Manuscript cover decorated with Prajnaparamita
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Room 1: India and Nepal
Orientation 3
Furniture 4

ABM 040

 Code: ABM 040

  Country: Tibet


  Date: 1400 - 1500

  Dimensions in cm WxHxD: 69.3 x 25.5 x 2.5

  Materials: Painted and sculpted wood

Book cover with inscription of the Prajnaparamita

The term prajnaparamita alone never refers to a specific text, but always to the class of literature. “Perfection of Wisdom” is a translation of the Sanskrit term prajnaparamita - which is one of the aspects of a bodhisattva's personality

The earliest sutra in this class is the Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra or "Perfection of Wisdom in 8,000 Lines", which was probably put in writing around 100 BC, and is one of the earliest Mahayana sutras. More material was gradually compiled over the next two centuries. Between the years 100 and 300 this text was expanded into large versions. Since they proved to be unwieldy, they were summarized into shorter versions from 300 to 500. The shorter versions include the Heart Sutra (Prajnaparamita Hrdaya Sutra) and the Diamond Sutra (Prajnaparamita Vajracchedika Sutra). These two have had a great influence on the development of Mahayana Buddhism. 

Edward Conze succinctly summarized what “The Perfection of Wisdom” is about: 'The thousands of lines of the Prajnaparamita can be summed up in the following two sentences:
1. One should become a bodhisattva (or, Buddha-to-be), i.e. one who is content with nothing less than all-knowledge attained through the perfection of wisdom for the sake of all beings.
2. There is no such thing as a bodhisattva, or as all-knowledge, or as a 'being', or as the perfection of wisdom, or as an attainment. To accept both of these contradictory facts is to be perfect.'
The central idea of “The Perfection of Wisdom” is complete release from the world of existence. The “Perfection of Wisdom” goes beyond earlier Buddhist teaching that focused on the rise and fall of phenomena to state that there is no such rise and fall — because all phenomena are essentially void. 

R.C. Jamieson: The Perfection of Wisdom (New York: Penguin Viking, 2000. ISBN 0-670-88934-2 pp. 8–9)