Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

by Gelongma Karma Migme Chödrön | 2001 | 941,039 words

This page describes “the traces of passion are destroyed in the buddha” 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.

IV. The traces of passion are destroyed in the Buddha

At the end of the kalpa, the [cosmic] fire consumes the trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu of which nothing remains, for the strength of this fire is very great. The fire of the Buddha’s omniscience is also very great: it consumes the passions without leaving any trace (vāsanā). 

Thus, when a brāhman addressed five hundred harmful words (pāruṣyavāda) to the Buddha in the full assembly, the Buddha neither changed color nor feeling. And when the same brāhman, his mind having been tamed, retracted and praised the Buddha with five hundred eulogies, the Buddha [261a] manifested neither pleasure (prīti) nor satisfaction (āttamanas). (see Appendix 1) In blame (nindā) as in praise (praśaṃsā), his feelings and his color remain unchanged.

When the brāhmiṇa Tchan-tchö (Ciñcā) attached a wooden disk to her belly (udare dārumaṇḍalikāṃ baddvā), [pretending to be pregnant], and slandered the Buddha, the latter did not redden with shame (hrī) and, once the trick was revealed, did not redden with joy (prīti).[1]

When the Buddha turned the Wheel of Dharma (dharmacakra) and a cry of admiration arose from the ten directions, the mind of the Buddha was not thrilled.[2]

At the death of Souen-t’o-li (Sundarī), when evil rumors were spread in regard to the Buddha, his mind knew no despondency.[3]

In the land of A-lo-p’i (Āḷavi), a cold wind (śītavāta) was blowing and there were many thorny broom plants, but the Buddha sat and lay down there without feeling any discomfort. (see Appendix 2)

During the summer retreat (varṣa) when he was staying in the [Trāyastriṃśa] heaven in the Houan-hi-yuan (Nandanavana), he was seated on the Kien-p’o-che (Kambalaśilā), soft and pure like the gods’ silk ribbons, but he felt no pleasant sensation (sukhavedanā). (see Appendix 3) And when the great devarājas, on their knees, offered him celestial foods (divyāni bhakśyabhojyāni), he did not consider them to be exquisite.

When he ate oats (yava) at P’i-lan-jo (Vairaṃbhya, Verañja), he did not find that to be painful.[4] And when the great kings presented him with superior food, he did not consider that to be a godsend.

Coming into the village of the brāhmans (brāhmaṇagrāma), he had to return with an empty bowl (dhautena pātreṇa), but he did not consider that to be a loss.[5]

When T’i-p’o-to (Devadatta) pushed a rock down from the height of Gṛdhrakūṭaparvata to crush the Buddha, he did not feel any hatred (pratigha).[6] At that time, Lo-heou-lo (Rāhula) praised the Buddha with a mind of respect, but the Buddha felt no gratitude for it.

A-chö-che (Ajātaśatru) unleashed drunken elephants intending to kill the Buddha, but the latter was not afraid and tamed the mad elephants. (see Appendix 4) When the inhabitants of Rājagṛha, redoubling their respect (gurukāra), came out with perfumed flowers and ornaments (ābharaṇa) to offer to the Buddha, the latter experienced no joy.

Ninety-six heretics (tīrthya) once came together, all claiming to be omniscient (sarvajñamānin). They came to Śrāvastī to debate with the Buddha. Then the Buddha, using the bases of his miraculous powers (ṛddhipāda), sent forth many rays (raśmi) from his navel (nābhi) on each of which there appeared an emanated buddha (nirmitabuddha). The king of the land, Po sseu-ni (Prasenajit), also ordered the heretics to go to the top [of a building] but they were unable to move and still less debate with the Buddha. Seeing the heretics coming as enemies, the Buddha made no movement to turn back and destroyed the heretics. The gods and men redoubled their respect (gurukāra) and veneration (satkāra), but the Buddha felt no attraction.[7]

From all these stories (nidāna), it is evident that when someone wanted to harm him, the Buddha remained impassive. Just as the gold of the Jāmbhū river (jāmbhūnadasuvarṇa) does not change when it is beaten, melted or broken,[8] so the Buddha undergoes criticism, derision, denigration, slander and debates without moving or changing. This is how we know that the traces of the emotions (kleśavāsanā) have been destroyed in him without residue.

Footnotes and references:


On the trick and punishment of Ciñcā, see p. 123F, 509F.


After the sermon at Benares, the terrestrial yakṣas uttered a cry of joy that was taken up by all the deities of the desire realm and the form realm, from the Caturmahārājikas up to the Brahmakāyikas: cf. Pāli Vin., p. 11–12; Mahīśāsaka Vin., T 1421, k. 15, p. 104c; Dharmagupta Vin., T 1428, k. 32, p. 788b–c; Mūlasarv. Vim., T 1450, k. 6, p. 128a; Catuṣpariṣatsūtra, p. 154–156; Lalitavistara, p. 401; Mahāvastu, III, p. 334–335.

The Vibhāṣā, T 1545, k. 76, p. 392a23–26, also comments: At the moment of the Buddha’s birth, his name went up to the Paranirmitavaśavartins; at the moment of his enlightenment, up to the Akaniṣṭha gods; at the time of turning the Wheel, up to the palaces of the Mahābrahmas.


On the murder of Sundarī falsely imputed to the Buddha, cf. p. 507F, 1572–73F; later, k. 84, p. 649c23–25.


To the references given above (P. 124F, n. 1), add the Mūlasarv. Vin. in Gilgit Manuscripts, III, part I, p. 24, l. 8–48, l. 4 and its Chinese version in T 1448, k. 10–11, p. 45a–48c9.


See above (p. 457–463) the detailed story of the Buddha’s alms-round at Śāla.


Cf. p. 874, n. 3.


For the Great Miracle at Śrāvastī, see references above, p. 531–532F, n.


Canonical image: compare nekkhaṃ jambonadassa of the Anguttara, I, p. 181; II, p. 8, 29.

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