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Buddhism Candrakīrti
by
Karen C. Lang

Introduction

Candrakīrti (b. c. 570–d. c. 650) is an important commentator and author whose works influenced the development of Madhyamaka Buddhist philosophy in India and in Tibet. He wrote major commentaries on Nāgārjuna’s Mūlamadhyamakakārikāḥ (Middle way stanzas), Yuktiṣaṣṭikā (Sixty stanzas on logical reasoning), and Śūnyatāsaptati (Seventy stanzas on emptiness) and on Āryadeva’s Catuḥśataka (Four hundred verses). His most important independent work, Madhyamakāvatāra (Introduction to the middle way), and its extensive autocommentary introduce the Madhyamaka school’s ideas on the ten stages of the bodhisattva path, which correlate with ten “perfect virtues” (pāramitā) to be mastered before reaching the goal of buddhahood. Candrakīrti’s works were translated into Tibetan in the 11th century and are preserved in the Tibetan Buddhist canon. According to medieval Tibetan historians’ accounts, Candrakīrti was born in South India, entered a monastery where he studied the works of Nāgārjuna and Āryadeva with students of the two rival interpreters of Madhyamaka thought, Bhāviveka (b. c. 500–d. c. 570) and Buddhapālita (b. c. 470–d. c. 540), and eventually became abbot of Nalanda, the great Buddhist university. In his commentaries, Candrakīrti criticizes the views of Bhāviveka as well as the views of the Buddhist epistemologists and the Vijñānavādins. Jayānanda’s twelfth commentary on the Madhyamakāvatāra indicates revived interest in his work in India, which spread to Tibet through the efforts of Jayānanda, who worked extensively in Tibet, and Patshab Nyima grags, who translated many of Candrakīrti’s works into Tibetan. Candrakīrti’s works remain important not only as sources for the history and development of Indian and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy but also because they still form part of the curriculum of present-day Tibetan Buddhist monasteries.

General Overviews

The encyclopedia articles “Madhymaka Buddhism” (Arnold 2005) and “Madhyamaka” (Hayes 2010) and the chapter “Mādhyamika” in Williams 2008 provide concise and philosophically interesting treatments of Madhyamaka concepts that Candrakīrti’s works address. The Literature of the Madhyamaka School of Philosophy in India (Ruegg 1981), an extensive and authoritative source on the history and texts of Indian Madhyamaka, provides valuable summaries of Candrakīrti’s works. Garfield 1999 is a succinct introduction to the philosophical ideas expressed in Candrakīrti’s major works. Rizzi 1988 contains a brief overview of Madhyamaka thought and detailed examination of the first chapter of the Prasannapadā (Clear words). Della Santina 1986 explores the origins of Madhyamaka in India, the debate between Candrakīrti and Bhāviveka over the interpretation of Nāgārjuna’s ideas, and the controversy over Svātantrika (autonomous) and Prāsaṅgika (consequentalist) interpretations of Madhyamaka in Tibet. Svātantrika interpretations advocate the restatement of Nāgārjuna’s ideas in form of autonomous inferences (svatantrānumāna) with affirmative conclusions; Prāsaṅgika interpretations reject the necessity of logically defending Madhyamaka positions in favor of reducing the opponents’ claims to absurd consequences (prasaṅga).

  • Arnold, Dan. “Madhyamaka Buddhism.” In The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edited by James Fieser and Bradley Dowden. 2005.

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    A philosophically sophisticated treatment that explains how Madhyamaka arguments about the two truths, dependently originated existents, and emptiness work. It offers the best concise explanation of the historical development and epistemological concerns of Prāsaṅgika and Svātantrika interpretations of Madhyamaka. Includes a brief discussion of Madhyamaka in East Asia and Tibet.

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  • Della Santina, Peter. Madhyamaka Schools in India: A Study of the Madhyamaka Philosophy and of the Division of the System into the Prāsaṅgika and Svātantrika Schools. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1986.

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    Della Santina discusses the development of the Madhyamaka school in India and Tibet. He draws on Candrakīrti’s Prasannapadā and Tibetan sources to argue that the main difference between Prāsaṅgika and Svātantrika systems is the method used to advance the philosophy of emptiness. The Prāsaṅgika partisans expose inconsistencies in opponents’ arguments, while Svātantrika partisans use formal logic to draw affirmative conclusions.

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  • Garfield, Jay. "Candrakīrti." In A Companion to the Philosophers. Edited by Robert L. Arrington, 574–577. Oxford: Blackwell, 1999.

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    A very useful summary and exploration of Candrakīrti’s philosophy. Available at Blackwell Reference Online by subscription.

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  • Hayes, Richard. “Madhyamaka.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edited by Edward N. Zalta. 2010.

