Reverberations of Dharmakirti’s Philosophy

by Birgit Kellner | 2020 | 264,305 words

This page relates ‘On Pramanabhuta (i.e., pramana and bhuta)’ of the study on the philosophy of Dharmakirti (6th century) and his predecessor Dignaga (5th century). This collection of articles reflects philosophical currents in India, China and Tibet during their time and investigates the Buddhist theories of Pramana (“instruments of trustworthy awareness”).

On Pramāṇabhūta (i.e., pramāṇa and bhūta)

(By Motoi Ono)

[Full title: On pramāṇabhūta —The Change of Its Meaning from Dignāga to Prajñākaragupta by Motoi Ono]

This paper is a revised English version of the Japanese one presented at the 63th conference of the Japanese association of Indian and Buddhist Studies, Tsurumi University, June 30–July 1, 2012. The proceedings of this conference have been already published (cf. Ono 2013). I would like here to express my gratitude to Prof. Hideyo Ogawa for many kind comments and suggestions on the previous Japanese paper. I am also grateful to Dr. Patrick McAllister, who kindly checked my draft and corrected my English.


In the maṅgalaśloka of the Pramāṇasamuccaya (=PS), Dignāga (ca. 480–540) describes the Buddha-Bhagavat by five epithets. Among these epithets, the term pramāṇabhūta is remarkable because this compound word includes the word pramāṇa (i.e., means of cognition; valid cognition) in its former part. The term is a key concept to explain the relationship between pramāṇa as knowledge and the Bhagavat as pramāṇa in the Buddhist Pramāṇa-school.[1]

Tilmann Vetter showed that the term in Dignāga should be translated as “who is a pramāṇa,” by indicating that the translation “who has become a pramāṇa” based on the interpretation by Dharmakīrti (ca. 600–660) cannot be justified in Dignāga.[2] However, even if pramāṇabhūta in Dignāga means “who is a pramāṇa,” the following question remains open: How can the Buddha as a person be called a pramāṇa, which is supposed to mean valid cognition?[3]

In response to this question, D. Seyfort Ruegg, by investigating exhaustively the use of the term pramāṇabhūta and the compound words x-bhūta in Sanskrit literature, proposed to translate pramāṇabhūta in Dignāga as “who is like (i.e., similar to) a pramāṇa.”[4] His view was thereafter criticized by Eli Franco and Helmut Krasser.[5] In my opinion, however, Ruegg’s interpretation is worth reconsidering. This paper aims to provide new materials for supporting Ruegg’s view and, furthermore, to show that his view is meaningful from the historical viewpoint of the Buddhist Pramāṇa-school by elucidating the change of the meaning of the word pramāṇabhūta from Dignāga, through Dharmakīrti, to Prajñākaragupta (ca. 750–810).

1. The meaning of pramāṇabhūta in Dignāga

1.1 Ruegg’s view

Ruegg pointed out that Patañjali (ca. 150 BCE) called “the teacher (ācārya)” pramāṇa-bhūta in his Mahābhāṣya (=MBh), and considered this the apparently earliest use of the word pramāṇabhūta in Sanskrit literature.[6] Kaiyaṭa (11th c.), a later commentator on the MBh, analyzed this compound word as prāmāṇyaṃ prāptaḥ.[7] According to Nārāyaṇa, a subcommentator on the MBh, this explanation serves to avert both interpretations of pramāṇabhūta as “pramāṇa-like” and as “has become a pramāṇa.”[8] Thus, the established theory by commentators on the MBh seems to be that the word pramāṇabhūta means “being authority.”[9]

On the other hand, grammarians explain in some cases that bhūta in the compound x-bhūta has a meaning of “like (i.e., similar).” According to Ruegg, Yāska (4th c. BCE) gives such an explanation in his Nirukta, and Bhartṛhari (5th c.) explains in his commentary on the MBh that bhūta in the expression sāmānyabhūta has the meaning of “like.”[10] Thus, Ruegg paid attention to the fact that the use of the expression x-bhūta in the meaning “like” was already established before Dignāga.[11] He further asserted that “the use of °bhūta in the meaning ‘like’ … is found even in some of the post-Dharmakīrti commentaries.”[12]

By interpreting bhūta in pramāṇabhūta as meaning “like,” Ruegg suggested that the whole compound pramāṇabhūta in Dignāga may be translated as “who is like a pramāṇa.” He summed up the issue as follows: “If understood in this way, there will be no conflict with Dignāga’s own doctrine that only pratyakṣa and anumāna are pramāṇas.”[13]

1.2 Krasser’s criticism

Krasser criticized this view of Ruegg. At first, he classified scholars’ interpretation of the word pramāṇabhūta in Dignāga into three types: “1) pramāṇa should be understood either 1A) in an extended sense, as authority, or 1B) metaphorically, or 2) bhūta should be understood in the sense of a comparison.”[14] Among these, the interpretation 2) is attributed to Ruegg, and Krasser’s own position seems to be identical with 1B).

By examining new Sanskrit material of Jinendrabuddhi’s (8th c.) Pramāṇasamucca-yaṭīkā (=PSṬ), Krasser indicated that the PSṬ, in contrast to Ruegg’s assertion, does not explain that bhūta in pramāṇabhūta means “like,” but rather that the former part, i.e., pramāṇa, implies the meaning of “like.”[15] Namely, Jinendrabuddhi’s explanation bhaga-vān pramāṇam iva pramāṇam (the Bhagavat is valid cognition [inasmuch as he is] like a valid cognition) shows the interpretation that the mere expression bhagavān pramāṇam implies the meaning bhagavān pramāṇam iva.[16] Krasser concluded: According to Jine-ndrabuddhi’s explanation, “the word pramāṇa is applied to the Buddha not in an extended sense but metaphorically and it does not require any qualification in order to be understood as metaphor …, and it is also clear that his explanation does not support the interpretation of °bhūta as ‘like’.”[17]

Thus, Krasser elucidated that Ruegg’s assertion can be substantiated neither in the PSṬ nor the Pramāṇavārttikapañjikā (=PVP). Nevertheless, on the basis of this fact, one cannot necessarily conclude that the expression pramāṇabhūta in Dignāga does not mean “pramāṇa-like.” Krasser does not seem to intend to deny entirely Ruegg’s interpretation of the word pramāṇabhūta in Dignāga as meaning “pramāṇa-like.”[18]

1.3 New materials supporting the interpretation of pramāṇabhūta as “pramāṇa-like”

In my opinion, it is not so relevant which part of the compound word pramāṇabhūta has the meaning of “like.” What is important for interpreting Dignāga’s thought is, rather, the difference between the view 1A) of Krasser’s classification that the word should be translated as “being authority” by understanding the word pramāṇa as having a extended sense and bhūta as the equivalent of the copula, and the view 1B) or 2) that the compound pramāṇabhūta as a whole means “pramāṇa-like,” independently of which part has the meaning of “like.” Both materials which Ruegg and Krasser showed seem to support the latter view.

1.3.1 The interpretation mentioned by Jayanta and Yamāri

The interpretation of the compound pramāṇabhūta as “pramāṇa-like” is indeed attested in the literature of the later Buddhist Pramāṇa-school.[19] Namely, there are at least two such passages in the commentaries by Jayanta (10th c.) and Yamāri (ca. 1000–1060) on Prajñākaragupta’s Pramāṇavārttikālaṃkāra (=PVA).

First, Yamāri, in his remark on PVA’s first maṅgalaśloka, presents two different inter-pretations of pramāṇabhūta.

The following interpretation is the second one of them:

Yamāri [Phe] (D)190b2f.; (P)228a5f.: yang na tshad ma dang’dra bas (D: tshad ma dang’dra bas lacking in P) tshad mar gyur pa ste / ci ltar mngon sum la sogs pa ma rtogs pa’i don bsal bar byed pa nyid kyis tshad ma yin pa de bzhin du bcom ldan’das kyang’phyags pa’i bden pa bzhi la sogs pa ma rtogs pa’i don *gsal bar byed pa’i (D: *gsal ba’i P) phyir tshad ma yin no //; Ms 11b2 (cf. Li, Chu and Franco 2017: 82)[20]

[= Or, (the Bhagavat is) pramāṇabhūta, inasmuch as he is like pramāṇa (*atha vā pramāṇam iva pramāṇabhūtaḥ).[21] Just as direct perception is a pramāṇa because it reveals an unknown object, also the Bhagavat is a pramāṇa because he reveals an unknown object like the four noble truths.]

This is really the interpretation that the compound pramāṇabhūta as a whole means “pra-māṇa-like” without specifying the part of the compound which means “like.”

