Amar Singh - The Heart of Buddhist Philosophy - Dinnaga and Dharmakirti
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The Heart o f Buddhist Philosophy:
Diiinga and Dharmaklrti
The Heart of Buddhist Philosophy
Dinnaga and Dharmakirti
Amar Singh Ph. D. (rlak and Toronto)
with a foreword by Prof. A. K. Warder
M u n s h ir a m M a u s h a r la i P u b l i s h e r s P e t . LU L.
First published 1984 Q 1984 Singh Amar (b. 1937)
Published and Printed by Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Private Limited Post Box 5715, 54 Rani Jhanst Road, New Delhi 110055.
In loving memory o f
my best friend Late P rof Rahula Sankrtyayana
the discoverer o f original works o f
Foreword by A.K. Warder ixPreface xiAbbreviations xvIntroduction 1
C hapter 1The Sautrntlka Tradition 18
C hapter 2Examination of Controversy on Dharmaklrti 49
C h apter 3Evidence for Dharmaklrtis Position 97
C hapter 4Critique o f Ultimate Reality (Svalakfana) 117
C hapter 5Conclusion 136
A p pen d ix I Smvyavaharika 138A p pen d ix II Alambana 140A ppe n d ix III Nyyavdin 141A ppe n d ix IV Dharmaklrti on Sensation (Pratyakfa) 142A p pe n d ix V Prabhasvaram Cittam 145A ppe n d ix VI Dharmaklrtis Works 149
Glossary 162Bibliography 160Index 164
This piece of research is a very important contribution to the understanding of Buddhist philosophy and to the history of Indian philosophy generally. It is the first comprehensive study of the crucial problem of the philosophical position of Dharmakirti, i.e. which school o f Buddhism he was affiliated to, and of his predecessor Dinga. The prevailing view at present is that these two philosophers were idealists, or more precisely that they belonged to the Buddhist Vijnnavda School (known also as Yogacara). Amar Singh challenges this view on the basis of a comprehensive examination o f the primary sources, most of which are in Sanskrit (all were originally in Sanskrit, some now are available in Tibetan or Chinese translations only). Much has been published on this problem before, but it has been limited to the study of separate aspects of a complex problem, such as the study of particular texts. Since Stcherbatsky, the pioneer among modern scholars to study the works of Dinnaga and Dharmakirti, believed, "though with serious reservations, that these philosophers were idealists, many scholars working in the field more recently have simply followed him, taking it for granted that they are idealists and then interpreting their works accordingly. A thorough investigation was long overdue, especially as many old texts have come to light since Stcherbatsky wrote, half a century ago, but it was a big task, not a matter that could be settled in the introduction to a translation of a text but one demanding a full scale monograph and several years full-time study. It is this full scale monograph which Amar Singh now offers.
The key to the problem of the affiliation of Dinga and Dharmaklrti is the relationship of the former to a certain Vasubandhu. Buddhist traditions which are generally accepted describe Dinga
as a pupil of Vasubandhu. Indeed it is the fact that one Vasubandhu was clearly a follower of the Vijanavada School, in his writings intended to establish its special views, that has led many scholars to assume that Dinaga also followed this School in general, although he does not uphold its special views and seems at times to go against them, or at least to be making a revision of them (hence Stcher- batskys opinion that he started a new critical school). However, it is now clear that there were at least two Buddhist philosophers named Vasubandhu during the period with which we are concerned. In particular there was one, the author of the Abhidharmakosabhsya, who upheld the views of the Sautrantika School. No doubt Mahynist tradition, and Modern-Mahynist Buddhists (especially in Japan), maintain that he was afterwards converted to the Mahynist Vijanavada, but that is improbable legend, propaganda in favour of ones own school. The kernel of this thesis is therefore the relationship of three Buddhist philosophers, Vasubandhu, Dinaga and Dharmakirti, and whether they followed one school without serious modification of their views or conversion to Mahyna.
