Prof. Alex Wayman
The steady increase of translations and
scholarly studies of the Maadhyamika school of Buddhism would lead one to suppose that the
topic had become thoroughly clarified. Yet in recent times, article and studies have
appeared that challenge traditional conclusions. The present writer, for example, wrote an
article on Naagaarjuna that even claimed for this celebrated author the role of
inaugurating Mahaayaana Buddhism (granting that certain earlier scriptures would later be
included in the category) and `ghost' authorship of the A.s.tasaahasrikaa
Praj~naapaaramitaa-suutra;(1) and the present writer wrote another article that included a
new translation of the Muula-Madhyamaka-kaarikaa(MK), chapter 2, and rejected the usual
conclusion that Naagaarjuna denied motion.(2) Another writer, Kalupahana, has put out a
new translation of MK, denying therein that Naagaarjuna is a ahaayaanist and deciding that
Candrakiirti's Prasannapadaa commentary on MK has departed so far from the intent of MK as
not to deserve translation (although European scholars some time back translated the whole
of this commentary).(3)
With such astonishing claims by myself and
now by Kalupahana, the matter deserves further attention to sort out some of the relevant
evidence. I have
chosen a study of the Tathaagata chapter
(chapter 22) of MK, because this chapter dovetails with the chapter 2 examination of
gataagata. The question that needs answering is how does Naagaarjuna construe the term
tathaagata? Of course, various theories have been offered about this word.(4) We shall
soon see that the usual explanations do not face up to this chapter of MK especially the
last kaarikaa (number 16), which uses the term tathaagata along with jagat, since both
terms have the root gam (to go). Thus Naagaarjuna informs the attentive reader that the
problem is not, as Kalupahana opined on kaarikaa 1-2, one of `agent' but rather whether
the realm in which there is gata (the gone) or agata (the come) implies a realm in which
there is sthita (staying), recalling that in chapter 2 Naagaarjuna set forth that a person
either goes or stays. Since Naagaarjuna did not deny motion in chapter 2 of his MK, this
helps for understanding MK chapter 23, in which it is clear that the Tathaagata went
(gata). Before going further, Kalupahana's striking claims deserve responses. As to
Naagaarjuna not being a Maahaayanist, Kalupahana points out that Warder had previously
written an article claiming this. If they so understand the MK, they should be able to
translate the verses correctly. However, Kalupahana on MK 24.32 claims that Naagaarjuna
criticizes the Maahaayana bodhisattva practice, but fails to translate the te (Tibetan
khyod kyi, "according to you") which shows that the verse represents the
opponent's view, not Naagaarjuna's. The reader is invited to compare Kalupahana's (or for
that matter, some other translator's) rendition of MK chapter 2 with mine in the article
mentioned,(5) or with my rendition of MK chapter 22 in the present article,(6) and decide
for himself which of them better makes sense of Naagaarjuna's verses. Besides,
Naagaarjuna's Ratnaavalii chapter 5, portrays the six paaramitaas and the ten Bodhisattva
stages that are characteristic of Maahaayana Buddhism.' Granted that someone may raise a
question, doubting that the Ratnaavalii is really by Naagaarjuna. It is a wonderful trait
of humans to raise questions that elicit answers, provided they do not conclude that their
question is itself the answer. Kalupahana's attitude toward drakiirti's commentary may
well be due to a disappointment shared by other readers who expected Candrakiirti to help
in understanding the MK. My article on Naagaarjuna dealt with this matter: Candrakiirti,
of course, would not hold that the student must read his commentary in order to understand
the MMK [the Muula-MK], for that would imply that no one had ever understood it
previously. The precise opposite seems to be the case, Candrakiirti expected the student
to have already understood the MMK in terms of the words of the verses, and to read his
commentary for his system, usually called Praasa^ngika-Maadhyamika. This should have been
noticed from his kind of commentary, which is not grammatical, i.e., on the words in their
order of occurrence, but the kind of commentary which says more. Furthermore, the
Prasannapadaa has more difficult Sanskrit than does the MMK, so if one cannot understand
the MMK by its words, it appears useless to go to the more complicated commentaries.(8)
Accordingly, I did not employ
Candrakiiti's commentary, but did refer to Buddhapaalita's, in my translation of MK 2
since I was concerned with the words employed by Naagaarjuna. Here also, when rendering MK
22, I am concerned with the words, and find the commentaries Candrakiirti's:
Tibetan) useful for more information. In so doing, my own explanation of the verses is
along the lines of Kalupahana's by way of the premise that one can comment on the verses
by means of one's own background of research, and not have to rely on one of the
commentaries, except sporadically. I do not, however, denigrate Candrakiirti's commentary,
as Kalupahana does. And admittedly my comments follow a certain school of interpretation,
namely, accepting the relevance of canonical Buddhist teachings as concerns the notion of
Tathaagata.The Tathaagata chapter of MK appears to fall into these verse groups:
- kaarikaas 1-9, Does a Tathaagata Adopt Personal Aggregates
- kaarikaas 10-14, Tathaagata and Voidness (`suunyataa);
kaarikaa 15, Seeing a Tathaagata; and kaarikaa 16, The Tathaagata and the Moving World
Because of these verse divisions, I have
employed two renditions of the term svabhaava;(9) for kaarikaas 1-9, the rendition
"one's own origination," and for kaarikaas 10-16, the rendition
"own-nature." Anticipating a conclusion, the rendition "own-nature"
intends that "own-nature" belongs to the unmentioned, but implied, world of
`staying' that is complementary to the world of 'going'. My translation of the verses
agrees usually with the grammatical interpretation in de ong's French translation, (10)
and accordingly diverges from Kalupahana's rendition.
