Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “various groups of noble individuals (aryas)” 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 11 - The various groups of noble individuals (āryas)

Note: This Appendix is extracted from Chapter XXXVI, part 2.III.4 (Community consisting of four pairs and eight classes of individuals):

“In the Community, there are four pairs of individuals or eight classes of individuals. It is due to these eight noble individuals that the Buddha speaks of it as the ‘best field of merit for the world’.”.

In contrast to the pṛthagjana ‘the worldly’, the āryas who have entered onto the Path and who make up the holy Community, are arranged into various groups:

A. TWO GROUPS: The śaikṣa ‘those who are still in training’ and the aśaikṣa ‘those who no longer train’, i.e., the arhat ‘saints’.

B. EIGHT GROUPS OF INDIVIDUALS (aṣṭāu puruṣapudgalāḥ), namely:

  1. Prathamaphalapratipannaka, candidate for the first fruit of the religious life.
  2. Srotaāpanna.
  3. Dvitīyaphalapratipannaka, candidate for the second fruit.
  4. Sakṛdāgamin.
  5. Tṛtīyaphalapratipannaka, candidate for the third fruit.
  6. Anāgamin.
  7. Arhattvaphalapratipannaka, candidate for the fruit of arhat.
  8. Arhat.

C. FOUR PAIRS OF INDIVIDUALS (catvāri puruṣayugāni) formed by the eight preceding groups taken in pairs.

D. TWENTY-SEVEN INDIVIDUALS, made up of eighteen types of śaikṣa (aṣtādaśa śaikṣāḥ) and nine types of aśaikṣa (navāśaikṣāḥ).

The eighteen types of śaikṣa are:

  1. Prathamaphalapratipanna, candidate for the first fruit.
  2. Srotaāpanna.
  3. Dvitīyaphalapratipanna, candidate for the second fruit.
  4. Sakṛdāgamin.
  5. Tritīyaphalapratipanna.
  6. Anāgamin.
  7. Arhattvaphalapratipanna, candidate for the fruit of arhat.
  8. Śraddhānusārin, pursuing [the truth] because of faith.
  9. Dharmānusārin, pursuing [the truth] by means of dharmas, i.e., the twelve-membered Scripture.
  10. Śraddhādhimukta, convinced by faith.
  11. Dṛṣṭiprapta, in possession of the speculative view.
  12. Kulaṃkula (Pāli: kolaṅkola), passing from family to family [among gods and men and attaining nirvāṇa after two or three rebirths].
  13. Ekavīcika (in Pāli ekabījin; in Chinese yi tchong for Kuārajīva, yi kien for Hiuan-tsang), separated from nirvāṇa [by one rebirth].
  14. Antarāparinirvāyin, [anāgāmin obtaining] nirvāṇa in the intermediate existence.
  15. Upapadyaprinirvāyin, [anāgāmin obtaining] nirvāṇa as soon as he is reborn.
  16. Sābhisaṃskāraparinirvāyin, [anāgāmin obtaining] nirvāna with effort.
  17. Anabhisaṃskāraparinirvāyin, [anāgāmin obtaining] nirvāṇa effortlessly.
  18. Ūrdhvasrotas, [anāgāmin] with upward movement. [Not obtaining nirvāṇa in the place where he is reborn on leaving Kāmadhātu, but moving upward to the Akaniṣṭha or in Bhavāgra].

The nine kinds of aśaikṣa are:

  1. Parihāṇadharman, [arhat] likely to fall
  2. Cetanādharman, [arhat] likely to end his existence
  3. Anurakṣaṇadharman, [arhat] likely to keep [what he has acquired]
  4. Sthitākaṃpya, [arhat] likely to remain [in the fruit] and not moving
  5. Prativedhanābhavya, [Arhat] likely to penetrate effortlessly into the Unshakeables.
  6. Akopyadharma, unshakeable [arhat not likely to fall]
  7. Cetovimukta, [arhat] possessing deliverance of mind
  8. Prajñāvimukta, [arhat] delivered by wisdom
  9. Ubhayatobhāgavimukta (kong kiai t’o for Kumārajīva; kiu kiai t’o for Hiuan-tsang), [arhat] doubly delivered [from the obstacle of the disturbing emotions (kleśāvaraṇa) and the obstacle opposing the eight liberations (vimokṣāvaraṇa)].

The Pāli sources did not fix the number of individuals at twenty-seven, but they were aware of them and have given definitions for them.

For nos. 1 to 7, see, e.g., Saṃyutta, V, p. 202. – For nos. 8 to 11, see Dīgha, III, p. 105; Majjhima, I, p. 478–479; Aṅguttara, I, p. 64. – For nos, 12 and 13, see Saṃyutta, V, p. 205; Anguttara, I, p. 233;IV, p. 380–381; Nettippakaraṇa, p. 189. – For nos. 14 to 18 (five types of anāgāmin), see Dīgha, iii, p. 237; Saṃyutta,V, p. 70, 237, 285, 314, 378; Anguttara, IV, p. 14, 15, 146, 380; V, p. 120. – For nos. 26 and 27, see Dīgha, II, p. 71; Majjhima. I, p. 439, 477; Saṃyutta, I, p. 191; Anguttara, I, p. 73; IV, p. 10. 77. For the group, cf. Puggalapaññatti, p. 14–16; Nettippakaraṇa, p. 189–190.

The list of the twenty-seven individuals is one of the masterpieces of the Sarvāstivādin-Vaibhaṣika Abhidharma which, with the help of the canonical sources, has located them precisely along the Path to nirvāṇa: Vibhāṣā, T 1545, k. 77, p. 397a; k. 53, p. 274c–277b; Saṃyuktābhidharmasāra, T 1552, k. 6, p. 910c–914a; Abhidharmāmṛta, T 1553, k. 1, p. 973a27–c26 (reconstr. By Sastri, p. 85–88); Kośa, VI, p. 193–217, 2541–255, 277.

The Prajñāpāramitās have used the preceding sources broadly to establish their twenty categories of saints, but – and this is essential – the end-point of the career is no longer the entry into nirvāṇa but the arrival at the state of Buddha by the conquest of anuttarasaṃyaksaṃbodhi.

The description of this career may be found in the Pañcaviṃśati, p. 60–73 (transl. Conze, p. 33–41) and the Śatasāhasrikā, p. 266–281; a short description is in Abhisamayālaṃkāra, I, v. 23–24 (transl. Conze, p. 11–13); clear and precise definitions in Āloka,p. 35–36 (transl. Obermiller, Analysis, I, p. 51–56).

Later (k. 54, p. 447a), the Traité will return to these categories of saints.

The Vijñānavādins also had a list of the traditional twenty-seven types of individuals: Abhidharmasamuccaya, ed. Pradhan, p. 88–91 (T 1605, k. 6, p. 689a10–c24; T 1616, k. 13, p. 754b10–755c28).