Prajnaptisastra or Prajnapti-sastra is one of the seven Sarvastivada Abhidharma Buddhist scriptures. The word Prajnaptisastra means "designation" (of dharmas). It was composed by Maudgalyayana (according to the Sanskrit, Tibetan and MPPU) or Mahakatyayana.
The Chinese translation is by Dharma-rakṣita: T26, No. 1538, 施設論, 西天譯經三藏朝散大夫, 試光祿卿傳梵大師賜紫, 沙門臣法護等奉 詔譯, in a somewhat shorter 7 fascicles.
The importance of this text is shown in its being quoted 135 times by the MVS , though these references are not exclusively Sarvastivada in nature. The format is of matrka, followed by question and answer explanations, with references to the sutras for orthodoxy.
Yin Shun relates the name prajnapti through the Chinese 施設 and 假 to the Sariputra Abhidharma in regards the "false designation" of the bonds (saṃyojana), contact (sparsa) and mind (citta), thus indicating that it is a very early text.
Willemen, Dessein & Cox assign this text to the next period, based on its "abstract principles of organization" and "complexity of doctrinal analysis".
However, though the content is different from the Samgiti and Dharma-skandha, one could scarcely consider it more abstract in nature. It simply reflects the nature of the sūtras upon which it is based.
In fact, it has relatively more direct references to the sūtras for its overall size than many of the developed texts, and a similar use of questions and answers as the Samgita.
Prajñapti, ( Sanskrit: “designation by provisional naming”) Pāli; Paññatti, in Buddhist philosophy, the denotation of a thing by a word.
The concept of prajñapti is especially important in the Mādhyamika (“Middle View”) and Vijñānavāda (“Consciousness-affirming”) schools.
Prajñapti is seen as a fictitious construction unrelated to ultimate reality, or niṣprapañca (Sanskrit; Pāli nippapañca: “what is devoid of verbal manifoldness”).
According to Mādhyamika and Vijñānavāda philosophers, the highest reality is nondifferential, beyond word and thought.
Whatever is differentiated by prajñapti is regarded as only nominally existent. Since words denote no reality, empirical knowledge regarding worldly phenomena cannot be held as true in itself.
This assertion results from the school’s analysis of the process of cognition.
When a person sees an object, there is only an immediate awareness that is yet undifferentiated into conceptions of perceptual judgment expressed in statements such as “This is that.”
There occurs no analysis of the awareness into subject and object or subject and predicate.
Such an analysis is brought about by a conceptual construction, which associates a thing with a name of a conception. This is the cause of illusion, since verbal designation is denied reality, and all empirical knowledge is composed of such judgment.