Brahmās, if the population with its monks and brahmins, with its gods and men, thought of these three sons of noble family with faith, that would contribute to the good and welfare of this world and this population during the long night [of saṃsāra].”

Sections of the Gosiṅgasutta occur in Majjhima III, p. 155–157 and the perfect harmony (sāmaggi) between Anuruddha, Nandiya and Kimbila is also noted in other places in the Canon: cf. Majjhima, I, p. 62; Vinaya, I, p. 350–352; II, p. 182. As for Dīgha Parajana, the yakṣa general, he appears in the list of gods and semi-gods favorable to Buddhism: Āṭānāṭiyasuttanta (Dīgha, III, p. 205, l. 7).

Footnotes and references:


Indeed, they were only three, and there must be four in order to constitute a saṃgha according to the disciplinary rule: Tayo janā sambahulā ti vuccanti, tato paraṃ saṃgho: “Three people are said to be ‘many’; more is a ‘saṃgha’ “ (Comm. of the Udāna, p. 102). The Vinaya (I, p. 319–320) distinguishes three kinds of saṃgha according to whether it is composed of four, five, ten, twenty, or more than twenty bhikṣus. For the proper procedure of ordination, the Saṃgha must be composed of a minimum of ten members (dasavagga bhikkhusaṃgha). But the Buddha made exception for the frontier regions such as Avanti where monks were less numerous: in this district, five monks were enough to confer ordination (Vinaya, I, p. 197, l. 17–20).