A. K. Narain
University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA
Heinz B echert
Universitiit GiJttingen, FRG
Lewis Lancaster
Leon Hurvitz
UBC, Vancouver, Canada
University of California, Berkeley, USA
Alexander W. MacDonald
Universite de Paris X, Nanterre, France
Alex Wayman B. J. S tavisky
WNIIR, Moscow, USSR Columbia University, New York, USA
Stephan Beyer
University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA
Volume 4 1981
Number 1
e the watermark
This J ouma! is the organ of the International Association of Buddhist Studies,
Inc., and is governed by the objectives of the Association and accepts
scholarly contributions pertaining to Buddhist Studies in all the various
disciplines such as philosophy, history, religion, sociology, anthropology, art,
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The Association and the Editors assume no responsibility for the views
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Manuscripts for publication and correspondence concerning articles should
be submitted to A. K. Narain, Editor-in-Chief,JIABS, Department of South
Asian Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, U.S:A.
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Andre Bareau (France) JosephM. Kitagawa (USA)
John Brough (U.K.) Jacques May (Switzerland)
M.N. Deshpande (India) H ajime Nakamura (japan)
R. Card (USA) John Rosenfield (USA)
B.C. Cokha!e (USA) Bardwell L. Smith (USA)
P.S.Jaini (USA) David Snellgrove (U.K.)
J. W. de Jong (Australia) E. Zurcher (Netherlands)
Editorial Assistant: Roger Jackson
The Editor-in-Chief wishes to thank Rena Haggarty for assistance in the
preparation of this volume.
Copyright © The International Association of Buddhist Studies 1980
ISSN: 0193-600X
Sponsored by Department of South Asian Studies, University of Wisconsin,
1. The of Truth and Meaning In the Buddhist
Scriptures, b."Y Jose I. Cabezon 7
2. Changing the Female Body: Wise Women and the Bodhi-
sattva Career in Some Mahriratnaku!asutras, by Nancy
Schuster 24
3. Bodhi and Arahattaphala. From early Buddhism to early
Mahayana, by Karel Werner 70
1. A Study on the Madhyamika Method of Refutation and Its
Influence on Buddhist Logic, by Shohei Ichimura 87
2. An Exceptional Group of Painted Buddha Figures at
by Anand Krishna 96
3. Rune E. A. Johansson's Analysis of Citta: A Criticism, by
Arvind Sharma 101
1. Cross Currents in Early Buddhism, by S. N. Dube 108
2. Buddha's Lions-The Lives of the Eighty-Four Siddhas, by
James B. Robinson III
3. Tangles and Webs, by Padmasiri de Silva 113
4. Buddhist and Freudian Psychology, by Padmasiri de Silva 114
5. Buddhist-Christian Empathy, by Joseph j. Spae 115
6. The Religions of Tibet, by Guiseppe Tucci 119
1. A Report on the 3rd Conference of the lABS
2. Buddhism and Music
3. Presidential Address at the 2nd lABS Conference at Nalanda
by P. Pradhan 128
Contributors 143
5th Conference
[nte17lational Association oj" Buddhist Studies
We are pleased to make this advance announcement about
the 5th Conference of the International Association of Buddhist
Studies, which will be hosted by the University of Oxford, Hert-
ford College, in Oxford, England. Arrival will be in time for
dinner, Monday, August 16, 1982, and dispersal will be after
breakfast on Saturday, August 21, 1982. A more detailed circu-
lar will be sent to all of the members of the IAB.S and to those on
our mailing list as soon as it is available. For further information,
please contact:
Professor Richard Gombrich
The Oriental Institute
The University of Oxford
, Pusey Lane
Oxford OXI 2LE England
The Concepts of Truth and Meaning In
the Buddhist Scriptures
by Jose I. Cabezon
In 1976 during a visit to a Buddhist monastery on the East coast of the
United States I made the acquaintance of a monk of the Theravada
tradition. During a series of often heated discussions which ensued
my colleague raised this most fascinating and indeed insightful objec-
tion. He said to me: "You see the problem is really quite simple, the
J:Iinayana asserts that all of Buddha's words are true while the
Mahayana claims that all that is true is the word of the Buddha (bud-
The claim is a bit facile and by far an overstatement of the
situation. The more I pondered the problem however, the less offen-
sive I realized a Mayayanist would find it, and in the end I felt that a
Mahayanist should feel quite at ease in conceiving of "the set of all
truths" as being at least "the intent of the Buddha" (if not his actual
words). This was a position which I thought should be perfectly
In the years that have passed since this occasion, I have steadily
pursued my interests in this question. In particular, I have attempted
to determine what the Tibetan sources have to say in this regard, and
whether it is a consistent account. This brief paper is then the result of
some of these investigations.
Scripture and Pramana
Buddhism has often been regarded as a non-dogmatic religion,
and rightfully so. Despite the claims of some scholars
, the critical
spirit, so eloquently captured in the parable of the goldsmith, is
simply too important and all-pervasive a part of both Hinayana and
Mahayana Buddhism to be challenged.
Traditionally Buddhism has posited two forms of pramar;a:
or direct perception, and anumana, or inference. In general
Buddhists have, with the and against the Advaitins and
Mimamsakas, rejected the validity of sabda (Tib. lung or sgra), scrip-
tural testimony, as a valid source of knowledge. But this must be
qualified, for scriptural evidence is, at least according to some Bud-
dhist sources, acceptable with a proviso. Dharmakirti makes the fol-
lowing statement in Pramar;avarttikain I, 216:
Reliable words are non-mistaken. They are a form of inductive
aptavadavisainvada samanyad anumanata
yid ehes tshig ni mi slu ba'i
spyi las ryes su dpag pa nyid
Two questions come to mind: (1) what characterizes reliable words
and (2) why are they a form of inductive inference? In succeeding
verses Dharmakirti explains that for a scripture to be considered
reliable (and hence non-mistaken) it must at least not contradict direct
perception and inference (anumana).
Now rGyal tshab Dar rna rin-chen comments extensively on this
point in the Thar lam gsal byed
, his monumental commentary on the
Pramanavarttikain. He concludes that only as regards very subtle
points of doctrine (Tib. shin tu lkog gyur) can scripture be relied upon
as an authority, and that this can be justified inductively. He says that
the fact that the less subtle points of doctrine can be (either logically
or perceptually) verified to be correct leads one to infer inductively
that the very subtle points are also accurate.
Moreover only those
scriptures which are "purified by means of the three forms of exam-
ination" (spyad pa gsum gyis dag pa), i.e., which meet the following three
conditions, can be considered authoritative. The three criteria are:
1. that the scripture not contradict the testimony of direct per-
ception (tib. mngon sum la mi gnod pa)
2. that it not contradict inferential reasoning (tib. rjes dpag la mi
gnod pa) and
3. that it not contradict inference based on reliable words (tib.
yid ehes rjes dpag la mi gnod pa)
Now the first two constraints assure us that by taking scripture as valid
testimony we are in fact not departing from the conviction that
pratyak:;a and anumiina are the guiding principles as regards validity.
The third category is puzzling, for it seemingly involves us in a
circular definition by positing reliability as a criterion for a reliable
scripture. But this is in fact not the case. In discussing the third point
rGyal tshab gives the following interpretation. He asserts that as a
third constraint imposed on valid scriptural testimony, the work in
question must be consistent. It cannot contradict other points of scrip-
ture, either explicit or implicit (tib. dngos shugs). 8 Given the abundance
of contradictory statements in the corpus of Buddhist exegesis, this is
indeed a rigorous constraint.
In short, sabda had to meet very rigorous conditions in order to
be considered valid, conditions which most interesting scriptures failed
to meet; for if a text expounded a thesis concerning a point of contro-
versy, it was almost certain that the anti-thesis would exist in another
scripture. Thus, the majority of scriptures were themselves more the
objects of verification than sources of it.
Be that as it may, one thing is clear: that the privileged status of
the Buddha as an enlightened and omniscient being did not guaran-
tee a privileged status to his word as regarded questions of truth; and
if the veracity of buddhavacanain was not post-hoc certain, then it
necessitated a method for its verification.
Truth and Authenticity
It was the need for reconciling the divergent opinions expressed
in the Buddhist scriptures that led to a new genre of texts. If the
Nikiiyas, the Abhidharma
and the Prajitiipiiramitii represent a first
order or base level of scripture, sutras such as the Saindhinirmocana,
which attempt to arbitrate inconsistencies between first-order scrip-
tures, can be termed second-order or level two meta-scriptures. By
the time such questions had reached the great Tibetan master Tsong
kha pa for example, the issues were at least third-order (and some-
times fourth). Tsong kha pa not only tackled the problem of reconcil-
ing two first order scriptures, he also took as his subject matter second
order scriptures such as the Saindhinirmocana, trying to reconcile its
claims (which he or course considered to be buddhavacanain) with
those made in other sutras and siistras.
It is important to note here that Tsong kha pa conducted his
analysis not so as to be considered a third-level meta-physician (in the
literal sense of the term), but because he saw a real need to come to
grips with the problems of meaning and truth that confronted him.
His analysis was not a mere intellectual game, but an earnest attempt
to answer questions he felt to be soteriologically important; and to do
so in a thoroughly non-dogmatic fashion. He states at the beginning
of his Legs bshad snying po:
It is impossible to elucidate (the status of a scripture) simply (by
relying upon) a text which says "this is of direct meaning (nges
don, skt. nitartha)," because (were this the case), all the commen-
taries composed by Mahayanists would have been pointless.
Moreover, there are many disagreements between the very texts
which say that they settle (the question of what is) direct and
what indirect meaning. One is unable to settle the issue by
simply (quoting) a scripture which says "this (text) is of such and
such (a meaning)" because when it cannot be done (in this way as
regards) general questions (i.e., first order questions), (why
should it be so as regards) the specific issue of direct/indirect
(meaning) (i.e., second order questions)? [0
He concludes that
In the end, it is necessary to distinguish (such texts) by non-
mistaken reasoning itself. [ [
and not by relying on dogma.
To sum up, then, second-order scriptures attempt to reconcile
inconsistencies between first-order ones. Third-order texts deal with
the inconsistencies of second-order texts, and so on. The thing to
remember is that in this hermeneutical circus, the tricks become
successively more and more daring as we proceed from level to level.
Before we can discuss the actual modus operandi of the reconcilia-
tion of inconsistencies, one major question needs to be answered:
Why the need for reconciliation, arbitration or interpretation at all?
After all, if two religious texts diverge, the simplest solution is to
challenge the authenticity of one of them and to claim that the
historically later one is apocryphal.
This attitude has existed throughout Buddhist history, but it has
for the most part been one-sided. The Sautrantikas criticized the inn-
novative Abhidharmists. According to traditional hagiography Vasu-
bandhu initially criticized the "heretical Mahayana" followed by his
brother Asanga; and indeed, even today, we see some Theravadins
making the same kinds of criticisms of the Mahayana scriptures. The
critique, however, is luckily one-sided, for the Abhidharmists (as far
as we know) did not call into question the authenticity of the Nikiiyas,
. nor does the Mahayana deny that the PaIi canon is buddhavacanain.
Indeed, it is· one of the Bodhisattva's root vows to refrain from "dis-
paraging the sriivakayiina" (nyan-smod) 12.
It is quite fortunate that the debate did not for the most part
center upon questions of authenticity, for excessive preoccupation
with such issues could only have led to dogmatism, and to the stagna-
tion of the tradition. The emergence of new scriptures and the rein-
terpretation of old ones is a sign of the vitality of a tradition. Thus,
with the Mahayana sIltras, the Tantric scriptures, and even the Ti-
betan dgongs gter, we find a steady influx of creativity into the tradi-
tion. To dismiss them as apocryphal is simply to skirt the real issue,
that of their meaning. Instead, it seems that once a sIltra (or a tantra
for that matter) had been around for a while, it became accepted as
buddhavacanain, and once this occurred, it was its contents, its meaning
and its veracity (and not its authorship) that became the object of
debate. From that point on it was only its status as either of direct
meaning (nitiirtha, Tib. nges don) or of indirect meaning (neyiirtha, Tib.
drang don) that came into question, and not its authenticity.
Truth in the Buddhist Scriptures
Buddhists have traditionally held that the word of their founder
expresses the truth (satya, tib. bden pal, and now we must inquire as to
the meaning of this apparently very dogmatic statement.
In his Chos 'byung, the great Bu ston Rin chen sgrub quotes a
sutra passage describing the Buddha's doctrine as being "of good
meaning" (svartha, Tib. don bzang-po), and he comments: '''of good
meaning' refers to the perfection of the subject matter which is
Moreover, the tenth of the sixty good qualities of the Buddha's
word upeta vak, Tib. yan lag drug cu dang ldan pa'i gsung) is
that it is "free from fault" 14; the twenty-ninth that "it is correct
because it does not contradict pramiina"lS and the fifty-first that it is
"perfect since it brings about completion of all the aims of beings."16
Now given this characterization of the Buddha's the ob-
vious question is, can the word of the Buddha (or of great saints such
as Nagarjuna and Asanga) be anything but true?
The answer comes variously. The Lankiivatiira, III its usual
radical style, has this to say.
The Mahayana is neither my vehicle nor (my) speech, nor
(my) words; it is neither the truth, nor liberation nor the realm
without appearances. 17
And again:
Nirvana is where the idea of truth is not adhered to because it is
And yet, despite the fact that the Lankiivatiira de-emphasizes the
importance of the notion of truth, the tradition has placed a great
deal of emphasis on just such a notion.
Let us turn for a moment to Tibet, and in particular to a series
of debates that occurred between the eighth Kar rna pa, Mi bskyod
rdo rje, and the dGe lugs scholar Se rva rJe mtshun Chos kyi rgyal
mtshan. In the latter's 'Gag Zan kLu sgrub dgongs rgyan, he ascribes the
following position to the Kar rna pa:
... when one is commenting on the meaning of a sidra which
teaches the miidhyamika view, if one interprets it as cittamiitra, it
will be the ruin of the teachings (bstan pa chud gzan pa).19
The work being referred to here is not a sutra but a siistra of Vasu-
bandhu's, and the view being expressed by the Kar rna pa is a very
common-sense one. IfVasubandhu's commentary interprets the Praj-
niipiiramitii sutras (which both Se rva rJe mtshun pa and the Kar rna pa
accept as Madhyamika works) as if they were Cittamatrin, then Vasu-
bandhu is in error, and his text cannot be said to expound the truth.
But in reply, Se rva rJe mtshun pa has this to say:
The Acarya Santipa explained the intended meaning of the
Prajnapiiramitii Sutras to be the Cittamatra. The Catursataka-
b h a ~ y a also says that the Sthavira Dharmapala explained the
intended meaning of the MuZamiidhyamikakiirikiis as Cittamatrin.
Now because these (sages) interpret sutras which expound ('chad)
the Madhyamika view ... as Cittamatra, were this to ruin the
teachings (as the Kar rna pa claims), then (one would be reduced
to saying that) similar to those two sages, the Lord (himself), in
his own scriptures (ruined the teachings); for (did not the Bud-
dha himself) extensively teach the Cittamatra views as the third
wheel for the purpose of leading the disciples who have tenden-
cies (rigs) toward the Cittamatra?20
Se rva rJe mtshun-pa's point is this: to mis-interpret (whether delib-
erately or not) is not necessarily to ruin. A hermeneutical fallacy does
not necessarily lead to a scripture's being considered false or "ruined."
At this point, we might once again ask our question: what does
the tradition mean when it says that the Buddha's word is true, and
does asserting that it is true (in the sense with which the tradition uses
the word true) preclude all possibility of its being fallacious? This
latter position, that it is logically impossible for the Buddha's word to
be false, is, to put it mildly, rather dogmatic. It is, as I hope I have
made clear, not at all what is meant by the above claims that the word
of the Buddha is true. Instead, the word "true" in the above contexts
has a definite pragmatic tinge to it. When Bu-ston characterizes bud-
dhavacanain as svartha, as being "of good meaning," when the sutras
call it "perfect," "correct" and 'free from fault," or when Se rva rJe
mtshun pa claims that the Buddha's doctrine is valid or true despite
inconsistency, they are not claiming that all of the scriptures are
unconditionally true, but that they are pragmatically true. They are
pragmatically true because they are all conducive to the spiritual
development of those who hear them. Kajiyama hits the nail on the
head when he. says that "the lower doctrines were not simply rejected
but admitted as steps leading to an t).nderstanding of the higher
The Buddha's word is well-spoken (subhii?ita), says the Vya-
khyayukti, for ten reasons, the fifth one being that it is spoken "in
accordance with the intellectual faculty of various human beings." We
can now see quite clearly that this is what is being pointed to when the
word "true" is predicated of the Buddha's word. "Truth" here refers
to soteriological validity and not to the absence of logical inconsis-
tency. With this more pragmatic sense of "truth," we can see why the
tradition makes the claim, as did my Theravadin colleague, that all of
the words of the Buddha are true.
Scriptural Inconsistency and Its Solution
I began this paper with several claims as to the non-dogmatic
nature of Buddhist doctrine, and yet I have thus far made two
apparently very dogmatic statements: first, that not only is question-
ing the authenticity of scripture not important according to the
Mahayana, it is in fact discouraged by certain and secondly,
that the Buddha's word is in its entirety true (in the pragmatic sense
described above).
To preclude debate about authenticity shifts the focus of atten-
tion from authorship (pudgala) to doctrine (dharma). To make the
unqualified assertion that all of the scriptures are pragmatically true
accomplishes two things. It first of all reaffirms the presupposition of
the Buddha's status as an enlightened being who "never speaks with-
out a special purpose";13 and more importantly, it engenders within
the adept a sense of respect for the teachings, which he now considers
relevant to his spiritual progress. It implicitly shifts the focus of
attention from considering the doctrine as mere words (vyanjana) to
considering it as relevant, or full of meaning (artha).
If the Buddhist scriptures are authentically the word of the
Bhagavan, and if they are pragmatically true, then two possible means
for resolving the contradictions that arise in scripture have been
precluded. We can neither take the dogmatic route of dismissing
scriptures as spurious; nor can we deny the perfection of the Buddha
by dismissing some of his scriptures as pragmatically false, as lacking
soteriological value. And now, in a state of utter despondency, we may
echo the words of the Bodhisattva Don dam Yang dag 'Phags in the
Saindhinirmocana, as paraphrased by Tsong kha pa in the Legs bshad
snying po:
We see that in some sutras (The Lord) says that all dharmas lack
svabhiiva, etc. In others, the svalak{arw of the aggregates, etc., are
said to exist. When we compare these two statements a contra-
diction arises, and since there should be no contradictions, I ask
(The Lord): with what intention did you say that svabhiivas do
There is indeed a third alternative for resolving such inconsistencies,
and it comes'in the form of the doctrines of neyiirtha and nitiirtha. It is
neither the authenticity nor the pragmatic truth of the Buddhist
scriptures which the tradition questions, but only their intended
meaning (saindhi, Tib. dgongs). In short, something had to give, and if
it was neither authenticity nor soteriological worth, then it had to be
meaning or intention.
All of the scriptures had two properties in common: they were
all authentically the word of the Buddha, and they were all pragmat-
ically true. They differed in that they were not all considered to be
unconditionally true, which is to say that when subjected to analysis,
some were found to be faulty, though at all times soteriologically
valid. Those which passed the test of critical evaluation, .which were
considered unconditionally true, were labeled as of definitive mean-
ing (nitartha, Tib. nges don), which is to say that they were considered
to be the ultimate intention (mbhar thug pa'i dgongs pa) of the Buddha.
In a word, the focus changed from considering the word of the
Buddha as true, to considering truth to be the Buddha's word (or at
least his intention).
Now the way in which this was accomplished, the method for
setting up the concepts of neyartha and nitartha, var,ied from school to
school. In his discussion of these concepts in the Hinayana scriptures,
Jayatilleke has this to say: "When he (the Buddha) is pointing out the
misleading implications of speech ... his meaning is direct."26 Though
this may be one interpretation of what it means for a text to be
nitartha, it is certainly not one that would be accepted by a follower of
Mahayana. Within the latter system, we have an overabundance of
data regarding the doctrines of direct and indirect meaning. The
issue is raised in the Lankavatara, the Saindhinirmocana, and Candra-
kirti's Prasannapada, and it becomes especially important in Tibetan
exegetical literature, especially within the gZhan stong commentaries
of Shakya mchog ldan and Dol bu pa, in the works of Bu ston
Rinpoche, and of course in Tsong kha pa's Drang nges legs bshad snying
po, which in turn has its own corpus of commentarialliterature. To
this latter interpretation we now turn.
Scriptures of Indirect Meaning
Implicitly in the Legs bshad snying po, and quite explicitly in some
of his other works (such as the Legs bshad gser 'phreng), Tsong kha pa
states that a text must meet three criteria to be considered of indirect
meaning (drang don). These are:
(1) That it have a basis of intention (dgongs gzhi)
(2) That it have the property of necessity (dgos pa)
(3) That it contradict reality (dngos La gnod byed) if taken literally.
If a treatise is to be considered of interpretive meaning, if it
cannot be taken literally, then there must be some correct interpreta-
tion of the text. This is referred to as the "basis of intention." It is the
actual or ultimate meaning of a text or passage.
There must also be a necessity (dgos pa) in its having been taught
with such a concealed intention or in such a hidden fashion. This is
the second criterion which a text of indirect meaning must meet.
Finally, says Tsong kha pa, there must be some logical inconsis-
tency which results from taking the passage as it stands without
attempting to identify the actual meaning. Were there no contradic-
tion (gnod-literally "harm") in taking the apparent meaning as the
actual intention of the text, then the text would not be of interpretive
meaning but of definitive meaning. Some examples should clarify
these· criteria.
Again we turn to the Se TVa rJe mtshun-pa / Mi bskyod rdo rje
debates. There we find the former scholar making the assertion that
the last three works of Maitreya (The Mahiiyiinasiitriilainkiira,27 the
Miidhyiintavibhanga,28 and the Dharmadharmatiivibhanga
) are the Cit-
tamatra treatises (and not Madhyamika ones) because they put forth
the doctrine of three final vehicles (triyiinaviida, Tib. mthar thug theg pa
gsum),30 interpreting siitras which teach the ekayiina as being of inter-
pretive meaning.
We find in Siitriilainkiira XI, 53, for example, the seven "bases of
intention" (dgongs gzhi) for the doctrine of the ekayiina. Since the
Siitriilainkiira expounds the doctrine of three final vehicles, it finds
objectionable the doctrine of the ekayiina, and sets out to interpret it as
a doctrine which cannot be taken literally (as neyiirtha) by positing
these seven bases of intention, which it claims to be the doctrines
actually intended by the Buddha when he taught the provisional
doctrine of one final vehicle. Suffice it here to cite just the second of
these dgongs gzhi, nairatmya tulyavat.
All of the vehicles are "equiva-
lent (as regards the fact that they all teach) selflessness," and it is
because of this similarity in the vehicles and not because there is
ultimately one final vehicle, that the Buddha taught the ekayiina. The
... that there is one final vehicle (taught) due to an equivalence
as regards selflessness means that there is a similarity in the
vehicles of the sriivakas, etc. as regards the non-existence of a
self. 32
This, then, is an example of the dgongs gzhi or the "basis of intention."
It is the actual or ultimate intention of a text or passage, the basis
which underlies whatever provisional doctrine is expressed by taking
the text literally, the basis which constitutes the correct interpretation
of the text.
The claim being made by the SiitrdZainkiira is that when the
Buddha taught the doctrine of the ekayiina, his actual intent (his
dgongs gzhi) was to point out similarities in the tenets (such as selfless-
ness) of the different vehicles. He did not therefore intend that the
doctrine of the ekayiina be taken literally-this according to the Siitrii-
Again, in response to the claim that the tathiigatagarbha is a self,
the Lankiivatiira says regarding dgongs gzhi:
The Lord spoke: my doctrine of the tathiigatagarbha, Mahamati,
is not like the self-doctrine of the heretics. For the Tathagatas,
Mahamati, teach the doctrine of the tathiigatagarbha having des-
ignated it to mean siinyatii.
The dgongs gzhi or "basis of intention" of the doctrine of the tathiigata-
garbha is, according to the Lanka, nothing but siinyiita. It thus asserts
that statements, such as those in the Ratnagotravibhanga, which claim
the tathiigatagarbha to be a self (iitman) that is permanent (nztya), etc.,
could not be taken literally. We have thus seen two examples of the
way in which dgongs gzhi forms an integral part of the process of
classifying a work as neyiirtha.
Dgos pa, or "necessity," must also be present. Why was it neces-
sary for the Buddha to teach the doctrine of the ekayiina if it cannot be
taken as unconditionally true? The SiitriiZainkiira replies (XI, 54):
So as to convert some and so as to hold onto others, the fully
enlightened ones have taught the ekayiina to those of indefinite
The commentary goes on to explain that although there are three
final vehicles, there are some beings (of indefinite potential-aniyata)
who could take either Mahayana or Sravaka paths, and that the
existence of these beings necessitated (dgos pa) the teaching of the
ekayiina. Not to have taught it would have meant that these beings
might have failed to realize their full potential.
Again, in regard to the tathagatagarbha there is also a dgos pa.
The Lankavatara states:
The Tathagatas, The Arhants, the Fully Enlightened Ones teach
the state of non-discrimination, the state without appearances,
by means of the doctrine suggesting a tathagatagarbha so as to
turn away the fear of egolessness which worldlings have.
Thus, according to the Lanka, it is "necessary" (dgos) to expound such
a doctrine as the tathagatabargha as an indirect teaching so as skillfully
to lead those beings who fear nairatmya to an understanding of empti-
ness. In other words, it is a question of upayakausalya.
The third criterion, that there must be some fallacy (gnod) in
taking these tenets as they stand, is the crucial point, for if no fallacy
could be found, then the first two points would have been made in
vain. The first two criteria, ascribing actual intention and motivation
to certain teachings, can be seen more as outcomes of the third.
Which is to say that where a doctrine does not contradict reality (dngos
la gnod byed) there is no need to determine a basis of intention (dgongs
gzhi) or a necessity (dgos pa). This then is the essence of a text of
indirect meaning, that it contradict reality; and to state the contra-
positive, if a text is to be of direct meaning, it cannot contradict
Scriptures of Direct Meaning
What kind of doctrine, then, what text, does not contradict
reality? Different schools of Buddhist philosophy have answered this
question in different ways. Indeed, it is this fact which makes them
different. According to the Madhyamika, there is only one doctrine
that does not contradict reality, and that is, of course, emptiness.
Thus, scriptures which teach emptiness are identified as of definitive
meaning (nitartha, tib.nges-don) by the Madhyamika. In discussing this
point, both Bu ston and Tsong kha pa cite this famous passage from
the Ak?yamati nirdesa:
yYhat are the siitras of definitive meaning and what the sutras of
mterpretive meaning? The sutras which teach the conventional
are said to be of interpretive meaning, and those which teach the
ultimate are said to be of definitive meaning. Those siitras which
teach various words and letters are s<iid to be interpretive sutras.
Those sutras which teach the profound, the difficult to see, the
difficult to realize, those are said to be of definitive meaning.
The sutras which teach concepts such as self, beings, life, nour-
ishment, mankind, personality (etc.) ... these sutras are said to
be of interpretive meaning. Those sutras which teach that things
are empty, without characteristic, wishless, non-compounded, un-
arisen, unproduced; which teach that there are no beings, no life,
no personality, no owners; (in short) those sutras which teach the
door to emancipation should be known as of definitive meaning.
And that is why it is said 'rely on scriptures of definitive meaning
and not on scriptures of interpretive meaning.'36
This idea of defining scriptures of definitive meaning in terms of
whether or not they teach emptiness seems to be a characteristic of
Madhyamika thought. Still, we do find implicit statements to that
effect in non-Madhyamikan works. We find in the Lankiivatiira for
example the following lines:
And again, 0 Mahamati, the teachings of the self-nature of
entities and of general characteristics are, 0 Mahamati, the
teachings of the manifest Buddha and not the teachings of the
dharmatii Buddha.
The Lanka goes on to identify such teachings as meant for the childish
ones (biila), thereby implicitly giving a more definitive character to the
doctrine which expounds no-self-nature, i.e., emptiness. However,
such passages ate rare and, in contradistinction to the A ~ a y a m a t i ­
nirdda, the Lanka can in general be said to repudiate the notion that
sutras which teach emptiness demonstrate the unqualified truth. For
the Lanka, the ultimate truth is ineffable and beyond 'depiction by
words. The linguistic categories of direct and indirect meaning are
inapplicable to the ultimate, which is only the object of "the wisdom
that a noble one has of the truth" (tattviiryajiiiina).38
This raises a question which is hotly debated in Madhyamikan
circles as well. Given the general Buddhist belief that language is
incapable of depicting reality, how can any doctrine that is expressed
verbally (as sunyatii is) help but contradict reality? And if it does
contradict reality (which you will recall is the principal criterion char-
acterizing a sutra of interpretive meaning) then how can it be of
definitive meaning (nitiirtha)? We seem to be faced with a paradox: for
a scripture to be considered nitiirtha is must linguistically depict empti-
ness, and yet in the act of linguistically depicting, it is reduced to the
level of neyiirtha. The question is a complex one, involving, among
other things, issues in the philosophy of mysticism.
It is, however,
beyond the scope of this paper. Suffice it here to say that for Tsang
kha pa, the ineffability of siinyatii does not imply that it is incapable of
being depicted linguistically; and it is exactly the correct enunciation
of the doctrine of emptiness which characterizes a scripture of direct
meaning. This is, according to Tsang kha pa, the ultimate intent of
the Buddha; it is the unqualified truth. Thus, any scripture which
fails to teach emptiness must of necessity be interpreted. How is one
to know which conception of siinayatii is the right one? Tsang kha pa
answers: "through non-mistaken reasoning itself."
Thus, in the end, it is the critical spirit which triumphs. If along
the way spatia-temporal concerns such as authenticity are disregard-
ed; and if overtly religious presupposition (such as the infallibility of
the Buddha) prohibit the repudiation of the pragmatic value of the
doctrine, it is only to pave the way for the truly important questions,
those of the truth, and hence of the ultimate intent of the Buddha's
In the end, it is not so much that the words of the Buddha are
true, as it is that the enunciation of ultimate truth becomes the sale
criterion of the Buddha's intention.
1. This paper is a revised and enlarged version of a paper that was read at the
conference of the International Association of Buddhist Studies held jointly with the
International Association for the History of Religions in Winnipeg Canada on August
The author wishes to express his thanks to a number of very learned kal-
yiinamitras from whom he has been fortunate enough to receive instruction. First and
foremost is Geshe Lhundub Sopa with whom the author has had the good luck to read
major portions of the Drang nges legs bshad snying po of Tsong kha pa and the dGag Ian
kLu sgrub gdongs rgyan of Se rva rJe mtshun pa. Thanks must also go to Kensur Wangdu
Rinpoche, the former abbot of the Lower Tantric College, Samdong Rinpoche, Direc-
tor of the Tibetan Institute of Higher Studies in Sarnath, Geshe Wangchen, tutor in
Tibetan Studies for the University of Wisconsin Year in India Program, and Geshe
Lobsand Tsering of Se rva Byas Monastic College in India for some very lucid explana-
tions and discussions on the meaning of pdyad pa glum gyis dag pa'i lung (see below).
Finally my thanks go to Mr. Roger Jackson and Gelong Thubten Thardo for reading
the manuscript of the paper and making valuable suggestions for improvement. Of
course, the views, interpretations, and errors expressed herein are ultimately the
author's own.
2. I am here particularly thinking of Esho Mikogami's article "The Problem of
Verbal Testimony in Yogacara Buddhism," Bukkyotuku kenkyu No. 32 and 33, 1977, in
which he seems to ascribe to the Yogacarabhttmi a quite rigid dogmatism.
3. The translation requires some justification. I have translated the word sama-
yad (literally "due to its similarity" or "due to generality") by the word "inductive"
because this is quite clearly what the commentary takes it to be. It (the reliable scripture)
can be inferred to be accurate as concerns very subtle points because of its similarity
with other scriptural points, less subtle, which can be determined to. be accurate by
either deductive reasoning (dngos stobs rjes dpag) or by direct perception (mngon sum). It
is because those other, more evident, points are determined to be correct, that one can
infer that the extremely subtle points (shin tu lkog gYUT) are accurate. This is clearly a
case of inductive reasoning.
4. The Pramii,,!avartikarh of Dharmakirti, R. Gnoli, editor, Serie Orientalie Roma,
Rome, 1960, p. 109.
This is one of the most controversial verses in Buddhist pramaTfa literature,
especially in Tibet. In the near future, I plan to devote an entire paper to the
elucidation of the different traditions of interpretation of this verse, both Indian and.
The verse originally appears in Prama"!asamllccaya II, 5.
5. rGyal tshab Dar rna rin chen quotes this verse in Thar lam gsal byed, Pleasure
of Elegant Sayings Press, Sarnath, 1974, p. 175.
6. The commentary on this point runs from p. 175 to p. 180 of the Sarnath
edition (see previous note). .
7. Whether induction in such a case is warranted is, I think, an open question.
In any case, the most that one can hope to achieve from an inductive argument is that
the conclusion is likely (that the very subtle points are most likely accurate) and not that
it is certain. From my conversations with several scholars of the tradition, this seems to
be not altogether appealing.
8. Again, there is an abundance of variant interpretations within the dGe lugs
pa tradition alone regarding this third criterion. A more precise way of putting it, as
rGyal tshab rje does, is to say that the scripture must be internally consistent. The
former parts cannot contradict the latter (snga spyi 'gal ba med pal, nor can the explicit
meaning contradict what is implied (dngos shugs 'gal ba med pal.
9. R. Thurman, in an excellent article entitled "Buddhist Hermeneutics" (jour-
nal of the American Academy of Religion, XL VIII p. 25), suggests that the Abhidharma
itself "contains the earliest forms of the hermeneutical concepts," and this can certainly
be agreed to provided that we make a distinction between a synthetic hermeneutic
which attempts to synthesize analogous doctrines into a logical whole, and a didactic
hermeneutic which attempts to reconcile contradictory doctrines by interpretation. The
former is first order, the latter at least second. It seems to me that the Abhidharma .is of
the synthetic (and therefore first order) variety ..
10. Geshe T. Rabtan, Drang nges mam 'byed legs bshad m.ving po dka' gnad mams
mchan bur bkod pa gzur gnas blo gsal dkai ston, (annotations on the Letgs bshad syning po of
Tsong kha pa with the root text), Lhun grub chos grags, Delhi, p. 5.
II. Ibid. p. 5.
12. See, for example, the list of Bodhisattva vows in Pha bong kha Rin po che's
Thun drug gi mal 'byor, found in bLa ma'j mal 'b.vor Shes rig par khang, Dharmasala, p. 28.
13. Bu ston rin chen grub, Collected Works, edited by Lokesh Chandra, New
Dehli, 1956-1971. In the volume of his Chos 'byllng, p. 677.
14. Ibid. p. 651.
15 .. Ibid. pp. 652-3.
16Jbid. p. 654.
17. Lankavatara Slltra, P.L. Vaidya, editor, Buddhist Sanskrit Texts No.3; Mithila
Institute, Darbhanga, 1963, p. 56.
IS. Ibid. p. 75.
19. Se rva rJe mtshun Chos kyi rGyal mtshan, 'Gag Ian kLu sgntb dgongs rgyan,
Tibet House, New Delhi, 1969, p. 9.
20Jbid. p. IS.
21. In M. Kiyota's Mahayana Buddhist iVleditation U. of Hawaii Press, Honolulu,
1975, p. 117.
22. See note 12.
23. Bu ston, op. cit. p. 653.
24. As per the famous saying: arthapratisaranena bhavitavyamna vyailjanaprati-
sarane7!a. dharmapratisaraneTfa bhavitavyam na pudgalapratisaranena (etc.). In the Mahii-
vyutpatti the four are given (Cf. XIII, 196).
25. Tsong kha pa, op. cit., p. II.
26. K. N. Jayatilleke, Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge, Motilal Banarsidass,
New Dehli, 1963, p. 363.
27. Ho Ui, et aI., A Complete Catalogue of the Tibetan Buddhist Canons, Tokyo
Imperial University, Japan, 1934, p. 609, No. 4020.
2S. Ibid. p. 609, No. 4021.
29. Ibid. p. 609, No. 4022.
30. Le., that there are three separate and distinct results that are the fruits of
the Mahayana and Hinayana practices. It is a specific feature of certain subschools of
the Yogacara to claim that there are three possible ultimate fruits of the Buddhist
path-the enlightenment of a sravaka, the enlightenment of a pratyekabuddha, and that
of a fully-enlightened Buddha. This claim is a feature of these Yogacara schools which
distinguishes them from the Madhyamika.
31. Mahiiyanasiitriilamkiira, P.L. Vaidya editor, Buddhist Sanskrit Texts No. 13,
Mithila Institute, Darbhanga, 1963, p. 67.
32. Ibid. p. 67. The Sanskrit reads: nairiitmya tulyatvad ekayanata sravakadiniim-
atmabhavata samanyadyata yanamiti krtva ...
33. Lankiivatara, p. 32. Bhagavanaha-na hi mahamate tzrthikatmavadatltlyo mama
tathagatagarbhopaddah. kim tu mahiimate siinyata ... padarthiinam tathagatagar-
bhopadesamkrtua ... desayanti.
34. Siitralamkara, p. 69.
35. Lankavatara, p. 33. tathagata arhantah samyaksambuddhii biilanam nairiitmya-
samtrasapadavivarjanartham nirvikalpaniriibhasagocaram tathiigatagarbhamukhopadesena des-
36. As it appears in Geshe T. Rabten's Legs-bshad snying-po commentary (see
note 10) p. IS4.
37. Lankiivatara, p. 3. ya punareva mahamate bhavasvabhava samanya lalvfana
ddana mahamate nairma,!ikabuddha desana, na dharmata buddha desana.
3S. Ibid. p. 33.
