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Nagarjuna Revisited (Some Recent Interpretations of His Madhyamaka Philosophy)

Nagarjuna Revisited (Some Recent Interpretations of His Madhyamaka Philosophy)
Item Code: NAM660
Author: A. P. Joy
Publisher: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 2016
ISBN: 9788121512930
Pages: 468
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 9.0 inch x 6.0 inch
weight of the book: 635 gms
About the Book

The book was originally submitted to Banaras Hindu University in 2012 for the award of Doctor in Philosophy. R.C. Pradhan, Professor of Philosophy from University of Hyderabad, after examining this thesis, writers “… this is an excellent study of the recent interpretations of Nagarjuna’s philosophy. This study bears the stamp of deep scholarship in Buddhism, especially in the Madhyamaka philosophy of Nagarjuna. This work covers the vast literature on Nagarjuna’s Philosophy and its interpretations by the scholars both Indian and Western and has critically examined all sorts of interpretations from the nihilistic to the absolutistic, logico-linguistic and deconstructionistic.

Mr Joy rejects all interpretations with critical and detailed examinations of their viewpoints. His wide survey of literature and deep understanding of the problems posed by them has made him understand Nagarjuna without an intermediary. Nagarjuna’s sayings quoted from original sources have put his philosophy in clearer light…

My Joy’s arguments are convincing and based on wide scholarship. His excellent bibliography is standing testimony to his wide reading and reflections. He has organized the chapters well with detailed footnotes. He has, on the whole, developed an original approach to the understanding of Nagarjuna’s philosophy of Sunyata…

About the Author

The author, A.P.Joy (nee Kurian Alumkal OCD) is a Doctor in Philosophy from the Department of Philosophy and Religion, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, U.P., India. He holds his M.A. in Indian Philosophy and Religion with First Rank and Gold Medal from the same university. At present, he is the Dean of Studies at Carmel Hill Philosophy College, Trivandrum, Kerala, India.


Madhyamika is such an amorphous system (or no system?) that it is extremely difficult to give it any sort of characterization, and therefore anything and everything could be read into it. Traditionally two extreme interpretations have loomed large in the area of Buddhist scholarship, based largely on the original Sanskrit sources. On the one hand, we have a rank nihilism as the correct reading of the texts. Support for this view comes in various ways. The very invocation of the karikas gives us a series of negations with no underlying positive hint. Even when reality is sought to be defined (a very rare occurrence), the definition (etat tatvasya laksanams is again a bundle of negations. However, even a positive inkling of the Madhyamaka position is hinted at.

This however cannot be a true account of the Madhyamaka philosophy. It is not that the Madhyamaka is unaware of nihilism as a philosophical position. Nagarjuna, in his formulation of the famous catuskoti, places nihilism as the fourth limb of it, and rejects it as self-discrepant and thus self-stultifying.

It should be remembered that Madhyamaka in particular and Mahayana in general is not only a philosophy but also a great religious tradition too. (There is little difference between the Madhyamaka and Yogacara, so far as Mahayana religion is concerned). Millions of devotees have lived their lives according to the Mahayana creeds and rituals, and this could not have happened if the adherence has read the Madhyamaka system as purely negative. No religion could be sustained purely on a negative ground. And the theological doctrine of bhumis and paramitas (the basis of Mahayana) is definitely positive in content.

All this however came later. The earliest interpretation leans heavily on there being a positive support behind the multifarious negative appearance, and this is to read the Madhyamaka as a variety of absolutism. And many karikas lend support to thus reading. The danger is that the Madhyamaka comes perilously close to the position of Advai ta Vedanta (c.f. tatvam acchadsa balanam atatvam khyati sarvate). Buddha's contention that his teaching refutes atmaoada is thus belied, and the Madhyamaka comes out as a variation of the ancient Upanisadic doctrine of Atman and Brahman.

We have to tread on this treacherous ground with extreme caution. Is Sunyavada really a version of atmavada under a Buddhist guise?