DOES A TATHAAGATA ADOPT PERSONAL
- skandhaa na naanya.h skandhebhyo naasmin skandhaa na te.su
- tathaagata.h skandhavaan na katamo `tra tathaagata.h // 1
The Tathaagata is not the personal
aggregates (skandha). Nor is he different from them; to wit, the personal aggregates are
not in him, nor he in them, nor is he possessed of the personal aggregates. When then is a
The authority for translating the verse in
this manner is Candrakiiti's Madhyamakaavataara, where this very verse is cited under
6.144. That is to say, when contemplating each of the five personal aggregates (ruupa and
so forth) in four ways to counter what are called the 'twenty reifying views' (Paali
sakkaayadi.t.thi), the four ways amount to one denial of identification and three denials
of difference.(11) That Candrakiirti would clarify the structure of the verse in his
Mavataara, but not in his commentary on the MK, agrees with his assuming the reader's
ability in the kaarikaas themselves.
What then is Tathaagata? He 'went' (gata)
that way (tathaa). The opening scripture in the Paali canonical Samyuttanikaaya tells that
a certain deva, as dawn was approaching, came to the Jeta Grove where the Buddha was
staying and asked how he had crossed the flood. The Buddha responded: "Not staying
(Paali appati.t.tham) , friend, and not conjecturing (Paali anaayuham), did I cross the
flood."(12) This shows that the Buddha went (gata) and avoided wayward views
(Sanskrit d.r.s.ti), so he is Tathaagata. If he had stayed (sthita) it would have been in
the personal aggregates, and so he could not be called 'Tathaagata.'
- buddha.h skandhaan upaadaaya yadi naasti svabhaavata.h/
- svabhaavatas ca yo naasti kuta.h sa parabhaavata.h // 2 //
If a Buddha (exists) by adopting personal
aggregates, he does not exist by way of his own origination. When someone does not exist
by way of his own origination, how can he exist by way of another's origination? If a
Buddha exists by adopting the five pure aggregates (skandha), morality (`siila), intense
concentration (samaadhi), (perfected) insight (praj~naa), liberation (vimukti), and the
knowledge and vision of liberation (vimuktij~naanadar`sana),(13) he does not exist by way
of his own origination (of these), since they were adopted by previous saints. And just as
they were not his own origination as a basis for existence as a Buddha, how can he exist
as such by another's origination of these?
- pratiitya parabhaava.m ya.h so `naatmety upapadyate/
- ya`s caanaatmaa sa ca katha.m bhavi.syati tathaagata.h
When someone exists in dependence upon
another's origination, it is not valid to call him a 'self'. When someone is without self,
how will he become a Tathaagata?
That 'nonself' (anaatma) is examined by
the sole aspect of `nonself-dependence' (asvaatantrya) is taught also in Asa^nga's
Sraavakabhuumi.(14) And the Udaanavarga, its Tathaagata chapter 21.2, has this celebrated
verse about the 'self':
I am the Tathaagata,(15) teacher of gods
and men; have comprehended enlightenment as a revealer by myself; having reached
omniscience, am endowed with the powers; incomparable and unequalled, who can teach me!
