Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “similarities and differences between powers and fearlessnesses” 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.

III. Similarities and differences between powers and fearlessnesses

[242b] Question. – The ten powers (bala) are knowledges (jñāna) and the four fearlessnesses (vaiśāradya) are also knowledges. What are the similarities and the differences?[1]

Answer. – When the qualities (guṇa) of the Buddha are explained at length (vistareṇa), this is bala; when they explained in brief, this is vaiśāradya.

Furthermore, when there is activity (kriyā), this is bala; when there is neither doubt (saṃśaya) nor difficulty (duṣkara), this is vaiśāradya.

When wisdom (prajñā) is accumulated, this is bala; when ignorance (avidyā) is dispersed, this is vaiśāradya.

Accumulating good dharmas (kuśaladharma) is bala; destroying bad dharmas (akuśaladharma) is vaiśāradya.

Possessing wisdom personally is bala; there being no one who can destroy you is vaiśāradya.

The vigor of wisdom is bala; being able to respond to objections (praśna) is vaiśāradya.

Accumulating the wisdoms is bala; using them outwardly is vaiśāradya.

Similarly, when the noble cakravartin king is endowed with his seven jewels (saptaratnasamanvāgata), this is bala; having obtained these seven jewels, when he travels through the four continents (caturdvīpa) subduing the entire world, this is vaiśāradya.

Similarly also, when the good physician (vaidya) knows the remedies (bhaiṣajya) well, this is bala; when he mixes the remedies to give them to people, this is vaiśāradya.

Realizing one’s own personal (svārtha) benefit is bala; realizing the benefit of others (parārtha) is vaiśāradya.

Destroying one’s own disturbing emotions (kleśa) is bala; destroying the disturbing emotions of others is vaiśāradya.

Not wasting away is bala; being without difficulty or decline is vaiśāradya.

Being able to realize one’s own good is bala; being able to realize the good of others is vaiśāradya.

The knowledge of good planning (suvidhijñatā) is bala; the application of this knowledge is vaiśāradya.

Omniscience (sarvajñatā) and the awareness [of things] in all their aspects (sarvākārajñatā) is bala; the manifestation of this omniscience and this awareness of all the aspects is vaiśāradya.

The eighteen special attributes (āveṇikadharma) of the Buddhas are bala; the outward manifestation of these eighteen special attributes is vaiśāradya.

Completely penetrating the nature of things (dharmatā) is bala; if one asks all kinds of questions (praśna) and does not think any more and if one replies in the very same moment, this is vaiśāradya.

Possessing the Buddha eye (buddhacakṣus) is bala; seeing beings to be converted (vaineya) with this Buddha eye and preaching the Dharma to them is vaiśāradya.

Obtaining the [first] three unobstructed knowledges (pratisaṃvid) is bala; obtaining the unobstructed knowledge of elocution (pratibhānapratisaṃvid) is vaiśāradya.

Mastery of omniscience (sarvajñatāvaśita) is bala; adorning one’s speech with all kinds of stories (avadāna) and apologues (nidāna) and preaching the Dharma is vaiśāradya.

Destroying the troops of Māra is bala; destroying the heretics (tīrthika) and the scholars (upadeśācārya) is vaiśāradya.

These are the various ways of distinguishing bala and vaiśāradya.

Question. – What is fearlessness called?

Answer. – The absence of doubt (niḥsaṃśaya), the absence of fear (nirbhaya), the non-decline of wisdom, not becoming discouraged (anālīnatā), not becoming exasperated (aromaharṣa), acting in all ways as has been said (yathāvādī tathākārī), all that is vaiśāradya.

Footnotes and references:


Cf. Saṃyuktābhidharmasāra, T 1552, k. 6, p. 922c12 seq.; Vibhāṣā, T 1545, k. 31, p. 159a23 seq.; Nyāyānusāra, T 1562, k. 75, p. 749a6 seq.