Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “the traces of passion persist in the saints” 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. The traces of passion persist in the saints

The saints (bhadrārya) other [than the Buddha] destroy the passions but do not destroy the traces.

Thus, although he had attained the bodhi of the arhats, Nan-t’o (Nanda),[1] as a result of the traces of lust (rāgavāsanā), in the presence of a large assembly of men and women, first stared at the women and then, raising his voice, preached the Dharma.

Out of traces of anger (krodhavāsanā), when the Buddha accused him of eating impure food, Chö-li-fou (Śāriputra) spat out his food and never again accepted an invitation.[2] Śāriputra then added this stanza:

It is a habitual offender, a false mind,
An ignorant and lazy person.
Never again will I allow him
To come in and stay near me.[3]

Out of traces of hatred (dveṣavāsanā), after the Buddha’s nirvāna when the Dharma was being compiled, Mo-ho-kia-chö (Mahākāśyapa) ordered Ānanda to confess six duṣkṛta misdeeds, then, taking him by the hand, he expelled him from the assembly, saying: “We cannot compile the Dharma with you, unclean man, whose impurities have not been destroyed.”[4]

Pi-ling-kia-p’o-ts’o (Pilindavatsa) was always insulting the deity of the Ganges treating her like a slave (vṛṣala).[5]

Out of traces of monkey antics, Mo-t’eou-p’o-ho-tcha (Madhuvāsiṣṭha) sometimes leapt from coat-rack to beam, from beam to shed and from shed to the tower.[6]

Out of bovine traces (govāsanā), Kiao-fan-po-t’i (Gavāmpati) was always spitting up his food and then swallowing it back again.[7]

While having destroyed their impurities (kṣīṇāsrava), saints such as these still have the traces of passion. Thus when [ordinary] fire has burned the fuel, there remain the ashes and charcoal, for the strength of the fire is so weak that it cannot consume them.

Footnotes and references:


Saundarananda: see p. 117–118F, 286–287F, 1545F.


This incident has been told in full above (p. 118–122F, 1632F) supported by a jātaka. See also Vibhāṣā, T 1545, k. 16, p. 77b1–2.


This stanza concerns the vaiśya who had inconsiderately reserved some fancy tidbits for Śāriputra.


On the wrangles between Mahākāśyapa and Ānanda during the First Council, see above, p. 93–97F.


Pilindavatsa: cf. p. 121–122F, 1439F, 1661F, and later, k. 84, p. 649c14–17.


Madhuvāsiṣṭha: cf. p. 1659–1660F and later k. 84, p. 649c10–13.


Gavāmpati: cf. p. 1659F. See also Tch’ou tch’ou king, T 730, p. 527a2–4.