Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “attributes to be fulfilled (praptukama) and attributes to be cognized (jnatukama)” 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.

II. Attributes to be fulfilled (prāptukāma) and attributes to be cognized (jñātukāma)

From the six perfections up to the three pure faculties [i.e., from chapter XVII to chapter XXXVIII], the Prajñāpāramitā spoke only [of the qualities] ‘to be completed fully’ (paripūrayitavya); why will it speak from now on of qualities which the bodhisattva is ‘desirous of obtaining’ (prāptukāma) or ‘desirous of knowing’ (jñātukāma) and in view of which ‘he must practice the perfection of wisdom’ (prajñāpāramitāyāṃ śikṣitavyam)?

Answer. – The śrāvaka qualities [that are the object of chapters XXXI to XXXVIII] are measured and limited and this is why Prajñāpāramitā spoke of the qualities ‘to be completely fulfilled’ (paripūrayitva). But from now on in what follows, it will be a matter of profound (gambhīra) and immeasurable (apramāṇa) Buddha qualities which the bodhisattva has not yet attained; this is why the Prajñāpāramitā will speak of qualities that the bodhisattva is ‘desirous of attaining’ (prāptukāma) or ‘desirous of knowing ‘ (jñātukāma), and in view of which he must exert himself in the perfection of wisdom.

Furthermore, as the śrāvaka qualities are easily penetrated, easily understood, the Prajñāpāramitā calls them ‘to be completely fulfilled’ (paripūrayitavya). But as the bodhisattva qualities and Buddha qualities are difficult to penetrate, difficult to understand, it now says that ‘he must exert himself in them’.

Finally, the śrāvaka qualities [concern] the general characteristics (sāmānyalakṣaṇa) of things. The śrāvakas understand suffering (duḥkha), the origin of suffering (duḥkhasamudaya), the cessation of suffering (duḥkhanirodha) and the path leading to the cessation of suffering (duḥkhanirodhagāminī pratipad) only.

For example, take two physicians (bhiṣaj). The first understands only the sickness (ābādha), the cause of the sickness (ābādhasamutthāna), the cure for the sickness (ābādhaprahāna) and the remedy (bheṣaja) that cures the sickness;[1] but he does not know every sickness, nor does he know all the causes of sickness or all the cures for sickness or all the remedies curing the sicknesses. It may be also that he knows how to treat the sicknesses of men but he does not know how to treat the sickness of animals; it may be that he can cure one country but cannot cure other countries. It may also be that he can treat ten kinds of sicknesses but he does not know how to treat completely the four hundred and four kinds of sicknesses. And it is the same in regard to the causes of the sicknesses, the cures for the sicknesses and the remedies curing the sicknesses. The second physician knows the four things completely: he knows all the remedies, he knows all the sicknesses.

The śrāvaka is like the lesser physician and does not know everything; the bodhisattva-mahāsattva, however, is like the greater physician; there is no illness that he does not know; there is no remedy that he does not find. This is why the śrāvaka qualities should be ‘completely fulfilled’ (parpūrayitavya), whereas those of the bodhisattva should be ‘practiced’.

Footnotes and references:


Compare the Vyādhyādisūtra in Saṃyukta (T 99, k. 15, p. 105a–b, the original Sanskrit of which is cited by Kośavyākhyā, p. 514: Caturbhir aṅgaiḥ samanvāgato bhiṣak śalyapahartā rājārhaś ca bhavati tājayogyaś rājāṅgatve ca saṃkhyāṃ gacchati. katamaiś caturbhiḥ. ābādhakuśalo bhavati, ābādhasamutthānakuśalo bhavati, ābādhaprahāṇakuśalaḥ prahīṇasya cābādhasyāyatyām anutpādakuśalaḥ.

For the comparison of the physician, see also P. Demiéville in Hôbôgirin, Byō, III, p. 230–231.