Brahmacārin Śreṇika: Early Sūtra Sources of the Prajñāpāramitā

M B Orsborn (釋慧峰) 2008-02-01
Though the idea of some absolute “starting point” for the Mahāyāna – be it temporal, doctrinal or sociological – has now generally been rejected, as well as several other commonly held notions regards the Mahāyāna, the inevitably complex link between it and mainstream (often referred to as Nikāya or scholastic) Buddhism is still not well established. Harrison’s research into the oldest strata of Mahāyāna texts in Chinese translation provides insights to how these sūtras 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 smṛtyupasthānas proper, but in many other contexts as well.” He then mentions that “examples can be found in the Akṣ[obhya] and B[ha]d[ra]p[āla] … as well as in the Aṣṭa[sāhasrikā], the Kaśyapaparivarta, and the Ajātaśatru-kaukṛtyavinodanā, to name just a few…” (Harrison:2003 120). Thus, he indicates several very early Mahāyāna sūtras, several of which have known mainstream predecessors. Harrison goes on to focus on the process of texts used for visualization in the Pratyutpanna-samādhi, and also claims “inspired eloquence” (pratibhāna) as one of three sources thereof (Harrison:2003 124). Nattier shows similar reasoning in her analysis of the Ugraparpṛccha sūtra (Nattier:2003 51ff). This term is also used throughout the opening passages of the Aṣṭasāhasrikā-prajñāpāramitā when Subhūti is asked to “expound” the Prajñāpāramitā, “through the Buddha’s might” (Conze:1973 83). Just as Harrison claims for the Pratyutpanna Sūtra, Yinshun also considers that originally the Prajñāpāramitā was also a practice for forest dwelling bhikṣus (Yinshun:1980 633ff, 652, 671, 701). Thus, the notion that the Prajñāpāramitā was initially based on existing sūtras, albeit modified in some way by these meditating bhikṣus, 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 bhikṣus, that subsequently became the earliest Prajñāpāramitā sūtra(s)? Moreover, in what way where they modified?


Working directly with the Chinese translations. in addition to producing copious translations of the Prajñāpāramitā (hereafter Pp) from the Sanskrit. the first two chapters or the first chapter alone.Brahmacārin Śreṇika: Early Sūtra Sources of the Prajñāpāramitā PRAJÑĀPĀRAMITĀ: Conze. (being several centuries earlier than the Sanskrit). So. and from several somewhat independent sources. indicated that the Chinese translations of the texts would be invaluable in ascertaining its origins (Conze:1975 x). with some additional points. ie. the Sanskrit and Chinese. and then from that try to work out which mainstream sūtra(s) it may have evolved from. try to ascertain the earliest form of that text. and concludes that: “Although there are some discrepancies in their various theories. because “these chapters (a) define four new terms. and we shall thus rely on and synthesize the essential results from Conze and Yinshun respectively. Fortunately. Lancaster followed with a textual study of the various Chinese translations of the earliest Pp. dealt mainly with later texts and inter-scholastic issues (Lamotte:2001). commonly known by its Sanskrit name Aṣṭasāhasrikā (hereafter Aṣṭa) (Lancaster:1968). how do we decide between these positions. Yinshun also consults Japanese research on the topic. and of which all the others are elaborations” (Conze:1975 x). and we must begin with what Pp texts we have. (b) develop certain ideas about the Hīnayāna tradition. Based largely on the presently extant Aṣṭa and Ratnaguṇa-samcaya-gāthā (hereafter Rgs) texts. ie. and (c) indicate the source of the new teaching” (Conze:1967 124). however. Notion and Structure of “Original” Prajñāpāramitā The process of tracing such source sūtras is a reverse of how the Pp text may have historically developed. as to the “original” Pp? Rudimentary analysis of the structure of 2 . Conze considers that “the 41 verses of the first two chapters constitute the original Pp which may well go back to 100 BC. So prompted. we can say that they are alike in considering that the “Original Prajñā[pāramitā] Sūtra” can be deduced from the “Practice of the Path Chapter (道行品) (or the equivalent section of the Large Sūtra). Lamotte’s translations and research from Chinese sources. (Yinshun:1980 626ff). especially the Mahāprajñāpāramitā Upadeśa (hereafter Mppu).” He then uses Kumārajīva’s translation T 227 《小品般若波羅蜜經》 (equivalent but clearer text) of those parts in Lokakṣema’s earlier translation T 224 《道行經》 to show which parts he considers to be the earliest . considerable work on the notion of “original” Pp has already been attempted. The Chinese and Japanese traditions have naturally tended towards reliance on these Chinese translations.

