Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “story of hastaka shakyaputra” 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 2 - The story of Hastaka Śākyaputra

Note: This Appendix is extracted from the Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra chapter LII (the two kinds of Buddha):

This wisdom is the correct worldly view (laukikī samyagdṛṣṭi). In this correct worldly view, beings say: “There is generosity, there is fruit of ripening of good or bad actions, there is a world here below and a world beyond, there are Arhats”.

Above, p. 693F, the Traité has already mentioned a certain Ho-to (Hastaka) along with Devadatta. The former, I [Lamotte] think, perhaps wrongly, should be replaced by Udraka Rāmaputra. The transcription Ho-to che-tseu which is found here shows that it is a question of Hastaka Śākyaputra (in Pāli, Hatthaka Sakyaputta) distinct from many other Hastakas mentioned in the scriptures and particularly Hastaka Āṭavika whose story is told above, p. 562–565F.

Hastaka Śakyaputra appears in the Vinayas in regard to the first Pātayantika dealing with lying: Pāli Vin, IV,p. 1–2 (cf. Comm. of the Dhammapada, III, p. 390–391); Mahīśāsaka Vin.., T 1421. k. 5. p. 37b12–37c6; Dharmaguptaka Vin., T 1428, K. 11, p. 634a6–634c10; Sarvāstivādin Vin., T 1435, k. 9, p. 63b12–64a5. Here is the transl. of the latter source, the most detailed:

The Buddha was dwelling at Śrāvastī. At that time in southern India, there was a master in the art of debate; his belly was covered with sheets of copper and he wore a lamp on his head. He came to Śrāvastī and people asked him why he was [armor-clad] in such a way.

He answered:

“My wisdom is strong and I am afraid that my belly might burst.”

He was also asked why he carried a lamp on his head and he replied that it was to light up the darkness.

People said:

“You foolish brāhmaṇa, the sun lights up the whole continent; why do you talk about darkness?”

He answered:

“Don’t you know there are two kinds of darkness? One is when the light of the sun and the moon are absent; the other is delusion (moha), when the light of wisdom (prajñā) is absent.”

People said:

“It is because you have not seen the bhikṣu Ho-to che-tseu (Hastaka Śākyaputra) that you talk that way. If you had seen and heard him, the rising of the sun would be shadows and the night would be the sun-rise.”

Then the inhabitants of the city begged the bhikṣu Hastaka Śākyaputra to come and debate with the brāhmaṇa. Hastaka, hearing this invitation, became despondent but could do no other than to start out for the city.

On the way, he saw two rams fighting. He took this as an omen and said to himself: “This ram is the brāhmaṇa, this other ram is me.”

Seeing that the ram that represented himself was losing, he became more depressed. Following on his way, he saw two bulls fighting and said to himself: “This bull is the brāhmaṇa, the other bull is myself”; here again the bull that represented himself was losing.

Continuing on his way, he saw two men fighting and he said to himself: “This man is the brāhmaṇa, that man is myself.”

Again the man representing himself was the loser. About to enter the debate hall, he saw a woman carrying a pitcher of water, but the pitcher broke and the water spilled out.

He thought: “I see bad omens: I cannot avoid defeat.”

Nevertheless, unable to do anything else, he entered the house. There, on seeing the eyes and the face of the debate master, he understood that he would be vanquished, and his grief was extreme.

He went to sit down and when it was announced that the debate could begin, he answered:

“For the moment I am a little sick; wait until tomorrow.”

Having said that, he went [to the Jetavana in Śāravastī] where he had a place to live. In the last watch of the night (paścime yāme), he left to go to Rājagṛha.

The next day, the inhabitants [of Śrāvastī] gathered together; they waited for Hastaka for a long time but he did not appear. The time having passed, they went to the Jetavana and began to look for him (anveṣaṇa).

The bhikṣus [in Jetavana] told them:

“During the last watch of the night, Hastaka took his robe and his bowl (pātracīvaram ādāya) and went away.”

Hearing this, the citizens blamed Hastaka in many ways (anekaparyāyeṇa vigarhanti), saying: “How can a bhikṣu lie thus?”

One man told it to a second, the second to a third and so on, and so [Hastaka’s] bad name spread throughout the city. Then the bhikṣus of little desire (alpeccha) who were simple (alpakṛtya) and kept the precepts strictly (dhūtavādin) took their robe and bowl and entered the city to beg their food (piṇḍāya). Hearing about the affair, they were displeased and after their meal they went to tell the details to the Buddha (tair etat prakkaraṇaṃ bhagavato vistareṇārocitam).

Then, for this reason [and in this circumstance], the Buddha called the assembly of bhikṣus together (atha bhagavān etasmin nidāna etasmin prakaraṇe saṃghaṃ saṃnipātayati).

He blamed [Hastaka] in many ways, saying:

“How can a bhikṣu lie in this way?”

Having blamed him in many ways, he said to the bhikṣus:

“In view of ten advantages, I promulgate the following rule for bhikṣus (daśānuśaṃsān pratītya bhikṣūṇāṃ śikṣāpadaṃ prajñāpayiṣyāmi) and from now on this rule must be worded thus (adyāgreṇa caitac śikṣāpadam uddeṣṭavyam): If a bhikṣu lies knowingly, he commits a pātayantika (saṃprajānamṛṣāvādāt pātayantikā).”

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