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(Source: foreword in Part I)
Section II investigates the complex, and controversial, problem of whether a (Prāsaṅgika) Mādhyamika may, within the frame of his school's philosophy, assert a thesis (pratijñā) and maintain a philosophical position (pakṣa, mata). It is a reworked and expanded version of an earlier study: 'On the thesis and assertion in the Madhyamaka/dBu ma' in E. Steinkellner and H. Tauscher (ed.), Contributions on Tibetan and Buddhist religion and philosophy (Proceedings of the Csoma de Korös Symposium held at Velm-Vienna, 13-19 September 1981 (Vienna, 1983), pp. 205-241).
Section III concerns the very significant place occupied in Tsoṅ kha pa's Madhyamaka philosophy by the ideas and methods of epistemological and logical system (pramāṇavidyā) of Dharmakīrti. It is an expanded version of a study first published in 1991: 'On pramāṇa theory in Tsoṅ khap pa's Madhyamaka philosophy' in E. Steinkellner (ed.), Studies in the Buddhist epistemological tradition (Proceedings of the Second International Dharmakīrti Conference, Vienna, 11-16 June, 1989, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philosophische-Historische Klasse, Denkschriften, 222. Band (Vienna, 1991), pp. 281-310).
Part II of these Studies will contain annotated translations of Candrakīrti's Sanskrit commentary on Madhyamakakārikā i.1 taken from his renowned Prasannapadā madhyamakavṛttiḥ and of rGyal tshab Dar ma rin chen's Tibetan Summary-Memorandum on the Eight Crucial Points in Madhyamaka philosophy (dKya' gnad/gnas brgyad kyi zin bris). (Source: foreword in Part I)
America—but also, and no less importantly, in the course of its development
within historical India itself.
One way in which Buddhism has responded to these intellectual and cultural encounters can be related to hermeneutics: that is, the modes by which a tradition explains its sources and thereby interprets (or reinterprets) itself in a continuing process of reactivation and renewal of its heritage.
In the case of Buddhism this process—perhaps comparable in part to what in another context is now frequently referred to as aggiornamento—had both endogenous and exogenous causes. It was, in other words, set in train both by internal, systemically generated requirements and tensions within the Buddhist tradition as it evolved in geographical space and historical time, and by external impulses received from its intellectual and social environment, which could be, according to the case, either positive or negative in character.
The purpose of this paper is to explore this process with respect to the Buddhist hermeneutics of the ideas of non-self (anatman) and of a spiritual matrix or germ (gotra, tathagatagarbha or Buddha-nature) and the relationship of this pair of ideas to Vedantic notions and Brahmanical social groups in classical India. Reference will be made also to certain exegetical developments that either originated in Tibet or were at least fully realized there for the first time. Our analysis will revolve around the fact that, however historically antithetical and structurally contrasting these two ideas are in Buddhism, they in fact have not invariably been treated by Buddhist hermeneuticians as contradictory or even as systematically exclusive of each other.
Because of its philosophical and religious significance in the fields of soteriology and gnoseology, the Mahāyānist theory of the tathāgatagarbha—the Germ of Buddhahood latent in all sentient beings—occupies a crucial position in Buddhist thought, and indeed in Indian thought as a whole. In virtue of both their extent and their contents, the sūtras treating the tathāgatagarbha—and the systematically related doctrines of the natural luminosity (prakṛtiprabhāsvaratā) of mind (citta) and the spiritual germ existent by nature (prakṛtistha-gotra)—are amongst the most important in the Mahāyāna. The idea that the doctrine of the tathāgatagarbha and Buddha-nature is one of the supreme teachings of the Mahāyāna is explicitly stated in the Mahāparinirvāṇa-sutra.
