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Brahmacrin reika: Early Stra Sources of the Prajpramit


M B Orsborn () 2008-02-01
Though the idea of some absolute starting point for the Mahyna be it temporal, doctrinal or sociological has now generally been rejected, as well as several other commonly held notions regards the Mahyna, the inevitably complex link between it and mainstream (often referred to as Nikya or scholastic) Buddhism is still not well established. Harrisons research into the oldest strata of Mahyna texts in Chinese translation provides insights to how these stras may have actually come about. He theorizes that within mainstream Buddhism, certain practitioners took up the same [mainstream] practice, but instead of simply following the existing script, they also modified and subverted it in a creative fashion, and one sees this not only in their expositions of the smtyupasthnas proper, but in many other contexts as well. He then mentions that examples can be found in the Ak[obhya] and B[ha]d[ra]p[la] as well as in the Aa[shasrik], the Kayapaparivarta, and the Ajtaatru-kauktyavinodan, to name just a few (Harrison:2003 120). Thus, he indicates several very early Mahyna stras, several of which have known mainstream predecessors. Harrison goes on to focus on the process of texts used for visualization in the Pratyutpanna-samdhi, and also claims inspired eloquence (pratibhna) as one of three sources thereof (Harrison:2003 124). Nattier shows similar reasoning in her analysis of the Ugraparpccha stra (Nattier:2003 51ff). This term is also used throughout the opening passages of the Aashasrik-prajpramit when Subhti is asked to expound the Prajpramit, through the Buddhas might (Conze:1973 83). Just as Harrison claims for the Pratyutpanna Stra, Yinshun also considers that originally the Prajpramit was also a practice for forest dwelling bhikus (Yinshun:1980 633ff, 652, 671, 701). Thus, the notion that the Prajpramit was initially based on existing stras, albeit modified in some way by these meditating bhikus, would appear to be an acceptable working thesis. The question that we shall thus investigate is What were the existing mainstream scriptures which were modified and subverted by those forest dwelling bhikus, that subsequently became the earliest Prajpramit stra(s)? Moreover, in what way where they modified?

Brahmacrin reika: Early Stra Sources of the Prajpramit

Conze, in addition to producing copious translations of the Prajpramit (hereafter Pp) from the Sanskrit, indicated that the Chinese translations of the texts would be invaluable in ascertaining its origins (Conze:1975 x). So prompted, Lancaster followed with a textual study of the various Chinese translations of the earliest Pp, commonly known by its Sanskrit name Aashasrik (hereafter Aa) (Lancaster:1968). Lamottes translations and research from Chinese sources, especially the Mahprajpramit Upadea (hereafter Mppu), dealt mainly with later texts and inter-scholastic issues (Lamotte:2001). The Chinese and Japanese traditions have naturally tended towards reliance on these Chinese translations.

Notion and Structure of Original Prajpramit

The process of tracing such source stras is a reverse of how the Pp text may have historically developed, and we must begin with what Pp texts we have, try to ascertain the earliest form of that text, and then from that try to work out which mainstream stra(s) it may have evolved from. Fortunately, considerable work on the notion of original Pp has already been attempted, and from several somewhat independent sources, ie. the Sanskrit and Chinese, and we shall thus rely on and synthesize the essential results from Conze and Yinshun respectively, with some additional points. Based largely on the presently extant Aa and Ratnagua-samcaya-gth (hereafter Rgs) texts, Conze considers that the 41 verses of the first two chapters constitute the original Pp which may well go back to 100 BC, and of which all the others are elaborations (Conze:1975 x), because these chapters (a) define four new terms, (b) develop certain ideas about the Hnayna tradition, and (c) indicate the source of the new teaching (Conze:1967 124). Working directly with the Chinese translations, (being several centuries earlier than the Sanskrit), Yinshun also consults Japanese research on the topic, and concludes that: Although there are some discrepancies in their various theories, however, we can say that they are alike in considering that the Original Praj[pramit] Stra can be deduced from the Practice of the Path Chapter () (or the equivalent section of the Large Stra). He then uses Kumrajvas translation T 227 (equivalent but clearer text) of those parts in Lokakemas earlier translation T 224 to show which parts he considers to be the earliest , (Yinshun:1980 626ff). So, how do we decide between these positions, ie. the first two chapters or the first chapter alone, as to the original Pp? Rudimentary analysis of the structure of