The next case, that of Jayanta, is more interesting. Jayanta comments on Prajñākara-gupta’s view that the Bhagavat as pramāṇabhūta is necessary, although every purpose of human beings can be established on the basis of conventional means of cognition (sāṃvyavahārikapramāṇa),[22] as follows:

Jayanta[De] (D)39b7f.; (P)46a5ff.: der yang mngon sum la sogs pa nyid tshad ma’i gtso bo yin te / rtogs pa’i *bdag nyid can (D: *gtso bo dag P) yin pa’i phyir ro // bcom ldan’das ni tshad ma dang’dra bas tshad mar gyur pa yin no zhes bya ba’i bsam pas dogs pa la / *khyab par byed pa (D: *khyab par byed par byed pa P) rtogs pa’i bdag nyid yin pa’i phyir / bcom ldan’das kho na tshad ma’i gtso bo yin la / gzhan ni de dang mthun pa nyid kyi gtso bo ma yin no zhes bstan to //

[= Supposing the view: “In that case too, the actual direct perception etc. are primary pramāṇas, because they are of the nature of cognition. The Bhagavat is, on the contrary, pramāṇabhūta, inasmuch as he is like a pramāṇa (*bhagavān pramāṇam iva pramāṇabhūtaḥ),” (Prajñākaragupta) indicated that the very Bhagavat is a primary (*mukhya) pramāṇa, because (he) is of the nature of pervading cognition; other (pramāṇas such as cognition) are (however) similar to the (Bhagavat) and not primary.]

According to Jayanta, Prajñākaragupta indicates here, by stating that “the pervading con-comitance cannot be grasped by those who are not omniscient (na ca saṃbandho vyāpy asarvavidā grahītuṃ śakyaḥ),” that the Bhagavat is the primary (*mukhya) pramāṇa, and this statement is aimed against the fallacious view that pramāṇa as knowledge is primary and the word pramāṇabhūta means “pramāṇa-like.”

Thus, Jayanta also presupposes the possibility of the interpretation that the compound word pramāṇabhūta means “pramāṇa-like.” It should be noted that this interpretation is equated by him with the view that the Bhagavat is not a primary pramāṇa. This reminds us of Nārāyaṇa’s above-mentioned interpretation.[23]

1.3.2 The expression x-bhūta in the introduction of the Abhidharmakośabhāṣya

Ruegg considered that Bhartṛhari’s use of x-bhūta to express likeness could have been famil-iar to Dignāga, and regarded it as supporting evidence for his interpretation of pramāṇabhūta in Dignāga.[24] Also concerning Vasubandhu’s use of x-bhūta in his Abhidharmakośabhāṣya (=AKBh), we may point out the same possibility.

The beginning of the AKBh could have been familiar to Dignāga, because the PS’s maṅgalaśloka and its explanation in the Pramāṇasamuccayavṛtti (=PSV) seem to be influenced by the AKBh. Previous studies have already indicated that three of the Bhagavat’s four epithets besides pramāṇabhūta in the PS’s maṅgalaśloka correspond to the three characteristics describing the trustworthiness of an authoritative person (āpta) in the Nyāyabhāṣya (=NBh).[25] However, we must recognize that the PS’s description of the Bhagavat is probably influenced not directly by the NBh, but via the AKBh or, rather, directly by the AKBh.

For, the maṅgalaśloka of the AKBh is as follows:

yaḥ sarvathāsarvahatāndhakāraḥ saṃsārapaṅkāj jagad ujjahāra /
tasmai namaskṛtya yathārthaśāstre śāstraṃ pravakṣyāmy abhidharmakośam //

[= Saluting Him who has averted the darkness regarding everything by ev-ery manner and means, who emancipates living beings from a morass of reincarnation, who teaches reality as it is, I will teach the treatise named Abhidharmakośa.][26]

Further, it is to be noted that the compound word saṃsārapaṅka in this maṅgalaśloka is explained by Vasubandhu himself as follows:

AKBh 1,17: saṃsāro hi jagadāsaṅgasthānatvāt duruttaratvāc ca paṅkabhūtaḥ.

[= Namely, reincarnation is like a morass, because it is the place to which living beings cling, and from which (living beings) hardly escape.][27]

Dignāga who depended on the AKBh in writing the maṅgalaśloka and the introduction of the PSV could have understood the expression paṅkabhūta as meaning “paṅka-like.”

1.4 The meaning of pramāṇabhūta and Dignāga’s purpose of writing the PS

From the above, it is likely that the word pramāṇabhūta in Dignāga means “who is like pramāṇa (as knowledge),” as Ruegg suggested. This interpretation not only serves to avoid the difficulty in considering bhūta as the equivalent of the copula. The crucial point is, rather, that it corresponds well to Dignāga’s thought about the relationship between pramāṇa as knowledge and the Bhagavat.

As is well known, Dignāga, in contrast to Dharmakīrti, did not talk much about the Bhagavat and Buddhist ontology at least in his logical works.[28] The explanations in the PS, except for the maṅgalaśloka, are almost entirely restricted to establishing pramāṇa as knowledge. In this sense, pramāṇa as knowledge is primary (mukhya), and the Bhagavat as pramāṇa is secondary in the PS.

In the closing section of the PSV, Dignāga says the following:

Thus,[29] this (treatise) has been undertaken only for turning around (vyāva-rtana) those people who cling to the (opponent’s views), not for introducing (them) to the Tathāgata’s teaching, because his teaching is not the object of reasoning. Those who have turned away (from clinging to the fallacious views), however, can easily comprehend the essence of the teaching which is perfectly manifested, after having listened to it, because (our logic and the logic of the opponents) are at different degrees of distance (from the truth).[30] (Namely,)

The opponents depend only on (their) logic. But this very (logic) is one in which (correct) characteristics are not indicated, is one that contradicts its own syllogism, and cannot establish the intended object. (k.23) On the other hand, those who lead (the people) to the essence of the teaching by way of logic, have (also) deviated very far from the teaching by the king of saints. Nevertheless, the essence of the Tathāgata’s teaching is to be considered (by logic) if (it) undergoes a change. (k.24)

Needless to say, it does not mean that Dignāga did not give importance to the Bhagavat. I agree with Krasser in that Dignāga as a pramāṇavādin is definitely Buddhistic.[31]

2. Dharmakīrti’s interpretation of pramāṇabhūta

Dharmakīrti paraphrases the word pramāṇabhūta in his PV II as follows:

PV II 7 abc’: tadvat pramāṇaṃ bhagavān abhūtavinivṛttaye / bhūtoktiḥ

[= The Bhagavat is a pramāṇa like that (pramāṇa as knowledge) (tadvat). The expression bhūta serves to avert those who have not become (abhūta) (a pramāṇa, like Īśvara and the Veda).]

On the basis of this statement, Śākyabuddhi etc. interpret the word pramāṇabhūta as a compound meaning “he is a pramāṇa, and he has become.”[32] However, it is not necessarily clear whether such an interpretation matches Dharmakīrti’s own intention. At least it is obvious that Dharmakīrti did not reinterpret the word pramāṇabhūta in order to use it in his own philosophy. For, unlike in the case of Prajñākaragupta, the word was never really used in Dharmakīrti’s treatises.[33] Dharmakīrti uses the word pramāṇa instead of pramāṇabhūta to designate “the Bhagavat as pramāṇa.” He seems to intend to only deconstruct this compound.

Now, how did he understand the original meaning of pramāṇabhūta in Dignāga, so that he did not use this word? In order to answer this question, we need to reconsider Devendrabuddhi’s expression pramāṇam iva pramāṇam (tshad ma dang’dra bas na tshad ma ste) which is referred to by Krasser as the evidence for refuting Ruegg’s interpretation of °bhūta as “like.”

This expression first appears in Devendrabuddhi’s introductory remark on PV II 1, where he explains Dignāga’s usage of the word pramāṇabhūta:

PVP (D)1b2f.; (P)2a1f.: tshad mar gyur pa zhes bya ba ni tshad mar’khrungs pa’o // tshad ma dang’dra bas na tshad ma ste bcom ldan’das so //

[= The compound pramāṇabhūta (means) “who has become a pramāṇa.” The Bhagavat is a pramāṇa (inasmuch as he is) similar to a valid cognition (*bhagavān pramāṇam iva pramāṇam).][34]

The statement pramāṇam iva pramāṇam, which means that the expression bhagavān pra-māṇam implies the meaning iva, is, according to Śākyabuddhi, the reply to the question “The pramāṇas are direct perception and inference. Thus, how can the Bhagavat who is not of their nature be said to be pramāṇa?”[35] Note that this statement appears immediately after the explanation of the compound pramāṇabhūta according to PV II 7bc’. This fact seems to show that such a statement became necessary owing to the Dharmakīrtian interpreta-tion of bhūta. Namely, it is possible that Devendrabuddhi interpreted bhūta as meaning “has become” and, as a consequence, had to transfer the meaning which the compound pramāṇabhūta as a whole originally had in Dignāga to the part pramāṇa. If this is the case, it means that pramāṇabhūta in Dignāga was understood as meaning “pramāṇa-like” by Devendrabuddhi.

I think that his understanding derives from Dharmakīrti. Devendrabuddhi’s remark on PV II 7a shows it:

PVP (D)6b5; (P)7b2f.: de bzhin bcom ldan tshad ma nyid (PV II 7a: tadvat pramāṇaṃ bhagavān) // ’di tshad ma dang yang ci zhig mtshungs na / gang gis na tshad ma dang’dra bas tshad ma nyid yin tshad ma’i mtshan nyid rnam pa gnyis nyid dang mtshungs pa yin no //

[= The Bhagavat is a pramāṇa like that (pramāṇa as knowledge). In what way is he like a pramāṇa? He is like (a pramāṇa) in having the twofold defining characteristic of pramāṇa so that, he is (said to be) pramāṇa, inasmuch as he is like a pramāṇa.].[36]

According to Devendrabuddhi, Dharmakīrti shows by the expression tadvat that the Bhaga-vat’s likeness to pramāṇa as knowledge means that the Bhagavat has the same twofold defin-ing characteristic that pramāṇa as knowledge has (but not that the Bhagavat is secondary to pramāṇa as knowledge). Further, Dharmakīrti calls the Bhagavat, not pramāṇabhūta, but a pramāṇa meaning pramāṇam iva, because both the Bhagavat and pramāṇa as knowledge are said to be pramāṇa in having the twofold defining characteristic.

