Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “vishvantara-jataka” 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.

Thus the bodhisattva Siu-ti-nien-na (Sudinna), descending from his white elephant Chan-cheng (Sujaya), gave it to an enemy family; then, withdrawing to a distant mountain, he gave his two dear children to a brahmaṇa with twelve uglinesses;{GL_NOTE::} finally, he gave his wife and his eyes to a fictive brahmaṇa. At that very moment the earth shook (bhūmicala); there was thunder and lightning and a rain of flowers fell from the sky.

Notes on the Viśvantara-jātaka:

On the Viśvantarajātaka, see above, p. 713F, n. 1. Add to the references already mentioned, the Sanskrit story in the Mūlasarvāsvādin Vinaya in the Saṃghabhedavastu II, ed. R. Gnoli, p. 119–133. This Jātaka has been the subject of some very interesting studies: D. Schlingloff, Die Jātaka-Darstellungen in Höhle 16 von Ajanta, in Beiträge zur Indienforschung, 1977, p. 462–466; R. F. Gombrich, A Sinhalese Cloth Painting of the Vessantara Jātaka, in Buddhism in Ceylon and Studies on Religious Syncretism in Buddhist Countries, ed. by H. Bechert, 1978, p. 78–88; S. Lienhard, La legende du prince Viśvantara dans la tradition népalais, in Arts Asiatique, XXXIV, 1978, p. 139–156.

Notes on the twelve uglinesses of the Brahmaṇa:

And not to “twelve ugly brahmaṇas” as I had translated it above, p. 713F, n. 1, line 13. The twelve uglinesses of the brahmaṇa called Jūjaka in the Pāli jātaka are listed in the T’ai tseu siu ta nouking, T 171, p. 421b22–24: “He had twelve kinds of ugliness: his body was black like pitch, on his face he had three calluses; the bridge of his nose was narrow; his two eyes were green; his face was wrinkled; his lips hung down; his speech was stammering; he had a big belly and a prominent rear-end; his legs were crooked and deformed; his head was bald” (transl. Chavannes, Contes, III, p. 379).