Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “bodhisattva body and buddha body” 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. Bodhisattva body and Buddha body

Question. – If the Bodhisattva makes a buddha body for himself, preaches the Dharma and saves beings, how does he differ from a Buddha?

Answer. – 1. The Bodhisattva possesses a great magical power (ṛddhibala), resides in the ten bhūmis and is endowed with the attributes of the Buddha; nevertheless, he remains in saṃsāra in order to save the mass of beings; therefore he does not go into nirvāṇa.

2. Like a master magician (māyākāra), he creates for himself a body of metamorphosis (nirmāṇakāya) in order to preach the Dharma to people, but that is not the true body of the Buddha. That being so, the beings whom he will save are limited in number, whereas those saved by the Buddhas are limitless in number.

3. Although the bodhisattva creates for himself a buddha body, he is unable to completely fill the universes of the ten directions; the body of the Buddha, on the other hand, fills innumerable universes completely.

4. To the beings whom he converts, the bodhisattva shows a buddha body comparable to the moon of the fourteenth day: brilliant as it is, it is not like the moon of the fifteenth day. (see Appendix 1)

These are the differences.

Sometimes there are bodhisattvas who, having obtained the certainty that dharmas do not arise (anutpattikadharmakṣānti) and the body born of the fundamental element (dharmadhātujakāya), remain in the seventh bhūmi, abide in the first five superknowledges (abhijñā), create by transformation a body like that of a buddha and convert (paripācayanti) beings. – Sometimes there are bodhisattvas who, having just produced the mind of bodhi (prathamacittotpādika), practice the six perfections (pāramitā) and, by virtue of the actions that they accomplish, obtain a body like that of the Buddha and convert beings.

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