Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “literal commentary on the vaisharadyasutra” 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.

VI. Literal commentary on the Vaiśāradyasūtra

1. “I am fully and completely enlightened”

I am fully and completely enlightened. – The Buddha knows all dharmas without error (viparyāsa), fully (samyak) and unmistakenly, in the same way as the other Buddhas of the past. He is therefore called Samyaksaṃbuddha.

Thus the Buddha said to Ānanda: “That which is unknown to the entire world with its gods and men, the Buddha himself knows completely: this is why he is called Samyaksaṃbuddha.”

But there are people who say that the Buddha does not know certain dharmas.

Question. – Who are these people?

Answer: In the same place, the Buddha said: A śramaṇa, a brāhmaṇa, a deva, Māra, Brahmā or someone else. They want to debate with the Buddha [and challenge him on his knowledge of certain dharmas].

What are these dharmas?

For some, it is the sacred texts of which the Buddha has not spoken, eighteen great holy texts:[1] heretical sūtras, grammars (vyākaraṇa), arithmetical (saṃkhyā), Vedas, etc.

For others, it is the weight of Mount Sumeru, the thickness of the great earth (mahāpṛthivī) and the total number of plants.

For others, it is the fourteen difficult points to which the Buddha has not replied (avyākṛtavastu): is the world eternal (śāśvata) or non-eternal (aśāśvata), finite (antavat) or infinite (anantavat), etc.?[2]

For others, it is material dharmas (rūpin) or non-material dharmas (arūpin), visible (sanidarśana) or invisible (anidarśana), resistant (sapratigha) or non-resistant (apratigha), impure (sāsrava) or pure (anāsrava), conditioned (saṃskṛta) or unconditioned (asaṃskṛta), etc. [According to them,] the Buddha knows only the causes and conditions of the category of things concerning the Dharma but, in regard to the various causes and conditions of other things, sometimes the Buddha does not know them completely.

[In the phrase: A śrāmaṇa, brāhmaṇa, deva, Māra, Brahmā, or some one else…], śramaṇa means a monk who has gone forth from home (pravrajita); brahmāṇa means a sage dwelling at home; deva means an earth deity or a deity of space; Māra is the six groups of Kāmadevas; Brahmā is one of the deities whose leader is Brahmā Devarāja and also all the deities of rūpadhātu; finally, some one else designates all the others with the exception of the previously mentioned.

[That he is able to speak] in accordance with the truth…i.e., being able to object correctly, with logic.

I do not see the slightest reason to fear…: reason (nimitta) means ‘grounds’. I do not see the least grounds for fearing that he will be able to attack me in accordance with the truth (saha dharmeṇa).

Seeing none, I claim to occupy the place of a-li-cha (ārṣaṃ sthānam). [Note by Kumārajīva: In the language of the Ts’in, Cheng-tchou, ‘Holy Teacher’].

2. “I have destroyed all the impurities”

The Buddha proclaims: “I have destroyed all the impurities (kṣīṇāsrava).” If people say that he has not destroyed them, he is not afraid.

What are the impurities (āsrava)? These impurities are of three kinds: i) lust impurity (kāmāsrava); ii) existence impurity (bhavāsrava); iii) ignorance impurity (avidyāsrava).[3]

Furthermore, the impurities are mental events (caitasika dharma) associated with defiled minds (saṃkliṣṭacittasaṃprayukta) arising in regard to the six sense organs (ṣaḍindriya).

Finally, see the Yi-ts’ie leou-tchang king (Sarvāsravasūtra) which distinguishes seven kinds of impurities.[4]

3. “I have stated the dharmas that constitute an obstacle”

[243c] By dharmas that constitute an obstacle to the path (āntarāyika) is meant the impure actions (sāsravakarman), the conflicting emotions (kleśa) to be remunerated in the bad destinies (durgati) and, insofar as they are worldly (laukika),[5] generosity (dāna), morality (śīla), the observing of the ten good paths of action (kuśalakarmapatha) and the enjoyment of the dhyānas of delight. In short (saṃkṣepeṇa), everything that puts an obstacle to nirvāṇa, whether it be good (kuśala) or undefined (avyākṛta) is called ‘dharma constituting an obstacle to the path’ (mārgāntarāyikadharma).