- yadi naasti svabhaava`s ca parabhaava.h katha.m bhavet/
- svabhaavaparabhaavaabhyaam .rte ka.h sa tathaagata.h //4//
If there is not one's own origination, how
can there be another's origination? Except frappe one's own origination and another's
origination, who would be the Tathaagata?
For the meaning, notice the definition of
`Tathaagata' in the Praj~naapaaramitaa`saastra.(16)
(1) He preaches the character of dharma
(dharmalak.sa.na) according to the manner (tathaa) in which he understood it (gata). (2)
In the manner by which the (earlier) Buddhas have gone on the path of acquirement (yoga)
and security (k.sema), so (tathaa) the (present) Buddha has gone (gata), and there are no
more rebirths. That is why he is called 'Tathaagata'. Thus, the first sentence of kaarikaa
4 can be construed as intending that the Buddha's own attainment shows the way for others
to follow the path, while the second sentence intends that the present Buddha followed the
course of preceding Buddhas; hence both his own attainment and their attainment is
implicated in the name 'Tathaagata'.
- skandhaan yady anupaadaaya bhavet ka`scit tathaagata.h /
- sa idaaniim upaadadyaad upaadaaya tato bhavet //5//
If someone could be a Tathaagata without
adopting personal aggregates, he might adopt them now and later adopting them, be (a
Candrakiirti's commentary provides a hint
of the meaning, giving the illustration that Devadatta existed before he acquired riches,
and acquired them later.(17) Therefore, it appears that Naagaarjuna understands the first
explanation of the term 'Tathaagata' (given already under kaarikaa 4) to mean a Tathaagata
who has not yet advanced to yoga-k.sema. Later, this Tathaagata could acquire the five
pure aggregates (the yoga), and then secure them (the k.sema) by way of the ten powers and
other Buddha natures.
- skandhaan caapy anupaadaaya naasti ka`scit tathaagatah./
- ya`s ca naasty anupaadaaya sa upaadaasyate katha.m // 6 //
A Tathaagata does not exist unless he
adopts personal aggregates. Anyone, not adopting them, does not exist. How can he
A Tathaagata, in order to exist, must
adopt the ordinary personal aggregates, ruupa, and so forth. According to Buddhapaalita's
commentary, since sa.msaara is without beginning or end, there does not exist anyone who
has not adopted the aggregates, and how can anyone appropriate them if he had not done so
- na bhavaty anupaadattam upaadaana.m ca ki.m cana /
- na caasti nirupaadaana.h katha.m cana tathaagata.h //7//
No adoption occurs prior to its adoption.
No Tathaagata exists without an adoption (of skandhas). The first half appears to deny the
Saa.mkhya position that the effect preexists in the cause, as though there were a
pregenetic adoption. And a Tathaagata must adopt personal aggregates in order to exist.
Naagaarjuna, in his Friendly Letter (to a king). The Suh.rllekha, kaarikaas 59-60,
stresses the value of human birth for practice of the Dharma and progress toward
enlightenment.(19) Hence, the personal aggregates (skandha) of a human are meant. The five
are formation (ruupa), feelings (vedanaa), ideation (sa.mj~naa), motivations (sa.mskaara),
and perceptions (vij~naana).
- tattvaanyatvena yo naasti m.rgyamaanas ca pa~ncadhaa /
- upaadaanena sa katha.m praj~napyate tathaagatha.h // 8 //
Who being sought for in five ways does not
exist as different from the elements (=aggregates) or as the adoption (of aggregates), how
can he be designated a Tathaagata?
The five ways are the five personal
aggregates listed under the preceding verse. He can be designated a Tathaagata because the
Paali canon Sa.myutta-nikaaya, at 2.25, has a famous remark:
"Whether Tathaagatas arise or do not
arise, there remains this realm (dhaatu), the continuance of dhamma, the rule of dhamma,
the having of this for condition." This rule of dhamma (Sanskrit dharma) means the
Dependent Origination of the natures (dharma) of which the five personal aggregates are
composed. Thus, the continuance of the five personal aggregates is independent of whether
there is a Tathaagata.
- yad apiidam upaadaana.m tat svabhaavaan na vidyate /
- svabhaavata`s ca van naasti kutas tat parabhaavata.h // 9
But also this 'adoption' (of aggregates)
is not found by way of its own origination. And when something does not exist by way of
its own origination, how can it exist by way of another's origination?
