The Prajnaparamita-sutra

The Prajnaparamita-sutra is a collection of Buddhist texts probably elaborated between the first century BC and the tenth century AD. It contains teachings pertaining to the Perfection of Wisdom (Prajnaparamita) and how to attain it. The main message of the book is that perfect wisdom can only be achieved by completely eliminating personal interests, by eradicating the illusion of a Self and of the existence of the world, and by embracing impermanence and emptiness.

The Prajnaparamita-sutra is among the earliest texts of Mahayana Buddhism, one of the major traditions of Buddhism. Whereas in Theravada Buddhism attaining nirvana is an individual matter dependent on one’s own efforts, Mahayana claims that all sentient beings will eventually be liberated from suffering due to the help of bodhisattvas. The goal is not to attain personal nirvana, but to follow the bodhisattva path in order to help all human beings reach salvation, and to finally reach Buddhahood.

In the Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita, one of the texts of the Prajnaparamita-sutra corpus, the Perfection of Wisdom (Prajnaparamita) is praised with these words:

The perfection of wisdom gives light, O Lord. I pay homage to the perfection of wisdom! She is worthy of homage. She is unstained, the entire world cannot stain her. She is a source of light, and from everyone in the triple world she removes darkness, and she leads us away from the blinding darkness caused by the defilements and by wrong views. In her we can find shelter. Most excellent are her works. She makes us seek the safety of the wings of enlightenment. She brings light to the blind, she brings light so that all fear and distress may be forsaken. [...] She guides to the path those who have strayed on to a bad road. [...] She is the mother of the Bodhisattvas, on account of the emptiness of her own mark. [...] She is the antidote to birth-and-death. [...] The perfection of wisdom of the Buddhas, the Lords, sets in motion the wheel of the Dharma.

(Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita, VII, 1, translated by Conze 1973)