Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “having offerings at one’s disposal as one likes” 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. Having offerings at one’s disposal as one likes

“The bodhisattva wishes to have [offerings] at his disposal as he likes.” – If he has need of a flower to offer, it comes to him as he wishes (yathaccham), whether he looks for it or he gets it without looking for it. Actually there are things that arise spontaneously (svarasena): apparitional beings (upapāduka) on up to musical instruments (tūrya); and it is the same for all the things to be offered (pūjopakaraṇa).

Question. – If the bodhisattva finds them this way, it is easy for him to offer them. Why then does he seek for them as he wishes (yatheccham)?

Answer. – Merit (puṇya) comes from the mind (cittāpekṣa). Using as an offering something that one loves produces an increase in merit (puṇyavardhana).

Thus, king A-yu (Aśoka) became king of Jambudvīpa and built eighty thousand stūpas in one single day because, as a child, he had offered to the Buddha a bit of earth (pāṃśu) that he loved very much.[1] If an adult placed earth in the Buddhas’ bowl, even a lot of it, he would gain no merit because [to him] this earth is of no value. Some people have a liking for flowers and, when they offer those they prefer to the Buddha, merit increases for them. It is the same for other precious objects.

Moreover, offerings are adjusted according to the conventions of the times: in cold weather, kindling (indhana), clothing (pariccchādana) or food (annapāna) should be given; in hot weather, ice water, fans (vījana), parasols (chattra), cool rooms, very fine garments and very light food should be given; in rainy or windy weather, the needed gear should be procured. Those are offerings adjusted according to the weather. Offerings should also be adjusted according to the conventions of place and the needs of the recipients (pratigrāhaka).

Moreover, the offerings are adjusted according to the desires. Some bodhisattvas know that the Buddhas need nothing; they also know that objects (dravya) are false like a magic show and have as their single characteristic the absence of characteristics. However, in order to convert beings (sattvaparipācanārtham), they adjust themselves to the preferences of beings and countries to make their offerings.

There are as well bodhisattvas who possess very deep concentrations (samādhi) and have acquired the bodhisattva superknowledges (abhijñā). By the power of these superknowledges, they fly to the Buddhas of the ten directions. Sometimes, in the buddha-fields (buddhakṣetra), if necessary, they rain down celestial flowers (divyapuṣpa), filling the trichiliocosm (trisāhasralokadhātu) and offer these to the Buddhas; sometimes they rain down heavenly sandalwood (candana); sometimes they rain down cintāmaṇi as large as Sumeru; sometimes they rain down musical instruments (tūrya) with wondrous sounds; sometimes, taking a body as high as Sumeru, they use it as a lamp-wick to pay homage to [277b] the Buddhas. Those are material offerings.

Moreover, the bodhisattvas who are practicing the six perfections (pāramitā) make spiritual offerings (dharmapūjā) to the Buddhas. By using the practices of a single bhūmi, some bodhisattvas pay homage to the Buddhas; they go up to fulfilling the practices of the ten bhūmis to honor them. Sometimes, having obtained conviction that dharmas do not arise (anutpattikadharmakṣānti), they destroy their own afflictions (kleśa) and those of beings. Those are spiritual offerings (dharmapūjā).

Sometimes the bodhisattva dwelling in the tenth bhūmi exerts his magical power (ṛddhibala) so well that the fires of the damned (naraka) are extinguished, the pretas are satisfied, the animals are liberated from their fears (bhaya), humans (manuṣya) and gods (deva) gradually reach the non-regressing bhūmi (avaivartikabhūmi). Such qualities and such powers are also spiritual offerings.

This is why the Prajñāpāramitāsūtra says that the bodhisattva “who wishes to have roots of good at his disposal [to honor the Buddhas] should practice the perfection of wisdom.”

Footnotes and references:


Pāṃśupradānāvadāna: references, p. 723F, n. 2