Talk:Mūlamadhyamakakārikā

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Untitled[edit]

Okay, obviously it's not done, that's just the scaffold, but there's a fair amount slapped up there.कुक्कुरोवाच 03:44, 5 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Superb work, Kukk. Though, not being a philosopher, could you explain (here or there) what you mean by 'certainties' in "even for 'truths', 'standpoints', and other certainties." (20040302 05:10, 16 Apr 2004 (UTC))

Actually, that part wasn't me. (The person who first created the article had it listed under an English translation of the title [1], and I wanted it listed under its proper name and redirected from other titles.) However, I think what he was getting at is that there's a strand of Buddhist philosophy, represented especially though not exclusively by the Prasangikas, that says that all views ("standpoints") are to be avoided. These would claim to have no authoritative doctrines of their own, and would only argue by attacking others in a Reductio ad absurdum argument, which is called in Sanskrit a "Prasanga" (thus the name). They derive much of their authority from bits of Nagarjuna like, "I bow to Gautama, who, having taken up compassion, taught the true dharma for forsaking all views." I'm fond of this interpretation myself, but it can also be criticized as limiting the possibilities for teaching and whatnot. There's a pretty good article critiquing it here: [2]
I'll see if I can't make that section of the article a little clearer.कुक्कुरोवाच
Thanks. I will read that. Well, also I am receptive to that approach too (and got a lot out of Huntington's appraisal of Chandrakirti). The problem I found with the sentence is that I read it as asserting that truth is a certainty! (20040302 09:12, 16 Apr 2004 (UTC))

Template-Pariksa Error[edit]

I'm new to template coding. How come some template invocation works, but some don't? I scanned the source code, but I'm clueless. Is there anyone who can fix it? --Godric 11:02, Oct 13, 2004 (UTC)

It's a flaw or series of flaws in the whole template concept; this was actually an excellent way to include rare unicode characters prior to the most recent upgrade of MediaWiki and has now been turned to sludge. (It's either my fault or the developers' depending on who you prefer to blame.) The simplest way to fix it is to paste the article into something that can do a search and replace and replace all instances of the template with the text that should be there, which can be obtained by copying from the article itself (not the edit screen). -- कुक्कुरोवाच|Talk‽ 23:01, 14 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Chapter 9, 10, 18, 27's title translation.[edit]

I changed them, but then a network error ruined the article, now I reverted it. On second thought, maybe I should discuss my rationale for changing the title translations before submitting the changes.

Chapter 9: It can't be the analysis of the "past" literally, because the whole chapter talks about the "self" in relation to the senses; and about why the concept of the senses growing on the pre-existing "self" is absurd. I don't know sanskrit or pali, but the meaning of that word is "Prior Existence" within the context.

Chapter 10: Fire & Fuel: Gas is fuel, and so is wood. However, a wooden house is not normally considered as fuel, but it can be burnt as "fuel" too; and so is the human body too! The issue being elaborated in chapter 10 is about the Flame & the Inflammables. The word "fuel" seems to be too narrow and too literal.

Chapter 27: Views: Again, the context is covering erroneous views; the word "Views" is unclear.

Chapter 18: Analysis of Soul:

Although I don't know sanskrit or pali, I sort of recognize this word "Ātma" (plus I google) as Permanent-Self/Soul. However, I noticed two discrepancies between the literal-translation and the context, and between the literal-translation and the chinese-translation I came across.

Discrepancy based on Context

The chapter doesn't only talk about soul, it also talks about self-perceivables, namely the non-self, which is the external world (including the body). It says both self (soul) and self-perceivables (world) are empty of permanent independent existence, in response to...

  • the first question in the chapter's beginning: "If the myraid world is empty, what does it mean to attain IT?" (dealing with the external world),
  • and the second question: "How to realize that there's no permanent-self in the myraid world?" (dealing with the internal soul).

Because it covers both of these two constructs, soul and world; therefore the title shouldn't be solely on "Soul". Moreover, chapter 9 already dealt with soul separately; this is actually a sequel to link up chapter 9 (soul) and chapter 4 (five aggregates - soul-perceivables).

Discrepancy based on Chinese translation

Chinese translation translates the title as "The analysis of (Fa)" (法) meaning everything, including self and world. To my understanding, it reconciles with what I was showing last section about the discrepancy based on the passage's context.

