Bodhisattva Pratimoksa Sutra

Pratimoksasutra of the Hinayanists


By: Dr. Nalinaksa Dutta


The Pratimoksa sutra forms the Keystone of the disciplinary literature of the Buddhists, It is fortunate that not only the Patimokkhasutta of the Theravadins in  pali but also the Pratimoksasutra of the Sarvastivadins in Sanskrit are available for study, The latter has been discovered by the Pelliot mission in the ruins of Bouldour-aquor at Koutcha, and edited and published by Monsieur E.Huder in the Journal Asiatique (1913) along with a French translation of Kumarajibva's Chinese version of the work. This has been supplemented by Prof. La Vallee Poussin and Herr E. Waldschmidt. prof. Poussin ahs published a fragment of the Pratimoksa manuscript and the Sanskrit "Kammavaca" belonging to the stein collection, as also a fragment of the Sanskrti Bhiksuni Karmavacana (Oxford Sanskrit Ms. 1442) in collaboration with Miss C.M. Ridding , while Mr. Waldschmidt has brought out with ample philological and comparative notes the Bhiksuni Pratimoksa and Bhiksuni-Vibhanga of the Sarvastivadinas from the fragmentary manuscripts discovered and collected by the Prussian Turfan-expedition. the manuscripts of the Bhiksuni Pratimoksa were found in quzil and Sangim, while those of the Bhiksuni Vidhangsa were traced in the collection of paper manuscripts at Murtuq. the Chinese and Tibetan sources have also furnished us with ample materials for an exhaustive study of the Paratimoksasutra, and there fore, of the Vinaya of the various Hinayanic schools. Waldshmidt ahas fully utilised the Chinese and Tibetan versions of the Bhiksuni-Pratimoksa and Bhiksuni-Vibhanga n his work mentioned above. The editions of the Pratimoksa-sutras have greatly advanced our knowledge inasmuch as they have thrown light on the question of the probable form and language of there original Pratimoksa-sutra of the 4th or 3rd century B.C., and have thus saved to suggest a solution of the knotty problem as the language of the original Trupitaka. 


Pratimoksasutra of the Mahayanists.


Though our knowledge of the Hinayanic Pratimoksasutras has made a fair progress, we are yet in the dark about the Pratimoksasurta of the Mahayanists. It is only through the citations made by Santideva in his Siksasamuccaya and Bodhicaryavatara that we are aware of the existence of a Bodhisattva-Pratimoksa-sutra. Very likely it is this Sutra that corresponds to the Chinese Sutra no. 1500 Pu-sa-chih-pen) of the Taisho edition of the Chinese Tripitaka (vol. xxiv) which treats of Parajika and such other offence falling within the scope of a pratimoksa-sutra. The only other Mahayanic book that can be treated as a Pratimoksa-sutra is the Chinese brahmajala Sutra, of which we have a French translation (Le code du Mahayana en Chine) by De Groot. 


At the Library of the cambridge University, there is an manuscript entitled Bodhisattva Pratimoksa Sutra in the collection made by Bendall from Nepal. Through the courtesy of Dr.E.J.thomas I have been able to take a rotograph of the manuscript. It contains only ten leaves with six lines in each page, the size of her leaves in 10 inches by 2 inches. the right-hand end of almost every leaf is so much damaged that the last word of almost each line is either lost or illegible, In the appended edition have supplied the words as far as possible in the light of their Chines e translations where available ass also of their context, and the manner of wording usual in the Buddhist Sanskrit texts.


In line 1 of the last leaf (obverse side) of the ms., we find "Iti Bodhisattva-Pratimoksah" (see the attached plate) showing that the writer wanted to call the works a Bodhisattva Pratimoksa Sutra. Whatever may be the writer's intention, it is evident from the contents that the present manuscript has very little to do with the Bodhisattva Pratimoksa Sutra cited in the works of Santideva.