Upanisads too employ the method of 'ma negativa' in rejecting everything empinical as illusory (neti, neti, neha, nanasti kincana etc.) But there is a radical difference between this position and Buddhist negation. Upanisads are all the time aware to a transcendent affirmation, given in revelation. Upanisads proclaim that being (sat) is the ground which makes negation possible. Negation leads to the extreme affirmation (asato ma sadgamaya). There is light at the end of the tunnel, albeit given, not by philosophical meaning, but by revelation. There is positive ontology.

But, unlike all this, the Madhyamaka has no ontology. In empirical matters it follows the Abhidharmika tradition of momentary dharmas, as opposed atmavada to. But he contends that this is a wrong employment of philosophical consciousness, resulting in hollo constructions. It is not by the attempt to contradict theories about the world, but looking inward to itself, that Philosophy comes to its own, and this is insightful wisdom (Prajna), philosophy becomes self-critical and self-conscious and refrains from idle fanciful speculation which leads to nowhere.

The author supplements this by giving a cursory account of relatively more recent approaches like positivistic, Wittgensteinian, post-modernist. This is welcome addenda and completes the survey of almost all Madhyamaka core. I am sure that this book would greatly benefit those who are seeking to resolve the Madhyamaka enigma.


At the end of my three year study of Madhyamaka I am convinced that Madhyamaka is a philosophical system with a difference. One basic reason for this difference is that while every system begins with an intuition (revelation) and rationally constructs a system to fit everything into it, Nagarjuna, the founder of Madhyamaka does the opposite with his intuition. He de constructs his system and exhorts everyone to do the same to show that there is inner inconsistency inside.

Nagarjuna's intuition is that .every system in the final analysis is sunya and it can be proved by its own reason taking it to its logical conclusions. Thus we come to the conclusion that it is not Nagarjuna who refutes systems; systems will refute themselves, if they walk the way he has shown. If systems refuse to go in the way Nagarjuna has gone, then the systems will go merrily as they were going and are going!

The question is: are we able to do the dialectic as Nagarjuna did? A question can be asked back: Does this dialectic of Nagarjuna really refute system who uses it? Even if it does, what is the necessity for doing it? Whether one agrees to his logic of prasanga (dialectic) or not, whether one feels the need of it or not, there is a purpose behind this method and that is to be taken care of when we look at the person of Nagarjuna and his philosophy. As we are dealing with a towering personality of the second century, who is venerated even today as the second Buddha and whose philosophical acumen no one doubts, I who am neither in the tradition, nor a philosophically mature must also start with a head and heart that is open and receptive to that purpose.

Nagarjuna is not an armchair philosopher soaring high with logical and mathematical puzzles (a caricature of the modern philosopher), but who has "the spiritual welfare of those under his care" at his heart. His devotion to Buddha no one doubts, and even his most philosophical of all texts, Mulamadhyamakakarika, his master piece, which lacks typical Buddhist religious terms, begins and ends with salutation and veneration to Buddha. In fact he sets all the 27 pariksas safely within his basic intuition as a mark of what he aims with these pariksas, namely lead one to the experience of sunyata. His other texts, those hymns and letters present in Buddhist religious terms, ways to come to that experience which is the basic intuition of Buddha.

If one condenses Nagarjuna's vision in all aspects into one single term, one should choose bodhisadhana; (not for e.g., sunyata or pratityamsatupada or any other term). My reason for presenting this as the centre of Nagarjunian vision is my reading of Iagarjuna as a Buddhist patriarch with the mission of bringing clarity to the mess of philosophical visions. He was a person who really received the Buddhist spirit." thus he cannot simply discard any interpretation as wrong; at the same time he must bring them all to a same level playing ground. He skilfully does it in his most philosophical of all texts, namely Mulamadhsamakakarika. We see the eloquent expression of this in his verse:

sarvam ca yujyate tasya sunjata yasya yujyate/
sarvam na yujyate tasya sunyam yasya na yujyate//
(Mulamadhyamakakarika, 24, 14).
The basic conviction of Nagarjuna is expressed In Mulamadhyamakakarika 18, 7 which reads.