I think Devendrabuddhi is right. What Dharmakīrti is doing here is interpreting the word pramāṇabhūta; and the Bhagavat’s likeness to pramāṇa as knowledge is nothing but what is meant by the word pramāṇabhūta in Dignāga.[37] Thus, the word pramāṇabhūta in Dignāga is probably understood as meaning “pramāṇa-like” by Dharmakīrti himself.

3. Prajñākaragupta’s interpretation of pramāṇabhūta

3.1 pramāṇabhūta as a purpose of the PVA

Prajñākaragupta calls the Bhagavat pramāṇabhūta in the first maṅgalaśloka of his PVA, following Dignāga, and adopts this term as a key concept of his philosophy.[38] However, the meaning of this term in Prajñākaragupta is different from that in Dignāga. The opening paragraph of the PVA, immediately after the maṅgalaślokas, clearly shows this difference. In this paragraph, Prajñākaragupta follows the opening section of the PSV with some modifications.[39]

Among these modifications, the following two are relevant for our issue:[40]

(1) PSV I 1,3f.:

atra bhagavato hetuphalasaṃpattyā pramāṇabhūtatvena stotrā-bhidhānaṃ prakaraṇādau gauravotpādanārtham.[41]

PVAO 1,10–12: atra bhagavato hetuphalasaṃpattyā pramāṇabhūtatvena stotrābhidhānaṃ śāstrādau, śāstrārthatvāt. bhagavān eva hi pramāṇa-bhūto’smin prasādhyate.

(2) PSV I 1,10–13: evaṃguṇaṃ śāstāraṃ praṇamya pramāṇasiddhyai svapra-karaṇebhyo nyāyamukhādibhya iha samāhṛtya pramāṇasamuccayaḥ kariṣyate parapramāṇapratiṣedhāya svapramāṇaguṇodbhāvanāya ca, yasmāt pramāṇā-yattā prameyapratipattir bahavaś cātra vipratipannāḥ.[42]

PVAO 2,4–7: evaṃbhūtaṃ bhagavantaṃ praṇamya pramāṇasiddhir vidhīyate. pramāṇādhīno hi prameyādhigamaḥ, bhagavān eva ca pramāṇam, pramā-ṇalakṣaṇasadbhāvāt. pramīyate’neneti pramāṇam.

In passage (1), Prajñākaragupta replaces the PSV’s sentence “in order to produce in men faith (gauravotpādanārtham)” with the sentence “because (the Bhagavat is) the purpose of the treatise. Namely, the very Bhagavat as pramāṇabhūta is to be established here” (śāstrārthatvāt. bhagavān eva hi pramāṇabhūto’smin prasādhyate). Prajñākaragupta shows by this replacement that the Bhagavat is praised right at the beginning of the treatise in order to make it clear that the purpose of the treatise is to establish the Bhagavat as pramāṇabhūta.

In passage (2), Dignāga shows that the purpose of the PS is to reject opponents’ theories of pramāṇa as knowledge and to establish correctly the Buddhist theories of it. Prajñā-karagupta, on the other hand, while showing that the purpose of the PVA is to establish the pramāṇa, emphasizes that the pramāṇa which he will establish in the PVA is nothing but the Bhagavat.[43] Thus, in the PVA, not pramāṇa as knowledge, but the Bhagavat as pramāṇa, i.e., pramāṇabhūta, is regarded as pramāṇa in the primary sense, and is the main topic of the treatise.

3.2 The identification of the Bhagavat as pramāṇabhūta with pāramārthikapramāṇa

Dharmakīrti uses the word sāṃvyavahārikapramāṇa, meaning direct perception and infer-ence, in the closing paragraph of the Pramāṇaviniścaya’s first chapter. However, the word pāramārthikapramāṇa in the same paragraph does not necessarily mean the Bhagavat.[44]

Prajñākaragupta, however, clearly identifies the Bhagavat with pāramārthikaṃ pramāṇam.[45] He calls the Bhagavat paraṃ pramāṇam too.[46]

The word pramāṇabhūta qualifying the Bhagavat in the PVA can be regarded as a synonym of these terms. The term pāramārthikapramāṇa is used by Prajñākaragupta in the sense that the Bhagavat is the ‘ultimate’ pramāṇa insofar as the trustworthiness of his direct perception is ascertained by itself, whereas ordinary direct perception and inference are conventional pramāṇas.[47] According to Prajñākaragupta, the Bhagavat as pramāṇabhūta is by nature a direct perception (pratyakṣarūpa).[48] It is clear from this point that Prajñākaragupta interprets pramāṇa in pramāṇabhūta literally.[49]

3.3 Blo ldan shes rab’s rendering of pramāṇabhūta as tshad ma yang dag (pa)

As is well known, sKal ldan rgyal po and Blo ldan shes rab (1059–1109) translate the word pramāṇabhūta qualifying the Bhagavat in the PVA as tshad ma yang dag (pa), i.e., “true pramāṇa,”[50] while rendering the same word qualifying cognitions etc. in the same text as tshad mar (’)gyur pa.[51] Although the translation of bhūta as yang dag (pa) is not impossible in itself,[52] it can be regarded as reflecting Prajñākaragupta’s usage of the word. However, Prajñākaragupta himself does not give any analysis of the compound by which such a translation can be justified.[53] His new interpretation that the sentence a-bhūtavinivṛttaye bhūtoktiḥ (PV II 7bc’) means “the Bhagavat tells the truth in order to avert error”[54] appears to justify the translation tshad ma yang dag (pa) because the word bhūta means the contrary concept of “error” (bhrānti), i.e., “truth” or “true” in this context. What Prajñākaragupta really intends here is, however, not to interpret the word bhūta in pramāṇabhūta, but to justify his own usage of the word pramāṇabhūta by interpreting Dharmakīrti’s word bhūtokti as not referring to bhūta in pramāṇabhūta.

3.4 Yamāri’s interpretation of the compound pramāṇabhūta

Then, how should we interpret the compound pramāṇabhūta in Prajñākaragupta? Yamāri’s commentary provides us with an important clue to Prajñākaragupta’s understanding. Among Yamāri’s two different interpretations, the second interpretation explaining pramāṇabhūta as “pramāṇa-like” has been mentioned above.

The first one, which can be regarded as Yamāri’s own interpretation, is as follows:

Yamāri [Phe] (D)188b5f.; (P)226a3f.: ’di rtsom pa yang ci zhig byas nas yin zhe na / bshad pa phyag’chal nas te rab tu btud cing lus phul nas so (D: song P) // su la zhe na / tshad ma yang dag gam tshad mar gyur pa la’o55 // tshad mar gyur pa ni tshad mar red pa’am tshad mar thob pa’o //; Ms 10b1–2 (cf. Li, Chu and Franco 2017: 80)

[= (Question:) Further, what has been done before beginning to write this (treatise)? (Prajñākaragupta) replies: “saluting,” i.e., bowing his head and throwing his body on the ground. (Question:) To whom? (Prajñākaragupta replies:) To pramāṇabhūta. (The compound) pramāṇabhūta means “who has reached the means of cognition (*pramāṇaṃ gataḥ),” in other words, “who has attained trustworthiness (*prāmāṇyaṃ prāptaḥ).”]

By comparing this with Śākyabuddhi’s explanation of the compound parabhāvabhūta found in the Pramāṇavārttikasvavṛtti, one can assume that the Sanskrit equivalent of the sentence tshad mar gyur pa ni tshad mar red pa56 is probably *pramāṇaṃ gataḥ pramāṇabhūtaḥ, and it is also clear that this sentence shows the interpretation of bhūta as the equivalent of the copula.[55] Further, tshad mar thob pa is most likely the rendering of prāmāṇyaṃ prāptaḥ,[56] which is the same as Kaiyaṭa’s explanation of Patañjali’s pramāṇabhūta and therefore means “being pramāṇa” as well. Thus, Yamāri shows here the interpretation of pramāṇabhūta as “being pramāṇa.”[57]

Further, in commenting on Prajñākaragupta’s above-mentioned statement “because (the Bhagavat is) the purpose of the treatise” (śāstrārthatvāt), Yamāri says as follows:

Yamāri [Phe](D)198b5f.; (P)237a6ff.: gal te’o na bcom ldan’das mngon sum gyi khyad par gyi rang bzhin yin mod / gang gi bstan bcos kyi don yin pas bstan bcos blang byar’gyur ba de tsam gyis (D: gyi P) bdag cag la nye bar mkho ba ni ma yin no // tshad ma yang dag pas zhes bya ba la sogs pa smos so // tshad mar gyur pa ni tshad mar red pa zhes bya ba’i don to // ma byung ba las byung ba ni yin yang brjod par mi’dod pa’i phyir rtsi ba’i rkyen med do // dper naau pa las yang man (D: u tpa las yan P) ni rang gi rgyu las sozhes bya ba’dir / Pa tan dzi lis bshad pade la phan pa’jug pa ni / sna tshogs pa’i phyir ro // des na (D: na lacking in P) de la phan pa ma byas sozhes bya ba de bzhin du’dir yang lta’o (D: blta P) //; Ms 16a4–5 (cf. Li, Chu and Franco 2018: 44)

[= (Objection:) Then, even if the Bhagavat is by nature a special direct percep-tion, it is so far not helpful for us in accepting the treatise because (the Bhaga-vat) is the purpose of the treatise. (Prajñākaragupta) replies: “(the very Bhagavat) as pramāṇabhūta” etc. (The compound) pramāṇabhūta means “who has reached the means of cognition (*pramāṇaṃ gataḥ).” Namely, the suffix meaning “become” (*cvipratyaya) does not exist (in the expression pramāṇabhūta) because, even though (the Bhagavat) has become what he was not previously, it is not intended to mention (it). Also in this case, one should consider (it) according to Patañjali who explains: “The operations of taddhita are manifold and hence the taddhitas uffix is not found (vicitrās taddhita-vṛttayo nātas taddhita utpadyate)” regarding (Pāṇini 1.3.56:) “After the verb yam-preceded by upa-, when used in the sense of ‘espousing,’ (ātmanepada is employed) (upād yamaḥ svakaraṇe).”]