4. “The noble path indicated by me can lead to exit from the world”

Some say that this way (pratipad) is two things: the holy concentration (āryasamādhi) and the holy wisdom (āryaprajñā) and that these two things lead to nirvāṇa.

Others say that it is the path with its three elements (triskandhaka mārga): morality (śīla), concentration (samādhi) and pure (anāsrava) wisdom (prajñā).

Others say that it is four things: the four noble truths (āryasatya).

Others say that it is the five supramundane faculties (lokottarendriya).

Others say that it is the six elements leading to emancipation (niḥsaraṇīya dhātu).[6]

Others say that it is the seven factors of enlightenment (saṃbodhyaṅga).

Others say that it is the eight members of the noble path (āryāṣṭāṅgamārga) leasing to nirvāṇa.

Some scholars (upadeśācārya) say that it is all the pure paths (anāsravamārga) leading to nirvāṇa.

“I see not the slightest reason to fear that a śramaṇa, brāhmaṇa, etc., can say according to the truth that that is not true. Not seeing anyone, I claim to occupy the ārṣa sthāna.”

5. “I hold the place of Holy Teacher”

Question.- Why does the Buddha claim that he occupies the ārṣa sthāna?[7]

Answer. – His own qualities (guṇa) are complete (saṃpanna) and, moreover, he makes beings find happiness (sukha) and the good (hita).

If the Buddha obtained a pleasant abode (sukhavihāra) for himself but did not bring about the good of others, he would not occupy the ārṣa sthāna.

If he brought about only the good of beings but did not fulfill his own qualities completely, he would not occupy the ārṣa sthāna either.

But since he himself has the qualities and also brings about the good of beings, he lays claim (pratijānāti) to occupy the ārṣa sthāna.

Furthermore, the Buddha has destroyed evil for himself and also destroys evil for others. Destroying these two evils, he is absolutely pure (paramaviśuddha). Preaching the Dharma in a wondrous way, he occupies the ārṣa sthāna.

Moreover, the Buddha turns, explains, teaches and propagates this [wheel of the Dharma] of the four noble truths (āryasatya), the wheel of three revolutions (triparivarta) and twelve aspects (dvadaśākāra).[8] This is why he affirms that he occupies the ārṣa sthāna.

Finally, as he has driven away all doubts (saṃśaya) and wrong views (mithyādṛṣṭi), the Buddha is able to answer all the most profound questions (atigambhīra praśna). This is why he occupies the ārṣa sthāna.

[Note by Kumārajīva: Ārṣa means absolute, supreme, very high. Not falling back, not refusing, not collapsing, completely fulfilling the qualities, not having any weakness is called ārṣa sthāna.]

6. “In the assemblies I utter the lion’s roar”

In the assemblies, I utter the roar of the lion. – By assemblies (parśad) is meant the eight assemblies: i) assembly of śramaṇas, ii) assembly of brāhmaṇas, iii) assembly of warriors (kṣatriya), iv) assembly of devas, v) assembly of Cāturmahārājikas, vi) assembly of Trāyastriṃśa devas, vii) assembly of Māra, viii) Brahmā assembly.[9]

Beings hope to find wisdom in the bosom of these eight assemblies and this is why only these eight assemblies are mentioned in this sūtra.

But the Buddha utters the lion’s roar (siṃhanādaṃ nadati) in all the [244a] assemblies. This is why this sūtra adds: and in all the other assemblies. Why? Because those who hear the voice (ghoṣa) of the Buddha constitute all those assemblies.

Moreover, some say: “The Buddha preaches the Dharma alone and in secret”. This is why it is specified that it is in these assemblies that the Buddha declares that he possesses the ten powers and the four fearlessnesses. Hence the phrase: In the assemblies I utter the lion’s roar.

Finally, the Buddha declares: “I am absolutely truthful. I am the teacher of the whole world and I am omniscient (sarvajña). Let those who doubt or who do not believe come and I will explain to them.” This is why the sūtra says: In the assemblies I utter the lion’s roar.

The Buddha utters the lion’s roar. He is like the king of the lions (siṃharāja).