Therefore, since I can't find a word in English to accurately express the Chinese word (Fa) , I think "soul and world" should be sufficient.

--Godric 13:05, Oct 13, 2004 (UTC)

I appreciate the I want to wait until I have a copy of the text in front of me to go into detail, but I will say for now that the "views" title probably isn't a problem given that Madhyamaka thinkers, particularly Nagarjuna and the early Madhyamikas, tend to reject all views and offer a purely (or at least predominately) negative critique. Nagarjuna, as I recall, claims to have no view himself and thus to be free of his own attacks on views. Also, I am inclined to stick to translations only of terms that occur in the Sanskrit chapter titles--while they may not always be complete descriptions of what is discussed, this is due to the nature of the composition and use of this type of text; i.e., the whole MMK is a mnemonic device used for instruction, and the chapter titles are intended to be brief handles on the contents rather than full descriptions of them. Of course, the titles probably aren't originally, but where added later when manuscripts were made from memory, but still...
Now, as to the question of the Chinese, my inclination is to simply list the Chinese chapter titles nd their translations in addition to the Sanskrit titles and their translations. Basically, there are enough differens between the two texts, not to mention the doctrinally significant interpretive choices made by Kumarajiva (or whoever) in the translation process, that they shouldn't be treated as versions of the same text, but rather as versions of very closely related texts. This despite the fact that Tibetan texts are often used to reconstruct Sanskrit originals--such texts are much closer reproductions of original material than the Chinese translation of the MMK.
BTW, are you working from a translation of the Chinese or the Chinese text, and are you working from multiple translations/texts, and if so which? Incidentally, if you're working from a chinese original and what something to compare it to, there's a nice translation from the Chinese by Brian Bocking called N¯ag¯arjuna in China : a translation of the middle treatise. -- कुक्कुरोवाच|Talk‽ 23:22, 14 Oct 2004 (UTC)


First I apologize for hastly editing your work. Now they are all reverted back to your latest version.
Thanks for your explanation and I agree that listing the Chinese chapter titles is a good idea (if there are significant discrepancies).
I'm working from a Chinese Text, I don't know the English translation of its translator's name just yet. Here's the URL to it (CBETA's Chinese Original of MMK). Thanks for your link to the Bocking translation.
Lastly, I think my knowledge on translations/versions is severely lacking, therefore I think I'll just stay out of the translation part for now. If I notice some discrepancies between the syntax and the semantics of the text based on my understanding in the future, I'll start a discussion, and then probably will list it on top of (or beside) the sanskrit translation if needed. I guess it's the encyclopedia-kinda-way of compiling knowledge, because different interpretations exist and should co-exist, and probably will be co-existing in reality, because it's hard to be unanimous.
Of course, sticking to the historical majority interpretation/translation is the way to go for the encyclopedia's purpose. I guess all other alternative views should be in the footnotes.
Does Wikipedia has a footnote template or coding convention? or do we have to code it manually? I didn't find any footnote mechanism in the "How to edit page" --Godric 22:33, Nov 6, 2004 (UTC) (Talk)
Uh, there's no good conventions on this, no. There are ways to code it (the best ways, in my opinion, involve capitalizing on the automatic anchor generation with headers. -- कुक्कुरोवाच|Talk‽

Apparent sectarian bias in the article[edit]

"...to apply Nāgārjuna's interpretation of anatman (namely, extending it to all entities equally, including dharmas) to the Shravaka Sutras (not to mention the Abhidharmapitaka) would either throw the Theravadin canon into considerable self-contradiction, or call for a thorough-going re-interpretation of the Buddha's original teaching."

Yet, according to Dhammapada 277 "All dharmas are anatta". Cf [3]. It's remarkably unequivocal (notably, it doesn't say all samkhara or "conditioned things". It means everything, including sutras and encyclopedia articles...). Perhaps it is not the Theravadans who are in need of undertaking a thorough-going reinterpretation?

The use of the phrases "Shravaka Sutras" (and elsewhere in the article, "Śrāvaka Sutras") are further indications of an imperfect level of objectivity.

