Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “ills of the world (1) evils and wickedness of beings” 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.

VII. Ills of the world (1) Evils and wickedness of beings

a. Beings have eight kinds of evils and torments: 1) birth (jāti), 2) old age (jāra), 3) sickness (vyādhi), 4) death (maraṇa), 5) being separated from what one loves (priyaviprayoga), 6) gaining what one does not love (apriyasaṃprayoga), 7) not getting what one wants (yad apīcchan paryeṣamāṇo na labhate), 8) in short, the five aggregates of attachment are suffering (saṃkṣiptena pañcopāpādanaskandhā duḥkham).[1]

b. As for the wickedness of beings:

Out of excessive lust (rāgabāhulyāt), they do not differentiate between beauty and ugliness; they do not follow the teachings of their parents and teachers; they have no shame (hrī) or modesty (apatrāpya) and are not different from the animals.

Out of excessive hatred (dveṣabāhulyāt), they do not differentiate between the light (laghu) and the heavy (guru); enraged by the poison of anger (krodhaviṣa), they go so far as to refuse the Buddha’s word;[2] they do not want to hear the Dharma; they are not afraid of the bad destinies (durgati); they inflict violent beatings; they do not care about others’ sufferings and, entering into the great shadows (mahātamas), they see nothing more.

Out of excessive ignorance (mohabāhulyāt), they do not find the means of realizing what they are looking for; they do not understand the causes of things, as if they were trying to get milk (kṣīra) from a horn (viṣāṇa).[3]

Enveloped by ignorance (avidhyāvṛta), even if they are in the light of the sun, they will never see anything.

Out of excessive greed (mātsaryabāhulyāt), their house is like a tomb which nobody comes near.

Out of excessive pride and haughtiness (mānastambha), they do not honor the saints (ārya) and do not venerate their parents.

Careless (pramatta), they ruin themselves and have no honesty.

Out of excessive wrong views (mithyādṛṣṭibāhulyāt), they do not believe in the present existence (ihajanman) or in the future existence (parajanman), they do not believe in sin (āpatti) or merit (puṇya), and it is impossible to live with them.

All these afflictions abounding in them, these wretched people have no uprightness. Their sins are numerous, they commit the five heinous crimes of immediate retribution (pañcānantarya): sometimes they kill their father and mother; sometimes they wound the saints; sometimes they demand special honors, they slander faithful and celibate people and they are an offense to their kinsmen.

Furthermore, of the beings inhabiting the world, honest people (sādhu) are rare and evil people (durjana) are numerous.

It may be that people of good conduct are poor, lowly and ugly, and it may be that rich good-looking people are of bad conduct. It may be that those who love to give are poor and without resources, and it may be that rich [232b] fortunate people are miserly, greedy and unwilling to give.

If people see a thoughtful man silent and not speaking, they say that he is proud, haughty and does not want to serve. If they see an obliging man, benevolent and charitable, they say he is deceitful and a toady. If they see an eloquent orator, they accuse him of being dependent on inadequate knowledge and consider him to be proud.

If they see a simple straightforward honest man, they all join up to deceive him, subjugate him, direct him and tyrannize him. If they see an easy gentle man, they join up to despise him, trample him underfoot and treat him impolitely. If they see a man observing pure morality, they accuse him of hypocritical behavior, scorn him and do not respect him.

Such people are perverts and unlovable.

Footnotes and references:


Excerpt from the Sermon of Benares: Pāli Vinaya. I, p. 10; Catuṣpariṣad, p. 158; Mahāvastu, III, p. 332; Lalitavistara, p. 417; Mahāvyut., no. 2223–2240.


Rejection of the holy Dharma (saddharmapratikṣepa) is a particularly serious fault: cf. Sarvadharmavaipulyasaṃgrahasūtra cited in Śikṣāsamuccaya, p. 95, and Pañjikā, p.147.


Canonical comparison (Majjhima, III, p. 141: Seyyathāpi puriso khīratthiko khīragavesī khīrapariyesanañ caramāno gāviṃ taruṇavacchaṃ visāṇato āviñjeyya… abhabho khīrassa adhigamanāya.

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