Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “the desire to offer” 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.

I. The desire to offer

[276c] The bodhisattva who gets to be never separated from the Buddhas must honor them (pūjayitum); if he meets the Buddhas and has nothing to offer them, he is very unhappy.

[Offering of Sumati].[1] – Thus the bodhisattva Siu-mo-t’i (Sumati), in the Ts’in language “Good Intellect”, seeing the Buddha Jan-teng (Dīpaṃkara) and having nothing to offer him, set out to look everywhere. Seeing a seller of flowers, he bought five blue lotus flowers (nīlotpala) for five hundred gold pieces (kārṣāpaṇa) and offered him the flowers.

[Offering of Sadāprarudita].[2] – The bodhisattva Sa-t’o-po-louen (Sadāprarudita) sold his body, his blood and his flesh to honor the Teacher.

Such bodhisattvas who would meet a Buddha and would wish to honor him were very upset if they did not have any offerings.

When inferior people meet superior individuals and do not offer them any present, it is a lack of respect. Also, the bodhisattvas look for offerings to honor the Buddhas. The Buddhas have no need of [the offerings] but by honoring them, the bodhisattvas perfect themselves mentally.

Thus when a laborer (karmāntika, kārṣaka) finds a good field (kṣetra) but has no seed (bīja), he has to increase his work: it is useless for him to use up his energy and he feels great sadness. It is the same for the bodhisattva who meets the Buddha but has no offering at his disposal. Even if he has something but which does not correspond to his idea, he is sad.

Footnotes and references:


See p. 248F, n. 2. Also later, k. 35, p. 316b20–24.


See p. 1353F, n. 1.