Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “punyakriyavastu consisting of morality” 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.

II. Puṇyakriyāvastu consisting of morality

The place of practice of meritorious action consisting of morality (śīlamayapuṇyakriyāvastu) is, in the words of the Buddha, meritorious action (puṇyakriyā) consisting of the five precepts (pañcaśīla).[1]

Question. – What are the characteristics (lakṣaṇa) of the wrong-doing of killing (prāṇātipāta)?[2]

Answer. – Depriving someone of life, knowing full well that he is a living being (prāṇasaṃjñī jivitād vyavaropayati), is to commit the wrong-doing of killing (prāṇātipāta). To kill for no reason, calmly, absent-mindedly, is not committing the wrong-doing of killing; to deprive of life inattentively (vikṣepa) or out of mental disturbance (kṣiptacitta) is not committing a wrong-doing of killing; to inflict a wound, (vraṇa) even though mortal, is not committing a wrong-doing of killing; a physical act (kāyakarman) not involving death is not a wrong-doing of killing; a simple act of body or speech (vākkāyakarman) is not a wrong-doing of killing [because bad intention is lacking]; by itself, bad intention is not enough [because the implementation is absent].

The stopping, abstaining (prativirati) of this wrong-doing [of killing] constitutes the good characteristic of the first precept.

According to some, this abstention is unobscured-indeterminate (anivṛtāvyākṛta). It belongs to the desire realm (kāmadhātvavacara) or to no realm (anavacara). It is neither mind (citta) nor mental event (caitta), neither associated with the mind (cittasaṃprayukta) nor accompanying the mind (cittānuparivartin); sometimes it arises with the mind (cittasahaja) and sometimes not. It is not associated with an action (karmasaṃprayukta) nor does it accompany the action (karmānuparivartin); sometimes it arises with an action (karmasahaja) and sometimes not. It is not the fruit of an earlier action (pūrvakarmavipākaphala). It is developed by acquisition (pratilambhabhāvita) and developed by practice (niṣevaṇabhāvita).[3] It is to be realized physically (kāyena sākṣīkartavya) and to be realized by wisdom (prajñāyā sākṣīkartavya).[4] Sometimes the thought (manaskāra) [that accompanies it] is suppressed (bhinna), sometimes not; when one abandons the desires (rāga) of the desire realm (kāmadhātu), it is suppressed. Abstention from killing occurs among worldly people (pṛthagjana) as well as among saints (ārya).

These are the characteristics (lakṣaṇa) of the morality consisting of abstaining from killing (prāṇātipātavirati). For the other four moralities, [refraining from theft, from illicit sexual relations, falsehood and liquor], it is the same: each according to its type participates in morality. They have been praised and commented on above (p. 784–819F) in regard to the perfection of morality (śīlapāramitā).

Footnotes and references:


See p. 819–825F.


See p. 784–789F and n.


Cf. p. 2248F, n. 3.


Cf. p. 2248F, n. 2.