An Introduction To Buddhist Philosophy in India and Tibet

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Item Code: IDK732
Author: Zahiruddin Ahmad
Publisher: Aditya Prakashan
Edition: 2007
ISBN: 8186471472
Pages: 395
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 11" X 8.8"
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Book Description
From The Jacket

This book is an in-depth study of Buddhist philosophy in India and Tibet. The concentration is on ontology/epistemology and to a somewhat lesser extent, soteriology. It is based on the writing of the Buddhist philosophers themselves, from the unknown authors of the Pali Abhidhamma books down to the present Dalai Lama of Tibet. It takes into consideration the work of many twentieth century scholars of Buddhism in order to bring our knowledge of Buddhist philosophy up-to-date. An exhaustive Index (and glossary) has been prepared in order to help the reader with the technical terms of Buddhist philosophy.

The two parts and forteen chapters of the book are as follows: Part I (India): Ch.I, The Thervada; Ch. II, The Sarvastivada; Ch III, The Madhyamaka (1) The Prasangikas Nagarjuna and Candrakirti; Ch IV The Madhyamaka (2) The Prasangikas Arydeva and Santideva Ch V The Madhyamka (3) The Svatantrikas; Ch VI The Yogacara (1) Two yogacara Sutras & Asana and Vasubandhu ; Vol VII The Yogacara (2) Dignaga and Dharakirti; Ch VIII The Yogacara (3) Santrakshita and Kamalasila Ch IX The Tathagata -garbha; Part II(Tibet) Ch.X The Vajrayana General Features Ch. XI The Nyingmapa Ch XII The Sakyapa Ch XIII The Kagyupa Ch XIV The Gelugpa


About The Author

Zahiruddin Ahmed was born in Calcutta, India and educated in Calcutta London and Oxford universities from 1969 to 1995 The taught at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. In 1988-89, he was Visiting Professor at the Seminar fur Sprach und Kulturwissenschaft Zentralasiens (Department of central Asian Studies) at Bonn University, Germany. He is the author of (1) Sino-Tibetan Relations in the Seventeenth Century (Rome, Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente, 1970 Serie Orientale Roma 40), (2) A History of Tibet by NagdBan Blo-bZan rGya-mTSHO, Fifth Dalai Lama of Tibet, translated from Tibetan (Indian University Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies Bloomington Indiana 1995 Indiana University Oriental Series 7) and (3) Sans-rGyas-m Tsho, Life of the Fifth Dalai Lama Vol. IV Part I translated Academy of Indian Culture & Aditya Prakashan, 1999. Satapitaka Series, 392)

Back of The Book

Sans-rgyas-rgya-mtsho (1653-1705) was the de facto ruler of Tibet from 1679 to 1705. He wrote among other works a 3-volume Supplement to the 3-volume Autobiography of the 5th Dalai Lama (1617-82). He numbered the 3 supplementary volumes 4,5 and 6 (instead of 1,2 and 3) in order to keep up the continuity with the Autobiography.

The present translation is of the first half of the Forth Volume. It is interesting for four main reasons: Firstly, Sans-rgyas rgya-mtsho's account of the lineage of Avalokitesvara" or the pervious births and present birth of the 5th Dalai Lama, ranging from 36 Indian predecessors to the Dhyarmarajas of Tibet the bka-gdams -pa 'Brom-ston (1004-64), rNin-ma-pa Figures, such as Nan-ral (1136-1203) and Chos-dban (1212-70), the Sa-skya-pa 'Phags-pa Lama (1235-80) and of course the 5Dalain Lamas, Secondly while dealing with the 11th aspect of the 5th Dalai Lama's life ("the turning of the wheel of religion") the author gives us a vivid picture of how the Dalai Lama consolidated his power by confiscating non-dGe-lugs -pa monasteries and lands and converting them to the dge-lugs-pa. Thirdly in his diary of the last four months of the year Iron-Bird (112 October 1681-7February 1682), Sans-rgyas rgya-mtsho gives us an insight into the vast income of consolidation by his account of the grants and endowments made to loyal and faithful establishments and individual.

