Downfalls 10 & 11

This may sound like a post advertising Mahāyāna. Please note that I am not here to try to convert anyone, as absurd an endeavour that would be. I would like to draw attention to an interesting feature of the bodhisattva vows and their associated downfalls.

The Āryākāśa­garbha­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra is a text directed at those who are beginning their bodhisattva practice. It can be found here.

Venerable Śāntideva wrote his bodhisattvayāna catechism text, Śikṣāsamuccaya, some time in the 8th century in India. Within, he gives an account of eighteen root downfalls that may be committed by a retrogradable bodhisattva. His primary source for these bodhisattva precepts is the Āryākāśa­garbha­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra, a sūtra written for beginner practitioners in an easy and direct style, with a focus on moral cultivation.

They are:

  1. To steal the Three Jewels’ possessions,
  2. to spurn the saddharma,
  3. to assault the monks or to take their saffron robes, even from the ones who spoil their discipline, or to sentence them to jail,
  4. to kill or cause them to abandon their monastic state,
  5. to commit the five sins of instant retribution,
  6. to espouse wrong views,
  7. to destroy a homestead,
  8. to set forth emptiness to those whose minds are yet untrained,
  9. to turn those entering the path to buddhahood away from their complete enlightenment,
  10. to cause the ones who tread the path of prātimokṣa (i.e. vinaya-observers of the listener’s vehicle) to leave it for the mahāyāna,
  11. to hold, and to lead others to believe, that on the path of śrāvaka cultivation, craving and the like cannot be overcome,
  12. to praise oneself for sake of fame and wealth,
  13. to claim untruthfully that one has gained the realization of the profound view,
  14. to victimize the monks, imposing fines, thus causing them to take from the Three Jewels,
    to cause practitioners to give up their calm abiding, or to give sustenance to those who merely study or recite.
    This list is abbreviated to remove some material specifically addressing Buddhist monarchs.

(Source: Venerable Khenchen Kunzang Pelden, jam dbyangs bla ma’i zhal lung bdud rtsi’i thig pa “The Nectar of Mañjuśrī’s Speech”, pages 141-2, commentary on Āryaśāntidevasyabodhisattvacharyāvatāra)

Note downfalls 10 & 11.

Very interesting, no?


Yes, very!


The OP is from a sub-commentary of sorts. From the source text, Āryākāśa­garbha­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra:

“Furthermore, son of noble family, bodhisattvas may say to some, ‘Son of noble family, eschew the discourses of the śrāvaka vehicle! Do not listen to them, do not read them, and do not teach them to others. Son of noble family, eschew the discourses of the śrāvaka vehicle! They are the reason why you cannot obtain the great result, why you are not able to eradicate the afflictions. Therefore, have faith in the discourses of the Mahāyāna. Listen to the Mahāyāna, study the Mahāyāna, and teach it to others. Thus you will not go to the lower realms, you will not enter any path leading to the lower realms, and swiftly you will manifestly and completely awaken to unsurpassable, perfectly complete enlightenment.’


If these words are spoken and the listener acts accordingly and adopts a similar view, then both actions incur a root transgression. If the bodhisattva wins someone over to a false view of the kind expressed in these words, they both undergo a root downfall. This is the fourth root downfall of a bodhisattva.


Son of noble family, due to this root transgression, they will forfeit the entirety of their previously generated roots of virtue.

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