Upaadaana is the ninth member of the
Buddhist formula of Dependent Origination (pratiitya-samutpaada). It arises dependent on
the preceding member, t.r.s.naa (craving), and so does not arise by way of its own
origination. However, it does not exist by way of t.r.s.naa's origination, since this
'craving' is not the cause of upaadaana ('adoption'), but only the condition for its
- eva.m `suunyam upaadaanam upaadaataa ca sarva`sa.h /
- praj~napyate ca `suunyena katha.m `suunyas tathaagata.h
Thus, adoption and adopter are completely
void (of svabhaava). How can the Tathaagata be designated as void by what is void?
As recorded in the Sa.myutta-nikaaya,
4.54, AAnanda asked the Buddha about the saying "The world is void! The world is
void!" (su~n~no loko su~n~no loko 'ti), and the Buddha explained: "Because it is
void of self or of what belongs to self, therefore, 'The world is void'." So, here,
because it is void of adopter and of adoption, the world is void. As to the ability of
words to designate something as `void', this is a matter dealt with by Naagaarjuna in his
Vigrahavyaavartinii. The opponent claimed that words being void (of svabhaava) were
incapable of denying anything or establishing the voidness of anything. Let us accept K.
Bhattacharya's translation of this text, 70, "All things prevail for him for whom
prevails this voidness (prabhavati ca `suunyateya.m yasya prabhavanti tasya
sarvaarthaa.h). Nothing prevails for him for whom voidness does not prevail (prabhavati na
tasya kimcin na prabhavati `suunyataa yasya)."(21)
- `suunyam iti na vaktavyam a`suunyam iti vaa bhavet /
- ubhaya.m nobhaya.m ceti praj~naptyartha.m tu kathyate
One should not say he is void or nonvoid,
both or neither. But one may use terms for (such) designation.
Having insisted that words, although void
of own-nature (svabhaava), have the power to designate something as 'void', Naagaarjuna
does not admit that words are always employed wisely. In order to designate something as
'void', one should add 'void of' (something). Notice in the preceding that simply to say
"The world is void" oes not convey much comprehension to the hearer, and so the
Buddha had to add: "void of self or of what belongs to self." Then, how can a
person of ordinary comprehension state what the Tathaagata is void of, when declaring the
Tathaagata 'void'? Hence, one should not say he is void and so forth. The
Pa.tisambhidaamaga of the Paali canon has lofty praise of a Tathaagata in the 'Faculties'
- na tassa adi.t.tha.m idh' atthi ki~nci atho avi~n~natam
- sabba.m abbinnaasi yad atthi neyyam. Tathaagato tena
Here in this world there is nothing he has
not seen, nothing not understood, nothing unknowable. He has experienced supernormally all
that is knowable.
Therefore the Tathaagata is called
Therefore, the Tathaagata is not explained
by the word 'void' how much less by the word 'empty'!
- `saa`svataa`saa`svataady atra kuta.h `saante catu.s.taya.m/
- antaanantaadi caapy atra kuta.h `saante catu.s.taya.m
How can the eternal, noneternal, and so on
kind of four alternatives be in the peaceful? How can the finite, nonfinite, and so on
kind of four alternatives be in the peaceful?
Candrakiirti's commentary(23) points out
that these two sets of four alternatives are among the fourteen avyaak.rta-vastuuni,
meaning the questions which the Buddha refused to answer. The verse mentions the first
set, namely, that the world is eternal, noneternal, both eternal and noneternal, and
neither eternal nor noneternal, and the second set, namely,
that the world is finite, nonfinite, both
finite and nonfinite, and neither finite nor nonfinite. The third set is alluded to in the
next verse, number 13; they are: the Tathaagata exists after death, does not exist after
death, both exists and does not exist after death, and neither exists nor does not exist
after death. The last two of the fourteen are: the self (jiiva) is identical with the
body, and the self is different from the body. As to the question, "How can they be
in the peaceful?" the peaceful is apparently a reference to Nirvaa.na, or to a person
in whom the phenomenal turbulence has been appeased and so finds these fourteen questions
not worth answering.
- yena graaho g.rhiitas tu ghano 'stiiti tathaagata.h /
- naastiiti sa vikalpayan nirv.rtasyaapi kalpayet // 13 //
The one attached to the gross positing,
imagining that the Tathaagata exists or that he does not exist, would also imagine (the
alternatives) for one in Nirvaa.na.