3 Though worth pursuing. Lamotte’s work on the later commentary the Mahāprajñāpāramitā-śāstra (hereafter 1 2 3 I would like to thank Prof Lancaster for suggesting this idea via personal correspondence. signs and śūnyatā. ie. and thus the antiquity of Śreṇika’s presence in the sūtra is established (Conze:1967 179ff).3. going forth. only the first sub-section of the second chapter is absent. The Pp particular to the bodhisattvas seems to have a part which is in common with the śrāvaka disciples. Yinshun’s comments on Śreṇika’s presence also indicate that it is a critical point for the emergence of the Mahāyāna: “In the third paragraph on the ‘Samādhi of Non-grasping’. which opens by establishing Subhūti as an authoritative source of the Pp. the issue of the “self” at I 9 & II 12.40. On comparing the Aṣṭa with verses of the Rgs. Ironically Conze identifies all the key points. which appears in I 1 of Conze’s translation. and closes with the parallel of Śakyamuni Bodhisattva’s confirmation to Buddhahood by Dipaṃkāra. And perhaps also “prajñavara-pāramitāya caryā” in the Rgs.Brahmacārin Śreṇika: Early Sūtra Sources of the Prajñāpāramitā the first two chapters through pedimental (or chiasmic) composition theory 1 would suggest that the first two chapters form a complete text. Buddhas empowering bodhisattvas to engage in the Mahāyāna through teaching the Pp. Conze’s Rgs: The new key-terms at I 16-23. Perhaps the most important of which is regards Śreṇika the brahmacārin.19 & II 5. 3 . the realization of Śreṇika parivrājaka is raised as an example. such structural analysis is not the main focus scope of our discussion here. (cf Conze:1967 124). not standing in the skandhas. anupalabdhi I 5. together with the definition of the terms bodhisattva.10 & II 1. Outside of the “original” Pp.” He considers that this samādhi is indeed the core of the early bodhisattva practice (Yinshun:1980 636). mahāsattva and mahāyāna 2 which are the very heart of both the Pp and the new movement in general. complete with mutual reference (Douglas:2007 85ff). Running either side of the peak are several other parallel structures including: illusions. These. form the “three key points” of a ring structure. though they vary somewhat in acting as key links to the mainstream tradition (Conze:1973 xivff). Establishing Śreṇika within the “Original” Prajñāpāramitā Conze claims to point out several “direct quotations from the previous sūtras”. These parallels are most pronounced in the Rgs verses. near the heart of our “original” Pp. but does not see the structure (Conze:1967 124ff). and the elements are all present in the early Chinese translations of the Aṣṭa. and it is enough to conclude that in general the earliest Pp is represented in the opening two chapters. and any link between it and the śrāvaka / mainstream tradition is valuable for our aims here. (original) nature. aniketacārī I 6.14. he claims several other mainstream sūtra quotations. the samādhis at I 9-10 & II 9-10 (Conze:1967 124ff).

T08. Following the MppU. 479. The validity of using this later commentary as an accurate tool for understanding the earliest period of the Pp is an important issue. and Kumārajīva’s usage the anomaly. he claimed an identity [view] (身 sakkāya[-dṛṣṭi]). THE BRAHMACĀRIN ŚREṆIKA IN THE PRAJÑĀPĀRAMITĀ: Let us begin with Lokakṣema’s translation of the passage on Śreṇika (T08. b11-12) Particularly unclear is Lokakṣema’s 佛道. which survives only in the Chinese. Despite the above. or be endowed with (未成). which we shall examine below. volitions or cognition. 4 Could it be that Lokakṣema’s work refers to “heterodox” brahmacārins in general? or did he merely wish to simplify Śreṇika’s status? Investigating the early sources of Śreṇika. below. and did not seize upon sensation. rather than either the name “Śreṇika” or “Vacchagotta”. but are by no means certain. leads him to the conclusion that “Śreṇika appears as the prototype of the Mahāyānist saint” (Lamotte:2001 1760). he was also yet to comprehend (未曉). 225. and the Sanskrit. he did not seize upon (不受) form. Having not seized upon [these five skandhas]. It is only by Zhiqian’s (T225 《 大 明 度 經 》 ) and subsequent translations that we first see the specific name “Śreṇika” (先泥). which though corresponding in location to Kumārajīva’s 薩 婆 若 智 (sarvajñā[jñā-tā]). it appears that this matter is less significant than it may appear in this stage. he claims that the discussion on Śreṇika is derived from SĀ 105. Just as the heterodox śramana [Śreṇika 6 ] did not have faith in sarvajñā. as positing concepts [=signs] while viewing is not ultimate (為不了). More on this point as a transition between the mainstream and Mahāyāna. Just before this passage. all the rest of the Chinese sources. Lokakṣema uses 薩芸若 for sarvajñā. 4 . For what reason? Bodhisattvas should not view ( 視 √paś) sarvajñā by seizing upon concepts [=signs] (持想 nimitta / lakṣana). the actual term used is merely “person of heterodox paths” (餘道人). with the assistance of Kumārajīva. and did not see gnosis with insight (不見慧). O Śāriputra!. he entered into the Buddha’s path (佛道 bodhi). As noted above. 224. identify this as “Śreṇika”. also indicating that the term here may be different. given that apart from Lokakṣema’s version. it is critical to note that in Lokakṣema’s translation. through Lancaster’s tables it may be a literal “buddha-mārga” or “buddha-bodhi” (Lancaster:1968 Appendix B). Sanskrit terms are merely suggested from Lokakṣema’s usage (Lancaster:1968 374ff) and the Sanskrit text. perception. p426b).Brahmacārin Śreṇika: Early Sūtra Sources of the Prajñāpāramitā MppU). did not see with insight this gnosis in 4 5 6 《大明度經》卷 1〈1 行品〉「為若異學先泥之信,不得一切知。彼先泥信解道」(CBETA. For what reason? Rather. Having faith in the Buddha. : p. I shall too at this point. maintaining lesser gnosis (小道 prādeśika-√jñā). no. 5 Moreover. but [later] this heterdox śramana had faith in the Buddha. Having entered into the Buddha’s path (佛道 bodhi). sarvajñā cannot be taken up (不受).