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    A thorough overview of Indian Madhyamaka intellectual history that examines how major thinkers from Buddhapālita to Śāntarakśita (b. 725–d. 788) interpret the works of Nāgārjuna and Āryadeva. Includes a short bibliography of relevant articles.

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  • Rizzi, Cesare. Candrakīrti. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1988.

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    A brief introduction to Madhyamaka and summary of the first chapter of the Prasannapadā.

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  • Ruegg, David Seyfort. The Literature of the Madhyamaka School of Philosophy in India. Wiesbaden, West Germany: Harrasowitz, 1981.

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    This scholarly work on Indian Madhyamaka provides an in-depth look at Candrakīrti’s Prasannapadā and the sixth chapter of Madhyamakāvatāra, and valuable summaries of his other major works. It is a reliable source of historical information on editions, translations, and chronology but does not contain much in the way of interpretive exposition.

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  • Williams, Paul. Mahāyāna Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations. 2d ed. London and New York: Routledge, 2008.

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    Chapters 2 and 3 of Williams’ book, “The Perfection of Wisdom” and “Mādhyamika,” respectively, provide useful background on the development of Madhyamaka thought. Williams’ analysis of Madhyamaka methodology and views of causality, the self, and conventional and ultimate truths are indebted to Candrakīrti’s commentary on Nāgārjuna’s Mūlamadhyamakakārikāḥ and the Madhyamakāvatāra.

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Translations

An increasing number of Candrakīrti’s works have been translated from Sanskrit and Tibetan into English or other modern European languages. Because of their length, there is no complete translation of his commentaries on the Mūlamadhyamakakārikāḥ, the Madhyamakāvatāra, and the Catuḥśataka, although numerous translations of selected chapters exist.

Prasannapadā

There are several partial translations of Candrakīrti’s Prasannapadā commentary on Nāgārjuna’s Mūlamadhyamakakārikāḥ into modern languages. English translations include Sprung 1979, chapters 1–6, 8–10, 13, 15, 18, 19, and 22–25; Stcherbatsky 1989, chapters 1 and 25; Ruegg 2002 and Arnold 2005, chapter 1; and Kragh 2006, chapter 17. De Jong 1949 translates chapters 18–22 and May 1959 chapters 2–4, 6–9, 11, 23, 24, 26, and 27 into French; Schayer 1931 translates chapters 5 and 12–16 into German.

  • Arnold, Dan “Materials for a Mādhyamika Critique of Foundationalism: An Annotated Translation of Prasannapadā 55.11 to 75.13.” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 28 (2005): 411–467.

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    A richly annotated translation of Candrakīrti’s arguments against Dignāga’s epistemological views, with an introduction that explains the historical context of the arguments and their philosophical implications. His annotations provide a philosophical commentary on the text and explanations of his divergences from the translation in Ruegg 2002.

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  • de Jong, Jan Willem. Cinq chapitres de la Prasannapadā. Paris: Paul Geuthner, 1949.

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    An annotated French translation and critical edition of the Tibetan text of chapters 18–22 on the topics of self, time, causality, and the Tathāgatha.

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  • Kragh, Ulrich Timme. Early Buddhist Theories of Action and Result: A Study of Karmaphalasambandha. Candrakīrti’s Prasannapadā, Verses 17.1–20. Vienna: Arbeits-kreis für Tibetische und Buddhistische Studien, 2006.

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    This work contains an introduction to Indian views on karma theory, an edited Sanskrit text, and an annotated philological translation of chapter 17’s first twenty verses. Kragh’s interpretive remarks compare the Prasannapadā with other Mūlamadhyamakakārikāḥ commentaries on these verses and analyze Abhidharmic theories on the relation between actions and their effects.

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  • Lamotte, Étienne. “Madhyamakvṛtti: Chapter XVII: Examination of Action and Its Result.” In Karmasiddhiprakaraṇa: The Treatise on Action by Vasubandhu. Translated by Leo M. Pruden, 78–98. Fremont, CA: Asian Humanities Press, 1987.

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    An English translation of Lamotte’s French translation published in Mélanges Chinois et Bouddhiques 4 (1935–1936): 265–288. Lamotte’s scholarly translation and annotation detail Candrakīrti’s arguments against Abhidharmic karma theories on the mechanics of rebirth and arising from a meditative state of cessation (nirodhasamāpatti), as well as criticism of Yogācāra belief in a substrate consciousness (ālaya-vijñāna).

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  • May, Jacques. Candrakīrti Prasannapadā Madhyamakavṛtti. Paris: Maisonneuve, 1959.

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    A richly annotated French translation of twelve chapters from the Prasannapadā with a concise introduction and a critical edition of the Tibetan text. May translated all chapters (2–4, 6–9, 11, 23, 24, 26, and 27) not previously translated into Western languages.