Although this paragraph is not easy to understand, it is at least clear that Yamāri presents here again the interpretation of pramāṇabhūta as “being pramāṇa” and mentions that the expression pramāṇabhūta does not mean “has become what he was not previously” (*abhūtatadbhāva)[58] since the cvis uffix does not exist in it. At the end of this paragraph, Yamāri tries to reinforce his argument by referring to Patañjali’s explanation to Pāṇini-sūtra 1.3.56.[59]

Thus, we can find some parallels between Yamāri’s statements including his reference to the interpretation prāmāṇyaṃ prāptaḥ and the explanations of pramāṇabhūta by MBh-commentators.[60] It is noteworthy that the time of Yamāri’s activity (ca. 1000–1060)[61] seems to be close to that of Kaiyaṭa.[62] The parallel between the grammarians and the Buddhist Pramāṇa-school which Ruegg suggested may be a result of actual influence of one on the other.[63]

In any case, it is clear from the above that Yamāri interprets the compound pramā-ṇabhūta as meaning “being pramāṇa,” while presupposing the existence of other inter-pretations like “pramāṇa-like” and “who has become a pramāṇa.” In my view, Yamāri’s interpretation is not contradictory to either Prajñākaragupta’s identification of the word with pāramārthikapramāṇa, or to Blo ldan shes rab’s translation tshad ma yang dag (pa). Rather, among various interpretations of the word, only the interpretation “being pramāṇa” can be in harmony with Prajñākaragupta’s usage of the word. For, the expression “who is A” can carry the meaning “who is the true A” or “who is A in the true sense.”[64]

Taking the above into consideration, I would like to propose the translation “who is a pramāṇa in the true sense” for the term pramāṇabhūta when qualifying the Bhagavat in Prajñākaragupta.

5. Conclusion

The results of the above consideration are summarized in Table 1.

Table 1: The interpretations of pramāṇabhūta

  Dignāga Dharmakīrti Prajñākaragupta
What is the Bhagavat called? pramāṇabhūta pramāṇa (=pramāṇam iva pramāṇabhūta
Meaning of pramāṇabhūta pramāṇa-like” [“who has become a pramāṇa”] pramāṇa in the true sense”
Function of bhūta “x-bhūta” means “x-like” abhūtavinivṛttaye bhūtoktiḥ copula implying “in true sense”
Commentator’s explanation of the compound pramāṇabhūta *pramāṇam iva pramāṇabhūtaḥ. (Jayanta, Yamāri) [pramāṇaṃ cāsau bhūtaś ceti pramāṇabhūtaḥ.] (Śākyabuddhi, Jinendrabuddhi) *pramāṇaṃ gataḥ pramāṇa-bhūtaḥ; *prāmāṇyaṃ prāptaḥ pramāṇabhūtaḥ. (Yamāri)
Relationship between pra-māṇa and the Bhagavat pramāṇa > Bhagavat (pramāṇa is mukhya) pramāṇa = Bhagavat (in having the twofold defining characteris-tic of pramāṇa) pramāṇa < Bhagavat (Bhagavat is mukhya)

†pramāṇa means “valid cognition” in all cases

References and abbreviations

Primary literature

AKBh Abhidharmakośabhāṣya (Vasubandhu): Abhidharmakoṣabhāṣyam of Vasubandhu, ed. Pralhad Pradhan. Patna 1975.

AKBhVy Abhidharmakośavyākhyā (Yaśomitra): Sphuṭārthā Abhidharmakośavyākhyā by Yaśomitra. Part I, ed. U. Wogihara. Tokyo 1932.

Jayanta Pramāṇavārttikālaṃkāraṭīkā (Jayanta): P 5720, vol. 133, Tshad ma, De 1b1–434a8; Ne 1b1–375a8; D 4222, vol. 7–8, Tshad ma, De 1b1–365a7; Ne 1b1–312a7.

Mahāvyutpatti Bonzōkannwa Shiyakutaikō Honyaku Meigi Taishū. Tokyō 1917.

MBh I Mahābhāṣya (Patañjali), ed. F. Kielhorn. Revised by K. V. Abhyankar. Vol. I. Poona 1985.

MBhPr Mahābhāṣyapradīpa (Kaiyaṭa): The Vyākaraṇamahābhāṣya of Patañjali with the commentary Bhāṣyapradīpa of Kaiyaṭa Upādhyāya and the supercommentary Bhāṣyapradīpoddyota of Nāgeśa Bhaṭṭa. Vol.1 navāhnika, ed. Bh. S. Joshi. Delhi 1987.

MBhPrN Nārāyaṇīya (Nārāyaṇa): Mahābhāṣyapradīpavyākhyānāni. Adhyāya 1 Pāda 1 Āhnika 1–4, ed. Narasimhacharya. Présentation par P.-S. Filliozat. Pondichéry 1973. MBhPrU Mahābhāṣyapradīpoddyota (Nāgeśa): Mahābhāṣyapradīpoddyota by Nāgeśa Bhaṭṭa. Vol. I, ed. B Śastri. Calcutta 1899.

NBh Nyāyabhāṣya (Pakṣilasvāmin): Nyāyadarśanam Bhāṣya-Vārttika-Tātparyaṭīkā-sahi-tam. Vol. 1, ed. Taranatha Nyayatarkatirtha and Amarendramohan Tarkatirtha. Cal-cutta 1936. Vol. 2, ed. Amarendramohan Tarkatirtha and Hemanta Kumar Tarkatirtha. Calcutta 1944.

PS Pramāṇasamuccaya (Dignāga).

PSṬ Pramāṇasamuccayaṭīkā (Jinendrabuddhi): Jinendrabuddhis Pramāṇasamuccayaṭīkā, Chapter 1 Part 1: Critical Edition. Part 2: Diplomatic Edition, ed. Ernst Steinkellner, Helmut Krasser, and Horst Lasic. Beijing/Vienna 2005.

PSV Pramāṇasamuccayavṛtti (Dignāga).

PSV I Pramāṇasamuccayavṛtti I (Dignāga): Dignāga’s Pramāṇasamuccaya, Chapter 1: A Hypothetical Reconstruction of the Sanskrit Text with the Help of the Two Tibetan Translations on the Basis of the Hitherto Known Sanskrit Fragments and the Linguis-tic Materials Gained from Jinendrabuddhi’s Ṭīkā, ed. E. Steinkellner. Wien 2005. e/dignaga_PS_1.pdf, last visited 10-12-2019.

PV Pramāṇavārttika, II, III, IV (Dharmakīrti): Pramāṇavārttikakārikā (Sanskrit and Ti-betan), ed. Y. Miyasaka. Acta Indologica 2 (1971/72) 1–206.

PVA Pramāṇavārttikālaṃkāra (Prajñākaragupta): Pramāṇavārtikabhāshyam or Vārtikāla-ṅkāraḥ of Prajñākaragupta (Being a commentary on Dharmakīrtis Pramāṇavārti-kam), ed. Rahula Sankṛtyayana. Patna 1953.

PVAO See Ono 2000.

PVin I Dharmakīrtis Pramāṇaviniścaya. Chapters 1 and 2, ed. E. Steinkellner. Beijing/ Vienna 2007.

PVP Pramāṇavārttikapañjikā (Devendrabuddhi): D 4217, Vol. 2, Tshad ma, Che 1b1–326b4; P 5717, Vol. 130–131, Tshad ma, Che 1b1–390a8.

PVSV Pramāṇavārttikasvavṛtti (Dharmakīrti): The Pramāṇavārttikam of Dharmakīrti, the first chapter with the autocommentary, ed. R. Gnoli. Roma 1960.

PVSVṬ Pramāṇavārttikasvavṛttiṭīkā (Karṇakagomin): Ācārya-Dharmakīrteḥ Pramāṇa-vārttikam (svārthānumānaparicchedaḥ) svopajñavṛttyā Karṇakagomi-viracitayā taṭṭīkayā ca sahitam, ed. R Sankṛtyayana. Allahabad 1943.