that is. p. The much later Sanskrit version. Lack of faith due to identity views. we shall begin from the Nikāyas and Āgamas which are presently extant. Non-comprehension etc. Arising of faith towards the Buddha and sarvajñā. [all] dharmas. up to nirvāṇa (謂法等一泥洹). and emphasizes Śreṇika’s “conviction” (信解 = adhimukti). based on a general consensus regards the compilation 7 Lokakṣema《道行般若經》卷 1〈1 道行品〉「復次,舍利弗!薩芸若不受。何以故?菩薩不當持想視 : 薩芸若。設想視者為不了,為如餘道人不信薩芸若。何以故?反謂有身,[6]正使餘道人信佛。信佛已, 反持小道入佛道中。入佛道中已,不受色,痛痒思想生死識不受,不受已亦未曉,尚未成,亦不見慧, 亦不於內見慧,亦不於外見慧,亦不於餘處見慧,亦不於內痛痒思想生死識見慧,亦不於外痛痒思想生 死識餘處見慧,亦不於餘處脫,以學成就佛了知,從法中以脫去,謂法等一泥洹。」 (CBETA. Thus. T08. no. [Same for the remaining four skandhas. nor in external [dharmas]. which the Pp composers wished to emphasize (Conze:1967 126). we hope to discover not only the relevant suttas / sūtras of the mainstream tradition in general. 7 I have undertaken a cautious cross-comparison with later translations to improve the accuracy of our English rendering here. The above translation is how Lokakṣema’s translation appears to us at present. but also to see if we can further point the source to a particular mainstream group. Release from dharmas which he did not grasp at or comprehend. 426. 2. 5. avoiding the tendency to allow later notions creep into the translation. Sarvāstivādin MĀ and SĀ. MAINSTREAM SŪTRA SOURCES FOR ŚREṆIKA: Regards possible textual sources. as the primary sources. eg. the criteria for possible source sūtras for this passage should include these six points and structure. Non-grasping at any of the skandhas. including nirvāṇa. Kumārajīva only adds that “release” (解脫 = vimukti) was due to the “realization of the true nature of all dharmas (dharmatā / tathatā)” (得諸法實相故). 4. of the skandhas. Conze considers that the “lesser gnosis” was originally a mainstream method of realization. he was released from dharmas (從法中以脫去). 6. These include the Theravāda MN and SN.] Nor was he freed from some other basis (不於 餘處脫). 224. but with “limited knowledge”. as opposed to the bodhisattvas’ gnosis of dharma-nairātmya via tathatā. By investigating such a range of available texts. pudgala-nairātmya. 3. and Kaśyapīya AltSĀ.Brahmacārin Śreṇika: Early Sūtra Sources of the Prajñāpāramitā internal [dharmas]. has instead that: due to “conviction” he was a called a “follower by faith” (śraddhānusārin). Śreṇika in the Aṣṭa thus goes through several stages: 1. nor in some other basis. b3-12) [6]正=政【聖】 。 5 . though we shall find some other possibilities as we search for early sources of this material. Training in and accomplishing the comprehension (√jñā) of the Buddhas. perhaps mistaking vimukti for adhimukti. Cultivation of the Dharma.

culminating in arahanta. The Buddha then uses the simile of the extinguishing of a fire to describe the post-death state of a Tathāgata. likewise the attitude of non-grasping or non-comprehension towards the goal of nirvāṇa once attained The Vacchagotta Saṃyutta (SN 33) dealing with the avyākata questions. Vacchagotta falls into confusion. Law:1998. Regards our criteria #3. After a brief explanation of wholesome action. and the 8 Yinshun:2002 98 attributes AltSĀ to the Kāśyapīya rather than either the Mahīśāka or Dharmagupta. MN 72 Aggivacchagotta sutta has Vacchagotta raising ten of the “undeclared” questions (avyākata). etc. #4 & #5 reveal his attitude towards the kandhas. No explicit reference regards our six criteria appears so far. etc. but no reference to sarvajñā / sabbaññū is made.Brahmacārin Śreṇika: Early Sūtra Sources of the Prajñāpāramitā of these Nikāyas / Āgamas (Glass:2006. #2 as faith towards the Buddha. it would be an assumption that Vacchagotta’s method of realization follows MN 72 in relation to the kandhas. Yinshun:2002 90ff. When the Buddha states that he does not have any speculative views. The Buddha replies by explaining his “threefold knowledge” (tevijja). It thus clearly contains criteria #1 from the Aṣṭa passage above. Vacchagotta reaffirms his faith / refuge. MN 73 Mahāvacchagotta sutta is somewhat longer. (the Pāli refers to Śreṇika by this clan name). and asks for full admission into the saṃgha. the Buddha teaches him serenity and insight. perhaps “limited knowledge” refers to already having reached non-return. the issue of sarvajñā / sabbaññū is still unclear. I have used Bodhi’s translations as well as the PTS Pāli editions of the Nikāyas. Together. This rekindles Vacchagotta’s faith. and declaration that many in the Buddha’s dispensation have attained the fruits of the path. (the MA commentary adds that he had already become a non-returner). However. or not initially aiming at all six of the higher knowledges. 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. and he goes for refuge. Half a month later. 8 Śreṇika is rather absent from DN and (~ Dharmaguptaka DĀ) and AN (~ late Mahāsaṃghika EĀ). as opposed to Sthaviravāda Sarvāstivāda. indicating that the Tathāgata cannot be reckoned in terms of the kandhas. and Vacchagotta develops the six higher knowledges (abhiññā). and also the miscellaneous texts of KN. is the main protagonist. MN 71 Tevijjavacchagotta sutta has him asking the Buddha several questions about the Buddha’s “all-gnosis” (sabbaññū) and “all-vision” (sabbadassāvī). 6 . though all three are Sthaviravāda Vibhajyavādin. and says that he has lost some of his former confidence in the Buddha. and the Chinese A-han Jing 《阿含經》 T01. 463ff). Relevant Nikāya Suttas and Āgama Sūtras: The Paribbājakavagga of MN begins with three suttas in which Vacchagotta.

