Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

by Gelongma Karma Migme Chödrön | 2001 | 941,039 words

This page describes “logical order of the ten concepts” 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.

VI. Logical order of the ten concepts

Question. – Anityasaṃjñā, duḥkhasaṃjñā, anātmasaṃjñā are associated with a pure wisdom (anāsravaprajñā) whereas the four following concepts, āhāre pratikūlasaṃjñā, [sarvaloke ’nabhiratisaṃjñā, maraṇasaṃjñā and aśucisaṃjñā] are [232a] associated with an impure wisdom (sāsravaprajñā). Why does [the sūtra] speak of them secondly?

Answer. – The Buddhist doctrine consists of a twofold path: i) the path of seeing the Truths (darśanamārga) and ii) the path of meditation (bhāvanāmārga).

In the path of seeing the Truths, by using the three notions [of anitya, duḥkha and anātman], the yogin destroys wrong views (mithyādṛṣṭi), obtains the quality of ārya, but is not yet detached from desire (virakta).

It is with this detachment (vairāgya) in mind that, after having spoken of the first three notions, the sūtra now speaks of the four intermediate notions: āhāre pratikūlasaṃjñā, [sarvaloke ’nabhiratisaṃjñā, maraṇasaṃjñā and aśucisaṃjñā] by means of which the yogin succeeds in freeing himself from the afflictions, lust, etc. (rāgādikleśa).

Thus the first three notions are features of the path of seeing the Truths (satyadarśanamārga), the four intermediate notions are features of the path of meditation (bhāvanāmārga) and the last three notions [prahāṇasaṃjñā, vairāgyasaṃjñā and nirodhasaṃjñā] are features of the path of the saints who have nothing more to train in (aśaikṣamārga).

In starting to practice the foundation of mindfulness of the body (kāyasmṛtyupasthāna), the yogin still has some notion of revulsion toward food but, as he rarely uses it, the Buddha did not speak of it.[1] Here, so that the srotaāpannas and sakṛdāgamins can escape from desire, the Buddha, having spoken about anātmasaṃjñā [the third notion on the list], now speaks of the four [intermediate] notions beginning with āhāre pratikūlasaṃjñā.

Footnotes and references:


An allusion to the Satipaṭṭhānasutta of Majjhima, I, p. 55–63, which is silent about revulsion toward food.

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