Authorship of Mahāprājñāpāramitôpadeśa

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Authorship of Mahāprājñāpāramitôpadeśa

Postby pueraeternus » Tue Nov 13, 2012 7:45 am

Split from here:

viewtopic.php?f=45&t=10770&start=20


Huseng wrote:
pueraeternus wrote:For example, Nagarjuna was very explicit that for a Bodhisattva to fall into the state of an Arhat, that means the final end of his career and he will never attain Buddhahood.

Where did you get this from?


From his Bodhisambhara (using Bhiksu Dharmamitra's translation):

The grounds of the Sravakas or the Pratyekabuddhas,
If entered, constitute "death" for him
Because he would thereby sever the roots
Of the Bodhisattva's understanding and awareness.

At the prospect of falling into the hell-realms,
The Bodhisattva would not be struck with fright.
The grounds of the Sravakas and the Pratyekabuddhas
Do provoke great terror in him.

It is not the case that falling into the hell realms
Would create an ultimate obstacle to bodhi.
If one fell onto the grounds of the Sravakas or Pratyekabuddhas,
That would create an ultimate obstacle.

Just as is said of one who loves long life
That he is frightened at the prospect of being beheaded,
So too the grounds of the Sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas
Should provoke in one this very sort of fear.


Then several verses later, he gives the famous analogy of the archer keep his arrows in the air by firing one against the back of the other:

"In this matter of nirvana,
I must not immediately invoke its realization."
One should initiate this sort of resolve,
For one must succeed in ripening the perfection of wisdom.

Just as an archer might shoot his arrows upwards,
Causing each in succession to strike the one before,
Each holding up the other so none are allowed to fall -
Just so it is with the great Bodhisattva.

Into the emptiness of the gates to liberation,
He skillfully releases the arrows of the mind.
Through artful skillful means, arrows are continuously held aloft,
So none are allowed to fall back down into nirvana



Nāgārjuna in his Mahāprājñā-pāramitôpadeśa states the follows:

問曰:阿羅漢先世因緣所受身必應當滅,住在何處而具足佛道?
答曰:得阿羅漢時,三界諸漏因緣盡,更不復生三界。有淨佛土,出於三界,乃至無煩惱之名,於是國土佛所,聞《法華經》,具足佛道。如《法華經》說:「有羅漢,若不聞《法華經》,自謂得滅度;我於餘國為說是事,汝皆當作佛。 (CBETA, T25, no. 1509, p. 714, a9-15)

Question -- Arhats in their past lives must have extinguished all the conditions and conditions to receive a new body. Where do they abide and perfect the Buddha's path?

Answer -- When one attains arhatship all contaminated causes and conditions of the three realms are extinguished and one is no longer reborn in the three realms. There is a pure Buddha-land beyond the three realms, even being without the word 'defilements'. In this realm, the place of the Buddha, they hear the Lotus Sūtra, and perfect the Buddha's path. As the Lotus Sūtra says, "There are arhats who, if they have not heard the Lotus Sūtra, think of themselves as having attained cessation. In another realm I explain this: you all will become buddhas."


To be honest, as much as I like the Mahaprajnaparamitaopadesa (I love encyclopedic works like this), I am not 100% convinced of the provenance of this work. Are there any new academic research on this to prove it either way?
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby Indrajala » Tue Nov 13, 2012 8:16 am

pueraeternus wrote:To be honest, as much as I like the Mahaprajnaparamitaopadesa (I love encyclopedic works like this), I am not 100% convinced of the provenance of this work. Are there any new academic research on this to prove it either way?


I don't see any contradiction really between the texts. A bodhisattva aims for buddhahood and not arhatship. His verses merely reflect this sentiment.

As far as we know Nāgārjuna wrote the Mahāprājñā-pāramitôpadeśa, though this is still debated. The biggest hurdle to determining the authorship is that we only have the Classical Chinese translation of it and no Indic original.
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby Indrajala » Tue Nov 13, 2012 8:39 am

I just found an article detailing how there was a Tangut translation (partial perhaps?) of the Mahāprājñā-pāramitôpadeśa.

http://repository.kulib.kyoto-u.ac.jp/d ... 2433/87826

(In Japanese, but scroll to the last page of the .pdf for English abstract).