SN 55:10. and praise of. SĀ 962 (=AltSĀ 196. SĀ 958 (=AltSĀ 191. SĀ provides more details of his subsequent training. SĀ 959 (=AltSĀ 192) – his questions to. they are largely included here (see also Yinshun:2002 675). SĀ 936. c24-26) [9][正]-【聖】 。 7 . 239. SĀ 961 (= AltSĀ 195. (together with related issues in the Anamatagga.8) – questioning Maudgalyāyana on the avyākṛta. This furthers criteria #1 on identity views. These categories appear elsewhere in the Aṣṭa. but not at this point. criteria #4 and #5. p. “Without Discoverable Beginning”) into a single group: SĀ 957-964 (= AltSĀ 190-198). one of a number of heterodox samaṇas with their philosophical questions. This in itself indicates that here. even if Lokakṣema’s original text did not refer to Śreṇika specifically. no. SN 33. all state that heterodox samaṇas raise the undeclared questions because they posit an ātman based on the kandhas. SĀ 936《雜阿含經》卷 33: 「世尊記彼得須陀洹。不墮惡趣法。決定[9]正向三菩提。七有天人往生。究 竟苦邊。」(CBETA. answered in terms of the skandhas. SĀ collates all these. adding: the four dhyānas. this section also provides some answers for our problem of lack of sources for the notion of sarvajñā. T02. SĀ puts more emphasis on Śreṇika the person. Again. MN 72) – takes refuge after questioning the Buddha.2~3) – further avyākṛta issues. Looking over a slightly broader field. cannot be reckoned in terms of the skandhas. The Chinese sources provide a different perspective of possible sources. Where the Pāli separates the above mentioned suttas into MN and separate Saṃyuttas in SN.” (Yinshun:2002 773 ff). SĀ 963 (=AltSĀ 197 SN 33. the four ārya fruits in terms of the abandoned fetters. SN 44. again indicating identity view. if Lokakṣema’s original was regards śramaṇas in general.10) – his question to the Buddha on the existence or not of an ātman. this is still an appropriate place to look for a mainstream source. (including a partial parallel at 2.1) – explanation that the Tathāgata . 9 though MN 71 is absent. SN 44. SĀ 964 (=AltSĀ 198. Given that SN 44 contains references to various samaṇas other than Śreṇika. Analysis of the Saṃyukta Āgama Portion: In the Sarvāstivāda SĀ. whereas the Pāli classifies by topic. complete with the fire simile of MN 72. 947 and 964 (and AltSĀ 198) all state how a stream-enter takes another seven life-times to reach saṃbodhi (三菩提). 99.2). we thus see in order: SĀ 957 (= AltSĀ 190.Brahmacārin Śreṇika: Early Sūtra Sources of the Prajñāpāramitā Abhyākhata (SN 44) with two suttas (8 Vacchagotta & 9 The Debating Hall). Sandha Kātyāyana-gotra. and may be later Sarvāstivāda elaboration in SĀ. and also how the Buddha would teach them detachment from the kandhas to reach release. the “end of 9 10 All within those texts “taught by the disciples and the Tathāgatas. MN 73) – requests ordination after a teaching. SĀ 960 (=AltSĀ 194. the four immeasurables.9) – Śreṇika’s identity view and avyākṛta. 10 thus making saṃbodhi a synonym here for arhatvā. SN 44. the four formless attainments.

Lokakṣema’s use of both 佛道 and 小道 are quite suggestive of the notion of bodhi (Lancaster:1968 Appendix B). T08. which appears as a sthavira (上座) in the Saṃyukta (SĀ 1209.” 12 The citation of Śreṇika seems to be a doctrinal support of this. p. As noted above. 8 . although Lokakṣema uses 小道. 224. 12 Lokakṣema《道行般若經》卷 1〈1 道行品〉「菩薩行般若波羅蜜,一切字法不受,是故三昧無有邊、 : 無有正,諸阿羅漢、辟支佛所不能及。」(CBETA.Brahmacārin Śreṇika: Early Sūtra Sources of the Prajñāpāramitā duḥkha”. 426. a29-b2) Kumārajīva《小品般若波羅蜜經》卷 1〈1 初品〉「是名菩薩諸法無受,三昧廣大,無量無定,一切聲 : 聞、辟支佛所不能壞。」(CBETA. “with enlightenment as their destination” (sambodhi-parāyaṇāti. 99. infinite … unable to be overcome by the śrāvakas or pratyekabuddhas. the content of this samādhi is expressed in almost exactly the same terms SĀ 947《雜阿含經》卷 34: 「斷三結。謂身見.戒取.疑。斷此三[4]結。得須陀洹。不墮惡趣法。決定 正向三菩提。七有天人往生。究竟苦邊。」(CBETA. Though lacking in MN 73. Moreover. Other SĀ Content Suggestive of the Prajñāpāramitā: There are several other points further suggestive of a relation between these particular SĀ passages and the Aṣṭa. and appears paralleled in the pedimental structure of the sūtra. Monier Williams’ dictionary also notes that “prādeśa” or “pradeśa” may merely mean “destined” or “determined”. either side of the core of “original” Pp at I 4~5. 537 c12-13) . rather than indicating a distinction between a mahāyāna / bodhisattva and śrāvaka goals as the later Pp sūtras may have us believe. AltSĀ 225).” which is “vast. Bodhi:2000 290). there is the description of the bodhisattvas’ “samādhi of non-grasping at any dharma. 227 p. which could equate with the Pāli notion of “parāyaṇāti”. no. p. according to Conze’s format (Conze:1973 83ff). 242. T08. no. T02. 11 Nattier also indicates the synonymous nature of bodhi-citta and sarvajñā-citta in the translations of Ugraparipṛccha (Nattier:2003 148). great. T02. both here in I 2 and in II 2. and although our later Sanskrit text gives us sarva-jñā and prādeśika-jñāna respectively (Vaidya:1960). the Pāli equivalents SN 55:4. p. 101ff. no. reminding us to be aware of the usage of terms from √budh as epithets for arhats and not just Buddhas alone. similar term. 7 10 also use a . Bodhi:2002 1788ff). 242. these may originally be merely terms for saṃbodhi (as arhatvā) and srotāpannatvā. b4-7) [4]結+(謂身見戒取疑斷 此三結) 【聖】 。 SĀ 964《雜阿含經》卷 34: 「得須陀洹。不墮惡趣法。決定正向三菩提。七有天人往生。究竟苦邊。」 (CBETA. Firstly. no. Immediately before Śreṇika’s appearance in the Aṣṭa. How could those who practice the great vehicle not believe in it?” cf Conze:1975 12. 99. . and Conze concurs by translating “prādeśika-jñānena” as “entered on a cognition with a limited scope” (Conze:1975 85). b5-7) 11 “Subhūti here takes as his witness the Little Vehicle where it speaks of the emptiness of dharmas. The Pāli canon also uses the term buddhānu buddho for an arahant “enlightened in succession to the Buddha” (SN 8:9.