Brahmacrin reika: Early Stra Sources of the Prajpramit

the first two chapters through pedimental (or chiasmic) composition theory 1 would suggest that the first two chapters form a complete text, which opens by establishing Subhti as an authoritative source of the Pp, and closes with the parallel of akyamuni Bodhisattvas confirmation to Buddhahood by Dipakra. These, together with the definition of the terms bodhisattva, mahsattva and mahyna 2 which are the very heart of both the Pp and the new movement in general, form the three key points of a ring structure, complete with mutual reference (Douglas:2007 85ff), ie. Buddhas empowering bodhisattvas to engage in the Mahyna through teaching the Pp. Running either side of the peak are several other parallel structures including: illusions, going forth, (original) nature, not standing in the skandhas, signs and nyat. These parallels are most pronounced in the Rgs verses, and the elements are all present in the early Chinese translations of the Aa. Ironically Conze identifies all the key points, but does not see the structure (Conze:1967 124ff). 3 Though worth pursuing, such structural analysis is not the main focus scope of our discussion here, and it is enough to conclude that in general the earliest Pp is represented in the opening two chapters.

Establishing reika within the Original Prajpramit

Conze claims to point out several direct quotations from the previous stras. Perhaps the most important of which is regards reika the brahmacrin, which appears in I 1 of Conzes translation, near the heart of our original Pp. On comparing the Aa with verses of the Rgs, only the first sub-section of the second chapter is absent, and thus the antiquity of reikas presence in the stra is established (Conze:1967 179ff). Outside of the original Pp, he claims several other mainstream stra quotations, though they vary somewhat in acting as key links to the mainstream tradition (Conze:1973 xivff). Yinshuns comments on reikas presence also indicate that it is a critical point for the emergence of the Mahyna: In the third paragraph on the Samdhi of Non-grasping, the realization of reika parivrjaka is raised as an example. The Pp particular to the bodhisattvas seems to have a part which is in common with the rvaka disciples. He considers that this samdhi is indeed the core of the early bodhisattva practice (Yinshun:1980 636), and any link between it and the rvaka / mainstream tradition is valuable for our aims here. Lamottes work on the later commentary the Mahprajpramit-stra (hereafter

1 2 3

I would like to thank Prof Lancaster for suggesting this idea via personal correspondence. And perhaps also prajavara-pramitya cary in the Rgs, (cf Conze:1967 124). Conzes Rgs: The new key-terms at I 16-23; the issue of the self at I 9 & II 12; aniketacr I 6,10 & II 1,3; anupalabdhi I 5,14,19 & II 5,40; the samdhis at I 9-10 & II 9-10 (Conze:1967 124ff).

Brahmacrin reika: Early Stra Sources of the Prajpramit

MppU), which survives only in the Chinese, leads him to the conclusion that reika appears as the prototype of the Mahynist saint (Lamotte:2001 1760). Following the MppU, he claims that the discussion on reika is derived from S 105. The validity of using this later commentary as an accurate tool for understanding the earliest period of the Pp is an important issue, which we shall examine below. Despite the above, it is critical to note that in Lokakemas translation, the actual term used is merely person of heterodox paths (), rather than either the name reika or Vacchagotta. It is only by Zhiqians (T225 ) and subsequent translations that we first see the specific name reika (). 4 Could it be that Lokakemas work refers to heterodox brahmacrins in general? or did he merely wish to simplify reikas status? Investigating the early sources of reika, it appears that this matter is less significant than it may appear in this stage.


Let us begin with Lokakemas translation of the passage on reika (T08, 224, p426b), with the assistance of Kumrajva. Sanskrit terms are merely suggested from Lokakemas usage (Lancaster:1968 374ff) and the Sanskrit text, but are by no means certain. 5 Moreover, O riputra!, sarvaj cannot be taken up (). For what reason? Bodhisattvas should not view ( pa) sarvaj by seizing upon concepts [=signs] ( nimitta / lakana), as positing concepts [=signs] while viewing is not ultimate (). Just as the heterodox ramana [reika 6 ] did not have faith in sarvaj. For what reason? Rather, he claimed an identity [view] ( sakkya[-di]), but [later] this heterdox ramana had faith in the Buddha. Having faith in the Buddha, maintaining lesser gnosis ( prdeika-j), he entered into the Buddhas path ( bodhi). Having entered into the Buddhas path ( bodhi), he did not seize upon () form; and did not seize upon sensation, perception, volitions or cognition. Having not seized upon [these five skandhas], he was also yet to comprehend (), or be endowed with (), and did not see gnosis with insight (); did not see with insight this gnosis in

11 (CBETA, T08, no. 225, p. 479, b11-12) Particularly unclear is Lokakemas , which though corresponding in location to Kumrajvas (sarvaj[j-t]), through Lancasters tables it may be a literal buddha-mrga or buddha-bodhi (Lancaster:1968 Appendix B). Just before this passage, Lokakema uses for sarvaj, also indicating that the term here may be different, and Kumrajvas usage the anomaly. More on this point as a transition between the mainstream and Mahyna, below. As noted above, given that apart from Lokakemas version, all the rest of the Chinese sources, and the Sanskrit, identify this as reika, I shall too at this point.