A few fragments, but nevertheless it was translated into Tangut, though perhaps from Chinese.

Unfortunately the Khan leveled the Tangut kingdom to the ground and erased it from history. They had a unique Buddhist culture at the time with connections to both China and Tibet.
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby Indrajala » Tue Nov 13, 2012 8:41 am

Here's another abstract arguing for Nāgārjuna as the author:

http://ci.nii.ac.jp/naid/110006481956
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Re: Authorship of Mahāprājñāpāramitôpadeśa

Postby joda » Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:11 am

:offtopic:
Is there any summary btw which explains which texts are now surely attributeable to him?
I remember it being three, Ratnavali, MMK and something else I forgot now. Would be interesting to see the argumentation, too though.
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Re: Authorship of Mahāprājñāpāramitôpadeśa

Postby Indrajala » Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:21 am

joda wrote::offtopic:
Is there any summary btw which explains which texts are now surely attributeable to him?
I remember it being three, Ratnavali, MMK and something else I forgot now. Would be interesting to see the argumentation, too though.


I would imagine scholars would differ.

This is a good recent work to read on the subject.

Nāgārjuna in Context: Mahāyāna Buddhism and Early Indian Culture by Joseph Walser.

http://books.google.com.tw/books?id=FF6Wj2NXdxgC

Very well written and he addresses some of the authorship issues.
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Re: Authorship of Mahāprājñāpāramitôpadeśa

Postby joda » Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:25 am

Yea Ive read that a while ago, very good book :smile:
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Re: Authorship of Mahāprājñāpāramitôpadeśa

Postby Huifeng » Tue Nov 13, 2012 10:10 am

pueraeternus wrote:
Huseng wrote:
pueraeternus wrote:For example, Nagarjuna was very explicit that for a Bodhisattva to fall into the state of an Arhat, that means the final end of his career and he will never attain Buddhahood.

Where did you get this from?




The idea is actually already found in the Prajnaparamita sutra itself.
It's the basic idea in the early period of the Mahayana, only to transform later into other theories about the various yanas.

Best sources for the discussion on the Upadesa are:

Chou, Pokan 周伯戡 (2000): The Translation of the Dazhidulun: Buddhist Evolution in China in the Early Fifth Century, PhD Dissertation, University of Chigaco, Illinois, UMI: Ann Arbor.
Chou, Pokan 周伯戡 (2004): “The Problem of the Authorship of the Mahā¬prajñā-pāramitopadeśa: A Re-examination”, pp. 281-327 in 『臺大歷史學報第34期 (2004.12)』 Tàidà Lìshĭ Xúebào, vol. 34.
Katō Junshō 加藤純章 (1988): 『大智度論的世界』 (Dàzhìdù Lùn de Shìjìe) The World of the Mahāprajñāpāramitā Upadeśa, pp. 161-198, in 『般若思想』 (Bōrĕ Sīxiăng) Prajñāpāramitā Thought, translated by Xŭ Yángzhŭ 許洋主. 法爾 Fă’ĕr: Taibei. 1988. (<-- Okay, that's the Chinese version of it, anyway...)
Lamotte, E, Le Traite de la Grande Vertu de Sagesse, Vol III (1970), Institut Orientaliste: Louvain-la-Neuve.
Yìn Shùn 印順 (1990): 「《大智度論》之作者及其翻譯」 (“Dàzhìdù Lùn” zhī Zhúozhĕ jí Qí Fānyì) “The Author and Translation of the Mahāprajñā-pāramitā Upadeśa” in 『東方宗教研究第2期1990.10』, pp. 9-70 ,in Studies in Eastern Religions, Vol II, Oct 1990.

Hikata and Hirakawa have written on this topic, too. You can check out the book that the Kato Junsho article (above) appears in (if you can read Chinese...)