The version of Sandha’s samādhi in AltSĀ 151 is closer still to the Aṣṭa. p. mā khaḷuṅka-jjhāyitaṃ. instead records this text as merely asking “how many aeons?” rather than “how many buddhas?” These could just be later additions to SĀ. 14 SĀ 958《雜阿含經》卷 34: 「甚深廣大。無量無數。皆悉寂滅。」(CBETA. c5) AltSĀ 191《別譯雜阿含經》卷 10: 「如斯之義。甚深無量。無有邊際。非算數所知。無有方處。亦無 去來。寂滅無相。」(CBETA. c7-13) 16 AltSĀ 151 《別譯雜阿含經》 8: 卷 「如是不依於彼地水火風…獲得無所依止禪。…若有比丘。深修禪定。 觀彼大地悉皆虛偽。都不見有真實地想。水火風種。…心意境界。及以於彼智不及處。亦復如是。皆悉 虛偽。無有實法。但以假號。因緣和合。有種種名。觀斯空寂。不見有法及以非法。」(CBETA. even if not directly correlated to our Aṣṭa passage on Śreṇika. T02. 235. as it adds that the yogin observes the range of dharma supports as “false. p. immeasurable. 100. 244. that the Pp samādhi is “unable to be overcome by all the śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas” is somewhat reminiscent of SĀ 935 (= SN 55:23). no. … names.” See also Lamotte:2001 81. a3) 17 Lokakṣema《道行般若經》卷 1〈1 道行品〉「須菩提白佛言: : 「我熟念菩薩心不可得,亦不可知處, 亦不可見何所,是菩薩般若波羅蜜,亦不能及說,亦不能逮說菩薩字,菩薩無有處處,了不可得,亦無 [3]而出,亦無如入,亦無如住,亦無如止。」 」(CBETA. no. “ājānīya. 15 if we consider the saṃgha so expressed to represent the śrāvakas (and perhaps the pratyekabuddhas) of the Pp. 430.” 16 This may even correspond in the Aṣṭa as far as when Subhūti says “I cannot apprehend that [corresponding to] the name ‘bodhisattva’. and have appeared in the past. neither seeing existent dharmas nor non-dharmas. T02. SĀ 946 involves the question of how many Buddhas shall appear in future aeons. SĀ 958 (= AltSĀ 191. we have already seen that Kātyāna also appears when he is questioned by Śreṇika in SĀ 959. no. where the Śakyan Godha declares how he would retain faith in the Tathāgata contra the bhikṣu. 99. Sandha. p. no. c28-29) [5]詵陀~cf. T02. 224. incalculable” 14 to describe the Tathāgata. SN 15:8. no. p. Secondly. no. T02. 99. there is no basis for a ‘bodhisattva’. including in MppU and the early Bodhisattva-bhūmi of the Yogācāra-bhūmi Śāstra. a10-15) [3]而=如【宋】 【元】 【明】 【宮】 。 13 9 . several other sūtras in SĀ near Śreṇika’s appearance also have strong proto-Mahāyāna sentiment. p. 443. 426. Thirdly. c21-22) 15 SĀ 935《雜阿含經》卷 33: 「沙陀釋氏…若有如是像類法起。一者世尊。一者比丘僧。我寧隨世尊。不 隨比丘僧。…一者比丘尼僧…我寧隨世尊。不隨餘眾。」(CBETA. ie. without seeing any reality in them. also AltSĀ 192) also contains the phrase “most profound. Where SĀ 926~938 are quite focused on issues of faith. 99. The Pāli equivalent. c1-2) AltSĀ 192 《別譯雜阿含經》卷 10: 「是故此義甚深廣大。無量無邊。非算數所及。」(CBETA. the dhyāna which is not supported by any dharma (cf Yinshun:1980 636ff). T08. no. 100. but as mere designations and appellations. 431. 100. 239. which is nearly identical to the description of the Pp samādhi. p. SĀ 926 《雜阿含經》 33: 卷 「世尊告[5]詵陀迦旃延。[6]當修真實禪。」 (CBETA. it cannot be apprehended.。[6]當修真實禪莫習強良禪。 ~AN XI:10 Sekkha. c28-p. p.Brahmacārin Śreṇika: Early Sūtra Sources of the Prajñāpāramitā as the “dhyāna as it truly is” ( 真 實 禪 ) which the Buddha teaches Sandha Kātyāyana-gotra earlier in SĀ 926 13 (= AltSĀ 151). thāyitaṃ jhāyatha. for details of other citations of this sūtra.” 17 passages immediately preceding Śreṇika. T02. (criteria #1). 443. to which the Buddha responds “infinite like the sands of the Gaṅges”. T02.and bhikṣuni-saṃgha.

