Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “the power of the buddha is dependent on that of the bodhisattva” 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.

II. The power of the Buddha is dependent on that of the Bodhisattva

Question. – But the bodhisattva dos not appear in the list if the five incomprehensible (acintya) things mentioned above. Why then do you mention the incomprehensible [power] of the bodhisattva here?

Answer. –Sometimes the effect is designated by the cause (kārye kāraṇopacāraḥ), e.g., when it is said that somebody eats a hundred pounds of gold sterling each day: gold is inedible, but since it is because of gold that food can be obtained, it is said that he eats gold. Here, it is designating the effect by the cause.

But sometimes the cause is designated by the effect (kāraṇe kāryopacāraḥ), e.g., when on seeing a fine painting, we say that it is a good artist: that is designating the cause by the effect.[1] It is the same here for the bodhisattvas, for [in this case] the bodhisattvas are cause and the Buddhas are effect. If it is said that “the power of the Buddha is incomprehensible” (buddhabalam acintyam), we should know that that is already valid for the bodhisattva [for the bodhisattva is, in reference to the Buddha, an antecedent cause].

This is why the Prajñāpāramitāsūtra says here: “The bodhisattva who wishes, in a single thought, to go to the universes of the ten directions as numerous as the sands of the Ganges, must practice the perfection of wisdom.”

Footnotes and references:


Examples of upacāra have already been used above: see p. 1932F, n. 1