Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “the ground of the cloud of the dharma (dharmamegha)” 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 10: the ground of the cloud of the Dharma (dharmameghā)

Sūtra. – Daśamyāṃ punaḥ subhūte bhūmau vartamāno bodhisattvas tathāgata eveti vaktavyaḥ || tatra kathaṃ bodhisattvo daśamyāṃ bhūmau sthitaḥ saṃs tathāgata eveti vaktavyaḥ | yadā bodhisattvasya mahāsattvasya ṣaṭpāramitāḥ paripūrṇā bhavanti | catvāri smṛtyupasthānāni yāvad aṣṭādaśāveṇikā buddhadharmāḥ paripūrṇā bhavati | sarākārajñatā paripūrṇā bhavati | sarvakleśānāṃ tadvāsanānāṃ ca prahāṇaṃ bhavati | evaṃ hi bodhisattvo mahasattvo daśamyāṃ bhūmau sthitas tathāgata eveti vaktavyaḥ || iha subhūte bodhisattvo mahāsattvo daśamyāṃ bhūmau sthita upāyakauśalyena ṣaṭsu pāramitāsu caraṃś | caturṣu smṛtyupasthāneṣu yāvad aṣṭādaśāveṇikeṣu buddhadharmeṣu cara | śuṣkavidarśanā-bhūmiṃ gotrabhūmim aṣṭamakabhūmiṃ darśanabhūmiṃ tanubhūmiṃ vitarāgabhūmiṃ kṛtāvibhūmiṃ pratyekabuddhabhūmiṃ bodhisattvabhūmi atikrāmati | etā navabhūmir atikramya buddhabhūmau pratiṣṭhate | iyaṃ bodhisattvasya daśami bhūmiḥ | evaṃ hi subhūte bodhisattvo mahāsattvo mahāyāna-saṃprastito bhavati ||

Furthermore, O Subhūti, the Bodhisattva on the tenth ground (dharmameghā-bhūmi) should simply be called Tathāgata. – Why should the Bodhisattva on the tenth ground be called simply Tathāgata? When he completely fulfills the six perfections, when he completely fulfills the four foundations of mindfulness up to and including the eighteen special attributes of the Buddhas, when he completely fulfills the knowledge of all the aspects and when he destroys all the passions and their traces,[1] the Bodhisattva-mahāsattva in the tenth ground should be called simply Tathāgata. Now, O Subhūti, the Bodhisattva-mahāsattva on the tenth ground who, by his skillful means, is practicing the six perfections as well as the four foundations of mindfulness up to including the eighteen special attributes of the Buddha, this Bodhisattva, I say, exceeds: 1) the ground of the dry view; 2) the ground of the spiritual lineage; 3) the ground of the eighth saint; 4) the ground of seeing; 5) the ground of the diminution of the passions; 6) the ground of the saint freed from desire; 7) the ground of the saint who has done what had to be done; 8) the grounds of the pratyekabuddha; 9) the grounds of the bodhisattva. Having exceeded these nine levels, the Bodhisattva is established in the ground of the Buddhas. This is the tenth ground of the Bodhisattva. Therefore, O Subhūti, the Bodhisattva-mahāsattva has “set off well for the Great Vehicle.”

Śāstra (p. 419b23). – The Bodhisattva seated under the tree of enlightenment (bodhivṛkṣa) penetrates into the tenth ground called ground of the Cloud of Dharma (dharmameghā-bhūmi). Like a great cloud uninterruptedly pouring out torrential rain, the Bodhisattva’s mind produces by itself (svatas), from moment to moment and infinite in number, immense (aparimita), infinite (ananta) and very pure (pariśuddha) Buddha attributes.

Then, noticing that the mind of Māra, king of the desire realm (kāmadhāturāja), has not yet been tamed, the Bodhisattva-mahāsattva shoots forth light from his ūrṇā so that Māra’s palaces, ten million in number, become darkened and disappear. Māra, irritated and vexed, gathers his troops and comes to attack the Bodhisattva.

After the Bodhisattva has vanquished Māra, the Buddhas of the ten directions congratulate him for his deeds; they emit rays from their ūrṇās which penetrate into the Bodhisatva through the top of his head,

At this moment, the merits (puṇya) acquired by the Bodhisattva in the ten grounds are changed into Buddha attributes. The Bodhisattva destroys all the traces of the passions (kleśavāsana), obtains the unfailing deliverances (apratihatavimokṣa) and acquires the ten powers (bala), the four fearlessnesses (vaiśāradya), the four unhindered knowledges (pratisaṃvid), the eighteen special attributes (āveṇikadharma), great loving-kindness (mahāmaitrī), great compassion (mahākaruṇa) and the other Buddha attributes, immense and infinite.

At this moment, the earth trembles in six ways (ṣaḍvikāraṃ kampate); the heaven rains down flowers and perfumes; the bodhisattvas, devas and manuṣyas, joining their palms, utter praises.

At this moment, the Bodhisattva emits a great brilliance (mahāprabhā) that illumines the innumerable universes everywhere in the ten directions. The Buddhas, bodhisattvas, devas and manuṣyas of the ten directions proclaim in a loud voice that in that place, in that land and in that year the Bodhisattva, seated on the seat of enlightenment (bodhimaṇḍa) has realized buddhahood and that this light is his. Thus, in the tenth ground, the Bodhisattva “should be recognized as Buddha”.

Moreover, in the present passage, the Buddha has specified the characteristics of the tenth ground (dharmameghā-bhūmi) by saying: “By practicing the six perfections and by his skillful means (upāyakauśalya), the Bodhisattva has exceeded [the nine shared grounds] from the level of dry vision (śuṣkavidarśanābhūmi) up to and including the bodhisattva grounds and is now in the ground of the Buddhas.” This ground of the Buddhas is the tenth ground. The Bodhisattva who thus travels through the ten grounds is said to be “well set out on the Great Vehicle” (mahāyānasaṃprasthita).

Footnotes and references:


In his translation (T 1509, p. 417a18), Kumārajīva carefully distinguishes kleśa (fan-nao) from vāsanā (si) by joining them by the conjunction ki, for, according to the Traité, p. 1781–81F, the kleśas are destroyed in the eighth ground by the acquisition of the anutpattikadharmakṣānti, whereas the vāsanās disappear entirely only in the tenth ground, at the moment of abhisaṃbodhi.

This distinction appears clearly in the original Sanskrit and their Tibetan versions:

Pañcaviṃśati, p. 225, l. 10–11: Śatasmahasrikā, p. 1427, l. 11–12: sarvavāsanānusandhikleśaprahāṇa.

Tib. Trip., vol 18, no. 731, p. 146, fol. 265b6–7: bag chags kyi mtshams sbyor

baḥi ñon moṅs pa tams cad spaṅs pa.

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