Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “mastering the water element (ap)” 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. Mastering the water element (ap)

Some say that water (ap-) is the greatest of all substances. Why? Because at the zenith (ūrdhvam), at the nadir (adhas) and at the four cardinal points (diś) of the great earth (mahāpṛthivī), there is no place where there is no water. If the Lokapāla gods did not moderate the rain (varṣa) of the heavenly nāgas and if there were no jewel (maṇi) to disperse the waters, heaven and earth would collapse (see note). Furthermore, it is as a result of the waters that the classes of animate (sattva) and inanimate (asattva) beings in the world take birth (jāti) and grow (vṛddhi). That is why we can know that water is very great. This is why the Buddha says here that the bodhisattva who wishes to know the number of drops of water (bindu) and to disperse them drop by drop so that they have no more power, must practice the perfection of wisdom.

Note on the jewel to disperse the waters:

The jewel for dispersing the waters, siao chouei tchou, is different from the jewel for purifying water ts’ing chouei tchou (in Sanskrit, udakaprasādakamaṇi) which the Traité will mention later (T 1509, k. 36, p. 325c21):

“It is like the clear water of a pool: when a mad elephant enters it, it turns into a quagmire; but if the jewel for purifying water enters into it, the water becomes pure.”

For the latter, see also Suvikrāntavikrīparipṛcchā, T 231, k. 6, p. 717b19; Satyasiddhiśāstra, T 1646, k. 4, p. 266a5; Milindapañha, p. 35, l. 8 (udakappasādako maṇi) and its Chinese versions: T 1670A, k. 1, p. 697b5; T 1670B, k. 1, p. 707c4; P. Demiéville, Les versions chinoises du Milindapañha, BEFEO, XXIV (1924), p. 105, n. 4; Visuddhimagga, ed. H. C. Warren, p. 393, l. 6.

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