Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “legend of manjushri” 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.

Appendix 1 - The legend of Mañjuśrī

Note: this Appendix is extracted from Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra (chapter XLVII part 1.3):

 However, for beings, they remain in saṃsāra for a long time and, without taking up supreme complete enlightenment, they save beings widely. The Buddhas praise these Bodhisattvas. Who are they? They are, for example, Wen-chou-che-li (Mañjuśrī), P’i-mo-lo-kie (Vimalakīrti), Kouan-che-yin (Avalokiteśvara), Ta-che-tche (Mahāsthāmaprāpta), Pien-ki (Samantabhadra). These leaders among the Bodhisattvas appear in the threefold world (traidhātuka), create for themselves innumerable bodies by transformation, enter into saṃsāra and convert beings. From such exploits (adbhuta) comes the entire very profound prajñāpāramitā.

Notes regarding Mañjuśrī:

The best-known bodhisattvas of legend and worship are precisely those who retard their entry into parinirvāṇa indefinitely in order to dedicate themselves to the welfare and happiness of beings. The Traité here cites six with Mañjuśrī in first place. Like that of all bodhisattvas, his career is encapsulated between two crucial moments: i) the production of the mind of enlightenment (bodhicittotpāda) or the grand resolution (adhyāśaya) of becoming buddha; ii) the arrival at supreme complete enlightenment (anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi).

According to the Mañjuśrībuddhakṣetraguṇavyūha (T 318, k. 2, p. 896c–899b; T 310, k. 59, p. 345b–347c; T 319, k. 2–3, p. 912b–915b; OKC 760, no, 14), – formerly – kalpas as numerous as the sands of 70 myriads of an incalculable number of Ganges – the Tathāgata Megasvara appeared in the east, in the Anutpāda universe, separated from ours by 72 nayutas of Buddha fields.

It was in the presence of this Buddha and in this universe that a religious king named Ākāśa produced the mind of enlightenment and formulated his vows and intentions in words the original of which appeared in Śikṣasamuccaya, p. 14:

Nāhaṃ tvaritarūpeṇa bodhiṃ prāptum ihotsahe |
parāntakotiṃ sthāsāmi satvasyaikasya kāraṇāt ||
kṣetraṃ viśodhayiṣyāmi aprameya, acintiyam |
nāmadheyaṃ kariṣyāmi daśa dikṣu ca viśrtam ||

“I have no eagerness to attain enlightenment and I shall remain here below as long as there will remain one being to be saved. I will purify an immense inconceivable field and I will make my name famous in the ten directions.”

This king Ākāśa was none other than the actual bodhisattva Mañjuśrī. Kalpas as numerous as the sands of 70 myriads of Ganges ago. he produced for the first time the mind of enlightenment; kalpas as numerous as the sands of 64 Ganges ago he obtained the conviction that dharmas do not arise (anutpattikadharmakṣānti) and acceded thus to the eighth bhūmi. Now that he has become a great bodhisattva of the tenth bhūmi, he has no thought of entering into parinirvāṇa.

It is only after an incalculable number of incalculable periods that he will attain supreme complete enlightenment. In the Vimala universe of the southern direction, he will be the buddha Samantadarśin, so called “because he will make himself visible everywhere in the innumerable hundreds of thousands of hundred thousands of nayutas of buddhakṣetras.” – The legend of Mañjuśrī may be taken as typical and its framework useful for all the great bodhisattvas with slight modifications of time and place.

That of Vimalakīrti is less detailed; see, however, the Śūraṃgamasamādhisūtra, transl. p. 191–192, n. 181.

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