Bhāviveka or Bhāvaviveka (also known as Bhavya) was an influential 6th-century Indian Buddhist philosopher. He is best known as a commentator on Root Verses on the Middle Way (Mūlamadhyamakakārikā) by Nāgārjuna and as the author of The Flame of Reason (Tarkajvālā), an encyclopedic compendium of the schools of Indian philosophy. Bhāviveka’s compendium provides a unique historical source for the study of Indian philosophy at a time of great intellectual ferment and change. It also provided a model for the genre of the philosophical compendium or “doxography” that has guided students and debaters through the intricacies of Indian philosophical disputes from Bhāviveka’s time to the present not only in India but also in Tibet. There is little reliable information about his life. A few surviving legends associate him with what is now Andhra Pradesh, the region in South India that also was the legendary home of Nāgārjuna. These legends also depict him as a determined debater who was willing to travel long distances to confront his philosophical opponents. Bhāviveka’s interest in debate was accompanied by a heightened concern for logical procedure. This concern gave rise to the deepest and longest-lasting division in the Madhyamaka tradition. Bhāviveka was recognized by his successors as a svātantrika-mādhyamika (one who uses independent inferences and makes independent assertions) as opposed to a prāsaṅgika-mādhyamika (one who simply reduces opponents’ assertions to consequences that are unacceptable to the opponents themselves). The distinction between a svātantrika-mādhyamika and a prāsaṅgika-mādhyamika was elaborated in great detail by Tibetan philosophers. For contemporary scholars of Mahayana thought, especially the concept of Emptiness, the svātantrika-prāsaṅgika distinction is an important point of entry into the deeper philosophical issues of Madhyamaka thought.
Several excellent reference works help define Bhāviveka’s intellectual and religious context not only in the history of Madhyamaka but also in the context of the Mahayana tradition more generally. Williams 2009 gives a widely respected and thoughtful account of the Mahayana intellectual tradition. Edelglass and Garfield 2009 provides a thorough and up-to-date anthology of readings in Indian and Tibetan philosophical traditions. A concise and authoritative survey of Indian Madhyamaka is in Ruegg 1981. More detailed studies of particular issues in the development of Madhyamaka are in Ruegg 2010. Potter 2002 provides summaries and in many cases translations of the works in the early, formative phase of the tradition. For contemporary perspectives on the intellectual issues that lie behind Bhāviveka’s distinctive approach to Madhyamaka interpretation, it is helpful to consult the chapters on Madhyamaka in Garfield 2002 and Siderits 2007.
Edelglass, William, and Jay L. Garfield. Buddhist Philosophy: Essential Readings. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.
A sophisticated, up-to-date anthology of key texts from the Buddhist philosophical tradition, ranging from India to China, Tibet, and Japan. The texts are arranged by subject area, such as metaphysics, language, and ethics, to allow study of particular dimensions of Buddhist thought.
Garfield, Jay L. Empty Words: Buddhist Philosophy and Cross-Cultural Interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
A study of the limits of language in Buddhist thought with special emphasis on Madhyamaka.
Potter, Karl, ed. The Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies. Vol. 8, Buddhist Philosophy from 100 to 350. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2002.
A helpful source of summaries and translations of the foundational texts of the Madhyamaka tradition particularly helpful for access to lesser works that otherwise are difficult to find in the scholarly literature.
Ruegg, David Seyfort. The Literature of the Madhyamaka School of Philosophy in India. Wiesbaden, West Germany: Harrassowitz, 1981.
An authoritative survey of the philosophers and the texts that make up the Indian Madhyamaka tradition. This book identifies the key issues that separate different thinkers and comments on many of the later figures who are absent in the more popular introductions to this school.
Ruegg, David Seyfort. The Buddhist Philosophy of the Middle: Essays on Indian and Tibetan Madhyamaka. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2010.
A useful collection of Ruegg’s more specialized studies on Madhyamaka and related traditions.
Siderits, Mark. Buddhism as Philosophy. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 2007.
A creative and original interpretation of Buddhist thought by a contemporary analytic philosopher.
Williams, Paul. Mahāyāna Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations. 2d ed. London: Routledge, 2009.
An inclusive book-length treatment of Mahayana Buddhist thought. Chapter 3 discusses Nāgārjuna and the later Madhyamaka tradition.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
How to Subscribe
Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.
Purchase an Ebook Version of This Article
Ebooks of the Oxford Bibliographies Online subject articles are available in North America via a number of retailers including Amazon, vitalsource, and more. Simply search on their sites for Oxford Bibliographies Online Research Guides and your desired subject article.
If you would like to purchase an eBook article and live outside North America please email firstname.lastname@example.org to express your interest.
- Abhijñā/Ṛddhi (Extraordinary Knowledge and Powers)
- Abortion, Buddhism and
- Ajanta Caves
- Ambedkar Buddhism
- Ancient Indian Society
- Archaeology of Early Buddhism
- Art and Architecture In China, Buddhist
- Art and Architecture in India, Buddhist
- Art and Architecture in Japan, Buddhist
- Art and Architecture in Nepal, Buddhist
- Art and Architecture in Tibet, Buddhist
- Art and Architecture on the "Silk Road," Buddhist
- Asceticism, Buddhism and
- Awakening of Faith
- Beats, Buddhism and the
- Bhāviveka / Bhāvaviveka
- Bodh Gaya
- Body, Buddhism and the
- Buddha, Three Bodies of the (Trikāya)
- Buddhism and Ethics
- Buddhism and Law
- Buddhism and Marxism
- Buddhism and Modern Literature
- Buddhist Art and Architecture in Sri Lanka and Southeast A...