[Prosopeia of the Buddha-lion.].[10] – This lion-king is born of a pure race. He dwells in the deep mountains and great valleys. He has a square jaw, large bones and his flesh is fat and full. His head is large, his eyes are wide, brilliant and clear. His eyebrows are arched and pure white. His muzzle is big, heavy and massive. His teeth are sharp, joined, pointed, and he shows a pink tongue. His ears are pricked up high and his mane is striking. The forepart of his body is broad; his skin and flesh are firm. He has a long spine, a narrow waist and an invisible belly. He has a long tail, sharp claws and well-planted paws. He has a big body and great strength. When he comes out of his den, he bends and stretches his spine. Striking the ground with his paw, he manifests his great power. He does not let the hour of his meal pass by, he announces the dawn and shows the strength of the lion-king. He terrifies the deer, bears, tigers, leopards and wild boars. He awakens those who have been sleeping for a long time; he humbles the strong and powerful. He opens the way for himself by uttering loud roars. When he roars in this way, those who hear him are either joyful or fearful. The animals who live in holes hide; those who live in the water dive deeply; those who live in the mountains withdraw; the tame elephants shake off their fetters and flee in bewilderment; the birds fly off into the sky and, gaining altitude, disappear in the distance.[11]

The Buddha-lion is very similar. He is born into the great families of the six perfections (pāramitā) and the four ancient stocks of saints (āryavaṃśa).[12] He lives in the high mountain of cessation (nirodha) and the deep valley of the dhyānas and the samāpattis. The acquisition of the knowledge of all the aspects (sarvākārajñāna) is his head. The accumulation of the roots of good (kuśalamūla) is his muzzle. The pure right vision (anāsrava samyagdṛṣṭi) is his brilliant eye. The practices of concentration (samādhi) and wisdom (prajñā) are his high wide eyebrows. The four fearlessnesses are his white sharp canine teeth. The unhindered liberations (apratihatavimokṣa) are his perfect muzzle. The four right efforts (samyakpradhāna) are his strong chin. The thirty-seven auxiliaries of enlightenment (bodhipākṣika) are his sharp teeth, joined and pointed. The practice of the meditation on the horrible (aśubhabhāvana) is his pink tongue. Mindfulness (smṛti) and wisdom (prajñā) are his pricked-up ears. The eighteen special attributes (āveṇikadharma) are his dazzling shiny mane. The three gates of deliverance (vimokṣamukha) are the fore-part of his body with firm flesh. The three wonders (prātihārya)[13] are his long spine. The perfection of the sciences and practices (vidyācaraṇasaṃpad) is his invisible belly. Patience (kṣānti) is his narrow waist. The practice of solitude (praviveka) is his long tail. The four foundations of magical power (ṛddhipāda) are his well-planted paws. The five faculties (indriya) of the aśaikṣa are his sharp claws. The ten powers (bala) are his enormous strength. The collection of the pure dharmas (anāsravadharma) is his perfect body. The royal concentrations of the Buddhas (buddhasamādhirāja) are the den out of which he comes. It is with the four unhindered knowledges (pratisaṃvid) that he stretches out (vijṛmabhati). It is on the earth of the dharmas that he strikes the paw of his unhindered liberations (ānantaryavimokṣa). Based on the ten powers, he does not [244b] let the time of saving beings pass by. It is to the entire world with its gods and men that he announces (the morning of deliverance). He manifests all the qualities of the king of Dharma. He terrifies the heretics (tīrthika), the scholars (upadeśācārya) and the heterodox. He awakens to the four truths those who have been sleeping. He humbles the pride and haughtiness (mānastambha) of those who are attached to the five aggregates (pañcaskandha) as their self. He opens the way through the theories (upadeśa) and wrong views (mithyādṛṣṭi) of the heretics (pāsanda). Bad people (mithyācarita) are afraid and good faithful people (adhimukta) rejoice. He spurs on the lazy, he comforts his disciples and he destroys the heretics (tīrthika). The gods of long life (dīrghāyuṣa) who for ages have enjoyed heavenly bliss finally recognize impermanence (anityatā). Thus, beings who hear the lion’s roar of the four truths all experience a mind of disgust (nirvedacitta) for the world; being disgusted, they withdraw from it; being withdrawn from it, they enter into nirvāṇa.

This is the meaning of the expression: In the assemblies, I utter the lion’s roar.

Moreover, there are differences between the roar of the Buddha and the roar of the lion.

