Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “why the buddha thinks highly of his ten powers” 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. Why the buddha thinks highly of his ten powers

Question. – The ten powers are exclusive to the Buddha and, in the course of the present lifetime (ihajanmani), none of his disciples (śrāvaka) is able to obtain them.[1] Then why does the Buddha speak of them?

Answer. – The Buddha wants to cut off peoples’ doubts (saṃśaya) about these ten powers, to strengthen the minds of the ignorant and lead the fourfold assembly (catuṣpariṣad) to rejoice and to say: “Our great teacher (mahācārya) is the only one to possess such powers which he does not share with anyone.”

Furthermore, the heretics (tīrthika) say: “The śramaṇa Gautama dwells always in peace (vyupaśama) and his wisdom (prajñā) is decreasing.” This is why the Buddha makes this statement of truth (satyavacana): “In me, the ten powers (jñānabala) and the four fearlessnesses (vaiśāradya) are well-established (supratiṣṭha) and complete (saṃpanna).” In the great assembly, the Buddha speaks of his perfect wisdom (saṃpannaprajñā), converts beings (sattvān paripācayati), utters the lion’s roar fully (samyak siṃhanādaṃ nadati) and turns the wheel of Brahmā (brahmacakraṃ pravartayati) which no heretic, god or human, can turn. Therefore it is to arrest criticism that the Buddha speaks of his ten powers.

Footnotes and references:


This is the matter of a controversy among the Sarvāstivādins which the Traité refrains from discussing. As will be seen the following chapter, the Traité does not include the ten powers among the attributes exclusive to the Buddha.

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