Āryadeva (3rd century), a disciple of Nāgārjuna, is a central figure in the development of early Indian Madhyamaka philosophy. Āryadeva’s Hundred Verses Treatise (Bai lun) was one of the three basic texts of the Chinese Madhyamaka school founded by the central Asian monk Kumārajīva (b. 344–d. 413), which accordingly was called the Sanlun (Jpn. Sanron), or “three-treatise” school. According to the biography that Kumārajīva translated into Chinese, Āryadeva was born into a South Indian Brahmin family, became Nāgārjuna’s disciple, was renowned for his skill in debate, and was murdered by a student of a defeated teacher. Candrakīrti (b. c. 570–d. 650), in his commentary on Āryadeva’s major work, the Four Hundred Verses (Catuḥśataka), reports that Āryadeva was born on the island of Sinhala (Sri Lanka) as a king’s son, renounced his royal status, became a monk, and traveled to South India, where he studied with Nāgārjuna. Some scholars suggest that Āryadeva is the elder deva mentioned in the Mahāvaṃsa and Dīpavaṃsa chronicles of early Sri Lankan religious history. Āryadeva did not write commentaries on Nāgārjuna’s works but, rather, wrote autonomous treatises that defended Madhyamaka beliefs against its Buddhist and non-Buddhist critics. He devotes the first eight chapters to explaining ethical behavior and such practices as generosity, which form the basis for the bodhisattva’s accumulation of merit (puṇya). The latter eight chapters refute wrong views about the independent existence of external phenomena and the self, defending the Madhyamaka philosophy of emptiness and the dependently arisen nature of all things. The Catuḥśataka presents the path to the attainment of buddhahood as structured around these two requisites of merit and knowledge (jñāna). As an introduction to the practices of a bodhisattva, the Catuḥśataka prepares the ground for Śāntideva’s later (c. 8th-century) and more extensive treatment in Introduction to the Practices of a Bodhisattva (Bodhicaryāvatāra). Apart from some fragments of the Catuḥśataka, none of the works the Chinese and Tibetan canons attributed to Āryadeva survive in Sanskrit.
The encyclopedia articles Arnold 2005 and Hayes 2010 and the chapter “Mādhyamika” in Williams 2009 provide concise and philosophically interesting treatments of Madhyamaka ideas that help define Āryadeva’s place in the intellectual history of the Madhyamaka school. Ruegg 1981 provides a valuable discussion of Āryadeva’s works. Āryadeva’s Hundred Verses Treatise (Bai lun) and Nāgārjuna’s Middle Way Treatise (Zhong lun) and the Twelve Gate Treatise (Shi er men lun) form the three basic texts of the Chinese Madhyamaka (Sanlun) school. Robinson 1967 explores how Kumārajīva and the Chinese scholars who studied Āryadeva’s works with him interpreted Indian Madhyamaka texts. Berzin 2007 covers the main points of Āryadeva’s Four Hundred Verses, and Potter 2002 contains summaries of the Four Hundred Verses, the Hundred Verses Treatise, and the Hundred Syllables (Akṣaraśataka).
Arnold, Dan. “Madhyamaka Buddhism.” In The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edited by James Fieser and Bradley Dowden. 2005.
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 (consequentalist) and Svātantrika (autonomous) interpretations of Madhyamaka. Includes a brief discussion of Madhyamaka in East Asia and Tibet.
Berzin, Alexander. “Summary of Aryadeva’s Four Hundred Verses.” In Berzin Archives. 2007.
Berzin begins with a brief account of Āryadeva’s life, based on Tibetan sources, and discusses the key points in each of the Four Hundred Verses’ sixteen chapters. This is a good introduction for the nonspecialist, although the summaries of the last eight chapters assume some familiarity with Buddhist technical vocabulary.
Hayes, Richard. “Madhyamaka.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edited by Edward N. Zalta. 2010.
A thorough overview of Indian Madhyamaka intellectual history that examines how major thinkers from Buddhapālita (b. 470–d. 540) to Śāntarakśita (b. 725–d. 788) interpret the works of Nāgārjuna and Āryadeva. Includes a short bibliography of relevant articles.
Potter, Karl, ed. Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies. Vol. 8, Buddhist Philosophy from 100 to 350 A.D. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2002.
This reference work (pp. 197–228) includes synopses and analysis of Āryadeva’s major works.
Robinson, Richard H. Early Mādhyamika in India and China. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1967.
This work is an excellent introduction to the Chinese understanding of Madhyamaka. Robinson explores how Kumārajīva translated the complex concepts of Nāgārjuna’s and Āryadeva’s treatises into Chinese. The chapters on Kumārajīva’s students Hui-yuan, Seng-rui, and Seng-zhao situate the study of Madhyamaka in 4th- and 5th-century Chinese scholarly circles.
Ruegg, David Seyfort. The Literature of the Madhyamaka School of Philosophy in India. Wiesbaden, West Germany: Harrasowitz, 1981.
This is an extensive and authoritative source on the history and texts of Indian Madhyamaka, with copious footnotes and bibliographical information. Ruegg discusses the philosophical framework of Āryadeva’s work and the issues surrounding the attribution of particular texts to Āryadeva and the Vajrayāna author of the same name. See pp. 50–56 and 105–106.
Williams, Paul. Mahāyāna Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations. 2d ed. London and New York: Routledge, 2009.
Chapters 2 and 3 of Williams’s book, “The Perfection of Wisdom” and “Mādhyamika,” provide useful background on the development of Madhyamaka thought. Williams credits Āryadeva along with Nāgārjuna as founding the Madhyamaka school and briefly discusses the importance of the Bai lun in the formation of Madhyamaka in China.
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 email@example.com 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)
- 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...
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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