Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “power of prajna” 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.

Moreover, the other perfections would not have the name of perfection without prajñāpāramitā and would also lack solidity (sāratā). As will be said in the next chapter: “Without prajñāpāramitā, the first five perfections do not have the name of perfection.”

It is like a noble cakravartin king: if he does not possess the jewel of the wheel (cakraratna), he is not called cakravartin king, and it is not his other jewels [273a] that give him his name. Or again, it is like blind people (andha): if they have no guide (nāyaka), they can go nowhere. It is the same with the prajñāpāramitā: it guides the first five perfections to omniscience (sarvajñatā).

A great chariot (ratha), without a good driver, does not fulfill its function. The human body, if deprived of sight, goes nowhere even if it is provided with the other organs. When a person loses their vital organ (jīvitendriya), all the other organs are destroyed; it is because they possess the vital organs that the other organs function. It is the same with the prajñāpāramitā; in the absence of the prajñāpāramitā, the first five perfections do not progress; it is because they possess the prajñāpāramitā that the five perfections progress and rare perfected.

This is why the Buddha says here: “The bodhisattva who wishes to practice the perfection of generosity, etc., should exert himself in the perfection of wisdom.”

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