Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “shariputra-simhanada-sutra” 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.

The Śāriputra-siṃhanāda-sūtra

In the Tsa-a-han (Saṃyuktāgama), in the Chö-li-fou che-tseu heou king (Śāriputrasiṃhanādasūtra), it is said:

The Buddha questioned Śāriputra about the meaning of a verse (padārtha). Three times he asked him and three times Śāriputra was unable to answer. After the Buddha had given Śāriputra a brief instruction (alpanirdeśa), the Buddha went back to the vihāra to meditate. (see notes on Śāriputra’s silence)

Then Śāriputra rejoined the bhikṣus and said to them: As long as the Buddha did not give me his approval (abhanumodanā), I did not reply. But now, for seven days and seven nights without stopping, I myself would be able to furnish him with explanations on that subject.[1]

Then a certain bhikṣu said to the Buddha: After the Buddha had returned to the vihāra to meditate, Śāriputra uttered the lion’s roar and boasted. The Buddha said to the bhikṣu: What Śāriputra said is true and not false. Why? Because Śariputra has penetrated well the dharmadhātu (tathā hi śāriputrasya bhikṣor dharmadhātuḥ suptratividdhaḥ). (see notes on Śāriputra’s lion’s roar)

In the śrāvaka system, the nature of production and cessation (utpādanirodhalakṣaṇa) of all dharmas is considered to be tathatā, whereas in reality it is necessary to eliminate all views (darśana) in order to discover the true nature of dharmas (bhūtalakṣaṇa or dharmatā). In the passage cited here it was a question of the dharmadhātu. [298b]

Notes on the Śāriputra-siṃhanāda-sūtra:

The Traité has referred three times already (p. 220–221F; 1630F n. 2; 1746F) to this sūtra, all versions of which have been identified by E.Waldschmidt, Identifizierung einer Handscrift des Nidānasaṃyukta, ZDMG, 107 (957), p. 380–381:

1) Nidānasaṃyukta, p. 198–204. The scene takes place in Rājagṛha; the sūtra does not have a title, but here the Traité designates it under the name of Śāriputrasiṃhanādasūtra “Sūtra of the Lion’s Roar of Śāriputra”.

2) Saṃyuktāgama, sūtra 345, T 99, k. 14, p. 95b10–95c16. This is the Chinese version of the preceding.

3) Saṃyutta, II, p. 47–50. Sutta taking place at Sāvatthi and entitled Bhūtam in the same text (Saṃyutta, II, p. 47, l. 8), Bhūtam idaṃ in the Uddānas (ibid., p. 67, l. 29).

4) Saṃyutta, II, p. 54–56, sections III and IV of the Kaḷārasutta located at Sāvatthi.

– The Sanskrit-Chinese and Pāli versions show many divergences. C. Tripāthi has mentioned and discussed them in his remarkable edition of the Nidānasaṃyukta, p. 198–204.

Notes on the silence of Śāriputra:

Nidānasaṃyutta, p. 198–203:

Tatra bhagavān āyuṣmantaṃ śāriputram āmantrayati | uktam idaṃ śāriputra mayā parāyaneṣv ajitapraśneṣu |

ye ca saṅkhyātadharmāṇi
ye ca śaikṣāḥ pṛthagvidhāḥ |
teṣāṃ me nipakasyeryāṃ
pṛṣṭaḥ prabrūhi māriṣa ||

ke śāriputra śaikṣāḥ ke ca saṅkhyātadharmāṇi |

Evam ukta āyuṣmāñ śāriputras tūṣṇi | dvir api trir api bhagavān āyuṣmantaṃ śariputra, idam avocat… | dvir api trir apy āyuṣmañ śāripitras tūṣṇim abhūt |

Evam etad bhūtam [idaṃ] bhadanta … | yad bhūtaṃ tan nirodhadharmam iti viditvā nirodhadharmasya bhikṣur nirvide virāgāya nirodhāya paripanno bhavati | ima ucyante śaikṣḥaḥ … yad bhūtaṃ tan nirodhadharmam iti viditvā nirodhadharmasya bhikṣur nirvide virāgaya nirodhāyānupādāyasravebhyaḥ suvimuktacitto bhavati | ima ucyante saṅkhyātadhrmaāṇāḥ |

Evam etac śāriputra | …

Atha bhagavān utthāyāsanād vihāraṃ prāviśat pratisaṃlayanāya ||

Transl.