“nivrttamabhidhatavyam nivrtte cittagocare/
anutpannaniruddha hi nirvanamiva dharmata//
where mind's functional realm ceases, the realm of words also ceases, for, indeed, the essence of existence (dharmata) is like - nirvana, without origination and destruction." And its culmination in often quoted Mulamadhyamakakarika 13,8

“sunyata sarvadrstinam prokta nihsaranam jinah/
yesam tu sunyatadrsistanasadhyan babhasire//
The wise men (i.e., enlightened ones) have said that sunyata or the nature of thusness is the relinquishing of all views. Yet it is said that those who adhere to the idea or concept of sunyata are incorrigible." This theme is what he drives horne in the salutation in the beginning and veneration at the end of the text Mulamadhyamakakarika.

My contention is that, what Nagarjuna did in Mulamadhyamakakarika, namely applying his method on those concepts to lead to Buddha's vision can be done on every philosophies to show them their egoism and to teach them what universality really mean." To do this much one need not be in the stream (srotapanna) undergoing discipline or become a bodhisattva. This conclusion is drawn from the Nagarjunian neglect of using typical Buddhist religious terms in Mulamadhyamakakarika.

What is philosophy? Why philosophy? Why many philosophies? Why all these differences among them? All these questions deserve answers. We cannot simply discard them as reductionist questions. Why did Nagarjuna philosophize in the prasanga way? Did he see the real motives behind philosophizing? My finding is that he saw it as Buddha saw and calls us to this seeing. This we present in the first chapter.

One important issue I have in mind while searching the interpretations was whether they give due importance to these motives? Some interpretations really disappoint us, as they refuse to or fail to reach up to this level of dealing with issues of motives. Some of them go with the traditional interpretation, and give old wine in new bottle namely Madhyamaka is nihilism. Some others went to the other extreme and call it absolutism. Some others concentrated only on single text and what they search in it, and stick to their own methodology.

One can notice in them a refusal to see the other side of it or affected by 'my vision is the vision' temperament. This we shall see in the second, third and fourth chapters. They either refuse to see a spiritual aura that permeates Nagarjunian presentations and stand in a 'one level metaphysics' or after seeing the spiritual aura name it in the context of a two level metaphysics, namely, it is absolutism.

There is a problem of cheap (in the sense of reaching conclusion without evaluating everything, which is a hard work!) generalization, though exceptions like T.R.V. Murti who gave life's labour to solve the issues related with it too is 'cheaply' branded as doing the same. We deal with it in chapter three. We have a soft corner for Murti, because of our preference for the spiritual and clarity, but not towards his heavy absolutistic and advaitic vocabulary, (not because advaita is bad, but because that too is a looking glass or metaphysics) .

One can see in Murti's book chapters on "Madhyamaka conception of philosophy as Prajnaparamita" (pp. 209-27) and "objections against dialectics considered," (pp. 144-64) etc., a basic metaphysical and epistemic clarity. Here we see him as having a "Madhyamaka-look" at Madhyamaka, not any absolutistic or advaitic look.

Three other interpretations this book examines, namely Positivistic, Wittgensteinian and Derridian. All the three are heavily 'Western' influenced and anti-metaphysical in the sense of neglecting the spiritual. The first one emphasise the analytical aspect of Madhyamaka and shift the goal post from nirvana to analysis of the text.

Wittgensteinian interpretation emphasise the mystic aspect of Madhyamaka. We see them as rightly point to one aspect of Nagarjunian emphasis, namely limitation of language as it works only in duality of subject and predicate; but Madhyamaka speaks of a non-dual experience or awareness about which we cannot speak but that itself is the anubhava of paramarta or nirrvana. This truth Nagarjuna exposes in the Midamadhyamakakarika 25, 9 & 19. We see the other aspect of it in Mulamadhyamakakarika 24, 9-11, namely the dualism and its transcendence. The point all these make is that Nagarjunian understanding of the two truths and exposition of it in the Wittgenstein context within the realm of logical positivism is not doing full justice to the whole of Nagarjuna.

Then there is a Derridian or deconstructionist reading of Madhyamaka as the post-modernist trend in philosophizing which is very illuminating as there is a very strong deconstructionist tendency in Madhyamaka. We see along with those very strong essentialist tendencies too as far as Buddha's vision is concerned. While speaking of deconstruction itself, it is far away from Derrida; Madhyamaka leads one 'beyond' reason and language to 'tusnibhava '. If that aspect is left out, Madhyamaka as a Buddhist system will not be there.

