The tathāgatagarbha is an intrinsically luminous consciousness naturally inscribed with the complete knowledge of the Buddha along with infinite Buddha-virtues and the potential to attain them. Studies in the past have focused on its potential aspect and negated it as an ontological entity. In this dissertation I examine it as a true self of sentient beings arguing that being beginningless, unborn, unconditioned, eternally unchanging, enduring and imperishable, it qualifies as true self. Also, the Mahāyāna-Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra unhesitatingly acknowledges it as true self, and its features conform to the definition of the true self of this sūtra and of Bhāvaviveka. I find ample support for its interpretation as true self in the sūtras on this doctrine. Besides, its features correspond with the features of the Brahmanic, Sāṅkhya and Jaina true selves. The Tathāgatagarbha Doctrine is recognized as a provisional teaching. The centrality of the doctrines of śūnyatā, tathatā, darmadhātu, dharmakāya and nirvāṇa suggest that it is truly Mahāyāna in spirit. According to the Ratnagotravibhāga, without realizing the emptiness of own being, nirvāṇa is not attained. This “Ultimate Doctrine”, it adds, is taught to remove the five defects. The defects, I find, are connected with not knowing emptiness or understanding the dharmakāya of the Tathāgata nihilistically. As a corrective to the nihilistic understanding of the Mahāyāna Doctrine, it qualifies as an ultimate teaching.
I study the Tathāgatagarbha Doctrine from the following perspectives: the tathāgatagarbha as true self; the all-pervading, undifferentiated Essence of Buddhahood as Cosmic Self; and the concept of liberation. I also compare this doctrine to the doctrines of the above-mentioned three traditions and study their concepts of true self, the concepts of Cosmic Self of the Brahmanic and Early Sāṅkhya doctrines; and the concepts of liberation of these three doctrines. I follow the trajectory of thought of the Ratnagotravibhāga and the Tathāgatagarbha group of texts.
Khosla, Usha. "Study of the Tathāgatagarbha as True Self and the True Selves of the Brahmanic, Sāṅkhya and Jaina Traditions." PhD diss., University of Toronto, 2015. https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/bitstream/1807/77747/3/Khosla_Usha_201506_PhD_thesis.pdf;Study
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