When the lion roars, all the animals (paśu) fear either death or the sufferings of coming close to death. When the Buddha roars, it is to abolish the fear of death.

When the lion roars, he causes the fear, from age to age, of the sufferings of death. When the Buddha roars, he announces death in the present lifetime and the absence of all later suffering.

When the lion roars, his voice is rough and unpleasant and nobody likes to hear it because it brings fear of saṃsāra. When the Buddha roars, his voice is sweet (mṛduka): those who hear it do not tire of it and everybody is deeply happy. It is heard everywhere at a distance and can bring two kinds of happiness: i) the happiness of a rebirth among the gods and ii) the happiness of nirvāṇa.

These are the differences.

Question. – But when the Buddha roars, it is to frighten his listeners also; how does his roar differ from that of the lion?

Answer. – Those who hear the roar of the Buddha are somewhat afraid for some moments but afterwards are greatly benefited.

People attached to the idea of a self (ātmacittābhiniviṣṭa), hoping for the happiness of this world (lokasukhādhimukta), bound by the errors (viparyāsa) consisting of believing to be eternal [that which is not eternal], having their minds disturbed by wrong views (mithyādṛṣṭi): these are the ones who are afraid [when they hear the Buddha’s preaching]. Thus it is said in a sūtra:

“When the Buddha preaches the four truths (satya), even the higher gods are afraid and think: ‘So we too are impermanent (anitya), full of suffering (duḥkha), impersonal (anātman) and empty (śūnya). As a result of what mistake have we believed in eternal bliss?’ “[14]

This is the difference.

Furthermore, all those who hear the roar of the lion are afraid except those who have renounced desire (vītarāga). When the Buddha roars an invitation to nirvāṇa, even those who have renounced desire are afraid.

When the lion roars, the good and the bad are afraid. When the Buddha roars, only the good are afraid.

Furthermore, when the lion roars, he frightens at all times. When the Buddha roars, he does indeed frighten beings a little by revealing the world’s defects for those who hope to be born there no more. But by making them see the qualities and advantages of nirvāṇa, he drives away all the fears of the world, he closes the bad destinies (durgati), he opens the good path and he makes people reach nirvāṇa.

Finally, there are twenty reasons why the Buddha’s voice is called the lion’s roar: 1) it depends on the ten powers; 2) it is not too concise; 3) it is not too [244c] prolix; 4) it has the accents of Brahmā; 5) it is wondrous (adbhūta); 6) it leads the great assemblies; 7) it frightens wicked Māra; 8) it throws Māra’s people into disorder; 9) it makes the gods rejoice; 10) it delivers one from Māra’s net; 11) it breaks Māra’s fetters; 12) it breaks Māra’s fish-hook; 13) it bypasses Māra’s domain; 14) it increases its own system; 15) it reduces others’ systems; 16) its fruit of retribution is not deceptive; 17) his preaching is not futile; 18) worldly people (pṛthagjana) enter into the noble Path; 19) those who have entered the noble Path obtain complete destruction of the impurities (āsravakṣaya); 20) according to needs, one acquires the three Vehicles. This is why the Buddha’s voice is called the roaring of the lion.

In its general characteristics (sādhāraṇalakṣaṇa) and its specific characteristics (svalakṣaṇa) this is the meaning of the Roar of the Lion.

7. “I turn the Wheel of Brahmā”

I turn the Wheel of Brahmā. – Because it is pure (viśuddha), it is called ‘of Brahmā’. The wisdom of the Buddha (buddha prajñā) and of the Dharma associated with his wisdom (tatprajñāsaṃprayuktadharma) is called ‘Wheel’. Because those who adopt it follow the Dharma (anudharmaṃ caranti), it is a wheel.[15]