It is in this context of evaluation of these readings of Nagarjuna we propose the line of T.R.V. Murti, elaborated by A.K. Chatterjee and supported by writers like David Loy, Alan Fox, Abhimanyu Singh, etc. They point to a 'self- reflection', 'self-awareness', 'pure-analysis' and 'shedding of all looking-glass perspectives' as Madhyamaka teaching. If we further ask: where this will lead one? As an outsider using words we can speculate again and say this leads one to an 'impartial self-awareness', 'state of complete ego- lessness' and 'absolute desire-lessness' with the full knowledge that these too are words and all words are upayas to that wordless awareness.

One who is not purged of the constructions of reason could further ask: what about all the pariksas of Nagarjuna? My answer is that these are not against anyone standing outside, but a spiritual exorcism of the devils of constructionism that is within the one who did construction.

Ultimately it is he himself who is benefited of the dialectic that he does. Thus the call is personal to each one. It is as if Madhyamaka is saying: "we do not refute systems; systems will refute themselves if they go in our way. If they are not ready to go the way we propose, then they will go the way they were going and are going, building walls both concrete and imaginary more and more."

Madhyamaka use of reason can be formulated thus: at the end of the day, all our life is with a purpose, once the purpose of all our philosophizing is attained, reason is no more reason. It has played its role well at the proper time! It has led us 'astray' through gigantic constructions (all 'wall-making' business) and now led us back into awareness.

No construction is going to stand for ever, as better constructers are coming and they see further than the previous constructors and new avenues of imagination comes up and more and more construction is the result. The saying goes: constructions may come and constructions may go but 'I' (philosophizing) go on forever (till everyone reaches awareness). Madhyamaka stands as the conscience for all constructors of systems asking them to look within and see what they are emphasising and what they are ignoring in the process of their construction.

The saying goes: no one comes empty handed; everyone brings a blessing. In my life here in Banaras, almost five years I was blessed by encouragement and support of so many persons as if God send angels into my life to give me direction. I was experiencing all through this 'pilgrimage' a strong family feeling: "I am not alone, as father, as guide, as friend, as clarifier, I have my Guruji (Prof. A.K. Chatterjee) with me, who is 85 years young with his vast knowledge and wisdom". I am no less obliged to Mrs. Geeta Chatterjee (his wife) and Shipra Chatterjee (their daughter) for their constant moral support. May Good Lord bless them and take care of them.

I take this opportunity to express my deep sense of gratitude to my guide Dr. Abhimanyu Singh, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy and Religion, BHU. His critical acumen, personal warmth, support and guidance aroused confidence in me. I pray to God to bless him and his family.

I extend my gratitude to Prof. D.N. Tiwari, Head of the Department of Philosophy and Religion, BHU, for his kind support and encouragement. I also place on record my indebtedness to Professors S. Vijay Kumar, A.K. Rai, Mukul Mehta, Kripa Sankar Ojha, D.B. Chaube, U.C. Dubey, S.P. Panddey, Associate Professors R.K. Jha, Anand Misra, Sachchidananda Mishra and Assistant Professors Durgesh Chaudhary, P.K Bagde, S.C. Dubey and Grace Darling for their encouragement and moral support.

I also thank Prof L. Sastri of Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Saranath for clarifying the Tibetan understanding of Madhyamaka to me. I remember with gratitude Dr. Rinoy SDB, who supported and helped me in making this book in this shape.

I express my gratitude to non-teaching staff of the Department of Philosophy and Religion for their care and concern to me. I gratefully acknowledge the contribution of Library staff of the Department of Philosophy and Religion, Central Library (BHU), Shantarakshita Library, Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Saranath, for collecting the materials about Nagarjunian studies.

I am highly indebted to the family of Malabar Province of OCD, its provincials and their team of last nine years who approved me and supported me for study. I remember with gratitude my community at Trivandrum for their prayerful encouragement, inspiration and blessings. I also express my heartfelt thanks to Jesuit priests who supported me while I was with them at Vidya Niwas. I have many more persons to thank, I remember all of them and pray to God to bless them for all that they are to me.