Brahmacrin reika: Early Stra Sources of the Prajpramit

internal [dharmas], nor in external [dharmas], nor in some other basis. [Same for the remaining four skandhas.] Nor was he freed from some other basis ( ). Training in and accomplishing the comprehension (j) of the Buddhas, he was released from dharmas (); that is, [all] dharmas, up to nirva (). 7 I have undertaken a cautious cross-comparison with later translations to improve the accuracy of our English rendering here, avoiding the tendency to allow later notions creep into the translation. Kumrajva only adds that release ( = vimukti) was due to the realization of the true nature of all dharmas (dharmat / tathat) (), and emphasizes reikas conviction ( = adhimukti). The much later Sanskrit version, perhaps mistaking vimukti for adhimukti, has instead that: due to conviction he was a called a follower by faith (raddhnusrin). Conze considers that the lesser gnosis was originally a mainstream method of realization, eg. pudgala-nairtmya, as opposed to the bodhisattvas gnosis of dharma-nairtmya via tathat, which the Pp composers wished to emphasize (Conze:1967 126). reika in the Aa thus goes through several stages: 1. Lack of faith due to identity views. 2. Arising of faith towards the Buddha and sarvaj. 3. Cultivation of the Dharma, but with limited knowledge. 4. Non-grasping at any of the skandhas. 5. Non-comprehension etc. of the skandhas. 6. Release from dharmas which he did not grasp at or comprehend, including nirva. Thus, the criteria for possible source stras for this passage should include these six points and structure. The above translation is how Lokakemas translation appears to us at present, though we shall find some other possibilities as we search for early sources of this material.


Regards possible textual sources, we shall begin from the Nikyas and gamas which are presently extant. By investigating such a range of available texts, we hope to discover not only the relevant suttas / stras of the mainstream tradition in general, but also to see if we can further point the source to a particular mainstream group. These include the Theravda MN and SN, Sarvstivdin M and S, and Kayapya AltS, as the primary sources, based on a general consensus regards the compilation

Lokakema 11 [6] (CBETA, T08, no. 224, p. 426, b3-12) [6]

Brahmacrin reika: Early Stra Sources of the Prajpramit

of these Nikyas / gamas (Glass:2006; Law:1998; Yinshun:2002 90ff; 463ff). 8 reika is rather absent from DN and (~ Dharmaguptaka D) and AN (~ late Mahsaghika E), and also the miscellaneous texts of KN, etc. I have used Bodhis translations as well as the PTS Pli editions of the Nikyas, and the Chinese A-han Jing T01, etc.

Relevant Nikya Suttas and gama Stras:

The Paribbjakavagga of MN begins with three suttas in which Vacchagotta, (the Pli refers to reika by this clan name), is the main protagonist. MN 71 Tevijjavacchagotta sutta has him asking the Buddha several questions about the Buddhas all-gnosis (sabba) and all-vision (sabbadassv). The Buddha replies by explaining his threefold knowledge (tevijja). No explicit reference regards our six criteria appears so far. MN 72 Aggivacchagotta sutta has Vacchagotta raising ten of the undeclared questions (avykata). When the Buddha states that he does not have any speculative views, Vacchagotta falls into confusion, and says that he has lost some of his former confidence in the Buddha. The Buddha then uses the simile of the extinguishing of a fire to describe the post-death state of a Tathgata, indicating that the Tathgata cannot be reckoned in terms of the kandhas. This rekindles Vacchagottas faith, and he goes for refuge. It thus clearly contains criteria #1 from the Aa passage above; #2 as faith towards the Buddha, but no reference to sarvaj / sabba is made; #4 & #5 reveal his attitude towards the kandhas. MN 73 Mahvacchagotta sutta is somewhat longer. After a brief explanation of wholesome action, and declaration that many in the Buddhas dispensation have attained the fruits of the path, Vacchagotta reaffirms his faith / refuge, and asks for full admission into the sagha. Half a month later, (the MA commentary adds that he had already become a non-returner), the Buddha teaches him serenity and insight, and Vacchagotta develops the six higher knowledges (abhi), culminating in arahanta. Regards our criteria #3, perhaps limited knowledge refers to already having reached non-return, or not initially aiming at all six of the higher knowledges; it would be an assumption that Vacchagottas method of realization follows MN 72 in relation to the kandhas. Together, MN 72 & 73 are able to provide the first five of our six criteria in the order in which they appear in the original Pp. However, the issue of sarvaj / sabba is still unclear, likewise the attitude of non-grasping or non-comprehension towards the goal of nirva once attained The Vacchagotta Sayutta (SN 33) dealing with the avykata questions, and the

