Through a close examination on three Sanskrit compounds — i.e., tathāgatanairātmyagarbha, tathāgatagarbhālayavijñāna and pariniṣpannasvabhāvas tathāgatagarbhahṛdayam — in the Laṅkāvatārasūtra, this thesis will demonstrate how the tathāgatagarbha thought in the Laṅkāvatārasūtra is significantly enriched by Yogācāric influence.
First, in regard to tathāgata-nairātmya-garbha, a doctrinal review of the term "nairātmya" is necessary, because its definition differs according to different traditions. In primitive Buddhism, the term "nairātmya" is a synonym of the term "anātman" (non-existence of a substantial self), which indicates that in the realm of suffering and the impermanence of life phenomena that arise according to the principle of co-dependent
origination/ pratītyasamutpāda, no eternal and dependent ātman can be found. According to
the Madhyamaka School, the term "nairātmya" is a synonym of the term "niḥsvabhāva" (no
intrinsic-nature) which implies that all beings, whether conditioned or unconditioned, are all devoid of an ever-abiding intrinsic nature
. For the Yogācāra
School, the reality of nairātmya is said to be grasped under the principle of mind-only. That is to say, the imagined self /kalpitātman that is the presentation of mind is unreal, while the indescribable self/ anabhilāpyātman that is the genuine mind itself is real. Finally, it can be said that the tathāgata-nairātmya-garbha in Laṅkāvatārasūtra
accords well with the Yogācāra
teaching. In other words, it is the Yogācāric sense of nairātmya that sheds an influence upon the tathāgatagarbha
Secondly, in regard to tathāgatagarbhālayavijñāna, a doctrinal development is promoted owing to the identification of tathāgatagarbha
, which according to the Yogācāra
School is also named "sarvabīljavijñāna" (cognition as the seed
of everything). This latter synonym references its function of bringing forth all beings just as a giant tree originates from a seed
. As a result of its identification with the ālayavijñāna
, the tathāgatagarbha
is said to be endowed with the function of bringing forth all forms of existence and thus becomes the "producing cause" of all. This interpretation is not seen in earlier scriptures wherein the tathāgatagarbha
is described simply as a static substance supporting all beings.
Thirdly, in regard to pariniṣpannasvabhāvastathāgata-garbhahṛdayam, the implication of the tathāgatagarbha
was expanded substantially by declaring that pariniṣpannasvabhāva
is the very essence of tathāgatagarbha
. The term "pariniṣpannasvabhāva
" according to some important Yogācāra
texts is defined as tathatā
(ultimate realm of suchness
). The combining of pariniṣpannasvabhāva
that had formerly focused on the subjective potential of realizing wisdom, shifts the doctrinal emphasis toward the objective realm of realized perfection.
This thesis reveals that, having assimilated the Yogācāric doctrine of dharmanairātmya, ālayavijñāna
, the tathāgatagarbha
thinking in Laṅkāvatārasūtra
presents the comprehensive and distinctive features in comparison to the scriptures that preceded it.