Why the name of Tathāgata?

Printed Diamond Sutra (Kongō-kyō), Kaizō-ji edition, Japan Momoyama period, 1577 © Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of the Hofer Collection of the Arts of AsiaAnd why, O Subhūti, the name of Tathāgata? It expresses true suchness.

And why Tathāgata, O Subhūti? It expresses that he had no origin.

And why Tathāgata, O Subhūti? It expresses the destruction of all qualities.

And why Tathāgata, O Subhūti? It expresses one who had no origin whatever.

And why this? Because, O Subhūti, no-origin is the highest goal.

‘And whosoever, O Subhūti, should say that, by the holy and fully enlightened Tathāgata, the highest perfect knowledge has been known, he would speak an untruth, and would slander me, O Subhūti, with some untruth that he has learned.

And why? Because there is no such thing, O Subhūti, as has been known by the Tathāgata with regard to the highest perfect knowledge. And in that, O Subhūti, which has been known and taught by the Tathāgata, there is neither truth nor falsehood.

Therefore, the Tathāgata preaches: “All things are Buddha-things.” And why? Because what was preached by the Tathāgata, O Subhūti, as all things, that was preached as no-things; and therefore all things are called Buddha-things.

The Vagrakkhedika or diamond-cutter (Diamond Sutra),

in Buddhist Mahayana Texts (Sacred Books of the East), F. Max Muller

Oxford University Press 1894

Click on any image view larger photographs.

Images with thanks: © Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum.



Categories: Art, Buddhism, Encyclopedia, Foundations of Buddhism, Mahayana

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4 replies

  1. Lovely. Thank you. I always thought it was the Vajrachchedikaprajnaparamita Sutra, or the Vajrachchedika (Diamond Cutting) Sutra.

  2. Is Buddhism now sure about Muller’s right understanding of that text?

    • Am not a Sanskrit scholar, however the meaning is very direct and insightful.

      ‘And why, O Subhūti, the name of Tathāgata? It expresses true suchness.

      And why Tathāgata, O Subhūti? It expresses that he had no origin.

      And why Tathāgata, O Subhūti? It expresses the destruction of all qualities.

      And why Tathāgata, O Subhūti? It expresses one who had no origin whatever.

      And why this? Because, O Subhūti, no-origin is the highest goal.

      Expresses the meaning of the Buddha calling himself the Tathāgata.

      If you wish to go deeper in to the Prajnaparamita Texts I recommenced, Perfect Wisdom, Translated by Edward Conze

      There is also the wonderful The Large Sutra on Perfect Wisdom: With the Divisions of the Abhisamayalankara also Translated by Edward Conze.

      Good luck with as the Buddha puts it: ‘the mark of no mark’.

      R

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