Yinshun:2002 98 attributes AltS to the Kyapya rather than either the Mahka or Dharmagupta, though all three are Sthaviravda Vibhajyavdin, as opposed to Sthaviravda Sarvstivda.

Brahmacrin reika: Early Stra Sources of the Prajpramit

Abhykhata (SN 44) with two suttas (8 Vacchagotta & 9 The Debating Hall), all state that heterodox samaas raise the undeclared questions because they posit an tman based on the kandhas. This furthers criteria #1 on identity views, and also how the Buddha would teach them detachment from the kandhas to reach release, criteria #4 and #5. Given that SN 44 contains references to various samaas other than reika, even if Lokakemas original text did not refer to reika specifically, this is still an appropriate place to look for a mainstream source. The Chinese sources provide a different perspective of possible sources. Where the Pli separates the above mentioned suttas into MN and separate Sayuttas in SN, S collates all these, (together with related issues in the Anamatagga, Without Discoverable Beginning) into a single group: S 957-964 (= AltS 190-198), 9 though MN 71 is absent. This in itself indicates that here, S puts more emphasis on reika the person, one of a number of heterodox samaas with their philosophical questions, whereas the Pli classifies by topic. Again, if Lokakemas original was regards ramaas in general, they are largely included here (see also Yinshun:2002 675).

Analysis of the Sayukta gama Portion:

In the Sarvstivda S, we thus see in order: S 957 (= AltS 190, SN 44.9) reikas identity view and avykta, complete with the fire simile of MN 72; S 958 (=AltS 191, SN 44.8) questioning Maudgalyyana on the avykta, answered in terms of the skandhas; S 959 (=AltS 192) his questions to, and praise of, Sandha Ktyyana-gotra; S 960 (=AltS 194, SN 33.2~3) further avykta issues; S 961 (= AltS 195, SN 44.10) his question to the Buddha on the existence or not of an tman, again indicating identity view; S 962 (=AltS 196, MN 72) takes refuge after questioning the Buddha; S 963 (=AltS 197 SN 33.1) explanation that the Tathgata , cannot be reckoned in terms of the skandhas; S 964 (=AltS 198, SN 55:10, MN 73) requests ordination after a teaching. S provides more details of his subsequent training, adding: the four dhynas, the four immeasurables, the four formless attainments, the four rya fruits in terms of the abandoned fetters. These categories appear elsewhere in the Aa, (including a partial parallel at 2.2), but not at this point, and may be later Sarvstivda elaboration in S. Looking over a slightly broader field, this section also provides some answers for our problem of lack of sources for the notion of sarvaj. S 936, 947 and 964 (and AltS 198) all state how a stream-enter takes another seven life-times to reach sabodhi (), 10 thus making sabodhi a synonym here for arhatv, the end of
9 10

All within those texts taught by the disciples and the Tathgatas, (Yinshun:2002 773 ff). S 936 33 [9] (CBETA, T02, no. 99, p. 239, c24-26) [9]

Brahmacrin reika: Early Stra Sources of the Prajpramit

dukha. Though lacking in MN 73, the Pli equivalents SN 55:4, 7 10 also use a , similar term, with enlightenment as their destination (sambodhi-paryati; Bodhi:2002 1788ff). As noted above, Lokakemas use of both and are quite suggestive of the notion of bodhi (Lancaster:1968 Appendix B), and although our later Sanskrit text gives us sarva-j and prdeika-jna respectively (Vaidya:1960), these may originally be merely terms for sabodhi (as arhatv) and srotpannatv, rather than indicating a distinction between a mahyna / bodhisattva and rvaka goals as the later Pp stras may have us believe. 11 Nattier also indicates the synonymous nature of bodhi-citta and sarvaj-citta in the translations of Ugraparipccha (Nattier:2003 148). Moreover, although Lokakema uses , and Conze concurs by translating prdeika-jnena as entered on a cognition with a limited scope (Conze:1975 85), Monier Williams dictionary also notes that prdea or pradea may merely mean destined or determined, which could equate with the Pli notion of paryati. The Pli canon also uses the term buddhnu buddho for an arahant enlightened in succession to the Buddha (SN 8:9; Bodhi:2000 290), which appears as a sthavira () in the Sayukta (S 1209; AltS 225), reminding us to be aware of the usage of terms from budh as epithets for arhats and not just Buddhas alone.