Śrāvastī and Rājagṛha (Lamotte:1945 162). a16-p. Furthermore. whereas the other sūtras all use “Vatsa[-gotra]” / “Vaccha[-gotta]” (婆蹉[種]) as per the Pāli. Lamotte notes that the various Āgama texts (including SĀ 105) all have Śreṇika in Rājagṛha where the Pp is traditionally said to be taught. Lamotte identifies the MppU gloss 18 of Śreṇika’s presence as being a free paraphrase of SĀ 105 Śreṇika-parivrājaka-śūtra. 368. given that Lokakṣema merely refers to our protagonist as someone of a “heterodox path”. and not necessarily its sources. 19 and absent from the Pāli (Lamotte:2001 1759). it is still worthwhile investigating what the MppU says on the matter. wherein he is not apprehended when each of the skandhas is analyzed in terms of anicca. the former dealing with Yamaka’s pernicious views on the annihilation of the Tathāgata after death. MppU here only corresponds to later versions of the Aṣṭa. 369. The Mahāprajñāpāramitā Upadeśa Explanation: Though a later text. SĀ 105 begins as per SN 44:9 (which adds the fire simile). 18 19 10 . whereas the Pāli assigns the Vacchagotta suttas to Vaiśalī. ie. with Śreṇikas doubts about the declaration and non-declaration of disciples’ rebirth after death. the avyākṛtas. to compare with our findings above. T25. and the topic of gifts to the saṃgha indicates an early stage in Vacchagotta’s relations with the Buddha. as noted above. the Tathāgata (read: arhat) is analyzed in terms of each of the skandhas. 20 However. quite different from the SĀ 940-964 arrangement by interlocutor. Otherwise it appears to be unrelated to our investigation here. which is located in a quite different section of SĀ. under the general śramaṇa heading. Then. to which the Buddha states that his confusion is due to various (identity) views.Brahmacārin Śreṇika: Early Sūtra Sources of the Prajñāpāramitā Additionally. as per MN 72. duḥkha and anātman. Here. according to Yinshun’s analysis (Yinshun:2002 666). The Buddha explains that a disciple’s presence or absence of “self-conceit” (asmimāna) is the determining factor in their respective further rebirth MppU《大智度論》卷 42〈9 集散品〉(CBETA. and is located in SĀ between the equivalents of SN 22:85 & 86 (Khandha-saṃyutta). 20 SĀ 95 also features Vacchagotta. and is insufficient to prove that SĀ 105 is thus a closer model to the Aṣṭa. b17) Under the subject of skandha in the first section of sūtra. but under yet under then name of “learned brahmin” (生聞婆羅門). the latter with Anurādha’s discussions with heterodox śramaṇas about the state of the Tathāgata after death (cf Bodhi:2002 931ff). p. (~ SN 44:9 plus MN 72-73). SĀ 105 appears to be something of an amalgam of SĀ 958-964. SĀ arranges SĀ 105 by subject. this may be explained by the simple fact that he was well known as both “Vacchagotta” and “Śreṇika”. SĀ 105 refers to “Śreṇika” (仙尼) as per the Aṣṭa translations after Lokakṣema. Favoring of Rājagṛha thus also weakly supports the SĀ in general as a Pp source. 1509. no. Or in other words.

a summary regards Śreṇika. cf SN 22:89. 11 . MN 22. repeating material elsewhere. 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 SĀ. the issue of sarvajñā cannot be resolved. cf SN 13:1. unlike the more detailed SĀ 959-964 with provides more clues. CONDENSATION – POSSIBLE ROLE OF MĀTṚKĀ? Looking at the sources in Chinese. and eventually attains arhatvā. In this shift from the mainstream texts. Considering the sources on Śreṇika and other sūtras that make up and surround this portion of the Saṃyukta Āgama. and that the other sūtras only appeared latter. but because of its brevity. they are not collated together in the same part of a Nikāya. it appears as more of a synopsis of several sūtras rather than a distinct text in itself. both Sarvāstivāda SĀ and Kaśyapīya AltSĀ. Finally. we see that all the criteria are well represented. It’s fulfillment of our criteria is as the other SĀ sūtras. anywhere near Śreṇika. Perhaps it was only when these latter sūtras emerged that they then became a structural basis for this section of the Aṣṭa. Given Yinshun’s analysis of the composition of SĀ (Yinshun:2002 629ff). who requests ordination.Brahmacārin Śreṇika: Early Sūtra Sources of the Prajñāpāramitā or otherwise. though when the MppU refers back to SĀ 105 alone.” 22 and ordains into the saṃgha. we still have a major disparity in that where the SĀ passages covers several thousand words. but are scattered through MN and several saṃyuttas of the SN. and were quite possibly either basing themselves on it deliberately. otherwise there would be an anomaly between it and MN 73 / SĀ 964. through the content of the sūtra alone. as although they contain basically the same essential material. and also lacks topics such as the texts which show the samādhi of the bodhisattvas. though several notions have undergone modification through shifts of meaning. the connection between the two sides is not so clear. 21 On hearing this. This could not be the case with the Pāli sources. it could be that SĀ 105 is in fact the original text. Śreṇika attains “purity of the Dharma-eye. in a very abbreviated form of the latter part of MN 73. nor can the notion of “limited gnosis”. as more information on Śreṇika’s details emerged. The Pāli is also lacking certain expressions through which such modifications would have taken place. Although this is certainly the sūtra cited by the MppU to gloss and explain the Pp sūtra (Lamotte:2001 1759). as both sūtras have Śreṇika as initially a heterodox śramaṇa. the Aṣṭa passage is only several 21 22 “Self-conceit” being one of the “higher fetters” abandoned only at arhatvā. which were then appended near the end of SĀ. Śreṇika cultivates calm and insight. to attain arhatvā. or that their recitation of it led to its content and structure becoming a natural basis for any extemporaneous or inspired teachings (praṭibhāna) that they may have given. SĀ 105 thus appears as a synopsis of Śreṇika in general. Attaining the “dharma eye” or “vision of dharma” is a stock statement for stream-entry.

