Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “the ten grounds shared by adepts of the three vehicles” 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.

Note (3). The ten grounds shared by adepts of the three vehicles

Here it is no longer a matter of the grounds reserved for bodhisattvas alone but of four groups of grounds occupied by the śrāvakas, the pratyekabuddhas, the bodhisattvas and the Buddhas, respectively. The list was elaborated in the Prajñā school and presents some similarities with that of the ten bodhisattva-vyavasthānas mentioned above.

1) Śuklavidarśanā (dkar po rnam par mthoṅ naḥi sa, tsing kouan); ground pf clear seeing. – Variant attested by the Śatasāhasrikā, p. 1563, l. 1, and some Chinese translations: Śuṣkavidarśanā (kan houei): level of dry seeing, i.e., not moistened by absorption. Variant derived probably from a faulty reading: śuṣka for śukla.

2) Gotra (rigs kyi sa, sing or tchong sing); ground of the spiritual lineage.

3) Aṣṭamaka (brgyad paḥi sa, pa jen or ti pa): ground of the eighth saint or of the aspirant srotaāpanna.

4) Darśana (mthoṅ baḥi sa, kien or kiu kien): ground of seeing or of srotaāpanna.

5) Tanū (bsrab paḥi sa, po): ground of the reduction of the passions or of the sakṛdāgāmin.

6) Vītarāga (ḥdod chags daṅ bral baḥi sa, li yu): ground of the saint freed from the passions or of the anāgāmin.

7) Kṛtāvi (byas pa bsraṅ baḥi sa, yi tso or yi pan): ground of the saint who has done what had to be done or of the arhat.

8) Pratyekabuddha: ground(s) of the solitary Buddhas.

9) Bodhisattva: the (ten) grounds of the bodhisattva.

10) Buddha: the ground of the Buddhas.

In this list, only the śrāvaka grounds, seven in number, are itemized.

The list does not appear again in the Aṣṭasāhasrikā, but does appear in all of the large P.P. sūtras:

Aṣṭadaśa, ed. E. Conze, I, p. 183, l. 24–25; 197, l. 4–8. – T VII, no. 220, p. 497b14–15; 698b12–13.

Pañcaviṃśati, ed. N. Dutt, p. 225, l. 16–18; 235, l. 18–19. – T VIII, no. 221, p. 29b25–26. – T VIII, no. 222, p. 199a1–2. – T VIII, no. 223, p. 259c12–13; 261a4–6; 346b5–6; 377c22–24; 383b20–21; 383c11–13. T VII, no. 220, p. 88c20–21; 97c26–28; 119a4–12.

Śatasāhasrikā, ed. P. Ghosa, p. 1473, l. 11–16; 1520, l. 20–22; 1562, l. 21–1563, l. 2. – T V, no. 220, p. 321c29–322a1. – T VI, no. 220, p. 905a15–17; 917b20–22.

Upadeśa, T XXV, no. 1509, p. 191a17; 197b23; 411a26–29; 585c28–586a25; 643a5–6; 657a11.

Compare Āloka, ed. U. Wogihara, p. 104, l. 3–11.

The career of the bodhisattva:

The career of the bodhisattva goes from the first production of the mind of bodhi (prathamacittotpāda) up to the arrival at supreme complete enlightenment constituting buddhahood. The Prajñā thinkers attribute to it ten stages or ten degrees which they metaphorically designate under the name of ‘grounds’ (bhūmi). Having established this list reserved for solitary bodhisattvas, they thought to draw up a vaster one, this time including all the adepts of the Holy Dharma, śrāvakas, pratyekabuddhas, bodhisattvas and Buddhas: this is the list called the list of shared grounds (sādhāraṇabhūmi). It also involves ten grounds, those of the pratyekabuddhas, bodhisattvas and Buddhas each counting as one (numbers 8 to 10) whereas those of the śrāvakas (numbers 1 to 7) counting as seven. Where were they found? In the early scriptures and mainly in the Vinayas and Abhidharmas where these seven śrāvakabhūmis appear in part or in full as has been shown by A. Hirakawa, The Rise of Mahāyāna Buddhism, Memoirs of the Research Department of the Tōyō Bunka, no. 22, 1963, p. 67–68.