39. The whole question of ineffability as discussed by W. Stace in his Philosophy
of Mysticism is quite relevant here. It is my belief that Professor Stace's arguments
against the cogency of the claim of ineffability are simply inapplicable to the Buddhist
conception of what it means for something to be ineffable.
Changing the Female Body: Wise Women
and the Bodhisattva Career in Some
M ahiiratnaku.tasutras
by Nancy Schuster
This essay will deal primarily with an interesting event that occurs in
some Mayayana Buddhist siitras: "changing the female body." As
primary sources, four sections from the Chinese translation of the
Maharatnaku.tasutra have been used, and comparisons have been made
with passages from the Saddharmapu"!4arZkasutra, the Vimalakirtinirdesa
and the SrimaliisiT(ihanadasutra. The four Maharatnakuta scriptures
used are:
1. Ta-pao-chi ching, Miao-hui t'ung-nil hui (Maharatnakutasutra,
Sumatidarikiiparivarta), T11.310(30) (hereafter cited as the Su-
mati-sutra) I
2. Ta-pao-chi ching, Ring-ho-shang yu-p'o-i hui (Maharatnakutusutra,
Gangottaropasika-parivarta) , T11.31O(31) (hereafter cited as the
Gangottara-sutra )2
3. Ta-pao-chi ching, Wu-kou shih p'u-sa ying-pien hui (Maharatnakuta-
sutra, Vimaladatta-bodhisattva-pratibhana-parivarta), T11.31 0(33)
(hereafter cites as the Pure Gift Sutra)3
4. Ta-pao-chi ching, Ching-hsin t'ung-nil hui (Maharatnakutasutra,
ViSuddhisraddhadarika-parivarta), TJ 1.31 0(40) (hereafter cited as
Pure Faith's Question)4
This study makes use of only a few of the Mahayana siitras which deal
with "changing the female body," and leaves untouched the vast
majority of Mahayana texts which have women as central figures or
which contain important discussions about women. My intention has
been to make an intensive examination of a selected group of texts, in
order to identify some important characteristics of the "changing the
female body" theme.
Although it is assumed that all the siitras discussed in this essay
were originally composed in India, most do not surVIve in their
original languages. All exist however in Chinese translations, which I
have used and translated for this essay. The scriptures provide in-
formation· on the evolution of Mahayana thought in India, and the
existence of Chinese translations of them also suggests some things
about Chinese assimilation of Indian Buddhist thought and about the
impact of these translated scriptures on Chinese ideas and attitudes.
The span of time over which the translations of the Maharatnakiita-
siitras were made is very great, more than 500 years, and the impact
made by the various translations discussed here is difficult to trace. I
will, therefore, confine myself in this essay to an examination of the
contents of the sutras themselves, and to a few brief remarks on the
circumstances of their translation into Chinese.
The Maharatnakiitasiitra and Mahayana Buddhist Attitudes Toward Women
There are many Mahayana Buddhist sutras which have some-
thing to say about women. Some are quite hostile; many of these
uphold the old clerical biases against women which have cropped up
from time to time in the various Buddhist sects. Har Dayal, in his The
Bodhisattva Doctrine in Buddhist Sanskrit Literature (pp. 223-4), cata-
logues some of the more unpleasant responses to women found in
Mahayana texts.
But there are many Mahayana scriptures which insist that only
the ignorant make distinctions between the religious aspirations and
intellectual and spiritual capacities of men and women. This position
is the only one which is consistent with the Mahayana doctrine of the
emptiness of all phenomena. This is the doctrine which lies at the
heart of many Mahayana scriptures, beginning with the Perfection of
Understanding Sutras (Prajiiaparamitasiitras). It is the position of the
Maharatnakiita texts discussed in this essay.
The Mahiiratnakutasutra is a iarge, composite sutra, in 49 sec-
tions, as it now appears in the Chinese and Tibetan Buddhist canons.
The 49 sections were originally separate sutras, and were apparently
first grouped together under the single title Maharatnakiitasiitra in
Tang China.
Several of the 49 sutras were originally translated
much earlier, some as early as the Later Han Dynasty (2nd century
A.D.). During the Tang Dynasty, under imperial auspices and with a
team of Chinese assistants, the Indian monk-scholar, Bodhiruci, gath-
ered together and examined all extant translations of the 49 sutras.
He re-translated those which, in his opinion, weI;e not of good quality
and provided original translations of those, w h i ~ h were not yet avail-
able in Chinese. The work was carried out from 706 to 713 A.D.
during the reigns of Emperors Chung-tsung and Jui-tsung, the two
sons and successors of Empress Wu Tse-t'ien.
Bodhiruci himself translated for the first time two of the Ma-
hiiratnakiita sutras discussed here, the Gangottara-siitra and Pure Faith's
Question, and retranslated the Sumati-siitra and the Srimiiliisi1'(lhaniida.
Soon after his arrival in China from India, in 693 A.D., he had
participated in the translation of other sutras which contain important
statements on women: the Ratnamegha-siitra and the Avata1Jtsaka. Bod-
hiruci was a monk and scholar of some reputation, who had come to
China at the invitation of Tang Empress Wu Tse-t'ien, and for twenty
years he received the support and patronage of the Empress and of
her two sons and successors. In return Bodhiruci lent his prestige to
the Empress' claim to be legitimate ruler of China in her own right: she
was the only woman in Chinese history who ever ruled in her own
name as emperor of China, not merely as regent for a prince.
though she has been castigated since by Confucian historians because
she was a woman and a usurper, she seems to have been regarded by
her subjects asa capable and constructive ruler. She claimed to be the
legitimate ruler, as well, on the grounds that she was a Bodhisattva
and a Buddhist universal monarch, whose rule as a woman was the
most appropriate response the Bodhisattva could find to the needs of
the people at that time and in that place.
The Empress' Buddhist
supporters, with at least the tacit approval of Bodhiruci, argued
further that the Empress' reign had been predicted by the Buddha
himself in certain Mahayana sutras (the Ratnamegha, Pao-yii ching, and
the Mahiimegha, Ta-yun ching).
That Mahayana scriptures could be used to argue for the right
of a woman to wield absolute power in one of the world's great
empires reveals that some leading Buddhist scholars in China were
quite aware of the positive Mahayana attitudes toward women. They
could have cited several other scriptures in their cause. I cannot assess
BoElhiruci's personal attitudes toward women, but I think it is impor-
tant to recall that, at a period in Chinese history when the prominence
of women was a timely concern, Bodhiruci helped make available to
Chinese readers a number of Mahayana scriptures which argue for
the spiritual and intellectual equality of women.
(Chu Fa Hu) had done the same for an earlier
audience. Among the more than 150 translations by the great 3rd-4th
century master are several Mahayana scriptures on women-e.g., Fo-
shuo a-tu-kuan-wang nii a-shu-ta p'u-sa ching (TI2.337), Fo-shuo wu-kou-
hsien-nu ching (TI4.562), Fo-shuo fan-chin-nu shou-i ching (T14.567),
the Sumati-sutra, and several others.
He also made the first trans-
lation of the Saddharrnapur;rf,arikasutra, and his translation does include
the famous Dragon-princess episode, which will be, discussed in this
essay. He retranslated the VimalaklrtinirdeSa as well, but his transla-
tion has been lost. was a great propagator of Mahayana
Buddhism in China. Inevitably, while he was making various aspects
of Mahayana thought accessible to Chinese readers through his very
faithful translations, he was also making available current Mahayana
views on women. Whether or not this had any immediate impact, the
information had been made available and was there to exert whatever
influence it might on sympathetic minds for centuries after.
Women's Bodies and the Characteristic Marks of the Great Man
A spectacular event climaxes several Mahayana sutras on wom-
en: the female protagonist causes her own body to change abruptly
from female to male.
To a modern woman who reads them, this is a
most disconcerting feature of these scriptures. The women who change
have already shown themselves, in the texts, to be in command of a
highly developed comprehension of Dharma (truth). Why, one must
ask, should they have to admit to a supposed biological inferiority and
undergo a saving sexual metamorphosis? This phenomenon requires
a closer investigation.
In Buddhist tradition, although it is often recognized that a
woman can attain liberated understanding, it is asserted that there are
five states of existence in the world for which her female body renders
her unqualified: she is barred from becoming a Buddha, 10 a universal
monarch (riija-cakravartin), a Sakra-god, Brahma-god or a Mara. 11 For
all of these five, maleness is an indisputable part of their being: could
the gods Sakra, Brahma or Mara be other than male? And as is well
known from Buddhist literature, both the Buddha and the cakravartin
conform to a specific physical type, the Great Man or who
is also very specifically male. Numbered among his 32 characteristic
marks (lakWr!ii), which identify him as the Great Man, is that of having
the penis covered with a sheath. 12
The 32 major and 80 minor marks of the Great Man are the
visible characteristics which reveal that he has accumulated great
merit by the performance of an enormous number of specific virtu-
ous actions over an enormous period of time. Visibly, a woman's body
does not testify to these accomplishments, and her physical character-
istics, which anyone can see, had to prohibit her from being a Great
Man, whether he was a universal monarch or a Buddha. The 32
marks were, in tradition, the key to visual identification of a
Buddha, and were indispensable to the depiction of the Buddha in art
and to the visualization of the Buddha in meditation. But in Mahayana
Buddhist literature, visual evidence of Buddhahood came to be re-
garded as of limited relevance. The 32 marks are not necessarily
taken literally-for example, as the Diamond Sutra argues, the Tatha-
gata cannot be seen by his marks, rather he is to be known from his
characteristic of having no marks. 13 The Ta-chih-tu-lun 14 explains that
from the point of view of conventional understanding the Buddha
has 32 marks, but from the point of view of ultimate truth or perfec-
ted understanding there are no marks whatever. Moreover, there are
two paths which the Buddhist may cultivate, the way of merit (pu1'}ya)
and the way of perfected understanding (prajiiii); for the former, the
32 marks are relevant, for the latter they are not. The Ta-chih-tu-lun
goes on to argue: that other characteristics of sentient beings, such as be-
ing pure or good, male or female, etc., which are conventionally re-
garded as real, are actually relative in the same sense as the 32 marks of
the Great Man, and when one has attained perfect understanding these
too can be "destroyed." That is, one can recognize that these suppos-
edly real characteristics are mere designations (prajiiapti) and do not
define what is real. The 32 marks of the Great Man and the characteris-
tics maleness, femaleness, and the rest, do, however, serve a purpose in
this world as we live in it; they are not aberrations, and to speak of them
is not-necessarily-wrong.
It is the argument of this essay that because Mahayana Buddhist
writers recognized that from the ultimate standpoint the 32 marks of
the Great Man and the characteristics maleness, femaleness and the
rest are not real, but they are very relevant to life in this world for
mest sentient beings and thus "true" from the conventional point of
view, the question of what women were traditionally thought able and
unable to do had to be confronted. Certainly the Mahayanist could
not ignore the fact that there was a strong tradition in Buddhism that
women were limited by their biological characteristics. The question
had to be faced. How could it be handled most effectively?
Summary of Four Mahiiratnakuta sutras
In order to understand what these four scriptures reveal about
the Mahayanist views of women, one should know first what the texts
are about. Summaries of the Sumati-, Pure Gift-, Gangottara- and Pure
Faith's Question-sutras follow.
(1) Sumati-sutra
While preaching to an assembly of monks and Bodhisattvas on
the Vulture Peak near the city of Rajagrha, the Buddha is addressed
by Sumati, the 8-year-old daughter
of a householder of that city.
This child had, in previous existences, made offerings to the Buddhas
and accumulated merit. She asks the Buddha to resolve her doubts
concerning certain aspects of Bodhisattva practice, and asks him a
question in ten p<!.rts which he then answers in ten tetrads in prose
and verse (total of 40 items). She asks: (1) how can the Bodhisattva be
born with a beautiful appearance that delights everyone, (2) how
attain great wealth, (3) how keep a retinue that will not be dispersed,
(4) how be reborn by transformation on a 1,OOO-petalled lotus in the
presence of the Dharma-king,17 (5) how obtain the bases of super-
normal power
so that one can travel to Buddha-lands and revere all
the Buddhas' (6) how to be free from ill-will and envy; (7) how to
speak so that those who hear will have confidence in what one says,
and practice it; (8) how to avoid wrongdoing, (9) how to be beyond
Mara's reach, and (10) how at the moment of death to see the Buddha
standing before one preaching the Dharma so that one will never
again fall into an unfortunate rebirth. 19
The Buddha replies at some length that to accomplish these ten
things the Bodhisattva must above all develop to the highest degree
right attitude .and conduct toward others in order to help them
advance toward liberation; give untiringly to others; make offerings
to the Buddhas, Buddha-images and stiipas; teach; and attain su-
preme realization. Having received the Buddha's instructions, Su-
mati resolves to fulfil all the 40 disciplines he has set for her.
Mahamaudgalyayana I then speaks up, remarking that the
disc;?line the Buddha has taught is difficult; therefore how can Su-
mati, a small girl, accomplish Sumati then performs two acts of
"If I now speak the truth, that I am one who can carry out
these 40 practices, then because of me may all the countless world-
systems quake six times, heavenly flowers ram down and musical
instruments sound of themselves." This happens, as she has said it.
Then: "If my words are true and not false, that before long I am to be
a Tathagata, Arhat, Samyaksarpbuddha, may' everyone in this assem-
bly turn the color of gold." This too happens and Mahamaudhalyg.-
yana commits himself to the Bodhisattva way, for it must be the best
of ways since it makes it possible for an 8-year-old girl Bodhisattva to
do as Sumati has done.
At this point, Manjusri Bodhisattva
challenges Sumati's under-
standing in a series of six questions (eight in Bodhiruci's text):
(1) "In what dharma do you abide that there should be manifest-
ed such a response (to your words)?" Sumati: "Dharma cannot
be reckoned, therefore there is no abiding anywhere
.•. you
should not ask this. (2) ... in no dharma is there any abiding or
anl doubt or any saying 'this is right, this is wrong.'" (3) Man-
jusri: "Did the Tathagata originally perform no actions?" Su-
mati: "Like the moon reflected in water, like a dream or a
mirage or an echo deep in the mountains-the Tathagata's
original actions are like this." (4) Manjusri: "By accumulating
these things it is possible to attain Buddhahood, is it not?"
Sumati: " ... There is no difference between wise and foolish
actions. All dharmas are the same ... whether it is 'true dharma'
or 'false dharma' there is no abiding anywhere and no grasping
and no letting go, (for) emptiness
has no form at all." (5) Man-
jUSri: "How many are there who can explain this meaning?"
Sumati: " ... The transformations which a magician can make
are limitless. So, too, are confidence in and understanding of
this dharma." (6) Manjusri: "If I originate actions without trans-
formation and without illusion, what dharma is thereby united
to the Way?" Sumati: " ... The condition of all dharmas is with-
out either 'being' or 'non-being.' To reach Tathagatahood is
neither a uniting nor a dispersing (of dharmas)." (T.12.334, pp.
Very pleased at these replies, ManjuSri praises Sumati, and the
Buddha then says she had conceived the aspiration to attain enlight-
enment aeons ago and has just now attained the tolerance of the
notion that dharmas do not arise.
Manjusri thereupon asks, "Why
have you not changed your female body?" and Sumati replies, "It
cannot be apprehended
, for dharmas are neither male nor female.
But now I must remove your doubts ... If it is true that I shall attain
Tathagatahood ... may I now ... change into a man." And immedi-
ately she turns into a young novice monk. Sumati then makes a
resolve concerning her future Buddha-land, that in it there will be
nothing having to do with Mara, no hells and no "women's de-
meanor."29 And she adds, "If I shall accomplish this, let my body be
like that of a 30-year-old monk." This, too, occurs. More resolves
having to do with her Buddha-land follow. The Buddha then makes
the prediction that Sumati-Bodhisattva will before long become a
fully enlightened Buddha. Finally he proclaims the virtues of study-
ing and preaching this sutra, various members of the audience reach
new levels of attainment on the path to enlightenment, and all are
delighted at what they have heard.
(2) Pure Gift Siitra
At one time the Buddha was staying in the Jeta grove at Sravasti,
with a large entourage of monks and Bodhisattvas, all Arhats. One
morning eight disciples (ti-tzu, sriivaka), Sariputra, Mahamaudgalya-
yana, Subhuti and others, and eight Bodhisattvas, including MaiijuSrl
and A valokiteSvara, set out together on a morning's alms rounds.
Each of the sixteen resolves to bring a specific blessing to the people
of the city of Sravasti while begging his food. Sariputra resolves that
by the power of his deep concentration (san-mei, samiidhi) all shall hear
the Four Noble Truths preached, Mahamaudgalyayana that all shall
be free of the Maras, Maiijusri that everything in the city shall send
forth the sound of emptiness, signlessness, wishlessness, etc. Each of
the others makes a resolve of similar scope, appropriate to his own
special accomplishments.
Approaching the city the mendicants meet the daughter of King
Prasenajit, Pure Gift,3l aged 12 years, who, with a company of 500
women and 500 Brahmal).as, is going forth from the city to perform a
Brahmanic rite. Considering the mendicants an inauspicious' sight,
the Brahmal).as wish to turn back; but Pure Gift begins to praise the
Buddhists and the Buddha. When the Brahmal).as chastise her for
this, she reveals that seven days after her birth 500 gods had appeared
before her and proclaimed the virtues of Buddha, Dharma and Sarp.-
gha, because, seeing into her heart, they realized she was ready for
this instruction. They described the Buddha's own person in consid-
erable detail, and what they described was the Great Man (mahiipurWfa)
endowed with his characteristic marks.
From that time forth, says
the princess, she has constantly recalled the Buddha
as he was
described to her, and day and night only lopks upon all the Buddhas.
She has gone to hear the Buddha preach the Dharma as often as
possible, has become detached from all worldly things and is entirely
devoted to the Three Jewels. At this, the 500 B r a h m a ~ a s conceive the
aspiration to become fully enlightened Buddhas.
Pur Gift's father, the king, who has come upon the scene and
heard her words, asks Pure Gift why she is sad and displeased with
her life. She answers:
"Great king, are you not aware of the sufferings of existence
(sheng-szu, sa7[lsiira) , of the pain resulting from the aggre-
-the frailty of the body and desirous thoughts? What-
ever one does is like illusion. Life does not stop for a moment .. .
It is like trying to sleep peacefully among poisonous snakes .. .
Since I have seen the Victor and Lord ... I have conceived the
aspiration which will make me attain Buddhahood ... "35
Pure Gift then turns to the eight disciples and ,eight Bodhi-
sattvas, and poses a question to each about the special mastery re-
puted to be his. She begins with Sariputra, who is first in understand-
ing, and asks:
"Is your understanding constructed or not-constructed?36 If it is
constructed then it is a thing which can be produced and de-
stroyed, and is a dharma which is false. If it is unconstructed it
lacks the three marks ... for it does not come into being. If it
does not come into being, then it cannot come to be associated
with the one who understands, for it is entirely non-existent."
(TI2.338, p. 91.c.16-25)
Sariputra is rendered speechless, then tells Mahamaudgalya-
yana that he cannot reply because Pure Gift has asked about the
unconstructed, which cannot be expressed verbally.37
Pure Gift turns next to Mahamaudgalyayana, who is first in
mastery of the bases of supernormal powers (shen-tsu, rddhipiida).
She asks:
"When you establish the bases of supernormal power, do you
have the notion of persons or of dharmas? If of persons ... , a
person is empty and not real, thus the bases of supernormal
power are also empty. If of dharmas ... , dharmas are not cre-
ated and what is not created cannot be grasped. Because they
cannot be grasped, there can be no notion of them" (T.12.338,
p. 91.c.26-92.a.4)
Mahamaudgalyayana, too, is silenced.
Moving from one disciple to the next, Pure Gift silences them
all, and then turns to the eight Bodhisattvas, beginning with Mafijusri,
who is here called first among those who have confidence in and
understand what is most profound. She asks:
"Is (enlightened understanding) profound because of the pro-
fundity of the 12 causes,38 or is it because of the profundity of its
self-existence?39 If it is because of conditioned arising ... condi-
tioned arising has no 'coming' or 'going.' It is impossible to
discern by means of visual-consciousness, or by hearing, smell,
taste, touch or mind-consciousness ... If it is because of the
profundity of its self-existence ... there are none who can pene-
trate this self-existence." Mafijusri: "'Reality-limit'40 ... is called
profound." Pure Gift: '''Reality-limit' has no limits ... (and) is
not to be understood." Mafijusri: "If there can be no knowledge,
there will be perverted views. 'Reality-limit' is a conventional
designation only." Pure Gift: "Absence of knowledge means there
are also no perverted views ... The Tathagata's understanding
goes beyond verbal expression ... " (T.12.338, p. 92.c.5-19)
Mafijusri is silenced, but the debate over the use of words is
continued when Pure Gift confronts AvalokiteSvara Bodhisattva.
On the way to the city of Sravasti, A valokitesvara had resolved to
bring about freedom from bondage for all who live there. Pure Gift
asks him if his compassionate action involves attachment or not. If it
does, it is no different from the actions of people. If it does
not, then efficacious action is impossible because without attachment
there is no action at all. AvalokiteSvara does not reply because what
Pure Gift has asked about is (he admits) inexpressible. But she says
that it is possible to make an explanation using words, provided there
is no attachment to the words for when there is no attachment to
them, words are not themselves a hindranceY This freedom from
hindrances is the dharmadhiitu,43 since those who know the Dharma
are free from attachment.
To the Bodhisattva Nondeluded Views, Pure Gift points out
that the Tathagata cannot be seen at all, for his truth is formless
whoever sees his material body does not see the Buddha. She reminds
the Bodhisattva Abandoning Evil Destinies that he camiot lessen
people's misdeeds or the sufferings they undergo because of them by
the power of his resolve, because all the phenomena of this world, the
dharmas, are fundamentally the same and cannot be diverted or
changed by anyone. Against Bodhisattva Hindrances Removed, she
argues that one cannot destroy others' ignorance and create merit for
them by the power of one's own concentration, even by concentration
on friendliness, for all the Buddhas always practice the concentration
on friendliness and there are still beings whose understanding is
obstructed. All the Bodhisattvas are silenced.
In debate with the Bodhisattvas Pure Gift has challenged the
Bodhisattvas' imperfect understanding of the meaning of their own
vows to lead all beings to liberation. It cannot be done, she says, by
attempting to divert the sufferings of others, it can be done by skillful
teaching. To teach, it is essential that one understand how to use words
correctly. She sets out next, therefore, to make correct use of words in
conversation with the Buddha himself. She asks him a question in 18
parts which he answers in 18 tetrads, prose and verse.
She asks
how to follow the Bodhisattva career and especially how to realize the
more extraordinary attainments of the Bodhisattva who has pro-
gressed close to Buddhahood itself. She asks: (1) how to subdue the
Maras, (2) how to shake the Buddha-lands, (3) how to illumine all
Buddha-lands with rays from the body, (4) how to obtain the magical
formulas (tsung ch'ih, dhrirar!,Z), (5) the concentrations (san-mei, samridhi),
(6) the bases of the supernormal powers (shen-tsu, r:ddhiprida), (7) a
noble appearance which will delight those who see it, (8) transforma-
tion-rebirth (hua-sheng) , (9) great wealth, (10) great understanding;
(11) how one can be aware of previous existences, (12) and be to-
gether with all the Buddhas; (13) how one obtains the 32 primary
marks (of the Great Man, mahripuru:ja), (14) and the 80 secondary
marks; (15) how one can attain skill in discourse, (16) a Buddha-land,
(17) a following which is always in harmony and will not be dispersed,
and (18) rebirth in the Buddha-land one has mentally resolved upon.
The Buddha's reply to Pure Gift exhorts her to perfect herself
in commitment to others, generosity, deep understanding of Dharma
together with the responsibility to teach it; and to venerate her
- teachers, and make offerings to the Buddhas, their stupas and their
images. Furthermore, the Bodhisattva should actually make Buddha-
images (in order to attain transformation-rebirth in a Buddha-land);
should practice the samiidhi of recalling all the Buddhas (in order to be
together with all the Buddhas); and attain tolerance of the profound
Dharma (so that one can cause all the Buddha-lands to shake).
Pure Gift acknowledges the Buddha's instruction and resolves
not to fail to carry it out. But Mahamaudgalyayana comes forth and
accuses her of treating the Bodhisattva-career lightly, and not under-
standing it, for one cannot attain perfect enlightenment with a
woman's body.46 Thereupon Pure Gift performs an act of truth:
"If my words are true and not false,· and I shall in a future
existence attain ... the perfect enlightenment of the Buddhas
(samyaksa'l'[lbodhi) ... may all the great world systems quake six
times ... heavenly flowers rain down and musical instruments
sound of themselves; and may my female form change into that
of a boy of 8-1 make this resolve" (T12.338, p. 96.a.19-2S).
All happens as she says, and Mahamaudgalyayana praises the Bod-
hisattva-way which makes it possible for a young girl to accomplish
such a transformation.
The Buddha smiles and illumines all the world systems, and
announces that, like Manjusri Bodhisattva, Pure Gift first aspired to
perfect Buddhahood aeons ago, and she will attain it.
After all this, Mahamaudgalyayana again challenges Pure Gift:
since you have been so long established in understanding, why hadn't
you changed your female body before this? And she answers: "The
World-Honored One has praised you as best in the attainment of the
bases of supernormal powers. Why haven't you changed your male
body?"47 Mahamaudgalyayana is again speechless, but Pure Gift con-
tinues: "Neither with a female body nor with a male body is true
enlightenment attained ... for there is no achieving perfect enlight-
enment in any way" (T12.338, p. 96.c.2S-27).
The sutra ends with Manjusri joining the Buddha in praise of
Pure Gift. The Buddha announces she has for aeons practiced the
concentration on emptiness, has developed the tolerance of the no-
tion that dharmas do not arise, learned about the Bodhisattva way
and by making offerings to countless Buddhas has mastered the
concentration which enables her to teach others. The Buddha then
finishes the prophecy of Pure Gift's Buddhahood, prophesies that of
the SOO Brahmal.las as well, and the sutra ends.
(3) Pure Faith's Question (translated by Bodhiruci)
In the Jeta grove at Sravasti, the Buddha is staying with a large
gathering of monks, Bodhisattvas, gods and ordinary people. King
Prasenajit's young daughter, Pure Faith, who had planted wholesome
roots and trained in the Mahayana, goes with 500 women companions
to the Buddha and questions him about the practices of a Bodhisattva.
The Buddha's answer is in twelve parts, prose and verse; eight prac-
tices are taught in each of the twelve parts (total of 96).48 She asks: (1)
how the Bodhisattva shall be firm, brave and tireless in life (sheng-szu,
saT[lSara), (2) how to abide in the certainty of the sameness of all
beings, dharmas, all knowledge, actions, etc., (3) how the Bodhisattva
shall avoid love and hatred, (4) how avoid being wearied by life (sheng-
szu, sa1'[tsara), (5) how make thought as impartial as earth, water, fire,
space, etc., (6) how generate enligl].tenment, (7) acquire the magical
formulas (t'o-lo-ni, dhiira7}i) and unimpeded eloquence (8) how to be
reborn by transformation (hua-sheng) in a lotus in the presence of all
the Buddhas, (9) how to acquire merits from the ascetic practices (t'ou-
t'o, dhuta), (10) how subjugate the Maras; (11) how the Bodhisattva can
be near to enlightenment, (12) and realize the way of the nectar of
deathlessness (kan-lu, am"(ta = nirviir;a).
The Buddha's reply amounts to a comprehensive summary of
the Bodhisattva's practices and the perfection of understanding: the
Bodhisattva's primary task is to help others free themselves and attain
enlightenment; to do this, the Bodhisattva must be constantly perfect-
ing his or her own attitude and conduct toward others. Part of the
training is following the Noble Eight-fold Path, part is learning the
Dharma, for the sake of which one must revere one's teachers; and in
order to mature one's practice and understanding one must be ready
to accept the discipline of solitary dwelling as an ascetic. What the
Bodhisattva must understand is the sameness of all beings, all dhar-
mas, all ways of comprehending. When one then knows phenomenal
existence for what it is, one can accept it without fear and exert
oneself fully for the sake of all beings, actualizing the six perfections.
When one is living like this, with mind expanded and made pliant by
meditative practices (samiidhi and anusm"(ti), and when the tolerance of
the notion that dharmas do not arise has been attained, one is solidly
on the "deathless path" and perfect enlightenment is not far away.
Pleased with this long exposition, Pure Faith asks yet another
question: what must a woman do to change her female body? In
answer, the Buddha enumerates 16 things (two groups of eight each),
a woman must do to bring this about: avoid envy, stinginess, flattery,
. anger, be truthful, slander no one; abandon desire, and all wrong
views; revere Buddha and Dharma, make offerings to monks and to
Brahmal)as, give up attachment to home and family, accept the pre-
cepts, have no evil thoughts, become indifferent to her female body,
abide in the thought of enlightenment and the dharmas of the
Great Man, regard worldly life as like an illusion, like a dream. This
second reply of the Buddha to Pure Faith is much simpler, much
more prosaic than the beautiful discourse on the Bodhisattva-way
which he had delivered just before. Both his replies are very specific
to the questions asked: the first question was, what is the Bodhisattva-
way, and the reply was a complete description of it, appropriate for
Pure Faith or any other aspirant to bodhi. Pure Faith's second question
shows where she is, on the path; she has obviously not attained under-
standing of the sameness of all dharmas, for she now distinguishes
between female and male. It is she who wants to change her body,
which is called impure. No one challenges her to do so. A few mo-
ments before, the Buddha had said that in order to subdue the Maras,
the Bodhisattva must stop discriminating between dharmas. Pure
Faith obviously has not yet subdued the Maras.
Pure Faith and her 500 companions scatter garlands and jewelry
over the Buddha, which are magically transformed in space into
golden-towered palaces. All resolve to follow the Bodhisattva-path
and to abandon the corruptions of the female body. The Buddha
smiles and predicts that at the end of their present lives, Pure Faith
and her 500 companions will abandon their female bodies and be
reborn in the T u ~ i t a Heaven to serve and make offerings to Maitreya
(who is to be the next Buddha in this world-system) and all the Tatha-
gatas of the present era. Then, after countless aeons, Pure Faith will
become a Buddha with her own Buddha-land, and the 500 women
will be the leaders of her retinue. The sutra ends with this promise: if
a woman hears this sutra; accepts it and recites it, when her female
body dies, she will never again be reborn a woman and will quickly
attain to perfect enlightenment.
(4) Gangottara-siitra (translated by Bodhiruci)
While the Buddha is staying in the Jeta grove at Sravasti, a
woman of that city, Gangottara the lay disciple (yu-p'o-i, upasika) comes
to greet him, and the Buddha engages her in a dialogue. He asks:
"Where do you come from?" She replies: "World Honored One,
if one asks a magically created being, 50 'where do you come
from?' how should the question be answered?" The Buddha: "A
magically created being neither goes nor comes, is neither born
nor destroyed, so how can it be said that it comes from some-
where? " Gangottara: "Is it not true that all dharmas are like
magical creations? ... Then how can you ask me 'where do you
come from?'" The Buddha: " ... Are you like a magically cre-
ated being?" Gangottara: " ... I see no difference between my-
self and a magically created being. (Therefore) how could it be
said that I shall go to any of the evil destinies or reach nirua'f}a?"
(T.I1.310(31), p. 549.b.23-c.4)
The Buddha then asserts that nirua'f}a is "non-arising" (wu-sheng).
And he acknowledges that what he had asked about has no objective
support;51 yet he raised the question, because there are in the assem-
bly sons and daughters of good family who are ready to be matured
by it. This can occur, even though, as the Tathagata knows, no
dharmas and no designations at all can be apprehended. Gangottara
then asks, if nothing whatever can be apprehended or gotten at, how
can wholesome roots be accumulated for the sake of enlightenment;
and the Buddha replies that when wholesome roots are being ac-
cumulated there is "no thought" of them (wu-hsin) , no attempt to
know or grasp anything by thinking. For all dharmas are like empty
space which knows no impediments. Thus, he goes on, although I use
words to refer to "self," "form," "sart}Sara" (sheng-szu), "nirua'f}a" (nieh-
p'an), etc., no characteristics of any such entities can ever be appre-
hended. The one who sees that dharmas cannot be apprehended is
the one who truly lives the pure life ifan-hsing, brahmacarya). This is
the dharma which stops the cycle of rebirth. What is this dharma? asks
Gangottara. The Buddha replies: "That which stops the cycle of
rebirth is what is called the inconceivable element which is the reality-
This dharma cannot be damaged or destroyed. Therefore it is
called the dharma which stops the cycle of rebirth." (T .11.310(31), p.
Then the Buddha smiles, illumines countless universes and an-
nounces that the Dharma he has just preached has been preached in
the past by a thousand Tathagatas to a thousand assemblies, and
always these assemblies have been led by an upiisika Gangottara.
Hearing this, Gangottara and the whole assembly go forth from
home life to become monks or nuns in order to progress toward nir-
var;,a. Then the gods who had listened to this preaching magically
. create all sorts of rare heavenly flowers and shower them upon the
Buddha observing: "This upasika is truly extraordinary, for she is able
to converse fearlessly with the Tathagata. In the past she must have
associated with countless Buddhas, made offerings to them and thus
planted all sorts of wholesome roots." (T.l1.310(31), p. 550.b.1-3)
Then all are filled with great joy, accept the teaching with
conviction and reverently practice it.
Although "Bodhisattvas" are mentioned only once in the sutra
of Gangottara the upasika, and future nirvar;,a, not future Buddha-
hood, is promised for this wise woman, the doctrine taught is that
found in other Mahayana scriptures, such as the Prajiiaparamitiisutras.
It is worth noticing that the point of departure for the teaching in this
text is the proposition of a magically created being, to which all beings
and all phenomena are likened since all are equally impossible to
apprehend as really existing entities with definable characteristics.
Here, then, as in the Sumati-, Pure Giftc and Pure Faith-sutras it is
established that dharmas cannot be discriminated, for at the ultimate
level there is nothing which differentiates them. The use of words is
not on that account prohibited, however, even though words too are
not ultimately true; verbal teaching is necessary, for it can cause
unenlightened beings to progress toward englightenment. It is also
worth noticing that, as the gods say at the end of the sutra, the woman
Gangottara and the Buddha converse at the same high level of under-
standing, as do, for example, Subhuti and the Buddha in the A ~ t a s a ­
hasrikaprajiiaparamita-sutra. Gangottara's very deep understanding of
the Dharma, which may not be equal to that of the perfected Buddha
but is beyond that of most other beings, is also reminiscent of Vimal-
akirti's and that of the women Sumati and Pure Gift who can vanquish
even the wisest of Bodhisattvas in debate.
Changing the Female Body: the Event and its Meaning
Let us now recount again briefly from the Sumati- and Pure Gift
Sutras the action of the event, "changing the female body," so that it
may be compared with the relevant sections of the VimalakirtinirdeSa
and Saddharmapur;,4arika-sutra.
There are two separate parts to the sequence of events sur-
rounding the change of sex in the Sumati-. and Pure Gift Sutras. In the
Sumati, we are dealing with a child of 8, da,ughter of a householder,
who has already accumulated merit in the past by making offerings to
the Buddhas. Her capacity to follow the Bodhisattva's vocation and
her understanding of that vocation are challenged. Part I of the
sequence of events: (1) Mahamaudgalyayana tries to invalidate her
resolve to carry out the Bodhisattva practices by saying, you are only a
small girl and can't do it. (2) She performs an act of truth: if I am able
to carry out the Bodhisattva practices, let the worlds shake, heavenly
flowers rain down and music sound; (3) and then a second act of
truth: if I shall soon become a perfect Buddha let everyone here turn
the color of gold. (4) All this happens, and Mahamaudgalyayana
acknowledges the superiority of the Bodhisattva-way. Part II: (1)
Sumati debates with ManjuSrl and demonstrates her understanding
of the emptiness of all dharmas and the consequent impossibility of
discriminating any of them. (2) The Buddha acknowledges that long
ago she had aspired to attain perfect enlightenment (bodhicittotpiida)
and just now has attained the tQlerance of the notion that dharmas do
not arise (anutpattikadharmak<;iinti). (3) At this point, ManjuSrl chal-
lenges her, saying: "Why haven't you changed your female body?"
and (4) the answer is, "Femaleness cannot be apprehended, because
dharmas are neither male nor female." Manjusrl has apparently just
discriminated among dharmas. Sumati, who has attained anutpattikad-
harmak<;iinti, does not discriminate among dharmas. (5) But, in order
to eliminate any possible doubts Manjusrl might have about her
understanding and her capacities, she performs a third act of truth: if
it is true that I shall attain Buddhahood, may I now change into a
man. She becomes a young male novice in the Buddhist clerical order.
(6) She then makes a resolve (prar;,idhiina) concerning her future
Buddha-land, including the proviso that there will be nothing in it
having to do with women, and the resolve functions also as an act of
truth: if my Buddha-land shall be so, may my body be like that of a 30-
year-old monk. (7) This too happens, and finally the Buddha predicts
that Sumati will soon become a fully enlightened Buddha.
The Pure Gift Sutra has a 12- (or 8-) year-old princess as the
central figure, daughter of King Prasenajit, who had also accumu-
lated great merit in past existences. In the scripture, the princess
demonstrates, at great length, her deep understanding of Dharma in
debate with 16 disciples and Bodhisattvas. Then comes the sequence
of events surrounding her change of body. Part I: (1) as in the Sumati-
siitra, Mahamaudgalyayana accuses the princess of not understanding
the Bodhisattva-way, for one cannot attain perfect enlightenment
. with a woman's body. (2) She performs an act of truth: if I shall truly
become a Buddha in the future, let the worlds shake, heavenly flowers
rain down, music sound and let my female body change into an 8- (or
16-) year-old boy's. (3) This happens, and Mahamaudgalyayana
praises the Bodhisattva-way. Part II: (1) the Buddha announces that
Pure Gift, like Maiijusri, aspired to attain perfect Buddhahood long
before and both Bodhisattvas will attain it. (2) Not yet finished,
Mahamaudgalyayana again challenges Pure Gift, saying in effect, since
you have been so wise for so long, why hadn't you changed your
female body before this? (3) She retorts, if you are really first in the
practice of supernormal powers, why haven't you changed your male
body?; and he is speechless. (4) She then affirms that perfect en-
lightenment cannot be attained by a woman or by a man, for it is
completely impossible to grasp it. (5) Maiijusri then joins the Buddha
in praising Pure Gift; the Buddha announces she has already mas-
tered the concentration on emptiness, attained the tolerance of the
notion that dharmas do not arise and the ability to teach others, and
.vill soon attain Buddhahood.
