Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “the system in the abhidharma of the sarvastivadins” 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.

Conditions note (2): The system in the Abhidharma of the Sarvāstivādins

The system of the four pratyayas coupled with or completed by that of the six hetus is described in most of the Abhidharmas and Śāstras of the Sarvāstivādin-Vaibhāṣika school:

Vijñānakāya, T 1539, k. 3, p. 547b22–c4 (cf. Kośa, II, p. 299 as note; Prakaraṇapāda, T 1541, k. 4, p. 645b6–7; T 1542, k. 5, p. 712b12–13; Jñānaprasthāna, T 1543, k. 1, p. 773a13–14: 774b22–775a9; T 1544, k. 1, p. 920c5–921a10.

Mahāvibhāṣā, T 1545, k. 21, p. 109a20–28; k. 16, p. 80a17–22.

Abhidharmahṛdayaśāstra of Dharmaśrī, T 1550, k. 1, p. 811c1–5, 812a19–25 Transl. I. Armelin, p. 68–69, 72); Saṃyuktābhidharmasāra of Dharmatrāta, T 1552, k. 2, p. 883a3–4; Abhidharmāmṛtarasa of Ghoṣaka, T 1553, k. 1, p. 970a16–b14 (transl. J. Van den Broeck, p. 123–126); Prakaraṇābhidharmāvatāra of Skandhila, T 1554, k. 2, p. 988a21–c24 (transl. M. van Velthem, p. 71–74.

Kośa, II, p. 244–331; Nyāyānusāra, T 1562, k. 15–20, p. 416b–456a.

The sources mentioned here outline the Sarvāstivādin-Vaibhāṣika concepts on causality: Not only are the saṃskṛtadharmas hetupratyayasamutpanna – which is a tautology – but they depend on a precise number of causes and conditions, namely, the 4 pratyayas and the 6 hetus. This does not mean that any dharma indiscriminately is the product of 4 pratyayas: some depend on 4 pratyayas, others on 3, others on 2, but none depend on one single pratyaya. And it is the same in regard to the 6 hetus: there is no single unique cause on which the totality of dharmas depends and this observation excludes the intervention of a Deity unique to the process of causality.

The play of the 6 hetus is pretty much confused with that of the 4 pratyayas and is only the doublet of them. This complicates the task of the exegetists when they treat them conjointly. The early masters often limited themselves to speaking of the 4 pratyayas.