Other S Content Suggestive of the Prajpramit:

There are several other points further suggestive of a relation between these particular S passages and the Aa. Immediately before reikas appearance in the Aa, there is the description of the bodhisattvas samdhi of non-grasping at any dharma, which is vast, great, infinite unable to be overcome by the rvakas or pratyekabuddhas. 12 The citation of reika seems to be a doctrinal support of this, and appears paralleled in the pedimental structure of the stra, both here in I 2 and in II 2, either side of the core of original Pp at I 4~5, according to Conzes format (Conze:1973 83ff). Firstly, the content of this samdhi is expressed in almost exactly the same terms
S 947 34 [4] (CBETA, T02, no. 99, p. 242, b4-7) [4] S 964 34 (CBETA, T02, no. 99, p. 242, b5-7) 11 Subhti here takes as his witness the Little Vehicle where it speaks of the emptiness of dharmas, How could those who practice the great vehicle not believe in it? cf Conze:1975 12, 101ff. 12 Lokakema 11 (CBETA, T08, no. 224, p. 426, a29-b2) Kumrajva 11 (CBETA, T08, no. 227 p. 537 c12-13) , ,

Brahmacrin reika: Early Stra Sources of the Prajpramit

as the dhyna as it truly is ( ) which the Buddha teaches Sandha Ktyyana-gotra earlier in S 926 13 (= AltS 151), ie. the dhyna which is not supported by any dharma (cf Yinshun:1980 636ff). Secondly, we have already seen that Ktyna also appears when he is questioned by reika in S 959. S 958 (= AltS 191, also AltS 192) also contains the phrase most profound, immeasurable, incalculable 14 to describe the Tathgata, which is nearly identical to the description of the Pp samdhi. Thirdly, that the Pp samdhi is unable to be overcome by all the rvakas and pratyekabuddhas is somewhat reminiscent of S 935 (= SN 55:23), where the akyan Godha declares how he would retain faith in the Tathgata contra the bhiku- and bhikuni-sagha, 15 if we consider the sagha so expressed to represent the rvakas (and perhaps the pratyekabuddhas) of the Pp. The version of Sandhas samdhi in AltS 151 is closer still to the Aa, as it adds that the yogin observes the range of dharma supports as false, without seeing any reality in them; but as mere designations and appellations, names; neither seeing existent dharmas nor non-dharmas. 16 This may even correspond in the Aa as far as when Subhti says I cannot apprehend that [corresponding to] the name bodhisattva, there is no basis for a bodhisattva, it cannot be apprehended, 17 passages immediately preceding reika. Where S 926~938 are quite focused on issues of faith, (criteria #1), several other stras in S near reikas appearance also have strong proto-Mahyna sentiment, even if not directly correlated to our Aa passage on reika. S 946 involves the question of how many Buddhas shall appear in future aeons, and have appeared in the past, to which the Buddha responds infinite like the sands of the Gages. The Pli equivalent, SN 15:8, instead records this text as merely asking how many aeons? rather than how many buddhas? These could just be later additions to S.

S 926 33 [5][6] (CBETA, T02, no. 99, p. 235, c28-29) [5]cf. Sandha.[6] AN XI:10 Sekkha. jnya; thyita jhyatha, m khauka-jjhyita. See also Lamotte:2001 81, for details of other citations of this stra, including in MppU and the early Bodhisattva-bhmi of the Yogcra-bhmi stra. 14 S 958 34 (CBETA, T02, no. 99, p. 244, c5) AltS 191 10 (CBETA, T02, no. 100, p. 443, c1-2) AltS 192 10 (CBETA, T02, no. 100, p. 443, c21-22) 15 S 935 33 (CBETA, T02, no. 99, p. 239, c7-13) 16 AltS 151 8 (CBETA, T02, no. 100, p. 430, c28-p. 431, a3) 17 Lokakema 11 [3] (CBETA, T08, no. 224, p. 426, a10-15) [3]

Brahmacrin reika: Early Stra Sources of the Prajpramit

Additionally, Lamotte notes that the various gama texts (including S 105) all have reika in Rjagha where the Pp is traditionally said to be taught, whereas the Pli assigns the Vacchagotta suttas to Vaial, rvast and Rjagha (Lamotte:1945 162). Favoring of Rjagha thus also weakly supports the S in general as a Pp source.

