Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “five kinds of anagamin (non-returners)” 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.

Appendix 3 - Five kinds of Anāgāmin (non-returners)

Note: This Appendix is extract from the Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra Chapter XLIX:

But the Anāgāmin who acquires parinirvāṇa in the present lifetime (dṛṣṭadharma-parinirvāyin) and the anāgāmin who acquires parinirvāṇa in the intermediary existence (antarā-parinirvāyin) 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)?

There are several kinds of anāgāmins: the most widespread list distinguishes five:

1) Antarāparinirvāyin who obtains parinirvāṇa in the intermediate existence (yo ‘ntarābhave parinirvāti) at the moment when, having left kāmadhātu, he is getting ready to attain rūpadhātu.

2) Upapadyaparinirvāyin who, as soon as he is reborn in rūpadhātu, obtains parinirvāṇa in a short time (ya utpannamātro na cirāt parinirvāti).

3) Sābhisaṃskāraparinirvāyin who, having been born, obtains parinirvāṇa without relaxing his effort (upapadyāpratiprasrabdhaprayoga).

4) Anabhisaṃskāraparinirvāyin who obtains parinirvāṇa effortlessly.

5) Ūrdhvasrotas who, on leaving kāmadhātu, do not obtain parinirvāṇa in the realm in which they are reborn (yasya na tatra parinirvāṇaṃ yatropapannaḥ), but who go higher (ūrdhvam) to the Akaniṣṭha gods, to the summit of rūpadhātu or to bhavāgra and find parinirvāṇa there.

Whether alone or inserted into broader contexts, the list of the five anāgāmins is very widespread in the sūtras and in the Abhidharma, both Sanskrit as well as Pāli: Dīgha, III, p. 237 (cf. Das Saṅghītisūtra und sein Kommentar Saṅgītiparyāya, ed. K. Mittal und V Rosen, p. 153–156); Saṃyutta, V, p. 70, 201, 237, 285, 314, 378; Anguttara, I, p. 233, l. 28–35; IV, p. 14–15; p. 70–74 (in the Purisagatisutta of which the Sanskrit correspondent is cited in full in the Kośavyākhyā, p. 270, l. 22–272, ol. 3; Chinese version in Madhyama, T 26, k. 2, p. 427); Saṃgītiparyāya, T 1536, k. 14, p. 425c38–427a1; Mahāvibhāṣā, T 1545, k. 174, p. 874b21–876b14; Amṛtarasa, T 1553, K. 1, p. 973b12–15; Kośabhāṣya, p. 358, l. 20–359, l. 13.