(Noble Maudgalputra and Shariputra)
 
 
 

The Life of Most Excellent Shariputra

 

“Thus have I heard”

 
 
The site of His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa tells us: “The great University of Nalanda was founded by King Kumaragupta, who reigned c. 415-455 AD. When Fa-Hien visited Nalanda in the fourth century it was a rather desolate little place called Nala, chiefly remembered for being the village where Shariputra was born and where his remains were laid to rest in a Stupa.”1 Being inspired by this statement and having the opportunity to resort to invaluable accounts available in the Pali Dictionary, let us call to mind what Venerable Nyanaponika Thera wrote in his introduction to The Life of Shariputra: “If you, the reader, can gather from this imperfect record something of the qualities of man perfected, of man fully liberated and raised to the highest level of his being, of how such a man acts and speaks and comports himself towards his fellows, and if the reading of it gives you strength and faith in the assurance of what man may become, then our work has been worthwhile and is fully rewarded.”2
Most Excellent Shariputra - one of Lord Buddha’s most eminent disciples and one of the most revered luminaries the world has seen - was born “pleasant looking, a radiant feature like refined gold. (…) He was taken to his grandfather who bestowed upon him the name Nye-rgyal after the father’s name sKar-rgyal. However, the Brahman sKar-rgyal, having said that this reflects a father side of the name, gave him the name Sa-ri-bu that reflects a mother, Sa-rika’s name. Therefore, some mentioned him as Sa-rika’s son Sa-ri-bu, while others mentioned him as the Brahmin son Nye-rgyal.”3
Venerable Nyanaponika Thera tells us that not far from the city of Rajagriha, Shariputra was born in Upatissa and is therefore often referred to as Upatissa.  Maudgalputra, Maha Moggalana in Pali, was born in the neighbouring village Kolita and is therefore often referred to as Kolita. The “two families were closely connected, having been friends with one another for seven generations. (…) Both mothers gave birth to their boys on the same day.”4
One day the lads visited a festival and the same thought occurred to both of them while watching the performances. Shariputra turned to his friend and confided in him, “My dear Kolita, to look at these things here is of no benefit at all. It is utterly worthless. I ought to seek a teaching of deliverance for myself. That, my Kolita, is what I was thinking while seated here. But you, Kolita, seem to be discontented, too.” In response to what they both discerned, they travelled through the whole of India seeking meaningful advice and when home again they agreed, “He who should attain to the Deathless State first should inform the other. It was a pact of brotherhood, born of a deep and genuine friendship between the two young men. Some time after they had made that agreement, the Blessed One, the Buddha, came to Rajagriha.”5
While wandering through town, Shariputra noticed a stunning figure begging for alms and followed him. After finding a suitable opportunity and tending to his needs generously, Shariputra asked the man called Assaji, “Serene are your features, friend. Pure and bright is your complexion. Under whom have you gone forth as an ascetic? Who is your teacher and whose doctrine do you profess?” Assaji replied, “There is, O friend, the Great Recluse, the scion of the Sakyas, who has gone forth from the Sakya clan. Under that Blessed One I have gone forth. That Blessed One is my teacher and it is his Dhamma that I profess.” Shariputra asked Assaji to share some teachings with him. Reluctant, the stanza that Assaji then spoke moved Sariputta deeply. Assaji said:
 
Of all those things that from a cause arise,
Tathagata the cause thereof has told;
and how they cease to be, that too he tells,
this is the doctrine of the Great Recluse.”6 
 
Shariputra immediately understood and hastened to tell his friend the wonderful news. Throughout his life, Shariputra continued holding Assaji in highest esteem and we are told that from the day of this first meeting, in whatever quarter he heard that Assaji was staying, he would extend his clasped hands in reverence and in that direction he would turn his head when he lay down to sleep.7
When Shariputra and Maudgalputra hurried to the Bamboo Grove Monastery where the Buddha was teaching, Lord Buddha saw them approaching and “told the assembly of monks: ‘These two friends, Upatissa and Kolita, who are now coming, will be two excellent disciples to me, a blessed pair.’ Having requested ordination, the Buddha told them: ‘Come, O Bikkhus! Well proclaimed is the Dhamma. Now live the Life of Purity to make an end of suffering!’ This alone served as the ordination of these venerable ones.” Nyanaponika Thera wondered, “Now it may be asked: Did not the Venerable Shariputra possess great wisdom; and if so, why did he attain to the disciple’s perfections later than the Venerable Maha Moggallana? The answer is, because of the preparations necessary for it. When poor people want to go anywhere they take to the road at once; but in the case of kings, larger preparations are required, as for instance to get ready the elephant and chariots, and so on.”8 Oo Maung summarized Shariputra’s accomplishments and wrote that he was the right-hand disciple and that Maudgalputra was the left-hand disciple of the Buddha.9
Lord Buddha instructed Noble Shariputra the vast array of trainings that need to be practiced heedfully, among others “the cultivation of tranquillity, the destruction of ego, the reasons for failure and success in enterprises, the methods of exhortation, the acquisition of joy that comes through benevolence, the noble training for laymen, six things that bring spiritual progress, the seven grounds for praising a monk, the things and persons a monk should honour, the eight attributes of a monk, the nine types of persons free of rebirth in a lower realm.”10
The Buddha predicted in the third chapter of the Lotus Sutra that Shariputra would become a Buddha named “Flower Glow.” The Buddha said: “Thou also, son of Sari, shalt in future be a Gina,11 a Tathagata named Padmaprabha, of unlimited sight; thou shalt educate thousands of kotis of living beings. After paying honour to many kotis of Buddhas, after making strenuous efforts in the course of duty, and after having produced in thyself the ten powers, thou shalt reach supreme, perfect enlightenment.”12 Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche taught the ten powers according to the verses by His Holiness the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje. They are: “(1) The knowledge of appropriate and inappropriate actions; (2) the knowledge of the ripening of karma, (3) of natures, (4) aptitudes and (5) aspirations; 6) the knowledge of the destinations of all paths, (7) (the possession) of dhyana, (8) divine sight, (9)  the memory of previous lives, and (10) peace.”13
The next verses in the Lotus Sutra describe Shariputra’s mandala: “Within a period inconceivable and immense there shall be an eon rich in jewels and a sphere named Viraga,14 the pure field of the highest of men; and its ground will consist of lapis lazuli, and be set off with gold threads; it will have hundreds of jewel trees, very beautiful, and covered with blossoms and fruits. Bodhisattvas of good memory, able in showing the course of duty, which they have been taught under hundreds of Buddhas, will come to be born in that field. And the afore-mentioned Gina, then in his last bodily existence, shall, after passing the state of prince royal, renounce sensual pleasures, leave home, and thereafter reach the supreme and the highest enlightenment.”15
Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche tells us, “Because he knew the inclinations of human beings and because he knew what would be best for those who sought his advice, Buddha Shakyamuni sent those students ready for clearer insight to his noble disciple Shariputra, who instructed them in reasoning and valid cognition. Lord Buddha sent those followers attracted to miracles to his excellent disciple Maudgalputra, who performed miraculous deeds so that they would be able to have trust. The Buddha sent those pupils sensitive to respectful behaviour to his perfect disciple Katyaputra, who displayed discipline so that they would be encouraged and assured that the Noble Doctrine he had realized is sincere.”16
Excellent Shariputra asked Lord Buddha invaluable questions. In the assembly of monks and nuns, Shariputra “was declared by the Buddha foremost among those who possessed wisdom. He was considered by the Buddha as inferior only to himself in wisdom. His greatest exhibition of wisdom followed the Buddha’s descent from Tavatimsa17 to the gates of Sankassa, when the Buddha asked questions of the assembled multitude, which none but Sariputta could answer. But some questions were outside the range of any but a Buddha. Similarly, knowledge of the thoughts and inclinations of people were beyond Sariputta; only a Buddha possesses such knowledge.“ Furthermore, “Only a Buddha is able to present suitable subjects for meditation for everybody without error and can read their past births without limitation.18
“The Buddha would frequently merely suggest a topic and Sariputta would teach a sermon on it in detail and thereby win the Buddha’s approval. The Buddha is recorded as speaking in high praise to him: ‘Wise art thou, Sariputta, comprehensive and manifold thy wisdom, joyous and swift, sharp and fastidious.’ (…) The Anupada Sutta19 is one long eulogy of Sariputta by the Buddha. He is there held as the supreme example of the perfect disciple who has risen to mastery and perfection in
 
noble virtue, noble concentration, noble perception, and noble deliverance.” 20
 
The Buddha did not, however, hesitate to blame Sariputta when necessary, e.g., on the occasion when some novices, becoming nosy, were sent away by the Buddha, whose motive Sariputta misunderstood.
In A Guide to Shamata Meditation, Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche explained the practice of tong-leng, “taking and sending,” and spoke of an episode in the life of Shariputra: “It is a very good thing to think in terms of accepting our suffering and trying to really be open to others in a compassionate way. But to do it properly we have to train our mind first. We try to think that we really want to give something to others and really want to take on and relieve their suffering. It is only through training ourselves that a really pure motivation can be born in us. Once we have this pure motivation, then we can reliably help others. We cannot change another person's karma, but we are able to change the immediate conditions that are affecting them. If we have true compassion, we will be able to do a great deal.
“What is most important is to have pure motivation. Once we have the genuine wish to help other beings, we will really be able to help them. We find that if we try to help others when we're not ready, we will regret it afterwards. For example, when Shariputra resolved to reach enlightenment for the sake of all beings, he decided to give away anything that was asked of him. One day a demon wanted to make trouble so he came along and said, ‘Give me your hand.’ Because Shariputra didn't want to refuse, with much courage he cut off his right hand and gave it to the demon. The demon just laughed at him and said, ‘I didn't want your right hand. I wanted your left hand.’ Then, of course, Shariputra thought it was a bit too much and regretted it.”21
Noble Shariputra was an extraordinary teacher and friend, for instance, “Anuruddha told Sariputta of his power of seeing the thousand-fold world system, his unshaken energy, and his untroubled mindfulness. Sariputta tells him that his deva sight and his claims to energy are mere conceit and his mindfulness just worrying. He exhorts Anuruddha to abandon thoughts. Anuruddha follows his advice and becomes an arahant.”22 On attaining the state of an Arhat, Noble Anuruddha described his teacher, Shariputra inseparable from Lord Buddha:
 
Knowing my thoughts,
the Teacher, unexcelled in the cosmos,
came to me through his power in a body made of mind.
He taught in line with my thoughts, and then further,
the Buddha, delighting in non-complication, taught non-complication.
Knowing his Dhamma, I kept delighting in his bidding.
The three knowledges have been attained;
the Buddha's bidding done.23
           
The Pali Dictionary states: “The care of the Sangha and the protection of its members’ integrity was Sariputta’s special concern by virtue of his position as the Buddha’s Chief Disciple. When Channa declared his intention of committing suicide, Sariputta attempted to dissuade him but without success. Monks sought his advice in their difficulties. Another rule forbade monks to eat garlic and when Sariputta lay ill and knew he could be cured by garlic, even then he refused to eat it until permission was given by the Buddha. The Dhammapada Commentary24 describes how, when the other monks had gone for alms, he made the rounds of the entire monastery, sweeping, filling empty vessels with water, arranging furniture, etc. But he did not escape censure from his critics. Even though he was severe with those who failed to follow the discipline, he did not hesitate to rejoice with his fellow monks in their success. Sariputta always visited the sick, as did the Buddha himself. So great was his desire to encourage and acknowledge virtue and merit in his colleagues and friends that it was very difficult for him to proclaim Devadatta’s evil nature at the bidding of the Sangha.”25
            “Several instances are given of Sariputta instructing the monks and teaching them of his own accord. Sometimes these suttas were supplementary to the Buddha’s own discourses. Among the most famous of Sariputta’s discourses are the Dasuttara and the Sangiti Suttas.26 Though Sariputta was friendly with all the eminent monks surrounding the Buddha, there was very special affection between him, Ananda, and Moggallana. We are told that this is because Ananda was the Buddha’s special attendant, a duty which Sariputta would have been glad to undertake. Ananda himself had the highest regard and affection for Sariputta. It is recorded in the Samyutta Nikaya27 that once the Buddha asked Ananda, ‘Do you also, Ananda, approve of our Sariputta?’ Ananda replied, ‘Who, Sir, if not childish or corrupt or stupid or of perverted mind, will not approve of him? Wise is he, his wisdom comprehensive and joyous and swift, sharp, and fastidious. Small is he in his desires and is always content. Loving seclusion and detached of rampant energy, a master is he, accepting advice, a critic, and a scourge for evil-doers.’ Venerable Ananda questioned Noble Shariputra on many occasions, requesting advice on how a monk should learn. Shariputra asked Ananda to answer specific questions himself and afterwards praised him for having done so.”28 Nyanaponika Thera tells us, “Whenever the Venerable Ananda received choice robes or other requisites he would offer them to Shariputra and, in the same way, Shariputra passed on to Ananda any special offerings that were made to him.”29
            Lord Buddha entrusted his son Rahula to Shariputra, who also had special regard for Anathapindika, the wealthy businessman who invited Lord Buddha to come to Savatthi and who met all arrangements that the Buddha had requested of him. When Anathapindika returned to Savatthi, he purchased a park near the town and built a large monastery there. Called Jetavana, this park became the Buddha's favourite resort and he spent every rainy season of the last 20 years of his life except one there. Today the ruins of Jetavana's many monasteries are set in attractive and peaceful gardens. The Buddha delivered more discourses there than in any other place, e.g., the Kakacupama Sutta, the Vimamsaka Sutta, and the Angulimala Sutta.30 When Anathapinika was very ill, he asked his attendants to call for Shariputra and Ananda so that they guide him through his fears, which they did. “Shariputra preached to the dying man on non-attachment, and Anathapindika was greatly moved by the profound discourse. Another sickbed sermon given by the Elder to Anathapindika is preserved in the Sotapatti-Samyutta. In this discourse, Anathapindika is reminded that those things which lead to rebirth in states of woe are no longer in him, but that he possesses the four basic qualities of Stream-entry and the eight path factors: in reflecting this, his pains subsided.”31 The teachings they presented on that sad occasion have come to be known as the Anathapindikavoda Sutta, the Kundakakucchisindhava Jataka and Losakka Tissa; they all enumerate that Shariputra had intense compassion for the weak and poor and was always eager to help whenever he was called.
Once a Brahmin hit him on the head as he entered town for alms and Shariputra did not shy away from defending himself and speaking of his own good qualities. Once a novice made him aware of his negligence and Shariputra thanked him for pointing it out to him. The stories of Sukha, Pandita, and Radha tell about the generosity he extended towards anyone who had been kind to him. It is also noted that he was very fond of meal cakes but thought it was better not to eat them because, he realized, they made him greedy.32  Nyanaponika Thera added, “From all of this it is evident that Venerable Shariputra was a master of all the stages of attainment up to and including the highest insight-knowledge. What could be more aptly said of him than this, in the Buddha’s own words:
 
If one could ever say rightly of one that he has come to mastery and perfection
in noble virtue, in noble concentration, in noble wisdom, and noble liberation,
 it is of Shariputra that one could thus rightly declare.
 
If one could every say rightly of one that he is the Blessed One’s true son,
born of his speech, born of the Dhamma, formed of the Dhamma, heir of the Dhamma,
not heir to worldly benefit, it is Shariputra that one could thus rightly declare.
 
After me, O monks, Shariputra rightly turns the supreme Wheel of Dhamma,
even as I have turned it.33
 
In the Sampadasadaniya Sutta, Shariputra worships the Buddha and declares, “There has been, is, and will be no one greater than the Buddha, or wiser, as regards sambodhi. He admits, in answer to the Buddha, that he knows nothing either of past Buddhas or of future ones, and that he is unable to comprehend the Buddha's mind with his own. But he knows the lineage of the norm and is able to deduce therefore the qualities of past and future Buddhas. He then proceeds to recount the qualities and attainments in which the Buddha is unsurpassed and unsurpassable. The Buddha agrees that Sariputta’s statements are in agreement with the Dhamma. (…) The Sutta ends with an exhortation by the Buddha that Sariputta should often discourse on this topic to men and women that their doubts may be set at rest.”34
One day Noble Shariputra returned to his mother to thank her for all she had done for him. Having become very sick shortly after having arrived in the small village near Nala and bedridden in the room in which he was born, the Four Regent Deities of the First Realm of the Heavens of Desire, King Sakka of the Second Realm of the Heavens of Desire, and Maha Brahma from one of the Seventeen Form Realm Heavens visited and waited on him.35 Venerable Shariputra’s mother saw them and asked her son if he were really that extraordinary. When he replied that it was so, she reflected on the preciousness of her son and her whole body was filled with joy. Shariputra then taught her what he himself had realized and she became a sotapanna.36 Feeling he had honoured and sincerely repaid his mother for all she had done for him, he requested that his brother Cunda call the monks. When they arrived, he asked them if he had offended them in any way during the forty-four years of his life as a monk. After having received their assurance that he had always been considerate, helpful, and kind, at the break of dawn on the full moon day of Kattika (October or November) he laid down and died.37
Precious Shariputra left this life shortly before the Buddha passed into Parinirvana. The commentary to the Mahaparinibbhana Sutta38 records his confession of faith in Lord Buddha before he took leave to go home.
His brother Cunda supervised the cremation of his body and heedfully guarded the rare relics as well as the begging bowl and outer robe that Shariputra once owned. “The Commentary to the Mahaparinibbhana Sutta states that after his Parinibbana, the Buddha held the white-coloured relics of Venerable Sariputta in His hand and extolled his virtues in five hundred verses.”39
After he passed away, Shariputra taught the Abhidharma to the divine beings living in Trayastrimsa, the Sanskrit term for “Heaven of Thirty-three,” the second of the six heavens in the celestial realm of desire. It is said that the Buddha would visit every day and leave an image of himself on the Sakka Throne to instruct the noble assembly in his stead, while he continued teaching Shariputra outside the great assembly hall of the celestial palace. Later Noble Shariputra passed on the Seven Books of Abhidharma Pitaka of the Pali Canon to his 500 pupils.40
Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche reminds us: “Generally speaking, Tibet is renowned throughout the world as being the home of the secret mantra Vajrayana teachings. However, not only was the Vajrayana taught in Tibet, but the Mahayana Dharma was also studied and practiced. With the Vajrayana being widely practiced in Tibet, meditation was also practiced. With regard to meditation, there are the particular traditions, the views and practices of Mahamudra, the ‘great symbol,’ and Dzogchen, the‘ great completeness.’ However, what is the basis from which such Dharma arose? It is the sutras or the teachings of the Buddha and the shastras or the commentaries that were composed in India by the great scholars and accomplished persons.
            “At the time of Asanga, the principal place for the study of the Dharma in India was the Nalanda Monastic University. A short time previous to Asanga’s birth a great fire had broken out at Nalanda and destroyed many books, in particular, the texts of the Abhidharma. It was not possible to repair that damage right away so a nun called Tsawai Tsultrim thought, ‘I won’t be able to refurbish and spread this teaching by myself. I could, however, give up the nun’s life and give birth to sons who would be able to study these teachings, that would allow for the restoration of the Abhidharma teachings.’ She did so and gave birth to two sons: Asanga, whose father came from royalty, and Vasubhandu, whose father came from the Brahmin cast. These brothers spread the Buddhist teaching widely and, in particular, the teachings of the Abhidharma.
            “According to the tradition of the time, a son took up the work that his father had done. So at a certain point, the two sons of the former nun Tsawai Tsultrim asked her, ‘Who are our fathers? What work do they do? We want to prepare for the work that our fathers do.’ The mother replied to them, ‘Taking up the livelihood of your father is not the purpose of your being here; rather the purpose for your being here is to train in the Abhidharma teachings. A great deal of harm has come to these teachings; they have been damaged and have practically disappeared. So that they won’t disappear completely, you need to study and teach them. That is the reason why you are here.’
“The younger son, Vasubhandu, went to study with a Kashmiri teacher called Gendün Tsabmo and received the teachings on the Abhidharma, which is often now called the Theravada Tradition.”41 
Noble Nagarjuna was preordained by Buddha Shakyamuni to recover the Prajnaparamita Sutra, one of the most profound discourses on Lord Buddha’s Second Dharmachakra that has been offered the world. Having won a slight impression of the life of Venerable Shariputra and aware of the manifold teachings scattered throughout the sutras, which are not easily accessible to followers and practitioners, let us turn our attention to the short version of the essential teachings that Shariputra received after having requested - more than 2,500 years ago - and that were entrusted to the nagas by Venerable Ananda. They were retrieved by Noble Nagarjuna nearly 600 or 700 years after they were spoken for the greater benefit of followers worldwide.42
 
 
Relics of Excellent Shariputra
shown at the Great Relic Tour in major cities worldwide in 2005
 
 
 

The Heart of Prajnaparamita Sutra

 
 
“Thus have I heard. Once the Blessed One was dwelling in Rajagriha at Vulture Peak mountain, together with a great gathering of the Sangha of monks and a great gathering of the Sangha of Bodhisattvas. At that time the Blessed One entered the samadhi that expresses the Dharma called ‘profound illumination,’ and at the same time Noble Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva Mahasattva, while practicing the profound Prajnaparamita, saw in this way: he saw the five skandhas to be empty of nature.
Then, through the power of the Buddha, Venerable Shariputra said to Noble Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva Mahasattva, ‘How should a son or daughter of noble family who wishes to practice the profound Prajnaparamita train?’
Addressed in this way, Noble Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva Mahasattva, said to Venerable Shariputra, ‘O Shariputra, a son or daughter of noble family who wishes to practice the profound Prajnaparamita should see in this way: seeing the five skandhas to be empty of nature. Form is emptiness; emptiness also is form. Emptiness is no other than form; form is no other than emptiness. In the same way, feeling, perception, formation, and consciousness are emptiness. Thus, Shariputra, all dharmas are emptiness. There are no characteristics. There is no birth and no cessation. There is no impurity and no purity. There is no decrease and no increase. Therefore, Shariputra, in emptiness, there is no form, no feeling, no perception, no formation, no consciousness; no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind; no appearance, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, no dharmas, no eye dhatu up to no mind dhatu, no dhatu of dharmas, no mind consciousness dhatu; no ignorance, no end of ignorance up to no old age and death, no end of old age and death; no suffering, no origin of suffering, no cessation of suffering, no path, no wisdom, no attainment, and no non-attainment. Therefore, Shariputra, since the Bodhisattvas have no attainment, they abide by means of Prajnaparamita.
Since there is no obscuration of mind, there is no fear. They transcend falsity and attain complete nirvana. All the Buddhas of the three times, by means of Prajnaparamita, fully awaken to unsurpassable, true, complete enlightenment. Therefore, the great mantra of Prajnaparamita, the mantra of great insight, the unsurpassed mantra, the unequalled mantra, the mantra that calms all suffering, should be known as truth, since there is no deception. The Prajnaparamita mantra is said in this way:
 

OM GATE GATE PARAGATE PARASAMGATE BODHI SVAHA

 

Thus, Shariputra, the Bodhisattva Mahasattva should train in the profound Prajnaparamita.’

Then the Blessed One arose from that samadhi and praised Noble Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva Mahasattva, saying, ‘Good, good, O son of noble family; thus it is, O son of noble family, thus it is. One should practice the profound Prajnaparamita just as you have taught and all the Tathagatas will rejoice.’"
When the Blessed One had said this, Venerable Shariputra and Noble Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva Mahasattva, that whole assembly and the world with its gods, humans, asuras, and gandharvas rejoiced and praised the words of the Blessed One.”
 
 
The Mantra
in conjunction with the Five Paths that lead to Perfect Realization
 
 
In conjunction with the Five Paths of the Three Vehicles (marga in Sanskrit, lam in Tibetan, which means “path”) the first GATE in the great mantra of emptiness refers to accumulation, the accumulation of teachings and practice on the first path called “accumulation,” sambhara-marga in Sanskrit, tsogs-lam in Tibetan; it is the path of the destructible vessel of Devamarga and Brahmamarga that leads to the heavens of the desire realm and the heavens of the wholesome and good. The second GATE in the great mantra of emptiness refers to the practice and accomplishment of unification on the path called “unification,” prayoga and sbyor-lam; it is the destructible path of the shravaka-marga in Sanskrit, nyen-tos-kyi-lam in Tibetan, the path that unifies the first path of accumulation with the third path of seeing and that is achieved by practicing the teachings of Shravakayana. PARAGATE refers to practice and accomplishment of the third indestructible great path called “seeing,” dakshana-marga and rang-rgyal-kyi-lam; it is the path of the Pratyekabuddhas, the “solitary realizers,” who accomplish seeing emptiness of the self of the individual. PARASAMGATE refers to practice and accomplishment of the fourth indestructible path called “meditation,” bhavana-marga, sgom-lam; it is the path of Mahayana, teg-pa-chen po’i-lam. BODHI SVAHA is realization of the fifth stage of no more learning (which is actually not a path anymore), guyamantra-marga in Sanskrit, mi-slob-pa’i-lam in Tibetan; it is realization of Vajrayana,  gsang-sna-kyi-lam in Tibetan and is mtha-phyin-pa’i-lam, “arrived at the end,” “ultimately perfected” – thar lam.
The sacred syllable GATE is often translated as “gone,” and PARA is often translated as “beyond,” meaning beyond what is destructible, the reason the perfection of the third GATE is PARAGATE and indestructible. BODHI SVAHA is described in The Heart of Prajnaparamita Sutra and are the words spoken by Lord Buddha,
 
“Thus it is”
 
 

 

 

Compiled  & written by Gaby Hollmann, June 2006

 


1 The site of His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa, Monastic Buddhism in the Medieval Period and the 84 Mahasiddhas. The Library of Member Essays, in: The Dharma Fellowship of His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa, 2006.
2 The Life of Shariputra. Compiled & translated from the Pali texts by Nyanaponika Thera, Buddhist Publication Society, Sri Lanka, 1987, available for free distribution in: The Wheel Publication, no. 90/92, Dharma Net-Dharma Book, June 2006.  
3 Bulletin of Tibetology, 1997, in the site: Thdl/texts/1997, May 2006.  It is evident that this text was translated from Tibetan, since Nye-rgyal can possibly mean “prince royal.” It is defined in the online dictionary as “nye rgyal ni sha ri'i bu zhe, Upatisya, now known as Sariputra.” Rangjung Yeshe Tibetan-English Dictionary, 2006. -sKar-rgyal means “the “victorious star” and can possibly mean “king.” Sa-ri means “earth and mountains,” and bu means “son.” 
4 See The Life of Shariputra written by Venerable Nyanaponika Thera that is readily available and quoted here.
5 The Life of Shariputra by Nyanaponika Thera.  See also Pali Online Dictionary, Sariputta.
6 Tathagata is the Sanskrit term that means “Splendour of Excellence, Buddha,” De-bzhin-gshegs-pa in Tibetan. “This gatha, ‘verse,’ was later to become one of the best known and most widely-disseminated stanzas of Buddhism, standing for all time as a reminder of Shariputra’s first contact with the Dhamma and also as a worthy memorial to Assaji, his great Arahat teacher.” The Life of Shariputra, ibid.
7 See the Pali Dictionary, Assaji. Introducing Assaji in more detail, the Dictionary wrote that he “was the last in whom dawned the eye of Truth, and the Buddha had to discourse to him and to Mahandama while their three colleagues went for alms. He became an arahant, together with the others, at the preaching of the Anattalokkana Sutta.” The Anattalokhana Sutta contains the teachings that no self can be found in any of the five skandhas. – See also The Long Discourses of the Buddha - A Translation of the Digha Nikaya (Teachings of the Buddha). Translated by Maurice Walshe, Wisdom Publications, London, 1996.
8 The Life of Shariputra.
9 See Some Biographic Notes on the Buddha by Oo Maung, in Nibbana.com.
10 Pali Online Dictionary, Sariputta. – See Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, The Practice of Tranquillity and Insight, Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca, 1993.
11 Jina is rgyal-dka in Tibetan, “invincible, unconquerable.” – “rGgyal kha – (khe dang rgyal kha sems can la sbyin/ gyong dang bub ka rang gis len) offering gain and victory to sentient beings and taking loss and defeat for oneself; rgyal kha - khe dang rgyal kha - gain and success;  rgyal kha - victory, success, triumph.” Rangjung Yeshe Tibetan-English Dictionary.
12 Saddharma-Pundarika. The Lotus Sutra. Translated by H. Kern (1884). Sacred Books of the East, vol. III, in the site: Sacred-texts, 2006, verses 23 & 24.
13 Venerable Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, The Buddha Nature. Instructions on A Treatise entitled: “A Teaching on the Essence of the Tathagatas (The Tathagatagarbha)” by the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje, according to An Illumination of the Thoughts of Rangjung (Dorje): A Commentary to “The Treatise that Teaches the Buddha Nature” by Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye the Great. Translated from Tibetan by Peter Roberts, presented at the Namo Buddha Seminar in Oxford, 1990, unpublished manuscript.
14 Viraga means “dispassion that embodies the Noble Eightfold Path,” which is the aim of the holy life as taught by the Buddha.
15 Saddharma-Pundarika. The Lotus Sutra, ibid.
16 Venerable Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, The Buddha Nature, ibid.
17 The Kalachakra and Mahamudra instructions speak of Tushita on this occasion, the sambhogakaya realm that Lord Buddha visited to speak with his mother Mayadevi in order to thank her for all she had done for him by presenting the Dharma to her. We can assume that there is no controversy of the one being higher than the other if we appreciate that Lord Buddha passed through all realms when he descended from Tushita
18 See the list of ten powers that Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche presented above. At this stage in the recollections, Shariputra had evidently not attained the ten powers.
19 See Anupada Sutta. Uninterrupted Concentration. Translated by Sister Upalavanna, Metta Net, Sri Lanka. Published for free distribution in the site: Vipassana/Majjhima, 2006.
20 Pali Online Dictionary, Sariputta.
21 Transcript of Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche’s instructions, A Guide to Shamata Meditation, which has been published by Namo Buddha, Crestone & Zhyisil Chokyi Ghatsal Charitable Trust Publications, Auckland, 2002.  See Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche, The Seven Points of Mind Training of Atisha, Namo Buddha Publications, Crestone, 1999, and Venerable Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche, The Benevolent Mind. A Manual in Mind Training, Zhyisil Chokyi Ghatsal Trust Publications, Auckland, 2003; also Venerable Traleg Kyabgon, Mind at Ease. Self-Liberation through Mahamudra Meditation. Foreword by Khenchen Thrangu, Shambhala, Boston, 2004.
22 Pali Online Dictionary, Sariputta. Anuruddha Thera was the first cousin of the Buddha and one of his eminent disciples.  
23 Anuruddha Sutta. To Anuruddha. Translated from Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, 1997, in the site: Accesstoinsight.org/sutta, 2006. The three knowledges in this context are: (1) knowledge of one’s past lives, (2) knowledge of the decease and rebirth of beings, and (3) knowledge of the destruction of the corruptions.
24 Commentary to Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta. The Great Discourse on the Wheel of Dhamma, which has been translated by Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw. Published for free distribution by Sukhi Hotui Sdn Nhd, Kuala Lumpur, 3rd edition, 1998, in the site: Buddhanet.net/dhamachak, 2006.
25 Devadatta, the cousin of Shakyamuni and brother of Ananda, split the Sangha by declaring that he would conduct things separately. He went to Rajagriha with a large assembly of monks who had become his followers. To win them back, Lord Buddha sent Shariputra and Maudgalputra and, while Devadatta was sleeping, the two friends spoke to the assembly and they all returned to Lord Buddha. See The Life of Shariputra.
26 The Sangiti Sutta, “Chanting Together,” was preached at the new Mote Hall of the Mallas of Pava, who had invited the Buddha to consecrate it by preaching there, and this he did until late into the night. The non-monarchical states that were not unified during the 6th century BCE and that existed in North India during the times of Shakyamuni Buddha were those of the Sakyas of Kapilvatsu, the Mallas of Pava and Kushinara, the Lichhavis of Vaisali, the Videhas of Mithila, the Koliyas of Ramagam, the Bulis of Allakapa, the Kalingas of Resaputta, the Mauriyas of Pipphalvana and the Bhaggas with their capital on Sumsumara Hill. Seeing that his audience at Pava wished for more, the Buddha asked Shariputra to continue while he rested. Shariputra therefore preached the Sangiti Sutta. At the end Buddha expressed his great appreciation. The Sarvastivadins included this sutra among the seven books constituting their Abhidhamma. See the Wikipedia Encyclopedia and the Pali Dictionary. -- The Sarvastivada, roughly translated as “those who proclaim that all exists,” were one of the early schools of Buddhism. They believed that the universe was reducible to elements of existents that were indivisible factors and substances. They said that heat, for instance, is the distinguishing mark of fire and called it a common dharma relating all fire. Nagarjuna refuted the Abhidharma philosophy of the Sarvastivada, who claimed that atom-like unities are the basis of visible phenomena and their complex causality. See Wikipedia Encyclopedia, 2006. – See especially the Dasuttara Sutta,  “Expanding Decades,” was also delivered by the Venerable Shariputra. See Guide to Tipitaka, in: Budsas.org / 04, 2006.
27 The Samyutta Nikaya, the "Connected Discourses,” is the third of the five collections in the Sutra Pitaka. It contains 2,889 suttas that are grouped into five sections. Each section is divided into samyuttas, “chapters,” each of which in turn contains a group of sutras or related topics. See the entry in Wikipedia Encyclopedia.
28 Pali Online Dictionary, Sariputta. 
29 The Life of Shariputra.
30 See BuddhaNet/Pilgrim, Savatthi, online 2006. -- Savatthi lies slightly southwest of Lumbini in the State of Uttar Pradesh in India. -- The Apannaka Jataka, Crossing the Wilderness, Jat 1, relates a discourse presented at Savatthi: “While the Buddha was staying at Jetavana Monastery near Savatthi, the wealthy banker, Anathapindika, went one day to pay his respects. His servants carried masses of flowers, perfume, butter, oil, honey, molasses, cloths, and robes. Anathapindika paid obeisance to the Buddha, presented the offerings he had brought, and sat down respectfully. At that time, Anathapindika was accompanied by five hundred friends who were followers of heretical teachers. His friends also paid their respects to the Buddha and sat close to the banker. The Buddha's face appeared like a full moon, and his body was surrounded by a radiant aura. Seated on the red stone seat, he was like a young lion roaring with a clear, noble voice as he taught them a discourse full of sweetness and beautiful to the ear. After hearing the Buddha's teaching, the five hundred gave up their heretical practices and took refuge in the Triple Gem.” The Jataka Tales of the Buddha, retold by Ken & Visakha Kawasaki, Bodhi Leaves, no. 135, Buddhist Publications Society, Kandy, 1995, online 2006.  
31 The Life of Shariputra.
32 See Pali Online Dictionary, Sariputta.  
33 Anupada Sutta, verse 111, quoted in The Life of Shariputra.
34 Pali Online, Sampadasadaniya Sutta.
35 For a description of all realms of being, see Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye the Great, Myriad Worlds. Buddhist Cosmology in Abhidharma, Kalachakra and Dzogchen. Translated & edited by the International Translation Committee of Kunkhyab Choling founded by the V.V. Kalu Rinpoche, Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca, 1995, especially pages 248-251.
36 Sotapanna means  “stream-winner” in Pali, which, in the Theravada tradition, is “the lowest of the eight noble disciples Three kinds are to be distinguished: the one ‘with 7 rebirths at the utmost,’ the one ‘passing from one noble family to another,’ and the one ‘germinating only once more.’ The eight types of noble disciples are: (1) The one realizing the path of Stream-winning, (2) the one realizing the fruition of Stream-winning, (3) the one realizing the path of Once-return, (4) the one realizing the fruition of Once-return, (5) the one realizing the path of Non-return, (6) the one realizing the fruition of Non-return, (7) the one realizing the path of Holiness (arahatta-magga), and (8) the one realizing the fruition of Holiness (arahatta-phala). Summed up, there are 4 noble individuals: the Stream-winner (Sotapanna), the Once-Returner (Sakadagami), the Non-Returner (Anagami).“ The Pali Dictionary, Sotapanna. -- It seems important to again refer readers to the invaluable instructions that Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche presented, entitled The Three Vehicles of Buddhist Practice, 1st edition Sri Satguru Publications, Delhi, 1995, corrected edition Namo Buddha Publications, Crestone, and Zhyisil Chokyi Ghatsal Charitable Trust Publications, Auckland, 2003, available as a free download from Namo Buddha Publications, in the site: Rinpoche.com.
37 See Pali Online Dictionary, Sariputta.
38 “The Mahaparinibbana Sutta contains a more or less detailed account of the last year of the Buddha's life.
39 The Life of Ven. Sariputta by Narada Maha Thera, in: Buddhistvihara/newsletter 2002, June 2006. 
40 See Pali Online Dictionary, Sariputta. -- The Tipitaka divides the Abhidharma into seven books, which were explained by the 4th century great Indian scholar Vasubhandu in the Abhidharma-koshakarika – Treasury of Phenomenology.
41 Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Distinguishing Dharma & Dharmata by Maitreya, Zhyisil Chokyi Ghatsal Charitable Trust Publications, Auckland, & Namo Buddha Publications, Crestone, 2004, pages 66-67. Vasubandhu also wrote the Abhidharmakoshabhasya – A Commentary to the Treasury of Phonomenology.
42 See the four articles by Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche entitled, The Analyses of Madhyamaka to Explain Shunyata, as well as A Few Quotations on the Life of Nagarjuna, Lhudrub Nyingpo.