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  • Ruegg, David Seyfort. Prolegomena to Madhyamaka Philosophy: Studies in Indian and Tibetan Madhyamaka Thought, Part 2. Vienna: Arbeitskrer für Tibetische und Buddhistische Studien Universität Wien, 2002.

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    The work contains an annotated translation of Candrakīrti’s lengthy commentary in Prasannapadā Mūlamadhyamakavṛṭṭiḥ on Nāgārjuna’s Mūlamadhyamakakārikāḥ (1.1) that provides the context for understanding Madhyamaka views on causality, Candrakīrti’s arguments against Dignāga’s epistemology, and the use of autonomous inferences by Bhāviveka (b. c. 500–d. c. 570), which becomes the locus classicus for the later Svāntantrika-Prāsaṅgika split.

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  • Schayer, Stanislaw. Ausgewählte Kapitel aus der Prasannapadā (V, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI): Einleitung, Ṻbersetzung und Anmerkungen. Krakow: Nakladem Polskiej Akademji Umiejętności, 1931.

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    An early annotated German translation of chapters 5 and 12–16 with an introduction that discusses 19th- and early-20th-century scholarship on Madhyamaka philosophy.

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  • Sprung, Mervyn. Lucid Exposition of the Middle Way: The Essential Chapters from the Prasannapadā of Candrakīrti. Boulder, CO: Prajña Press, 1979.

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    Although Sprung’s translation of seventeen chapters (1–6, 8–10, 13, 15, 18, 19, and 22–25) from the Prasannapadā is occasionally abridged and inexact, it remains the most comprehensive Western-language translation of Candrakīrti’s text.

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  • Stcherbatsky, Theodore. The Conception of Buddhist Nirvāṇa. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1989.

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    This early work, first published in 1927, includes somewhat dated translations of the first and twenty-fifth chapters of the Prasannapadā, on causality and nirvana, respectively. Kant and other European idealist philosophers influenced Stcherbatsky’s interpretations.

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Madhyamakāvatāra and Bhāṣya

There are several partial translations of Candrakīrti’s verses and his autocommentary to the Madhyamakāvatāra. Fenner 1990; Huntington and Wangchen 1989; and Goldfield, et al. 2005 include complete English translations of the root verses. Padmakara Translation Group 2002 translates the verses along with the Tibetan scholar Jamgön Mipham’s valuable commentary. Tauscher 1981 translates into German verses 166–226 from the lengthy sixth chapter. La Vallée Poussin 1907, La Vallée Poussin 1910, and La Vallée Poussin 1911 translate the verses and commentary of chapters 1–5 and most of 6 (vv. 1–165) into French.

  • Fenner, Peter. The Ontology of the Middle Way. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic, 1990.

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    This study of the Madhyamakāvatāra includes a complete translation of the verses in an appendix. Fenner focuses on the psychological implications of the relations between logical analysis and spiritual insight in the bodhisattva’s pursuit of enlightenment.

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  • Goldfield, Ari, Jules Levinson, Jim Scott, and Bridget Scott, trans. The Moon of Wisdom: Chapter Six of Chandrakirti’s Entering the Middle Way with Commentary from the Eighth Karmapa Mikyö Dorje’s Chariot of the Dagpo Kagyu Siddhas. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion, 2005.

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    An accessible translation of the sixth chapter of the Madhyamakāvatāra, an edition of the Tibetan text, along with a translation of selections from the commentary Chariot of the Dagpo Kagyü Siddhas, written by the eighth Karmapa, Mikyö Dorje (b. 1507–d. 1554).

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  • Huntington, C. W., Jr., with Geshé Namgyal Wangchen. The Emptiness of Emptiness: An Introduction to Early Indian Mādhyamika. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1989.

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    This annotated translation of the Madhyamakāvatāra’s verses includes a substantial introduction that explores its historical and doctrinal context and its teachings on emptiness, and includes, in its endnotes, translations of large portions of Candrakīrti’s autocommentary. Huntington uses the philosophical insights of Gadamer and Rorty to interpret Madhyamaka philosophy for a contemporary Western audience.

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  • La Vallée Poussin, Louis de. “Madhyamakāvatāra: Introduction au Traité du Milieu de L’Ācārya Candrakīrti, avec le commentaire de l’auteur, traduit d’après la version tibetaine.” Le Muséon 8 (1907): 249–317.

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    A pioneering and still very useful French translation of the first five chapters of the Madhyamakāvatāra and Bhāṣya.

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  • La Vallée Poussin, Louis de. “Madhyamakāvatāra: Introduction au Traité du Milieu de L’Ācārya Candrakīrti, avec le commentaire de l’auteur, traduit d’après la version tibetaine.” Le Muséon 11.3–4 (1910): 272–358.