The Present Manuscript


This manuscript is divided into two parts, of which the first is intended to serve as a manual of the initiation to devotees, lay or recluse, into the Mahayanic rules of discipline, and the second is a dissertation on the apattis (offences) and anapattis (non-offencdes) of a Bodhisattva, the whole manuscript is really a compilation of extracts from different works, two of which evidently are the Bodhisattvabhumi and the Ujpalipariprcchasutra. The citations from the Bodhisattvabhumi appear in the first part and have been marked in the appended texts. the upalipariprcchasutra commences from leaf 5 (reverse side-see the attached plate). Judging by the contents, the first part should be called a Karmavakya, corresponding go the Kammavacam of the Burmese and Ceylonese Buddhists, and not a pratimoksa Sutra, the second part being a supplement ot it. The first part corresponds roughly to the first chapter (Ordination service) of the Kammavacam, detailing the formalities through which a candidate is to pass to undertake the discipline of a Bodhisattva. I the Bodhicaryavatara we have an account of 5theceremony of initiation of a Bodhisattva but it is written not in the characterstic form and style of manual of initiation-the form ands style in which the present ms. is written. I is in this manuscript that we of the first time come across the formal request and announcements necessary for the initiation of a devotee into the Mahayanic rules of discipline, and I think, this is the earliest book of its kind so far discovered.


Probable age of the Ms.


The ms. is written, as will be seen from the attached plates, in Ranjana character, a very old script prevalent in Nepal. about the 11th or 12th century A.D. Prof. Bendall has rendered easy our task of fixing the dates of Nepalese manuscripts by furnishing us with the tables of letters and numerals from dated mss. of various times from the 9th to the 18th century A.D.4' If the present manuscript be placed by the side of this table, it will be apparent that its letters and numerals are similar to those of the Cambridge University Library Mss. Now. Add. 1693 and 1686, both of which have been dated by Bendall to be 1165 A. D. Of the letters, the following may be particularly mentioned as bearing the closest resemblance to those of Ms. No. 1686:- e, ja, tha, dha , sa, sa and sa. Of the numeral, 2,3,4,8 and 9 are exactly similar to those of Ms. No. Add. 1693, and 5 and 6 to those of Ms. NO. Add. 1644. The date of the former ms., according to Bendall, is 1165 A.D. and that of the latte is l1139 A.D. Hence, we shall not be wide of the marked if we put the date of the present manuscript as the 12th century A.D. and it s composition, say, about a century or two earlier, i,e., about the 10th or 11th century A.D.


The Ceremony of Intiation in Some of the Late Works


The ceremony of initiation is described incidentally not only in the Bodhicaryavatara but also in two other late works, viz., the Advayavajrasangraha and the Kriyasangrahapanjika. 


In the Kudrstinirghatana, a section of the Advayavajrasangraha recently edited by Mm.H.P. Sastri, there is reference to the ceremony of Posadha (Uposatha) performed by a lay-devotee. It is exactly similar to practice still current among the Hinayana Buddhist in Chittagong, Burma adn Ceylon. On some Uposataha days, a lay-devotee, after taking Trisasrana, takes the vow of observing eight of the ten silas for one day or more. Usually a lay-devotee of the Hinayana school is required to observe only five silas. The Advayavajrasangraha also prescribes the same for Grahapatiu Bodhisattbvs. To this it, however, adds the mantric rituals which included  among other things not only a reference to the practice of Maitri (Love), Karuna (compassion), Mudita (Joy), and Upeksa (Indifference), but also the Papadesana, Anumodana and Bodhicitta. It is this additional ritual that gives a Mahayabnic or Mahayana-Tantric garb to the Hinayanic ceremony.


