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The Reliance on Scripture and Vicissitudes of Textual Practices in Madhyamaka Thought.

The familiar principle that characterizes the basic method of the Buddhist scholastic enterprise--reliance on both scripture and reasoning--has been continuously employed in much of the history of Buddhist thought. Just as their Indian predecessors did in the first millennium, Tibetan writers of the second millennium also invoked this principle frequently and even included it in the titles of texts. (1) Thus, Go rams pa (1429-1489) started his criticism of Tsong kha pa's view in the Lta ba'i shan 'byed by stating that he would offer a brief examination of his rival's system "by using scripture and reasoning." (2) Tsong kha pa (1357-1419), on his part, regarded his Lam rim chen mo as "having been drawn from the path of proper analysis using scripture and reasoning." (3) While these two writers disagreed on doctrinal and philosophical points, the general guideline of using scripture and reasoning as a means of scholastic deliberation was held by both.

Going back to the Madhyamaka tradition in India, in the sixth century Bhaviveka stated in Madhyamakahrdaya that he had described reality that is "endowed with reasoning and scripture," which, "being examined by reasoning, remains unharmed." (4) In the early seventh century, Candraklrti asserted in the Prasannapada, his commentary on the Mulamadhyamakakarika, that even Nagarjuna relied on the same method: "Using reasoning and scripture, the acarya [Nagarjuna] composed this text for the purpose of removing doubts and misunderstanding." (5) In a work that has been generally accepted to be authored by Nagarjuna, (6) Ratndvali attests to the customary practice of demonstrating a point by recourse to both scriptural sources and reasoning: "This has been spoken by the Bhagavat, while the reason is also observed in this case." (7) Indeed, in the Abhidharma texts of comparable antiquity, there was already evidence for the application of this established norm, (8) which both Mahayana and early Buddhist authors observed.

What we have seen in these few instances are merely varied ways of expressing the basic underlying principle. In this specific case Buddhist writers have rarely provided self-conscious and detailed accounts of the different manners in which they applied reasoning and--even less frequently--scripture. Moreover, we can hardly expect that the types of scripture and forms of reasoning employed and the understanding of what counts as reasoning could remain unchanged over such a vast span of time. To understand specific ways in which scripture and reasoning are employed in Buddhist texts and how these uses vary in the course of history, scholars of Buddhism must examine concrete cases of application of scripture and reasoning found in the literature. Between the two basic sources of Buddhist scholastic writing, reasoning has consistently received more scholarly attention, especially in the field of Buddhist philosophy. (9) However, Buddhist writers' deployment of scriptural sources also holds special interest as it contains information about reading cultures of different historical periods. Although citations have often been relegated to footnotes and other peripheral spaces, they are inscriptions in texts that can reveal histories of books in religious communities if they are examined with the kind of vigor to which inscriptions have been subjected in the study of Indian history. We cannot locate many Indian Buddhist authors geographically in the same way that inscriptions can be localized, but it is often possible to place a number of writers in the same text tradition in which later writers are aware of, and influenced by, the range of textual sources that their predecessors referred to. In other words, intertextuality plays a much greater role in the citation of texts than in the inscriptional records and has to be accounted for accordingly.

For the purpose of such a study of citation and intertextuality, I have selected some interconnected portions of the texts composed by several Buddhist writers who belong to the Madhyamaka tradition. The pivotal figure of this exercise is Candrakirti, a writer who continued the earlier Indian tradition of Madhyamaka interpretation and whose work also became particularly influential in late Indian Buddhism and much of second-millennium Tibetan Buddhist thought. The comparative angle is supplied here by a consideration of the citations found in related Tibetan works composed by Tsong kha pa and in the earlier Madhyamaka commentaries, especially those written by Buddhapalita and Bhaviveka. Among these four Buddhist philosophers, each author was acquainted with the writings of every remaining author that predated him, if he was preceded by any. Therefore, they self-consciously regarded themselves as a part of the same philosophical tradition.

In his recent work on the seventeenth chapter of the Prasannapada (see n. 38 below), Ulrich Timme Kragh has demonstrated that Candrakirti incorporated a very substantial amount of material from the earlier Madhyamaka commentaries. While my reading of the eighteenth chapter of the Prasannapada against the earlier Madhyamaka commentaries confirms Kragh's conclusion, the current study will bring Candrakirti's influence on Tibetan Madhyamaka thought into view while also emphasizing a form of intertextuality that is peculiar to the use of scriptural citations. With my narrower focus, I will demonstrate that we can uncover a gradual process of Madhyamaka writers' collection of scriptural citations for the purpose of building a hermeneutic apparatus of its scholastic discipline. Buddhapalita already referred to many scriptural sources, but it is in Bhaviveka's and Candrakirti's treatises and commentaries that the process gained momentum. These two authors also demonstrated a clear attention to the Mahayana sutras. An underlying interest of this study is to discover the changing orientations in Buddhist scholastic practices, especially in regard to the use of the various categories of sutra and sastra literature.


Madhyamaka treatises and commentaries weave into their philosophical analyses an extensive number of citations. The majority of the texts cited come under the generic categories of sastra and sutra. The use of the term sastra designates here commentaries on sastras as well, since sastras in the narrow sense and their commentaries share a great deal in content and method. Before we examine specific instances, it will be useful to discuss these designations very briefly to understand the significance of these textual categories. For the Madhyamaka writers discussed in this article, the term sastra refers first and foremost to the foundational treatises of their tradition. Thus, in reference to the Mulamadhyamakakarika Candrakirti says that Nagarjuna, "the acarya, has written this Madhyamaka Sastra for the purpose of teaching the distinction between the provisional and definitive sutrantas." (10) Statements of this kind offer a typical articulation of the relation between sastras and sutras, in which sastras are seen as second-order formulations of the contents of sutras, revealing what the uninitiated cannot learn by reading sutras directly. In addition to the Mulamadhyamakakarika, influential Madhyamaka sastras include Aryadeva's Catuhshataka, whose verses had been frequently cited at least since the time of Buddhapalita, and Ratnavali, which received particular attention from Candrakirti.

From Vasubandhu's description of his own Abhidharmakosa as a sastra, (11) Tarkajvala's reference to the author of Madhyamakahrdaya as the author of the sastra, (12) and Candrakirti's citation of the verses of his own Madhyamakavatara, (13) we learn that Buddhist writers recognize as sastras not just canonized works of their tradition but their further expositions as well, including systematic treatises that they themselves have composed. Moreover, Madhyamikas are also engaged in conversation with the sastras of competing Indian text traditions. In the Madhymakavatara, Candraklrti speaks of various sastras of Indian philosophical traditions outside Buddhism, which expound notions of self that he endeavors to disprove. (14) Even within the Buddhist fold, Candraklrti singles out the Yogacara scholars Vasubandhu and Dharmapala and the Buddhist epistemologist Dignaga as teachers who have turned their back on the unique tradition of Madhyamaka thought, although he recognizes them as authors of sastras. (15) Bhaviveka also devoted several chapters of his Madhyamakahrdaya to the criticism of rival sastra disciplines ranging from Samkhya, Vaisesika, Vedanta, Mimamsa to the Buddhist tradition of Yogacara. It is evident from these statements that there is a clear awareness of one's own sastra discipline as one among many and that the disparate sastra traditions are often in conflict with one another.

As is well known, sastras are characterized by the deployment of numerous scholastic devices, while sutras, presented as the teachings of the Buddha or the sayings of his disciples, are more varied in content and style. Within sastras and their commentaries, the citation of passages from sutras fulfills, above all, the purpose of justifying the views put forward in the sastras by appealing to the scriptural status of the passages. The hierarchy of religious authority at work here, which assigns higher scriptural authority to sutras while delegating to sastras the status of authorized interpretations of scriptures, would incline us to think that their respective functions in textual practice bear proportionate relation to the degrees of authority that they enjoy. However, the roles that sutras and sastras play in actual scholastic practice do not follow from their nominal status and even change over time, as the following pages will demonstrate.

The sastra-sutra distinction considered so far will serve as a framework and a starting point for the examination of how their relationship is formed and transformed in the Madhyamaka tradition. The following analyses will demonstrate that despite the higher scriptural authority that sutras appear to hold, evidence in the Buddhist literary history in India and Tibet points to a gradual rise of sastras' importance in regard to the roles that they have played in Buddhist scholasticism, such that they effectively replaced sutras as the primary object of study, commentary, and debate. One practical means to measure the relative popularity of the two groups of texts is to compare the uses of sastras and those of sutras on the basis of the inter-textual references that are found in the literature. By examining how certain writers refer to other texts, it is possible to obtain information about their reading habits.


To carry out the kind of analysis that will lead to an outcome relevant to the question of the use of texts in scholastic practices, this and the following sections will gather data from several texts that belong to different phases of the Madhyamaka text tradition. The first instance is a sample taken from an early-fifteenth-century comprehensive Buddhist manual titled Lam rim chen mo, which was composed by the Tibetan writer Tsong kha pa. This text has enjoyed the reputation of being "one of the most renowned works of Buddhist thought and practice to have been composed in Tibet." (16) Tsong kha pa reserved about a third of his treatise for the exposition of wisdom, which in turn contains a philosophical interpretation of the Mahayana Buddhist teaching of emptiness based on the Madhyamaka tradition and a treatment of related meditative practices. The portion on Madhyamaka philosophy occupies about two hundred pages in a standard modern edition, a fact that indicates the importance that the author attached to a sastra discipline. We will focus here on the citations used in this philosophical section since it bears the most direct relation to the Madhyamaka tradition that preceded him. (17) This rather lengthy section of the work contains many hundreds of citations, although the vast majority of them originate from sastra sources. In contrast, we find only twenty-one quotations from the sutras, which constitute less than five percent of the total textual references that the section contains.