The confrontation between Sariputra and the goddess in the
Vimalakirtinirdesa has much in common with the events recounted
from the Sumati- and Pure Gift-sutras. In Chapter 7 of the Vimalakir-
tinirde!sa, "Examining Sentient Beings,"53 a goddess suddenly mani-
fests in visible form after listening to Vimalakirti tell Manjusrl Bod-
hisattva that all beings should be regarded as like creatures created by
a magician or like a mirage, etc. This is the point of departure for the
confrontation between the goddess and Sariputra. Pleased with what
she has heard, the goddess causes heavenly flowers to be scattered
over everyone in the assembly gathered at Vimalakirti's house. The
flowers roll off the bodies of the Bodhisattvas present, but stick to
those of the disciples, who cannot get rid of them even by using their
supernormal powers. The goddess asks Sariputra, wisest of the disci-
ples, why he wants to be rid of the flowers. He replies that they are not
proper for disciples (monks are prohibited by monastic regulation
from adorning themselves with flowers). The goddess accuses Saripu-
tra of falsely distinguishing "proper" from "improper"; it is because
he does this that the flowers appear to stick to his body while not
troubling the Bodhisattvas at all, for the Bodhisattvas have freed
themselves from the habit of discriminating among t h i n g ~ . Sariputra
is silenced.
All of this is preliminary to the sex change which climaxes the
chapter. The preliminary section is similar in content to the discus-
sions in the Sumati- and Pure Gift-sutras, which precede and provoke
the sex changes in those texts. Sariputra is guilty of imperfectly
understanding reality; he assumes that things can really be distin-
guished from one another. When he then discriminates female from
male, taking them for two real and distinct phenomena, he is affirm-
ing his disciple's view of reality. The change of sex proceeds from that
point: (1) He asks the goddess why she does not change her female
body. (2) She says she has sought femaleness for the 12 years she has
lived in Vimalakirti's house but has not found it, for what one calls a
woman is something created by magic-and can one ask something
created by magic to change its femaleness? (3) Thereupon she uses
her supernormal powers to exchange forms with Sariputra, so that
Sariputra appears in the form of the goddess and she appears in his.
She then asks him: (4) Why don't you change your female form?, to
which he replies that he doesn't even know how he acquired this
female body. (5) The goddess then makes her point: You, Sariputra,
like all women, appear in the form of a woman, yet you and the others
are not really "women" at all, for as the Buddha says, no dharmas are
either female or male. (6) She causes the two of them to regain their
original forms, and Sariputra concedes her point, but goes on to ask
(7) where she will be reborn next. She says she will be reborn where
the Buddha's transformations (hua, nirmrirJa) are reborn.-But these
are not reborn (says Sariputra). And so it is with all beings, says the
goddess: they are not born. (8) Sariputra asks when the goddess will
attain perfect enlightenment; the goddess replies that no one can eVer
attain perfect enlightenment, for enlightenment has nothing to rest
upon, it cannot be grasped. (9) Vimalakirti then explains tOSariputra
that the goddess has already served countless Buddhas in the past, has
attained the super-knowledges,54 fulfilled her resolves, attained the
tolerance of the notion that dharmas do not arise and will never turn
back from the Bodhisattva path. Because of her resolve (prarJidhrina)
she can appear wherever she wishes in order to teach and develop
living beings.
It is in the Lotus sidra (SaddharmapurJefarika) that the locus classicus
for the change of sex is found. This is the episode of the daughter of
the Dragon-king Sagara, which occurs at the end of the 11 th chapter
(in the Sanskrit version) or the 12th chapter (in Kumarajiva's and
Chinese translations).55 The Buddha has just re-
counted the tale of a previous existence of himself and his cousin and
. rival, Devadatta. Maiijusrl Bodhisattva is present, having just re-
turned from a sojourn in the Dragon kingdom and he is asked by
Prajiiakuta Bodhisattva how many beings he had converted there and
whether any of them by understanding and practicing the Lotus'
teaching would be able to attain Buddhahood. Maiijusrl replies, there
was one, the 8-year-old daughter of the Dragon-king Sagara, who is
superior in knowledge and understanding, has made wide-reaching
resolves and practices faultlessly. 56 Prajiiakuta observes that the Bod-
hisattva way is very difficult, it takes much time to attain perfect
enlightenment and he doubts that such a young girl could do it.
Then, (1) the Dragon-princess suddenly appears, praises the Buddha
whose body bears the 32 characteristics of the Great Man and vows to
attain Buddhahood. (2) Sariputra speaks up, charging that she cannot
become a Buddha, despite what she has accomplished, because a
woman's body is prohibited from five ranks of existence:
a woman
cannot be a Sakra-god, Brahma-god, Mara-god, universal monarch or
a Buddha. (3) Undismayed, the Dragon-princess presents the Bud-
dha with a precious gem which he accepts at once, and she asks Sari-
putra to confirm that he took it quickly, not slowly. (4) She then says,
"Now I shall seize the unexcelled perfect way and achieve supreme
enlightenment even more quickly than that."58 (5) She immediately
changes into a male Bodhisattva; and then at once becomes a Buddha
who is endowed with the 32 primary and 80 secondary characteristics.
(6) Everyone in the assembly is astonished, many gain immediate
advancement on the Way, some aspire to attain future Buddhahood,
and the worlds quake. (7) Sariputra and Prajiiakuta Bodhisattva are
The passage on changing the body in the Saddharrnapu1f4arlka is
less dramatic and much less elaborate than the passages in the Vim-
alakzrtinirdeSa and the Sumati- and Pure Gift-siitras. But the Saddharma-
pU1f4arlka presents the basic argument clearly and boldly: the old
notion that a woman's body disqualifies her from Buddhahood is
wrong, for here is a Buddha-to-be (the Dragon-princess) who was
born female and is moreover still a child, only 8 years old. Bodhi-
sattva-hood is not inconsistent with having a female body; in fact, one
can be reborn as a woman, as the Dragon-princess was, after having
progressed very far on the path to Buddhahood-she cannot, after
all, have accomplished so much in the few brief years of her present
life. (This poi.nt is explicit in Kumarajiva's text, but is only implied by
Dharmaraksa's and T.9.265.) The Saddhar'J7}apur;4arika's argument is
directed against the notion that some bodies (male) are fit for the
highest destinies, and other bodies (female) are not. It is the body of
the Great Man with its 32 major and 80 minor characteristics which is
the physical model to which women cannot conform, according to
some Buddhists. The SaddharmapuTJrjarika identifies those Buddhists
as disciples (Sravakas) or "Hinayanists," by putting the challenge of the
female body into the mouth of Sariputra, wisest of the disciples. This
bias against femaleness was widely enough held to provoke the Ma-
hayanist authors of the Lotus to refute it squarely. It is the under-
standing of the disciples which is at fault; those who understand the
Lotus' teaching-like Mafijusri-see no problem in the sex or the age
of the girl-Bodhisattva.
So far as I know, no other siitras containing a change of the
female body follow the SaddharmapuTJrjan7w's model exactly. The Sad-
dharmapuTJrjarika seems to have closed this particular phase of the
argument, which was directed against a particular doctrine of particu-
lar Buddhists. When the authors of other siitras took up the theme of
"changing the female body," they opened new areas of debate.
In the Wrnalakirtinirdela, Sumati- and Pure Gift-sutras, there is
again a specific challenge to the combination of possession of deep
understanding with possession of a female body; and in the Sumati-
and Pure Gift-sutras, at least, threre are still clear references to the
ideal body of the Great Man. But the intention of these three siitras is
to establish why physical differences between male and female are
irrelevant to the attainment of enlightenment. The differences are,
from the point of view of perfected understanding, not real, for there
is no apprehending "real" differences between any phenomena at the
level of ultimate truth. The distinction of male and female is essen-
tially a matter of incomplete understanding. The Vimalakirtinirdesa
and the two Maharatnakufa siitras teach the doctrines of the emptiness
(Sunyata) and the sameness (samata) of all the dharmas; they are
doctrinally related to the Prajiiaparamita-sutras. In the Saddharma-
pUTJrjarika, as is well known, the doctrine of emptiness is not a m ~ o r
teaching, and for this reason, it seems to me, the handling of the sex
change is less satisfactory there than in the VimalakirtinirdeSa and the
other siitras. Change of sex does seem to be necessary, according to
the Lotus, if a woman is to take the final step to Buddhahood. In the
other texts, change of body is like a magician's transformations, and
so is everything which ordinary persons take to be real in this world.
Femaleness, and the transformation into a male, are not ultimately
. real, but both can be used by the Bodhisattva to reach and instruct
benighted sentient beings. In these texts, magic is a metaphor for the
enlightened way of dealing with the utter fluidity of reality. In Kuma-
rajiva's Lotus, and in the Sanskrit version, there is some mention of
magic and supernormal powers (see note 58). It is quite possible that
these touches were added later under the influence of texts like the
Vimalakirti and the Mahriratnakuta sutras where magic is an essential
component of the "changing the female body" scenario.
The Saddharmapu1Jrjarika offers one literary model for dealing
with the theme of changing the female body, and the Vimalakirti,
Sumati- and Pure Gift-sutras offer another. But these latter three texts
differ from one another in several details. Magic, playfully performed,
is a prominent motif in the entire VimalakirtinirdeSa- Vimalakirti
himself is a master magician, and the goddess uses magic freely. But it
is Sariputra she confronts, and Sariputra is not comfortable with
magic. The issue in the Vimalakirti is, above all, the contest between
true understanding and imperfect understanding, and magic is an
appropriate metaphor for the one and a suitable corrective for the
other. The Pure Gift- and Sumati-sutras, by presenting Mahamaud-
galyayana as challenger, seem to stress magic as technique for instruc-
tion, for Mahamaudgalyayana is master of supernormal powers in
Buddhist tradition. Here he meets his match, and the old conjuror is
out-conjured by mere girls.
In the Sumati-sutra Mahamaudgalyayana does make the initial
challenge to Sumati, but itis Manjusri Bodhisattva who questions her
femaleness. ManjuSrl is a prominent figure in the other texts as well,
but his role is always that of one who tests or testifies to the woman's
understanding. The implication is that the woman's understanding is
at least equal to his own; this is especially clear in the Pure Gift-sutra,
where the Buddha finally reveals that Pure Gift and ManjuSrl have
had parallel histories and are equally certain to reach the highest goal,
Buddhahood. Manjusri, Bodhisattva of highest wisdom, is linked to
these wise women; they are his equals. Why then does he question
Sumati's femaleness after he has tested her understanding? He seems
to come out the loser when he does, for Sumati points out that he is
guilty of making false distinctions, but to resolve his doubts she will
transform herself It does seem that, here, the woman's superiority
over the wisest of male Bodhisattvas is asserted. Pure Gift silences
Maiijusri in debate; but the Buddha insists on the essential equality of
the two Bodhisattvas. The Sumati-sutra is prQvocative at this point; but
the sequence of events reads somewhat oddly because Maiijusri is
made to usurp what should be Mahamaudgalyayana's role, and
thereby the corifrontation between Mahayana and "Hinayana" is ob-
There is a dramatic coherence in the goddess chapter of the
VimalakirtinirdeSa, and in the Pure Gift Sutra, which is lacking in the
Sumati-sutra. In the VimalakirtinirdeSa, there is a single sequence of
events; everything proceeds consistently to a single climax, the god-
dess' playful exchange of bodies with Sariputra. The sequence of
events in both the Sumati- and Pure Gift-sutras is in two parts: the first
part looks like a standard scenario for the change of sex, which is
brought about by the performance of an act of truth and accom-
panied by a variety of supernatural occurrences. A scenario like this,
with Mahamaudgalyayana, master of the '(ddhi, as challenger, could
easily have been incorporated into a number of sutras, with variations
in detail. The principal variation in these two sutras is that Maha-
maudgalyayana's challenge provokes Pure Gift to change her female
body, but not Sumati. The second part of the episode in the two sutras
resembles that in the VimalakirtinirdeSa even more closely, and has as
its point the irrefutable demonstration of the impossibility of making
distinctions between phenomena, including the phenomena "male"
and "female."
The sequence of events is actually more complicated in the
Sumati-sutra than in the Pure Gift Sutra. Sumati's change involves two
challengers, three acts of truth and consequent wondrous occur-
rences, one formal resolve (Pra'f}idhiina) , a change of body in two
stages; and all of this arranged as two separate sequences of events;
each with its own denouement. Pure Gift's experiences are more
coherently developed, and the second part of the sequence is only the
explanation of what the change of sex has already demonstrated. The
Pure Gift Sutra's scenario looks very much like a formula which may
have been worked out, under the inspiration perhaps of the Vim-
alakirtinirdeSa, so that it could be adapted to use in other sutras where
the "changing the female body" theme was to playa role. The Sumati-
sutra's could easily be a variation on this formula.
In Pure Faith's Question, the matter of changing the female body
is brought up, but because of the level of understanding at which
pure Faith and her companions find themselves, a sudden, magical
change of the body is not possible for them. If they continue to
discipline themselves and to develop their understanding, the Buddha
promises that they will be able to abandon femaleness forever at the
end of their present lives and will only be reborn thereafter as males.
The argument of the sutra itself is, from the outset, that all beings, all
dharmas, all conceptions are fundamentally lacking a fixed reality,
for all are equally empty of a unique essence or self-hood. Although
this sutra urges the Bodhisattva to concrete action, such as making
Buddha-images and venerating stupas, the authors insist that all
actions and all phenomena must finally be recognized to be like an
illusion, for no thing comes into being or is destroyed, all dharmas are
forever still. It is Pure Faith who retains the habit of discriminating
between right action and wrong, female and male. Thus she herself is
not ready for a magical transformation of her body. The only magical
transformation which occurs in the sutra is that of the garlands Pure
Faith and the others offer to the Buddha. Transformation of the
person is only possible for those with enlightened understanding, for
it is all a matter of how one looks at reality.
It is the intention of the Gal}-gottara-siitra to establish that every-
thing one believes to be "real" is like a magical creation. Above all,
one's own person must be so regarded-and thus the question of
transforming a body which is already recognized to be "like a magi-
cally created being" never arises. The magic in this sutra is reserved
for the ending, when the gods cause magically created flowers to rain
down from the sky while they praise the wise "woman," Gangottara.
This sutra is not a dramatic narrative with a didactic purpose, as the
others are. It is a pure exposition of doctrine, in traditional Buddhist
dialogue form, and in this respect resembles several of the Prajfiapara-
mita texts, such as the Vajracchedikii, Hrdaya, etc. In it the
understanding of reality which the other sutras-Vimalakirti, Sumati,
Pure Gift, Pure Faith and even the Lotus-reveal dramatically, is pre-
sented directly. The dramatic event of changing the female body is
irrelevant there.
The Srimalasi'lJ'lhanadasutra
is another text which celebrates the
wisdom of a woman without raising the question of a change of sex.
Like Gangottara, Queen SrimaLl converses with the Buddha at an
exalted level of understanding, especially in the latter half of the
scriptures, when she preaches "the embrace of the Illustrious Doctrine
that was held by all the Buddhas": there she speaks from the stand-
point of complete Buddhahood, although this is because she is in-
spired to do so by the Buddha's power. 60 The queen's understanding,
guided by the Buddha, is not faulty. But the sutra does contain some
motifs connected in the Pure Gift- and Sumati-siitras with changing the
female body. At the beginning of the text, Queen Srimala has never
seen the Buddha, but hearing of him and hearing that he has come
for the world's sake, wishes that he will show himself to her out of
compassion. He appears in space, she sees his inconceivable body,
praises him, and asks that she may always see him. This he promises
her, because she has accumulated great merit in the past by praising
the Buddha's qualities; so, wherever she is born, she will see and
praise him and make offerings to innumerable Buddhas.
Then, in
the future, she will attain Buddhahood herself. The queen thereupon
makes ten great vows (prar;idhiina) which are, in sum, to observe
morality, revere teachers, cultivate right attitude and conduct toward
others, teach and help others and embrace the Dharma.
Then she
goes on:
... some sentient beings with meager roots of virtue might
think, 'Oh, those ten great vows are difficult to uphold,' and
would have doubt or hesitation toward me. Lord, by so thinking
they would incur for a long time much harm, suffering and
disaster. Loid, for the sake of helping precisely such persons, I
wish to perform in the presence of the Lord this 'Blessing of
Truth': Lord, just as surely as I have taken exactly these ten
great vows, and if they are just as stated by me, then, Lord, by
dint of this, my word of truth, maya shower of heavenly flowers
descend upon the group and may divine sounds be heard
sounded!" (Wayman, pp. 66-67).
All happens according to her words. Those in the assembly are freed
from their doubts and resolve to remain always with Queen Srimala.
The Queen herself then goes on to make her three great resolves,
which comprise all the Bodhisattva aspirations: to comprehend the
true Dharma, to teach it to all beings and to uphold it even at the cost
of body, life and possessions.
This episode is very nearly the same scenario found in the
Pure Gift- and Sumati-siitras which culminates however in those texts
with the change of the female body. In the Srimiiliisi'f!l-haniida-siitra no
one challenges the queen's femaleness, yet she performs her act of
truth in order to remove the doubts of any of her hearers who might
think her incapable of carrying out her vews. But there is no equiv-
ocation in the Srimiilii's attitude toward women. Although the text
repeats patterns found in older texts on women, Queen Srimllia
. is frankly accepted as a true teacher of the Dharma. Her understand-
ing is never tested in debate. She is simply presented as a woman wise
through the Buddha's guidance and inspiration. A change of sex is, in
the context of her sutra, as irrelevant for her as for Gangottara.
It is not possible to generalize about the historical development
of Mahayana Buddhist views on women, using only the information
provided by the texts discussed in this essay. But in this group of texts
itself, an evolution of thought and an exploration of various ways of
looking at women's capacities does seem evident. The Vimalakirtinir-
deS a, Pure Gift and Sumati-sutras were translated into Chinese during
the 3rd century A.D., and certainly existed some time before that in
their original languages, perhaps as early as the 2nd century A.D. The
Lotus is also at least that old. The Srimiilii was first translated into
Chinese in the 5th century A.D., by (translation no
longer extant), and then in the same century by GUI).abhadra. It is
probably not as ancient as the four texts just mentioned. Wayman
suggests that the text was composed in India in the 3rd century A.D.63
The Gangottara- and Pure Faith-sutras were first translated into Chi-
nese in the early 8th century by Bodhiruci, which suggests that they
were composed more recently than any of the other texts discussed in
this essay. The Gangottara seems to represent the logical development
of the tendencies found in the Srimiilii. Pure Faith's Question is doctrinally
consistent with the other Mahayana sutras, as indicated above. Per-
haps its unusual representation of a woman who is not yet wise can be
assigned to a period when the issue of distinction-making between male
and female was no longer critical, and an audience could agree that a
woman could not only be wiser than others, but that she could also be
as benighted as any man.
Magic in Buddhism
Queen Srimala's sutra also touches on the matter of magical
creations, especially on the phenomenon of "transformation" -death
and rebirth. After discussing the nirvii'f}a of Arhats and Pratyeka-
Buddhas, the text adds that there are two kinds of death-the or-
dinary kind, and the "inconceivable transformation" which belongs to
Arhats, Pratyeka-Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who have attained
power. "Inconceivable transformation" belongs to bodies made of
This means death and rebirth outside the normal processes,
and, especially, free of the karma-proces;; itself. Arhats, Pratyeka-
Buddhas and power-wielding Bodhisattvas are those who have freed
themselves from the influences (dsravas) which bind one to the cycle
of rebirth but have not yet totally freed themselves from ignorance
(avidya). Ignorance still conditions their death and rebirth, for as long
as they do not fully comprehend all the dharmas they do not elimi-
nate all faults and do not attain complete niroa1Ja. But "rebirth" occurs
for them as a pure body made of mind.
Only the enlightenment of
the Buddhas destroys all ignorance and all rebirth.
The Sumati, Pure Gift- and Pure Faith-sutras all refer to trans-
formation-rebirth on a lotus in the presence of the Buddhas, a notion
which also became familiar in Pure Land Buddhism in China and
Japan. In the Maharatnakuta texts, the idea seems closely bound up
with the ideas of magical creations of bodies and supernatural trans-
formations which premeate these works. .
That an adept can employ an advanced meditation technique to
create a body made by his or her own mind is an opinion found in
ancient Buddhist scriptures and elaborated in later treatises.
This is
a pan-Buddhist notion. The power to transform one's own body into
another form and the power to create bodies "made of mind" are two
among the rddhi, or supernormal powers, explained in the Visudd-
himaggaY According to the tradition of the pre-Mahayana schools,
one must have mastered the practice of the dhyanas (contemplations)
in order to make free use of the rddhi. Essentially, one must be in total
control of one's mental processes, and one must have acquired the
rddhi-pada, the four concentrations which are the foundations of
success in rddhi (see note 18).
In pre-Mahayana tradition, in order to attain vikuroa1Ja-rddhi,
which is the power to transform oneself, one is to resolve to appear in
different forms-a snake, tiger, god, young boy, etc.-while disguis-
ing one's natural form. Having entered dhyana, using one or another
meditation-object,68 one should arise from the meditation and con-
template oneself having the form of-for example-a boy. Having
done this one should re-enter dhyana and resolve, "May I be such and
such a boy." With resolve, one becomes so. Similarly, in order to
exercise manomaya-rddhi, the power of creating a body by mental
powers, arising from dhyana and contemplating the body one should
resolve "Let the body be a hollow." The body becomes a hollow, one
contemplates another body within one's own, resolves again and there
is another body within oneself. One removes it, as a reed from its
. sheath, and the two are distinct but one is the duplicate ofthe other.
Thus, one u·ses a progressive visualization exercise, in either case, and
the end result is said to be the production of a new body, visible to
Few can achieve vikuroaryii-rddhi; it is a difficult attainment.
But Buddhas, Pratyeka-Buddhas and chief disciples are said to at-
tain it automatically when they become Arhats, that is, when they
attain liberation from the cycle of rebirth.7I
According to Hinayana and Mahayana tradition, rddhi is one of
the five or six abhijiiii, 72 the supernormal intellections or super-knowl-
edges which are realized by those who have advanced very far in the
spiritual life. And, according to the Mahayanist Ta-chih-tu-lun, a Bod-
hisattva who attains always obtains, as fruit of
that the abhijiia.
The Bodhisattva cultivates rddhi-abhijiia in
order to advance a great many beings toward liberation; without it,
relatively few beings can be matured. For this purpose, a Bodhisattva
can make for him- or herself the body of a cakravartin, a Sakra, a
Buddha, or whatever is required to effect someone's liberation. Such
transformations (nirmita) are true and not false, for no dharma has a
fixed characteristic
This resume of early Buddhist notions of the working of the
supernormal power of transformation, and the Mahayana explana-
tion of the purposes for which it is used, show us the nexus of ideas
within which the authors of the Pure Gift Siitra and the rest were
working. The Mahayana interpretation of magical transformations is,
as the Ta-chih-tu-Iun says, that a transformation-body is as true as any
other form we see around us, because nothing is absolutely fixed and
unchangeable-that is, because everything is empty, everything is
fluid. The specific connection established between the attainment of
and the power to transform and to create
bodies make it clear, I believe, why the transforming women of the
sutras are said to have attained this just before the event.
means the tolerance of the notion that no
dharmas whatever are born, that none therefore has a fixed reality or
anything to define, that all dharmas are as fluid or as deceptive as
illusion (maya) and are fundamentally impossible to apprehend as dis-
tinct entities.
For the one who has reached such an insight, the
world is completely open, and "transformations" are possible.
BuddhanusmTti, the calling to mind of the Buddha or Buddhas, is
another of the important basic notions common to most of the sutras
on women discussed here. Buddhiinusmr.ti is a meditation wherein the to-
tality of the physical, mental and moral attributes which constitute Bud-
hahood become the object of contemplation. In Mahayana Buddhism,
it is pre-eminently a visualization meditation by means of which the
presence of the Buddha or Buddhas is imaginatively evoked so that the
meditator can contact and venerate them or be guided or taught by
them. The meditator sees with the mind the image of the Buddha(s),
specifically including the 32 characteristic marks of the Great Man. 77
This is what Pure Gift does, after she has heard of the Buddha's
qualities and visible marks. Pure Gift and Sumati are told to make
images of the Buddhas in order to see them and be with them always;
the sculptures or paintings are then, presumably, to serve as guides or
supports to meditation.
Now, what are these images cultivated in the mind? According
to the Pratyutpannabuddhasa1!Lmukhavasthitasamadhisiitra, ont; of the earli-
est and most informative extant Mahayana scriptures on buddha-
nusmrti, images of the Buddhas developed in samadhi can be seen and
spoken to, but thepIeditator must finally realize that these images are
nothing but mental constructs. The one who can concentrate on the
Buddha without apprehending him, fixing upon him or discriminat-
ing him, obtains the samadhi of emptiness.
Such a Bodhisattva can
contemplate the Buddha's body without entertaining a false discrimi-
nation connected with the body, or with the dharmas, and thus he or
she does not apprehend body or dharmas. If one does not apprehend
any dharmas, one does not imagine or falsely discriminate, and this is
unobstructed knowledge.
The Maharatnakii.ta sutras on women are all constructed against
the background of the Mahayana doctrine of emptiness. All the
discourses on bodies, on magical transformations, on visions of Bud-
dhas and on conduct which will lead to liberation, are consistent with
each other within that framework.
The Act oj Truth
An act of truth precipitates the climactic change of body in the
sumati- and Pure Gift-siitras, and figures prominently in the Srima-
lasi7!lhanadasiitra. Since the act of truth plays such a critical role in the
scenario of the change of body, and since it is intimately interwoven
. with the themes of magic and wonders and the Bodhisattva's resolve
(prarJidhana), it requires further examination.
The act of truth (satyakriya)80 is well-known in ancient Indian
literature, Buddhist and non-Buddhist. Examples occur In the Bud-
dhistJatakas, in Mahayana sutras such as the A
mita, and a classic discussion of truth acts is found in the Milindapanha.
They are also very familiar from such non-Buddhist texts as the
Mahabharata,· the Ramayana, the BrahmarJas and the earlier Vedic
Burlingame has defined the act of truth as "a formal
declaration of fact, accompanied by a command or resolution or
prayer that the purpose of the agent shall be accomplished." The
basis of the truth act, according to W. Norman Brown, is the singleness
of purpose with which one has fulfilled his or her duty: when one
fulfills one's own duty, no matter what that duty is, "the individual
achieves personal integrity and fits the cosmic purpose. Life then
becomes a sacrificial act, a rite (kriya) , and as such, when perfectly
executed, it can accomplish any wish, compelling even the gods."82
Satyakriya is speaking one's own truth, affirming that one has done
one's duty. It is this affirmation which is the ritual act, not merely the
performance of one's duty. By speaking, one lays claim, in effect, to
participation in truth on a cosmic scale, which includes the natural
operation of cosmic forces, such as that which makes the rain fall, the
sun rise and set, and so on. To speak the truth, one must know the
truth. Knowing one's own truth opens the way to understanding
ultimate truth. According to the BrhadararJyaka- and Murp;f,aka-UparJi-
0ads, the one who knows all has power over all;83 or, in a Buddhist
context it might be more correct to say, the one who knows all,
transcends all limitations.
In ancient India, a woman's duty was far more rigidly defined
than a man's; it was limited to her sexual functions so that if a woman
performed a truth act it would affirm the fulfillment of her duty as
devoted wife, or as successful prostitute.
Perhaps the most striking
evidence for the very different attitude toward women found in some
Mahayana Buddhist texts is the fact that a woman is no longer identi-
fied merely by her sexual function; when she performs a truth act it is
grounded on the fact of her true aspiration to the attainment of
Buddhahood and on her unshakable commitment to the Bodhisattva
career. Sumati, Pure Gift and SrimaIa know their truth; and in fact,
their truth is that they are rapidly coming to know ultimate truth ..
Like the Buddha himself, who is already all;knowing, the three truth-
sayers are in knowing harmony with reality and therefore can appear
to transcend ~ h a t the unknowing take to be unalterable natural
Ultimate truth (paramiirthasatya) in Mahayana Buddhism can-
not be confined to any concept or any verbal definition. "Magic" and
"wonders," "female" and "male" are some of the definitions the un-
knowing impose on aspects of their incomplete view of reality. One
must do this so as to give some order to one's experience of life. But
even a Bodhisattva or the Buddha himself uses words to communicate
with and to help ordinary beings in the world-as the Buddha tells
Gaitgottara the laywoman. However, one who truly understands uses
words without any attachment to them, and thus words are no obsta-
cle to understanding or to compassionate action. 86
Satyakriyii is compassionate action, in the eyes of SrimaIa, and of
Pure Gift and Sumati. It is performed in order to remove all doubts
the hearers might have about the woman's capacity to follow the
Bodhisattva path, for if one harbors doubts about what is actually true
one would suffer pain and the disaster of remaining far from liberat-
ing truth (as the Srimiiliisi'l'[thaniida-sutra says). Satyakriyii is thus under-
stood, in these Mahiiratnakutii-sutras, to be part of the Bodhisattva's
effort to effect the liberation of all beings. That is what the Bodhi-
sattva has resolved upon when uttering his or her original vow (Prar.ti-
dhiina) to strive for Buddhahood so as to deliver others from suffer-
ing. The functions of satyakriyii and prar.tidhiina begin to merge in the
Sumati-, Pure Gift- and Srzmiilii-sutras, until finally Sumati can make a
satyakriyii out of her own prar.tidhiina to have in future a Buddha-land
which is free from deceit and suffering.
"Changing the female body" is a narrative theme which was
probably developed by Mahayanist writers in order to confront tradi-
tional Buddhist views of the spiritual limitations of women .. It chal-
lenges the earlier notion that women's bodies are visible evidence that
they have not reached a high level of spiritual maturity and cannot
therefore be candidates for Buddhahood. In Mahayana texts such as
the Sumati- and Pure Gift-sutras, the VimalakirtinirdeSa and the Ta-chih-
tu lun, this notion is criticized and put in its proper place according to
the perspective of the sunyavada. In these texts, the supposition that
maleness and femaleness are ultimately real is negated by the realiza-
tion of the universal emptiness and sameness of all dharmas.
In ordinary worldly life, however, people exist as male or fe-
male, obviously, and apprehend themselves as sexually differenti-
ated: Pure Faith for example is aware of herself as female. In the
sutras examined for this essay, there is no attempt to demean or exalt
anyone's ordinary existence in the world as man or woman. The
world is a busy place, and people live in it as best they can, finding
ways to deal with the richness they find there. But in the case of those
who commit themselves to the spiritual life and thus cease to value
. ordinary life in the world as others do, the matter of sex distinctions
must be looked at differently. The purpose of the five Maharatnahi.ta-
sutras, the and the SaddharmapurJ4arika is to assert
that for those commited to the Bodhisattva career distinctions on the
basis of sex no longer have any meaning. When one consciously sets
out on the Bodhisattva path, one abandons identification with the
traditional roles of either sex. The religious life, whether it is lived as a
cleric or as a layperson, is a third alternative: it is a new birth into a
new kind of creative living.
The act of committing oneself to this other way of living crea-
tively in the world is ritualized, in Mahayana literature, as a formal
resolve, the prarJidhana, taken in the presence of a Buddha. In the
Sumati, Pure Gift, Srimala and SaddharmapurJ4arika Sutras it is further
ritualized as satyakriya, act or rite of truth. In these texts, in fact, prarfi-
dhana and satyakriya function so similarly that distinctions between
them begin to blur. In the Sumati, Pure Gift, SrimaZd and Saddharma-
pUrJ4arika Sutras, it is women who are committing themselves once
again to the path to the ultimate attainment of Buddhahood. In
earlier Buddhist literature, and in non-Buddhist Indian texts, a
woman performing satyakriya would affirm her commitment to a
traditional woman's life in the world, in sa'l'}'lsara. Here, the truth-
sayers re-commit themselves to the attainment of perfect enlighten-
ment instead. This abandonment of ordinary life as a woman in this
world is symbolized by abandoning the female body and assuming the
body of a male ascetic, of a young boy or of a Buddha. Despite the
maleness of these new bodies, it seems fair to assume from the context
that the transformation signifies the transcendence of ordinary
worldly life and the sex distinctions that are part of it.
Magical displays enliven these sutras on women. The metamor-
phosis from female to male is accomplished by magic and accom-
panied by it. Magic is, in the sutras studied, here, a metaphor for the
enlightened way of dealing with the utter fluidity of reality. It is a
metaphor for efficacious action in an empty world. Magical transfor-
mation of the body is possible only for those who have awakened their
understanding to a considerable degree: only those who have attained
the tolerance of the notion that dharmas are not really produced or
destroyed can transform themselves. They realize that it is an illusion
that there are absolute differences between dharmas, for all dharmas
are equally empty. Radical transformation of the person, by magic,
and transcendence of the apparent laws of nature, are symbolic of the
attainment of this conviction. The metamorphosing women of these
sutras all have this understanding and this consequent freedom of
But "changing the female body" is a narrative theme which
recurs in many Mahayana sutras. And it is a very dramatic event, used
as the climax of a didactic narrative. As a literary devise, it crystallizes
the various ideas referred to above, as well, no doubt, as others not
mentioned. It is dramatically effective, and when its doctrinal implica-
tions have been explored it is intellectually acceptable too. It "works"
in the narrative, -and that is, I think, largely because the women's
motivation for transforming themselves is compassion. By their re-
markable actions they resolve a man's doubts and thus bring him
closer to liberating understanding. What happens to the woman Bod-
hisattva herself is secondary to this. She actively demonstrates her
total commitment to the Bodhisattva's way of doing everything possi-
ble to effect others' liberation.
Can a woman, or a man, then, be a Bodhisattva and follow the
path to the attainment of perfect, complete Buddhahood? No, for
"neither with a female body nor with a male body is true enlighten-
ment attained," says Pure Gift. And as these sutras reveal, from the
very moment that one truly commits oneself to the Bodhisattva path,
one is no longer either female or male.
The author would like to acknowledge the generosity of Dr. C. T. Shen,
President of the Institute for the Advanced Studies of World Religions, who
kindly made available Chinese texts and English translations of some of the
Maharatnakuta Sutras examined in this essay.
I. Taisho Shinshu Daizokyo (hereafter, T.) vol. 11, pp. 547-549, translated by
. Bodhiruci, Tang Dynasty (706-713 A.D.). There are three other Chinese translations:
Fo-shuo hsii-ma-t'i p'u-sa ching (Buddha-bhiisitii-sumati-bodhisattva-siitra) T.12.334,
pp. 76-78, translated by (Chu Fa Hu), Western Chin Dynasty
(between 266-308 A.D.) (cited in Ch'u-san-tsang-chi-chi, hereafter referred to as
CSTCC, T.55.2145, p.8a)
Fo-shuo hsii-ma-t'i p'u-sa ching (Sanskrit as above), T.12.335, pp. 78-81, attrib-
uted to Kumarajiva, Later Ch'in Dynasty (early 5th century A.D.)
Hsii-ma-t'i ching (Sumati-slltra), T.12.336, pp. 81-83, translated by Bodhiruci
(identical with T.l 1.310(30))
(See also Tibetan Tripitaka, Peking Edition, No. 760(30»
2. T.vol.ll, pp. 549-550, translated by Bodhiruci, Tang Dynasty (706-713
A.D.). (See also Tibetan Tripitaka, Peking Edition, No. 760(31» Publication of a complete
English translation of the Mahiiratnakll!aslltra, including the Gangottara-slltra translated
by Yang Tze-ming (Taiwan, 1973), is planned by Dharma Publishing.
3. T.vol.ll, pp. 556-564, attributed to Nieh Tao-chen, Western Chin Dynasty
(early 4th century). This translation is not cited in CSTCC; later catalogues attribute
several translations to Nieh Tao-chen, but none ;;tre mentioned in the early catalogues
of Tao-an or Seng-yu. (E. Zurcher, Buddhist Conquest of China, Leiden, 1972; I, p. 68)
There are two other Chinese translations:
Fo-shuo li-koll-shih-nii ching T.12.338,
pp. 89-97, translated by Dharmaraksa (Chu Fa Hu), Western Chin Dynasty (in
289 A.D.; cited in CSTCC, p. 7c)
Ti-Wll-koll-nii ching (Vimaladattii-diirikii-slltra), T.12.339, pp. 97-107, attributed
to Gautama Prajiiaruci, Eastern Wei Dynasty (between 534-550 A.D.)
(See also Tibetan Tripitaka, Peking Edition, No. 760(33»
An English translation by Hsu Yang-chu (Taiwan, 1975) will be included in Dharma
Publishing's Mahiiratnakll!aslltra.
4. T.voLII, pp. 623-627, translated by Bodhiruci, Tang Dynasty (706-713
A.D.). (See also Tibetan Tripitaka, Peking Edition, No. 760(40» An English translation by
Hsu Yang-chu will be included in Dharma Publishing's Mahiiratnakl1!aslltra.