In the Kriyasangrahapanjika ( there are not only directions for the selection of building sites for monasteries, etc. But also an account of the duties of the Acarya and the Upadhyaya towards their disciple and vice versa, and to the formalities for receiving a candidate into  the clerical order. Mm. H.P. Sastri has facilated out work by reproducing in full in his Catalogue of Buddhist Manuscripts (pp. 123-6) the passage containing the rules of ordination. the passage may be summarised as follows:-


Pravrajya and Upasampada ordinations are to be give by an Acarya and Upadhyaya. The bhiksus did not know how the confer an ordination, so they inquired of Buddha, who gave the following directions:-


(i)                  The candidate should be first questioned as to whether he had any of the disqualifications debarring him from reception into the Buddhist Order.


(ii)                If he is found fit, he is to be imparted the Upasakasamvaras (disciplines meant for Lay-devotees) viz., Trisaranagamana and five Siksapadas.


(iii)               He is then to choose his Acarya and Upadhyaya.


(iv)              Next he is shaved (leaving a tuft of hair) and asked whether he is still resolute to retire from household life.


(v)                He is shaved (leaving a tuft of hair) and asked whether he is still resolute to retire from household life.


(vi)              He is now to take the vow of observing the ten Siksapadas.


(vii)             He then takes the robge, bowl and the student's waterpot by uyttering suitable mantras. And.


(viii)           Lastly he promises to observe the Uposathas and attain the five groups of acquirements, viz., sila, samadhi, prajna, vimukti, and vimuktijnanadarsana.


Mm.H.P. Sastri is of opinion that this was the form of ordination followed by the Mahayanists, his supposition to being based on the face that the manuscript belongs to one of the last developed schools of Mahayana, the ceremony summarised above is , in fact, Hinayanic without any indiacation which would give it a Mahayanic tinge except that Mahayanic schools has adopted it as its won. The absent of mention of 'Sarvabuddhas' and Bodhisattbas', no to speak of the high sounding promise and aspirations of a Bodhisattva, leads us to the belief that the works may have belonged to the later Period , but he rules of initiation give in it are taken in toto from some Hinayanic book of rituals, probably a Sanskrit Karmavakya.


In the Manuscript of the Kriyasangraha (leaf 36b-Panjikasangraha, leaf 198b) preserved in the Bibliotheque Nationale, there is a passage containing a description of Samvaragrahana written in the same style as that in the present manuscript. It runs as follows: 


Pj+ lj+zltk|sf/k'hfleM ;j{tyfutfg\ ;+u'Ho cfTdfg+ lgof{to]t\ . cfTdfg+ ;j{+a'4af]lw;Tj]Eof] lgof{tofld . ;j{bf ;j{sfn+ k|ltu[xGt' df+ dxfsf?l0fsf hfyf dxf;dol;l4~r d] k|oR5Gt' .


tRr s'znd'n+ ;j{;Tj;fwf/0f+ st{Jod\ . cg]g s'znd'n]g ;j{;TjfM ;j{nf}lssnf]sf]t/  ljkltljutf ejGt' . ;j{nf}lssnf]sf]t/ ;Dklt;dlGjtfZr ;x}j ;'v]g ;x{j ;f}dg:o]g a'4f eujGtf] ejGt' g/f]tdfM .


cg]g rfx+ s'zn]g sd{0ff ej]o+ a'4f], g lr/]0f nf]s] b]zo]o+ wDd{ hutf] lxtfo, df]ro]o+ ;Tjfg ax'b'MvkLl8tfg\ . lgTofg't/fof+ ;Dos;Daf]wf} kl/0ffdo]t\ .. Olt af]lwlrtf]tkfbM .. pTkfbofld k/d+ af]lwlrtdg't/d\ .. Olt ;+j/u|x0fd\ ..


(Translation: After worshipping all Tathagatas in twenty different ways, one should offer himself up, saying "I dedicate Accept me always and for al times, O Merciful Lords, and give me the Mahasamayasiddhi (Lit. perfection in the great doctrine)


He should wish that the merits thus acquired be shared by all beings, and thereby may all beings be free from their calamities, worldly or transcendental, and be possessed of prosperity, worldly or transcendental, and may they, easily and happily, become Buddha's, the Blessed One, the best of men.