Table 1 furnishes a list of all the sutra passages cited in Lam rim chen mo's presentation of Madhyamaka philosophy. A further detail that emerges as we scrutinize this relatively short list of sutra citations is that the vast majority of the twenty-one passages were already directly or indirectly used in the Madhyamaka writings of the Indian author Candrakirti, who is clearly declared by Tsong kha pa to be one of the primary Indian authorities on whom he relied. Only three of Tsong kha pa's sutra passages are not known to have been used by Candrakirti. These three passages are two half stanzas from the Ratnagunasamcayagatha (nos. 7 and 9) and a line from the Prajnapdramitahrdaya (no. 8). Both texts are well-known Mahayana scriptures belonging to the Prajnaparamita class. Although Candrakirti also cited at least two different passages from the former text, Tsong kha pa was apparently independently familiar with it. (18) The second sutra, known to the modern readers as the Heart Sutra, is an extremely short text widely known to the Tibetans. (19) Candrakirti's frequent citation of the Samadhirdjasutra apparently also left an impact on Tsong kha pa. The citation of the stanzas 11-17 and 19-22 from the ninth chapter of this sutra in the Lam rim chen mo (no. 16) is likely to impress the reader with its literary quality. It is a rare case where I have not been able to locate all these verses in Candrakirti's works. (20) Perhaps this is an instance where Tsong kha pa was motivated to locate the passage in the sutra itself.

Among the sutra passages quoted both by Tsong kha pa and Candrakirti, a few cases further strengthen the case of the latter's influence on the former. In one instance (no. 18) Tsong kha pa cited two stanzas from the Samddhirdjasutra in the following sequence: stanza 7 of chapter 12 followed by stanza 16 of chapter 11. These two stanzas had been extracted in the same order in the Prasannapada, which shows that Candrakirti is to be credited with the initial perception of the two stanzas' connection. Moreover, two sutra passages listed in Table 1 do not exist in Tibetan translations that were available to Tsong kha pa independently apart from their fragmentary quotation. The first passage is a stanza that both Candrakirti and Tsong kha pa cited (no. 21), whose source both writers named as the Hastikaksyasutra. However, this passage is not found anywhere in the available Tibetan translation. (21)

Another instance is a passage (no. 17) that originates from an early Buddhist sutra that exists today in the forms of the Puppha Sutta in the Pali Samyuttanikaya and a corresponding Chinese translation in the Samyuktagama. This striking sutra passage reads as follows in its Pali version: "O monks! I do not argue with the world; but the world argues with me. The speaker of dhamma, monks, does not argue with anyone in the world. What is accepted by the wise people in the world to be not existing, monks, I also say that it does not exist. What is accepted by the wise people in the world to be existing, monks, I also say that it exists." (22) The sutra is not available independently in Tibetan. Consequently, Tsong kha pa identified a related passage in the Mahayana sutra Trisamvaranirdesa, which makes a reference to the statement in the Samyuttanikaya/ Samyuktagama but only records a partial version of that passage: "Thus I said, 'The world argues with me, but I do not argue with the world.'" (23) The shorter version appears once in the Madhyamakdvatarabhdsya, but on two separate occasions Candrakirti cites the longer version that is not found in its entirety in the Trisamvaranirdesa, which makes it clear that what the Indian writer had in mind was an early Buddhist sutra. (24)

This influential fifteenth-century Tibetan work on Madhyamaka philosophy therefore reveals a state of textual practices in which the use of sutras is almost completely mediated by the study of sastras and commentaries. The citations in Tsong kha pa's four remaining major Madhyamaka works appear to follow a similar pattern. Data is available for a text written as the condensed version of the Lam rim chen mo thirteen years after its composition. (25) The Madhyamaka section of Tsong kha pa's Lam rim chung ngu shows the evidence of substantial reworking of the materials presented in the earlier work, an aspect of which is the incorporation into its one hundred and forty-six citations of seventy-six passages that had not been used in the Lam rim chen mo. However, the seventy-six new citations are still dominated by the same sastra sources and include only nine passages from sutras and one from the Guhyasamaja Tantra. (26)

The larger question that Tsong kha pa's citation practices raises is whether there was any vigorous sutra reading culture at this time in the history of Tibetan Buddhism. Ethnographic data have indeed revealed that present-day Tibetans are rarely involved in the study of the Buddhist sutras. (27) Given that the amount of evidence considered here is extremely limited, to refrain from making disproportionate generalization, the case of Tsong kha pa suggests that, if sutras were read separately, in the area of Madhyamaka studies they did not play an independent role in stimulating new ideas and reformulating the theoretical system. A reused sutra passage offers no less persuasive force or emotional impact. For those who are aware of it, the intertextual connection in fact strengthens the sense of tradition, which is one of the important functions that citations perform.


The literary evidence from the beginning of the seventh century in India reflects a very different textual landscape with regard to the different levels of importance that were attached to sutras, on the one hand, and sastras and commentaries, on the other. To gauge the state of Buddhist textual practices in this period, I have gathered information about the citations used the eighteenth chapter of Candrakirti's Prasannapada. Building on the earlier Madhyamaka commentarial tradition, the chapter discusses a range of topics in its rich interpretation of Nagarjuna's twelve verses in the Mulamadhyamakakarika, which proceed from an examination of the notion of self (atman) to a description of the characteristics of reality (tattvasya laksanam). (28) Candrakirti supports the presentation in the chapter with abundant scriptural citations that, when analyzed, also illustrate the degree of intertextuality involved in a growing commentarial tradition's citation practices.

List 1: Citations in the Eighteenth Chapter of Candrakirti's Prasannapada (PPMV 340-81)

1. Citations of Buddhist sdstras (22 passages)

(A) Citations of the Mulamadhyamakakarika of Nagarjuna (5 passages), excluding the stanzas from the eighteenth chapter that the Prasannapada immediately comments on: (29)

(1) Mulamadhyamakakarika XXVII 12 (PPMV 341.11-12); (2) XXVII 6 (PPMV 342.2-3);

(3) XXIII 1 (PPMV 350.8-9); (4) XXV 24 (PPMV 364.15-16); (5) XIV 6ab (PPMV 376.8)

(B) Citations of the Ratnavali, attributed to Nagarjuna by Candrakirti (5 passages): (6) Ratnavali I 31-34 (PPMV 345.5-12), Hahn 1982: 14 and 15; (7) I 29-30 (PPMV 346.5-8), Hahn 1982: 12 and 13; (8) I 52-54 (PPMV 347.5-10), Hahn 1982: 22 and 23; (9) II 3-4 (PPMV 359.1-4), Hahn 1982: 40 and 41; (10) IV 94-96 (PPMV 359.11-360.2), Hahn 1982: 128-131

(C) Citations of the Catuhsataka of Aryadeva (6 passages): (11) Catuhsataka XII 23 (PPMV 351.13-14), Lang 1986: 116; (12) VIII 15 (PPMV 359.8-9), Lang 1986: 82; (13) VIII 19 (PPMV 370.4-5), Lang 1986: 84; (14) VIII 20 (PPMV 372.5-6), Lang 1986: 84; (15) X 25 (PPMV 376.14-15), Lang 1986: 102; (16) VIII 22 (PPMV 378.4-5), Lang 1986: 86

(D) Citation of Bhaviveka's work (2 passages): (17) Prajnapradipa (PPMV 351.16-352.6), D 3853, Dbu ma, vol. tsha, 183b4-7; (18) Prajnapradipa (PPMV 369.4-7), D 3853, Dbu ma, vol. tsha, 188b 1-3

(E) References to Candrakirti's Madhyamakavatara (4 passages): (19) VI 120 (PPMV 340.8-11), MA 233; (20) VI 127-128 (PPMV 342.5-12), MA 245 and 247; (21) VI 121 (PPMV 344.5-8), MA 235; (22) I 8d (PPMV 353.1), MA 19

2. Citation of a non-Buddhist sastra (1 passage): (23) A verse associated with the Lokayata tradition (PPMV 360.6-7); see Lokatattvanirnaya 113, in Suali 1887: 290

3. Citations of early Buddhist texts (6 passages): (24) Ksudrakagama (PPMV 348.11-12), cited in Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakosabhasya IX, where the source is identified as Ksudrakagama (Sastri 1998: 2:933); (25) Ekottaragama (PPMV 350.11-12, also in PPMV 451.12-13), T 125 II 687b22-23; (26) (PPMV 355.4) Ksudrakagama (cited in Abhidharmakosabhasya, Sastri 1998: 2:933); (27) Samyuktagama (PPMV 355.5-6), Feer 1884-1898: 3:44 and 4:287, T 99II 7c22-24, etc.; (28) Samyuktagama (PPMV 370.6-8, also in MABh 179 and 289; source of MA VI 82 and VI 166), Feer 1884-1898: 3:138, T 99 II 8M6-26; (29) Dharmapada (PPMV 354.5-6), stanza 160, in HinUber and Norman 1994: 45; last two padas cited in Abhidharmakosabhasya (Sastri 1998: 1:84); cited later in Prajnakaramati's Bodhicaryavatarapanajika on IX 73, in Vaidya 1960b: 232

