Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “udana-sutta” 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 Buddha was at Śrāvastī, at the Viśākhāprāsāda, and was walking in the shade. [Suddenly] he uttered this exclamation (udānam udānayati sma): “That there is no ‘me’ (ātman), that there is no ‘mine’ (ātmiya), how wonderful (sādhu)!”

Then a certain bhikṣu, joining his palms together (añjakiṃ praṇamya), said to the Buddha: “Bhagavat, that there is no me, that there is no mine, why is that a good thing?”

The Buddha answered the bhikṣu: “The worldly person (pṛthagjana) who has not obtained the bodhi without impurities (anāsrava bodhi) and whose mind is covered with doubts (viparyāsa), feels great fear (trāsa) in regard to non-self (anātman) and ‘non-mine’ (anātmīya). But if the Buddha or a disciiple of the Buddha teaches him the holy Dharma (saddharma), then he rejoices and obeys because, no longer having fear, there is no problem.”

- This sūtra is told in full in the Saṃyuktāgama.

Notes on the Udāna-sutta:

Udānasutta in Saṃyutta, III, p. 55–58; Saṃyukta, T 99, no. 64, k. 3, p. 16c4–17a20, of which the following is an extract:

Sāvatthiyāṃ.

Tatra kho bhagavā udānam udānesi:

No c’assaṃ na me siyā |
na bhavassati na me bhaissatī ti |
evaṃ adhimuccamāno bhikkhu |
chindeyy’ orambhāgiyāni saṃyojanānī ti || …….

The general idea of the sūtra is that by destroying the twenty-peaked mountain of satkāyadṛṣṭi (considering rūpa as identical with the ātman, etc.), the ascetic escapes from the fear (trāsa) which the doctrine of non-self inspires in the non-initiated, and destroys the five ‘lower’ fetters (avarabhāgīya) binding him to the lower realm, i.e., to kāmadhātu.

The stanza No c’assaṃ, etc., cited here according to the Commentary of the Saṃyutta, II, p. 275, is obscure. Buddhaghosa explains it as:

Sace ahaṃ na bhaveyyaṃ mama parikkhāro pi na bhaveyya. Sace vā pana me atīte kammābhisankhāro nābhavissa, idaṃ me etarahi khandhapañcakaṃ na bhaveyya.

– If I myself were not, the unessential would not be in me either. Or rather: If, in the past, there had not been a karmic process on my part, the group of the five aggregates would not exist for me today.

In his Chinese version of the Saṃyukta (T 99, k. 3, p. 16c8–10), Gunaprabha renders the stanza as follows: If there is no ‘me’ (ātman), neither is there any ‘mine’ (ātmiya); if there truly is no ‘me’, where would the ‘mine’ come from? The bhikṣu who accepts that destroys the lower fetters (avarabhāgīya saṃyojana).