Tuṣita’s Outer Assembly’s Indulgent Attachment To Desires’ Joys 兜率外众耽著欲乐

Excerpt from ‘The Great Táng Dynasty Record of the Western Regions: Fascicle V: Six Countries’, [from Kanyākubja to Viṣaka, as translated to English by Li Rongxi]

三藏法师玄奘奉  诏译
By Tripiṭaka Dharma Master Xuánzàng with decree received and translated  


I crossed the Ganges to the south and reached the country of Ayodhyā (in the domain of Central India). The country of Ayodhyā is more than five thousand li in circuit and its capital city is over twenty li in circuit…  

城西南五六里大菴(ān)没罗林中,有故伽蓝,是阿僧伽(唐言无著)菩萨请益导凡之处。无著菩萨夜昇天宫,于慈氏菩萨所受《瑜伽师地论》、《莊严大乘经论》、《中边分别论》等,昼为大众讲宣妙理。菴没罗林西北百余步,有如来发、爪窣堵波(sùdǔbō: stupa)。其侧故基,是世亲菩萨从睹史多天下见无著菩萨处。  

In a great mango grove five or six li to the southwest of the city there is an old monastery where Asaṅga Bodhisattva (known as Wuzhuo, “No Attachment,” in Chinese) received instructions and guided the common people. At night he ascended to the place of Maitreya Bodhisattva in [Tuṣita] Heaven to learn the Yogācārabhūmi-śāstra, the Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra-śāstra, the Madhyāntavibhāga-śāstra, [and other texts]; in the daytime he lectured on the marvelous principles to a large audience. More than one hundred paces to the northwest of the mango grove is a stupa containing hair and nail relics of the Tathāgata. The old foundations beside it mark the place where Vasubandhu Bodhisattva descended from Tuṣita Heaven to see Asaṅga Bodhisattva.  


Asaṅga Bodhisattva, a native of the country of Gandhāra, was a man of virtue born one thousand years after the demise of the Buddha and realized the Way after receiving edification. He became a monk of the Mahīśāsaka school to learn its teachings, but soon afterward he turned his mind toward the Mahayana doctrines. 


His younger brother, Vasubandhu Bodhisattva, became a monk of the Sarvāstivāda school to receive an education. He was a man of wide learning with a retentive memory, and he possessed comprehensive knowledge and probed into its essence. 


Asaṅga’s disciple Buddhasiṃha (known as Shizijue, “Buddha Lion”) was a monk who observed the disciplinary rules immaculately and was well known for his high talents.  


These two or three sagely persons often said among themselves that since the purpose of their spiritual cultivation was to see Maitreya in person [in their next rebirth], whoever among them died first and fulfilled his long-cherished wish should come back to inform the others where he had been reborn. 


Buddhasiṃha died first but he did not come back to report his whereabouts for three years. 


Later Vasubandhu Bodhisattva passed away but he too did not report back after six months. 


The heretics sneered at them, deeming that Vasubandhu Bodhisattva and Buddhasiṃha had been reborn in an evil state and so they could not show any spiritual response. 


Asaṅga Bodhisattva was instructing his disciples in the methods of practicing meditation one night when the lamplight suddenly faded out and a great brightness appeared in the sky. A heavenly being descended from the air and entered the courtyard to worship Asaṅga,


who asked him, “Why do you come so late? What is your name now?” 


[The heavenly being] said in reply, “After my death here I repaired to Tuṣita Heaven, where I was born from a lotus flower in the inner department of the heaven. When the lotus flower opened Maitreya said to me with praise, ‘Welcome, Guanghui (“Vast Wisdom”)! Welcome, Guanghui!’


As soon as I had just finished circumambulating him once, I descended to report this to you.” 


Asaṅga Bodhisattva asked, “Where is Buddhasiṃha now?” 


The reply was, “When I was circumambulating [Maitreya], I saw Buddhasiṃha in the outer department indulging himself in sensual pleasures, and he was so busy that he had scarcely any time to look at me, much less come down to report to you!” 


Asaṅga Bodhisattva said, “Let it be so. Now what does Maitreya look like? What Dharma does he preach?” 


The reply was, “His features are so beautiful that they are beyond description. He preached on the wonderful Dharma, of which the purports were the same as you have explained here. The bodhisattva has a melodious voice, so fluent and elegant that those who hear it forget about fatigue and his students never feel bored.”  

* 注:世亲菩萨[曰]无著菩萨:「我… 见师子觉在外众中,耽著欲乐」  

* Note (Retranslated): Vasubandhu Bodhisattva [said to] Asaṅga Bodhisattva, ‘[At Tuṣita heaven], I… saw Buddhasiṃhá at [the] outer assembly within, indulging [in] attachment [to the five] desires’ joys [of wealth, sex, fame, food and sleep].’ 

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