Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “legend of the bodhisattva sadaprarudita” 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.

Appendix 3 - Legend of the bodhisattva Sadāprarudita

Note: This Appendix is extracted from Chapter XXXVI, part 2.I (The five pure aggregates: anāsrava-skandha):

“Mindful and resolute, he (Buddha) sacrificed his life to find wisdom (prajñā), as was the case for the bodhisattva Sa-t’o-po-louen (Sadāprarudita)”.

This bodhisattva found a manuscript of the Prajñāpāramitā at Gandhāra in the city of Gandhavatī in the middle of a tower where the bodhisattva Dharmodgata had hidden it. It had been written on gold-leaf with molten beryl; sealed with seven seals, it was enclosed in a precious casket resting on a bed set with the seven jewels. To pay homage to bodhisattva Dharmodgata, Sadāprarudita ‘Eternally Weeping’ sacrificed his body several times and, not finding any water to wash the place where he was to meet the bodhisattva, “he took a sharp blade, pierced his body everywhere and sprinkled the place with his own blood” (tīkṣnaṃ śastraṃ gṛhītvā svākāyaṃ samantato viddhvā taṃ pṛthivīpradeśaṃ svarudhireṇa sarvam asiñcat).

The adventures of Sadāprarudita are told at length in various recensions of the Prajñāpāramitā:

1) Aṣṭasāhasrikā: Sanskrit text, chap. 30 and 31. p. 481–526 (transl. Conze, p. 201–223); Chinese versions, T 224, k. 9–10, p. 470c–477b; T 225, k. 6, p. 503c–507c; T 227, k. 10, p. 580a–586b.

2) Pañcaviṃśati, T 221, k. 20, p. 141b–146b; T 223, k. 27, p. 416a–423c.

3) Śatasāhasrikā, T 220 (vol. V), k. 498–400, p. 1059a–1073a.

But the chapters on Sadāprarudita and Dharmodgata are not part of the original edition of the Prajñāpāramitā. Actually, the Ratnaguṇasaṃcayagāthā which makes up the earliest summary of this literature does not mention these two bodhisattvas, and the chapters in question show indirect contacts with the Mediterranean gnosis of the beginning of our era. See E. Conze, The Composition of the Aṣṭasāhasrikā, BSOAS, XIV, 1952, p. 251–262.

The Traité will comment fully on the two chapters in question (k. 96–100, p. 731a–753c) and will often evoke the spirit of Sadāprarudita’s sacrifice (k. 30, p. 283a20; k. 34, p. 314a12; k. 49, p. 412a20, 414c13.