ajitena ca bodhisattvena1
(continued from issue #59)       by Bhiksuni Heng Hsien


      The Bodhisattva next named in the Sukhavatlvyuha assembly is Ajita Bodhisattva, otherwise known as the Buddha-to-be Maitreya. The Sanskrit word ajita2 means "unconquered," also translatable as "unsurpassed," and "unexcelled."3 The initial a- of ajita, a negative prefix, corresponds to English "un-." Jita means "conquered" etc. from the root Ji- "conquer, surpass, excell." The -ta of ajita marks it as the perfect passive participle, and is equivalent to English "-ed."


      Ajita, "Unconquered," is the Bodhisattva's personal name. Ajitena is the singular of that name in the instrumental case, the case called for by the previous preposition sardham "together with." Bodhisattvena is also instrumental singular masculine for the same reason. The text then reads "together with (those previously mentioned ) and (ca) Ajita Bodhisattva."


      Maitreya4 is the Bodhisattva's family name. Maitreya is a patronymic (a word that indicates relationship) and literally means "related to kindness."5 "Kindness" in Sanskrit is maitri6, a feminine noun which also denotes friendliness and benevolence. Maitri "kindness" is derived from the adjective maitra- "friendly, kind," which in turn is based upon the word for "friend" mitra.


      Maitreya, the Bodhisattva Ajita, now dwells in the inner court of the Tusita Heaven, waiting to appear among us as a Buddha. He therefore has the title eka-jati-pratibaddha7: "Bound (pratibaddha) only by one (eka) birth (jati)." That title designates the next Buddha, the Buddha-to-be in this case the successor to Sakyamuni Buddha.

to be continued 


April 24, 1974

Upasaka I Kuo-jung, President
Vajra Bodhi Sea Publication Society
Gold Mountain Monastery
1731 15th Street
San Francisco, California

Dear Upasaka:

Thank you for your recent letter. I am extremely pleased and feel greatly honored by your kind invitation to submit a contribution to the special fifth anniversary issue of Vajra Bodhi Sea. Over the summer I will write an article and submit it for your consideration well before the deadline.

Five years of publication of the only monthly journal of Buddhist studies in the Western Hemisphere is certainly a wonderful achievement. You and the others who are responsible for this splendid periodical deserve the gratitude and support of all the rest of us who have benefited from Vajra Bodhi Sea in many, many ways.

I look forward to sending you an article in the near future and sincerely wish you continued success.

Marion L. Matics