Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

by Gelongma Karma Migme Chödrön | 2001 | 941,039 words

This page describes “establishing all beings in the fruits of the path” 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 7 - Establishing all beings in the fruits of the path

Sūtra (cf. Pañcaviṃśati, p. 28, l. 16–29, l. 3; Śatasāhasrikā, p. 85, l. 10–90, l. 9). – Furthermore, Śāriputra, the bodhisattva-mahāsattva should practice the perfection of wisdom if he wants to establish all beings in universes as numerous in each of the ten directions as the sands of the Ganges [in the fruits of the Path]; if he wants to establish them: 1) in the [pure] aggregates of morality, concentration, wisdom, deliverance, and the knowledge and vision of deliverance; 2) in the fruit of entry into the stream; 3) in the fruit of the once-returner; 4) in the fruit of the non-returner; 5) in the fruit of the saint, and so on[1] up to 6) in nirvāṇa without conditioned residue (Punar aparaṃ Śāriputra daśasu dikṣu gaṅganadīvālukopameṣu lokeṣu ye sattvās tān sarvān śīlasamādhiprajñāvimuktivimuktijñānadarśanaskandheṣu srotaāpattiphale sakṛdāgāmiphale anāgāmiphale arhattve yāvad anupadhiśeṣanirvāṇadhātau pratiṣṭhāpayitukāmena bodhisattvena mahāsattvena prajñāpāramitāyāṃ śikṣitavyam).

Śāstra. –

1) On the meaning of the five [pure] aggregates, see what has been said above (p. 1349–1358F).[2]

2) The srotaāpattiphala, ‘the fruit of entry into the stream’, is of two types:

a. The Buddha said that by the elimination of three fetters (trayāṇāṃ saṃyojanānāṃ prahāṇāt), this fruit of the unconditioned (asaṃkṛtaphala) is acquired. And it is said in the Abhidharma that by the elimination of eighty-eight perverse tendencies (anuśaya), the unconditioned fruit of entry into the stream (asaṃskṛta srotaāpattiphala) is acquired. (also see Appendix 2)

b. When they are in the subsequent knowledge concerning [the truth] of the path (mārge ’nvayajñāna), the ascetic who has sought [the truth] by means of faith (śraddhānusārin) and the ascetic who has sought [the truth] by means of scripture (dharmānusārin) have acquired the realization of the fruit of entry into the stream (srotaāpattiphalasākṣātkāra).[3]

The Chinese characters Siu-t’o (srotas) mean ‘stream’, i.e., the noble eightfold Path (ārya aṣṭāṅgikamārga). The characters Pan-na (āpanna) means [301a] ‘entry’. To enter into the noble eightfold Path is to enter into the stream of nirvāṇa: that is the first vision of the true nature of dharmas (dharmāṇāṃ bhūtalakṣaṇam or dharmatā). By successfully entering into this part of the immense dharmadhātu, one is classed among the āryas.[4]

3) The characters Si-ki (sakṛt) mean ‘a single time’; k’ie-mi (āgāmin) means ‘who comes back’.[5] The ascetic so named, having left this world and taken rebirth among the gods, comes back from there one single time [into the world of men] and there finds the end to suffering.[6]

4) The characters A-na (an-) mean ‘not’, k’ie-mi (āgāmin) mean ‘returner’. The ascetic thus named has ‘not returning’ as his characteristic. Having died in the desire realm (kāmadhātu), this man is reborn in the form realm (rūpadhātu) or in the formless realm (ārūpyadhātu); there his impurities are destroyed (kṣiṇāsrava) and he is no longer reborn (na punarbhavati).[7]

Question. – But the anāgāmin who acquires parinirvāṇa in the present lifetime (dṛṣṭadharmaparinirvāyin) and the anāgāmin who acquires parinirvāṇa in the intermediary existence (antarāparinirvāyin) by going to the rūpadhātu, are not reborn either in the form realm or in the formless realm (rūpārūpyadhātu); then why call them ‘non-returners’ (anāgāmin)? (also see Appendix 3)

Answer. – Among the anāgāmins, there are many who are reborn in the form realm or the formless realm, whereas those who are parinirvāṇized as soon as this present life are rare; as the latter are in the minority, [they keep the name anāgāmin] which is the name of the majority. Those who obtain parinirvāṇa in the intermediate existence (antarāparinirvāyin), being also on the point of being reborn in the form realm but seeing the torments they would have to undergo in the course of this last existence (caramabhava), take nirvāṇa all the time; this is why they too take the name of anāgāmin because it is the name of the majority.[8]

