Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “story of the naga king nandopananda” 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 5 - Story of the nāga king Nandopananda

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

“The person in whom lust predominates finds deliverance if his desire (rāga) is increased; the one in whom hatred predominates finds deliverance if his hate (dveṣa) is increased, as was the case for the nāgas Nan-to’ (Nandopananda) and Ngeou-leou-p’in-louo (Urubilva)”.

One day the Buddha accompanied by five hundred monks went to the Trāyastrimśa gods but, in order to do so, he had to fly over the home of the nāga king Nandopananda. Fearing that the dust from the feet of these shaven monks might fall on his head, the nāga wanted to prevent them from passing overhead. He wound his coils seven times around Mount Meru in order to hide the Trāyastriṃśa heaven from them. The Buddha entrusted the task of conquering him to Maudgalyāyana. The disciple took the form of a royal nāga and wound his coils around the body of his adversary fourteen times. Against the flames and smoke of Nandopananda, he sent out still stronger flames and smoke. Then taking on his human form, he entered the nāga’s body which he traversed from top to bottom. When he came out, Nandopananda breathed out on him ‘the wind from his nose’, but Maudgalyāyana, in the fourth dhyāna, changed into the suparṇa bird, the sworn enemy of the dragons and began to chase the nāga while giving off ‘the suparṇa breath’. Completely humbled, Nandopananda changed into a young Brahmin and took refuge in the Buddha.

This story is in the Nandopanandanāgarājadamanasūtra, of which three versions exist: A Pāli version in Visuddhimagga, ed. Warren, p. 336–337 (transl. Nanamoli, p. 436–438); a Tibetan translation entitled Kluḥi rgyal po dgaḥ bo ñerdgaḥ ḥdul baḥI mdo, OKC, no. 755 (Tib. Trip., vol, 21, p. 304–3–7); a Chinese translation by Tche K’ien, entitled Long wang hiong to king, T 597, p. 131.

Elsewhere there are frequent allusions to the discomfiture of Nanda: Divyāvadāna, p. 395; Legend of Aśoka (T 99, k. 23, p. 168a; T 2042, k. 2, p. 104b13; T 2043, k. 2, p. 138b9; Tseng yi a han, T 125, k. 28, p. 703b24;Jātaka, V, p. 126. The Traité will return to it later, k. 32, p. 300a29; k. 100, p. 752b12.