Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “the ten knowledges in the sutrapitaka” 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.

Note (1): The ten knowledges in the Sūtrapitaka

Attempts at classification are relatively rare:

1. The suttas of the Ñāṇassa vatthūni of the Saṃyutta, II, p. 56–60 (Tsa a han, T 99, no. 356–357, k. 14, p. 99c19–100a11) propose two classes of ñāna, one of 44 and the other of 77 units. The first results from attributing to each of the eleven members of the causal chain – from jarāmaraṇa to saṅkhāra – four knowledges relating to suffering, its origin, its cessation and the path to its cessation, which gives a total of 4 x 11 = 44. The second class results from attributing seven more knowledges to each of the same members, so 7 x 11 = 77.

2. Other more important groupings are also given by the Sūtrapiṭaka:

a. Four knowledges concerning: i) things (dhamme ñānaṃ), ii) consequences (anvaye ñānaṃ), iii) analysis of another’s mind (paricchede ñānaṃ = paresaṃ cittaparicchede ñānaṃ), iv) conventions (sammutiñānaṃ), respectively: cf. Dīgha, III, p. 226, 277;Vibhaṅga, p. 315, 330.

b. Four other knowledges, altogether constituting right view (sammādiṭṭhi) and concerning i) suffering (duḥkhe ñānaṃ), ii) its origin (samudaye ñānaṃ), iii) its cessation (nirodhe ñānam), iv) the path to its cessation (mārge or nirodhagāminiyā paṭipadāya ñānaṃ): cf. Dīgha, II, p. 312; III, p. 227; Majjhima, III, p. 251; Saṃyutta, V, p. 8–9, 430: Paṭisambhidā, I, p. 41, 118, 133; Vibhaṅga, p. 104, 235, 293, 315, 328; DhammasaṅgaṇI, p. 189.

c. Two knowledges, belonging to the arhat, concerning cessation of the impurities (khaye ñānaṃ) and their non-rearising in the future (anuppāde ñānaṃ) respectively: cf. Dīgha, III, p. 214, 274.

Later scholasticism, adding the three groups together, will posit the category of ten knowledges.

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