5. See S. Mochizuki, Bukkyo Daij'iten, Kyoto, 1954, pp. 3618a-b, on the Mahiirat-
nakii!aslltra translation. See also the Preface to the Mahiiratnaklltasiitra by Tang Emperor
Jui-tsung in T.vol.ll, p. I.-The tradition that there existed in India a large sutra in
many parts called Mahiiratnakiitaslltra is found in Chinese documents and in Tibetan. So
far as I know, no evidence has yet been found from India itself which could prove that
such a text was known there. Many of the 49 individual sutras are quoted in Indian
works, e.g. the of Santideva, but are never identified as belonging to a
single larger text. In China itself, also, until the mid-7th century, those of the 49 sutras
which were known were treated as individual, unrelated texts. for
example, translated at least 13 of the 49 sutras, without ever suggesting that they were
in any way related to each other. The existence of a Maharatnakutasutra is first attested
in the Life of Hsiian-tsang by Hui Li, where it is stated that Master Hsuan-tsang was
urged shortly before his death to translate the whole Jv!aharatnakiitasiitra. He began the
project, but abandoned it almost immediately (664 A.D.), regretting that "the condi-
tions are not yet right among all beings of the world for this sutra." (Mochizuki,
p.3618.b.I-2) Some 40 years after this, in 706 A.D., Bodhiruci and his associates
undertook the task at the "request" of Emperor Chung-tsung. They completed it in 713
A.D. Tibetan references to a j'vIaharatnaku!asutra are all of much later date-e.g., Bu-
ston's and Taranatha's Histories.
6. On the Empress Wu and the propaganda campaign carried out by her
Buddhist supporters on her behalf, see A. Forte, Political Propaganda and Ideology in
China at the End of the 7th Century, Naples, 1976, and R. W. L. Guisso, Wu Tse-t'ien and the
Politics of Legitimation in Tang China, Bellingham, Washington, 1978. On Bodhiruci's
connection with the translation of the Ratnamegha-sutra (Pao-yu ching) and the interpola-
tion made into it in support of Empress Wu's claim to be a Bodhisattva and Buddhist
universal monarch, see Forte, pp. 125 ff. The Mahamegha (Ta-yun ching) contains a
similar passage which is authentic. On the status of the Mahamegha, see Forte, p. 22,
note 58. Forte is preparing a full study of Bodhiruci and his activities.
7. See Forte, op.cit., pp. 268-9 and 146-7. See also the composition bf the
Empress' supporters, the Commentary on the Meaning of the Prophecy about Shen-huang in
the Ta-yiin-ching, in Forte, pp. 245-6. There are other sutras, besides the Mahiimegha,
which assert that at a given time and in a given place it is a woman who can best respond
to the needs of beings who are to be saved. The Mahayana is one:
T 12.375, pp. 605.c, 607.a-b; see K. Yamamoto, The Mahayana Mahaparinirvanasiitra
1973; Vol. I, pp. 5-6,10-11,14. The Maiijmrlmiilakalpa is another: see]. Przyluski,
"Les Vidyariija, contribution a l'histoire de la magie dans des sectes Mahayanistes," Bulletin
de l'Ecole Fran{;aise d'Extrime Orient, 23, 1923, p. 309.
8. CSTCC, pp. 7b-9c. On activities, see Zurcher, Buddhist Con-
quest, I, pp. 65-70.
9. "Change the female body" is chuan nii shen in all four Chinese translations of
the Sumati-sutra, the three of the Pure Gift S'ltra, the three of the Vimalaklrtinirdesa and
the single Chinese translation of Pure Faith's Question. The three Chinese translations of
the Saddharmapuntjarlka consulted for this essay (T9.262, 263, 265) write "change into a
man," pien-wei nan-tw or pien-ch'eng nan-two The other sutras just named use this in
addition to chuan nil shen. Lamotte assumes an original parinam(asi) strwhava for
"change the female body," based on the Tibetan of the Vimalaklrtinirdesa: L'Enseignement
de Vimalaklrti, Louvain, 1962, p. 280. Another phrase used is strl-puTlt:ja-vyaiijana-
parivartana found in the Mahiiyanasutralan:-kiira: see G. Nagao, Index to the Mahiiyana-
siitraia"!lkara, Tokyo, 1958; Vol. I, p. 275. The Sanskrit equivalent for "change into a
man" in the is:
sagaranagarajaduhita ... tat stnndriyan:- punqendriyan:-
ca pradurbhutan:- bodhisattvabhutan:- catmanan:- san:-darsayati.
(H. Kern and B. Nanjio, St. Petersbourg, 1908-12, p. 265).
10. Pre-Mahayana references in: Anguttara-nikiiya (Pali Text Society, London,
1955), I, p. 28; lVlajjhima-nikaya (Pali Text Society, London, 1960), III, pp. 65-66. As
Lamotte points out, L' Tmlli d" I!I Crt/lldl' \ 'nlll til' S!lg"",'" (Louvain, 1949), I. p. 134, n.l,
in the Madhyamagama passage which parallels Majjhima III, pp. 65-66, there is no
mention at all of any obstacles in the wav of women: T.I.26, pp. 72:\-4.) Mahayana
references: S(lIldhitnl/!ljJIIII,{!I/,/7w.llllm: Kern and ;--;anjio, p. 264; T.9.262, p. :15.e.9-11
(Kumaraji\'a); T.9.26:\, p. I06.a.14-16 T.9.265, the anonymous early
translation of this part of the sutra, makes no mention of the five obstacles; this
translation is older than any other extant versions of the sutra.-Lamotte, .. also
points out that the Ta-chih-tu-lun, the great commentary on the Prajiiiiparamita (= Traite,
attributed to \:agarjuna and translated bv Kumarajiva, clearly repeats the traditional
formula that there are fi\'e superior ranks from ,which women are barred-and then
proceeds to name only four of them: mkmml'lill. Sakra, Mara and Brahma. This occurs
in tWO separate passages in the text ('{I'll iii, I. pp. I :\4 and 535) which means that the
omission of one rank is deliberate. The '{!I-f'hih-III 11111 thus carefullv avoids saying that a
woman cannot become a Buddha, for its author must have known that certain Maha-
yana sutras, above all the S!ltltlhrt/'/l/!ljJIIlui!l/'/7!11. do recognize that a woman can become a
11. In Buddhist legend, a l"lj!l-mkm"ill'lill, "wheel-turning universal monarch,"
is a human being who has performed meritorious acts in past existences and has finally
been born as Illi/hiljJll 1'11.111 , his body marked by the :12 major and 80 minor signs of his
status. Such a person is ready to attain supreme temporal authority (f'!lkm"i/l'lill) or
Buddhahood itself. Sakra, or' Indra, king of the gods, and Brahma: the creator, and
lord of the Brahma-worlds, were borrowed from the ancient Brahmanic pantheon and
made into adherents of the Buddha. Mara is the god who tempts and destroys, lord of
love and death. In M,ahavana Buddhist tradition, none of the gods is held to be eternal
and the number of Sakras, :vlaras, etc., is considered unlimited, so that there is ample
opportunity for those who have accumulated certain kinds of merits to be reborn for a
time in one or another of these classes of deities.
12. Digha-nikaya (Pali Text Society, London, 1960), III, p. 143; Sutta-nipata
(Pali Text Societv, London, 1965), verse 1022; Lamotte, Tmil';. IV, pp. 1911-12. The
Pali phrase is !wl/Jhil!l-"!lllh!l-gIlY!/i). "haYing that part which is concealed by clothing
covered by a sheath;" Trait; adds, "like a stallion." For lists of the 32 lak{aT!a see:
!.!ll!kh!lllslil!llIlllI, Ill, pp. 142-179; '{mil,;. [, pp. 271-281, and IV, pp.
1909 - I 9 I :\.
1:\. E. Conze, /ilitltlhisl \I'iStlOIiI 800fts, London, 1966, pp. 2H-29, 60-6:1. In the
\ '!I!malmlllill it is specificallv pointed out that if the Tathagata could be recognized by
his marks, then a uniyersal monarch would be a Tathagata: ihitl .. pp. 62-6:1. The PIiI'I'
(;ijl S'llm says the same (quoting an unnamed text);
"As the Bhagavan says,
'He who sees my visible form,
Or follows me by means of sound,
He holds false \'iews-
This person does not see the Buddha.'
But if (he is to be known) by means of the Dhill'll/!lllil,1'rt, the f)h!ll'll/!lkiIWi is impos-
sible to perceive. Why" Without eye-consciousness, there is no forming a concep-
(T.12.:tIH, p. 92.c.25-27, \'ersion; T.Il.:\ IOCl3), p. 559.a.24-:!7, and
T.12.339, p. 10 1.c.1-4, are similaL) This is the same passage, apparently from a Praj-
rwpclramita text, which is quoted in the Prasannapadii: L. de la Vallee Poussin, Miilamad-
h.wunakakarikas de Niigarjllna (Osnabn1ck, 1970), p. 44S, lines 11- i5.
14. Trait';, IV, pp. 1913-19IS.
15. This summa.y is based on T.12.334, by late 3rd century A.D.
T.12.335, attributed to Kumarajiva, is nearly identical with T.12.334. T.I 1.310(31) and
T.12.336, two transcriptions of the same translation by Bodhiruci, differ from T.12.334
and 335 in many details, but the differences are not of major significance. It is possible
that T.12.334 and 335 are also two transcriptions of the same translation, for the
differences between them are miniscule; there is an occasional difference of a tzu, and
T.12.334 usually translates technical terms and names while T.12.335 often transliter-
ates them. A translation of a HSII-ma-t'i P'lI sa ching is ascribed to by
CSTCC, p. S.a.S, but there appears to be no record of such a work by Kumarajlva
earlier than the Li-tai san-pcw-chi of 597 A.D.; see K'ai-}iian shih-chiao ill, T.55.2154, p.
The major differences between T.12.334 and 335 as they now appear in Taisho is
the long interpolation made into the text of T.12.335 near the end. It is a lengthy
passage from T.14.567, Fo-shllo fan-chih-nii sholl-i ching, translated by
(CSTCC, p. 8.a.2). This text, which has somehow been confused with the Hsii-ma-t'i P'l/-
sa ching, also has a woman as chief figure, and as it happens the discussion going on at
this point in T.14.567 fits well enough into the context of T.12.335: the topic is whether
persons and dharmas are like illusions. The passage from T.14.567 concludes with the
Buddha's prediction that the Brahmal)-i' Shou-i, the protagonist, "change her
female body" (Chllall nii shen) at the end of her present life because of the wholesome
roots she has already planted: that is, she shall never again be reborn as a female. This
is the same sort of "change" spoken of in Pure Faith's Question, discussed in this essay.
16. The "women" in the SlImati- and Pure Gift Siitras turn out to be chilren. Pure
Gift is said to be 8 years old in T.II.310(30) and 12 years old in the other two Chinese
translations (T.12.338, 339). Ages are not given for the women in any of the other
sutras discussed, except for the Dragon King's daughter in the Saddharmapu"!4an7w who
is also 8 years old. There are other Mahayana scriptures also where the main figure is a
child, usually a girl, occasionally a body; examples are the Bodhisath'acaryanirde,ia
(T.14.488) and Candrottaradiirikiivyiikara,,!a (T.14.480). It seems that the point of pre-
senting a wise young girl as the Buddha's interlocutor is to demonstrate that this child is
really a Bodhisattva, has already pursued the Bodhisattva career through many previ-
ous existences, has reached a high level of attainment, and nonetheless is now reborn in
female form. Femaleness is thus not incongruent with the highest levels of under-
Furthermore, these young children have not yet reached puberty, and have thus
not yet begun to participate in a woman's traditional way of power: a life committed to
creating and nurturing new life. Sumati and Pure Gift commit themselves instead to
the perfection of insight, which is a different kind of creativity than that available to
them as the result of their biology. This choice is symbolized by the sex change these
children undergo in the sutras, and there maleness is used as image of commitment to
the religious life. (Diana Paul's Women in Buddhism, Images of the Feminine in Mahayana
Tradition (Asian Humanities Press, Berkeley, (979) contains much information on sex
transformations in Buddhist literature, but was not available to me when this essay was
The goddess of the VimalakirtinirdeSa is ageless. It may be worth noting, however,
that at one point she says she has been in Vimalakirti's house for 12 years.
17. T.12.334, p. 76.b.18-19. Hua-sheng, "transformation-rebirth," is probably
Sanskrit aupapaduka. Hua-sheng occurs in all Chinese translations of the Sumati-siitra,
the pure Gift Sutra and Pure Faith's Question. According to T.12.334, hua-sheng means
born by spontaneous generation, without benefit of parents. In the SaddharmapU1!4an-ka
(Kern and Nanjio, pp. 260, 455), the Sukhavativyiiha-siitra (ed. F. M. Miiller, Oxford,
1883; pp. 65, 66), the Bha4ajyaguruvaidiiryaprabharajusiitra (cited Siksiisumuccaya of Santi-
- deva, ed. C. Bendall, Osnabriick, 1970; p. 175), spontaneous generation on a lotus is
mentioned, as here. It happens as the result of accumulated merits.
18. T.12.334, p. 76.b.19-20. Shen-tsu, rddhipiida: the four concentrations which
are the foundations of supernormal or magic powers. The four are the concentrations
giving predominance to zeal (chanda), to energy (virya) , to thought (citta) and to
examination (mima7!lSii). See Buddhaghosa, The Path of Purification (Visuddhimagga) ,
translated Bhikku Niinamoli, Colombo, 1964, p. 421; Lamotte, Traite, III, pp. 1178-79.
19. The Sumati-slltra bears an evident relationship to the Sukhavativyiiha-siitra
and possibly to other early Pure Land scriptures, in particular in its acceptance of the
doctrine of the saving appearance of the Buddha at the moment of one's death. The
Sumati-siitra, and also the Pure Gift and Pure Faith scriptures, seem to assume a critical
attitude toward texts such as the Sukhavativyiiha, and -attempt to interpret coherently
some important early Pure Land concepts in the light of the doctrine of emptiness.
Thus, their position with respect to the Sukhavativyiiha is similar to that of the Prat-
yutpannabuddhasaJTlmukhavasthitasamadhisutra: see Paul Harrison, "Buddhanusmr:ti in the
Pratyutpannabuddhasammukhavasthitasamadhisiitra, " ] oumal of Indian Philosophy, 6 (1978),
20. The Buddha's reply is detailed, and is a summary of the Bodhisattva path.
The more spectacular achievements are actually the product of carefully disciplined
selfless conduct capped by the attainment of deep concentration (samadhi) and/or full
enlightenment: to attain transformation-rebirth on a lotus in the presence of the
Buddhas (4) one must pound lotuses to powder and sprinkle them over the Buddha or
his relics in a stupa, make images of Buddhas seated on lotuses, avoid angering others,
and attain supreme realization. To attain supernormal powers and travel to other
Buddha-lands (5) one must not interfere with someone who is creating merit nor with
someone explaining Dharma, keep a burning lamp in the Buddha-temple, and, enter-
ing samadhi (san-mei), travel to all places. To remain out of Mara's reach (9), always re-
call the Buddha (nien-yii{o, buddhiinusmr:tz), be energetic, recall the Dharma (nien-ching{a,
dharmanusmrti) and establish merit. To have the Buddha appear at the moment of de,ath
(10), the Bodhisattva must fulfill his/her resolve made for the sake of all beings, try to
satisfy all the desires of others, help others with their charitable acts and make offerings
to Buddha, Dharma and Sarrtgha.
21. In early Buddhist tradition, Mahamaudgalyayana is one of the Buddha's
t;vo chief disciples, known especially as the master of supernormal powers, the rddhi.
Sariputra, the other of the two, was known as first among the disciples in understand-
ing, prajiia,
220 T 12,334 and 3350 In translation, Mahamaudgalyayana merely
observes that the task is difficult, but challenges neither the girl's sex nor her ageo
230 On the "act of truth" see ppo 52-54 of this essayo-This passage is T 120334,
po 77ob029-cl20 '
240 Manjusri is, in Mahayana tradition, the wisest of the Bodhisattvaso
25, T 120334, po 770c 13-160 "No abiding" is wu-so-chu, which probably trans-
lated Sanskrit or a related form 0 This means, the mind, when awakened,
does not fix on or attach itself to anything, grasps at no sense-object as support and thus
abides or settles no place in particular.
260 T120334, po 77c25: k'ung: siinyatao "Emptiness" points to the fact that
nothing exists absolutely, in and of itself; everything exists relative to other things and
nothing can be independently apprehended, fixed upon, settled down in, etc
270 "Conceived the aspiration to attain enlightenment": fa-wu-shang-p'ing-teng-
tu-i, anuttarasamyaksa7!lbodhicittotpata, T 120334, po 780a06-70 "Tolerance of the notion
that dharmas do not arise": wu-so-ts'ung-shengj"a-jen, anutpattikadharmaksanti, T120334,
po 78, a090 Bodhicittotpada is the first event in the Bodhisattva's career, when he or she
first realizes that it is possible to aspire to attain the enlightenment of the Buddhaso
Anutpattikadharmak:janti is the gradually won ability to accept and tolerate the all-impor-
tant notion that phenomena do not come into existence or cease to be, that they are
therefore impossible to grasp or to conceive of in any way, that nothing whatever is to
be apprehended for nothing can be "fixed:'
280 T120334, po 780ao140 Wu-so-te: anupalabdhi, anapalambdha, etc Since nothing
is fixed or definable, nothing whatever can be apprehended; there are no "real" objects
which can serve as supports for ordinary cognitiono The Mahayana sutra categorically
denies the position of the older Buddhist schools, which had affirmed that maleness
and femaleness are irreducible realities, distinguishable by means of the sex organso
(See L'Adhidharmakosa de Vasubandhu, translated L de la Vallee Poussin, Bruxulles,
1971; VoL I, Cho L, po 10L)
t'ai, T120334, po 780a0230 Bodhiruci writes "no names of women," wu-
yu chih ming, T I L31O(30), po 5490a06-70 I believe both texts may mean by this
that there shall be in Sumati's Buddha-land nothing which is to be distinguished as
female as opposed to male, thus putting the emphasis on the difference between
enlightened understanding which does not discriminate "male" and "female" and unen-
lightened understanding which doeso That would be consistent with the debate with
Manjusri, just concluded 0 However, it must be recalled that the SukhavativyiihopadeSa,
the commentary on the Sukhavati-vyiiha-siitra attributed to Vasubandhu, explicitly states
that there will be neither bodies nor even names (designations) of women in Ami-
tabha's Pure Land; see Mo Kiyota "Buddhist Devotional Meditation: A Study of the
Sukhavativyiihopadesa," in Mahayana Buddhist Meditation, Theory and Practice, Honolulu,
1978, po 2820
300 The summary follows the translation, T 1203380 The major
difference between this and the other two translations, TIl 0310(33), attributed to Nieh
Tao-chen of the Western Chin, and T 120339, attributed to Gautama Prajnaruci of the
Eastern Wei, is that version of Pure Gift's qut:stion to the Buddha is
clear and concise in 18 partso The same question in the other two translations is much
expanded and set into verseo
3 L Pure Gift, like Pure Faith, whose sutra is also discussed in this essay, is called
a daughter of King Prasenjit of Kosalao So, of course, is Queen Srlmala in the Srlmiilii-
sutra. These three "sisters" from the lvlahamtnakii!asiitra do not seem to appear in other
texts and are not known from Pali sources as Prasenajit/Pasenadi's daughters. See A.
H. Wayman, The Lion's Roar of Queen irmala, New York, 1974, pp. 3-4, for
comments on King Prasenajit's family.
32. None of the Chinese texts uses the expression but a compari-
son with the list of the 32 found in the P;lli LakManasuttanta (Dighanikaya, III, pp.
142-179) and in the Ta-chih-tu-lun (Trait;, IV, pp. 1910-13) shows that the Pure Gift
slltra enumerates some 20 or 21 of the 32. does not mention the mark of
having the penis covered by a sheath, but both of the other translations do.
33. T.12.338, p. 9I.a.25: buddhanusmrti. On buddhanusmrti, see p. 52
of this essay; see also note 61.
34. T.12.338, p. 9I.b.25: yin: skandha. The fundamental experience of being in
the world, which is regarded as suffering, is classified by Buddhists into five aggregates
or groups: body (riipa) , sensation (vedanii) , notion or perception (samjiia) , impulses or
motivations (saJ!lskam) and cognition or consciousness (vijnana).
35. T.12.338, p. 91.b.25-c.15. It seems to me that the Pure Gift Siitm attempts
to establish some parallels between the biography of the princess and that of Prince
Siddhartha who became Gautama Buddha; the conversation here with her royal father
is a notable instance. (Compare Asvaghosa's Buddhacarita, Canto V, verses 28-38 (ed.
E. H. Johnston, Lahore, 1936).) The parallelism is rather vague, at best, but it does
serve the purpose of helping to establish the princess as a credible candidate for
36. T.12.338, p. 91.c.18: yu-wei/wu-wei: sa11}Skrta/asamskrta. According to pre-
Mahayana Buddhist thought, sa11}Skr:ta dharmas come into being dependent on other
dharmas which cause and condition them in various ways. Samskr:ta dharmas are
characterized by the three marks of phenomenal existence: impermanence (anitya) ,
suffering (duhkha) and total absence of a unique essence or "self' (anatman). An
asa11}Skr:ta dharma is totally independent of the action of anything else; nirva7!a is
asarrzskrta, unconstructed or unconditioned.
37. This part of the Pure Gift Siitra resembles the dialogue between the su-
premely wise Bodhisattva Vimalakirti and the other Bodhisattvas and disciples in the
VimalaktrtinirdeSa: see Lamotte, L'Enseignement, pp. 141-218, and Robert A. F. Thur-
man, The Holy Teaching ofVimalakFrti, University Park and London, 1976, pp. 24-:-41. It
is probable that the Pure Gift Siitm was modelled after the Vimalakirti, which appears to
be the older of the two texts. The VimalakFrti was first translated into Chinese by Chih
Ch'ien between 222-229 A.D. (Lamotte, op.cit., pp. 2-3), the Pure Gift Siitm not until
289 A.D. (CSTCC, p. 7c), although the dates of the original composition of the two
sutras are of course unknown.
38. T.12.338, p. 92.c.6. The "12 causes," shih trh yuan, means pmtitya-samutpada,
conditioned co-arising, the doctrine that everything that comes into being and is part of
phenomenal existence as we experience it, is produced dependent on other things as its
causes and conditions. Everything thus exists relative to everything else.
39. T.12.338, p. 92.c.7 that which exists independently of anything
else, in constrast to that which is caused and conditioned by other things. Neither nir-
val}a (according to the older Buddhist schools) nor the perfect enlightenment, samyak-
sambodhi, of the Buddhas (according to Mahayana Buddhists) is produced by any cause.
40. T.12.338, p. 92.c.12; pen-chi: Miitakoti. Bhlltakoti is one of the synonyms for
ultimate truth, pammarthasatya, listed at l\Ilayavyutpatti 1705-1723. "Reality" (bhlita) is
undistorted truth; "limit" (ko!i) means the extreme beyond which there is nothing to be
known by anyone. (See Thurman, op.cit., p. 163, quoting Sthiramati.)
41. AvalokiteSvara is the Bodhisattva of compassion.
42. If words are held to be fIxed and changeless, truly defInitive of something
real to which they eternally correspond, they are only an obstacle and lead to misunder-
standing. If one is not attached to them as absolutes but regards them as useful devices
only, they can be used benefIcially. This seems to have been Maiijusri's point. Pure Gift,
however, was getting at the fact that enlightenment itself is completely beyond words.
But in AvalokiteSvara's case the question is the possibility of effIcacious action in the
world and for that purpose words can be used if used properly.
43. T.12.338, p. 93.b.l1. Fa-chieh: dharmadhiitu, which is another of the syno-
nyms for ultimate truth given at Mahiivyutpatti 1705-23. Dhiitu is the basic "element" or
the fundamental reality of all the phenomena (dharma) which make up our empirical
world, including the Dharma taught by the Buddhas. See Madhyiintavibhiigabh(4ya, 1.14
(edited G. M. Nagao, Tokyo, 1964; p. 23).
44. T.12.338, p. 92.c.23. Fa-shen: dharmakiiya, "the body of the Truth"; that is,
ultimate truth as the real nature of the Buddha, the identifIcation of Buddha and
Dharma. It is contrasted here with the Buddha's material body, si-shen, rupakiiya. (See
also note 12, above.)
45. Pure Gift's question is much like Sumati's; in fact seven of Sumati's ten
points are also raised by Pure Gift. Pure Gift's question, parts I, 6, 7, 8, 9, 15 and 17
correspond to Sumati's, parts 9,5, 1,4,2,7 and 3. The Buddha's Pure Gift also
resembles. that made to Sumati, but, in the case of the seven points the sutras have in
common, the Buddha's replies are not the same in detail, even in the
translations of the twe texts.
46. T.12.338 and T.l1.310(33), say this. T.12.339, a 6th century translation, is
milder, saying: it is rare indeed that a woman should cultivate this practice. (Compare
also the difference in the Bodhiruci and translations of the Sumati-s,itra:
see note 22 above.)
47. T.12.338, p. 96.c.24-25. T.12.339 lacks Mahamaudgalyayana's second
challenge, but does contain Pure Gift's assertion that bodhi is not attained by a male or a
female.-The resemblance of this exchange to the gOddess/Sariputra contest in the
Vimalakirti-nirdeSa is obvious.
48. Here, as in the later translations of the Pure Gift Siitras, the woman's
question to the Buddha has apparently been expanded. The Buddha replies to a 12-
part question, but the question in the text is longer than that, repetitive, and the order
of the parts is different. In my summary, I follow the organization of the Buddha's
49. There are other sutras in which the Buddha predicts that at the end of her
present life or a series of lives as a female, such and such a woman will thenceforth only
be reborn as a male. The Fan-chih-nii shou-i ching mentioned above is one (see note 15);
the Ta-yiin ching (Mahiimegha-siitra, T.12.387) is another; a third is the SiiraTflgama-
samiidhisiitra (see E. Lamotte, La Concentration de la Marche Heroi"que, Melanges Chinois et
Bouddhiques, Vol. 18, Bruxelles, 1965: pp. 198-199 and 216-217.
50. at T.l1.310(31), p. 549.b.24, at p. 549.b.29. This
would be nirmii7}a- or nirmita-, something created by means of extraordinary powers,
such as those thought to be acquired by the enlightened ones. Powers of this kind are
the rddhi.
51. Tl 1.310(31), p. 549.c.14: p'an-yiian, iilambana: an object on which the mind
.or the sense-faculties rest or dwell, using it as a support or basis for knowledge.
52. Tll .. 310(31), p. 550.a.13. Shih-chi pu-szu-i-chien: bhutako?i-acintyadhiitu.
These two terms are among the synonyms for ultimate truth (paramiirthasatya) listed at
Mahiil'yutpatti 1705 -1723. On bhutako?i see note 40 above. Acintyadhiitu: dhiitu is the
basic "element" or fundamental reality of all phenomena, and it is or
impossible for conventional thought to apprehend: compare note 43 above.
53. Chapter 7 in the Chinese translations. Lamotte numbers it Chapter 6. He
and Thurman title it "The Goddess," based on the Tibetan text.
54. Abhijiiii, shen-t'ung in Chinese, which means "supernatural penetrations."
The supernormal or magical powers, the r:ddhi, are the one group among the five or six
abhijiiii. See note 72.
55. Whether or not this portion of the text was originally part of the Saddharma-
pUT!4arZka has long been a matter of controversy. It is on Kumarajiva's translation
(T.9.262) and to a lesser extent on the Kern-Nanjio Sanskrit recension that the contro-
versy has centered. For various opinions see: Kern and Nanjio, Saddharmapun4arika-
siitra, p. 256, n. 5; W. Baruch, Beitriige zu SaddharmapuT!4anna, Leiden, 1938, pp. 40-43
and 35; P. Demieville, Bibliographie Bouddhique, VII-VIII, 1937, pp. 93-96 (review of
K. Fuse, Hokkekyo seiriritsu shi); Lamotte, Traite, I, pp. 294-5, n. I.-For the purposes
of this essay, there is no need to comment on this controversy, but only to note the
following: the so-called "Devadatta Chapter," equivalent to Kumarajiva's Chapter 12,
which includes the Dragon-princess episode, is genuinely ancient, for it was included
from the beginning in translation of the Saddharmapun4arlka. He was
the first to translate the entire SaddharmapuT!darika into Chinese, in 286 A.D. (T9.263).
Moreover, this portion of the text appears to have been circulated from an early date in
China and in Central Asia as a separate text: T9.265, which may be as early as the late
2nd or early 3rd century A.D., includes only this part of the text with some introduc-
tory material (Zurcher, Buddhist Conquest, II, pp. 344-5, n. 246; Baruch, op.cit., pp.
40-42, thinks it is the work of himself). My summary of the Saddharma-
pUT!4arika passage follows the texts of and T9.265, which are quite
56. Kumarajiva adds that she has accumulated merit in past existences.
57. T9.265, alone among all versions of the text, says nothing about ranks of
existence from which women are excluded. Kumarajiva, whose text is more elaborately
detailed than here, adds that a woman's body is impure and not a fit
receptacle for the Dharma.
58. Kumarajiva reads: "By means of your supernormal power you will see me
attain Buddhahood still more quickly than that." The Sanskrit text has: "If ... I were a
great magician, I should achieve right, perfect, enlightened intuition more quickly yet.
Nor would there be any recipient for this jeweL" See L. Hurvitz, Scripture oj the Lotus
Blossom of the Fine Dharma, New York, 1976, pp. 201 and 379. Thus these two later
versions of the Lotus make some reference to magic or to supernatural power in the
context of the change, a reference which is quite central in the Sumati- and Pure Gift
Slltras, and in the Vimalakirtinirdesa.
59. The Snmaliisimhanadasiitra now constitutes section 48 of the iVlaharatnakiita-
siitra in the Chinese and Tibetan Buddhist canons. It exists in two Chinese translations,
GUl!abhadra's 5th century translation (T.12.353) and Bodhiruci's 8th century version
(T.I1.310(48)). Alex and Hideko Wayman have tranilated it into English (see note 31).
60. Wayman, Lion's roar, p. 18.
6 ~ . GUl!abhadra's translation, T.12.353, p. 217.b.14; and see Wayman, pp.
62-63. Srimala's exposition of doctrine is, like Pure Gift's, preceded by the attainment
of a vision orthe Buddha: see pp. 31-32 above. Srimala has, however, invoked the pres-
ence of the Buddha, while Pure Gift sees him in a meditative vision based on what she has
been told about him. After the initial vision, Pure Gift continues to call the Buddha to
mind (buddhiinusmrti); and Srimala is promised by the Buddha that she will always "see"
him in the future. Both texts seem to be referring clearly to the meditation practice
buddhanusmr:ti, even though the Srimala describes it as the supernatural manifestation
of an "other" being.
62. Wayman, pp. 64-66. The ten vows are a guide to basic Mahayana Buddhist
63. On the Chinese translations, see Wayman, p. 9; on the original Indian text,
see pages 1-2 and 5.
64. Wayman translates "inconceivable transference"; on these concepts, see
Lion's Roar, pp. 82-86, and n. 58 on p. 85; also pp. 28-31 and 34. GUl!abhadra's text
says "inconceivable transformation," pu-szu-i pien-i: probably acintya-parir;ama. Bodhi-
ruci has only pien-i. "Body made of mind" is i-sheng-shen: manomaya-kaya.
65. Wayman, p. 29, also observes that, according to the Mahavastu, a text
belonging to the Lokottaravada school, when a Tathagata is born he causes no pain to
his mother because he comes forth from her body with a body made of mind.
66. For discussions see: Visudcfhimagga (Path of Purification), pp. 409-10, 414-
15, 444; L'Abhidharmakosa, Vol. 5, Ch. 7, pp. 112-115; Traite, IV, pp. 1906-7. See
also: Digha-nikiiya, 1, p. 77; II, p. 213; Kathiivatthu (London, 1894-97), p. 343; Milinda-
panha (London, 1962), p. 343.
67. The Visuddhimagga lists 10 rddhi (Pali iddhi: Path of Purification, pp. 414-20;
variant lists appear in other Pali sources): 1) when by resolve one person appears as
many; 2) transformation into various shapes (vikurvana, Pali vikubbanii); 3) mentally
creating something, as projecting a mentally created body from one's physical body
(manomayii); 4) the success of knowledge, as when eliminating passions through insight
knowledge; 5) the success of concentration, as in the inhibition of hindrances through
the stages of dhyiina meditation; 6) equanimity when meditating on repulsive objects; 7)
travelling through the air as birds, deities, etc., can because of karma; 8) travelling through
the air as the result of merit, as the cakravartin does; 9) magical arts, as when one uses
spells to fly through the air, show forms in the sky, etc. (vidyamaya, Pilii vijjamayii); 10) suc-
cess of right application, as in the banishment of sensual desire by renunciation.-The
assumption that the attainment of extraordinary levels of understanding of reality
naturally entail the attainment of extraordinary powers is common to ancient Indian
thought. It has been a Buddhist assumption since the days of the founder, to judge by
the literary record. This should occasion no embarrassment. The implication is, simply,
that one who knows reality is totally in harmony with truth on a cosmic scale, and thus
what appear to be indefatigable limitations on human action for most people are not
held to be so for the knower. See W. N. Brown, "The Metaphysics of the Truth Act
(*Satyakriya), /vIelanges d'Indianz"sme d fa Memoire de Louis Renou (Paris, 1968), pp. 174-5;
and Paravahera Vajiraiiar:ta Mahathera, Buddhist iV1editation, Colombo, 1962, p. 422.
Buddhists have attempted to distinguish between those who acquire and practice
supernormal powers for unworthy goals, and those who practice them without attach-
ment and thus for non-selfish reasons. See P. Demieville, "Sur la memoire des exis-
tences anterieures," Bulletin de l'Ecole Franqaise d'Extreme Orient, 27, 1927, pp. 289-91.
68. One should use the krts7}a (P;lii kasinii), which are "devices" used as medita-
tion objects. There are ten, representing four elements (earth, water, fire, air), four
colors (blue, yellow, red, white), space and consciousness. One makes a blue disc, for
example, gazes at it, fixes the image in the mind-visualizes it-and uses it to induce
samiidhi, deep concentration. See Buddhist Meditation, pp. 139-165.
69. Ibid., p. 440; Digha-nikiiya, I, p. 77.
70. L'Abhidharmakosa, Vol. 5, Ch. 7, pp. 119-120. The Abhidharmakosa recog-
nizes two classes of rddhi: that of changing places (gamana) and that of creation (nirmita):
ibid., p. 113. The Bodhisattuabhiimi also knows two rddhi (which can be manifested in
various ways): transformation (piiri7}iimiki) and creation (nairmii7}iki): Har Dayal, Bodhi-
sattva Doctrine, pp. 113-16.
7l. Path of Purification, p. 412; Buddhist Meditation, p. 429.
72. Lists of five and of six are known in Mahayana and in Hinayana texts. The
five are: 1) rddhi, 2) divine hearing, 3) knowledge of others' thoughts, 4) recollection of
former existences, 5) divine eye, or knowledge of the death and rebirth of others; the
sixth is the knowledge that the influences (iisravas) have been destroyed. For useful
summaries and references, see Buddhist Meditation, pp. 441-453, and Har Dayal,
Bodhisattva Doctrine, pp. 106ff.-The first five abhijiiii are accessible to Buddhists and
non-Buddhists, but they are said to be inferior attainments in one not on the Buddhist
73. Traiti, IV, p. 1826.
74. Ibid., p. 1823. See also Har Dayal, op. cit., pp. 114-116, quoting Bodhisattva-
bhiimi and other Mahayana texts.
75. Traite, IV, pp. 1906-7; and p. 1821. Dharmas which have no fixed charac-
teristics are, of course, empty; all the rddhi are to be considered empty, also, for they
lack any support or basis. The rddhi are as true as anything else, then, since everything
is equally empty: Trait!, III, p. 1195. See also AHasiihasrikiiprajiiiipiiramitiisiitra (ed. P. L.
Vaidya, Darbhanga, 1960), pp. 243-44, 252-53, the incident of the appearance of
Tathagatas to Sadaprarudita while he is in samiidhi.
76. Traite, III, pp. 1193-4; Lamotte, L'Enseignement, pp. 41 I -13; Thurman,
op.cit., pp. 164-5.
77. See Harrison, op.cit., pp. 38ff., especially p. 45; andTraite, III, pp. 1329-62.
78. Harrison, op.cit., pp. 45, 46-48. Harrison's article provides much valuable
information on the theory and practice of buddhiinusmrti in early Mahayana Buddhism.
79. Ibid., p. 50. Harrison's article shows that the Pratyutpanna-siitra clearly inter-
prets buddhiinusmrti in terms of the doctrine of siinyatii. He feels that the Pratyutpanna-
siitra criticizes the "materialist" interpretation of buddhiinusmrti found in the Sukhiivati-
vyiiha. He points out that the Sukhiivativyiiha asserts that the appearance of Amitabha to
the faithful is not like that of a magically created (ni"';"'ita) body; it is an actual event. He
also observes that Bodhisattva Dharmodgata resolves that all beings in his Buddha-
~ e t r a will possess the abhij'i!ii, but that the Pratyutpanna sees no need for the attainment
of magic powers, for one can do everything necessary to meet the Buddha with the
mind alone. The Pratyutpanna emphasizes samiidhi exclusively. But then Harrison
concludes that the association of buddhiinusmr:ti with abhijiiii necessarily implies a
"materialist" interpretation of all these experiences. This may indeed be so in the
Sukhiivativyiiha, but I hope my essay demonstrates that this is not at all the case with the
Mahiiratnakiita sutras, which see abhijiiii and rddhi as well as samiidhi in the light of
80. Other Sanskrit terms used are: satyavacana, satyaviidya, satyo-
paviicana, satyaviikya, satyaSriivana. See W. N. Brown, op.cit., p. 171, quoting E. W.
Burlingame, "The Act of Truth (saccakiriyii): A Hindu Spell and its Employment as a
Psychic Motif in Hindu Fiction," Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1917, pp. 429-67.
81. For references, see Burlingame, op.cit., ; Brown, op.cit., pp. 171-78; Brown,
"The Basis for the Hindu Act of Truth," Review of Religion, Nov. 1940, pp. 36-45; Alex
Wayman, "The Hindu-Buddhist Rite of Truth-an Interpretation," Studies in Indian
Linguistics (Prof M. B. Emeneau Volume), Poona, 1968, pp. 365-69; examples
in Milindapaiiha, pp. 119-123; pp. 382-85; Prajiiiipiira-
mitii-ratnagunasa"f!lcayagii!hii, ed. A. Yuyama, Cambridge, 1976, pp. 82-84.