[The Wheel of Brahmā]. – This wheel has the four perfect foundations of mindfulness (smṛtyupasthāna) as its hub (nābhi). The five spiritual faculties (indriya) and the five strengths (bala) are its spokes (ara). The four foundations of magical power (ṛddhipāda) are its solid rim (nemi) and the right efforts (samyakpradhāna) are the joints. The three liberations (vimokṣa) are its pegs (ānī). Concentration (samādhi) and wisdom (prajñā) are the coachman. Pure morality (anāsravaśīla) is the perfume with which it is sprinkled. The seven factors of enlightenment (saṃbodhyaṅga) are the varied flowers with which it is ornamented. Right view (samyagdṛṣṭi) is its turning to the right. Purity of faith (cittaprasāda) is its beauty. Right exertion (samyagvīrya) is its speed. The fearless lion’s roar is its pleasant sound which frightens Māra’s wheel, breaks the twelve-membered wheel [of dependent origination] (dvādaśāṅgapratītyasamutpada), destroys the wheel of saṃsāra, drives away the wheel of the passions (kleśa), derails the wheel of karma, stalls the wheel of the world and crushes the wheel of suffering. It brings forth the joy of the yogins and the respect of gods and men.

No one [other than the Buddha] can turn this Wheel for it consists of the Dharma of the Buddha. This is why the latter declares: I turn the Wheel of Brahmā.

[The Wheel of the Buddha and the wheel of the cakravartin.] – Moreover, the Buddha turns the Wheel of the Dharma like the noble cakravartin king turns the jewel of the wheel.[16]

Question. – What resemblance is there between the Buddha and the noble cakravartin king?[17]

Answer. – This king is pure and takes birth in an unmixed lineage (vaṃśa). In accordance with his family (kula), his actions are perfect. All the physical signs (lakṣaṇa) adorn his body. His royal virtues are complete and he is able to turn the jewel of the wheel. Anointed with perfumed water on his head (mūrdhābhiṣikta), he takes up his royal rank and reigns over the four continents (caturdvīpa). He has destroyed banditry so well that no one dares to oppose him. His treasury of jewels is abundant and the morale of his troops is raised by the presence of the seven jewels (of the cakravartin). He wins over (saṃgrahavastu) all beings by the four methods of captivating. He exercises the royal law well and delegates the noble families. He governs the kingdom by means of his prefects, his soldiers and his ministers. He loves to distribute his most precious wealth. From beginning to end, his knowledge and his mindfulness are unchanging.

The Buddha, king of the Dharma, is just like that. The Buddha – Śākyamuni, Dīpaṃkara, Ratnapuṣpa, etc. – takes birth in the pure family of the Buddhas. He actualizes the bodily positions (īryāpatha) of the previous Buddhas. He possesses all of the thirty-two physical marks (lakṣaṇa) that serve him as [245a] adornments. His attitudes as Holy Teacher (ārṣeryāpatha) being perfect, he turns the true Wheel of Dharma. He receives the crucial anointment with the elixir of wisdom (prajñārasāyana): he is the elder in the triple world (jyeṣṭa). He destroys the bandits that are the conflicting emotions (kleśa). None dare to transgress the precepts (śīla) that he has put in place; the assemblies of śaikṣas and aśaikṣas rejoice. The immense precious treasure of his Dharma is filled. The seven factors of enlightenment are his ornament; the eighty-four thousand articles of the Dharma (dharmaskandha ) are his troops. By means of the four supraworldly means of captivating (lokottara saṃgrahavastu), he wins over beings. He knows the skillful means (upāya), he peaches the Dharma of the four noble truths (āryasatya): that is the attitude of a king of Dharma. Great generals (senāpati) such as Śāriputra,[18] Maitreya, etc., govern the Buddha’s kingdom well. He loves to share his most precious wealth: the pure spiritual faculties (indriya), the powers (bala), the [factors] of enlightenment (saṃbodhyaṅga). He carefully seeks for the good of beings and the mindfulness that he keeps is firm.

These are the similarities.

Superior to the noble cakravartin king:

Furthermore, the Buddha is superior to the noble cakravartin king.

The noble cakravartin king has not eliminated all the passions (kleśa); the Buddha has eliminated them definitively.

The noble cakravartin king is plunged in the mud (paṅka) of old age (jarā) and death (maraṇa); the Buddha has come out of it.

The noble cakravartin king is subject to the emotions; the Buddha has transcended them.

The noble cakravartin king follows the dangerous path of saṃsāra; the Buddha has transcended it.

The noble cakravartin king is immersed in the shadows of error (mohatamas); the Buddha lives in the supreme light (paramāloka).

The noble cakravartin king reigns over a maximum of four continents (caturdvīpa); the Buddha reigns over innumerable and infinite universes.