4. Citations of Mahayana sutras (16 passages):

(A) The Prajnaparamita class (5 passages): (30) Astasahasrikaprajnaparamita (PPMV 353.3-6), Vaidya 1960a: 3-4; (31) Ratnagunasamcayagatha II 4 (PPMV 353.8-354.2), Vaidya 2003: 356; (32) Astasahasrikaprajnaparamita (PPMV 379.4-380.2), Vaidya 1960a: 238; (33) Astasahasrikaprajnaparamita (PPMV 380.3-10), Vaidya 1960a: 257-58; (34) Astasahasrikaprajnaparamita (PPMV 380.11-381.11), Vaidya 1960a: 259

(B) The Ratnakuta class (4 passages): (35) Kasyapaparivarta (PPMV 358.10-12, source named in PPMV as Aryaratnakuta), Stael-Holstein 1926: 87; (36) Tathagataguhyasutra (PPMV 361.1-363.12), D 47, Dkon brtsegs, vol. ka, 161a2-162a4; (37) Tathagataguhyasutra (PPMV 366.1-7), D 47, Dkon brtsegs, vol. ka, 132b6-133al; (38) Tathagataguhyasutra (PPMV 366.9-367.4), T 312 XI 722b23

(C) Samadhirajasutra (3 passages): (39) Samadhirajasutra XXXVII 35 (PPMV 354.10-355.02), Vaidya 1961: 268; (40) VIII 4, 5 (PPMV 367.13-16, also in PPMV 278.5-12), Vaidya 1961: 42; (41) XIV 87 (PPMV 368.2-3), Vaidya 1961: 93

(D) Other Mahayana sutras (4 passages): (42) Avatamsakasutra (PPMV 367.6-10), T 279 X 79a23-b3; (43) Aksayamatinirdesasutra (PPMV 374.2-3), D 175 Dpe bsdur ma ed. 60.311, T 397 XIII 197b8-10, T 403 XIII 597a5 (identified as Aksayamatinirdesa by Bhaviveka, also agrees with Bodhisattvapitakasutra, T 310(12) XI 300c26-27, T 316 XI 872b4-5); (44) Satyadvayavatarasutra (PPMV 374.5-375.6), D 179 (Samvrtiparamdrthasatyanirdesa), Mdo sde, vol. ma, 148a5-149a4; (45) Lalitavistarasutra XIII 102 (PPMV 377.1-2), Vaidya 1958: 126

5. Citations of sutra passages of unknown identity (3 passages): (46) Said to originate from a sutra (PPMV 349.11-12); (47) follows the same refrain as the preceding stanza in PPMV (see no. 31 of this table) (PPMV 354.7-8)

6. Unidentified sources (3 passages): (48) (PPMV 348.14-349.2, also in PPMV 133.14-134.4 and 429.12-430.4); (49) (PPMV 349.4-7); (50) (PPMV 370.2-3); cited also in Subhasitasamgraha, Bendall 1903: 385

7. A ubiquitous Buddhist statement: (51) (PPMV 355.7)

From List 1's classification of citations found in the eighteenth chapter of the Prasannapada, it becomes immediately clear that Candrakirti cites from Buddhist sutras as least as frequently as he does from sastra sources. The contrast between Table 1 and List 1 indicates that Candrakirti lived in a Buddhist community where there was a stronger interest in the reading of Buddhist sutras. Within the category of sastras, it is not surprising that the quotations used by Candrakirti, the Madhyamika, were extracted mostly from the treatises composed by the founding members of his own tradition. Among these texts he cites five passages each from the Mulamadhyamakakarika (nos. 1-5) and Ratnavali (nos. 9-13) and six stanzas from Aryadeva's Catuhsataka (nos. 11-16) to relate relevant Madhyamaka sastra passages to the points being discussed. On a few occasions, Candrakirti also refers to Madhyamakavatdra, a versified summary of Madhyamaka thought that he had composed earlier (nos. 19-22).

Three additional sastra citations in the chapter, on the other hand, reflect contemporary debates that took place among the Madhyamikas and in the inter-sectarian context. All three citations are linked to the work of Bhaviveka, a Madhyamaka writer who predates Candrakirti. One of them is a verse associated with the Carvaka tradition of Indian philosophy (no. 23), which Bhaviveka has cited in the Prajnapradipa to represent the opinion of the rival group. Another citation from the Prajnapradipa (no. 17) presents Bhaviveka's view that hearers (sravakas) and lone Buddhas (pratyekabuddhas), in contrast to the bodhisattvas, do not have the understanding of the Mahayana Buddhist doctrine of emptiness. Candrakirti disagrees with his predecessor on this point and refers his reader to his argument in the Madhyamakdvatarabhasya for the position that an enlightened being following the early Buddhist path must have realized emptiness. (30) William Ames has shown that Bhaviveka expresses his own view on this issue consistently in a number of places and that he criticizes his predecessor Buddhapalita for maintaining that early Buddhist scriptures teach emptiness, (31) a position that Candrakirti also holds.

That Candrakirti sides with Buddhapalita is widely known from his critique of Bhaviveka's method of logical argument in the first chapter of the Prasannapada (PPMV 14.1-36.2) and his defense of Buddhapalita in that context. In the eighteenth chapter, aside from the debate about the relationship between early Buddhism and the doctrine of emptiness just discussed, there is a second point on which Candrakirti displays his affinity with Buddhapalita's interpretation. The discussion is about how the Madhyamikas should respond to the criticism that their philosophy is a form of nihilism. After paraphrasing what appears to be Buddhapalita's response to the criticism, Bhaviveka remarks that it is not effective and proceeds to provide his own reply. (32) Candrakirti cites Bhaviveka's paraphrase (no. 18), which he attributes to the teachers of the past (purvacarya[h]), without reproducing Bhaviveka's negative assessment. In fact, Candrakirti's own response follows and expands what Buddhapalita wrote. This debate may indicate that Candrakirti and Buddhapalita represent a small community of Madhyamaka scholars who hold certain views that are distinct from Bhaviveka's more established interpretation. (33)

The eighteenth chapter of the Prasannapada also furnishes evidence for the active use of a wide variety of sutras in the Indian Buddhist scholastic culture at the time of Candrakirti.

Among the twenty-two identified sutra passages that appear in the chapter, sixteen are found in the Mahayana sutras. Two popular Mahayana sutra classes, the Prajnaparamita and what the Chinese and Tibetan catalogs call the Ratnakuta, (34) are represented by five (nos. 30-34) and four (nos. 35-38) citations respectively. The chapter also contains three passages from the Samadhirajasutra (nos. 39-41), from which dozens of stanzas and a prose passage are cited in the Prasannapadd alone. (35) Candrakirti also cites one passage from each of the following four Mahayana sutras (nos. 42-45): Lalitavistara, Avatamsaka, Aksayamatinirdesa, and Satyadvayavatara.

The citations from the early Buddhist sutras found in Candrakirti's chapter (nos. 24-29) mark the intersection between Madhyamaka thought and the early Buddhist theory of no self (anatman), which is treated in the earlier part of Nagarjuna's chapter and in the commentaries. They also illustrate the Madhyamaka tradition's creative uses of early Buddhist texts. The citations represent major bodies of early Buddhist scriptures, including Ksudrakagama, Ekottaragama, Samyuktdgama, and Dharmapada. Among them, a passage originating from the Samyuktagama (no. 28) later attracted the attention of Tsong kha pa, who located a citation of it in the Mahayana sutra Trisamvaranirdesaparivarta (Table 1, no. 17), as we saw earlier. The statement from the early Buddhist sutra, the Pali parallel of which is the Puppha Sutta in the Samyuttanikaya, that "I accept as existent what is accepted to be existent in the world; I accept as not existent what is accepted as not existent in the world" was used by Buddhapalita, Bhaviveka, and Candrakirti in their commentaries on the same verse of the Mulamadhyamakakarika. It was therefore initially incorporated into the Madhyamaka textual tradition to lend its weight to the general idea that the Buddha described certain things as true or as not true for the pragmatic purpose of helping those who will, in their present circumstances, benefit from accepting such views. (36) However, in Candrakirti's own system this passage assumes a more significant role. In his independent work it contributes to the important idea that conventional truth (samvrtisatya) is just what is agreed upon by the ordinary people in the world. (37)


The most significant differences between Tsong kha pa's and Candrakirti's citation practices in their Madhyamaka works are the amount of the sutra sources used and the extent to which the use of sutra sources is conditioned by the prior tradition of sastras and commentaries. Based on Tsong kha pa's relatively sparing use of sutra citations and his dependence on Candrakirti's works for such materials, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the prominence of sastra grew tremendously in certain areas of Buddhist learning between the seventh and fifteenth centuries. This exercise in comparison provides a specific angle as well as further questions for the study of textual practices in the Indian Madhyamaka tradition. If the Tibetan Madhyamaka work of Tsong kha pa was highly influenced by his Indian predecessor Candrakirti, were the scholastic works of Indian authors like Candrakirti also highly mediated by the sastras and commentaries of their own discipline? How did the Madhyamaka tradition in India gradually gather a body of scriptural passages as a part of its own hermeneutic apparatus? What kind of inference can we draw about the culture of sutra reading around the time of Candrakirti based on the analysis of citations found in the Madhyamaka texts?

