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Peter N. Gregory
Roger Jackson
Dept. of Religion
Carleton College
Northfield, MN 55057
University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, USA
Alexander W. Macdonald
Universite de Paris X
Nanterre, France
Ernst Steinkellner
University of Vienna
Wien, Austria
Jikido Takasaki
University of Tokyo
Tokyo, Japan
Steven Collins
Concordia University
Montreal, Canada
Robert Thurman
Columbia University
New York, New York, USA
Volume 15 1992 Number 1
This Journal is the organ of the International Association of Buddhist Studies
Inc. It is governed by the objectives of the Association and accepts scholarly'
contributions pertaining to Buddhist Studies in all the various disciplines, such
as philosophy, history, religion, sociology, anthropology, art, archaeology,
psychology, textual studies, etc. The JIABS is published twice yearly, in the
summer and winter.
Manuscripts for publication (we must have two copies) and correspondence
concerning articles should be submitted to the JIABS editorial office at the
address given below. Please refer to the guidelines for contributors to the
JIABS printed on the inside back cover of every issue. Books for review
should also be sent to the address below. The Editors cannot guarantee to
publish reviews of unsolicited books nor to return those books to the senders.
The Association and the Editors assume no responsibility for the views
expressed by the authors in the Association's Journal and other related
Editor's Address
Roger Jackson
c/o Dept. of Religion
Carleton College
Northfield, 55057 USA
Andre Bareau (France)
M N. Deshpande (India)
R. Gard (USA)
B.G. Gokhale (USA)
John C. Huntington (USA)
P.S. Jaini (USA)
Joseph M. Kitagawa (USA)
Jacques May (Switzerland)
Hajime Nakamura (Japan)
John Rosenfield (USA)
David Snellgrove (UK.)
E. Zurcher (Netherlands)
Both the Editor and Association would like to thank Carleton College for its
financial support in the production of the Journal.
Copyright The International Association of Buddhist Studies 1992
ISSN: 0193-600X
Indexed in Religion Index One: Periodicdls, American Theological Library
Association, Chicago, available online through BRS (Bibliographic Retrieval
Services), Latham, New York, and DIALOG Information Services, Palo Alto,
Composition by Institute of Buddhist Studies, Berkeley, CA 94704.
Printing by Thomson-Shore, Inc., Dexter, MI 48130.
The Violence of Non-Violence: A Study of Some
Jain Responses to Non-Jain Religious
Practices, by Phyllis Granoff
Is the Dharma-kaya the Real "Phantom Body" of
the Buddha?, by Paul Harrison
Lost in China, Found in Tibet: How Wonch'uk
Became the Author of the Great Chinese
Commentary, by John Powers
Some Observations on the Present and Future of Buddhist
Studies, by D. Seyfort Ruegg 104
The Theatre of Objectivity: Comments on Jose Cabezon's
Interpretations of mKhas grub Ije's and C.W.
Huntington, Ir.'s Interpretations of the Tibetan
Translation of a Seventh Century Indian
Buddhist Text,
by C. W Huntington, Jr. 118
On Retreating to Method and Other Postmodern Turns: A
Response to C. W. Huntington, Jr.,
by Jose Ignacio Cabez6n 134
1. Choix de Documents tibitains conservesdia
Bibliotheque Nationale complete par
quelques manuscrits de l'I ndia Office et du
British Museum, by Yo shiro Imaeda and
Tsugohito Takeuchi
(Alexander W. Macdonald) 144
2. A Concordance of Buddhist Birth Stories,
by Leslie Grey (Barend A. van Nooten) 145
Report on the 10th lABS Conference
(A. W. Macdonald)
:;Jfhe of Non-Violence:. A of
Iron Responses to Non-Jam RelIgIous

::i>' ';:
and Buddhists, often lumped together by their opponents,
,',were acutely aware of their own distinctiveness, though they may
Sriot have always been equally concerned with the challenge that
;.each represented to the other. Medieval Jain philosophers would
;;seem to have taken the Buddhists far more seriously than Buddhists
did their Jain opponents. While Haribhadra argued extensively in
?a work like the Anekiintajayapataka against Buddhist doctrine and
'Akalarika in his many writings sought to discredit Buddhist
theories of epistemology, no contemporary Buddhist seems to have
'expended as much energy on any Jain opponent. Medieval Jain
'. story literature similarly attests to the high regard in which Jains
held Buddhist teachers of logic, with many a Jain student secretly
going to learn from a Buddhist master, and often succumbing to the
. persuasiveness of the Buddhist teaching.
I know of no comparable
story material for the same time period on the Buddhist side, and
by and large it seems safe to say that medieval Buddhist philoso-
phers appear to have been far more intent upon engaging Nai-
yayikas and Mimfu:p.sakas, in effect marginalizing the J ains, whom
they do not seem to have taken seriously as partners in philosophi-
cal debate.
The situation is not radically different when we tum to a con-
sideration of actual religious practices rather than abstract thinking.
Although scholars have yet to study in any detail Jain objections
to Buddhist religious practices, there is no question that medieval
Jains were as concerned with the Buddhist concepts of compassion
nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
and self-sacrifice as they were with Buddhist arguments againslll'
existence of a permanent soul or against .e existence of exte t .t
objects of knowledge, the two major philosophical issues .
engaged them. In fact, the Jains might be said to have
themselves as the religion of compassion par excellence in
val .and to their. claim they needed show that
possIble nval claImants practIced a false compaSSIOn. Given th6
Buddhist emphasis on compassion and their opposition to
sacrifice which they shared with the J ains, it was only natural tha.t
the Jains should regard them as a major rival and that Jains would
expend considerable energy in trying to show that the B uddhistsex
emplified a wrong ideal of compassion that was in itself inherently
violent. Jains also raised objections to what they regarded as the
"easy life" of the Buddhist monks, which the Buddhists quickly
countered by accepting the criticism and turning it into a positive \
Buddhists were in a more difficult position when it Carrie
to Jain objections to Mahayana ideals, particularly the idea of)
physical self-sacrifice which dominated both story literature and"
the prescriptive texts, but it is a curious aspect of this whole debate ...
that the Buddhist response seems often to have been simply to
ignore the repeated Jain challenges to their cardinal practices; it is
only here and there that we get an occasional glimmer of Buddhist
awareness of the Jain criticisms.
Jains sought to show that Buddhist notions of compassion
enshrined in stories like the Vyaghri Jataka, in which the Buddha.,
offers his body to save a living being, in fact involve a degree of
violence that makes such compassion tantamount to murder, for the
Jains argued that the Buddha's body like all human bodies was
filled with worms, and thus in offering his body the Buddha actually
committed numerous murders.
At the same time some J ains clearly
found the story so compelling (and no doubt of such widespread
popular appeal) that they were not beyond assimilating it into their
own tradition despite all the efforts to criticize its underlying lack
of morality.6 Beyond the VyaghrJ Jataka, which is the one story
often specifically cited, Jains attacked the entire notion of self-
sacrifice prevalent in so many Buddhist stories in which the
Bodhisattva offers himself as food in times of famine as equally
""lent; the objection to this act of compassion, which the Jains
as misguided, also hinges on the fact that it involved sin for
reg . 11 . l' . h B ddh' d 7
theaters as we as Imp lcatmg t eu a m mur er.
of the Jain objections to the Buddhist of
occur in Jain texts on lay ethics, the Sravakacaras,
the topic can also be treated in a philosophical text as well.
While the most widespread objections are to the extreme acts of
celebrated in stories like the Vyaghri Jataka, Jain objections
t6Buddhist concepts of non-violence in fact cover a wide ground
lind can be understood to refer back well into the Pali vinaya, as we
shall discuss below.
Jain objections to Buddhist ethics occur in the context of a more
discussion of the duty of ahirpsa, non-violence, incum-
bertt upon all lains, and they do not always refer to the Buddhists
hy name, although there is no question in many cases that the
Buddhists are meant. The discussions mayor may not also include
'a discussion of the violence of sacrifice and of Hindu practices of
offering gifts of meat to guests and in the sraddha ceremony; where
they do not include a discussion of the Vedic sacrifice it is because
this was so obviously a fonn of violence and the discussion is
focussing on types of "non-violence" that it will show fall short of
the Jain ideal.
Invariably, the discussion includes views of other groups as
well. The group most frequently treated alongside the Buddhists
and usually mentioned by name is the sarpsaramocakas. They are
identified in one Jain text as "kutirthikas", non-Hindu ascetics but
,of false belief. The sarpsaramocakas are a mysterious group. The
majority of references to them occur in Jain Sravakacara texts
where their views on ahirpsa are countered. tor example the
Sravakacara of Amitagati refutes their views, although it does not
name them, while Hemacandra in his Yogasastra both names them
and defines them as kutirthikas, "bad ascetics."g The Sastra-
viirtasamuccaya of Haribhadra argues against their views, verses
38-40, and there is an extensive refutation of the sarpsaramocakas
in the Malayagiri commentary to the Nandisutta.
The section in
Malayagiri is clearly a summary of the arguments in the
Sravakaprajiiapti, which may well be the earliest extensive refuta-
nABS VOL. 15, NO.1
tion of the sarpsaramocakas in a Jain text. It has} comment .....
attributed to Haribhadra, and it is regarded by the Svetfunbaras<try
the earliest text on lay ethics. A recent discussion of the text
the commentary to the eighth century C. E. and the text itself ets.
some time before the end of the fifth century C. .10
Outside the Jains, the commentary of Medatithi on Manu
knows the sarpsaramocakas as a heterodox or non-Vedic groUp'
and there are references to them as a non-Vedic group scattered
t!rr0ughout orthodox texts.
Kumarila mentions them in the
Slokavarttika, as does Jayantabhana in his Nyayamanjari.
are also a number of Buddhist texts that either refer to the
sarpsaramocakas by name or at least describe practices that are
elsewhere attributed to them. They seem to have been a group that
was closely associated with the Jains and Buddhists, probably at
least by the time of the present recension of the PaIi vinaya and
certainly by the time of BuddhaghosaP
Jain discussions of ethics focus on the issue of non-violence
and much of the debate seems to have taken place amongst the
Vedic groups; in Jain eyes this was a debate between J ains,
Buddhists and oilier "tlrthikas' who had all turned from the
violence of the Vedic sacrifice, but who nonetheless saw the
meaning of "compassion" fulfilled in a variety of diverse religious
practices. In the present paper I should like to explore some of the
Jain responses to these non-Jain religious practices as they touch
upon the issue of ahirpsif. I begin with a translation of a section from
the Sravakaprajnapti dealing with the sarpsaramocakas and other
opponents. I have translated the commentary under the heading
"commentary" and where I felt that some comments were required
to make the text more easily accessible I have given them under
"remarks." I have attempted to identify the opponents whose views
are being criticized in the sections entitled "remarks"; in many
cases the available evidence indicates that it is the Buddhists
against whom the Jains argue. Following the translation I offer
some further general discussion of the Jain understandings of non-
violence. Regrettably, I must leave for a future study the challenge
of locating the exact Buddhist responses to the Jain objections, and
indeed of identifying all the viewpoints represented. At this early
of roy work my main goal shall be limited indeed: to acquaint
with the Jain arguments and call attention to this little
debate so that. others a:ay .to what! hope, will
a comprehensIve exammatIon of medIeval Indian ethlcs.
WJI.The Sravakaprajfiapti and commentary by Haribhadra
1133.' Others say this: "There are many desperately unhappy creatures who go
,.from birth to birth on account of their sins. Surely one should kill them, to get
'tid of those."
Commentary: The sentence is to be construed as follows: others, that is L'le
Samsaramocakas, state thus. And what is it that they state? They state that
, desperately unhappy creatures, beings like worms and ants, roam around in the
Jeyc1e of births, that is fall into the cycle of births, on account of sin. "On account
of sin" means by reason of their lack of merit. And since that is the case, these
creatures should be slain. There is a particle in the sentence that indicates firm
certitude: they should always be slain and never allowed to live. And why is that?
The verse says, "in order to get rid of those," which means in order to get rid of
134. Thus it is wrong to state that one should abstain from taking life in all
,circumstances. The rule should apply only to creatures who are happy.
Otherwise, to operate under any other interpretation leads to a person's
committing a fault.
Commentary: Since what was said above is correct, then one should not abstain
from taking life in all circumstances; rather only with respect to those creatures
that are happy. That is to say the proscription has as its object only happy
creatures, since only killing a happy creature can entail sin. Otherwise, that is,
if you do not subscribe to this interpretation of the proscription, you will commit
a fault. For, a person desirous of securing for himself the next world has a duty
to eradicate the sins of those who are suffering. If he does not do this, then he
is at fault, just as is the person who denies others access to renunciation or access
to the opportunity to make gifts. This is the statement of someone who objects
to our position. Now we begin the rejoinder to his objection.
Remarks: While most representations of the views of the
sarpsaramocakas attribute to them the practice of killing "miserable
creatures," which can mean both suffering creatures and lower
forms of life (ants, worms, and such), the majority of rebuttals of
nABS VOL 15, NO.1
their views specifically name lower life forms as the intend:
recipients of their compassion. Nonetheless, there are Some rebeq,
tals of their views in which higher animals' and even human bein
are included in the list of people ~ ~ be released from their m i s e ~ i >
The present text and the Malayagm commentary to the NandislItt'i'
in fact include human beings who are dreadfully sinful amongst tha
list of living beings who should be killed. This may well have beeh
the original doctrine of the sarpsfiramocakas, for it is in this fonn<
that their views are said to have influenced some Buddhists. -
The section of the Pilli Buddhist vinaya that deals with murder'
Pifriijika 3, opens with an interesting and odd story about s o m ~
monks who have just heard the Buddha lecture on the impurity of
the body. When the Buddha retires from the assembly the monks ... .
ponder what they have just learned and become exceedingly, .... .
disgusted with their bodies and their physical existence. They ask
another monk to kill them. A goddess comes from the evil Mara and .
praises the monk who has done the deed, saying that he is to be
honored, for he has released those who were not released (atiI}I}e
tifresl). Emboldened by this praise, the culprit, whose name is given ....
as Migalandika, kills a number of monks. The Buddha learns of his
deeds and proclaims the firm rule that a monk must neither take his
own life nor take the life of another.
In this story we have a clear example of a practice attributed
widely in the Jain texts to the s8rpsfiramocakas that is here said to
have occurred amongst the Buddhist monks only to be forbidden
by the Buddha. The commentary of Buddhaghosa, the Samanta-
piisiidika, supplies further interesting infonnation. The Buddha
withdraws from the monks after instructing them in the impurity
of the body and Buddhaghosa explains that he did so knowing
that these people were not ripe to understand his teachings and
knowing what would happen. He did not want anyone to attribute
the practice to the Buddha or to say that the Buddha taught his
disciples to murder each other.
To me, this reads like a careful
attempt to disavow a practice that was indeed attributed to the
Buddhists. Furthennore, Buddhaghosa notes that in her wrong
view the Goddess was saI!Jsiframocakamilakkha viya, "like the
mlecchas called Sarpsaramocakas."17 I deduce from this remark
the entire story in the vinaya the hypothesis that views
to by the were to be found
trtnongst the vanous sramcu;l1c groups, and partlcularly amongst the
'Buddhists. References in the Buddhist literature to practices that
!ire rejected under the rubric of the Jain
Srivakacaras can also be found ill Mahayana lIterature.
Thus, the Sik$asamuccaya, citing the Aryaratnamegha, says that it
ispennitted to kill someone who is about to commit one of the five
great SIllS.
>- -
135. What proof do those who state this view have that when a suffering creature
slain sin is eradicated and further bondage is not created as a result of their
constant thinking of evil thoughts? Answer: the proof is to be found in statements
that deal with existence in the realm of hell.
Commentary: What proof is there that when these suffering creatures are slain,
wat is killed, in this manner, the onI y consequence is that their sins are eradicated
and that they do not experience further bondage on account of their obsessive
dunking of evil thoughts? The author means to say that there is no such proof
that this is the case. Here the objector rejoins, there are the statements that are
applied with respect to hellish existences; that means the same statements applied
to creatures in hell can serve as proof of our assertion. The next verse goes on
to say exactly what the objector means here.
136. For, as those creatures are constantly slain by wicked supernatural beings,
although they are constantly absorbed in evil thoughts, they do not acquire
bondage in the same way as they destroy their sins.
Commentary: "Those creatures" means creatures in hell. To say that they are
slain means that they are beaten. And by whom are they beaten? By wicked
supernatural beings such as Ambaand the others. Constantly means without stop.
They are constantly absorbed in evil thoughts. Despite this they do not acquire
bondage in the same way as they get rid of their bad deeds through their suffering.
This is the gist of the verse. How do we know this to be the case? In response
to that question our objector replies:
137. Because they do not have the karma that will result in their falling again
into hell, for they are never reborn there right away. And in the absence of those,
they still exhaust their sins through the torments that they inflict on each other.
Commentary: Because they do not have the karma that will result in their falling
. nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
into hell: a creature in hen never acquires the karma that would make h'f;
into hell again right away. The reason why we can say this is then given: b: a
no creature immediately, that is to say, as soon as he gets out of hell, is born
that is to say takes birth again in hell. For the Jains do not believe that a
having lived in hell, is immediately reborn in hell once more. And so the
means that just as this is agreed to be the case, so should it be allowed that wh!
a miserable creature is murdered he does not acquire further bondage on
of his evil obsessions, but rather gets rid of his sins. This is the general intentio t.
of the objector. The verse continues: "and in the absence of those." This mean
in the absence of those supernatural beings who tonnent the creatures in hell .
the realms known as mud-hell and the other realms in which these supemauri-al
beings are not present, they still exhaust their sins through the torments they.
inflict on each other, that is, through the pains they inflict on each other, as it is
said in the Tattvarthadhigamasiitra, 3.4, "They suffer terrible pains that they.
inflict on each other." From this statement it is clear that their getting rid of their
sins has only that as its cause; even in the aprati$t/1anahell, there is no other cause
for getting rid of sin. The objector, in order to make this clear, anticipates an
objection to his last point and thus says:
138. Even in the aprati$t/1ana hell it is through suffering that a creature gets rid
of his sins. For in the absence of that, a god there cannot exhaust those sins.
Commentary: Even in aprathi$t/1ana, that is to say in the seventh hell, only
through suffering, that is to say through the pain born from being raised up and
cast down, is the eradication of sin accomplished, and not by any other means.
This is so because we see that in the absence of that, which means in the absence
of suffering, a god, a divine being, there, in that hell cannot exhaust that karma,
the flow of which results in the experience of hell (this means that we allow that
a god can somehow be born there; the verse also has a particle "and" meaning
that the god when he is elsewhere is always free from suffering, which is also
the case when he visits hell).
Remarks: The objector to the Jain doctrine that one should abstain
from taking life under all conditions has proposed a restriction to
this general rule: one should abstain from taking the life of happy
creatures, but one should in fact always take the life of miserable
creatures, for this will allow them to be released from their sins. The
Jain in tum has objected that creatures when they are deprived of
life become absorbed in evil thoughts, raudradhyiina. This leads to
bondage. It is therefore a moot point whether killing some creature
in the end benefits that creature: while the creature may get rid of
1':;< e past sins, he acquires new bad karma through his obsessive
saID -1_ dh - . di d . J .
iiI thoughts. Rauwa yana Isscusse m many am texts; a
vivid example is the story of King Brahmadatta told by
in his Yogasastra, IL27ff. Brahmadatta is so obsessed
'>ith his hatred of the Brahmins whom he has ordered blinded that
fingering a bowl of grapes imagining them to be the eyes of
!the Brahmins he has had punished. For the sin of such wicked
thoughts Brahmadatta goes to hell. Raudradhyana is particularly
associated with the moment of death; like many groups in India the\
:Jains stress the necessity of controlling one's thoughts at death to
'insure a good rebirth.
. The objector to the Jain position attempts to argue his way out
bfthe conundrum posed by the Jain by using doctrines familiar to
the J ains. He refers in some detail to the Jain concept of hell. The
Jains believe that there are seven hellish realms. In all of them
creatures suffer terribly. The Jains agree that through their suffer-
ings these hellish creatures are rid of the bad deeds that brought
them to hell in the first place; it may also be argued that they may
also experience terrible obsessive thoughts, or raudradhyana, but
the doctrine nonetheless allows that the eradication of sin is the
more powerful influence. This is why no creature is reborn from
hell back into hell; all creatures leave hell for another rebirth after
which of course there is no bar to their being reborn again in hell.
The last verse is not entirely clear to me. I interpret the text and
commentary to mean that it is obvious that suffering causes the
eradication of sin because we see in the case of gods who visit even
the worst of the hells that nothing happens to their own sins; gods
do not suffer, and thus we know that it is the absence of their
suffering that entails the absence of eradication of sin.
139. Therefore, killing them, even if it leads to their harboring evil thoughts, is
the cause of eradicating their sins and should not be considered a wrong doing.
Commentary: Since what is said above is correct, then, killing them, which
means murdering those suffering begins, even though it leads to their harboring
bad thoughts, that is, even though it causes them to think bad thoughts and
produces in them many different types of mental anguish, still, it is the cause of
eradicating their sins, that is to say it is the means of putting an end to the sins
nABS VOL. 15, NO.1
of those suffering peings. For this reason it is not to be regarded as a Wrong d ..>(
This is the position of the SaI!1saramocaka, who is opposed to the Jain do
being expounded in this text. The response to that position is as
' .")<
140. For the moment we shall forget aU else. What good comes to that on.
the eradicating of sins? The end to karma? What caused that in your
Commentary: At this point in the discussion let us put aside for the mome'i
whatever else needs to. be said. "In the eradicating of sins" means in
eradicating of the sins of those suffering creatures. "To that one" means
person who causes the eradication, namely the person who kills the
creature. What good comes to him? The question is legitimate becauseno
reasonable man acts without considering the result of his actions. Now you might
think thus: The end to karma. That is, you might believe that the good that comes
to the murderer is an end to his own karma. If that is your view, then I ask you,
my opponent, what had caused that karma in the first place according to your
141. If it was caused by ignorance, then only from the removal of that can it be
removed. What use is that act of murder? Or do you imagine that the absence
of that is its cause?
Commentary: If you should think that it was caused by ignorance, that is to say
it was brought about by ignorance, well then, only from the removal of that, that
is to say, only from the cessation of ignorance can there be removal of it or
cessation of it. "It" in all of this refers to karma; it can only be stopped from the
removal of its cause for it is generally admitted that a product ceases to appear
in the absence of its cause. If this is what you hold, then in that case, what has
the act of murder to do with anything? For it does not affect karma in the sense
of being opposed to it in any way. Perhaps you imagine that the absence of that,
meaning the absence of the act of murder, is the cause of the karma? In that case
we reply:
142. In that case there results the unwarranted conclusion that even released souls
would have karma and release would be meaningless. Or do you think that such
a one gains merit? Even that cannot be, because there is also obstruction.
Commentary: There would result the unwarranted conclusion that even released
souls would have karma, since karma is caused by the absence of the act of
murder and released souls surely do not commit murder. In this way release
would be totally meaningless, as it would be accompanied by bondage as well.
Or perhaps you think in this way: such a one, that is, the person who kills a
suffering creature, gets as his reward some kind of merit, and not the destruction
ii' it own karma, Even that cannot be, that is, even that merit cannot be the good
to him, for an obstruction is also caused which prevents your view
true. This is made clear in the next verse.
,-tt":' - ,
those he must an obstacle to their
'ijow could tha.t gam ment, for It cannot have any cause, Just as ill the
'case with eradlcatmg sms.
, :
By killing, that is, murdering, those, which means those suffering
, of necessity, that is, without fail, the murderer creates, that is brings
an obstacle to their making merit. "Their" means the suffering creatures.
'porifthey had lived they might have made merit for themselves by killing other
miSerable creatures. And when those suffering creatures are themselves slain,
,then since they cannot go on to kill others we must admit that an obstacle has
been put in the path of their making merit for themselves. Since that is so, how
can that one, that is, how can the murderer, have gained merit? The question is
Ineant to imply that he cannot in any way gain merit because there is no cause
for such merit. This is the correct way of construing the syntax of the verse. To
amplify the logic here, you cannot argue that there is a cause of merit for the
. murderer, for something that causes an obstacle to merit-making in another being
talmot at the same time be a cause of merit to someone else. The verse supplies
!II1 example: just as in the case with eradicating their sins. Here "their" refers to
the suffering creatures who are being killed. The gist of the verse is this: You
maintain that killing suffering creatures is the cause of eradicating your own sins;
at the same time, since those creatures who are killed cannot go on to kill other
creatures, there will be no cause for the eradication of their own sins and so how
can their sins ever be eradicated?
Remarks: The argument in this verse seems to be as follows. The
Jain has asked his opponent to explain what benefit the murderer
gets from killing miserable creatures. The first response is given in
verse 140: the murderer benefits because by killing miserable
creatures he gets rid of his own adverse karma. The answer to this
is given in verse 141: a product is only terminated by removing its
cause. The absence of murder is not the cause of the murderer's bad
karma, but ignorance is. Only by removing his ignorance can the
murderer in fact remove his own bad karma. In verse 143 the
opponent is allowed to suggest that the murderer is benefitted not
because he eradicates his own bad karma, but because he gains
some good karma, some merit. This is also rejected. The grounds
for rejecting this position are simple: when the murderer kills a
nABS VOL. 15, NO.1
miserable creature he not only stops it from doing wrong; he als
stops it from making merit for itself. If you assume that mUrderin?
an unfortunate creature brings merit, then When some unfonunal
creature is murdered it obviously cannot make any merit for itseli
by killing some other miserable being. To murder, then, preventS
merit-making. 'What is obstructive of merit-making cannot also
give rise to merit. A single act or entity cannot be both the cause
of something and the cause of that same thing's destruction; this
would be contrary to common sense. The commentator then
proceeds to apply this exact same logic to the first alternative
advanced, namely that the act of murder brings about the eradica-
tion of karma for the murderer. The commentary argues that in this
case too the murdered creature is prevented from eradicating his
own bad karma by murdering other creatures. Thus, the opponent's
position implies that murder is both the cause of eradicating kanna
and an act that prevents the eradication of karma, an obvious
impossibility. It also implies that the victim can never accomplish
the eradication of his own karma because he is prevented from
performing acts of murder himself, and those acts of murder are
assumed to be the cause of eradicating karma. The commentary
therefore concludes that murder cannot lead to the removal of the
murderer's bad karma.
144. Perhaps you think that the cause of it is the act of murderrelated to the agent;
well, then, why bother to kill another creature? Kin yourself if you want to get
rid of your karma!
Commentary: Or perhaps you think in this way: Killing, that is the desire to kill,
related to the agent, that is, present in the agent, is the cause of it. "It" here means
the eradication of karma. If this is your position, then why bother to kill another?
For in this case nothing further would be accomplished by killing another
creature. You should kill yourself if you want to get rid of your karma, for you
acknowledge that the act of killing operating in the agent is the cause and nothing
Remarks: With this verse the opponent attempts to get out of the
difficult position in which he has been placed. He is given the
chance to argue that even if killing a suffering creature prevents that
;/ eature from doing merit or from getting rid of its own bad karma,
to merit or of karma fo: agent of
The causal relatlOns.hlp IS ?ot a
in general and ment-making or eradicatlon of karma III
. This to the that A's killing creature :s b?th
the eradicatlon of kanna (m A) and prevents the eradIcatlOn
Of karma (in B). In this situation, one act was both the cause of a
and the cause of the absence of that same result. Now the
;()pponent argues with a more restricted causal relationship: the
;desn-e to kill in agent A is the cause of the eradication of karma in
agent A only. Conversely, the absence ofthe cause now interpreted
as a desire to kill present in agent A, can only lead to the absence
ofits product, the eradication of A's bad karma. It is no longer ac-
ceptable to say that because A kills B and B cannot have a desire
tokill some other creature C then the act of killing done by A leads
to both the presence of the eradication of karma in A and its absence
in B. The desire to kill pertains to A alone: it leads only to the
presence of the eradication of karma in A.
What the opponent has forgotten is that this negates the whole
enterprise: he began by trying to prove that you should kill suffering.
creatures to eradicate their sins or bad karma. Now he says that the
murder has nothing to do with the victim, only with the agent. In
that case, the Jain rejoins, forget the victim, who serves no purpose.
Why don't you just kill yourself, putting an end to further sin quite
145. Or do you argue that the murder is the cause for the eradication of karma
for both? That cannot be, for it is produced by that. And something that is
produced by a cause that is not opposed to the means for that very thing's absence
does not cease even in the presence of that something else.
Commentary: Perhaps you think thus: The murder is the cause for the eradication
of karma for both, that means for both the murderer and the victim. This is
because the act of murder pertains to both the agent and its object and requires
both as its cause. The answer to this hypothesis is as follows. This cannot be the
case. Why? Because that karma is in fact produced by it; this means to say that
the karma is in fact produced by the act of murder which is absolutely opposed
to and cannot coexist with that which brings about the eradication of karma that
you wish to see happen. So what, you ask? The verse goes on to explain. Consider
nABS VOL. 15, NO.1
the case of an entity that is produced from a cause, where that cause can CClex'
with or is not opposed to the cause of destruction of that very entity. In s u c ~ s t
caSe that entity does not cease to be, that is to say; the entity in question is n a.
destroyed even in the presence of that something else. By the Words "th ot
something else" is meant that which is not opposed to and can coexist with t:
cause of destruction of that entity. He clarifies this very point in the next ver:'
146. The cold of ice goes away in the presence of fire, but heat does not. If you
refuse to admit this, then you will be forced to admit some unwarranted conse"
Commentary: Only the cold of ice goes away in the presence of fire, because the
fire cannot coexist with or is opposed to that which causes the coldness. Heat
does not go away, since fire is not opposed to and can coexist with that which
causes the heat. If you refuse to admit this, namely that a product ceases to be
on account of something that is incompatible with its cause, then you will be
forced to admit some unwarranted consequence. The unwarranted consequence
is that there will be no order to the world; just as you allow what you want to
see destroyed to be destroyed even from something that does not block the cause
of that thing, so you will have to admit that countless other unrelated entities may
vanish. The next verse states this forcibly.
147. In that case, all kinds of things can cease to be on account of all sorts of
other things. And in this way it would result that nothing at all would exist,
because all things depend on other things.
Commentary: In that case, meaning if you accept the unwarranted consequence,
then anything at all might cease to be in the presence of anything else. And this
is so because you admit that something can cease to be on account of another
entity that is not in contradiction to it. The verse then goes on to say what is wrong
with such a situation. In this way it would result that nothing at all would exist;
that is to say the absence of absolutely every entity in the world would result.
Why is that? Because all things depend on other things. In other words, one thing
will cease even on account of something that is not inherently opposed to it and
this will go on and on until nothing is left.
Remarks: The argument in these verses revolves around one central
principle: if you wish to argue that in the presence of a given act
or entity (A) some other act or entity (B) is destroyed or ceases to
exist, then you must also admit that a certain special relationship
exists between (A) and (B). That relationship is that (A) is
with the cause of (B). For two entities or acts to be
'{fncornpatible means that they cannot coexist. The standard example
incompatible entities is hot and cold, and the Jain makes use
i;'jjfthis example in verse 146. Everyone admits that in the presence
roffrre the coldness produced by ice vanishes. This is because fIre
;js incompatible, that is to say, cannot coexist with the cause of that
;'boldness, which is ice. The fIre melts and destroys the ice and
its cause is removed the coldness ceases to be produced.
,!'fire is not incompatible with heat, for example the heat produced
;bY the sun. That is why even in the presence of fire, heat does not
When this rule is applied to the question at hand, we find that
the opponent is arguing that in the presence of murder, (A), bad
karma, (B), disappears or ceases to exist. Now the Jain begins by
..... asking, what was the cause of that bad karma to begin with? The
opponent must admit that the cause of that bad karma cannot
,possibly coexist with the act of murderfor the opponent to maintain
" that in the presence of the act of murder bad karma ceases. In my
understanding of the verse you now need to supply another step. It
was established in verse 141 above that the cause of bad karma is
ignorance, ajiiiina. The present argument now asserts that murder
is totally incompatible with the cause of karma, or that murder is
totally incompatible with ignorance. This means in effect that the
desire to kill can exist only in the absence of ignorance, or in
enlightened beings. We now have the absurd conclusion that only
enlightened beings are murderers or that released souls would still
commit murder, which no one admits.
One possible way out of this absurdity is for the opponent to
insist that the act of murder or the desire to murder and the cause
of karma, ignorance, are not mutually incompatible. The problem
with this is that it violates the rule stated in verse 145 that you
cannot maintain that (A) and the cause of (B) are not mutually
incompatible and insist that in the presence of (A), (B) disappears
or ceases to be produced. If you do admit this then the world
suddenly tumbles into chaos. If you admit that in the presence of
(A) any other entity, even an entity the cause of which is not
- -
nABS VOL. 15, NO.1
incompatible with (A) disappears, then in the presence of a p
even paper would vanish. Since all entities exist in the presence ~ i ....
other entities and no single act or entity in the world exists ?
isolation from other acts or entities, then it is easy to see why th
entire world would simply vanish from sight. e
Another possibility is what is given in verse 148. Karma is n a ~
caused by something that is incompatible with murder, narby;
something that is compatible with murder. Since no third possibil_ .
ity exists where two entities are the negation of each other, then>
karma cannot have any cause at all.
148. Or do you maintain that karma is uncaused? In that case how can you say
it exists? And how would it cease to be? For entities like the ether cannot be
destroyed by anything at all.
Commentary: Or perhaps you think: thus: That karma is uncaused, that is to say,
has no cause. In response the verse says that in that case it would not exist at all,
any more than the horns of a rabbit can be said to exist, because it has no cause.
Anticipating the objection that the general relationship, "whatever has no cause
does not exist, like the horns of a rabbit" does not hold as a universal proposition
since the ether, which has no cause, is accepted as existent, the author of the verse
says, "And how would it cease to be?" This means, "and how would it be
destroyed?" He clarifies this last statement by saying, "For entities like the
ether," which means entities like the ether and dhanna in the Jain system, are not
destroyed by any means, by axes and the like. They are eternal, because they are
149. And for these reasons as well, since it cannot have any result, one should
never slay living beings. After all, it is caused by killing living creatures and so
how can it be stopped by that very same act?
Commentary: And for these reasons, that is to say, because karma that is
uncaused can never be destroyed, since it cannot have any result, that is to say,
since it is devoid of any result in the form of eradication of karma, one should
never slay living beings. The verse then refutes this possible viewpoint, that
karma is both caused by the act of murder and destroyed by that very act of
murder. How, that is, by what means, could it be stopped, that is to say, could
it be eliminated, through that very same act, meaning through that act of murder?
Here "it" means karma. And this is said because it is generally admitted that the
same entity cannot both come to be and cease to be from the same cause; in that
case it would never come to be at all.
Therefore, it is the cause of eradicating karma that is acquired
the slaying of livin.g ?eings, one should strictly observe the vow of
from that act This IS known as saf!1vara.
: Therefore, that. is t.o say, since karma caused by murder: then
it is the cause of that karma acqUIred the slaymg of
.;\'llviDg beings, one obse:ve the V?W of that act.
act" means the taking of life. TIus abstentIon from taking life IS a form of
and should be done as a fIxed duty. That is the meaning of the word
iV"'stt;ctly" in the verse. The Jain then goes on to ask the opponent further
:',Remarks: Smpvara is a technical term in Iainism that refers to
;"practices that prevent the further influx of karma.
151. And why do you abstain from committing acts of murder with respect to
'creatures that are happy? Is it you think that they have no sin? Well, there
. still could result the eradication of their merit, for in the presence of it release
cannot occur.
Commentary: And why do you abstain from acts of murder, that is why do you
desist from killing, with respect to happy creatures? Is it you think they
have no sin, since merit must be the cause of their happiness? The author of the
. verse anticipates this answer and responds. The act would still have its result in
the destruction of their merit. And so why would you abstain from killing with
respect to those particular creatures? If you should ask, how is it that the
destruction of merit can be counted as a good result of the act of murder, then
the answer is that in the presence of it, meaning, in the presence of merit, release
cannot occur. Release is the primary goal and it would not exist, since it is caused
by an absence of both sin and merit.
152. Or perhaps you think that such a creature on his own eradicates that. Why
doesn't the other one eradicate that other thing himself, too? They too in time
eradicate their karma; the act of murder only hastens the process.
Commentary: Or perhaps you think thus: Such a creature, meaning a happy
creature, eradicates that, meaning his merit, on his own, meaning by himself. He
does this by experiencing it on his own. In answer to such an anticipated
statement by the opponent the author of the verse replies, "Why doesn't the other
one eradicate that other thing himself, too?" Here "the other one" means a
suffering creature. "That other thing" means sin. The question is meant to imply
nABS VOL 15, NO.1
that indeed a sutTering creature does eradicate his own sin on his own. Next th
author of the verse anticipates this reply from his opponent. "In time", meani . e.
over a long period of time, he does indeed eradicate his sin; nothing un tow
is done in our theory. The process is merely speeded up by the act of mllrd
That sin which can only be experienced and thereby eradicated over a very
period of time is turned into a sin that can be experienced and eradicated in a Sho!'
space of time by the act of killing. In answerto this anticipated statement of hi
opponent the Jain replies in the next verse. s ..
Remarks: The answer of the opponent given at the end of this verse.
refers to the Jain concept of upakrama. Initially the term seems to
have been applied to the notion of a life-span; every creature is borri
with a determined or fixed life-span. The determination is accom-
plished by a special type of karma that controls the length a creature
will live in a given rebirth. At the same time, it is often observed'
that some living beings meet a "premature death," struck down by
a murderer, for example in the prime of their lives. This gave rise
to the concept of "upakrama", an external cause that shortens the
time or life-span over which a living being was to live out his
karma. The opponent is arguing that while it is true that karma, both
good karma (merit) and bad karma (sin) are naturally exhausted as
a creature lives out its life span, murdering miserable creatures does
have a function. It acts as an upakrama, a means to shorten the life-
time of suffering over which the creature would otherwise have
exhausted his karma.
153. Why is not the same done for that other thing that happy creatures have by
providing them with more and more instruments of pleasure? Because there
would be no gain in having it exhausted; for after all it brings them ,pleasure.
Commentary: "That other thing" means merit. Why do you not offer an
upakrama, a shortening of the time over which karma is exhausted, in the case
of happy creatures, by providing them with more and more instruments of
pleasure? By this is meant things like Kashmiri saffron paste and unguents of
turmeric with which to anoint themselves. Or perhaps your reasoning is thus:
There would be nothing gained by shortening the time for them to experience
their karma. There would be no gain in having it, meaning having that merit,
exhausted. And why is that? For after all, it brings them pleasure. By this the
verse means to say, after all, that merit gives rise to nothing but pleasure. The
author of the verse anticipates all of this on the part of the opponent and
r. 21
,.:+, w the next verse.