1. Levels of Philosophizing

The human precariousness is such that anything knowable is doubtable too! Though humans engage in relentless search for knowledge all throughout their life, doubt too go hand in hand. A philosopher is a radical thinker who accepts her/his given situation of being lost amidst clouds of darkness, and takes up the challenge to search for truth and philosophy is this activity.

In her/his uncompromising regard for truth, the philosopher may often times be compelled to part ways with her /his fellow beings. These fellows would often borrow 'conclusions' from each other only to spare themselves the struggle and risk to find the truth themselves. 'We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought", said Kennedy (Commencement Address at Yale University on June 11, 1962). Considering the cost of struggle, it appears to be safer to toe the line after someone else, not even bothering to know whether that person is going the right way! Hence most persons turn mimics in making the life's crucial options and tread suicidal paths, even frustrating their noble purpose of lives, all the while complacently 'chewing the cud'.

Real life-path is always strewn with challenging riddles for every earnest seeker. Humans must tune up their sense and sensibilities and be always on the alert 'in an eternal vigilance' 'like sentinekwaiting for the dawn'. For an illustration, take the case of a speck of dust that falls on a broad human palm. It goes undetected. But if the very same speck were to drop into the eye of the person, what an irritant would it turn! Obviously, the eye is the most sensitive area that must take into account every foreign unwelcome element that might meddle with its delicate functioning. So is the case with the philosophical mind: it senses with fineness what might go missed by uncouth pragmatists. Philosophers of all times and places differentiated themselves from lesser mortals by their ability to question things, things which those others readily took for granted and accepted without the need of questioning. That is how an earnest seeker comes to disturb her/his complacent world. "All great truths began as blasphemies" says Bernard Shaw in the play Annajansaka (1919). History records instances when genuine visionaries were persecuted for their breakthrough into age-old prejudices. Copernicus and Galileo are classical examples.

Socrates is said to have embarked on his world of conquering human souls by gently leading them to question things which up till then lay undisturbed in their awareness, in the realm of surety. and certainty. In fact, all knowledge supposes a break with any person's necessary evil inheritance of 'prejudices'. Knowledge is a soaring above of all such sedimentation, be it individualistic, social, cultural, religious, national etc. The questioning search can even reach up to the realm of the possible. "You see things that are and ask why, I dream of things that are not and ask why not?" said Bernard Shaw in "Back to Methuselah" (part 1, act 1). True knowledge supposes an adventurously daring encounter with the unknown.

The vast range of questioning in which the philosopher relentlessly indulges, would include in its wild sweep, also her/his own dearest self! She/he would readily place herself/himself amidst the throng of things unknown. She/ he might ask, for example: Who am I? Where do I come from? Where am I headed? What can make me happy finally? Why am I here? What is my purpose and reason for being? How do I achieve my purpose? How do I achieve goals with the least conflict and frustration? How resolve conflicts? What is true, moral, just, and beautiful? How maintain my gains from these answers? Do these apply to all rational persons? On the resolution of basic question like these, hang my own fortune and felicity - my spiritual comfort and solace.

In the sense that a 'Wh' perennially resounds in his/her depths, every human is potentially a philosopher or a mystic. At the primary level, in the beginning stages, a person's 'wh ' may be his own domestic hatching. She/he may succeed to wriggle out with commonsense answers from everyday examples. There may not be chances for a 'contrariety' or a 'contradiction' to figure out and obstruct the even flow of rationalization. She/he may take for granted the situation of a seed transforming into a tree or framing of a table from tree as ordinary normal processes, and use as ,images to speak about reality of change without seeing any contradiction.

At a later stage, however, confronted with any possibly looming 'contradictory' formulation, emerging from within or without, the person in question might attempt to resolve the problem at hand, by attempting to 'fix' her/his beliefs into a terra firma of 'scientific' framework. Such a skeletal framework would readily lend itself to formulation of a 'Creed'. And a creed easily solidifies in to a designated 'metaphysical system'. A metaphysical system is a self- contained whole; a world in itself. Our above examples here will not go together as fitting in expression. The seed transforming into tree become classical example of 'Satkaryavada' and framing of table from tree become example of 'Asatkaryavada', the two classical Indian theories of causation. This sedimentation of a person's mystic dimension could often end up in a 'god' or 'dharma' as its central point of reference.

