Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “hearing the teachings of the buddhas of the three times” 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.

Hearing the teachings of the Buddhas of the three times

Sūtra (cf. Pañcaviṃśati, p. 31, l. 8–13; Śatasāhasrikā, p. 100, l. 14–102, l. 16). – Furthermore, O Śāriputra, the bodhisattva-mahāsattva must practice the perfection of wisdom if he wishes to understand, retain, practice and make known [widely] to others everything that the Blessed Buddhas in the ten directions in universes as numerous as the sands of the Ganges have said, are saying, or will say (Punar aparaṃ Śāriputra yat kiṃcid daśasu dikṣu gaṅgānadīvālukopameṣu lokadhātuṣu buddhair bhagavadbhir bhāṣitaṃ bhāṣyate ca śrutvā tat sarvam udgrahītukāmena dhārayitukāmena pratipattukāmena parebhyaś ca vistareṇa saṃprakāśayitukāmena bodhisattvena mahāsattvena prajñāpāramitāyāṃ śikṣitavyam).

Śāstra. –

Question. – Above (p. 2276F), the Prajñāpāramitāsūtra spoke of the [308c] bodhisattva who, “in order to retain and not forget the words of the Buddhas of the ten directions”, must practice the perfection of wisdom; why does it speak again here about understanding and retaining the teachings of the Buddhas of the three times?

Answer. – Above, the sūtra spoke of the bodhisattva wishing to retain the teachings of the Buddhas of the ten directions and, since one does not know what the teachings were, it specified that it was a matter of the twelve-membered scripture (dvādaśāṅgapravacana) which the śrāvakas heard or did not hear.

Above, the sūtra mentioned only the Buddhas in universes as numerous as the sands of the Ganges: here it speaks of the teachings of the Buddhas of the three times as numerous as the sands of the Ganges.

Above, it was a matter only of retaining, not forgetting, these teachings, and it was not a question of the benefits coming from this remembering; here the sūtra wants them revealed to other people. This is why the sūtra has returned to this topic.