The Mahprajpramit Upadea Explanation:

Though a later text, it is still worthwhile investigating what the MppU says on the matter, to compare with our findings above. Lamotte identifies the MppU gloss 18 of reikas presence as being a free paraphrase of S 105 reika-parivrjaka-tra, which is located in a quite different section of S, 19 and absent from the Pli (Lamotte:2001 1759). S 105 appears to be something of an amalgam of S 958-964, (~ SN 44:9 plus MN 72-73), and is located in S between the equivalents of SN 22:85 & 86 (Khandha-sayutta), the former dealing with Yamakas pernicious views on the annihilation of the Tathgata after death, the latter with Anurdhas discussions with heterodox ramaas about the state of the Tathgata after death (cf Bodhi:2002 931ff). Here, S arranges S 105 by subject, ie. the avyktas, quite different from the S 940-964 arrangement by interlocutor, under the general ramaa heading. Furthermore, S 105 refers to reika () as per the Aa translations after Lokakema, whereas the other stras all use Vatsa[-gotra] / Vaccha[-gotta] ([]) as per the Pli. 20 However, as noted above, given that Lokakema merely refers to our protagonist as someone of a heterodox path, this may be explained by the simple fact that he was well known as both Vacchagotta and reika, and is insufficient to prove that S 105 is thus a closer model to the Aa. Or in other words, MppU here only corresponds to later versions of the Aa, and not necessarily its sources. S 105 begins as per SN 44:9 (which adds the fire simile), with reikas doubts about the declaration and non-declaration of disciples rebirth after death, to which the Buddha states that his confusion is due to various (identity) views. Then, as per MN 72, the Tathgata (read: arhat) is analyzed in terms of each of the skandhas, wherein he is not apprehended when each of the skandhas is analyzed in terms of anicca, dukha and antman. The Buddha explains that a disciples presence or absence of self-conceit (asmimna) is the determining factor in their respective further rebirth

MppU 429 (CBETA, T25, no. 1509, p. 368, a16-p. 369, b17) Under the subject of skandha in the first section of stra, according to Yinshuns analysis (Yinshun:2002 666). 20 S 95 also features Vacchagotta, but under yet under then name of learned brahmin (), and the topic of gifts to the sagha indicates an early stage in Vacchagottas relations with the Buddha. Otherwise it appears to be unrelated to our investigation here.
18 19


Brahmacrin reika: Early Stra Sources of the Prajpramit

or otherwise. 21 On hearing this, reika attains purity of the Dharma-eye, 22 and ordains into the sagha. Finally, in a very abbreviated form of the latter part of MN 73, reika cultivates calm and insight, to attain arhatv. S 105 thus appears as a synopsis of reika in general, repeating material elsewhere. Its fulfillment of our criteria is as the other S stras, but because of its brevity, the issue of sarvaj cannot be resolved, nor can the notion of limited gnosis, through the content of the stra alone, unlike the more detailed S 959-964 with provides more clues. Although this is certainly the stra cited by the MppU to gloss and explain the Pp stra (Lamotte:2001 1759), it appears as more of a synopsis of several stras rather than a distinct text in itself, otherwise there would be an anomaly between it and MN 73 / S 964, as both stras have reika as initially a heterodox ramaa, who requests ordination, and eventually attains arhatv. Given Yinshuns analysis of the composition of S (Yinshun:2002 629ff), it could be that S 105 is in fact the original text, a summary regards reika, and that the other stras only appeared latter, as more information on reikas details emerged, which were then appended near the end of S. Perhaps it was only when these latter stras emerged that they then became a structural basis for this section of the Aa, though when the MppU refers back to S 105 alone, the connection between the two sides is not so clear.