The career of the śrāvaka is strictly called the Path of nirvāṇa traveled by the saints or āryas. Leaving aside a preparatory period, it goes from entry into the certainty of acquisition of the supreme good (samyaktvaniyāmāvakrānti) or nirvāṇa up to obtaining the state of arhat. During this career, by means of seeing (darśana) and repeated meditation (bhāvanā) of the noble Truths, the ārya gathers the four fruits of the religious life (śrāmaṇyaphala) successively, the fruits of srotaāpanna, sakṛdāgāmin, anāgāmin and arhat.

The career of the śrāvaka is punctuated with a certain number of stages which some early sources, rather rare it is true, describe also as grounds (bhūmi) and which may be placed parallel to the grounds of the bodhisattva. As we have just seen, the Prajñāpāramitā enumerates seven, śuklavidarśana, etc., but the early sources (Vinaya and Abhidharma of the Sarvāstivādins) are usually content to give a much lower number.

1) Two bhūmis: Darśana and Bhāvanā, represented by anājñātamājñāsyāmindriya and ājñātendriya respectively. Cf. Mahāvibhāṣā, T XXVII, no, 1545, p. 344a3–4; 909c22. – Vibhāṣā, T XXVIII, no. 1546, p. 256c9.

2) Three bhūmis: Darśana, Bhāvanā and Aśaikṣa. Cf. Mahāvibhāṣā, T XXVII, no. 1545, p. 740a14; 944a25. – Abhidharmahṛdaya by Upaśānta, T XXVIII, no. 1551, p. 849c24–25. – Saṃyuktābhidharmahṛdaya, T XXVIII, no. 1552, p. 910c6.

3) Four bhūmis, according to Ghoṣaka: Tanū, Vītarāga, Aśaikṣa and Bhūmiphala or Nirvāṇa (cf. Mahāvibhāṣā, T XXVII, no. 1545, p. 137b27–28) or Darśana, Tanū, Vītarāga and Aśaikṣa (cf. Vibhāṣā, T XXVIII, no. 1546, p. 114a12–13).

4) Four bhūmis according to Pārśva: Prayoga (sieou hing ti), Darśana (kien ti), Bhāvanā (sieou ti) and Aśaikṣa (wou hio ti). Cf. Mahāvibhāṣā, T XXVII, no. 1545,p. 560c7–8. – Vibhāṣā, T XXVIII, no. 1546, p. 398b13–14.

5) Six bhūmis, according to Kātyāyanīputra: Prayoga, Darśana, Tanū, Vitarāga, Aśaikṣa and Bhūmiphala or Nirvāṇa. Cf. Mahāvibhāṣā, T XXVII, no. 1545, p. 147b29–c3.

6) Six bhūmis: Gotra, Aṣṭamaka, Darśana, Tanū, Vītarāga and Kṛtāvi. Cf. Vinayamātṛkā, T XXIV, no. 1463, p. 801b20–25. It is possible that the large P.P. sūtras may have borrowed this list, putting a śukladarśanabhūmi ahead of it. Even if that is the case, it would be dangerous to conclude a dependency between the Prajñās and the Vinayamātṛkā the relationship of which is unknown; for some critics it would be of Haimavata origin; for others, of Dharmagupaka origin.

Two groups of grounds (bhūmi):

Whatever its origin, the list of the ten shared grounds has complicated the career of the bodhisattva in a strange way. We may recall that this career begins with the first production of the mind of bodhi (prathamacittotpāda) and ends with the arrival at supreme complete bodhi (anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi). It involves a certain number of stages or steps designated by the name of grounds (bhūmi). Two groups of grounds are to be distinguished:

1) The grounds proper, i.e., reserved for the bodhisattva. They are ten in number. In the early Prajñās, they are not named, but the Avataṃsaka calls them Pramuditā, Vimalā, Prabhākarī, Arciṣmatī, Sudurjayā, Abhimukhī, Dūraṃgamā, Acalā, Sādhumatī, Dharmameghā.

