Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “arhathood of shariputra (upatishya) and maudgalyayana” 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.

Appendix 3 - Arhathood of Śāriputra (Upatiṣya) and Maudgalyāyana

Note: This Appendix is extracted from a footnote of the Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra Chapter LI:

Śāriputra first attained the first fruit of the Path, then after a fortnight (ardhamāsa), he attained the bodhi of the Arhats.

The Traité has devoted the entire chapter XVI, p. 621–649F, to the story of Śāriputra (= Upatiṣya) and Maudgalyāyana (= Kolia), but here it is necessary to return to three events which made a mark in their lives: the attaining the fruit of srotaāpanna (or if you wish, the conversion), the ordination and arriving at arhathood.

1) The attainment of the fruit of srotaāpanna.

These two childhood friends set out on the search of the deathless, first started in the school of the sage Sañjaya (= Sañjayin) where there were 500 praivrājakas.

At Rājagṛha, Śāriputra met Aśvajit, the Buddha’s first disciple and heard from his mouth the famous stanza summarizing the Buddha’s teaching in four lines: Ye dharmā hetuprabhavāḥ… There immediately arose in him the dust-free stainless eye of the Dharma (Vin. I, p. 40, l. 30–34; Catuṣpariṣad, p. 378).

Śāriputra went on to communicate this stanza to his friend Maudgalayāyana and the latter, in turn, entered into possession of this same fruit of the Path (Vin. I, p. 41, l. 37–42, l. 3; Catuṣpariṣad, p. 384).

2) Ordination.

The two friends decided to go to the Buddha who was then at the Venuvana in Rājagṛha, and they were accompanied by 250 parivrājakas. Upon their request, they received, at the Buddha’s call Ehibhikṣukā, the minor ordination (pravrajyā), the major ordination (upasampad) and the status of bhikṣu (Vin. I, p. 43, l. 6–7; Catuṣpariṣad, p. 392; Mūlasarv. Vin., T 1444, k. 2, p. 1028a11–23).

3) Arrival at arhathood.

Except for Śāriputra and Maudgalyāyana, all the parivrājakas 250 in number) acceded to the state of arhat (thapetvā dve aggasāvake avasesā arahattaṃ pāpuṇiṃsu) at the very moment of their ordination.

Events after his ordination:

Seven days after his ordination (pabbajitadivasato sattame divase), Maudgalyāyana attained the summit of supreme knowledge of the śrāvakas (sāvakapāramiñaṇassa matthakaṃ patto), i.e., he became arhat. After a week of intense meditation, he had been seized by languor-torpor (thīnamiddha), but the Buddha came to preach to him the Pacālasutta of the Anguttara (IV, p. 85–91), and he shook off his sleepiness.

As for Śāriputra, it was only after the fifteenth day following his ordination (pabbajitadivasato addhamāsaṃ atikkamitvā) that he attained the summit of supreme knowledge of the śrāvakas. He was then in the neighborhood of Rājagṛha in the Sūkarakhata cave and had heard Dīrghanakha, his sister’s son, speaking with the Buddha, a dialogue recorded in the Vedanāparigghanasuttanta, better known as the Dīghanakhasutta, Majjhima, I, p. 497–501. [Cf. the Dīrghanakhāvadāna of the Avadānaśataka where it is clearly specified (II, p. 194, l. 1) that Śāriputra at that time was ardhamāsopasaṃpanna ‘ordained for half a month’.

All this is taken from the Commentary of the Dhammapada, 2nd edition, I, p. 79–80; see also Mrs. Rhys Davids, Psalms of the Brethren, p. 341–342.

Nidānakathā, p. 85: Mahāmoggallāno sattāhena arahattaṃ pāpuṇi Sāriputtathero addhamāsena. ubho pi ca ne Satthā aggasāvakaṭṭhāne ṭhapesi.

Mahāvastu, III, p. 66–67: Sarveṣāṃ Śāriputramaudgalayāyanamukhānāṃ bhikṣuśatānām anupādāyāsravebhyaś cuttāni vimuktāni | āyuṣmāmś ca Mahāmaudgalyāyano saptāhopasaṃpanno ṛddhibalatāṃ ṛddhivaśitaṃ ca anuprāpuṇe catvāri ca pratisaṃvidāni sākṣikare | āyuṣmāṃ ca Śāriputro ardhamāsaṃ pravrajito ardhamāsopasaṃpanno abhijñāvaśitāṃ prajñāpāramitāṃ ca anuprāpuṇe catvāri ca pratisaṃvidāni sākṣikare |

The fact that Śāriputra and Maudgalyāyana became arhat later than their companions was not at all because of weakness but, on the other hand, because of the vastness of their supreme śrāvaka knowledge (Dhp. A, I, p. 79, l. 16: sāvakapāramiñāṇassa mahantatāya). In order for Śāriputra to turn the Wheel of Dharma after the Buddha, an interval of a fortnight between his ordination and his accession to arhathood was necessary (see above, p. 633F).