By this god action may I become a Buddha, and soon preach the doctrine for the benefit of the world, and rescue beings from their many sufferings. Thus he should always direct his merits to the incomparable highest knowledge. This is called the 'Development of Bodhicitta'. This is acquiring 'Bodhisattva discipline'.


This passage is preceded by a formulary ending with the remark Olt kfkb]zgf and is followed by a description of the ceremony with the ending Olt cfrfof{leif]sM


In this description, the rituals for Samvaragrahana occur in the following order:-


(1)                Papadesana

(2)                Pujana and Vandana,

(3)                Parinamana,

(4)                Bodhicittotpada and

(5)                Acaryabhiseka.


In the Bodhicaryavatara also, Santidevca treats of the formalities to be undergone by a Bodhisattva for initiation, As they have been dealt with at length in my book, Aspects of Mahayana Buddhism (pp. 302-5), I shall mention here only the rites composing the ceremony:


(1)                Vandana and Pujana (worshipping Buddhas and Caityas);


(2)                Sarangamana (taking refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha),


(3)                Anumodana or Punyanumodana (expressions of sincere approval of others' good deeds),


(4)                Adhyesana or Yacana (entreating Buddha to b ethe guide of all beings ignorant as they are),


(5)                Parinamana (offering up one's merits to all beings for the sake of bodhi) and then


(6)                Bodhicittotpada (development of Bodhicitta)


First Part of the Ms.


The contents of the first part, in short, are as follows:- An adept approaches a qualified Bodhisattva, and entreats him in set words for initiation in to the disciplinary rules of a Bodhisattvsa. then he confesses his sins (pratidesana) formally and takes refuge in the Triratnha by uttering the Trisarana formula. He now develops Bodhicitta, and transfers (parinamana) the merits so far acquired by the above rites to all beings of the world and takes the vow of looking upon all beings as his very near kith and kin. He then formally chooses (acaryabhiseka) his acarya who presents him to all the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas and announces before them that so and so and been ordained by him called so and so.


It adds that if an adept cannot find a qualified Bodhisattva to give him the initiation, he should present himself before the image of a Tathagata and declare his intention. He should then proceed with the ceremonies described above.


From this account it is apparent that he present manuscript served only as a manual of ordination, containing as it does, the formula for the rites mentioned in the Mahayana works noticed before. The rites mentioned above are arranged thus:-


(1)                Yacana (entreating a Bodhisattva for initiation),

(2)                Papadesana,

(3)                Saranagamana,

(4)                Parinamana,

(5)                Bodhicittopada

(6)                Acaryabhiseka, and

(7)                Vijnapti

(=Pali: Nati= Announcement)


The second Part of the Ms.


The second part, as stated above, is made up of extracts from the Upalipariprcchasutra, from which citation are found in the Madhyamikavrtti, Siksasamuccaya and Bodhicaryavatara.


In Leaf 5b, line 5, it is stated that Upali had some doubts in his mind regarding the Binaya of the Mahayanists and wanted to have them removed by the Teacher. His request to Buddha "vyakarotuy tathagato Vinayaviniscayam" leads us to identify the word with the Chinese translation Yiu-po-li-hwui of Fo-shwo-chue-tin -phi-mi-kin restored by Nanjio as vinayaviniscaya Upali Pariprccha (Nanjio, now 23 (24) & 36]. These two Chinese translation corresponds to the Sutra no,. 325 {no, 310 (24)} of the Taisho edition of the Chinese Tripitaks, vol. XII, pp. 37-42Fo-shui-chueh-ting-phi-ni-king. On a comparison of the Sanskrit text as given in the present manuscript with the Chinese translation (Taishoed., XII, no. 325), we notice that it corresponds to the Chinese translation not from the beginning but from page 39,sec. iii, line 15up to page 40, sec. iii, line 16, including the inquiry of Manjusrikumarabhuta. This comparison reveals that the present ms. give only extract from the Upalipariprcchasdutrta and not the whole of it. The original wads larger and contained a versified portion, from which quotations are found in the Madhyamikavrtti (pp. 53, 121, 155, 191, 234, 256, 408), The last portion (Taishoed ., vol XII, p. 41, sec, 2 to p. 42, sec. 3) of the Chinese version clearly show that there were many verse in the original Sutra towards its end. the quotation give in the Madhyamikavrttifrom the Sutra are authentic because the Sanskrit verses agree with those of the Chinese, e.g., in page 155, the verse: Iha sasani suramaniyeetc. agrees literally with its Chinese version (p. 42, sec.i, last line & fol.).


