The Mañjuśrīvikrīḍita is a typical Mahāyāna sūtra in the sense that it deals with the key terms of the abhidharma systems, as well as the main concepts of the Mahāyāna, in the context of emptiness and deconstruction, of śūnyatā and nirvikalpa. Thus, our present sūtra, as does its genre in general, consists of lists of these concepts, and the somewhat tedious repetition that they are all empty, etc. However, to enliven the text, it is furnished with a quite charming frame story, also not unusual for the Mahāyāna style, depicting a person not supposed to be particularly saintly. In the case of the Mañjuśrīvikrīḍita this is a very beautiful prostitute named Suvarṇavarṇottamaprabhāśrī, who, it seems, is also the daughter of a prostitute – a gaṇikāduhitā. Now, the girl Suvarṇavarṇottamaprabhāśrī, whose skin shines with a golden hue and who is the most beautiful of all girls is, of course, courted by all the boys in town. One, the banker’s son Bhayadatta, “Given to Fear”, gets hold of her, but when the girl sees the princely Mañjuśrī, she instantly falls in love with him. Then the god of riches, Vaiśravaṇa, appears, introduces Mañjuśrī by name, and, on being asked, explains what a bodhisatva is. Mañjuśrī is clad in a fine white garb, such as is usual for laymen, and she asks the bodhisatva whether she can have it. “Yes, you can,” says the great figure – “if you develop the mind of awakening, the bodhicitta.” When the prostitute asks what this is, Mañjuśrī answers that “It is yourself, your body”, and “All beings are included in Awakening.” This accords with the Mahāyāna conviction that truth and awakening are not found in some theoretical system, but in that which we are as human beings, in compassionate action towards our fellow beings, whichever class they might belong to.
In this way, the sūtra also goes to greati lengths to argue for universal sameness. ... (Download the rest of the introduction; the introduction also contains an argument connecting the Mañjuśrīvikrīḍitasūtra and the Suvarṇavarṇāvadāna.)
(Braarvig, forthcoming: 1-2)
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