Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “the ground difficult to conquer (sudurjaya)” 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 5: the ground difficult to conquer (sudurjayā)

1. Sūtra.

Punar aparaṃ subhūte bodhisattvena mahāsattvena pañcamyāṃ bhūmau vartamānena dvādaśadharmāḥ parivarjayitavyāḥ | katame dvadaśa | gṛhisaṃstavaḥ parivarjayitavyaḥ || tatra katamā bodhisatvasya gṛhisaṃstavaparivarjanatā | yaduta bodhisattvasya pravrajitanmeṣu buddhakṣetrād buddhakṣetraṃ saṃkramaṇatābhīkṣṇaniḥkramaṇatā muṇdatā kāṣāyavastraprāvaraṇatā | iyaṃ bodhisattvasya gṛhisaṃstavaparivarjanatā |

Furthermore, O Subhūti, the bodhisattva-mahāsattva in the fifth bhūmi (sudurjayā) must avoid twelve dharmas. What are these twelve?

1) Avoiding the company of lay people.

In his monastic existences, the bodhisattva passes from buddha-field to buddha-field, each time goes forth from home, shaves his head and puts on the ochre robe: this is his way of avoiding the company of lay people.

Śāstra (p. 415b29). – In order to embrace the path (mārga), the yogin goes forth from home (pravrajati). If he continued to keep company with lay people (gṛhin), nothing would be changed in his former way of life; this is why the yogin first seeks to save himself and then to save others. If he wanted to save others before saving himself, he would be like the man who, not knowing how to swim, wants to save a drowning person; he would be swept away along with the drowning person.

By avoiding being with lay people, the bodhisattva is able to accumulate the pure qualities (pariśuddhaguṇa). Recollecting the Buddha intensely, he transforms his body, goes into the buddha-fields, leaves home, shaves his head and puts on the yellow robe (kāṣāyvastra). Why? Because he always takes pleasure in the monastic condition and abhors meeting with lay people.

2. Sūtra.

Bhikṣuṇīsaṃstavaḥ parivarjayitavyaḥ || yad bhikṣuṇyā sārdham acchaṭāsaṃghātamātram api na tiṣṭhati na ca tannidānaṃ paritarṣaṇācittam utpādayati |

Avoiding the company of nuns. – The bodhisattva does not stay near a nun even for as little time as a fingersnap, and he does not bemoan the fact.

Śāstra (p. 415c6). – See the first chapter.

Question. – The bodhisattva considers all beings with equanimity (samācittatā); why does he not stay [near a nun]?

Answer. – This bodhisattva is not yet non-regressing (avaivartika) and has not yet destroyed all the impurities (kṣīṇāsrava), but he has already accumulated qualities (guṇa) and is loved by men. This is why he does not stay near women.

Besides, he wants to avoid being slandered, for whoever slanders him would fall into hell.[1]

3. Sūtra.

Parakulamātsaryaṃ parivarjayitavyam || iha bodhisattvenaivaṃ cittam utpādayitavyam | yan mayā sattvānāṃ sukhopadhānaṃ kartavyaṃ tad ete sattvā māṃ tasmai sukhopadhānāyopakurvanti nātra mayā mātsaryacittam utpādayitavyam |

Avoiding being envious of others’ families. – The bodhisattva should make the following reflection: “I must make others happy and if those people help me in making this happiness, I do not have to feel jealous.”

Śāstra (p. 415c11). – The bodhisattva makes the following reflection: “I have left my own family (kula) without greed or regret; why would I have greed and envy towards the families of others? It is a rule for the bodhisattvas to lead all beings to find happiness; why feel greed and envy for them? Because of merits (puṇya) from their previous lives, these beings are enjoying some comfort in the present lifetime and thus are making offerings to me; why would I be jealous of them and envy them?”

4. Sūtra.

Saṃgaṇikāsthānaṃ parivarjayitavyam || yatra śrāvakapratyekabuddhā bhaveyus tatpratisaṃyuktā vā cittotpādā utpadyeran tatra bodhisattavena na sthātavyam |

Avoiding meeting places. – The bodhisattva should not go to meeting places where there are śrāvakas or pratyekabuddhas and where comments would be made about them.

Śāstra (p. 415c15). – These useless conversations are idle speech (saṃbhinnapralāpa) intended to dissipate sadness (śoka) in one’s own mind and in that of others. They tell stories about palaces or thieves, they speak about the sea or the mountains, trees, plants, jewels, foreign kingdoms or other similar things. These conversations are of no use to merits (puṇya), of no use to bodhi.

The bodhisattva has pity for beings who have fallen into the fire of impermanence (anityatā): “I want to save them,” he says. “How would I sit calmly chatting idly about useless things? In the case of a fire, people rush about; how would I remain inwardly calm holding forth on something else?”

Here the Buddha is saying that talking about things concerning the śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas is already a uselss conversation; what then could be said of talking about something [even more useless]?