PVṬ Pramāṇavārttikaṭīkā (Śākyabuddhi): D 4220, vol. 3, Tshad ma, Je 1b1–328a7; P 5718, vol. 131, Tshad ma, Je 1b1–402a8.

Vibhūti Vibhūticandra’s notes in Pramāṇavārttikavṛtti (Manorathanandin): Ācārya-Dha-rmakīrteḥ Pramāṇavārtikam ācārya-Manorathanandi-kṛtayā vṛtyā saṃvalitam, ed. R. Sankṛtyayana. Patna 1938–1940.

Yamāri Pramāṇavārttikālaṃkāraṭīkā Supariśuddhā (Yamāri): P 5723, vol. 134–136, Tshad ma, Phe 208a7–345a8; Be 1b1–290a7; Me 1b1–436a8; Tse 1b1–321a5; D 4226, vol. 10–13, Tshad ma, Phe 174b1–287a7; Be 1b1–261a7; Me 1b1–328a7; Tse 1b1–251a7.

Secondary literature

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Franco 1997 Eli Franco, Dharmakīrti on Compassion and Rebirth. Wien 1997.

Hakamaya 2000 Noriaki Hakamaya, Pramāṇa-bhūta to kumāra-bhūta no gogi–bhūta no yōhō o chūshin ni. Komazawa Tanki Daigaku Bukkyō Ronshū 6 (2000) (1)–(30).

Hakamaya 2001 Noriaki Hakamaya, Pramāṇa-bhūta hoki. Komazawa Tanki Daigaku Kenkyū Kiyō 29 (2001) 433–448.

Hattori 1968 Masaaki Hattori, Dignāga on perception. Cambridge, Massachusetts 1968.

Inami 1994 Masahiro Inami, “Pramāṇavārttika” Pramāṇasiddhi shō no kenkyū (3). Shi-manekenritsu Kokusai Tankidaigaku kiyō 1 (1994) 17–53.

Iwata 2000 Takashi Iwata, Seson wa ikanishite kōjun (pramāṇa) to nattanoka. Komazawa Tanki Daigaku Bukkyō Ronshū 6 (2000) 1–38.

Iwata 2001 Takashi Iwata, Seson no ryōsei no shōmei no ichi kaishaku–Prajñākaragupta no shiten kara–. Indo tetsugaku Bukkyōgaku 16 (2001) (44)–(74).

Jha 1983 Ganganath Jha, Ślokavārttika. Translated from the original Sanskrit with extracts from the commentariesKāśikāof Sucarita Miśra andNyāyaratnākaraof Pārtha Sārathi Miśra. Delhi[65] 1983.

Kataoka 2007 Kei Kataoka, Pramāṇasamuccayaṭīkā ad 1.1 wayaku. Minami Ajia Koten-gaku 2 (2007) 1–79.

Krasser 2001 Helmut Krasser, On Dharmakīrti’s Understanding of pramāṇabhūta and His Definition of pramāṇa. Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde Südasiens 45 (2001) 173–199.

Krasser 2004 Helmut Krasser, Are Buddhist Pramāṇavādins non-Buddhistic? Dignāga and Dharmakīrti on the impact of logic and epistemology on emancipation. Hōrin 11 (2004) 129–149.

Li and Chu 2016 Xuezhu Li and Junjie Chu, A Diplomatic Edition of the Introductory Section of Yamāri’s Pramāṇavārttikālaṅkāraṭīkā Supariśuddhā: Folios 3a1–10a1. China Tibetology 26 (2016) 3–20.

Li, Chu and Franco 2017 Xuezhu Li, Junjie Chu, and Eli Franco, A Diplomatic Edition of the Introductory Section of Yamāri’s Pramāṇavārttikālaṅkāraṭīkā Supariśuddhā: Folios 10a1–14b2. China Tibetology 28 (2017) 78–87.

Li, Chu, and Franco 2018 Xuezhu Li, Junjie Chu, and Eli Franco, A Diplomatic Edition of the Introductory Section of Yamāri’s Pramāṇavārttikālaṅkāraṭīkā Supariśuddhā: Folios 14b2–20a5. China Tibetology 30 (2018) 40–52.

Ono 1994 Motoi Ono, Prajñākaragupta ni yoru Dharmakīrti no pramāṇa no teigi no kaishaku–Prajñākaragupta no shinriron. Indogaku bukkyōgaku kenkyū 42/2 (1994) 878–885.

Ono 2000 Motoi Ono, Prajñākaraguptas Erklärung der Definition gültiger Erkenntnis (Pramāṇavārttikālaṃkāra zu Pramāṇavārttika II 1–7). Teil I. Sanskrit-Text und Materialien. Wien 2000.

Ono 2012 Motoi Ono, Shinriron–pramāṇa towa nanika. In: Ninshikiron to Ronrigaku, ed. Shōryu Katsura et al. Tokyo 2012, 156–188.

Ono 2013 Motoi Ono, Pramāṇabhūta no imi no hensen. Indogaku bukkyōgaku kenkyū 61/2 (2013) 934–938.

Ono 2014 Motoi Ono, Pramāṇa no teigi–Prajñākaragupta no kaishaku o megutte. Indo-gaku bukkyōgaku kenkyū 62/2 (2014) 964–970.

Ruegg 1994a D. Seyfort Ruegg, Pramāṇabhūta, *Pramāṇa(bhūta)-puruṣa, Pratyakṣa-dharman and Sākṣātkṛtadharman as Epithets of the Ŗṣi, Ācārya and Tathāgata in Grammatical, Epistemological and Madhyamaka Texts. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 57/2 (1994) 303–320.

Ruegg 1994b D. Seyfort Ruegg, La notion du voyant et du «connaisseur suprême» et la question de l’autorité épistémique. Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde Südasiens 38 (1994) 403–419.

Ruegg 1995 D. Seyfort Ruegg, Validity and Authority or Cognitive Rightness and Pragmatic Efficacy? On the Concepts of Pramāṇa, Pramāṇabhūta and Pra-māṇa(bhūta)puruṣa. Asiatische Studien/Études Asiatiques 49 (1995) 817–827.

Silk 2002 Jonathan A. Silk, Possible Indian Sources for the Term tshad ma’i skyes bu as pramāṇapuruṣa. Journal of Indian Philosophy 30 (2002) 111–160.

Steinkellner 1989 Ernst Steinkellner, Miszellen zur erkenntnistheoretisch-logischen Schule des Buddhismus. Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde Südasiens 33 (1989) 177–181.

Steinkellner 2003 Ernst Steinkellner, Once more on Circles. Journal of Indian Philosophy 31 (2003) 323–341.

Vetter 1964 Tilman Vetter, Erkenntnisprobleme bei Dharmakīrti. Wien 1964.

Vetter 1984 Tilman Vetter, Der Buddha und seine Lehre in Dharmakīrtis Pramāṇavārttika. Wien 1984.

Footnotes and references:


Cf. pramāṇabhūtāya jagaddhitaiṣine praṇamya śāstre sugatāya tāyine / pramāṇasiddhyai svamatāt samuccayaḥ kariṣyate viprasṛtād ihaikataḥ // (PS maṅgalaśloka) Masaaki Hattori’s translation in Hattori 1968: 23 is as follows: “Saluting Him, who is the personification of the means of cognition, who seeks the benefit of [all] living beings, who is the teacher, sugata, the protector, I shall, for the purpose of establishing the means of valid cognition, compose the [Pramāṇa-]samuccaya, uniting here under one head my theories scattered [in many treatises].”


Cf. Vetter 1984: 14; note 6. Vetter has previously translated the word in the same way (cf. Vetter 1964: 32,17). Ernst Steinkellner agreed with Vetter’s view as follows: “Tilmann Vetter gives the reason for his translation of the term pramāṇabhūta from the maṅgala of Dignāga’s Pramāṇasamuccaya as ‘who is a means of valid cognition’ (‘der Erkenntnismittel ist.’): the interpretation that the Buddha has become a means of valid cognition (as if the text read pramāṇībhūta) which does not figure at all in Dignāga’s own explanation of the verse and can, therefore, hardly be based on the term pramāṇabhūta, was added by Dharmakīrti, … Since the compound pramāṇabhūta does really not have a cvi-formation, … Vetter is certainly right in asking for an interpretation of bhūta as the equivalent of the copula serving the simple adjectivization of the first member” (cf. Steinkellner 1989: 180).


Cf. Vetter 1984:14,16ff.


Cf. Ruegg 1994a; 1994b; 1995.


Cf. Franco 1997: 16, note 3; Krasser 2001: 173–180. Around the time of Krasser’s paper, Noriaki Hakamaya published two papers dealing with the same issue (cf. Hakamaya 2000; 2001). Jonathan A. Silk also discussed this issue in terms of Chinese materials (cf. Silk 2002). Based on these articles, Steinkellner mentioned the issue again (cf. Steinkellner 2003: 337, note 15).


Cf. MBh I 39,10f. ad Vārttika 1,1,1,7: pramāṇabhūta ācāryo darbhapavitrapāṇiḥ śucāv avakāśe prāṅmukha upaviśya mahatā prayatnena sūtrāṇi praṇayati sma (cf. Ruegg 1994a: 309; 1995: 820f.).