2) The shared grounds (sādhāraṇabhūmi) belonging to the disciples of the Buddha altogether divided into three groups: i) the śrāvakas whose grounds are seven in number: Śuklavidarśana (variant, Śuṣkhavidarśana), Gotra, Aṣṭamaka, Darśana, Tanū, Vītarāga, Kṛtāvi; ii) the pratyekabuddhas whose grounds are not specified in number; iii) the bodhisattvas to whom are reserved the ten grounds proper just mentioned.

In the following pages, I [Lamotte] will refer to these two groups of grounds by calling them the ‘grounds proper’ and the ‘shared grounds’.

The bodhisattva has two ways of accomplishing his career. He can travel through the grounds proper (what I [Lamotte] will call the ‘career of grounds proper’, or he can travel though the shared grounds (what I [Lamotte] will call the ‘career of shared grounds’).

1. The career of the grounds proper

It is by far the most usual. It is described in chapter XX of the Pañcaviṃśati entitled Saṃprasthānaparivarta (T 223, k. 6, p. 256c–259c) and commented on in the present chapter of the Traité.

2. The career of the shared grounds

It has been passed over unnoticed up until now, although it was set out in chapter LVII of the Pañcaviṃśati entitled Chen ngao p’in, or also Teng tchou p’in (Pradipavartiparivarta): cf. T 223, k. 17, p. 346b2–7:

Subhūti asked the Buddha: Bhagavat, what are the ten grounds which the bodhisattva completely fulfills in order to obtain anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi? – The Buddha replied: The bodhisattva who completely fulfills the Śuṣkavidarśanābhūmi, the Gotrabhūmi, the Aṣṭamakabhūmi, the Darśanabhūmi, the Tanūbhūmi, the Vitarāgabhūmi, the Kṛtāvibhūmi, the Pratyekabuddhabhūmis, the Bodhisattvabhūmis, the Buddhabhūmi, this bodhisattva, I say, who completely fulfills these bhūmis obtains anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi.

At first sight it seems strange that, in order to accomplish his own career, the bodhisattva begins by fulfilling that of a śrāvaka but, although initially the practices of the śrāvaka and the bodhisattva are the same, the mind in which they are performed is quite different.

The explanations given by the Traité (T 1509, k. 75, p. 585c25–586a25) merit a translation:

In this passage, the Buddha again explains the causes and conditions leading to anuttarā bodhi. From his first production of the mind of bodhi (prathamacittotpāda), the bodhisattva practices the perfection of wisdom (prajñāpāramitā) and completely fulfills the [shared] grounds, from the first to the tenth. These ten grounds help in realizing anuttarā bodhi. These ten grounds are the Śuklavidarśanābhūmi, etc.

1) Śuklavidarśanābhūmi. – It is of two kinds: i) that of the śrāvaka, ii) that of the bodhisattva. The śrāvaka, solely in view of nirvāṇa, exerts himself (utsahate) to conquer bodhi. Practicing the concentration of contemplating the Buddhas or the contemplation of the ugly (aśubhabhāvanā), practicing loving-kindness (maitrī), compassion (karuṇā) or the reflections on impermanence (anityadatādimanasikāra), he accumulates good dharmas and rejects bad dharmas. Although he has a certain wisdom (prajñā), he is unable to find the water of the dhyāna-samāpattis nor is he able to obtain Bodhi as a consequence. This is why this ground is called the ground of the dry earth. – In the bodhisattva who has just produced the mind of bodhi (prathamacittotpāda), this stage is prolonged as long as he has not attained the preparatory conviction (anulomikī kṣanti). [This stage covers the shared grounds 1 to 5, from Pramuditā to Sudurjayā].

2) Gotrabhūmi. – The śrāvaka [conquers the four nirvedhabhāgīya kuśalamūla, roots of good leading to penetration of the noble truths], from heat (uṣmagata) up to the supreme worldly dharmas (laukikāgradharma). The bodhisattva, however, obtains the preparatory conviction (anulomikī kṣānti) [during the shared ground no. 6, Abhimukhī]; he is attached to the true nature of dharmas (dharmāṇāṃ dharmatā), no longer produces any wrong views (mithyādṛṣṭi) and obtains the water of the dhyāna-samāpattis.