On the question of the mediation of a prior scholastic tradition, Kragh's work on the seventeenth chapter of the Prasannapada has already established that about one third of Candrakirti's sentences contain phrases, examples, quotations, and even complete lines that are also found in the earlier commentaries on the Mulamadhyamakakarika. (38) In particular, Kragh has used his data to argue that while Candrakirti was unlikely to have direct knowledge of the two earliest extant Madhyamaka commentaries--the Akutobhaya and the work of Qingmu--he was consciously dependent on Buddhapalita's and Bhaviveka's Madhyamaka exegeses. (39) The data of citations obtained from the eighteenth chapter of the five early Madhyamaka commentaries on the Mulamadhyamakakarika support the pattern that Kragh has discovered. Qingmu's commentary on the eighteenth chapter has just two conspicuous scriptural quotations, (40) while the large amount of independent material that it contains indicates that it is not in the same line of successive commentaries to which the other texts appear to belong. Among the other four texts, Akutobhaya is the simplest and does not cite any text explicitly, although from this text a significant proportion of material found its way into the three later commentaries. In the eighteenth chapter, the close connection between Buddhapalita, Bhaviveka, and Candrakirti is again confirmed by the shared materials in general and the passages that are cited by two or all three of these writers in particular. Table 2 below shows that eleven out of Buddhapalita's fifteen citations were used by one or both of his successors. In the case of Bhaviveka, the citations that he shared with Buddhapalita, Candrakirti, or both make up about a half of the quotations that he used in the chapter.

Kragh's discovery of significant bonds between Indian Madhyamaka commentators is based on his careful study of the so-called "exegetical parallels," which are "words, phrases, clauses, or whole sentences" that are "used verbatim" in the context of commentators' exegesis of the same verse. (41) A substantial proportion of the citations that I have collected from early Madhyamaka commentaries on the eighteenth chapter of the Mulamadhyamakakarika exhibit exegetical parallels, although this finding should be reassessed. The least significant point to be made here is that shared citations are not all used in the exegeses of the same verses. In some cases, a verse or a line that a commentator uses in the exegesis of one verse appears in another commentator's interpretation of a different verse. (42) Additionally, different authors sometimes use familiar passages in different circumstances. Table 2 supplies a few instances in which Buddhapalita's quotations appear in other chapters of Candrakirti's text or even in commentaries on different texts. (43) Such evidence inclines us towards the view that through their own reading and citation habits individual writers bring specific scriptural passage into the consciousness of their own community of interpreters. As a body of familiar citations becomes relatively stable within the community, individual passages get used in whatever contexts that the writers see fit. Although a significant proportion of citations do appear in the context of exegetical parallelism, usually functioning as proof-texts, scriptural passage can also be lifted out of such context to lend their ideas to the development of new philosophical positions, as we saw in Candrakirti's use of the Puppha Sutta in his independent compositions. (44)

Moreover, shared scriptural passages are arguably distinct from common interpretations and philosophical arguments in that their use is even less confined to specific scholastic traditions. Scriptures, after all, are shared textual resources of the Buddhist communities at large. In Bhaviveka's and Candrakirti's commentaries on the eighteenth chapter of the Mulamadhyamakakarika, a number of citations are known to have been used in the scholastic texts outside the Madhyamaka tradition. A line quoted by Candrakirti to show that the Buddha taught no self was used at least twice in Bhaviveka's commentary. The line occurred earlier in Vasubandhu's own commentary on his Vimsatika, (45) a foundational treatise on Yogacara philosophy, which was attacked by Bhaviveka and Candrakirti as a rival tradition. This textual source must have gained some currency especially in the Yogacara circle, as Bhaviveka's contemporary Dharmapala cites it in his own commentary on the Vimsatika. (46) Kuiji also states in his seventh-century Chinese commentary on the same treatise that he is able to find the stanza in three Sanskrit manuscripts. (47) This line could have been introduced to the Madhyamaka tradition via its active use by a competing tradition, but it is likely that the citation of it from the Ksudrakagama in the Abhidharmakosabhasya was a common reference point for both the Madhyamaka and Yogacara writers. In the Madhyamaka texts it functions merely as a scriptural witness to the Buddhist theory of no self, (48) rather than serving any unique interpretive agenda.

The citations shared by the Madhyamaka and Abhidharma traditions point to an earlier history of the uses of certain scriptural sources. Indeed, some citations used by Bhaviveka and Candrakirti appeared in the earlier work of Abhidharmakosabhasya. (49) A source used in the Prasannapada, which also appears in a series of earlier Buddhist texts, demonstrates a prolonged interest in a Buddhist verse and the productiveness of that preoccupation. The verse in question reads: "O desire, I know your root. Surely, you arise from imagination. I will not fancy you. You will then not be mine." (50) In the early strata of Buddhist texts, it generally occurs in the discussion of sexual desire's disruptive effect on the ascetic life, and it is commonly accompanied by an illustrative narrative. The Ekottaragama, one of the main scriptural collections of early Buddhism, contains a short sutra that concludes its discourse with this verse. (51) As it became a part of various Dharmapada collections, the Dharmapada commentarial tradition followed its established interpretive technique and related simple but dramatic stories to serve as the narrative context of the verse. (52) In the early Abhidharma work Dharmaskandha, the narrative framework of the verse is still retained, and it occurs in the context of discussing the nature of desire. (53) In the Nyayanusara of Sanghabhadra, who was Vasubandhu's contemporary, the reference to the verse no longer concerns its content. The opinion of an opponent, who cites the first pada of the verse merely as an example of the Abhidharma discussion of what counts as a name, a syllable, and a phrase, is reported in this work, (54) perhaps suggesting that the verse was still well known at the time.

In the Madhyamaka work Tarkajvala, the verse is invoked in the voice of someone who follows the so-called sravaka path to illustrate an opinion that is thought to be associated with early Buddhism. (55) In the Prasannapada this verse with a clear early Buddhist connection (List 1, no. 25) is used to corroborate Nagarjuna's statement that defilements such as desire originate from conceptualization, which will be eliminated in the direct experience of emptiness. (56) This is another instance where Candrakirti finds harmony between early Buddhist texts and Madhyamaka positions.

The trajectories of the two verses from the Ksudrakagama and Ekottaragama examined here reveal two routes through which scriptural sources were absorbed into the Madhyamaka textual tradition. Both examples indicate that certain scriptural passages were previously used in scholastic context outside the Madhyamaka community before they were incorporated into the Madhyamaka texts. Some passages that belong to this group were familiar to most Buddhist scholastics through their use in the writings of several Buddhist textual traditions, and their roots might even go back to their use in the earlier Abhidharma texts. The other source of the scriptural passages, however, appears to be popular Buddhist culture. The traces of the verse from the Ekottaragama betray its circulation in wider Buddhist circles. Its close association with narratives points to its role in didactic and oral discourses. Whatever their sources might be, after the passages were incorporated into the Madhyamaka texts some of them might even have become a part of the more stable reserve of scriptural citations through collective and repeated uses and the influence of the tradition's pivotal members.


It is true that Madhyamaka commentators cite common scriptural passages, but what is of particular interest to historians of Buddhism is individual writers' unique patterns of citation, which may tell us something specific about what texts were available to them and how they used them. In fact, the citation practices of the five early Madhyamaka commentators vary significantly. Focusing again on the commentaries on the eighteenth chapter of the Mulamadhyamakakarika as an example, (57) the most apparent fact is that later texts employ increasingly more citations. Between the two earliest commentaries on the eighteenth chapter, the Akutobhaya does not refer to any text other than Mulamadhyamakakarika, while Qingmu's commentary uses just two explicit citations, as we have seen above.

List 2: Citations in the Eighteenth Chapter of the Buddhapalitamulamadhyamakavrtti

1. Lindtner 1981: 192.1-3; cf. Samyuttanikaya 3:25

2. Lindtner 1981: 192.9-12; Catuhsataka X 20

3. Lindtner 1981: 192.37-193.2; Samyuttanikaya 2:82 (cf. Samyuktagama, at T 99 II 83b6-8)

4. Lindtner 1981: 193.14-17; Catuhsataka XII 23

5. Lindtner 1981: 193.22-25; Mulamadhyamakakarika XXVII 8

6. Lindtner 1981: 194.16-19; Catuhsataka VIII 20

7. Lindtner 1981: 194.31; Salistambasutra, in Reat 1993: 28 (58)

8. Lindtner 1981: 195.17-20; Catuhsataka XIV 25

9. Lindtner 1981: 196.17-20; Prajnapdramitdstotra 15, in Hikata 1958: 2

10. Lindtner 1981: 197.5-6; = no. 3

11. Lindtner 1981: 197.8-11; Catuhsataka VIII 9

12. Lindtner 1981: 197.17-18; Samyuttanikaya 3:138

13. Lindtner 1981: 198.17-18; Samyuttanikaya 2:17

14. Lindtner 1981: 199.21-24; Catuhsataka X 25

15. Lindtner 1981: 200.5-8; Catuhsataka VIII 22

The citations that Buddhapalita uses in his eighteenth chapter, given in List 2, are more numerous than in the two earlier commentaries. When we take a closer look at Buddhapalita's specific sources, we find that the verses from Aryadeva's Catuhsataka account for seven of the fifteen citations. He also cites a verse from the Prajnaparamitastotra (no. 9), a hymn written by the earlier Madhyamaka author Rahulabhadra, apart from a verse from another chapter of Nagarjuna's sastra that he is commenting on. The frequent citation of Aryadeva's verses to echo Nagarjuna's, a precedent that both Bhaviveka and Candrakirti followed, indicates that there might have been some form of canonization of certain sastras within the Madhyamaka tradition. Indeed, Candrakirti's works show comparable attention to established Madhyamaka sastras, as we have already seen in his citation of the Ratnavali. Compared with his two successors, the number of Buddhapalita's sutra citations is relatively modest, as two of his six sutra quotations were used in Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika and were thus familiar to the Madhyamaka tradition prior to him. (59) It may seem unexpected that the sutra sources he quotes in the chapter are mostly early Buddhist scriptures rather than Mahayana sutras. (60) However, this appears less unusual in view of the fact that even Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika refers mostly to early Buddhist scriptures, although the main ideas that Madhyamaka texts communicate are apparently Mahayanist. It is not until the time of Bhaviveka that Mahayana sutra quotations began to appear with some frequency in the Madhyamaka commentaries.