82. Brown, "Basis ... ," p. 39.
83. Brown, "Metaphysics ... ," pp. 174-5, cites Brhadiira7!yaka Upani.!jad, 1.4.10,
and MU7!4aka Upani.!jad, 2.2.2.
84. Brown, "Basis ... ," p. 39, and "Metaphysics ... ," p. 172: Damayanti's af-
firmation of devotion to her future husband Nala in Mahiibhiirata, III.52-79. Milinda-
daiika, pp. 121-22: Bindumati, the prostitute of Pataliputra, affirms the perfect free-
dom from discrimination between rich and poor, high and low, with which she per-
forms her services.
85. Wayman, "Hindu-Buddhist Rite of Truth ... ," p. 368.
86. Pure Gift Slitra: T.12.338, p. 93.b.8-12. See p. 33 above.
chuan nil shen -j;(
fa chieh it: w
fa shen it:
Chinese Glossary
fa wu shang p'ing teng tu i 1m 1-_ [!it
fan hsing 1t fT
Fo shuo a she shih wang nil a shu ta p'u sa ching
JliiJ IiJ jt ± y.: tfi:@ IT
Fo shuo fan chih nii. shou i ching ;m Jt -j,z 1'r
Fo shuo hsil rna t'i p'u sa ching !'{ m 'f{- iii
Fo shuo Ii kou shih nil ching lW: % ffif;, -j;( j,;?fI
Fo shuo wu kuo hsien nil ching ii.R 1m tJ§ tt -j,z
Hsil rna t'i ching ;Yt 11 :m:
huajen it A
hua sheng {t IE
huan hua jen %] 'ft A-
i sheng shen !l: !1
kan Iu tt
nieh p'an N
nien ching fa 2- it;
nien (yu) fo ;2': ffi:
nil jen t'ai !x, A- !IF.
p'an yuan
pen chi ;;$:
pien ch'eng nan tzu fiX: ljj -1'-
pien i eM
pien wei nan tzu J!0
, , '-F s-I ,. ",. H
pu SZU 1 plen 1 /1' ,to" 'Uf:; :$;
san mei >. 0*
se shen it. -5l-
shen tsu )t
shen t'ung iill
sheng szu II:, 'y[
shih chi pu szu i chieh )t 1%, :,( '\i', W
shih erh yuan -i'
Ta pao chi ching, Ching hsin t'ung nu hui J.:. 'ff ·ffi f,<F i¥ {",'!'i 'i,z 1"1
Ta pao chi ching, Heng ho shang yu p'o i hui 7-: h fft t(i' 'II { ji-lJ J-_ if± ,)0
Ta pao chi ching, Miao hui t'ung nu hui * Jr ffl: f.;sp' tJ; }i'f -j;z 111
Ta pao chi ching, Wu kuo shih p'u sa ying pien hui
7-: n ;m J-Jci Jilt "t% fi f$ it
Te wu kuo nu ching 1',j tJ§ :/,z'
ti tzu
t' a 10 ni 1
t'ou t'o Hi! iJt::
tsung ch'ih fl
tzujan fj
wu hsin ,C"
wu sheng (che) It :fl'
wu so chu J'JT 11
wu so te ph i.{f
wu so ts'ung sheng fa jen mt ph 1;t£ II: it; ,p.,
wu wei J!0
wu yu nil jen chih ming 1'3 -.Y:. A- z :g
yu p'o i htt
yu wei 1f 10
B odhi and Arahattaphala. From early
Buddhism to early Mahayana
by Karel Werner
The event of Enlightenment which made the ascetic Gotama into the
Buddha of our epoch is several times described in the Pali Canon,
particularly in the Majjhima Nikiiya (e.g. in the suttas nos. 4, 19,26,36).
We learn from these accounts that while still a bodhisatta he had al-
ready acquired proficiency in meditational practices and was able to
enter concrete as well as abstract absorptions (rupa and arupa jhiinas)
at will, but recognised that none of these states of mind was in itself a
solution to the riddle of existence, a permanent achievement or the
final liberation from sainsiira. The jhanic states were, indeed, satisfy-
ing in their way and highly valued in contemporary Yoga circles, but
to rest content with them would mean stagnation and eventual regress
into lower sarnsaric states again. The bodhisatta was now aware that
what was needed was the discovery of the cause of conditioned life in
samsiira in order to remove that cause and break the chain of condi-
Sitting under the tree which became hallowed in subsequent
times as the tree of Enlightenment, the bodhisatta entered the fourth
jhiina and with his mind firmly anchored in total equanimity, which is
the main characteristic of this jhiina, he turned his attention to the
past. He succeeded in breaking through the barrier of oblivion and
recollected his previous lives, one by one, by the hundreds and by the
hundreds of thousands, during the whole present world period, and,
still further into the past, during uncounted previous world periods.
In this way he obtained knowledge of his entire past, which became to
him a vivid personal illustration of the beginningless cyclic world of
N ext he turned his attention to the world around him, with its
innumberable living beings. With his clairvoyant eye (dibbacakkhu) he
could now see all the beings in samsiira with all their achievements,
.. anXieties and and he saw how at every moment a large
number of them dIed only to be reborn elsewhere in higher or lOwer
worlds according to their actions. In this way he obtained another
knowledge, another vivid illustration of the vast world of sainsiira, this
time as it existed around him, simultaneously with his own life.
With these two knowledges the bodhisatta acquire<;l a direct and
concrete picture of the way the law of karma worked and he also saw
the repetitiveness of samsaric existence. Looking back over his begin-
ningless past he realised that he had travelled through all possible
spheres of life and had occupied all possible stations in samsaric life
several times over. Looking around himself he now saw those spheres
of life and stations within them in their seemingly infinite variety
occupied by other beings. So, basically, the samsaric life of his past
and the samsaric world around him were the same.
If there had still been any doubt in him as to the desirability of
leaving the samsaric existence behind, his double vision of the totality
of samsaric forms of life 1 would have brought home to him that there
was no point in going on and on in the same way. There was nothing
new in sainsiira to which he could look forward and which would not
be a repetition of what he had been through before more than once.
The temporary detachment from and equanimity towards samsaric
life as achieved in the state of the fourth jhiina could now only become
permanent and effortless for him and he thus won complete detach-
ment from sainsiira and any form of longing to remain within it as an
involved participant. The remaining question was: why? Why does
this whole spectacle of samsaric life go on and why is one involved in
In a way, the answer to this question was already there, known
to the bodhisatta as well as to most of the other ascetics of the time,
because it formed the basis and motivation of their quest. Samsaric
life was unsatisfactory and one was involved in and bound by it
because of the cankers (iisavas), i.e., because of the influx of sensual
desire (kiimiisava) , existence (bhaviisava) and essential ig-
norance (avijjiisava). This motivating knowledge was, however, more
like a working hypothesis which had not yet been verified or a reli-
gious belief which had not yet been substantiated by personal experi-
ence. But now when the vision of the totality of sainsiira both in its
personal and cosmic context as described above had been achieved,
the bodhisatta recognised that a realistic basis had been created for the
tackling of the last problem, namely the cause of it all. And so in the
third watch of the night of Enlightenment he knew exactly where to
turn his attention next.
From the basis of the fourth jhana the qodhisatta now applied his
mind to the realisation of the destruction of cankers.
He saw clearly
as it actually wa1:' the. truth of the unsatisfactoriness of samsaric life,
how it arose, how it was made to cease and what the way was leading
to its cessation. He also saw the true nature of the cankers, how they
arose, how they were stopped and the way to their stopping. "Thus
knowing and thus seeing, this mind of mine became liberated from
the canker of sensual desire, liberated from the canker of becoming,
liberated from the canker of ignorance. The knowledge: 'This is
being liberated' arose in the liberated one. I knew: 'Birth is exhausted,
the divine faring completed, what was to be done has been done,
there is no other life like this to come."'3
We can easily see that the knowledge of the destruction of
cankers is in fact the knowledge of the four noble truths, which form
the basis, the core and the goal of the early Buddhist teaching and
practice. Naturally, there are a number of discourses dealing with
them in detail. Very briefly summarised: the first truth asserts the
unsatisfactoriness of the whole of samsaric existence iIi its four main
aspects: (1) that of personality, composed of five groups of constitu-
ents to which on_e clings as one's own although they do not belong to
one (panc'upadaiiakkhandha) , (2) that of the conscious life of the per-
sonality represented by the six internal (ajjhatika) and six eternal
(bahira) bases (ayatanaS), i.e., the five sense organs and the mind with
their respective objects, (3) that of the world as constituted by the six
external iiyatanas and (4) that of the world as analysed into its four
basic forces or great elements (mahiibhutas); the second truth obtains
its elaboration in the form of the twelve links of the process of
dependent origination (paticcasamuppiida); the third one is also ex-
plained in the context of dependent origination, this time contem-
plated in reverse order; and the fourth truth is the eightfold path
with all its intricate methods of progress and realisation.
These then are, as far as we can gather from the early sources,
the contents of bodhi which made the bodhisatta into the Buddha of our
historical period. They are often referred to, in a succinct formula-
tion, as the three knowledges: (1) remembrance of former existences
(pubbeniviisiinussatz) , (2) knowledge of destinations according to ac-
tions (yathiikammupagaiiiir;a) or the celestial eye (dibbacakkhu) and
(3) knowledge of the destruction of cankers (iisavakkhayaiiar;a). This
list was later extended to six "higher knowledges" (abhinnas), the three
additional ones, preceding the original three, being (1) magic powers
(iddhividhii), (2) celestial ear (dibbasota) and (3) the capacity to know the
. minds of others (cetopariyaniilJa).4
None of these knowledges remained peculiar to the Buddha,
and on various occasions he gave the standard descriptions of the
accomplished monk as possessing the three knowledges (e:g., DN 13)
or the six higher knowledges (e.g., DN 34; MN 3; 6; 7). This implies
that there was no essential difference between the Enlightenment of
the Buddha and the Enlightenment of his accomplished disciples.
That applied even to the faculty of teaching the dhamma to others.
When Mara urged the Buddha after his Enlightenment to enter the
final nirvana, the Buddha refused, saying: "1 will not pass into final
nirvana, 0 Evil One, as long as no bhikkus and bhikkhunis, upasakas and
upasikas of mine become siivakas and siivikas, accomplished, disci-
plined, skilled, true hearers, preservers of dhamma who have reached
complete harmony with the dhamma, have entered upon the proper
course, are of perfect conduct, and having acquired mastership of
their own, will expound, show, make known, establish, reveal, analyse
and make clear the dhamma, and having well and with logic refuted
arisen adverse opinions, will show this striking dhamma."5 From this
passage it is clear that accomplished disciples (= siivakas and siivikas)
were foreseen by the Buddha just after his Enlightenment, even
before he had any, as becoming fully fledged teachers of the dhamma.
Thus originally there was to be no difference between the bodhi
of the Buddha and the bodhi of his accomplished disciples. They were
all equally enlightened as to the causes of samsaric existence and
therefore equally free from them, having reached nirvana. They had
the three knowledges or the six higher know ledges and they had a
capability to teach the dhamma which practically equalled that of the
Buddha himself. The Pali Canon comprises a number of discourses
on various aspects of the teaching and practice given by accomplished
disciples which do not differ in style or contents from those ascribed
to the Buddha. Moreover, each of these discourses was subsequently
endorsed by the Buddha when reported to him.7 One difference,
however, remained clear: the Buddha was the first one to attain bodhi
and he did it by his own effort; he was also the first and most skillful
one to teach the dhamma. On account of this he was hailed as the
perfect teacher and his Enlightenment as the incomparable perfect
Enlightenment (anuttara sammii sambodhi).8
But of course, once a difference is admitted in any aspect, it
tends to be widened and extended to further aspects. And that hap-
pened very early, although in one respect the Pali tradition has
remained consistent: however superior the Buddha was to his ara-
hants in teaching skill and however incomparable his Enlightenment
may have been, this had no bearing on the fact of being freed from
samsiira, having reached final nirvana. Liberation was the prime aim
and that, essentially, was what made one an arahant. Those seeking a
quick shortcut to liberation soon discovered that it was the third
knowledge, that of destruction of cankers (iisavakkhayafiii1!a) , which
was the decisive factor for the attainment of nirvana. The knowledge
of one's own past lives and of the comings and goings of other beings
may have been important to a solitary truthseeker to demonstrate to
himself the futility of samsaric involvement and motivate him for the
final effort to destroy the cankers, but a disciple of a fully enlightened
teacher may have found enough motivation for his struggle in accept-
ing the teaching of his charismatic master in full without personal
verification and yet have been able to complete his struggle and
destroy the cankers on the basis of his grasp of the four noble truths.
So, as the number of accomplished disciples grew, fewer and
fewer of them were known to have all the three knolwedges in full, let
alone all the six higher knowledges, and some of them apparently
possessed only the one which was indispensable for liberation, i.e. the
third knowledge or the sixth higher knowledge (iisavakkhayafiii1!a).
Later Pali tradition therefore classifies it as supramundane (lokuttara)
and the remaining two or five as mundane (lokiya), since they could be
acquired to a certain degree by anybody without bringing him nearer
to final liberation; they still belonged to and kept one within sainsiira;
they greatly enhanced, of course, the possibility of liberation when
properly used, but they also represented a danger, since they could be
misused or prove a distraction or diversion, if the last, supramun-
dane, knowledge was not developed simultaneously or soon after-
Thus we have at a quite early stage in the Pali Canonical tradition
several types of liberated ones who had attained nirvana, but who
were not equal to each other in the attainment of higher spiritual
powers. Yet they were recognised as arahants who had destroyed their
cankers. The foremost -arahant was the Buddha, who had all six
higher know ledges and the supreme skill of an incomparable teacher;
next came his great arahants who also possessed a1I
or nearly all these
qualities, although perhaps in a slightly smaller measure, and whose
teaching skill was not their own, but derived from their being the
disciples of the Buddha; then followed arahants who fully possessed
only the third knowledge (the sixth higher knowledge) and one or two
of the other faculties; and last we find arahants who possessed only the
third knowledge (sixth higher knowledge) of the destruction of can-
kers which they had obtained through their understanding of the
four noble truths and particularly of the chain of dependent origina-
tion. This amounted to acquiring wisdom and therefore they were
called wisdom-liberated (paiiiiiivimutta).10 They did not even have to
become proficient in the attainment of absorptions (jhiinas). Those
who did achieve jhiinas as well as liberation through wisdom were
described as "both ways liberated" (ubhatobhiigavimutta). It does not,
however, follow that they always used their jhanic proficiency for the
attainment of further knowledges; they could have rested content
with their supramundane knowledge of the destruction of cankers.
But the matter is far from being entirely clear. Later Pali tradition
elaborated the path to liberation which bypasses jhiinas and develops
only the one supra,mundane knowledge into a method known
as "dry or "pure" insight (sukkha or suddha vipassanii). 11
From what has just been said we can see that the Pali tradition
has tended from quite early times to narrow down the contents of the
fruit of arahantship (arahattaphala) so that-although it represented
full liberation-it does not quite merit the designation of "enlighten-
ment" (bodhi) which is too reminiscent of the events of the night of
Enlightenment. It was therefore hardly ever used to describe directly
a disciple's final achievement. (The Sanskrit Buddhist tradition, how-
ever, did use the term and in Mahayana texts the term sriivakabodhi is
current, denoting the limited achievement of Hinayanists, but it per-
colated into Pali writing in the twelfth century with a somewhat
upgraded meaning-see further on). The reason for this was probably
the urgency of winning liberation as quickly as possible without
spending time and energy on developingjhiinas and mundane knowl-
However, there is a pitfall in this development. Through forsak-
ing the experience of the totality of sainsiira as provided by a complete
knowledge of one's past lives and the comings and goings of all other
beings, there arises the problem of the reliability or otherwise of
a would-be arhant's knowledge ofOthe destruction of his cankers. As
mentioned earlier, by definition this knowledge is supramundane and
whoever possesses it is in no doubt and cannot deceive himself. But
this does not prevent those who do not possess it from deceiving
themselves and thinking that they do ha,,:"e it. During the Buddha's
lifetime, with his power of knowing the minds of others (cetopariya-
iiiilJa), his confirmation of the achievement of a newly born arahant
gave it absolute authenticity both for him and other members of the
Buddhist community, and other great arahants could do the same
even when the Buddha had passed away, although perhaps with less
acceptable authority for some. But the time would inevitably come
when no one could provide this service and the danger of self-
deception as to one's own achievement, and deliberate deception on
the part of false monks going undetected, must have been recognised.
The Buddha himself seems to have anticipated the problem and gave
a discourse in which he enumerated the criteria of arahantship in the
form of questions to be put by others (obviously unable to confirm the
achievement by their direct knowledge) to one who made the declara-
tion of arahantship (MN 112). These criteria concern the unshakable
freedom of the mind from the influence of the senses, from the
constituents of personality, from the elements constituting the world,
from the sixfold internal and external sense spheres and from the
bias of the notion of "I" and "mine."
Still, it coQld easily happen that a devout follower leading an
austere life and practising diligently could reach a state of inner
balance and detachment resembling, to him, the final attainment as
defined by the third knowledge while his cankers would still exist in
him in a latent form. Examples of this happening can be found in
commentaries, e.g., the stories of the theras Maha Naga and Maha
Tissa (Manoratha-purani) , 12 who believed for sixty years that they were
arahants until Dhammadinna, a pupil of theirs, reached arahantship
together with four higher knowledges, and seeing that his teachers
were only learned worldlings, helped them recognise it and complete
their path.
From this we can see that there was enough ground for starting
to look down upon arahattaphala in comparison with bodhi unless one
painstakingly discriminated the types of arahantship and remained
entirely clear about the point that it was the third knowledge which
made for final liberation and that in this respect there was no differ-
ence between the Buddha and any type of arahant. The Theravada
tradition scrupulously guarded this position, but outside it the situa-
tion was different. Perhaps the confusion brought about by instances
of seeming attainments of arahantship such as those referred to above
(but with a less fortunate outcome) contributed to the development of
the view that arahants were liable to fall away from nirvana, as held by
Sammitiyas, Vajjiputiyas, Sarvastivadins and some Mahasanghikas.
The nature of the attainment of arahantship was further made ques-
tionable by the very issue which brought about the sangha-schism to
which the Mahasanghikas owed their origin and which concerned the
status of the arahant.
The impression one gets from the scanty accounts of the event
in the fragmentary sources is that at the bottom of it all was a desire to
make arahantship more easily available. One can wonder why this
should be desired when arahantship meant the destruction of cankers
and consequent freedom from samsaric life after death and total
equanimity towards it while still alive, so that the question of status
within and without the sangha was totally irrelevant to it. However, we
have to allow for the fragility of human nature even on the part of
ordained monks if they are not liberated. Arahant means originally
"worthy," which implies that, like the whole savakasangha, he is "wor-
thy of offerings, worthy of hospitality, worthy of gifts, worthy of
salutation, an incomparable field of merit to the world," as the stan-
dard description goes. Although the word arahant or any of its deriva-
tives is not used in it, the implication is clear and the Vimanavatthu
A!.thakathaspells it out when it defines the arahant, among other
things, as deserving requisites, such as food etc. (paccayanam ara-
Thus, it is easy to imagine that in the climate of the decline of
standards in the sangha of the Maurya time, when richly endowed and
well supported monasteries became desirable places to inhabit, a
substantial proportion of their residents had rather more mundane
reasons for becoming monks than finding the quickest way to final
liberation, while the acquisition of the status of an arahant in the eyes
of others, particularly the lay patrons, would be highly desirable to
The tendency to revise the criteria of the attainment of arahant-
ship undoubtedly also existed among genuine monks who did not
belong in the fold of Theravada-with good reason. The image of
the Buddha had by this time undergone a considerable change. He
was no longer seen by most as a mere man who had found the way to
and attained Enlightenment and preached it to others to enable them
to reach the same, but more of an embodiment of the cosmic principle
of Enlightenment; and with this view was changed also thE idea of the
contents of Enlightenment. The first two knowledges in their original
form were no longer impressive enough., The cosmic principle of
Enlightenment as manifested in the person of the Buddha caused
him to become omniscient in every conceivable respect. Claims of
omniscience had been made in the time of the Buddha for other
ascetic teachers, e.g., Mahavira (MN 79), and it is understandable that
such a claim would eventually be made also for the Buddha, but it is
clearly absent in the early discourses and the claim of omniscience in
leaders of non-Buddhist sects was rejected in them.
Yet when this claim was made in the process of later develop-
ment of Buddhist sectarian views, it was transferred also onto the
arahant, which shows that the original tradition according to which the
achievement of the arahant was practically identical with that of the
Buddha not only in the certainty of liberation, but also in the other
knowledges, was still very much alive. This shows that the Theravada
tradition allowing for final liberation of an arahant through the third
knowledge only (paiiiiavimutti of a sukkha vipassika) was not universally
shared and may have been a very early purely sectarian Theravada
development. It probably saved the Theravadins from the dilemma
faced now at this later stage by the other sects, for the requirement of
omniscience for the attainment of arahantship appeared to many,
quite naturally, as intolerable.
At the occasion of the schism both these revisionistic tendencies
were incorporated, together with a third one, into the five points of
the monk Bhadra or Mahadeva, who sought to redefine the concept
of arahantship as totally distinct from the attainment of Buddhahood
or Enlightenment. He claimed that an arahant (1) could still be se-
duced by deities in dreams and have seminal discharge while asleep,
(2) might be ignorant of some matters, (3) might have doubts and (4)
might be instructed by other persons; he further claimed that (5) one
could enter the path as a result of the spoken word.
The last point seems to anticipate the later development of
Mantrayana, an intriguing problem which can be traced back, as can
so many later developments, even to the early sources in Pali, but it is
outside the scope of this paper. Points 2-4 apparently arose from
confusion about omniscience. Clearly, even genuine arahants lacked
knowledge of all matters and facts of samsaric reality, e.g., expert
knowledge of sciences and crafts (2), had doubts and were uncertain
as to the outcome of ordinary events, e.g., whether they would obtain
almsfood in a certain village (3), and needed instruction or informa-
tion from others, e.g., to find their way in a strange locality (4). The
Theravadins who dealt with all the five points in the Abhidhamma
pifaka (Kathii-uatthu II, 1-6) would concede points 2-4 in this form not
only for arahants, but also for the Buddha. But they would carefully
make clear that these points did not apply to the knowkdge of the
dhamma which both the Buddha and the arahants possessed in full.
They had no doubt about it and could not be instructed in it by
anybody with a lesser achievement. Bhadra's deviation from the early
canonical view was twofold: he would ascribe, wrongly, but in agree-
ment with the tendency of the time, omniscience to the Buddha in all
matters, both mundane and supramundane, while denying it, rightly,
to arahants; but he would further allow, wrongly, for some measure of
ignorance and doubt in arahants even in questions concerning the
dhamma, i.e., in their supramundane (third) knowledge of being lib-
erated, and for the possibility of arahants being instructed in these
questions even by non-arahants.
As indicated above, these points (2-4); although arising from
conceptual confusion about supramundane and mundane forms of
knowledge, could be regarded as stemming from genuine problems
experienced by earnest monks and they might have been solved in an
enlightened discourse between Bhadra's party and the theras. 17 The
first point, however, was one which undoubtedly aroused suspicion as
to its motivation and betrayed eagerness to acquire an external status
rather than an internal realisation. At best it showed deep ignorance
of the nature of the third knowledge, viz., the destruction of cankers.
This by definition transcended the normal knowlege of the surface
consciousness and penetrated the entire mind with all its layers free-
ing it from cankers completely. Bhadra's first point would allow
monks who had acquired equanimity in their daily life by the routine
practice of renunciation to consider themselves and be acknowledged
by others as arahants even if their cankers were suppressed only partly
by being driven into the unconscious, from where they could influ-
ence dreams. Such an achievement, however, if not further perfected,
has to be regarded as relative and not final, and could be lost in the
face of powerful impetuses from the outside. Undoubtedly this must
have happened to monks who regarded themselves and were re-
garded by others as arahants, and that would be one of the factors
leading to the development of the view that arahants could fall away.
The Theravadins were very clear about all this and, remaining
adamant about the true nature of arahantship as the final and supra_
mundane achievement of liberation, i.e., nirvana, they refuted the
first point outright. 18 As it seems, however, they were in a minority,
and from then on their influence in India declined, though they have
continued to flourish in Sri Lanka till the present day. In India the
Mahasanghika concept of the omniscient Buddha as the embodiment
of the cosmic principle of buddhahood became the basis for further
elaboration of Mahayana buddhology, which led also to the birth of
great schools of Buddhist philosophy, thereby enriching the whole
field of Indian philosophical and religious thought.
However, the outcome of the redefinition of arahantship cannot
be looked upon as successful. The relaxed criteria would have en-
abled many monks of lesser attainment as well as status-seeking
monks, whose general conduct and knowledge of the dharma were
observably insufficient to meet the strict criteria adhered to by Thera-
vadins (MN 112), to proclaim themselves arahants. We need not doubt
that many took advantage of this opportunity, so that a profusion of
arahants may have occurred in the India of the time. We do not know
to what extent this status helped them to acquire the desired benefits,
at least in the short term, but the long-term downgrading of the
criteria was counterproductive. In the creative climate of religious
fervour and quest for perfection which became conspicuous a century
or two after the Mahasanghika schism and led to the appearance of
new sutras which reformulated the soteriological message of the
dharma, the achievement of arahantship ranked low, was not seen to
be final and was even compared to a children's toy (Saddharmapu'fJrja-
rma Sutra III, 70-90). In its devalued form it simply could not satisfy
the spiritual aspiration of those who sought the realisation of the
ultimate goal.
Thus it was necessary to look again to the achievement of the
Buddha himself, and in the absence of the original concept of the ara-
hant who is practically equal in knowledge and teaching activity to the
Buddha, it was the Buddhahood itself with its perfect Enlightenment
and capacity to save innumerable beings through teaching which
became the goal. So, instead of following the eightfold path, the
aspirant now embarked on the path of a bodhisattva in order to
develop perfections (priramitris) and to become the Buddha of a future
age. [9 This, of course, is no innovation, for that is what the last
Buddha had to go through and so had his predecessors and so will
those who will come in the future, like Metteya. What is new is the
prescription that this path to full Buddhahood be followed by every-
body, a requirement which could not but eventually be felt to be
unrealistic. After all, there is no need for so many Buddhas, even if
worlds are innumerable. Yet the goal to be achieved could not be
devalued again, and there was no way in which arahantship could be
rehabilitated-an arahant simply no longer was seen to be truly en-
lightened, as a Buddha was. The thought of Enlightenment (bodhi-
citta) became the most powerful motivation, and so the designation
bodhisattva, a being intent on Enlightenment, was the only one accept-
able, even though the original aim of the path of a bodhisattva, viz., to
become the Buddha of a certain world period as its perfect teacher,
. was abandoned. Thus was developed a concept of bodhisattvas as a
class of enlightened beings in their own right who need never become
Buddhas yet are very close to them, both in the quality of their
Enlightenment and in their capacity to teach and generally help other
suffering beings. As these bodhisattvas are usually in the retinue of a
Buddha, they have a position which is virtually equivalent to that of
the great arahants in the retinue of the historical Buddha.
Further development followed, but at this particular point the
evolution of Buddhist ideas came full circle. The debasement of the
original ideal of spiritual accomplishment of arahantship which, in a
way, had started quite early with the introduction of the concept of
paiiiiavimutti, defined as lacking all the enlightening knowledges but
one, and reached its nadir with Bhadra's reform, was made good for
Buddhism in the north by a reformulation of this spiritual ideal
under the label of bodhisattvayana. The fact that the Theravadins in the
south have preserved the ideal of arahantship virtually unscathed
when it was devalued in the north gives them the right to refuse to fit
neatly under the heading of Hinayana and to brush aside the Maha-
yana criticism of the ideal of arahantship as they understand it. The
criticism of the Mahayana siitras was, justifiably, prompted by the
debased image of arahantship in the wake of Bhadra's reform and
does not in the least apply to the great enlightened arahants of early
Buddhism, with their proficiency in attaining jhanas, three iia'/Jas or
six abhiiiiias and many other qualities, as contained in the standard
descriptions in the suttas, including the capacity of giving enlightened
discourses and leading scores of disciples. Such arahants are fully com-
parable to Mahayana bodhisattvas. Since the reputation of the great
arahants of early Buddhism never entirely vanished, arahants still play
a certain role in some sects of Mahayana and are regarded at least as
equal to bodhisattvas of the sixth bhiimi.20 ,
The Theravada tradition of Sri Lanka later tried, after some
centuries of interchange with Mahayana, to hammer home the point
of equality of the bodhi achievement of the disciples and the Buddha
by introducing the Mahayana term sriivakabodhi (siivakabodhi), with a
much higher meaning than the Mahayana sutras allow for it; it under-
lines it even more by calling accomplished disciples siivakabuddhas.
But these terms never became current.
In any event, the conclusion, I believe, must be that the his-
torical controversy between Mahayana and Hinayana, justified at a
time in India when the ideal of early Buddhism was obscured and its
inheritors were truly "kina," is pointless if applied today to the whole
of early Buddhist tradition as preserved in the Pali Canon and to the
surviving schools of Mahayana. It further appears clear that the
whole Buddhist tradition is vested in the concept of bodhi as defined
by the Buddha's attainments in the night of Enlightenment and
matched by the achievemer:ts of the great arahants. That means that
the contents of arahattaphala must equal or be very closely comparable
to sammiisambodhi (samyak sambodhi), since as soon as it started being
narrowed down, its further debasement could not be stopped, and a
reformulation of the ideal of the ultimate accomplishment became
necessary. In so far as the Theravada school has preserved the early
understanding of the nature of arahattaphala, it is not a lesser vehicle,
since it offers the ultimate Buddhist realisation, viz., nirvana, to all
beings-which is exactly the proclaimed aim of Mahayana, too. Open
to question remains the tendency to rest content with sukkha vipassanii
practice, a development within Theravada which is nowadays fa-
voured in many quarters of that school.
1. Cf. Karel Werner: "The Indian Experience of Totality," pp. 229-231; Wege
wr Ganzheit. Festschriji wm 75. Geburtstag von Lama Anagarika Govinda, Almora 1973, pp.
2. asavanam citt(l)n abhininnamesim, MN 4: PTS I, p. 23.
3. Ibid.
4. Cf. DN 34; MN 3; 6 and 77.
5. DN 16: PTS II, pp. 104-105. I have abridged my translation by including
the four types of disciples in one single paragraph, while the Pali original gives four
parallel paragraphs.
6. Technically a samka/saT,ikii. is ariya pugga!a, i.e. one of the eight types of holy
persons, starting with the one who is on the path to stream-entry and ending with the
one who has acquired the fruit of arahantship. All together they form the sii.l'akasangha,
comprising both ordained and lay disciples, as distinct from bhikk/lIlsangha, comprising
only ordained monks who may have attained the state ofs(ll'akas = holy disciples = ([riya
pugga!as, or may still be ordinary "woridlingS"-putthujall([s. Cf. Walpola Rahula: "The
Problem of the Prospect of the Sangha in the West"; Zen ([w! thf Taming of tllf Bul/,
London 1978, pp. 55-57.
7. E.g., Sariputta's discourse with wanderers of other sects in SN II, XII, 3, 24:
PTS II, pp. 31-34.
8. For the epithet allutiara d. EB vol. III, p. 179 and DN 30: PTS III, p. 159.
9. E.g., Kassapa, see SN'XVI, 10-11: PTS II, pp. 216-222.
10. DN 70: PTS I, pp. 477-478; SN XII, 7, 70: PTS II, pp. 123-124.
11. See Visuddhi magga, chap. XVIII; cf .. also references in P. Vajiraiiana's Bud-
dhist Nleditation in Theol) and Practice, Colombo 1962, p. 141, note 1.
12. A free rendering of these episodes was published in The Wheel Publication
No. 59: "Stories of Old," BPS Kandy 1963, pp. 8-11.
13. Cf. EB, vol. II, p. 47.
14. Ibid. p. 42.
15. See A. K. Warder, Indian Buddhism, Delhi 1970, pp. 214-218; cf. E. J.
Thomas, The HistolY of Buddhist Thought, London 1967 (repr. of 2nd ed.; first 1933), pp.
33 and 173; E. Conze, Buddhism, its Essence and Development, London 1957 (3rd ed.; first
1951), pp. 119-120, also Buddhist Thought in India, London 1962, p. 197.
16. See Louis de la Vallee Poussin, '''The Five Points' of Mahadeva and the
Kathavatthu," JRAS 1910, pp. 413-423.
17. One can understand that there was a confusion about arahants' knowledge
of the dhamma as expressed by Bhadra's points 2 -4 in face of the division of vocation
among ordained monks, some specialising in learning, teaching and interpretation of
Sllttas, others seeking quick emancipation through intense practice after a brief instruc-
tion in meditation. This allows that a monk of the latter category, who might have
attained arahantship, might be less knowledgeable conceptually about the teaching, and
therefore willing to accept explanation from a monk of the former category who may
not have been himself an arahant. The commentarial "Stories of Old" (see note 11) do
contain such cases.
18. Again, one has to allow for confusion in the minds of ordinary monks even
in the Theravada fold, which makes Bhadra's first point understandable, although not
justifiable. One example of monks thinking that an arahant can still enjoy sensual
pleasure is furnished by Dhammapada AHhakathii., in the story of the rape of Uppala-
vaq.q.a. This young nun became an arahant and then lived alone in a forest hut near
Savatthi, where one day she was ambushed and raped by a young brahmin. Later monks
discussed the case in this way: "Even those that have rid themselves of the Depravities
(asavas) like the pleasures of love and gratify their passions. Why should they not? They
are not kolapa-trees or ant-hills, but are living creatures with bodies of moist flesh. There-
fore, they also like the pleasures of love and gratify their passions. When the Buddha
learned of it, he instructed them: "Monks, they that have rid themselves of the Depravi-
ties neither like the pleasures of love and gratify their passions." For even as a drop of
water which has fallen upon a lotus-leaf does not cling thereto or remain thereon, but
rolls over and falls off, even as a grain of mustard-seed does not cling to the point of an
awl or remain thereon, but rolls over and falls off, p;ecisely so twofold love does not
cling to the heart of one who has rid himself of the Depravities or remain there." E. W.
Burlingame's translation in his Buddhist L e g e n ~ , Harvard U. P. 1921, part 2, p.
19. Cf. Warder, op.cit. pp. 355-358.
20. Cf. EB, voL II, p. 46, note 1.
21. See W. Rahula, op. cit. p. 75 (article 'The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada
and Mahayana.") On the other hand, some Pali commentaries confuse the matter even
further by using the term buddha with qualifications also for minor achievements: those
learned in dhamma are called bahussutabuddhas, although-one can presume-they
might be even putthujanas, and arahants are termed catusaccabuddhas, meaning appar-
ently those who became free through the third knowledge; the Bud'dha himself is
ascribed omniscience as a sabballYzubuddha. For references see EB, voL III, p. 357.
BPS-Buddhist Publication Society
EB-Encyclopaedia of Buddhism
JRAS-Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society
DN-Dtgha Nikiiya
MN-,\1a)jhima Nikiiya
SN-Salnyutta Nikiiya
PTS-Pali Text SDciety's edition of the text
A Study on the Madhyamika Method of
Refutation and Its Influence on
Buddhist Logic
by Shohei I chimura
Despite modern and contemporary scholarship, logical analysis of the
Madhyamika method of refutation has not sufficiently opened the
scope of understanding. The past achievement in this field is far
behind the level of metaphysical and religious interests in the concept
of Siinyata which the method was designed to demonstrate. This is an
attempt to abridge this disparity. My contention is that the Madhya-
mika dialectic has an intrinsic relation to the inferential structure of
Indian syllogism, especially, the dual rules of anvaya and vyatireka as
formulated by Buddhist logicians such as Dignaga. As part of a study
on this subject matter, I presented a paper at the Nalanda conference,
demonstrating the possibility that the method of dialectic may have
been innovated in parallel to the pre-Classical Abhidharmist method
of debate as recorded in Kathavatthu. The purpose of this paper is to
clarify further the relationship between the Madhyamika method of
demonstration and that of syllogistic inference in reference to Nagar-
juna's Vigrahavyavartanz.
Of the major texts written by Nagarjuna, I believe the Vigraha-
v.'Vavartani is the most concise and comprehensive critique of the
realistic systetn of language and logical convention. The text is
equipped with his self-commentary which, at times, inserts syllogistic
arguments, but its attractiveness is, most of all, due to the subject
matter itself, for the points of issue are concerned with the question as
to whether words (sabda) or communicable symbols have their Own -
power of being (svabhiiva) , in the sense that they an inde-
pendent means of cognition (pramii1Ja). Nagarjuna's critique does not
repudiate the practicality of convention (language and logic), but it
leads to the twofold conclusion: (1) words have no real objective
reference, and (2) they create only illusory subjective cognition. In
short, his refutation is designed to demonstrate these two phases of
our phenomenal or empirical universe by way of repudiating the
N aiyayika or common sense realistic conviction in the power of human
Traditionally, the Madhyamika method is defined as the abso-
lute type of negation (prasajyaprat4edha), which means that, in contra-
distinction to ordinary negation (aiiyonyaprat4edha) , it does not ac-
company any counterthesis. Of the nature of words, for instance, the
Ma,dhyamika negation of the Naiyayika thesis: "sabda is impermanent,"
does not mean to assert the Mimarp.saka thesis: "sabda is permanent,"
nor does his negation of the latter mean to assert the former. What is
really intended by him is that "sabda is devoid of its own being
svabhiiva), hence void (Siinya)." This is evident in the syllogistic argu-
ment Nagarjuna gives in the above text. "Surely, those which have
arisen in dependent origination are not in possession of their own
being," he claims, "because such own being is not found. Why? be-
cause their origination depends on the concatenation of causes and
conditions.'" In similar token, he argues, we cannot find any svabhiiva
in language, because their genesis is derived from multiple material
principles (mahiibhtlta) as well as human anatomical efforts. Nagarjuna
even proposes his instantiation elsewhere in the text in terms of miiya
metaphor for the practicality of convention (vyavahiira). He states that
assertion and negation are equally comparable to an interaction be-
tween magically created beings·.