. Release is bliss, with?ut And it take
'hen there remams ment. And so why IS there nothmg to be gamed? If you thmk
existsthe suspicion that that one might go on to commit sins, then
'Where is the guarantee for the other case?
Commentary: Release is the ultimate bliss, without comparison. This is because
itisthe total absence of all obstructions; both of us admit that. And it cannot take
place when there. .merit. This is one .of its is the
.destrUction of ment. ThIS bemg the case, why IS there nothing to be gamed? The
means to imply that there is certainly much to be gained in speeding up
the process through which merit is exhausted. Perhaps you would argue that there
exists the suspicion that that one might go on to commit sins, for there is no
guarantee that after his merit has been exhausted through the process of
upakrama he will definitely experience release and will not have any further sins.
In answer to this possibility the author of the verse says, "then where is the
guarantee for the other case?" "The other case" means the case in which sin is
!eradicated. How can you be sure that the act of murder speeding up the
exhaustion of sin will bring about a good result and not an even worse result?
,He goes on to clarify this last point further in the next verse.
155. It might very well be that a miserable creature, having been slain, would go
to hell; ifleft alive, he might kill many others and not go there ever. Why is there
not room for doubt?
Commentary: It might very well be that a miserable creature, for example, a
fishennan, having been slain, would go to hell. This is the correct syntax of the
verse. On the other hand by your own admission, that kanna which results in a
sojourn in hell can be brought to a quick fruition through the process of
upakrama; thus, that same person if left alive, meaning if not killed, might slay
many other miserable creatures, and by your own admission those acts would
lead to the eradication of his bad karma and to the fact that he would never go
to helL Since this is the case, then why is there not room for doubt? In other
words, why is there not room for doubt in the case of eradicating sin as well as
in the case of destroying merit? Now the author returns to the example of
creatures in hell which was given earlier.
156. Generally speaking, creatures in hell are subject to such severe bodily pain
that they do not experience extreme mental modifications, just as is the case with
living beings when they are overcome by too much pain.
Commentary: Creatures in hell were adduced earlier as an example. Generally
they do not experience extreme mental modifications such as cruel thought since
nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
they are subject to such severe bodily pain, or.m other words, they suffe'{<
terrible ?odily pain, a result of their karma, resulted in their
reborn III hell. Such IS known to be the case WIth hvmg beings When
consciousness is overshadowed by excessive sensations of pain. This last
is strengthened in the next verse. . mt
. .,-;
157. Here living beings, overwhelmed, confused in mind, exhausted by th'>
experience of pain, thinking of nothing else, do not experience various PasSio
th h b' ns
WI . respect to ot er 0 Jects.
Commentary: "Here"means in the realm of animals."Overwhelmed" means;
reduced to an entirely different state by the many sensations of pain. "ConfUSed
in mind" means that their minds are incapable of perfonning their proper sPecific>
functions. "Exhausted by their experience of pain" means completely weakened
by their knowing so much pain. "Thinking of nothing else" means thinking only
of their experience of that pain. To say that such creatures "do not experience
various passions with respect to other objects" means that they do not experience
such men tal modifications such as passionate desires for women. This is because
all of their thoughts and mental processes are exhausted in focusing on their pain ..
158. Because they lack strong passions or hatreds what bondage they do acquire .
is slight. Because they are subject to delusion their eradication of karma is also
not terribly impressive.
Commentary: Since the above holds true, it follows that because they lack strong
passions or hatreds what bondage they do acquire is slight. "They" here refers
to those creatures that are overwhelmed by sensations of pain. This is true
because the cause of that bondage is a weak cause. And because they are subject
to delusion even their eradication of bondage is not terribly impressive. This is
because they lack such necessary specific causes as right knowledge. The next
verse continues to illustrate how their eradication of bondage is not very
159. The amount of karma that a creature in hell eradicates over many billions
of years can be eradicated by a wise man who is well protected by the three, in
no more than the time it takes to inhale a single breath.
Commentary: The verse begins "The amount of karma a creature in hell
eradicates over many billions of years"; one should add that in so doing that
creature in hell suffers terribly. The wise man, by abandoning all activity,
protected by the three guptis, watchful of mind, speech and body, eradicates that
same amount of karma in no more than the time it takes to inhale a single breath.
beCause the causes pure mental modifications
tense desire for the rehglOus life, eXIst for hIm to a very strong degree. In
, .. th
:, elusion the Jam gIves e next verse:
' ,
It is for this reason that creatures in hell, having done wicked deeds, and
);i,reawres who are miserable, here, both do not experience bondage to the same
,cr . di'
'(degree as they expenence era canon.
"It is for this reason" means for the reason just given above. In the
r{Sentence, "Creatures in hell, having done wicked deeds, and in the very same
creatures who are here" the word "here" means in the present
'discussion. They do not expenence bondage to the same degree as they
,experience the eradication of their sins because for the most part they are not
subject to obsessive wicked thoughts.
;tRemarks: Earlier in the debate, with verse 135, the Jain had asked
; his opponent how the opponent could be sure that killing a ,
creature resulted in the eradication of that creature's sins '
':arid not in further sin. The further sin, the Jain asserts, would come
from the fact that when a living being is being slain, he sinks into
. raudradhyana, obsessive evil thoughts. Raudradhyana is invariably
.the cause of a terrible rebirth, more painful than the rebirth in which
',' the living being cultivated those bad thoughts. The opponent had
. answered that the situation could be closely paralleled by the state
that the Jain himself believes obtains in hell. The Jain believes that
creatures in hell suffer terribly and are beaten and slain but that they
do not as a result get worse rebirths in even lower hells; in fact a
,creature in hell cannot be reborn in hell immediately. He must fIrst
be reborn elsewhere and then can fall back into hell. For creatures
in hell the dominant experience of pain leads to eradication of bad
karma and not further bad karma.
With the present series of verses the Jain seeks to explain why
creatures in hell do not accumulate even more bondage. He argues
that this is because they are so overwhelmed by their pain they do
not sink into raudradhyana; they do not focus on their obsessive
hatreds or lusts since their thoughts are fully absorbed with their
experience of pain. The opponent must now prove that such would
also be the case with a miserable creature that was being murdered.
This is the point made in the next verse.
22 nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
161. Or is it the case that the act of slaying and nothing else give
to such a state and so it is to be done? This cannot be correct, because its S
would then constitute bondage.
Commentary: Or perhaps you think thus: "The act of slaying someone," that',
the act of killing, gives rise to "such a state." By the words "such
a of confusion: being by pain. This state: given the smaJ,1
amount of bondage Involved, IS m fact the cause for the eradication of kar1ll
Nothing else can eradicate karma. For this reason "it" is to be done. In
sentence "it" means the act of slaying. Having anticipated this rejoinder fromthd-
opponent the Jain now answers, "This cannot be correct, because its OPposite:
would then constitute bondage," The opposite of slaying is not slaying. That:
would be bondage. Were that not so, then you would not have the eradication
of karma from the act of slaying since in that case the two would not be::
incompatible with each other.
Remarks: Now the opponent is permitted to argue that the act
slaying some creature produces the same kind of state of mental
confusion that creatures in hell suffer and that prevents their sinking>'
into obsessive cultivation of evil thoughts. This would mean that
when you slay a miserable creature he does indeed eradicate more
bad karma than he acquires and thus there is a net gain to the act
The Jain returns with an argument that he has already used: if
slaying a creature puts an end to karma, then one must assume, by
the argument given in verses 145 and 146, that the act of slaying
a living being cannot coexist with the cause of karma. By a general
rule entities do not coexist with their own absence; therefore the
cause of karma or bondage is now the absence of slaying. This also
returns to the argument in verse 141.
162. And in this way would result the faults adduced earlier, for example, that
released souls would suffer bondage; there would surely be nothing to stop the
many contradictions to your own doctrine that would flow unchecked.
Commentary: "And in this way" means with the absence of the act of slaying
being the cause of bondage. The faults adduced earlier, for example that released
souls would suffer bondage, would hold and there would be nothing to stop the
many contradictions to your own doctrine that would flow unchecked. By this
the verse means that there would be many contradictions of the
that you accept once you allow that the eradication of karma can be
'dOC . f urd "S 1" uld 'd h d'
by an acto mer. ure y means you co not avOl t e contra lC-

Thus this false view is beset by of faults; it is self-contradictory
what everyone knows to be true. It 1ll1presses only fools. Enough then
.. th. is discussion!
"Thus" means in this way. It is beset by hundreds of faults; it is
and against what everyone knows to be true; it impresses only
this doctrine proposed by the Sarpsaramocakas. Enough, let us finish with
we debate another position.
$'164. Others state that, since unexpected bad consequences might result from
from taking life, both sin. Such people have not understood the true
IJmeaning of our doctrine.
YtOlnlnentary: "Others" means other debaters. Because there is the possibility
unexpected bad consequences result, they say the following: From the
{"abstention of taking life both men, that is to say, both the one who refrains from
; taking life and the person who orders him to refrain from taking life, accumulate
ibad karma; they sin. "Such people have not understood the true meaning of our
doctrine" means that they have not grasped the real intention of our scriptures.
In the next verse the Jain explains what is meaQt by the phrase, "unexpected bad
.... consequences."
165. A lion or other similar creature was not slain by someone who was capable
.... of killing any creature at all but had taken a vow to abstain from killing animals.
As a result that lion was left alive to kin the leading monk of the community.
Commentary: The phrase "capable of killing any creature" means that the
individual in question was able to kill extremely violent animals like lions; he
had taken the minor vow to abstain from killing animals. The phrase "lion or
other similar creature" includes such animals as the mythical sarabha. Such an
animal was not killed, but by that animal the leading monk of the community
was slain. The term "leading monk of the community" refers not just to any monk
but to that monk, the great teacher, who knows all the scriptures; only one such
outstanding monk can exist in a generation. The verse means to offer this as an
hypothetical but possible scenario.
24 nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
. 166. And from that resulted a total break in the transmission of the Jain teach ./<.:
a terrible loss to many living beings. Now explain in what way there
no fault for those people. .",
Commentary: "And from that" means from the death of that teacher. A
break in the Jain teachings is a terrible loss, that is a severe loss, to many liv"};
beings. This is those living beings desir?us of release
no longer have aVaIlable to them such requrrements as nght faith, right"
knowledge and right conduct. And since this is so, in what way would there . '
no fault for those people? "Those people" means those who abstain from takiri
life and order others to abstain from taking life. Since they have become the ....
of destruction themselves, they would indeed have committed a sin.
167. Therefore one should not carry out a vow of abstention. Instead one should
consider carefully what is appropriate in a situation and act accordingly.
Commentary: Since what has been said above is true then one should not carry
out a vow of abstention from taking life. Instead one should consider carefully
what is appropriate in a situation, that is, what is appropriate at that particular
time, and act accordingly. By this is meant that one should do what is best for
everyone else. In response to this the Jain says:
168. Could it not be that the teacher, having been protected from being slain by.
the lion, somehow or other would commit some sin and in the end turn out to
do harm to himself and to others?
Commentary: If you want to include in your consideration the possibility of
unexpected bad consequences, then this is also possible. Protected from being
slain by the lion, that teacher, somehow or other, that is through the ripening of
some bad karma, might commit some sin, for example sleeping with a woman
or enjoying something else forbidden. In this way he would do harm to himself,
by making karma that would result in his inability to come to know the true
doctrine, and to the lay community, by causing them to lose faith. Such a scenario
is perfectly possible.
169. And in this way would not the cause of the Faith suffer? And would not that
lion, having been slain, go to hell? If it had lived might 1t not have obtained the
right belief?
Commentary: "And in this way would not the cause of the Faith suffer?" means
in fact the cause of the Faith would suffer. And that lion, having been slain, that
is to say, having been killed, on account of his cruel temperament, will surely
Si';;> ,gone to hell. If it had lived, might it not have obtained right belief? This
that it have obtained the right belief if it had come into contact
{C'tIl an exceptIonally nghteous person.
is it not possible that that one, not having been killed by it, m.ight be
by a snake? not the very fault adduced also result 10 your
':;.;\\iiew? Thus we may dismISS It.
And is it not possible that that teacher, not having been killed, that
l,,'stosay, not having been slain, by that lion, might become careless in the night
might be bitten by a snake or serpent? All of this is possible. And so why
not the fault that you adduce also result in your view? Thus we may
f(Jismiss it; that is we must consider it in your view as well. And since that is so,
There is some evidence that at least some religious
::ipractitioners actually did subscribe to the logic of the
;,iSrivakaprajiiaptihere and argued that a teacher, having reached the
;;Shighest state of meditation, should indeed be willfully slain by his
" , disciples to prevent the possibility of his falling from his high level
of attainment.
Amrtacandra in his Srfivakficfira, the
'siddhyupaya, speaks out against a student who would cut off his
>:reacher's head as the teacher perfects his meditative state.
the examples from Buddhist literature familiar to me deal with
'isuicide and not with murder, the same logic could indeed apply to
'both cases.
171. ... One would even have to stop totally from giving food to others; for is
it not possible that faults like bad indigestion might result?
Commentary: One would even have to stop totally from giving food, since
,unexpected consequences are possible. This, being the case one would be
compelled not to give food. The word "even" is meant to indicate that the same
logic would apply to not giving food. And so there result in either case bad
consequences; in the case of giving food, "bad indigestion," that is to say a fatal
condition, and in the case of not giving food a dire situation in which the person
who was denied the food harbors such hatred for the one who failed to give that
he steals his money or even kills him. Would not these bad consequences result?
They surely would. For ...
nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
Remarks: The Buddhist Piiriijikas in fact discuss these situati .....
. d il . 1 1 . h eli 1 ons
m eta , partlCU ar y wit respect to me. Cal treatment. Is it i'.
'bI h di al . h .. not
POSSl e t at me c treatment Illig t unmtentIOnally result
death of the patient? The Buddhists would in fact acknowledgej 5
such a possibility and yet they argue that such deaths do not
the sin of murder since there was no intention to kill.
example relevant to this verse is given in the Pfiriijika on murd{'
and involves the case where a monk is given poisoned food on
begging rounds. Unaware that the food he has received is deadly.
he distributes some to his fellow monks who then die. Th6
conclusion is that this is also not a "culpable murder" in that
agent was an unwitting agent and had no intent to kill the victims.24
The Jain in general disallows such absolution and refuses to'
tolerate certain acts of violence on the grounds that they are>
involuntary. Slla:I'lka's commentary to the Siitralqtiiilga gives one
of the clearest statements of the Jain position and is discussed..
The Buddhist emphasis on intentionality is discussed in almost
every genre of Buddhist writing. It is the subject of a number of
jiitakas, among them the Tittirajiitaka, number 319.
The Tittira-
jiitaka is the story of Rahula in a past birth; Rahula is described as
being "kukkuccaka," "overscrupulous and overanxious" about his
own behavior and the Buddha tells this story to the monks to
indicate that this was also the case in Rahula's past birth. Rahula
was once a partridge or tittira, with an alluring voice. A bird-catcher
kept this tittira captive in a cage and made it sing. Other birds were
drawn to the singing and the bird-catcher would grab them and kill
them. The singing tittira realized that he was the cause of the
destruction of so many of his relatives and refused one day to sing.
The bird-catcher beat him and in pain and sorrow the tittiraresumed
his song. But the bird was troubled, fearing that he was guilty of
the sin of murder. Eventually he found the future Buddha, who in
that birth was a Hindu ascetic. The future Buddha explained to him
that he was not guilty because he hadnot intended to kill any of the
other birds.
Given the number of the jiitaka stories, it is often not easy to
assess the importance to the tradition of any individual tale. In the
this Tittirajataka, however, there is some evidence that it
lea ed h ' all T d" al f
:f:'as consider to teac a vep] vlt esson. ra ItlOn accounts 0
Buddhist council include a reference to the TittirajiItaka .
. read in those of how King Asoka was troubled by the
many tirthikas had infiltrated the Buddhist monastic
The Buddhists were so successful, that the tlrthikas
losing their base of support among the laity. They were no
receiving alms and could not get any of their necessities, so
.r'they became Buddhist monks, but they did not relinquish their
views or practices. The Buddhist monks refused to conduct
lillie rituals of uposatha with them, and the community was in
iihn1lloil. King Asoka was distressed with the situation and sent his
instructing him to put a stop to the dissension. The
'enrlssary, we are told, was a fool and took counsel with other fools.
C:'They decided that the king wanted them to kill the recalcitrant
: Buddhist monks and they did so without much further ado, until
;'they came to kill Mahinda, the son of King Asoka. They stopped
of this crime, and returned to the king. When the king heard
what they had done he was horrified, and tormented by the thought
that although it had never been his intention to put the monks to
death, he was in some way gUilty of the crime. He eventually
cliscussed his fears with the monk Moggaliputtatissathera. To
'a.ssure the king of his innocence, the monk told him this Tittira-
-t.ak 27
Ja a.
Later Buddhist texts, and texts written in a very different vein,
restate forcefully this central Buddhist contention that it is only the
intention behind an act that determines whether the agent of that act
is guilty or not. Haribhadra's commentary to the PrajiiiIpiIramita
. has an extensive discussion of this issue.
172. ... A person would even have to desist from eating food himself; and the
same would be true with respect to going and other activities. Nothing would be
proper, for one can never totally remove the doubt that bad consequences might
unexpectedly result.
.. Commentary: A person would even have to desist from eating food himself, for
this very same reason, that there would surely always exist the possibility of some
unexpected bad consequence arising. The same would be true with respect to
. going, coming, staying and everything else - it would not be proper to".
anything at all, for one can never totally remove the doubt that bad
might unexpectedly result. While walking, a person might well step on
and get hurt; there is always the possibility that the house might fall in on :rn\;,
if he stayed home. lIlIJe
173. By the same token, why should one refuse to abstain from
account of the very reasons already given? Even careful reflection will not h )0,:
since committing sin is always possible.
Commentary: By the same token, why should one refuse to abstain, on account
of the very reasons already given? If one refuses to abstain from taking lifehe
might get into trouble by slaying the King's favorite peacock. The reflection .....
mentioned earlier (verse 167) is of no help, since all it does is to stop one from"
doing any activity at all; and while people are reflecting it is also possible that
they could de facto be harming others, and thus sinning. Thus reflection is
use. In conclusion the Jain says:
174. And so what these people who do not understand our doctrine sayis contrary
to experience, common sense and scripture; it is the cause of delusion and is
without any real meaning.
Commentary: And so this is contrary to experience, custom and scripture. It is
contrary to experience because we do experience a beneficial change in our
hearts when we abstain from taking life. It is contrary to common sense in the
same way as trying to swim across the ocean violates common sense. It is
contrary to scripture because it allows that anything at all might be done. "It"
means the words of our opponent. This is the correct syntax of the verse. The
phrase "who do not understand our doctrine" means those who have not
comprehended our scriptures. Being the cause of delusion, how could it be good?
What is the nature of these words that are the cause of confusion? They lack any
real meaning, which means that they are devoid of their intended sense. Since
that is the case,
175. Therefore those two are of pure mind, believing only in the words of the
Jina, engaged in abstention from taking life, and firm in their minds they both
destroy their sins.
Commentary: "Therefore, those two are of pure mind." This phrase means that
they have no wants. "Believing only in the words of the Jina" means that they
believe in what is said in the words of the Jina. The two of them are the one who
abstains from taking life and the one who commands another to abstain from
taking life. They are both engaged in carrying out this vow faithfully to the best
their sins. means eradicate their
a. ''Firm in therr mmds" means that therr resolve IS unhmdered.
,,,,.,katJll .

of in this passage can be as
Jau'l/Buddhlst differences. The debate began by saymg
some argue that total abstenti?n from the of life
;l?,e'sa faulty rule m that there are exceptIonal cases m whIch the
of some living creature' doing harm in the future is so
as to warrant that creature' sbemg put to death before the harm
example is given of a lion who an exceptional
The Sik$asamuccaya cites a verse from the Aryaratnamegha
';'I'inWhich permission is given to kill a person who is about to commit of the five cardinal sinS.
Given that the Sik$asamuccaya itself
iRttakes great pains to redefine the major sins to mean acts that hinder
t\:tthe bodhisattva or harm the Buddhist community, it seems possible
to illterpret the Aryaratnamegha passage in a very general sense, as
the killing of any living being who would harm a great
.E;'{ieligious teacher or hinder the religious comrnunity.30 Making these
then, it would be possible to understand the
ii';Srifvakaprajiiapti as combating a Buddhist position in this section.
':iThis is certainly consistent with the argument as it develops; the
: verses lead us to the conclusion that given the proposition that a
,{.hannful creature should be killed to prevent it from doing harm one
jwould also have to stop doing all acts of good since they too might
have unwarranted bad consequences. Just as the possibility of an
'unexpected bad consequence should prevent us from abstaining
........ from the taking of life, so should the possibility of some undesired
/. consequence prevent us from doing good. The initial proposition
entails a rejection of the central Buddhist view expressed through-
.. out the PffrfIjika and in some Mahayana texts that unexpected bad
consequences do not make an act blameworthy.
[Commentary:] And now we debate another position.
221. Some say that in killing a baby, because so much karma must be made to
ripen in such a short time, there is greater sin than in killing older people, because
the opposite is true.
Commentary: Some debaters argue that in killing a young person, that is to say,
30 nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
,in murdering a baby, a child, or a youth, because so much kanna must be m de
to in a short ti:ne through the process of there is more
oPPOsIte holds true ill the case of older people, because only a small amountr
karma must be made to ripen quickly. The answer to this is given: 0,
222. This is not correct, for sin is said to result from the state of mind. That ./'.'
why violence is classified by such terms as physical or mental in our doctrin
e .. "
Commentary: This is not correct, for sin is said to result from the state of mind.'
And it is not the case that the state of mind in killing a child is more violent than
the state of mind that obtains when the victim is elderly. Violence is classified
by such terms as physical and mental in our doctrine, as it is said, "Violence
carried our,in a physical way is one thing and violence of mental state is another.""
He explains the first kind of violence as follows:
223. When someone who is carefully controlling his own movements raises his. '.
foot to take a step, a lowly creature may be struck and killed from that contact
Commentary: "Raises his foot" means lifts his foot. "To take a step" means to
walk. This is the way to construe the verse. "Someone who is carefully
controlling his own movements" means someone who is mindful of everything,
that he does in the proper way, that is a holy man. What "may be struck", that
is to say what might suffer terrible pains? What "may be killed", that is, what
may be deprived oflife? "A lowly creature": this means a creature with two sense
organs. "From that contact" means having come into contact with that holy man.
224. Nor does that one get even the slightest amount of bondage from that in our
doctrine. For he was mindful and it is defined as unmindfulness.
Commentary: Nor does that one, that holy man, from that, that is, from being the
cause of the death of that lowly creature, get even the slightest amount of bondage
in our doctrine. Why is that? It is because he was mindful, which is to say that
he has behaved exactly as the scriptures demand thathe behave. "It" here means
violence. Violence is defined as unmindfulness. It is so defined by the
Tirthankaras and their first disciples, the gaI}adharas. What has happened here
is a form of physical violence and not mental violence. In the next case there is
mental violence but no physical violence.
225. In a dark place someone sees a rope that looks like a cobra. He unsheathes
his sharp sword and strikes the rope, intending in his mind to do violence.
Commentary: "In a dark place" means a dank, low-lying place. "A rope" here
something made out of straw or some similar material. "That looks like
bra" means that resembles a cobra. Seeing that, he unsheathes his sharp
and strikes, that is to say he hits it. "Intending in his mind to do violence"
intending to kill that snake.
Let it be .m0:vn that though no snake was killed, because that person
'(:'intended in hIS mmd to kill It, he surely gets further bondage.
"Even though no snake was killed" means that in actuality no
was killed. Nonetheless, because he intended in his mind to kill it, that
",\VouId-be snake killer "gets further bondage." This means that he acquires the
\;birna that leads to many future rebirths. Now he describes a third type of

Intending in his mind to slay a deer, a person makes ready his bow. He lets
'.;py, an arrow and kills it in both ways. He is the worst.
(',Commentary: Intending in his mind to slay a deer, he "makes ready his bow",
,stretching it back to his ear. He lets fly an arrow and kills it in both ways. This
;,!.means both physically and in his mind. "It" is the deer. He is the "worst" means
J>the most violent. A fourth type is as follows:
.. ;,228. That which involves neither of these two is simply a verbal construct and
"completes the unit of four. Still, describing it is not wrong because it may help
(sharpen a student's understanding.
Commentary: "That which involves neither of these two" means that which has
neither physical nor mental violence. Such violence actually does not exist; it is
just a verbal construct without any real object, and is introduced here artificially
fo complete the foursome. Still, being described, it may sharpen a student's
understanding and so there is nothing wrong in bringing it up.
229. And so since bondage results from mental intention, it matters little here
if one is a baby or an old man. Even with respect to a baby that might not be
,! strong, but it might be strong in some cases with respect to an old person.
Commentary: And so since bondage results from mental intention, it matters
little here if one is a baby or an old man. "Here" means in the consideration of
a murder. Why is that so? Because even with respect to a baby that might not
be strong. "That" means the mental intention to kill. And in some cases it might
be strong even with respect to an old man. This is so because the mental
inclinations of those who desire to kill will always be different.
32 nABS VOL. 15, NO.1
.230. But it might then be true that in the absence of the mental intention to kiJ.
even when a murder is actually committed, there is no bondage that results II)'
could there be no intention to kill when a murder is committed, and in ~ :
presence of that how could there be no bondage? . ,:
Commentary: Or perhaps you might think the following. In the absence of an
mental intention to kill, even when a murder is actually committed, it would mJ
out that no bondage would result in your doctrine where what is important is th
mental intention. Anticipating this objection, the Jain responds. How could t h e ~
be no intention to kill when a murder is committed? In fact there has to be sucr
an intention, for someone without evil intentions would never engage in suchan .. ;
act. "And in the presence of that" means where that intention to kill is present ..
and where a murder is committed, how could there be no bondage? There would
surely result bondage.
Remarks: This section explains carefully the distinction between
the Jain and Buddhist understanding of "intentionality" and the.
relationship between intention and culpability. On the surface, both
Jain and Buddhist seem to be making the same point: a person is
guilty of a violent act because he intentionally committed that act;
conversely a person is not guilty when there was no intention t()
commit violence. Much of the Buddhist Parajika centers around
this issue and is devoted to detennining under what circumstances
the taking of life is a major offense. The Buddhists are clear in ;
saying that where a person did not intend to commit violence there
is no major crime even if an act results in the death of another living
being. Thus the monk who unwittingly offers poisoned food to his not guilty, nor is the monk who accidentally sits on a
baby and suffocates it. The Jains hotly debate the Buddhists on this
point and reject categorically Buddhist understandings of the
concept "intended violence." The Jams argue that all violence is
intended violence; they argue that it is not possible for a person to
be so ignorant and yet not guilty. His very ignorance and careless-
ness constitute an intent to do violence and imply correspondingly
his guilt. Only the Jain holy man, who has the right understanding
and who is ever mindful of his acts, is truly devoid of the intention
to commit violenceY
231. Consider this possibility. There is an intent to kill, but it is not a wrongful
tent the person was acting under the influence of ignorance or of false
. In both cases that very thing is still the cause of bad bondage.
Consider this p<?ssibility. There is an to ?ut is a
intent, on account of Ignorance. The person domg the kilhng IS subject
;,Jiioignorance. Or he is acting under the influence of false doctrines, for example
someone performs a sacrifice that involves the taking of life. Anticipating
an objection, the Jain replies, that in both cases that ignorance is what we
by a "wrongful intent" and it is the cause of further bad bondage. "Bad
' .. bOndage" means karma that leads to many future rebirths.
:ikemarks: Again it is possible to refer this verse to Buddhist
':lifguments. The Buddhists contend that the Buddha in a past birth
:jndeed performed blood. sacrifices but that because he did so under
delusion he is not guilty of murder in the same way in which
;.iperson who commits such acts but is not confused in mind is
i/guilty. The issue in the Buddhist texts is raised quite explicitly in
". the Milindapaiiha with reference to the Lomassakassapa Jiftaka.
rIn the Lomassakassapa Jiftaka (433), Lomassa performs a blood
".sacrifice (pasu yajiia) but only after he has been blinded with lust
a maiden sent to him by Indra to disturb his awesome tapas. The
verdict is that the Buddha was not guilty of his acts because he was
the grips of passion. The Jain answer is that his very passion is
what makes him guilty. In the Jain view, only the person who is
devoid of passion and totally mindful, possessed of right know-
. ledge, can by definition be free from the intention to do violence.
One of the most informative discussions between a Buddhist
opponent and the Jains on the issue of intentionality is the
commentary of Sllfu:ika to the Suyagacjanga, which has been men-
tioned several times above.
The Buddhists in Sllilnka's commen-
tary argue that external rituals are totally insignificant and that the
only thing that is important is mental state. One of their more
bizarre examples to illustrate how internal states are the only
determinants of good and evil actions is a case in which a person
roasts a child that is covered up on a fIre, thinking the child to be
a gourd. The Buddhist verdict is that the man who did this awful
deed is not guilty of murder since he was ignorant of what he did
and had no intention to commit violence. This in fact corresponds
closely to an example given in the Vinaya, PiIrifjika 3, in which
34 nABS VOL. 15, NO.1
a Buddhist monk accidentally sits ona baby that is covered in
blanket and the baby suffocates. The is that the monk is nof'
gUilty of the major of murder since he had no intention of
killing the baby.34 In Silanka's commentary the Jains counter the
Buddhists by saying that it is this very ignorance that results in
bondage it is not possible to argue that ignorance excuses
bad deeds. Silank:a adds that if only good intention, even Coupled
with extreme ignorance, were required in order for a deed to be
judged virtuous, then the Buddhists would have to admit that the
sarpsiiramocakas are released from their karma by their unusual",
deeds. Another discussion of the importance of intention in judging
acts is the Pali UpaJipariPfcchii, which offers arguments that the
Buddhists regarded as establishing their doctrine over the Jain
emphasis on the actual physical act itself as opposed to the thoughts
that motivated it. The main Buddhist argument is that the Jains, too,
recognize intentionality in allowing that monks, though they kill
living creatures, are not at fault. To Sllanka the Buddhists in this
and bther texts are missing the point the Jains wish to make: it is
not just intention, but right knowledge and right behavior as well,
that constitutes the definition of non-violenceY
232. Since such an intention to do evil vanishes with the removal of ignorance,
therefore someone who desires to do away with it should strive to acquire
Commentary: Since the mental intention to kill does not exist when its cause,
ignorance and the like, disappears and since it invariably exists when ignorance
exists (in fact that evil intention is nothing but ignorance in essence), then
"someone desires to do away with it", someone who desires the absence of that
mental intention to kill should strive to acquire knowledge. This is because things
like knowledge are incompatible with the existence of ignorance. Having stated
the nature of reality, he goes on to point out how the reason given by the opponent
is not universally true.
233. Nor is it true that in the one case there is far more karma that must be brought
to fruition in a short time. For even some children are destined to have short-life
spans, while some elderly people will be long-lived.
Commentary: That there is more or less karma to be brought to fruition in a short
111 the case children and the e!derly is by n? means certain. For even some
are destIned to have short life-spans while some though elderly may be
{,foog-lived. For this is what we in fact observe in the world.
,"a31. Therefore the sinless declare that the murder of any living being entails sin.
JtThe degree of sin in most cases is related to mental intention.
iJi2ommentary: Since whatwas said above is true, then the murder of any living
\'being, child or elderly, entails sin. This is proclaimed by the sinless, that is by
(those who are devoid of passion. The degree of that sin is said in most cases to
,ii,e related to the mental intention. The qualifier "in most cases" is added to allow
;ii!or such differences as "being an ascetic" and such factors.
i,/m. Conclusions
,In the sections from the Sriivakaprajiiapti that I have translated here
the Jains refute a number of challenges to their general rule that total
" abstention from the taking of life is the ultimate act of virtue, and
'<indeed the only way for a person to achieve spiritualliberation;
'''conversely all taking of life entails sin. The basic argument of the
Jains is that any attempt to create exceptions must in the end totally
undermine the entire structure of moral behavior; to create any
exception (A) allows room for exceptions (B) ... , in an infinite
series and thus totally destroys any possibility for moral action.
'While this is implicit in the Sriivakaprajiiapti, it is made explicit in
other Jain texts.
The Siistraviirtasamuccaya of Haribhadra states firmly that the
source of morality must be scripture and that only the Jain
scriptures are valid; they enjoin total abstention from taking life
and so it must be accepted that the abstention from taking life brings
merit and the taking of life entails sin. Haribhadra stresses that this
is an absolute rule to which no exception is permitted. In his own
commentary on the Sifstraviirtasamuccaya, verse 119, Haribhadra
"glosses his comment "And so one who would use various argu-
ments is in terrible trouble" with the following remarks: "One who
would use various arguments" means "one who would seek to make
subtle distinctions with respect to sin." Thus, the correlation is
simple and complete: violence is sinful and abstention from
violence is meritorious.
nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
. Jain arguments in the SravakaprajiIapti and other texts ar
directed against three main groups who to make
to the general rule that violence is wrong. The group best known
to Western scholars is the orthodox Hindus, the Mimfup.sakas, with
their sacrifice of animals; Jain arguments against the Vedic
sacrifice appear in a variety of guises, in philosophical texts, texts
on lay behavior and in stories.
The second group that fonus a
standard opponent for the Jains was the sarpsaramocakas, who
argued that it was meritorious to kill sinful or suffering creatures.
I have tried to show above that their views in tum had also
influenced the Buddhists, the third and perhaps most important
group to offer a challenge to the Jain ethical teachings.
The Buddhists challenged the Jain doctrine of total abstention
from violence in a number of ways, but behind all their challenges
may be seen an alternative explanation of mental intention, a.
concept that was critical to the Jains as well as to the Buddhists.
Whereas the Jains confined right mental intention to the Jain holy
man and maintained that an absence of the desire to do violence
could never really exist in someone who was ignorant of the true
(Jain) doctrine or was swayed by the passions, the Buddhists.
understood "intention to do violence" in its ordinary and obvious
meaning and allowed that its absence meant that there could be a
variety of cases in which even a murder committed did not
necessarily entail bad karma.
The Jain rejection of all of these viewpoints in its turn also
revolves around one central assertion that brings us back to
Haribhadra: to make any distinction with respect to sin is to
undermine the entire moral order. And this is what the
SravakaprajiIapti was intended to demonstrate. To the
sarpsiiramocaka the J ains says that a duty to kill unhappy creatures
could equally apply to happy creatures as well; thus if you allow
the commandment to abstain from taking life to refer to only some
creatures, namely happy creatures, you end up by denying its
validity altogether. To the Buddhist who would kill a living
creature who might commit a major sin the Jain says that one can
never know the future consequences of any act. Again, this ends up
..inundennining all moral behavior: you would never save a life
'either, for you cannot know what evil deed the person saved might
~ i a t e r perpetrate. To those who would argue that only intended
;Molence entails sin, the Jain answers that all violence is intended
;lI1the sense that it is done out of ignorance and passion, and both
i,ignorance and passion in any case result in sin and in the
prolongation of participation in the cycle of rebirths.
At the same time, the Jains must acknowledge the inevitable
; "iolence of living and breathing, walking and moving, and they do
" admit that monks who must do these things must also act in such
'a.way that living beings are deprived of life. It is here and here
.. alone, with regard to the behavior of monks and nuns that the Jain
, utilizes a concept of intentionality. The Jains do not apply the
>.notion of intentionality to restrict the applicability of their general
prohibition against taking life which would thereby undermine
..... moral order, but they make it a direct component of the definition
of violence. Violence is the intention to hann or the hann done
'when one is in a state of carelessness; by definition, a monk, careful
and mindful of his every act, cannot commit violence and the
general applicability of the universal prohibition not to do violence
is preserved.
By contrast, in a text like like the Sriivakaprajfiapti, the
Buddhists and sarpsiframocakas argue that the notion of a general
prohibition is itself faulty since violence does not always result in
sin; they do not redefine "violence" as the J ains do, but they reject
. the concept of a universal prohibition against the taking of life.
Similarly, Mimfup.sakas argue in Jain texts that the general
prohibition must be restricted in sphere by specific injunctions that
. tell us that we are to kill animals in the context of the sacrifice.
The central issue of the debate for the Jains is not what restriction
is permissible, but showing that no .limitations on universal moral
laws can ever be tolerated.
In closing, I would stress that this translation and analysis
should be seen as a preliminary investigation into the debate over
moral injunctions in ancient and medieval India. The many
questions that remain are as significant as the few that this paper
nABS VOL. 15, NO.1
may have answered. It to identify thS opponents in;
many of the arguments III thIS smgle text, the Sravakaprajiiapti t
assess their responses and above all to assess the validity of the 0.,
assertion that they alone of all the participants in the debate argu
. e
from a deep conviction that moral law must apply uniformly and
without exception.
It is also important to extend the study down through history
for the J ains remain a maj or party in a discussion on ethics, although
their fellow debaters change in identity. The Hindu Vallabha_
. digvijaya, written in Sanskrit by the grandson ofVallabha (d. 1530
C. E.) tells a story of Vallabha's encounter with a Jain and a
barbarian, typically in Indian literature representatives of the two
extreme positions possible in the issue of violence and non-
violence. Vallabha chooses to instruct the two by reference to ...
another barbarian and another Jain from times long past; that
barbarian is now a crow and the Jain is now a dove, and the two
birds are sitting together on a tree. Vallabha asks the birds about.
violence and non-violence, and the crow speaks first. It had been
a barbarian in a former birth and true to form had killed wantonly,
particularly by enjoying the royal hunt. Himself wounded in one of
his ventures, he had died and experienced terrible rebirths,
tually being reborn as the crow who is made to speak by Vallabha.
The crow also tells us the moral we are to deduce from his
experiences: the taking of life when it is not specifically enjoined
by the authoritative Law Books (dharmasiistras) is a sin. The dove
then speaks up. The dove had been a Brahmin, who had converted
to Jainism after becoming disgusted at all the violence he had
committed within the context of the many sacrifices he had once
performed. As a Jain monk he had once come to a village and spent
the night just outside the village limits. A devastating fire had
broken out and the villagers had begged the monk to open the
village gates from the outside, for they were locked in the village,
which had become an inferno in which men and beasts were being
consumed by the flames. The monk had refused to comply with
their request, for he feared that he might take the life of some living
being if he walked in the dark, unable to see the insects and tiny
,1;i'!!creatures in his path. The dove also explains what he done
and how he came to be born as the dove: he had smned,
abstention from the taking of life is invalid as a general
j}J1l1e. Only those acts of abstention from taking. of life that are
enjoined in the Law Books in particular contexts are
i", And so the debate continues and the question remains consis-
!tent: Is a general more law moral, or to be moral must it be flexible

and accommodate the needs of the moment? The Jain voice is
strong and unmistakable, and its challengers were many. Much
inore work is needed to uncover the many details of the debate and
disclose its many changing parameters.
1. On Jains studying with Buddhists see my article on Haribhadr1l., 'The Jain
"Biographies of Haribhadra: An Inquiry into the Logic of the Legend," Journal of Indian
Philosophy, vol. 16, 1988, pp. 109-125.
2. I make this sweeping statement fully aware of the existence of Buddhist refutations
of Jain doctrine amongst medieval Buddhist philosophers. These refutations are not of
the same scope and breadth as Jain refutations of the Buddhists and are in my mind
evidence of their very unequal mutual preoccupation. The same statement could not be
made with reference to the Pili. suttas, of course, where the Jains are often depicted in
argument with the Buddhists, nor with reference to some of the avadiina material, for
example the Vitaiokavadana of the Divyavadiina. I am in the process of studying Buddhist
references to the Jains and hope t6 return to the question in greater detail at a later date.
I have further comments on Jain reactions to the Buddhists in my paper, "Being in the
Minority: Medieval Jain Reactions to Other Religious Groups," forthcoming in the
festschrift for J. C. Jain that is being edited by N. Bhattacharya.
3. See the Bodhicaryavatifra, 1.7, BuddhistSanskritTexts Series, vol. 12, Darbhanga:
Mithila Institute of Post-Graduate Studies and Research in Sanskrit Learning, 1960, p.
7, where the term sukhena applied to the practice discovered by. the buddhas is glossed
in the commentary of Prajfiakaramati as "na siroluiicanadina mahata kll$tena," "And not
by such painful rituals as pulling out the hair from one's head." This is clearly a reference
to the well-known Jain practice. The accusation against the Buddhist monks that they
lived the good life is not by any means confmed to the Jains. Jayantabhana in his
Agamat;iiUpbara makes fun of the Buddhist monks because they lead a life of ease and
pleasure. See Agamat;iiUpbara, edited by V. Raghavan and Anantalal Thakur, Mithila
Institute Series, Ancient Text no. 7, 1964, chapter 1.
4. Thus the AbhisamayaJaiIkiira seems to counter the Jain objection to the Vyagbrl
40 JIABS VOL. 15, NOo 1
liitaka, discussed below, that if his body was full of worms and Lhe Buddha fed it toth
tigress, in effect he murdered those countless worms and the guilt of those murders muse,
far outweigh his rescuing the tigress from eating her cubs.. The AbhisamayiilaiJkiira offci
that after a certain stage of religious practice the Buddha's body no longer has any worrn:
in it. This of course directly contradicts the Vyiigoo Jataka as it appears in a text like th ....
SuvaTl}aprabhiisottamasiltra, vyiigoo parivarta, verse 8, where the Buddha describes hi:
body as "]qmisatiibharitam" filled with hundreds of worms. It would seem that this Was
the version most familiar to the Jains. See the SuvaTl}aprabhiisottama, edited by S. Bagchi
in the Buddhist Sanskrit Text Series, no. 8, Darbhanga: Mithilalnstitute of Post-Graduate
Research in Sanskrit Learning, 1967, p. 109; Abhisamayiilruikiira, Tokyo: Sankibo, 1971
reprint of the 1932 Toyo Bunko edition by U. Wogihara, p. 671. I have studied some of
the Jain responses to the Vyiigoo liitaka in my paper, 'The Sacrifice of Mar,ticllga: The
Context of Narrative Action as a Guide to Interpretation," published in the FestsChrift
for H. Nakamura, edited by V. N. Jha, Delhi: Indian Books Centre, 1990, pp. 225-239:
Unfortunately the paper has many misprints. I should also take this opportunity to correct
an error that I made there on page 226; the story of Sukosalamuni does not speak of the
monk giving his life to a tigress as the Buddha did in the Vyiigoo liitaka, but of a monk
who was tormented to death by a tigress who had been his mother in a former birth. I still
suspect that the stories are related, but surely not in the direct way I stated in that paper.
The story of Sukosala is told in great detail in the Brhatkathiikosa of no. 127,
pp. 305-314, ed. A. N. Upadhye, Singhi Jain Series, no. 17, Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya
Bhavan, 1943.
5. On this concept of the body as filled with worms see the Bodhicaryiivatiira chapter
5 on verse 85 where the commentary cites the Aryaratnarasi which advises the Buddhist
aspirant to contemplate the following thoughts when he eats: 'This body of mine has
eighty thousand different species of worms. May they all live happily with the strength
that they get from this food. Now I please them with this food, and when I have achieved
enlightenment I shall please them with the dharma." See the Bodhicaryiivatiira, ed. P. L.
Vaidya, Buddhist Sanskrit Texts Series, vol. 12, Darbhanga: Mithila Institute of Post-
Graduate Studies and Research in Sanskrit Learning, 1960, p. 70.
6. See my paper on Mru:licu<;la cited above.
7. The Buddhists repeatedly stress such acts of compassion; the Bodhicaryavatiira
3.8, p. 38, which is part of the vow the Bodhisattva makes is a plea that he might become
"food and drink to all creatures in time of famine." There are many avadana stories that
reflect this same theme. For some references see Jampa Losang Panglung, Die
Erziihlstoffe des Millasarviistiviidavinaya Analysiert auf Grund des Tibetischen
Obersetzung, Tokyo: Reiyukai, 1981, p. 47.
8. Sravakiiciira of Amitagati, 6.39ff, p. 316 in the edition Sriivakiiciira Sarpgrahavol.
I, ed. HiralalSiddhantalankar,Sholapur: Sri Jivaraj JainaGranthamala, 1976. Hemacandra,
YogaSiisira, 2.19.13ff, in the edition published form the Jaina Siihitya Vikas Mandal,
9. This is reproduced in full in the Abhidhiinarajendrakosa, vol. VII, pp.154-455.
10. See R. Williams, laina Yoga: A Survey of the Medieval Sravakacaras, London
Series, vol. 14, London: Oxford University Press, 1963, pp. 2-3. My edition of
edited by Muni Rajendra Vijaya from Disa: Samskara Sahitya Sadan (Gujarat),