In the course of his monumental work on the Prajñāpāramitā Sūtras E. Conze has written: 'It is quite a problem how the Dharma-element which is common to all can be regarded as the source of a variety of "lineages" [gotra]'. It has been the endeavour of the present writer in a series of publications starting in 1968 to shed light on this very fundamental and interesting question. An article in the Festschrift dedicated to the late E. Frauwallner was devoted to the interconnexion between the single, unique and undifferentiated dharmadhātu, the naturally existent spiritual element or germ (prakṛtisthaṃ gotram) and the variously conditioned psycho-spiritual categories (gotra) recognized by the Buddhist texts as explained by Ārya Vimuktisena (ca. 500 ?) and his successor Bhadanta Vimuktisena in their commentaries on the Abhisamayālaṃkāra (i. 37-39), which they correlate with the topics of the Pañcaviṃśatisāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā. And shortly afterwards there followed a more detailed study of this question as it relates to the notion of the tathāgatagarbha or buddha-nature in La théorie du tathāgatagarbha et du gotra: Études sur ta sotériologie et la gnoséologie du bouddhisme (Paris, 1969) and Le traité du tathāgatagarbha de Bu ston Rin chen grub (Paris, 1973). In the last publications Haribhadra's commentaries on the Prajñāpāramitā were discussed, and the importance of the doctrine of the One Vehicle (ekayāna), was taken up at some length not only from the point of view of soteriology but also from that of gnoseology
Between the two Vimuktisenas and Haribhadra (fl. c. 750-800) on the one side and the Tibetan exegetes on the other there lived a number of important Indian commentators whose work could be only briefly touched on in the Théorie. Amongst the most important of these later Indian masters of the Prajñāpāramitā are Dharmamitra and Abhayākaragupta, both of whom have been reckoned by Buddhist doxographers as being, for certain systematic reasons, close to the Svātantrika-Mādhyamika school, and Ratnākaraśānti (first half of the 11th century), a Vijñānavādin (of the Alīkākāravāda branch) who appears to have undertaken a harmonization of the Vijñānavāda and the Madhyamaka in the manner of the synthesizing movements especially characteristic of later Buddhist thought in India.
One of Ratnākaraśānti's main works on the Prajñāpāramitā—the Sārottamā (or Sāratamā ?), a Pañjikā on the Aṣṭasāhasrikā, which until recently was known only by its Tibetan version in the Bstan 'gyur—has now been recovered in an incomplete Sanskrit manuscript. Since the promised publication of this text is awaited with keenest interest by students of this literature, his work must be left for another occasion. The present paper will therefore consider the discussions by Dharmamitra and Abhayākaragupta of the relation between the gotra, the dharmadhātu, the ekayāna, and the tathāgatagarbha. (Ruegg, "The Gotra, Ekayāna and Tathāgatagarbha Theories of the Prajñāpāramitā," 283–284)
Notes:1. E. Conze, The Large Sūtra on Perfect Wisdom (London 1961), p. 105 note 2. References hereunder to the folios of Tibetan translations of Indian texts contained in the Bstan 'gyur relate to the Peking edition as reproduced in the Japanese reprint published by the Tibetan Tripiṭaka Research Institute (Tokyo and Kyoto). Prints of other editions of the Bstan 'gyur were unfortunately unavailable during the writing of the present paper.
2. On the meanings of the term gotra, and in particular on the two meanings '(spiritual) element, germ, capacity' and '(spiritual) lineage, class, category' which might be described respectively as the intensional and extensional meanings of the word when the gotra as germ determines the classification of persons possessing it in a gotra as category, see the present writer's article in BSOAS 39 (1976) p. 341sq.
3. "Ārya and Bhadanta Vimuktisena on the gotra-theory of the Prajñāpāramitā," Beitriige zur Geistesgeschichte Indiens (Festschrift fur Erich Frauwallner), WZKSO 12-13 (1968/1969), pp. 303–317.
4. Ratnākaraśānti's other work on the subject, a commentary on the AA entitled Śuddhimatī, (or: Śuddhamatī) will be referred to below.
The word gotra is frequently used in the literature of Mahāyāna Buddhism to denote categories of persons classified according to their psychological, intellectual, and spiritual types. The chief types usually mentioned in this kind of classification are the Auditors making up the śrāvaka-gotra, the Individual Buddhas making up the pratyehabuddha-gotra, and the Bodhisattvas making up the bodhisattva-gotra. In the Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra these three types constitute altogether different gotras, which thus coincide with the three separate Vehicles (yāna) as recognized by the Yogācārin/Vijñaptimātratā, school. To these three some sources add the further category of the undetermined (aniyatagotra), which is made up of persons not yet definitively attached to one of the three preceding classes; and the non-gotra (agotra), that is the category made up of persons who cannot be assigned to any spiritual class. Each of the first three categories is thus comprised of persons capable of achieving a particular kind of maturity and spiritual perfection in accordance with their specific type or class, the Auditor then attaining the Awakening (bodhi) characteristic of the Śrāvaka and so on. Especially remarkable in this connexion, and somewhat anomalous as a gotra, is the non-gotra, i.e. that category of persons who seem to have been considered, at least by certain Yogācārin authorities, as spiritual ‘outcastes’ lacking the capacity for attaining spiritual perfection or Awakening of any kind; since they therefore achieve neither bodhi nor nirvāṇa, they represent the same type as the icchantikas to the extent that the latter also are considered to lack this capacity.
