Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “mastering the wind element (vayu)” 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.

IV. Mastering the wind element (vāyu)

Some say that, of the four great elements (mahābhūta), the power of the wind (vāyu) is the greatest. Having neither form (rūpa) nor odor (gandha) nor taste (rasa), its mobility (īraṇā) is very great. Just as space (ākāśa) is infinite, so wind too is infinite. The success or failure of giving birth depends on wind (see note). The power (prabhāva) of the great winds shakes the mountains of the trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu. This is why the Buddha says here that the bodhisattva who wishes to stop the force of the winds with one finger should practice the perfection of wisdom. Why? Because the true nature (dharmatā) of the Prajñāpāramitā is immense (apramāṇa) and infinite (ananta), it can make the finger have such strength.

Note on the role of wind during birth-giving:

Cf. Kośabhāṣya, p. 130, l. 6–8:

Tasya khalu kālānatareṇa paripākaprāptasya garbhaśalyasyābhyantarāt mātuḥ kukṣau karmavipākajā vāyavo vānti ye taṃ garbhaśalyaṃ saṃparivarttya mātuḥ kāyāvakṣaradvārābhimukham avasthāpayanti | sa krūrapuriṣapiṇḍa ivātimātraṃ sthānāt pracyuto duḥkhaṃ saṃparivarttyate |

– Later, when the embryo, this thorn, has come to maturity inside the womb, there arise the winds arisen from the maturation of actions, which turn the embryo and push it towards the gate of impurity of the mother’s body. This embryo, removed from its place, such a mass of bloody excrement, is painfully handled.