Sans-rgyas rgya-mtsho's reference to the 5th Dalai Lama as my father, to his mother to their "sons" and to himself as the "eldest son" will also be found interesting.

The translation of the rest of the "Fourth Volume", dealing with the whole of the year water-dog (8 February 1682-27January 1683), including the death if the 5th Dalai Lama on 7 April 1682, will appear in the due course.


Preface and Introduction

The first purpose of this book is to place before the sufficiently-interested reader the main school of Buddhist philosophy in India and Tibet

The linking-together of these two countries is justified because it is true to say that when Buddhism died out in its main centres in Northern India around the year AD 1200, it continued to flourish in Tibet on the lines laid down in the 7th and subsequent centuries and on the basis of the translations of Buddhist texts which had been made from Sanskrit to Tibetan by about that date or not very long thereafter. Of course, it understandable that Tibetan Buddhism cannot seriously be denied

The second purpose of his books our knowledge of Buddhist philosophy as it flourished in Indian and Tibet up-to-date-to record in other words the state of our knowledge of that subject as it stand at the end if the Twentieth century and the very early years of the twenty first.

Such a book was necessary in view of the vast interest in Buddhism in general and Tibetan Buddhism in particular which has been roused countries of the world in the last forty years or so of the twentieth century. For this interest we have to thank largely the untiring efforts of the present Dalai Lama-and those of some of his followers and the followers of other (non-Gelugpa) Tibetan Buddhist sects-to disseminate a knowledge of Tibetan Buddhism throughout the world. One result of this heightened interest has been the publication of a veritable flood of books chiefly on Tibetan Buddhism and chiefly, again from the United States of America. It was necessary to take stock, however tentatively, of the increase in knowledge which these development have brought about.

This book is based, fairly and squarely on the writings of the Buddhist philosophers themselves, from the unknown authors of the Pali Abhidhamma books down to the present Dalai Lama. Obviously, I have had to be selective, but I think I have chosen what I believe to the most representative works.

Many of these works have been translated into English, French or German. I have used these translations but, wherever possible, I have gone back to the Pali or Sanskrit originals or the Tibetan and/or Chinese translations of the Sanskrit originals or the Tibetan and/or Chinese translation. Tibetan Buddhist writers have of course written original works in Tibetan and several translations of their works have appeared lately but here again as far as I could I have consulted the Tibetan originals together with the translations. Fortunately, many, but not all, translators from Sanskrit or Tibetan or Chinese have published the original texts together with their translators.

One problem connected with reading translations is that different translation use different translations for the same original Buddhist term. When quoting directly from a translation, I have used the translator's own terms but, in order to avoid confusion, I have tried to be as consistent as possible with the English translations of Buddhist terms. I hope this, together with the Index will help the wary reader to avoid the pitfalls of translations.

One of the most encouraging sign in the field of the study of Tibetan Buddhism is the emergence of Tibetan writers who, often with the help of western friends, have chosen to write in English. May this trend continue, so that more and more of the vast religio-philosophical inheritance of Tibet may be revealed to us!

Of course there are gaps and omissions in my presentation but, all in all, I hope the main purpose of this book have been fulfilled.

At the very outset of the study of Buddhist philosophy, the question may well be asked: what is Buddhist philosophy about.