So we can trace the evolution of human consciousness through a long meandering path from a borrowed 'commonsense' standpoint to a definition of a 'god' or 'dharma', in our formulations of 'what are these?' traversing numerous stages of growth between these points. We shall call this protracted path 'a conscious philosophizing'.

History recounts that this conscious philosophizing, like every new born living organism struggling to survive, must tend to defend itself through creation of 'protective walls'. Thu every system cocoons itself into self-protective defences. Such defensive walls will necessarily lead into divisive, clean segregations of an 'insider and outsider'. Hence wherever there are many harsh and arduous struggles for conscious philosophizing, tendencies of exclusiveness and opposition are inevitable.

But this fretting and fuming between vital alternative choices for light and life-this confusion can shake a sensitively sincere seeker to introspection: 'what is all these?' For resolving the present crisis, she/he may start with an impartial appraisal of her/his own pet findings and her/ his own dearly accepted metaphysical system. A thorough impartial reappraisal of one's own basic assumptions, however time-tested and sure, could still be found to be vitiated with subjectivity and dogmatic self-righteousness.

A sincere seeker's discovery of 'the ball being in one's own court' would indeed be a vital point of departure in her/his search-pilgrimage. With this realization, she/he just begins to soar above the realm of hot disputes and argumentations. She/he is no more interested to prove any opponent wrong. Instead, she/he identifies herself/himself empathetically with every possible opponent. This would indeed be a critically high level of realization which we shall call self-conscious philosophizing.

This, of course, is the fruit of a thorough and self- annihilating introspection. It could reveal that any and every human system of thought does begin from a basic source, namely, intuition or revelation. This intuitive perception, once come into human cognitive faculty, seeks to express itself through concepts, very much like linguistic expression seeks medium of language in order to communicate itself.

But the process of concretizing intuition into concepts which we have just referred to, is beset with too many dangers. Concepts, unlike intuition, by their very nature are rigid, various and open to many interpretations. Take the examples of concepts like truth, goodness, freedom justice and so on! They are basically dualistic, mutually exclusive, or even contradicting in application.

Whatever be the handicaps that limit and corrupt concepts, these will surely prove malicious in the case of metaphysical systems too simply for the reason that it is these concepts that make the building blocks for the metaphysical systems. If concepts are rigid, dualistic and immune to each other, so are to be the metaphysical systems, warring with each other. Adding to the complication there could be diverse alternative formulations for one and the same metaphysical system, and these possibly contradicting each other!

Here we should also remember that a metaphysical system, to be that, should be necessarily self-consistent. It should surely stand the commonsense test of self- contradiction, or else it would not be acclaimed a metaphysical system at all. A self-contradicting metaphysical system negates itself.

Now our big question is: can a metaphysical system, consistent from inside, oppose and undo another like metaphysical system?

Nagarjuna will emphatically say No. No metaphysical system can enjoy such a prerogative to undo a fellow meta-physical system, for the simple reason that every other meta- physical system also is equally consistent from inside and it cannot be tackled from outside for rejection, as it is within its protective walls of basic visions. This realization that no self-consistent conceptual construction can be defeated by an outsider is a basic conviction that dawned on Nagarjuna, This is the treasured fruit of a self-conscious philosophizing.

2. Buddha and Nagarjuna: philosophers of self-conscious philosophizing

The great sage Buddha descended into a world of ambivalent multiplicity of creeds. The creeds fought each other led only by the instinct to survive. Buddha's greatness consisted in his realization that demolition of a metaphysical system would necessarily mean emergence of yet another new metaphysical system. Buddha proclaimed a blanket ban on any such metaphysical system building. This was Buddha's eureka of Avyakrta. We shall call this 'a self- conscious philosophizing'. Admittedly, Buddha's was too sublime a philosophy for partisan creed proponents to grasp. The treasure lay hid for centuries undetected by a madding crowd of divergent philosophies. Only Buddha's kindred re-incarnation in the person of Nagarjuna could effectively hunt this great treasure" out for our benefit. He does it in his Midamadhyamakaharika: We see it as an effort of self- conscious philosophizing. It is this mountaineering feat of self-conscious philosophizing that we propose to project in this book.

