The Mahavastu (great story)

by J. J. Jones | 1949 | ISBN-10: 086013041X

This page describes second bhumi which is Chapter VIII of the English translation of the Mahavastu (“great story”), dating to the 2nd-century BC. This work belongs to the Mahasanghika school of early Buddhism and contains narrative stories of the Buddha’s former lives, such as Apadanas, Jatakas and more..

Chapter VIII - The second Bhūmi

Then the elder Kāśyapa said to Mahā-Kātyāyana, “O great being, you have given an alluring description of the first bhūmi.

“Now tell me, O son of the Supreme Man, what state of heart is born in the Bodhisattvas immediately on their passing into the second bhūmi?

“What are their dispositions in the second bhūmi? O son of the Conqueror, describe to me this bhūmi exactly as it is.”

Then the elder Kātyāyana replied to Kāśyapa, “I shall relate an entrancing description of the Bodhisattvas.

“(85) Now, in Bodhisattvas as they pass on into the second bhūmi there is born first of all an aversion to all forms of existence. Of this there is no doubt.

“O son of the Conqueror, the dispositions of Bodhisattvas, who are in their second bhūmi, are as follow. They are good, amiable, sweet, keen, bountiful, charming, profound, wholehearted,[1] imperturbable, distinguished,[2] lofty, noble,[3] resolute, sincere, pure, steadfast, independent, contented, and intent on the Foremost Man[4] and the infinite!

“In what way, my pious friend, are the dispositions of the Bodhisattvas good?”

“It is said”:—

In no way whatsoever do they harbour doubt of the Buddha, dharma, and Saṅgha. Thus is their disposition shown to be good.

“In what way, my pious friend, are the dispositions of the Bodhisattvas amiable?”

“It is said":—

Though their bodies be rent, their spirit is not angered. Thus is their disposition shown to be amiable and meek.

“In what way, my pious friend, are the dispositions of the Bodhisattvas sweet?”

“It is said ":—

(86) These supreme men practise actions that are inwardly virtuous.[5] Thus are the dispositions of these devout men sweet.

“In what way, my pious friend, are the dispositions of the Bodhisattvas keen?”

“It is said”:—

They have clear vision and have their thoughts fixed on the world beyond as well as on this. Thus are the dispositions of these pure men keen.

“In what way, my pious friend, are the dispositions of the Bodhisattvas bountiful?”

“It is said”:—

They lay up a store of great good for the welfare of all creatures. Thus are the dispositions of these supreme seers bountiful.

“In what way, my pious friend, are the dispositions of the Bodhisattvas charming?”

“It is said—

Ungrudgingly they give charming and heart-delighting gifts. Thus are the dispositions of these men who perceive the highest good, charming.

“In what way, my pious friend, are the dispositions of the Bodhisattvas whole-hearted?”

“It is said”:—

Their hearts are whole,[6] their insight[7] lends them courage. Thus is their disposition said to be whole-hearted.

“In what way, my pious friend, are the dispositions of the Bodhisattvas imperturbable?”

“It is said”:—

No malevolent man can suppress them. Thus are their dispositions entirely unperturbed.

(87) “In what way, my pious friend, are the dispositions of the Bodhisattvas distinguished?”

“It is said”:—

When a man conceives no other resolve but that of benefiting all creatures, people regard this as no common thing.

“In what way, my pious friend, are the dispositions of the Bodhisattvas lofty?”

“It is said”:—

When they hear a heretic, they ignore him and go their way. Thus are the dispositions of these lion-hearted men lofty.

“In what way, my pious friend, are the dispositions of the Bodhisattvas noble?”

“It is said”:—

In their wisdom they do not gather as being good those things which have to do with the pleasures of sense. Thus are their dispositions always noble.

“In what way, my pious friend, are the dispositions of the Bodhisattvas resolute?”

“It is said”:—

Having made a resolve to win Buddha-hood, they are not distracted[8] from it by indulgence in pleasures of sense. Thus are their dispositions said to be resolute.

“In what way, my pious friend, are the dispositions of the Bodhisattvas sincere?”

“It is said”:—

In no way do they envy saintly Pratyekabuddhas. Thus are their dispositions always sincere.