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    More than one hundred years later, there is still no complete translation of Candrakīrti’s important autocommentary to the Madhyamakāvatāra’s lengthy sixth chapter on wisdom. La Vallée Poussin’s annotated scholarly translation of the commentary on verses 1–80 remains indispensable.

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  • La Vallée Poussin, Louis de. “Madhyamakāvatāra: Introduction au Traité du Milieu de L’Ācārya Candrakīrti, avec le commentaire de l’auteur, traduit d’après la version tibetaine.” Le Muséon 12.4 (1911): 236–317.

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    This is a continuation of La Vallée Poussin’s annotated scholarly translation of Candrakīrti’s autocommentary on the sixth chapter’s verses 81–165.

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  • Padmakara Translation Group, trans. Introduction to the Middle Way: Chandrakirti’s Madhyamakāvatāra, with Commentary by Jamgön Mipham. Boston: Shambhala, 2002.

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    This work includes a translation into idiomatic English of the Madhyamakāvatāra along with the commentary of the great Nyingma scholar, Jamgön Mipham (b. 1846–d. 1912). The book includes a brief introduction to both works that makes them accessible to a general audience.

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  • Tauscher, Helmut. Candrakīrti-Madhyamakāvatāra und Madhyamakāvatārabhāṣyam (Kapitel VI, Vers 166–226). Vienna: Arbeitskreis für Tibetische und Buddhistische Studien Universität, 1981.

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    An annotated German translation of verses 166–226 from the sixth chapter of Candrakīrti’s autocommentary on the Madhyamakāvatāra. Tauscher’s scholarly translation takes up where La Vallée Poussin’s earlier work ended.

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Bodhisattvayogācāracatuḥśatakaṭīkā

There are translations of several chapters from Candrakīrti’s commentary on Āryadeva’s Catuḥśataka. Lang 2003 translates the first four chapters; Tillemans 1990 translates chapters 12 and 13. May 1980, May 1981a, May 1981b, May 1982, and May 1984 provide an annotated French translation of the ninth chapter of Candrakīrti’s commentary, which refutes various Buddhist and non-Buddhist schools’ views on permanent entities.

  • Lang, Karen C., trans. Four Illusions: Candrakīrti’s Advice to Travelers on the Bodhisattva Path. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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    This is an annotated translation in idiomatic English of the first four chapters of Candrakīrti’s commentary on Āryadeva’s Catuḥśataka, which concern the four illusions of immortality, pleasure, purity, and the self. A lengthy introduction explores the religious beliefs, legal texts, and narrative literature that shaped this commentary. Also available at Oxford Scholarship Online.

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  • May, Jacques. “Āryadeva et Candrakīrti sur permanence (I).” In Indianisme et Bouddhisme: Mélanges offerts à Mgr. Etienne Lamotte, 215–232. Louvain, Belgium: Université Catholique de Louvain, Institut Orientaliste, 1980.

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    Translation of the ninth chapter, verses 1–6. Candrakīrti argues against attributing permanence to the Vaiśeṣika categories and the Abhidharmic dharmas of space and analytical and nonanalytical cessation (space is the absence of matter; the two types of cessation are the absence of change).

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  • May, Jacques. “Āryadeva et Candrakīrti sur permanence (II).” Bulletin de l’École française d’Extrême-Orient 69 (1981a): 75–96.

    DOI: 10.3406/befeo.1981.3357Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Translation of the ninth chapter, verses 7–11. Candrakīrti argues that time cannot be a permanent cause since its effect (e.g., a sprout) should then arise all the time. Ordinary experience proves that an impermanent cause (seed)—not a permanent cause (time)—produces an impermanent effect (sprout).

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  • May, Jacques. “Āryadeva et Candrakīrti sur permanence (III).” Études Asiatiques 35.2 (1981b): 47–76.

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    Translation of the ninth chapter, verses 12–19. Candrakīrti argues against Vaiśeṣika claims that atoms are permanent and the Abhidharmic belief in substantially existent atoms, and he attacks the Vijñānavāda position that these atoms are only mind as being contrary to ordinary experience.

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  • May, Jacques. “Āryadeva et Candrakīrti sur permanence (IV).” Études de Lettres 3 (1982): 45–76.

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    Translation of the ninth chapter, verses 20 and 21. Candrakīrti criticizes Buddhists who claim that liberation is a substantially existent permanent thing; it is only nominally existent.

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  • May, Jacques. “Āryadeva et Candrakīrti sur permanence (V).” Acta Indologica 6 (1984): 115–144.

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    Translation of the ninth chapter, verses 22–25. Candrakīrti rejects the Sāmkhya claim that a permanent and conscious liberated self exists. Suffering is identified with impermanent conditioned states produced by karma and the afflictions on which a self is imputed. This self does not exist for people liberated from suffering.