Looking at the sources in Chinese, both Sarvstivda S and Kayapya AltS, we see that all the criteria are well represented, though several notions have undergone modification through shifts of meaning. Considering the sources on reika and other stras that make up and surround this portion of the Sayukta gama, the sum total is several independent lines of textual evidence to suggest that the composers of the original Pp were at least very familiar with this portion of the S, and were quite possibly either basing themselves on it deliberately, or that their recitation of it led to its content and structure becoming a natural basis for any extemporaneous or inspired teachings (praibhna) that they may have given. This could not be the case with the Pli sources, as although they contain basically the same essential material, they are not collated together in the same part of a Nikya, but are scattered through MN and several sayuttas of the SN. The Pli is also lacking certain expressions through which such modifications would have taken place, and also lacks topics such as the texts which show the samdhi of the bodhisattvas, anywhere near reika. In this shift from the mainstream texts, we still have a major disparity in that where the S passages covers several thousand words, the Aa passage is only several
21 22

Self-conceit being one of the higher fetters abandoned only at arhatv, cf SN 22:89, MN 22. Attaining the dharma eye or vision of dharma is a stock statement for stream-entry, cf SN 13:1.


Brahmacrin reika: Early Stra Sources of the Prajpramit

hundred. How could such a condensation of many stras have come about? One possible answer is that the Pp passage here developed from some type of mtk or uddna 23 of either the S or AltS stras, in the broad sense of a generic outlay or index of a series of stras, as opposed to a proto-Abhidharma text. Some parts of S do include mtk, though this particular section does not. 24 AltS does have a mtk for AltS 190-198 though, which is precisely the stras which cover our core material here. 25 On inspection however, it certainly bears no resemblance to anything that could somehow transform into the Aa! Furthermore, looking at the stras preceding and subsequent to this portion of both S and AltS beyond the scope and range we have indicate above, there is little other resemblance to the neighboring portions of Lokakemas Aa. However, given that the mtk would be composed after the arrangement and ordering of the various stras in a given gama or Nikya, and that the various schools each had their own different arrangements, other schools which also split from the broader Sthavira faction would each have their own different mtk. Perhaps, and we are now diving into deeper speculation, the Sayukta gama of some other Sthavira tradition, such as the Mahsaka or Dharmagupta, would shed more insight. Although this short study may not provide particularly satisfying answers for either the mainstream stra sources of the Prajpramit, nor how those sources may have been condensed into the pithy statements of the Prajpramit, I hope I have at least provided some food for thought regards several related themes and notions, and some possible avenues for future explorations on this matter.

Although it is well known that Prajpramit was considered the mother of the Buddhas on an epistemic sense, that it may derive from a mtk or mother index, is also suggestive of this notion on a textual level. 24 Thus, Yinshun correspondence tables between the mtk of the Yogcra-bhmi-stra and the s sections of S, based on L Chengs studies, are unable to help us here (Yinshun:2002 629ff). As noted above, S 105 does appear in the S section on skandha, and though this series of stra does have a (mtk / uddna) index, the content of this mtk in AltS seems an even less likely source than that below, as the other relevant stras are not present! 25 AltS 10 (CBETA, T02, no. 100, p. 447 b9-11) , [190] Body (sarira) and soul (tman), [191] Maudgalyna; [192] Rare indeed, [193] Ktyyna; [194] Never before, [195] Existent soul (tman); [196] Vision, [197] Delusion; [198] The renunciate Vatsagotra. Authors translation, AltS stra number in [#], corresponding to S 957-964.


Brahmacrin reika: Early Stra Sources of the Prajpramit


gama Source (S & AltS):
S 926 (= AltS 151): Dhyna as it truly is () which is not based on the four elements; the four formless attainments; this world or the other world; the sun or moon; what is seen, heard, sensed or cognized; applied or sustained thought, taught by the Buddha to Sandha Ktyyana- gotra (also appears in S 959).

Lokakemas Aa Pp:
Subhti said: Bodhisattvas coursing in prajpramit do not grasp at form, do not grasp at form; do not grasp at sensation, perception, volitions or cognition. Not grasping at form, there is no form; not grasping at sensation, perception, volitions or cognition, there is no cognition. [Even] prajpramit they do not grasp. Why do they not grasp it? It is like a shadow, not seizable, not apprehendable, thus they do not grasp it. Bodhisattvas coursing in prajpramit do not grasp at any named dharmas, thus this samdhi is boundless, without fixation; that cannot be overcome by all the arhats or pratyekabuddhas. Moreover, O riputra!, sarvaj cannot be taken up (). For what reason? Bodhisattvas should not view ( pa) sarvaj by seizing upon concepts [=signs] ( nimitta / lakana), as positing concepts [=signs] while viewing is not ultimate (). Just as the heterodox ramana [reika] did not have faith in sarvaj.


True dhyna as it really is the Prajpramit samdhi of not grasping at any dharma.