The noble calravartin king has at his disposal material jewels (āmiṣaratna); the Buddha has at his disposal the jewels of the spirit (cittaratna).

The noble cakravartin king aspires to celestial bliss (divyasukha); the Buddha who has attained the bliss of the summit of existence (bhavāgra) has renounced it.

The noble cakravartin king derives his happiness from others; the Buddha fosters happiness by his own mind.

This is why the Buddha is far superior to the noble cakravartin king.

Moreover, the noble cakravartin king whose hand turns the jewel of the wheel encounters no obstacle in space; the Buddha who turns the Wheel of the Dharma encounters neither obstacle nor resistance in the entire world with its gods and men.

Those who see the jewel of the wheel eliminate the material poisons (viṣa); those who encounter the Wheel of the Dharma of the Buddha eliminate the poison of all the passions (kleśa).

Those who see the jewel of the wheel avoid calamities (vipatti) and torments (viheṭhana); those who encounter the Wheel of the Dharma of the Buddha see the calamities and the torments of all wrong views (mithyādṛṣṭi) and all doubts (viciktsā) disappear.

The king with his wheel governs four continents (caturdvīpa); the Buddha with the Wheel of the Dharma governs the entire world with its gods and men and makes them obtain mastery over the Dharma (dharmavaśita).

These are the resemblances.

Superiority over the jewel of the wheel:

Moreover, the Wheel of the Dharma has great superiority over the jewel of the wheel.

The jewel of the wheel is deceptive; the Wheel of the Dharma is absolutely truthful.

The jewel of the wheel increases the fire of the three poisons (triviṣāgni); the Wheel of the Dharma extinguishes the fire of the three poisons.

The jewel of the wheel is impure (sāsrava); the Wheel of the Dharma is pure (anāsrava).

The jewel of the wheel is connected to the happiness resulting from the five objects of enjoyment (pañcakāmaguṇa); the Wheel of the Dharma is connected to the happiness of the Dharma.

The jewel of the wheel is a basis for fetters (saṃyojanasthāna); the Wheel of the Dharma is not a basis for fetters.

The jewel of the wheel has a limited domain (mitagocara); the Wheel of the Dharma has an unlimited domain (apramaṇagocara).

The jewel of the wheel can be acquired from lifetime to lifetime thanks to [245b] a single purity of mind (cittaviśuddhi) or a gift; the Wheel of the Dharma is acquired thanks to all the causes for good actions and the wisdoms accumulated for innumerable incalculable periods (asaṃkhyeyakalpa).

The jewel of the wheel no longer turns when the king is dead; the Wheel of the Dharma still keep turning after the Buddha’s nirvāṇa.

The jewel of the wheel belongs to one single person; the Wheel of the Dharma belongs to all beings capable of being converted (vaineyasattva).

[Wheel of Brahmā or Wheel of the Dharma.] – Moreover, [in the expression Brahmacakra], brahma means vast (bṛhat), for the Wheel of the Buddha or the Wheel of the Dharma extends everywhere in the ten directions.

Furthermore, it is called the Wheel of Brahmā because the Buddha teaches the four abodes of Brahmā (brahmavihāra), because at the very beginning, when the Buddha attained enlightenment, Brahmā, the king of the gods, invited him to turn the Wheel of the Dharma, because at Benares when the Buddha turned the Wheel of the Dharma and Ājñāta Kauṇḍinya obtained the Path, the Buddha voice penetrated as far as the Brahmā heaven, or else because there are people who respect the god Brahmā and want to please him.

Question. – Sometimes the Buddha says Wheel of the Dharma, sometimes Wheel of Brahmā.[19]

Answer. – There is no difference between Wheel of Brahmā and Wheel of Dharma. However, according to some, we say Wheel of Brahmā when it discloses the four immeasurables (paramāṇacitta), and Wheel of the Dharma when it teaches the four noble truths.

Furthermore, we say Wheel of Brahmā when the path is acquired thanks to the four immeasurables, and Wheel of the Dharma when it is acquired thanks to some other thing.

The Wheel of Brahmā teaches the four dhyānas, and the Wheel of the Dharma teaches the thirty-seven auxiliaries of enlightenment (bodhipākṣikadharma). The Wheel of Brahmā teaches the path consisting of the practice of concentration (samādhibhāvanā), and the Wheel of the Dharma teaches the path consisting of the cultivation of wisdom (prajñābhāvanā).

