Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “avadana of kotivimsha” 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.

Thus, at the time of the Buddha Vipaśyin, the śramaṇa Eul-che-yi (Koṭīviṃśa) built a house (layana), covered the floor with rugs (dūṣya) and offered it to the Community. For ninety-one kalpas he enjoyed happiness among the gods and among men. His feet did not tread on the ground. When he was born, on the soles of his feet (pādatala) he had hair two inches long, soft and fine (romāṇi dvyaṅgulāni mṛdusaṃsparśāni śubhāni). Seeing this, his father rejoiced and gave him twenty koṭi ounces of gold. Koṭīviṃśa saw the Buddha, heard the Dharma and became arhat. Of the disciples, he was foremost in exertion (ārabdhavīryāṇām agryaḥ).

Since gifts as small [as those of Bakkula (see his Avadāna) and Koṭīviṃśa] produce such great fruits of retribution (vipākaphala), [the Community] is called ‘the best field of merit for the world’.

Notes to this Avadāna:

Cf. Anavataptagāthā, ed. Bechert, p. 116–127; tr, Hofinger, p. 207–210; Fo wou po ti rseu, T 199, p. 191c24–192a16; Mūlasarv. Vin., Gilgit Man., III, part ip. 181–182, and T 1448, k. 19, p. 80a1–26; Pāli Apadāna, p. 2898, copied closely from the Sanskrit stanzas (cf. Hofinger, l.c., p. 208 as note):

Cāturdiśasya saṃdhasya mayaikaṃ layanaṃ krtam … arhattvaṃ ca mayā prāptaṃ śītībhūto ’smi nirvrtaḥ.

Transl. –

I built a single house for the community in the capitalof Bandhumati, at the time of Vipaśyin. I spread out scattered carpets over the floor of this house and then, with joyous mind and happy spirit, I uttered the following vow: May I serve the perfect Buddha and receive ordination! May I reach nirvāṇa, supremely peaceful and unageing! By virtue of this merit, I have transmigrated for ninety-one kalpas; as god or as man, by the strength of my merit, I was well known. Then, thanks to the residue of my action, in the course of my last lifetime I was born at Campā, the only son of a high nobleman. When he learned of my birth, my father uttered the following: “I will give this child a fortune of twenty koṭis.” On the soles of my feet I had hair four inches long, fine, soft to touch, beautiful, like cotton-down. For the ninety-one kalpas that passed, I do not remember having set my bare foot on the ground. I have served the Leader of the caravan, the perfect supreme Buddha. I have attained arhathood; I am cool and at peace.

The Traité will return three times (k. 26, p. 253b8–9; k. 29, p. 271b20–21; k. 32, p. 301b13) to this śramaṇa Koṭiviṃśa, whose full name was Śroṇa-koṭī-viṃśa, in Pāli Soṇa-kolivīsa. He came from a rich family in Campā, capital of Bengal. Summoned to Rājagṛha by king Bimbasāra, he met the Buddha there and having heard the preaching of the Teacher, he asked for and received ordination as a monk. He retreated to the Sītavana to meditate but did not succeed in concentrating himself. Restless and tormented, he walked to and for so long and so hard that the especially tender soles of his feet became lacerated and bled profusely. The Buddha came to find him and preached the Vīnūpamovādasūtra to teach him to moderate his ardor and temper his exertion. On this occasion he authorized Koṭiviṃśa to wear furred boots and soon extended this favor to all the bhikṣus. This anecdote is told in all the Vinayas: Pāli Vin, I, p. 179–185 (cf. Anguttara, III, p. 374–379); Mahīśāsaka Vin. T 1421, k. 21, p. 145a13–146b15; mahāsāṃghika Vin., T 1425, k. 31, p. 481a2– 182a1; Dharmagupta Vin., T 1428, k. 38, p. 843b12–145a25; Sarv. Vin., T 1435, k. 25, p. 183a15–b3; Mūlasarv. Vin., T 1447, k. 2, p. 1055c14– 1056a15; T 1450, k. 16, p. 184b25–187c20.

The Buddha proclaimed Koṭīviṃśa the foremost of those who practice exertion (Anguttara, I, p. 24). According to the Si yu ki (T 2087, k. 11, p. 934c–935a), this śramaṇa made a statue of Maitreya in sandalwood, worked miracles and conversions in Koṅkan where Aśoka dedicated a stupa to him.

Śroṇa-koṭi-viṃśa should not be confused with the arhat Śroṇa Koṭīkarṇa, in Pāli Soṇa Koṭikaṇṇa, the foremost of the fine orators (aggaṃ kalyāṇavākkaraṇānaṃ), disciple of Mahākātyāyana and apostle of Avanti.