Now , if we take into consideration the quotations found in the Siksasamuccya and the Bodhicaryavatara, we cannot have any room for doubt as to our manuscript presenting us only with extracts form the original Upalipariprcchasutera. In three places, the Siksasamuccaya has quoted the Sutra. two (pp. 164,* 178) of the three passages appear in the present manuscript. On comparison it becomes evident that in an abridged form. The passage cited o pp. 168-9 of the Siksasamuccaya when compared with its Chinese version (p. 38, sec. iii, 11, 4ff) shows also that he34 quotations given in a very concise form; so also is the citation at p. 178.


The main object of the second part of the manuscript is to point out the two standpoints, from which the disciplinary rules were viewed by the Hinayanists and the Mahayanists. In shout, the pith of the disciplinary rules of the Mahayanists lay in service to all beings, while that of the Hinayanists was self-purification. This has been clearly brought out in the second portion of the manuscript, where we find the following comparisons.


1.     That which is meritorious for a Bodhisattva is demeritorious of a  Saravaka, and vice versa: To wit, a Bodhisattva desires for repeated births in order to be able to render service to all beings while a Sravaka cannot even for a momen5t cherish thoughts for rebirths.  


2.     The aim fpo a Bopdhisattva is to works for the good of other beings- (;fg'/Iff lzIff_ but       this is not necessary for a Sravaka (lg/g'/Iff lzIff_                                                 


3.     If a Bodhisattva, after committing an offence, strivers for a while to develop and maintain the bodhiscitta (sarvajnatacitta), he can absolve himself from the offence (;kl/xf/f lzIff_ but this is not possible fore as Sravaka -lgMkl/xf/f lzIff_, for the latter should always be on the alert to get rid of Klesas (afflictions) like a man whose headdress is burning.


4.     A Bodhisattva may partake of Worldly enjoyments but he should at the same time maintain the Bodhicitta, and try to get rid of his klesas (affictions) by undergoing may births and not one -b'/fg'k|lji6f lzIff_ . A Sravaka, however, should acquire all the kusalamulas (merit-roots) and be always vigilant like the man with a burning headdress -;fjbfgf lzIff_ .


5.          If a Bodhisattva be guilty of actions done through raga (attachment) and dvesa (hatred), he si exonerated from sin in regard to those done through rage but not in regard to those done through dvesa, because raga makes him attached to his fellow beings (;Tj;+u|xfo jt{t]_ while dvesa makes him dissociated -;Tjkl/Tofufo jtt]_ from them, for a Sravaka, however, offences committed either through raga or through dvesa are equally blamable.


The Third Part of the Ms.


We are at present unable to gave any particulars about the third part of the manuscript as there re only a few lines of it on the last leaf. From these few lines, it is however clear that the writer wanted to explain here the Bodhicitta, Dharmanairatmuya, etc. by commenting upon some texts. It is rather striking that in the manuscript of the Driyasangraha belonging to the Bibliotheque National, there appears also a dissertation on Sunya as similar to Akasa and so forth just after the ceremony of Samvaragrahana. Other scholars will, I hope, take up this clue in futire and complete the work by tracing the missing pages at least its contents.  




 Back to top