Primarily, it is about the four Noble Truths of Buddhist, preached by the Buddha in his very first sermon after he became the Buddha the Enlightened one. These are (1) that life is suffering (duhkha) (2) that there is a cause for the arising (samudaya) of suffering, namely "thirst", (3) that the elimination (nirodha) of suffering is possible through the elimination of "thirst" and (4) that there is a way (marge), the "eight-limed way", to elimination the arising if suffering. By making a compound of the key-words of the four Truths, we can find as answer to the question, what is Buddhism? Buddhism us a way to eliminate the arising if suffering (dukha-samudaya-nirodha-marge)

The four Truths are divided into two groups. The study of the first two led Buddhist philosophers to analyse life as it is -the life which we are involved as a result of our deeds in past lived and from which depending on what we do in this life, we shall move to the next life-and the reasons why that life is suffering. The fourth and third and third truths (in that order) show us show to liberated ourselves from the cycle of birth, death rebirths etc.-in other words, how to liberate ourselves from suffering.

Using terms of Western philosophy, one could say that the study of the first two Truths is a study in ontology and the science closely related to namely, epistemology. The next two Truths are a study in soteriology.

Using terms of Western philosophy one could say that the study of the first two Truths is a study in ontology and the science closely related to ontology namely, epistemology. The next two Truths are study in a soteriology.

Buddhists of course do not use such as ontology/epistemology and soteriology. They use the terms Samsara and Nirvana -samsara the life if suffering and Nirvana, freedom from suffering, Ultimately, suffering is due to ignorance about the real nature of life and of ourselves. Freedom comes from knowledge of the nature of life and of ourselves.

So Buddhist philosophy is a study of Samsara and Nirvana of Suffering and freedom from suffering if ignorance and knowledge.

To Buddhist a study of Samsara which does not lead to Nirvana would be meaningless. Conversely a knowledge which is Nirvana-would not be possible without a preceding study if Samsara. The two studies complement each other.

Nevertheless as far as Indian Buddhism is concerned, in this book our concentration will be on the first study and only secondary in the second. In the case of Tibetan Buddhism as will be seen the focus will shift to the attainment if Nirvana.

It remains for me to mention that the contents of Chapters I, II, III, VI, IX, X, and the earlier part of chapter XIV, were delivered, originally, as lectures in a half-unit on Buddhist philosophy in India and Tibet which I ran at La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria 3083, Australia, from 1976 to 1994. Chapters II, VI and IX are much-revised versions of articles published in the Journal of the Oriental Society of Australia (J.O.S.A.), Vol. 13(1978), pp. 9-37; A.R. Davis and A.D. Stefanowska (eds.), Austrina, Essays in Commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Oriental Society of Australia (Oriental Society of Australia, 1982), pp. 503-532; and J.O.S.A., Vols. 15-16(1983-84), pp. 27-44. The present chapters bear little resemblance to the previous articles. The rest of the book is new.

My sincerest thanks are due to Prof. Dr. Lokesh Chandra for including this book in the Satapitaka series; and to Aditya Prakashan for its publication and printing




  Preface and Introduction  
Part I: India
Chapter I The Theravada or the Teaching of the Elders 3
Chapter II The Sarvastivada or the Philosophy that "Everything Exists" 24
Chapter III The Madhyamaka or the philosophy of the Middle Way:  
  (1) The Prasangikas: Nagarjuna and Candrakirti 51
Chapter IV The Madhyamaka or the philosophy of the Middle Way:  
  (3)The Svatantrikas 77
Chapter V Yogacara or Buddhist Idealism  
  (1) Two Yogacara Sutras and the School of Asanga and Vasubandhu 85
Chapter VII Yogacara or Buddhist Idealism  
  (2) The school of Logic: Dignaga and Dharmakirti 109
Chapter VIII Yogacara or Buddhist Idealism  
  (3) Santarakshita and Kamalasila 135
Chapter IX The Theory of the Buddha-essence (Tathagata-garbha) 147
Part II Tibet
Chapter X Vajrayana: General Features 167
Chapter XI The Nyingma or the Old School of Tibetan Buddhism 183
Chapter XII The Sakyapa 206
Chapter XIII The Kagyupa and the Doctrine of the "Great Seal" (Mahamudra) 221
Chapter XIV The Gelugpa  
Bibliography   255
Abbreviations   261
Notes   263
Index   347

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