AltSĀ sūtra number in [#]. 24 AltSĀ does have a mātṛkā for AltSĀ 190-198 though. I hope I have at least provided some food for thought regards several related themes and notions. As noted above. Although this short study may not provide particularly satisfying answers for either the mainstream sūtra sources of the Prajñāpāramitā. However. [197] Delusion. Although it is well known that Prajñāpāramitā was considered the “mother of the Buddhas” on an epistemic sense. Yinshun’ correspondence tables between the mātṛkā of the Yogācāra-bhūmi-śāstra and the s sections of SĀ. [191] Maudgalyāna. corresponding to SĀ 957-964. based on Lü Cheng’s studies. given that the mātṛkā would be composed after the arrangement and ordering of the various sūtras in a given Āgama or Nikāya. it certainly bears no resemblance to anything that could somehow transform into the Aṣṭa! Furthermore. and we are now diving into deeper speculation. p. How could such a condensation of many sūtras have come about? One possible answer is that the Pp passage here developed from some type of mātṛkā or uddāna 23 of either the SĀ or AltSĀ sūtras. [192] Rare indeed. and some possible avenues for future explorations on this matter.Brahmacārin Śreṇika: Early Sūtra Sources of the Prajñāpāramitā hundred. Perhaps. in the broad sense of a generic outlay or index of a series of sūtras. and that the various schools each had their own different arrangements. as the other relevant sūtras are not present! 25 AltSĀ《別譯雜阿含經》卷 10: 「身命及目連 希有迦旃延 未曾有.有我 見及於愚癡 犢子所出家」 (CBETA. “[190] Body (sarira) and soul (ātman). Some parts of SĀ do include mātṛkā. there is little other resemblance to the neighboring portions of Lokakṣema’s Aṣṭa. [193] Kātyāyāna. is also suggestive of this notion on a textual level. no. [195] Existent soul (ātman). that it may derive from a mātṛkā or “mother index”. 23 12 . would shed more insight. [196] Vision. are unable to help us here (Yinshun:2002 629ff).” Author’s translation. nor how those sources may have been condensed into the pithy statements of the Prajñāpāramitā. and though this series of sūtra does have a (mātṛkā / uddāna) index. though this particular section does not. T02. which is precisely the sūtras which cover our core material here. [198] The renunciate Vatsagotra. the content of this mātṛkā in AltSĀ seems an even less likely source than that below. 100. looking at the sūtras preceding and subsequent to this portion of both SĀ and AltSĀ beyond the scope and range we have indicate above. such as the Mahīśāsaka or Dharmagupta. SĀ 105 does appear in the SĀ section on skandha. 25 On inspection however. 24 Thus. 447 b9-11) . other schools which also split from the broader Sthavira faction would each have their own different mātṛkā. the Saṃyukta Āgama of some other Sthavira tradition. [194] Never before. as opposed to a proto-Abhidharma text.

