The Sublime Science of the Great Vehicle to Salvation, Being a Manual of Buddhist Monism: The Work of Ārya Maitreya with a Commentary by Āryāsanga

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The Sublime Science of the Great Vehicle to Salvation, Being a Manual of Buddhist Monism: The Work of Ārya Maitreya with a Commentary by Āryāsanga
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Citation: Obermiller, Eugène, trans. "The Sublime Science of the Great Vehicle to Salvation, Being a Manual of Buddhist Monism: The Work of Ārya Maitreya with a Commentary by Āryāsaṅga." Acta Orientalia 9 (1931): 81–306. http://prajnaquest.fr/downloads/BookofDzyan/ReferenceBooks/Obermiller/ratnagotravibhaga_or_uttaratantra_obermiller_1931.pdf

Article Summary

According to the Tibetan tradition, the foundation of all the exegetical literature connected with the Buddhist Scripture of the latest and, partly, of the intermediate period[1] is contained in the 5 treatises ascribed to the Bodhisattva Maitreya. These are:—

1) The Sūtrālaṁkāra,[2]
2) " Madhyānta-vibhanga,[3]
3) " Dharma-dharmatā-vibhanga[4]
4) " Abhisamayālaṁkāra,[5] and
5) " Uttaratantra.[6]

Of these 5 treatises the original Sanskrit text of the Sutrālaṁkāra has been edited by Prof. Sylvain Levi, who has likewise given a French translation of it. The Sanskrit text of the Abhisamayālaṁkāra and its Tibetan translation have been recently edited by Prof. Th. Stcherbatsky and by myself in the Bibliotheca Buddhica and will be followed by an analysis of the 8 subjects and the 70 topics which form its contents. The 3 other works have not, till now, met with the full appreciation of European scholars. The reason perhaps is that we possess only their Tibetan translations in the Tangyur (MDO XLIV), the original Sanskrit texts having not, up to this time, been discovered. An investigation of this branch of Buddhist literature according to the Tibetan sources enables us to ascertain the exclusive importance of the said 3 treatises as containing, in a very pregnant form, the idealistic and monistic teachings of later Buddhism. In particular the Tibetan works draw our attention to the Uttaratantra, the translation and analysis of which forms the subject-matter of the present work. It is indeed the most interesting of the three, if not of all the five, being the exposition of the most developed monistic and pantheistic teachings of the later Buddhists and of the special theory of the Essence of Buddhahood,[7] the fundamental element[8] of the Absolute, as existing in all living beings. (Obermiller, introduction, 81–82)

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  1. Tib. ḥkhor-lo-tha-ma = antya-cakra-(pravartana) and ḥkhor-lo-bar-ba = madhya-cakra-(pravartana). These are regarded in general as the foundation of the two branches of the Mahāyānistic literature, viz. 1) the idealistic, maintaining the unreality of the external world (bāhya-artha-śūnyatā) i.e. the Yogācāra system of Āryāsanga (IV- V century A. D.) and 2) the monistic teaching of universal non-substantiality (sarva-dharma-śūnyatā) i.e. the Mādhyamika system founded by Nāgārjuna (II century A. D.). The ideas expressed in these 2 branches of Mahāyāna are much older than Āryāsanga and Nāgārjuna who have only established regular philosophical systems.
  2. Tib. Mdo-sde-rgyan.
  3. Tib. Dbus-mthaḥ-rnam-ḥbyed.
  4. Tib. Cbos-daṅ-chos-ñid-rnam-ḥbyed.
  5. Tib. Mṅon-rtogs-rgyan.
  6. Tib. Rgyud-bla-ma.
  7. tathāgata-garbha = de-bźin-gśegs-paḥi-sñiṅ-po.
  8. dhātu = khams.