The latter should be out soon, from Stefania Travagnin, next year, part of a book called "A Taiwanese Madhyamaka".

~~ Huifeng
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Re: Authorship of Mahāprājñāpāramitôpadeśa

Postby Huifeng » Tue Nov 13, 2012 10:13 am

joda wrote::offtopic:
Is there any summary btw which explains which texts are now surely attributeable to him?
I remember it being three, Ratnavali, MMK and something else I forgot now. Would be interesting to see the argumentation, too though.


Many of the arguments are heavily source bias, in the form of whatever language or type of text the author of said argument specializes in, those texts are somehow attributed, whereas others are not. Other arguments are a bit circular / begging the question, too. ie. defining Nagarjuna as "whoever wrote the Madhyamaka sastra" type of thing.

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Re: Authorship of Mahāprājñāpāramitôpadeśa

Postby Indrajala » Tue Nov 13, 2012 10:26 am

Huifeng wrote:The idea is actually already found in the Prajnaparamita sutra itself.
It's the basic idea in the early period of the Mahayana, only to transform later into other theories about the various yanas.


Sure, but at the time they were having to deal with a hostile environment where bodhisattva aspirants might have been prone to give up given the immediate challenges. This reflects in the literature.
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Re: Authorship of Mahāprājñāpāramitôpadeśa

Postby Michael_Dorfman » Tue Nov 13, 2012 10:27 am

joda wrote::offtopic:
Is there any summary btw which explains which texts are now surely attributeable to him?
I remember it being three, Ratnavali, MMK and something else I forgot now. Would be interesting to see the argumentation, too though.


The standard work on the subject is Christian Lindtner's Nagarjuniana: Studies in the Writings and Philosophy of Nāgārjuna, which attributes the following works to Nāgārjuna:

    Mūlamadhyamakakārikā
    Śūnyatāsaptati
    Vigrahavyāvartanī
    Vaidalyaprakaraṇa
    *Vyavahārasiddhi
    Yuktiṣaṣṭikā
    Catuḥstava
    Ratnāvalī
    Pratītyasamutpādahṛdayakārikā
    Sūtrasamuccaya
    Bodhicittavivaraṇa
    Suhṛllekha
    *Bidhisaṃbhāra[ka]

For folks who wish to be more conservative, the MMK is always stipulated (i.e., Nāgārjuna is defined as "the author of the MMK"), and I don't know offhand of anyone who questions the Vigrahavyāvartanī, or the Śūnyatāsaptati or Yuktiṣaṣṭikā, for that matter.
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Re: Authorship of Mahāprājñāpāramitôpadeśa

Postby Indrajala » Tue Nov 13, 2012 10:30 am

Huifeng wrote:
joda wrote::offtopic:
Is there any summary btw which explains which texts are now surely attributeable to him?
I remember it being three, Ratnavali, MMK and something else I forgot now. Would be interesting to see the argumentation, too though.


Many of the arguments are heavily source bias, in the form of whatever language or type of text the author of said argument specializes in, those texts are somehow attributed, whereas others are not. Other arguments are a bit circular / begging the question, too. ie. defining Nagarjuna as "whoever wrote the Madhyamaka sastra" type of thing.

~~ Huifeng



I personally think the Mahāprājñāpāramitôpadeśa is the work of Nāgārjuna, though Kumārajīva probably edited some of it like he did with his translation of the commentary alongside the MMK. Even when he was doing his translation work this was acknowledged and later Jizang pointed out that Kumārajīva thought the commentary was lacking in areas, so he took the liberty to expand on it.

Unless a Sanskrit or Tibetan manuscript (or maybe Khotanese?) manuscript shows up, though, it will never be known for certain if Nāgārjuna was the true author.
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby pueraeternus » Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:54 pm

Oops - I thought my post in the original thread was removed by accident or lost due to a server issue last night, so I posted it again.

