Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “lists of auxiliaries (bodhipakshika or bodhipakkhiya)” 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.

I. Lists of auxiliaries (bodhipākṣika or bodhipakkhiya)

The title of the fourth noble truth preached by the Buddha in his sermon at Benares is the path of cessation of suffering (duḥkhanirodhagāminī pratipad). It deals with the noble eight-membered Path (ārya aṣṭāṅgamārga), the culmination of a method of liberation involving an infinite number of more or less efficacious spiritual practices. The most important – among which are included the eight Path members – are designated by the name ‘Auxiliaries to Enlightenment’, bodhipakkhika or bodhipakkhiya in Pāli, bodhipākṣika, bodhipakṣika, bodhipakṣya or bodhipakṣa dharma in Sanskrit.

Definition of the Vibhāṣā (T 1545, k. 96, p. 496b18–21): “Why are they called bodhipākṣika? The two knowledges of the saint, the knowledge of the cessation of the impurities (āsravaṣayajñāna) and the knowledge that they will not arise again (anutpādajñāna) are given the name of Bodhi because they consist of the complete understanding of the four Truths. If a dharma is favorable to this complete understanding, it is given the name of bodhipākṣika.”

Definition of the Kośa, (VI, p. 282–284): “Kṣayajñāna and anutpādajñāna are Bodhi which, due to the difference of the saints who attain it, is threefold: śrāvakabodhi, pratyekabodhi, anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi. Indeed, ignorance is completely abandoned (aśeṣāvidyāprahāṇāt) by these two jñānas: by means of the first, one knows truly that the task has been accomplished; by means of the second, one knows that the task will no longer have to be accomplished. Inasmuch as they are favorable to this Bodhi, thirty-seven dharmas are its auxiliaries (tadanulomyataḥ saptatriṃśat tu tatpakṣāḥ)… All these auxiliaries to Bodhi are also a group of pure (anāsrava) or impure (sāsrava) qualities of hearing (śruta), reflecting (cintā) and meditating (bhāvanā), arising from practice (prāyogika).”

But the classical list of the thirty-seven auxiliaries to enlightenment (saptatriṃśad bodhipākṣikādharmāḥ) was slow in being formulated:

1. In the Nikāyas and the Āgamas the term bodhipākṣika dharma is rather rare and still poorly defined. The Aṅguttara, III, p. 70, 300 (cf. Vibhaṅga, p. 244) includes among them: the guarding of the senses (indriyeṣu guttadvāratā, sobriety (bhojane mattaññutā) and heedfulness (jāgariy’ ānuyoga). For the Saṃyutta, V, p. 227, 239, the bodhipākṣika are the five spiritual faculties (indriya); for the Vibhaṅga, p. 249, they are the seven members of enlightenment (sambojjhaṅga).

2. In the Canon there is frequently a list of 37 dharmas divided into seven classes: 1) the four foundations of mindfulness (smṛtyupasthana), 2) the four right efforts (samyakpradhāna), 3) the four bases of magical powers (ṛddhipāda), 4) the five spiritual faculties (indriya), 5) the five strengths (bala), 6) the seven members of enlightenment (saṃbodhyaṅga or bodhyaṅga), 7) the seven members of the path (mārgāṅga).

Except for the Ekottarāgama, the Nikāyas and the Āgamas do not enumerate these dharmas which are 37 in total, and do not describe them as bodhipākṣika.

See, for example, Dīgha, II, p. 120 (cf. Sanskrit Mahāparinirvāṇa, ed. Waldschmidt, p. 196, 224); Dīgha III, p. 102, 127; Majjhima, II, p. 238–239; III, p. 296; Aṅguttara, IV, p. 125, 203; Udāna, p. 56. It is the same for the Pāli Vinaya, II, p. 240; III, p. 93; IV, p. 26, etc. – Madhyamāgama, T 26, k. 8, p. 476c20–21; k. 9, p. 479a18–19; k. 52, p. 753c6–7; Saṃyuktāgama, T 99k. 2, p. 14a7–8; k. 3, p. 19c5–6; k, 13, p. 87c3–4; k. 24, p. 176c14–15; k. 26, p. 188b26–27.

