Ekottara Agama 18.8

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[i]‘Thus have I heard. At one time the Buddha was staying, together with a large [number of] bhikṣus, viz. five hundred persons altogether, among the Śākyans at Kapilavastu, in the Nyagrodha Park. 

Then Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī went to the Exalted One.  She bowed her head at his feet and said to him: [I] hope for a long time the Exalted One will bring the ignorant and deluded to their senses, and may [his] life never be endangered!

Gautamī, responded the Exalted One, such words in regard to the Tathāgata are not appropriate. The Tathāgata [can] prolong his life-span which will not be short, and his life will never be [really] in danger[ii].

Now Mahāprajāpatī  Gautamī improvised the following verses:

               

How [can one] revere him who is foremost, who is unparalleled

In the world? [He] is capable of removing all doubts; that is why

These words [of veneration] are uttered.

 

The Exalted One in turn responded to Gautamī with these verses:

 

Reverence for the Tathāgata implies this effort and steadfastness.

A mind that is ever more courageous and which looks upon Disciples as equals (tulya).

 

In reply to the Exalted One Mahāprajāpatī  declared: Hence-forth the Exalted One should be revered [for his] the Tathāgata’s, insisting on regarding[iii] all living beings with a mind free from [the discriminatory concepts of] upper and lower (adhika-nyūna) [classes].  Among the heavenly beings, men … and Asuras, the Tathāgata is supreme.

The Exalted One acknowledged what Mahāprajāpatī  had said, and [she] rose from her seat, bowed down… and left. 

The Exalted One said to the bhikus: Among my disciples it is Mahāprajāpatī  who is foremost[iv] in respect of broad-mindedness and extensive awareness.

Having heard the Buddha’s words, the bhikus were pleased and respectfully applied themselves to practice’.



[i]  CBETA, T02, no. 125, p. 592, c10-28. This translation originally published as Ekottaragama XXI, Buddhist Studies Review 13.2, 1996, p 149-150. Translated from the Chinese version by Thích Huyên-Vi and Bhikkhu Pāsādika in collaboration with Sara Boin-Webb.

[ii] Cf. BSR. 12, 2 (1995), p.163 f: ‘Since the Tathāgata’s body is not reckoned an ordinary body, it is not subject to other people’s violence…’ As for the Tathāgata’s power to prolong his life-span, see D11, 103 f:  E. Waldschmidt (ed). Das Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra II (Berlin 1951), 15.10, 15.13 (pp.204, 206): ākāṅkṣamānas tathāgataḥ kalpaṁ vā tiṣṭhet kalpāvaśeṣaṁ vā.

[iii] For   #    (592c23) read  #   (after 592c, n29 and Hayashi, p.159).

[iv] Cf BSR 4, 1 (1987), pp.47, 57 (n.l).