Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “five hundred insults and five hundred praises to 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.

Appendix 1 - The five hundred insults and five hundred praises to the Buddha

Note: This appendix was extracted from Chapter XLII part 8.4 (the traces of passion are destroyed in the Buddha):

“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 manifested neither pleasure (prīti) nor satisfaction (āttamanas). In blame (nindā) as in praise (praśaṃsā), his feelings and his color remain unchanged”.

This concerns a young brāhman of the Bhāradvāja clan whose name was Piṅgika or Paiṅgika in Sanskrit, Piṅgiyānin in Pāli and whose surname was Ākrośaka, the insulter. The Traité, which will speak of him again at k. 84, p. 649c18–21, tells that he spoke five hundred insults and five hundred praises to the Buddha in succession.

It repeats the version of the Vibhāṣā (T 1545, k. 76, p. 392a28–b2) where it is said:

“The Buddha was insulted directly in five hundred strophes by a Bhāradvāja brāhman: example of blame (nindā); and this same brāhman, at the same time, returned these five hundred strophes and directly praised the Buddha: example of praise (praśaṃsā).”

But for the canonical sources, blame and praise were pronounced at two different occasions ans were the object of two distinct sūtras, the Akkosasutta of the Saṃyutta and the Piṅgiyānisutta of the Anguttara.

I. Akkossasutta of the Saṃyutta, I, p. 161–163:

The Buddha was dwelling at Rājagaha at the Veḷuvana in the Kalandakanivāpa. Akkosaka-Bhāradvāja came to find him and, furious to learn that his brother Samaṇa had just entered the bhikṣu community, he insulted and outraged the Blessed One with coarse and harmful words (bhagavantam asabbhāhi pharusāhi vācāhi akkosati paribhāsati). The Buddha’s only response was to ask him if sometimes he welcomed friends and relatives at his home and if, in the affirmative, he offered them food. Akkosaka acknowledged that sometimes that happened. And if the guests refuse the food that you offer them, said the Buddha, to whom does this food belong? – It returns to me, answered the brāhman. In the same way, continued the Buddha, by not responding to your insults by means of insults, we let you take them into account: it is to you that they return, O brāhman (tav-ev-etaṃ brāhmaṇa hoti).

Akkosaka thought that the Buddha would be angry with him, but the latter set him straight by addressing four stanzas to him (also mentioned in the Theragāthā, v. 441–444) which say in substance: From where would anger come to the man without anger? Not answering anger with counter-anger is to win a difficult victory.

At these words, Akkosaka expressed his admiration for the Buddha, took refuge in the Three Jewels and asked to leave the world (pabbajjā) and for ordination (upasampadā). In a short while he reached the summit of religious life and attained arhathood.

For the Commentary to the Saṃyutta, I, p.229, Akkosaka-Bhāradvāja had come to insult the Buddha in five hundred strophes (pañcagāthāsatehi Tathāgataṃ akkosanto āgato), which means that he insulted the Buddha ‘by means of the ten bases of insults’ (dasahi akkosavatthūh akkosati) the details of which are in Vin. IV, p. 7 and the Commentary to the Dhammapada, I, p. 211–212:

“You are a thief (cora), a fool (bāla), a silly thing (mūḷha), a camel (oṭṭha), an ox (goṇa), an ass (gadrabha), a hell being (nerayika); you have only a bad destiny in view (duggati yeva tuyhaṃ pāṭikaṅkhā).”

According to the Anguttara, III, p. 252, a bhikṣu who pronounces such insuolts would be guilty of the five heinous crimes.