j"''f1971. '
!t;;, 11. Manu, 2:6
,,:'i,:!!, 12. These references are from Wilhelm Halbfass, Tradition and Reflection:
,'explorations in Indian Albany: State University of New York, 1991, pp. 98-
'1:>129, which has the best discussion of the saIJlsilramocakas that I have read. My references
!}'tD Buddhist texts are also from Halbfass.
:f' 13. Wilhelm Halbfass, who has discussed some of these references in detail,
'X'c6ncluded that there was no evidence for the existence of any such group and that they
represent in fact more of a "theoretical possibility" than an historical actuality, based on
:.'., of foreign, perhaps Zoroastrian practices. (Halbfass, op. cit., p. 111.) Halbfass
: did not mention the Sriivakaprajiiapti, although he was familiar with the Malayagiri
:.commentary as given in the Abhidhiinariijendrakosa. Given the detail of the argument in
';'the SriivakaprajiiaptiI am inclined to give the saf!lsilramocakas a bit more credence. My
; (own view is that the Sriivakaprajiiapti with its complicated argumentation and fully
developed for the saIJlsilramocakas suggests that in fact they did exist as a
,coherently defIned group that had a well-defmed position. This would also be consistent
with the fact that in Jayanta, for example, what is attacked is not their behavior as such
but the notion that their scriptures are valid. I would argue that had they been a
"hypothetical their views might indeed have been raised and defeated but with
far less detail and there would not have been the references to their texts as a body of
'literature. Some of their practices are also mentioned in the Buddhist texts, where they
are said to have filtered into the Buddhist monastic community as well, as we shall see
below, and Buddhaghosa when commenting on the appearance of saIJlsilramocaka
practices amongst the Buddhists allows us to deduce with some conviction that they were
,'areal group of ascetics. Finally, I would argue that it seems natural that the saf!lsilramocakas
figure most prominently in the Jain texts since their main doctrine was an obvious
challenge to the Jain doctrine of ahif!lsa; at the same time since they were non-Vedic they
must have travelled in the same circles as the Buddhists and their influence on the
Buddhist monastic community seems to me to be a real possibility rather than just a
convenient fiction for the sake of argument To argue as Halbfass does that the
saf!1silramocakas are merely a convenient device that the Jains use to bolster their
arguments against the legitimacy of the violence of the Vedic sacrifice seems to me to
ignore the very context in which the saIJlsilramocakas appear, namely a larger effort on
the part of the Jains to define themselves as the non-violent religion par excellence in India
in which the debate against the violence of the sacrifice may even be omitted. It also does
not make sense of Buddhist references to the saIJlsilramocakas in Buddhaghosa and the
Pilriijika, which will be treated later in this paper and which Halbfass did not mention.
14. There is a small but useful monograph on non-violence in Jainism that
summarizes some of the material from another important Sravakacara text, the
of Amrtacandra. This is Jain Moral Doctrine by Hari Satya
Bhattacharya, Bombay: Jain Sahitya Vikas Mandal, 1976. See in partiCUlar pp. 51-56.
42 nABS VOL. 15, NO.1
15. Nalanda Pili Series, pp. 84-88.
16. Samantapasiidika, Nalanda Pili edition, vol. II, 1965, p. 396.
17. See page 399, line 7.
18. Sik$asamuccaya, ed. Cecil Bendall, Indo-Iranian Reprints, 'S-Gravenh
Mouton and Company, 1957, p. 168. See also Paul Williams, Mahayana BUddhism Nage:
, ew
York and London: Routledge, 1989, p. 145 for reference to a story from the
Upayakausalyasiitra in which the Buddha kills a person who is about to kill others.A
different viewpoint comes through in the Mahlsajataka, no. 278, in which the BUddhais
a bull and a wicked monkey is tormenting him. The goddess of the forest, the vanade_
vatli, suggests that the Buddha put an end to the troublesome creature, at least to prevent
him from torturing other bulls in the future. The Buddha prefers to gain merit by endUrlll
the suffering; he says that the monkey will soon be killed by another bull anyway.g
19. For my understanding of Jain hells I have relied on the discussion by Pandit.
Sukhlalji in his commentary to the Tattvifrthadhigamasiitra and the Sri laina Siddhanta
Bola Sarpgraha. See Tattvifrthadhigamasfitra, Ahmedabad: L. D. Institute Series, voL44,
1974, pp.130-140 and Sri laina Siddhiinta Bol Sarpgraha by Bhairoda Sethiva, Sri Sethiya
Jaina Granthamala, vol. 97, Bikaner: JainaParamarthika Samstha, 1941, vol. 2, pp. 314ff.
20. For defInitions and explanations see the Tattvifrthadhigamasfitra with Pandit
Suklalji's commentary, p. 320ff.
21. For upakrama see the Tattviirthadhigamasiitra, p. 127.
22. There are examples in the Buddhist literature of arhats who commit suicide so
as not to backslide. See the article by Per Arne Berglie and Carl Sunesson, "Arhatschaft
und Selbstrnord - zur buddhistischen Interpretation von cetanabhabba/cetanadhanna
und attasamcetana/atmasamcetana" in Elvind Kars, Kalyiinamitraraganam, Norwegian
University Press, 1986, pp. 13-49.
23. See verse 87, page 108 in the Srfivakacara Sarpgraha, vol. 1, edited by Hiralal
Siddhantalankara, Sholapur: Jivaraja Jaina Granthamala, 1976.
24. Nalanda Pili edition, p. 99.
25. See the SiitrakrtiiIiga with commentary of Sllanka, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass
Indological Trust, 1978, pp. 264-265.
26. This is pp. 64-66 in volume III of Fausboll's edition in the Pili Text Society,
London: Luzac and Company, 1963. There is a secondjataka by the same name, pp. 536-
543 of the same volume, but it is umelated.
27. I am summarizing the account by Buddhaghosa in the Sam an tapas adikii, N alanda
PaIi Text Series, voL 1, pp. 33-53. The Samantapasadikaaccount of the third council was
also used by the Burmese author of the Sasanavarpsa, edited in the Nalanda PaIi Series,
pp. 7 -9. Although the Sasanasavarpsa gives only the briefest summary of King Asoka and
his fear of his own culpability, it retains the reference to the Tittirajataka.
28. See pp. 728-738 in the reprint from Sankibo, Tokyo.
29. See p. 168.
30. See the Sik$asamuccaya, pp. 59ff.
31. See the references to Silanka's commentary on the Suyagac;1aIiga cited earlier and
see below. In this way the J ains do at least absolve their monks of the inevitable violence
with being alive. There are further cases in which an exception is made for
us acts among the laity, for example building temples, but the Jains remain deeply
'bivalent about temple building at least in some of their prescriptive texts as opposed
story colleCtions, because temple building involves a great degree of violence to
creatures as the ground is broken and the temple stones are laid. See the
i9,,'; 'Sravakaprajiiapti, verse 346, and the Syiidviidamaiijari, edited by Jagadiscandra Jain, in
;i, 't/JeSrimadrajcandra Jainasastramala, Varanasi, 1970, p. 90.
,tty}. ' 32. It is dilemma 45, in the translation p. 16 of vol. II, in the Dover Edition of 1963.
33. Edited by Acarya Sagaranandasuriji Maharaja in the Lala Sundarlal Agamagran-
;",;,'tliamala, vol. 1, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Indological Trust, Delhi, 1978, p. 265.
Nalanda PilIi edition, vol. 2, p. 43.
36.-Bombay, 1929,p.17.
'r,:r,, 37. See for example the Yasodharacarita translated by FriedheIm Hardy in the book
,'.'>dtat I have edited, The Clever Adulteress and Other Stories, Oakville, Ontario: Mosaic
'hPress, 1990.
?, '. 38. YaSovijaya in his commentary to Haribhadra's SIistravifrtIisamuccaya, vol. 2, p.
';\;62, explains that this is why the willful abstention from food resulting in death
I(sallekhana) which is the preferred way in which a monk or nun or pious layperson may
i'die is not "atmahirpsa," or "violence to the self." The person engaging in the fast to death
is totally mindful of his or her acts and thus the death fails to meet the definition of
:;:Cviolence, in which "unmindfulness" is a key word. The issue of to what extent suicide
, was considered violence by any of the groups in our debate is an interesting one; there
iare a number of excellent studies on suicide in Buddhism in contrast to the paucity of good
, literature on murder. For an overview see the article by Per Arne Berglie and Carl
, Sunesson, "Arhatschaft und Selbstrnord - zur Buddhistischen Interpretation von
cetanabhabba/cetanadharma und attasamcetana/atmasamcetana in Elvind Kars,
Kalyiinamitriiriiganam, Norwegian University Press, 1986, pp. 13-49. There are a number
of indications that suicide or voluntary death was not considered by the Buddhists to be
an act of violence in the same way that murder was; several monks are described as eager
to terminate their lives when they reached a certain stage of attainment, and in some cases
the Buddha praises the death as a pious act. Jain criticisms of stories like the Vyiighrl
liitaka, as we have seen above, do not focus on the issue of iitmahirpsa, which is not even
mentioned, but on the unintentional murder of all the worms in the Buddha's body. I
should like to return to this issue in the future.
39. See the Syiidviidamaiijari cited above for just one example.
40. sri Vallabhadigvijaya, by Gosvami Sri Yadunathji Maharaj, edited in the Sri
Vallabha Studies Series, no. 16, Baroda and Delhi: Shri VallabhaPubIications, 1985, pp.
nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
Is the Dharma-kaya the Real "Phantom
Body" of the Buddha 11
by Paul Harrison
L Introduction
The Trildlya doctrine of Buddhism, i.e., the doctrine that the
Buddha has three "bodies," is notorious for its complexities.
Attributed to the Y ogacara, but regarded as typical of the Mahayana
in general, it is customarily cited in books on Buddhism in terms
of the triad dharma-kaya, sarpbhoga-kaya (or sarpbhogika-kaya)
and nirmiiI;la-kaya (or nairmal)ika-kaya). Taking these in ascending
order of abstraction, the nirmiIl)a-kaya, usually translated "appari-
tional body," "phantom body," "transformation body," etc., is the
physical manifestation of Buddhahood, the ordinary perishable
human form, as exemplified by the "historical Buddha," Siddhartha
Gautama. The sarpbhoga-kaya ("body of bliss," "reward body,"
"enjoyment body," etc.) is a more exalted and splendid manifesta-
tion of the enlightened personality, still in the realm of fonn, but
visible only to bodhisattvas, those of advanced spiritual capabili-
ties. By contrast, the dharma-kaya("Dhanna-body," "Body of
Truth," "Cosmic Body," "Absolute Body," etc.) is both forrnless
and imperishable, representing the identification of the Buddha
with the truth which he revealed, or with reality itself. As such the
dhanna-kaya is often linked with various terms for reality, such as
dharrnata, dharma-dhatu, and so on, and has even been regarded as
a kind of Buddhist absolute, or at least at one with it.
In this light
the dharma-kaya is understood as the primal "source" or" ground"
from which the other two types of bodies emanate.
While many
scholars are content to describe this in purely abstract tenns, others
impute personal characteristics to it;4 and at least one writer has
gone so far as to compare it to the Christian idea of Godhead.
As a summary of the Trikaya doctrine this is, of course, over-
sUuplified. We are dealing here with a complex theory which
tihderwent many accretions and refinements, as Buddhists contin-
Jed down through the centuries to speculate on the nature of
Buddhahood, on the nature of reality, and on the relationship
between them.
It is hardly surprising, then, that attempts to plot the
bourse of such arcane speculations have not always been entirely
successful in reaching a clear consensus, although the arguments
a.dvanced, even in recent writing on the subject, do tend to follow
similar lines. A good example of this is the authoritative treatment
by Nagao, "On the Theory of Buddha-body (Buddha-kaya)," first
published in English in 1973.
Generally Nagao distinguishes three
phases: an initial one-body theory, a two-body theory, and the
three-body theory elaborated by the Yogacaras. According to him
(p. 104), the two-body theory (i.e., rupa-kaya and dharma-kaya)
"became stabilized in a variety of earlier sutras,8 and in early
,Mahayana sutras, the Prajiiaparamita, the SaddharmapUI)l;Iarika,
and so forth. The rupa-kaya is the Buddhaseen in a human body,
while the dharma-kaya is the Buddha's personality seen in the
dharma or dharma-nature." Elsewhere (pp. 106-7) Nagao states
that the two-body theory was the one held "until the time of the
Prajfiaparamita Sutra and the time of Nagarjuna," even though the
raw materials for the third body, the sarpbhoga-kaya, were also to
hand before the time of and Vasubandhu, as a consequence
of the bodhisattva-concept and the idea that a bodhisattva's
performance of meritorious actions produced a body which was
their manifest "reward." Nagao's article contains many valuable
observations, but, as we shall see, some of its assertions are rather
too imprecise, both chronologically and philosophically, to be of
much use in unravelling the early development of the doctrine at
issue. Another recent treatment of the subject by Makransky (1989)
also describes certain features of the putative earlier two-body
theory before the Yogacaras remodelled it (see esp. pp. 51-53), and.
distinguishes it sharply from the previous Mainstream
(in this case,
Sarvastivadin) formulations. This analysis, too, is open to question
in certain respects, as I shall show. In these and other articles on the
there is a general tendency to postulate a one-body/two-
nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
progre.ssion, in terms a single
IS diVIded mto a phYSICal and a "spmtual" body, and
physical body is split in two, the
of three. Some wnters, however, pomt to the eXIstence of
bodies even in the PaIi sources, what one scholar has called
"primitive triad," i.e., piiti- or ciituI-mahiibhiitika-kiiya,
maya-kaya, and dhamma-kiiya.ll The fIrst is the corruptible
cal body formed out of the four elements, while the second is thr
mind-made body with which the Buddha visits the celestial
(believed by some to be a forerunner of the sarpbhoga-kiIya);
third is the so-called "Dhamma-body." Now, although both
ways of approaching the subject-the assumption of a lineai1
process, and the belief that the Pali Canon contains an embryonit';
Trikaya schema-raise certain diffIculties, I do not propose in
paper to discuss the evolution of the Trikaya theory in its entiret9;'7,
since that would be a mammoth undertaking. What I wish to do is"
address one aspect of it only, viz., the early development
of dharma-kiiya, in the hope that clarifying this will open the waY,l
to a better understanding of Mahayana buddhology as a whole.
II. Dhanna-kaya in Texts Translated by Lokak$ema
One possible way of investigating the initial development of the
dharma-kiiya idea in the Mahayana context is to look for it in thd.:
small group of siitras translated into Chinese by
towards the end of the 2nd century C. E., given that these texts
constitute our earliest datable literary for Mahayana
Buddhism. 12 What, if anything, do these ancient documents tell us
about the "prehistory" of the Y ogacara Trikaya theory, and about
Mahayanist notions of dharma-kiiya in particular? Fortunately, we
need not start from scratch: preliminary work in this area has .
already been done by Lewis Lancaster, who some time ago
examined the various Chinese versions of the A$tasiihasrikiI-
prajiiii-piiramita-siitra (AsPP) with careful attention to the develop- .
ment of a number of key doctrinal concepts, among them dharma-'
kiiyaY In view of the importance of the AsPP as the seminal
Prajiiaparamita text,clearly the most influential of all the scriptures
. hich worked, let us begin by reviewing Lancaster's
.. Lancaster (1968: 92-100) originally isolated five occurrences
. e term dharma-kiiya in the Sanskrit text of the AsPP, and
ilInined the relevant portions of the various Chinese translations
.1 der to determine the development of this concept in that siitra.
that the term does not appear in what he called the "early
(represented by the first three Chinese versions, the oldest of
tfhlch is the Daoxing [banruo] jing, T.224), except
ti2! one passage, but is attested by the "middle" and "late" texts,
though these do not entirely agree with the Sanskrit and
i1%etan versions. On this basis he concluded (1974: 36) that
the later texts display the two-body theory (rfipa-kiiya and
rNharma-kiiya), "it appears that the earliest ideas in Mahayana sutras
neither the two;..body nor the three-body ones, but rather the
(adon of one Buddha-body." Although this statement in particular
us in the right direction, and Lancaster's [mdings are indeed
some of the inferences he drew from them now merit
scrutiny. If we look carefully at the passages in question,
at the same time to what previous scholarship has made
them, it will become apparent that what Lancaster saw as the
introduction into the text of the "uniquely Mahayana"
rtloctrine of the dharma-kiiya can be understood in quite different

The five occurrences of dharma-kiiya in the Sanskrit text of
{ ...
;the AsPP are:
1. Chap. IV (Vaidya 1960: 48).
2. Chap. IV (Vaidya 1960: 50).
3. Chap. XVII (Vaidya 1960: 168).
4. Chap. xxvm (Vaidya 1960: 228).
5. Chap. XXXI (Vaidya 1960: 253).
Not found in T.224.
Not found in T.224.
Not found in T.224.
Found in T.224.
Not found in T.224.
<rhe first of these is perhaps the most important; the passage is worth
citing in full (the key sentences are underlined);
Sakra aha sacen me bhagavan aYaI!1 jambudvIpal} paripiirr;11lS cUlikabaddhas
tatMgata-sarIriiI)Jp. diyeta iYaI!1 ca prajiia-piiramita likhitvopanamyeta
nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
tata ekatarel}.a bMgena pravaryamiiI)o 'nayor dvayor bhagayo/.l stha
tayor imam e vtibarp bhagavan prajna-paraI1!itarp parigrhI}Jyam / tat ".
heto/.l yathapi nama tathagata-netrl-citr1kare1J.a / etad dhi tathliga -
bhiitiirthikarp swam / tat kasya heto!) uktarp hy etad bhagavatii dh
kaya buddha bhagavantah / ma khaJu punar imam bhiksavah sat-lea
kayam manyadhvam / dharma-kaya-parinispattito mam bhiksa
draksyatha / esa ca tathagata-kayo bhiita-koti-prabhavito drasta
yaduta prajna-paramita /
" Although there can be no doubt about the fundamental intent of
text here-" that the Buddhas and their relics are worthy
tion solely by virtue of their realisation of perfect wisdom,
is therefore pre-eminent-many previous treatments of this
tant passage of the AsPP have failed to take account of one cruCiat
point. Translations by Conze (1975: 116), Kajiyama (1984: 11) and
Makransky (1989: 65) have all rendered dharma-kifya in the phrae
dharma-kifya buddha bhagavantal;1 as a noun, Kajiyama in
singular ("Buddhas consist of the Dharma-body"), Conze an:
Makransky in the plural ("The Dharma-bodies are the Buddhas, th;
Lords");16 However, this raises a problem: if dharma-kifya here i
a noun," how can it possibly stand in the plural, as it most certainly
does in the Sanskrit? Given the later understanding of this tenn m'
the Buddhist tradition, can there be more than one dharma-kaya?}
After all, not one of the other similarly elusive words which all
supposed to do duty for "reality"-dharmatif, tathata, bhiita-kop,<
etc. ,-ever occurs in the plural, indeed could not: since these"
"things" are supposed to be formless, beyond
beyond all duality, how could there be more than one of
The same problem pertains to two of the other citations
above. In the passage in Chap. XVII, in fact, the relevant
(underlined below) is identical:

tasmiid bodhisattvo mahasattvo 'vinivartanIyal)
paramudyogam apadyate atItiinagata-pratyutpannifnlfrp buddhiiniiIp.
bhagavatiiJp premnii ca gaurave1J.a ca / dharma-kiiya buddha
iti dharme prema ca gauravarp copadaya sad-dharma-parigraharp karoti

" >,,'2
Here the iti following the key phrase suggests that it is taken from
another source, as is more strongly indicated in Chap. IV by

,i'f;/ords uktarp hy etad bhagava ta, which in Mahayana siitras
introduce citations from Mainstream texts .
. Conze (1975;,207) translates: "the Dharma-bodies are the
J' i\J3uddhas, the Lords.
;;, In Chap. XXXI, however, the wording is somewhat different:
evam evakula-putra ye kecit tathagata-IiipeI}a va gho$eI}a va abhinivi$tab
te tathagatasyagamanarp ca gamanarp ca kalpayanti / ye ca tathagata-
syagamanarp ca gamanarp ca kalpayanti sarve te Mla-jatiya
jatiya iti vaktavyab tadyathapi nama sa eva puru$O yo 'nudake udaka-
samjiilln utpadayati / tat kasya hetob na hi tathagato Iiipa-kayato
drastavyah / dharma-kayas tathagatah / na ca kula-putra dharma (a agac-
chati va gacchati va / evam eva kulaputra nasti tathagatanam agamanarp
va gamanarp va /
;;.:Thekey words here are paraphrased by Kajiyama (1984: 14) as "a
should not be considered as a riipakaya; Tathagatas
;:<consist of dharmakayas," and translated by Conze (1975: 291) as
; (;"For a Tathagata cannot be seen from his form-body. The Dharma-
are the Tathagatas ... "17
,; '., This way of construing the texts has certain theoretical
. implications. For example, it is on the basis of his understanding
of these passages that Kajiyama (1984: 12-13) speaks of a change
: in the idea of the "Buddha-body," and the emergence of a "theory
of the two-bodied Buddha" at a comparatively early stage in the
development of the Sanskrit text of the AsPP. Thus, he concludes
(p. 13), "the physical Buddha body came to be called riipakaya,
'while the Buddha body equated with prajfiaparamita was called
dharmakaya, " and he infers that the two-body theory using these
terms must have been formed by the middle of the 4th century, since
the passage from Chap. XXXI is attested in Kumarajiva's transla-
tion of the AsPP (although the passages from Chaps. N and XVII
are not).
This is, however, problematical, for imposing a two-body
schema on these passages leads us into the philosophical incoher-
ence mentioned above: if there is such a thing as the dharma-kaya,
how can it be plural? Fortunately, the solution to this problem lies
ready to hand, having been pointed out by Edgerton as long ago as
nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
i953 (BHSD, S.V.):18 the compound dharma-kiiya in these
citation_s is not a tatpuru$a (or karmadhiiraya) substantive
bahuvrihi adj:c?:e.
This usage, as Edgerton is the only
attested for Pa1.I; III fact, the term occurs but once m the entire
Canon. The sole citation in question is in the Aggciiifia-sutta of
DIgha-Nikiiya (D iii 84), where dhamma-kiiya,
dhamma-bhiita and brahma-bhiita are listed as designations for
Buddha. These are all adjectives, although not all translatorshavef,!
recognised or preserved them as such.
The message of the text
that followers of the Buddha may claim to be his sons, not
they have been engendered by his physical body, but through
the offspring of the dhamma,21 because the Buddha is "dhamma-']
bodied" or has the dhamma as his body (dhamma-kiiya),22 tM(
Buddha is the dhamma itself (dhamma-bhiita).23 This equation
the Buddha with the dhamma is also found in a number of wellf[J
known passages in the Pili Canon, for example at S iii 120, where;ii
Gautama says to Vakkali, long stricken by illness and desperate
see the Buddha, "What is the point of your seeing this corruptible::l
body (Piiti-kiiya)?Whoever sees the dhamma, Vakkali, sees
whoever sees me sees the dhamma."24 Along similar lines are;]
Gautama's celebrated instructions to his followers to take the<
dhamma itself as their guide following the demise of his body.2S
The use of the adjective dhamma-kiiya in the Aggafifia-sutta can be
seen as reflecting these ideas. The Buddha is equated with the
dhamma; therefore, he is said to be dhamma-kiiya, to "have the
dhamrila as his body." To put it in more elegant English, the Buddha
is truly "embodied" in the dhamma, rather than in his physical
person, which, as Vakkali is reminded, has no real significance at .
alL The adjective dhamma-bhiita is virtually synonymous, i.e., to
describe the Buddha as dhamma-bhiita is to say that the Buddha is .
the dhamma itself.26
Turning back to the AsPP, we see then that the three passages
thus far in question are making the same point: not that the Buddhas
are the dharma-kiiyas, but that they are those who are embodied in
the dharma. While this assertion may still require explication, it
seems not to lead us straight into the philosophical quicksands of
;',the developed Trikaya theory. In fact, there is nothing particularly
,dMahayanist about it at all, as it occurs in the. Pali scriptures, even
;iionly once. Indeed, as we have noted, In two of the AsPP
in question there are indications that the crucial phrase
;,:rnay well have been a quotation from a Mainstream text, although
);iwe have yet to identify the source. It is certainly the case that the
this case Theravadin-interpretation of the tenn
the context perfectly, far better, in fact, than the Trikaya-
,:.influenced reading. This is especially clear in the passages in
.' Chaps. XVII and XXXI, where the interpretation suggested re-
;';solves the awkward non sequiturs of Conze's translation. Thus in
IV Sakra, faced with a choice between the world packed to
the ceiling with relics of the Buddha and a written copy of the
:'f teaching or dharma of the Perfection of Wisdom, expresses his
preference for the latter "out of reverence for the guide of the
','..rathagatas, since it is their genuine bodily relic. Why? Because the
'Lord has said 'The Buddhas and Lords have the dharma as their
body,'" i.e., the dharma is their true body, and thus it is their true
relic as well?7 Similarly, the passage in Chap. XVII may be
rendered freely as follows:
"Therefore the bodhisattva and mahasattva who is incapable of regression
makes a supreme effort to take up the true dhanna out of love and respect
for past, future and present Buddhas and Lords. Feeling love and respect
for the dhanna, with the thought 'The Buddhas and Lords have the dhanna
as their body,' he/she takes up the true dhanna."
That is to say, the Buddhas are embodied in the dharma, and so to
, love and respect the dharma is to love and respect the Buddhas. And
lastly, the relevant passage in Chap. XXXI may be translated like
"In the same way, son of good family, those who fixate on the Tathagata' s
physical appearance or his voice imagine that the TathfIgata comes and
goes, but it has to be said that all those who imagine that the TathfIgata
comes and goes are inherently foolish and stupid, just like the man who
perceives water where none exists. Why is that? Because a Tathagata is
nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
not to be seen through his physical body; Tathagatas have the dharm Nfl
their body. The nature of dhanna, son of go family, neither comes:
goes. In the same way, son of good family, there is neither coming 1l.2f,
going for the Tathagatas."
What is important here is the dharma which constitutes the
identity of the Buddhas, not any particular "body,"
abstract. Just as coming and going cannot be predicated of
dharma itself, or of the nature of dharma(s) (dharmatff), it cann6i
be predicated of the Buddhas insofar as they are identified with the'
) ") 'Ii
We are still left, however, with three instances in the
where dharma-kaya appears as a noun. The first is the
dharmakaya-parini$pattito mffrp bhik$avo drak$yatha in the Chap:
IV passage cited at length above. This is rendered by Kajiyama ai
"Monks, you should see me as the accomplishment of the
body," by Conze as "Monks, you should see Me from the:
accomplishment of the Dharma-body." However, since we are:
dealing here with a continuation of a (probably Mainstreamf
scriptural quotation, we ought first to consider interpretations of
dharma-kaya which are consistent with Mainstream doctrine, to see
whether they fit the context better.
Although dharma-kiiya as a noun is not attested in the PaIi
Canon, it does occur in other Mainstream sources. To begin with, .
there is a handful of passages in the Chinese translations of the
Agamas where the appearance of the term fa-shen, "body oL
dharma(s),"29 indicates that the underlying Indic may have had
dharma-kaya as a substantive. These passages were exhaustively.
studied by Anesaki (1982),30 whose findings may be found
summarised in Demieville's article in the Hobogirin, s.v. busshin
(1930: 176-177). There is one clear reference in the Sarpyuktagama,'
now generally assigned to the MUlasarvastivadins,31 and three in'
the Ekottaragama, thought by many to be part of the Mahasarpghika'
In the Sarpyuktiigama passage King Asoka justifies his
lavish veneration of the stiipa of Ananda with reference to the .
latter's key role in the preservation and transmission of the dharma.
Asked by his ministers why these offerings surpass all others, he
says "The b ~ d y of the Tathagata is the body of dharma(s), pure in
nature. He [Ananda] was able to retain it/them all; for this reason
the offerings [to him] surpass [all others]."33 In the opening verses
oithe Elwttariigama (T.125, I, 549c14), which have n ~ Pali
tounterpart, we read: "The appearance of the Master of the Sakyas
ihthis world was very brief. Although the physical body has passed
away, the body of dharma(s) endures." And later, in the same
passage (550a 1-2): "The body of dharma(s) of the Tathiigata is
indestructible; it abides in the world forever, and does not cease.
When gods and human beings get to hear it, they perfect the fruit
of the Way." This idea is subsequently thematised in Section LXIV,
where the Buddha and Ananda discuss the survival of the dharma
after the death of the Tathiigata (787b17-29):
Then Ananda said to the Lord: "The Buddhas and Lords of the distant past
had an extremely long lifespan, precept-breakers were rare and there was
no impurity. Now, however, people have a very short lifespan, not
exceeding ten decades. After the Buddhas of the past attained extinction,
how long did the dharma they left behind remain in the world?"
The Buddha said to Ananda: "After the Buddhas of the past attained
extinction, the dharma did not remain for long."
Ananda said to the Buddha: "After the Tathagata attains extinction, how
long will the true dharma remain in the world?"
The Buddha said to Ananda: "After I attain extinction, the dharma will
remain for a long time. After the extinction of the Buddha Kasyapa, the
dharma which he left behind lasted seven days. Right now, Ananda, you
[may think] the TatiJagata has few disciples. Don't hold this view: there
are countless thousand kops of disciples in the east, and countless
thousand kops of disciples in the south. Therefore, Ananda, you ShOlIld
think: 'The lifespan of our Buddha Sakyamuni is extremely long. Why?
Although the physical body undergoes extinction, the body of dharma(s)
persists. This is its meaning, which we should ponder, take up and put into
practice. ",
Finally, in Section XXXI (719b7-8), Anuruddharemarks that "The
body of the Tathiigata is the body of the true dharma (rulai shen-
zhe zhenfa zhi shen)."
As becomes especially clear when one considers the contexts
in which they are embedded, all these Agarna citations make a
specific identification of the term translated as fa-shen, "body of
nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
dharma(s)," with the dharma or dharmas demonstrated by th
Buddha, or with the true dharma, i.e., with his teachings or ht
Teaching considered as a whole. It is this which is described as
pure, indestructible, eternal, remaining after the nirvaI}a of t h ~
physical body, and, according to one telling passage, something
that one can hear. But there is a problem: can we be sure that the
underlying Indic word was indeed dharma-kaya? For there is at
least one other candidate for the position, and that is dhanna-sarlra.
The occurrence of this compound in the AsPP has already been
noted above. To what extent its meaning differs from dharma-kifya
remains to be determined, but some light is thrown on this in the
lengthy discussion by the unknown author of the Karrna-
vibharigopadesa (see Levi 1932: 157ff., 172fO34 In this text we
find an explicit equation of dharma-sarira with the teaching of the
Buddha, the hearing orrealisation of which far outweighs the vision
of the Buddha's physical body, the "body produced by mother and
father."35 The theme of the text, then, is similar to that of the
Aggafifia-sutta, viz., that the dharma in the sense of the teaching is
the true body (and in this case "relic"?6 of the Buddha; and in line
with the text's own definition the noun dharma-smfra is best
interpreted as a karmadhm-aya, i.e., as "the body/relic which
consists in the dharma(s)." Since all this is obviously congruent
with the Agama passages we have just looked at, one has to ask
whether the word translated in them as fa-shen was not dharma-
smira rather than dharma-kaya.
In the absence of Indic fragments or parallels, we cannot
answer this question with certainty. Only for the Sarpyuktagama
passage can we refer to the Divyiivadana, where we see that neither
compound is attested;37 the other Agama passages remain in doubt.
However, it is quite clear that dharma-kaya is at least possible, for
it definitely occurs in the sense required in other Mainstream
sources. One of these is the Milinda-pafiha, a non-canonical PaIi
text preserved by the Theravadins. The relevant passage, as
translated by Horner (1965: 99-100), runs as follows: "the Lord has
attained final nibbana in the element of nibbana that has no
substrate remaining (for future birth); it is not possible to point to
the Lord who has gone home and say that he is either here or there;
but, sire, it is possible to point to the Lord by means of the body
fDhamma, for Dhamma, sire, was taught by the Lord."38 This
a previous statement in the same section, to the effect that
i'fIe who sees the dhamma sees the Lord, for the dhamma was
by the Lord."39 These variations on what are by now familiar
indicate that the substantives dharma-kfiya and dharma-
:'jarira certainly overlap in meaning, even if they may not be entirely
'synonymous. A second Mainstream citation of interest here is a
passage in the Miilasarvastivadin Vinaya(seeDutt 1950: 185-186),
: where SroI;la KofikaII).a expresses his strong desire to see the
physical body of the Buddha, since the "seeing" (darsana) of
. Buddhas is as rare as the U4umbara flower. His words are: "On the
authority of my preceptor [my emphasis] I have seen the Lord by
means of the body of dharma(s), but not by means of the physical
body (dr$to mayopfidhyfiyfinubhfivena sa bhagavfin dharma-kfiyena
110 tu rupa-kfiyena)." In both these sources I would maintain that
dharma-kfiya clearly refers not to some "spiritual body,"40 but, in
line with the Agama passages cited above, to the Buddha's
. teachings, acquired, in SroI)a KoW<:in).a's case, on the authority of
his preceptor Mahakatyayana.
However, one question remains,
. which I have left open up till now: if we accept that the first element
of the nominal compound dharma-kaya denotes the Buddha's
teachings, should we continue to translate it in the singular, as is
customary, or in the plural?
Although it may not seem so at first sight, the answer to this
question is suggested by a number of scholastic Sarvastivadin
sources, which use the term dharma-kfiya to refer to the special,
undefiled dharmas or qualities which make a Buddha a Buddha.
There appear to have been differences of opinion as to the identity
of these dharmas. According to Vasubandhu' s Abhidharma-kosa-
bhii$ya some scholars identified them with the 18 qualities exclu-
sive to a Buddha (iiveIJika-dharmas),43 viz., the ten powers (bala),
four assurances (vaisiiradya), three applications of mindfulness
(smrtyupasthiina) and great compassion (mahfikaruIJif).44 Other
Sarvastivadin sources, however, equated them with the more
modest list of the five anfisrava-skandhas, or "incorruptible con-
stituents," viz., sila, samfidhi, prajfUi, vimukti and vimukti-jiifina-
nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
'?arsana (see, .e.g., Lamotte 1958: 689-690), identification
IS also found In the work of the commentator BriaJ
Whatever the composItIOn of the lIst, however,
this means the collection the
qualIties or pnncipies WhICh the Buddha has realised In his
person and to others. That is to say, the use of the
word kifya turns on the same ambiguity possessed by the
word "body" or the Latin COlpUS; it means "body" in the
a complete collection of constituent parts, ensemble,
totality. And this is in itself an indication that the first term in
compound-at least when it is a substantive-is indeed to be7g
construed as plural.
Further, there is a second ambiguity built intb,(l
the term: the dharmas in question are both taught by the
in which case we might call them "teachings" or "truths," and theyJ:i
are realised in his person, in which case we might call
"qualities" (in the latter sense they are more obviously plural).
ambiguity is probably intentional and fundamental. We find idi;
acknowledged, for example, in a commentary on the VajracchedikH,
ascribed to Asailga, who distinguishes two types of
the "dharma-kifya as words" and the "dharma-kaya as realis{'l
tion."47 If we accept then that this interpretation, "body of dhaif 1
mas," with its multiple ambiguities, well established for Main-7
stream scholastic sources, can also be applied to Mainstream ;!,
scriptural texts in which the substantive dharma-kifya appears, wek
must concede that renditions such as "Body of the Dharma,"
of Truth" or "Body of the Teaching" are mistaken, or at the very'
least too limiting, since a collection cannot consist of one thing.48
To return now to the Mahayana sources, it can be seen that
the rather multivalent Mainstream interpretation of the substantive
form of our term-"body/collection of qualities/truths/teachings"-
is consistent with the AsPP citations under consideration. The
remainder of the passage from Chap. N, therefore, may be
translated as follows: '''Again, bhik$us, you ought not to think that
this existing body is [my real] body. Bhik$us, you should see me
in terms 'of the full realisation of the body of dharmas (i.e., the
totality of undefiled qualities or truths). '49 And one ought to see that
this [real] body of the Tathifgaf3. is constituted perfect truth, i.e.,
by the Perfection of Wisdom." This interpretation fits the context,
ind raises fewer philosophical difficulties.
. A similar reading can be applied to the other occurrence of
dhanna-kaya as a noun in Chap. IV (no. 2 in the list above; no
equivalent in any Chinese translation), where it is said that just as
the king' s representative is inviolable and worthy of worship by the
great mass of people because of the authority (anubhav!) of ct:e
king, so too the preacher of the dharma (dharma-bhaIJ.aka) IS
inviolable and worthy of worship because of the authority of the
of dharmas (dharma-kayanubhavat).51 It seems to me far more
likely that the preachers in question owe their reception to the
inherent power of the teachings they purvey than to some abstract
but nonetheless awe-inspiring theistic principle; that is to say, the
Icing's servants represent the king, and derive their authority from
him, the dharma-preachers represent the dharma, and derive their
authority from it.
. Finally, the same reading is also preferable for the fourth
passage listed above, which happens to be the only one represented
in the early Chinese versions. The Sanskrit text reads:
sumanasilqta ca sudh[tiI ca suparyaviiptiI ca supravartitiI ca tvaya Ananda
i yarp prajnii-piiramitii kartavyii / suparivyakteniik$ara-pada-vyanjanena
suniruktiI codgrahitavya/ tat kasya hetol) atitiinagata-pratyutpanniinlim hi
Ananda tathiigatiinlim arhatiIm samvak-sambuddhiiniim dharma-kiiyateti
tlim dharmatiIm pramanlkrtya /
Most previous commentators have recognised that this has nothing
to do with the Trikaya,52 even though Conze's rendition (1975: 267)
blurs the issue: "For as the dharma-body of the past, future and
present Tathagatas is this dharma-text authoritative." s
Chinese translation (468cI6-18) reads:
"You should carefully study [the PrajfUlparamim] and accept it in its
entirety, bear it all in mind, keep it, and copy out its words correctly
without error or loss [since] it is equivalent to and not different from the
body of the scriptures of the Buddhas [fo-jing-shen] of the past, future and
nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
The use of the Chinese word jing (canonical text, sCripture)
dharma i.s standard with and so the presence of
word dharma-kiiya in the earliest accessible version of the
hardly to be doubted. Here the text is obviously playing on
aforementioned ambiguity of the term dharma, meaning
teaching and principle or law of existence, as the Buddha
Ananda to ponder, remember, master, etc., the PrajiiaparamiUi
minute care, because "one ought to accept that nature of
[which the Prajiiaparamita teaches] as authoritative, as being
body of dharmas of all past, future and present Tathiigatas."53
My contention is, then, that even in the later Sanskrit text
the AsPP, where dharma-kiiya clearly occurs as a noun, it
perfectly comprehensible in terms of the multivalent . uuuo.u
interpretation of the word, as the body or collection of _____ .. _.
principles, t::ruths, or teachings. Elsewhere it appears as an adj
tive, a usage which is also found in Mainstream sources. What
common to both grammatical forms -in the different
sources we have reviewed is that the emphasis is on the
member, dharma, not on kiiya. The same is true for all
in the AsPP. Therefore there is no real support for
contention that dharma-kiiya is one of the specifically
doctrines inserted into the text of the AsPP in the course of its
velopment, even though it is true that many of the citations are
attested in the three early Chinese translations.
Is there, then, any support in the rest of the
for a distinctively Mahayanist interpretation of dharma-kiiya? It
in the Lokiinuvartanii-siitIa (LAn)55 that we would most expect
encounter material relating to this question, for the LAn is
essence a meditation on buddhology proper. In this work, which
closely affiliated with the Mahasarpghika-Lokottaravadins, we
indeed find a sustained attempt to harmonise conflicting notions
Buddhahood, in particular to reconcile the obvious frailties and
limitations of the historical human being with a more glorious
conception of the physical and spiritual attributes of an enlightened
personality. Most of the text, then, turns on the discrepancies
between what are in the classical Trikaya theory called the
kiiya and the sarpbhoga-kiiya, even though the second of these
termS is not used in the extant Tibetan version. 56 The Tibetan for
does occur twice, however, in verses 37 and 79, in
'bOth of which it appears in the predicative position, i.e., it is almost
rendering the bahuvrIhi adjective.
The relevant verses
;}ead as follows:
Verse 37:
/ yid kyi sku dang ldan pas ncr
/ de bzhin gshegs pa chos sku yang /
/ mag can sku ni ston mdzad pa /
/ 'di ni 'jig nen 'thun 'jug yin /
"Even though, being endowed with a mental body,
The Tathagatas have the dharma for a body,
They manifest a corruptible body;
This is conformity with the world."
Verse 79:
/ de bzhin gshegs pa chos sku ste /
/ gcig ci ' dra bar de bzhin kun /
/ 'on kyang tha dad stan mdzad pa /
/ 'di ni 'jig nen 'thun 'jug yin /
"Since the Tathagatas have the dharma for a body,
As one is, so are they all;
Nevertheless, they make a show of multiplicity;
This is conformity with the world."
There can be no doubt that the text which had in front
of him also contained these two verses, in much the same form. His
version of them (T. 807) runs:
The Buddha's body is like an illusion. [He] calls the scripture/dhanna(s)
Uingfa)59 [his] body. To others he displays an impure body. It is in
conformity with worldly custom that he engages in such a manifestation.
All Buddhas share the one body; [they] regard the scripture/dharma(s)
Uingfa) as [their] body. The Buddhas manifest teaching the scripture/
dharma(s) to others. It is in confonnity with worldly custom that they
engage in such a manifestation. (753a19-20)60
Not only does translation demonstrate the
existence of the term dharma-kaya in his text of the LAn, but the
Chinese wording, almost identical in both verses (yi jingfa ming
nABS VOL. 15, NO.1
. wei shen, yi jir:gfa wei shen), shows clearly that he construed it
a bahuvrihi. Using the classical Chinese yi X wei Y constructi
("to take X as Y," "to regard X as Y," etc.), he split the compouil'
just as we might.
Neither the Chinese nor the Tibetan
the LAn, then, attests dharma-kaya in its nominal form. Both'"'
versions suggest, in addition, that the Sanskrit text of the
pada in both verses read dharma-kaya tathagati:fl;l, which is the
phrase found in Chap. XXXI of the AsPP.
Although a full discussion of the buddhology of the
beyond the scope of this paper, we ought to note that in v. 37
Tib. term yid kyi sku is attested, which the Chinese glosses
body "like an illusion," but which must represent
normally translated as "mental body" <;>r "mind-made body."
beside dharma-kaya, this is contrasted with mag can sku, which
surely Skt./PaIi piiti-kaya.
We have here what Lancaster calls
"primitive triad" (see above), the three bodies supposedly
the Canon. However, since dharma-kaya is an adjective,
two actual bodies in the proper sense of the word are attested in
verse, as indeed they are in the PaIi Canon. Both these bodies,
mind-made and the corruptible, belong to the world of
forms ..
Turning next to the
samadhi-siitra (PraS), we find a single obscure citation, at
IX, where the Tib. has chos kyi sku dang 'dra bar rtogs pas nam]
mkha'lta bu mams su 'gyur ba. In my English translation of
text I tentatively rendered this as "become those who resemblei:t
space in their understanding [of it as?] similar to the Body
Dharma," the problem being partly the presence in all three Chinese'i
versions of what seems to be an equivalent for animitta. Thus
suggested that the original sense of the passage may have been";;
"become those who understand the Body of Dharma to be
like space."63 T.418's equivalent for dharma-kiIyin:i
here isjing-zang-shen, literally "body of the treasury of scriptures,",l
while T.416 has simply "all dharmas," suggesting once again
dharma-kaya means the totality of dharmas.
The citation
but the presence of dharma-kaya as a substantive in the'.

