Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “filling all of space” 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.

Part 4 - Filling all of space

Sūtra (cf. Pañcaviṃśati, p. 28, l. 1–2; Śatasāhasrikā, 82, l. 6–9). – Furthermore, Śāriputra, the bodhisattva-mahāsattva should practice the perfection of wisdom if he wants, by means of one single paryaṅka (by sitting cross-legged), to fill the entire space element in the trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu (Punar aparaṃ Śāriputra yas trisāhasramahāsāhasre lokadhātāv ākāśadhātus taṃ sarvam ekena paryaṅkena spharitukāmena bodhisattvena mahāsattvena prajñāpāramitāyāṃ śikṣitavyam).

Śāstra. –

Question. – Why does the bodhisattva sit cross-legged (paryaṅkam ābhujya niṣīdati) in this way?[1]

Answer. – Brahmā Devarāja, who rules the trisāharalokadhātu, had some wrong ideas (mithyādṛṣṭi) and considered himself to be great. But when he saw the Bodhisattva, sitting cross-legged and filling space, his proud thoughts (mānacitta)[2] vanished.

Moreover, by his skillful means (upāyakauśalya) coming from this magical superknowledge (eko ’pi bhūtvā bahudhā bhavati), being many, he becomes one (bahudhāpi bhūtvaiko bhavati), being small he becomes large, being large he becomes small and, if he wants to manifest extraordinary things (āścarya), he is able to sit and fill all of space (ākāśa).

Finally, it is in order to prevent the asuras and the nāgarājas from tormenting beings that the Bodhisattva sits and fills space, thus assuring the safety of beings (sattvakṣema).

[Nandopanandanāgarājadamanasūtra].[3] – Thus, when the nāgarājas Nan-t’o (Nanda) and P’o-nan-t’o (Upananda), the older and the younger, wanted to destroy the city of Śrāvastī, they rained down weapons (āyudha) and poisonous [300b] snakes (āśīviṣa), but Mou-lien (Maudgalyāyana), at that time properly seated, filled space and changed the offensive weapons into perfumed flowers and necklaces (hāra).

This is why the Prajñāpāramitā says here that the bodhisattva-mahāsattva should practice the perfection of wisdom if, by means of a single paryaṅka, he wants to fill all the space in the trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu.

Footnotes and references:


For the paryaṅka and the benefits of this position, see above, p. 432–433F.


Brahmā Devarāja’s pride has already been mentioned above, p. 561–562F, 2079F, n. 2.


For this sūtra, see p. 189F, n. 3; 1359F, n. 3.