Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “text of the list according to the prajnaparamita” 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.

I. Text of the list according to the Prajñāpāramitā

Here are the eighteen special attributes (aṣṭādaśāveṇikadharma):

1. The Tathāgata has no bodily defect (nāsti tathāgatasya skhalitam).

2. He has no vocal defect (nāsti ravitam).

3. He has no failure of memory (nāsti muṣitasmṛtitā).

4. He has no notion of variety (nāsti nāmātvasaṃjñā).

5. He does not have an unconcentrated mind (nāsty asamāhitaṃ cittam).

6. He does not have thoughtless indifference (nāsty apratisaṃkhyāyopekṣā).

7. He has no loss of zealousness (nāsti chandaparihāṇiḥ).

8. He has no loss of exertion (nāsti vīryaparihāṇiḥ.

9. He has no loss of mindfulness (nāsti smṛtiparihāṇiḥ).

10. He has no loss of wisdom (nāsti prajñāparihāṇiḥ).

11. He has no loss of liberation (nāsti vimuktiparihāṇiḥ).

12. He has no loss of the knowledge and vision of deliverance (nāsti vimuktijñmanadarśanapariāṇiḥ).

13. Every bodily action of the Tathāgata is preceded by knowledge and accompanies knowledge (sarvaṃ tathātagatasya kāyakarma jñānapūrvaṃgamaṃ jñānānuparivarti).

14. Every vocal action is preceded by knowledge and accompanies knowledge (sarvaṃ vākkarma jñānapūrvaṃgamaṃ jñānānuparivarti).

15. Every mental action is preceded by knowledge and accompanies knowledge (sarvaṃ manaskarma jñānapūrvaṃgamaṃ jñānānuparivarti).

16. He has non-attached and unobstructed knowledge about past time (atīte ’dhvany asaṅgam apratihataṃ jñmanaṃ darśanam).

17. He has non-attached and unobstructed knowledge about future time (anāgate ’dhvany asaṅgam apratihataṃ jñānaṃ darśanam).

18. He has non-attached and unobstructed knowledge about the present time (pratyutpanne ’dhvany asaṅgam apratihataṃ jñānaṃ darśanam).

Question. – Thirty-six attributes[1] are all attributes of the Buddha. Why are just these eighteen special?

Answer. – The śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas possess some of the eighteen first attributes, but they do no share this second series of eighteen attributes.

Thus, Sāriputra was able to answer any question whatsoever and always develop it with further words because he penetrated it without any obstacle, and the Buddha congratulated him saying that he understood the fundamental element well (dharmadhātu).[2]

Aniruddha was the foremost of those who possess the divine eye (divyacakṣukāṇām agryaḥ).[3]

Such śrāvakas all shared the four fearlessnesses (vaiśāradya), and since they shared them, the Buddha said: “Among my disciples who utter the lion’s roar (siṃhanādika), the foremost is Pin-t’ou-lo P’o-lo-to-che (Piṇḍola Bhāradvāja).”[4]

Śāriputra affirmed of himself: “For seven nights and seven days I was able to expand on the same subject”, so inexhaustible his knowledge on the four ways of answering (catvārivyākaraṇāni).

The arhats Śāriputra, Maudgalyāyana, Pūrṇa, Ānanda, Kātyāyana, etc., also know things (artha), names (nāman), expressions (nirukti) and elocution (pratibhāna).[5]

This is why the eighteen first attributes [of the Buddha] do not merit the [247c] [name of ‘special attributes of the Buddha’.

Footnotes and references:

1.

A first group of 18 buddha attributes consisting of the 10 balas (discussed in chap. XXXIX), the 4 vaiśāradyas and the 4 pratisaṃvids (discussed in chap. XL) plus a second group of 18 attributes that are the object of the present chapter. The Sarvāstivādins consider the first group to be the special attributes of the Buddha, whereas the Mahāyānists disagree with this affirmation: for them, the second group alone constitutes the all the special attributes of the Buddha.

2.

Cf. Nidānasaṃyukta, p. 203–204 (Tsa a han, T 99, k. 14, p. 95c8–16); Saṃyutta, II, p. 54 and 56): Śāriputra says: Saced ekaṃ divasam, ekaṃ rātridivisam, saptāpi …. praṣnaṃ prṣṭo vyākurvām: “If for one day, for one night and one day, and even for seven nights and seven days, the Blessed One asked me a question on a given subject always with different phrases and different syllables, I would be able, for these seven nights seven days, to answer the Blessed One on this same subject for and seven nights and seven days, always with new phrases and new syllables.” And the Buddha declares: “It is indeed in this way that the fundamental element is well understood to its depths by the monk Śāriputra.”

If Śāriputra is able to preach the Dharma with such ‘assurance’, it is because he possesses the four vaiśāradyas. Therefore the vaiśāradyas are not attributes exclusively reserved for the Buddha.

3.

Anguttara, I, p. 23: Etad aggaṃ mama sāvakānaṃ bhikkhūnaṃ dibbacakkukānām yadidaṃ anuruddho.

4.

Ibid., p. 23: Etad aggaṃ mama sāvakānaṃ bhikkhūnaṃ sīhanādikānaṃ yadidaṃpiṇḍola-Bhāradvājo.

One cannot utter the lion’s roar without having the vaiśāradyas. The fact that Piṇḍola utters it shows that the Buddha is not alone in possessing the vaiśāradyas.

5.

If these disciples know these four things, it is because they had the four pratisaṃvids; therefore the Buddha is not alone in having them.