Nagarjuna's Middle Way : The Mulamadhyamakakarikas

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2013-06-11
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications

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Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamakakarikas is the foundational text of the Madhyamaka school of Mahayana Buddhist philosophy. Its 27 chapters contain a wide variety of arguments meant to support the central Mahayana doctrine of emptiness. This translation uses the four surviving Indian commentaries to try to arrive at an understanding that comes as close as possible to what was originally intended. The verses are accompanied by a running commentary that tries to explain their content without straying far beyond the consensus among the original commentators. The aim has been to produce a translation that balances the demands of historical fidelity, accessibility, and philosophical intelligibility. It is the product of a collaboration between scholars with overlapping but distinct and complementary areas of expertise: one is a renowned Buddhologist well known for his work on Sanskrit texts, the other is a philosopher who looks to both contemporary philosophy and classical Indian philosophy for insightful arguments. The translation and commentary are preceded by a brief introduction laying out the historical context and describing some of the common argumentative strategies Nagarjuna will employ in the defense of his interesting and novel stance.

Author Biography

Mark Siderits was trained in Asian and Western philosophy at the University of Hawaii and Yale University. He has taught both Asian and Western philosophy, for many years at Illinois State University, and most recently as Professor of Philosophy at Seoul National University, from which he retired in 2012. He is the author or editor of five books and has published numerous articles on a wide variety of subjects in Indian Buddhist philosophy and comparative philosophy. Much of his work aims at building bridges between the classical Indian tradition and contemporary philosophy, by using insights from one tradition to cast light on problems arising in the other. Professor Shoryu Katsura received his training in Sanskrit and Buddhist Studies at Kyoto University and the University of Toronto. From 1974 to 2004 he taught in the Department of Indian Philosophy at Hiroshima University; from 2004 he was Professor of Buddhist Philosophy at Ryukoku University, Kyoto, until his retirement in 2012. He remains active at Ryukoku University, where he is Director of their Research Center for Buddhist Cultures in Asia. He is the author or editor of seven books, and has published over sixty articles on various facets of classical Indian Buddhist thought. He is perhaps best known for his work on Buddhist epistemology—the thought of Dignaga, Dharmakirti, and their commentators—but has also made important contributions to the study of Madhyamaka, Abhidharma, and later Mahayana thought. In addition he serves as chief priest of Kodaiji, a small Jodo-shinshu temple in Shiga Prefecture.

Table of Contents


Mulamadhyamakakarikas by Nagarjuna
Dedicatory Verse
1. An Analysis of Conditions
2. An Analysis of the Gone Over, the Not Yet Gone Over, and the Presently Being Gone Over
3. An Analysis of the Ayatanas
4. An Analysis of the Skandhas
5. An Analysis of the Dhatus
6. An Analysis of Desire and the One Who Desires
7. An Analysis of the Conditioned
8. An Analysis of Object and Agent
9. An Analysis of What Is Prior
10. An Analysis of Fire and Fuel
11. An Analysis of the Prior and Posterior Parts (of Samsara)
12. An Analysis of Suffering
13. An Analysis of the Composite
14. An Analysis of Conjunction
15. An Analysis of Intrinsic Nature
16. An Analysis of Bondage and Liberation
17. An Analysis of Action and Fruit
18. An Analysis of the Self
19. An Analysis of Time
20. An Analysis of the Assemblage
21. An Analysis of Arising and Dissolution (of Existents)
22. An Analysis of the Tathagata
23. An Analysis of False Conception
24. An Analysis of the Noble Truths
25. An Analysis of Nirvana
26. An Analysis of the Twelvefold Chain
27. An Analysis of Views


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