'ar .. lies
known version is beyond doubt, in a context which seems
'lito have nothing to do with buddhology as such.
?:P In the Kasyapa-parivana (KP), another important text in the
corpus, the word dharma-kaya does not appear, but
('iupa-kaya occurs once, in Section 125, in a context which is
to the discussion. The Sanskrit text runs: dharma to pi
;;tathagataIP na samanupasyati kal) punar vada rupakayel)a, i.e.,
bodhisattva] does not view the Tathagata even in terms of the
;>aharrna(s), how much less in terms of his physical body."65
version-"he is not even attached to the Buddha-
'.lc1lJarma(s), how much less constantly [?] attached to form?"-
the intent of the Sanskrit reasonably well. The Jin dynasty
accords with it too, but the Qin and Song versions both
the term fa-shen (= dharma-kaya). This could represent
'{translator's license, or a different Sanskrit recension of the text
: which sought to clarify its sense along the lines suggested by the
ipassages in Chaps. IV and XXXI of the AsPP. That is to say, one
: does not "view" the Buddha even in terms of the body of qualities
.or principles which he has realised (dharrna-kaya-parini$pattitas),
.' to say nothing of viewing him in terms of his physical person (rupa-
As we move on to other less well-known works of early
middle Mahayana sutra-literature, a significant new pattern begins
JO emerge. In the Druma-kinnararaja-parip!ccha-siitra (DKP) , 66 to
begin with, although there are no occurrences of the term chos kyi
sku in the Tibetan text, Chinese version (T.624)
contains several occurrences of fa-shen, the standard Chinese
equivalent for dharma-kaya. In Section 2D (349c27-28), for
example, we find: "What does it mean to say that bodhisattvas
. know the realm of all human beings without being separated from
the body of dharmas?" which in the Tib. text is ji ltar na byang chub
sems dpa' khams sna tshogs 1a yang mam par b1ta 1a chos kyi
dbyings las kyang nil g.yo ba mams lags. Here appears
to have used fa-shen to render dharma-dhatu (Tib. chos kyi
dbyings), which is also indicated by the appearance of fa-jie, the
standard Chinese equivalent for dharma-dhatu, in Kumarajiva's
rendition of the same passage (T.625, 368c17-18).67 The
wording is repeated in the Tib. text at 2M, and the
T.624 (350c15) and T.625 (369c8) agree with those for the f:
citation. There can be little doubt, therefore, that h:
rendered dharma-dhiitu, contrasted with sattva-dhiitu, as fa-shen
presumably because he believed both terms to refer to the totality}
of dharmas. The same thing happens at 20 where Tib. has chos kyT':
dbyings, T.625 (369a18-19) has fa-jie and T.624 (350a21) has fa_\<ii
shen.68 ,',l
A more pertinent citation is found at 7K, where the Tibetan:
reads chos kyi dbyings bsam gyis mi khyab pa 1a zhugs pas/ sangs
rgyas thams cad sangs rgyas gcig tu shes pa, "knowing that aU'
Buddhas are one Buddha, by virtue of [their] entry into the:'
inconceivable dharma-dhiitu"; i.e., all Buddhas are the same byi
virtue of their common "entry" into, or understanding of, the'
inconceivable dharma-dhiitu (Skt. acintya-dharma-dhiitvavatifra).
T.624 (358b5-6) has "all Buddhas are nothing but one Buddha. For
what reason? Because [their] penetration of the body of dharmas
(fa-shen) is incalculable,"69 while T.625 (377b18-19) agrees ex-
actly with the Tibetan, i.e., construing acintya as qualifying
dharma-dhiitu rather than avatiira. At 8Cv54 T.624 (360b26) again,
has fa-shen where Tib. has chos kyi dbyings and T.625 (379c14)
has fa-jie. A further occurrence at 90 is especially interesting: in
enumerating the six anusmrtis, the Tib. text has sangs rgyas kyi sku
thob par bya ba 'j phyir / sangs rgyas rjes su dran pa, i.e., "com-
memoration of the Buddha in order to acquire the body of a
Buddha." Here too T.625 (381a13-14) agrees with the Tibetan, but
T.624 (361 b29) has "constantly think of the Buddha and obtain the
body of dharmas (fa-shen)." This is unexpected; we could postulate
corruption, but it is also possible that the translator has settled on
fa-shen as conveying the true sense of buddha-kiiya. It is not easy
to see how has arrived at his translation of lOHv25, but
the appearance of fa-shen in T.624 (363all), zhu-fa in T.625
(383aI6), and chos mams kun in Tib. suggests that sarva-dharma
stood in the original lndic text. At llD, in a list of 64 "dharma-
sounds," we again find fa-shen in T.624 (363c18) where Tib. and
T.625 (384a18) indicate dharma-dhiitu. The three versions differ
, bstantially from this point on, and it is interesting to note that the
in T.?24 are the ten the f?ur assurances and
eighteen, exclusIve dharmas (not lIsted m the two other
suggesting an association between these qualities and
i";iJhanna-dhatu as equated with dharma-kaya. At 14D ehos kyi
'tdbyings in Tib. again a fa-shen in T.624
j{:(366a22), but the sentence In quesTIon IS mIssmg from T.62S (see
;'j87b22-26). Finally, a less clear-cut case occurs in Section lSE,
:i}where T.624 (366cS) has: "they are able to practice and guard the
: Hharm
; through this they obtain the body of dharmas (fa-shen)."
:'!The Tib. text at this point (Section lSE) has dam pa 'i ehos yongs
srung ba dang I sangs rgyas beom ldan 'das mams kyi dam pa 'i
:/chos 'dzin par 'gyur ba, i.e., "they [the bodhisattvas] protect the true
X/dharma, and they obtain the true dharma of the Buddhas and
?lords," while KumarajIva' s version (T.62S) reads "they protect the
ltrue dharma and uphold the treasury of the Buddha-dharma(s) (fo-
afa-zang)." Although not attested by the Tibetan, therefore, dharma-
is suggested by both Chinese versions of lSE, in a context
: which implies it carries the meaning "collection of dharmas." The
'most significant finding in relation to the DKP, however, is that in
some half-a-dozen cases Lokaksema has translated dharma-dhatu
,by fa-shen.
Despite the doctrinal richness of the Ajatasatru-kau1qtya-
vinodana-siitra (AjKV), as well as the presence in it of apparent
" Yogadira tendencies, I have not been able to locate a single
occurrence of dharma-kaya in the Tibetan text. However, once
again translation (T,626) contains a number of uses
of the term fa-shen, and the passages in question need careful
investigation. At 390bl, to begin with, we read that bodhisattvas
"do not deviate from twelvefold causation; they consider the body
of dharmas (fa-shen) to be neither increasing nor decreasing." This
, corresponds to Tib. tien cing 'bre1 bar 'byung ba dang mi 'gal ba 'i
phyir des chos thams cad (Derge: nyid for thams cad) 1a brtag par
bya '0 II thog ma nas ma skyes pa 'j phyir ehos gang yang ma bri ba
dang ma 'phd bar bya '0 (Peking Mdo Tsu 22Sa6-7). None of the
other complete Chinese versions (T.627, T.628) supports dharma-
kaya, so it appears fa-shen has been used by to denote
nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
. all dharmas. At 390b28-29 the text states: "They see the
but do not think of seeking them through form. Why is th
Because of the body of dharmas (or: because they have the db
as body?)." However, Tib. sangsrgy,
thams cad mthong mod kYI I gZligs 1a dmigs pa 1 du shes kyafj
mi skyed, "although they see all the Buddhas, they do not give ns
to any conception based on form," which is supported by the oth
Chinese translations, indicating that T.626 has incorp
rated a gloss. At 392b we also come across a number of OCcurrence
of fa-shen (392b2, 4-5, 15), but the corresponding Tibetan texthiis
only chos or chos nyid (see Peking 232al-8), while the
version (T.627, 41ObI8-c3) has fa-jieor fa, that or
Fatian (T.628, 432bI7-29) simply fa. At 398b6-7, in the course6i
Mafijuri's exposition of the bodhisattva-pitaka, s text
states: "The dharmas of bodhisattvas are unsurpassed, because they;
penetrate the body of dharmas, because of great compassion." Bul
when we compare this with the Tibetan, we find: byang chub sems'
dpa'i bslab pa ni tshad med pa 'i rjes su song ba I snyillg rje chen"
pos zin pa'o II (Peking 253a2-3), "The bodhisattva's training starts!
with the immeasurable states and is completed by great compas- .
sion. Similarly, T.627 (418aI5) and T.629 (439c21) mention only
compassion." Taken with the clumsy repetition of "because"
T.624, the testimony of the later versions indicates again that a
gloss has been incorporated in the text. Later occurrences, however,
follow the pattern laid down in the DKP. At 398c 1 fa-shen
corresponds to chos kyi dbyings in the Tibetan text (see Peking
254a2), fa-jie in T.627 (418c1) and T.628 (440aI4); at 401b9-12
fa-shen occurs several times, corresponding to chos kyi dbyings or
possibly chos thams cad (sarva-dharma) in the Tibetan (see Peking
263a7-263bl) and to fa-jie in -both T.627 (422bl-7) and T.628
(443a3-4); and finally, at 402cl-3, fa-shen again occurs several
times, corresponding to choskyi dbyingsin the Tibetan (see Peking
267b7-268a2) and fa-jie in the later Chinese versions (see T.627,
423c15-18, and T.628, 44b25(?)).
It would be inappropriate here to give the full text of all the
passages cited, but it is clear enough that has used fa-
shen throughout the AjKV to designate the totality of dharmas,
c enerally in places where his lndic original had dharma-dhatu. The
exceptions to this rule are almost certainly glosses which have
been erroneously incorporated in the text.
, There are three other texts belonging to the
2corpus: T.458, the Wenshushili wenpusa-shujing(wwp); T.280,
the Dousha jing (DS], an early version of a small section of the
i.Avatarpsaka-siitra); and T.313, the Achu-fo guo jing, a translation
;'oftheAk$obhya-tathagatasya-vyiiha trans-
/lations of the first two of these texts contain no references to
"dharma-kaya, and the same is true, as far as I am aware, of the later
: Chinese or Tibetan versions, where they exist.
A perusal of the
various versions of the AkTV, however, reveals one problematical
Qccurrenceofthe tenn, in Chap. 1, Sections 69-70 (according to the
/divisions in the translation by Dantinne).72 Here the Tibetan text
states that when the Buddha used to pursue the course
of training of a bodhisattva he never once experienced any bodily
. or mental fatigue while expounding or listening to the dharma, the
reason being that, ever since the time he conceived his initial
aspiration to awakening, he had realised the dharma-kaya. Further,
when he was pursuing the course of training of a bodhisattva and
listening to the dharma he thought "In the same way that I now love
the dharma, so too may beings in my Buddha-field also be lovers
of the dharma, and not those who do not love it! "73 At first blush
. this seems coherent, coherent enough for Dantinne to have trans-
. lated it without comment-but is it? I think not; a closer inspection
of the Chinese translations shows us why. Bodhiruci's Chinese
translation (T.31O, No.6), produced in the period 706-713, reads
"Sfuiputra, when in the past he was practising the course of practice of a
bodhisattva, the Tathagata Arhat Samyaksambuddha did not
experience physical or mental tiredness when expounding the dharmas or
listening to them. Why? Because when he first conceived the aspiration
to cultivate the course of practice of a bodhisattva, he obtained the
awesome power (weili, usually = anubhava) of the body of dharmas ({a-
shen). Sfuiputra, when in the past he was practising the course of practice
of a bodhisattva, the Tathagata Arhat Sam yaksambuddha made
the following vow: 'Mayall the bodhisattvas and mahfisattvas in my
nABS VOL. 15, NO.1
buddha-k$etra obtain the perfection of the body of dharmas, just lile ..
me! "'74 e.
In version, however, the passage in question runs as
follows (755a4'-8): ...
The Buddha said to Sariputra: "Long ago, when the Tathagata Arhat
Samyaksambuddha was practising the way of the bOdhisattva
and listening to or expounding the dharrn,a, his body experienced no
fatigue, and his mind felt no fatigue either. Sariputra, long ago, when the
Tathagata was pUrsuing the way of the bodhisattva and
listening to or expounding the dharma, [he said:] 'This is how [I] love the
dharma. May the bodhisattvasand mahasattvas in my buddha-k$etra love
the dharma like this!'"
At flrst sight we might be disposed to accept Bodhiruci's text:
possesses a "dharma-body" which is immune to fatigue,
and he wishes that on other bodhisattvas. But how can bodhisattvas
(especiaJly those at the beginning of their career) be said to
"reaJise" the dharma-kaya before they become Buddhas? And why
is there only one occurrence of the term in the Tibetan, as opposed
to two in Bodhiruci's version? text, with no occur-
rences at all, offers the solution: in the transmission of the Indic,
dharma-kama has been corrupted to dharma-kaya, quite possibly
under the influence of Yogacara Trikaya speculations.
Tibetan translation, which stands closer to version
than to Bodhiruci's,76 represents a haJf-corrupted text, since it still
preserves one dharma-kama (chos 'dod pa). Originally the AkTV
was making the unproblematical point that from the very fIrst
was indefatigable in teaching and hearing the dharma
because he loved it so much, and so he vowed that the bodhisattvas
of his Buddha-fIeld would be similarly endowed with this un weary-
ing love for the dharma. The "because he loved it so much" appears
to have been missing from the earliest version of the text, if we go
by T.313. The Tibetan wording (chos kyi sku rab tu bsgoms par
gyur pa'i phyir TO) suggests that a gloss containing the words
may have been subsequently incorpo-
rated into the text before being corrupted to dharma-kaya-
In an even later form of the text this corruption
{ppears to have the last of. the as well,
leading to the peculIar message of BodhrruCl'S rendltlon.
..... Let us now review our findings. We have seen that in the
group of texts translated into Chinese by in the
latter haIf'of the 2nd century C. E. there is no evidence for any
developed Mahayana notions of dha.rma-kaya, even though this
:term was clearly familiar to him and does occur, albeit rarely, in
several of his translations in the two grammatical forms and senses
attested in Mainstream sources. That is to say, it is either (1) a
bahuvrIhi adjective, meaning "having the dharma as body" or
"embodied in the dharma" (twice in the LAn), or (2) a tatpuru$a
'substantive, with the sense "body of dharmas," dharmasin this case
being understood as qualities, principles of existence, truths, or
teachings (once in the AsPP, once in the PraS, possibly once in the
. DKP). Furthermore, even when the term does appear more
.frequently in later Chinese, Tibetan and Sanskrit versions of the
scriptures in question, it still exhibits the same forms and meanings,
as was demonstrated in particular for the Sanskrit text of the AsPP.
An additional and unexpected discovery was that the Chinese term
fa-shen, the standard equivalent for the substantive dharma-kaya,
,sometimes occurs in translations at points where the
'. Indic original is almost certain to have had dharma-dhatu.
suggests that he regarded the two terms (viz., dharma-dhatu and
dharma-kiiya as a substantive) as interchangeable; for him both
... meant the totality of dharmas. 81 vVhile this is of course in keeping
with the Mainstream interpretation, and therefore supports our
thesis, two things remain puzzling. The first is that also
used renditions of dharma-dhiitu which do approximate the stan-
dard Chinese equivalent. 82 Why then was he not consistent? The
second enigma is his insistence on employing the Chinese word
shen, given that this never means "collection." Unable to replicate
the ambiguity of the Sanskrit in Chinese, was clearly
faced with a difficult choice. That he opted for shen suggests that
he regarded the primary meaning of the word kiiya as more
important, as somehow worth preserving, and could indicate that
even by his time there were Buddhists who were already starting
. i
nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
. to regard thedharma-kifya as a "body" of some kind, even if
metaphorically. While these questions relating to """"",,'''-<Ul..;:'SCIJnll
stylistic preferences will only be clarified by the
examination of his translations, they do not, I believe,
our general thesis, which is that the use of the term Wl.aItJa-J.-;; .
in this important body of early middle Mahayana siltras is
ous with Mainstream interpretations.
IlL Dhanna-kaya in Other Mahayana Sources
There we might be content to let the matter rest, but
attempting to fonnulate some general conclusions it might
useful to look for corroborating evidence in Mahayana
outside the corpus, especially those often cited
discussions of the Trikaya theory.83 Clearly there are limits t6'
we can undertake here, but one obvious candidate for
is the Vajracchedikif-prajiiif-piframitif-siltra (Vaj) and the
known verses which run, according to Conze's:(1974: 57) ..
of the Sanskrit text (I have regularised the spelling):
ye maip. riipeIJa cadrifk$UI ye mfiIp. gho$eIJa canvayul;! I
mithya-praMI;.a-prasrm na mfiIp. drak$yanti te janiil}. II
dhannato buddha dra$favya dhanna-kaya hi nayakiil). I
dhannatff ca na vijneya na sa sakya vijaniturp. II
Once again, Conze's translations-for there are several in
tence-are far from adequate. In one version (Conze 1973b:
we find the second verse rendered:
From the Dharma should one see the BUddhas,
From the Dharmabodies comes their guidance.
Yet Dharma's true nature cannot be discerned,
And no-one can be conscious of it as an object.
Here, too, we encounter errors in linguistic interpretation
pounding philosophical incoherence. What on earth can it mean to
say that the Buddhas are guided by the "Dharmabodies"?
:bas, of course, mistaken the subject for the predicate and vice versa,
j;rlthe belief that dharma-kaya is a substantive. What the text says
is that the Guides or Leaders are dharma-kaya, i.e., this word is once
functioning as an .adjective. Even for the (6th Gilgit
version, recently re-edited by Schopen (see Gomez & SIlk 1989:
.1'89-139), where the words hi nayakfil) in the relevant line are
by tathagatal; (i.e., singular), the same interpretation is in
;rtlY opinion the correct one. 84 However, Schopen, following
,;Conze's example, translates dharma-kaya as a noun ("The Tathagata
body of Doctrine"), thus continuing a long tradition. The
verse makes much better sense if we translate it properly:
""The Buddha is to be seen in terms of the dharma; the Tathagata
i:has the dharma for a body. The nature of dharma(s), however, is
>indiscernible [to the senses]; it is not possible to discern it."85
. . What this means is that in the Vaj there is no use of the term
X/dharma-kaya in the nominal sense, although the term rupa-kaya
,::does occur, in a passage which may at first have directly preceded
!tthe above, but become separated from it in the course of time (see
'Conze 1973b: sections 20a, 26a). This is possibly a further
': indication of the age of the Vaj, in that no Trikaya-related notion
lof the dharma-kaya is found in it.
Both verses are apparently
...... drawn from a Mainstream text, although Mainstream parallels have
been found only for the first one.
? The second verse, of greater
interest to us here, has so far proved elusive. One notes, however,
the similarity of the wording in the Gilgit version (viz., dharma-
kifyas tathagatal;) with that of the passage from Chap. XXXI of the
AsPPand the two verses from the LAn cited above, and the fact that
the point being made by the Vajhere is precisely that which KP 125
is attempting to trump, as it were. That this second verse is missing
from some recensions of the Vaj, such as the Central Asian MS
and the earliest Chinese translation by Kumarajlva (T.235, dated
402 C. E.), indicates that it has been inserted later in the history of
the text, possibly under the influence of a different Perfection of
Wisdom or other Mahayana sutra.
In one sense, however, the date
of its insertion is beside the point: even with it, the Vaj never goes
beyond the Mainstream position.
nABS VOL. 15, NO.1
Another text occasionally cited in connection with Trika
theory is the Samadhi-rifja-siitra (SR), , in particular the 22 rd
chapter dealing explicitly with the bodies of the Buddha, which
edited and translated by Regamey (1938b). As Regamey remark
in his comments on the doctrinal standpoint of the text (pp. 23-2sl
its buddhology is akin to that of the Perfection of Wisdom
in knowing only two bodies, the rupa-kfiya and the dharma-kaya.:
Its notion of the rupa-kaya encompasses many features which are
commonly assigned to the sarpbhoga-kaya (in this regard if
resembles the LAn), but here we are more concerned with its
description of the dharma-kaya. We find many statements with a
familiar ring. For example, in Section 7 (Regamey 1938b: 81), we
are told that the Tathiigata is not to be discerned on the basis of his
physical body, because the Buddhas and Lords are distinguished or
constituted by the dharma-kaya, not by the physical body (narupa-
kiiyatas tathiigatal) prajiIiitavyal}. tat kasya hetol)? dharma-kiiya-
prabhiivitiis ca buddhii bhagavanto na riipa-kiiya-prabhiivitifl)).
This dharma-kiiya is then described in fairly abstract terms in the '.
prose (Sections 9-12) and verses (Sections 13-37) which follow.
Although Regamey translates it consistently as "Absolute Body,"
there is no reason why we should not render it as "body of
dharmas," except for Section 34, where the words dharma-kayo
mahiiviro ought to be rendered "The great hero has the dharma for
a body" (i.e., dharma-kaya is a bahuvrihl).
What then of the Sad-dhanna-pw:ujaiika-siitra (SP), which is
said by Nagao (1991: 104) to be one of the Mahayana satras in
which the two-body theory "became stabilized"?90 In fact, there is
only one occurrence of the term dhanna-kaya in the entire Sanskrit
text, in v. 82 near the end of Chap. 5 (Vaidya's edition, p. 96), which
clearly has the sense of "body of dharmas," "totality of dharmas,"
"all dharmas."91 The context places this beyond any doubt. There-
fore, while it is certainly true that the SP teaches a developed
Mahayana buddhology, it does not explicitly invoke the concept of
dharma-kaya to support it.
Let us turn finally to the Lailkiivatiira-satra (LA), where we .
might reasonably expect to find traces ofY ogacara doctrines, given
the well-known affinity of this text with that school. As Suzuki
'oints out (1930: 316ff.), there are adumbrations of the Trikaya
but "the idea .of Dharmakaya is not in
'the LifIikavatara ... It IS used not III the sense of the Dhannakaya of
the Triple Body dogma." And yet Suzuki's own interpretation of
ihere1evant passages is heavily influenced by Trikaya notions, or
by theology, and therefore the text needs to be
ill a number of places.
',: For example, at LA 30.7-8,93 the words tathagato dharma-
kaya-vasavarti bhavi$yati dharma-nairatmya-darsanat mean "he
WI become a Tathagata who has mastery over the body/collection!
:totality of dharmas through seeing the absence of self in dhar-
rnas.'>94 Here dharma-kaya probably has the same sense it carries
(iI1the SPpassage cited above. Suzuki's translation ("endowed with
,the perfect freedom of the Dhannakaya") is ambiguous, but could
,easily give one the impression that dharma-kaya possesses the
; quality of "perfect freedom," rather than being merely the object of
!vasavartin. The same problem arises at LA 55.11-12, which reads:
,punar api 1okottarifnasrava-dhatu-paryapannifn sarpbharan paripilrya
.; acintya-dharma-kaya-vasavartittirp pratilapsyante. One could trans-
late this roughly as "Further, having acquired all the requisites
. pertaining to the supramundane and incorruptible realm, they will
.>obtain mastery over the body of inconceivable dharmas." Unac-
countably, Suzuki (1932: 116) speaks of "the attainment of the
. Dharmakaya which is of sovereign power and beyond concep-
.tion,'>95 but here acintya, which usually means "inconceivable in
. number or extent," is just as likely to qualify dharma as it is kaya,
and dharma-kaya must again be the object of vas8vartita, as in the
preceding citation.
Other passages where dharma-kaya is best
understood as the totality of dharmas are LA 10.11-12 (Chap. II,
v. 4);97 LA 20.12, where Mahamati invites the Buddha to expound
the dharma-kaya-surely the collection of dharmas understood as
teachings-praised (anugita) by the Tathagatas;98 LA 23.16, where
. as a result of the teachings of the Tathagatas the bodhisattvas are
said to obtain the dharma-kaya;99 and LA 94.19, where the dharma-
kaya of the TathiIgatas is said to be as indestructible as the sands
of the Ganges.
While these passages could at a pinch be
interpreted in terms of some kind of "cosmic body," "body of
nABS VOL. 15, NO.1
dharmafl' is a perfectly adequate rendition in all cases, and a bett
. ~
one In most. .
There are, however, a number of passages where buddhol
seems to be the issue. At LA 58.11-14, for example, the bodily
identity (kaya-samata; of all Tathagatas is explained in terms of the
sameness of both the dharma-kaya and the rfipa-lak$aJ}.iinuVYaiijana_
kaya, except when Tathagatas assume different fOnTIS to convert
This passage is a definite echo of LAn v. 79 (see above)
even though dharma-kaya is a substantive here; we noted the s a r n ~
idea in the DKP, the Upaya-kaua1ya-siitra and the Kosa.
Suzuki points out (1930: 318), this passage certainly implies all
three bodies, but dharma-kaya here may still be interpreted along
the lines already established. A more puzzling passage OCcurs at LA
kiIp tu mahiimate manomaya-dharma-kayasya tathagatasyaitad adhiva-
canmp yatra sarva-tirthakara-Sravaka-pratyekabuddha-sapta-bhiimi_
prati$thitanfIIp ca bodhisattvaniim avi$ayal}. I so 'nutpadas tathagatasya
[jJ etan mahiimate paryaya-vacanam.
Although the faulty punctuation is easily remedied, the compound
manomaya-dharma-kayasya is potentially troublesome, given that
there is such a thing as the manomaya-kaya. However, if we take
it as a bahuvrihi adjective qualifying tathagatasya, the passage
yields the following sense:
"However, Mahamati, there is a designation for the Tathagata, insofar as
he is embodied in the dharma which is mind-made [or better: in the
dharmas which are mind-made], which is beyond the reach of any
sectarians, sravakas, pratyekabuddhas or bodhisattvas on the [first] seven
stages. It is 'non-production.' This, Mahamati, is a synonym for the
Tathagata." 103
That is to say, the term manomaya-dharrna-kaya is probably to be
explained as an allusion to the celebrated opening verses of the
Dhammapada, which say that all dharmas are, among other things,
manomaya or "mind-made."l04 Thus the designation anutpada,
"non-production," applies to the Tathagata insofar as he is embod-
in or identified with the dharma or dharmas, which are
amaya and therefore essentially "unproduced." Non-move-
t also follows from this, as we saw in the AsPP. Of course, the
dha's physical body is a different matter, since it is corruptible;
produced and destroyed, which is exactly the message of LAn
;37 (see above).1OS Finally, we encounter the bahuvnhiadjective
\ain at LA 104.2-3, in the section prohibiting meat-eating, where
find the words dharma-kif yif hi mahamate tathifgatif dharmifhifra-
itaya, i.e., "for the Tathifgatas have the dharma as their body,
; y are dependent on the dharma for their food. "106 The phrase
arma-kifyifs tathifgatifl) is by now an old friend; the adjective
is reminiscent of another of the Agama pas-
'ges studied by Anesaki, EkottarifgamaXV (T.125, 623b7): rulai-
.; en-zhe yi fa wei shi, "the Tathifgata's body has the dharma as its
We must conclude, then, that although the LA may well
ontain many allusions and references to the Y ogacara Trikaya
'eory, its use of the term dharma-kifya itself does not differ in any
'ignificant way from the other siitras we have studied, a fact of
Suzuki himself was aware. Despite this, he was frequently
!!seduced by a somewhat theistic interpretation of the Trikaya
into misconstruing the relevant passages, so that his
were left thinking that the LA did in fact teach such a thing
"Dharmakaya which is of sovereign power and beyond
If'c()nception."109 '

t)v. General Conclusions
lIn the context of this paper I cannot survey the full range of dharma-
references in the scriptural and scholastic literature of the
but I hope that I have covered enough major works to
that a case can be made for a different reading of the
;j"concept. At least as far as the early and middle Mahayana are
;;:'concerned, there is little in the texts I have studied to suggest a
t;;ideparture from Mainstream interpretations. I see this paper, there-
if; fore, as yet another attempt at what I might call the abolition of
imaginary discontinuities in Buddhist history. In this case what is

JIABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
. done away with is the prevailing notion that the
some kind of Buddhist "Godhead" or "CQsmic Body"
the followers of the Mahayana in the philosophical
their headlong. rush towards theism. Pioneers in the field
Suzuki and Conze can be excused for falling under the spell of thll
idea, but, as we have seen, even recent writers on the subject of
Trikaya have continued to ignore such basics as Edgenon'i
observations concerning the use of dharma-kaya as an adjectiveI
early and middle Mahayana siitras, and have therefore obscured
more than one important moment in the development of the"
concept. Too ready to assimilate all occurrences of the term
particular understanding of the nominal dharma-kaya of th&'
developed Trikaya theory, they have misconstrued many key",
passages, thereby collapsing what may have been centuries of
gradual doctrinal development, into a single incoherent theoretical'
position. Further, this incoherency has become enshrined in the:
standard English translations of key Mahayana siitras, to the extent'
that it now goes unchallenged by some of the leading lights of
Buddhist studies. Nor is it merely that the adjective, even
recognized as such, has been misinterpreted as the noun; the noun:
has also been misinterpreted. Where dharma-kaya does appear as'
a substantive, to continue to translate it as "Dharma-body" or;
"Body of Dharma" may not seem a serious error, but when that tenD
appears in conjunction with the other "bodies" of the Buddha, the
. '
temptation is to impute some kind of unitary ontological status to
it, and to engage in theological flights of fancy which are unsup-
ported by the texts. Thus metaphor gives way to metaphysics. That.
kaya means both "body" in the ordinary sense and "body" in the
sense of collection obviously provided Buddhists of both Main-
stream and Mahayana persuasions with an ambiguity which they
found exceedingly useful and suggestive, but one presumes they
were always in a position to construe the term dharma-kaya in a way
which did not involve hypostatisation of a non-existent entity,
however abstract, even when it occurred alongside other kaya tenns
which did relate to the material world. Reification of the nonexist-
ent is a cardinal sin as far as Buddhists are concerned. We Buddhist
scholars should avoid it too. Since the English expression "the body
'r;'. dh. armag' does not carry the same potential ontological freight
Body of Dharma" or "theDhanna-body," we could do
e it from on, assuming, of course, that we are
With the substantIve.

All this raises the question: is the" Dharma-body" understood

:as'an actual body of the Buddha purely a figment of the modem
B'uddhological imagination, or does it go back to the Yogacaras or
rbine other followers of the Mahayana at a later point in its history?
the' study of the texts translated by demonstrates that
Ihactual "Buddha-body" called the dharma-kaya is not attested in
earlier versions, but we have also seen that even in their later
f61:mS many siitras did not move very far (if at all) beyond a position
K*hich was also acceptable to at least some of the Mainstream
and were a long way from postulating the "cosmic body"
principle" which we have come almost automatically
Ib identify with the dharma-kaya. For we must remember in this
k6nnection that the Tibetan and Sanskrit versions of the texts
to in this study date for the mostpart from a relatively late
if they show no trace of this idea, it can hardly have been
ji'ommon coin. Would it then be appropriate to suggest that the
notion of dharma-kaya as a unitary cosmic principle was,
Indian Buddhism at least, exclusively a matter of Y ogacara
and not one of the staple Mahayana doctrines as is
i:commonly supposed? At this point I arrive at the limits of my own
but in the light of my findings with respect to the LA,
fja. text rich in Cittamatra elements, I am tempted to ask if even the
discussions of the subject, as well as those writings
RiDfluenced by them, may also need to be reconsidered. I hope
that others might be prompted by this paper to re-evaluate
:ldharma-kaya passages in the later siitra and sastra literature, in
t;order to see if less "reifying" interpretations make better sense of
!1them, or are at least possible. 110
g;, Although my conclusions may well have wider application,
jJthey relate in the first instance to the Mainstream and early and
i:Driddle Mahayana understanding of dharma-kaya. Let us be clear
rabout the central issue here, since that may well have become
by the sheer mass of textual detail which this paper has

nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
thrown up. As far as the Buddhists who wrote the texts
concerned, what was important was the identification of
Buddha with the dharma or dharmas, of the Teacher with the
which he taught or the principles which he realised,
either. in the abstract, or c.oncretely in scripture. A simple!
equatIon but ':Ith
for cult-practIce, In WhICh the. cult of eventUalhi}
coalesced WIth the cult of the book. In lIght of thIS we ourselveS"'
should always opt for an interpretation which emphasises th;i
dharma of dharma-kiIya, rather than the kiIya, that is, the
or dharmas by which Buddhahood is truly constituted and in whiCiiij
it finds its expression, and not some ill-defined transcendental!
I trust that this paper has in passing illustrated some of
benefits to be derived from a close study of the early Chinesd'l
Undoubtedly it illustrates the complexity of such
undertaking, since even the attempt to run a single technical
to ground has led us a merry chase, through and around scores otl
textual and philosophical difficulties, deep into the
sional labyrinth of Mahayana sutTa-literature. We have
hope, that careful linguistic analysis is our equivalent of Ariadne'sJ
thread, enabling us to keep our bearings as we move slowly-if noti\
always surely!-towards the clarification of the issues central
our concern. It is not enough to count the occurrences of this or tha(;i,:
term in this or that translation: each and every occurrence has to be:;
weighed in the balance, considered in its context. Of course, it isJ
stating the obvious to say that the study of Buddhist ideas
always proceed like this, carefully and on the basis of sound;
philology, but let us not be too quick to pass judgement on those ., .
who in preceding us have lost their way. At this point the labyrinth;,
harboured something particularly deceptive, in a way which is not]
unusual. It is common knowledge that Buddhist texts, scriptures'
and treatises alike, often use puns, double meanings, plays on
words and fanciful etymologies to get their message across, and
that this poses exceptional difficulties for translators and
tators. The beast in this instance not only had the power to appear
ill tWO grammatical fOIms, but those fOTITIS were also cloaked in
lnultiple ambiguities. Even when cornered, it continued to resist its
interpreters. In the ensuing struggle the ambiguities and the twin
forIllS perished. 'tV orse still, from their ma.'1g1ed remains arose a
y entity which continues to haunt us, insubstantial but yet
substantivised (and provided with imposing capitals to boot), the
COSnllC or absolute Dharma-Body of the Buddha-a "body" which
is more of a phantom than any of the apparitions ever conjured up
by the Tathiigatas out of compassion for suffering sentient beings. 113
1. A preliminary version of this paper was presented at Berkeley and at the 10th
... Congress of the International Association of Buddhist Studies in Paris in July, 1991. I wish
:Iothank all those friends and colleagues who either heard or read this first draft and made
helpful comments on it, in particular Rolf Giebel, Richard Gombrich, Kevin Lee, Jan
Nattier, David Seyfort Ruegg, Lambert Schmithausen, Gregory Schopen and Jonathan
. Silk.
2. See, e.g., Murti 1955: 284-287.
3. See, e.g., Reynolds and Hallisey 1987: 330-331.
4. See, e.g., Murti 1955: 285: 'The Dharmakaya is still a Person, and innumerable
merits and powers etc. are ascribed to him."
5. See Suzuki 1930: 308-338. Suzuki's discussion of the whole subject has a
distinctly "theological" flavour (see especially pp. 308, 310), to which we shall return
6. For example, sometimes the dharma-kaya is also referred to as the sviibhiivika-
kiiya or "essential body," sometimes this latter is said to constitute a fourth body. The
dispute over this issue is the focus of the article by John Makransky (1989).
7. This article was reprinted with inconsequential changes in Nagao 1991: 103-
122. All citations are from this later version.
8. Presumably Nagao means Mainstream Buddhist scriptures here. "Mainstream
Buddhism" is the tenn I employ to refer to non-Mahayana Buddhism, in preference to
the other terms in current use, none of which is totally satisfactory. "Theravada" is
patently inaccurate and anachronistic, "Hlnayana" is pejorative and potentially offensive,
"Sravakayana" is more subtly pejorative, and also makes it hard to place the Pratyeka-
buddhayana (whatever that was), while "Nikaya" or "Sectarian Buddhism," although
neutral, are historically misleading, given the fact that the Mahayana was a pan-Buddhist
movement running across Nikaya or Vinaya school/ordination lineage boundaries. This
means that monks and nuns converted to the Mahayana continued to belong also to the
Nikayain which they had been ordained, to uphold its Vinaya, and so on. However, they
nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1

'remained in the minority, at least in India. The term "Mainstream" reflects this
9. See above, n. 8. , ..
10. Other valuable recent contributions are by Kajiyama
Williams (1989: 167-184). The lengthy discussion by Dutt (1977: 141-117)
recommended. For art excellent survey of earlier scholarly work on this question
. 0
the Buddhist sourcesthernselves, see de La Vallee Poussin 1929:
11. See Lancaster 1968: 92; see also de La Vallee Poussin 1929:
12. For a short survey of these texts see Harrison 1987 and
13. Although a detailed treatment can be found only in Lancaster's
doctoral dissertation (1968), indications of some of his findings appear in Lancaster
14. A sixth passage containing the term dharma-sarlra (in Chap. ill; see
1960: 29 and Conze 1975: 105-106) was also studied in Lancaster's dissertation,
not considered in his published work. Although it seems to have nothing to dO willi:
Trikaya theory, it is in certain respects relevant to our subject, as we shall see.
. 15. References to the Sanskrit are to Vaidya's text, on account of its
16. A similar rendering of dharma-kiiya as a noun is also found in
Japanese translation of the AsPP (Kajiyama 1974: L 128).
17. Makransky's rendering (p. 66) agrees substantially with Conze's, as does
ofDutt (1977:
18. The same point was made by S. Bagchi in the "Glossary and Critical
appended to V aidya' s edition of the AsPP (p. 57
19. Bahuvrihls are exocentric possessive compounds. Although their fuill'l
member is a substantive, they function primarily as adjectives, qualifying othel;
substantives. A bahuvrihl of the form "XY" may be often be translated as "having ay:1
which is X." Analogues in English are expressions like "two-car family" and "Wide-body';

