Mahayana Buddhism and Early Advaita Vedanta (Study)

by Asokan N. | 2018 | 48,955 words

This thesis is called: Mahayana Buddhism And Early Advaita Vedanta A Critical Study. It shows how Buddhism (especially Mahayana) was assimilated into Vedantic theorisation in due course of time. Philosophical distance between Mahayana Buddhism and Advaita-Vedanta became minimal with the advent of Gaudapada and Shankaracharya, who were both harbinge...

Chapter 2.2 - Structure of the Mula-Madhyamika-karika

Mula-Madhyamika-karika is known as Prajna-nama-mula-madhyamaka-karika;is the most known treatise on Madhyamika philosophy, composed by the great Buddhist master Nagarjuna. It is one of the "thirteen great texts", which form the core of the Mahayana tradition.

There are 27 chapter in this text.

  1. Examination of Conditions (Pratyaya-pariksha),
  2. Examination of Motion (Gatagata-pariksha),
  3. Examination of the Senses (Cakshuradindriya-pariksha),
  4. Examination of the Skandhas (Skandha-pariksha),
  5. Examination of the Dhatus (Dhatu-pariksha),
  6. Examination of Desire and the Desirous (Skt. Ragarakta-pariksha),
  7. Examination of the Conditioned (Samskrita-pariksha),
  8. Examination of the Agent and Action (Karmakaraka-pariksha)
  9. Examination of the Prior Entity (Purva-pariksha),
  10. Examination of Fire and Fuel (Agnindhana-pariksha),
  11. Examination of the Initial and Final Limits (Purvaparakoti-pariksha),
  12. Examination of Suffering (Duhkha-pariksha),
  13. Examination of Compounded Phenomena (Samskara-pariksha),
  14. Examination of Connection (Samsarga-pariksha),
  15. Examination of Essence (Svabhava-pariksha),
  16. Examination of Bondage (Bandhanamoksha-pariksha),
  17. Examination of Actions and their Fruits (Karmaphala-pariksha),
  18. Examination of Self and Entities (Atma-pariksha),
  19. Examination of Time (Kala-pariksha),
  20. Examination of Combination (Samagri-pariksha),
  21. Examination of Becoming and Destruction (Sambhavavibhava-pariksha),
  22. Examination of the Tathagata (Tathagata-pariksha),
  23. Examination of Errors (Viparyasa-pariksha),
  24. Examination of the Four Noble Truths (Aryasatya-pariksha),
  25. Examination of Nirvana (Nirvana-pariksha),
  26. Examination of the Twelve Links (Dvadashanga-pariksha),
  27. Examination of Views (Drishti-pariksha)

In this book, Nagarjuna gives in nutshell a picture on his essential motivation to write this text. There is no difference between Self as (Atmam) and Self as nature (Svabhava). He advocates the theory of Kshanika vada. He also discusses the ideas of Indriya, Skandha, Ayatana, Samskrita, Duhkha, Samskara, Svabhava, Dhatu, Dharma, Dharma-Nairatmya, Astitva, Nastitva, Sasvata, and Annihilation.

It discusses the Doctrine of Karma-Pudgala-Nairatmya. Imperishability of karma and so denying the existence of a personal self (permanent self) and the eternal self (Atma). Here Nagarjuna follows the Buddha’s method of analyzing the karma and recognizes the four noble truths (Aryasatyas). Then he emphasizes the Doctrine of Dependent Origination, which is the foundation of Madhyamika Buddhism. In the Nirvana Pariksha (Ch. XXV) he explained the motion of freedom and non-absolute theory of Mahayana Madhyamika dialectic. In Dvadasanga-pariksha (Ch. XXVI) Nagarjuna elaborates the Buddha’s teaching of human suffering through the bondage of tanha and how can one free oneself from the world of Phenomena arising and ceasing.

Nagarjuna makes a final comment about the attitude of the freed one (Buddha) and the ultimate goal which is freedom (Nirvana). It deals with all obsession in the way of Buddhas. And it details the right view (Samma didhi), and how he is free from all, that is Prapancopasama. Ch. III refers the six faculties and their spheres. It discusses the inner controller and denies a permanent self (Atman), the seeing and depending arising–‘Pratitya Samndpada’.

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