“In what way, my pious friend, are the dispositions of the Bodhisattvas pure?”

“It is said”:—

(88) Spurning profit and reputation, they strive for the ultimate good. Thus is their disposition shown to he pure.

“In what way, my pious friend, are the dispositions of the Bodhisattvas steadfast?”

“It is said”:—

Though persecuted hy the worlds, they do not abate their zeal for dharma. Thus are the dispositions of these great seers steadfast.

“In what way, my pious friend, are the dispositions of the Bodhisattvas independent?”

“It is said”:—

Though they faint, they do not, saturated with lust,[9] eat the food of others. Thus, noble sir, is their disposition extolled as independent.

“In what way, my pious friend, are the dispositions of the Bodhisattvas contented?”

“It is said:—

They always find their joy in renouncing the world, and do not dissolutely indulge in pleasures of sense.[10] Thus is the disposition of the Bodhisattva always extolled as contented”.

“In what way, my pious friend, are the Bodhisattvas intent on the Foremost Man?”

“It is said:—

In their wisdom they yearn for the omniscience of the Self-becoming One. Thus do they become intent on the Foremost Man, and incomparably steadfast

(89) “In what way, my pious friend, are the Bodhisattvas intent on what is infinite?”

“It is said”:—

They do not aim at great wealth, the prosperity that comes through miserliness.[11] Thus do these highest of men become intent on what is infinite.

With all these twenty dispositions, the noble and true men, experienced in all things, are gifted with beautiful dispositions.

“With these twenty dispositions, then, my pious friend, are the Bodhisattvas endowed.”

When this had been said, the venerable Mahā-Kāśyapa asked the venerable Mahā-Kātyāyana, “O son of the Conqueror in what ways do Bodhisattvas who are in their second bhūmi lapse and fail to reach the third?[12]

The venerable Mahā-Kātyāyana replied to the venerable Mahā-Kāśyapa, “Bodhisattvas who are in their second bhūmi lapse and fail to reach the third for twenty-eight reasons. What are the twenty-eight? Bodhisattvas come to set a value on gain, honour, and fame.[13] They become dishonest. They build up prosperity by unjust means. They speak angrily to their teachers, and do not abide respectful[14] to the Triad of Treasures.[15] They do not look for a Bodhisattva’s character in those they deem worthy of offerings. Though they have reached the stage of a Bodhisattva’s career they do not duly honour it. They do not shoulder the burden which befits the highest honour, but continue under one which does not so befit.[16] They are not averse to dwelling in a crowd. They become fond of garlands, fine clothes, jewels and ointments. (90) They become satisfied with little merit. They find constant delight in the charm of the world. They do not regard all elements as impermanent. They become engrossed with their own corporeal beauty. They do not abandon perverted doctrines. They do not preserve intact the word and the letter as they have been preached. They become niggardly in their teaching.[17] They turn their eyes away from the almsman’s bowl and get nothing in it. They become obstinate in their opinions.[18] They do not make a thorough scrutiny of things.

“My pious friend, all those Bodhisattvas in the second bhūmi who lapse and fail to reach the third, do so in these twenty-eight ways.

“Following is the tradition on this subject”:

Such is the description of the second bhūmi of the Bodhisattvas, who, with store of varied merits, live happy for the world’s sake,

Of both those who lapse through their faults, as related, and of those who, in their wisdom, do not lapse as they pass on from life to life.

Patient and wise they take the path of courage that is So difficult to traverse,[19] and through many a tribulation they fare along it out of compassion for the world.

All these Tathāgatas who are honoured of devas and men pass through the manifold ills that precede knowledge.

Wisely they adapt themselves to the world with its divers elements, and so their renown goes forth in the worlds of devas and men.

Here ends the second bhūmi of the Mahāvastu-Avādana.

Footnotes and references:

1.

Aparyādinna, literally, “not taken possession of.” In Pali, however, pariyādinna, as a passive participle, means “exhausted,” or “finished.” But it has also a middle force, “losing control over,” “overcome” (usually °citta). The above translation “whole-hearted,” is based on this latter use in Pali.

2.