These are the various distinctions to be made between the Wheel of Brahmā and the Wheel of the Dharma.

Footnotes and references:


The eighteen great holy texts of the heretics already mentioned above, p. 48F, 92F, 637F, 639F. See Mochizuki, Cyclopedia, p. 2360.


See above, p. 164–159F, 421F, 529F, 913F; and later, k. 26, p. 153b; k. 28, p. 266a’ k. 35, p. 321c.


Majjhima, I, p. 55; Anguttara, I, p. 165; III, p. 414; Saṃyutta, IV, p. 256; V, p. 56, 189; Itivuttaka, p. 49.


Sabbāsavasutta of Majjhima, I, p. 7 (Tchong a han, T 26, k. 2, p. 432a10; Yi ts’ie lieou chö cheou yin king, T 31, p. 813b5; Tseng yi a han, T 125, k. 34, p. 740b1): There are impurities to be destroyed (āsavā pahātabbā) by visions (dassana), by control (saṃvara), by right usage (paṭisevana), endurance (adhivāsana), avoidance (parivajjana), elimination (vinodana) and meditation (bhāvanā).


I.e., insofar as they still constitute an attachment to the world.


Dīgha, III, p. 247–250; Anguttara, III, 290–292; Tch’ang a han, T 1, k. 8, p. 52a8–16; 54b1–9: Cha nissāraṇīyā dhātuyo… Nissaraṇaṃ h’etaṃ vyāpādassa yadidaṃ mettā cetovimutti… Nissaraṇaṃ h’etaṃ vihesāya yadidaṃ karuṇā cetovimutti… Nissaraṇaṃ h’etaṃ aratiyā yadidaṃ muditā vetovimutti… Nissaraṇaṃ h’etaṃ rāgassa yadidaṃ upekhā cetovimutti… Nissaraṇaṃ h’etaṃ subbanimittānaṃ yadidaṃ animittā cetovimutti… Nissaraṇaṃ h’etaṃ vicikicchākathaṃkathāsallassa yadidam asmīti mānasamugghāto.

Transl. – There are six elements leading to emancipation: emancipation from malice is liberation of the mind by means of loving-kindness; emancipation from harm is liberation of the mind by means of compassion; emancipation from sorrow is liberation of the mind by means of joy; emancipation from desire is liberation of the mind by means of equanimity; emancipation from all the signs [of desire, matter and permanence] is liberation of the mind by means of the signless; emancipation from the arrow of doubt and uncertainty is complete destruction of the pride of ‘I am’.

For the corresponding Sanskrit sources, see Daśottara, p. 77–80; Mahāvyut., no. 1596–1602.


A canonical expression showing some interesting variations:

1. In the Pāli texts: āsabhaṃ ṭhānaṃ (āsabhanṭhānaṃ, āsabhaṭṭhānaṃ) paṭijānāti: “He lays claim to the place of the bull”: cf. Majjhima, I, p. 69; Saṃyutta, II, p. 27; Anguttara, II, p. 8,9; III, p. 417; V, p. 33; Vibha∆ga, p. 317, 344; Paṭisambhidā, II, p. 174.

The commentary of Majjhima, II, p. 26 explains: Āsabhaṃ ṭhānan ti seṭṭhaṭṭhānaṃ, uttamaṭuthānaṃ. Āsabhā vā pubbabuddhā, tesaṃ ṭhānam ti attho: “The place of the bull, i.e., the best place, the supreme place. Or else, the bulls are the Buddhas of the past and he occupies their place.”

In the corresponding Sanskrit texts: Udāram ārṣabhaṃ sthānaṃ pratijānāti: “He lays claim to the noble place of the bull”: cf. fragments of the Daśabalasūtra (L. de La Vallée Poussin, Documents sanscrits de la seconde collection M.. A. Stein, JRAS, 1911–1912, p. 1063; E. Waldschmidt, Bruchstücke budd. Sūtras, p. 209, 211, 215; Mitteilungen des Instituts für Orientforschung, VII, 3, 1958, p. 400); Avadānaśataka, II, p. 105, l. 15; Kośavyākhyā, p. 645, l. 31–32; Pañcaviṃśati, p. 211, l. 5; Śatasāhasrikā, p. 1448, l. 12; Bodh, bhūmi, p. 386, l. 13.

