Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

by Gelongma Karma Migme Chödrön | 2001 | 941,039 words

This page describes “vyakarana (prediction)” 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.

Third aṅga (member): Vyākaraṇa (prediction)

The predictions relating to the nine paths (navamārga) of beings, i.e., (1–3) the paths of the three Vehicles (triyānamārga) and (4–9) the paths of the six destinies (ṣaḍgatimārga) are called vyākaraṇa.

1) [The Buddha predicts] that a certain man, after so many incalculable periods (asaṃkhyeyakalpa), will become Buddha, or he predicts that after so many years (varṣa, saṃvatsara), he will become Buddha.

2) He predicts that a śrāvaka in the present lifetime (ihaloka) or in the future lifetime (paraloka) will obtain bodhi.

3) He predicts that a pratyekabuddha, in the future lifetime only, will obtain bodhi.

4–9) He predicts that the beings belonging to one of the six other destinies [naraka, tiryañc, preta, manuṣya, deva, asura], in the future lifetime equally, will obtain their retribution (vipāka).

[The prediction takes place in the following manner]: [307a]

1) For the Buddha, it is the rule that, at the moment when he is going to give the prediction (vyākaraṇa) to a being, he first smiles (pūrvaṃ smitaṃ prāviṣkaroti), then immense rays (arcis) shoot forth from his four canine teeth (daṃṣtra): blue (nīla), yellow (pīta), red (lohita), white (avadāta), bright red (māñjiṣṭha), etc. rays.

2) The rays that stream forth from his two upper canine teeth illumine the three bad destinies (durgati) – [naraka, tiryañc and preta] – and, from these rays immense preachings (dharmadeśana) spread out proclaiming: “All formations are impermanent, all dharmas are without self, peaceful is nirvāṇa” (sarvasaṃskārā anityaḥ, sarvadharmā anātmānaḥ, śāntaṃ nirvāṇam). The beings who encounter these rays and hear this preaching find happiness of body and mind (kāyacittasukha), will be reborn among humans (manuṣya) and gods (deva) and, as a result, will come to the end of suffering (duḥkhasyānta).

3) The rays that stream forth from his two lower canines go upwards (upariṣṭād gacchanti) to illuminate humans (manuṣya) and gods (deva) up to the absorption of the summit of existence (bhavāgrasamāpatti):

a. The deaf (badhira), the blind (andha) and the mute (mūkha), the mentally disturbed (unmatta) and the sick (rogaspṛṣṭa) are cured.

b. The six [classes] of gods of the desire realm (ṣaṭkāmadeva), humans (manuṣya), asuras, enjoying all the happiness of the five objects of enjoyment (pañcakāmaguṇa), as soon as they come in contact with the Buddha’s rays and perceive the sounds (śabda) of the preaching of the Dharma (dharmadeśana), are seized by horror (vidūṣana) in regard to the sense pleasures and find happiness of body and mind (kāyacittasukha).

c. As for the gods of the form realm (rūpadhātudeva), the ones who are enjoying the happiness of the dhyānas (dhyānasukha), as soon as they come in contact with the Buddha’s rays and perceive the sounds of the preaching of the Dharma, they are seized with disgust [for the taste of the dhyānas] (dhyānāsvādana)] and go to the Buddha.

4) This goes on while the rays have gone to the ten directions and have illuminated the six destinies (ṣaḍgati) everywhere. Having thus done the work of the Buddha (buddhakārya), they return to the Buddha, make seven circuits around his body and [are reabsorbed into him].

a. If the Buddha predicts a birth among the damned (narakapapatti), the rays re-enter him by the soles of his feet (pādatale ’ntardhīyante).

b. If the Buddha predicts a birth among the animals (tiryagupapatti), the rays re-enter through his heel (pārṣṇyām antaradhīyante).

c. If the Buddha predicts a birth among the pretas (pretopatti), the rays re-enter through his big toe (pādāṅguṣṭhe ’ntardhīyante).

d. If the Buddha predicts a birth among humans (manuṣyopapatti), the rays re-enter by his navel (nābhyām antardhīyante).

e. If the Buddha predicts a birth among the gods (devopatti), the rays re-enter by his chest (urasy antardhīyante).

f. If the Buddha announces [the bodhi] of the śrāvakas the rays re-enter by his mouth (āsye ’ntardhīyante).

g. If the Buddha announces [the bodhi] of the pratyekabuddhas, the rays re-enter by the [tuft of white hairs] between his eyebrows (ūrṇāyām antardhīyante).

h. If the Buddha announces [the saṃbodhi] of the Buddhas, the rays re-enter by his cranial protuberance (uṣṇiṣe ’ntardhīyante).

5) When the Buddha makes a prediction (vyākaraṇa), he first manifests these signs, then his disciples, Ānanda, etc., question him as to their meaning.

Note on Vyākaraṇa:

Vyākaraṇa can designate a catechesis by means of questions and answers, an explanation or a prediction. The Traité here holds only this latter meaning. When the Buddha is about to give a prediction, he smiles and multicolored rays are emitted from his upper and lower canine teeth which light up the beings of the three unfortunate destinies and the two happy destinies, proclaiming the three seals of the Dharma and making conversions. Thus doing the work of the Buddha, the rays return to the Buddha and, according to whether they have announced such and such an attaining of Bodhi, they re-enter the Buddha by such and such a part of his body. Witnessing these miracles, Ānanda asks the Buddha about their meaning and the Teacher gives him their explanation.

The predictions that the Buddha was led to give were numerous. They always unfolded according to the rituals that have just been summarized. In order to describe them, the texts, particularly those of the Sarvāstivādins, always use the same stock phrase: cf. Divyāvādana, p. 67, l. 16–69; 138, l. 1–140, l. 7; 265, l. 16–267, l. 7; Saṃghabheda, II, p. 161, l. 21–163, l. 20; Avadānaśataka, I, p. 4, l. 5–7, l. 6; 10, l. 5–12, l. 20; 19, l. 1–22, l. 5, etc. – This stock phrase has already been given above, p. 460F, n. 2.

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