5) Because they have destroyed all the afflictive emotions (kleśa), the arhats have the right (arhanti) to the homage (pūjā) of all the devas, nāgas and asuras.[9]

These arhats are of nine types:[10]

  1. Parihāṇadharman, arhat likely to fall.
  2. Aparihāṇadharman, arhat not likely to fall.
  3. Cetanādharman, arhat likely to put an end to his lifetime.[11]
  4. Anurakṣaṇadharman, arhat likely to keep his lifetime.
  5. Sthitākampya, arhat remaining in the fruit without moving.
  6. Prativedhanādharman, arhat likely to penetrate effortlessly into the Unshakeables.
  7. Akopyadharman, unshakeable arhat, [incapable of falling].
  8. Prajñāvimukta, arhat delivered by wisdom.
  9. Ubhayatobhāgavimukta, arhat doubly delivered from the obstacle consisting of the afflictive emotions (kleśāvaraṇa) and the obstacle opposing the eight liberations (vimokṣāvaraṇa).

For the meaning of these nine types, see above (p. 1390–1391F).

The eight liberations (vimokṣa), the eight masteries (abhibhvāyatana), the ten sources of totality (kṛtsnāyatana), the absorption of cessation (nirodhasamāpatti), the concentration preventing the arising of another’s afflictive emotions (araṇasamādhi), the knowledge resulting from resolution (praṇidhijñāna), etc., are the marvelous qualities (guṇa) of the arhat.

6) Moreover, he will attain nirvāṇa without residue of conditioning (nirupadhiśeṣanirvāṇa), and this nirupadhiśeṣanirvāṇa is the fact that the arhat [at the moment of his death] rejects the five aggregates (pañcaskandhān nikṣipati) of the present lifetime and then does not take up the five aggregates of the future lifetime (na tu pañcapaunarbhavikān skandhān parisaṃdadhāti), and thus his physical and mental sufferings (kāyikacaitasikaduḥkha) are completely and definitively destroyed.

About the last three fruits of the Path (mārgaphala), see what was said in regard to the first.

Footnotes and references:


The rest appear in full in the Śatasāhasrikā, p. 85, l. 16–86, l. 1: pratyekabodhi, sarvajñatā, mārgākārajñatā and sarvākarajñatā


See the definitions in the canonical sources, p. 1233F, n. 3.


The Darśanamārga comprises sixteen moments of mind: the first is duḥkhe dharmajñānakṣānti; the sixteenth and last is the mārge ’nvayajñāna (cf. Histoire du bouddhisme indien, p. 681–682). In the first moment, the śraddhānusārin and the dharmānusārin are candidates for the fruit of srotaāpanna (srotaāpattiphalapratipannaka); in the sixteenth, they are residents in this fruit (phastha); cf. Kośa, VI, p. 194–195.


As soon as he enters into the darśanamārga, the ascetic penetrates into the certainty of the acquisition of the supreme good (samyaktvaniyāma); he loses the quality of ordinary person (pṛthagjana) and takes on that of the saint (ārya): cf. Kośa, VI, p. 181–182.


Here, in the version of the sūtra (T 1509, p. 300c22), sakṛdāgāmin has been transliteratedas sseu-t’o-han (the usual transliteration), but the explanations given by the gloss of the Updeśa (p. 301a2–3) deal with another transliteration, practically unused: si-ki-k’ie-mi. This inconsistency undoubtedly escaped Seng-jouei when, according to the translation of the Upadeśa, that of the sūtra was revised in order make both texts consistent (see Traité, vol. III, p. XLVII as note).


Mahāparinirvāṇa, p. 166; Divyāvadāna, p. 533–534: Trayāṇāṃ saṃyojanānāṃ prahāṇād rāgadveṣmohānāṃ ca tanutvāt kālaṃ kṛtvā sakṛdāgāmī sakṛd imaṃ lokam āgamya duḥkhasyāntaṃ kariṣyati – By the complete destruction of the three fetters (in the course of the darśanamārga) and by the lessening of desire, hatred and delusion (in the course of the bhāvanāmārga), after his death he becomes a sakṛdāgāmin: having returned only once to this world (the kāmadhātu), he will realize the end of suffering.

Pāli wording in Dīgha, I, p. 156; II, p. 92, 93, 200, 201, 252; III, p. 107, 132; Majjhima, I, p. 34, 226, 465; III, p. 80; Saṃyutta, V, p. 357, 378; Anguttara, I p. 232; II, p. 89, 238; IV, p. 380: Puna ea paraṃ bhikkhu tiṇṇaṃ samyojanānaṃ parikkhayā rāgadosamohānaṃ tanuttā sakadāgāmī hoti, sakid, eva imaṃ lokaṃ āgantva dukkhass’ antaṃ karoti.


