Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “story of the naga of urubilva” 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 6 - Story of the nāga of Urubilvā

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)”.

This is the nāga of Urubilvā on the Nairañjanā who occupied the Fire House (agnyāgāra) of the Jaṭilas. Urubilvākāśyapa, the leader of these heretics, had authorized the Buddha to stay there. When the Buddha entered, the furious snake spat out smoke and flames; the teacher replied with the same, so much so that the building seemed about to burst into flame. During the night, Kāśyapa, who watched the stars, noticed the fire and wondered if the Buddha had not been burned to ash. But in the meantime, the Buddha, in meditation, developed so much light and heat that the nāga, completely dazzled, allowed himself to be placed peacefully in the Buddha’s begging bowl. The next day Kāśyapa, a witness to the nāga’s submission, sincerely admired the Buddha’s magical powers, not without thinking himself to be more saintly than the Buddha.

Pāli sources: Vinaya, I, p. 24–25; Nidānakathā in Jātaka, I, p. 82; Manorathapūraṇī, I, p. 299.

Sanskrit sources: Catuṣpariṣad, p. 238–244; Mahāvastu, III, p. 428–429.

Chinese sources: Mahīśāsaka Vin., T 1421, K. 16, p. 108a8–24; Dharmagupt. Vin., T 1428, K. 32, p. 793b16–c9: Mūlasarv. Vin., T 1450, k. 6, p. 131a12–131b19; Ting pen k’i king, T 185, k. 2, p. 480c20–281a18; Yin kouo king, T 189, k. 4, p. 646a13–b16; Abhiniṣkramaṇa, T 190, K. 40–41, P. 958a6–b7; Tchong penk’i king, T 196, k. 1, p. 150b1–c3.

Illustrations: Sañcī (Marshall-Foucher, p. 210, pl. 51–52); Ganbdhāra (Foucher, Agb., I, p. 446–453, fig. 223–226; II, p. 343, fig. 461).