– Then the Bhagavat said to the venerable Śāriputra: Śāriputra, it was said by me, in the Questions of Ajita, to the Parāyana:

“Some have assessed things (saṅkhyātadharman) well; others – and they are diverse – are still practicing (śaikṣa). Tell me, O friend, I the Sage am asking you, what is their behavior? Who are those who are still practicing and who are those who have assessed things well?”

Thus questioned, Śāriputra remained silent. A second and a third time, the Bhagavat asked the same question; a second and a third time Śāriputra remained silent.

Then the Bhagavat said to the venerable Śāriputra: This arising …

– This is how it is, Lord. “This arises”. Knowing that “what arises is destined to perish”, a certain bhikṣu is directed to disgust, renunciation, cessation of that which is destined to perish: bhikṣus [like that] are called śaiksa. – Knowing that “what has arisen is destined to perish” certain bhikṣus, out of disgust, renunciation, cessation of that which was destined to perish, have their minds completely liberated from impurities: bhikṣus [like that] are called saṅkhyātadharman.

– That is so, O Śāriputra.

Then the Bhagavat arose from his seat and went back to the vihāra to meditate.

The stanza ye ca saṅkhyātadharmāṇi occurs in the Ajitamāṇavapucchā of the Pārāyanavagga of the Suttanipāta, stanza 1038; it is cited in the Nettippakaraṇa, p. 17, and the Jātakas, IV, p. 266:

Ye ca saṃkhātadhammāse
ye ca sekhā puthū idha |
tesaṃ me nipako iriyaṃ
puṭṭho pabrūhi mārisa ||

It establishes a distinction between the śaikṣas ‘disciples who are still practicing’ (śikṣā śīlam esām iti śaikṣāḥ, according to Pāṇini, IV, 4, 62) and the saṅkhyātadharmans, i.e., the arhats or aśaikṣas ‘who no longer practice’.

Three times the Buddha questions Śāriputra as to how they differ, and three times Śāriputra is silent. We are reduced to three hypotheses for the reasons for this silence (see those of Buddhaghosa in his Commentary on the Saṃyutta, II, p. 60, l. 16–61, l. 2; W. Geiger, Saṃyutta-Nikāya, II, p. 69, n.).

The Buddha prompts his great disciple with two words: Būtaṃ idam. Śāriputra repeats them and continues:

Bhūtam idam, yad bhūtaṃ tan nirodhadharmam

“This arises, and what arises is destined to perish.”

This is an old canonical saying (cf. Majjhima, I, p. 260, l. 9, 14, 20, 25), often formulated as follows: Y

aṃ kiñci samudayadhammaṃ sabbaṃ taṃ nirodhadhammaṃ

“All that is destined to arise is destined to perish”

(cf. Vinaya, I, p. 11, 16, 19, 23, 37, 40, 181, 226; II, p. 157, 192; Dīgha, I, p. 110, 148; II, p. 41, 43–44; Majjhima, I, p. 380, 501; II, p. 145; III, p. 280; Saṃyutta, IV, p. 47, 192; V, p. 423; Anguttara, IV, p. 186, 210; Udāna, p. 49.)

This saying condenses the doctrine of the pratītyasamutpāda into a few words. And it is indeed the pratītyasamutpāda we are dealing with here, for the difference between the śaikṣas and the saṅkhyātadharmans (= aśaikṣas) consists in the fact that the former must still penetrate this fundamental truth (dharmatā, tathatā, dharmadhātu, etc.) whereas the latter have so complete an understanding of it that their impurities (āsrava) have been destroyed and their task is fulfilled.