As my first step, I am obliged to
demonstrate how the Madhyamika applied the syllogistic form of ar-
gument to his method of refutation, and why this method was re-
garded as deficient.
There is good reason to believe that Bhavaviveka, the forefather
of the Svatantrika, who advocated the syllogistic argument, may have
obtained his idea of syllogistic formulation from the aforementioned
type of demonstration Nagarjuna applied. In his Karajalaratna, Bha-
vaviveka gives two standard forms of argument, respectively repudi-
ating the own being from phenomenal (sarlJ5kr:ta) and transcendental
(asarlJsk-rta) dharmas, both of which, in the Abhidharmist doctrine,
constitute the ultimate building blocks of the entire universe. Let us
take the first one which is designed to repudiate phenomenal or
psycho-physical elements:
Thesis: Phenomenal elements are devoid of own being from the
standpoint of absolute truth (paramiirthatas);
Reason: Because their arising depends upon causes and condi-
tions (hetupratyayatii);
Instantiation: Just like magically created beings.
The rivalling Prasangika, however, who advocated the dialectic as the
sole method, vehemently denounced the Svatantrika for three basic
reasons. I believe that these reasons precisely point to the fact that the
Madhyamika dialectic itself is structurally rooted in and concerned
with the logical structure of syllogistic inference or demonstration.
First, the Prasangika dialectician, such as Candrakirti, de-
nounced the adverbial qualifier "from the standpoint of absolute
truth." Although this qualification was designed to indicate that the
given judgment is transcendental, Candrakirti regarded it as super-
fluous, serving no purpose, because non-Buddhists would neither
understand nor accept the Buddhist differentiation of the two levels
of truth (v.'Vavahiira and paramiirtha). Second, as shown in the fore-
going examples, not only Bhavaviveka but also Nagarjuna himself
applied their unique principle which invokes the Buddhist insight of
causality, i.e., "Vfhatever arises from causes and conditions is devoid
of own being." Here, the reason, "dependent origination," constitutes
an antecedent in relation to its necessary conclusion, "voidness." Or in
Indian tradition, these two are concomitant. Let us question, then:
Could this concomitant relation (or the Buddhist presupposition) be
accepted universally? The Prasangikas thought that it could not be,
especially in matters of doctrinal controversy, because any refutation
based on the principle admitted by one party alone would not lead to
any conclusiveness.
Third, although the Prasangikas do not seem to have brought it
to the forefront, there is the problem of inadequate instantiation in
those instances given by Nagarjuna as well as Bhavaviveka. No matter
how experientially profound an implication it might bear, instantia-
tion in terms of magical beings, dreams, or hallucinations, does not
seem to be really convincing to t h ~ mind of our common humanity.
On the other hand, non-Buddhists, such as the Mimarp.sakas, would
be prompt in proposing a counter argument as well as its instantia_
tion, though this may not convince any Buddhists, precisely because
of their doctrinal difference. Why, however, does successful demon-
stration depend on adequate instantiation? Obviously it is because an
adequate instance is supposed to embody the logical validity of the
given argument, or the validity of the logical or causal relation be-
tween Reason (hetu) and Conclusion (siidhya). What are the conditions
that obstruct adequate instantiation, and how could this be improved?
All these questions may have been of prime importance for those
ancient doctors of Buddhism and Hinduism, and I think that in
Buddhist history, the problem of instantiation seems to have grad-
ually differentiated the roles of syllogistic and dialectical demonstra-
tion respectively for the sake of phenomenal and transcendental
I believe the beginning ofthis development can be detected
in N agarjuna.
It was Dignaga of the 5th century who, for the first time,
theorized the three rules of valid inference (trairiipya). Let us see how
these rules are applicable to demonstration. In order to demonstrate
a breakout of a fire from rising smoke on a distant hill, the speaker is
obliged to create a deductive process in the mind of his listeners
through three steps. Here, let us transcribe the logically concomitant
predications, such as "having smoke" and "having fire," respectively as
"P" and "Q," and a distant hill as "a." The demonstration proceeds in
the following order:
(1) Pea) "The hill having smoke"-Reason
(2) (x) {P(x).Q(x)} "Wherever smoke, there fire" - Logical Relation
(3) Q(a) "Therefore, the hill having fire" -Conclusion
What is required by Dignaga is that the speaker is obliged to give a
similar instance such as a kitchen (Let us transcribe it as "b") where
both smoke and fire are invariably observed as concomitant, and at
the same time, he is obliged also to give another but dissimilar in-
stance, such as a lake (Let us transcribe it as "f3") where both can never
be observed. Technically, similar instances and dissimilar instances
are respectively called Positive (sapak?a) and Contrapositive (vipak?a)
. classes. These two groups of instances can respectively test the validity
of a given logical relation either positively as "P then Q" or contrapos-
itively "-Q then - P." At the same time, these operations can deter-
mine the given locus, such as a hill, as a possible locality where "P" and
"Q" are jointly probable. By transcribing the similar and dissimilar
class members repsectively as "x" and "y," we have the actual ins tan-
. tiations as:
(x) {P(x).Q(x)} and P(b).Q(b)-anva')la
(y) {-Q(y). - P(y)} and -Q(f3). - P(f3)"-llyatireka
and the standard formula of dual instantiations conjointly as:
(x) {P(x).Q(x)} . (y) {-Q(y).-P(y)}.
It is clear that the deductive process "P(a) then Q(a)" and the
first rule that "the predication, i.e., 'having smoke,' has to be found, in
the locus in question," are equally implied in the dual instantiations,
and more importantly, that the dual instantiations can be regarded as
simultaneous processes in the mind. For, they perform, on the one
hand, inductively class differentiation between sapak?a and vipak?a,
and on the other hand, calculation of truth values in terms of verifica-
tion as "P.Q" and falsification as "-Q. - P." My contention is that
Nagarjuna's dialectic can be analyzed in parallel to the formula of
anvaya and vyatireka.
Some Naiyayika logicians at the time of Nagarjuna defended
their theory of four pramihy,as (Means of Knowledge) as having their
own being by means of a metaphor of lamp-light and nightly dark-
ness. Nagarjuna refutes this in Vigrahavyavartanl, to the effect that the
four means of cognition are just as dependent as their respective
objects (prameya). Since the Naiyayika held that knowledge is self-
luminous, it is supposed that light is capable of "illumining itself' and
capable of "illumining others."7 These predications are concomitant, and
hence they can be transcribed as "P" and "Q" respectively. Darkness,
on the other hand, is an entity capable of obstructing illumination,
and hence falsifies the above predicatiops as "-Q" and "-P." Let
whatever is capable of illumining be a member of sapa10a "x" and
whatever is capable of obstructing illumination be a member of the
class of vipa10a "y." Now, in kiirikii 36, Vigrahavyiivartani, Nagarjuna
argues that when light illumines both itself and others, which means
that "x" verifies both "P" and "Q" (anvaya operation), darkness "y"
which is supposed to be simultaneous, operates also in obstructing
illumination, which means that "y" falsifies both predications as "-Q"
and "-P" (vyatireka operation). His argument here is perfectly in
accord with the formula of the dual rules of syllogistic inference:
(x) {P(x).Q(x)} . (y) {-Q(y).-P(y)}.
Yet the predicament created by this dialectic is due to the unexpected
contradiction which our convention implies, and this feature is sud-
denly disclosed by the particular context in which two contrary enti-
ties are juxtaposed over the same sphere and moment of illumination.
There is no sophistry here, however, because in convention, the co-
presence of the agent of illumination and its object is a priori accepted.
Yet I must state that the demonstration acutely points to the fact that
our convention finds no objective reality as a reference for the fact of
ill umination.
The absence of real object of reference is further demonstrated
in the subsequent kiirikiis. Note 8 contains simplified translations of
kiirikiis 36 through 39 and their symbolic notations, including my
supplementary dialectic for kiirikiis 37 and 39.
Although it .is not
directly detectable in the forms of language, the formulas of symbolic
notation {;an reveal a significant insight behind the apparent absurd-
ity, such as position without contraposition or vice versa. For instance,
kiirikiis 37 and 39 show the former case, where illumination alone is
present, as (xy) {P(xy).Q(xy)}, while my supplements represent the
case of contraposition but without position, where darkness alone is pres-
ent, as (yx) {-Q(yx). - P(yx)}. Yet, either of the two cases equally has
its variables as "xy" or "yx" despite "x" and "y" being mutually exclu-
sive. In order to explain the fact of (xy) {P(xy).Q(xy)} or that of
(yx) {-Q(yx). - P(yx)} simultaneously, since they are equally derived
in reference to the same sphere and moment, there is only one
condition such that "x" and "y" are identical while simultaneously
they are different. This amounts to saying that "x" and "y" could
reciprocally assume each other's nature! How can we call this kind of
entity as anything but "a phantom created by magic!"
I am obliged to reflect upon the significance of what has been
discussed above. The way the Madhyamika dialectic could have influ-
enced the system of Buddhist logicians may be retroactively inferred.
No matter whether it is logical or dialectical, the process of Our mind
is dualized through the dual operations of anavaya and vyatireka. In
the logical context we are concerned with determining the given
referential variable as a member of sapak?a and also as clearly differ-
entiating it from the class of vipak?a. The processes of deduction or
induction here keep two mutually contra positive variables in separa-
tion. In the dialectical context, on the other hand, we shift our
concern toward one and the same sphere and moment where we look
for those two variables for verification or falsification, which necessar-
ily leads to total contradiction. The key point is that the logically
separated referential processes such as "a hill having smoke and fire"
and its contraposition "a lake having no fire nor smoke" are co-
present in our mind, although in the use of language the position
alone comes into being or vice versa. The negated is nevertheless
definitely there in the process of taking that alternative. The Mad-
hyamika critique of convention contributed to the clarification that
our use of symbols has its reference exclusively in our mental pro-
cesses and not anywhere in the external world, and that this referen-
tial o ~ j e c t in our mind itself is invariably constructed as dual-natured
comprising a potential self-contradiction. I believe that Buddhist logi-
cians took their cues from the Madhyamika dialectics before introduc-
ing their theories of apoha as well as k?arJabhanga.
For my closing statement, I must admit that my analysis of the
Madhyamika dialectic in terms of the logical structure of anvaya and
vyatireka has not been tried by anyone, nor is it in accord with the
traditional Prasangika approach. If my demonstration can withstand
scrutiny, however, I can confidently say that the Madhyamika dialec-
ticians and Yogacara logicians strived for the same scientific endeavor
as regards to the nature and function of convention. We know that
medieval India witnessed brilliant intellectual activities, much of
which were due to the controversies sprung spontaneously between
Buddhist logicians and dialecticians on the one hand, and the Naiya-
yika and Mimarpsaka schoolmen on the other. The aforementioned
theories (i.e., apoha and were the major subject matters of
their exchanges. Considering the fact that Hindu metaphysics and
logical thoughts were originally evolved on the basis of the Grammar-
ian system of thought and convention, I find it is of great interest that
those Buddhist paI).qitas regarded their critical examination of the
basis of Indian civilization itself as a way toward the Buddhist goal of
religious emancipation.
1. Vigraha., Comm. under k. 22: ye hi pratityasamutpanna bhiivas te na sasvabhavii
bhallanti svabhavabhavatl kasmatl hetupratyayasapeksatvatl
2. Ibid., k. 27: athava nirmitakayan:- yatha striyam strryam ity asadgrahaml nirmitaka0
pratihanyat kasyacid evam bhaved etatl I
3. Kara?alaratna (Sanskritized by N. Aiyaswami Shastri from the Chinese version
Chang-Chen Lun), Visva-Bharati Annals, II (1945), p. 34.
4. Re: Stcherbatsky's translation of Prasannapada (ch. I), which contains the
Prasangika polemics fully as given by Candrakirti against Bhavaviveka: The Conception
of Buddhist Nirvana, esp. p. 107 and p. 119.
5. The dual rules of instantiation pragmatically determines the sphere oflogical
validity to our empirical world. For literary evidence, refer to Candrakirti's polemics
against Yogacara logicians. Stcherbatsky, Ibid., esp. p. 140.
6. Cf. Sankaraswamin's formulation: Nyayapravesakasiitram, GOS, vol. 38,
(1930), p. 1. satroam asattval
7. Cf. Vatsyayana, Nyayabhruyam, Comm., under Ch. II, Sect. 1, sutra 20, where
the author defends and defines the Naiyayika notion of pramana in reference to Nagar-
juna's critique in Vigrahavyavartanl.
8. Vigraha., kk. 36-39:
anvaya and v),atireka
Where light illumines
itself and darkness,
Darkness also obstructs
illumination there.*
(x) {P(x).Q(x)} . (y) {-Q(y). - P(x)}
anvaya without vyatireka
Where there is light (x) {P(x).Q(x)} . - ley) {-Q(y). - P(y)}]
there is no darkness.
How can light illumine
(xy) {P(xy).Q(xy)}
supplement: vyatireka without anvaya
Where there is darkness -[(x){P(x).Q(x)}]. (y){-Q(y).-P(y)}
there is no light.
How can light illumine
anything? (yx) {-Q(yx). - P(yx)}
k. 38: am'aya and
Does light illumine
darkness at its
moment of arising?
(x) {P(x).Q(x)} . (y) {-Q(y). - P(y)}
No, light does not reach
it from the beginning.*
an-uaya Iuith 7.1:vatireka
If light here illumines
darkness without reach-
ing it,
This light illumines all
(x){P(x).Q(x)}. -[(y){-Q(y).-P(y)}]
(xy) {P(xy).Q(xy) }
Supplement: vyatireka without am'aya
If darkness here destroys -[(x) {P(x).Q(x) }].(y) {-Q(y). - P(y)}
light without reaching
This darkness destroys
light in all the world.
*Karikas 36-39 in Sanskrit:
vadi ca svaparatmanau tuad vacanena prakiiSayaryagnihl
pracchadayisyati lamah svaparatmanau hutiiSa ivai I 36
nasti tamasca jvalane yatra ca tisthati paratmani jvalanahl
kurute katha11} prakasam sa hi prakiiSo ndhakaravadhalfl I 37
eva prakiiSayary agnir iry asadvadahl
utpadyamana eva prapnoti tamo na hi hutiiSalfl I 38
aj}}-(ijJtIl 'j)ijl'a/all!i yadi l'ii !J/I/lar alldhakamm IIpaha lIyat'
S{f}W' .. 1'II /1I/wdh(ltll..1II tamll \'aln ilia Yl/!,.,1hitll haNl'at' 39
(yx) {-Q(yx).-P(yx) }
Editor's note: The following information should be added to note 3:
tattvatah samskrtah siinya mayavat pratyayodbhavatl. Although this. sanskritization does not
apply paramartkatas and hetllprat),ayata. these usages, as identical with tattmtas and prat-
yayodbhal'Q respectivelv, are authentic as Bhavaviveka's in his other works.
An Exceptional Group of Painted Buddha
Figures at A janta
by Anand Krishna
About twentyfive years back I got interested in classification of Ajanra
Painting and tried to evolve its chronology. At that stage it was
generally assumed that most of the "Mahayana group" of paintings
belonged to one single class.
This paper does not attempt to fix the chronology of the "Maha-
yana group" of paintings, which is an interesting problem in itself.
The present author feels that this group spanned a wider period of
time: from ca. 450 A.D. to ca. 550 A.D. or 500 A.D: Moreover, a
closer examination would reveal several distinctions in styles, possibly
due to different- cross-currents at work or even distinct ateliers of
painters showing their individual handling of the standard Gupta-
Vakataka traditions. The other distinct type is the Western Chaluk-
yan-influenced style, which is limited to just a few examples. The Sibi
J ritaka panel and the unidentified court scene (mistaken by early
writers as the "Persian Embassy," see foot note 1) in the Cave No.1
are the latest in the series and show "Medieval" trends.
In a basically Hinayana cave (No. 10) Mahayanistic traits include
a series of standing figures of the Buddha in painted panels. They are
uniformly in the Gupta-Vakataka style of the fifth century, except for
one group of panels that shows heavy Gandhara influence.
Although Sasanian-Persian influence-as a parallel instance in
Ajanta Painting-is known in the "Embassy" scene or a ceiling panel
in Cave No. 1 popularly known as "Khusarav and Shirin (?)," Gan-
dhara-influenced painting is unknown in Ajanta, except in the panels
under discussion.
Yavanas or Yonas, had a footing on the western coast of India.
This is evident from a (later) reference to Yavanaraja Tushaspha as a
governor in the Saurashtra region under Asoka. This name indicates
his Persian ongm, although he is called "Yavana Raja." The dual
yona-KamboJa in the Asokan inscriptions stands for the north-western
region or its two tribes, and possibly for an eastern Persian strain
under heavy Hellenic influence. Thus, these were known as Yona and
not Parasika: It is for these tribes as well as the Greek community, that
Asoka ordered a Greek version of his edicts in Aramaic and Greek.
Later on this community must have contributed to the rise of the Gan-
dhara school of sculpture in that region. It is no wonder that Yona
settlers on the Western Indian coast brought these art-forms to their
new homes. What surprises is that the Yona influence is so scanty in
the early Western Indian carvings-except in borrowing of a few
motifs here and there. However, this influence is poor in its stylistic
content in the main current of the Western Indian sculpture.
We know from inscriptions that the Yonas patronized the scoop-
ing of caves in Western India, even as early as in the "Hinayana
Period." It is no wonder that similar donations were repeated in the
"Mahayana Period" at Ajanra. Yet the present group of panels is the
solitary known instance in the realm of painting. If there were others
in that group, they are lost. Since a few panels from the extant group
have completely disappeared, there possibly could have been more of
this type.
In terracotta figures of the fourth century from Western India,
Gandhara influence is quite well known; the Mir Pur Khas panels and
the Devnimori
seated Buddha figures (datable ca. 375 A.D.), etc., are
apt examples. Therefore, the painted standing Buddha panels at
Ajanra cave No. 10 are to be accepted in the same run. They repre-
sent a slightly later stage, ca. 450 A.D., when the standard Gupta-
Vakaraka style was already set. Thus, the Gandhara-influenced paint-
ing did not leave any mark on the standard "Mahayana Period"
Ajanra painting and therefore our Gandhara-type panels carry only
an historical significance.
At least three panels in this style have been published by G.
Yazdani;3 he has accepted these as true Gandhara-style paintings.
However, this attribution cannot be accepted, in view of the stylistic
contents of these panels. Our above suggestion-viz., a Western
Indian extension of the Gandhara idiom, is substantiated by the
stylistic changes. The key evidence to support the suggested date of
ca. 450 A.D. is provided by the kneeling figure of the devotee in
Yazdani's plate XXXVII b. This is depicted in the true Gupta-Vaka-
~ a k a style of the middle of the fifth century. Moreover, the treatments
cannot be accepted as belonging to the standard Gandhara style,
which had already declined in its homeland. It is quite possible that
the local Western Indian painters were iPlitating the proto-types Set
before them as models. In our FIG. 1 we find almost a straight
figure, with no attempt to show bhangima, which is otherwise a charac_
teristic of the Gupta-Vakapka style (FIG. 2).
The face is heavy yet ovaloid, which corresponds to the Devni_
morl type A.s Fleshy treatment is more evident in this group; it is not
so emphasized in the Gupta-Vakaraka style. The samgha,tiis treated in
the traditional schematic manner, with series of triple crescents repre-
senting thick folds, progressively thinning out in the second and top
ridges, as in certain later Gandhara stone sculptures. The end of the
samgha.ti is collected by the left hand and falls straight to the side (the
absence of the sensitive zig-zag fold of the Gupta-Vakaraka order is
noted), in vertical parallel lines. The samgha,ti as a whole gives the
FIG. 1
FIG. 2
impression of a thick cloth material as seen in the Gandhara proto-
types, and drapes both the shoulders in the same tradition. It is
interesting to find that the hem has indications of projected corners,
possibly derived from ~ h e projectin.g corners of the coats of the
Sasanian figures. Returmng to the faoal treatment, we find halfclosed
eyes, yet the eye-type is changed; the Gupta-Vakapka wide eye-type is
absent; moreover, the wavy upper eye-lid is changed to a straight-
rimmed variety. The hair is suggested with flame-like dashes, as
against the curly form of the Gupta-Valapka group. The hand in the
llerada-mudra is also very simple; the palm and fingers are large. The
halo, similarly, belongs to the Gandhara tradition: it is small and
plain, with some degree of ornamental band at the edge.
This figure, along with the next, has a short and thin mous-
tache, as is found in fifth-century paintings from eastern Afghanistan
or Central Asia.
Our FIG. 3 shares the characteristics of the above panel, except
FIG. 3
that here, Central Asian features are more evident: the eyes are slit
and the cheek bone more pronounced. The end of the ear-lobe is
conventionalized with a degree of orna:nental depiction and is
Exceptional as these figures at Ajanra are, they did not leave any
impression on the local style.
I. As an exception, a court scene in the Cave No. 1 was considered seventh
century. It was suggested that this particular panel showed an historical scene: the
Persian Embassy at Pulkesin Irs Court. This suggestion, however, has been given up.
2. R. N. Mehta calls this as Western Indian Art of Kshatrapa style; see in
ExwmtiollS at Del'nimoli, Baroda, 1966, page 182; for Gandhara type Buddha figures:
ibid, pp. 142-143, pI. XL A etc.; for suggested date of ca. 375 A.D.: ibid, pp. 28-29.
3. G. Yazdani, Ajanta, part III (Plate), Oxford, 1964, plates XXX b, and
XXXVII a. The third panel on the side facet is barely visible (plate XXXVI a).
4. G. Yazdani, Ajanta, Vol. III (Text), Oxford, 1964, pages 38 and 39.
5. R. N. Mehta, op. cit .. pages 142-143, plate XL A etc.
Rune E. A. Johansson's Analysis of
Citta: A Criticism
by Arvind Sharma
It has been questioned whether the enumeration of the five skandhas 1
in Buddhist psychology is exhaustive of the human personality.2 As a
matter of fact this question underlies the whole doctrine of anatta. In
. this regard it has been asserted that "If it be true to say that the
Buddha has nowhere explicitly stated in so many words, that the
'being' (satta) is composed only of the khandhas, it would be a hundred
times truer to say that nowhere has he said of 'being' that it comprises
anything else at all, of any description whatsoever, apart from the five
khandhas. "3
Rune E. A. Johansson has recently raised the question anew. He
We have also the final question, whether the khandha are to be
considered an exhaustive enumeration of all personality factors.
Is there nothing in personality not included in the khandha?
There certainly is. Atta is denied, with good reason, but citta is
not denied.
He goes on to argue that this citta is "a name for the core of the
personality, mainly conscious but including also the subconscious
processes on which continuity depends. It is not a soul, but it reminds
. of the 'ego' of Western psychology: the person knows that citta is what
he is; he usually identifies himself with it but need not do so; he can
observe his citta, discuss with it, train it, punish it, and so on."s
Johansson seems to present two kinds of evidence, analytical
and empirical, to establish his case for the citta constituting the core of
the personality according to Buddhist psychology as found in the
The analytical evidence turns on the analysis of the skandhas.
After an analysis of all the personality factors in relation to Nibbana
and after having identified citta as an independent personality factor,
he remarks:
To some extent, it is possible to map the relations between citta
and other psychological factors. Saniui and vedana are called
citta-sankhara, so we know that the perceptual processes affect
citta. We also know that the working of citta is called sankhara.
The relation of citta to vinnaf!a is not so clear-cut.
There are
texts that simply identify viititaf!a with citta, and other that iden-
tify vinna1Ja with sanna and vedana. Vinna1Ja is more frequently
said to be actively engaged in rebirth, and citta is frequentlysaid
to attain nibbana. Nibbana is attained through the stopping of
vinnaf!a. The relations must be close, and probably vinnaf!a is a
function of citta, a name for certain citta-processes. When in the
case of ordinary rebirth, both are said to undergo this process
(never in the same context, always in different), then we may
assume a simple identification. In the case of a living person,
there should be no identification, because somebody should
experience the function of vinnaf!a and also experience that it
has stopped: that is citta. Citta can go on functioning (vi;jii,
panna, metta, karuf!a are still to be found) and can observe viii-
itar;G and other khandhii as being still. 7
The empirical evidence is provided, according to Johansson, by
the fact that the assertion that the arahant cannot be known either in
this life or afterwards "is not a universal truth, since arahants always
can recognize each other. ... This fact will not surprise us once we
have understood that citta is the agency within the person which really
attains nibbana,"8 and that it is "thought to survive death."9 Johansson
goes on to stress that "we are not without information about exactly
what is thought to survive death in the arahant, although in a form
that not everybody can recognize, not even Mara or the gods."lo He
goes on to say:
We know, however, that at least the Buddha himself claimed
ability to identify and report about dead arahants: We have, for
instance, the story about Vakkali (S III 119 ff), who was ill and
killed himself. The Buddha said about him later: Apatitthitena ca
bhikkhavte vinna1J Vakkali kulaputto parinibbuto ti, 'with con-
sciousness not established the noble-born Vakkali has attained
parinibbana.' A similar story is to be found in D II 91 f, where
Ananda tells the buddha that a number of people, some monks
and some lay people, had died in Nadika, where the Buddha
and his disciples had just arrived, and asks what has happened to
them. He got detailed information, indeed, and among them
one monk was mentioned as arahant. We can take these stories
to mean that at least the Buddha himself was able to trace an
arahant even after death. After the quotations given earlier, this
would not seem to involve any fundamental difficulties, as there
seems to be small difference between his state before and after
death. One more text is worth quoting to this effect. In SN 1075,
the Buddha is asked: Atthan gato so uda vii so n'atthi udiihu ve
sassatiyii arogo? 'The man who has gone to rest, is he no more or
is he forever free from illness?' And he replies: Atthan gatassa na
pamiir;.am atthi, ,'lena naT[l vajju, taT[l tassa n'atthi, sabbesu dhammesu
samLlhatesu samLihata vadapatha pi sabbe ti. There is no measure of
him who has gone to rest, by which to define him: that is not for
. him; when all dhamma are removed, then all means of recogni-
tion are removed.' This informs us again that the arahant, when
dead, cannot be found or recognized, but an explanation is
given which is extremely interesting: dhammii are removed. The
PTA translation gives the rendering 'conditions,' but a more
normal translation would be 'ideations' or 'mental contents,'
'mental processes.' This would give an easily understandable
psychological meaning. For one of the effects of meditation is to
make the mind (citta or viiiiiiir;.a) stable and empty of mental
contents (dhamma). As we know that citta was thought to survive,
it can easily be understood that an empty citta is more difficult to
read and recognize than the more complicated and desire-rid-
den 'nonnaI' citta: it is more impersonal. In order to 'read' a
person's mind, there must be a mind to read, and this mind
must be as differentiated and rich in content as possible. Sabbesu
dhammesu sam1lhatesu may well imply the same psychological
process as viiiiiar;.assa nirodhena in A I 236, quoted above. I I
Johansson concludes that
the word nibbana is used because of the fire analogy (to some
extent, the word upadana and related words seem to be used for
the same reason). Still, it does not imply annihilation but rather
a different type of existence: perhaps a diluted, undifferen-
tiated, 'resting' existence, more or less impersonal but still recog-
Is this evidence adduced by Johansson sufficient to challenge
the standard Theravada position on the question of whether the
arahant continues to exist after death? The standard Theravada
position, of course, is that "It does not fit the case to assert existence
or non-existence." 13
It is as much the Theravada position that one may not assert the
existence of the arhat after death, as that one may not posit his non_
existence. This was the elder Yamaka's view, and was corrected by
Sariputta. 14 Sariputta asserts that "A Tathagata cannot be held to be
perceived as existing even in this life in truth and reality," what to say
of his post-mortem state! But while Theravadins draw the conclusion
of the nonpredicability of the post-mortem state of the arhat from his
case, Johansson remarks:
What Sariputta wanted to stress here is that the anatta doctrine
applies also to the arahant and that he cannot be identified with
any of the personality factors (khandha). It is therefore not
possible to define what an arahant really is even in this life, and
so no conclusion can be drawn as to the state after death. The
khandhii are anicca and dukkha and therefore dissolved: this is
pointed out in the continued discussion. Two things should be
noted: first that it is denied that the arahant is annihilated in
death, secondly that citta was not mentioned in this discussion.
The fact that the arahant cannot be known either in this life or
afterwards, is not a universal truth, since arahants always can
recognize each other. We find, for instance, in S I 194 that Maha
Moggallana in a company of five hundred arahants could check
that they really were arahants: Tesaf(l sudaf(l iiyasmii Maha-Mog-
galliino cetasii cittaf(l samannesati vippamuttaf(l nirup(ldhif(l. 'The
venerable Maha-Moggallana saw with his mind (eeto) that their
mind (citta) was freed without basis (for rebirth remaining).'
This can only mean that the arahant has still his citta and that
this has kept enough of its individuality in order to be identi-
Thus from the analytical point of view Johansson is relying on
'argument of silence' which is rather weak, especially as he is himself
unsure of the relation of citta to l'iiiiiiiTJa. Moreover, the expression
imlltti seems to go against it, as "Cetm
imlltti is ... not identical
with Nibbana which is much higher than and completely different
from pure viiiiiiiTJa."16 It is the empirical evidence which seems to
argue in favour of the case more strongly. One may first consider the
case of Vakkali. "In the Samyutta Nikiiya, Buddha referring to the
parinibbiina or Vakkali bhikkhu said that the wicked Mara was search-
ing for the consciousness (lliiiiiiiTJa) of Vakkali, who had been just
dead, and predicted that Mara's attempt would not be successful
because Vakkali had passed away (parinibbllto) with llir"iJuina, which
needed no support (apati!.thita). The sense of apatitthita-l1ii'1I1iiJ!a is
given elsewhe:e in :he SaT[lyutta Nikiiya, where it ~ s explained as con-
sciousness WhICh anses only when attachment (raga) to material ele-
ments of the body (riipa), and the other four constituents is removed.
It is unconstituted, devoid of growth and independent of any cause
and condition and hence free. Being free it is steady; being steady it is
happy; being happy it is without any fear of change for the worse;
being fearless it attains parinibbiina." 17
One may note that the Buddha did not say that he had recog-
nized Vakkali, rather that Mara will not recognize him because his
"consciousness is not established." The fact of his having attained
nirua,!a is recognised on account of his caitsasika non-recognizability.
Obviously here is an alternative explanation of how an arhant recog-
nizesanother ora Buddha identifies an arhat-the very non cog-
nizability serves to cognize arhathood. This possibility, it seems, has
not been taken into account by Johansson.
To conclude: the evidence adduced by Johansson in favour of
citta as the element of the arhat surviving death does not seem to be
strong enough to lead one to modify the standard Theravada position
that the post-mortem state of the arhat is unpredicable.
1. S. G. F. Brandon, ed., A Dictionary of Comparative Religion (New York: Charles
Scribner's Sons, 1970), pp. 394-395.
2. Rune E. A. Johansson, The P.I}chology ol (London: George Allen &
Unwin, 1969), p. 68.
3. G. P. Malalasekera, ed., Encyclopedia olBuddhislll Facsimile A-Am (Government
of Ceylon, 196 I), p. 475. It is further stated that "Numerous passages can be quoted
from the Pitakas which show beyond all possible doubt that, in Buddhist ontology, when
'being' (satta) is resolved into the five khandhas, there is no residuum whatever left. It is
clearly stated in one passage (e.g., S.III, 46 f.) that "all samanas and brahmanas, who
talk about the world which is variously described by them, talk about it in reference to
the five khandhas or one or other of them.' Buddhaghosa says (Vism. xiv, § 218) that the
five khandhas were selected for this very purpose for examination to show tht there was
no residual self. So does Vasubandhu in the (chap. ix) where it is stated
that anatman is synonymous with skandha. ayatana and dhiitu" (ibid.).
4. Johansson, op. cit., p. 68.
5. Ibid., p. 83. Note, however, that the comparison with 'ego' must be made with
caution. As Edward Conze has pointed out, it is "Hume's denial olthe existplICf of the ego as
all entity distinct .limn lIIental processes" which "comes very near the Anatta-doctrine"
(Buddhism: Its EssenCf and DeI'elopment [New York: Harper & Row, 1959], pp. 19-20,
emphasis added).
6. Johansson remarks on this ambiguity elsewhere: "It remains to be said about
viiiiiiiry-a, that it is probably one aspect of citta or a name for some of the processes of citta.
Both are said to be involved in rebirth, but we should of course not understand this as a
dual rebirth; the instrumental processes are the l,ililiana-processes of citta. The basis of
rebirth (arammana, upadana) is the intense wish (upadana) to go on living. When Vilili
has stopped, there are practically no viniial'!a-processes left in citta, and there is no ba;e
for rebirth. Evidently the arahant has conscious processes as long as he lives. This may
be explained in two ways, and it cannot be decided which is the more correct. There
may be two layers of citta: one surface layer which consists of the everyday processes,
perceptions and reflections, and one deeper layer that is undifferentiated. Or perhaps
D I 223 really describes the highest level of meditation which was considered the most
normal stepping-stone to nibbana and therefore in this text simply was described as a
characteristic of nibbana itself' (Rune E. A. Johansson, op. cit., pp. 76-77).
7. Ibid., p. 83.
8. Ibid., p. 62.
9. Ibid.
10. Ibid., p. 63.
II. Ibid., pp. 63-4.
12. Ibid. The use of the fire analogy is not without its difficulties, though
elsewhere too Johansson suggests that "Perhaps the fire was thought to 'go back' to
some diluted, 'calm' existence, evenly distributed in matter, when it was extinguished
(but without ceasing to be fire)" (ibid., p. 61). Normally the danger with the fire-analogy
is that it suggested niruana involved annihilation, now the problem, from the orthodox
Theravada point of view seems to be that it suggests survival! "Some scholars who
inadvertently compared the extinction of the flame of a lamp to Nibbana, wrongly
interpreted it as annihilation. In the line quoted above there is no ambiguity that the
constituted mind (l'innal'!a), which was normally functioning during Buddha's life-time
through the sense-organs, without, of course, attachment, hatred and delusion, ceased
finally, i.e., became fully emancipated. It did not require any more support (anaram-
mal'!a, apatitthita). It is the constituted mind that suffered extinction and has nothing to
do with Nibbana, which therefore cannot mean annihilation. Prof. Keith also relied on
the wrong rendering of the statement but he gave is an turn, saying that
'the extinction of fire was not that which occurs to us of utter annihilation but rather
the flame returns to the primitive. pure. invisible state of fire. in which it existed prior
to its manifestation in the form of visible fire.' Prof. Keith's interpretation is also not
acceptable, for, according to the Buddhist philosophy, Nibbana has nothing to do with
anything worldly and unlike the Brahman it can never have worldly mani-
festation similar to the flame of a lamp" (Nalinaksha Dutt, Early j\,;[onastic Buddhism
[Calcutta: Calcutta Oriental Book Agency, 1960], pp. 280-281).
13. Edward J. Thomas, The HistOl) of Buddhist Thought (New York: Barnes &
Noble Inc., 1971), p. 128. It should be noted though that the Buddha used the
expression "would not fit the case" not in relation to the question does "the saint exist
after death, etc." (see Henry Clarke Warren, Buddhism in Translations [New York:
Atheneum, 1970], p. 122) but in relation to the question "will the saint be reborn" (ibid.,
p. 127).
14. See Samyutta Nikiiya iii. 109. Edward J. Thomas presents the following
abbreviated account: "Here the charge of annihilation ism is simply denied. In a
discourse attributed to Siiriputta it is discussed and refuted. The elder Yam aka had
formed the view, 'thus do I understand the doctrine taught by the Lord, that a monk in
whom the asavas are destroyed is annihilated and destroyed with the dissolution of the
body, and does not exist after death.' Yamaka is made to admit that the body-and all
the other constituents of the individual are impermanent, and that, therefore, he
cannot sav of anv one of them 'this is mine, I am this. this mv self.' 'What do VOll think.
friend Yamaka, is a Tathagata the body?' 'No, friend.' (And so of feeling, perception,
the aggregates, and consciousness.) 'Do you look on a Tathagata as e ~ i s t i n g in body,
etc.?' 'No. friend.' 'Do vou look on a Tathagata as existing apart from bodv, etc.-or as
consisting of them-or as existing without any of them?' To all these questions Yamaka
answers no. No loophole is left for asserting the existence of a self either within or
beyond the five constituents. The conclusion is that 'A Tathagata cannot be held to be
perceived as existing even in this life in truth and reality'" (op. cit., pp. 125-126).
15. Johansson, op. (it., p. 62. It may be noted that the context is one of living
16. Dutt. op. cit .. p. 285: also see David J. Kalupahana, COlisolil1': Th" emtm!
Philosophv or BllddhLI'II/ (Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii, 1975), pp. 181-182.
17. Dutt., op cit., pp. 285-286.
Cross Currents in Ear(v Buddhism by S. N. Dube. Delhi: Manohar Publica-
tions, 1980. Pp.XIII + 375, Bibliography, Index.
The volume under review, Cross Currents in Early Buddhism, IS a
valuable recent contribution to Buddhist studies. It is substantially based
on the Ph.D. thesis presented to the University of Rajasthan under the
title "Doctrinal Controversies in Early Buddhism." In fact, it has been a
long time since this reviewer has come across a critical study of early
Buddhist concepts and ideals so well-documented-especially from the
PaE sources. Like Har Dayal's The Bodhisattm Doctrine in Buddhist Sanskrit
Literature, this work refers to source materials copiously and extensively.
Indeed, this volume adds materials from the Pali sources on many
of the topics discussed in Har Dayal's work, which is mainly based on the
Sanskrit Buddhist sources.