20. The four terms mean "having the dhamma for a body," "having brahman
a body," "become dhamma," "become brahman." Cf. T. W. & C. A. F. Rhys Davids 1921:';
N, 81; de La Vallee Poussin 1929: 765; Lamotte 1958: 689; and Takasaki 1987: 64. The
translation by de La Vallee Poussin (accepted by Lamotte) seems to me the most accurare:';
"les .Bouddhas ont pour corps Ie Dharma, Ie Brahman, sont Ie Dharma, sont Ie Brahman".
(see also Lamotte 1988: 622). Similarly, the listing fot dhamma-kiiya in this passage iii
the Pali Tipitaka Concordance, S.V., is: "having dh. as body." However, the translatioii:.
by Demieville (1930: 176) misleadingly renders dhamma-kiiya and brahma-kiiya as
stantives, as does the recent translation by Walshe (1987: 409). Reynolds (1977: 379)'
follows the same tendency, and even Mus, in his lengthy ruminations on this passage;
(1978: 624-625,712-717), constantly substantivises the term. These writers, one assumes, \\
have been unduly influenced by Trikaya formulations. The worst offender is Mus, wh();'?,
largely on the basis of this passage, discerns in the PaIi canon ''une doctrine esoteriquO
du dhanunakaya: Ie Corps du Buddha est fait de la substance transcendante du
. les Saints ant part a cette substance" (1978: 761) .
.. .. ' 21. TIrroughout this study I refrain from capitalising the Sanskrit word dharma
dhamma): since doing so its range of which
capitals ill any case, the word IS often ambIguous, and this amblgUlty ought to be
Preserved in English.
':,.:' 22. I take dhamma-kaya to be that kind of bahuvnm composed of two nouns and
"appositional possessive" by Whitney (1962: 506), where the form "XY" may be
"having a Y which is X" or "having X for Y."I can think of no exact analogue
'kEnglish, but an ersatz example like "snake-hair(ed) woman" as a description of Medusa
'illustrates how such compounds work; i.e., they can be literal as well as metaphorical in
:;;. 23. There is no equivalent of dhamma-kaya in the Chinese translations of the
:. text in the DJrghagama; see Demieville 1930: 176. The pair dhamma-
bhiita, brahma-bhiita also occurs at M iii 195.
.. 24. See also ltivuttaka 91 and Milinda-paiiha71 (translated in T.W. Rhys Davids
:'1890: 110; Horner 1965: 96-97; see also below) for similar statements.
25. See, e.g., the Mahaparinibbana Sutta (D ii 154). Cf. S i 71, where Gautama
:'observes that although the body succumbs to aging, the dhamma of the good does not
'(satarp ca dhammo na jararp upeo).
;.'. 26. See, e.g., the equation of the two terms by Dharnmapala, cited in Mus 1978:
". 27. I shall return to the remainder of this passage below. Let us note in passing,
<however, the crucial ambiguities embedded in this passage. Just as the word sarlra refers
to the living body and to the physical remains or relics of that body in which its life-
;;force is believed to inhere, so too does "dharma" here refer to the law or truth in itself
.(and to the physical objects in which it is concretised, i.e., the written copies of the
(scriptures. Much depends on this equation of the text with the truth (and thus the power)
it conveys.
28. Note that the correct interpretation of these three passages in the AsPP is also
given by Dantinne (1983: 175), who, however, still cites them as evidence for a
. conception of the dharma-kaya.
29. I adopt the translation "body of dharma(s)" to avoid prejudicing the issue, for
reasons which will become clear shortly.
30. The original work appeared in 1901; I have used the 1982 reprint of the revised
version which appeared in the Collected Works in 1956.
31. The complete translation of the Sarpyuktagama (T.99) was done by GUl).abhadra
435-443 C. E.
32. The translation (T.125) was made by Gautama Sanghadeva during the Eastern
. Jin Period (317-420). For recent studies on the school affiliation of the Agama literature
see Bechert 1985.
33. See T.99, XXIII, 168b16. Cf. Anesaki 1982: 155, especially his citation of the
nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
, parallel passage m Divyavadiina XXVII (pp. 396-397), the first two lines of which
yat tacchari'nup vadatiiIp. varasya dhannatmano dhanna;maYaJ1l visuddham (also
in de La Vallee Poussin 1929: 766). A further reference in T.99, XXIV, 171
the mingjuwei-shen, the "body of words, phrases and syllables," is relevant to our sub . '(if:,
too: "The teachings <if the Tathagata are immeasurable-and limitless; the body of
phrases and syllables is also immeasurable and endless." This reflects the Sanskrit
nama-, vyaiijana-, and pada-kaya (cf. BHSD, s.v. kaya); the peculiar use of the
wei (literally, "flavour") to translate vyaiijana presumably relates to its other meaning 'cif
"sauce" or For the sense of kaya __
34. I am mdebted to Gregory Schopen for brmgmg this reference to my
The school affiliation of the text is undetermined.
35. I refer here to such statements as 'The dhanna taught by the Lord is the
of the Lord" (p. 157: ya dhanno Bhagavata de1it; etadBhagavat; sarirarp.) and
dh ann a is the body of the Lord" (p. 160: dhanna eva [or dhannaS cal Bhagavatli{J sarlrarIJj:f
together with the frequent use of the noun compound dhanna-sarira (at one point...::p:"
157-described as Bhagavat; sarlram piiramiirthikam, cf. the AsPP passage
above). Bahuvnhis also crop up in the expressions dhanna-sarlras tathagata (p. 158) ana'
dhannakayalJ, tathagatiilJ. (pp. 158-159), which have the same meaning we saw
'The Tathagata(s) is/are dhanna-bodied." It is to be noted that dhanna-kiiya
substantive does not make an appearance. Further, athough there are many quotations6r
Mainstream scriptures, almost all of the above-cited material appears in the
appended to them by the author. By my reckoning there is one citation from the
mula-sutra which contains the phrase dhannaS ca Bhagavat; sarli-am. A parallel textlr;
found in the Vinaya of the MUlasarvastivadins; see Levi 1932: 160, n. 2 and T .1451,
36. On the ambiguity of the word Sarlra (living body, dead body,
relic) see above, n. 27.
37. See above, n. 33. 'f
38. See Trenckner's edition (1986: 73): dhamma-kayenapanakhomahiiriijasakIJ:
bhagava nidasseturp, dhammo hi mahiiriija bhagavata desito. On this passage, see alSo;'
Mus 1978: 708-709; and Horner's own comments (1965:
39. Trenckner 1986: 71: yo dhammmp passati so bhagavan tarp passati, dhammo
hi .. . bhagavata desito. -
40. Contra Edgerton (BHSD, s.v. dhanna-kaya); in his discussion of the parallel.,
to this Vinaya passage in the Divyavadiina. Note that this parallel has the words;;
upadhyayiinubhavena, whereas according to Dutt the Gilgit MS omits the worf;
41. For further evidence for a Theravadin understanding of the dhamma-kaya 3l!.
"body of the teachings," see Reynolds 1977:
42. See de La Vallee Poussin 1929: 766-768, Makransky 1989: 51-52,
Williams 1989: 170-171 for a of this Sarvastivadin usage. .}!
43. Note that this Sarvastivadin list does not tally with Mahayana
of the 18 exclusive Buddha-dhannas. See Traite, III, pp. 1625-1703, and, for one;;
Mahayana example, 1990: 169-171. _ . .
:/.. 44. Cf. the understandmg of the dbarma-kaya as consIStIng of the ten powers, four
, four special types of knowledge (pratisaI!lvid), the 18 exclusive qualities (here
:> separate category), and other qualities, as attested by the Dazhidu-lun attributed to
(f. 1509, 274a); see Traite, IV, pp. 1913-1914, and de La Vallee Poussin 1929:
. This notion is also echoed in Candraklrti's Tri-sara:pa-saptati, PP: 10-11 (see
1986: 20-21; I am indebted to Peter Skilling for this reference).
45. See Reynolds 1977: 380.
46. On the various meanings of the wordkifya, see Makransky 1989: 63, n. 2, and
'BHSD, s.v.
47. See T.151O, 584b. Cf. also Ratna-gotra-vibhifga, v. I.145, which distinguishes
'!wo aspects of dharma-kifya, one being the utterly pure dharma-dhiftu and the other being
;:its "outflow" the teaching; or, in other words, dharma as realisation
(adhigama-dharma) and dharma as teaching (de.sanif-dharma); see Takasaki 1966a: 182,
284-285; Ruegg 1969: 275.
. 48. The alternative is to construe dharma-kifya as a karmadhifraya with the first
being a noun used appositionally or in an adjectival sense, but this is totally unsuited
the Sarvastivadin scholastic context. In effect I am proposing a single interpretation
'; which will fit all contexts, viz., as a the case relationship being genitive plural,
as in the compounds deva-senif or milrkha-satifni (cf. Whitney 1962: 489-490). Of course,
compound dharma-sarlrn cannot be understood like this; it is a karmadhifraya, with
.. an appositional relationship between the two terms (i.e. "the body/relic which consists in
: the dharrna(s)"), and is thus different in meaning. This is presumably why, when the
. author of the wants to talk about this type of "body" or "relic,"
;he uses only dharma-sarlrn, and avoids the substantive dbarma-kifya, even though he is
quite prepared to use both terms interchangeably as bahuvnhis.
.. 49. I assume that the scriptural quotation ends at this point, as is indicated by the
. Tibetan version. I have consulted only the Derge edition, Sherphyin Brgyad stong section,
Volume Ka; see folio 53bl-2.
50. On the various ways of interpreting prabhifvita, see Conze 1974: 98-99; Conze
1973a: 284; BHSD, s.v. dharma-kifya; and especially the lucid discussion by Schmithausen
(1969: 109-111). The word's nuances include "produced," "maillfested," "recognised,"
"characterised," and "distinguished"; Schmithausen proposes the rendering "cotlStituted
: by" (konsti tuiert dUTCh) in order to cover most of these senses. See also Ruegg 1969: 347-
; 351 and Takasaki 1966a: 290, 314, & 355 for further examples of the use of prabhifvita.
51. Cf. Conze's translation (p. 118), which is in error in various respects, as has
; been pointed out by de Jong (1979: 375). This is possibly an echo of the Saf!Jyuktifgama
>paSsage concerning Ananda quoted above.
52. See, e.g., Lancaster 1968: 93-94, 1975: 36, and Kajiyama 1984: 14.
53. Cf. Kajiyama 1974: II, 286. The Tibetan text (Derge Ka 249b3) suggests that
pramif1)iiqtya is to be taken as a gerundive.
54. It is worth noting that not one of the dharma-kifya Citations in question is
represented in the text of the Ratna-gl11J.a-saf!Jcaya-gifthif, the so-called verse summary of
nABS VOL. 15, NO.1
, the AsPP; see Yuyama 1976.
55. For an introduction to this text, see HarrisoI). 1982. A full study of the
in its two extant versions is in preparation.
56. The verb sprul pa (= Skt. nir-ma-) is, however, found twice, once in v. 54 ,.
Ius sprul pa mdzad pa. m), and once in v. 89 (sku Ius dag ni sprul mdzad pa). In the
case ninniii;la-kaya could underlie the Tibetan. .
57. I take David Seyfort Ruegg's point (personal communication, July, 1991
one cannot be absolutely sure that the Tibetans have construed bahuvnhis here.
classical Tibetan lacks the grammatical resources to make a clear distinction
bahuvrihi and a tatpurug unless it separates the two terms of the compound,
appears to be reluctant to do. If the two terms are kept together there is no way
the difference, since even locutions like chos (kyi) sku can or chos (kyi) sku
pa might render an expression containing dharma-kaya as a noun, such as U"''''lIla-JIG/V
sllI!lpanna (unattested in Sanskrit as far as I am aware). Hence, while bahuvrihis
indicated by the use of particles like can (cf. Ruegg 1969: 510), they may also be
simply by the predicate position, and perhaps by the refusal to translate the plural.
can be seen in the Tibetan text for the dharma-kayapassages of the al)O
those in which the Sanskrit clearly has a bahuvrihi (the Tibetan is taken from the
edition, Sher phyin Brgyad stong section, Volume Ka). In Chap. IV, Skt. Ufllll1l1a-lC,fv
buddha bhagavantal;! = Tib. sangs rgyas bcom Idan ' das mams ni chos kyi sku yin
in Chap. XVII, Skt. dharma-kiiyii buddha bhagavanta = Tib. sangs rgyas bcom
mams chos kyi sku '0 (187a6), and in Chap. XXXI, Skt. dharma-kiiyiis tathagatalJ. = '
de bzhin gshegs pa ni chos kyi sku'o (277b2).
58. Variant reading in the Tshal pa Kanjurs: rab Idan pas for Idan pas na.
59. uses a number of words to translate Skt. dharma; see
1990: 241. In order to reflect what I take to be his attempt to convey the
the term, I adopt the strict rule of rendering his jing as "scripture," fa as "dharma." .
60. To say that the Buddhas are the same insofar as they are embodied in
dharma, which is always the same, is somewhat different from saying that they are
same because they all possess the same dharma-kiiya, or body of pure qualities, etc.,
there is defmitely a connection between the two. The dharma as a whole is the same,
ensemble of dharmas which constitute it is the same. The second idea appears in
Abhidharma-kosa-bha$ya, Chap. VII, v. 34 (Pradhan 1975: 415):
sllI!lbhiira-dharma-kayiibhyiiIp. jagatas ciirtba-caryayii I
samatii sarva-buddhiiniiIp. nayur-jati-pramiii;latal;! II
See also the translation of this verse and the following discussion in de La Vallee
1971: V, 79ff., and the English translation by Pruden (1990: IV, 1145ff.). Cf. also
1978: 627-628.
61. Here I cannot resist underlining the fact that, even though the early
translations are often dismissed as too crude and imprecise to be of much use to
this case has handled a crucial phrase with far greater precision and
than' many of his twentieth-century counterparts have contrived to do, with all ,
resources at their disposal.
62. Cf. TSD, where the equivalent mag gi lus is given for puli-kiiya.
63. See Harrison 1990: 22, n. 42 for the Chinese versions. In the light of the present
"'cle this passage in the PraS oUght to be retranslated, with "Body of Dharma" replaced
aru. "
r"body of dharmas.
,} 64. Cf. de La Vallee Poussin 1929: 708: "Plusieurs textes ... disent que ce corps
a tous les Tathagatas, penetre taus les Dhannas, est semblable 11 l' espace, sans
;inarques (animitta), sans causes (as<lrpsJerta); qu'il n'estpas Rupa au Citta." Cf. also Mus
1978: 686.
;:, 65. See KP, Section 125. Cf. Tib.: de de bzhin gshegs pa 1a chos nyid du yang mi
I gzugs kyi skur ita ci smos.
e 66. A critical edition of the Tibetan translation of this text is in progress. The
and section divisions cited refer to this edition, to be published by the International
'Institute for Buddhist Studies, Tokyo, in 1992.
(. 67. T.625 also indicates that the original had sattva-dhiitu rather than the niina-
suggested by the Tibetan.
/)' 's:} 68. The tenn fa-shen occurs again in version df 2M (350c16), at a
iPo'int where Tib. has only chos. Although his version of the latter half of the passage is
i.rather obscure, neither Tib. nor T.625 suggests dhanna-kiiya here.
69. Note that the Song, Yuan and Ming editions read jingfa (i.e., scripture-
for fa-shen. This may well represent the original wording of s text.
.; 70. T.313 is here accepted as a translation by or members of his
which may subsequently have been partia:Ily revised, with the result that it now
.:possesses various stylistic features which are not characteristic Given that
"the same thing has happened to a number of works (most notably the
tBanzhou sanmei jing), I now see no reason to reject the traditional attribution entirely.
'Cf. Harrison 1990: 275, n. 43.
71. However, the WWP, a suira for which only the version ascribed to
extant, does contain some interesting episodes where several bra:hmans who were
i previously unaware of the superiority of the Buddhist path report the decisive experience
of seeing the Buddha with a body endowed with the 32 marks and the minor characteris tics
; (see, e.g., 438a26 et seq.). This suggests that the vision of what we now think of as the
iS3Ip.bhoga-kiiya was not restricted to advanced bodhisattvas, at least as far as some
',JBuddhists were concerned.
72. See Dantinne 1983: 120.
73. The Tib. text (Derge ed., Dkon brtsegs Kha 18b7-19a2) reads:
shil Fa dwa ii'j bu yang beom 1dan 'das de bzhin gshegs pa dgra bcom pa yang dag par
. [dzogs pa 'j sangs rgyas mi 'khrugs pa de sngon byang chub sems dpa'i spyad pa spyod
na chos stan pa 'am chos nyan pa 'i tshe 11an dga' [read 'ga 1 yang de'i 1us ngal ba
h'am sems ngal bar gyur pa med de I de ci'j phyir zhe na I sha Fa dwa Ii'i bu 'di 1tar de
\ bzhin gshegs pa des dang po sems bskyed pa nas bzung ste Ibyang chub sems dpa 'i spyad
i, pa spyod pa na chos kyi sku rab tu bsgoms par gyur pa 'i phyir TO II sha ra dwa Ii'i bu yang
<>bcom 1dan 'das de bzhin gshegs pa dgra beam pa yang dag par rdzogs pa'i sangs rgyas
ii.rm 'khrugs pa desngon byangchub sems dpa'i spyad pa spyod cing chos nyanpa na 'di
nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
. snyam du sems te ji ltar bdag da ltar chos 'dod pa de bzhin du bdag bla na med pa '.
dag par rdzogs pa 'j byang chub mngon par rdzogs par fangs rgyas pa 'i sangs
zhing de na sems can mams kyang chos nll 'dod par nll 'gyur zhing chos 'dod par Yl.
gYUr .
cig snyam mo 1/ .
74. This passage is part of a long section of the text (one of many) omitted in the
translation of T.3lO, No.6 by Garma C. C. Chang et aI. (Chang 1983: 320).
75. For proof that this corruption is possible, see BHSD, s.v. Dharmakama, and"
Regamey 1938b: 58, n. 11.' . ' .
76. Cf. Dantinne 1983: 3-4, 38-39. Dantinne postulates two separate recensions
of the text, one represented by T.313 and the Tib., the other by T.310.
77. Prabhiivitameaning "distinguished by," etc. See above, n. 50. Presumably this
word was construed somewhat differently by Bodhiruci.
78. This corruption may well have been influenced by the phrase dharma-kiiya_
prabhiivita which occurs, e.g., in Chap. 22 of the SR (this passage is discussed below).
It also occurs in the Tathiigata-guhya-sulra, as quoted in the (Vaidya 1961: 89),
where the bodhisattva is said to be dharma-kiiya.prabhiivita, Le., "distinguished by [their
possession of] the body of dharmas." It seems highly unlikely that this is the same body .
which suffering beings see, hear and touch to such good effect, although Bendall and
Rouse's translation of the passage wouldhaveitso (1971: 157-158). Cf. also Conze 1974:
99. On prabhiivita, see above, n. 50.
79. Note that this interpretation of the passage clashes with Dantinne's Sanskrit
"reconstructions" and, indeed, his division of the text into two separate sections.
However, I am in agreement with Dantinne's translation of dharma-kiiya as "l'ensemble
des qualites." See also his lengthy note on the term (pp. 175-180), which provides a
number of useful references to passages concerning dharma-kiiya, which he also translates
as "corps de qualites."
80. Examples found so far only in the DKP and the AjKV. A close re-reading of
Lokakl?ema's other works may turn up further instances.
81. This is, of course, a perfectly acceptable equation; see, e.g., Takasaki 1966b,
Ruegg 1969: 275, King 1991: 13, and above, n. 47. A similar instance of interchangea-
bility in translation is found in the Upiiya-kau.salya-sutra, in a passage which echoes a
number of themes we have already raised. If we go by the Tibetan text translated from
Indic (see Derge, Dkon brtsegs Cha 32a2-6), this passage says that bodhisattvas skilled
in the use of creative stratagems (upiiya-ku.saJa) who worship one Buddha know that by
doing so they worship them all, through reflecting that "the Buddhas and Lords have
arisen from one and the same dharma-dhiitu, and have one and the same morality,
samiidhi, wisdom, liberation, knowledge and vision of liberation, cognition and
standing (Tib. sangs rgyas beom Idan 'das mams ni chos kyi dbyings gcig las nges par
byung ba dang / tshul khrims gcig pa dang / ling nge 'dzin gcig pa dang / shes rab gcig
pa dang / mam par grol ba gcig pa dang / mam par grol ba 'i ye shes mthong ba gcig pa
dang lye shes gcig pa dang / rig pa gcig pa yin no)." The earliest Chinese translation, that
of Dharmarakl?a (T.345 , 156b2Of.), states that the Buddhas are equal in their dharma-kiiya
(fa-shen); the second, of Zhu Nanti (T.310, No. 38, 595aI8f.) states that "all Tathiigatas
one and the same dharma-dhiltu and dharma-kiiya (yiqie rulai tong yi fajie yi
lashen)"; while the latest version by DanapaIa (T.346, 166b20) says only that they share
,erie and the same dharma-dhiitu (fa-xing). In the words which follow, the two older
also list only the five aniisrava-skandhas, which, as we have already noted,
a classic Mainstream definition of dharma-kiiya.
82. See, e.g., his version of the LAn (T.807), where jingfa-benjie (753b2, 15) and
correspond to coos kyi dbyingsin the Tib. version (w. 87, 93 & 94).
{ 83. Here we transgress against one of the basic methodological principles of the
Project," viz., to consider only those scriptures known to have been used in
place at a certain time, but it is to be hoped that the results achieved will make
up for any departure from methodological purity.
.... 84. The Gilgit text reads:
ye miiIp riipeI}a ye miiIp anvayul;! I
mithyii-prahiiI}a-prasrtii na miirp dralqyanti te janiilJ II
dra!avyo dhannato buddho dharma-kiiyas tathiigatal;! I
dharmatii ciipy avijiieyii na sii sakyarp vijiiniturp II
85. Dantinne also provides a correct interpretation (1983: 176), as does Nagao
(1973b: 62); see also Takasaki (1987: 66). I take avijiieya here to mean "not able to be
the object of sensory consciousness (vijiiiina)."
86. Cf. Schopen 1975: 153.
87. A partial parallel in Thera-giithii 469; see Conze 1974: 57.
88. This is the Sanskrit MS of the Vaj, dated to around the end of 5th century,
edited by Pargiter in Hoernle 1916: 176-195 (see especially p. 192).
89. The second verse is to be found in all the later Chinese translations of the Vaj,
beginning with Bodhiruci's version of 509 (T.236, 756b & 761b). An equivalent also
appears in the Khotanese version edited by Sten Konow in Hoernle 1916: 214-288; the
:verses appear on pp. 270-271; note also the English translation on p. 286: "The Exalted
.Ones should be viewed as being the Law; their body consists of the Law; he is rightly
. understood as being the Law, and he is not to be understood by means of expedients."
It is to be observed that the relevant passage in Chap. XXXI of the AsPP makes its first
appearance in Chinese in Kumarajiva's translation, i.e., early 5th century.
90. See also Reynolds & Hallisey 1987: 331: "According to such texts as the
SaddharmapuI}darlka, the dharma-kiiya is the true meaning of Buddhahood." While not
exactly wrong, this statement is quite misleading in its context.
91. Cf. BHSD, s.v. kiiya.
92. Cf. Mus 1978: 678-703. Although he identifies its magnificent central figure
as a kind of sarpbhoga-kiiya, Mus contends at length that the entire buddholo gy of the SP
rests ultimately on a notion of dharma-kiiya-the relevant chapter of his book is even
entitled "Le Dharmakaya du Lotus de 1a Bonne Loi" -without ever drawing attention
to the virtual non-occurrence of the term in the text! The relationship of the buddhology
. of the SP to dharma-kiiya is also considered at length in Lai 1981.
93. References are to Vaidya's edition, 1963.
94. Cf. Suzuki 1930: 317 and 1932: 62: "become a Tathagata endowed with the
nABS VOL. 15, NO.1
perfect freedom of the Dhannakaya, because of his insight into the egolessness of thin';
95 InfullS ki
' I' ds "N ,. 1 . gs.'
. uzu s trans anon rea: ow oemg taken mto a super-world hi i",
is the realm of no-evil-outflows, they will gather up all the material for the aUainm:

the Dharmakaya is of severeign [sic] conception." It is
wonder that the LA IS thought to be so confused, If this IS all non-Sanskritists have to go'
96. Note the matching verse at the end of the chapter (55.29) which says te bUddha
dharmiikhyarp kayarp prfipsyanti mamakam, "they will attain the body of mine Which is
known as the Buddha-dharmas." ,
97. Cf. Suzuki 1932: 22, and BHSD, s.v. kaya. A possible alternative
tion would be to take dharma-kaya as a noun based on a bahuvnm: "How can one praise
him who has the nature of an illusion or a dream, who has the dharma for a body?" 'i
98. Cf. Suzuki 1932: 40.
99. The Sanskrit reads: sarva-sravaka-pratyekabuddha-tlrthakara-dh yana-sarniidhi_
samapatti-sukham atikramya tathagatacintya-
svabhiiva-gati-vinivrttarp tathagatarp [?] dharma-kayarp prajiia -jiiana-sunibaddha-<1harmam
kiiyarp pratilabheran. This is without doubt an extremely difficult passage; cf. Suzuki
1932: 46. . '
100. Cf. Suzuki 1930: 318-319 & 1932: 200. Note the following comments about'
the dharma being bodiless (94.25-27). This is rather reminiscent of the Agama passages
cited above. "
101. Skt.: tatTa katama kaya-samata? yaduta aharp ca te ca tathagata arhanta{i'\:
samyak-sarp buddha dharma-kayena ca ca sarna
anyatTa vaineya-vasam upadaya / tatTa tatTa tathagata rupa-vaicit
ryam adarsayanti. Cf. Suzuki 1932: 123.
102. See above. ru. 60 & 81.
103. Cf. Suzuki 1930: 318 & 1932: 165: ..... there is another name for the
Tathagata when his Dharmakaya assumes a will-body. This is what goes beyond the
compreheruion of the philosophers, Sravakas, Pratyekabuddhas, and those Bodhisattvas ,
still abiding in the seventh stage. The unborn, Mahamati, is synonymous with the,
104. See Carter & PaIihawadana 1987: 89-94. My thanks to Richard Gombrich
(personal communication, 30n /91) for suggesting this interpretation.
105. Cf. also de La ValleePoussin 1929: 704, quoting Madhyamakavatara, p. 361.
106. Cf. Suzuki 1932: 219: "The Tathagata is the Dharmakaya, Mahamati: he
abides in the Dharma as food."
107. Cf. pari ahiira-.thitika (PTSD, S.v. ahara, fhitika).
108. Cf. Anesaki 1982: 155 (with several similar ci tations in the M ahiiparinirvar;.a
sutTa); also quoted in Demieville 1930: 177: "Le Corps du Tg. a pour nourriture la Loi."
Note the use of the yi ... wei ... corutruction to render the bahuvrlhi.
109. In fact the buddhology of the LA is so chaotic and complex that a full study"
of it would be a truly Herculean task. For the purposes of this paper it is enough to show
;,,' 'IS use of dharma-kiiya, both as an adjective and a noun, can be satisfactorily
ad" altin
:; 'ierpreted along tr lUon es.
'. 110. SallieKing's recent book on the "Buddha Nature" is a good example of the
'.'ii .. reifying" approach, applied inter alia to dharma-kiiya (see King 1991: 65-68,
Wff.). . ..
.F' 111. It should be noted that even if my attempt to apply a smgle granunaucal
to the substantive dharma-kiiya is rejected, and it is read in contexts
)l1 1ik d... ,T "th bod hi h' th d'" ""
>akarmadhiiraya e Harma-sanra, VlZ., as e y w c IS e Harma, a non-
;:ifYing" approach emphasizing dharma can still be defended.
:.... 112. On this see, e.g., Lancaster 1977.
B 113. As David SeyfortRuegg has pointed out (personal communication, July,
the evolution of the tathiigata-garbha concept also poses problems which are in
respects sinlliar to those outlined above. In both cases semantic and granunatical
comp()und the philosophical complexity of the issues involved. On this and
6nthe use of tathiigata-garbha and related terms as bahuvri'his see Ruegg 1969: 499-516.
'ItInay well be, as Ruegg suggests (p. 512), that the occurrence of the term as a bahuvnhi
is'historically prior to its appearance as a This the possibility that in the
ease of tathiigata-garbha, too, we are faced with many different textual strata, deposited
Jover time by the gradual process of hypo statis at ion (of something that began life as pure
g!iletaphor), but now hopelessly jumbled in heterogeneous sources whose dates we can
i'bnIy guess at. Once again, the matter is further complicated by the ambiguity of the word
2gaibha, which means both "womb" and "embryo." Hence, for example, the statement in
';the Tathiigata-garbha-siitra to the effect sarva-sattviis tathiigata-garbhiilJ (cited Ruegg
;1969: 510; see also Takasaki 1966a: 196) may be understood as "all sentient beings are
,Tathiigata-wombs" (i.e., contain the Tathiigata, a common use of garbha in fine
;compositl), or as "all sentient beings have the Tathiigata as embryo." While these two
,senses are much the same, and may be read purely as a figure of speech-inside every
'. unenlightened sentient being is a Buddha trying to get out-secondary and possibly later
,interpretations of tathiigata-garbha as a substantive meaning "the embryo of the
,Tathiigata" entail quite different and much more complex philosophical consequences.
: But that of course is another story ....
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, John J., (1989). "Controversy over Dharmakiiya in India and Tibet: A
Reappraisal of its Basis, Abhisamayiilarpkiira Chapter 8," JIABS, Vol. 12, No.
2, pp. 45-78.
Murti, T. R. V., (1955). The Centrai Philosophy of Buddhism: A Study of the
,; Miidhyamika System, London: George Allen & Unwin.
:Mus, Paul (1978). Barabudur: Esquisse d'une histoire du bouddhisme fondee sur 1a
. . critique archeoJogique des textes, reprint edition, New York: Arno Press [1st
r/ edition in two vols., Hanoi: Imprimerie d'extreme-orient, 1935].
:Nagao Gadjin (1973a). "On the Theory of Buddha-Body," Eastern Buddhist, New
Series, Vol. VI, No.1, pp. 25-53.
(1973b). "Kongo Hannya gyo," in Nagao Gadjin & Kajiyama Yuichi, eds.,
DaijO butten, Vol. 1, Tokyo: ChUokoronsha.
(1991). Madhyamika and Yogiiciira: A Study of Mahayana Philosophies,
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Pradhan, P., (1975). of Vasubandhu, rev. 2nd ed., Patna: J.
'" P. Jayaswal Research Institute.
Pruden, Leo M., trans., (1988-90). by Louis de La Vallee
Poussin, 4 vols., Berkeley: Asian Humanities Press.
'Regamey, K., (1938a). The BhadramiiyiikiiravyiikaraI)a, Warsaw: Trowarzystwo
Naukowe Warszawskie.
(1938b). Three Chapters from the Samifdlllrifjasiitra, Warsaw: Towarzystwo
N aukowe Warszawskie.
"Reynolds, Frank E., (1977). 'The Several Bodies of Buddha: Reflections on a
Neglected Aspect of Theravada Tradition," History of Religions, 16, pp. 374-
"Reynolds, Frank E. and Charles Hallisey (1987). "Buddha," in M. Eliade, ed., The
Encyclopedia of Religion, 16 vols, New York: Macmillan.
Rhys Davids T. W., (1890). The Questions of King Milinda, Part I (Sacred Books of
the East, XXXV), London: Oxford University Press.
Rhys Davids, T. W. & C. A. F., (1921). Dialogues of the Buddha, London: Pali Text
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1a Sotenologie et 1a Gnoseologie du Bouddhisme, Paris: Ecole Francaise
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der Yogiiciirabhiimil}., Vienna: Osterreichische Akadernie der Wissenschaften.
Schopen, Gregory (1975). "The Phrase 'sa prtbivlpradeias caityabhilto bhavet in the
Vajracchedikii: Notes on the Cult of the Book in Mahayana," Indo-Iranian
Journal, 17, pp. 147-181.
Sorensen, Per K., (1986). Candrakirti TnsiiI"a{lasaptati: The Septuagint on the Three
Refuges, Wien: Arbeitskreis fUr tibetische und buddhistische Studien, Univer-
sitlit Wien.
nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
Suzuki, D. T., (1930). Studies in the Lankavatara Sutra, London: Routledge &
(1932). The Lankavatara Sutra, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Takasaki Jikid6 (1966a). A Study on the Ratnagotravibhiiga (Uttaratantra),
(1966b). "Dhannatii, Dhannadhatu, Dhannakaya and Btiddhadhatu: ... . . . , . , . ~ h _ .. C
of the Ultimate Value in Mahayana Buddhism," Indogaku bukkyogaku
kenkyii, XIV, 2, pp. 78(919)-94(903).
(1987). An Introduction to Buddhism, RolfW. Giebel, trans., Tokyo:
Trenclmer. V., ed., (1986). The Milindapaiiho in The Milindapaiiho with Milinda.
fikii, London: Pali Text Society [1st ed. Williams & Norgate, 1880].
Tucci, G., (1971). Minor Buddhist Texts, Part ill, Rome: ISMEO.
Walshe, Maurice (1987). Thus Have I Heard: The Long Discourses of the
London: Wisdom Publications.
Whitney, William Dwight (1962). Sanskrit Grammar, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass
[reprint of 5th edition, Leipzig, 1924].
Williams, Paul (1989). Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations, London:
Yuyama, Akira (1976). Prajiiii-paramitii-ratna-guIJ.a-saIpcaya-giithii (Sanskrit
sion A), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
guo jing
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JIABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
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j..j ... .

