Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “the opinion of the traité in regard to causality” 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.

III. The opinion of the traité in regard to causality

Answer. – You do not understand the nature (lakṣaṇa) of the Prajñāpāramitā; that is why you claim that, according to the Prajñāpāramitā, the four conditions (pratyaya) do not exist (nopalabhyante). In view of all dharmas, the Prajñāpāramitā abandons nothing and refutes nothing (na parityajati na pratiṣedhayati):[1] it is absolutely pure (atyantapariśuddha) and free of futile proliferation (niṣprapañca). According to the word of the Buddha, “there are four conditions”.[2] But people with little knowledge (alpavid), being attached to these four conditions (catuṣpratyayābhiniviṣta), have composed bad treatises (kuśāstra) on their subject. In order to destroy these wrong opinions (abhiniveśa), [the Prajñāpāramitāsūtra] teaches the emptiness (śūnyatā) and indestructibility of dharmas. Therefore, arising from a complex of causes and conditions (hetupratyayasāmagryutpanna) – namely, the internal and external bases of consciousness (adhyātmabahirdhāyatana) – this mind-dharma (cittadharma) is like a magic show (māyopama), deceptive (mṛṣāvāda) and without definite nature (niyatasvabhāva). And it is the same for the mental-events-dharmas (caitasikadharma).

[1. Causality according to the Abhidharma]

[2. Causality according to the Perfection of Wisdom]

Footnotes and references:


See above, p. 2142F, n.


The author of the Traité believes, along with the Sarvāstivādins, in the existence of a canonical sūtra enumerating and listing the four conditions. But this sūtra has not yet been found in the old scriptures.