LIST 3: Citations in the Eighteenth Chapter of Bhaviveka's Prajnapradipa

1. D 3853 Dbu ma, vol. tsha, 178b3: a sutra passage, source not identified. Cited in MABh 244.15-18 and 254.14-16

2. D 179b7: MMK V 2

3. D 180a3: = no. 2

4. D 180b4: source identified as Prajnapdramitasutra in the Chinese translation of Prajnapradipa (T 1566 XXX 105a5)

5. D 180b4-5: Dharmapada 160, source identified in the Chinese translation as a sutra from the Agamas; last two padas cited in Abhidharmakosabhasya, in Sastri 1998: 1:84

6. D 184a4-5: Catuhsataka X 20

7. D 184a5-6: Samkhyakdrika 62cd

8. D 185b4: Catuhsataka XII 23

9. D 185b5: same as no. 5

10. D 185b5: source not identified

11. D 186a7-bl: Ksudrakagama, cited in Abhidharmakosabhasya, in Sastri 1998: 2:933

12. D 186b4-5: two verses associated with the Lokayata tradition. First verse cited in PPMV 360.6-7 (List 1, no. 23)

13. D 187al-2: Suvikrantavikramipariprccha, in Hitaka 1958: 32

14. D 187b6: Brahmavisesacintipariprccha, T 586 XV 48a12, T 587 XV 80a29-b1, Lhasa Bka' 'gyur 161 (D 160), Mdo sde, vol. pa, 102b2

15. D 187b6: Aksayamatinirdesa, Braarvig 1993: 1:73, T 403 XIII 597a4, T 397(12) XIII 197b8-10

16. D 187b7: common phrase appearing in numerous sutras in the Mdo sde section as well in the Ratnakuta and Prajnaparamita sections of the Bka' 'gyur

17. D 188a4: Kasyapaparivarta (referred to as Ratnakutasutra in Prajnapradipa), Stael-Holstein 1926: 94-95

18. D 188a5-6: Brahmavisesacintipariprccha, T 585 XV 7b8-10, T 586 XV 39b10-12, T 587 XV 69c9-11, Lhasa Bka' 'gyur 161 (D 160), Mdo sde, vol. pa, 61b3-4

19. D 188a6-7: Catuhsataka XIV 25

19a. D 188b1-3: not a direct quote but a reference to Buddhapalita's response to the criti cism that Madhyamikas are nihilists (61)

20. 189a6: Samyuttanikaya 3:138

21. 190b7: Catuhsataka X 25

22. 191a4-5: Catuhsataka VIII 22

23. 191b2-3: Suvikrantavikramipariprccha = no. 13

24. 191b3: source not identified

25. 191b4: Ksudrakagama = no. 11

26. 191b4-5: Manjusrivikriditasutra, T 817 XVII 818c18-20, T 818 XVII 827a23-24, Lhasa Bka' 'gyur 97 (D 96), Mdo sde, vol. kha, 362b2-3

The quotations found in the eighteenth chapter of the Prajnapradipa, given here in List 3, show that the kinds of sources Bhaviveka used finally bear resemblance to those used by Candrakirti. As anticipated, Bhaviveka cites from early Madhyamaka sastras, a category in which we find five verses from the Catuhsataka (nos. 6, 8, 19, 21, 22), all of which were also used by Buddhapalita in the commentary on the same chapter, as well as one verse from the Mulamadhyamakakarika, which was quoted twice (nos. 2 and 3). The three early Buddhist sources identified in the chapter (nos. 5, 11, 20) had been cited earlier at least partially either in Buddhapalita's commentary or in the Abhidharmakosabhasya, (62) both of which would have been familiar to Bhaviveka. Although his predecessors also engaged in disputations with non-Buddhist opponents, one aspect of Bhaviveka's writing that is absent in the earlier Madhyamaka commentaries is the display of his vast knowledge of the philosophical views of many rival traditions and the resourcefulness with which he critically engaged with these positions. The Samkhya (no. 7) and Carvaka (no. 12) verses cited in the chapter hardly reflect the frequency with which philosophical encounters are rehearsed in the Prajnapradipa. His knowledge of the state of Indian thought is perhaps better represented in the treatment of various Buddhist and non-Buddhist philosophical systems he presented in the later chapters of the Madhyamakahrdaya.

The eighteenth chapter of the Prajnapradipa also contains eight passages quoted from the Mahayana sutras, which are to be reckoned statistically as the most significant category of sources. Most of these citations are traceable to specific Mahayana sutras--Suvikrantavikramipariprccha (no. 13 = no. 23), Brahmavisesacintipariprccha (nos. 14 and 18), Aksayamatinirdesa (no. 15), Kasyapaparivarta (no. 17), and Manjusrivikriditasutra (no. 26)--while another passage (no. 16) appears in numerous Mahayana sutras. These Mahayana sutra passages are newly introduced into the interpretation of the specific verses in the chapter, and they are not acquired from a parallel exegetical context from a prior Madhyamaka commentarial tradition. The fresh use of these passages, therefore, contrasts with other Buddhist sources adduced in the chapter--the early Buddhist scriptural passages that were familiar to the Madhyamikas or the scholastic Buddhist communities at large. The impression that in this period not all of the Madhyamaka authors' Mahayana sutra sources come from a well-defined body of shared texts and passages is further strengthened by the fact that in this chapter only a very small proportion of Bhaviveka's and Candrakirti's citations from this textual category overlap. We can identify no more than a shared passage from the Aksayamatinirdesa (no. 15 of List 3 and no. 43 of List 1) and one shared text, Kasyapaparivarta (no. 17 of List 3 and no. 35 of List 1), in the two commentaries on the chapter. For instance, when these two commentators felt compelled to provide textual evidence for Nagarjuna's statement that "neither any self nor any no self was taught by the buddhas," (63) Bhaviveka produced one passage from the Suvikrantavikramipariprccha, (64) while Candrakirti cited another from the Kasyapaparivarta. (65)

There are certain Mahayana texts that were commonly used by Indian Buddhist writers. The Kasyapaparivarta and Aksayamatinirdesa, the two Mahayana sutras that both Bhaviveka and Candrakirti cited from, indeed appear to be such texts, as they were referred to by many Buddhist authors since the early stage of Mahayana Buddhism. (66) On the other hand, it is possible that Bhaviveka's use of Suvikrantavikramipariprccha and Candrakirti's use of Samadhiraja came from individual initiative, judging from the evidence that I am aware of. Ryusho Hikata has argued for a date of the Suvikrantavikramipariprccha based on the fact that no reference to this Prajnaparamita sutra earlier than Bhaviveka has been found. (67) While the Samadhirajasutra was referred to prior to the work of Candrakirti, no one before Candrakirti is known to have made use of it nearly as extensively as he did. (68) Based on our current state of knowledge, we can tentatively conclude that passages from these two Mahayana sutras were brought into the tradition of Madhyamaka commentaries not because they were a part of a common curriculum or routinely recited scriptures. Bhaviveka's and Candrakirti's references to these specific sutras could perhaps provide a glimpse into the private readings of these two Madhyamaka writers.


Citations allow a glimpse into the world of texts that an author inhabits, while the social and religious environments as well as the prior textual traditions constitute the external context. Both contribute to our knowledge of the intellectual milieu from which philosophical ideas emerge. This short study has highlighted two major transitions in the citation practices of Madhyamaka writers. The first transition occurred around the sixth and seventh centuries in India, when the Mahayana sutras became a clear category of textual reference in the Madhyamaka commentaries. A related trend also occurred at this time, when citations began to appear with greater frequency in these commentaries.

