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Prajñātārā, also known as Keyura, was the twenty-seventh Brahmin patriarch of Indian Buddhism according to Chan Buddhism and the head of the Sarvastivada sect of early Buddhist schools. She traveled around East India preaching Buddhism.[1] Prajñātārā was Bodhidharma's teacher.


Prajñātārā is stated to have been the student of Puṇyamitra, who said she was an incarnation of Mahasthamaprapta, a mahāsattva. She was ordained as a nun and was the head of the Sarvastivadins.[2][3]

The Denkoroku by Keizan Jokin Zenji relates the following kōan, a legendary exchange between Prajñātārā and Bodhidharma.

The Venerable Prajnatara asks Bodhidharma, "What is it that is formless amongst things?"
Bodhidharma says, "Formlessness is unborn."
Prajnatara asks, "What is the highest amongst things?"
Bodhidharma says, "The Actual Nature is the highest."[4]


  1. ^ Benson, Koten (Summer 2008). "Prajñatara: Bodhidharma's Master" (PDF). Sakyadhita. 16 (2).
  2. ^ Benson, Koten (Summer 2008). "Prajñatara: Bodhidharma's Master" (PDF). Sakyadhita. 16 (2).
  3. ^ Austin, Shoshan Victoria (2012). "The True Human Body". In Carney, Eido Frances. Receiving the Marrow. Temple Ground Press. p. 148. ISBN 978-0985565107.
  4. ^ Keizan Jokin Zenji. "Denkoroku, 29". White Wind Zen Community. White Wind Zen Community.

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Buddhist titles
Preceded by
Mahayana patriarch Succeeded by