Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “ii.a the seven rebirths in kamadhatu” 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.

1) Someone gives with a perfect intention and maintains morality: he is reborn in the families of the kṣatriyas. The kṣatriyas are the kings (rājan) and great ministers (mahāmātya).

Someone else is attached to books of knowledge (the Vedas?) and does not torment beings: by his generosity and morality, he is reborn in the families of the brāhmaṇas.

[301c] Another, with generosity and mediocre morality is pleased with worldly happiness (lokasukha): he is reborn in the families of the householders (gṛḥapati). These householders are ordinary people but very wealthy.

2) In another, generosity and morality are of somewhat higher purity (viśuddhi); this man feels repugnance for domestic things, loves to hear the Dharma and honors worthy people: he is reborn among the Caturmahārājika gods.[1] Why? Because pleasant[2] things appear there as soon as they are thought of (sahacittotpādāt prādurbhavanti); one constantly gets to see the good worthy people (satpuruṣa) of the place, and by honoring them resolutely, one draws near to practicing the meritorious action that consists of meditation (bhāvanāpuṇyakriyāvastu).

3) Another, of pure generosity and morality, honors his father and mother, reveres them (bhadanta) and passionately seeks supremacy (śreṣṭha): he is reborn among the Trāyastriṃśa gods.

4) Another, of pure generosity and morality, who loves to learn and whose mind is gentle, is reborn among the Yāma gods.

5) Another, of pure generosity and morality, develops these two qualities further; he loves learning (bāhuśrutya), discriminates the beautiful and the ugly, desires nirvāṇa and is intensely attached to the qualities (guṇa): he is reborn among the Tuṣita gods.

6) Another, generous, magnanimous, moral and erudite (bahuśruta), loves to learn and earns his living by his own strength: he is reborn among the Nirmaṇarati gods.

7) Another, when he gives, shows deepening pure morality; he loves erudition (bāhuśrutya) and considers himself a spiritual person (sattva); but unable to undergo suffering, he seeks his satisfactions from someone else (para): he is reborn among the Paranirmitavaśavartin gods, ‘gods using the desirable objects (kāma or kāmaguṇa) created by others in a sovereign manner’.[3] This is a question of female shapes knowingly and ingeniously created by others (paranirmita); the Paranirmitavaśavartin gods take hold of these five objects of enjoyment (pañcakāmaguṇa) and use them in a sovereign manner (vaśe vartayanti). They are like destitute people who fight over a patrimony.

Finally, it is as a result of a wish (praṇidhāna) formulated at the moment of the gift that one is reborn in the paradises.

[Dānupapattisutta].[4] – Thus it is said in a sūtra: A man cultivates a little bit of generosity and morality but is ignorant of the existence of the dhyānas and the absorptions (samāpatti). Learning of the existence of the Cāturmahārājika gods, he mentally makes them [the object] of his aspirations (cetaḥpraṇidhi). The Buddha has said: “At the end of his life, this man will be reborn among the Caturmahārājika gods: that is absolutely certain.” It is the same [in regard to rebirth among the other gods of kāmadhātu] up to and including the Paranirmitavaśavartin gods.

Footnotes and references:


For a precise definition of the six classes of kamādevas, see Kośa, III, p. 166.


I.e., the five objects of enjoyment (pañcakāmaguṇa), colors, (rūpa), etc.


Dīgha, III, p. 218: Santi sattā paranimmitakāmā, te paranimmitesu kāmesu vasaṃ vattenti seyyathā pi devā paranimmitavasavattī.


Passage cited above, p. 2222F, n. 1.