-munge 09:35 01 Jan 05

Not being an expert in Nagarjuna, it will be dangerous if I'm the one to fix this. Be that as it may, here are some more cites from the Nikaya tradition that seem to be largely consistent with the Mulamadhyamakakarika.

"On account of these two views, there is a split, a dispute and trouble. Then seeing that his view has split, he gives up that view and does not uphold another." -Dighanakha Sutta, Majjhima Nikaya 74. After contemplating this teaching, Sariputra's "mind was released from desires" and he attained arahatship.

"...the Tathagata, when seeing what is to be seen, doesn't construe an [object as] seen. He doesn't construe an unseen. He doesn't construe an [object] to-be-seen. He doesn't construe a seer." -Kalaka Sutta, Anguttara Nikaya IV.24. King Asoka is said to have sent missionaries who preached the Kalaka Sutta to the Greeks, centuries before Nagarjuna.

My point is to try to isolate which innovations are attributable to him. (I do not say that Nagarjuna simply clarified what was already in the Nikaya tradition.) It certainly seems to me that he, not the Nikaya tradition, emphasized the difficulty, or impossibility, of discriminating between samsara and nirvana. To that end, there is an analysis of the difference between Theravada and Nagarjuna in Bhikku Nanananda's Concept and Reality, which I haven't assimilated.

This seems an appropriate place to delve further back in time to neti-neti (the self is not this, not that), as expressed by Yajnavalkya, who apparently predates Buddha, and which clearly seem to prefigure both the Nikaya tradition and Nagarjuna equally. (This also looks like a candadate to be mentioned on the Buddhism page.) According to the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, e.g. IV.4.22, IV.5.15 and elsewhere, [4] [5] [6] "As long as there is duality...By whom shall the Knower be known? The Self is described as "not this, not that" (neti neti). It is incomprehensible, for it cannot be comprehended..."

(Remarkably, and perhaps specifically suitable for the Buddhism article, is IV.4.25 "That great, unborn Self is undecaying, immortal, undying, fearless..." cf. the notion of the unborn and the deathless in the Nikaya tradition e.g. MN26, the apophatics of the Heart sutra, that tricky atmaparamita in the Buddha-Nature Sutra, fearlessness in the Vajrayana tradition...again, the point is that Buddhism evolved organically from a South Asian historical context; some of its major tenets are prefigured in earlier doctrines and practices; I do not say that Buddhadharma is some sort of disguised Vedic teaching.)

User:Munge|Munge]] 08:31 modified 22:30 9 Jan 2005 (UTC)

In the Sabbasava Sutta, Majjhima Nikaya 2, Gautama says that the result of attending to unhelpful questions, such as "Was I in the past?...Shall I be in the future?...Where has this being come from? Where is it bound?"...are several kinds of inappropriate views, including "I have a self" and "I have no self".

(Note those inappropriate views are the result of speculating about rebirth.)

The result of such views? "This is called a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of views. Bound by a fetter of views, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person is not freed from birth, aging, & death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair." This is not some obscure Theravada sutra. It is rather well known, being the 2nd of the middle-length discourses.

Now I would be the last to say that there are no contradictions in the Nikaya sutras. (Nobody claims the Mahayana sutras are free from contradiction, do they?) However, I note with great interest a certain strategy for resolving the apparent contradiction between MN2/MN74/ANIV.24 cited above (see also DN9), versus any number of places (notably MN22, which contains the water-snake simile as well as the famous simile of the raft) where the well-instructed one considers that "This is not me, this is not my self, this is not what I am". Namely, in "No-self or Not-self?", Thanissaro Bhikkhu talks about "not self" in a way that's very similar to Mahayana discussions of nonduality.

Namely, views of self and not-self are equally in error, just as it is unwise to view nonduality as the same as monism. Another similar contradiction-breaker occurs in Bhudda-nature theory, where Buddha nature (especially, as noted above that thorny atmaparamita) is just a positive expression for emptiness...which is not nihilism, as Nagajuna said. Nonduality is not monism is documented in the questions of Milinda (cart not the same, not different from its parts); the expression "not one, not two", the koan of Zhaozhou and two hermits (if you say they are the same Wumen will hit you, if you say they are differrent Wumen will hit you); the expression of the modern teacher Yasutani "not even one". See also Sallie King Buddha Nature for the refutation of monism as well as the strategy for interpreting Buddha nature as a positive expression denoting emptiness. An article along those lines is The Significance Of 'Tathagatagarbha'--A Positive Expression Of 'Sunyata'. Navigating http://www.nanzan-u.ac.jp/SHUBUNKEN/publications/publications.htm very patiently will find you some Sallie King.