This verse may provide a clue to the
prohibition which the Bhagavat announced to the first five disciples, namely, that they
should not address a Tathaagata as 'long-lived one' (aayu.smat). That is to say, the
disciples would be guilty of the 'gross positing'. In other words, that title, `long-lived
one', could be relevant for one who 'stays' (sthita), but the name 'Tathaagata' means 'one
who went that way'.
- svabhaavata`s ca `suunye 'smi.ms cintaa naivopapadyate /
- paraa.m nirodhaad bhavati buddho na bhavatiiti vaa // 14 //
The speculation that the Buddha exists or
does not exist after death is not admissible, since he is void of own-nature.
The statement that the Buddha is void of
svabhaava does not constitute a denial of svabhaava, but rather assigns svubhaava to a
status plementary to the Tathaagata, as in the celebrated remark already cited,
"Whether Tathaagatas arise or do not arise, there remains...."(24) The
inadmissible speculation is in terms of remaining.
- prapa~ncayanti ye buddha.m prapa~ncaatiitam avyaya.m /
- te prapa~ncahataa.h sarve na pa`syanti tathaagata.m // 15
Those who verbally elaborate the incessant
Buddha who has transcended verbal elaboration none of them, impaired by verbal
elaboration, can see the Tathaagata.
This verse agrees with Udaanavarga,
chapter 22, verse 11. This chapter, on the 'Hearer', immediately follows the 'Tathaagata'
chapter (21). It is a reassonable assumption that Dharmatraata's Udaanavarga delighted
Naagaarjuna who was probably very young when it first appeared.(25) Udaanavarga 22.11
follows, rendered from the Tibetan:
- / gan dag gzugs kyis nes par 'dzin /
- / na la sgra yis rjes su 'bran /
- / 'dun pa'i 'dod chags dban gyur la /
- / skye bo de dag na mi ses //
Those who apprehend me by (corporeal)
formation, and follow me by speech, those persons, when dominated by passionate craving,
do not know me.
While the message, as originally told, is
said to be by a certain dwarf (Paali) Bhaddiya, rendered in the commentary to the
Udaanavarga in the Tibetan canon, 'Phags pa Lan-tshwa-bza^n-po,(26) the application in the
present context is certainly to the Tathaagata. Asa^nga, in his Yogaacaarabhuumi, in the
section on `sariiraarthagaathaa, cites the set of five verses, Udaanavarga 22. 11-15, and
It is like this: The ordinary person
(p.rthagjana), who has not completely eliminated his passionate craving, when he sees a
Tathaagata possessed of the thirty-two characters of the Great Person, apprehends and
thinks, "Gosh! This Bhagavat is a Rightly Perfected Buddha! His Doctrine is
well-stated. His congregation of auditors is rightly installed." Thereafter, this
person relies on unworthy persons, heeds pernicious doctrines... and comes to blame the
Buddha, his Doctrine, and his Congregation ('di ltar 'di na so so'i skye bo'i 'dun pa'i
'dod chags ril gyis ma spans pa la las de bzin gsegs pa'i skyes bu chen po'i mtshan sum cu
rtsa gnis dan ldan pa mthon ba na / kye ma bcom ldan 'das de ni yan dag par rdzogs pa'i
sans rgyas yin no / de'i chos ni legs par gsuns pa yin no / nan thos kyi dge 'dun ni legs
par zugs pa yin no snam du nes par 'dzin te / de phyis skye bu dam pa ma yin pa bsnen pa /
dam pa'i chos ma yin pa thos pa la brten nas /.... sans rgyas dan chos dan dge 'dun la yan
skur pa 'debs te /).