Cf. MBhPr 160r,9ff.: prāmāṇyaṃ prāpta ity arthaḥ. bhū prāptāv ity asyādhṛṣād veti ṇijabhāvapakṣe rūpam. vṛttiviṣaye ca pramāṇaśabdaḥ prāmāṇye vartate (cf. Ruegg 1994a: note 30; 1995: 820).


Nāgeśa (17th c.), a subcommentator to the MBh, tries to justify Kaiyaṭa’s interpretation of the word pramāṇabhūta as meaning prāmāṇyaṃ prāpta as follows: “If (the teacher) were supposed to have become what he was not previously (abhūtatadbhāva) since the verb bhū means ‘become,’ there should be the form pramāṇībhūta with cvis uffix. On the other hand, …” (cf. MBhPrU 126,7ff.: nanu bhavater janmārthatvenābhūtatadbhāvapratītyā cvau sati pramāṇībhūta iti syāt, tadavivakṣāyāṃ tu pramāṇam ācāryaḥ prakārāntareṇa bhūta ity arthaḥ syād ata āha–prāmāṇyam iti; Ruegg 1994a: 310,7ff.; note 31). Nārāyaṇa also tries to justify Kaiyaṭa’s interpretation as follows: “If the word bhūta means similarity (upamānārthatve) just as in the case of the word pitṛbhūta etc., it would follow that the trustworthiness of the teacher is not stated as primary. (On the other hand) if (the word pramāṇabhūta) means that the teacher has become what he was not previously (abhūtaprādurbhāva), it would follow that there should be the cvis uffix just like (in the expression) aṅkurībhūta etc. …” (cf. MBhPrN 232,26ff.: pitṛbhūta ityādivad bhūtaśabdasyopamānārthatve mukhyaṃ prāmāṇyam ācāryasya noktaṃ syāt, aṅkurībhūta ityādivad abhūtaprādurbhāvavācitve tadvad eva cviprasaṅgaḥ, , ato vyācaṣṭe–prāmāṇyam iti; Ruegg 1994a: 310,23ff.).


Cf. Ruegg 1995: 820,27f. Ruegg also pointed out the uses of the word pramāṇabhūta in the Mahāyāna- sūtrālaṃkārabhāṣya (cf. Ruegg 1994a: 306f.; 1995: 821f.). Also in this case, the word pramāṇabhūta can be understood as “being authority” by interpreting bhūta as the equivalent of the copula. Further, Ruegg pointed out the use of the word in the Lalitavistara. Regarding this use, however, Hakamaya and Silk indicated that the word pramāṇabhūta extant in the Sanskrit text may have been added in a later period, based on a comparison to the Chinese translation (cf. Hakamaya 2000: (14); Silk 2002: 113f.).


Cf. Ruegg 1994a: 311; note 28; 1995: 820f.


Cf. Ruegg 1995: 821,5f.


Cf. Ruegg 1994a: 311f.; 1995: 820f. This argument was thereafter criticized by Krasser. See below.


Cf. Ruegg 1994a: 315; 1995: 822,9ff.


Cf. Krasser 2001: 173,17ff. Here, the subdivisions of the type 1) in Krasser’s paper are called 1A) and 1B) respectively, for convenience of explanation.


Cf. Krasser 2001: 175f.; PSṬ 1,12ff.: yathātvaṃ merus tvaṃ samudro’si nātha tvaṃ kalpapādapaḥ / tvaṃ suvaidyaḥ pradīpas tvaṃ tvam eva paramaḥ plavaḥ // ity atrevaśabdaprayogam antareṇāpi tadartho gamyate, tathehāpīti bhagavān pramāṇam iva pramāṇam. […] bhūto jātaḥ, utpanna ity arthaḥ. bhūtavacanam abhūtasya nityasyeśvarādeḥ pramāṇasya paraparikalpitasya pratiṣedhārtham. pramāṇaṃ cāsau bhūtaś ceti pramāṇabhūtaḥ, tasmai pramāṇabhūtāya (cf. Kataoka 2007: 14f.).


Cf. Krasser 2001: 179; PVṬ(P) 86b6; (D)71b7: tshad ma’i sgra dpe nang du’dus pa can yin no zhes bya ba’i don to //


Cf. Krasser 2001: 176,25–177,5. Further, Krasser pointed out that the Tibetan expression tshad ma dang’dra bas in the PVP by Devendrabuddhi (ca. 630–690) is the Tibetan eqivalent to the Sanskrit pramāṇam iva, and that Jinendrabuddhi’s explanation bhagavān pramāṇam iva pramāṇam is derived from Devendrabuddhi (cf. Krasser 2001: 177,6ff.; PVP(P)2a1f.; (D)1b2f. ad PV II 1a: tshad mar gyur pa zhes bya ba ni tshad mar’khrungs pa’o // tshad ma dang’dra bas na tshad ma ste bcom ldan’das so //).


Krasser mentioned that a remark of Vibhūticandra’s suggests that there are those who interpret bhūta as “like.” For, Vibhūticandra, after having explained the interpretation of the word bhūta according to Dharmakīrti by paraphrasing Jinendrabuddhi’s statement, states the following: “(Dharmakīrti) will indicate that the (word bhūta) does not have the meaning (‘like’) because the meaning ‘like’ is understood by implication” (cf. Vibhūti 519,3: ivārthas tu sāmarthyagata iti na tadartham etad iti vakṣyate; Krasser 2001: note 16).


Whether such interpretation is grammatical or not is another question (cf. Franco 1997: 16f., note 3: “On the other hand, even if -bhūta did not mean ‘similar,’ once authoritative treatises state that it does, it acquires this meaning for the readers who are acquainted with these treatises”).


The Sanskrit manuscript of the first chapter of Yamāri’s commentary has been discovered recently, and a series of diplomatic editions of its beginning portion (folios 3a1-20a5) has been published by Xuezhu Li, Junjie Chu and Eli Franco (cf. Li and Chu 2016; Li,Chu and Franco 2017; Li, Chu and Franco 2018) after this paper was written. Since all three portions of Yamāri’s commentary that this paper discusses are included in the mentioned diplomatic editions, I indicate the location in the respective edition after quoting the text of the Tibetan translation. Although my assumptions about the Sanskrit corresponding to the Tibetan translation, or even my interpretations based on the latter, sometimes seem to deviate from the diplomatic edition of Sanskrit manuscript, I have not changed my expositions according to the diplomatic edition; this is because, in my opinion, it is an open question whether the present diplomatic edition does not need to be emended. A more detailed investigation remains as a task for the future.


In this case too, tshad ma dang’dra bas is probably the rendering of pramāṇa iva (cf. note 17 in this paper).


For direct perception does not function in terms of transcendent objects, and inference ultimately does not function without the cognition of the pervading concomitance (sambando vyāpī ) by the omniscient being (cf. PVAO 12,12ff.: nanu pramāṇabhūtena bhagavatā ko’rthaḥ, sāṃvyavahārikapramāṇād eva sarvapuruṣārthasiddheḥ. naitad asti. […] na tāvat pratyakṣaṃ paralokādau pravartate, tasya svarūpamātragrahaṇād iti pratipādayiṣyate. anumānaṃ tu saṃbandhagrahaṇam antareṇa nāsti, na ca saṃbandho vyāpy asarvavidā grahītuṃ śakyaḥ).


Cf. note 8 in this paper.


Cf. Ruegg 1994a: 309,20ff.; 1995: 821. Ruegg seems to consider that the attestation of the word x-bhūta meaning “x-like” in Bhartṛhari is relevant because his writing had great influence on Dignāga.


Cf. Vetter 1984: note 6; Franco 1997: 28ff. Namely, Pakṣilasvāmin (5th c.) enumerated three characteristics establishing the trustworthiness of the āpta, i.e., 1) having direct knowledge of reality (sākṣātkṛtadharmatā), 2) having compassion towards living beings (bhūtadayā), and 3) having the desire to teach reality as it is (yathābhūtārthacikhyāpayiṣā) (cf. NBh 565,6ff.). These correspond respectively to the sugata, the tāyin or the jagaddhitaiṣin, and the śāstṛ in the PS.


sarvathāsarvahatāndhakāraḥ corresponds to sugata, saṃsārapaṅkāj jagad ujjahāra to tāyin or jagaddhitaiṣin, and yathārthaśāstre to śāstṛ. The Bhāṣya explains the phrases sarvathāsarvahatāndhakāraḥ, saṃsārapaṅkāj jagad ujjahāra. and yathārthaśāstā by the words ātmahitapratipattisaṃpad, parahita-pratipattisaṃpad and parahitapratipattyupāya respectively (cf. AKBh 1.8ff.).


Cf. AKBhVy 5,30f.: saṃsāraḥ paṅka iva saṃsārapaṅkaḥ paṅkasādharmyāt. ata āha–saṃsāro hi jagadāsaṅgasthānatvād duruttaratvāc ca paṅkabhūta iti. [= (Vasubandhu said:) “a morass of reincarnation,” because the reincarnation is like a morass, since it is similar to a morass. Therefore, he said: “Reincarnation is like a morass, because it is the place, to which living beings cling to, and from which (living beings) hardly escape.”]


Cf. Vetter 1984: 14.