In other words, if Nagajuna seems to throw the Nikaya tradition into contradiction, the Nikaya tradition no less seems to throw into doubt just how original Nagajuna was. By the way, it is not only Theravadins who consider that Nagajuna was turning the same wheel that the Nikaya tradition turned. You will find the same sentiment in David Kalupanahana's Buddhist Psychology, which is basically a book about Yogacara. Wherein Kalupahana traces heavy Nikaya influence on Vasubandhu.--Munge 08:13, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)

no views therefore no assertions[edit]

"they claim to have no views at all, and can thus make no assertions of any kind" This is a misunderstanding of the Madhyamakas. Madhyamakas clearly do make assertions, and do have views. It is taken from a verse which is part of an argument. However, the Madhyamakas do claim to have no =essential= views, and therefore cannot make =essential= assertions. This is because Madhyamakas assert that there is no essence.

Buddhist Illogic[edit]

http://www.thelogician.net/3b_buddhist_illogic/3b_buddhist_illogic.htm Buddhist Illogic: a critical analysis of Nagarjuna's arguments]

The above site is malformed (many broken links) - and regardless, the 'text' is poorly researched, with NO mention of any of the writings and commentaries of Candrakirti, Vasubandhu, Buddhapalita - let alone a thousand years of academic study by the Tibetan university monastaries. The author relies upon Western sources for analysis, and is in no way thorough. There is no bibliography.

There are hundreds or even thousands of commentaries of the MMK - this specific one serves no value IMO, so the link has been pulled. (20040302 09:58, 24 November 2005 (UTC))

recent changes[edit]

Can someone examine these changes [7], they are from a user who posted some stuff I couldn't understand earlier that I put up for deletion, so I'm still assuming good faith and all, but I'm a tad suspicious. -- Natalinasmpf 07:30, 19 December 2005 (UTC)


References please![edit]

This article needs many more references - for a start the source(s) of each quotation should be properly cited. [Please note that the quotations themselves should appear exactly as in the cited source and not contain any links.] Because of this lack of citations and no clear reliance on sources, the article contains a lot of what looks like personal opinion, original research and unverified claims. Editors should be aware that all material and quotes in Wikipedia articles must be attributable to a reliable, published source. The article should also not contain any analysis or synthesis of this published material that serves to advance positions or views of the subject which are not clearly advanced by the sources themselves. Please fix. Thanks. — Chris Fynn (talk) 06:37, 29 November 2009 (UTC)

I can give references for translation but not for the sanskrit. What to do? Oxford73 (talk) 05:45, 3 May 2011 (UTC)

I've added a generic reference (Inada's publication) for the Sanskrit 20040302 (talk) 11:41, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

Chapters 24 & 25[edit]

These chapters are supposed to be the climax of the argument but this is not made clear in the article. Oxford73 (talk) 11:48, 2 May 2011 (UTC)

Commentaries on the MMK[edit]

The statement: "Buddhapālita (470–550), is the first known author of an extant commentary on the MMK.[2]" is obviously incorrect. The earliest commentary we have is that found within the Chinese translation Zhong lun. Whether the author is *Vimalaksa or *Pingala or whoever, it doesn't change the fact of it's dating, ie. circa 4th century. Is this just a goof up, or is it a particular attitude here toward the Chinese text? Huifeng (talk) 03:19, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

Title of the text in English[edit]

Forgive me if I'm wrong, but shouldn't it be "The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way" or "Verses on The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way" ? I've never seen it referred to as "Fundamental Verses on the Wisdom of the Middle Way", and it makes more sense the other way than this, especially as I don't know of an "Extended Verses…" or anything similar. Two of the referenced works at the bottom of the page also use "The Fundamental Wisdom…" but none refer to it as "The Fundamental Verses…" Yb2 (talk) 21:51, 3 December 2012 (UTC)