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  • Tillemans, Tom J. F. Materials for the Study of Āryadeva, Dharmapāla and Candrakīrti. 2 vols. Vienna: Arbeitskreis für Tibetische und Buddhistische Studien, 1990.

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    A two-volume work of annotated scholarly translations and editions of commentaries on Āryadeva Catuḥśataka by Dharmapāla and by Candrakīrti. Tillemans’s introduction compares Candrakīrti’s treatment of scriptural authority and the epistemic status of direct perception with that of the Yogācāra viewpoint of Dharmapāla. Chapters 4 and 12 refute the heretical views of Jains and Brahmins; chapters 5 and 13 refute various Indian philosophical theories about sense perception.

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Other Works

There are complete translations of Candrakīrti’s commentary on Nāgārjuna’s Yuktiṣaṣṭikā and the Śūnyatāsaptati in English (Loizzo 2007), French (Scherrer-Schaub 1991), and German (Erb 1997).

  • Erb, Felix, trans. Śūnyatāsaptativṛtti: Candrakīrti’s Kommentar zu den “Siebzig Versen über die Leerheit” des Nāgārjuna. Kārikās 1–14. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1997.

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    An annotated German translation of Candrakīrti’s commentary on verses 1–14 of Nāgārjuna’s Seventy Stanzas on Emptiness.

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  • Loizzo, Joseph, trans. Nāgārjuna’s Reason Sixty (Yuktiṣaṣṭikā) with Candrakīrti’s Commentary (Yuktiṣaṣṭikāvṛtti). New York: American Institute of Buddhist Studies at Columbia University, 2007.

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    This annotated scholarly translation includes an introduction that examines previous scholarship on the Yuktiṣaṣṭikā and the therapeutic value of Candrakīrti’s language, and interprets his ideas in the light of Wittgenstein and other modern Western philosophers.

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  • Scherrer-Schaub, Cristina Anna, ed. and trans. Yuktiṣaṣṭikāvṛtti: Commentaire à la soixantaine sur le raisonnement ou Du vrai enseignement de la causalité par le Maitre indien Candrakīrti. Brussels: Institut Belge des Hautes Études Chinoises, 1991.

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    A fine annotated French translation of Candrakīrti’s Yuktiṣaṣṭikāvṛtti, with a critical edition of the Tibetan text and a summary of the main points of Yuktiṣaṣṭikāvṛtti.

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Studies

Historical studies of Candrakīrti discuss his influence in India and Tibet. Philosophical studies focus on the Prasannapadā and the Madhyamakāvatāra. The first chapter of Prasannapadā, where Candrakīrti criticizes the arguments of the Buddhist epistemologists and Bhāviveka’s use of logical syllogisms, and the twenty-fourth chapter’s treatment of the relation between Conventional and Ultimate Truth attract the most attention. The Madhyamakāvatārabhāṣya’s lengthy sixth chapter is the most philosophically interesting, and its critique of Yogācāra is the focus of several articles.

Historical Studies

Ruegg 2010 places Candrakīrti in the context of Indian intellectual history. Ruegg 2000 and Vose 2008 examine his influence on the development of Madhyamaka thought in Tibet. Lang 1990, Dreyfus and Tsering 2009–2010, and Dreyfus 2011 investigate Patshab (b. 1055–d. c. 1145) and his interpretation of Candrakīrti’s works.

  • Dreyfus, Georges. “Can a Mādhyamika Be a Skeptic? The Case of Patsab Nyimadrak.” In Moonshadows: Conventional Truth in Buddhist Philosophy. Edited by The The Cowherds, 89–113. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

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    Dreyfus examines Patsab skeptical philosophy and argues persuasively that three newly published commentaries attributed to Patshab show that his interpretation of Prāsaṅgika Madhyamaka is based on a repudiation of all theses and of any form of reliable cognition.

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  • Dreyfus, Georges, and Drongbu Tsering. “Patshab and the Origin of Prāsaṅgika.” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 32.1–32.2 (2009–2010): 387–417.

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    This article examines three commentaries attributed to Patshab and offers an interesting analysis of Patshab’s pivotal role in the promotion of Candrakīrti’s works and the Tibetan Prāsaṅgika tradition. They suggest that his skeptical views about truth and knowledge make him a unique and perhaps isolated Tibetan thinker.

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  • Lang, Karen. “Spa-tshab Nyi-ma-grags and the Introduction of Prasaṅgika Madhyamaka into Tibet.” In Reflections on Tibetan Culture: Essays in Memory of Turrell V. Wylie. Edited by Lawrence Epstein and Richard F. Sherburne, 127–141. Lewiston, NY: Mellen, 1990.

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    A study of Patshab’s role as a translator and teacher of Candrakīrti’s works in Tibet.

