The Tattvasangraha [with commentary]

by Ganganatha Jha | 1937 | 699,812 words | ISBN-10: 8120800583 | ISBN-13: 9788120800588

This page contains introduction to second volume of the 8th-century Tattvasangraha (English translation) by Shantarakshita, including the commentary (Panjika) by Kamalashila: dealing with Indian philosophy from a Buddhist and non-Buddhist perspective. The Tattvasangraha (Tattvasamgraha) consists of 3646 Sanskrit verses in total.

Introduction to second volume

Much need not be said here in regard to the personal history of the two authors—regarding their (a) date, (b) residence, (c) contact and relation with other writers; as all this has been dealt with in great detail in the excellent Foreword attached to Vol. I of the Sanskrit Text. From this we learn that our Authors—who were Master and Pupil—(a) lived between 705 and 764 A.D.,—(b) they were residents of Magadha in North India, from where they went over to Thibet.

There are some points in connection with the third point (c). Among the other writers referred to in the work, vre have the name ‘Sahantābhadra’ occurring twice in the Text (pages 506 and 508); while the name given in the Foreword is ‘Saṅghabhadra’, and the pages referred to therein are also the same—506 and 508. Which of the two is the correct form of the name? ‘Saṅghabhadra’ would appear to be so,—because we know what ‘Saṅgha’ is; while we do not know what ‘Sahanta’ is. In the body of the Translation, however, we have retained the form ‘Sahantabhadra’, because it was felt that the same misprint, if it is a misprint, could not appear twice, and in such close proximity too. It is interesting to note that ‘Samantabhadra’ is one of the names of the Buddha Himself mentioned in the Amarakoṣa.

Another interesting point regarding this third point (c) is that while the authors deal with, name and make large quotations from, the works of Śabara and Kumārila, they do not seem even to know Prabhākara; and yet Prabhākara flourished about the same time as Kumārila, if not earlier; and his views are really deserving of notice. The reason for this perhaps lay in the fact that Prabhākara does not materially deviate from Śabara, while Kumārila does deviate from him, and in his attempt to revive the ‘Āstika-patha’, he renders himself open to direct attack from the other quarter.

The list of authors provided in the Foreword does not contain the name of ‘Vātsīputra’, and yet the Author devotes Texts 336-349 to the demolishing of the Pudgala-philosophy of this writer, who is described as “saugatammanya”. Apparently he represents a distinct sect among Buddhists known as ‘Vātsīputrīya ‘Pudgala’ appears to figure very largely in the presentation of this philosophy.

The Foreword to the Text also provides us with an account of the ‘philosophy’ of our Authors (vide pp. XXXVIII-LIII); wherein we have a connected account of most of the important topics.

For all this the reader is referred to the said volume.

Here we are going to put together what details we have gleaned from the Text, in course of the translating.

Though the above-mentioned Foreword has supplied us with an exhaustive list of Authors referred to and named in the Tattvasaṅgraha and its commentary, one fails to find there the name of Tāyin who is named, and quoted from, in the Commentary on p. 12 of the Text,—and again in Śāntarakṣita’s text itself in Verse 1788. One wonders if ‘Tāyin’ is a title of one of the writers already mentioned in the Foreword. From Text 3320, it would seem as if ‘Tāyin’ were only another name for Buddha Himself; as Tāyin is here spoken of as Sarvavit’, ‘omniscient’, which epithet can apply to the Buddha only;—this same identification is indicated also in Texts 3368, 3498, 3501 (which again speaks of Tāyin as ‘omniscient’) where the commentary definitely says—‘Tāyino buddhasya’, ‘of Tāyin the Buddha’.

Under Text 1565, we have a simple explanation of the generally accepted principle that a “??hīnagnāhi jñāna”, the Cognition apprehending what has been already apprehended by another Cognition, is not Pramāṇa,—not a valid Cognition. The reason provided is that such Cognition cannot be the “sādhakatam”—the most efficient instrument of the Apprehension, which has already been brought about by another Instrument, in the shape of the previous Cognition; hence the later Cognition cannot be regarded as “pramākaraṇa, pramāṇa”, which name can be applied only to what is the “karaṇa” the “sādhanakatam”—of the Pramā, Apprehension.

I have often felt,—as Vijñānabhīkṣu also felt—that there was deep kinship between ‘Vedānta’ and ‘Buddhist Idealism’,—the only difference of importance being that while the Buddhist Idealist regarded Jñāna, like everything else, to be momentary, though real—more real, at any rate, than the External World,—the Vedanta regarded Jñāna,—at least, the Highest Jñāna, ‘Consciousness’, which is the same as ‘Soul’, the highest Self, to be the only Reality—and permanent. We have been inclined to regard this as an achievement of the Great Śaṅkarācārya, who succeeded thus in reconciling Hinduism and Buddhism and thus helping the fusion of the two.—It seems however that this feature of the ‘Vedānta’, this stressing of the eternality of ‘Jñāna’, at any rate, was older than Śaṅkarācārya,—if we admit the date usually assigned to this great writer. For Śāntarakṣita in Text No. 328 et seq., in dealing with the philosophers whom he calls “advaitadarśanāvilambinaḥ aupaniṣadāḥ”, declares (in Texts 330-331) that the defect in the philosophy of these is slight, consisting only in their regarding all Jñāna as ‘one and eternal’. “teṣāmalpāparādhaṃ tu darśanaṃ nityatoktitaḥ |”. So, if Śaṅkarācārya came after the seventh, century, he can be credited only with having emphasised this idea and thereby led to the fusion of the two Philosophies or Religions. This belief is further strengthened by a reference to the Brahmasiddhi of Maṇḍana Miśra,—which is believed to be anterior to Śaṅkarācārya.