This is what Śāriputra has just explained here, and the Buddha congratulates him for his answer.

Notes on Śāriputra’s lion’s roar (siṃhanāda):

Nidānasaṃyukt., p. 203–204:

Athānyataro bhikṣur yena bhagavāṃs tenopajagāma | upetya bhagavatpādau śirasā vaditvaikānte ‘sthāt | ekāntasthitaḥ sa bhikṣur bhagavantam idam avocat | āyuṣmatā bhadanta śāriputreṇa udārārṣabhī vāg bhāṣitaikāṃśa udgṛhītaḥ pariṣadi samyaksiṃhanādo nāditaḥ | apratisaṃ viditaṃ mām …

Tathā hi śāriputrasya bhikṣor dharmadhātuḥ supratividdhaḥ ||

Transl. –

Then a certain bhikṣu went to where the Buddha was, and, having gone there, he bowed to the Buddha’s feet and stood to one side; standing to one side, he said to the Buddha: Lord, a noble speech, a bull’s speech, a categorical statement, was made by Śāriputra, and in the assembly he uttered a real lion’s roar, saying: While I was ignorant of his meaning…, etc.

[The Buddha replied]: Truly, the dharmadhātu has been well penetrated by the bhikṣu Śāriputra.

The bhikṣu who denounced to the Buddha what he believed to be Śāriputra’s boasting was named Kaḷāra: cf. Samyutta, II, p. 50.

On the adjective ārṣabha, see above, p. 1592F, note 1.

When the canonical sūtras say the dharmadhātu has been well penetrated (supratividdha) by the Buddha or by Śāriputra (cf. Dīgha, II, p. 8, l. 13–14; p. 53, l. 13–14; Majjhima, I, p. 396, l. 10; Saṃyutta, II, p. 56, l. 4), they have in mind the Hīnayāna dharmatā, namely the pratītyasamutpāda (cf. Saṃyutta, II, p. 25, l. 17 foll.). For the Mahāyāna, the dharmadhātu is the true nature of dharmas (dharmatā) which has, as sole nature, the absence of nature. Where the śrāvakas speak of dependent origination (pratītyasamutpāda), the bodhisattvas speak of non-production (anutpāda): see above, p. 351F.

Footnotes and references:

1.

Nidānasaṃyukta, p. 202–203: Athḥāyuṣmāñ Śāriputro ‘ciraprakārantaṃ bhagavantaṃ viditvā bhikṣūn āmantrayati | apratisaṃviditaṃ mām āyuṣmanto bhagavān etaṃ prathamaṃ praśnaṃ pṛṣtavān | tasya me ‘bhūd apūrvaṃ dhandhāyitatvam | yataś ca me bhagavāṃs tat prathamaṃ praśnavyākaraṇam abhyanumoditavān tasya me etad abhavat | sacet kevālikāṃ rātrim bhagavān etam evārtham anyaiḥ padair anyair vyañjanaiḥ praśnaṃ pṛcchet kevalikām apy aham rātriṃ bhagavata etam evārthaṃ padair anyair vyañjanaiḥ praśnaṃ pṛṣṭo vyākuryām | saced ekaṃ divasam | ekaṃ rātridivasaṃ | saptāpi rātridivasāni Bhagavan mām etam evārtham anyaiḥ padair anyair vyañjanaiḥ praśnam pṛṣṭo vyakudivasāni bhagavata etam evārtham anyaiḥ padair anyair vyañjanaiḥ praśnaṃ pṛṣṭo vyākuryām |

Transl. – Then, seeing that the Bhagavat had gone, Śāriputra said to the bhikṣus: While I did not yet know what he meant, O venerable ones, I felt more embarrassed than I have ever felt before. But as soon as the Bhagavat had approved of my first answer to his question, I had the following thought: If the Bhagavat questioned me on the same subject for a night using different phrases and different words, I would, for this whole night, be able to answer the Bhagavat on this same question using different phrases and different words. And it would be the same if the Bhagavat questioned me on the same subject for a day, or a night, or even seven days and seven nights.

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