Ancient Buddhism declared that the signs
of a Complete Buddha were held in common with the Universal Emperor (cakravaartin); so one
could not know just from those signs that one was looking at a Complete Buddha. According
to Naagaarjuna's verse, the ordinary person did not really see this Tathaagata. The
Udaanavarga commentary on this verse points out that the 'passionate craving' is a
hindrance to samaadhi (tin ne 'dzin gyi sgrib pa); and commenting upon the part,
"Those persons... do not know me," cites the well-known precept: "The man
whose mind is equipoised, sees exactly as it is" (mnam par bzag na ji lta ba bzin du
mthon bar `gyur ro).(28) Buddhapaalita's commentary on the MK verse explains the term
prapa~nca (verbal elaboration) as 'existence and nonexistence', permanence and
impermanence', and so forth;(29) hence the term suggests the creation of divisive
cross-purposes (dvandva), or two things where there are really one, and that it is
instigated by the 'passionate craving'.(30) And so one does not see objects exactly as
TATHAAGATA AND THE MOVING WORLD
- tathaagato yat svabhaavas tat svabhaavam ida.m jagat /
- tathaagato ni.hsvabhaavo ni.hsvabhaavam ida.m jagat // 16
Were the Tgthaagata to have own-nature
(svabhaava), then this moving world would have own-nature. Given that the Tathaagata lacks
svabhaava, this moving world lacks svabhaava.(31)
Naagaarjuna's final verse of the chapter
shows what the Tathaagata and the jagat have in common going; and it shows what they both
do not have svabhaava. In short, svabhaava (own-nature) perforce has no 'going'. Indeed,
according to the commentator Buddhapaalita, this svabhaava is the same for the Tathaagata
and the jagat. Thus the comment (Derge, ed., f. 266b-1, 2):
"What be the own-nature of a
Tathaagata is the own-nature of the moving world (jagat). Since the own-nature of a
Tathaagata is the own-nature of the moving world, the examination of Tathaagata is also
the examination of the moving world" (/ de bzin gsegs pa dnos nid gan / de ni 'gro
`di'i no bo nid / gan gi phyir de bzin gsaegs pa'i no bo nid gan yin pa de ni 'gro ba
'di'i no bo nid kyan yin pa de'i phyir de bzin gsegs pa brtags pa 'di nid kyis 'gro ba 'di
dag kyan brtags pa yin no /).
It seems to be a contradiction in terms to
speak of the Tathaagata lacking svabhaava, and then to refer to the "own-nature of a
Tathaagata." In fact, there is no contradiction. It is almost as when we use an
expression like "our world" and then admit that the world is not ours. The point
of the discussion is that Naagaarjuna never denied 'svabhaava'; he never claimed that fire
lacks the own-nature of burning; rather he insisted that an actual fire is not due to its
own-nature. But, in a manner of speaking, it is necessary to refer to the svabhaava of a
Tathaagata in order to say that the Tathaagata lacks svabhaava. A passage from the ancient
Paali canon should clarify the foregoing in part. This is Sa.myuttanikaaya 5.41-42, in the
- sattaa apadaa vaa dvipadaa vaa catuppadaa vaa bahuppadaa
- ruupino vaa aruupino vaa sa~n~nino vaa asa~n~nino vaa
nevasa~n~niinaasa~n~nino vaa, tathaagato tesa.m aggam akkhaayati
- araham sammaasambuddho;
Of sentient beings (Sanskrit sattva),
whether footless, two-footed, four-footed, or many-footed; whether having (material)
formation or not having (material) formation; whether ideational, or nonideational, or
neither ideational nor non-ideational of these, the Tathaagata, the Arhat, the Rightly
Complete Buddha, is declared the chief. Notice that the Tathaagata is counted among
sentient beings, agreeing with Naagaarjuna's verse and its commentary that the same
examination can be made for the Tathaagata as for the moving world (jagat). The Paali
passage begins with jagat language by classifying sentient beings by their number of feet
for purposes of locomotion. It then classifies by 'formation', which, as was already
mentioned, deceives those who have not equilibrated their minds. Finally it classifies by
ideation, which characterizes a 'sentient being'. Hence, the Tathaagata is a kind of
flowering of the sentient world. Whatever is appropriately said of the Tathaagata does not
apply to the realm of staying (sthita), called the realm of Dharma. But it must also be
admitted that the Tathaagata uses this realm of Dharma, and that to see the Tathaagata is
to see the Dharma. So it is said in the Sa.myutta-nikaaya (3.120) and other places that
"he who sees the Dhamma sees me, and he who sees me sees the Dhamma."
In conclusion, the annotations which the
present writer has brought to bear upon the sixteen verses of this chapter rest upon the
testimony of ancient
Buddhism. It was not necessary to appeal
to the special language of the Mahaayaana scriptures, such as the Samaadhiraaja-suutra.
But this is not to deny the applicability of such scriptures, as cited in Candrakiirti's
commentary. Bach commentator follows his line of comments in accordance with a lineage
which he continues. The present commentary is not exempt from this condition. Indeed,
there is little purpose to speculating about such matters. If authentic scriptures cannot
be alluded to, if one has to guess through it, why add another commentary? Indeed, in
common between the preceding approach to this chapter 22 and the approach to my previously
published translation of chapter 2 is an attitude toward the author Naagaarjuna that he
was a religious genius. His MK is a kind of relic. It requires of the translator both a
command of language, meaning the kind of Sanskrit Naagaarjuna employs, and an evocation of
the context of the disputes then current.(32) So it is easy to criticize previous
translation attempts, as does Kalupahana in addition to myself. And that does not mean
that we necessarily do better.