3) Aṣṭamakabhūmi. – [In the course of this ground, the śrāvaka] goes from duḥkhe dharmajñānakṣānti to mārge ’nvayajñānakṣānti: these are the first fifteen moments of mind [of the Satyadarśanamārga, or Path of seeing the truths. – For the bodhisattva, it is [the definitive obtaining] of the conviction that dharmas do not arise (anutpattikadharmakṣānti) and entry into the [definitive] position of bodhisattva (bodhisattvaniyāma). [This result is attained in the course of or at the end of the 7th ground proper, the Dūraṃgamā].

4) Darśanabhūmi. – [For the śrāvaka], this is the obtaining for the first time of a fruit of sainthood (āryaphala), namely, srotaāpanna. – For the bodhisattva, it is the bodhisattva ground of non-regressing (avaivartika). [It coincides with the shared ground no. 8, the Acalā).

5) Tanūbhūmi. – [The śrāvaka], if he is srotaāpanna or sakṛdāgāmin, partially destroys the nine kinds of passions (kleśa) of the desire realm: [six categories if he is sakṛdāgāmin]. – As for the bodhisattva, passing the non-regressing level Avaivartikabhūmi and as long as he has not become buddha [and remains in the grounds proper no. 8 and no. 9, Acalā and Sudarjayā], he destroys all the passions, and the traces (vāsanā) that remain become very slight (tanūbhavanti).

6) Vītarāgabhūmi. – Here, [the śrāvaka] abandons all the passions, desire, etc. (rāgadikleśa) of the desire realm (kāmadhātu) and is called anāgamin. – As for the bodhisattva, because of his renunciation (vairāgya), he obtains the five superknowledges (abhijñā). This corresponds to ground proper no. 9, Sudurjayā].

7) Kṛtāvibhūmi. – [Here] the śrāvaka obtains the knowledge of the destruction of the impurities (āsravakṣyajñāna) and the conviction that they will not arise again (anutpādajñāna), and he becomes arhat. – As for the bodhisattva, he completely fulfills the ground of Buddha (buddhabhūmi) [coinciding with the shared ground no. 10, the Dharmamegha].

8) Pratyekabuddhabhūmi. – In an earlier existence, he has planted the causes and conditions for the bodhi of the pratyekabuddhas; in the present existence, because of a minor event (see above, p. 1068–68F), he has left home (pravrajita) and, having found the profound doctrine of the nidānas (= pratītyasamutpāda), he has realized the bodhi of the pratyekabuddhas. In the language of the Ts’in, Pi-tche-fo is also called Pi-tche-kia-fo.

9) Bodhisattvabhūmi. – This is the [shared grounds] from Śukladarśanabhūmi to Kṛtāvibhūmi, as has been said above. It is also the [shared grounds] going from the Pramuditā bhūmi to the Dharmamegha bhūmi: all are called Bodhisattvabhūmi. Some say that all the grounds from the production of the first mind of bodhi (prathamacittotpāda) to the diamond-like concentration (vajropamasamādhi) are called Bodhisattvabhūmi].

10) Buddhabhūmi. – These are all the attributes of Buddha, beginning with the knowledge of phenomena in all their aspects (sarvākārajñatā).

In his grounds proper, the comportment (pratipatti) of the bodhisattva is perfect; his vision (vidarśana) of the grounds of another is perfect. For these two reasons together, the bodhisattva is perfect (saṃpanna).

– Some critics are surprised that the Traité places the Avaivartika in the fourth stage of the bodhisatva’s career. But a distinction is made here: as we will see, the Avaivartika is in the fourth stage (Darśanabhūmi) of the shared levels, but at the eighth stage (Acalabhūmi) of the grounds proper only. The present passage has nothing revolutionary about it; to the contrary, it follows the purest abhidharmic tradition.

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