Jñānaśrīmitra on the Ratnagotravibhāga

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Jñānaśrīmitra on the Ratnagotravibhāga
Citation: Kano, Kazuo. "Jñānaśrīmitra on the Ratnagotravibhāga." In "Relationship between Tantric and Non-Tantric Doctrines in Late Indian Buddhism," edited by Norihisa Baba. Special issue, Oriental Culture 96 (2016): 7–48.

Article Summary

Jñānaśrīmitra (ca. 980–1030)[1] contributed significantly not only to developing Nirākārajñānavāda theories but also to the resurrection of the Ratnagotravibhāga (abbr. RGV) in early-11th-century India. The Ratnagotravibhāga was very likely composed sometime around the 4th or 5th century in India. The work fell into obscurity towards the late 6th century, only to slowly regain recognition starting from the early 11th century (see Appendix A).
      The earliest masters of this period who quote or refer to the RGV are Maitrīpa (1007/1010-?), Jñānaśrīmitra (ca. 980–1030), and Ratnākaraśānti (late 10th to early 11th century).[2] Maitrīpa was the common disciple of Jñānaśrīmitra and Ratnākaraśānti, and, according to a story in Tibetan documents, rediscovered a Sanskrit manuscript of the RGV in a stūpa in Magadha.
      If this rediscovery story is a historical event, Jñānaśrīmitra and Ratnākaraśānti would have received the teaching of the RGV from their common disciple Maitrīpa; but we have no concrete witness to corroborate it.
      Maitrīpa’s knowledge of the RGV is attested by a quotation of RGV II. 61b in his Pañcatathāgatamudrāvivaraṇa; he introduces a Nirākāravijñānavādin’s propounding the arising of the Dharmakāya from the Saṃbhogakāya and Nirmāṇakāya, but does not discuss Buddha-nature.[3]     In contrast to Maitrīpa, who does not discuss Buddha-nature, we find extensive discussions of the topic in compositions of Jñānaśrīmitra and Ratnākaraśānti.[4]     In the present paper, I shall focus on quotations from the RGV in Jñānaśrīmitra’s Sākārasiddhiśāstra and Sākārasaṃgrahasūtra, and on his understanding of the RGV, so as to shed light on the reception of the RGV in the early 11th century. (Kano, introductory remarks, 7–8)
  1. Kajiyama 1966: 2–7 (I follow the 1998 reprint version)
  2. On these dates, see Mimaki 1992: 297 n. 1 and Isaacson 2001: 457 n. 2.
  3. Kano 2006: 31 (Chapter 1), 2014: 224.
  4. For Ratnākaraśānti’s understanding of Buddha-nature, see Kano 2006 (Chapter 1) and 2011.