Ārṣabha is an adjective derived from ṛṣabha ‘bull’.

2. The variant ārṣaṃ sthānaṃ partijānāti “he lays claim to the place of the Ṛṣi” is vouched for by the Bodh. bhūmi, p. 385, l. 15–18 (Yogācārabhūmi, T 1579, k. 49, p. 569a24). As we will see, it is preferred by the most prominent Chinese translators and Edgerton wrongly condemns it in his Dictionary, p. 105. The Bodh. bhūmi explains: Āryāṣṭāṅga mārgeṇa labhyatvāt sarvopadravabhayāpagatvāc cārṣam ity ucyate. ātmanas tadadhigamapatijñānāt pratijānātīty ucyate: “Faced with being attained by means of the eightfold noble path and being free of all suffering and all fear, this place is called ‘of the Ṛṣi’. As he maintains that he has acquired it himself, he lays claim to it. “

Ārṣa is an adjective derived from ṛṣi and means ‘related to the sage, archaic’.

3. The Chinese versions of the Āgamas do not come out in favor of either variant. Guṇabhadra renders the phrase by sien fo tchou tch’ou, ‘place of the earlier Buddhas’ (Tsa a han, T 99, k. 14, p. 98a15), and Gautama Saṃghadeva by yu chen kien so tchö, ‘without attachment for the world’ (T 125, k. 19, p. 645b28; k. 42, p. 776a19–20).

On the other hand, Kumārajīva and Hiuan-tsang resolutely favor the variant ārṣaṃ sthānam:

The former transcribes it as a-li-cha tch’ou (Traité, T 1509, k. 25, p. 243b25) and translates it as cheng-tchou tch’ou ‘the place of the holy Teacher’ (ibid., and Pañcaviṃśati, T 223, k. 5, p. 255b28; k. 24, p. 395a22). The latter, resorting to the equivalence ṛṣi = sien, translates it as ta sien tsouen wei, ‘the place of the great immortal’ (Mahāprajñāpāramitā, T 220, vol. VII, k. 415, p. 81b9; Vibhāṣā, T 1545, k. 31, p. 158a22; Abhidharmasamuccayavyākhyā, T 1606, k. 14, p. 760c21).


See Vimalakīrti, p. 107, note.


These eight assemblies are mentioned in the canonical sources: Dīgha, II, p. 109; III, p. 260; Majjhima, I, p. 72; Aṅguttara, IV, p. 307–308; Sanskrit Mahāparinirvāṇa, p. 138, 142, 300. The lists show some variations.


Prosopeia using canonical texts; cf. Manorathapūraṇī, III, p. 65–72.


Cf. Anguttara, II, p. 33; Saṃyutta, III, p. 84–85.


Dīgha, III, p. 224–225.


Dīgha, III, p. 220.


Sīhasutta of Saṃyutta, III, p. 85 and Anguttara, II, p. 33: Ye pi te bhikkhave devā dīghāyuskā vaṇṇavanto sukhabahulā uccesu vimānesu ciraṭṭhitikā te pi kho Tathāgatassa dammadesanaṃ sutvā yebhuyyena bhayaṃ samvegaṃ santāsaṃ āpajjanti. Aniccāva kira bho mayaṃ samānā nicc’amhā ti amaññimha, addhuvā kira bho mayaṃ samānādhuv’amhā ti amaññimha, asassatā va kira bho mayaṃ samānā sassatā tiamaññimha. Mayaṃ hi kira bho aniccā addhuvā asassatā sakkāyapariyāpannā ti.


More details will be found in Manorathapūraṇī, III, p. 9–10.


The wheel (cakra) is one of the seven jewels with which the cakravartin king is furnished: cf. Dīgha, II, p. 17, 172–177.


A subject already discussed above, p. 116F.


Śāriputra was called dharmasenāpati ‘general of the Dharma’) Apadāna, I, p. 29, 44; Theragāthā, p. 96), while Ānanda bore the title of dharmabhāṇdāgmarika ‘treasurer of the Dharma’.


See references above, p. 467F, note 2.