There was certainly an element of meditative visioning going on; some of the Mahayana Sutras explicitly state this.
But this should detract from the degree of formalistic precision that, at least in some cases, they embody.
The Mahayana sutras are like the Star Wars prequels. To someone brought up on the originals, the prequels are a travesty, losing sight of character and humanity in their obsessive focus on effects. No-one with the originals in their bones could ever think of the prequels as authentic. But if you’re born in latter days, you might see the originals as primitive, lacking polish and sophistication.
But more than that, they were composed according to exactly the same formal principles. Both the Star Wars prequels and the Prajnaparamita Sutras are based on chiasmus, or “ring structure”. This is a highly intricate, artificial structure, which in these texts is applied at such a vast scale that it is completely invisible; except to the very clever people who devoted many hours of study to uncover it!
Is there a significance to this? I believe there is. I believe that the use of such an elaborate formal structure is a sign of aesthetic decadence. And in both cases it arises from someone who is entranced by the possibilities of a new technology. For the prequels this was digital effects; for the Prajnaparamita, it was writing. This enabled the development of artificial structures in a new way, influenced, ironically enough, by the Abhidhamma texts of which they were so critical.
In art, when such artificial formalisms come to predominate, it signifies a shift from art that reflects life to art that reflects other art.
The main concern of the original Star Wars was to show that the most insignificant person could rise to become a hero by relying on their own sense of connection and intuitive wisdom. The main concern of the prequels was to set up the plot of the originals.
Similarly, the main concern of the Suttas is to respond to peoples’ suffering, and show that anyone can transcend it through their own wisdom. The main concern of the Prajnaparamita is to critique Abhidhamma philosophy. (For the record, I think that critique is correct. I just don’t think it matters very much, except to philosophers.)