Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “the destruction of the traces of conflicting emotions” 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. The destruction of the traces of conflicting emotions

Summary: The knowledge of the aspects leads immediately to the destruction of the traces of conflicting emotions.

Question. – The bodhisattva obtains omniscience (sarvajñatā), the knowledge of all the aspects (sarvākārajñatā) and destroys all the traces of conflicting emotion (sarvakleśavāsanā) in one and the same moment of mind. Why does [the Prajñāpāramitāsūtra] say here that he uses omniscience to completely fulfill the knowledge of all the aspects and that he uses the knowledge of all the aspects to destroy the traces of the passions?

Answer. – It is true that all these knowledges[1] are acquired simultaneously, but here [the Prajñāpāramitāsūtra] expresses itself in this way in order to bring people to believe in the Prajñāpāramitā. Besides, in a following chapter, the Tch’a-pie p’in[2] (Viśeṣaparivarta), he wants beings to acquire pure mind (viśuddhacitta) and this is why he expresses himself in this way.

Moreover, although that is all acquired in a single mind-moment, there is, nevertheless, a succession with a beginning, a middle and an end, for every mind involves three characteristics: production (utpāda) which conditions duration (sthiti) and duration which conditions disappearance (vyaya).[3] And this is so for the mind (citta), mental events (caitasikadharma), formations dissociated from the mind (viprayktasaṃskāradharma), physical actions (kāyakarman) and vocal actions (vākkarman).

By means of the knowledge of the paths (mārgajñatā), the bodhisattva completely fulfills (paripūrayati) omniscience (sarvajñatā); by means of omniscience, he completely fulfills the knowledge of all the aspects (sarvākārajñatā); by means of the knowledge of all the aspects, he destroys the traces of the passions (kleśavāsanāḥ prajahāti).

I said above (p. 1744F) that the knowledge of all the aspects (sarvākārajñatā) is the same as omniscience (sarvajñatā). The knowledge of the paths (mārgajñatā) is synonymous with the diamond concentration (vajrasamādhi).[4] [In possession of the latter,] the Buddha first[5] produces a mind which is none other than omniscience or the knowledge of all the aspects and immediately his traces of the passions (kleśavāsanā) are destroyed.

Footnotes and references:


Adopting the variant yi ts’ie tche.


Adopting the variant Tch’a-pie p’in. This is the LXXXIVth chapter of the Chinese Pañcaviṃśati (T 223, k. 26, p. 411b15), the chapter entitled Tch’a-pie p’in (Viśeṣaparivarta) in the Korean edition adopted by the Taisho, Sseu-ti p’in (Catuḥsatyaparivarta) in the editions of the Yuan and the Ming. On pg. 411b19–25, the Buddha actually says to Subhūti: “The attributes of the bodhisattva are also the attributes of the Buddha. To know all the aspects is to acquire the knowledge of all the aspects (sarvākārajñatā) and to destroy all the traces of the passions (kleśavāsanā). The bodhisattva will attain this attribute whereas the Buddha, by means of a wisdom associated with a single moment of mind (ekakṣaṇasaṃprayuktaprajñā), already knows all the dharmas and has acquired anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi. This is the difference (viśeṣa) between the bodhisattva and the Buddha. It can be compared to the difference between the candidate for the [first] fruit of the Path (phalapratipannaka) and the holder of this same fruit (phalaprāpta): both are āryas, but there is a difference between the holder and the candidate.”


These are the characteristics of every conditioned dharma: cf. p. 1163F, n. 1.


Concentration also called vajropamasamādhi: cf. p. 242F, n. 1, 1068F, 1325F, 1341F, 1503F.


Adopting the variant tch’ou fa.