The second transition is a very large process through which sastras became the main textual category to occupy the attention of Buddhist scholastics. While more study will be necessary to examine the gradual change of interest in the intervening centuries between Candrakirti and Tsong kha pa, there are already some clues that might help explain why the authority of the sastras grew in relation to that of sutras. In the works of Buddhapalita, Bhaviveka, and Candrakirti we have seen certain Madhyamaka texts, such as Catuhsataka and Ratnavali, being referred to with great frequency, indicating the formation of core Madhyamaka texts. When major Madhyamaka sastras like the Mulamadhyamakakarika became the primary texts of interest and objects of exegetical effort, sutra passages essentially had to assume a supporting role. Although they have a more exalted symbolic status, sutras were often invoked to lend weight, give depth, or provide justification for the positions that were taken in the sastras. In practice, sastras provided the guidelines for the interpretation of the sutras. Thus, in the Madhyamakavatarabhasya, when an interlocutor suggests that scripture (agama) itself be relied on for the ascertainment of reality, Candrakirti rejected the proposal: "This is not so. Since the intention of the scripture is difficult to ascertain, those like us are not able to give instructions on reality even through scripture. I say so from the perspective of [giving instructions] independently. However, the intention of the scripture is ascertained by seeing the correct interpretations of the scripture, which are the sastras composed by the trustworthy beings." (69) The explanation that Candrakirti supplies here suggests that sastras have secured a very special place between canonical texts and the readers, assuming the role of an indispensable interpretive authority.

The citation patterns of the early Indian Madhyamaka commentators on the eighteenth chapter of the Mulamadhyamakakarika also suggest a sudden emergence of interest in the Mahayana sutras around the time of Bhaviveka. It is tempting to cite the work of Gregory Schopen, who finds virtually no inscriptional evidence for traces of Mahayana Buddhism in India before the sixth century, (70) and to conclude that the evidence from the Mulamadhyamakakarika commentarial tradition corroborates his findings. However, one can hardly maintain this position when scholastic texts' citations of Mahayana sutras in general are taken into account. Indeed, references to Mahayana sutras in the earlier works such as Dasabhumikavibhasa (T 1521), Pranaparamitopadesa (T 1509), and Mahayanasutralahkara are very extensive. Thus, religious activities affiliated with Mahayana are visible in the texts from earlier times, although not represented in the expression of institutional identity in the medium of inscription.

In the case of the commentaries on the Mulamadhyamakakarika, the focus on the eighteenth chapter alone could have amplified the disjunction between Bhaviveka and his predecessors. In his work on the Akutobhaya, C. W. Huntington notes that this commentary has made eleven explicit references to other texts. Among its nine sutra references, the sources of two are named as the Prajnaparamitasutra(s), while the other two traceable quotations are cited from the Anavaragrasutra, which corresponds to the Anamataggo-samyutta in the Samyuttanikaya. (71) Qingmu's commentary embedded in Kumarajiva's translation of the Mulamadhyamakakarika, which refers to sutras more frequently than the Akutobhaya does, also identifies the source of two citations as the Prajnaparamita. (72) Therefore, what distinguishes Bhaviveka and Candrakirti from the earlier commentators is only the frequency with which they cited from the Mahayana sutras. A probable explanation for the fact that earlier commentators infrequently or rarely referred to Mahayana sutras is that certain Madhyamaka interpreters lived among followers of early Buddhism, an environment in which shared scriptures had greater power of purchase. That the Mulamadhyamakakarika could be explained with sutra references drawn almost completely from sources other than Mahayana sutras, as is the case with Buddhapalita, says something about certain communities of its early interpreters as well as the religious and social milieu of Nagarjuna himself.

Previous scholarship on Buddhist sastras has often privileged the role of reason. Placing sastras in the context of their relation with scriptures highlights instead the hermeneutical dimension of Buddhist scholasticism. In many Buddhist scholastic writings, scriptural citations constitute a significant proportion of the texts, which demonstrates that constant engagement with scripture was an important aspect of the writers' thought process. Buddhist writers from the Abhidharma era to the contemporary period have characterized the use of both scripture and reason as their basic scholastic method. Much work still lies ahead in the investigation of sastras' uses of scripture. Future research needs to study the range of textual strategies involved in the deployment of scripture, the manners in which scholastic communities and traditions maintained and transmitted selected contents of the earlier texts, and the extent to which the Buddhist scholastic enterprise was a hermeneutical process that often produced fresh ideas through reading received texts in new contexts. Such investigations will open a new window onto Buddhist scholastic cultures of the past.

D             Sde dge edition of the Tibetan Bka'
              'gyur and Bstan 'gyur
LRChM         Lam rim chen mo; in Tsong kha pa
              Bio bzang grags pa 1985
MA and MABh   Madhyamakavatara and Madhyamakdvatdrabhasya;
              in Louis de La Vallee Poussin
MMK           Mulamadhyamakakarika; in Shaoyong
              Ye 2011
PPMV          Prasannapada and the edition of Louis
              de La Vallee Poussin 1903-13
T             The Taisho edition of the Chinese
              Buddhist scriptural collection; in
              Junjiro Takakusu and
              Kaigyoku Watanabe 1924-32


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An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 222nd annual meeting of the American Oriental Society, where it received stimulating responses from the audience. I would like to thank Donald R. Davis for his helpful comments. The revision of this paper benefitted from the suggestions provided by anonymous reviewers and the editorial advice from Stephanie Jamison. This research was assisted by a New Faculty Fellows award from the American Council of Learned Societies, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

(1.) Cabezon and Dargyay (2007: 13) mentions one such title: Rig 'dzin Chos kyi grags pa's (1595-1657) A Response to a Refutation: A Necklace for Those Who Preach Scripture and Reasoning (Dgag lan lung rigs smra ba'i mgul rgyan).

(2.) Ibid., 114: da ni lugs gnyis pa la lung rigs kyis dpyad pa cung zad brjod par bya stel.

(3.) LRChM 811.3-4: lung rigs kyis/ Itshul bzhin dpyod pa'i lam nas bdag gis drangsl.

(4.) Lindtner (2001: 70): ato yuktyagamopetam tattvam yat pragudahrtaml pariksyamanam yuktyaivam tad evavyahatam sthitamll.

(5.) MacDonald (2015: 1:205.4-5): acaryo yuktyagamabhyam samsayamithyajnanayor apakaranartham idam arabdhavanl.

(6.) Joseph Walser, Nagarjuna in Context: Mahayana Buddhism & Early Indian Culture (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 2005), 271-78.

(7.) Hahn (1982: 162): uktam etad bhagavata hetur apy atra drsyatel.

(8.) On the use of this principle in Abhidharma texts, see Collett Cox, "The Unbroken Treatise: Scripture and Argument in Early Buddhist Scholasticism," in Innovation in Religious Traditions: Essays in the Interpretation of Religious Change, ed. Michael A. Williams, Collett Cox, and Martin S. Jaffee (Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1992), esp. 168-73.

(9.) Scholarly works that address the element of reason in Buddhist philosophy are too numerous to list. On the specific concept of yukti or reasoning, see Richard Nance, "On What Do We Rely When We Rely on Reasoning?" Journal of Indian Philosophy 35.2 (2007): 149-67, which also provides references to previous research.

(10.) MacDonald (2015: 1:201): ata evedam madhyamakasastram pranitam acaryena neyanitarthasutrantavibh agopadesanarthaml.

(11.) Sastri(1998: 1:3): sastram pravaksydmy abhidharmakosam.

(12.) For a recent appraisal of the problem of Tarkajvdld's authorship in favor of its attribution to Bhaviveka and an instance of the phrase bstan bcos byed pal sastrakara, see Malcolm David Eckel, Bhaviveka and His Buddhist Opponents (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 2008), 21-23.

(13.) See List 1 below for the citations of the Madhyamakavatara in the eighteenth chapter of the Prasannapada. At PPMV 214.3, Madhyamakavatara is referred to as a prakarana.

(14.) MA 6.123: sastre sastre ye 'sya tirthyair visesa nirdisyante tan ajatatvahetur/ yasmat sarvan badhate svaprasiddhah santy asydto napi same visesahll. In Li Xuezhu, ""Madhyamakavatdra-kdrika Chapter 6," published with open access at, DOI: 10.1007/s10781-014-9227-6. See the Tibetan translation in MA 241. Candrakirti discusses the attributes of atman, or self, described in the Samkhya and Vaisesika traditions in MA 6.121-23 and MABh thereto. See also James Duerlinger, The Refutation of the Self in Indian Buddhism: Candrakirti on the Selflessness of Persons (London: Routledge, 2013), 56-59 and 93-98.

(15.) MA 407.

(16.) Tsong kha pa bio bzang grags pa, The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment (Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications, 2000-2004), 1:17.

(17.) LRChM 567.13-769.7.

(18.) Candrakirti's two citations from the Ratnagunasamcayagatha are in PPMV 166.11-167.4 and 353.8-354.2. Tsong kha pa also cites this text elsewhere in the Great Treatise, e.g., LRChM 450.12-14 and 454.10-12.

(19.) Georges Dreyfus reports that the Heart Sutra is among a few short siitras that are still used in present-day Tibetan liturgies. Dreyfus, The Sound of Two Hands Clapping: The Education of a Tibetan Buddhist Monk (Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of California Press, 2003), 89.

(20.) Stanzas 13, 14, 15, and 19 do not appear to have been cited by Candrakirti.

(21.) This stanza is also not found in the two Chinese translations of the sutra: T 813 and T 814. The language of Tsong kha pa's citation (LRChM 763.10-13) differs slightly from the stanza in the Tibetan translation of PPMV (D 3860 Dbu ma, vol. 'a, 126a3 and 171a4-5). Minor departure of Tsong kha pa's citations from the canonical versions is not uncommon.