Sanskrit Mahāparinirvāṇa, p. 166; Divyāvadāna, p. 533, l. 24–26: Pañcanām avarabhāgīyānāṃ saṃyojanānāṃ prahāṇād aupapādukas tatra aprinirvāyy anāgāmy anāvṛttidharmā punar imaṃ lokam. – By the complete destruction of the five lower fetters [namely, satkāyadṛṣṭi, śīlavrataparāmarśa and vicikitsā which are to be destroyed by seeing (darśanaheya); kāmacchanda and vyāpāda which are to be destroyed by meditation (bhāvanāheya): the whole coinciding with the first 92 anuśayas,] he is of apparitional birth: It is there [in rūpadhātu = Brahmaloka, or more rarely in arūpyadhātu] that he will be parinirvanized; as ‘non-returner’, he cannot be reborn in this world [i.e., kāmadhātu].

Pāli wording in Dīgha, I, p. 156; II, p. 92, 203, 252; III, p. 107, 132; Majjhima, I, p. 34, 226; Saṃyutta, V, p. 356–357; Anguttara, I, 232; II, p. 89, 238: Pañcannam orambhāgiyānaṃ saṃyojanānaṃ parikkhayā opapātiko hoti tatthaparinibbāyi anāvattidhammo tasmā lokā. – By the complete destruction of the five lower fetters, he is of apparitional birth and it is there [in rūpadhātu = Brahmaloka] that he will be parinirvanized; he cannot come back from that world [the Brahmaloka] to this world [kamādhātu].

See the notes of Buddhaghosa in the Commentary of the Majjhima, I, p. 164.


As a general rule, the ascetic who has obtained the fruit of anāgāmin in kāmadhātu is reborn after death in rūpadhātu, sometimes even in ārūpyadhātu, and attains parinirvāṇa there. This is the case for the last four types of anāgāmins mentioned in the preceding note.

There are, however, two exceptions. When the anāgāmin called antarāparinirvāyin (the first type in the preceding note) abandons his existence in kāmadhātu to go to rūpadhātu, he obtains parinirvāṇa in the intermediate existence (antarabhāva). The anāgāmin called dṛṣṭadharmaparinirvāyin who has obtained the fruit of anāgāmin in an existence in kāmadhātu obtains parinirvāṇa during that same existence without ever going to rūpadhātu insofar as his disgust for this sphere of existence is so great (cf. Kośa, VI, p. 219).

Although the antarāparinirvāyin and the dṛṣṭadharmaparinirvāyin, in contrast to the other anāgāmins, do not go to rūpadhātu to become parinirvāṇized there, nevertheless they take the name of anāgāmin because this is the name of the majority.


Compare the canonical formula in Dīgha, I, p. 156; II, p. 92; Majjhima, I, p. 284; Saṃyutta, II, p. 217; Anguttara, I, p. 220: Āsavānaṃ khayā anāsavaṃ cetovimuttiṃ paññāvimuttiṃ diṭṭhe va dhamme sayaṃ abhiññā sacchikatvā upasapajjaviharati. – By destruction of the impurities, having realized, in the present existence, by his own knowledge the deliverance of mind and the deliverance by means of wisdom, free of impurities, he abides there.


Like the Madhyamāgama, T 26, k. 30, p. 616a1–19, the Amṛtarasa, T 1553, k. 1, p. 973b28–c1. the Satyasiddhiśāstra, T 1646, k. 1, p. 246b27–29, and the Abhidharmasamuccaya, ed. P. Pradhan, p. 91, l. 4–14, the Traité distninguishes nine kinds of arhat or aśaikṣa (cf. p. 1392F, 1740F). – But in general, the Sarvāstivādin Abhidharmas have only six arhats: Mahāvibhāṣā, T 1545, k. 62, p. 319c8–9; Abhidharmasāra of Dharmaśrī, T 1550, k. 2, p. 819c8–11; Abhidharmasāra of Upaśānta, T 1551, k. 3, p. 851a1–2; Saṃyuktābhidharmasāra, T 1552, k. 5, p. 913c15–18; Kośa, VI, p. 251; Nyāyānusāra, T 1562, k. 67, p. 710c1–16.

Actually, as the Traité has noted, p. 1392F, these classifications overlap, the Buddha having expressed himself sometimes at length and sometimes briefly.


For the meaning of cetanādharman = maraṇadharman, see Kośa, VI, p. 253, n. 4.

Let's grow together!

I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased sources, definitions and images. Your donation direclty influences the quality and quantity of knowledge, wisdom and spiritual insight the world is exposed to.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: