DEVELOPMENT OF THE BODHISATTVA DOCTRINE AND ITS RELATION TO THE PĀLI NIKĀYAS
Bhikkhuni Khanh Nang
1.1 Aim and Significance of the Research
I have studied Buddhism for many years and the more I study it, the more I find there is hardly any difference between Theravāda and Mahāyānawith regard to the fundamental teachings. The fundamental teachings of the Buddha are all accepted by both schools without question. However, there are also some points where they differ. An obvious one is the Bodhisattvadoctrine.
The Pāli Nikāyas and their counterparts from other early schools depict the ideal for the Buddhist disciple as the Arhat, while the Mahāyāna sūtras, composed a few centuries later in a Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit, depict the ideal for the Mahāyāna follower as the Bodhisattva. Besides, there is a generally accepted view, prevailing especially among the Western scholars on Buddhism that the Bodhisattva doctrine is a Mahāyānists’ creation; some people imagine that Theravāda is selfish because it teaches that people should seek their own salvation. Therefore, it is necessary to elucidate a matter here.
According to Buddhism, the Arhat is considered as a person who acts not based on his individual needs but from others’ requirement. As Arhat has transcended individual constrains of the personality such as greed, hatred, and delusion; he clearly displays a radically different behavior from a mundane person.  Likewise, the Bodhisattva’s every action is motivated by the wish to attain full enlightenment for the sake of others; to fulfil this wish he (she) takes the Bodhisattva-vows and keeps them by practicing the six perfections.
Both these images of human perfection present a very message of Buddhism. With compassion an Arhat or a Bodhisattva has a desire as a drive to help others willingly. First, he strives for liberation, for Nirvāṇa, then he helps others with his skills and his experiences. In this research I have utilized the notion of working for the welfare of others in its ethical sense. My suggestion is what relationship we can find from other traditions though at first sight it looks very different from the ideal. For that, it shows us the answer between our questions: Why in the Nikāyas, the Buddha is never seen teaching others to enter a Bodhisattva-path. Whenever he urges his disciples that is to strive for Arhatship, for Liberation, for Nirvāṇa. But Mahāyānists built it as a concept. Gradually Bodhisattva ideal became a purpose, an ultimate goal for everyone who wants to become a perfect man according to Mahāyāna. In addition, rely on what do Mahāyāna authors say that there is only one Buddha-vehicle by which all Buddhists strive for the Bodhisattva ideal leading to Buddha-hood? Is it true that there is different between Theravāda and Mahāyāna regarding Nirvāṇa?
In answer to these questions, it seems that we must mention philosophy as one of the most potent causes of the development of Buddhism. In that each new development took place in continuity from the previous one. Nothing could look more different from a little tree than an old tree, or an adult than a child, and yet he (she) is stage of the same body and continuity. There is in Buddhism really no innovation, but what seems so is in fact a subtle adaptation of pre-existing ideas. Thus, development of the Bodhisattva doctrine should be understood in philosophical aspect.
1.2 Literature Review
This subject has been already dealt with by a number of scholars, where they have examined the Bodhisattva doctrine. Har Dayal in his monumental work “The Bodhisattva Doctrine of Buddhist Sanskrit Literature” made the first attempt to show most important aspects of the career of the Bodhisattva such as the Thought of Enlightenment; the Pāramitās and the Bhūmis. Through it mentioned about the Bodhisattva doctrine in Buddhist Sanskrit Literature a lot of references are given here to the Pāli Literature as well. E. J. Thomas with “The History of Buddhist Thought” that the Bodhisattva doctrine has been explained according to the way of Mahāyāna and the full description is given referring to the Saddharmapuṇḍarīka-sūtra (Lotus Sūtra) and mainly about Avalokiteśvara. For the Bodhisattva career it explains Daśabhūmi as shown in the Mahāvastu and Daśabhūmika Sūtra. Nalinaksha Dutt with “Aspects of Mahāyāna and its Relation to Hīnayāna” has tried to find out the relationship between Hīnayāna and Mahāyāna. In this book few points have indicated to determine the special characteristics by which we can distinguish Mahāyāna from Hīnayāna. These are: The concept of Bodhisattva, the practice of Pāramitās, the development of Bodhicitta, the Ten Stages (Bhūmi) of spiritual development. D.T. Suzuki in his book “Studies in The Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra ” has confined on the life and works of the Boddhisattva. It deals with the discipline of the Bodhisattva, how he purifies his mind, his social life and how the Bodhisattva’s merit will transfer to other beings. Toshiichi Endo with “Buddha in Theravāda Buddhism” has examined the doctrine of Bodhisattva in different aspects. He brings to our notice that the commentaries, particularly those of Dhammapala, give three types of Bodhisattvas; namely Mahabodhisatta, Paccekabodhisatta and Sāvakabodhisatta. This clasification of Bodhisattva plays a vital role even in the doctrine of perfections. Walpola Rahula in his article “The Bhodhisattva Ideal in Theravāda and Mahāyāna” mainly deals with the misconception to say that the doctrine of Bodhisattva means merely Mahāyāna and argues that this is a misconception without the proper understanding of Theravāda text because there is the Bodhisattva in Theravāda as same as in Mahāyāna. But their works which are mostly confined to one or two aspects of the Bodhisattva doctrine only.Thus a work which deals with a systematic comparative study of the Development of The Bodhisattva Doctrine and its Relation to The Pāli Nikāyas as a whole has remained yet a desideratum. Especially, Nathan Katz by the book called “Buddhist Images of Human Perfection” has done a close textual analysis as well as done an extensive field work. Katz criticizes this emphasis on difference and prefers to treat Buddhism as a whole. Much of this book is a re-examination of the Arhat image as found in Theravāda literature and as informed by issues raised by the literature of the Mahāyāna and the Vajrayāna. The Arhant image is then compared with the Bodhisattva and the Mahasiddha. This comparison involves pioneering discussions of Buddhist philosophy of language and hermeneutics, with are facilitated by Katz’s familiarity with Pāli, Sanskrit involvement with the living Buddhist tradition. His work attractively encourages me to do this research.
I owe much to the work of earlier sholars, and I cannot add much to the conclusions of their excellent studies, except in attempting, from the philosophical aspect, to give a little further precision to the comprehensive view of the Bodhisattva doctrine.
This research is based mainly on a textual study. Research methodology in this study would be a comparative study of the doctrine, and the research will be accomplished through the methods of an analysis, evaluation of the information collected from the early Buddhism and the development of the later Buddhism.
1.3Sources and Scope of Research
In this present work, I have selected the Pāli Nikāyas as the principal primary sources. Besides, my ettempt is through the Pāli commentaries and the Mahāyāna Sūtras to give a peer-review. However, I am compelled to neglect some Sūtras as the scope of my work does not allow me to incorporate them in.
2.0 Definition of the Term Bodhisattva
The concept of Bodhisattva is one of the most important concepts in Buddhism, specially in the Mahāyāna. Etymologically the term can be separated into two parts, bodhi and sattva: bodhi from the root budh, to be awake, means 'awakening' or 'enlightenment', and 'sattva' derived from sant, the present participle of the root as, 'to be', means 'a being' or, literally, 'one who is', 'a sentient being.' Hence, the term is taken to mean 'one whose essence is Enlightenment' or 'enlightened knowledge'.
Har Dayal, in his book “The Bodhisattva doctrine in Buddhist Sanskrit Literature”, after examining almost all important works of the scholars, states that the meaning of the term Bodhisattva is Bodhi-being, heroic being, or spiritual warrior.  According to him, the term Bodhisattva is a wrongly Sanskritized form of the Pāli word satta, which may correspond to Skt. Sakta. Thus Pāli bodhisatta, from which the Sanskrit word is derived would mean bodhi – sakta, “one who is devoted or attached to bodhi”. Due to that Saskritization, the term sattva has been interpreted in various ways by many scholars.
The terms ‘Bodhi-enlightenment’ and ‘Bodhisatta – the bodhi-being’ is a frequently used term in the Pāli Canon.  So, we have to go through the Pāli discourses first in order to get an idea of the concept of Bodhisatta before we turn to the Mahāyāna sources.
2.1 Bodhisatta in Theravāda Buddhism
The term Bodhisatta (Pāli language) was used by the Buddha in the Pāli Canon to refer to himself both in his previous lives and from prince Siddhārtha birth to renunciation, prior to his enlightenment, in the period during which he was working towards his own liberation.
In the Pāli Canon, the Bodhisattais also described as someone who is still subject to birth, illness, death, sorrow, defilement, and delusion.
“Bhikkhus, before my enlightenment, while I was still only an unenlightened Bodhisatta, I too, being myself subject to birth, sought what was also subject to birth; being myself subject of ageing, sickness, death, sorrow, and defilement..”
Some of the previous lives of the Buddha as a Bodhisattva are featured in the Jātaka tales
In later Theravāda Literature, its use was extended to denote the period from Gotama’s conception to the Enlightenment and, thereafter, to all the Buddhas from their conception to Buddhahood. The term Bodhisatta is used fairly frequently in the sense of someone on the path to liberation. While Maitreya (Pāli: Metteya) is mentioned in the Pāli Canon, he is not referred to as a Bodhisatta, but simply the next fully awakened Buddha to come into existence long after the current teachings of the Buddha are lost.
2.2 Bodhisattva in Mahāyāna Buddhism
By applying the doctrine of Karma and of Rebirth, which had general acceptance in Pre-Buddhist India, the use of the term was further extended to refer to the past lives not only of Bodhisatta Gotama, but also of those rare beings who aspire for Perfection Enlightenment.
Mahāyāna Buddhism is based principally upon the path of a Bodhisattva. According to Jan Nattier, the term Mahāyāna ‘Great Vehicle’ was originally even an honorary synonym for Bodhisattvayāna, or the ‘Bodhisattva Vehicle.’
The Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra contains a simple and brief definition for the term bodhisattva, which is also the earliest known Mahāyāna definition. This definition is given as:
"Because he has enlightenment as his aim, a bodhisattva - mahāsattva is so called."
Mahāyāna Buddhism encourages everyone to become Bodhisattvas and to take the Bodhisattva-vows. With these vows, one makes the promise to work for the complete enlightenment of all sentient beings by practicing the six perfections.
A Bodhisattva is one who has a determination to free sentient beings from Samsāra and its cycle of death, rebirth and suffering. This type of mind is known as the mind of awakening (bodhicitta). Bodhisattvas take Bodhisattva-vows in order to progress on the spiritual path towards Buddhahood.
There are a variety of different conceptions of the nature of a bodhisattva in Mahāyāna. According to some Mahāyāna sources, a Bodhisattva is someone on the path to fulfil Buddhahood. Others speak of Bodhisattvas renouncing Buddhahood. According to them, a Bodhisattva can choose any of three paths to help sentient beings in the process of achieving Buddhahood. They are: (1) Bodhisattva - one who aspires to become Buddha as soon as possible and then help sentient beings; (2) Bodhisattva - one who aspires to achieve Buddhahood along with other sentient beings; and (3) Bodhisattva - one who aspires to delay Buddhahood until all other sentient beings achieve Buddhahood. However, according to the doctrine of some Tibetan schools, only the first one is recognized. It is held that Buddhas remain in the world, able to help others, so there is no point to delay.
Strictly speaking, the life of the Buddha commenced only from the time of his enlightenment and his life before this event was that of the Bodhisattva. The Buddha himself used the term in this sense and, it is more than probable that he occasionally referred to his previous existences in his discourses to the people in order to elucidate a particular doctrinal point. The Jātakas found in the Sutta Pitaka such as the Mahāgovinda Sutta (D.II, pp.220ff.), the Mahāsudassana Sutta (D.II, pp.169ff.) and the Makhādeva Sutta (M.II, 74 ff.) etc. bear out this view. Besides these, there seems to have been neither a Jātaka collection as such, nor the developed concept of the Bodhisattva practising Pāramitās, until a much later period. Hence, it would appear that the doctrine of the Bodhisattva could be divided into two parts, the original concept and the concept developed by later Buddhists.
Chapter THREE 3.0 The Concept of Bodhisattva as Depicted in Pāli Nikāyas
The Nikāyas begin with our common human condition and depict the Buddha as starting from within this same human condition. That is, for the Nikāyas, the Buddha starts off as a human being sharing fully in our humanity. He takes birth among us as a man subject to the limitations of human life. As he grows up, he is confronted with inevitable old age, sickness, and death, which reveal to him the deep misery that perpetually lies hidden behind youth, health, and life, mocking our brightest joys.
In the Nikāyas, the Buddha does refer to himself as a Bodhisatta both in his previous lives and in the period prior to his enlightenment: In his immediately preceding life, when he dwelled in the Tusita heaven, and during the period of his final life, as Gotama of the Sakyan clan, before his enlightenment.
Even though it is impossible to find a fully-developed Bodhisattva in Pāli Canons in compared to its later Buddhist development, considerably some recognized concepts related to Bodhisattva Ideal are found in Pāli Nikāyas; it is studied under the following sub-titles:
3.1 The Bodhisattva's Past Lives
First of all, Bodhisatta means the various previous lives of Gotama Buddha.
Mahagovinda Sutta describes Bodhisatta as a brahmin and what he taught those disciples was the path to union with the Brahma-world; then compare with his holy life that lead to cessation, to peace, to super-knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nirvāṇa.
“… At that time I was the Brahmin, the Great Steward, and I taught those disciples the path to union with the Brahma-World. However, Pancasikha, that holy life does not lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to peace, to super-knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nirvāṇa, but only to birth in the Brahma-world, whereas my holy life leads unfailingly to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to peace, to super-knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nirvāṇa. That is the Noble Eightfold Path, namely Right View, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livehood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration.”
In the Janavasabha Sutta, the Bodhisatta was a king Mahasudassana who was a wheel-turning mornarch, a rightful and righteous king, who has conquered the land in four directions and ensured the security of his realm. By the story the Buddha then taught the venerable Ānanda about the true reality:
“… Thus, Ānanda, conditioned states are impermanent, they are unstable, they can bring us no comfort, and such being the case, Ānanda, we should not rejoice in conditioned states, we should cease to take an interest in them, and be liberated from them.”
Mahāpadāna Sutta refers to the last life of seven Buddhas, including the Gotama Buddha with elements may be reproduced bellow:
“Monks, ninety-one aeons ago the Lord, the Arhat, the fully-enlightened Buddha Vipassi arose in the world. Thirty-one aeons ago the Buddha Sikhi arose; in the same thirty-first aeon before this Lord Buddha Vessabhu arose. And in this present fortunate aeon the Lords Buddhas Kakusandha, Konagamana and Kassapa arose in the world. And, monks, in this present fortunate aeon I too have now arisen in the world as a fully-enlightened Buddha.”
This discourse, i.e., the Mahāpadāna Sutta is attributed to the Śākyamuni Buddha himself, who gives the time, caste, family, length of life, etc. of his predecessor. They were the Buddha Vipassi, the Buddha Sikhi, the Buddha Vessabhu, the Buddha Kakusandha, the Buddha Konagamana and the Buddha Kassapa:
“… Monks, that by his penetration of the fundamental of Dhamma the Tathagata remembers the past Buddhas who have attained final Nirvāṇa, cutting through multiplicity, blazing a trail, have exhausted the round, have passed by all suffering; he recalls their births, their names, their clan, their life-span, their twin-disciples, their assemblies of disciples: These Blessed Lords were born thus, were called thus, thus was their clan, thus was their morality, their Dhamma, their wisdom, their dwelling, thus was their liberation.”
3.2From Tusita to the Youth of the Prince Siddhārtha
Secondly, an important event in the bodhisatta's life that occurs when he spends his life before last in the Tusita heaven.
Acchariya-abbhuta Sutta mentions the discussion arose among Bhikkhus about the marvellousness of the Bodhisatta as well as the Buddhas of the past: How the Bodhisatta appeared in Tusita heaven, how the Bodhisatta remained in the Tusita heaven, how the Bodhisatta passed away from the Tusita heaven, how the Bodhisatta descended into his mother’s womb, and so on:
“It is wonderful, friends, it is marvellous, how mighty and powerful is the Tathagata! For he is able to know about the Buddhas of the past – who attainded to final Nirvāṇa, but [the tangle of] proliferation, broke the cycle, ended the round, end surmounted all suffering – that for those Blessed Ones their birth was thus, their name was thus, their clains was thus, their virtue was thus, their state [of concentration] was thus, their wisdom was thus, their abiding [in attainments] was thus, their deliverance was thus.
However, their discussion was interrupted; for the Bless One rose from meditation when it was evening, went to the assembly hall, and sat down on a seat made ready. Then he addressed the bhikkhus thus: ‘Bhikkhus, for what discussion are you sitting together here now? And what was your discussion that was interrupted…
Then the Blessed One addressed the venerable Ānanda: That being so, Ānanda, explain more fully the Tathagata’s wonderful and marvellous qualities.
I heard and learned this, venerable sir, from the Blessed One’s own lips: Mindful and fully aware, the Bodhisatta appeared in the Tusita heaven… Mindful and fully aware the Bodhisatta remained in the Tusita heaven… Mindful and fully aware the Bodhisatta passed away from the Tusita heaven and descended into his mother’s womb…”
This sūtra comes to the conclusion that he should leave the Tusita heaven and be reborn as a man. As this moment, there is much excitement, because of various signs appearing in the ten-thousand world-systems.
“When the Bodhisatta came forth from his mother’s womb, he came forth unsullied, unsmeared by water of humours of blood or any kind of impurity, clean, and unsullied. Suppose there were a gem placed on Kasi cloth, then the gem would not smear the cloth or the cloth the gem. Why is that? Because of the purity of both. So too when the Bodhisatta came forth… clean and unsullied…
…When the Bodhisatta came forth from his mother’s womb, then a great immeasurable light surpassing the splendour of the gods appeared in the world with its gods, its Maras, and its Brahmas… And this ten-thousandfold world system shook and quaked and trembled, and there too a great immeasurable light surpassing the splendour of the gods appeared…
… As soon as the Bodhisatta was born, he stood firmly with his feet on the ground; then he took seven steps north, and with a white parasol held over him, he surveyed each quarter and uttered the words of the Leader of the Herd: ‘I am the highest in the world. This is my last birth; now there is no renewal of being for me’…
… Here, Ānanda, for the Tathagata feelings are known as they arise, as they are present, as they disappear; perceptions are known as they arise, as they are present, as they disappear; thoughts are known as they arise, as they are present, as they disappear. Remember this too, Ānanda, as a wonderful and marvellous quality of the Tathagata.”
Here, it seems that the Bodhisatta was born very different to human beings.
3.3 From the Renunciation to His Enlightenment
Finally, the term Bodhisatta reflects concretely the life of Gotama Buddha from renunciation up to the time of his Enlightenment. When he was prince Siddhattha of the Kingdom Kapilavatthu, who was also suffering in the cycle of birth and death as we are, then there was a day as he went out of the palace to the city to see the world outside. On his way he came in direct contact with the stark realities of life. His observant eyes met the strange sights of a decrepit old man, a diseased person, a corpse and a dignified hermit. The first three sights convincingly proved to him the inexorable nature of life and the universal ailment of humanity. The fourth signified the means to overcome the ill of life and to attain calm and peace. Then he decided to renounce the household life, and became a wandering ascetic in search of truth.
“Before my self-awakening while I was still the Bodhisatta, not fully awakend, it occurred to me: ‘Narrow is the household life, a path of dust, going forth is the open, nor is it easy while dwelling in a house to lead the Brahma-faring completely fulfilled, utterly purified, polished like a conch-shell..”
Leaving his parents, wife, son and luxury palace behind, he stole away with a light heart from the palace at midnight and rode into dark, attended only by his loyal charioteer. His extraordinary decision becoming a Bodhisatta in seeking for truth was just blooming as soon as he comprehended the bondage and imprisonment of the worldly life as theAriyapariyesana Suttaof the Majjhima Nikāya depicts:
“Bhikkhus, before my enlightenment, while I was still only an unenlightened Bodhisatta, I too, being myself subject to birth, sought what was also subject to birth; being myself subject of ageing, sickness, death, sorrow, and defilemetn… Suppose that, being myself subject to birth, having understood the danger in what is subject to birth, I seek the inborn supreme security from bondage, Nirvāṇa... Later, while still young… I shaved off my hair and beard, put on the yellow robe, and went forth from the home life into homelessness. Having gone forth, bhikkhus, in search of what is wholesome, seeking the supreme state of sublime peace…”
As a wanderer, a seeker, Bodhisatta wandered from one place to another, met a number of contemporary famous religious leaders, practiced their doctrines, and attained whatever goal they aimed at. One day, nevertheless, he realized that is useless, and failed to bring him to any futher knowledge and vision for an obsolute emancipation. From this experience, he realized that he would die before he could find the answer. Therefore, he thought to find another way and the dawn of truth was discovered step by step by him.
Owning to experiences accumalated by his own knowledge and learnt from different religious masters, he was awakened that one should avoid the extreme position of self-mortification that weakens one’s intellect as he spent six years of austerities and extreme position of self-indulgence that restarts one’s moral progress as he spent his years in all luxuries and pleasant things of life at Kapilavatthu kingdom. Both of them are useless for the spiritual progress. Therefore, he gave up the path of austerities and began to beg for food to regain his health to make a new start of practice.
This sūtra descibes full details process of the Bodhisatta’s renunciation, the process of the Bodhisatta practises the austerities, the process of his study with Ālara Kālama, Uddaka Rāmaputta, but what he knew was that their teachings could not lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nirvāṇa, but only to reappearance in the base of nothingness, to reappearance in the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception. Not being satisfied with that Dhamma, he left and went away.
“Still in search, bhikkhus, of what is wholesome, seeking the supreme state of sublime peace, I wandered by states through the Magadhan country until eventually I arrived at Sananigama near Uruvela. These I saw an agreeable piece of ground, smooth banks and nearby a village for alms resort. I considered: This is an agreeable piece of ground, this is a delightful grove with a clear-flowing river with pleasant, smooth banks and nearby a village for alms resort. This will serve for the striving of a clansman intent on striving. And I sat down there thinking: This will serve for striving.
Then, bhikkhus, being myself subject to birth, having understood the danger in what is subject to birth, seeking the unborn supreme security from bondage, Nirvāṇa, I attained the unborn supreme security from bondage, Nirvāṇa; being myself subject to ageing… The knowledge and vision arose in me: My deliverance is unshakeable; this is my last birth; now there is no renewal of being.
I considered: This Dhamma that I have attained is profound, hard to see and hard to understand, peaceful and sublime, unattainable by mere reasoning, subtle, to be experienced by the wise. But this generation delights in worldliness, takes delight in worldliness, rejoices in worldliness. It is hard for such a generation to see this truth, namely, specific conditionality, dependent origination. And it is hard to see the truth, namely, the stilling of all formations, the relinquishing of all attachments, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation, Nirvāṇa…”
From here Bodhisatta knew that “delivered am I” , and “rebirth is ended, fulfilled the holy life, done what was to be done: there is no more of this state again.”
The Bhayabherava Suttadescribes the process of the Bodhisatta entered upon and abided in the first jhana, entered upon and abided in the second jhana, entered upon and abided in the third jhana, entered upon and abided in the fourth jhana. When he concentrated mind was thus purified, bright, unblemished, rid of imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability, he directed it to knowledge of the recollection of past lives:
“I recollected my manifold past lives, that is, one birth, two births, three births, fourth births, five births, ten births, twenty births, thirty births, forty births, fifty births, a hundred births, a thousand births, a hundred thousand births, many aeons of world-contraction, many aeons or world-expansion, many aeons of world-contraction and expansion…”
This was the first true knowledge attained by him in the first watch of the night.
“When my concentrated mind was thus purified, bright, unblemished, rid of imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attain to imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperfecturbality, I directed it to knowledge of the passing away and reappearance of beings. With the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, I saw beings passing away and reappearing, inferior and superior, fair and ugly, fortunate and unfortunat…”
This was the second true knowledge attained by him in the second watch of the night.
“When my concentrated mind was thus purified, bright, unblemished, rid of imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attain to imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperfecturbality, I directed it to knowledge of the destruction of the taints. I directed knew as it actually is: This is suffering… this is the origin of suffering… this is the cessation of suffering… this is the way leading to the cessation of suffering… I directly knew as it actually is: This is the way leading to the cessation of the taints.
… I directly knew: Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more coming to any state of being.”
This was the third true knowledge attained by him in the third watch of the night. Ignorance was banished and true knowledge arose, darkness was banished and light arose, as happens in one who abides diligent, ardent, and resolute.
The Dvedhavitakka Suttadescribes about two kinds of thought: (1) thoughts of sensual desire, thoughts of ill will, and thoughts of cruelty, and (2) thoughts of renunciation, thoughts of non-ill will, and thoughts of non-cruelty.
“… I understood thus: This thought of sensual desire has arisen in me. This leads to my own affliction, to others’ affliction, and to the affliction of both; it obstructs wisdom, causes difficulties, and leads away from Nirvāṇa…
… This thought of renunciation arose in me. This does not lead to my own affliction, or to others’ affliction, or to the affliction of both; it aids wisdom, does not cause difficulties, and leads to Nirvāṇa…
… The safe and good path that led to their happiness is a term for the Noble Eightfold Path, that is: right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livehood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration…
What should be done for his disciples out of compassion by a teacher who seeks their welfare and has compassion for them, that I have done for you, bhikkhus. There are these roots of trees, these empty huts. Meditate, bhikkhus, do not delay or else you will regret it later. This is our instruction to you.”
This sūtra whereby emphasizes an obvious truth that leads to Nirvāṇa that was experienced by the Buddha, that is the Noble Eightfold Path. It also means that Nirvāṇa opens for all who follow in the Buddha’s footsteps, who meditate to realize the reality of life.
Chapter FOUR4.0 Development of the Bodhisattva Doctrine
As mentioned before, the word Bodhisatta is very old and occurs in the Pāli Nikāyas. Gotama Buddha speaks of himself as a Bodhisatta, when he refers to time before the attainment of Enlightenment. This seems to be the earliest signification of the word. It was applied to Gotama Buddha as he was in his last earthly life before the night of Enlightenment. The following clause recurs frequently in the Majjhima Nikāyas: “In the days before my Enlightenment, when as yet I was only a bodhisatta...” The word also seems to be used only in connection with a Buddha’s last life in the Mahapadana Sutta (Digha Nikāya ii, 13) and the Acchariya-abbhuta-sutta (Majjhima iii, 119)
In the early Buddhism, we couldn’t find the concept of Bodhisattva as a general concept. Nevertheless, the Pāli Canon has shown little interest either in philosophical speculation or in the personality of the Bodhisattas. Gotama himself would not have denied the possibility of becoming a Buddha to anyone who is intellectually and morally matured. In this manner, the Pāli Canon quite logically recognises the Bodhisatta as a rare type of man appearing at certain stage in time and space. But later works like the Buddhavamsa, Cariyapitaka, the Pāli commentaries and the Mahāyāna Sūtras went on developing the Bodhisattva concept in such a way that he became an object of devotion and his human nature gradually disappeared. The Mahāyānist, in trying to remedy the situation, ended up by making him a saviour. It is interesting to see how the concept of the Bodhisattva has developed throughout the ages.
4.1Development of the Bodhisattva doctrine as depicted in the Pāli Commentarial Literature
The doctrine of Bodhisatta in the Pāli commentarial tradition can be seen as supplementary to the apotheosis of Buddhas. The Pāli commentaries bring out multifaceted aspects of the doctrine of Bodhisatta hitherto unknown in the Pāli canonical and post-canonical works which has not been adequately dealt with even by scholars of Pāli Buddhism.
T. Sugimoto gives six different usages of Bodhisatta as follow: (1) the bodhisatta who is imperfect and immature, (2) the bodhisatta who is still imperfect but surpassing that state, (3) the bodhisatta who is a wanderer and an ascetic, (4) the bodhisatta who is the master of meditation and a seer of the dhamma, (5) the bodhisatta at the time of his conception and birth, and (6) the bodhisatta who dreams of the great dreams.
All these types of Bodhisatta depicted in the Nikāyas can be broadly summarised into two usages. One is the Bodhisatta referring to state before the attainment of Enlightenment in the life of Gotama Buddha. References to such a Bodhisatta are often told in the mouth of the Buddha himself in the following manner: ‘Mayham pi… pubbe va sambodha anabhisambuddhassa bodhisattass’ eva sato…’ Here the Bodhisatta is depicted as a being seeking higher knowledge.
4.1.1The Sutta Nipata
The Sutta Nipata referring to Gotame Bodhisatta, brings out a very important aspect of the Bodhisatta concept. He is depicted as a being who was born in this world for happiness and well-being of the people. This idea of a compassionate bodhisatta is also expressed in the Canon.
4.1.2The Buddhavamsa and in the later commentaries
In the Buddhavamsa and in the later commentaries we see how the concept has been extended not only in ralation to Gotama’s own previous lives, but also as a general concept. In the Buddhavamsa which belongs to the Khuddaka-Nikāya of the Pāli canon, we can find the life-stories of twenty- four Buddhas of whom Gotama was the last. The names by which Gotama was known, during his ‘apprenticeship’ as Bodhisatta under each of the twenty-four Buddhas, are also given. The chronicle describes the ten Pāramitās, the eight conditions necessary for the fulfilment of Buddhahood and the Bodhisatta’s decision to postpone his entry into Nirvāṇa.
The Buddhavamsa is entirely based on the history of Gotama Buddha’s career as the Bodhisatta from the time of making his abhinihāra (resolve) before Dipankara Buddha to become a Buddha in the future. He was the known as Sumedha, and had to spend an incalculable length of time before finally becoming a Buddha. Under each and every past Buddha, Gotama Bodhisatta receives a prediction or declaration that he would be the Buddha named Gotama in a distant future. Eight conditions (aṭṭhadhamma) are mentioned as the preconditions for anyone to aspire to be a boddhisatta. Futher, ten perfections (Pāramitās) are to be practiced and fulfilled. All these concepts associated with the career of Gotama Bodhisatta never find their mention in the Canon before the Buddhavamsa except for the fact that the Buddha sometimes refers to himself as Bodhisatta before his enlightenment and the Jātaka that gives his former existences.
4.1.3The Jātaka book of the Khuddaka Nikāya
In the Jātaka book of the Khuddaka Nikāya as is well known, the word Bodhisatta figures at least once in each of the 547 stories, and a fully elaborated doctrine of the Bodhisatta, according to the Theravāda system, has developed.
Thus we conclude that the doctrine of the Bodhisatta, as it appears in Theravāda literature, was an internal development of early Buddhism and seems appeared some time after the Buddha’s passed away.
The Jātaka stories come under this category, though it may be a later fabrication to connect them with the fulfilment of Pāramis in varied forms of existences of the Bodhisatta. At this stage of development of the Bodhisatta concept, one can observe that such obligations incumbent upon a Bodhisatta as making a resolve (abhinihāra ) in front of a Buddha, receiving a declaration or prediction (vyākaraṇa) from him, fulfilling the ten perfections (Pāramis), etc., were introduced in the Pāli tradition for the first time. And this generalisation of preliminaries leading to Buddhahood is to develop futher in the Aṭṭhakatha Literature.
The best example of this is the Jātakas illustrating varied self-sacrificing acts performed by the Bodhisatta in his previous existences for the benefit of others. But we have to admit that there are great differences in the emphasis placed on this aspect of Bodhisatta-hood particularly in its conceptualisation in the two traditions.
The position taken by the Theravadins in the Kathavatthu suggests that the Bodhisatta is treated as a being not different from other mendicants whose attainments are not yet perfect.  The Theravadins did not want to make any distinction between Srāvakas and the Bodhisatta as N. Dutt puts it. 
For, the Canonical concept of Bodhisatta, as seen earlier, allows only two possible interpretations: The Bodhisatta as the former existences of Gotama Buddha or previous existences of all Buddhas in the past, present and future. Thus, the Kathavatthu could not go beyond the boundary of descriptions and explanations about the Bodhisatta found in the Canon.
The Bodhisatta in the Kathavatthu suggests that he is described and conceptualised always with Gotama Buddha in mind. In short, Gotama Bodhisatta is the model for all Bodhisattas. 
In the Milindapanha, the word Bodhisatta is used mainly as a term denoting the former existences of Gotama Buddha. For instance, Milindapanha discusses Gotama Bodhisatta as Lomasakassapa who is stated to have performed the Vājapeyya sacrifice (Miln 219); as Jotapala who reviled and abused Kassapa Buddha (Miln 221 ff); as being inferior to Devadatta in some of his previous births (Miln 200 ff); or Gotama Bodhisatta had five teachers (Miln 235 ff). However, Milindapanha in its own way contributes to the concept of Bodhisatta. Some important issues discussed in Milindapanha:
- Gotama Bodhisatta, when he was residing in the Tusita heaven, had eight investigations (vilokana) to determine the proper place and time of his descent there from.
- Gotama Buddha practised severe penance and austerities before his attainment of Enlightenment. The Boddhisatta realising that such austerities were not a satisfactory method to follow to attain the goal, gradually started taking nutritious food. Milindapanha says that this is the course for the acquisition of omniscient knowledge by all Tathagatas and the Buddha recommends austerities to his disciples.
- The text says that austerities are not for all bodhisatta, but they were practised only by Gotama Bodhisatta. In this instance, Nagasena says that bodhisattas are different from each other in four respects; namely, family, duration (in which to fulfil the Pāramis), life-span, and height.
- With regard to the story of Vessantara, it is asked whether or not all boddhisattas give away their wives and children. This is obviously a calculated generalisation of the story of Gotama Buddha. The intention of Nagasena is to generalise the events or episodes connected with his life and apply or extend them to all Buddhas of the past.
The Boddhisatta concept emerging from our above survey is that Milindapanha also maintains the Canonical usage of the word bodhisatta to mean the previous existence either of Gotama Buddha or of Buddhas in general. Milindapanha, on the other hand, places emphasis, more than any other Canonical texts, on the generalisation mainly of spiritual aspects of Bodhisatta-hood, at the same time, on differences among bodhisattas, which are of physical and external nature.
The commentaries discuss some definitions of the word bodhisatta, which are not found in the pre-commentarial literature. In “Buddha in Theravāda Buddhism” Toshiichi Endo says that:
- Bodhisatta is a being on the way to awakening (bujjhanaka-satto). Bodhi is the knowledge of four paths (catumagga-nana-sankhata boddhi), and aspiring for it he moves on; thus Bodhisatta is also a being who is attached to and clinging onto bodhi (bodhiyam satto asatto ti pi Bodhisatto).
- The meanings of Bodhisatta according to the commentaries can be classified into four categories: (1) a wise or insightful being; (2) a being on the way to awakening; (3) a being worthy of attaining sammasambodhi or striving for it; (4) a being attached to or inclined towards bodhi. This sense of the word satta can also be seen in the Samyutta Nikāya.
- The interpretation of Bodhisatta in the Theravāda tradition rests on two premises: One is the being who seeks catumagga-ñāṇa. The other is the being who is described as a person worthy or attaining sammasambodhi.
The career of a Gotama Bodhisattastarts from the time of Dipankara Buddha who inspires him, then known as the ascetic Sumedha, to tread upon the path leading to the final attainment of Buddhahood. In the Pāli tradition, the meeting between Dipankara Buddha and Sumedha is introduced in the Buddhavamsa of the Khuddaka Nikāya for the first time. The ascetic Sumedha had attained great spiritual advancement and was capable of attaining what the Buddhists term as ‘Arhat ship’ in that life itself. He gave up the idea of attaining it, and instead, aspired to become a Buddha in future like Dipankara so as to cause the world together with the devas to cross over Samsāra.
Dipankara Buddha predicts that the ascetic Sumedha would be a Buddha named Gotama innumerable aeons away in future. His parents, place of birth, attendant, two chief disciples, two chief female disciples, Bodhi tree under which he would attain Buddhhood, etc., are also predicted. This is the beginning of Gotama Buddha’s career as the Bodhisatta.
Another important fact is that along with the Cariyapitaka, it introduces for the first time in the Pāli tradition the ten ‘Pāramis’ (perfections) that Gotama Bodhisatta is to fulfill for the attainment of Buddhahood.
Buddhavamsa and a number of Commentaries, including the Jātakas prose, are able to name the ten perfections are outstandingly important for the fulfilment of them all and futher practice for fulfilling after he had heard the Buddhas declarations that he would be a Buddha at some future time. It thus seems that Buddhas can recognize a Buddha-to-be, namely a Bodhisattva, a being determined to gain Self-Awakening. This could be possible only because of their omniscience by which they know and see the future as well as the past. 
The Buddha Metteyya is mentioned only once in Buddhavamsa  . Perhaps we may state our problem: Why, in the Pāli tradition, is it apparently never said in Canon or commentary, that the Buddha Gotama made the “declaration” of future Buddhahood to the Bodhisatta who will be the next Buddha, Metteyya?
4.2 Development of the Bodhisattva doctrine in Mahāyāna Buddhism
As explained above, the Bodhisattva doctrine was originated in the Pāli Nikāyas and was developed gradually. Therefore, it would be a mistake to assume that the concept of Bodhisattva was a sole creation of the Mahāyāna.
When prince Siddhārtha attain Enlightenment he did so as a human being, lived and passed away as such. Since the Buddha’s teaching is not fatalistic but a course of mental training implying constant change until the realization of the unconditioned state of Nirvāṇa, everyone has the ability not merely to attain release but also to be authoritative teachers (i.e. perfect Buddhas) as well. People with less ability may rest content with mere Arhatship or by becoming Silent Buddhas (as Pratyeka Buddhas), but even they by further training, could and should try to become Buddhas  for the good of all beings.
The Boddhisattva ideal with its more practical attitude to life, emphasises the value of family life. Gotama’s own life could be cited as an example. Renunciation of household life never meant running away from life. Nirvāṇa was to be sought not to outside Samsāra but within it. Whereby, we can say that Mahāyānists have developed in logical way when they say that Buddhahood is open for all human beings.
Scholars are still unsure of when or how bodhisattvas emerged as such an important force within Mahāyāna Buddhism. We may regard the second century B.C. as the chronological starting-point for the development of the Bodhisattva doctrine.  The early Mahāyāna teaches that altruistic activity is one of the means of attaining Enlightenment, which is the goal. But the later Mahāyāna seems to forget even that far-off destination and prefers to loiter on the way. A Boddhisatta need not be in a hurry to win bodhi and become a Buddha, as he can help and succour all living beings more effectively during his mundance career as a Bodhisattva. 
A Bodhisattva’s every action is motivated by the wish to attain full enlightenment for the sake of others; to fulfil this wish he or she takes the Bodhisattva vows and keeps them by practising the six perfections – giving, moral discipline, patience, effort, concentration, and wisdom. Being neither attached to Nirvāṇa nor afflicted by the faults of Samsāra, a Bodhisattva willingly returns to this world.
Futhermore, it seems that the Mahāyāna Bodhisattva derived from belief in future Buddhas, the foremost of whom is Metteyya as prophesied by the Buddha himself. Once the doctrine of future Buddhas, especially Metteyya, became accepted. Mahāyāna doctrine of the Bodhisattva may be derived logically from the belief in future Buddha. If earlier Buddhas had existed there must be other Buddhas yet to come.
In a like manner, the term Bodhisattva itself is to be understood in two ways: the one is a Bodhisattva as a Buddha-to-be and the other is a Bodhisattva as a celestial being, or Bodhi-being, such as Avalokiteśvara, Mañjuśrī , and so on. 
Nathan Katz says that, the Mahāyāna texts speak in two distinct ways about Bodhisattva and then he compares with the Arhat : (1) The first way of speaking is to show that the Arhat is spiritually inferior to the Bodhisattva; however, we have demonstrated that there is a conceptual distinction between the Srāvaka as one who thinks he has attained more than he actually has, and the true Arhat . (2) The second way of speaking about the Arhat in these Mahāyāna texts is to identify the Arhat with the Bodhisattva. This is done in terms of Prajñāpāramitā, which means that the Arhat as well as the Bodhisattva go beyond all dharmas once the ‘other shore’ is attained.  This is the strongest basis for claiming their identity, which we do.
The Bodhisattva ideal occurs in almost Mahāyāna Sūtras. We illustrate here only some of them.
4.2.1 Saddharmapuṇḍarīka Sūtra (The Lotus Sūtra)
The Lotus Sutra is esteemed as the foremost and most wonderful teaching for humankind. This sutra reveals and explains the infinite possibilities open to human beings. Through the sutra, we come to realization that it is possible to change human nature for the better, fresh hope and courage ceaselessly well up in our heart and mind. Futhermore, it teaches that all human beings are equal in the fundamental value of their existence.
This sūtra is known for its extensive instruction on the concept and usage of skillful means. It is also one of the first sūtras to use the term Mahāyāna, or "Great Vehicle".
The ultimate teaching of the sūtra is implied to the reader that “full Buddhahood” is only arrived at by exposure to the truths expressed implicitly. The Lotus Sūtra via its many parables and references to a heretofore less clearly imagined cosmological order. Skillful means of most enlightened Buddhas is itself the highest teaching. All other teachings are subservient to, propagated by and in the service of this highest truth, that there are not actually Three Vehicles as previously taught, but only One Vehicle leading to Buddhahood. 
The Lotus sūtra is the sūtra of innumerable meanings. The image of the Bodhisattva Never Despise and the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue occur in the sūtra is particularly interesting metaphor. This chapter illustrates this principle in relating the history of a Bodhisattva of the ancient past whose name Never Despise. The Bodhisattva Never Despise, by the single repeated act of revering the Buddha-nature in others. Whenever he saw someone else, was in the habit of saying, “I do not despise you, for you will become a buddha.” He was, in words, seeing straight through to the Buddha-nature. But people did not understand him, were angered by his stupidity, and threw rocks at him and beat him with sticks. Bodhisattva Never Despise, though, only retreated and from a distance called back to his persecutors that they would be Buddhas. This is the very message of sūtra – Buddhahood open for all human beings.
In the early part of the Lotus Sūtra the principal bodhisattva was Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of knowledge. Midway, notably in chapter 16 on the light of the Tathāgata, Maitreya, the Bodhisattva of compassion, appeared. The appearance here at the end of Universal Virtue, the Bodhisattva whose major attribute is practice, is thus significant. The meaning of this is clear: the hearer of the Lotus sūtra gains knowledge of the real aspect fo existence from the part of the sūtra that deals with derived truth. He is then awakened to the truth that all living beings are animated by the compassion of the Eternal and Original Buddha. This is the theme of the part of the sūtra that deals with original truth. Finally, here, he learns that the teachings if don’t put into practice, then they are useless.
There is, however, one extremely important statement that is not to be overlooked. After greeting the Buddha, the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue asks how good men and women are to gain the truth of the Lotus Sūtra after the Buddha’s extinction. Shakyamuni answers that there are four requisites to its acquisition: “First, to be under the guardianship of the buddhas; second, to plant the roots of vitue, third, to enter correct congregation; fourth, to aspire after the salvation of all the living.” 
Whereby, the very message of the sūtra have to be understood behind the words that is figurative sense. This is also the specific of Mahāyāna Sūtras.
4.2.2 Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra
According to Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra, the Bodhisattva will become thoroughly conversant with the noble truth of self-realisation, will become a perfect master of his own mind, with conduct himself without effort, will be like a gem reflecting a variety of colours, will be able to assume the body of trasformation, will be able to enter into the subtle minds of all beings, and, because of his firm belief in the truth of Mind-only, will, by gradually ascending the stages, become established in Buddhahood.
Herein, the Bodhisattva ideal is described:
Those Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas who have reached the sixth stage as well as all the Srāvakas and Pratyekabuddhas attain perfect tranquillization. At the Seventh stage, the Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas, giving up the view of self-nature as subsisting in all things. The Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas attain perfect tranquillization in every minute of their mental…  At the Eighth stage the Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas, Srāvakas, and Pratyekabuddhas cease cherishing discriminative ideas that arise from Citta, Manas, and Manovijnana… At the eighth stage there is Nirvāṇa for the Srāvakas and Pratyekabuddhas and Bodhisattvas; but the Bodhisattvas are kept away by the power of all the Buddhas from the bliss of the samadhi, and thereby they will not enter Nirvāṇa… but the Srāvakas and Pratyekabuddhas, engrossed in the bliss of the samadhis, therein cherish the thought of Nirvāṇa.
Here, the Bodhisattvas are different to Srāvakas and Pratyekabuddhas that they are kept away by the power of all the Buddhas from the bliss of the samadhi, and thereby they postpone entering into Nirvāṇa.
4.2.3 The Avataṃsaka Sūtra
The sūtra is also well known for its detailed description of the course of the bodhisattva's practice through ten stages where the Ten Stages Sūtra, or Daśabhūmika Sūtra, is the name given to this chapter of the Avataṃsaka Sūtra. This sūtra gives details on the ten stages (bhūmi) of development a bodhisattva must undergo to attain supreme enlightenment. The ten stages are also depicted in the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra. The sūtra also touches on the subject of the development of the “aspiration for Enlightenment” (Bodhicitta) to attain supreme Buddhahood.
The last chapter of the Avatamsaka circulates as a separate and important text known as the Gaṇḍavyūha Sūtra, which details the pilgrimage of the youth Sudhana at the behest of the bodhisattva Mañjuśrī. Sudhana would converse with 52 masters in his quest for enlightenment. The antepenultimate master of Sudhana's pilgrimage is Maitreya. It is here that Sudhana encounters the Tower of Maitreya, which along with Indra's net, is a most startling metaphor for the infinite:
In the middle of the great tower... he saw the billion-world universe... and everywhere there was Sudhana at his feet... Thus Sudhana saw Maitreya's practices of... transcendence over countless eons (kalpa), from each of the squares of the check board wall... In the same way Sudhana... saw the whole supernal manifestation, was perfectly aware of it, understood it, contemplated it, used it as a means, beheld it, and saw himself there.
The penultimate master that Sudhana visits is the Mañjuśrī bodhisattva, the bodhisattva of great wisdom. Thus, one of the grandest of pilgrimages approaches its conclusion by revisiting where it began. The Gandavyhua suggests that with a subtle shift of perspective we may come to see that the enlightenment that the pilgrim so fervently sought was not only with him at every stage of his journey, but before it began as well – that enlightenment is not something to be gained, but “something” the pilgrim never departed from. The final master that Sudhana visits is Samantabhadra bodhisattva, who teaches him that wisdom only exists for the sake of putting it into practice; that it is only good insofar as it benefits all living beings.
4.2.4 The Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra (The Large Sūtra on Perfect Wisdom)
The literature on Prajñāpāramitā is a vast, deep and vital to an understanding of the Mahāyāna. The oldest text is the ‘Perfection of wisdom in 8000 lines’, in 32 chapters. All the many thousand lines of this sūtra can be summed up in two sentences: (1) One should become a Bodhisattva (a Buddha to-be), i.e. someone content with nothing less than all-knowledge attained through the perfection of wisdom for the sake of all living beings. (2) There is no such things as a Bodhisattva, or all-knowledge, or a “being”, or the perfection of wisdom, or an attainment.
The often repeated saying that the Bodhisattva should “stand in perfect wisdom by not taking his stand anywhere” is explained by Asaṅga as the avoidance of five standpoints :
- He does not take his stand on a belief in a self, and thus does not say ‘I know’, ‘this is my wisdom’…
- He does not take his stand on the conceptions of Bodhisattvas who have not seen the true reality, and thus he does not try to define wisdom in any way.
- He does not abide in either Samsāra or Nirvāṇa, avoiding them both as extremes.
- He rejects the standpoint of the Disciples who are content to cut off their own passions, as well as.
- That of the Disciples who dwell in Final Nirvāṇa to the detriment of the welfare of beings.
Here, the essence of the sūtra is the idea of emptiness (Śūnyatā) that is presented as an object of the Bodhisattva’s way. It brings out the deeper meaning of original doctrine, which is re-interpreted in the light of the dominant idea of Emptiness. Things are emptiness, since they are not independent arising, but exist with many causes and conditions. This is as a result of insight gained while engaged in deep meditation to awaken the faculty of prajña (wisdom). The insight refers to apprehension of the fundamental emptiness of all phenomena, known through and as the five aggregates of human existence (skandhas): form (rūpa), feeling (vedanā), volitions (samskārā), perceptions (saṁjñā), and consciousness (vijñāna). In this Emptiness there can be no stopping, because one cannot speak of something as stopped if it never existed, or came into being, or originated.
4.2.5 Prajñāpāramitā Hṛdaya Sūtra (The Heart Sūtra)
Various commentators divide this text into different numbers of sections. Briefly, the sūtra describes the experience of liberation of the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokiteśvara.
Avalokita, the Holy Lord and Bodhisattva, was moving in the deep course of the wisdom which has gone beyond. He looked down from on high. He beheld but five heaps, and he saw that in their own-being they were empty.
Avalokiteśvara is called Avalokita because he ‘looked down’ compassionately on this world. He is called Holy because he is one of the Saints who have won the spiritual Path. He is called Lord because he has sovereignty over the world and power to help suffering beings. And he is also called a Bodhisattva: A bodhisattva (literally: Enlightenment-being) is an enlightened being who is on the way to becoming a Buddha, but who has postponed his entrance into Nirvāṇa, and his escape from this world of birth-and-death, for the purpose of helping suffering creatures. In other words, a Bodhisattva is a being who strives for enlightenment, and who care for nothing but enlightenment.
Engaged in transcendental wisdom Avalokita would, by definition, contemplate emptiness. And since emptiness is the same as Nirvāṇa and the same as the Buddha, it is said that he looks at the self-illuminating splendour of the emptiness of the Buddhas when he thus practises.
He is thought of as a being who has made the ‘great vow of a Bodhisattva’, i.e. ‘I shall not enter final Nirvāṇa before all beings have been liberated’.
According to the Heart Sūtra, not only the Bodhisattvas, but also all the Buddhas own the attainment of their goal to the realization of the Full Emptiness. In order to win Enlightenment of the Full Emptiness, they had to cast everything aside, and to rely only on the perfection of wisdom. It also means that wisdom plays an important role in Buddhism.
4.2.6 Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra (Diamond Sūtra)
As I have studied in Mahāyāna as well as Mahāyāna Sūtras, my understanding is that, PrajñāpāramitāLiterature is summarized both the ideal and the meaning that is suitable for whom are particular level understand and practice, that is the Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra.
This sūtra is mainly about the Bodhisattva-path that explains more details about the vow of the Bodhisattva, the practice of the perfection, the Bodhisattva’s thought of Enlightenment, the Bodhisattva and his Pure Land, and the Bodhisattva’s final Nirvāṇa as well. In this sūtra, we can find the perfect combination of two traditions that mentions about Arhatship and Bodhisattva-hood.
The content of sūtra can divide as follows:
The vow of a Bodhisattva:
The Lord said:
“Here, Subhuti, someone who has set out in the vehicle of a Bodhisattva should produce a thought in this manner: ‘As many beings as there are in the universe of beings, comprehended under the term ‘beings’, – either egg-born, or born from a womb, or moisture-born, or miraculously born; with or without form; with perception, without perception, and with neither perception nor no-perception, – as far as any conceivable universe of beings is conceived: all these should by me led to Nirvāṇa, into that Realm of Nirvāṇa which leaves nothing behind. And yet, although innumerable beings have thus been led to Nirvāṇa, no being at all has been led to Nirvāṇa.’ And why? If in a Bodhisattva the perception of a ‘being’ should take place, he could not be called a ‘Bodhi-being’.”
The practice of the Perfections:
The Lord said:
“And again, Subhuti, not by a Bodhisattva who is supported by a thing should a gift be given, nor by one who is supported anywhere should a gift be given. Not by one who is supported by form should a gift be given, nor by one who is supported by sounds, smells, tastes, touchables, or mind-objects… For thus, Subhuti, should the Bodhi-being, the great being give a gift as one who is not supported by the perception of a sign. And why? That Bodhi-being, who unsupported gives a gift, his heap of merit, Subhuti, is not easy to measure… Even so, that Bodhi-being who unsupported gives a gift, his heap of merit, Subhuti, that someone who has set out in the Bodhisattva-vehicle should give a gift, - as one who is not supported by the perception of a sign.”
The Bodhisattva’s thought of Enlightenment:
The Lord asked:
“What do you think, Subhuti, is there any dharma which has been taken up by the Tathagata when he was in the presence of Dipankara, the Tathagata, the Arahat, the Fully Enlightened One? Subhuti replied: Not so, O Lord, there is not…”
The Bodhisattva and his Pure Land:
The Lord said:
“If any Bodhisattva would speak thus: ‘I will create harmonious Buddha-fields’, he would speak falsely. And why? ‘The harmonies of Buddha-fields, the harmonies of Buddha-fields’, Subhuti, as no-harmonies have they been taught by the Tathagata. Therefore are they called ‘harmonies Buddha-fields’.”
The Boddhisattva’s Final Nirvāṇa:
The Lord said:
“Therefore then, Subhuti, the Bodhisattva, the great being, should thus produce an unsupported thought i.e. he should produce a thought which is nowhere supported, he should produce a thought which is not supported by forms, he should produce a thought which is not supported by sounds, smells, tastes, touchables, or mind-objects… And why so? ‘Personal existence, personal existence’, as no-existence that has been taught by the Tathagata; for not, O Lord, is that existence or non-existence. Therefore is it called ‘personal existence’.
“What do you think, Subhuti, does it then occur to the Arhat , ‘by me has Arahatship been attained’? – Subhuti: No indeed, O Lord, is does not occur to the Arhat, ‘by me Arhatship has been attained’. And why? Because there is not any dharma which is called ‘Arhat’… If to me, O lord, it would thus occur, ‘by me has Arhatship been attained’, the Tathagata would not declared of me, ‘the foremost of those who dwell in Peace, Subhuti, son of good family, dwells not anywhere, therefore is he called a dweller in Peace, a dweller in Peace.”
“How, O Lord, should someone stand, who has set out in the Bodhisattva-vehicle, how progress, how exert thought?
The Lord said:
Here, Subhuti, someone who has set out in the Bodhisattva-vehicle should thus produce a thought: ‘all beings should be led by me to Nirvāṇa, into that Realm of Nirvāṇa which leaves nothing behind. And yet, after beings have thus been led to Nirvāṇa, no beings at all has been led to Nirvāṇa’. And why? If in a Bodhisattva the perception of a being would take place, he should not be called a ‘Bodhi-being’…
So it is, Subhuti, the Bodhisattva who would say, ‘I will lead beings to Nirvāṇa’, he should not be called a ‘Bodhi being’. And why? Is there, Subhuti, any dharma named a ‘Bodhi being’ – Subhuti: No indeed, O Lord, there is not any dharma named a Bodhi being”
Here, the Arhat apeaks bout his attainment of Arahatta in precisely the same way as the Bodhisattva expressed his attainment. Besides, it comes to the conclusion that the essential idea of sutra is emptiness (Śūnyatā) – deny that something is true, even though the thought of Final Nirvāṇa. An Arhat or a Bodhi-being “has no perception of a self, no perception of a being, no perception of a soul, no perception of a person.” Therefore, “after he has got rid of all perceptions, should produce a thought of utmost, right and perfect enlightenment.” Nowhere to dwell that is the place for a Bodhi-being dwells. Likewise, all supports have actually no support, “by an unsupported Bodhisattva should a gift be given, not by one who is supported by forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touchables or mind-objects.” All human beings should by Bodhisattva lead to Nirvāṇa. And yet “although innumerable beings have thus been led to Nirvāṇa, no being at all has been led to Nirvāṇa.”
This is, in fact, not easy for all, except who are spiritual developed, has transcended individual constrains of the personality such as greed, hatred, and delusion (Arhat); who are motivated and supported by the true bodhicitta (Bodhisattva). Besides generating the aspirational bodhicitta, the Bodhisattva must apply the bodhicitta through the practice of the six pāramitās and other great bodhisattva deeds of self-abnegation.
4.3 Bodhisattva ideal in Mahāyāna Buddhism
Bodhisattva ideal is a very broad topic. This is the key that highlights the importance of developing a process Buddhism known as Mahāyāna, blooming during the first 500 years BC, and continues to be the sacred flame; that is the light that enlightens the way for generations of today and in the future strive on the road to serve the society and human life. Talk about this topic is like placing a hand on at the heart of Buddhism to feel the vibration of each pulse.
For Mahāyāna Buddhism, everyone who follows the Bodhisatta Gotama’s path to practice his vows to become a Buddha and efforts for the helping others. They are Bodhisattvas. It seems that a person who aspires to attain Samma-sambuddhahood is called a Bodhisattva. He (she) wishes to serve others and reach ultimate perfection. Everybody is free to pursue the Bodhisatta ideal, but there is no compulsion that all must strive to attain Buddhahood which, to say the least, is practically impossible. Therefore, Bodhisattva concept should be understood philosophically.
With the advancing impetus of doctrine, Mahāyāna Buddhism at the same time gave a meticulous doctrine to explain how the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas do to save all living beings. Besides, Mahāyāna Buddhism also offers a progressive perspective when determining the role, improve the important position of layman in religious activities and their abilities to reach enlightenment.
The formation of Mahāyāna, especially the Bodhisattva ideal, thus; did not make a break of the Buddhist community, but has lighted up the fire of faith in their heart. Since eveyone has a Buddha mind or Buddha nature and can be a Buddha by following the Bodhisattva-path. It promotes and encourages everyone constantly move forward, not retreat in front of any danger, hardship to fulfil their goal. Moreover, Bodhisattva ideal aims to emphasize on the greatness of its compassionate motivation for the salvation of all sentient beings by mean of wisdom and compassion of being a Buddha. In other words, the Bodhisatta’s sole objective is to serve all beings to get rid of suffering. So it is the culmination of the Buddhist concept of compassion. This compassionate objective cannot be achieved without a profound knowledge of the true nature of the world. Therefore, a Bodhisatta fulfils perfections throughout the existences. Thus, the concept of Bodhisatta and his specific career can be considered as the highest ethical system in Buddhism. Relying on that, Bodhisattva ideal has value in the present and for the present life.
4.4 The Bodhisattva doctrine and its Influence in Day-to-day Life
The Bodhisattva doctrine, therefore, it is one way to generate compassionate heart as Volunteer which is very important in contemporary world and everywhere needs people with this kind of heart.
The Bodhisattva concept had its influence in the evolution of kingship in Sri Lanka, too. For some time between the fourth and the eleventh centuries CE, the kings of Sri Lanka began to be regarded not as ordinary human beings but as Bodhisattvas. The Jetavanarama slab-inscription of Mahinda IV and the Pritidanakamanapa inscription of Nissanka Malla are instances where the rulers refer to themselves as Bodhisattvas. The Rajatarangani (p. 470 and the Nikāyasamgrahaya, ed. Kumaranatunga, p. 24) also bear evidence to this. Parakramabahu II says that he would become a Buddha (Mahavamsa, ch. 86, stz.7).
Nowadays, in some Mahayana countries such as China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, etc. there is a system of admission into the Order consisting of three stages: Admission, higher ordination and the acceptance of the bodhisattva-vows. The burning of the candidate's head from three to eighteen places is said to be an essential part of the ceremony of taking the bodhisattva-vows.
The worship of Bodhisattvas needed iconographical representation and this need has been more than fulfilled by the creation of an abundance of Bodhisattva images, especially in those countries that accepted Mahāyāna. Buddhist art became the richer through these artistic creations. In the subsequent phases of the bodhisattva-cult these deified personages were given many forms in order to symbolise their multifarious functions. Sometimes they were given many heads and many arms which practice has sometimes led to the creation of such figures as exemplified by the thousand-armed Avalokiteśvara from Japan.
The Bodhisattva doctrine presents with an outlet for devotional practice, as well as offer a model for practitioners to guide them on the path to enlightenment. They remain an important part of Mahāyāna Buddhism today, and an inspiration for monastics and laypeople alike. Moreover, the Bodhisattva doctrine provides a model for Mahāyāna Buddhists of an engaged form of Buddhism that does not run away from the suffering of the world, but actively seeks to end it for all beings.
These human qualities as a whole represent the Buddhist attitude to the goal of human life. The human beings as well as every other things in the world are in the nature of impermanence. So, they all are unsatisfactory and essenceless in the ultimate sense. Therefore, Buddhism presents a way of life which is profitable for the day-to-day life as well as to find a final solution to the problem of birth, decay and death. Because of ignorance created by greed, hatred and delusion, people do not see the real nature of the world. They take unreal as the real and real as the the unreal. To give them an insight into the true nature of the world, the Buddhas appear in the world time to time. They as Bodhisattvas cultivate the above-mentioned good qualities upto their highest level. So, the culmination of all those qualities is called the supreme enlightenment. The sole objective of a Bodhisattva is to serve all beings. The virtues that we cultivate are aimed at doing good to others without selfishness. On this basis, we can evaluate the Bodhisattva ideal as well as the ethical system related to it as the highest moral discipline and intellect in Buddhism which give the greatest happiness to all beings in the world.
To sum up, I have analyzed the development of the Bodhisattva doctrine and its relation to the Pāli Nikāyas and pointed out that Theravāda itself as well as Mahāyāna has developed the concept of Bodhisattva gradually. In the Nikāyas, the Buddha does refer to himself as a Bodhisattva both in his previous lives and in the period prior to his enlightenment. And the Pāli Commentarial Literature quite logically recognises the Bodhisattva as a rare type of man appearing at certain stage in time and space. Meanwhile, Mahāyāna went on developing the Bodhisattva concept in such a way that he became an object of devotion and his human nature gradually disappeared. Moreover, Mahāyāna encourges everyone enters the Bodhisattva-path. They believe that everyone has a Buddha mind or Buddha nature and can be a Buddha by following the Bodhisattva-path. It seems that Mahāyāna doctrine of the Bodhisattva derived logically from the belief in future Buddha. If earlier Buddhas had existed there must be other Buddhas yet to come. In other words, the Bodhisattva doctrine is as the production of the Thought of Enlightenment. Mahāyāna, from compassionate aspect of Buddhism deployed it as an ideal. And it became a main goal of the school. Therefore, we must not forget that in any atttempt at pointing to a philosophy of the Enlightened One, one is in much the same position as the blind men; one cannot ‘say it all’ with regard to Buddhism.
Our reading of primary texts from several Buddhist traditions leads us to the conclusion that there is no one ‘central philosophy’ of Buddhism. Various Buddhist systems from the so-called ‘eighteen schools’ through late Mahāyāna developments, have taken some of these conceptual constellations and built them into systems.
All forms of Buddhism – the Theravāda, the Mahāyāna and the Vajrayāna – affirm the perfectibility of the person, and one finds this notion of perfection embodied in three images: the Arhat, the Bodhisattva and the Mahasiddha. The image of human perfection that explains in different perspectives, that is because of looking to the Buddha as the ideal. In fact, there is only one Nirvāṇa for all who follow in the Buddha’s footsteps, who meditate to realize the reality of life, who destroy the hatred, the destruction, and the delusion.
So much for misunderstandings are found concerning the Bodhisattva ideal. I think it would be an oversimplification to equate the pursuit of the Bodhisattva ideal with engagement in social service and to assume that a Bodhisattva forgoes all training on the path to liberation. It is true that the Bodhisattva vows to work for the welfare of others in a broader way than the follower of the Śrāvaka vehicle, but all such efforts are superficial if they are not motivated and supported by the true bodhicitta. Besides generating the aspirational bodhicitta, the bodhisattva must apply the bodhicitta through the practice of the six pāramitās and other great bodhisattva deeds of self-abnegation. The pāramitās begin with dāna-pāramitā, the perfection of giving. Social engagement can certainly be included under this category, as it involves giving others material gifts and the gift of security. But these gifts, as worthy as they are, do not equal in value the gift of the Dharma, for the gift of the Dharma leads to the permanent extinction of suffering. To be qualified to give this gift requires skills that go beyond social service . In this case, only the Bodhisattva according to Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra(as presented before) or an Arhat plays perfectly this role; as he has transcended individual constrains of the personality such as greed, hatred, and delusion; he is considered as a person who acts not based on his individual needs but from others’ requirement.
In this study, it seems that Mahāyānists had gone too far from early Buddhism. Mahāyānists neglect the fact that in his historical manifestation, the Buddha did not teach the Bodhisattva-path, what the Buddha consistently taught, according to the early records, is the attainment of Nirvāṇa by reaching Arhatship. In other words, the Buddha, he has proclaimed the mankind’s independence proved by his own enlightenment that the potential of human beings can be developed and realized by themselves. And how the Buddha helps others here, it doesn’t mean something like salvation or saviour. Because the true teachings of the Buddha is to be understood directly by oneself. Truth itself should be real Buddha for us. However, my focus is to find the reason behind the development of the doctrine. In this sense then, both Theravāda and Mahāyāna seem to be addressing the same purpose but from different point of view. It seems that philosophical aspect is indispensable to the development. About this, we can see clearly through sectarian divisions process. It also comes to the conclusion that sometimes the answer requires our own reflection.
In the final analysis, I have to confess my inability to provide a perfectly cogent solution to this problem. In view of the fact that in later times so many Buddhists, in Theravāda lands as well as in the Mahāyāna world, have been inspired by the Bodhisattva ideal, it is perplexing that no teachings about a Bodhisattva path or Bodhisattva practices are included in the discourses regarded as coming down from the most archaic period of Buddhist literary history.
Thus, we can see that while Early Buddhism emphasizes that each person is ultimately responsible for his or her own destiny, holding that no one can purify another or rescue another from the miseries of Saṃsāra, it includes an altruistic dimension that distinguished it from most of the other religious systems that flourished alongside it in Northern India. This altruistic dimension might be seen as the “seed” from which the Bodhisattva doctrine developed. It might thus also be considered one of the elements in ancient Buddhism that contributed to the emergence of the Mahāyāna. The Bodhisattva doctrine, therefore, can be considered as the highest ethical system in Buddhism.
 Raluwe, Padmasiri, “Desire: Comparative Study in Lenivasian Concept of Desire and Buddhist Concept of Desire”, Singapore: National University of Singapore, 2009, p. II
 Encyclopaedia of Buddhism, Vol. III, ed. by G. P. Malalasekera, O.B.E, Sri lanka: The Government of Ceylon, 1971, p. 224
 Dayal, Har, The Bodhisattva Doctrine in Buddhist Sanskrit Literature, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1932, pp. 4 – 9
 PTS Dictionary – see under Bodhi
 MN 4: Bhayabherava Sutta, MN 19: Dvedhavitakka Sutta, MN 81: Ghatikara Sutta; DN 19: Mahagovinda Sutta
 Majjhima Nikāya, “Ariyapariyesanā Sutta”, p. 256
 Nattier, Jan, A few Good Men: The Bodhisattva Path according to The Inquiry of Ugra, 2003, p. 174
 Mall, Linnart, Studies in The Astasahasrika PrajnaPāramitā and Other Essays, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2005, pp. 53 – 54
 Conze, Edward, The Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines and its Verse Summary, Grey Fox Press, 2001, p. 89
 Gyatso, Geshe Kelsang, Joyful Path of Good Fortune: The Complete Buddhist Path to Enlightenment, p. 422
 Digha Nikāya, “Mahagovinda Sutta”, i 252, p. 313
 Digha Nikāya, “Janavasabha Sutta”, ii 199, p. 290
 Digha Nikāya, “Mahapadana Sutta”, p. 199
 Ibid., pp. 220 – 221
 Majjhima Nikāya, “Acchariya-abbhuta Sutta”, pp. 979 – 984
 Op. cit., pp. 979 – 983
 Majjhima Nikāya, “Mahasaccaka Sutta”, p. 295
 Majjhima Nikāya, “Ariyapariyesana Sutta”, p. 256
 Ibid., pp. 259 – 260
 Khinā jāti, vusitam brahmacariyam, katam karaniyam nāparam itthattaya.
 Majjhima Nikāya, “Bhayabherava Sutta”, p. 105
 Ibid., pp. 105 – 106
 Majjhima Nikāya, “Dvedhavitakka Sutta”, pp. 207 – 210
 Majjhima, i, 17. 6; i, 114. 24; i, 163.9
 T. Sugimoto, Bodhisatta As See in The Pāli Canons, pp. 98 – 101
 Majjhima: 17, 91, 163, 240; S ii 169, iii 27, iv 233, v 263, 281, 317; Ai 258, iii 240; etc.
 Buddhavamsa II vs 117 ff
 See M I 17, 91, 163, 240; S ii 169, iii 27, iv 233, v 263, 281, 317; A i 258, iii 240; etc.
 Winternitz, Cf. M., History of Indian Literature, Vol. II, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2010, p. 158
 Cf. H. Nanavasa, op. cit., p. 143 ff
 Endo, Toshiichi, Buddha in Theravāda Buddhism, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Cultural Center, 1997, p. 224
 See N. Dutt, Buddhist Sects in India, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1998, p. 104
 Endo, Toshiichi, op. cit., p. 225
 Endo, Toshiichi, op. cit., p. 227
 See Endo, Toshiichi, op. cit., p. 233 – 236
 Buddhavamsa II v 2, Buddhavamsa II v 61
 Buddhavamsa II vs 62 – 70
 The Minor Anthologies of the Pāli Canon, part III, by I. B. Horner, London: The Pāli Text Society, 1975, p. XIV
 In the Saddharmapundarika, for instance, the Buddha say to Sariputra, who becomes disappointed for having satisfied himself with Arhat ship, that he would be a future Buddha named Padmaprabha. Sariputra feels happy after the declaration (Sdmp. pp. 60ff)
 Dayal, Har, op.cit., p. 44
 Kawamura, Leslie S., The Bodhisattva Doctrine in Buddhism, Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications, 1997, p.73
 Katz, Nathan, Buddhist Images of Human Perfection, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1982, pp. 275 – 276
 Soka Gakkai Dictionary of Buddhism, Soka Gakkai, "One Vehicle": The Lotus Sūtra teaches that these three vehicles are not ends in themselves but means to lead people to the one vehicle, which unifies and refines the three vehicle teachings. The "Expedient Means" (second) chapter of the sūtra says that the Buddhas employ only a single vehicle to preach the Law to living beings.
 Niwano, Nikkyo, A Guide to the Threefold Lotus Sūtra, Tokyo: Kosei Publishing Co, 1985, p. 150
 Suzuki, D. T., The Laṅkāvatāra Sutta, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul LTD, 1959, p. 182
 Cleary, Thomas, The Flower Ornament Scripture 3, Entry into the Realm of Reality / Trans. by Thomas Cleary. Boulder: Shambhala, 1987, p. 369
 Mahāyānasamgraha 253
 Conze, Edward, The Diamond Sūtra and The Heart Sūtra, London: George Allen and Unwin LTD, 1975 p. 78
 Conze, Edward, Vajracchedika Prajñāpāramitā, Roma Is. M. E. O, 1974, p. 66
 Galmangoda, Sumanapala, Buddhist Social Philosophy and Ethics, Sri Lanka: Samadhi Buddhist Society, 2006, p. 84
 > See Bhikkhu Bodhi, Arahats, Buddhas and Bodhisattas, http://buddhanet.net
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