Cf. Krasser 2004: 134f. I give here my tentative translation according to the following reconstruction of this part which is a result of the joint research workshop on the PSṬ chapter VI held by Dr. Toshikazu Watanabe (Kokugakuin University), Dr. Yasutaka Muroya (Austrian Academy of Sciences) and myself under the support of Prof. Franco, Prof. Chizuko Yoshimizu and Dr. Krasser: iti tadāsaktānāṃ vyāvarta-nārtho ’yam ārambhaḥ, na tv iyatā tathāgataśāsanānupraveśārthaḥ, taddharmasyātarkagocaratvāt. vyāvṛ-ttās tu paridīpitāṃ dharmatām upaśrutyāyatnenaiva pratipatsyante, viprakṛṣṭāntaratvāt. tarkamātrabalās tīrthyāḥ so’py anirdiṣṭalakṣaṇaḥ / svaprayogaviruddhaś ca na ceṣṭārthaprasādhakaḥ // 23 // sudūranaṣṭās tu munīndraśāsanān nayanti ye tarkapathena dharmatām / tathāpi thāgatadharmalakṣaṇaṃ parīkṣya-tāṃ yady upayāti vikriyām // 24 // (Italics are used for words retranslated from the Tibetan translations, whereas normal script is used for the words taken from the PSṬ manuscript.)


Krasser interpreted the word viprakṛṣṭāntara as Dvandva, i.e., “remote” and “near” (cf. Krasser 2004: 133f.). However, his interpretation is not supported by PSV’s Tibetan translations, and the PSṬ also does not necessarily seem to support it. Regarding the word viprakṛṣṭāntara, Kumārila’s use is worth considering (cf. the Ślokavārttika, śabdanityatādhikaraṇa, v.168–169ab: tadantarādhikātmā ca bhāti tenāgrataḥ sthitaḥ / viprakṛṣṭāntarāṇāṃ ca stokadeśe’pi dṛśyate // siddhabhinnāgradeśānāṃ dūrade-śasamānatā / [Ganganath Jha’s translation in Jha 1983: 437: “Even in the case of an object which is comparatively much nearer to us (than the Sun really is), we find that persons,–residing at places that are at different degrees of distance from that object, and consequently having their fronts decidedly different from one another,–mistake that distant object to be at equal distances from themselves”]; I would like to thank Dr. Ryō Sasaki for his informing me of this passage). In my opinion, the word viprakṛṣṭāntara can be meaningfully understood only by relating it to the following two verses. Jine-ndrabuddhi’s interpretation of this word seems to have somewhat deviated from Dignāga’s original intention.


Cf. Krasser 2004.


Cf. PVP(D)1b2; (P)2a1: tshad mar gyur pa zhes bya ba ni tshad mar’khrungs pa’o; PVṬ(D)71b5f.; (P)86b4f.: tshad mar’khrungs pa zhes bya bar (D: ba P) gyur pa’i sgra ni’khrungs pa’i don to // tshad ma yang de yin la gyur pa yang de yin pas na tshad mar gyur pa’o (cf. Vibhūti 521,27: pramāṇajāta [em. in Krasser 2001: 178: pramāṇaṃ jāta] iti bhūtaśabdaḥ prādurbhāvārthaḥ; PSṬ 2,7: pramāṇaṃ cāsau bhūtaś ceti pramāṇabhūtaḥ; note 15 in this paper). The Tibetan translation tshad mar gyur pa is also derived from such interpretation (cf. Hakamaya 2000: (10)f.).


As a matter of fact, the translation “who has become a pramāṇa” can be applied only to the word pramāṇabhūta found in the treatises of Dharmakīrti’s followers. Furthermore, whether such a translation is appropriate depends on the context. For example, in Dharmottara’s case, where the word appears in his Prāmāṇyaparīkṣā’s maṅgalaśloka, it may be, contrary to Krasser’s view (cf. Krasser 2001: note 44), appropriately translated as “pramāṇa-like” in Dignāga’s sense, because pramāṇa as knowledge is primary in this treatise, just as in the case of the PS. Regarding Prajñākaragupta, see below.


Cf. Krasser 2001: 177f. I follow Krasser’s translation except for some small modifications.


Cf. PVṬ(P)86b5f.; (D)71b6f.: mngon sum dang rjes su dpag pa ni tshad ma yin pa de bas na / ji ltar na bcom ldan’das de’i rang bzhin can ma yin pa la de skad du ce na tshad ma dang’dra bas na tshad ma ste zhes bya ba smos te; Inami 1994: note 2; Krasser 2001: 178f. I follow Krasser’s translation.


Cf. Krasser 2001: 182f. I follow Krasser’s translation in terms of Devendrabuddhi’s remark with some modifications. However, I cannot agree with his view that Devendrabuddhi understood–vat in tadvat in a possessive sense and the Tibetan translation de bzhin to tadvat was a misunderstanding (cf. Krasser 2001: 183). In my opinion, tadvat must carry the meaning “like that (pramāṇa as knowledge)” in this context, because tadvat is nothing but the paraphrase of the word pramāṇabhūta. Nevertheless, it is possible that tadvat was understood as an intentionally ambiguous expression (a kind of śleṣa in Sanskrit rhetoric) by Devendrabuddhi.


I would like to thank Prof. Inami for the following suggestion expressed by E-mail on the 27. Sept. 2013: “It is possible that Dharmakīrti also understands in the meantime bhūta in pramāṇabhūta as meaning ‘like’ by stating tadvat in PV II 7a. From PV II 7a onwards, Dharmakīrti apparently begins to explain the word pramāṇabhūta, even if commentators would not support it.” (English translation is mine.)


The first maṅgalaśloka, whose first half is identical to that of the PS, states the purpose of writing the PVA (cf. pramāṇabhūtāya jagaddhitaiṣiṇe praṇamya śāstre sugatāya tāyine / kutarkasaṃbhrāntajanā-nukampayā pramāṇasiddhir vidhivad vidhīyate //).


Cf. PSV I 1,3–13: atra bhagavato hetuphalasaṃpattyā pramāṇabhūtatvena stotrābhidhānaṃ prakaraṇādau gauravotpādanārtham. tatra hetur āśayaprayogasaṃpat. āśayo jagaddhitaiṣitā. prayogo jagacchāsanāc chāstṛtvam. phalaṃ svaparārthasaṃpat. svārthasaṃpat sugatatvena trividham artham upādāya, praśastatvārthaṃ surūpavat, apunarāvṛttyarthaṃ sunaṣṭajvaravat, niḥśeṣārthaṃ supūrṇagha-ṭavat. arthatrayaṃ caitad bāhyavītarāgaśaikṣāśaikṣebhyaḥ svārthasaṃpadviśeṣaṇārtham. parārtha-saṃpat tāraṇārthena tāyitvam. evaṃguṇaṃ śāstāraṃ praṇamya pramāṇasiddhyai svaprakaraṇebhyo nyāyamukhādibhya iha samāhṛtya pramāṇasamuccayaḥ kariṣyate parapramāṇapratiṣedhāya svapra-māṇaguṇodbhāvanāya ca, yasmāt pramāṇāyattā prameyapratipattir bahavaś cātra vipratipannāḥ; PVAO 1,10–2,7: atra bhagavato hetuphalasaṃpattyā pramāṇabhūtatvena stotrābhidhānaṃ śāstrādau, śāstrārthatvāt. bhagavān eva hi pramāṇabhūto’smin prasādhyate. tatra hetur āśayaprayogasaṃ-pat sāṃvyavahārikapramāṇāpekṣayā. āśayo jagaddhitaiṣitā. prayogo jagacchāsanāc chāstṛtvam. phalaṃ svaparārthasaṃpat. svārthasaṃpat sugatatvena trividham artham upādāya, praśastatvaṃ surūpavat, apunarāvṛttyarthaṃ sunaṣṭajvaravat, niḥśeṣārthaṃ supūrṇaghaṭavat. parārthasaṃpaj ja-gattāraṇāt tāyitvam, saṃtānārthaṃ cāparinirvāṇadharmatvāt. evaṃbhūtaṃ bhagavantaṃ praṇa-mya pramāṇasiddhir vidhīyate. pramāṇādhīno hi prameyādhigamaḥ, bhagavān eva ca pramāṇam, pramāṇalakṣaṇasadbhāvāt. pramīyate’neneti pramāṇam. (Emphasized parts show modifications by Prajñākaragupta.)


Regarding the importance of the addition sāṃvyavahārikapramāṇāpekṣayā after the sentence tatra hetur āśayaprayogasaṃpat for Prajñākaragupta’s thought, see Iwata 2001: (48)ff.


Hattori’s translation: “At the beginning of the treatise, here [in this verse], I express praise in honor of the Worshipful [Buddha] in order to produce in [the hearts of] men faith in Him who, because of His perfection in cause (hetu) and effect (phala), is to be regarded as the personification of the means of cognition (pramāṇa-bhūta).”


Hattori’s translation: “Saluting the teacher who is endowed with such merits, the author will compose the Pramāṇasamuccaya or the Collected Writings on the Means of Cognition by gathering [passages] from the Nyāyamukha and other of his treatises in order to establish the means of valid cognition. The purpose [of the work] is to reject the theories concerning the means of cognition maintained by others and to elucidate the virtues in his own theories concerning the means of cognition, since there are divergent opinions with regard to [the nature, number, object, and result of] the means of cognition, on which depends the clear understanding of the object to be cognized.”