1. A. Wayman, "Naagaarjuna: Moralist
Reformer of Buddhism," Studia Missionalia 34 (1985): 63-95.
2. A. Wayman, "The Gait (gati) and
the Path (maarga) Reflections on the Horizontal," Journal of the American Oriental
Society 105, no. 3 (July-September 1985): 579-588.
3. David J. Kalupahana, Naagaarjuna: The
Philosophy of the Middle Way (Albany, New York, 1986), Preface, pp. xiii-xv, and p. 7. At
p. 26, he opposes the adulation of Naagaarjuna as a 'second Buddha', which my article(n.
1, preceding) justifies, on the grounds that he inaugurated Maahaayana Buddhism.
4. Cf. Le Traite de la Grande Vertu de
Sagesse, as translated by Etienne Lamotte, vol.1(Louvain, 1944), p. 126, for various
5. There (article of n. 2, preceding) I
showed the usage of gati in some other branches of Indian literature, and investigated the
verb form gamyate in Sanskrit grammar, as a preparation for translating MK, chap. 2.
6. Here, for translating MK, chap. 22, I
assumed that because the Udaanavarga has a Tathaagata chapter, some verses would be
relevant (they were!); I assumed that important teachings about the Tathaagata in early
Buddhist literature and later repeated, such as "whether a Tathaagata arises or not,
there remains...," and what the Buddha said to the first five disciples, "Do not
call a Tathaagata 'long-lived one' (aayu.smat)," would all be relevant (and they
were!); and I assumed that the remark on the first page of the Sar.myutta-nikaaya about
crossing the flood, because that requires 'going', would be relevant (and it was!).
Moreover, I thought that the commentaries of Buddhapaalita and Candrakiirti, fortunately
available to me, would be useful for certain verses (and they were!).
7. Cf. Michael Hahn, Naagaarjuna's
Ratnaavalii(Sanskrit, Tibetan, Chinese) (Bonn, 1982).
8. Wayman, "Naagaarjuna," p. 89.
9. It should not be surprising that the
same work employs the term svabhaava in more than one sense; cf. Ernst Steinkellner,
"Wirklichkeit und Begriff bei Dharmakiirti," Wiener Zeitschrift fur die Kunde
Sudasiens 15 (1971): 179-211, for various senses of this term as employed by Dharmakiirti.
10. J. W. de Jong, Cinq Chapitres de la
Prasannapadaa (Paris, 1949), has a translation of both the verses and Candrakiirti's
commentary, with the Tibetan text for these.
11. Cf. A. Wayman, "The Twenty
Reifying Views (Sakkaayadi.t.thi)," originally in Studies in Pali and Buddhism
(1979), reprinted in Buddhist Insight: Essays by Alex Wayman, ed. by George R. Elder
(Delhi, 1984), pp. 215-223, esp. p. 218.
12. I employ the edition in the
Naalandaa-Devanaagarii-Paali-Series (Bihar Government, 1959).
13. These five are called jina-skandha
(aggregates of the Victor); cf. Louis de La Vallee Poussin, L'Abhidharmako`sa de
Vasubandhu (1924), under VI, 76c (p.297).
14.Cf. Alex Wayman, Analysis of the
`Sraavakabhuumi Manuscript (Berkeley, California: 1961), pp. 130-131.
15. According to Praj~naavarman's
Udaanavargavivara.na, ed. [from Tibetan] by Michael Balk (Bonn, 1984), vol. 2, in comments
upon this verse at p. 609, this usage of the term 'Tathaagata' shows having gone (gata)
for the sake of others, the candidates to be taught. Hence, it is the first kind of
Tathaagata, as will be alluded to in the following verse, MK 22.4. It is this Tathaagata
who needs a 'self'.
16. Le Traite, vol. 1 (n. 4, preceding),
17. de Jong, Cinq Chapitres(n. 10,
preceding), p. 77 and p. 147.
18. I employ the edition of
Buddhapaalita's commentary in the Tibetan Tanjur, the Derge edition (published in Tokyo,
1977), the Dbu-ma section, vol.1, i.e. vol. Tsa (here, f. 263a-4 ff.), beginning: 'khor ba
la thog ma dan tha ma med do.