In the history of early Buddhism, Kathiit'atthu and iHilindapaliha
are the most important treatises, replete as they are with various contro-
versies that had surfaced gradually in the placid domain of Buddhist
thought after the passing away of the Master. This development itself
testifies to the vigour of Buddhist ideas that were influencing the
thought currents of the times, ultimately leading to the formation of
different schools and the emergence of the Mahayana. Although both
these texts have been translated into English with critical notes and In-
troduction (Points of Controversy by S. Z. Aung and Mrs. Rhys Davids PTS;
The Questions of King Milinda by Mr. T. W. Rhys Davids, in Sacred Books
of the East; and Milinda's Questions by Miss L B .. Horner, in Sacred Books of
B lIddhists), no comprehensive critical study of these texts has appeared.
Dr. Dube, therefore, is to be congratulated for selecting the Kathii'uatthll
as the main subject for his critical analysis.
Attempts at reinterpretation of Buddhist ideals were probably
made after the second Buddhist council under the leadership of the
Mahasanghikas; and by the time of Asoka, diverse hypotheses had been
advanced to explain the teaching of the Master. These are discussed
multifariously in Moggaliputta Tissa's Kathiimttizu, the text of which was
raised to canonical status, although it was not buddhm.'acalw in the
strictest sense of the term, being authored by a disciple.
The Kathiimtthll abounds in doctrinal polemics, and is of immense
importance for the reconstruction of the history of early Buddhism. Dr.
Dube rightly remarks that it "presents a broad cross-sectioil of Buddhist
thought in an age of critical transition when some of the conflicts and
obscurities latent in the earlier doctrines emerged openly, and when in
the course of their discussion ground was prepared for future develop-
ment" (Preface, p. 1).
The work is divided into three sections: (A) Genesis and Growth of
Controversies, (B) Controversies reflecting Religious Development and
the Mahasanghika Impact. (C) Controversies reflecting- Philosophical
Development and the Beginnings of New Schools. Section' (B) contains
very important chapters on "The Ideal of Arhant: Challenge and De-
fence," "Apotheosis of the Buddha" and "The Ideal of Bodhisatta."
Though these topics have been discussed by Har Dayal, N. Dutt, A. B.
Keith, E. J. Thomas and host of other scholars, here for the first time
the relevant issues have been discussed and fresh interpretation pre-
sented in the light of Katha'uatthu. The last section (C) includes contro-
versies over the pudgala theory as well as problem of the unconditioned
(nibbana) as' redefined by certain sections of Buddhist monks. It also
deals with the concept of two nirodhas (patisankhiinirodha and apafisankhii-
lIirodha) as well as causal genesis and the Four Noble Truths.
The author links the Kathiit'atth u with the beginnings of Mahayana
and says: "If the evolution of Mahayana proper is to be placed in the
first century B.C. [he quotes various authorities for the date, see p. 31,
n. 35], there is no reason why its essentials should not have originated in
the third centurY. B.C." (p. 7). He assigns the Katha'mtthu roug-hlv to the
middle of 3rd century B.C. (p. 9). However, there are scholars who find
Mahayana tendencies in the early Nikayas also (Cf. N. Dutt Mahayana
Buddhism [Calcutta, 1973], chap. II). It is therefore difficult to be precise
about the date.
In a basic work of this type, we would have expected the author to
demarcate the sects which were hell-bent on denigrating the ideal of
Arhanthood instead of making- g-eneral obsen·ations. Yiz. "The concept of
Arhanthood forms a significant issue of debate in the Kathiimtthu. The
text discusses several theses propounded by different sects. A close
scrutiny would show that a number of these theses were in the nature of
an impeachment of the Arhants" (p. 90). For, the pivotal issue, as yet
undecided, is which sects could be included in the Mahayana and which
in the so-called "Hinayana." We are still in the dark about the exact
doctrinal standpoints of the so-called eighteen schools "i.\·-(;-"i.l' Hinayana
and Mahayana controversies.
The author also discusses the issue of whether a layman can become
an arhant and presents the Theravada standpoint that he cannot. The Ut-
tarapathakas believe that a layman may be an arhant and in the Kathavat-
thu (according to its NJhakatha) they cite examples of some laymen becom-
ing arhants. Dr. Dube makes a pertinent remark in this connection: "It may
be observed that this controversy is merely a Buddhist echo of a larger
issue which may be found in Brahmanical thought .. :" (p. 104). In my
view, this issue was raised by a minor section and was never a major issue
among Buddhists, as even "Mahayana philosophers exalt and glorify
monastic celibacy and seclution, while they condone and tolerate do-
mestic life as an inferior state." (Cf. Har Dayal, op. cit. [1932] p. 223.)
The author also refers to "some enigmatic passages in canonical
literature, the testimony of which makes it difficult to draw any distinc-
tion between the conception of Buddha and Arhant" (p. 112). There are
misleading passages in the Nikiiyas, e.g., in Arhanta-sutta, Sa'T[!yuttanikiiya,
vol. II, p. 310 (Nalanda Nadanti te sihaniidam, buddhii loke a.nuttarii,
where the word buddha, in my view, is in a general sense of "wise, awak-
ened one," not in the technical sense of sammiisambuddha. I would, how-
ever, say that right from the beginning of the Buddhist teaching there has
been a marked distinction between the status of an Arhant and a Bud-
dha. Every Buddha is also an Arhant but not vice-versa.
The book is well-printed, except for a few misspellings here and
there, e.g. A!!havargiya (p. 18) for Arthavargiya, papisaddhii (p. 129) for
papipassaddhi; or misprints like separation of letters in Sanskrit veqe (p.
25). Also, wrong page references have crept in, e.g., p. 145, n. 30, p.
146, n. 61, etc.
There also are a few instances of misinterpretation of passages.
Referring to the Majjhimanikiiya (vol. III, pp. 38 ff., Nalanda ed.) the
author says: "He [Buddha] had the apprehension that there might arise
some differences of opinion on abhidhamma, ajjhiijiva and adhi-piiti-
mokkha. However, these would not be very significant. But in cases there
arose any dispute over the fruits (magga), path (pappadii) or the congre-
gation (sa'T[!gha), it would be a matter of regret and harm" (p. 42). The
author obviously has not followed the use of prefixes abhi and adhi in the
translated passage. Also, there are stray examples of inexpressive trans-
lation, e.g., "So far as I understand the Dhamma, taught by the Lord, it
is that following the stumbling-blocks, there is no stumbling-block at all"
(p. 44) which is a translation of the Majjhima passage (vol. I, p. 174, see p
82, n. 47 cited by the author). The passage in question is:
bhagavatii dhamma'T[! iijiiniimi yathii .veme antariiyikii dhammii vuttii
bhagavatii te papsevato niilam antariiyiiyii ti. Similarly, the translation of
paravitiira'YJii as "excelled" (p. 102) or "help" or "guidance" (p. 103) is far
from satisfactory.
The book is well-indexed and an exhaustive bibliography has been
appended. I am sure it will prove a valuable reference work on early
N. H. Samtani
Buddha's Lions-The Lives of the Eighty-Foul" Siddhas, by James B. Robin-
son, Berkeley: Dharma Publishing, 1979.404 + xv. p.
I.t is truly a pleasure to find that it is still possible for a good piece
of Buddhological scholarship to be fun. The market has from its begin-
ning allowed two unfortunate extremes in publication. One is the unin-
formed account aimed at a "lay audience" which, in the name of simplic-
ity, ends up underestimating the capacity (and often times the gullibility)
of the general reader. The other, under the guise of being "a study for
the specialist," ends up confounding both specialist and lay reader alike
with unnecessary complexities. Instead of indicating their author's ex-
pertise, they usually betray his lack of it. Professor Robinson's study, a
transition of the Catauraslti Siddha Prat/rtti of Abhayadatta (from the
Tibetan translation) manages most skillfully to avoid both of these
In his introduction, Dr. Robinson discusses some of the general
issues relevant to a study of the siddhas. He treats such issues as the
meaning of the term siddha and points out the similarities between one
hagiography and the next, seeing a definite pattern to the way these
accounts are structured. i would take exception, however, with his
analysis of the origins of the vajrayana, not because it is wrong but
because it is speculative. He says:
For just as the Mahayana emerged to balance the scholasticism of the
Hinayana, so the tradition of the Vajrayana came to the fore to balance
the scholasticism of the Mahayana (P. 5).
Granted that the scholasticism of the Mahayana may have been
one factor in the emergence of the Vajrayana; but how can we be sure?
Moreover, the implication that it was the sole or even the principal
impetus for the 'rise of the Vajrayana is altogether too simplistic to
account for the sometimes radically different nature of the two systems.
To conceive of the Vajrayana as the practice-oriented side of the Maha-
yana, as Professor Robinson seems to, is in my view misguided. Not to be
misunderstood, h-owever, my main objection here is not that speculation
concerning such very interesting issues be omitted, but that it either be
substantiated (textually, art-historically, etc.)-in which case it ceases to
be speculation-or simply be identified as speculative.
A very interesting philosophical issue that is just mentioned in
passing by Dr. Robinson is perhaps worthy of mention here. He states
that "the key factor is not whether one conforms or does not conform to
a particular set of social norms; rather it is the state of mind with which
one acts." This, though quite true from the point of view of Tantric
Buddhism, can (and often is) misunderstood. It does not give the would-
be siddha the right to cease moral-observance, nor does it make mere
non-conformity the path to liberation; and yet, Atisa does make it quite
clear that the yogin who has "seen reality';. (de nyid mthong) incurs no
moral faults (nyes pa med).
As regards the translation, it is unquestionably of a very high
calibre, its greatest advantage being that the author has managed to
evade the pitfalls of translating Tibetan into Tibglish, that linguistic no-
man's-land fraught with curiously Tibetan syntactic struetures lurking
in a veritable jungle of English words. Dr. Robinson's translations reads
~ like English, while at the same time being quite true to the originals. It is
a monument to the fact that"literal" translations can be more than just
Still, I find that I must point out a few places in the text that could
stand improvement. First let us consider the homage. The Tibetan text
bla rna dam pa marns la phyag tshal to f dus gsurn sangs rgyas marns dang brglld
pa'i bla rna rnkha' spyod gshegs pa marns f dngos kyi bla rna mchog gyi dngos gmb
bmyes pa rni 'jigs pa dpalla flus ngag yid gsurn dad pas zhabs kyi pad rno dag la
gus btlld nas / III yi pa sogs gr1lb thob brgyad Cll rtsa bzhi yang dag 10 rgyas bri f (p.
Dr. Robinson translates as follows:
Herein is written the true account of the eighty-four siddhas, Luyipa
and the others: eighty men who gained clear understanding and obtained
siddhi, and 'four women who achieved clear understanding and won
liberation. This assembly of eighty-four is indeed most welcome. (The
yoginis Manibhadra, Mekhala, kanakhala, and L a k ~ m i k a l a were objects of
devotion for five generations of King Kungi's descendents.)
I would suggest the following translation:
Homage to the sacred gurus. Filled with faith, my body, speech and mind
play homage to the lotus feet of the Buddhas of the three times, to the
lineage gurus who have gone to the celestial realm, and to my glorious
and fearless actual gurus who lead one to the highest siddi. Having done
so, I will write the true account of the eighty-four siddhas, Luyipa and the
It seems that while omitting the main body of the homage, the translator
chooses to add a few lines concerning women which are totally absent in
the text. Granted that the Vajarayana is a step forward for women's
spiritual rights; but statistically speaking, four out of eighty-four is not
exactly a record of which to boast. Dr. Robinson's remarks both in the
introduction (p .. 15) and in the corpus of his translation imply a stress on
the status of women that is missing in the actual text.
One other point that deserves mentioning and which seems to be
the cause of repeated confusion concerns the distinctions between the
different kinds of effects. From Dr. Robinson's translation (pp. 39 and
91) one gets the impression that we are not dealing with technical
matters at all (and under other sets of circumstances this would be a
virtue),- but the fact is that the terms roam par smin pa'i bras bu, byed pa
rgyu mthun f5Yi 'bras bu, dband gi 'bras bu, skyed ba byed pa'i 'bras bu, and
smyong ba rf5Yu mthun f5Yi 'bras bu have very specific meanings in a
discussion of karma. To go intb the details of these distinctions here
would be beyond the scope of this evaluation. Suffice it therefore to
refer the reader to a very adequate discussion of these very concepts in ,.,
Geshe L. Sopa's Lectures on Tibetan Religious Culture.
I hope that by my bringing up these points the reader has not lost
the forest for the trees. Despite minor discrepancies in the translations,
the work is as a whole of superior quality. It should be a work that a
general audience will find enjoyable reading. The inclusion of the
Tibetan text and informative appendices will enhance its value to the
specialist as well. All in all, James Robinson's Buddha's Lions will be a
work that will find a wide range of appeal for many years to come.
Jose Cabezon
Tangles and lrebs. by Padmasiri de Silva. Second edition. Foreword by
;'\inian Smart. Colombo: Lake House Investments LTD. 1976. 75 pp.
This rather slim tome has a more than ambitious task, namely. to
offer a comparative analysis of Psychoanalysis, and Bud-
dhism. One has to add here that de Silva means Theml'ada Buddhism
and all technical terms are given in the Pali form. There are only six
chapters: Existence, Pleasure, Tragedy, Anxiety, Alienation and Ther-
apy; all but the last are key concepts in understanding Existentialism.
The title Tangles and H'ebs comes from the Antoja!a Bahija!a and de Silva
says: "In the vast jungle of knots, tangles and webs, each man should
clear up his own little mess" (p. 69). This notion is reinforced by a recent
book in psychology: Knots by R. D. Laing, with which de Silva is familiar.
Indeed, the erudite de Silva is familiar with many schools of
thought. In my opinion, he is most suited for writing this study, which
has been influenced by his reading acquaintance of Ludwig Binswanger,
a friend of Freud and the founder of the psychiatric school called
"Existential Analysis." De Silva has already written a book on Freud,
entitled Buddhist and Freudiall P.I)'ch%!!:y. and a review ofthis book will be
published presently in this same journal.
The main thesis of Tangles and Webs can be put succinctly: "The
comparative examination of Existentialism and Buddhism embedded in
this monograph basically revolves round the concept of human suffer-
ing (dukkha). Though the Buddhist notion of ~ u k k h a is not an equivalent
of existential angst or Freudian anxiety, the points of contact that go
criss-cross through these concepts are certainly interesting" (p. ix). What
is dllkkha for de Silva? "The word dukkha has at least three broad usages:
pain as a predominantly physical sensation, sorrow as something mental,
and a general philosophical sense as unsatisfactoriness. In the third
sense dllkkha has been translated by many words, some of which are
disharmony, anxiety, and unsatisfactoriness. This meaning becomes
prominent when dukkha is considered as a universal characteristic of all
SClmsaric existence, along with impermanence (anicca) and egolessness
(anattii)" (p. 20). And, again, "It must be clearly stated at the onset
that Buddhist dukkha is not an equivalent of existential angst or Freudian
anxiety" (p. 54).
Nor does de Silva come down as a Buddhist fundamentalist, as do
some writers, such as Gunapala Dharmasiri, who uses the PClli texts in a
different manner. De Silva understands the science of hermeneutics, or
interpretation and application. For example, "The message of the Bud-
dha is not limited to the problems of a specific historical era, but will
always illuminate the changing panorama of the alienation of man from
-rime to time" (p. 67). I must interject a personal slant and state that it is
refreshing to read a Buddhist that critically reflects on his scriptures,
using them as a guide, and does not merely quote Buddha's words
without interpretation as the final word. Allow me to use here another
direct quote: " ... Buddhism is in a sense a therapeutic system based on
the psychology of man" (p. 36). De Silva is concerned with the applica-
tion of principles, as is evident from his last chapter.
The reader who spends time with this small volume will be re-
warded. I suggest it be read three times: once to find out what it is
about, secondly to understand what you have read, and finally to see
how it better enables you to clarify the human riddle of existence.
Perhaps the only shortcoming of this book is that it lacks both a bibliog-
raphy and an index. Could it be that a future edition will rectify this?
Gary W. Houston
B llddhist and Freudian Psychology, by Padmasiri de Silva. Colombo: Lake
House Investments LTD, 1978, 207 p. index.
"The condition of man today gives a sense of timeliness to our
underlying theme: the image of man as a patient, society as sick and the
Buddha and Freud as physicians." (p. 3). This then is what de Silva is
going on to discuss in this fascinating and original book: a comparison
between the therapeutic methods of Buddhism and Freud's psycho-
analysis. The Buddhist axiom: "sabbe sattii ummattakii" (all worldlings are
deranged) shows that both systems looked upon the neurosis of man-
kind as a problem with which to deal, but Freud saw the solution as a
rational insight into one's own condition; whereas Buddha was con-
cerned with a man's emotions and whole being. Both systems had a
dynamic quality and not a static one; however, in de Silva's view Bud-
dhism goes further than does Freud. Freud claims that man must live
with the best adaptation to the human condition that one can have and
Buddhism's arahat professes to transcend this condition entirely.
De Silva's new book discusses and compares the following notions
in the two systems: mind, unconscious, motivation, the libido versus
kamii-tm.Ihii, the ego, ego instincts versus bhal'a-ta'r}hii, and finally the
death instinct versus l'ibhava-ta'r}hii. The approach to these concepts is
novel, detailed, and convincing. And, I would suggest that almost any
reader could learn something about both Freud and early Buddhism
from reading this book. De Silva is knowledgeable and a good writer as a
bonus. I commend this book to your attention.
Gary W. Houston
Buddhist-Christian Empathy, by Joseph J Spae, C.I.C.M. Chicago: The
Chicago Institute of Theology and Culture, and Tokyo: Oriens Institute
for Religious Research, 1980. 269 pp. (bibliography, index). U.S.
$16.00.--¥3500 (Japan).
This is an important book and a vexing book. It says so much yet it
says so little. I am tempted to declaim that it was impossible to review,
for I wished to haggle with the author over every other sentence, but
short of writing my own book; that I cannot do. That I should wish to
haggle is a mark of praise: worthless books need not be dignified by
criticism. Fr. Spae is incapable of writing a worthless book.
Those who do not know Fr. Spae certainly should. He is a Belgian
(hence he pronounces his name 'spah') Catholic priest of immense
learning and global awareness, who has lived in Japan for over thirty
years, thoroughly penetrating and lucidly expounding Japanese culture
in a limpid, rhythmic English which only rarely stumbles, reminding us
that it is not his mother tongue. A pupil of Lamotte, he displays many of
the features of that bionic Belgian Buddhologist. Herein he turns to
what is evidently close to his heart, the dialogue between Christianity
and Buddhism, a phenomenon which Arnold 'T0ynbee felt would be
recorded as the greatest event of the twentieth century (pp. 66, 223).
The book is in three parts which, having been written for different
audiences at different times, do not quite gel, as Fr. Spae warns us (p. 7).
Thus the elementary 2:5 follows the advanced 1:3 and 2: 1; 2:7 is a
superficial re-run of the insightful 1 :4; and the hope that "some day the
twain shall meet" (p. 70) has been realised by p. 131, "already the twain
have met." Disregarding these slight flaws, the book can still be mined
for much information not otherwise readily obtainable. Perhaps the
most useful sections are 1:4, on the phenomenon of the young, unmar-
ried, white American intelligensia who seekto understand Buddhism;
2:4 on Japanese Buddhist liturgies; 2:6 on D. T. Suzuki's flirtations with
Christianity (which, however, fails to discuss his possible predilection for
Swedenborg, whom he translated into Japanese, and who might be a
source for the curious ideas quoted on p. 182); 3:1:2, "Encounter
Centers throughout the World"; and 3:4, a select bibliography of a few
hundred items in many languages.
The author's approach is unrepentently theological, but it is
eirenically so. Christianity continued the Jewish controversy over ex-
clusivity (e.g., Lel1iticllS) versus openness (e.g., Ruth) by maintaining
Christ as either the unique saviour (e.g., iVIark) or the unique focus of a
universal movefQ.ent towards salvation (e.g.,john). Exclusivity was cham-
pioned above all by Calvin (and, in our own day, by Hendrik Kraemer)
who decreed that even noble works done out of Christ merit God's
wrath, whereas Orthodoxy, and now Catholicism's Second Vatican
Council, has preferred the openness of "Logos Christology," according
to which Christ is the enfleshment of the eternal ordering principle in
the Godhead (the Logos), so that wherever there is order (logic) there is
Christ (Logos) in some obscure form. Fr. Spae consistently adopts the
stance of a Catholic Logos Christologist (Protestantism is mentioned
minimally and Orthodoxy only as a comment on my own remark con-
cerning ekphrasis in Tan-Iuan-p. 102), looking for an early-Panikkar-
esque "hidden Christ of Buddhism." He claims to find an incipient God
in Buddhism, since both Christians and Buddhists believe in "a common
Supreme Reality" (p. 199) but regrets that "unfortunately" this belief
"did not doctrinally ripen into the acceptance of an objectively absolute
being" (p. 90) even though the "true self" is, for him, both God and
Nirvana (p. 39). He states that Buddhims is a "monism" (p. 105 et
passim), that Buddha preached a "Causeless Cause" (p. 107), and that
this is so obvious it must be "taken for granted" (p. 108).
A Buddhist is taken up short by such remarks. First, they could be
turned around to give an equal and opposiie polemic effect: whatever is
well said (sm/arana), we could reply, is a Buddha Word (buddhamcana),
and Christ was a Bodhisattva-Mahasattva. We could insist that the book
be re-titled Christian-Buddhist Empathy, for nowhere do we find firm
evidence from Fr. Spae that Buddhists see incipient Buddhas in Chris-
tianity, although this would evidently be a very Buddhist opinion.
Secondly, and far more seriously, a Buddhist must object that he
does not believe in a Supreme Reality or a Causeless Cause, that he is
neither a monist nor a dualist nor both nor neither, that siinyatii is
neither Nothingness (pp. 39, 113) nor an impersonal Absolute (p. 114 et
passim), and that everyday reality is a delusion but. in no sense an
"illusion" (p. 114 et passim). Simply put, Christians preach an incom-
prehensible Ultimate Reality while Buddhists teach that Reality is ulti-
mately incomprehensible. Between these two positions there is not even
the feasibility of a bridge. They live in mutually irrelevant universes.
The Buddhists in Fr. Spae's book point this non-duality out to him (e.g.,
p. 119), and he himself states it (p. 162) in an immediate contradiction to
his own monistic remark .. One has the uncomfortable feeling that the
author is listening but not hearing. "Non-duality" (as Fr. Spae's friend
Abe Masao has often said) is not Monism. It is a Madhyamikan non-
affirming negative.
How could such a learned man say such things? I believe that
there are two interconnected reasons: linguistic and cultural. Fr. Spae's
main concern is with Japanese Buddhism, which he knows best. But the
Japanese language is (as Fr. Spae is at pains to demonstrate) heavy on
aesthetics and light on noetics. Specifically, I would say, aru means both
"exist" and "be at a place," and i(hi is both "one" and "unique." This
leads to a lack of interest in distinguishing sharply between a Being and
something/one which happens to be here. and between "one" and
"only." I see this confusion (as I would call it) or non-distinction (as a
Japanese would call it) going on in the English language works of D. T.
Suzuki, many of which, of course, were made presentable by his Ameri-
can wife. Isshil1 de ant. for instance, is not (Buddhistically) "The One
Mind exists" but "Only mentation is observable." This linguistic situa-
tion needs to be approached, by a Westerner. through a methodology of
de-enculturalisation or historico-linguistic unpacking.
Fr. Spae's emphasis is not only on Japanese Buddhism, but chiefly·
on Shin and, to a lesser extent, Soto. It is germane to point out that these
are Kamakura forms of Buddhism. A discussion of Tibetan Buddhism
(except for its controversially Boulderised form of Vajradhatu) is
conspicuously absent. Had there been such, we should have had a
. markedly different book. One need not accept tOlit (Ollrt the dGe lugs pa
line that Tibetans have the pure Mahayana to recognise that, whatever
late Indian Mahayana was, its nearest surviving relative is probably a
Tibetan. Therein we find an elegant balance between Hinayana, Yoga-
cara, Madhyamika and Vajrayana, arranged in an ordered series which
preserves their several individualities. Chinese Buddhism took this, or
something very much like it, and Sinified it into a yin-yanglt'i-yung
cosmology in which (as witness T'ien-t'ai and Hua-yen) the edges of the
Indian lineages began to blur. In Kamakura times, the Japanese com-
pressed the galumphing Tendai Shu into the One Thing necessary.
This One Thing, be it shinjin, shikandaza or daimoku, became the focus of
the exercitant's energies, with evident practical effect, but with the
attendant impossibility of explicating such a compressed miirga. The
f\yogyoshinsho, for instance, is not an argument, it is a testament.
Now, in order to understand what shinjin, etc. is all about, the
Buddhologist must cultural('V unwrap it by tracing it back to its Chinese
and Indo-Tibetan roots (without, of course, identifying it with such
roots). Shinran means to speak of the balance of Teaching, Practice and
Attainment, as the original title of his work, Ken J ado Shinjitsu Kyogyosho
Monmi ("Proof Texts Demonstrating the True Teaching, Practice and
Attainment according to Sukhavati"), shows, but he simply exults, he
gives us a Shin version of the Zen Shout (see esp. chapter 3-p. 323,
lines 2-3 in the Nihon Shiso Daikei edition). Much as I admire Shinran
(witness my own work) he does not have the precision of Tsong kha pa
and his Lam rim chen mo. Any discussion of Buddhism as such must move
away from the polite vagueness of Japanese aesthetics to the sharp logic
of Tibetan noetics. And then, no incipient God would be found in
Buddhism. Only kamJJii and sllnyatii.
Further, I am bound to say that though I was flattered to be
accorded five pages of appreciative comment (pp. 99-103), I was sur-
prised to find that I had spoken of "a rumor of God" in Tan-Iuan (p.
99). Religionswissenschaftliche, I had pointed to stmctural but not to content
similarities between Pure Land and Theism. Fr. Spae makes me, and
others like me, say more than I would wish.
My criticism has been extensive and harsh because of the impor-
tance of the book. It is the best book of its kind I have seen, it will be
widely read, and it should become a classic. It tells us where we are in
Christian-Buddhist dialogue. But, the topic is close to my own heart
also, and I think we should know how far we still have to travel before
any kind of "symbiosis, a kind of synergistic merger" (p. 233) between
these two great spiritual traditions can occur.
Roger Tashi Corless.
The Refigions of Tibet, by Guiseppe Tucci. Translated from the German
and Italian by Geoffrey Samuel. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd.,
19S0. xv + 340 p.
As the dust-jacket advises us, this is "the first comprehensive
account of Tibetan Buddhism to be published in English since Waddell's
Buddhism of Tibet appeared in IS94." Like Waddell, Prof. Tucci applies
to Tibetan Buddhism the evocative but baseless name "Lamaism"; in
almost every other sense, however, Prof. Tucci's work is light years away
from its predecessor. In the decades since Waddell, Tibetan studies have
been enriched by extensive archeological, anthropological and textual
studies (some of the most notable by Prof. Tucci himself) and by a
broadening of inter-religious sympathies, which in turn have created
the materials and intellectual climate for the writing of an informed and
unbiased account, as this surely is.
It is somewhat misleading to describe this as an "account of Ti-
betan Buddhism," however, for-true to its title-it exposes more
clearly than any book before it the 1'm10US religious strata-many of
them pre-dating the introduction of Buddhism-that coexist in the
Tibetan mind. Tibetan religion is a complex admixture of Buddhist,
folk and Bon beliefs, and though the proportions of these vary from one
social or religious sector to the other, none ever is entirely absent, and
each contributes to a "total psychic disposition" that Prof. Tucci seems to
regard as quintessentially Tibetan. The world for the Tibetan is "not as
it is presented to him, and also to us, by ordinary experience, it is not
material and physical reality, but a complex of living forces and poten-
cies, conscious expressions of will, psychic essences, which are in a
situation of constant movement and violent conflict between each
other. , .. The Tibetan, overwhelmed by the powers who everywhere lie
in wait for him, threaten him and humiliate him, has found in Lamaism
an effective system of defence, always ready to function. The magical
force (mthu) radiating from the faultlessly accomplished ritual and the
properly recited formula ... puts at his disposal a power thanks to
which he hopes to emerge victoriously from the fight; it assures him of
his superiority over the numina, so that these powers, rendered defence-
less and harmless in the presence of the incomparable superiority of the
holy word of the Buddha, must withdraw." (212)
The Religions of Tibet is divided into seven chapters: The first
diffusion of Buddhism in Tibet; The second diffusion of Buddhism;
General characteristics of Lamaism; The doctrines of the most impor-
tant schools; Monkhood, monastery life, religious calendar and festivals;
The folk religion; and the Bon religion.
The first two chapters, on the tWO diffusions of Buddhism in
Tibet, offer a general account of the events and forces that shaped the
Tibetan development of Buddhism: the different political factions
within Tibet, the differing Chinese and India
approaches to Bud-
dhism, the differences even among Indian Buddhists, etc. As through-
out much of the book, Prof. Tucci here is comprehensive without being
exhaustive; detailed discussions of the various topics raised will be found
in other literature. The historical material, for instance; is treated in
much greater depth in Prof. Tucci's own Tibetan Painted Scrolls and
Minor Buddhist Texts, II.
The third chapter, on· the general characteristics of "Lamaism,"
discusses the Buddhist religious and philosophical presuppositions
shared by all the major Tibetan schools, enumerates the schools and
their most important lineages and monasteries, analyzes the course of
political-religious conflict among the schools, and notes the centrality to
Tibetan tradition of the religious teacher (bla rna).
In the fourth chapter, on the doctrines of the most important
schools, Prof. Tucci briefly sketches the Paramitayana that is the com-
mon property of the schools, then devotes almost sixty pages to a
discussion of Mantrayana. He covers Mantrayana's differences from
Paramitayana; the initiatory process; the various tantric "bodies"; the
relationship between sems and light; Jo nang pa substantialism; the
nature and divisions of Bla na medrgyud (anuttara tantra); and particular
tantric practices of the bKa' brgyud, rNying rna and gcod traditions.
Many a study of tantra has foundered attempting to discuss these arcane
matters intelligibly, and it is to Prof. Tucci's credit that from his analysis
at least the outlines of the various systems and practices emerge with
relative clarity. At the same time, some minor objections may be raised.
Firstly, although Prof. Tucci pays lip-service to the importance of
Paramitayana as the basis for tantric practice, he says little about it,
virtually ignoring the lam rim literature, which is found in all the major
schools, and which as a systematization of meditation practice represents
one of Tibet's original contributions to the Buddhist tradition. He also
tends to regard the Paramitayana as a purely intellectual process, which
Mantrayana replaces with "a lived experience of salvation" (51). While it
is true that Paramitayana is the "path to the goal," whereas Mantrayana
is the "goal as path," it is misleading to imply that Paramitayana is largely
scholastic; indeed, the importance of the lam rim literature is itself proof
that Tibetans have been concerned that the teachings of the sutras not
only be learned (thos) and analyzed (bsam), but internalized meditatively
Secondly, there is a tendency, particularly in descriptions of medi-
tative experience, to lapse into obscurantism. Eastern and Western
gnosticism, for instance, are said to "transcend the spatio-temporal
experience through a flight into absolute space, and absolute time, an
ex-cessus mentis into the indefinable 'Void' which contains all" (51). Simi-
larly, the tantric taste of Budha-fruit while one is still on the path is said
to occur "on this side of that outermost limit, beyond which exists the
inexpressible luminous essence, the Alpha and Omega of all things"
(55). The term "Being" is used in a number of places; in none of them is
a Tibetan equivalent supplied or any justification offered for the use of
this particularly Western word in a Buddhist context. Expressions like
those cited tend to undercut the care Tibetans themselves traditionally
have taken in making philosophical and meditative distinctions, and do
nothing to illuminate the tantric experience.
Thirdly, although the outlines of the various schools' tantric doc-
trines and practices is clear, the reader still emerges feeling dizzily as if
he has been assaulted by terms. This is not Prof. Tucci's fault so much as
it is due to the fact that precisely because tantra is "a lived experience,"
its terminology conveys as much about it as a recipe does about the taste
of a meal-and in the case of tantra, even the ingredients are largely
strange to the uninitiated.
The fifth chapter, on monkhood, monastic life, religious calendar
and festivals discusses in detail monastic life and organization among the
rNying rna pas and dGe lugs pas. It also treats of the calendar of
festivals, the hermetic life, and the administration of monastic property.
The chapter contains a wealth of information, and is accompanied-as
is the next chapter-by Namkhi Norbu's charming illustrative line-
The sixth chapter, on folk religion, is perhaps the best in the book,
for here Prof. Tucci is able to delineate the point at which the various
religious strands all converge: popular Buddhism. The layman, Prof.
Tucci reminds us, "is still strongly under the influence of the pre-
Buddhist and folk heritage. He is familiar from his childhood with the
epic deeds and marvelous happenings with which the literature and
traditions deriving from this heritage are filled. The particular kind of
religious feeling which gives life to them regulates all the relationships
between the Tibetan people and the immense, uncertain world of the
demonic and the divine. The nllmina who reside there assist him in his
difficulties, they stand by his side in his incessant struggle to defend
himself against obstacles and dangers, open and secret adversaries,
who everywhere threaten his existence, his well-being, his property"
(165). Prof. Tucci goes on to discuss the various rituals through which
Tibetans seek to control the forces they perceive all around them,
paying particular attention to exorcism rites, protection of the house
and property, incense offerings, death rites, divination and the popular
conception of a multiple soul.
Of an otherwise fascinating chapter, only two small criticisms can
be made. Firstly, while it may be true that Tibetans are concerned to
placate and/or control the powers that be, they do not seem as anxiety-
ridden as Prof. Tucci tends to imply they are. Their concern with cosmic
forces has, in my experience, almost invariably been mitigated by a
healthy sense of humor. Secondly, Prof. Tucci's assertion (210) that
Tibetan religiosity has a "striking lack of social compassion" seems an
unwarranted generalization. It is not entirely clear what "social compas-
sion" is supposed to entail, but surely its absence cannot be inferred
simply from the fact that some Tibetans profess bodhicitta out of self-
interest and from the fact that most rituals are dedicated to the welfare
of particular individuals or groups.
The seventh, and last, chapter deals with Bon. As always when he is
dealing with historical and archeological material, Prof. Tucci is lucid
and his discussion well-documented.
Geoffrey Samuel's translation is, by and large, a readable one. The
book is supplemented by a chronology of events in Tibetan history and a
superb glossary-index. The bibliography, divided according to Tibetan
and Western sources, is extensive, though the Tibetan section might
have benefitted from the inclusion, where possible, of publication in-
formation about the texts, while the Western section could have been
improved by the addition of relevant works published since the book
originally appeared, in 1970.
If The Religions of Tibet is stronger when it discusses monastic and
popular religion than when it deals with meditation, that is merely a
reflection of the intractability of the latter and Prof. Tucci's unmatched
expertise in the former-his greatest contributions, after all, have been
as an historian and archeologist; and if in 250 pages it seems only to
outline Tibetan religion, that merely shows the richness of the material
to be explored-much of which was first mined by Prof. Tucci himself.
It is certain to become, as the dust-jacket again assures us, "the standard
reference work on the subject," and one can only wish Prof. Tucci
added years of life in which he may contribute the further chapters he
promises in the Preface.
Roger Jackson
A Report on the 3rd Conference
of the lABS
The 3rd Conference of the lABS was held from the 18th to the
22nd of August, 1980, at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg,
Manitoba, Canada, in conjunction with the XIVth Congress of the
International Association for the History of Religions (IAHR). The
Local Coordinator for this conference was Professor Leslie S. Kawa-
mura, of the University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada,
The General President of the conference was Professor Herbert
V. Guenther, of the University of Saskatchewan, in Saskatoon, Can-
ada. We plan to publish his Presidential Address in the next issue of
our J Duma!.
The 3rd Conference of the lABS opened on Monday, August
18 at 10:30 A.M., with the introduction of diplomatic guests by
Professor Leslie S. Kawamura. The official declaration of the opening
of the 3rd lABS Conference was made by Professor W. S. Karun-
aratne, of Sri lanka. Professor A. L. Basham, the Chairperson of the
lABS, introduced the speaker for Presidential Address. After the
opening session closed with Professor Guenther's Address, thanks
and announcements, there was a break for lunch, and the panels
began. Subject to the availability of space, we hope to publish a few of
the papers from that conference in future issues of our Journal.
On Thursday, August 21, there was a meeting of the Executive
Body of the lABS, and the Board of Directors. Following that meet-
ing, on Friday, there was a general business meeting for all members
of the lABS. The minutes of both of those meetings follow.
At the meeting of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors it was
resolved that:
1. The General Secretary (Pro Tern) be empowered to write a letter to
Professor Ren Jivu and Professor Zhao Fushan of the Chinese Academv of
Social Studies in Peking to explore the possibilitv of a future lABS confer_
ence in the People's Republic of China.
2. The General Secretary (Pro Tern) be instructed to write the Secretary
General of the IAHR to seek clarification regarding affiliate membership in
the IAHR and that a report be made back to the Board of Directors of the
3. The General Secretary (Pro Tern) express the appreciation of the Board of
Directors to the IAHR for its kindness in allowing the lABS to hold concur_
rent meetings with the IAHR in Winnipeg, August 17-22, 1980.
4. The Treasurer be empowered to reimburse Rena Haggarty, lABS office
assistant, $36.50 for tuition expenses for the course she will take at the
University of Wisconsin to qualify for student employment, enabling her to
work 7 hours per week for the lABS, and that the Treasurer also be em-
powered to increase Ms. Haggarty's time from seven hours to ten hours
weekly for the lABS.
5. The membership fees be increased, beginning on January 1, 1981, $5.00
for all categories of membership, except for students and members from third
world countries, where the increase is $2.50 instead of $5.00, in order to COver
the increased postag-e costs. taking- into ac;count those who have alreadv paid
their membership fees ahead of time and who wili not be expected to submit
additional fees. .