Huseng wrote:
I don't see any contradiction really between the texts. A bodhisattva aims for buddhahood and not arhatship. His verses merely reflect this sentiment.


For me, I do see a contradiction. The verses in the Bodhisambhara are quite explicit in stating that falling into the levels of the Sravaka and Pratyekabuddha constitutes a terminal end to the Bodhisattva's career, using terms such as "cut off", "sever roots", "ultimate obstacle to bodhi".

Huseng wrote:As far as we know Nāgārjuna wrote the Mahāprājñā-pāramitôpadeśa, though this is still debated. The biggest hurdle to determining the authorship is that we only have the Classical Chinese translation of it and no Indic original.


And if I recall correctly, the text was not quoted elsewhere in other Indic works, and only in Chinese works. There also seem to be all sorts of texts that were attributed to Nagarjuna but in all probably were wrong. For example, I read somewhere that in the Chinese Canon, several Yogacara and one of Aryadeva's works were attributed to him, among other things. Then of course there are those very late tantric texts in the Indo-Tibetan schema.
If you believe certain words, you believe their hidden arguments. When you believe something is right or wrong, true of false, you believe the assumptions in the words which express the arguments. Such assumptions are often full of holes, but remain most precious to the convinced.

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Re: Authorship of Mahāprājñāpāramitôpadeśa

Postby viniketa » Tue Nov 13, 2012 4:02 pm

Michael_Dorfman wrote:The standard work on the subject is Christian Lindtner's Nagarjuniana: Studies in the Writings and Philosophy of Nāgārjuna, which attributes the following works to Nāgārjuna:

    Mūlamadhyamakakārikā
    Śūnyatāsaptati
    Vigrahavyāvartanī
    Vaidalyaprakaraṇa
    *Vyavahārasiddhi
    Yuktiṣaṣṭikā
    Catuḥstava
    Ratnāvalī
    Pratītyasamutpādahṛdayakārikā
    Sūtrasamuccaya
    Bodhicittavivaraṇa
    Suhṛllekha
    *Bidhisaṃbhāra[ka]


Lindtner is indeed expert, having spent a lifetime on exactly the question of Nāgārjuna's authorship. If a work is not on his list, it cannot be considered definitively a work of Nāgārjuna.

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Re: Authorship of Mahāprājñāpāramitôpadeśa

Postby joda » Tue Nov 13, 2012 4:05 pm

Thanks Hui Feng and Michael_Dorfmann.
Havent read Nagarjuniana yet.
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Re: Authorship of Mahāprājñāpāramitôpadeśa

Postby pueraeternus » Tue Nov 13, 2012 4:40 pm

Thanks to all who posted sources to check out. Much to read, chew and gnash teeth over. :namaste:
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Re: Avoiding the stream?

Postby Indrajala » Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:58 am

pueraeternus wrote:And if I recall correctly, the text was not quoted elsewhere in other Indic works, and only in Chinese works. There also seem to be all sorts of texts that were attributed to Nagarjuna but in all probably were wrong. For example, I read somewhere that in the Chinese Canon, several Yogacara and one of Aryadeva's works were attributed to him, among other things. Then of course there are those very late tantric texts in the Indo-Tibetan schema.


That's true, but how many Indic works never made it to the present day?

It is a difficult question and given how it is in Chinese and an earlier fifth century translation we'll never know for sure unless an Indic original shows up.
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Re: Authorship of Mahāprājñāpāramitôpadeśa

Postby Huifeng » Wed Nov 14, 2012 1:10 am

As an example of my comments above, while Chris Lindtner is an expert, if I recall correctly, he doesn't read Chinese.

An earlier attempt at the *Bodhisambhara sastra (which Ven. Dharmamitra makes oblique reference to) from the Chinese is truly a "dictionary translation", ie. the author is looking up every character in a dictionary, and trying to piece it together. I can't recall off hand if that is Lindtner or not, but it is some equally famous Nagarjuna specialist.

So, be careful of scholars' source biases, which draw hard lines around their classification of authentic texts. Not many escape this problem.

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