19. Cf. Lozang Jamspal and others,
Naagaarjuna's Letter to King Cautamiiputra (Delhi, 1978).
20. It is of course quite reasonable that
when Naagaarjuna uses the term upaadaana, it can be construed as the term for the ninth
Dependent Origination; MK, chap. 26, is
devoted to this twelve-membered formula. Again, while t.r.s.naa is a condition (pratyaya)
for upaadaana, it by no means can be taken as its cause, but Naagaarjuna takes it as
concomitant in MK, 26.6B: t.r.syamaana upaadaanam upaadatte caturvidham, "While
craving, one indulges in adoption of four kinds."
21. K. Bhattacharya and others, The
Dialectical Method of Naagaarjuna (Vigrahavyaavartanii) (Delhi, 1978), p.47.
22 Arnold C. Taylor, ed.,
Pa.tisambhidaamagga, vol. 2 (London, 1907), p. 31.
23. de Jong, Cinq Chapitres(n. 10,
preceding), pp. 82-83.
24. For this kind of 'voidness', cf.
Pa.tisambhidaamagga, vol. 2, the treatise on voidness (su~n~nakathaa), p. 179; or the
translation by ~Naanamoli, The Path of Discrimination (London: The Pall Text Society,
1982), pp. 357-358, "What is voidness by characteristic?" and so on. Here the
type is lakkha.nasu~n~nam, and of the examples, naturally the one of two kinds (i.e. of
lak.sa.na). The translation of the example: "The characteristic of the fool is void
of the characteristic of the wise man, and the characteristic of the wise man is void of
the characteristic of the fool." In this case, the rendition 'devoid' may serve
better than 'void'. For the case of MK 22.14, the characteristic of going is devoid of the
characteristic of remaining, and the characteristic of remaining is devoid of the
characteristic of going. Here the characteristic of remaining is the svabhaava, and the
characteristic of going is the Buddha after death.
25. This is by the reasonable dating of
Naagaarjuna's life as spanning practically the entire second century A.D., and by the
dating of the Udaanavarga composition at the beginning of that century.
26. Udaanavargavivara.na (n. 15,
preceding), p. 634.
27. Photoreproduction of Peking Tibetan
canon, vol. 110, p. 15-5 to p. 16-1.
28. Udaanavargavivara.na (n.15,
preceding), pp. 634-635.
29. Buddhapaalita's commentary (n. 18.
preceding), sa, f. 266a-4, 5: yod pa dan med pa dan rtag pa dan mi rtag pa la sogs pa'i
spros pa rnams.
30. An illustration is found in
Kaalidaasa's `Sakuntalaa, the incident in which `Sakuntalaa with two girl friends, with a
smallish pot (suitable to
her size), and attired in a tight-fitting
garment of bark cloth, bends to water the basin of hermitage trees. Unknown to them, she
is being observed by the king. As though by sympathetic magic of male-female craving,
`Sakuntalaa asks her friend to loosen her garment; and promptly the discussion shifts to
her two breasts. Here, the one waterpot is succeeded by two breasts, by the power of
craving. Cf. M. B. Emeneau, Kaalidaasa's `Sakuntalaa, translated from the Bengali
Recension (Berkeley, California: 1962), pp. 6-7.
31. I have noticed several translations of
this verse along the same lines adopted by Kalupahana. This is his (p. 310):
"Whatever is the self-nature of the tathaagata, that is also the self-nature of the
universe. The Tathaagata is devoid of self-nature. This universe is also devoid of
self-nature." In fact, de Jong's French translation is similar. Grammatically, the
translation isimpossible. The reason is that svabhaava.m ida.m jagat shows that here
svabhaava (both cases in the first line) is an adjective, and these translations agree in
taking it as the subject of the sentence!
Both lines must be construed as nominative
absolute, as I have done. Furthermore, the renditions agree that jagat means 'universe'.
But then the verse is gibberish, and completely fails to render Naagaarjuna's point that
the gata of Tathaagata agrees with jagat in having the same root 'to go'.
The way these translators have rendered
the verse leaves the reader with the conclusion that Naagaarjuna said that both Tathaagata
and world have svabhaava and both lack it, as though Naagaarjuna could not make up his
32. Probably MK 2 was the most severely
misrendered by the translators, who apparently wondered why Naagaarjuna was saying such
silly things about motion. Oh, never admit that the translators do not know enough about
the words and the contexts to do a competent job!
Buddhism Today by Bhikkhuni Lien Hoa