The three gotras mentioned first together with the aniyatagotra and the agotra are discussed chiefly in the Śāstras of the Yogācārins and in the commentaries on the Abhisamayālaṃkāra.
In addition, the gotra functions so to speak as a spiritual or psychological 'gene' determining the classification of living beings into the above-mentioned categories, which may be either absolutely or temporarily different according to whether one accepts the theory that the three Vehicles (yāna) are ultimately and absolutely separate because they lead to the three quite different kinds of Awakening of the Śrāvaka, Pratyekabuddha, and Bodhisattva—namely the extreme triyāna doctrine-or, on the contrary, the theory that the Vehicles are ultimately one because all sentient beings are finally to attain Awakening and buddhahood which are essentially one—in other words the characterized Mādhyamika version of the ekayāna theory.
1. (Note 1 belongs to title): A shortened version of this paper was read before the Indological section of the twenty-ninth International Congress of Orientalists in Paris in July 1973.
The following abbreviations are used.
IBK Indogaku-Bukkyōgaku Kenkyū.
MSA Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra (ed. Lévi).
RGV Ratnagotravibhāga (Sanskrit text ed. E. H. Johnston).
RGVV Ratnagotravibhāgavyākhyā (Sanskrit text ed. E. H. Johnston).
TGS Tathāgatagarbhasūtra (Tibetan translation in the lHa-sa ed. of the bKa'-'gyur).
Théorie D. Seyfort Ruegg, La théorie du tathāgatagarbha et du gotra (Publications de l'École Française d'Extreme-Orient, LXX, Paris, 1969).
2. v. Laṅkāvatārasūtra, ed. Nanjō, 2, pp. 63-6, and the other sources quoted in Ruegg, Théorie, 74 f.
3. Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra 7.15, 24; cf. Théorie, 73-4.
4. Laṅkāvatārasūtra 2, p. 63.
5. v. Laṅkāvatārasūtra 2, pp. 63-5; MSABh. 3.2.
6. Laṅkāvatārasūtra 2, pp. 65-6; MSABh. 3.11: aparinirvāṇadharmaka. There are two categories of persons not attaining nirvāṇa, those who do not attain it for a certain length of time (tatkālāparinirvāṇadharman) and those who never do so (atyantāparinirvāṇadharman). The theory that some persons are destined never to attain nirvāṇa and buddhahood is considered characteristic of the Yogācārin school, which does not admit the doctrine of universal buddhahood implied by the usual interpretation of the ekayāna theory (see Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra 7.24) and the theory of the tathāgatagarbha present in all sentient beings. (MSA 9.37 does not, it seems, refer to the fully developed tathāgatagarbha theory which is based on three factors—the irradiation of the dharmakāya, the non-differentiation of the tathatā, and the presence of the gotra [see RGV 1.27 f.]—and concerns only the non-differentiation of the tathatā, and the tathāgatatva, which all beings possess as their embryonic essence. Cf. below, n. 50.)
The agotra doctrine to the extent that it assumes a class of spiritual 'outcastes' being evidently incompatible with the tathāgatagarbha theory, the question arises as to the significance of the allusion to persons without a gotra in RGV 1.41. The reference there seems to be to a hypothetical case (opposed to the author's own view expressed before in RGV 1.40-41c), which is not, however, admitted by the author; and the revised reading of pāda 1.41d agotrāṇāṃ na tad yataḥ (cf. L. Schmithausen, WZKS, xv, 1971, 145) 'since this is not so for those without gotra ' makes this interpretation easier (see p. 346). Indeed, according to RGVV 1.41, any allusion to an icchantika who does not attain nirvāṇa is to be interpreted as referring to a certain interval of time (kālāntarābhiprāya) only, and not to a permanent incapacity. On the icchantika cf. D. S. Ruegg, Le traité du tathāgatagarbha de Bu ston Rin chen grub, Paris, 1973, p. 12, n. 1. The aparinirvāṇagotra is also mentioned in RGVV 1.32-3, 1.38, and 1.41, and the aparinirvāṇadharman in 1.41.
7. cf. MSA, ch. 3; Madhyāntavibhāgabhāṣya and ºṭīkā, 2.1, 4.15-16.
8. cf. Théorie, 123 f.