Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “the shining ground (prabhakari)” 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.

Bhūmi 3: the shining ground (prabhākarī)

1. Sūtra.

Punar aparaṃ subhūte bodhisattvena mahāsattvena tṛtīyāṃ bhūmau vartamānena pañcasu dharmeṣu sthātavyam | katameṣu pañcasu | yaduta bāhuśrutye ‘tṛtpatāyām || tatra karamā bodhisattvasya mahāsattvasya bāhuśrutye ‘tṛptatā | yat kiṃcid buddhair bhagavadbhir bhāṣitam ihalokadhātau samantād daśasu dikṣu lokadhātuṣu tat sarvam ādhārayiṣyāmiti yātṛptatā | iyaṃ bodhisattvasya bāhuśrutye ‘tṛptatā |

Furthermore, O Subhūti, the bodhisattva-mahāsattva in the third bhūmi (prabhākarī) should devote himself to five dharmas. What are these five?

1) An insatiable desire for learning.

What is this insatiable desire for learning in the bodhisattva-mahāsattva? – The insatiable desire that makes him say: “I will remember everything that has been said by the blessed Buddhas in this universe and everywhere in the universes of the ten directions”; this is the insatiable desire for learning in the bodhisattva.

Śāstra (p. 415a5). – The bodhisattva knows that learning (bāhuśrutya) is the cause and condition for wisdom (prajñā) and that, possessing this wisdom, he will be able to follow the path (mārga) with discernment. Endowed with vision (cakṣuṣmat), this person travels without any obstacles. This is why the bodhisattva makes the wish to remember completely (antaśas) all the teachings preached by the Buddhas of the ten directions.

He remembers everything by the power of the śrutadharadhāraṇī, ‘the dhāraṇī of retaining what has been heard’, by the power of the very pure divine eye (pariśuddha-divyaśrotra) and by the power of the asaṃpramoṣadhāraṇī ‘the dhāraṇī of not forgetting’. Just as the great sea collects and retains all the waters flowing from the ten directions, so the bodhisattva collects and retains all the teachings preached by the Buddhas of the ten directions.

2. Sūtra.

Nirāmiṣadharmadānavivaraṇatāyāṃ tayā cāmanyanatayā || yad bodhisattvas tena dharmadānenānuttarāṃ samyaksaṃbodhim api na prātikāṅkṣati prāg evānyārtham |

Choosing the selfless gift of Dharma by preference without deriving any pride. – By way of this gift of Dharma, the bodhisattva does not even wish for supreme perfect enlightenment or any other thing for that matter.

Śāstra (p. 415a11). – Some bad weeds grow among the grain, but if one eliminates the rye grass, the grain flourishes. This is what the bodhisattva does: practicing the gift of the Dharma [in preference] over all the others, he desires neither fame (yaśas) nor gain (lābdha) nor fruit of maturation (vipākaphala) in future lives; in the interest of others, he goes even so far as not to seek the nirvāṇa of the Lesser Vehicle (hīnayānika nirvāṇa); he limits himself in his great compassion (mahākaruṇā) for beings to turning the wheel of the Dharma (dharmacakrapravartana) following the Buddhas: this is the specific characteristic of generosity of the Dharma.

3. Sūtra.

Buddhakṣetrapariśodhanatāyāṃ tayā cāmanyanatayā || sarvakuśalamūlānāṃ buddhakṣetrapariśodhanāya pariṇāmanā |

The purification of the buddha-fields, without deriving pride from it. – Using all the roots of good for the purification of the buddha-fields.

4. Sūtra.

Aparimitasaṃsāraduḥkhānubhavāparikhedanatāyāṃ tayā cāmanyanatayā || evaṃvidhaiḥ kuśalamūlair upastabdho yaiḥ sattvāṃś ca paripācayati buddhakṣetraṃ ca pariśodhayati bodhisattva na khedam āpadyate yāvan na sarvajñatāṃ paripūrayati |

Śāstra (p. 415a15). – For the words buddhakṣetrapariśodhanatā, aparimitasaṃsāra-duḥkhānubhavanatā, hryapatrāpyasthānatā [appearing in items 3, 4 and 5 of bhūmi III], araṇya-vāsāparityāgitā, alpecchatā and saṃtuṣṭi [appearing in items 1, 2 and 3 of bhūmi IV], see what has been said above.

Question. – There are many reasons why the bodhisattva “does not tire” (na khedam āpadyate) of dwelling in saṃsāra; why then does the sūtra mention only two, [namely, his desires to ripen beings (sattvaparipācana) and to purify his buddha-field (buddhakṣetra-pariśodhana)]?

Answer. – When the bodhisattva “dependent on his roots of good” (kuśalamūlair upasthabdhaḥ) dwells in saṃsāra, his sufferings and torments are diminished (tanūbhūta); he is like a wounded man (vraṇin) who has been given a good medicine (bhaiṣajya) and whose sufferings are thus decreased notably.

The bodhisattva has acquired roots of good so pure (pariśuddha) that the sadness (daurmansaya), jealousies (īrṣyā), malicious thoughts (duṣṭacitta) of the present existence are eliminated for him. When he assumes a new existence (ātmabhāvam ādadāti), he gathers the fruits of retribution (vipākaphala) of his roots of good, he himself enjoys happiness, works in many ways for the benefit (hita) of beings and “purifies his own buddha-field” (buddhakṣetraṃ pariśodhayati) as he wishes (yathecchaṃ). The splendor of the [Buddha] universes surpasses that of the divine palaces (devavimāna); one never tires of contemplating them. They soothe the minds of the great bodhisattvas and, even more so, those of worldly people. This is why even though the bodhisattva has many reasons [for remaining in saṃsāra], the sūtra mentions only these two here.

5. Sūtra.

Hryapatrāpyasthānatāyāṃ tayā cāmanyanatayā || yā sarvaśrāvakapratyeka-buddhacittajugupsanatā | eṣu subhūte pañcadharmeṣu bodhisattvena mahāsattvena tṛtīyāyāṃ bhūmau vartamānena sthātavyam ||

Settling into shame, but without deriving any pride from it. – The repulsion [that the bodhisattva should feel] for the state of mind of the śrāvaka and the pratyekabuddha.

The bodhisattva-mahāsattva in the third ground (prabhākarī-bhūmi), O Subhūti, should hold to these five dharmas.

Śāstra (p. 415a25). – There are several types of shame (hryapatrāpya):[1] here it is a matter of repulsion (jugupsanatā) for the state of mind of the śrāvaka and prateykabuddha. The bodhisattva has made the resolution to save all beings in general. If, [like the śrāvakas] he accepted only a little suffering or, [like the pratyekabuddhas], he wanted to go alone to nirvāṇa, this would be shameful on his part. If, after having prepared a feast and invited a crowd of people, a man was seized by an attack of miserliness (mātsarya) and started to eat alone, that would be shameful.

Footnotes and references:


The meaning of hrī and apatrāpya, two mental events of broad meaning (mahābhūmika) are discussed in Kośa, II, p. 170–173.

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