Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “the two kinds of buddha” 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.

Question. – Some people are born in a time when one can meet a Buddha and when the Buddha’s Dharma is present; however, sometimes they fall into hell (niraya). This was the case for :

T’i-p’o-ta (Devadatta),[1]

Kiu-kia-li (Kokālika),[2]

Ho-to che-tseu (Hastaka Śākyaputra), (see Appendix 2) etc.

They fell into hell because the three bad dharmas (akuśaladharma) – [rāga, dveṣa and moha] – covered their minds. But then how can the Prajñāpāramitāsūtra say here that, in the absence of the Buddha, in universes as numerous as the sands of the Ganges, it is enough to hear the name of a buddha (buddhanāmadheyaśravaṇa) to attain abhisaṃbodhi?

Answer. – Above (p. 513F, 1805–1806F, 1818F, 1889F, 1907F, 1940F, 2238F, 2311F, 2322F), I have already said that there are two kinds of Buddhas: i) the Buddha with the body born of the fundamental element (dharmadhātujakāya); [313b] ii) the fictive Buddha (nirmāṇabuddha) who adapts himself to the sufferings of beings. In speaking of the dharmadhātujakāya Buddha, we say that it is enough to hear his name to find salvation; in speaking of the nirmāṇakāya Buddha who is adapted to beings, we say that in accordance with their karmic cause and conditions, some beings, even though they are dwelling with this Buddha, fall into hell.

There is no-one that this dharmadhātukakāya buddha cannot save (paritrāṇa), no wish (praṇidhāna) that he cannot fulfill (paripūraṇa). Why? Because for innumerable (aprameya) incalculable (asaṃkhyeya) kalpas he has accumulated all the roots of good (kuśalamūla) and all the good qualities (guṇa). His omniscience (sarvajñatā) is unhindered (anāvaraṇa) and complete (saṃpanna).

The devas and the great bodhisattvas rarely see it. Like the cintāmaṇi, it is hard (durdṛśa) to see and hard to acquire (durlabbha) it, but those who do see it have their wishes fulfilled. – It is like the sudarśa(?) plant: those who see it escape from all their misfortunes. – It is like the cakravartin king: people who see him do not lack wealth (dhana). – It is like Śakradevendra: people who see him obtain all their desires (yatheccham).[3] – It is like Brahmadevarāja: beings who depend on him chase away all their fears (bhaya).

People who commemorate (anusmaranti) the name of the bodhisattva Kouan-che-yin (Avalokiteśvara) are freed from all danger (see Appendix 3); all the more so if they commemorate the dharmadhātujakāya buddha.

Footnotes and references:


Cf. p. 407F, note.


The lies of Kokalika followed by his fall into hell have already been noted, p. 63F, and told in full, p. 806–813FF.


See Dhvajāgrasūtra cited above, p. 1335–1338F.

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