Lost in China, Found in Tibet: How
Became the Author of the
iVreat Ch)nese Commentary
John Powers
,5; '
LJntroduction: Wonch 'uk's Life and Times
wonch'uk (Chinese: Yuan-tse; Tibetan: Wen tshegs, 613-696),1
author of the largest extant commentary on the Sarpdhinirmocana-
\siitra,Z was a monk from Hsin-lo in Korea who moved to Ch'ang-
aiI, then the capital of T' ang China. According to his memorial
inscription at Hsi-ming Monastery,3 he was born a prince of the
Silla kingdom but renounced his royal heritage to become a monk.
He travelled to Ch'ang-an, where he became one of the two main
disciples of Hsuan-tsang (600-664),4 the other being K'uei-chi
\(632-682) of Tz'u-en Monastery.5 Wonch'uk later became the
abbot of Hsi-ming Monastery.
. He is described as being naturally astute, instantly apprehend-
ing the profound meaning of whatever texts he was taught, and he
.is said to have mastered the V Abhidharma treatises, the
Abhidhannakosa, the as well as the main treatises of
the Y ogacara school.
He came into conflict with K'uei-chi, whose school was later
recognized as the orthodox tradition of the Yogacara (Fa-hsiang)
school in China. According to the Continued Biographies of
. Eminent Buddhist Monks (Hsii kao-seng chiia.n), by Tao-hsuan,
there was an ongoing rivalry between Wonch'uk and K'uei-chi,
and on one occasion Wonch'uk is said to have bribed an attendant
in order to overhear Hsuan -tsang's private instructions to K' uei -chi
concerning the Ch 'eng wei-shih lun. He later publicly expounded
the explanations that he had overheard, which angered and dis-
gusted K'uei-chi.
Whatever the historical accuracy of the story, it
nABS VOL. 15, NO.1
indicates that the rivalry between Wonch'uk and K'uei-chi
probably as much personal as and doctrinaJ.8
rivalry the deaths of Wonch'uk
K'uel-chl among theIr respectIve students, and the end resuldri1
China was that Wonch 'uk's school came to be considered
dox and was superseded by that of K'uei-chi.
As a reslilt!
Wonch'uk's Sarpdhinirmocana commentary is not widely
in East Asia, although it became an important text for the study df,
the Mind-Only (sems tsam, citta-miitra) system in the Dge lugs
School of Tibetan Buddhism, due to the fact that it is mentioned iri:;
several places in Tsong kha pa' s Essence of the Good Explanationi
(Legs bshad snying po), in which he refers to it as "The
Chinese Commentary" (rgya nag gi 'grel chen). 10 ,"%i
Tsong kha pa, of course, had no way of knowing that';
Wonch 'uk was actually Korean, since in the Tibetan translation
name is given as Wen tshegs, a Tibetan transliteration of
Chinese Ytian-tse. In the Essence of the Good Explanations, Tsong;
kha pa treats Wonch'uk's commentary as a, text containing
Chinese approach to exegesis of the Sarpdhinirmocana-sfitra, and;
in a number of places he presents Wonch 'uk's view as an
rival view representing Chinese Y ogacara scholarship. The
pose of the present article is to trace the history of the tranSmission'.
of this text into Tibet and to examine how a text that was largely.:
forgotten in East Asia came to be seen in Tibet as the paradigrilatic':
Chinese commentary on the Sarpdhinirmocana-sfitra.
II. The Chinese and Tibetan Versions of the Commentari
The Chinese title ofWonch'uk' s work is Commentary on the Sfitra'
Elucidating the Profound Secret (Chieh shen mi ching shu). The'
only extant complete version of the text is found in the Tibetan
Bstan 'gyur, where it is translated as
sarpdhinirmocana-sfitra-fikii (Tibetan: 'Phags pa dgongs pa zab mo
nges par 'grel pa'i mdo'i rgya cher 'grel pa),u An incomplete,
Chinese version is found in the Dai-nihon Zokuzi5kyi5,u which is"
missing the beginning of the eighth section (chiian) and all of the;:
tenth chiian. Originally consisting of ten chiian, and divided into
eventy-five smaller sections (called bam po in the Tibetan
), in the Chin ling k'o ching ch'u edition
there are only
eight mostly .chuan an incomplete version of. the
eighth chuan. The mIssmg portIOns have been reconstructed mto
Chinese, based on the Tibetan versions, by Inaba Sh6ju.
. The apparent reason for the propagation of Wonch'uk's
60nunentary in Tibet is his indirect connection with the translator
(10 tsa ba) Chos grub (Chinese: Fa-ch'eng), who was a major
.translator of Chinese Buddhist texts into Tibetan. He lived in the
.atea of Tun-huang, in the Hsiu-to Monastery in Kan-chou Province
during the early part of the ninth century,15 and the colophon to the
Tibetan translation ofWonch'uk's work indicates that Chos grub
was commissioned to undertake the task of translating it from
Chinese into Tibetan by the King of Tibet,16 who at that time would
have been Ral pa can (r. 815-841),17 This was during the eighty-six
year period that Tibet controlled the area of Tun-huang.
Chos grub's translation is listed in the Tibetan Lhan dkar
catalogue, which was compiled before 824,18 and so he must have
completed it sometime between 815 and 824. As Inaba points out,19
Chos grub was named the Chief Translator (shu chen gyi 10 tsa ba)
of Buddhist Texts by Ral pa can, and the translation must have
. taken place during his reign, since his successor GIang dar rna (r.
841-846) vigorously persecuted Buddhism.
Chos grub was one of the major Buddhist figures of his time,
. and in addition to the office of Chief Translator he also held the title
of Master of the Long Lineage (ring lugs pa). This lineage is
associated with the transmission of the written works of Buddhism
and is contrasted with the Near Lineage (nye brgyud or nye lugs),
the transmission of Buddha's teachings that is not bound by space
and time, that is transmitted through revelation and inspiration. The
Long Lineage, by contrast, consists of a series of teachers and
students who pass on the written and oral traditions in a continuous
line of descent. A person such as Chos grub, who had been
recognized as a master of the Long Lineage, would have been
viewed as a successor to the line of textual transmission going back
to the Buddha and, as such, would have great personal and religious
authority due to his perceived connection with the orthodox lineage
nABS VOL. 15, NO.1
.oftransrnission. During Chos grub's lifetime, the title of Ring
pa (which was apparently a short fonn of Chos bcom ldan ' .
ring lugskyi mdun sa)21 indicated that its 'holder was the
authority on Buddhist doctrine. The holder was the
head of the regional order of monks and had as an emblem of
the "Large Golden Letter", and this marked him as one of the
important figures in the social and political hierarchy of the re
of Central Asia controlled by Tibet.
But how did Wonch'uk's text arrive in Tun-huang in the
place, and why did Chos grub decide to include it in the
canon as one of the few Chinese texts to be recognized as
important enough to be translated? The answers to these
.go back to the year 735, when a pilgrim named T' an-k'uang .
700) from Ho-hsi, in the area of Tun-huang, travelled to Ch'
an to pursue studies in Buddhist philosophy.2
While in Ch'
he became acquainted with the texts of the Y ogacara school,
for much of his stay he lived in Hsi-ming Monastery, the
where Wonch'uk had been abbot, and this was presumably
he became acquainted with Wonch'uk's commentary.2
to Paul Demieville, he remained in Ch'ang-an until 774, after
he returned to the area of Tun-huang.
After his return to Central Asia, T'an-k'uang came to be
recognized as one of the major Buddhist teachers of his day, and
his propagation of the teachings of Wonch'uk was the probable
reason that Fa-ch'eng decided to translate Wonch'uk's commen-:
tary. During his stay at the Hsi-ming Monastery, T'an-k'uang
apparently became interested in the writings of Wonch' uk. He
brought them back to Central Asia, and T'an-k'uang's prestige as.
a prominent Buddhist teacher probably led to study and
translate Wonch'uk's work.
After T'an-k'uang's death, his students continued to
Wonch'uk's commentary, and since Fa-ch'eng belonged to the
lineage established by T'an-k'uang, it is not surprising that when
asked to translate important Chinese texts for inclusion into the
Tibetan canon, he chose Wonch'uk's text. As a result, this
commentary, which was partially lost and mostly neglected in East
Asia, came to be studied in Tibet. Due to its size, the breadth of
t'holarship its author demonstrates, as well as the depth of
Buddhist gene:al and the thought
.;6fthe SaIPdhlflJImOCana-sutra III partIcular, It commanded the
:(littention of Tibetan Buddhist scholars.
;':i Wonch 'uk's work is by far the largest known commentary on
i;;dle sarpdhinirmocana-siitra, and in the Sde dge edition of the Bstan
Figyur it takes up. all of tW? vOl.umes most of a It begins
; with a lengthy mtroductlOn, III whIch the author dIscusses such
as the meaning of the title of the siitra, the sutra 's system of
'hermeneutics (particularly the topics of the three wheels of doctrine
the three natures of phenomena), and the structure of con-
fsciousness, with a particular focus on the basis-consciousness (kun
roam par shes pa, aJaya-vijiiana). After this the commentary
/,begins with a line-by-line (and often word-by-word) commentary
.. on the text. Wonch'uk's main text of the sutra was probably Hstian-
>tsang's translation, as is indicated by the many places where he
; comments on a term or phrase that is present in Hstian-tsang's text
>' hut is not found in the Tibetan versions and the many places where
refers specifically to Hstian-tsang' s translations of this and other
His commentary is an unusual work for a traditional scholar
in that his citations of opinions and quotations generally refer not
'only to an author but also often cite the work from which it comes,
and in many places he indicates the Chinese translation that he was
This commentary is a massive compendium of Buddhist
scholarship, and it contains a wide range of opinions that reflects
Wonch'uk's own encylopedic knowledge of Buddhist literature.
In tracing the chain of events leading to the inclusion of
Wonch'uk's work in the Tibetan canon, one finds a series of
, fortunate historical accidents that caused it to travel to Central Asia,
. ", to be propagated there because of the status of the monk: who
introduced it to that region, and later translated into Tibetan during
the relatively brief time that Tibet controlled the area of Tun-huang.
If not for this collection of circumstances, large parts of this
valuable and encylopedic work of Buddhist scholarship might have
been lost.
100 JIABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
1. Regarding Wonch'uk's dates, see Nakamura Hajime, Shin Bukkyo lit
(Tokyo: Seishi.."1 ShobO, 1961), p. 60. See also the "Enjiki" entry in the H o b O ~
catalogue, ed., Paul Demieville et aI., Paris and Tokyo, 1978.
2. Entitled ifrya-gambhira-sarpdhinirmocana-sulra-Pkii( 'phags pa dgo
pa zab
mo nges par 'greJpa'i mdo'irgya cher 'greJpa); (a) Peking #5517, vol. 106, pp. 1-345'
(b) Tohoku #4016. '
3. Written by Sung-fu, entitled Ta-chou Hsi-ming ssu ku ta-te Yiian-tS"e fa-shih
fo she-li t'a-ming ping hsu.
4. For information about his life, see: Stanley Weinstein, Buddhism Under the
T'ang (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), pp. 24-31; Kenneth Ch'en
Buddhism in China (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1964), pp. 235-38; and J ~
Yiln-hua, A Chronicle of Buddhism in China, 581-960 A.D. (Santiniketan: Visva-Bharati
1966), pp. 20-21 and 33-4. '
5. With respect to K'uei-chi, see: Stanley Weinstein, "A Biographical Study of
Tz'u-en," in Monumenta Nipponica #15.1-2, 1959, pp. 119-49; Alan Sponberg, The
Vijiiaptimiilratii Buddhism of the Chinese Monk K'uei-chi (Ph.D. Dissertation, Univer-
sity of British Columbia; University Microfilms, 1979); Kenneth Ch'en, op. cit., pp. 320-
21; and IidaSMtaro, "TheThreeStlipas of Ch 'ang-an, " in Papers of the FirstInternationru
Conference on Korean Studies (Seoul: The Academy of Korean Studies, 1980), pp. 486-
6. W onch 'uk has been the subject of several articles by Iida ShOtaro, for example:
"A Mukung-hwa in Ch'ang-an - A Study of the Life and Works of Wonch'uk (613-
696)," in Proceedings, International Symposium Commemorating the 30th Anniversary
of Korean Liberation, Seoul, 1975, pp. 225-51; ''The Three Stlipas of Ch'ang An," ill
Papers oftheFirstInternational Conference on Korean Studies, Seoul, 1980, pp. 484-497;
and "Who Can Best Re-tum the Dharma-cilia?" in Indogaku Bukkyogaku Kenkyii
#27.1, 1986, pp. 170-7l.
7. This story is recounted in Hsu Kao-seng chiian, ch. 4, Taisho 50, p. 457c
(reported in W. Pachow, A Study of the Twenty-two Dialogues on Mahiiyana Buddhism,
in Chinese Culture, vol. XX.l, 1979, p. 22). See also Inaba Shoju, "On Chos-grub's
Translation of the Chieh-shen-mi-ching-shu," in Buddhist Thought and Asian Civilization,
ed., Leslie S. Kawamura and Keith Scott (Emeryville: Dharma Publishing, 1977), pp.
8. The same story, from the Biographies of Eminent Monks of Sung, is translated
by Iida SMtar6 in "The Three Stlipas of Ch'ang-an," p. 485. Iida thinks (pp. 486-8) that
this story may have been untrue and that it may have been propagated by K'uei-chi or
his followers in order to diminish the stature of Wonch'uk, but he provides no evidence
for this contention.
9. See Iida, 'Three Stlipas," pp. 484-6 and Inaba, "On Chos-grub's Translation,"
10. See, for instance, Legs bshad snying po (Sarnath: Pleasure of Elegant Sayings
',,'. ting Press, 1973), p. 5. Wonch'uk's text is one of Tsong kha pa's main sources, and
refers to it. Sometimes he accepts W onch'uk' s explanations, and at other
':,:;' es he refutes Wonch'uk and advances his own ideas. See Robert A. F. Thurman's
of the Legs bshad snying po (Tsong Khapa's Speech of Gold in the Essence
,ffTrueE1oquence; Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), pp. 204-8 for a passage
Wonch'uk is cited and discussed at length.
I>" Thurman's note 50, pp. 205-6, is worth mentioning for the serious errors that it
!containS. Firstly, he contends that Wonch'uk's commentary is lost in Chinese, which is
fact, only some portions are completely lost, and most of the text can still be
the Dai-nihon ZokuzOkyo; see note 12). He then indicates that he thinks that
;'Wonch'uk quotes from a commentary on the Sarpdhininnocana by Paramartha, which is
Wonch'uk often cites the translation of the Sarpdhinirmocana by Paramartha
; (just as he also often mentions Hsuan-tsang's translation). This is an example of his
'meticulous scholarship, which is unusual among traditional scholars. He often indicates
which translation he is following and mentions differences between the Chinese versions
,'()f the sutra. Thurman then makes an almost incomprehensible statement that the reason
:.for the many citations and discussions of Wonch'uk's ideas by Tsong kha pa is that
''Tsong Khapa perhaps wishes to clear the name of Chinese Buddhist scholarship from
the popular stigma, by showing how the Chinese scholar's interpretations were in many
ways preferable to the Indian master's." Thurman mentions the Tibetan version of a
doctrinal debate that was purportedly held at Lhasa or Bsam yas between the Chinese Ho
" shang Ma ha ya na and the Indian master Kamala.slla, which Tibetan sources agree was
decisively won by Kamala.slla. Thurman's contention that Tsong kha pa was, trying to
'defend the honor of Chinese Buddhist scholarship is extremely improbable. As the present
article shows, the more likely reason is that Tsang kha pa discusses Wonch'uk's work
because it is the most extensive commentary on the sutTa in the Tibetan Buddhist canon,
and since Tsong kha pa, like Wonch'uk, was a meticulous scholar, when writing his
treatise on the thought of the sutra he read this extensive commentary carefully,
considered its ideas, and in his own work indicated which ofW onch 'uk's ideas he agreed
with and which he found unconvincing.
11. The main edition consulted in the present study is from the Karmapa Press
edition of the Sde dge recension of the Tibetan canon (Delhi: Delhi Karmapae Choedhey,
Gyalwae Sungrab Partun Khang, 1985, mdo 'grel, vol. ti [118]).
12. Dai-nihon Zokuzokyo, Hsii tsang ching, Hong Kong Reprint, 1922, vol. 106,
13. Hong Kong, 1922; see above note.
14. Inaba ShBju, Enjiki Gejinmikkyosho Sanitsububan no kanbunyaku (Kyoto:
H6z6kan, 1949; Restoration ofYiian-tse 's Chieh-shSn-mi-ching-shu Through Its Tibetan
Counterpart (Kyoto: Heirakuji, 1972); reviewed by Nagao Gadjin, in Suzuki Gakujutsu
Zaidan Kenkyii Nempi5 #9, 1972, p. 95. Inaba discusses his methodology in his article
"On Chos-grub's Translation of the Chieh-shen-mi-ching-shu," op. cit., pp. 105-113.
, 15. See Inaba, "On Chos-grub's Translation," p. 105. For a discussion of !:hi
author, see W. Pachow, A Study of the Twenty-two Dialogues on Mahayana BUddhisrns
pp.15-20. ," 1
16. This is found on p. 349.8 of Sde dge vol. 118.
17. See David, Snellgrove, Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, pp. 408-9 and 424-5' d'
, , ~
Inaba Shoju, "On Chos-grub's Translation," p. 106.
18. See Yamaguchi Zuiho's study of this catalogue in Nantasan B,,'A. _
Kenkyiijo Kiyo #9, 1985, pp. 1-61
19. See Inaba, "On Chos-grub's Translation," pp. 106-7, and see also Hadano
HakuyIT, "A Note on the Arya-laIikiivatiira-vrtti," Acta Asiatica #29, 1975, pp. 89-9l.
20. See Paul Demieville, "Recents Travaux sur Touen-Houang,"T'oung-pao, vol. '
LVI, 1970, pp. 38-40, 44-5, and 47-63; Inaba, p. 106; and David Snellgrove, A Cultural
History of Tibet (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1968), pp. 23 and 73.
21. See Hadano, "A Note on the AryalaIikavatiira-vrtti," pp. 75-94 and 89-90.
22. See Hadano, p. 89, Demieville, "Recents Travaux," pp. 49-50, and Giuseppe
Tucci, Minor Buddhist Texts II (Rome: IsMEO, 1958), p. 56, note 2.
The first Ring lugs pa was Ye shes dbang po (pronounced Ye-shay wang-bo) of
the Ba (rba) family, a pioneer of Buddhism in Tibet, and the second was Dpal dbyangs
(pronounced Bay-yang), also of the Ba family, who was appointed by King Khri srong
Ide brtsan (pronounced Tri-song-day-dzen). See also Ueyama Daishun, "Donko to Tonka
Bukkyogaku (T' an-kuang and Buddhist Studies at Tun-huang)," in TohO Ga1whO #35,
1964, pp. 141-214, where he contends that Chos-grub was of Chinese origin, and not
Tibetan as is generally accepted. This is reviewed by Yamaguchi Zuiho in Toyo GakuhO,
1965, pp. 47-44 (reported by Nagao Gadjin, "Reflections on Tibetan Studies in Japan,"
in Acta Asiatica #29,1975, p. 121). Ueyama's arguments are summarized by Demieville
in "Recents Travaux," pp. 48-50 and 29-43, and Yamaguchi's article is summarized on'
23. See Ueyama Daishun ("Donko to Tonko bukky6gaku"), pp. 141-214.
24. See W. Pachow, A Study of the Twenty-two Dialogues on Mahayana
Buddhism, pp. 15-20.
25. See Demieville, "Recents Travaux sur Touen-Houang," pp. 29-30. Both
Pachow and Demieville report (Pachow p. 21; Demieville p. 29) that T'an-k'uang stayed
in the Hsi-ming Monastery. Demieville thinks that he was probably born in 700, and so
he probably arrived in Ch'ang-an after Wonch'uk died.
26. Sde dge vols. 118-120; the Peking version begins in vol. 106.
27. Inaba ("On Chos-grub's Translation," p. 109) reports that in the Chinese text
Wonch'uk even cites the volume number according to the Chinese canon of many of his
sources, but these are omitted in the Tibetan translation since they would be unnecessary
to Tibetan readers.
28. For example, in the opening section of his work (pp. 2-28), he quotes a total
of thirty-one texts.
Chieh shen mi ching shu
'Chin ling k'o ching ch'u
'pai-nihon Zokuzokyo
1 Fa-ch 'eng
; Hsi-ming
Hsu kao seng chilan
.. Hstian-tsang
.. Tz'u-en
. Ytian-tse
nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
Some Observations on the Present
and Future of Buddhist Studies*
by D. Seyfort Ruegg
At this Conference we are fortunate to be celebrating the fifteenth anniversarY
of the founding of the International Association of Buddhist Studies. By the
standards of many learned societies this is not a great age, but it is no doubt long
enough for our Association to be able to look back and take stock with a sense
of some achievement. It may also be an appropriate moment to attempt to loaf

The lABS has as its goal the furthering of Buddhist studies throughout
world, and it is then fitting if we think of it as being a World Association of
Buddhist Studies. By Buddhist studies the lABS understands the
investigation, by all suitable means, of Buddhism both historically (diachroni-'
cally) and descriptively (synchronically). Accordingly, drawing as it does on
diverse disciplines such as those of philology, history, archaeology, architecture"
epigraphy, numismatics, philosophy, cultural and social anthropology, and the:
histories of religion and art, our enterprise is at the same time a disciplinary and ,.
a multi-disciplinary one. Buddhism is indeed not only philosophy and/ot,
religion, at least in the narrow senses of these terms, but also a way of living and"
being, a cultural and value system permitting Buddhists in vast of the world
to construct so much of their mundane as well as spiritual lives.
The kind of serious intellectual investigation promoted by the lABS is
certainly in part academic, one pursued in institutions devoted to teaching and!,
or research. But only in part. For in view of the prevailing patchy, and often
unsatisfactory, implantation of Buddhist studies in universities and research
organizations in so many parts of the world, were Buddhist studies to be confined
exclusively to these institutions they could run the risk of having a very limited
future. Exceptionally fortunate indeed are the places where this is not the case,}
and rare are the institutions where Buddhist studies have been regarded as a'
discipline meriting an academic chair and structure.
Equally importantly, we see today a significant and serious - if still
.... ;-hapS somewhat diffuse - interest in Buddhism among the public, both the
pe ung and the . less young, to which the universities find themselves poorly
to respond. Many will perhaps agree that in order for Buddhist studies to
- even to survive - it will be the task of those concerned with them
JO seek to attract and hold the educated attention, interest and support of persons
'Who are not fuB-time professional academics. An effort must be made somehow
to achieve a closing of the ancient and entrenched divide between "town" and
." Scholars of Buddhist studies need to fcister contacts with specialists
from other disciplines with whom collaboration may prove fruitful both within
and outside the universities: historians and archaeologists, anthropologists,
.medical and health specialists, psychologists, those concerned with ethics and
.tlle relation between man and his environment, and many more.
Ethics for example has become a focus of attention in many disciplines
from philosophy to medicine (and including now business studies). In Buddhism
non-injury (a[ vlJhirpsff) is of course an ancient and honoured concept, but its
:implications may not have always been drawn out in their fullness. The question
; of man in relation to nature and his environment is also an old one in Buddhism,
':even if looked at simply from the point of view of the division between the
sentient (sattvaloka) and non-sentient world (bhajanaloka). According to a very
'important current of Buddhist thought, moreover, all sentient beings (sar-
"vasattva) without exception, including of course animals, are considered to have
. the Buddha-nature (tathagatagarbha, etc.); certain schools in addition attribute
this Buddha-nature also to plants, and it is then thought of as pervading in some
way the whole of nature. So it will be of interest to observe how the Buddhist
. traditions have demarcated the areas of man and his environment differently both
from each other and from many contemporary discussions on the subject which
are of course influenced by quite other religio-philosophical and cultural
Mention has just been made of the problems posed by the patchy
implantation of Buddhist studies in universities and research institutions. It is of
course true that in South Asia there exists a good deal of activity in various
branches of Buddhist studies associated with established university posts, but
. 'less perhaps than in former years and less also than might be hoped for in view
of the fact that Buddhism originated and took on so many of its developments
in this part of the world. As for Europe, the number of university chairs in
Buddhist studies can probably still all be counted on the fingers of one hand; and
other full-time teaching and research posts dedicated to these studies are not
numerous. In Japan, certainly, the situation is very different, so much so that it
can be said that it is there that Buddhist studies have their greatest geographical
density and are achieving their greatest academic intensity. In America until
about a decade ago Buddhist studies suffered from a paucity of established
JIABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
. academic posts, but significant progress has been made since then. And
note.v:'0rthy that this, development has the study of the
traditIons of Southeast, East and even Central Asia as well as of South
further remarkable in the United States in has beenill1
appearance of accredited InstItutes and colleges of BuddhIst studies w!{'li1
. address themselves to the needs of a public that does not consist solely of Youn
full-time students, and which attempt also to bridge the gap between
scholars of Buddhism and those who are not
A comparison of the present situation of Buddhist studies in
and Ja?an is. instructive and it suggests observations. First, in
BuddhIst studies, WIth only a few notable exceptIons, have tended to be concerned'
with Indian Buddhism whereas in North America they deal at least as often
East Asian and occasionally Southeast or Central Asian Buddhism. Secondly,'t{
continental Europe most posts in Buddhist studies are either in departments of
Indian or Asiatic/Oriental studies whereas in North America - and now in
United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand - they are increasingly
located elsewhere, especially in departments of religion and philosophy or mudht
more rarely in departments of history. Thirdly (and perhaps partly
consequence of the second point), in America there may be two - in ver}i1,
favourable cases even more - scholars of different traditions of
working in the same academic unit, in Europe it is still exceptional
have full posts in several traditions of Buddhism at a single institution. In Japi\if!
the academic organization of Buddhist studies seems to combine features of iller!
systems characteristic of continental Europe and America, and a tendency to
both appears to be making some headway elsewhere too. The idea of
Buddhist studies in a department of religion is of course not totally without
parallel and indeed precedent in Europe, for at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes fIf)'
Paris Buddhist studies were already represented from the inception in 1886 of its':
Section des Sciences Religieuses by Sylvain Levi. Generalizations are of
always risky, and it is often possible to point to opposite tendencies in any given'!
area. At all events, the two models for the organization of Buddhist studies just!
mentioned - the one that places them in a department of Indian or Asiaticli
Oriental studies and the one that locates them in departments of religion
philosophy or, occasionally, of history - can lend disciplinary
Buddhist studies., ;;,
Placing Buddhist studies in departments of religion, philosophy or
could, it is true, result in their being distanced if not totally divorced from tile}
historical and philological disciplines - Indology, Sinology, etc., -
the cultural areas in which Buddhism originated and developed. In other
the academic study of Buddhism might find itself being organized
regard being accorded to its historical matrix and cultural context. This
danger has perhaps been reinforced, in America in particular, by the
and indeed paradoxical circumstance that, not infrequently, Buddhist studies have.r!
represented little or not at all where Indian studies were otherwise strong
conversely, Indian studies have not always been cultivated where
stUdies were represented. This is once more but a generalization, and
are exceptions which - since things are always changing - may become
the rule. At all events, it should be clear that Buddhist studies - however
they can benefit from close contact with the disciplines of religious studies
philoSl:>ptlY or of history to which they in tum have very much to contribute
be solidly based in philology (in the comprehensive sense of this word)
studies .
. If in Europe the link between Buddhist studies on the one side and
on the other has usually been very close, one consequence has been that
the fact that chairs of Buddhism have been so rare - very many
scholars of Buddhism in Europe have actually occupied professor-
of Sanskrit and Indian studies rather than of Buddhist studies. This, as
noted, can have the very important advantage of keeping the study of
fmnly anchored in its historical matrix and cultural context. But such
of Asian studies inevitably carries the danger that the successor of
of Buddhism will not be a specialist in our studies at all but in some
different branch of Indology, Sinology, etc.
In an age of increasing specialization, moreover, it is growing ever more
to maintain the idea, prevalent since the foundation of Asian studies, of
in for example Sanskrit and Indian studies that may be filled equally by
a classical Sanskritist or a specialist in Indian Buddhism. (The
of institutes and seminar libraries alone can make such shifting from
of Indology, Sinology, etc., to another .highly problematic from a
practical point of view.) I cannot see that sufficient recognition has been
to this problem, and to the risk it involves, in any but a very small handful
universities. In Japan on the other hand the system adopted, in the
universities in particular, of distinct established chairs in Buddhist
beside chairs of Sanskrit and Indian philosophy has quite successfully
this real problem for our discipline. How this problem of chairs and
continuity will be resolved in the North American universities still remains
Without established and continuing structures without strong and
academic traditions it is at any rate hard to see how any discipline can
first place become established and then, once established, develop and
. v ..... ,, u. Vigorous and sustained efforts need to be made towards consolidating
study of the different traditions of Buddhism at universities and research
Outside South and Southeast Asia dedicated posts in PaIi and the
tradition of Buddhism are almost unknown. Only a very small handful
posts exist for Central Asian Buddhism, in particular for the Tibetan and
traditions. And outside Japan surprisingly few exist for such
areas as the Buddhist traditions of China and Japan. The development
108 nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
. of Buddhist studies has indeed often proved difficult, and one Clli,not altogeth
escape the impression that inertia, perhaps even opposition, has been greater th:
might legitimately have been hoped and expected. This is not the place to go int
this phenomenon. But it does appear pertinent at least to allude to it if only i ~
order to pose the question whether this situation reflects, to some degree that is
difficult to ascertain, a cultural or ideological prejudice, perhaps even a more Or
less unconscious attitude of anti-clerical secularism or anti-monasticism. As for
the study of Buddhist philosophy, it has no doubt been affected by the fact that,
in recent years, the development of the human and social sciences (welcome
though this was) has been accompanied by a retreat in philosophy - a subject
that one would have thought to be essential to these very sciences.
A very strong plea must also be entered here for pursuing research in
Buddhist studies in close collaboration with competent scholars from BUddhist
countries who are well trained in their intellectual and spiritual traditions. The.
need for this kind of collaboration might appear altogether obvious were it not
for the fact that, to the detriment of scholarship as well as of mutual
understanding in these studies, it has too often been overlooked.
We have probably all come to see that the universalist scholar in Indology,
Sinology, etc., is something of the past, noble though the ideal of comprehensive
know ledge still remains and however successful this ideal of scholarship may
have been before specialization developed to the degree we now know. The
problems of the universalist scholar and the generalist are ones that may concern .
us within the field of Buddhist studies also. For here too specialization is
inevitable, and it is growing at a rapid and daunting pace. Communication, both
intellectual and organizational, among the various disciplines and trends
represented within the broad purview of Buddhist studies is sometimes proving .
difficult. Even the question of the usefulness of holding general congresses such
as the present one is being raised. A historian dealing with Buddhism might
perhaps ask what he can find in a congress where much time is spent in discussing
philosophy and religion, and some philosophers and religionists might ask how
they can benefit from a conference where anthropology or archaeology are
legitimate subjects of discussion. Nonetheless, while we acknowledge both the
inevitability and the very real benefits of specialization - and therefore the
usefulness of holding smaller colloquia devoted to the emerging specialisms in
Buddhist studies - it seems to me that there remains a need for a com prehensive
congress where the overarching concerns - theoretical and practical, discipli-
nary and interdisciplinary - of Buddhist studies can be addressed. This
Conference may wish also to consider the question of promoting in the future
specialized colloquia alongside our periodical General Conferences. If the latter
were for example to be held every three or four years, smaller thematic and
regional colloquia could be organized in the intervals.
I have mentioned that Buddhist studies have, traditionally, most often
been placed i.n and oriented departments or faculties
"fAsiatic/Onental studIes, and thatm thenmeteenth century and through several
of the twentieth century this arrangement served them well, allowing
them to make very remarkable progress. But since the 19608 in particular have
we not heard much about a supposed lack of "relevance" of the philological and
historical disciplines, not to speak of philosophy? And especially since the
1970s, with the publication of Edward Said's book Orientalism (1978), has not
an attack been mounted on Orientalism for its supposed racial, cultural and
'Political biases? This critic of Orientalism once took a great Sanskritist and
scholar of Buddhism, Sylvain Levi, as a target in his very sweeping campaign.
And commenting on Levi's having connected Orientalism and politics in an
interview,2 Said has written:
"For all his expressed humanism, his admirable concern for fellow creatures,
Levi conceives the present juncture in unpleasantly constricted terms .... The
Oriental is imagined to feel his world threatened by a superior civilization; yet his
motives are impelled ... by rancor or jealous malice. The panacea offered for this
potentially ugly turn of affairs is that the Orient should be marketed for a Western
consumer, be put before him as one among numerous wares .... By a single stroke
you will defuse the Orient ... and you will appease Western fears of an Oriental
tidal wave. At bottom ... Levi's principal point - and his most telling confession
- is that unless something is done about the Orient, 'the Asiatic drama will
approach the crisis point. '''3
. To anyone familiar with Levi's oeuvre, this representation of it will appear so
tangential by its focus on the manipulative and exploitative as to render his ideas
and position hardly recognizable for us.
Yet the practitioners of what in academic circles is often still being called
Orientalism must now, I think, be conscious - at least somewhat more so than
they were in the past - of their pre-judgements (not to say prejudices) and be
more critically aware of both their pre-suppositions and their methodologies .
. Orientalism and with it our own discipline, when not in a phase of antiquarianism
and a rather unreflective positivism, seem quite often to have found themselves
being buffeted between exoticism and attempts at "relevance" motivated either
by sheer fashion or by considerations of trade and commerce with Asia. The
.dangers of fashion and radical chic are now being encountered in the problems
ansing in connection with curricular pluralism and "cultural studies" - things
that could, however, be made very worthwhile provided of course that they are
pursued on a solid foundation. Regrettably, far from contributing to greater
scholarly and critical awareness, the fashion for so-called relevance as well as
the stance of anti-Orientalism, generating heat rather than light, appear not to
have made matters better.
nABS VOL. 15, NO.1
It might be that Orientalism as represented in our institutions will so
(though for quite ?ther reasons) be as overtaken .by d.evelopments,
hence as much a thmg of the past, as the unIversal Indologlst, Smologist, etc. And.
the change in name of our great sister (or rather, in view of its age, mother)
institution from Congress of Orientalists first to Congress of Human SCience
in Asia and North Africa and then to Congress of Asian and North
Studies had perhaps after all a certain justification that was not only politico,
ideological but genuinely intellectual. For the lABS too such debates are
probably not altogether without pertinency.
Let us now tum briefly to a couple of developments in Buddhist stUdies
over the past fifteen years or so. Most welcome has been the resurgence in Pali
Buddhist studies after a period of eclipse relative to their former state. This is
especially gratifying since, after all, the Pali canon (together with its exegetical
traditions elaborated in the Theravada school) represents one of the main pillars
in the great hall of Buddhist studies as well as of Buddhism as a living tradition ..
Another specialism, Tibetan Buddhist studies, has also made a good deal of
progress in this period despite the considerable obstacles in the way of the
establishment of Tibetology as an academic discipline. The development of this
specialism too is gratifying because of the great significance of the Tibetan
Buddhist traditions when considering the religious, philosophical and cultural
role of Buddhism as a way of thought and practice that has remained very much
.. alive until the present day.
Occasionally these two traditions within Buddhism have, however, been
seen as antithetical in their religious and philosophical positions, and sometimes
(e.g., in contemporary Nepal, and elsewhere too) they are even regarded as rivals
in competition with each other. It is of course true that the Buddhist traditions
of Tibet and Mongolia are deeply imbued by the Mahayana whilst the PaIi canon
and the Theravada school are normally to be classified as Sravakayanist.
what has sometimes been lost sight of is the fact that Tibetan-Mongolian
Buddhism is by no means exciusiveiyMahayanist or Vajrayanist. In fact, like
any Buddhist order of monks or Srupgha, the monastic order in Tibet and
Mongolia is founded on the Vinaya, in this case the one belonging to the
Miilasarvastivadins which is one of the great Sravakayanist Schools and (in so
far as they are Vinaya-Schools) Orders (nikaya). Furthermore, in Tibetan
philosophical thought Vasubandhu's Abhidhannakosa, representing as it does
the doctrines of the and Sautrantika schools of the Sravakayana, is
one of the fundamental points of reference and, accordingly, one of the
prescribed textbooks in Tibetan seminaries. In the Tibetan and Mongolian
canons, the bKa' 'gyur, there are moreover to be found a number of texts parallel
to Pali Suttantas, and some that were apparently translated from Pali;5 and the
Buddhist tradition in Tibet has accorded due attention to these siitras belonging
to what is in Buddhist historiography and doxography frequently described as
fh&Buddha's first of the Wheel Dharma. It is that
Text Soc:ety IS at supportmg a research project to edit
severl;ll sutras from the TIbetan bKa' 'gyur and to compare them WIth
extant in Pili as well as in Sanskrit.
.;C'. In Buddhist studies uncertainty and perplexity have been c31used by the
as to how best and most precisely to use the terms SI:avakayana,
irtnayana and Theravada, which are sometimes being employed as if they were
coterminous equivalents to which Mahayana (or Bodhisattvayana) is
tarttithetically (or even hostilely) opposed.
f:S Strictly speaking - and very notably in the usage of the Tibetan
and descriptions of the Path - the Sravakayana (Tib. nan thos kyi
pa, the "Vehicle of the Auditor") is indeed contrasted with the Mahayana
OCJib. theg pa chen po, the "Great but these two Vehicles are
;ffonetheless very frequently regarded as bemg complementary rather than as
exclusive of (or hostilely opposed to) each other. For Tibetan
tradition in fact acknowledges both to be authentically founded in the
i}Vord of the Buddha (buddhavacana) and to correspond to the Buddha's
Isutcessive turnings of the Wheel of the Dharma. This view of the matter may
in the perspective of that version of the triyana-theory in which the
Vehicles of the Sravaka, Pratyekabuddha and Bodhisattva, classified in an
hierarchical order, are acknowledged as separate and ultimately
yanas bringing different types of individuals - divided according to
spiritual categories or "genes" (gotra) - to their respective and different
lfmal destinations, namely the three distinct kinds of Awakening (bodfu)
in this theory. Or on the contrary, and a fortiori, this view of the
iYehicles may be taken in the perspective of the theory of the One Vehicle
according to which the three yanas are accepted not as ultimately
p,separate Vehicles leading to ultimately distinct kinds of liberation, but as all
converging in the single and unique Vehicle (the ekayana= buddhayana)
all sentient beings will reach Buddhahood. In this second perspective,
i,ihen, the theory of three Vehicles and of separate spiritual gotras has only
:provisional validity. For in this case the distinct yanas of the Sravaka,
;)>ratyekabuddha and Bodhisattva serve to convey persons of the corresponding
;igotrasto genuine yet provisional spiritual destinations without, however, leading
1;00 radically distinct spiritual goals; and they finally converge together in the
,ekayana or buddhayana in conformity with the theory of the tathagatagarbha or
'e13uddha-nature according to which all sentient beings ultimately achieve
c,' Now the fact that the Sravakayana, the first of the turnings of the Wheel
";of the Dharma, has been considered by Mahayanist hermeneuticians to be not
i;of definitive and certain meaning (nItiirtha = nges don) but rather of philosoph i-
and soteriologically provisional meaning, and thus to require further
I interpretation in another sense (neyartha = drang don), was not simply a crude
nABS VOL. 15, NO.1
. attempt by Mahayanists to denigrate non-Mahaya,rtist texts and doctrines. In f
Mahayanist hermeneutics considers a large body of its own Mahayana
- either those belonging to the second or to the third turning of the Wheel
the Dharma - to be neyartha too. 0
On the other hand, the Hinayana (Tib. theg dman, also theg chung th
"Small Vehicle" or "Lesser Vehicle") - a term that embraces both'th
Sravakayana and the Pratyekabuddhayana - is antithetically opposed to the
(Tib. sems kyi theg pa) as it is a Vehicle
does not mclude the BodhIsattva's Path but constItutes a Path leading rather t
Arhatship conceived of as different from Buddhahood. Where Hinayana
been employed as a historical designation either for pre-Mahayana BUddhism Or
for Buddhism that is not specifically Mahayanist, but without any specific
reference being actually intended to the Path (marga) of the Small Vehicle of the
Arhat in contradistinction to the Path of the Bodhisattva, the tenn Sravakayana
can usefully be substituted both in the interests of the terminological and
conceptual clarity required in scholarly work and in order to avoid the use of a
possibly disparaging expression. Alongside features that are strictly speaking
characteristically Hinayanist - that is, that are specific to the path of an Arhat
in contradistinction to that of a Bodhisattva - the Sravakayana also comprises
elements that are so to say neutral - i.e., largely mainstream and non-specific
to any single Buddhist yana- and (in some of its forms) even elements that point
in the direction of what is known as the Mahayana.
As for the term Theravada, literally "Doctrine of the Elders," linguisti-
cally it is of course simply the PaIi word that corresponds to Skt. Sthaviravada,
the name given to that great trunk of Buddhism opposed to the MahasaJTIghika
at the time of a disagreement in early Indian Buddhism. Sthaviravada is thus a
comprehensive term that covers several of the traditional Schools/Orders or
Nikayas (e.g., the Sarvastivada, Dharmaguptaka, etc.,) and may accordingly
cover a wider area than the Pali term Theravada. But since Sthaviravada does
not embrace all the Nikayas, this term cannot properly be used as an equivalent
of what has been termed "Nikaya Buddhism." Furthermore, it has to be borne
in mind that in the course of its long history the Theravada too has not been
altogether unfamiliar with the Bodhisattva-ideal;6 this School indeed passed
through a number of the developments that its sister-schools in India knew.
Moreover, to take for scholarly purposes the name Theravada as a designation
for "early" or "original" Buddhism (i.e., the teaching of the historical Buddha)1
in contrast to later developments - that is, in effect to identify Theravada and
- is, historically speaking, a very wide (and eventually
tendentious) use of the word.
Nor can Theravada designate the whole of so-
called "Nikaya Buddhism" any more than can its Sanskrit counterpart Sthavira-
vada. In sum, the term Theravada is in fact required by the historian of Buddhism
as a technical mime to designate one of the many schools deriving from early
Buddhism, namely the venerable tradition of the Theras that traces its descent
Asoka's son, the Elder Mahinda who established it in the middle of the
ibif4 century BeE in whence it spread ver;: in
Today IS understood by
,signating specafically the tradItIon With the Mahavlhara Sn
On the contrary, when reference IS bemg made to the above-mentIoned
of Nikaya Buddhism which is opposed to the Mahasarnghika, and
specifically to the Buddhist tradition of Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, the
has available the Sanskrit term Sthaviravada which, as just mentioned,
I'llsed more comprehensively than Pali Theravada and is therefore appropriate
{S designate the broader group of in question.
I;, .. Consequently; to regard the names Sravakayana, Hinayana, Sthaviravada
as coterminous equivalents (except only to the extent that the
Hinayana might be understood as a more or less disparaging one) qespite
ftliifact that they enter into distinct combinations and into quite different pairs
and concepts, and then to make them en bloc the radical antithesis of
lMahayana, can only render the terminology unserviceable for tracing the
historical developments in Buddhism and for describing its no less
!5inplex spiritual paths.
Ii;, . If only the Pilii and the Tibetan traditions of Buddhism have been dwelt
tan here, this is certainly not because I consider them to be somehow more
than others, but rather in order to attempt to show by means of
how two Buddhist traditions that may perhaps appear to us as in some
tnse "imtipodal"ll in relation to each other are, nevertheless, not heterogeneous
find totally irreconcilable in the broad and rich frame of Buddhist theory and .
My observations relate at the same time to several of the gaps in oUr
to which attention was usefully called by G. M. Nagao in his
address to the first Conference of our Association in 1978,12 Much
!;yery valuable work has of course also been carried out over the past decade and
in the Buddhist traditions transmitted in Sanskrit (of which in fact the
of Tibet is in large part a prolongation), and in those of East and
Asia. Let me also recall here the emphasis Nagao laid on the need to
(bring to bear in Buddhist studies what he termed the analytical and synthetic
fa.pproaches - i.e., the method whereby pieces of information accumulated from
sources are established as reliable data and the method by which these
data are then made to yield a humanistically meaningful historical
descriptive account of Buddhist thought, practice and culture- and reiterate
plea for a solid philological (by which I do not of course mean only linguistic)
for studies in the history, religion, philosophy and iconology of

At the start of this address I said that in Buddhist studies we can look back
tpver the fifteen years that have passed since the founding of the lABS with a
nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
of achievement. Some of this has been mirrored in alJd
contnbuted to by our Journal. The JJABS has III fact a very essential functi'\;
to fulfIl both as an organ of the Association, recording its conferences and
activities, and as an outlet for articles, book-reviews and reports on
the like which reflect the many facets of Buddhist studies world-wide. Som'
articles may also seek to respond to needs of our is Varied;,
and presumably not composed exclusIvely of professIOnal academIcs in BUd!
dhist studies. And precisely because few can aspire to being experts in each arid
every aspect of Buddhist studies, we probably require more reports arid
bibliographical surveys that keep specialists in one branch abreast of develop,
ments in others. The philologist and the historian of religion and philosophy will
for example information about devel?pments in history}
archaeology, art hIStOry, etc., as they bear on BuddhIst studies. Above all, our
organization will wish to promote this scholarly exchange on a world-wide basis.
The present and future of Buddhist studies are of course to be seen not onl;,
as the product of what happens in universities and learned societies but ill
correlation, at least in part, with the world situation, and also, it has to be added
with the trials and troubles through which so many Buddhist peoples and
Sarpghas have passed. In that great arc of Buddhist civilization stretching frolll
Tibet and Sri Lanka in the west to Korea and Japan in the east, few indeed hav6(
been the Buddhist peoples that have been spared prolonged and terrible
calamities during this century. The events to which I am referring have inevitably
had a deep impact on Buddhism - both on the Sarpgha and also on the Dharma-"
as-teaching (desanadhanna) in its temporal situation - in the areas concerned
and thus, if only indirectly, on Buddhist studies. For it can hardly be supposed
that there exists no correlation between the welfare and well-being -the hita-
sukha - of the Buddhist peoples and the flourishing of Dharma and Sarpgha on'
the one side and the condition of Buddhist studies on the other side. Let us hOpe'
that the well-being that some peoples having a Buddhist heritage now enjoy may
prove to be also a harbinger of amelioration elsewhere.
* Presidential address delivered on the 19th july 1991 on the occasion of the Tenth
Conference of the lABS held at UNESCO, Paris. The author wishes to thank the Spalding
Trust for a travel grant.
.1. The role of environmentalism in Buddhism has become highly topical. For the
Fourteenth Dalai Lama's espousal of this cause for Tibet and the Himalayan region and
for his proposal of a Zone of AhiITlSa. see his Freedom in Exile (London, 1990), pp. 274-
5: "The Tibetan plateau would be transformed into the world's largest natural park or
biosphere. Strict laws would be enforced to protect wildlife and plant life; the exploitation
c fnaturalresources would be carefully regulated so as not to damage relevant ecosystems;
P d a policy of sustainable development would be adopted in populated areas."
Concerning nature and environmentalism in Buddhism, see recently L.
"Buddhismus und Natur," in: R. Panikkar and W. Strolz, Die Verantwor-
(uIJg des Menschen ffir eine bewohnbare Welt in Christen tum. Hinduismus und
Buddhismus (Freiburg-Basel-Wien, 1985), pp. 100-33; K. Inada, "Environmental
Ptoblematics in the Buddhist Context," Philosophy East and West37 (1987), pp. 135-49;
imd the discussions connected with the 1990 Tsurumi/Osaka International Garden and
Greenery Exhibition reported in Revista de Estudios budistas 1 (1991). For the question
of ecology, etc., in Buddhism, reference can be made to the bibliography and brief
discussion in 1. Harris, "How Environmentalist is Buddhism?," Religion 21 (1991), pp.
2. Une heure avec M. Sylvain Levi, Indianiste, Professeur au College de France,
par Frederic Lefevre, in Nouvelles Litteraires, 14 March 1925, reprinted in Memorial
Sylvain Levi (Paris, 1937), pp. 118-25.
3. E. Said, Orientalism (Penguin ed., London, 1985), pp. 249-50.
4. The terms Sravakayana and Sravakayanist are here being used advisedly instead
ofHInayana and HInayarust. See below.
5. Nos. 747-759 in the Beijing edition, translatedby AnandaSrl and Nyi rna rgyal
mtshan dpal bzang po of Thar pa gling (Thar pa Lo tsa ba, a teacher of Bu ston Rin chen
grub, 1290-1364).
6. Even though in Sri Lanka the Bodhisattva-concept seems to have been
associated especially closely with kingship, concerning the bodhisatta mahasatta as a
spiritual type - as distinct from bodhisatta used as an appellative to designate Gotama
Sakyamuni prior to his attainment ofbuddhahood and including his earlier existences-
see Buddhaghosa, Visuddhimgga iii. 128 (ed. Kosambi, p. 94) and ix.124 (p. 270). And
on the paramitasila, the highest form of sila exercised for the purpose of the liberation
of all beings (sabbasattavimokkha), see Visuddhimagga i.33 (p. 12). - On sammasam-
bodhi as distinct from savakabodhi and pacceka(sam)bodhi, see (in addition to the
Khuddakapajha, p. 7, on savakaparamL paccekabodhi and buddhabhuml) the Lokut-
tarasampattiniddesa (Chap. viii) of the UpasakajaniilaiJkara, p. 340 ff. (which mentions
sirvakabuddhas and paccekasambuddhas). Cf. W. Rahula, "L' ideal du Bodhisattva dans
Ie Theravada et Ie Mahayana," Journal Asiatique 1971, p. 68 f.
7. Under the entry theravada, the Pali Text Society's Dictionary (London, 1925)
has given both "the doctrine of the Theras" and "the original Buddhist doctrine."
8. See R. C. Childers, A Dictionary of the Pali Language (London, 1875), s.v.
virdo: "Theravado is a term applied to the orthodox doctrines or word of Buddha as settled
at the first Sailgiti." Childers quotes the DJpavilf!lsa (iv. 6, 13).
9. It is to be noted that as used alongside fiiii,Javada in the pari canon (Majjhirna-
nikayai, pp.I64-165, inconnexion with Alara Kalama and UddakaRamaputta) theravada
, has in fact a quite different meaning from the one it acquired in the DJpavarpsa and
comparable later texts. In other words, in the Pali canon theravadahas neither the meaning
of (buddha)sasana it has acquired in the historical literature of Sri Lanka, nor the meaning
JIABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
of original Buddhism given it by some modern writers.
Needless to say, what is being stated here is defInitely not meant to deny the
that the buddhavacana as recorded in the Piili canon of the Theravadins has become:,t(
integral part of the tradition of this school, which is of course based on it. But by the SllIIl'c
token the buddhavacana as recorded in the canons of the Sarvastivadins, Dhannagu ;
takas, etc., has become an integral part of these Nikaya-traditions, which are sirnil:u-i:;
based on these canons. Thus, much of the contents as such of the Theravadin canon
no more (and of course no less) Theravada in the historical sense of this term than th';;:
contents of, e.g., the Sarvastivadin canon are Sarvastivada in the historical sense. But if
it were the case that the philosophical and religious contents of the canon of the Theraviidll'
school are Theravada, by the same token the contents of the canons of the Sarviistiv8da'
school, etc., will be Sarvastivada, etc.; and as a result the same (or very similar) BUddha
word would be termed sometimes Theravada and sometimes Sarvastivada, etc., for n6'
otherreason than that it happens to be found in the canon of this or that Nikaya even wheri':
it is coinmon to other canonical traditions. ' ,
Nevertheless, the expressions 'Theravadin canon," "Sarvastivadin canon," ete:;';
may serve perfectly legitimately to designate a particular canon as redacted anr
transmitted by the Theravada, Sarvastivada, etc., schools. These canons may then
specifIcally Sarvastivadin, etc., in respect to their linguistic
structure, etc., but not in their religious and philosophical contents which may in fact bJl:
largely mainstream and thus not Nikaya-specifIc. :.{'\
10. Historically, Sinhalese Buddhism embraced other traditions too, e.g., that of:
the Abhayagiri Vihiira. And it has to be recognized that in a later mainland BUddhist!
source such as VinItadeva's
sarpgraha, the school of the gnas brtan pa (= sthavira) is identifIed only by its subdivision'S';
of Ietavamya, Abhayagirivasin and Mahavihiiravasin without any continental
tative being mentioned. Hence, in effect, it is represented as being the Tamrap3I1)iya, or
Sri Lanka, school. This appears to indicate that the only, or at least the mam:1
representatives of the Sthaviras (as a school) known to the later Indian and to the TibetariJ
historiographical and doxographical traditions were indeed to be found in Sri Lanka: at
On the Mahayana in Sri Lanka, see especially S. Paranavitana, "Mahayanism
Ceylon," Ceylon Journal of Science (Section G: Archaeology, Ethnology, etc.), ii (1928-1
33), pp. 35-71; H. Saddhatissa (ed.), UpiisakajanilaiJkiira (London, 1965), Introduction,;':
pp. 104-11; Nandasena Mudiyanse, Mahayana Monuments in Ceylon (Colombo, 1967);1
H. Bechert, "Mahayana literature in Sri Lanka: the early phase," in: L. Lancaster (ed.y,' .
Prajiiiipiiramitii and Related Systems (Studies in Honor of E. Conze, Berkeley, 1977), PP:'!
361-8; and G. Schopen, 'The text on the 'Dhiiran:il Stones from Abhayagiriya,'" JIABS,
5/1 (1982), pp. 100-08 Cf. also J. C. Holt, Buddha in the Crown: Avalokitesvara in thb'\

; ',.r'/
Traditions of Sri Lanka (New York, 1991).
On the question of "Mahayana Therav ada" in Hsuan-tsang' s writings, see recently
t!:Birakawa, A History of Indian Buddhism (Hawaii, 1990), p. 257. E. Lamotte, Histoire
in.dien (Louvain, 1958), pp. 596-601, refers, perhaps more appropriately,
They are located by Hsuan-tsang not only in Sri Lanka but also
mainland at Bodh Gaya and Bharukaccha, and in Kalinga and it is not
[fib-tam what language(s) they used. Hsuan-tsang also refers to monks who studied both
Great and the Little Vehicles; cf. E. Lamotte, "Sur la formation du Mahayana,"
(Festschrift F. Weller, Leipzig, 1954), p. 395, and Histoire, p. 60l.
ti\. 11. In using the expression "antipodal," I am not thinking only of the difference
geographical distribution of the Vehicles in South and North Asia but also of a
polarity them, poles being of course not only opposed but also in
Ift6mplementary tenSIOn.

