Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “the knowledge of the aspirations of beings (nanadhimukti-jnanabala)” 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.

V. The knowledge of the aspirations of beings (nānādhimukti-jñānabala)

The power of knowledge of the various aspirations of beings (nānādhimuktijñānabala). -

By aspiration (adhimukti) is meant trusting joy (prasāda), inclinations (ruci).

[Beings] love the five objects of enjoyment (pañcakāmaguṇa), as did Souen-t’o-lo-nen-t’o (Saundarananda).[1]

They love fame (yaśas), as did T’i-p’o-ta (Devadatta).[2]

They love worldly goods (lokadhana), as did Siu-mi (var. na)-tch’a to-lo (Sunakṣetra).[3]

They love the life of a monk (pravrajyā), as did Ye-chö (Yaśas).[4] [239b]

They love faith (śraddhā), as did Po-kia-li (Vakkhali). (see Appendix 5)

They love the rules (śikṣā), as did Lo-heou-lo (Rāhula), etc.

They love generosity (dāna) as did Che-po-lo (Śaivala), [a note in red says that he was the son of Kan-lou (Amṛtā, aunt of the Buddha]. (also see Appendix 6)

They love the strict observances (dhūta) and solitude (viveka), as did Mo-ho-kia-chö (Mahākāśyapa).

They love solitary meditation (pratisaṃlayana), as did Li-po-to (Revata).[5]

They love wisdom (prajñā), as did Chö-li-fou (Śāriputra).

They love learning (bahuśrautya), as did A-nan (Ānanda).

They love to understand the discipline (vinaya), as did Yeou-p’o-li (Upāli), etc.

All these disciples of the Buddha each had their preferences, and the worldly people (pṛthagjana), they too, each have their own tastes: some are pleased with desire (rāga), others with hatred (dveṣa).

Furthermore, the Buddha knows those who abound in lust (rāgabahula), those who abound in hatred (dveṣabahula) and those who abound in ignorance (mohabahula).

Question. –What are the characteristics (lakṣaṇa) of those who abound respectively in lust, hatred or ignorance?

Answer. – Here it is necessary to cite fully the characteristics of the threefold poison (triviṣa) described in the Tch’an king (Dhyānasūtra). Knowing these characteristics, the Buddha corrects especially lustful people by means of a sermon (paryāya) on the horrors of the body (aśubha); he corrects those who are especially hateful by means of a sermon on the mind of loving-kindness (maitrīcitta); and he corrects those who are especially stupid by means of a sermon on dependent origination (pratītyasamutpāda).

In this way, he preaches the Dharma according to the aspirations (adhimukti) of beings. If these aspirations are good (kuśala), he preaches in accordance with the minds of the beings, like a boat going along with the current (naur anusrotogāminī); if these aspirations are bad (akuśala), he addresses them with rough words (paruṣavacana) according to the method of driving out a peg by means of a counter-peg (āṇīpratyāṇīnirhārayogena). (aslo see Appendix 7)

These aspirations are fully and completely known (prajānāti) by the Buddha and as this knowledge is intact (avyāhata) and invincible (ajeya) [in him], it is called the fifth ‘power’.

Footnotes and references:


Nanda surnamed Nanda the Handsome, ordained as the result of a trick and who mourned for his young wife. See p. 118F, 226F, 286F.


See p. 868–878F.


Sunakṣetra, a Licchavi of Vaiśālī, who entered into the Order and for a time was the Buddha’s assistant (upasthāyaka), but who later became attached to the bad teachers, Khorakkhattiya, Kandaramasaka and Pāṭiputta. According to the Traité (k. 100, p.755a12–14), he had been a disciple of the Buddha out of greed.


Later the Traité (k. 49, p. 411b20–22) summarizes his story in a few words: “Yaśas, son of a śreṣṭhin [of Benares], having seen in the middle of the night that all the courtesans resembled corpses, left his precious sandals (maṇipādukā) worth a hundred thousand kārṣāpanas on the bank of a river and, crossing it by means of a ford, went to find the Buddha.” The following is known: Yaśas, also known as Yaśoda, taught by the Buddha, attained arhathood and entered into the Order while his aged parents entered into the lay community. Cf. Catuṣpariṣad, p. 172–202; Mūlasarv. Vinaya, T 1450, k. 6, p. 128c–129b; Pāli Vinaya, I, p. 15–18; Mahīśasaka Vin., T 1421, k. 15, p. 105; Dharmaguptaka Vin., T 1428, k. 32, p. 789b–790a; Mahāvastu, III, p. 402–413; Nidānakathā, p. 82; Comm. on Dhammapada, I, p. 87; Yin kouo king, T 189, k. 4, p. 645; Fo pen hing tsi king, T 190, k.35, p. 815–824; Tchong hiu mo ho ti king, T 191, k. 8, p. 954c–955a; Fo so hing tsai, T 192, k. 4, p. 30c (cf. E. H. Johnston, Buddha’s Mission and Last Journey, Acta Orientalia, XV, 1937, p. 12; Tchong pen k’i king,T 196, k. 1, p. 149a–b; Tchou yao king, T 212, k. 29, p. 769a–b).


Revata surnamed Khadiravaniya “Of the acacia forest”. He was the youngest brother of Śāriputra, and the Buddha proclaimed him to be the foremost of those who live in the forests (aggaṃ āraññikānaṃ): cf. Anguttara, I, p. 24. His taste for retreat was well known. A lay disciple named Atula, accompanied by five hundred upāsakas, visited him one day in hopes of receiving his teachings. Revata who was enjoying meditation like a solitary lion (paṭisallānārāmo sīho viya ekacāro) did not gratify their wishes with even a single word (Comm. on Dhammapada, III, p. 326).

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