Under Text 348 we note another parallelism between the Buddhist and Vedānta ways of dealing with the ‘Soul’, We know that, in the last resort, the Vedāntin has recourse to the idea of the ‘Soul’ being one of the Inexplicable, things. We find the same idea expressed by Śāntarakṣita and his commentator under Text 348. The question having been put—“If no such thing as the Pudgala exists, then how was it that when asked if the Jīva was different from, or the same as, the Body, the Blessed Lord only vouchsafed the answer that ‘this matter has not been explained’, why did not He say straight away that ‘there was no such thing as the Jīva, Soul, apart from the Body’?”—The only answer given by Śāntarakṣita is that the intention of the Compassionate One was the denial of Nāstikya (i.e. the view that denies the other world and other Regions); and to this end he adopted various methods’,—So that according to this also the Soul is something that has ‘not been explained’, is ‘inexplicable’, “anirvacanīya”.

On p. 16, line 7, we find mentioned a Kāvya of the name of Sītāharaṇa; the poet’s name is not given.

Under Texts 2671-2673 we have a comparison drawn between the Mīmāṃsaka’s and the Buddhist’s idea of Pralaya, Dissolution. According to the former, Dissolution consists in the destruction of particular countries and of particular families or peoples; and there is no such thing as Universal Dissolution; there is no evidence for any such Dissolution: while according to the Buddhist, there is an ‘undeniable Destruction affecting even Brahma and others, which affects the Veda also; so that Dissolution consists in “the withdrawal of the energy of Fire, Water and Air, extending horizontally over the Trisāhasra-Mahāsāhasra (?), downwards to the lowest limits of the atmospheric air, and upwards to the highest stages of Dhyāna; which affects Brahmā and other beings also”.

Text 2447 speaks of the Pārasīkas as perceiving nothing wrong in the marriage of their mother. Does this mean ‘Widow-marriage’?—or something worse?—Text 2807 speaks of these Pārasīkas as blindly adhering to their custom.

In Text 2520 the view is expressed that ‘attraction by the Magnet is due to the contact of the invisible rays of light emanating from the Magnet and penetrating the piece of Iron’, Does this indicate the knowledge of the fact that all phenomena relating to Light, Electricity and Magnetism are due to the action of the same ‘Force’ or ‘Fluid’?

The commentary on Texts 2653-2655, distinguishes between the verbal usage of the ‘Ārya’ from that of the ‘Draviḍa’.

The two important technical terms of Buddhist philosophyPratisaṅkhyānirodha’ and ‘Apratisaṅkhyānirodha’ have been variously understood. The commonly-accepted view is that these terms stand for ‘Conscious’ and ‘Unconscious Destruction’, Texts 2748-2749 bring out the other explanation. They say—“The two Nirodhas are not regarded as being of the nature of Destruction; because ‘Pratisaṅkhyā-nirodha is regarded as ‘Dissociation, one after the other, from Impurities—brought about by Wisdom’; while Apratisaṅkhyā-nirodha is that which serves as an absolute bar to the appearance of Impurities”; and this latter, adds the commentary, is due not to Wisdom, but to the inefficiency of the causes productive of the Impurities.

Text 2945 speaks of Mīmāṃsakas as ‘Prācya’ (or Procya); does this stand for ‘Easterner’? And does that indicate that Mīmāṃsā had its origin in the country to the East of Nālanda, where Śāntarakṣita is believed to have taught? This would fit in with common belief that a thousand years ago, the small land of Mithilā was able to bring together nine-hundred Mīmāṃsakas at any ordinary gathering of Pandits.

The commentary on Text 3018 tells us of the juice of the Droṇa flower as curing jaundice, when dropped into the eyes.

Text 3486 has accepted the definition of Dharma as “yato'bhyudayaniḥ?eyasasi?iḥ”.

Texts 3511-3512 tell us of a Śākhā (Rescensional Text) of the Veda,—known as ‘Nimitta’ which speaks of ‘Bhagavān-Munisattmnaḥ’,—the ‘Blessed Lord, the Best of Sages’—explained by the commentary as Śākya Muni,—as being ‘sarvajña’, ‘omniscient’.

When I was asked to undertake the translation of the Tattvasaṃgraha and its commentary, I agreed to do it, with some trepidation; because I have had no direct knowledge of the tenets of Buddhist philosophy, and I am fully conscious of the need of “gurumukhavidyā”, ‘direct teaching from the Teacher’s mouth’, in all important matters.—A careful study of the Sanskrit Introduction attached to the Text, however, gave me valuable information and as I proceeded with the work, the way became gradually smoothened, and I was enabled to complete the work.

The work is rather disappointing; it is purely and almost entirely polemical; its avowed aim being the demolition of all views contrary to the tenets of orthodox Buddhism,—the doctrinaire part of which is neatly—though not at all clearly—set forth in the six opening verses of the Text.

I cannot conclude this without thanking Dr. Benoytosh Bhattacārya, the talented Director of the Oriental Institute, for help rendered of various kinds,—and also the Baptist Mission Press who have carried through the printing with their usual efficiency.


July 16, 1938.

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