5. Sūtra.

Vyāpādaḥ parivarjayitavyaḥ || yad vyāpādacittasya vihiṃsācittasya vigrahacittasya vāvakāśaṃ na dadāti |

Avoiding maliciousness. – He does not give free rein to the mind of malice, to the mind of harmfulness, to the mind of hostility.

Śāstra (p. 415c23). – In the mind there first arises a feeling of maliciousness (vyāpāda) which is as yet vague (aniyata). The maliciousness increases, becomes specific, and then one strikes with a stick (daṇḍa) or an axe (kuṭhāra): this is a feeling of harmfulness (vihiṃsācitta). Insult (pāruṣyavāda) and gossip (paiśunyavāda) are feelings of quarrelsomeness (kalahacitta). Killing, torture, the stick and fetters come from a feeling of hostility (vigrahacitta).

In his great loving-kindness (mahāmaitrī) and great compassion (mahākaruṇā) for beings, the bodhisattva does not experience these feelings; he always curbs these bad thoughts and prevents them from having access (avakāśa).

7. Sūtra.

Parapaṃsanaṃ parivarjayitavyam || yaduta bāhyānāṃ dharmāṇām asamanupaśyanatā |

Avoiding exaltation of the self. – Not taking extreme dharmas into consideration.

Śāstra (p. 415c27). – The bodhisattva sees neither inner nor outer dharmas, namely the five aggregates (pañcaskandha) assumed (upātta) to be ‘me’ and the five aggregates not assumed (anupātta) to be ‘me’.

8. Sūtra.

Daśakuśalakarmapathāḥ parivarjayitvyāḥ || tathā hy ete daśakuśalakarmapathā āryasyāṣṭāṅgikasya mārgasyāntarāyakarāḥ prāg evānuttarāyāḥ samyaksaṃbodheḥ |

Avoiding the ten bad paths of action. – Actually, these ten bad paths of action are an obstacle to the noble eightfold path and even more so more to supreme complete enlightenment.

Śāstra (p. 415c29). – In these ten bad paths of action, the bodhisattva sees multiple causes and conditions of wrong-doings (āpatti), as has been said above.

In the present passage, the Buddha makes it known that the ten bad paths of actions already destroy the Lesser Vehicle (hīnayāna) and all the more so the Greater Vehicle (mahāyāna).

9. Sūtra.

Adhimānaḥ parivarjayitavyaḥ || tathā hi bodhisattvo na kaṃcid dharmaṃ samanupaśyati kutaḥ punar adhikaṃ yenādhimanyeta |

Avoiding great pride. – Actually the bodhisattva does not see any dharma and still less a superior dharma in which he could take pride.

Śāstra (p. 416a2). – The bodhisattva who cultivates the eighteen emptinesses (śūnyatā) does not see a definite mark of big or small in any dharma.

10. Sūtra.

Stambhaḥ parivarjayitavyaḥ || tathā hi bodhisattvas tad vastu na samanupaśyati yatrāsya stambha utpadyeta |

Avoiding arrogance. – Actually the bodhisattva does not see anything on which arrogance could arise.

Śāstra (p. 416a3). – For the bodhisattva has eradicated the roots of the sevenfold pride (saptavidhamāna)[2] and loves good dharmas deeply.

11. Sūtra.

Viparyāsāḥ parivarjayitavyāḥ || vipayāsavastūnām anupalabdhitām upādāya |

Avoiding mistakes. – By means of the non-apprehendoing of mistakes.[3]

Śāstra (p. 416a4). – Because in all dharmas there is nothing that is eternal (nitya), happy (sukha), pure (śuci), personal (ātman).

12. Sūtra.

Rāgadveṣamohāḥ parivarjayitavyāḥ | tathā hi rāgadveṣamohānāṃ vastu na samanupaśyati ||

ime subhūte dvādaśadharmā bodhisattvena mahāsattvena pañcamyāṃ bhūmau vartamānena parivarjayitavyāḥ |

Avoiding desire, hatred and delusion. – Actually, he sees nothing that could be the object of desire, hatred or delusion.

These are, O Subhūti, the twelve dharmas to be avoided by the bodhisattva-mahāsattva in the fifth ground (sudurjayā-bhūmi).

Śāstra (p. 416a5). – On the meaning of the triple poison (viṣatraya), see what has been said above. Moreover, the objects (ālambana) of the three poisons have no fixed nature (niyatalakṣaṇa).

Footnotes and references:


Thus Kokālika fell into hell for having slandered Śāriputra and Maudgalyāyana: cf. p. 806–813F


The seven minds of pride (māna) and listed or defined in Saṃyutta, T 99, k. 7, p. 49a10–11; Ekottara, T 125, k. 38, p. 760a29 (whereas the Anguttara, III, p. 430 lists six); Vibhaṅga, p. 383; Kośa, V, p. 26–27’ Kośabhāṣya, p. 284–285.


The four objects of error (viparyāsa) are the body, feeling, the mind and dharmas (cf. p. 1150F). Not grasping them is to eliminate belief in the individual (satkāyadṛṣṭi) by this means.

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