Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “the threefold voice of the buddhas and the bodhisattvas” 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 threefold voice of the buddhas and the Bodhisattvas

Note: Section partially translated in Hōbōgirin, p. 216 under Button.

The voice of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas is of three kinds: 1) Having planted the causes and conditions in their previous lives for good vocalization, they have the four subtle and marvelous (prāsādika) great elements in their throat (kaṇṭha),[1] and they produce all kinds of marvelous sounds (śabda), distant or close, for a distance of one, two, three, ten, a hundred, a thousand li which go out to fill up the trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu.[2]

2) By the power of their superknowledges (abhijñābala), the four great elements (mahābhūta) of their throat produce sounds that fill not only the trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu but also the universes of the ten directions as numerous as the sands of the Ganges.

3) The voice of the Buddhas is always able to fill all of space (ākāśa), covering all of the ten directions.

Footnotes and references:


These are the subtle material (rūpaprāsāda) or derived material (upādāyarūpa or bhautika) elements constituting the five indriyas (cf. Kośa, I, p. 15, n. 1).


This voice, or more precisely, this vocal apparatus, is usually acquired by means of the play of causes and conditions; the other two voices, particularly the third, are very difficult to obtain.