Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “sumedha-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 Siu-mi-t’o pi-k’ieou-ni (Sumedhā bhikṣuṇī) along with two co-disciples, built a vihāra for the buddha Kia-na-k’ie-meou-ni (Kanakmuni) and, for numberless incalculable thousands of myriads of lifetimes, enjoyed bliss among the noble cakravartin kings and the devarājas.

Notes on the Sumedhā-jātaka:

The successive lives of Sumedhā are told in the Therīgathās, v. 448–522 (p. 167–174) and their commentary: Psalms of the Sisters (p. 164–165) as well as in the Apadāna (p. 512–513).

Under the buddha Koṇāgamana, she and two of her companions, Dhanañjānī and Khema, made a gift of a vihāra to the teacher. Under the buddha Kassapa, she was a friend of the seven daughters of king Kiki of Benares and, as an upāsikā, was noted for her generosity which won her rebirth among the gods for innumerable times. Finally, under the Buddha Śākyamuni, she was the daughter of king Koñca of Mantāvatī. She refused the hand of Anikadatta, king of Vāraṇavatī, whom her parents wished her to accept. After having converted her family and her entourage, full of distaste for the world, she left home and became a nun. Shortly after, she attained arhathood.

In Therīgathā, v. 518, she tells about the gift that she and her two companions made to Koṇāgama:

Bhagavati Koṇāgamaṇe saṃghārāmamhi navanivesamhi |
sakhiyo tīṇi janiyo vihāradānaṃ adāsimhā ||