A prime quest like 'why misery?' had triggered a genius Buddha to a 'self -annihilating search rewarding him with the bliss of Nirvana at the end.

It is only a genius that can deal with a genius: the measure should be proportionate to the measured. But this basic principle could not be revered in the history of Buddhism because Buddha was a genius of rare acumen. The rarity was such that 'Philosophy' had to wait for six long centuries to find a kindred spirit in the person of Nagarjuna who alone, of all the myriad adherents of the intervening centuries, could meet and resuscitate his grand master as far as the self-conscious philosophizing is concerned.

Understandably, the great Buddha Saga drew up a mushrooming of enthusiastic followers. The nascent enthusiasm drew up divergent colourful pictures of the hero. Buddhism gave birth to schools and sub-schools. History records an array of ambivalent expositions of Buddha's teachings.

. The multiple interpretations strayed so far from each other that there grew even rivalries between these. In their naive enthusiasm, they committed the very blunder which Buddha had detected in his contemporaries, even in himself and had sought to eliminate with great alacrity.

What Buddha had diagnosed in the philosophical pursuits of his times as the crucial malady affecting the seekers was a basic human limitation of vision by which any human being would tend to edge out contributions made by fellow visionaries. The obvious predilection for one's own makes people immune to other's suggestions. Or, they would gauge the other's thoughts with the scale of their own, either devised by themselves or borrowed from elsewhere.

Buddha persistently fought this kind of blinding parochialism and nicknamed it as drsti. Every philosophy, for that matter, was contaminated by this partisan blindness. Hence Buddha stoutly refused to sympathise with anyone of the readily available metaphysical systems or standpoints. Such a non-alignment resulted in the characteristically unique Buddhist insight of avyakrta. Nagarjuna successfully recapitulated this long-lost genius and reincarnated it in his Sunyata Dialectic. It is in the wake of the 'corruption' of Buddha that Nagarjuna looms to view. Here was a kindred soul, who could ascend to Buddha's heights-a veritable "Second Buddha".


General Introductionxxv
Levels of Philosophizingxxv
Buddha and Nagarjuna: Philosophers of Self-conscious Philosophizingxxx
Research Context of this Bookxxxi
Research Issue of this Bookxxxii
Division of this Bookxxxvii
1. Madhyamaka of Nagarjuna the traditional and the Revolutionary
Introduction 1
Buddha's Enlightenment as the Middle Way between Traditional and Revolutionary Indian Visions4
Re-reading of Buddhism as the Middle way between traditional and revolutionary interpretations11
Madhyamaka as the Traditional and Revolutionary Buddhist School25
Recent Interpretations50
2. Nihilistic reading of madhyamaka philosophy
Introduction 81
The Nihilistic Approach in Madhyamaka Reading82
Western Nihilism Reading of Nagarjuna: Wood's Interpretation94
Indian Nihilistic Reading of Nagarjuna: Narain's Interpretation105
Sunyata Beyond the Nihilistic Grasp 128
3. Absolutistic Reading of Madhyamaka Philosophy
Introduction 146
The Absolutistic Approach in Madhyamaka Reading147
Western Absolutistic Reading of Nagarjuna: Stcherbatsky's Interpretation167
Indian Absolutistic Reading of Nagarjuna: Murti's Interpretation172
Sunyata beyond the Absolutistic Grasp185
4. Logical Positivist, Wittgensteinian and Derridian interpretations of Madhyamaka philosophy
Introduction 215
Logico-positivistic Interpretation of Madhyamaka216
Lingustico- Mystical Interpretation of Madhyamaka228
Deconstructive Interpretation of Madhyamaka245
Sunyata beyond the Deconstructionists258
5. Madhyamaka: The Conscience of Philosophy
Introduction 296
"Madhyamika-look" at the Different Interpretation of Madhyamaka301
From Reason as the Constructive Activity to the Awareness of Constructive Reason318
From the Philosophy of Words to the Silence of Philosophy333
Madhyamaka as the Conscience of Philosophy338
6. General Conclusion
Critical Assessment373
The Conclusive Remarks 377
Primary Source384
Secondary Source386

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