The Ekottarika, a late text crammed with Mahāyānist interpolations, is the only Āgama to enumerate these dharmas and describe them as bodhipākṣika: cf. T 125, k. 3, p. 561b20–22; k. 7, p. 579c26; k. 13, p. 612a19–20; k. 18, p. 635b25–26; k. 26, p. 696c9; k. 40, p. 765c15.

3. Sometimes the seven classes are incorporated into a list of more than 37 dharmas, e.g., Majjhima, II, p. 11–12; Anguttara, I, p. 39–49; and also for the Greater Vehicle, Pañcaviṃśati, p. 203–308; Śatasāhasrikā, p. 1427–1439.

4. Paracanonical or postcanonical texts, whether Pāli or Sanskrit, the sūtras and śāstras of the Greater Vehicle list the seven classes in question, number their components and give them a name, ‘the 37 bodhipākṣika dharmas’, that will remain classical.

For the Pāli sources, see Nettippakaraṇa, p. 197, 261; Milinda, p. 30; Visuddhimagga, ed. Warren, p. 582–583; commentaries by Buddhaghosa on the Saṃyutta, I, p. 104; II, p. 139; III, p. 136; and on the Aṅguttara, I, p. 85; II, p. 11; III, p. 56; IV, p. 111; Compendium of Philosophy, p. 179.

For the Sanskrit-Chinese sources, see an infinity of texts on the two Vehicles: Divyāvadāna, p. 350, 616; Avadānaśataka, I, p. 340; Vibhāṣā, T 1545, k. 96, p. 495c27–28; Kośa, VI, p. 281; Abhidharmadīpa, p. 57 seq.; Lalitavistara, p. 9; Pañcaviṃśati, T 223, k. 18, p. 350b9; Kāśyapaparivarta, p. 75; Saddharmapuṇd., p. 458; Vimalakīrti, p. 117, 139, 144, 201–202, 216, 378; Sūtrālaṃkāra, p. 140–146; Madhyantavibhāga, p. 89–94; Yogācārabhūmi, T 1579, k. 28, p. 439c–440a (for the śrāvakas): Bodh. bhūmi, p. 259 (for the bodhisattvas); Dharmasaṃgraha, ch. 43; Arthaviniścaya, p. 569–575; Mahāvyut., no. 952–1004.

5. As well as the classical list of 37 bodhipakṣikas which is by far the most widespread, there are also aberrant lists:

a. The Nettippakaraṇa, which notes (p. 31, 261) the list of 37, mentions (p. 112, 237) a list of 43 bodhipakkhiyas beginning with six saññā: anicca, duhkha, anatta, pahāna,virāga and nirodhasaññā.

b. In his commentary on the Anguttara (I, p. 85) Buddhaghosa mentions as heretical (adhamma) a list of 38 bodhipakkhiyas, consisting of 3 sati, 3 padhāna, 3 iddipāda, 6 indriya, 6 bala, 8 bojjhaṅga and 9 maggaṅga.

c. According to the Vibhāṣā (T 545, k. 86, p. 499a14–15), the Vibhajyavādins have a list of 41 bodhipākṣikas, by adding the four āryavaṃśas ‘Ārya stock’ – being content with clothing, food and seat, and taking delight in cessation and the Path – to the 37 traditional ones.

d. According to Bhavya (M. Walleser, Die Sekten des alten Buddhismus, 1927, p. 90: A. Bareau, Trois Traités, JA 1956, p. 186) place the four apramāṇas, also called brahmavihāras, loving-kindness, etc., among the bodhyaṅgas.

[In Kośa, VI, p. 281, note, de La Vallée Poussin comments that the Anguttara, I, p. 53, recognizes only six bodhyaṅgas, memory being omitted. This is wrong, for memory (satisaṃbojjaṅga) is mentioned in the first line on p. 53.]