.;i.': 12 . See JIABS 1{2 (1979), pp. 79-85.
nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
The Theatre of Objectivity: Comments on Jose
Cabezon's Interpretations of mKhas grub rje's and
C. W. Huntington, Jr. 's Interpretations of the Ti-
betan Translation of a Seventh Century Indian
dhist Text
by C W.
During the past year several journals have published reviews of my book, T h ~ " ~
Emptiness of Emptiness.
The authors of these reviews raise a number of
engaging questions regarding my work on early Madhyamika. No meaningful;
discussion on these issues can take place, however, until we have gone much
deeperinto the problem of methodology. Although I shall focus my remarks here
on an essay by Jose Cabez6n I would, in fact, like to draw attention to another
piece as well, a long article by Paul Williams that is full of interesting and
controversial opinions. It will be seen that both of these reviews are marked by
a common leitmotif that bears directly on some important matters of general
concern having to do with the translation and interpretation of Indian Buddhist
At the very outset I would like to thank my reviewers for their generous
assessment of my work. I doubt that anyone could be more severe with the book .
than I am myself. The truth is that I can barely open the cover without
contemplating some stylistic or thematic problem. That they have recorded so.
many favorable reactions to what I have written is certainly gratifying. I was.
particularly encouraged by Mr. Cabez6n's judgement of the translation. Of
course he is absolutely correct about the difficulty of translating ancient technical
treatises like the Madhyamakavatara and in retrospect there are several changes
I would be tempted to make if! had the chance. For example, I like his suggestion ..
of "provisional meaning" for neyartha. In any case, before I leap into a detailed
account of my specific concerns I want to express my sincere appreciation for
the general tenor of these reviews which, in my estimation, manage to be both
and nonadversarial. What I have to say here can not help but appear
I only hope that, with care, I might succeed in maintaining the high
set by. Mr. Mr. and the others who have taken the
to publish therr on
I,,' To be perfectly honest, m spIte of all I have Just srud I must confess iliat
:1 read a great deal of Mr. Cabezon's review with a sort of horrified fascination.
,J can not imagine ever encountering more dramatic evidence of just what little
,dontrOl an author has over how his work is understood. By the time I reached
Jibe final paragraph I was dumbfounded. How could a man who is virtually my
ideal reader possibly have come up with an interpretation of my book that
:Idirectly conflicts with my own understanding of what I had written on so many
vital issues? It really is startIing, the extent to which ilie meaning of one's words
,'{eludes even one's own grasp. Near ilie beginning of his review Mr. Cabez6n
" ... it is ironic that the main ilirust of Huntington's introduction should
'be so at odds wiili the dGe lugs pa reading of ilie Madhyamaka" (p. 131). And
';,yet as I made my way through his presentation of what he refers to as "the dGe
. jugs pa reading" I discovered that ilie difference between my own understanding
"ofMadhyarnika and that of mKhas grub rje did not appear to be nearly so striking
as I had been led to expect. To be precise, I found myself in disagreement not
'only with Mr. Cabezon's interpretation of aspects of my own book but also with
"his understanding of several passages drawn from mKhas grub rje's sTong thun
" chen rno - all of which raises, I believe, several interesting hermeneutical
; problems. It is iliese problems iliat I would like to address in what follows, for,
,:, as Gadamer and others have argued, there is an intimate relationship between the
'tools a scholar brings to his research and ilie conclusions he reaches. To devalue
this relationship is to compromise one's capacity for just tlle sort of self-critical
. ,reflection tllat is tlle lifeblood of any intellectual work.
, If our effort to make sense out of Buddhist literature is to be convincing
then this effort must be suffused with an equally intense and overt interest in
exhuming not only tlle presuppositions of Indian and Tibetan authors, but our
own presuppositions and preconceptions as well. As a corollary to this general
principle I would suggest that if we are radically to challenge tlle accepted
interpretations of Indian Madhyamika texts - iliat is, if we are interested in
,developing a persuasive philosophical interpretation of Nagarjuna and the other
"'early Indian Madhyamikas, one that we might have the courage, finally, to call
our own - ilien we must radically challenge the accepted models of scholarship.
The first, laborious step in this process is to uneartlltlle assumptions that
empower tllese models and bring tllem up into tlle light where we can get a close
look at exactly what it is tllat we are dealing with.
To begin with I want to discuss very briefly a few prominent instances where
JIABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
Mr. Cabez6n and I seem to be in less than perfect accord over the.meaning"
implications of what I wrote in my book. The list of examples I have
discuss is representative, but by no means comp'rehensive, for it is
purpose here to contest his claim to have presented "one interpretation"i
CandraIdrti that varies radically from the one presented in the
[The Emptiness of Emptiness]"(p. 153). Rather I wish only to suggest that t1{'
claim becomes extremely problematic given that the two of us - Mr.
and myself - do in fact hold distinctly different interpretations, if nor({l
CandraIdrti, then most certainly of Huntington. Let me be more expliciti;ir#
"Intuitively one might say," Mr. Cabez6n writes on page 159, "thattlii'
Madhyamikas argue for their beliefs against ... different opponents, butfc)f
Huntington this is not possible, since what they are doing is not philosophy." M::;
Cabez6n's conviction that I do not take CandraIdrti's text to be properii
philosophical permeates his review. So far as I can see, this conviction it
apparently rooted in my references to the philosopher Richard Rorty and hiJ;
remarks on the "nonphilosophicallanguage" of William James and Ludwig
Wittgenstein. While I realize that my readers may not be versed in Rorty' s work;;
I had hoped that the significance of this expression could be determined within"
the wider context of my discussion in the introduction. "Nonphilosophical"in"
Rorty's admittedly idiosyncratic usage means "nonspeculative;" that is,
matic" or even "deconstructive" in a somewhat less than technical sense of the'
term. My point was that modern Pragmatism and ancient Madhyamika boili'
represent attempts to subvert the sort of metaphysical speculation that hill'
throughout history generally co-opted the grand title of Philosophy in India and
the West. Again, in Rorty's jargon the people who engage in this highly critiC:3J.
enterprise are called "edifying Edifying philosophers do not
construct systematic philosophical explanations of their own; rather they emploY:
every means at their disposal to develop persuasive critiques directed at the.
conceptual systems Presented by others. Granting the possibility that Mr."
Cabez6n may not be conversant with Rorty's terminology, it is nevertheless:
difficult to understand how this single expression could have been responsible"
for such a sweeping conclusion when my entire project was - from my own
perspective, at least - an entirely self-conscious attempt to develop a reading
of Madhyamika that is nothing if not philosophical. See, for example, p. 129: "It
is misleading'to characterize Nagarjuna and Candraldrti as the proponents oca
mystical, alogical, or irrational system unconcerned with the proper business of
philosophy .... Such an interpretation does a tremendous disservice to Nagarjuna's "
thought .... The single most controversial and revolutionary feature ofNagarjuna's
legacy lies in his restructuring of the philosophical enterprise .... " The problenf'
may be that in Mr. Cabez6n's view philosophy devoid of either epistemology"
or syllogistic reasoning is not philosophy at all. "Instead," as he makes clear, "iq
is something more akin to therapy of the Wittgensteinian kind" (p. 159). We,
ought to note in passing that in his review Mr. Williams not only disagrees wi
Cabezon on this particular issue, but he has gone so far as to criticize me
the philosophical dimension of early Madhyamika:
rethinking of Madhyamaka -in the light-of contemporary philo-
is viable and perhaps laudable, but it should not be represented
the only option for those who would take the relevance of these texts to modern
concerns seriously" (p. 195). _
. . Closely related to his assertion that I do not treat the Madhyamika as
per, methodologically grounded philosophy is Mr. Cabezon's claim that my
erpretation of Candrakirti dispenses with the need for "rational and systematic
tification of the philosophical truth of ... emptiness" (pp. 155 ff). In many
texts I discuss the undeniable significance of rational discourse in early
'"dhyamika. As a representative example we might look to p. 139, where I
iew the overall thrust of my attempt to make sense of the Madhyamika as
-ilosophy: "Carefully taking into account 'the limits of reason' as well as its
, essary and legitimate claims, the meaning that this or any other philosophy
for us can perhaps be measured by no higher standard than as a function of
'practical consequences for the individual, for society, and for all forms of life.
e most important question would then be: Through incorporating a vocabulary
-' tseeks neither to deny nor otherwise to contradict or denigrate all the evidence
t can and must be accepted by the canons of reason ... [and so forth]." One
my major goals in this enterprise was to examine how these texts may have
nsiderably redefined the accepted, methodologically grounded models of both
ilosophy and reason, but it would be a serious mistake to equate even
bstantial redefinition with outright rejection. Nagarjuna appears to me to be
terested only in mitigating what was taken by him to be a compulsive and
iritually crippling preoccupation with a style of rationalism that had become
ntrenched in the Buddhist world during the centuries immediately before and
, ter the advent of the Christian era. His work was produced in a context shaped
y the Prajnap8ramitii-siitras and it must have been welcomed by at least some
Orhis contemporaries - those who referred to themselves, somewhat hyperboli-
tally, one suspects, as the "MahasaIighikas" - but we also know that the early
-dhyamika writings were denounced from the first as irrational and nihilistic
y a large segment of the intellectual community, both Buddhist and non-
_ uddhist. And still several hundred years seem to have passed before any effort
. as made to accommodate these critics. It was not until the middle of the sixth
, ntury that one of Candrakirti's immediate predecessors, Bhavaviveka, com-
a number of highly influential treatises built solely around the promise of
lilurnishing the Madhyamakakiirikas with an unshakable logical foundation.
On p. 155 Mr. Cabezon cites mKhas grub rje as saying "the belief in no-
is itself a belief," as though this difficulty had not been addressed
(ifuywhere in my account of Candrakirti. The "no view" that I find in early
is certainly not so naive as to be oblivious to.the difficulties posed
this kind of self-referential conundrum, and in fact I specifically addressed
nABS VOL. 15, NO.1
the in several See, in.stance, p. 135, where I to Rony;
alternatIve understanding of what It mIght mean not to hold a VIew: "Whe
less pretentious revolutionaries can afford to have views on lots of things w r
their predecessors had views on, edifying philosophers have to decry the v?"
notion of having a view, while avoiding having a view about having views.1i:.
is awkward, but not impossible .... " The problem of self-reference is linked
concerns about relativism and the even more basic matter of how I have defin'
a "view." In brief, my argument in the book is not that early Madhyamikahol
no views whatsoever, butratherthat it lays no claim to any "value-free, objec'cl
view of truth or reality." This is a critical point that both Mr. Cabezon
Williams seem to have missed,2 though I hammered on it almost ad naus'!;
from the preface on through the introduction and notes. With all due respect
mKhas grub rje, I would think it obvious - so obvious it hardly requires menti'
- that no one can compose an expository text without expressing some vie
or another (be it "right" or "wrong," confused or perfectly lucid). The early
Indian Madhyamika authors were certainly no different in this regard from an'
author who has ever set pen to paper. On the other hand, they seem to diffe
considerably from most other philosophers to the extent that their views do n"
demand any ahistorical, a pnorijustification.The views expressed in those tex
are anchored only in 'jig rten pa 'i tha snyad: " ... according to the Madhyamih;
concepts of logic, and theoretical as well as practical concepts dealing with
empirical phenomena like causation, are all grounded in a particular way of life
... " (Huntington, p. 10). It is this "way of life" (whatever it may be)
groundless, and not our concepts, our logic, etc. To put this another way: While
early Madhyamika texts expound many and varied opinions on issues of crucial
relevance to the project of developing an effective sQteriological strategy, such'
opinions are obviously not what is being referred to in, for example,
MadhyamakasiIstra 13.8, where Nagajuna cautions us not to misconstrue
emptiness by making it into a dr$p. His use of the Sanskrit word must be, in iit'
context, synonymous with what Candrakirti occasionally identifies as
or ku-dr$p: an incorrect or perverse view. Which is to say (in my reading), a
of truth or reality that would undermine the Buddhist soteriological
through purporting to be value-free or objective.

Toward the close of his discussion Mr. Cabezon suggests that I appear at1tt
times to subscribe to the fourth member of the catu$kop. Actually on this
I referred to none other than mKhas grub rje himself regarding the
between the fourth member of the catu$kop and concepts of a "transcendent,";1
ground," an "ineffable reality," or, for that matter, the assertion that
Madhyamika is.not philosophy, but some kind of mystical practice ...
S. 3,. n. 12). Given the context of Mr. Cabez6n' s remarks, I suspect he may hav$;
formed his opinion solely on the basis of what I wrote about "most contemporary Ji,'
scholars [believing] that the term emptiness refers neither to existence nor
existence" (p. 18). After citing this line from my book, he flatly asserts

L temporary dGe lugs pa scholars do not hold to such a position. Maybe not,
they must still explain, e.g., Madhyamakasastra 15.6: "Those who see in it
:t y reference to] intrinsic and extrinsic being, or existence and nonexistence,
see the actual teaching of the Buddha."4 In support of his assertion Mr.
translates a passage from the sTong thun chen rno where mKhas grub
} 'ec1arifies the critical distinction between outright non-existence and the lack
existence." I was truly puzzled here, for mKhas grub rje' s discussion
'seems to me to be relevant not to the fourth member of the catu$koti but rather
tto the second, usually interpreted as a statement of unqualified negation: "Things
;do not exist" This is one instance of a place where the tables are turned and I
ifUld myself in apparent disagreement with Mr. Cabezon's interpretation of his
"oWn translation of mKhas grub rje.
ii Finally, a less abstruse, but equally disturbing example of how even a
obvious effort to control the meaning of my words can fail. Mr. Cabezon
is startled by my observation that early MMhyamika set itself "in opposition to
"a philosophical tradition which was preoccupied with the search for more and
more precise technical terminology and had neglected the practical application
of philosophical theory ... " (Huntington, p. xii). "What a terribly poor picture this
paints ... " he exclaims, "of the great Abhidharma and Y ogacara masters! Was
the Abhidharma truly the dry scholasticism that Huntington implies it was?,"
i(Cabez6n, p. 160). On p. 17, in defming my use of the term "Hinayana," I wrote:
: "It is clear ... that the Madhyamika critique was specifically directed against an
abstract, academic philosophy that had become divorced from the tradition of
practical application. Still, we have no reason to suppose that this sort of
scholasticism was characteristic of every non-Madhyamika school even in
:Nagarjuna's time, and therefore the terms [Hinayana and Mahayana] have been
retained here as convenient labels for two different genres of literature." And
. from Section Two, note 1 (p. 201): "In this discussion I have used the term
.,Hinayana as it is used by Nagarjuna, Candrakirti and other Mahayanists; in fact,
.: the Madhyarnika critique was almost certainly directed against only one of at
. .least eighteen early Indian Hinayana sects, the Sarvastivada .... "
The examples discussed above provide strong support for the unsettling
observation that a text - any text - will not necessarily be interpreted in accord
with the author's own understanding of what he has written. In this case the text
.. happens to be my own, and, as a consequence, this particular demonstration of
the lack of authorial control is unusually vivid. The feeling is very much as
though my book, the book I wrote, has been forced to serve some purpose other
. than the one I myself envisioned for it. What I require, of course - and what
.. r can not seem to fmd - is some stable criterion for determining who is qualified
to adjudicate in the matter of our disparate interpretations of my words. Is there
124 nABS VOL. 15, NO.1
really no final arbiter to whom I, Mr. Cabezon and my other reviewers m' h"
ld all 1
. , 19 t
appeal? Is there no one pace 0U: trust tn, no ::eferee willing and able
to say, once and for all, This - and nothmg else - IS the meaning of wh '
Huntington has written"? For my own part, I could not honestly claim
command that kind of certainty. For any number of reasons I may not ha '.'
managed to say what I thought I was saying in my book. Perhaps I failed:
appreciate the full implications of my own ideas. Or it may be that I was unabt
to articulate those ideas clearly enough. I might have been confused about
it was that I intended to communicate. Then again, I can't completely rule out
even the unlikely possibility that my ideas may have changed over the past few
years in ways I myself can not quite see. If so, then I could easily be incapable
of remembering exactly what I was thinking when the book was taking shape.
It is not enough for me simply to insist that my work has been misunderstood
when in fact my reviewers are in many ways every bit as qualified as I am
assess the significance of The Emptiness of Emptiness. Mr. Cabez6n' s
tials are clearly in order. He is a highly trained, competent critic, an authority in
his own right. This being the case, there is, moreover, good reason to believe that"
his understanding of my book will be shared by others of equal competence. For'
better or worse, then, we're apparently left on our own to hash things out between
ourselves. I can publish a response to his review. We might eventually find the'
opportunity to get together and talk, and, with luck, we might even work out some
common understanding of my book. One way or the other the exchange of ideas
and opinions will go on between us as long as we care to stick with it, and, in
the end, what more could we want? For the moment it would be enough if only
I could persuade Mr. Cabez6n, Mr. Williams and their readers that what has
happened to my book is exactly what could happen to any text. Which brings
me to the considerably more complicated and problematic issue of Mr.
Cabez6n's reading of mKhas grub rje.
If nothing else, the disparity between my understanding of the sTong thun
chen mo andMr. Cabez6n's certainly seems to throw into question the whole
idea of a single, authorized ("traditional") dGe lugs pa reading of the Madhyamika
like the one referred to by both him and Mr. Williams. At the very least it must
suggest that, even assuming such a reading exists, we do not have any dependable ,
access to it since one or the other (or both) of us has obviously been led astray.
This is exactly the sort of meta-confusion I was trying to avoid by not relying,
in my own work, on later Tibetan exegesis. I subtitled the book "An introduction
to early Indian Miidhyamika" and on every significant point of interpretation
where classical documentation was required I strove to support my case
primarily with references to "early" Indian sources (that is, to no author later than
Candrakirti himself). I sought, to put it another way, to present my understanding
of Candrakirti, and not my understanding of a later Tibetan understanding of
Candrakirti. I will take this issue up in somewhat greater detail in just a moment, .
i, t before I do I want to step back-stage, so to speak, and take a look at the
: torical structure of Mr. Cabezon' s review. This is where we can expect to find
costumes, props, colored lights and other paraphernalia that operate behind
iI1e scenes to create the dramatic effect of objectivity.
.. As I mentioned above, we are told early on that the reviewer's goals are
for he aspires merely to demonstrate "that there is at least one
.'hterpretation of Candrakirti that varies radically from the one presented in the
illtrOductiOR to [The Emptiness of Emptiness] ., .. Which comes closer to the
mark will be left up to the reader" (Cabezon, p. 153). One "mark" at the center
,bfthe target. The bull's eye. This is the spot where, in my understanding of the
. trOpe, L'1e reader will locate the actual meaning of Candrakllti's work. In other
words, two interpretations are to be offered for inspection and the reader is
(invited to judge for himself which comes closer to this meaning, but the very
:existence of a single, centralized meaning around which all interpretations are
like so many misfired arrows seems itself to be taken for granted in Mr.
cCabezon's choice of metaphor. It is not clear who establishes the position of the
,bull's eye; this does not appear to be so important as the simple fact of its
'presence. All that we know for sure at this juncture is that a contest of some kind
is about to get underway, that the winning interpretation will be the one that
tomes - in the opinion of the reader - "closer to the mark," and that the
,reviewer will not himself participate either as judge Qr contestant. Fair enough.
Or is it?
Ostensibly this is an amiable way to proceed, but the truth is that the stage
is already set for a by no means insignificant rhetorical illusion. If this illusion
is successful then everything the reviewer goes on to say will be cloaked in an
aura of undeniable, and, as I hope to show, undeserved prestige. In short: :N1r.
Cabezon has set out in such a way as to gain the upper hand immediately by
absenting himself as author from the discussion that follows. Once this feat is
. accomplished the reader will be convinced that he is being presented with (1) the
... traditional dGe lugs pa reading of Madhyamika and (2) the reading of a modern
,Western scholar "clearly ... influenced by Wittgenstein" and a host of other very
un-traditional, non-Buddhist authors. Or, perhaps even more dramaticall y, if we
accept the terms as established by the reviewer then the debate (such as it is) will
.take place between "the great dGe lugs pa exegete" mKhas grub rje - no less
. a personage than the close disciple of Tsang kha pa himself - and this guy
. Huntington, whoever he is. Where, I want to know, is Mr. Cabezon in all of this?
How did he manage to slip into the wings so gracefully, and without so much
as a word of farewell? And finally, what, exactly, is he doing back there?
Confronted with the formidable spectre of mKhas grub rje and "the dGe lugs pa
reading of the Madhyamaka," I find myself feeling a bit like Dorothy must have
felt in that scene from the Wizard of Oz - the one where she's cowering before
,a gigantic projected image of the Wizard when Toto, playing somewhere off in
nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
a corner, pulls back a little drapery and reveals the elderly gentleman wli"i
actually in charge of the whole frightening show. Immediately the old fell
leans forward, speaks into a microphone and the terrifying voice of the W ','
booms out: "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!"
Let me try to be somewhat more precise. Given the rhetorical struc
of this review
the reader is evidently supposed to accept (without ever actu'
being presented with any such claim) that Mr. Cabezon has direct and unfair
access to an authorized - the authorized - dGe lugs pa reading of
Madhyamika, that he is thoroughly qualified to present such a reading, and
in effect, Mr. Cabezon is completely transparent, nothing but an impresario
mouthpiece for Tsongkha pa's eminent disciple, who is in his turn (for all'
know) capable of performing a similar service for Candrakirti. Moreover, allp,:,';
this is in rather stark contrast to the circumstances surrounding this other
-"Huntington" - who is at best presenting his own more or less
interpretation of Candrakirti. And the reader is being asked to decide
these two accounts of Madhyamika "comes closer to the
At the risk of seeming blunt: Is this stacking the deck, or what! Are'ililt
claims in my book not documented every bit as closely as those in Mr. Cabez6ri
review? Is my scholarship really all that much less reliable than his? Or is
matter of my not being privy to some kind of esoteric knowledge passed alongl
through "living contemporary interpretations of Candraklrti"? Why, in othet]
words, is Mr. Cabezon to be granted the right to speak directly through
influential proxy, to speak with such enviable certainty, almost as if he
himself mKhas grub rje, while I, despite all my best efforts, am nothing huH
CandraIdrti's more or less fallible interpreter? Assuming that our scholarly#:
credentials are relatively comparable, so far as this discussion is concerned, then;l:
why not set up the debate on the meaning of Candraklrti's work between!
Candrakirti himself (whom I claim to represent) and mKhas grub rje (whom Mi:;t.l
Cabezon seems to favor)? Or else, much more to my liking, why not simply lay}!
our cards on the table and acknowledge that in fact both of us are doing
the same thing - each presenting his own interpretation of someone else's)
writing. Someone long since dead and gone. j,.
Like it ornot we're both in the same boat I don't think Mr. Cabezon would;j
seriously want to suggest that he possesses some infallible key to the meaning';
of mKhas grub rje' s words, but that is precisely what is implied in his rhetoric.!
Of course the truth is that mKhas grub rje is no more present in his review thani
Candrakirti is in my book. The truth is that the reader is being asked to evaluate ,
the claims made by two modern Western scholars, each of whom has chosen to:
rely, to some extent, on a different corpus of texts. On the one hand we have J 086, .,
Cabezon's interpretation of mKhas grub rje's interpretation of Candrakirti; on.'
the other - assuming the reader is interested in going directly to my own writing'
- C. W. Huntington's interpretation of Candrakirti. Actually the situation in the;
review itself is even more convoluted, since what we have there is Jose'
in<.tteZl'U'S interpretation of C. W. Huntington's interpretation of Candrakirti.
all these accounts of the Madhyamika are highly interpretive, though I'll
admit that it seems to me my book has the advantage of being least.
from the acknowledged object of our investigation. Be that as it may,
Mr. Cabez6n' s interpretation of mKhas grub Ije nor mine of Candrakirti
strict sense of the word, "traditional." More to the point, neither of us
claim to be capable of directly re-presenting, either through
or exegesis, an authorized reading of the Mlidhyamika.
very troubling to me that Mr. Cabez6n has structured his discourse in this
not because I believe, even for a moment, that it was done with the slightest
of gaining some unfair advantage. Rather my concern is just the reverse:
sort of scholarship is at present endemic to serious studies of Buddhist
tilOiSOpnICru literature. It is my constant harping on the interpretive dimension
work that appears idiosyncratic and perhaps even a little suspect. By
drawing attention to my own role as interpreter I have chosen to place
on center stage, and it is not surprising that Mr. Cabez6n is more than
to leave me out there with mKhas grub Ije, sweating under the bright
while he retires to the wings. He is only doing what too many others in
m'.L, .... ... would do under similar circumstances. Unlike most Buddhologists who
i,Uiodllce interpretive studies of classical Buddhist texts, in The Emptiness of
'fJ$J'11plWe.SS I went out of my way to acknowledge that my interpretation of
is just that -,- my interpretation. I also insisted that even my
liU.u1i).a .... ',.. of the Madhyamakavatara is incapable of conjuring up the original
author and absolving me from responsibility for my role as interpreter.
II.H,VU.,Unever hope to succeed in understanding the Mlidhyamika exclusively "on
own terms," as Mr. Williams suggests I might have attempted to do (p. 194),
more than we can hope to understand this distant, incomparably foreign
;l'CJIllatelrialon ourown terms. And still as text-critical scholars we have no plausible
but to proceed as if it were possible to accomplish both these
To return again and again to the problem of interpretation is to
tf3lclaJlov.'lecl!!e that we do not know, after all, exactly what the classical authors
saying to each other. Why should this strike us as odd or controversial?
is threatening, I believe, is that in focusing on the interpretive dimension
our work we attest that our understanding never will achieve the ideal of
certainty, that in practice the idea of this kind of certainty operates as
of archetypal vikalpa, a conceptual palimpsest on which layer after layer
impossible dreams have been inscribed.
;., We can never read any text - even in the original language - except
... through the lens of our conscious and unconscious presuppositions. More, were
it not for these very presuppositions and prejudices no text or teacher could h ...
any meaning at all for us, since the very possibility of meaning is rooted i
. al'l H . th di b' diu f H . n Just
this conceptu SOl. ere IS e stur mg conun m 0 eldegger's fam .
"hermeneutical circle," what Gadamer calls "the fInitude which dominatesO
. b al h" al . ,,., B not
only our umanlty, ut so our lstonc conscIOusness. ut one need
share my of implications. of recent herm.eneutical theory in
to agree that sohd text-cnucal scholarship can not be built on any veiled asserti
of a priori privilege. It ought to be nothing more than a matter of
professionalism that all attempts to fmd meaning in ancient Buddhist texts
stand or fall on the strength of their own scholarly merit, and not because of
direct or implied claim to represent the actual meaning of a classical author. I
have no doubt that Mr. Cabez6n would agree with me about this. If, however
he still believes that there are "evaluative criteria that can be employed to
questions of authorial intent" (p. 153), then it is imperative that he openly
demonstrate how I have failed to employ those criteria and thereby relegated my
work on Candraldrti to the status of "interpretation," while his on mKhas grub
rje deserves to be treated as "the dGe lugs pa reading of the Madhyamaka."I
don't know how to put this any more forcefully: Methodological problems are
no longer peripheral to our common search for philosophical meaning in
Buddhist literature.
Both Mr. Cabez6n and Mr. Williams comment on the irony of my having
developed my unorthodox interpretation of the Madhyamika under the guidance
of a venerable Tibetan dge bshesofthe dGe lugs pa school. Mr. Williams informs
his readers that "It is fashionable nowadays to work on Buddhist texts, even those
from India, with a Tibetan lama. This gives the translation a certain imprimatur
... " (p. 203). Surely this comment is more than a bit ingenuous. First of all,
collaborative translations involving one native speaker of each language are
much more than simply fashionable. As Mr. Williams knows, every canonical
Tibetan translation of an original Sanskrit text - including the Tibetan
translation of Candrakirti's Madhyamakavatlira - bears just this kind of
imprimatur. And for good reason. It makes obvious sense that the Tibetans chose
to consult with Indian scholars, just as it now makes sense for European and
American scholars to work as closely as possible with their Tibetan counterparts.
But, as Mr. Williams himself goes on to tell us, ''Tibetan lamas can sometimes
make mistakes, and even when they are right it is the Western scholar who uses
their advice and help ... " (ibid.). Which brings me to my second point: There
is not so much as the possibility of irony in the situation as I see it. I learned two
thingsJrom Gesh Wangchen: First, he taught me a great deal about how to read
the texts; and second, he fostered in me, by his own example, the courage to think
for myself. If "the" dGe lugs pareading ofMadhyamika exists, he certainly never
let me in on it. Our discussions were always marked by an ongoing struggle to
make sense out of whatever we happened to be reading, whether it was
Candrakirti, Vasubandhu, or Tsong kha pa. Geshe Wangchen mayor may not
any wayward views of his For all I know, in own
1;''1 he may actually be somethmg of a renegade. He IS most defmltely a
(fJilosopher, andno apologist. I learned from him, in a very practical way, an
lesson that was only reinforced by my reading of Gadamer and others:
t::We have no choice but to grapple with unsettling fact that can
grounds whatsoever for the chum that anyone textual mterpretatlOn
':1: necessarily more authoritative or traditional than any other. It is altogether
to intimate, as Mr. Williams seems to be doing, that Geshe
,Wangchen ought to take a stand for or against my interpretation of early Indian
yamika, when I made it perfectly clear in the preface to the book that I
full responsibility for assessing the significance of Candrakfrti' s work
:inthe context of modern Buddhist scholarship (p. xii).
, At the close of his review Mr. Cabezon refers to "living contemporary
interpretations of Candraklrti" and "traditional Tibetan readings of the
;Madhyamaka" (p. 160), as though such interpretations and readings were
available to us, simply out there, waiting to be appropriated should we
. decide to do so. As though the question were every bit as simple as he makes
appear: mKhas grub rje, or Huntington? "Which seems closer to the mark will
,:be left up to the reader." Frankly I can't imagine what it would be like to believe
!that the task is nearly so straightforward as this. What I learned from Geshe
{Wangchen and my own further study is so far from this way of thinking
I.'. that I can not be absolutely sure that I know what it would be like to desire the
'. kind of innocent simplicity that prevails in most current research on Buddhist
'philosophical literature. In my view, if our research is truly concerned with the
',search for meaning in these texts then it needs voluntarily to inhabit a world that
is much more complicated and uncomfortable, much darker and more perilous,
and a great deal more interesting.
I promised, a few pages back, to pursue my initial remarks on the problem of
interposing Tibetan authors between ourselves and the ancient Indian MMhyami-
leas like Candraklrti and Nagarjuna. As I mentioned, in my research on early
Indian Madhyamika I consciously elected to focus on texts composed in India
during or before the seventh century. My reason for this was not only to avoid
the kind of meta-confusion I discussed briefly in section III. There is another
consideration as well, one that has to do directly with the principles of Tibetan
Tibet and India are what Mircea Eliade called "traditional civilizations."
In Cosmos and History we are told that the person immersed in these cultures
"acknowledges no act which has not been previously posited and lived by
someone else .... What he does has been done before. His life is the ceaseless
repetition of gestures initiated by others."g "The man of the traditional civiliza-
nABS VOL. 15, NO.1
tions accorded the historical event no value in itself; in other words, he did ............. .
regard it as a specific category of his own mode of existence."9 Of course Eli
was simply malcing a fonnal, theoretical statemenrout of something that
been known and accepted since at least early ni.neteenth
when European Orientalists were already deeply mvolved m the frustrati ...... .
struggle to compose a history of South Asia. Regardless of whether or not
is inclined to accept the broader implications of Eliade's thesis as they are
developed in his book (I, for one, am not), most contemporary Asian specialists?
would nevertheless acknowledge that the so-called "traditional civilizations" of
India and Tibet have no concept of history that accords with our own. It should;
come as no surprise that this difference in historical consciousness is reflected
in the methods and goals of Tibetan hennenueutics.
! think it would be fair to say a central feature of most Tibetan exegesis
is its concern with hannonizing - or, if you prefer, systematizing - any
apparent discord among the Indian sources. Witness the entire genre ofliterature
so popular in Tibet, known as grub mtha '. Another way of putting this might
to point out that Tibetan textual interpretation proceeds according to an unstated
presupposition that there is such a thing as "the Indian tradition" and that this
Indian tradition is in some meaningful sense both monolithic and unbroken. This
presupposition was transported into Tibet along with the canonical literature and
it would never have occurred to anyone to question it. The notion of an unbroken,
monolithic Indian tradition was, for all practical purposes, an unexamined
postulate, an invisible, guiding force that suffused the work of editors and
translators at bSam yas and the other early monastic centers and provided the
results of their work with indisputable, ready-made significance.
Text-critical scholarship in Europe and America does not take for granted
the existence of an Indian tradition. Rather, it is one of the explicit tasks of
modern textual scholarship to organize this literature within the context of
archeological and other historical data, so as to define a chronological sequence.
within which we may eventually be able to speak convincingly of a history of
Buddhist thought in India. From our point of view "the Indian tradition" does
not yet quite exist, for it has still to be fully conceived. All we have, so far, are
fragments of a story that need to be laboriously pieced together and correlated
with a variety of evidence culled from the study of ancient Indian epigraphy,
indigenous Chinese codicils and other sources only indirectly related to the
Indian texts themselves. The history of Buddhist thought in India is a tale
gradually being written through the application of scholarly tools and techniques
common to all historiography. Whether or not we will be able to construct for
ourselves a monolithic, unbroken Indian Buddhist tradition is still very much
open to question. Personally I remain skeptical. My own research on the
Akutobhayaand other early Indian Madhyamika texts suggests otherwise. Based
on this research I am convinced that it is not only possible, but most rewarding,
to view Candrakirti's writing as a sort of rococo expression of Nagarjuna's
Madhyamika. Candrakirti then be the cer.tain sig-
respects, decadent, of the Master ongInal nnpulse.
:::C;13iiefly, I propose that the late and.early ce?tunes saw the crys.tal-
of a fundamentally new onentatlOn to s work. that tnne
much conce:med With and much
f1f;nore preoccuPIed WIth lOgical and epIstemologICal problems.ll ThIS would have
no small event, either, no mere ripple on an unbroken continuum. What I
present engaged in surveying could turn out to be nothing less than a deep
the intellectual history of Indian Buddhism, in Kuhn's jargon, a "paradigm
shift," an upheaval at once so dramatic and so subtle that - given their
;,; presuPpositions about the existence of an Indian tradition - Bhavaviveka and
;1: the others who followed Candrakirti (including the Tibetans) would not even
(i< have been aware that they were engaged in a substantially different project. But
;r;,here is not the place to develop these ideas, nor is it important whether or not
agrees with me. What I want to point out in the present context is only this:
it not for our own peculiarly modern concept of historiography and the
it: tools and instruments associated with it, I could neither define nor recognize this
sort of "incommensurable" discontinuity in any history of Buddhist
'"UIought. This is, I believe, compelling justification for my insistence that
literature of the period from Nagarjuna to Candrakirti - what I
J;'"."ieier to as "early Indian Madhyamika" - needs to be studied primarily in the
;,. context of its own era, and only secondarily through the lens of later exegesis .
.Tibetan sources will have to be handled with an especially high degree of critical
if we are interested in pursuing an understanding of Nagarjuna and his .
,',;jmmediate disciples that does justice to the modern Western historical conscious-
, I want to be clear that nothing I have just said need be read as an
r>' '
, , unqualified endorsement of the premises and goals of historiography. My
9,}; purpose is simply to acknowledge the considerable power that this model of
, \c,
{. <scholarship commands in the contemporary intellectual world, a power that one
shrugs off, I believe, only at one's own risk. Here is the basis for my insistence
cL that questions of methodology need to be treated side by side with any effort at
meaning in Indian Buddhist texts. If it is to be cogent and convincing
t: ,within the territory governed by historiography then any concept of meaning
,,' , .. , must necessarily incorporate a strong historical component - something which
:" ,Tibetan exegesis lacks almost by definition. This is the reason why we can not
i simply fling ourselves directly into the mainstream of Tibetan exegetical
\'" writings and let the current carry us along. For those who work in the shadow
. of Hegel, Nietzsche and Heidegger, the problem of philosophical meaning can
, not be separated from the problem of history. R. G. Collingwood speaks for all
of us - whether we like it or not - when he asserts that history has become
the primary vehicle "for human self-knowledge."12 Dilthey was probably even