Asādhāraṇa, “not general,” " uncommon.”

3.

Akṛpaṇa, “ not miserable.”

4.

Agrapudgala, see note p. 39. The text here, however, and on p. 88 has pudgala simply.

5.

Or, “actions within the bounds of virtue,” antaḥkuśalakarmāṇi. But Senart cites Pali antokileśx in support of the meaning rendered above.

6.

Aparyādinnacittā, see note p. 66.

7.

Prativedha, Pali paṭivedha, lit. “piercing.”

8.

Na avakīryante, literally “they are not scattered from it.” Compare avakīrṇin, “breaking a vow of chastity.”

9.

Avasruta, cf. Pali avassuta at A. i. 261, Kāyakammaṃ pi avassutaṃ hoti, “bodily action is saturated with lust” (see Expositor, 1. 91).

10.

Prasyandanti kāmeṣu, literally “flow or trickle forth in desires,” a figure of speech closely related to the use of avasruta above.

11.

Literally “miserly prosperity,” adānaguṇasampadāṃ (acc. with two MSS. for the nom. of the text). With adānaguṇa, cf. Pali adānasīla, “of miserly character.” Senart’s interpretation is different: “ils ne désirent pas de grands biens, si ce n’est des trésors de charité et de vertu.”

12.

The account of the lapsing of the Bodhisattvas after their first bhūmi (see p. 79) is quite intelligible, that is, Bodhisattvas who have lived (sthitās) through their first bhūmi lapse in the second. But lapses in succeeding bhūmis are not so clearly described. The expression used with regard to them is “Bodhisattvas who are (vartamānās) in a certain bhūmi lapse in (loc. case) the next.” This leaves it obscure as to which bhūmi the faults are incurred in. Either we must not press too closely the present force of the participle vartamānās, but take it as practically equivalent to sthitās (above), or we must give the second locative bhūmau an ablatival force, i.e. those who have successfully lived through one bhūmi lapse from the next. The translation above is a compromise between these alternatives. Compare Har Dayal: The Bodhisattva Doctrine in Buddhist Sanskrit Literature who interprets the meaning as “fail to arise to (a succeeding bhūmi) and abide in it” (pp. 273 ff.).

13.

Lābhaguruka, etc. Senart cites a similar use of guruka in the Lotus f 14b. Compare also the use of the Pah equivalent garuka in such compounds as kammagaruka, “attributing importance to kamma” (Pali Dict.).

14.

Citrikāra, which Senart takes to be the Buddhist Sanskrit form, based on a false analogy, of the Pali cittikāra, “respect,” “consideration.”

15.

I.e., Buddha, Dharma, Saṅgha.

16.

The text here, if not corrupt, is at least obscure. Atireka, “excessive” is a strange epithet to apply to the “highest” honour, i.e., enlightenment, which Bodhisattvas aim at. The force of prāpyaṃ and aprāpyaṃ, respectively, as applied to bhāraṃ, “burden,” also is not clear. Senart translates them by “light” and “intolerable,” respectively, “un fardeau léger (c’est à dire le fardeau de toutes les bonnes Euvres qui méritent l’intelligence suprème, fardeau relativement léger auxyeux d’un buddhiste, etc”.—a weak explanation in view of the oft-repeated theme of the difficulty of attaining enlightenment, or supreme honour. It seems better, therefore, to take prāpya in its literal sense of “suitable,” “fitting,” “proper to,” and naturally governing the dative °pūjāye.

17.

Deśānāmatsarinas. Cf. Pali dhammamacchaviyam (D. 3. 234) “meanness in [monopolising learnt] truths” (Rhys Davids).

18.

Kaṭhinasaṃtānās—a very unusual compound. The usual figurative sense of kaṭhina (“stiff,” “rigid,” etc.) is “cruel,” “hard” (e.g. of the heart). Here it is applied to “opinion” or “idea,” if, that is, saṃtāna can have that sense, and Senart admits that he knows no other example of this use of the word. But may not the right reading be something like kathaṃkathinas “doubting,” or kathaṃkathāsamaptās, “afflicted with doubt”?

19.

Durāroham, the adjective which also gives its name to the second bhūmi.