not grasping at sensation. thus this samādhi is boundless. he claimed an identity [view] (身 sakkāya[-dṛṣṭi]). SN 33. SN 55:23): Godha’s faith in the Tathāgata over the bhikṣu-saṃgha.8): Questioning Maudgalyāna on ‘Does the Tathāgata survive after death?’ Answered by ‘Is the Tathāgata the skandhas?’ SĀ 959 (= AltSĀ 192): As previous. SĀ 961 (= AltSĀ 195. not apprehendable. which takes no object as a support. as positing concepts [=signs] while viewing is not ultimate (為不了). see below. sarvajñā cannot be taken up (不受). SĀ 958 (= AltSĀ 191.] [SĀ 936.] [Corresponding Mahāyāna themes. Modifications: “True dhyāna as it really is” the Prajñāpāramitā “samādhi of not grasping at any dharma”. what is seen. 947 (also 964 and MN 73): A stream-enter takes seven life-times to reach saṃbodhi (三菩提). Just as the heterodox śramana [Śreṇika] did not have faith in sarvajñā.and bhikṣuni saṃgha the arhats and pratyekabuddhas. the sun or moon. For what reason? Bodhisattvas should not view (視 √paś) sarvajñā by seizing upon concepts [=signs] (持想 nimitta / lakṣana). there is no cognition. Lokakṣema’s Aṣṭa Pp: Subhūti said: “Bodhisattvas coursing in prajñāpāramitā do not grasp at form. also contains the phrase “most profound. SN 44. perception. … Avyākṛta questions identifing the Tathāgata with the five skandhas notion of “not coursing” and “not abiding” in the skandhas. perception. whom Śreṇika praises. sensed or cognized. the four formless attainments. Moreover. O Śāriputra!. Bodhisattvas coursing in prajñāpāramitā do not grasp at any named dharmas. do not grasp at sensation. 13 .Brahmacārin Śreṇika: Early Sūtra Sources of the Prajñāpāramitā MODIFICATIONS FROM SĀ / ALTSĀ AND LOKAKṢEMA’S AṢṬA: Āgama Source (SĀ & AltSĀ): SĀ 926 (= AltSĀ 151): “Dhyāna as it truly is” (真實禪) which “is not based on the four elements. that cannot be overcome by all the arhats or pratyekabuddhas. all dharmas (as the Prajñāpāramitā samādhi. but asked of Sandha Kātyāyana-gotra.gotra (also appears in SĀ 959). volitions or cognition. taught for the Śakyan Mahānāma. This becomes Śreṇika’s meditation below: SĀ 958 (= AltSĀ 191). [SĀ 958 (= AltSĀ 191 & 192): In answering Śreṇika’s question on the state of the Tathāgata after death.”] Bhikṣu. bhikṣuni-saṃgha.] For what reason? Rather. incalculable. this world or the other world. [Even] prajñāpāramitā they do not grasp. SN 44:10): The Buddha’s [Corresponding Mahāyāna themes. without fixation. [SĀ 946 Buddhas “infinite like the sands of the Gaṅges” in future and past aeons. SN 44. thus they do not grasp it.2~3): As previous. immeasurable. Not grasping at form. there is no form. see above and below).] SĀ 957 (= AltSĀ 190. do not grasp at form. etc. applied or sustained thought”.9): ‘ re body and A ātman identical or different?’ Complete with the fire simile of MN 72. heard. SĀ 960 (= AltSĀ 194. SĀ 935 (= AltSĀ 159.] SĀ 926~938: Focus on issues of faith. SĀ 959 (= AltSĀ 192). Why do they not grasp it? It is like a shadow. [SĀ 926 (= AltSĀ 151): The “true dhyāna as it really is”.. taught by the Buddha to Sandha Kātyāyana. but asked of the Buddha. not seizable. volitions or cognition.

[Same for the remaining four skandhas. After further training in samatha-vipaśyanā. [Śreṇika’s meditation. etc. Along with SĀ 936 & 947 and MN 73. the “end of duḥkha”. all state how a stream-enter takes another seven life-times to reach saṃbodhi (三菩提). SĀ 964 (= AltSĀ 198. he attains arhatvā with the six abhijñās. dharmas. Having not seized upon [these five skandhas]. see above and below. the content of which is based on his conversations with the Buddha at: SĀ 958 (= AltSĀ 191). or be endowed with (未成). “Non-return” (anāgāmi) OR “destined for arhatvā (saṃbodhi)” “gnosis of lesser scope” (prādeśika. he was also yet to comprehend (未曉).) Having faith in the Buddha. also “true dhyāna as it really is” SĀ 926 (= AltSĀ 151). Having entered into the Buddha’s path (佛道 [saṃ-]bodhi). volitions or cognition. (Basis for Prajñāpāramitā samādhi. thus making saṃbodhi a synonym for arhatvā. SĀ 962 (= AltSĀ 196.” [Śreṇika’s meditation.] Internal dharmas: “Not seizing upon the skandhas as identified with the Tathāgata” a form of “non-grasping samādhi” and “non-conceiving of the skandhas. Arhatvā and its synonym saṃbodhi (especially with the six abhijñā) the “path of the Buddha” ( sarvajñā in Kumārajīva).] Nor was he freed from some other basis [apart from the skandhas] (不於餘處 脫). maintaining lesser gnosis (小道 prādeśika-√jñā) he entered into the Buddha’s path (佛道 bodhi). he was released from dharmas (從法中以脫 去). that the Tathāgata cannot be reckoned in terms of the skandhas. up to nirvāṇa (謂法等一泥洹) 14 . that is. nor in external [dharmas]. … but [later] this heterdox śramana had faith in the Buddha. and did not see gnosis with insight (不見慧).√jñā).] He did not seize upon (不受) form. SĀ 959 (= AltSĀ 192). MN 72): Śreṇika takes refuge after questioning the Buddha. Ordaining into the saṃgha. MN 73): Śreṇika requests ordination after a teaching.. SĀ 964 (= AltSĀ 198. did not see with insight this gnosis in internal [dharmas]. and did not seize upon sensation. SĀ 963 (= AltSĀ 197 SN 33. SĀ 959 (= AltSĀ 192). nor in some other basis. SN 55:10): Śreṇika later attains arhatvā. he attains anāgāmi. MN 73): Śreṇika attains stream-entry on hearing the Buddha. the content of which is based on his conversations with the Buddha at: SĀ 958 (= AltSĀ 191). and soon attains non-returning. External dharmas: “Nor is the Tathāgata other than the skandhas” “liberation is not apart from the skandhas” (and nirvāṇa is not a dharma outside the skandhas). MN 73. perception.1): Explanation . Training in and accomplishing the comprehension of the Buddhas (√jñā).Brahmacārin Śreṇika: Early Sūtra Sources of the Prajñāpāramitā silence to Śreṇika’s question ‘Is there an ātman?’ Śreṇika’s sarana adhimokṣa ( śraddhānusāri in Kumārajīva). Arhatvā and its synonym saṃbodhi the “Buddha’s path” (佛 道) ( sarvajñā in Kumārajīva). SĀ 964 (= AltSĀ 198. also “true dhyāna as it really is” SĀ 926 (= AltSĀ 151).

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