The Pāli Akkosasutta has its Sanskrit correspondents in the Āgamas: Saṃyukta, T 99, no. 1152, k. 42, p. 307a10–b9, and T 100, no. 75, k. 4, p. 400b10–c10. Both Sanskrit sūtras differ considerably from the Pāli suttanta. They place the event not at Rājagṛha, but at Śrāvastī in the Jetavana in the garden of Anāthapiṇdada; they designate the brāhman not by the name Ākrośaka but under his personal name: the māṇava Pin-k’i-kia (Piṅgika) or Pei-yi (Piṅgiya); finally and in particular, they are silent about the conversion of the brāhman, his entry into religion and his reaching arhathood. In T 99, l.c., the brāhman is pardoned only for his coarseness by the use of the commonplace phrase: atyayo Gotama yathā bālo yathā mūḍho, yatjāvyakto yathākuśalo

II. Piṅgiyānisutta of Snguttara, III, p. 239–240:

One day the Blessed One was dwelling at Vesālī at Mahāvana in the Kūṭāgārasālā and five hundred Licchavis came to pay their respects to him. Among them, the brāhman Piṅgiyānin (var. Piṅgiyāni) had a sudden illumination (paṭibhā) and the Buddha asked him to explain it. The brāhman then addressed a stanza of homage appropriate to the occasion to the Lord:

Padumaṃ yathā kokanadaṃ sugandhaṃ
pāto siyā phullam avītagandhaṃ |

aṅgīrasaṃ passa virocamānaṃ
tapantam ādiccam iv’ antalikkhe ||

“As the red lotus flower with sweet perfume expands in the morning without having lost its perfume, see how the Aṅgīrasa shines and how he glows like the sun in the firmament.” [Stanza also cited in Saṃyutta, I, p. 81; Jātaka,I, p. 116; Visuddhomagga, ed. Warren, p. 326.]

Then the Licchavis covered the brāhman Piṅgiyānin with their five hundred lower cloaks (uttarāsaṅgha) and the latter in turn covered the Buddha with them.

Finally, the Buddha revealed to the Licchavis the five jewels (ratana) rarely appearing in the world.

The episode told here by the Piṅgiyānisutta is reproduced with a some variants in many Sanskrit-Chinese sources:

  1. Sanskrit Mahāparinirvānasūtra, ed. E. Waldscmidt, p. 182.
  2. Dīrghāgama, T 1, k. 2, p. 14a11–25.
  3. Fo pan ni yuan king, T 5, k. 1, p. 164a13–20.
  4. Pan ni yuan king, T 6, k. 1, p. 179b15–c2.
  5. Mahīśāsaka Vin., T 1421, k. 20, p. 135c18–136a2.
  6. Dharmaguptaka Vin., T 1428, k. 40, p. 856b3–18.
  7. Mūlasarv. Vin., T 1448, k. 7, p. 28c14–29a2.
  8. Ibid., T 1451, k. 36, p. 386b10–22.

In all these texts, the brāhman is called Paiṅgika or Piṅgika. Source a reproduces it literally; sources b to f designate it by transliteration by means of the Chinese characters Ping-ki, Pin-tseu, Ping-ki, Pin-k’i-ye, Pin-k’i-yang-t’ou; sources g and h translate it as Kouang-che ‘Vast ornament’ and Houang-fa ‘Yellow hair’ respectively.

In the same texts, Piṅgika addresses several stanzas to the Buddha whereas the Piṅgiyānisutta mentions only one.

III. Pañcarājānosutta of the Samyutta, I, p. 79–81:

This sutta takes place in Sāvatthi. Five kings, led by Pasenadi, entered into a discussion in regard to the five objects of sense enjoyment (kāmaguṇa), viz., color, sound, smell, taste and touch, and they wondered which was the best. They went to consult the Buddha who told them that it was necessary to take into account the tastes and preferences of each one: the sense-object that called forth the most pleasure is the best.

The upāsaka Candanaṅgalika present in the assembly reproduces exactly the same words and gestures of Piṅgiyānin described in the preceding sutta: he pronounces the same stanza and covers the Buddha with five cloaks that had been offered to him by the five kings.

Two Sanskrit sūtras incorporated in the Saṃyuktāgama correspond to this Pāli sutta: i) T 99, no. 1149, k. 42, p. 306a21–c1; ii) T 100, no. 72, k. 4, p. 399b28–c29. But whereas the first sūtra also has the upāsaka Tchen-t’an (Candana), the second substitutes the brāhman Pei-yi, i.e., Piṅgiya.

In addition, the Ekottara (T 125, k. 25, p. 681c13–683a5) contains a developed version of the same sūtra of the five kings, but it has neither Candana nor Piṅgiya.