The phrase pramāṇalakṣaṇasadbhāvāt is related to Prajñākaragupta’s theory of the definition of pramāṇa that in the ultimate sense only the Bhagavat has the twofold defining characteristic of pramāṇa (cf. Ono 2014).


Cf. PVin I 44,2ff.: sāṃvyavahārikasya caitat pramāṇasya rūpam uktam, atrāpi pare mūḍhā visaṃvādayanti lokam iti. cintāmayīm eva tu prajñām anuśīlayanto vibhramavivekanirmalam anapāyi pāramā-rthikapramāṇam abhimukhīkurvanti. tad api leśataḥ sūcitam eveti.


Cf. PVA 67,12f.; Ms26a8: bhagavān eva ca paramārthataḥ kāryakāraṇabhāve pāramārthikaṃ pramā-ṇaṃ vyāpyanvayavyatirekagrahaṇād iti pratipāditam. (cf. PVAO 12,12ff.; note 22 in this paper).


Cf. PVAO 83,15ff.: bhagavatas tarhi kathaṃ prāmāṇyam. pratyakṣānumānayor hi vyavahāramātreṇa prāmāṇyam, na bhagavataḥ. tad dhi paraṃ pramāṇam. atrocyate–tadvat pramāṇaṃ bhagavān (PV II 7a).


Insofar as the trustworthiness of ordinary direct perception can be ascertained only in a conventional sense and inference postulates the omniscience of the Bhagavat in order to be universally right (cf. note 22 in this paper; Ono 1994; 2012; 2014).


Cf. PVAO 84,1f.: tathāgato hi bhagavān tadvān iti kṛtvā pratyakṣarūpa eva bhagavān pramāṇam.


It corresponds to the fact that Prajñākaragupta interprets the word tadvat in PV II 7 in the possessive meaning (cf. Krasser 2001: 181, and note 36 above).


Cf. Hakamaya 2000: (11). The rendering tshad ma yang dag (pa) is attested many times also in the Tibetan translation of Yamāri’s commentary on the PVA by Sumati and Blo ldan shes rab. Many examples of this appear in Yamāri’s remark on the maṅgalaśloka and the introductory paragraph of the PVA. In the Tibetan translation of Jayanta’s commentary on the PVA by Śrī Dīpaṃkararakṣita and Byang chub shes rab, the rendering tshad ma yang dag (pa) is attested only once, whereas the rendering tshad mar gyur pa is attested many times.


The word pramāṇabhūta qualifying cognitions or treatises etc. is also attested in the PVA (cf. PVA 385,1f.: pramāṇabhūtapratyakṣam; PVA 494,9f.: śāstrād eva pramāṇabhūtāt; PVA 568,6ff.: pramāṇa-bhūtāḥ pratyayāḥ; PVA 619,26ff.: pramāṇabhūtapratyayapratipādyaḥ). In those cases, bhūta can be understood as the equivalent of the copula without problems and the Tibetan equivalent of it is almost tshad mar (’)gyur pa. In Yamāri’s commentary as well, the rendering tshad mar gyur pa is attested many times. Most of them qualify Veda, Niyoga, words, cognitions etc. But some of them qualify the Bhagavat. Among them we can find some interesting examples, as we shall see later.


Cf. Ruegg 1994a: note 44; Hakamaya 2000: 324ff.; Steinkellner 2003: note 15. Interestingly, Jonathan A. Silk found the Chinese equivalent 眞實稱量 for pramāṇabhūta in the Chinese translation of the Śikṣāsamuccaya 大乗集菩薩学論(cf. Silk 2002: note 26); there bhūta is rendered as 眞實, i.e., true or real, just like in the case of tshad ma yang dag (pa).


As far as I am aware, Yamāri refers to the word bhūta in pramāṇabhūta as follows: “Further, supposing the question ‘why is only the Bhagavat pramāṇa (in the true sense) and others not?,’ (Prajñākaragupta) explains the reason implied by the word bhūta (in pramāṇabhūta by the statement:) ‘by the perfection of cause and effect (hetuphalasaṃpattyā)’” (cf. Y(D)197b3; (P)235b8f.: yang ci ltar bcom ldan’das *nyid (D: nyid kyi P) tshad ma yin gyi / gzhan ma yin snyam du dogs na yang dag pa’i sgras bsdus pa’i gtan tshigs smras pa rgyu dang’bras bu phun sum tshogs pas zhes bya ba’o //). This explanation, that the word bhūta in pramāṇabhūta implies the Bhagavat’s perfection of cause and effect, seems to justify the rendering of bhūta as yang dag pa.


Cf. PVAO 84,4–7: abhūtanivṛttaye bhrāntinivṛttyartham yatas tasya bhagavato bhūtoktis tataḥ sa eva sarvajñaḥ, nāparaḥ (cf. Ruegg 1994a: 306,2f.; Franco 1997: 56, note 25). Regarding the significance of this interpretation in Prajñākaragupta’s thought, cf. Iwata 2000; 2001: (50)ff.


Commenting on the compound parabhāvabhūta in the PVSV, which cannot but be understood as a pleonastic expression, Śākyabuddhi explains it as gzhan gyi ngo bor red pa, the Sanskrit equivalent of which is parabhāvaṃ gataḥ, as found in Karṇakagomin’s commentary (cf. PVṬ(D)37b3; (P)44b5: gzhan gyi (D: gyis P) ngo bor gyur pa ni gzhan gyi ngo bor red pa ste; PVSVṬ 72,16f.: parabhāvaṃ gataḥ parabhāvabhūtaḥ).


This assumption can be ascertained by the Sanskrit manuscript (cf. Ms 10b2; Li, Chu and Franco 2017: 80). The explanation prāmāṇyaṃ prāptaḥ is referred to also by Vibhūticandra (cf. note 62 in this paper).


In Yamāri’s case, however, “being pramāṇa” does not mean “being authority,” as in the case of grammarians, but “being valid cognition.” See above, section 1.1 in this paper.


The Sanskrit equivalent of ma byung ba las byung ba is normally abhūtvā bhāva (Mahāvyutpatti 2182). But, abhūtatadbhāva or abhūtaprādurbhāva is also possible (cf. note 8 in this paper). The meaning is not different in any case. Cf. Ms 16a5; Li, Chu and Franco 2018: 44.


Commenting on Pāṇini 1.3.56 which prescribes that ātmanepada should be employed after the verb upa-yam- in the sense of “espousing,” Patañjali states the following: “(Question:) How does (the active voice) not appear here, like in the sentence ‘he holds (upayacchati) the end of his cloth’? (Answer:) (the active voice) should appear where one makes one’s own what was not previously one’s own (like in the case that one has illicit intercourse with another’s wife). (However) if so, it follows that the word in the Sūtra should be svīkaraṇe (instead of svakaraṇe according to Pāṇini 5.4.50: [abhūtatadbhāve] kṛbhvastiyoge saṃpadyakartari cviḥ). The operations of taddhita are manifold (i.e., the cvis uffix does not appear if one does not wish to say that one makes one’s own what was not previously one’s own) and hence the taddhitas uffix is not found (cf. MBh I,284,10–12: iha kasmān na bhavati–svaṃ śāṭakāntam upayacchatīti. asvaṃ yadā svaṃ karoti, tadā bhavitavyam. yady evaṃ svīkaraṇa iti prāpnoti. vicitrās taddhitavṛttayaḥ, nātas taddhita utpadyate).” Concerning the identification of Yamāri’s citation, I would like to thank Prof. Vincent Eltschinger, Prof. Hiroshi Nemoto, Dr. Junjie Chu and Dr. Yasutaka Muroya for their valuable suggestions.


Cf. notes 7 and 8 in this paper. In addition, we can find the following notable sentences in Vibhūticandra’s remark (cf. Vibhūti 521,29ff.: pramāṇaśabdo jñāne mukhya itaratra tu kena sādharmyenopamānopa-meyatvam ity āha–avisaṃvādīti. prāptivācī tu bhavatiḥ spaṣṭārtha ity asau na vivṛtaḥ prāmāṇyaṃ prāptaḥ pramāṇabhūta iti). Their meaning is unfortunately not entirely clear for me.


Cf. Ono 2000: xxiii–xxiv.


Cf. Cardona 1976: 347, note 344.


Cf. Ruegg 1995: 822,17ff.


Cf. Steinkellner 2003: note 15.


Cf. Vetter 1984: 14; note 6. Vetter has previously translated the word in the same way (cf. Vetter 1964: 32,17). Ernst Steinkellner agreed with Vetter’s view as follows: “Tilmann Vetter gives the reason for his translation of the term pramāṇabhūta from the maṅgala of Dignāga’s Pramāṇasamuccaya as ‘who is a means of valid cognition’ (‘der Erkenntnismittel ist.’): the interpretation that the Buddha has become a means of valid cognition (as if the text read pramāṇībhūta) which does not figure at all in Dignāga’s own explanation of the verse and can, therefore, hardly be based on the term pramāṇabhūta, was added by Dharmakīrti, … Since the compound pramāṇabhūta does really not have a cvi-formation, … Vetter is certainly right in asking for an interpretation of bhūta as the equivalent of the copula serving the simple adjectivization of the first member” (cf. Steinkellner 1989: 180).

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