(22.) Feer (1884-1898: 3:138): naham bhikkhave lokena vivadami loko ca maya vivadatill na bhikkhave dhammavadi kenaci lokasmim vivadatill yam bhikkhave natthi sammatam loke panditanam aham pi tam natthi ti vadami// yam bhikkhave atthi sammatam loke panditanam aham pi tam atthiti vadami//. For the parallel in the Chinese Samyuktagama, see T 99 II 8b16-26.

(23.) D 45, Dkon brtsegs, vol. ka, 9b5: des na ngas 'di skad du jig rten ni nga la rgol gyi/ nga ni 'jig rten dang mi rtsod do zhes gsungs so /. See the Chinese translations at T 310 XI 5a7-8 and T 311 XI 689b19.

(24.) For the citation of the shorter version, see MABh 289.1-2. The longer version is cited at MABh 179.16-20 and PPMV 370.6-8. Moreover, in their references to the same source, neither Buddhapalita nor Bhaviveka cited the part of the sutra passage that is found in the Trisamvaranirdesa, nor did Candrakirti in MA VI 82. See Lindtner 1981: 197 and 208; Bhaviveka, Dbu ma rtsa ba'i 'grel pa shes rab sgron ma (Beijing: krung go'i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang, 1994-2005), 57: 1274; MA 180.3-4. When Tsong kha pa uses this sutra quotation (LRChM 751.1920, Rigs pa'i rgya mtsho ad Mulamadhyamakakarika XVIII 8, and Dgongs pa rab gsal ad MA VI 81), he generally cites the longer passage found in the Indian Madhyamaka texts.

(25.) For a list of Tsong kha pa's five major works on Madhyamaka philosophy, see Jeffrey Hopkins, Tsong-kha-pa's Final Exposition of Wisdom (Boston: Snow Lion, 2008), 16-18.

(26.) For a summary of the seventy passages that appear in the Madhyamaka sections of both Lam rim chen mo and Lam rim chung ngu and the seventy-six citations that are used only in the latter work, see the two tables provided in ibid., 18-22. Most of the nine sutras from which Tsong kha pa cited new passages had been referenced in Candrakirti's works.

(27.) See, for instance, Dreyfus, Sound of Two Hands Clapping, 109.

(28.) The continuity of the Madhyamaka commentarial tradition is visible in the following four Indian commentaries on the chapter: Akutobhaya, Buddhapalita's vrtti, Bhaviveka's Prajnapradipa, and Candrakirti's Prasannapada. For translations of the latter three commentaries on the eighteenth chapter of MMK into Western languages, see Lindtner 1981: 187-217; Malcolm David Eckel, "A Question of Nihilism: Bhavaviveka's Response to the Fundamental Problems of Madhyamika Philosophy" (Ph.D. diss., Harvard Univ., 1980), 192-264; and J. W. de Jong, Cinq chapitres de la Prasannapada (Paris: Geuthner, 1949), 1-36.

(29.) Stanzas being commented on are less relevant for our purpose. They have been excluded so that we can focus on the external sources and occasional references to the other chapters of MMK. The same principle will be followed in Table 2 and Lists 2 and 3.

(30.) MA I 8d (no. 22) is cited in the eighteenth chapter of PPMV, although the argument is found in MABh on the pada. A part of Candrakirti's argument is to show that emptiness is already taught in the early Buddhist scriptures.

(31.) William L. Ames, "Bhavaviveka's Own View of His Differences with Buddhapalita," in The Svatantrika-Prasangika Distinction: What Difference Does a Difference Make, ed. Georges B. J. Dreyfus and Sara L. McClintock (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2003), 54-56.

(32.) The paraphrase is found at D Dbu ma, vol. tsha, 188b1-3. Cf. Buddhapalita's text in Lindtner 1981: 206-7.

(33.) The supposition that Candrakirti was writing his commentary on MMK constantly consulting Buddhapalita's and Bhaviveka's texts does not work well for this particular case. It is difficult to explain why Candrakirti cites Bhaviveka's paraphrase of Buddhapalita, whose reply Bhaviveka is critical of, while giving his own reply in large part following Buddhapalita. Why does he not cite or paraphrase Buddhapalita himself? Why does he not respond to Bhaviveka's negative assessment of Buddhapalita? One possible answer to this question is that Bhaviveka was referring to several teachers of the past, hence the plural purvacarya[h], of whose views Bhaviveka's paraphrase might be a better representation.

(34.) In the Prasannapadd only Kasyapaparivarta is referred to by the title of Ratnakuta, which is used in the Chinese and Tibetan canonical collections as the name for a class of sutras. On the Ratnakuta class as an idea that originated in the Chinese Buddhist tradition, see Jan Nattier, A Few Good Men: The Bodhisattva Path according to The Inquiry of Ugra (Ugrapariprccha) (Honolulu: Univ. of Hawai'i Press, 2003), 31-36. The term is used here only as a convenient label for a group of sutras as we know them now, rather than a class from Candrakirti's perspective.

(35.) See Collegiate Institute for the Study of Buddhist Literature, "The Sutra of the King of Samadhis, Chapters I-IV," in Studies in the Literature of the Great Vehicle: Three Mahayana Buddhist Texts (Ann Arbor: Collegiate Institute for the Study of Buddhist Literature and Center for South and Southeast Asian Studies, Univ. of Michigan, 1989), 32-34; Mitsukawa Toyoki, "Prasannapadd ni mirareru Gatto-zanmai kyo: sono inyomen ni okeru naiyokentei," Indogaku Bukkyogaku Kenkyu 15.2 (1967): 716-17.

(36.) The MMK verse in question is XVIII 8. For the Sanskrit of the sutra passage, see PPMV 370.6-8. The interpretations provided by Buddhapalita, Bhaviveka, and Candrakirti vary slightly.

(37.) Candrakirti incorporated the sutra passage's idea into MA VI 82 and VI 166 and provided the citation on both occasions in MABh. See MA(Bh) 179.16-20, 180.3-4, and 288.20-289.2.

(38.) See Ulrich Timme Kragh, Early Buddhist Theories of Action and Result: A Study of Karmaphalasamhandha. Candrakirti's "Prasannapada, " Verses 17.1-20 (Vienna: Arbeitskreis fur tibetische und buddhistische Studien, Universitat Wien, 2006), 25-27.

(39.) Ulrich Timme Kragh, "Classicism in Commentarial Writing: Exegetical Parallel in the Indian Mulamadhyamakakarika Commentaries," Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies 5 (2009): 41-42, 44, and 49-52.

(40.) T 1564 XXX 24c24 and 25a7-8.

(41.) Kragh, "Classicism in Commentarial Writing," 17.

(42.) See, for instance, in Table 2, the parallel between Buddhapalita's no. 6 and Candrakirti's no. 14 and that between Bhaviveka's no. 15 and Candrakirti's no. 43.

(43.) See Buddhapalita's nos. 3, 7, 8, 10, and 13 and Candrakirti's corresponding citations.

(44.) As shown earlier, the use of this specific source appears to have originally arisen out of the exegetical context. See Buddhapalita's no. 12 (List 2), Bhaviveka's no. 20 (List 3), and Candrakirti's no. 28 (List 1).

(45.) See Candrakirti's citation in List 1, no. 26 and Bhaviveka's citations in List 3, nos. 11 and 25. On Vasubandhu's use of this source in his vrtti on Vimsatika 8, see Sylvain Levi 1925: 5.

(46.) T 1591 XXXI 88c3-4.

(47.) T 1834 XLIII 990al4-18.

(48.) PPMV 355.4: nastiha sattva atma va dharmas tv ete sahetukah/.

(49.) In the case of Candrakirti, see, for instance, nos. 24, 26, and 29 in List 1. In the case of Bhaviveka, see, for instance, List 3, nos. 5, 9, 11, and 25.

(50.) List 1, no. 25. PPMV 350.11-12: kama janami te mulam samkalpat kila jayasel na tvam samkalpayisyami tato me na bhavisyasi//.

(51.) T 125 II 687b22-23. Cf. references given in Collett Cox, Disputed Dharma: Early Buddhist Theories of Existence. An Annotated Translation of the Section on Factors Dissociated from Thought from Sanghabhadra's Nyayanusara (Tokyo: International Institute for Buddhist Studies, 1995), 400 n. 16.

(52.) The verse is in T 210 IV 571b20-21; Bernhard 1965: 112. The commentaries on the verse are found in T 211 IV 603a23-b29 and T 212 IV 626c27-627a20.

(53.) T 1537 XXVI 482b 17-c11.

(54.) T 1562 XXIX 413b5-8. See Cox, Disputed Dharma, 379.

(55.) Eckel, Bhaviveka and Opponents, 306 and 109.

(56.) MMK (XVIII 5) 302, karmaklesaksayan moksah karmaklesa vikalpatahl te prapancat prapancas tu sunyatayam nirudhyate//. In PPMV Candrakirti cites the verse from the Ekottardgama again (451.12-13) in his commentary on MMK XXIII 1.