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  • Ruegg, David Seyfort. Three Studies in the History of Indian and Tibetan Madhyamaka Philosophy: Studies in Indian and Tibetan Madhyamaka Thought, Part 1. Vienna: Arbeitskreis für Tibetische und Buddhistische Studien Universitat, 2000.

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    Section 1 outlines the history of the Madhyamaka school in Tibet from the 8th to 15th centuries. Section 2 investigates Indian and Tibetan sources on the debate over whether Madhyamaka proponents should assert logical theses to advance their own philosophical positions.

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  • Ruegg, David Seyfort. “Towards a Chronology of the Madhyamaka School.” In The Buddhist Philosophy of the Middle Way: Essays on Indian and Tibetan Madhyamaka. Edited by David Seyfort Ruegg, 13–36. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2010.

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    A detailed chronology of Madhyamaka teachers, their works, and the intellectual currents in Indian Buddhist and Brahmanical thought that shaped their development.

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  • Vose, Kevin. Resurrecting Candrakīrti: Disputes in the Tibetan Creation of Prāsaṅgika. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2008.

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    This work examines the historical context of 11th- and 12th-century Indian and Tibetan Madhyamaka proponents that led to the renewed interest in Candrakīrti’s works and the emergence of the Prāsaṅgika movement in Tibet.

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The Prāsaṅgika and Svātantrika Distinction

Prāsaṅgika and Svātantrika interpretations of Madhyamaka reflect differing strategies on how to defend Madhyamaka ideas. Svātantrika strategies use formal syllogistic inferences to assert their views; the Prāsaṅgika strategy primarily involves identifying errors and unwarranted conclusions that result from inconsistencies in their opponents’ arguments. Huntington 2003 and Oetke 2006 examine Candrakīrti’s views on the use of inference. Ruegg 2010 and Yoshimizu 2009–2010 provide thorough and informative studies of the development of Tibetan interest in Candrakīrti and shed considerable light on the evolution of the Prāsaṅgika movement in Tibet and the historical and philosophical context in which it flourished. Yotsuya 1999 and Yoshimizu 2003 examine Tsongkhapa’s interpretation of Candrakīrti’s arguments against Bhāviveka’s use of independent inferences in the Prasannapadā.

  • Huntington, C. W., Jr. “Was Candrakīrti a Prāsaṅgika?” In The Svātantrika-Prāsaṅgika Distinction: What Difference Does a Difference Make? Edited by Georges B. J. Dreyfus and Sara L. McClintock, 67–91. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2003.

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    A close reading of passages from the Prasannapadā is used to make the case that Candrakīrti’s writings do not correspond to the rigid Prāsaṅgika–Mādhyamika classification of Tibetan doxographical literature.

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  • Oetke, Claus. Logic Matters in the Prasannapadā: A Study on Reasoning and Proof in Metaphysics. Stockholm: Stockholm University, 2006.

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    Oetke examines Candrakīrti’s rejection of inference and his use of assertions and indirect methods of proving Madhyamaka positions.

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  • Ruegg, David Seyfort. “The Svātantrika-Prāsaṅgika Distinction in the History of Madhyamaka Thought.” In The Buddhist Philosophy of the Middle Way: Essays on Indian and Tibetan Madhyamaka. Edited by David Seyfort Ruegg, 159–194. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2010.

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    A comprehensive discussion of the historical and philosophical issues raised in Indian and Tibetan sources and contemporary scholarship on these two divergent interpretations of Madhyamaka thought.

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  • Yoshimizu, Chizuko. “Tsong kha pa’s Reevaluation of Candrakīrti’s Criticism of Autonomous Inference.” In The Svātantrika-Prāsaṅgika Distinction: What Difference Does a Difference Make? Edited by Georges B. J. Dreyfus and Sara L. McClintock, 257–288. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2003.

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    This article examines how Tsongkhapa interprets Candrakīrti’s rejection of autonomous inferences as being related to his rejection of the epistemological and ontological claims made by his opponents and not because Madhyamaka proponents have no theses of their own to prove.

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  • Yoshimizu, Chizuko. “Źaṅ Thaṅ sag pa on Theses (dam bca’, pratijñā) in Madhyamaka Thought.” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 32.1–2 (2009–2010): 443–467.

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    Yoshimizu examines the views expressed by Źaṅ Thaṅ sag pa in his commentary on Candrakīrti’s Prasannapadā and shows that Źaṅ Thaṅ sag pa holds a more nuanced view on the utility of theses than his teacher Patshab.

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  • Yotsuya, Kodo. The Critique of Svatantra Reasoning by Candrakīrti and Tsongkha-pa: A Study of Philosophical Proof According to Two Prāsaṅgika Madhyamaka Traditions of India and Tibet. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1999.

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    This work carefully examines Candrakīrti’s arguments against Bhāviveka’s use of autonomous inferences in the Prasannapadā and Tsongkhapa’s treatment of this topic.

