Bhāviveka, also called Bhavya or Bhāvaviveka (traditional Chinese: 清辯; pinyin: Qīngbiàn; Wylie: slob dpon bha bya, skal ldan, legs ldan, c. 500 – c. 578) was the founder of the Svātantrika tradition of the Mādhyamaka school of Buddhism. Ames (1993: p. 210), holds that Bhāviveka is one of the first Buddhist logicians to employ the "formal syllogism" (Wylie: sbyor ba'i tshig, Sanskrit: prayogavākya) of Indian logic in expounding the Mādhyamaka which he employed to considerable effect in his commentary to Nāgārjuna's Mūlamadhyamakakārikā, entitled the Prajñāpradīpa.
Another source claims he was born of a royal family of "Mālayara" in South India. After becoming a monk he travelled to central India and received teachings on the Mahāyāna sutras and Nāgārjuna's texts from Ācārya Saṃgharakṣita. After this, he returned to South India, became the head of 50 temples and taught extensively.
Madhyamakahṛdaya-karika and its autocommentary, the Tarkajvala
Prajñāpradīpa (or Janāndeepa)
The Prajñāpradīpa (Wylie: shes rab sgron ma; or shes rab sgron me) is Bhāviveka's commentary upon Nagarjuna's Mūlamadhyamakakārikā. The Sanskrit is no longer extant (except for a few embedded quotations in the Prasannapadā, Candrakīrti's commentary of the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā and critique of the Prajñāpradīpa) but according to Ames (1993: p. 211) is available in both an excellent Tibetan translation, rendered by Jñānagarbha and Cog ro Klu'i rgyal mtshan (Wylie) in the early 9th century. Ames (1993: p. 211) also conveyed that the Chinese translation is poor, where the inference of inferiority was drawn from the work of Kajiyama (1963: p. 39). The Sanskrit name has been reconstructed as either Prajñāpradīpa or Janāndeepa (where Janāndeepa may or may not be a Prakrit corruption or a poor inverse-translation, for example).
Contention with Buddhapalita's view
After the death of Buddhapālita (470–550), Bhāviveka refuted his views by writing a commentary on the Root Wisdom called Wisdom Lamp (Jñāndīpa) relying on Nāgārjuna's teachings. This text laid the foundations for the Svāantrika school.
In the Svātantrika tradition reasoning is used to establish that phenomena have no self-nature, and further arguments to establish that the true nature of all phenomena is emptiness. This school differs from the predominant Prasaṅgika tradition in that the latter refrain from making any assertions whatsoever about the true nature of phenomena.
Bhavya holds that the consequential arguments of Buddhapalita are not on the same footing as those of Nagarjuna. In both cases, the consequences imply negations that could theoretically be formulated as positive (syllogistic) arguments. The difference between them is that, given what is known to be Nagarjuna's intention (the negation of all four positions of the tetralemma), his negations are to be understood as nonimplicative. But such a concession is not to be granted to the commentator, whose task is to render explicit to the fullest extent the obscurities of the commented text. If the commentator uses consequences (unaccompanied by any positive and clarificatory statement), the resulting negations cannot automatically be regarded as nonimplicative. On the contrary, they are implicative and therefore undesirable in the Madhyamaka context...It is worth noting that it is in Bhavya that the important distinction between implicative and nonimplicative negations first appears.
In the above quotation, "tetralemma" should be understood to refer to the catuṣkoṭi. "Nonimplicative negation" (Tibetan: མེད་དགག, Wylie: med dgag, Sanskrit: niṣedha) may also be rendered as "existential negation". "Implicative negative" (Tibetan: མ་ཡིན་དགག, Wylie: ma yin dgag; Sanskrit: paryudāsa) may also be rendered "predicative negation".
"Founder" of the Svatantrika school
The designation as Bhāviveka as 'founder' of the Svatantrika school is not uncontroversial, not least because the very existence of an independent 'Svatantrika' school in India is not well attested. While it is certain that later Tibetan doxographers divided the Madhyamaka philosophy of Nagarjuna into Svatantrika (other inference) and Prasangkika (consequence), and that this manner of division has currency today in contemporary Tibetan monasteries, other methods of division existed.
Panchen Lama lineage
In the lineage of the Panchen Lamas of Tibet there were four Indian and three Tibetan mindstream tulku of Amitābha before Khedrup Gelek Pelzang, 1st Panchen Lama. The lineage starts with Subhuti, one of the original disciples of Gautama Buddha. Bhāviveka was the third Indian tulku in this line.
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- "Indian Buddhist Pandits" from "The Jewel Garland of Buddhist History". Translated from the Tibetan by Lobsang N. Tsonawa, (1985) Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, Dharamsala, India, p. 15.
- Blumenthal, James (2009). 'Śāntarakṣita', The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2009 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), Source: (accessed: Monday October 12, 2009)
- Dreyfus, Georges B.J. & Sara L. McClintock (eds). The Svatantrika-Prasangika Distinction: What Difference Does a Difference Make? Wisdom Publications, 2003.
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- Berzin, Alexander (2008). Buddhist-Muslim Doctrinal Relations: Past, Present, and Future In Buddhist Attitudes toward Other Religions, ed. Perry Schmidt-Leukel. St. Ottilien: EOS Verlag, 2008.