6. The three Regional Secretaries be authorized to appoint national repre-
sentatives of the lABS in countries within their region where this would be
helpful for recruitment and communication purposes (a future memorandum
will expand on this resolution).
7. The Regional Secretary for Asia, Professor Akira Yuyama, be authorized
to open an lABS bank account in Japan for the purposes of collecting
membership fees, to be kept for periodic transfer to the lABS Treasurer in
the United States, and that similar arrangements be permitted in other re-
gions and/Or countries.
H. The names of Professor Gadjin ;\;ag-ao and Dr. vValpola Rahula be added
to the list of Honorary Fellows of the lABS, and that the names of the
deceased Honorary Fellows be included in a category of "Former Honorary
Fellows" with the years of relationship with the lABS placed in parenthesis
beside their names.
9. The Nominating Committee for the election of new officers of the lABS in
[98 [ consist of Professors A. L Basham (Chair), Heinz Bechert, Yun-huaJan,
Leslie Kawamura, Alexander MacDonald, Gadjin Nagao, A. K. Narain, Ismael
Quiles, and Akira Yuyama. (At the Business Meeting on August 22 three
other members were nominated and elected to this committee: George Bond,
Richard Gard, and Bardwell Smith.) This committee was empowered to
submit a slate of nominees to be elected by the membership in a mail ballot in
the early fall of 1981 (following the 4th Conference of the lABS at the
University of Wisconsin in August, 1981).
10. The General Secretary (Pro Tern) and the Treasurer be authorized to
seek legal counsel and to write a draft of a new Constitution of the lABS,
which would be circulated to the present Executive Committee and the Board
of Directors for approval and which would then be brought to the 1981
General Meeting of the lABS in Madison for final ratification.
11. Professor Jan Yun-hua be requested to submit in writing his ideas for
future academic planning of the lABS, which would also include ideas for
various projects, such as a reinstatement of the Bibliographie Bouddhique,
that the lABS might be interested in developing.
12. Professor Kawamura be requested to submit in writing his proposals for
improving the manner in which panels are created, filled, and conducted at
future lABS conferences, based upon his experience with the Winnipeg
13. Professor Beatrice Miller, Treasurer of the lABS, be commended for her
industrious pursuit of new lABS members and her relentless but gracious
hounding of members who are currently delinguent in payment of dues.
14. Rena Haggarty, office assistant, be commended for her considerable
contribution to the lABS in the week-to-week business which ri-Iust be done
and for her persistent reminders to the Treasurer and the General Secretary
of business yet undone.
15. Professor Leslie Kawamura be thanked for his capable handling of a huge
platoon of panelists at the Winnipeg Conference and for all the planning
which preceded this, as well as for his sane ideas on how to improve arrange-
ments and tighten up policy in the future.
16. Professors Zwi Werblowsky, Peter Slater, William Klassen, Donald Wiebe
and others be thanked for making it possible to participate in the joint
meetings with the XIV Congress of the IAHR.
At the General Meeting the above resolutions were read and discussed.
In the words of the Chair (Professor Basham), these resolutions were passed
nem con (nemine contradicente, no one contradicting).
One futher resolution was passed:
That the Chairperson of the lABS, Professor A. L. Basham, be commended
for his wise and strong leadershp of this organization and that we express due
appreciation to him. (The actual motion, made by Professor Gadjin Nagao,
was far more eloquent than this.)
There was considerable discussion about the newly acquired Affiliate
Membership in the IAHR. Most people present indicated reservations about
this, but it was decided that we explore the matter further and not outright
reject this affiliation. '
for period 1/1/80-8/10/80
Checking Account: $1,341. 75 Balance Due;
Business Savings: 729.22 JIABS, III, # 1 $1,562.19
I-Year Pass Book: 5,244.09 JIABS, III, #2 3,106.63
$7,315.06 4,668.82
INCOME: $3,940.22 EXPENSES: $7,715.07
Dues, Subscriptions $3,573.66 JIABS:
Reimbursements 147.30 Lancaster-Miller $1,765.00
Interest 219.26 Coda Press 2,889.47
Total: $3,940.22 Thomson-Shore 1,417.97
Balance 12/31/79 11,089.91 So. Asia Dept:
Total: $15,030.13 (Xerox, mailings) 587.95
U.I.E.O.A. dues 50.00
Office (Secretary) 650.00
Less Expenses -7,715.07
Nalanda Conference 192.17
Total on Hand: $7,315.06. Bank Charges 27.21
Postage 135.30
Total: $7,715.07
1979 1980 1981
Full: 263 103 7.5
Student:t 22 6
Instit. : 34 15
Library: 11 12
Assoc.:t 3
t(Largely phased out since Journal subscription makes full member
statuS equally desirable.)
Except for institutional and library memberships or subscriptions we are be-
ginning to eliminate members who have paid no dues since 1978.
Papers from the two 1980 lABS conference panels on Buddhism and
music are now being edited for publication as the first general book on the
subject. The scope includes Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana traditions
of South, Southeast, East, and Inner Asia. Perspectives and treatments range
from historical and doctrinal text analysis to social anthropological field obser-
vation to musicological description and analysis.
We would like to invite our lABS colleagues to add the enrichment of
their own knowledge and perspectives to this work. We realize that few who
have come to know Buddhism closely will have failed to encounter music in
their studies-whether in the form of musical imagery and metaphors in the
Sutras and philosophical texts, of descriptions in the historical literature, of
chant as information-storage-and-retrieval technology in Buddhist education,
of instruments as regulators of monastic daily life, of musical offerings in
ritual, of musical knowledge as a means of social advancement, of musical art
and communication as media for awakening Buddhist modes of consciousness
in lay society, and many other forms. We hope more scholars will join the
tradition established by Rhys-Davids, Levi, Demieville, and others, and add
their special expertise to the exploration of this important dimension of
Buddhist studies.
F or further information, please contact: Dr. Ter Ellingson, 145 Craig
Avenue, Madison, WI 53705.
Presidential Address at the 2nd lABS
Conference at N alaIida
by P. Pradhan
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am grateful to the Executive Body of the International Association
of Buddhist Studies for selecting me to be the President of this august
Conference. I am conscious of my shortcomings and of my heavy
Buddhism is a very vast and complicated subject, spreading
throughout the length and breadth of the world. Buddhist Studies no
longer is an appendage of some branch of the Humanities, but now
has attained the status of an independent subject. I do not know
where to start. But the first President of the lABS General Confer-
ence, Professor Gadjin M. Nagao, has already cracked the nut. The
great Sanskrit poet KaIidasa has very aptly said: maTJau vajra samutkirr}e
sutrasyevasti me gatilJ. "I can move like a thread in the gem or precious
stone after it has been perforated by a diamond-pin." My position is
just like that.
Professor Nagao has very ably and exhaustively enumerated
and illustrated the methods to be adopted for the study of Buddhism
at present. As a resume, it may be stated here that for the study of
Buddhism he suggests two methods: the method of analysis and the
method of synthesis. By analysis, information, be it textual, archaeo-
logical or any other type transmitted to us, can be converted into or
established as fact. For synthesis, we must bridge gaps between (i) the
Jaina and Buddhist traditions, (ii) the Theravada tradition and the Sar-
vastivada and other traditions, (iii) the Madhyamika and Vijiianavada
traditions, (iv) the Buddhist logical tradition and the later Mahayanic
and Tantric traditions, (v) Indian Buddhism and Chinese Buddhism,
and (vi) Indian Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism.
These suggestions have covered all aspects of Buddhist Studies
as an independent area of the Humanities. This is nearly exhaustive .
. Still, I venture to make a few more suggestions for the consideration
of the scholars of this august gathering.
In addition, I think that the study of Buddhism needs the study
of anthropology. In 1950 when I was in China, the Panchen Lama
also was visiting China, and a reception, in addition to State recep-
tions, was organized in the Lama Temple of Pei Hai, Beijing. As I was
an Indian, I was given the privilege of joining the reception. At this
reception, one was to present, in addition to other things, a khii-tii to
.. the Panchen Lama at the time of paying respect to him. I had no idea
of what a khii-tii was. I paid about Rs.2 for one the next day, it was
nothing but a scarf-like piece of woven cotton cloth, about 6 inches
wide and 2 yards long, having a border on each end. After the
Panchen Lama arrived in the temple he took his seat on a high
pedestal in front of the Buddha statue. When his worship was over,
we passed before him in a line, bowing our heads and presenting the
khii-tii. When we bowed, he touched our heads with two pieces of cane
with tassels at the end. As soon as we passed, a man gave us in return a
small piece of red cloth with a knot in the middle. When the passing
ceremony was over, cooked rice, soup and other vegetables in a
Chinese bowl, with a Chinese spoon in them, were offered to the
Lama as to a Buddha or deity. When the food was brought out, all the
devotees, male and female, rushed to it and took some pieces from it.
What is the origin of this practice? It is not a Chinese custom,
nor is khii-tii a Chinese word. Surprisingly, a similar custom is found in
the Jagannath temple of Orissa in India. I have never seen khii-tii
anywhere in India but Puri. Further, devotees at the Puri temple put
on a piece of red cloth, like the garland torn from the cloth used by
Lord J agannath. It is generally called Sn- Kiipada, or auspicious piece
of torn cloth.
I have already mentioned that khii-tii is not a Chinese word. It
might have some relation with khiidi or the Khadi Movement of Mahatma
Gandhi; and at Puri, dhoti, or lengths of men's wear, are called "khiidi".
In Tibetan, there are two words, kha-btags and kha-thi. The meaning
of kha-btags is given by Das as "Anything that is put on the face, i.e.,
presented or placed before a person for his acceptance; hence that
ubiquitous article of Tibetan social intercourse, the presentation of a
salutation scarf;" and "kha-thi-a kind of satin in variegated colors."
The khii-tii mentioned above has some relation with the kha-btags and
kha-thi of Tibet, and the khiidi of India and the khiidi of Puri.
The practice by devotees of taking food offered to the Panchen
Lama has some similarity with the communal eating of food offered
to Lord J agannath by the devotees of the Hindu commuI).ity, irrespec_
tive of caste. I think it is the remnant of a Buddhist practice of the
Tantric period, still lingering at the Puri temple. Food at the Puri
temple is not polluted by the touch of a person of any caste, even if it
is left over after eating and thrown on the road. It is cilled nirmalya or
unsullied. In the Hevajra Tantra it is said:
bhojyaT[l tathapanaT[l yatha praptaT[ltu graha'fJa'flJ,
niitra kartavyamiJtiin4ta-vikalpitalf
peyaT[l tathaiva ca gamyagamyaT[l tatha mantrz vikalpaT[l naiva karayet
One should take food or meal and drink as available: one
should not take it with the hesitation that it is agreeable or dis-
agreeable or acceptable or unacceptable. The Mantrin or the prac-
ticant should not have any hesitation or reservation in his mind
regarding whether the food is edible or inedible, the drink pot-
able, and a lady cohabitable or uncohabitable.
In the Guhya Siddhi, it is said:
na patram saT[lgrahed vratz bhuktottara7(!
tu saTl}grhya rathya-karparamallakam tatraiva paryated bhikJam
patamiiniiT(l ca tu taT(l tasmin t!ptastraiva ta7(!
tyajet (MS-6th Chapter.)
At the time of wandering for begging alms, the vratin or
practicant is not to collect or hoard a bowl; he is to collect a pot-
sherd (or pot or a bowl) thrown on the road after eating and
should beg alms in that or should take what is thrown or has
fallen there; after taking his food from that pot and being
satisfied, he should leave or throw it (the pot) there. .
When we compare this with the practice at Puri even
today, we can see some similarity. At present people take their food
from the earthen cooking pot or pot-sherd, even thrown or left by
some persons after they have taken their food. They take their food
together from the same pot or pot-sherd without any caste-prejudice
or restriction and without any hesitation they take left-over food or
In the above-mentioned verse, one of the meanings of karpara is
pot or pot -sherd, and the meaning of mallaka is bowL The word mallaka
may also be derived from malta, which means, among other things,
drinking vessel or cup and the remnants of oblation. The word
karpara has an?ther meaning almost the and
from it are denved the HmdI words kharpara or khapara, whIch mean
alms bowl; and khaparf,a, meaning earthen alms-bowl or pot-sherd. In
Oriya there is another word, khaparii-khiii, meaning "one who takes
food from a pot-sherd." This practice is still prevalent in the Jagan-
nath temple of Orissa.
Within the campus of Puri temple, cooked food, after being
offered to Lord J annath, is sold in the same earthen cooking pots or
pot-sherds. These pots or pot-sherds are collected when thrown after
food-taking and are utilised for selling food again. Without hesitation
people take food from these pots or pot-sherds. Further, the pots
used for cooking in the Puri temple have a peculiar shape. Generally,
the earthen cooking-pots in India have a thick rim protruding out-
side, but the earthen cooking pots used in the Puri temple have no
rims. In Orissa, there is a Mahima sect, also called the
sect, the followers of which take food early in the morning, and if they
are offered food in the earthen pots, they very dexterously break the
rim, probably in order to make them pot-sherds, and take their food
in them. Has the shape of earthen pots used in the Puri temple some
relation with the pot-sherds or rathyii karparamallakarrt, pots and pot-
sherds thrown on the road?
I may repeat here what you probably already know; that in place
of nine planets (nava-grahas) usually carved on the doorjamb of a
temple, the ten incarnations have been carved on the door jamb of the
Puri temple, and a figure of the Lord Jagannath has taken the place
of Lord Buddha as the ninth incarnation. The Buddha seems to have
been transformed into Jagannath; this contention is further sup-
ported by the fact that in the Cuttack district of Orissa, at villages like
Badamba, Nuapatna, etc., there is a community called Sarakas, whose
members are weavers by profession. The word Sarakas might have
been derived from Sriivaka. That apart, we see that Saraka houses
have niches and in the niches are small statues of the Buddha and
Jagannath for daily worship. In Bolangir district, in the far western
part of Orissa, on the border of Madhya Pradesh, a manuscript called
Buddha Puriina Vii J agannatha Puriir:ta has been found; it deals mainly
with the history ofJagannath, but called "Buddha Purii1'!a." Further, in
that part of Orissa, i.e., Sambalpur-Bolangir and other districts, the
bell-metal pots and plates for taking watery rice and vegetables have a
shape similar to that of the Buddhist alms-bowls and cover still prev-
alent in Ceylon and other parts of the Buddhist world.
I also learned when I was in China, that at the time of the
installation of a statue of Buddha in Beijing and other parts of China
and Tibet, a small, specially-designed Buddhist sutra is placed in a
hole or a pit carved out on the chest of the statue. I procured some
examples of such sutras. In the Puri temple the wooden statue of
J agannath is changed every 12 years and something taken out of the
old statue is placed in the new one by a blind-folded person whose
hands are covered by silken cloth.
These are a few examples that can be studied and solved by
anthropology. Now I will pose before this august body an anthropo-
logical problem that has preoccupied me for a long time. In the
Abhidharma Kosa Bhii?ya, while commenting on the last part of the 68th
kiirikii of the 4th chapter, i.e., Prayogastu Trimiilajal-!, as the illustrations
of the mohaja priif!iitipiita, or killing out of ignorance, and kama mith-
yiiciira, or amorous wrong-doing or co-habitation out of aberration,
Vasubandhu says:
piirasikiinii1[l ca te hyevamiihul-!-miitapitarau jirr;au vii gliinau va
The Persians kill out of ignorance. They say 'Mother and
father, if aged or diseased, are to be killed.'
As regards mohaja kiima mithyiiciira, or amorous wrong-doing or
co-habitation on account of aberration, he says,
mohajo yathii piirasikiinii1[l miitriidigamana1[l gosave ca yajne yathokta'f{i,
briihmaTfo gosavenemii samvatsara-govrati bhavati. upahii udaka'f{i
c i i ~ a t i triini chiTfatti upaiti miitaramupasvasiiramup sagotramiti. ye
ciihurudiikhala puYJyaphala pakviinna tirtha miirga prakhyo miitrgrama
The example of wrong-doing (co-habitation) on account of
aberration is as of the Persians having (copulation with) the
mother and the like and in Gosava sacrifice. It is said, 'a Brah-
min, for the sake of the Gosava sacrifice, should practice or lead
the mode of life of a cow for a year, i.e., the sacrificer (like a
cow) sucks water, lops off grass, approaches (co-habits with)
mothers, sisters and kin.' Further, they also say that the class of
mothers (women) is like husking machines, reward of meritori-
ous acts, cooked food, ford in a river and a road.
The practice seems to be very queer. Was it practised anywhere?
La Vallee Poussin quotes in relation to it from the J aiminiya B riihamaYJa,
in a note explaining the Gosava sacrifice, how one observes the vow
and practises like a cow, which has close similarity with the practice
mentioned in the Abhidharma KoSa Further, the comparison of
the mother class with the husking machine, reward of meritorious
deeds. cooked food. descent into the river and the road is partially
echoed in the Divyiivadiina. Of these five, two are elaborated in the
Dharmaruchi Avadiina as:
panthii samo yenaiva hi
patha pitii gacchati, putro'pi tenaiva gacchati. na ciisau panthii
putrasyiinugacchato bhavati. evameva
tirtha samo'pi ca yatraiva hi tirthe pitii siiti,
putro'pi tasmin sniiti. na ca tirtham putrasya sniiyato
bhm'ati. fl'amel'a api ca
dharmatair'aisii yasyiirJ}-fl'a pita asaddharmer;abhigacchati tenaiL'a
putro'pyadhigacchati. (page 158-159).
The mother class is like a road. The son also goes by the
same road by which the father goes. The road does not cause
any guilt to the son who goes after; the mother class is like that.
The mother class is like the ford in the river. The son also takes
his bath in the same ford where the father takes his bath; the
ford does not cause any guilt to the son, who takes his bath
there. The mother class is like that. Further. it is the prescribed
course of conduct in the border countries that the son also goes
to (or co-habits with) her, whom the father falls in with (or meets
From these two elaborations we may easily understand the
meaning of the other three, viz., husking machine, reward of merito-
rious deeds and cooked food, which are also meant for common use.
These practices are said in the Divyavadiina to be prevalent in the
border countries; they are said in the Abhidharma Kosa to be
prevalent among the Parasikas, or the Persians. As regards pakviinna,
or cooked food, it may be said that among the people of border
countries or Persia. in other words. the Muslims. there is communal
dining. But the main problem, i.e., the practice of cohabitation with
the mother class, including mother, sister and kinswoman, and the
killing of mother and father when they are old and diseased, which
also has been referred to as prevalent among the Persians, still re-
mains unsolved. I inquired of many Persian scholars, and they could
not throw any light on it. Therefore, a thorough search should be
made by the scholars of Anthropology regarding the origin of such
facts or myths.
There is mention not only of govrata, or cow-like life, but also of
kukkura-vrata, or the dog-like life, in the Kukkura-Vratika Sutra of the
Majjhima of the MaJjhima Nikii:"ya .. In these suttas, pun)a
Kolivaputta was a gO-1'mtika. or the follower of cow-like life, and Acela
Seniya was a kukkura-vratika, or follower of dog-like life. As men-
tioned above, there is some light thrown on go-vrata, or cow-like life,
but no light has yet been thrown on kukkura-vrata, or dog-like life,
except that the practicant is to sit crooked or bent like a dog (kukkuro
l'a palikujjih'ii fkal7lantall.l nisiditi) and to take food thrown on the
ground (chama nikkhittaT[l bhojanaT[l bhuiijati). Similarly, we come across
aja-vrata, or goat-like life (jataka, IV, 318), vagguli-vrata, bat-like prac-
tice G., I, 493: III, 235; IV, 229) and the like. These vratas indicate the
existence of different ascetic sects in ancient India. Do they exist in
other countries and is there mention of them in other religions? The
study of these things will certainly throw new light on Buddhism and
Buddhist culture.
Now, let us take mythology into consideration. There are many
Buddhist stories that have penetrated into Hindu mythology and the
Pural)as, sometimes with considerable change. Sometimes they take
the form of folk-tale; sometimes folk tales may be their source. For
illustration we may take the third story, "Tissa Thera Vatthu" of the
"Yamak Vagga" of the Dhammapada At,thakathii. In this at,takathii is the
story of the quarrel between Devila and Narada, two ascetics of the
Himalaya, who corne down to a town for salt and sour and stay in the
potter's halL When Narada wakes and goes out into the night, he
steps on the matted hair of Devila as the latter shifts in his sleep.
Devila gets annoyed and Narada asks his forgiveness. While return-
ing, Narada steps on Devila's neck, as Devila had shifted to avoid a
repetition. This time Devila gets furious and curses Narada, saying:
sahassaraT[lSi satatejo suriyo tamovinodano
prltodayiintf .I'll riYf l7Iuddhii tf phalatu sattadhii
The sun has thousand beams, a hundred glares, and dis-
pels darkness. Soon after the sun rises in the morning, let your
head break into seven pieces.
In return, Narada, who is innocent, curses Devila with the same
words. With his superhuman power he can see that the curse will
befall Devila, and out of compassion he does not allow the sun to rise.
As the sun does not rise and the darkness continues, people cannot do
,anY work. Troubled, they go to the King and blame him. But the king
cannot find any fault of his own, and apprehending that it may be on
'account of the quarrel between the ascetics, he finds Narada and
Devila at the potters' hall. Learning from N arada the story and the
remedy-thilt if Devila will apologize, the curse will be averted-the
king asks Devila to apologize. Devila obstinately refuses. Seeing no
other way out, the king asks his people to hold Devila by his hands
and feet and focibly throw him on the feet of N arada. N arada excuses
Devila, but as the apology was forced, he advises him to put a lump of
clay on his head and stand throat-deep in water in a pond. As soon as
the superhuman power is released, he must submerge. The moment
the sun-ray touches the lump of clay, it cracks into seven pieces.
Here, we see that two ascetics are involved in a quarrel and the
sun not allowed to rise. In the Mahahharata. Narada and Devila, or
Asita Devila, meet, but there is reference to a quarrel only in the Salya
Parua, Chapter 50. Narada, while overwhelmed with the Yogic power
of describes Devila, saying tapa niisti vismiipayati
'so 'sita'J!l. has no mortification or moral virtue, he simply
fills Asita with astonishment."
Narada has quarreled with the ascetic Parvata on account of the
marriage of the former with the pretty daughter of King Srinjaya,
though Parvata wanted to marry her. By curse, each debars the other
from going to heaven without him. (Drana Pan'a.) In the Santi Pan'a.
they are said to be maternal uncle and sister's son and, for the same
reason, Parvata curses Narada to be monkey-faced after marriage,
and Narada curses Parvata to be unable to go to heaven despite his
asceticism. There is no reference to the checking of the sun-rise.
But in the Miirka1}4eya Purii1}a (Vh. XVI), stopping the sun-rise
has been mentioned in the context of the birth of Dattatreya, who has
a connection with the introduction of the Natha cult, a later develop-
ment of Buddhism, though said to be Saivite. At there
is a Brahmin named Kausika, who is a leper on account of sins
committed in a previous life. While riding on the shoulders of his wife
in the darkness, he stumbles against Mal)qavya, who had been put on
an iron stake with the suspicion that he was a thief, though he was not.
Mal)qavya curses Kausika to die at sunrise, soon after he sees the sun.
Kausika's wife, on hearing this, forbids the sun to rise. Later on,
Anasuya persuades the wife of Kausika to withdraw her forbidding.
The sun rises, and soon thereafter Kausika dies. Before he falls to
earth, Anasuya holds him and, swearing by her chastity, brings him
back to life.
This story, with some modifications, is found in Oriya PuraIJas,
even in some versions of the Oriya Ramayana. In Orissa, it has taken
the shape of a folk tale where the motive of stopping the sunrise plays
an important part. It has given rise to a folk saying:
na pahu ratina maru pati
ekta rati hell sapata rati
Let the night not turn to dawn, let my husband not die,
may one night be (equal to) seven nights.
Buddhist influences such as these may be found in different
parts of India.
In the At.thakatha of the Buddhist Dharmapada. Narada is a ben-
evolent ascetic and Devala is an obstinate one. But when we come to
the Brahmal.lic mythology, Narada is depicted as the quarrelsome
one, as if in the Brahmal.lic traditions conscious attempts had been
made to deviate from the Buddhist traditions. To illustrate this, we
will recount the episode of Sumbha-Nisumbha.
In the Durga Saptdatl. popularly known as Car;rfi, Sumbha and
Nisumbha are said to be daityas, diinavas and asuras. These terms are
taken to be synonvmous. Sumbha and Nisumbha were brothers killed
bv the Durga. The defeat bv Durga of Sumbha-Nisumbha
and other asuras, like Raktavlrya, CaIJqa-MuIJqa, led to their
relegation to inferior positions in the BrahmaIJic culture.
But, when we come to the Buddhist culture, the picture is
something different. In the Guhya Samiija Tantra, Sumbha has been
given a position equal to that of deities like Vairocana, and maha-
krodhas like Yamantaka, Aparajita, Hayagrlva, Vajram:rta, Takkiraja,
Mahavala, NilandaIJqa, Vajracala and It is said there:
sumbha1[l jniiniigradharam krura1[l bhayodadhi samaprabham
trimukha1[l jviiIiircivapu0a1[l bhiivayet dhyiiniisuprabham (Guhya.
Page 71.) ,
One should meditate upon Sumbha, who holds the best of
knowledge, fierce, having the splendour of the ocean of fear,
three faces and body illuminated with the rays of flame and
bright with knowledge.
Further, in the same pataIa, it is said:
khm1ajramadhyagarJ} cinted sIlryamar;rfalamuttamam
buddha-vimba1[l vibhiivitvii vajra-sumbham prabhiivayet
jviiliircivapUJam sphiirantarrt meghavajri1Jam
t1ajrahastam mahiijt1ala'f!l bham_van siddhimapnu_vat
mukute' k!;obhyasamayarlJ dhyatva tU0tipravardhanam
e00 hisarvakrodhanarlJ samayo duratikramal} (Guhya_ p. 77)
One should think of the ·disc of the sun in the sky, and then
reflecting upon the image of Buddha should meditate upon Vajra
Sumbha, having a body of fiery rays of flame, shining (like a)
cloud, and holding a thunderbolt in his hand, having a body of
great flame and having on the crest. Thus meditating,
one attains the perfection causing satisfaction. This practice is
very difficult (unsurmountable) so far as all the krodhas (angers)
are concerned.
Thus we see that Sumbha is identified with great knowledge
and great anger and produced by Buddha himself.
atha bhagavan samayavijrmbhitavajrarlJ nama samiidhirlJ
samapadyema11.1 san1amjradharasamaya'?l sumbhamahakmdhaT!}
svakayavakcittavajrebhyo niscarayiimiisa. (Guhya-XIV Patala, Page
The Lord Buddha. in the meditation called samaym'ihm-
bitavajra, himself brought forth Sumbha Mahakrodha from his
own body, speech and mind.
Sumbha or Sumbha-Nisumbha is invoked as the deity of the vajra
kanyakar0a1'}a mantra, a magic spell or incantation for attracting girls.
The formula runs:
aT!} samantakaya t'ak citta t1ajrar;am_
on} sumbha nisumbha hilT!} [!;?-hr}a [!;?-hr;a hilT!} grhr;apa)la
grhTfapaya hiirlJ anaya ho, bhagavan vidyaraja hiirlJ phat. (Guhya, p. 86)
Here, he has been said in clear terms to be Vidyaraja, or chief of
This mantra, except for the first line, is quoted in the Pi1'}4ikrama
or Pi1Jrf,lkrama Sadhana of Nagarjuna.
In the Pir;cflkrama. Nagarjuna further elaborates the appearance
of Sumbha, for which the main source is Guhya Samiija. This is further
expounded in the Ni"panna Yogat'Gll. in the PiIfcj.ikramokta
In this mar.trf,ala, Sumbha-raja is said to be black hav-
ing three faces-black, white and red-and to hold a thunderbolt,
Wheel. diamond and noose, forefinger, lotus and sword.
kr.lI.W(1 krrr!a sita mktiinano ,'aim mkm ratna hrt sapii's atarjanl padma
Then it is said: "Ete' k<johh:vada"lo del'li I'ismpadmopari . ... "
These deities, like (ending .in Sumbha), are seated
atop the lotus of the universe. Here, Ak!?obhya and others, including
Sumbha, are said in clear terms to be deities.
Further, it is said there:
atra cakreSa eva saprajiial; aparadevatal; sumbhapmyanta nisprajiiah
cakra-sthastu yamantakadayal; sasvabhaprajiial; .
Here, the Lord of the circle alone has a Prajiia, and other
deities are without Prajiia; but when they are in the circle of
protection, all of them, i.e., Yamantaka and others (ending with
Sumbha) have Prajiias similar to them.
Sumbha or Sumbharaja appears, with slight variations, in other
mm!rja/as. too, such as the Maiiju Vajra, Vajrasattva, Vajra Hunkara
(Tricatvarimsadatmaka) Manju Vajra, Dharmadhatu Vagisvara and
Kalacakra. The Kalacakra ma't}rf,ala is a very elaborate and complicated
one, and includes various Hindu deities, whose position, however, is
much inferior to that of the Buddhist deities.
In the Heruka ma't}rf,ala, four-legged Heruka is said to be danc-
ing naked in the sun, trampling the hearts of four Maras, namely,
Hari, Hara, Hiral!yagarbha (Brahma) and Purandara (Indra), who
are supinely lying on the pericarp of the lotus of the universe. "Kiita-
giiras.'\'a madh"le lli.51
iibjas."Ia karr;ikoparyuttiinahari hara hirar;yagarbha
purandara nlpa mara mtllsta."Iadhrdayastha sIlrye catll:fcara!}o nagno . ..
an." These four, the principal deities of the Brahmins, are por-
trayed as Maras, and disparaged in the Buddhist tradition. In the
Bhutaqamara ma !}rja/a , too, these and other Hindu gods and god-
desses are relegated to an inferior position, as they are in the Durgati-
parisodhana I7W!}rja/a, of which Sri Sakvasirpha Bhagavan Vairocana,
with dharmacakra mudra, is the central deity. One of the many impor-
tant Brahmal).ic gods and goddesses placed at the outer circle is
Durga, who is said to be Sirpha Durga or Durga on a Lion. She is dark
blue (,Syama, a form of Durga) , holding mjra and cakra in the right
hand and pattisa and sankha (spear and conch) in the left. Such
illustrations are numerous in the Buddhist culture.
In the Sadhanamiila, No. 261, Sumbha is said to have four legs:
one right leg treads on Indral).i and Sri, the other on Rati and Priti;
one left leg treads on Indra and Madhukara, the other on Jayakara
and Vasanta. In N. 262, he is depicted with his left foot on the head of
'MaheSvara and the right on the breasts of Couri.
Why, of all deities, was Sumbha selected? In revenge for his
. killing by Durga, the consort of MaheSvara? He may have some
relation with Sumbha, which is both a country as well asa K:;atriya
tribe. According to the Sahdamtna1
ali. Sumbha is a country in the
eastern part of India. There, Buddhism once was widespread; at
present, Durga-worship has exterminated it. The conversion of the
deity Sumbha into a doitya, diinava or asura in the Durgii SaptaSatz and
Durga-worship may be the result of the victory of Brahamal).ic culture
over Buddhist.
The controversy between Brahmins and Buddhists is reflected
not only in the Siidhanamiila, but in the ma1f4alas of the Ni:;pannayogii-
vall. which allots inferior positions to the highest Brahmal).ic deities.
Referring to the subordinate position asqibed to the highest
Brahmal).ic deities in Buddhist works, the learned Dr. Bennoytosh
Bhattacharya says in the introductions to the Siidhanamiila and Ni:;-
"It is a matter of satisfaction however, that the Hindus
never disgraced any Cods belonging to the alien faith in this manner.
On the contrary. they placed Buddha amongst the ten Ayataras of
But is it a fact? What about the Buddhist deitv Sumbha? It is
true that Buddha is one of the Avataras of but for what
purpose and with what words? In the Bhiigavata Purii1'}a, one of the
most respected books of the Hindus, it is said regarding the Buddha
Kalau sa7JlpravrJte sammohiiya suradvi:;ii'J!l
buddho klkate:;u bhavi:;yati (Bhiig. 1/3/24.)
Then, when Kali (or the age of Kali) comes, Buddha, the
son of Aiijana. for the sake of misleading the enemies of the
suras (asuras). will be born in the country of Kikatas (Bihar).
The Bhagavata further says of Buddha, though not by name:
deva-dvi!jam nigamavartmani ni:;.fhitiiniim
PI( I'M irmmena 1
ihitahhi md!{'1atl( I'M
laka" ghnatal(1 mati-7.
imahamati pmlahham
ve!jam vihaya bahu bhii!jyata aupadharmya'J!l (Bhag. 1/17/37.)
(Buddha) ordained the apparel which beguiles and be-
wilders the minds of the enemies of the gods (asuras), who are
well grounded in the paths of the Vedas; he spoiled the people
by strongholds built by Maya, where haste or are not
noticeable; and he preached many false doctrines.
Is it true that the Buddha or Buddhist robes are meant to
beguile the asuras? Is Buddhism a false doctrine or inferior religion?
Further, the Bhagm'ata, after enumerating 22 Avataras, says:
ete can:zsakalal! pun:zsal! bJ:agavan svayam (Bhiig. 1/3/25.)
Of these some are part-Avataras and some (including Bud-
dha) are power-Avataras of the Supreme; alone is the
Bhagavan (fountainhead of all Avataras).
Thus, we see that in BrahmaIfism, Buddha is given a position
subordinate to
Further, why is Buddha called Anjana Suta? Who is Aiijana?
This reading is accepted even bv the 'Sabda Kalpadruma, and the
commentary says, further: ajinasllta iti pathe'pi sa ('"ua.
There is another reading, "ajina suta," and if this reading is
accepted, Ajina Suta also refers to the same person, viz" Buddha. But
neither Anjana nor Ajina has any relation with Buddha. The Bhiiga-
l'ata, Gita Press edition, reads as "jana suta." In one of the Oriya trans-
lations of the same verse, Buddha is said to have been born in the
house of a dvija, or Brahmin, thereby possibly adopting the reading
"dvija suta." All these posed problems to which I have tried to apply
the method of philology. In the reading, "buddha namna)ina I
removed the sign of elided "a" kara and got the reading "jina sutaZI."
which later on I found in one Oriya translation and in the edition of
the Bhaga-uata with Sridharsvami's commentary, where the reading is:
tatal! kalau san:zpravrtte sammohiiya suradv4am
buddho namna'janasutal!
The commentary says:
buddhavataramaha tata iti. ajanasya sutal!.
jinasutal! iti pathe jinopi sa eva.
This shows how ignorant of Buddhism the commentators and
redactors of the Brahmanic tradition are, and in what manner Bud-
dha is treated by them. Buddha is jina (Conquerer) himself; he is not
jina-suta or son of a jina.
Further, it shows the extent ofbitterntss between Buddhists and
. Brahmins. The consequences of this quarrel were disastrous. As Dr.
Beneytosh Bhattacharya notes in the Introduction to the
. fogrivali (P;22), "The Vimala Prabha, a commentary on the Kalacakra
Tantra, records that an invitation was extended to the highest Hindus
to embrace the worship of Kilacakra in order to ward off the evil of
Mleccha civilization which was sure to envelop the east and corrupt
the sons and daughters of both the Hindus and Buddhists. The
Hindus could join the Buddhists only on two conditions, namely inter-
dining and intermarriage with the Buddhists. It is said that the
Hindus at first refused both-but later on accepted the two condi-
tions owing to certain miracles."
From this, the learned and erudite scholar concludes that "the
fusion of cultures made what India is today." But is it true that the
Hindus later accepted the two conditions, owing to certain miracles?
Is there any sign of interdining and intermarriage even today? My
conclusion is that the India of today resulted not from the fusion of
cultures, but from the Hindus' refusal of the Buddhists' offer. The
Hindus and the Buddhists could not be united; they could not form a
united front against the Mleccha invasion. The Hindus gained su-
premacy over the Buddhists, the Buddhists were exterminated for-
ever from India, while India lost her independence and developed
the culture it has today.
Friends, I have taken enough of your time and inflicted enough
boredom on you. I am conscious of my short-comings. Some of my
findings and conclusions may not be acceptable to you. But I am
reminded of a Sanskrit saying:
skhalanar(l kvapi bhavatyeva
has anti durjanastatra samadadhati
When one goes forth, he slips at places on account of
inadvertence or oversight. The bad people laugh at that and the
good people set it right.
Inversely speaking, those who laugh are bad people and those
who set aright are good people. In my case, I want to modify one
word and read it:
skhalanar(l kvapi bhavatye va jara
hasanti durjanastatra samadadhati
I am an old man. On account of myoId age, I must have
stumbled down at many places. But I expect the good people, the
learned scholars to set me aright with their L:trge-heartedness.
Again, at the end I offer my sincerest thanks for offering me the
opportunity for contact with you and the pUlJya therefrom.
Editor's Note: The inconsistencies in style of the Sanskrit quotations are
due to the different presentations in varying Sanskrit texts.
Mr. Jose Cabezon .
Dept. of South Asian Studies
Universityof Wisconsin
Madison, WI 53706
Professor Roger Corless
P.O. Box 4735
Duke Station
Durham, NC 27706
Rev. Gary W. Houston
P.O. Box 217
Denver, IN 46926
Professor Shohie Ichimura
#27,38, 3-Chome
Sanda-cho, Hachioji-shi
Tokyo 193
Mr. Roger Jackson
Dept. of South Asian Studies
University of Wisconsin
Madison, WI 53706
Professor Anand Krishna
Dept. of History of Art
Banaras Hindu University
Varanasi 221005
Dr. P. Pradhan
Lewis Rd.
Bhuvaneshwar, 7,51014
Orissa, INDIA
Professor N. H. Samtani
Buddha Kutir
Banaras Hindu University
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Professor Nancy Schuster
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Mansfield, CT 06250
Professor Arvind Sharma
Dept. of Religious Studies
University of Sydney
Dr. Karel Werner
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