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Epistemology

Arnold 2001, Arnold 2003, Arnold 2005, MacDonald 2009, Siderits 1981, and Thakchöe 2011 discuss Candrakīrti’s refutation of the views of a Buddhist epistemologist, whose views resemble those of Dignāga (b. c. 480–d. c. 540).

  • Arnold, Dan. “How to Do Things with Candrakīrti: A Comparative Study in Anti-Skepticism” Philosophy East and West 51.2 (2001): 247–279.

    DOI: 10.1353/pew.2001.0019Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article compares Candrakīrti’s critique of epistemological foundationalism with that of J. L. Austin and explores affinities between Candrakīrti’s appeal to ordinary language and Austin’s arguments in Sense and Sensibilia (New York: Oxford University Press, 1962).

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  • Arnold, Dan. “Candrakīrti on Dignāga on Svalakṣaṇas.” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 26.2 (2003): 139–174.

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    An earlier version of chapters 1 and 6 of Arnold 2005 that presents the Abhidharmic background to Dignāga’s views and lays out Candrakīrti’s objections in Prasannapadā 1.1 to Dignāga’s characterization of direct perception (pratyakṣa) and its object, the really existent svalakṣaṇas.

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  • Arnold, Dan. Buddhists, Brahmins, and Belief: Epistemology in South Asian Philosophy of Religion. New York: Columbia University Press, 2005.

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    Part 3 of this philosophically sophisticated work discusses Candrakīrti’s arguments against the Buddhist epistemologists’ position on bare particulars (svalakṣaṇa) and interprets Candrakīrti’s use of transcendental arguments as denying that ordinary experience provides access to what is ultimately real.

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  • MacDonald, Anne. “Knowing Nothing: Candrakīrti and Yogic Perception.” In Yogic Perception, Meditation and Altered States of Consciousness. Edited by Eli Franco and Dagmar Eigner, 133–169. Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2009.

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    This insightful article explores passages in Candrakīrti’s commentaries on Mūlamadhyamakakārikāḥ, Yuktiṣaṣṭikā, Śūnyatāsaptati, and the Madhyamakāvatāra that relate to the topic of yogic perception and argues persuasively that Candrakīrti’s presentation of the direct perception of the nonexistence of phenomena was a response to the epistemologists’ influence.

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  • Siderits, Mark. “The Madhyamaka Critique of Epistemology II.” Journal of Indian Philosophy 8 (1981): 307–335.

    DOI: 10.1007/BF01793836Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A thorough study of the arguments in the debate in Prasannapadā between Candrakīrti and a Buddhist logician.

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  • Thakchöe, Sonam. “Prāsaṅgika Epistemology in Context.” In Moonshadows: Conventional Truth in Buddhist Philosophy. Edited by The Cowherds, 39–55. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

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    Thakchöe uses Candrakīrti’s Madhyamakāvatāra, Prasannapadā, and Bodhisattvayogācāracatuḥśatakaṭīkā as evidence for his argument that Candrakīrti accepts both conventional and rationally warranted epistemic instruments (pramāṇa) and develops a cogent account of how they apprehend epistemic objects.

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Conventional and Ultimate Truth

The doctrine of two truths is fundamental to Madhyamaka epistemology, metaphysics, and soteriology. Candrakīrti’s explanations of the relation between ultimate and conventional truth have produced debate over the nature of these truths among Tibetan Madhyamaka proponents and contemporary scholars. Newland 1992 examines Tibetan scholars’ interpretations of the two truths. Ames 1982 relates the conception of svabhāva (intrinsic nature) to the question of the two truths. Matilal 1973 critically analyzes the relationship between the doctrines of emptiness (śūnyatā) and the two truths. Huntington 1983 explores the two truths’ soteriological implications. Garfield 2011, Siderits 2011, and Tillemans 2011 explore how conventional truth should be understood.

  • Ames, William. “The Notion of Svabhāva in the Thought of Candrakīrti.” Journal of Indian Philosophy 10 (1982): 161–172.

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    Ames’ close reading and translation of two important passages on svabhāva from Candrakīrti’s Madhyamakāvatāra and Prasannapadā show that he uses the term in different senses: from the perspective of conventional truth, it exists as an object’s essential property, but ultimate truth cannot be expressed through asserting either its existence or nonexistence.

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  • Garfield, Jay. “Taking Conventional Truth Seriously: Authority Regarding Deceptive Reality.” In Moonshadows: Conventional Truth in Buddhist Philosophy. Edited by The Cowherds, 23–38. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

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    Garfield explores how Candrakīrti understands the concept of conventional truth through a careful analysis of relevant passages from Madhyamakāvatārabhāṣya, Prasannapadā, and Yuktiṣaṣṭikāvṛtti. Garfield finds that both Candrakīrti and Tsongkhapa regard conventional truth as the proper domain of ordinary perception.