(57.) We know the titles, or the names of the authors, of twelve Indian commentaries on the MMK. Among the extant commentaries on the eighteenth chapter, Yogacara scholar Sthiramati's commentary and Avalokitavrata's seventh to eighth century sub-commentary have been excluded from consideration. On the basic facts of the twelve commentaries, see Kragh, "Classism in Commentarial Writing," 7-10.

(58.) Cf. PPMV 9.7-8. The last part of the citation, 'di med na 'di mi 'byung ngo, corresponds with the text of Mahavastu: imasya asato idam na bhavati. See PPMV 9 n. 7.

(59.) The sutra citations are nos. 1, 3, 7, 10, 12, and 13. Nos. 7 and 13 were used in MMK 1 10 and XV 7. Akira Saito has made similar comments on Buddhapalita's citation patterns, noting that "(a)part from several brief quotations from sutra-s Buddhapalita's main authorities are Nagarjuna and Aryadeva." See his "A Study of the Buddhapalita-mulamadhyamaka-vrttr (Ph.D. dissertation, Australian National Univ., 1984), xxviii-xxix.

(60.) The Salistambasutra (no. 7) has been described as a Mahayana sutra not on the basis of its contents. See Reat 1993: 3-5. As noted above, this source had been used by Nagarjuna already.

(61.) See the discussion above of Candrakirti's reference to this passage (List 1, no. 18).

(62.) No. 9 = no. 5; no. 25 = no. 11.

(63.) MMK (XVIII 6cd) 302: buddhair natma na canatma kascid ity api desitam/.

(64.) List 3, no. 13.

(65.) List 1, no. 35.

(66.) See Stael-Holstein 1926: v, xiv n. 2, and xvi; Braarvig 1993: 2: lii-lvii.

(67.) Hikata 1958: lxxxii. On Bhaviveka's quotations from this sutra, see ibid., lxxvi-lxxvii n. 1.

(68.) For citations from the Samadhirajasutra, including Candrakirti's, see Collegiate Institute, "King of Samadhis," 32-38. Sutrasamuccaya, a work that predates Candrakirti, cites from the sutra only four times.

(69.) MABh 75: 'di yang yod pa ma yin te/ lung gi dgongs pa nges par dka' ba'i phyir bdag cag 'bra bas lung las kyang de kho na nyid bstan par ml nus so // rang dbang nyid kyi dbang du byas nas de skad du brjod kyi/ bstan bcos tshad mar gyur pa 'i skyes bus byas shing lung phyin ci ma log par 'chad pa mthong ba las lung gi dgongs pa nges pas ni/. I have emended chad pa to 'chad pa on the basis of D (To. 3862) Dbu ma, vol. 'a, 245a1.

(70.) Gregory Schopen, "The Mahayana and the Middle Period of Indian Buddhism: Through a Chinese Looking Glass," in Figments and Fragments of Mahayana Buddhism in India: More Collected Papers (Honolulu: Univ. of Hawai'i Press, 2005), 3-24.

(71.) Clair W. Huntington, "The Akutobhaya and Early Indian Madhyamaka" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan, 1986), 1: 202-5.

(72.) T 1564 XXX 24c24, which appears in the eighteenth chapter, and T 1564 XXX 1b28.
Table 1. Sutra Citations in Tsong kha pa's Lam rim chert mo,

      Citations in
No.   LRChM          Sutra Sources

1     568.18-569.3   Aksayamatinirdesasutra (Braarvig
      and 569.6-12   1993: 1:117-18)
2     569.16-18      Samadhirajasutra VII 5 (Vaidya
                     1961: 36)
3     581.4-5        Samddhirajasutra IX 23 (Vaidya

4     614.11         Samadhirajasutra IX 23a (see no. 3)
5     636.8-10       Anavataptandgardjapariprcchd,
                     D 156, Mdo sde, vol. pha, 230b2-3
6     636.15-16      Lankavatarasutra (Nanjio 1923:
7     641.15-16      Prajnaparamitaratnagunasamcayagatha I 9cd
                     (Vaidya 2003: 353)
8     642.1-2        Prajndparamitdhrdaya (Vaidya
                     2003: 98)
9     642.3-4        Prajnaparamitdratnagunasamcayagatha
                     I 28cd (Vaidya 2003: 355)
10    646.6-7        Salistambasutra (Reat 1993:
                     33), Ahguttaranikdya (Morris
                     et al. 1955-1961: 1:286),
                     Samyuttanikdya (Feer 1884-1898:
11    666.3-9        Pancavimsatisahasrikaprajnapdramitd
                     (Dutt 1934: 260-61)
12    720.2-5        Samyuttanikdya (Feer 1884-1898:

13    732.8          The story of King Mandhatr; see,
                     e.g., T 40 I 825a13
14    732.19-20      See no. 13
15    745.15-746.3   Samddhirajasutra XXIX 13-16
                     (Vaidya 1961: 174)

16    749.6-750.8    Samddhirajasutra IX 11-17 and
                     19-22 (Vaidya 1961: 46-47)

17   751.19-20      Samyuttanikaya (Feer 1884-1898:
                    3:138), Samyuktagama
                    T 99 II 8b 16-26; source
                    identified in LRChM as
                    Trisamvaranirdesaparivarta, D 45,
                    Dkon brtsegs, vol. ka, 9b5
18   753.8-12       Samadhirajasutra XII 7 and XI 16
                    (Vaidya 1961: 77, 70); cited in the
                    same sequence as in PPMV
19   762.19-763.1   Anavataptanagarajapariprccha;
                    same as no. 5
20   763.5-6        Anavataptanagarajapariprccha, D
                    156, Mdo sde, vol. pha, 230b2
21   763.10-12      Hastikaksya, not found in the
                    extant Tibetan and Chinese translations

      Citations in
No.   LRChM         Earlier Citations by Candraklrti

1     568.18-569.3  PPMV 43
      and 569.6-12
2     569.16-18     PPMV 44 and 276

3     581.4-5       Yuktisasthikdvrtti, D 3864, Dbu ma, vol.
                    'a, 5a7-bl; source of MA VI 30 and 31a
                    (p. 112)
4     614.11        Yuktisasthikdvrtti (see no. 3)
5     636.8-10      PPMV 239, 491, 500, 504

6     636.15-16     PPMV 504

7     641.15-16

8     642.1-2

9     642.3-4

10    646.6-7       PPMV 40

11    666.3-9       MABh 295

12    720.2-5       MABh 257-8; cited also in
                    Abhidharmakosabhdsya IX, T 1558
                    XXIX 154b 18-21; second stanza cited in
                    Tarkajvala, D 3856, Dbu ma, vol. dza, 80b3
13    732.8         MABh 248; PPMV 574

14    732.19-20     PPMV 574
15    745.15-746.3  PPMV 109-110, PPMV 200, PPMV
                    549-550 (only XXIV 13cd, 15cd, and
                    16), MABh 144 (XXLX 13cd-14ab); see
                    also PPMV 427
16    749.6-750.8   PPMV 178 (IX 17, 11), PPMV 550 (IX
                    17), Catuhsatakatika (IX 11, 12, 16, 17,
                    20, 21, 22); (a) cf. PPMV 346 with IX 20
17   751.19-20      PPMV 370.6-8, MABh 179 and 289;
                    source of MA VI 82 and VI 166

18   753.8-12       PPMV 128

19   762.19-763.1   PPMV 239, 491, 500, 504

20   763.5-6        PPMV 505

21   763.10-12      PPMV 388, 514

(a.) See Suzuki Koshin, ed., Sanskrit Fragments and Tibetan Translation
of Candrakirti's Bodhisattvayogacaracatuhsatakatlka (Tokyo: The Sankibo
Press, 1994), 413; Karen Christina Lang, "On the Middle Indie Forms
Found in Candrakirti's Quotations from Chapter Nine of the
Samddhirajasutra," in Aspects of Buddhist Sanskrit: Proceedings of the
International Symposium on the Language of the Sanskrit Buddhist Texts
(Oct. 1-5, 1991), ed. K. N. Mishra (Sarnath: Central Institute of
Higher Tibetan Studies, 1993), 445-46.

Table 2. Shared Citations in Buddhapalitamulamadhyamakavrtti,
Prajnapradipa, and Prasannapada (a)

Buddhapalita    Bhaviveka        Candrakirti
                no. 5 = no. 9
no. 2           no. 6
no. 3 = no. 10                   not in chapter XVIII, PPMV 180.4-5 and
no. 4           no. 8            no. 11
                no. 9            no. 29
no. 6                            no. 14 (on MMK 18.8)
(on MMK 18.6)
no. 7                            not in chapter XVIII, cf. PPMV 9.7
                no. 11           no. 26
                no. 12           no. 23
                no. 15           no. 43 (on MMK 18.9)
                (on MMK 18.7)
no. 8           no. 19           Cited in Candrakirti's
                                 Sunyatasaptativrtti and by
                                 Avalokitavrata (b)
no. 10 = no. 3                   See above
                no. 19a          no. 18
no. 12          no. 20           no. 28
no. 13                           not in chapter XVIII, PPMV 269.7-8
no. 14          no. 21           no. 15
no. 15          no. 22           no. 16
                no. 25 = no. 11

(a.) The citations used in Buddhapalita's and Bhaviveka's MMK
commentaries will be given in Lists 2 and 3 below. The citation numbers
provided here refer to those given in Lists 2, 3, and 1.
(b.) Lindtner 1981: 216 n. 91.
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