S 935 (= AltS 159, SN 55:23): Godhas faith in the Tathgata over the bhiku-sagha, bhikuni-sagha. [S 958 (= AltS 191 & 192): In answering reikas question on the state of the Tathgata after death, also contains the phrase most profound, immeasurable, incalculable.]

Bhiku- and bhikuni sagha the arhats and pratyekabuddhas.

[S 926 (= AltS 151): The true dhyna as it really is, which takes no object as a support. This becomes reikas meditation below: S 958 (= AltS 191); S 959 (= AltS 192).]

S 926~938: Focus on issues of faith, taught for the akyan Mahnma. [S 946 Buddhas infinite like the sands of the Gages in future and past aeons.] [S 936, 947 (also 964 and MN 73): A stream-enter takes seven life-times to reach sabodhi (), see below.] S 957 (= AltS 190, SN 44.9): re body and A tman identical or different? Complete with the fire simile of MN 72. S 958 (= AltS 191, SN 44.8): Questioning Maudgalyna on Does the Tathgata survive after death? Answered by Is the Tathgata the skandhas? S 959 (= AltS 192): As previous, but asked of Sandha Ktyyana-gotra, whom reika praises. S 960 (= AltS 194, SN 33.2~3): As previous, but asked of the Buddha. S 961 (= AltS 195, SN 44:10): The Buddhas

[Corresponding Mahyna themes.] [Corresponding Mahyna themes.]

For what reason? Rather, he claimed an identity [view] ( sakkya[-di]),

Avykta questions identifing the Tathgata with the five skandhas notion of not coursing and not abiding in the skandhas, etc., all dharmas (as the Prajpramit samdhi, see above and below).


Brahmacrin reika: Early Stra Sources of the Prajpramit

silence to reikas question Is there an tman? reikas sarana adhimoka ( raddhnusri in Kumrajva). (Basis for Prajpramit samdhi, see above and below.) Having faith in the Buddha, maintaining lesser gnosis ( prdeika-j) he entered into the Buddhas path ( bodhi). Non-return (angmi) OR destined for arhatv (sabodhi) gnosis of lesser scope (prdeika- j).

S 962 (= AltS 196, MN 72): reika takes refuge after questioning the Buddha.

but [later] this heterdox ramana had faith in the Buddha.

S 963 (= AltS 197 SN 33.1): Explanation , that the Tathgata cannot be reckoned in terms of the skandhas.

S 964 (= AltS 198, MN 73): reika requests ordination after a teaching, and soon attains non-returning.

S 964 (= AltS 198, MN 73, SN 55:10): reika later attains arhatv. Along with S 936 & 947 and MN 73, all state how a stream-enter takes another seven life-times to reach sabodhi (), thus making sabodhi a synonym for arhatv, the end of dukha.

Having entered into the Buddhas path ( [sa-]bodhi).

Arhatv and its synonym sabodhi the Buddhas path ( ) ( sarvaj in Kumrajva).

[reikas meditation, the content of which is based on his conversations with the Buddha at: S 958 (= AltS 191); S 959 (= AltS 192); also true dhyna as it really is S 926 (= AltS 151).]

He did not seize upon () form; and did not seize upon sensation, perception, volitions or cognition. Having not seized upon [these five skandhas], he was also yet to comprehend (), or be endowed with (), and did not see gnosis with insight (); did not see with insight this gnosis in internal [dharmas], nor in external [dharmas], nor in some other basis. [Same for the remaining four skandhas.]

Internal dharmas: Not seizing upon the skandhas as identified with the Tathgata a form of non-grasping samdhi and non-conceiving of the skandhas.

[reikas meditation, the content of which is based on his conversations with the Buddha at: S 958 (= AltS 191); S 959 (= AltS 192); also true dhyna as it really is S 926 (= AltS 151).]

Nor was he freed from some other basis [apart from the skandhas] ( ).

External dharmas: Nor is the Tathgata other than the skandhas liberation is not apart from the skandhas (and nirva is not a dharma outside the skandhas). Arhatv and its synonym sabodhi (especially with the six abhij) the path of the Buddha ( sarvaj in Kumrajva).

S 964 (= AltS 198, MN 73): reika attains stream-entry on hearing the Buddha. Ordaining into the sagha, he attains angmi. After further training in samatha-vipayan, he attains arhatv with the six abhijs.

Training in and accomplishing the comprehension of the Buddhas (j), he was released from dharmas ( ); that is, dharmas, etc., up to nirva ()


Brahmacrin reika: Early Stra Sources of the Prajpramit

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