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  • Huntington, C. W., Jr. “The System of the Two Truths in the Prasannapadā and the Madhyamakāvatāra: A Study in Mādhyamika Soteriology.” Journal of Indian Philosophy 11 (1983): 77–106.

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    Huntington makes a convincing case for interpreting Candrakīrti’s explanations of the two truths as a soteriological issue. He examines Prasannapadā and Madhyamakāvatāra passages on the two truths and situates them in the context of the yogin’s transformative experience of perceiving the emptiness of phenomena and calming the proliferation of discursive thought (prapañca).

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  • Matilal, Bimal Krishna. “A Critique of the Mādhyamika Position.” In The Problem of Two Truths in Buddhism and Vedānta. Edited by Mervyn Sprung, 54–63. Dordrecht, The Netherlands, and Boston: D. Reidel, 1973.

    DOI: 10.1007/978-94-010-2582-9Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An important analysis of the doctrines of two truths and emptiness from a scholar trained in classical Brahmanical thought and Western philosophy.

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  • Newland, Guy. The Two Truths in the Mādhyamika Philosophy of the Ge-luk-ba Order of Tibetan Buddhism. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion, 1992.

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    Newland examines how Tshongkhapa and later Gelukpa scholars explain the two truths based on their interpretations of Candrakīrti’s Madhyamakāvatāra.

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  • Siderits, Mark. “Is Everything Connected to Everything Else? What the Gopīs Know.” In Moonshadows: Conventional Truth in Buddhist Philosophy. Edited by The Cowherds, 167–180. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

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    Siderits raises provocative questions about Candrakīrti’s views on the intrinsic nature of conventionally real things, his acceptance of the Nyāya account of epistemic instruments (pramāna), and whether the claim that no things have intrinsic nature undermines the notion of ultimate truth.

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  • Tillemans, Tom J. F. “How Far Can a Mādhyamika Buddhist Reform Conventional Truth? Dismal Relativism, Fictionalism, Easy-Easy Truth, and the Alternatives.” In Moonshadows: Conventional Truth in Buddhist Philosophy. Edited by The Cowherds, 151–165. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

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    An interesting comparison of Candrakīrti’s stance on conventional truth with contemporary philosophers’ fictionalism theories (truth claims seen as not aiming at literal truth but as a sort of “fiction”).

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Critiques of the Self and Yogācāra

Duerlinger 1984, Fenner 1983, Olson 1977, and Wilson 1980 focus on different topics in Candrakīrti’s Madhyamakāvatāra and its autocommentary. Duerlinger and Wilson analyze Candrakīrti’s critique of the self; Fenner and Olson examine Candrakīrti’s critique of Yogācāra philosophy, also known as Vijñānavāda (consciousness-doctrine) and Cittamātra (mind-only).

Text-Critical Studies and Editions

Candrakīrti’s major works are available in print and online editions. La Vallée Poussin produced the standard print editions of the Prasannapadā(La Vallée Poussin 1970) and the Madhyamakāvatāra (La Vallée Poussin 1970). Suzuki 1994 provides edited Sanskrit fragments of the Bodhisattvayogācāracatuḥśatakaṭīkā. Yamaguchi 1974 and Suzuki 1995 contain useful indices to the Prasannapadā and the Bodhisattvayogācāracatuḥśatakaṭīkā, respectively. The Asian Classics Input Project (ACIP) and the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center (TBRC) provide digital editions of the Prasannapadā, Madhyamakāvatāra, Bodhisattvayogācāracatuḥśatakaṭīkā, Śūnyatāsaptativṛtti, and Yuktiṣaṣṭikāvṛtti. De Jong 1978, MacDonald 2000, and MacDonald 2008 are important text-critical studies of the Prasannapadā.

Prasannapadā

Recent discoveries of new manuscripts (De Jong 1978, MacDonald 2000, MacDonald 2008) have led to improvements on La Vallée Poussin 1970, a reprint edition of the Prasannapadā, which was completed at the turn of the 20th century. Digitized editions of the Tibetan text are available from the Asian Classics Input Project and the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center.

Madhyamakāvatāra and Bhāṣya

La Vallée Poussin 1970 remains the standard print edition. Digitized editions of the Tibetan text are available from the Asian Classics Input Projectand the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center.

Bodhisattvayogācāracatuḥśatakaṭīkā

Suzuki 1994 is the standard print edition and has superseded Shāstrī 1914. Digitized editions of the Byang chub sems dpa’i rnal ‘byor spyod pa bzhi brgya pa’i rgya cher ‘grel pa are available from the Asian Classics Input Project and the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center.

LAST MODIFIED: 04/24/2012

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195393521-0061

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