Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “nidana (circumstances)” 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.

Sixth aṅga (member): Nidāna (circumstances)

Note: Here nidāna is taken with two different meanings: i) the circumstances of time, place and people in which a sūtra was preached or a rule (śikṣāpada) was promulgated; ii) the series of the twelve conditions determining the dependent origination of phenomena.

1) The nidānas set out the circumstances (nidāna) that are at the origin of the Buddha’s teachings. Under what circumstances did the Buddha say a certain thing? In the sūtras, it is because a man asked him that he said a certain thing; in the Vinaya, it is because a man committed a certain wrong-dong (adhyācāra) that he promulgated a certain rule (śikṣāpada).

2) The facts of dependent origination (pratītyasamutpāda) set forth by the Buddha are also called nidāna.