Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “retaining the teachings of the buddhas of the present” 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.

Part 8 - Retaining the teachings of the Buddhas of the present

Sūtra (cf. Pañcaviṃśati, p. 30. l. 14–16; Śatasāhasrikā, p. 100, l. 1–5). – The bodhisattva must practice the perfection of wisdom if, after having heard the teachings given in the ten directions by the Buddhas, he wishes to retain everything [and not forget them] until he attains supreme perfect enlightenment (Bodhisattvena mahāsattvena yāṃs te buddhā bhagavato daśasu dikṣu dharmān bhāṣante tāñ śrutvā sarvān saṃdhārayitukāmena yāvad anuttarāṃ samyaksaṃbodhi, abhisaṃbuddha iti prañāpāramitāyāṃ śikṣitavyam).

Śāstra. –

Question. – The teachings of a single Buddha are already hard to retain (saṃdhārayitum); how then would the bodhisattva retain and not forget the teachings of innumerable Buddhas?

Answer. – By the power of the Śrutadharadhāraṇi, the ‘dhāraṇi retaining what has been heard’,[1] the bodhisattva gets a strong memory (smṛti) and by the power of the dhāraṇi, he does not forget.

Moreover, as is said here, it is by the power of the Prajñāpāramitā [that the bodhisattva retains the teachings of all the Buddhas]. Perfectly pure (atyantaviśuddhi) and free of any clinging (adhyavasāna), this pāramitā is like the great sea (mahāsamudra) which receives all the rivers. Similarly, by means of this great receiver (mahābhājana), the Prajñāpāramitā, the bodhisattva retains and does not forget the innumerable teachings of the Buddhas of the ten directions.

Finally, the Prajñāpāramitā is incomparable (anupama) like space (ākāśa). After the final conflagration (kalpoddāha), a great rain (mahāvarṣa) fills everything and, except for space, there is no place that can receive it; similarly, when the rain of teachings (dharmadeśana) of the Buddhas of the ten directions comes out of the Buddhas’ mouths, there is nobody to retain it except for the bodhisattva practicing the prajñāpāramitā.

This is why the Prajñāpāramitāsūtra says here that in order to hear [and retain] the teachings of the Buddhas of the ten directions, the bodhisattva must practice the perfection of wisdom.

Footnotes and references:


See p. 318F, 328F, 1865F.