nABS VOL. 15, NO.1
closer to the state of the West:rn this, the last decadei>
of the twentIeth century, when he wrote, Man mows hlffiself only in histo ..... .
. . "13 0 1 tha tho ry,.
never throug mtrospecuon. ne may e ect to argue t IS
culturally chauvinistic, or, perhaps, that the situation ought not to be so even .....
the West, but it wOlI1d be difficult to deny the significance of Dilthey's
for anyone working within the academic community today. S
The failure to recognize and address the role of effective history in modem
Western concepts of meaning is one of the principal shortcomings of whatI
called, in The Emptiness of Emptiness, "proselytic scholarship." And yet, as}
also indicated in several places, the way things stand now scholars with a primaryi
research interest in Buddhist philosophical literature are all but forced to believe .
that they must decide between philology and historiography, on the one hand
and the search for philosophical meaning, on the other. Here, I submit, is an iron;
that invites considerable scrutiny. There is a profound reason for the continUed
split between text-critical and proselytic scholarship in the field of Buddhist
studies - one that bears directly on any possible philosophical significance we ..
may eventually find in the MMhyamika texts. The willingness to marginalize
questions of methodology is coupled with an almost principled lack of
appreciation for the depth of our responsibility as interpreters of the Indian and
Tibetan sources. Both of these can be explained as manifestations of a covert and
decidedly utopian desire to step beyond history into an ahistorical, a priori realIn
of objectively verifiable truth.
I do not wish to argue here whether or not the early Indian Madhyamika
texts offer any support for the hope of such an escape. I do insist, however, that
this is not the only way Nagarjuna and Candra.1cirti can be understood. A
genuinely alternative reading is possible. A reading that would see this desire to
step out of history as yet another form of grasping. A reading that would work
to defuse the desire for transhistorical objectivity without propelling us headlong
into an equally untenable relativism.
1. See Jose Cabez6n, the JournaJ of the International Association of Buddhist
Studies. Vol. 13, No. 2, pp.152-161 (hereafterreferred to as Cabez6n); and Paul Williams,
the Journal ofIndian Philosophy, Vol. 19, pp. 191-218 (hereafterreferred to as Williams).
Although I will not refer to it in this essay, the reader might also want to consult Paul
Griffiths review in the Journal of the American Oriental Society, 111.2, pp. 413-414.
References to The Emptiness of Emptiness (Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press, 1989)
will be made under the rubric of "Huntington."
2. See, for instance, Williams, p. 200: "There are paradoxes involved in
maintaining that Madhyamaka has no approach or viewpoint in any sense." (Italics are
in the originil text.)
3. I am indebted to Williams for pointing out, on pp. 202-203 of his review, four
;,) tan
where I failed to translate the Tibetan ngan or log ("perverse" or "wrong") in
expression "perverse/wrong view." Whether this results in nearly so fatal a distortion
{;'fcandraklrti's text as he implies is another matter. In several other contexts I did not
such explicit references to "incorrect" views or misconceptions: See my
1:-iI"anslations on p. 226, n. 5; p. 231, n. 36; and p. 162, n. 63. More significant, however,
:Zisthe fact that there are yet other passages where Candraklrti uncategorically dispenses
!'iWith all views and positions, whether "bad" or "good." See 6.119; 6.173; and the
;'commentary to 6.88 (translated onP 248, n. 118). Outside of MA and the accompanying
evidence of CandralGrti 's apparent willingness to issue a blanket rejection of all
{views is even more abundant. See, for example, his commentary to MS 13.8 (pp. 108.14-
";15 in Vaidya's edition): "Emptiness is the abandoning or the not setting in motion of all
"strong attachment and grasping, of all that is fabricated by views" Uha sarve$iim eva
;/drstilatiiniiIp sarvagrahifbhinive$anarp yannilJsaraIJam apravrttilJ sa siInyata I). The only
fuat can be said for certain is that Candraklrti' s writings as a whole are not consistent
-. ()nthis issue. I look forward to exploring the problem in considerably more detail in a
}separate article. .
4. I cited this kiirika on p. 130 of my book. The Sanskrit is in the accompanying
'. along with my understanding of its significance.
5. My observations here apply, mutatis mutandis, to what Williams has to say
"dGe lugs pa orthodoxy," "the dGe lugs pa tradition," etc.
'.. ..... 6. H. Gadamer, Truth and Method, trans!. by Garret Barden & John Cumming
;. (New York: Seabury Press, 1975), p. 244.
7. M. Eliade, Cosmos and History, The Myth of the Eternal Retum, (New York:
..... '. Harper & Rowe, 1959 [rep.]), p. 5.
8. Ibid., p. 141.
9. Tibetan fascination with the siddhiinta (= grub mtha' ) schema is, according to
';'Cabezon, the presupposition underlying mKhas grub rje's "second objection" to the view
that the Prasailgikas have no position of their own. He continues: "mKhas grub rje states
that for someone who maintains that the Priisailgikas hold no philosophical position all
')lotions of distinct philosophical schools or traditions vanish .... " Obviously the real threat
. ;' is not simply to one or another isolated "school" or "tradition," nor even to the siddhanta
schema itself, but rather, to the deeply held pan-Tibetan faith in the existence 'of an
unbroken, monolithic Indian tradition like the one I have described here. To challenge
,'this faith "was (and still is) considered devastating by traditional [Tibetan] scholars." In
.; fact such a challenge was (and still is) literally unthinkable. As Cabezon makes perfectly
. clear: "It leaves one a relativist." Or, in religious rather than philosophical terms: It leaves
one an apostate. (All citations in this note are lifted from Cabez6n, p. 156.)
10. Ruegg has reached a similar conclusion: See The Literature of the Madhyamaka
School of Indian Buddhism (Wiesbaden: Harrasowitz, 1981), p. 239.
11. R. G. Collingwood, The Idea of History (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
1946), p. 10.
12. Wilheim Dilthey, Gesamelte Schriften (StUttgart: Trubner, Gottingen: Van
Hoek & Ruprecht, 1914-1972), Vol. VII, p. 279.
JIABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
On Retreating to Method and Other Postmodern
Turns: A Response to C. W. Huntington
by Jose Ignacio Cabez6n
C.W. Huntington'S response to my review is, like his book, an interesting and
provocative piece of scholarship. It raises a number of issues, both practical and
theoretical, that are worthy of serious response. It is to further the discussion of
the important issues raised in Huntington's essay that I decided to avail myself
of the opportunity of responding to him.
Why would someone who repudiates "value-free or objective" truth, who
discards the notion of authorial intent, who rejects the possibility of arbitering
between different interpretations of a text (even one's own!), write an essay
whose aim is, in large part, to demonstrate that he has been misunderstood?
Huntington of course realizes this dilemma and takes great pains to be consistent
with his own views on this issue. His approach is ingenious: true to his view that
every reading is interpretation, and that competing interpretations can never be
arbitrated, he couches his comments in a rhetoric of method. For him what is
ultimately at stake cannot be whether his reading of Candrakirti is right, whether
mKhas grub rje's was wrong or whether my reading of both (Huntington and
mKhas grub rje) is valid. There is, after all, no objective validity to interpretation,
but only variant interpretations. Instead, the fundamental issue becomes one of
method. This, at least, is Huntington's own rhetorical strategy, but ultimately of
course the very fact that he is responding to my review speaks of a need to defend
his own views - his own reading of his book, of Candrakirti, of mKhas grub
rje and of me. At the level of theory Huntington's only possible (lege consistent)
reply to the challenges I raise in my review of his book is silence, for my review
and his own book represent ever irreconcilable interpretations of texts and .
doctrines. Luckily, his innate philosophical spirit gets the better of him. There
is, it seems, something to defend after all!
In what follows I hope to show:
1. that, despite his rhetoric, Huntington does have a view as regards whose
readings are the better ones,
II, that.his ostensible means for demonstrating this are, when he is not retreating
to a rhetoric of method, good ones,
III. that his defense, which involves demonstrating how I have failed to
understand his work, ultimately fails, and
IV. that his theoretical views hamper what is an otherwise noble goal, the attempt
to show that he is right.
:Afi readings are of course interpretations, as are translatiOns. Only in the case
'fa calculus-like translation from one language to another, a translation in which
C ~ o n e - t o - o n e isomorphism is artificially created between the source and target
languages, can anything like a literal translation ever be effectuated; and even
then the choice of equivalents can easily become an object of dispute. Now in
'natural languages the hope of a literal translation (and by analogy of a single
torrect reading) of a text becomes even more problematic. On this point
Huntington and I are in agreement. For Huntington, however, the value-laden
nature of interpretation implies that no two interpretations can ever be arbitered,
that is, that no interpretation can ever be considered better than any other. On
this point we differ.
But there are instances in Huntington's response to my review that suggest
that Huntington himself is, at best, ambivalent on this question. For example,
while eschewing any privileged status concerning the interpretation of what he
wrote in his own book, he nonetheless sets out (in section II) to vindicate his own
interpretation, in the process attempting to argue for the implausibility of my
'own. Citations from other portions of his work are meant to show a consistency
to his views that differs radically from my own reading. Leaving aside for the
moment the question of whether he is ultimately successful, the fact remains that
in practice Huntington is engaging in a task that is incompatible with what he
is preaching at the level of theory. If the value-laden character of interpretation
implies that no interpretation is more plausible than any other, then why argue
for one reading of his book (his own) over another (mine)?
Toward the end of section II Huntington's implicit belief in normative
standards again rears its head as he attempts to demonstrate that the dGe lugs pas'
interpretation of Nagarjuna is lacking ("... they must still explain
Madhyamakavatffra 15.6") and bringing into question my own reading of dGe
lugs pa exegesis (" ... I find myself in disagreement with Cabez6n' s interpreta-
tion of ... mKhas grub rje"). Toward the end of section III Huntington's innate
sense of objectivity is even more prominent, as he is forced "to admit that it seems
to me that my book (lege interpretation) has the advantage of being least removed
from (lege most proximate/true to) the acknowledged object of our investiga-
tion" (my insertions). Finally, toward the end of his essay his denial of objective
interpretability and of authorial intent seems to fall by the wayside as he
considers Candraklrti's to be "the final ... transformation of the Master's
(Nagfu'juna's) original impulse" (my insertion and emphasis). In so far as
Madhyamikas after Candrakirti "became much less concerned with pragmatics
and much more preoccupied with logical and epistemological problems," it
seems, they veered from Nagarjuna's true purport. Hence, it seems that at least
nABS VOL. 15, NO.1
one author, Nagarjuna, had an objective viewpoint; and at least one interpr
C drak
T . d .. h eter.
an mI," manage to get It ng t. ". ' .
My point here is not to criticize Huntington for attempting to defend h:/.
interpretation (of himself, of Candraldrti, or of Candrakrrti's
Nagarjuna). As I have already stated, I believe this to be a noble goal. ".
Huntington is to be taken to task here it is simply for his refusq] to acknowledg !"
that goal and the implicit standards he uses in its defense. e
What are the standards Huntington uses? How is the reader to glean that both
Williams and Cabez6n have misunderstood Huntington's purport? The tech-
nique is of course a common sense one. In his attempt to demonstrate that I have
misunderstood him he cites other passages from his work that support his, rather
than my own, interpretation of that work. This is, of course, exactly how one
should proceed in such a case. One musters up one's exegetical acumen and
marshals different passages in defense of the fact that (a) one's work is
expressing consistent views on particular issues, (b) that those views have been
misrepresented and therefore (c) that the work has been not simply interpreted "
differently but has actually been mis-interpreted. Despite the rhetoric to the
contrary, it is clear that Huntington is here engaged in a normati ve and objective
enterprise, that of showing that his interpretation of himself and of Candralcirti.
are both valid and better than my own. This comes through not only in his
language but in the very methods he utilizes to this end.
Is mine such a misreading of Huntington, however? Huntington claims, for
example, that I have misread him when I ascribe to him the view that what the .
Madhyamikas are doing is not philosophy. He corrects me by implying that I
have made too much of his reliance on the Rortyan notion of "nonphilosophi-
cal." This should not, it seems, be taken literally to imply a repudiation of
philosophy. Instead, it should be taken as a repudiation of philosophy as it has
heretofore been done, that is, as a critique of "metaphysical speculation" and
"systematic philosophical explanations." Madhyamikas, he says, do not engage
in this type of philosophy, but they do engage in what he (following Rorty) calls
"edifying philosophy," a kind of philosophy that is "pragmatic," and aimed at
the transformation of individuals through the destruction of "the conceptual
systems presented by others."
My point, however, was precisely to suggest that in mKhas grub rje' s view
Madhyamikas do engage in "systematic philosophical explanations," that they
do have a notion of objective truth, and that they are therefore philosophers in
i;i'\l1e classical mode, who, far "making points. in nonphi-
of .p. are to th.e
of highly speculatIve philosophlcal Vlews III hIghly techmcal philosophl-
language. Aie the then ?ot To the
that the end goal of theIr philosophIcal enterpnse IS sotenologlcal, they
certainly this, but then so are all Buddhist (and, with the exception of the
perhaps, all Indian) philosophers. The point is not that I hold, as
suggests, that "philosophy devoid of either epistemology or syllo-
rj;i;gistic reasoning is not philosophy," but that mKhas grub rje holds that
:1'"1 Madhyamaka philosophy has epistemological implications, does use syllogistic
and does subscribe to objective, rationally defensible truths. Hunting-
2 ton has missed the point when he ascribes to me the view that philosophy is
: "something more akin to therapy of the Wittgensteinian kind." On the contrary,
f,'when I make this statement in my review (p. 159) I am ascribing this view to
<'Huntington himself. There my point is that for mKhas grub rje the Madhyamaka
.is more than mere therapy, for it miikes objective claims and therefore has
;fphilosophical content, "philosophical" in the "old" (anti-Rortyan) sense of the
'. word. For mKhas grub rje the Madhyamaka is a better and truer system of
;. thought not because it represents a "restructuring of philosophy," as Huntington
'calls it, but rather because it engages in "old-time philosophy" in a better and
i rnore sophisticated way. Specifically, the Prasailgika Madhyamaka represents
the highest philosophical view because it sets forth the only unequivocally true
and complete theory of the nature of reality.
I do indeed claim in my review that Huntington's interpretation of
Candrakirti dispenses with the need for "rational and systematic justification of
the philosophical truth of ... emptiness," and I glean this from Huntington's
claim (cited in my review, p. 154) that:
... according to the Madhyamika, concepts of logic as well as practical concepts
dealing with empirical phenomena like causation, are all grounded in a particular
way of life which is itself groundless; Everyday experience is empty of a fixed
substratum for the justification of any type of knowledge or belief, and precisely
this lack of justification - this being empty even of "emptiness" - is itself the
truth of the highest meaning.
But Huntington insists that again I have misread him, quoting a passage in the
Emptiness of Emptiness (p. 139) where he states that the Madhyamaka "seeks
neither to deny nor otherwise to denigrate all of the evidence that can and must
be accepted by the canons of reason." But that he states elsewhere that the
Madhyamikas do not reject the evidence implied by the "canons of reason" does
not of course vitiate against the fact that the lengthy passage cited above suggests
that neither logic nor experience can justify beliefs, religious or otherwise.
Moreover, to say that the Madhyamikas do not repudiate the things that reasoning
nABS VOL. 15, NO.1
proves is not equival.ent to the ru:e committed
to the use.of that IS, l?glC and expenence, to their religious ..
claims. It IS thIS pomt that to be by HuntingtOn]
in the above cItatIOn, and It IS exactly thIS pomt that IS very forcefully asserted i
by mKhas grub rje and his spiritual heirs. .
Now when I bring up mKhas grub rje's suggestion that ':the belief in n().. ..
beliefs is itself a belief' I do not mean to imply that Huntington is unaware of ..
this problem, but simply that he fails to resolve it. Nor does appeal to Rorty, as
Huntington suggests, help in this case, for Rorty defends the cogency of..
Wittgenstein's and Heidegger's "non-views" by resorting to a non-referential
view oflanguage (see Emptiness of Emptiness, p. 135), which is not possible for
a Madhyamika, the latter being a point for which both Williams and I have argued
elsewhere. It is at this point that Huntington engages mKhas grub rje for the first
time, implying as he does that mKhas grub rje would have to be at best naive
and at worst sophistic in urging the fault of contradiction on those who hold to
a literal "no-view" viewpoint. It is not that the Madhyamikas holds no views
says Huntington, but that they hold no "value-free, objective view of truth 0;
reality." It is not that they hold no views, but that they hold no views "that demand
any ahistorical, a priori justification," for their views are "anchored only in ...
a particular way of life," where "particular way of life" seems to be Huntington's
gloss of 'jig rten pa'i tha snyad (which I prefer to translate "worldly conven-
tion"). Now Huntington's choice of the word "particular" (which has no
foundation in either the Sanskrit or the Tibetan) is telling. It seems that, as with
interpretation, there is no such thing as objective conventional truth. Instead there
are only mutually incommensurable realities, each grounded in particular ways
of life (cultures, languages, morals, tastes, one assumes).
This line of argument requires careful scrutiny. Leaving aside the question
of whether or not Huntington's qualification of his "no-view" standpoint is an
afterthought, it should be pointed out, in defense of mKhas grub rje, that there
seem to have existed Tibetan Madhyamikas who do uphold the "no-view"
doctrine of the Madhyamaka literally. These were not straw men against which
mKhas grub rje was arguing. Be that as it may, is Huntington's (re?)formulation
of the "no-views" doctrine any better off than the naive, that is, literal, one? In
his view it is precisely because the Madhyamaka view is grounded in 'jig rten
pa 'j tha snyad (what he calls "a particular way of life" and what I call "worldly
conventions") that there is no appeal to an ahistorical and a priori grounding, and
it is because of this that the Madhyamaka has no value free, objective view. Now,
as I stated in my review, for mKhas grub rje the Madhyamaka view (in fact, all
true philosophy) is grounded in the conventional valid cognitions of the world
('jig rten pa'i tha snyad pa 'i tshad ma). But this has nothing to do with a particular
way of life, can at times be a priori, and most definitely leads to objective truths.
Now Huntington (Emptiness of Emptiness, p. 136) implies that the Madhyamaka's
;. jection of all views cannot be understood in the "anachronistic context of a
or epistemological problematic" (Emptiness of Emptiness, p. 136). Is it
that surp?sing that should have offered the dGe lugs pa as
' ... ounterpoint - a View that claIms that all truth (Nladhyamaka or otherwIse) can
t.bnIY be understood in the context of logic and epistemology?
.;.. Huntington suggests that on p. 158 of my review I am ascribing to him
position of the catu$koti. This is not the case. What I do state is that
;.Buntington at times seems to subscribe to the fourth of the four views I had listed
'previous to that, namely the claim that the Madhyamikas negate the existence
:()f all phenomena, and that he does this" by taking the catu$koti at face value,
> i.e., literally." Now my goal here was simply to point out yet another instance
in which Huntington's reading of Candrakirti differs from the dGe lugs pa one.
i/Itis here that Huntington confronts the dGe lugs pas for the second time, by
suggesting that in maintaining this nonliteral view of the catu$koti they go
. counter to Madhyamakasiistra 15.6. This, it seems to me, is the kind of response
worth making. It takes a variant reading of the Madhyamaka (the dGe lugs pa
reading) seriously and attempts to answer it on its own terms, not by retreating
ito questions of method. Unfortunately, this former kind of response, one that
takes seriously the challenge of dGe lugs pa exegesis, occurs only in two
;jnstances in Huntington's response to my review. Instead, the bulk of his essay
is aimed at uncovering faulty methodological presuppositions (what Huntington
;;calls "meta-confusions") which allegedly undergird both Williams' review and
my own, as if turning to the secondary discourse of theory somehow constituted
ian answer to the kinds of problems that both Williams and mKhas grub rje,
'through me, bring up.
To conclude this section, I stand by my assertion that to make of the
Madhyarnaka the sole "edifying philosophical" school of Buddhist thought, and
; to pit this school against "an abstract, academic philosophy that had become
divorced from the tradition of practical application" (Emptiness of Emptiness,
p. 17), a philosophy whose sole aim was to "search for more and more precise
. technical terminology," is to unfairly characterize the Madhyamikas' opponents.
As mentioned previously, Buddhist philosophical schools cannot be distin-
guished from each other as regards their pragmatic aims, for they all have
soteriological motivations. Instead, they differ as regards their basic philosophi-
cal tenets, that is, what they hold as objective truths. The conundrum for
Huntington, of course, is that in his interpretation Madhyamikas have no such
The preceding has been my attempt to defend (a) my reading of the
Emptiness of Emptiness and (b) my suggestion that mKhas grub rje's views
represent a significant challenge to that work. Whose reading of Huntington and
of dGe lugs pa exegesis comes closer to the now infamous "mark" will of course
be up to the reader to determine. That there is such a mark to be haggled over
140 JIABS VOL. 15, NO.1
- if only figuratively, in the sense that some interpretations are more
than others - is evidenced most clearly, perhaps, by the very existence of tile
exchange you have before you. '
I have argued that Huntington's response to my review represents a retreat t
method, a turning to meta-questions of theory and away from
questions concerning the meaning of Candraldrti.' s text. Such a strategy may not
adequately respond to the types of challenges raised by the dGe lugs pi
interpretation of the Madhyamaka, but it does bring up interesting questions irl .
its own right, and it is to these that I now turn.
Underlying much of Huntington's argument is the premise that the
existence of disparate interpretations is evidence for hermeneutical relativism:
the view that, since there is no arbitering between competing interpretations
there are no criteria on which to judge whose interpretation of a text is better:
His argument runs something like this: (a) Huntington has one reading of
Huntington and of the mKhas grub rje, and Cabezon has another; (b) hence, there
is no best reading, only alternative ones. Now clearly (b) does not follow from
(a). The very existence of disparate readings in no way implies that those
readings are equally valid; and I have shown above how, in practice if not in
theory, this is something to which even Huntington subscribes. What is more,
one does not defend one's reading of a text by saying, "Look, there are other
readings, and therefore mine is as valid as any other." One defends one's
interpretation through the methods I described in section II above. No one would
argue that there are, and have been, different readings of Candrakirti, or of the
dGe lugs pas, for that matter. But when one's reading of Candrakirti is challenged
by another (in this case, I suggest, by mKhas grub Ije's) it does not suffice to
say simply, "Mine is a different reading of Candrakirti," or to say "Mine is a
different reading of the challenger (mKhas grub rje)." It is necessary to show how
one's reading of Candrakirti or of mKhas grub rje is born out by the texts
themselves. It is necessary to defend one's reading by demonstrating how one's
own interpretation fits the textual facts better than that of the challenger. This
cannot be accomplished from on high, from the realm of method; it requires
getting one's exegetical hands dirty in the world of texts, and this Huntington
has failed to do, at least as regards the challenges that I think mKhas grub rje
poses to him.
As an aside, it is interesting that much ofE. D. Hirsch's critique ofDerrida
has focussed on this very issue: what I am calling hermeneutical relativism, and
what others have called subjectivism. In his American Religious Empiricism,
William Dean paraphrases Hirsch's criticism as follows. He says that if Derrida
is right, and "the objective meaning of a text is gone, the text is meaningless -
or, to say the same thing, the meaning of the text is simply invented in the
Yle reader."l. It be obvious that sides with
on thIS lssue, and I WIth Hirsch, and that the debate IS by no means a new
_ '
Let me make something clear at this point. I am not objecting here to
attempt to make Candraldrti relevant to the modern Western
;;Z(';philosophical mind: an tha.t we migh.t call apologetics. To
JL'i,'develop a "persuasIve philosophical mterpretatlOn of Naga!juna and the other
!iy\(:elu-1y Indian MMhyamikas, one we might have the courage, finally, to call
,;;;; > bur own" is indeed a worthy goal, one that takes seriously these thinkers' claims
';;/.to universalistic and transhistorical validity. It is about time that we as
dispelled the myth that good scholarship in Buddhist Studies
"'!iequires a neutral and dispassionate, attitude toward our subject matter, a view
;j!;{that has long been dispensed with in other sectors of the academy. I also have
to the use of Western or other philosophical traditions to elucidate
"the meaning and implications of Buddhist doctrine. This is, it seems to me, the
. 'igreat virtue of the comparative approach to knowledge. However, when one has
i/ imposed upon oneself the limits of working within the confines of a tradition,
say Candralcirti' s, it is incumbent upon one to demonstrate that one is being true
.! tothat tradition. This requires not only that one contextualize one's reading in
fn. its historical milieu by examining Candraklrti' s sources, which Huntington does,
but also that one give heed to the later voices of the tradition and to the challenges
raise. The philosopher's and apologist's task is different from that
. 'Of the philologist, for whom the task can viably terminate at the text itself.
Now Huntington claims that he has consciously chosen to avoid "meta-
confusions" (a skeptic might say "challenges") by ignoring "later Tibetan
.. exegesis." But why restrict oneself in this way? If Wittgenstein and Rorty can
be of use in the task of developing a version of the Madhyamaka that is of
relevance to the modern Western mind, might not later Indian and Tibetan
scholarship? Huntington suggests a reason for avoiding Tibetan scholarship as
a source later in his essay. The Tibetan tradition, by virtue of having "no concept
of history that accords with our own,"2 employs different (and implicitly inferior)
... standards of interpretation. Reading the Indian sources through the filter of the
siddhanta schema,3 a doxographical system "imported into Tibet along with the
.. canonical literature," Tibetan exegesis presents the Indian tradition as "mono-
lithic," and is incapable of the subtleties of "our own peculiarly modern concept
of historiography."
Now the extent to which the siddhanta schema was imported into Tibet
not at all clear. Certainly, categories such as "Cittamatra" and "Madhyamaka"
known in India, but Mimaki and others have shown that the finer
distinctions of siddhanta classification, the Prasangika/Svatantrika distinction,
for example, were Tibetan innovations. Huntington himself is quite willing to
utilize such innovations where it suits him (e.g., Emptiness of Emptiness, p. 34),
which makes his rejection of Tibetan exegetical categories disingenuous. None-
nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
theless, I am not unsympathetic to the problems of using Tibetan exegeti aI
materials to interpret Indian texts. Still, it seems to me unfair to characteJ
Tibetan siddhan.ta as presenting the Indian tradition That .....
Tibetans were mgemous enough to create categones of use even to the.
historiographically superior modern (e.g., the Prasailgika/SvaJantrika dis tine:.
tion) should be evidence enough of the nuanced (non-monolithic) nature of their
doxography. What is more, Huntington's very claim of eschewing reliance On
the later Tibetan tradition is problematic for another reason. By relying on the
expertise of a learned Tibetan scholar, Huntington's reading of the
Madhyamakavatara is de facto a reading that has been influenced by Tibetan
exegesis. This is so, it seems to me, whether or not his guide in this endeavor
ever represented his views as dGe lugs pa views. My experience has been that
when Tibetan scholars teach a text like the Madhyamakavatara they do not go
out of their way to "let one in on" the fact that they are passing on their tradition.
They take this for granted, as should the student.
Let me conclude this essay with a response to what is most disturbing to
Huntington, the charge that by pitting mKhas grub rje's interpretation against his .
own I, as critic, have somehow slipped into the background. Now I, asa student
of Candrakirti in my own right, could have taken another tack in my review. I
could have, for example, offered my own alternative interpretation of Candrakrrti,
an interpretation born from my own apologetic reflection on the meaning of the
Madhyamakavatara. I chose not to do this, however, because, quite frankly, even
after fifteen years of studying the text, I do not yet find myself in the position
of being able to enunciate a consistent formulation of Candrakirti' s Madhyamaka
that is sufficiently true to the tradition to call Buddhist and sufficiently relevant
to the modern mind to be worth enunciating. In this regard I admire Huntington's
approach. Whether or not it is valid, it is at the very least intelligent and
Why then impose mKhas grub rje as Huntington's interlocutor? The
reasons seem obvious. First of all, Huntington invites a dGe lugs pa response not
so much because he acknowledges dGe lugs pa connections as because he does
not eschew them. Given the fact that he studied under an eminent dGe lugs pa
scholar, it would seem incumbent upon him to mention, if only in passing, that
his reading of Candrakirti is radically different from his teacher's. This he does
not do. Secondly, mKhas grub rje is an interesting interlocutor for Huntington.
The issues that emerge by pitting the two against each other, as I stated in my
review, are some of the most fascinating in the history of Madhyamaka exegesis.
Am I making the claim then that mKhas grub rje's is the correct interpretation
of Candrakirti's Madhyamaka? Not at all. Nevertheless, mKhas grub rje raises
objections to Huntington's reading that are deserving of response. Unfortu-
nately, by enveloping his response in a rhetoric of theory, Huntington evades
ever truly engaging mKhas grub rje, a loss to us all.
Finally, does mKhas grub rje's represent the traditional dGe lugs pa
reading of Candraklrti? On the points that I chose to emphasize in my review I
that he does. Now I could be proven wrong. For example, Huntington
'()uld find passages in Tsong kha pa or in later dGe lugs pa exegesis that disagree
mKhas grub rje's readiIlg. This, it seems to me, is the way to proceed if
aspersions are to be cast upon my claim that mKhas grub rje is representative
of dGe lugs pa exegesis on these issues. Likewise, if Huntington would challenge
cny reading of mKhas grub rje, he must immerse himself in mKhas grub rje's
Writings, and show textually how I have failed in my interpretation of him.
Despite a rhetoric that casts me as a wizard behind the scenes, I never
claim, nor do I believe myself, to have "direct and unfailing access to an
authorized - the authorized - dGe lugs pa reading of the Madhyamika" or to
"esoteric knowledge" of the tradition. That mine is one interpretation of mKhas
grub rje seems so trivial as to almost be banal. For the record, let me that
mine is but one, possibly fallible, interpretation of mKhas grub rje. Do I believe
itto be vested with authority gained through some sort of esoteric transmission
. or "a priori privilege"? I find it inconceivable that anyone could ever have read
such a thing into my words. Is my interpretation a "traditional" one? To the extent
that it is consistent with the oral and written texts of the dGe lugs pa tradition,
at least those I have read, I would say fairly so. Do I believe it to be a valid one?
Yes. Might I be wrong? Yes, but to demonstrate that will require working as I
did, not in the ether of theory, but in the nitty gritty of texts. Methodological
. concerns may no longer be, as Huntington says, "peripheral to our common
search for philosophical meaning in Buddhist literature," but they will also never
be substitutes for it.
1. William Dean, American Religious Empiricism (Albany: SUNY Press, 1986),
2. I have argued, in a recent essay, that the Indian and Tibetan rejection of history,
far from being an artifact of its being a "traditional civilization," represents a self-
conscious and philosophically rigorous attempt to posit rationality as the overriding
.... hermeneutical principle. See my "V asubandhu' s Vyiikhyayukti on the Authenticity of the
Mahayana Siitras," in I. Timm, ed., Texts in Context: Traditional Henneneutics in South
Asia (Albany: SUNY Press, 1991).
3. On this, see my "The Canonization of Philosophy and the Rhetoric of Siddhanta
in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism," in 1. Keenan and P. I. Griffiths, eds., Buddha Nature (Reno:
Buddhist Books International, 1990).
nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
Choix de Documents tibetains conserves a la Bibliotheque Nation_
ale complete par quelques manuscrits de 1 'India Office et du British
Museum, by Yo shiro Imaeda and Tsugohito Takeuchi, tome III:
Corpus syllabique; Paris: Bibliotheque Nationale; 1990; XIV +
1009 pages. Price: 550 ff.
In the first two volumes of the Choix des Documents tiMtains conserves a la
Bibliotheque ... presented by Ariane Macdonald and Yoshiro Imaeda in 1978 and
1979, 168 manuscripts were reproduced in facsimile on 640 plates. In the preface
to the first volume, Professeur R. A. Stein expressed his hope to see published
"the voluminous index of rare words," compiled by Marcelle Lalou before her
death in 1967, along with notes and remarks by other researchers. However, such
an ambitious project could not be carried out rapidly. Since 1979, two important
studies have appeared: A Corpus of Early Tibetan Inscriptions, London, Royal
Asiatic Society, 1985, by Hugh Richardson, and A Study of the Old Tibetan
Inscriptions, Taipei, Institute of History and Philosophy, Academia Sinica,.
Special Publications no. 91,1987, by LiFang Kuei and W. S. Coblin. And, since
1977, the Seminar on Tibet of the Taya B unka has pursued, at a regular rhythm,
under the direction of ZuihO Yamaguchi, its re-examination of the Tibetan
manuscripts today in the British Library, many of which were previously
inventoried by L. de la Vallee Poussin in his Catalogue ... dating from 1962.
What is offered here is not an exhaustive list of rare words with their
meanings and suggested meanings but a research tool which will undoubtedly
prove extremely helpful to those engaged in the arduous task of translating these
early Tibetan literary remains. The volume corresponds to the complete
transcription of eleven of the manuscripts already published in the Choix ....
These are: PeIliot-Tibetain 16, 1038, 1067, 1286, 1287, 1288, 1290, India Office
750,751 and Ch. XVII, 2, and British Museum Or. 8212 (187). All are concerned
with history. From September 1981 to January 1982, thanks to an invitation of
the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Y. Imaeda was able to work with
H. Kitamura, who was then the Director of the Institute for the Study of
Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, Tokyo University of Foreign
Languages. A program for the treatment of Tibetan by computer was elaborated, .
which made possible the input and printing of a Tibetan text in Tibetan
characters-and not just in transliteration-and to sort out the syllables in the
order of the Tibetan alphabet. The total number of syllables examined in this.
fbdice of documents is approximately 30,000. Each is accompanied by the few
CyIlableS which precede it and follow it and by a precise reference to the
in which it figures. So a syllable in its context occupies one complete
line of the Corpus: the presentation enables the reader to know the context of a
,Syllable's use with.out to refer to the photographic reproduction:
"The texts indexed m thIS manner are edlted,m full, as Y. Imaeda and T. TakeuchI
read them, on p. 1-59, before the Corpus. Gaps and unreadable passages are
signalled as are uncertain readings and alternative or corrected readings.
The General Administrator of the Bibliotheque Nationale who is himself
'a distinguished European historian has contributed a short preface in French (p.
I . This massive, ingenious and beautifully produced volume will be of great
dtiIity to the growing number of scholars throughout the world who study these
rare historical sources. The volume is a fine example of Franco-Japanese
scientific cooperation.
On p. XIII, penultimate line, for dgung rab read: gdung rab.
Alexander W. Macdonald
AConcordance of Buddhist Birth Stones, by Leslie Grey.
Oxford: Pali Text Society, 1990. 268 pp .
. This book presents a concordance of printed books and articles that are
concerned with the stories of Buddha's former births, both Hitakas and
'Avadanas. It is organized on the model of a union list, where the main body of
the work consists of an index of the titles of Jatakas (pp. 1-172) and Avadanas
(pp. 173-251) in the order of the Roman alphabet. In addition there are shorter
; indexes. One lists the names of the Jatakas and A vadanas discussed in the book
(pp. v-xxviii) and another, called "Codes" (pp. xxx-xliii), lists abbreviations of
almost 200 bibliographical sources that have been utilized in the preparation of
'the concordance. The index of "Codes" is not confined to editions and
. translations of Jatakas, but also includes all manner of publications in which
Jatakas are discussed and/or described in both English and a number of other
modem European languages. Every major work in which sculptures and
paintings of Jatakas are represented also find a place here. Titles like Benfey's
Pantchatantra, Jaini's Pafjjj:isa-j:itaka, as well as catalogs from various museums
throughout the world are listed here in abbreviated form.
The main list of Jatakas has the title of each Birth Story along with the
number assigned to it in the Pali I:itakatthavaIJl:lan:i, the Sanskrit I:itakam:il:i, and
a number of other works of the Buddhist Sanskrit tradition. The title is followed
by a brief summary of the story, the moral of the story and then an exhaustive
nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
list of references to publications where the particular story is discussed Or
To give an example, under the title Baka-Jataka (no. 38), we find a brief
reference to FausbQll's edition, Cowell's translation and its discussion by
Malalasekhara. Under "Story" we find the summary: "Crane devours crabs one
by one, till a suspicious crab cuts its throat." The "Moral" is given as: "Don't
be gullible!" Then follow seventeen references to publications which include:
1) Translations and reworkings of the story in Western languages:
Buddhist Birth Stories by Rhys-Davids; Jtaka Tales by Francis and Thomas'
Ages Ago by S. W. Jones; Buddhistische Marchen by Else Ltiders and A Risto;
of Indian Literature by M. Winternitz.
2) Stories with a similar theme found in the later Indian and Western
literature: The Moral Philosophy of Doni by Sir Thomas North; the Ritopadesa
by NarayaI)a; the Kathasaritsfigara by Somadeva; The Fables of Jean Lafontaine;
the Paiicatantra in Benfey's edition.
3) Artistic representations of the stories in older monuments: Le Siam
Ancien by Lucien Foumereau; Old Burma ~ Early Pagan by Gordon H. Luce,
with the names of two Burmese temples where the Jataka is represented; Mural
Paintings of the Buddhist Temples in Burma, by TOfU Ono.
In the "Bibliography" (pp. 252-68) the full titles of the works are given.
The titles show the broad scope of the concordance. They also cast into relief,
incidentally, the vast geographical area over which the Jatakas have spread in
the course of the past 2000 years. Central Asia, Eastern China, Korea, Japan,
Thailand, Burma and farther south, Java and Bali, all have become legatees of
that remarkable collection ofPali stories that had its origin in an unknown region
of India, or Sri Lanka. The seventeen references to the literature given for the
Baka Jataka are more than are found for most of the Jatakas in this book, although
for the popular Sivi Jataka (pp. 137-140) the author has found more than lOOt
This book meets a genuine need not only for scholars who make a serious
study of the Indian story literature, but also for art historians, Buddhologists and
students of comparative literature and folklore. Previously, it was difficult to
know where to find traditional representations of Avadanas and Jatakas in art.
Such seminal works as Benfey's Pantchatantra and Penzer's Ocean of Story,
though indispensable for literary research, do not encompass the same range of
works as this Concordance offers. With this work the reader of a Jataka tale can
determine first of all whether people have deemed it worthy of a representation,
second, where this representation may be found, and third, whether it has
appeared in print. Dr. Grey has searched through many volumes of published art
works, including Cunningham's Stupa of Bharhut, Krom' s Barabuc;IUI and
Tucci's rare Tibetan Painted Scrolls.
The author invites the reader to bring to his attention comments and
corrections which may be incorporated in a possible second edition. It is clear
that such corrections of detail may be necessary. A critique of the entry for the
Baka story, for instance, would have to point out that the summary of the story
-is erroneous. The lata.1ca story clearly does not make crabs the victims of the
Mron, but fish who live in the pond. This is a rather trivial point, but in a concise
summary accuracy is essential. Nor is the moral of the story "Don't be gullible!"
Instead, the Hitaka is narrated to illustrate the saying (gathff) that deceitful
creatures end up as victims of deceit themselves. This second point is not trivial.
One of the most interesting features of a diachronic study of folktales is the
significance that the narrator and the audience attribute to the story. True, the fish
murdered by the heron are gullible, and to that extent Dr. Grey's "Moral" applies,
but it was not the essential point for the Hitaka narrator. Many other "Morals"
listed seem to be less than accurate (e.g., SUJTlsumara [1. 208], not so much
"Sacca," as well as: "A fool is tricked;" Kakati J. 327: "Women cannot be
protected against lovers," rather than "Lust of women uncontrollable," etc.). It
isthis reviewer's suggestion to either expand the description of the "Moral," or
leave it out altogether.
The book is a model of the type of reference work that is desirable, yet
infrequently produced by Indologists. In a way it is comparable to Colonel Yule's
Hobson-Jobson, a work that likewise covers an area of study that is not exactly
the property of any specific academic discipline, but is eminently useful to a
number of them. Dr. Grey acknowledges in the "Introduction" (p. iii): "The
material is vast. This is a beginning." I agree, but must add that it is a very good
beginning. We hope that the work will be continued. Perhaps in future editions
an electronic version of the text could be included to facilitate the searches for
Barend A. van Nooten
148 nABS VOL. 15, NO. 1
Report on the 10th IABS Conference
The 10th International Conference of 1. A. B. S. was hosted by UNESCO and
the Permanent Delegation of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to
UNESCO, 7 place de Fontenoy, 75007 Paris and 1, rue Miollis, 75015 Paris
France. It took place between July 18 and 21, 1991 and was sponsored by t h ~
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation; the Sri Lanka
Permanent Delegation to UNESCO; the Universite de Paris X, Nanterre, and the
Laboratoire d'ethnologie et de sociologie comparative of that University.
Because of the Gulf War and fear of terrorism, many members hesitated
to make the journey to Paris. However, seventy-seven abstracts of papers were
received (the number actually delivered was slightly less) and one hundred and
thirteen participants paid the $50 fee to attend. The inaugural session on July 19
which was open to the public was attended by over three hundred persons.
Speakers were H. E. Dr. Ananda W. P. Guruge, Sri Lanka Ambassador in France
and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO who, as Local Secretary of the conference,
welcomed participants; Professor Alexander W. Macdonald, the new General
. Secretary who drew attention to the difficulties which have to be overcome if a
conference is to be organised in Paris in the summer months when universities
are, literally, shut; and Mr. C. L. Sharma, Deputy Director-general of UNESCO,
who inaugurated the conference on behalf of Mr. Federico Mayor who was
unavoidably absent from Paris. The keynote address on "The Present and Future
of Buddhist Studies" was then delivered by the President of I. A. B. S., David
Seyfort Ruegg. This address appears in this issue of the Journal; and a more
detailed account of the papers read and discussed in panels will be published in
a volume of Proceedings which the untiring Dr. Guruge proposes to bring out
in Sri Lanka.
Alexander W. Macdonald
Prof. Jose Ignacio Cabezon
Iliff School of Theology
2201 South University Ave.
Denver, CO 80201
Prof. Phyllis Granoff
Dept. of Religious Studies
.McMaster University
Hamilton, ONT L8S 4KI
Prof. Paul Harrison
Dept. of Philosophy
and Religious Studies
University of Canterbury
New Zealand
Dr. C. W. Huntington
2417 North Circle
Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Prof. Alexander W. Macdonald
Laboratoire d' Ethnologie et de
Sociologie Comparative
Universite de Paris X
92001 Nanterre
Prof. Barend A. van Nooten
Dept. of South and
Southeast Asian Studies
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720
Prof. John Powers
Dept. of Religion
Wittenberg University
Springfield, OH 45501
Prof. D. Seyfort Ruegg
15 Cadogan Square
London SW 1 X OHT