- Buddhist Hermeneutics
- Buddhist Ordination
- Buddhist Theories of Causality (karma, pratītyasamutpāda, ...
- Buddhist Thought and Western Philosophy
- Buddhist Thought, Embryology in
- Buddhist-Christian Dialogue
- Cambodian Buddhism
- Canon, History of the Buddhist
- Caste, Buddhism and
- Central Asia, Buddhism in
- China, Esoteric Buddhism in, (Zhenyan and Mijiao)
- China, Pilgrimage in
- Chinese Buddhist Publishing and Print Culture, 1900-1950
- Colonialism and Postcolonialism
- Compassion (karuṇā)
- Cosmology, Astronomy and Astrology
- Culture, Material
- Dalai Lama
- Demons and the Demonic in Buddhism
- Dignāga and Dharmakīrti, The Philosophical Works and Influ...
- Dizang (Jizō, Ksitigarbha)
- Drigung Kagyu (’Bri gung bKa’ brgyud)
- Dzogchen (rDzogs chen)
- Early Buddhist Philosophy (Abhidharma/Abhidhamma)
- Early Modern European Encounters with Buddhism
- East Asian Buddhist Art, Portraiture in
- Ellora Caves
- Emptiness (Śūnyatā)
- Environment, Buddhism and the
- Ethics of Violence, Buddhist
- Family, Buddhism and the
- Feminist Approaches to the Study of Buddhism
- Four Noble Truths
- Funeral Practices
- Gandhāra, Buddhism in
- Gelugpa (dGe lugs pa)
- Gender, Buddhism and
- Hakuin Ekaku
- History of Buddhisms in China
- Image Consecrations
- India, Buddhism in
- India, Mahāmudrā in
- Internationalism, Buddhism and
- Intersections Between Buddhism and Hinduism in Thailand
- Iranian World, Buddhism in the
- Islam, Buddhism and
- Japan, Buddhism in
- Korea, Buddhism in
- Kyōgyōshinshō (Shinran)
- Laos, Buddhism in
- Linji and the Linjilu
- Literature, Chan
- Literature, Tantric
- Local Religion, Buddhism as
- Lotus Sūtra
- Mahayana, Early
- Mahāvairocana Sūtra/Tantra
- Malaysia, Buddhism in
- Mantras and Dhāraṇīs
- Merit Transfer
- Miracles, Buddhist
- Modernism, Buddhist
- Monasticism in East Asia
- Mongolia, Buddhism in
- Mongolia, Buddhist Art and Architecture in
- Mārga (Path)
- Music, and Buddhism
- Myanmar, Buddhism in
- New Medias, Buddhism in
- New Religions in Japan (Shinshūkyō), Buddhism and
- Śāntideva (Bodhicaryāvatāra)
- Nuns, Lives, and Rules
- Oral and Literate Traditions
- Pagan (Bagan)
- Perfection of Wisdom
- Perfections (Six and Ten)
- Philosophy, Chinese Buddhist
- Philosophy, Classical Indian Buddhist
- Philosophy, Classical Japanese Buddhist
- Philosophy, Tibetan Buddhist
- Pilgrimage in India
- Pilgrimage in Japan
- Pilgrimage in Tibet
- Preaching/Teaching in Buddhism Studies
- Psychology and Psychotherapy, Buddhism in
- Pure Land Buddhism
- Pure Land Sūtras
- Religious Tourism, Buddhism and
- Saṃsāra and Rebirth
- Self, Non-Self, and Personal Identity
- Sexuality and Buddhsim
- Shinto, Buddhism and
- Soka Gakkai
- South and Southeast Asia, Devatās, Nats, And Phii In
- Southeast Asia, Buddhism in
- Sri Lanka, Monasticism in
- Sōtō Zen (Japan)
- Stūpa Pagoda Caitya
- Suffering (Dukkha)
- Sutta (Pāli/Theravada Canon)
- Texts, Dunhuang
- Thai Buddhism
- Thích Nhất Hạnh
- Three Turnings of the Wheel of Doctrine (Dharma-Cakra)
- Tibet, Buddhism in
- Tibet, Mahāmudrā in
- Tibetan Book of the Dead
- Tri Songdetsen
- Uighur Buddhism
- Verse Literature, Tibetan Buddhist
- Vidyādhara (weikza/weizzā)
- Vietnam, Buddhism in
- Vision and Visualization
- Visualization/Contemplation Sutras
- Visuddhimagga (Buddhaghosa)
- Warrior Monk Traditions
- West (North America and Europe), Buddhism in the
- Wheel of Life (Bhava-Cakra)
- Women in Buddhism
- Women in the West, Prominent Buddhist
- Zen, Premodern Japanese