In his First Chapter, Singh has investigated this relationship very thoroughly and effectively, on the basis of sifting out all the relevant primary evidence. He has established clearly the philosophical relationship of Dingas works to the Abhidharmakosabhsya. The fact that Dinaga actually wrote a commentary, the Marmapradipa, on this Sautrntika work seems to clinch the matter of his affiliation. This commentary is not an independent or critical work, with reference to Vasubandhus text, but rather a summary of it. Again, the fundamentally important discussions by Dinaga on sensation (pratyaksa, sometimes translated perception) in his lambanaparks and Pramnasamuccaya seem to be dependent on those in the Abhidharmakosabhsya and therefore to be based on the Sautrantika standpoint.
In his Second Chapter, Singh has examined the arguments used by modern scholars to establish the position of Dinaga and Dharmaklrti. For example, a careful reading of the lambanaparks shows that Dinaga accepted atoms as real, as capable of producing effects, though denying that they can become objects of consciousness (
at the samvrti level (do not deal with questions of ultimate truth or reality but only with superficial appearances) is refuted by pointing out categorical statements in these works which are inconsistent with such an interpretation. This interpretation itself, of course, concedes that to a Vijfianavada philosopher these works do appear to be at the samvrti level and to express a view which is not his own, not Vijfianavada nor Mahynist but that of some early school of Buddhism, such as the Sautrntika. But the author of these works, Dharmaklrti, clearly indicates that in his own view he is discussing philosophy at the ultimate (paramartha) level. Thus Amar Singh appears to establish conclusively that Dharmaklrti is not a Mahynist or Vijnavdin.
This is a serious and illuminating contribution to an important and complex problem. It is not to be expected that all scholars in the field will immediately accept its conclusion. But it is to be expected that those who doubt Singhs conclusion will have to look more closely at the evidence of the primary sources. Even if they arrive at a different conclusion, Singhs contribution will have been of fundamental importance in bringing about more serious investigations than have been made in the past, in showing how the problem should be tackled.
University of Toronto 11 October 1978.
x The Heart o f Buddhist Philosophy
The purpose of this book consists in investigating and determining the real philosophical standpoint of Dharmaklrti.
Since the renaissance of Buddhist studies in the West and in the East, this question has been a subject of serious controversy and calls for a thorough examination. This research has been made in an attempt to clarify confusing situations and to ascertain the reality.
In the scholarly world there persists a fixed attitude, with a few exceptions that Dharmaklrti along with Dinga and Vasubandhu II belong to the M ahyna Vijftnavda school.
The discussion as set out by certain prominent scholars is supposed to be concluded and others follow them unquestioningly. Here an attempt has been made to re-investigate the question on the ground of some substantial evidence.
During the course of my study of the recently discovered original texts of Dharmaklrti and some important commentaries, there appeared a doubt regarding this prevalent view, and after a comprehensive survey a hypothesis came into existence: that he is a Sautrantika, not a Vinnavdin. The present thesis is a thorough investigation of this hypothesis.
Historically, Dharmaklrtis epistemology and philosophy have influenced Buddhist and non-Buddhist philosophical schools and some of the later exponents have utilized it for their own philosophical expositions and have incorporated it into their own traditions.
Therefore, the author has mainly relied on the internal evidence of the original writings of Dharmaklrti and those expositors who appear to be faithful to him. The internal philosophical consistency of a school generally remains unaltered and a misinterpretation can easily be pinpointed on this very ground. The internal evidence is of three
kinds: epistemological, which covers the views of Dharmakirti on the nature of valid cognition, sources of valid cognition, criterion of valid cognition, perceptions, limits of knowledge, etc.; the ontological, which reveals his views on physical and mental reality, illusion, etc.; and the axiological, which shows his ethical code, the goal and the path in relation (identity, causal and negation) to the school it belongs to.
The prevalent controversy regarding Dharmaklrtis philosophical standpoint demonstrates the doubtful nature of the issue. The examination of the controversy reveals the invalid, inconsistent, contradictory and illogical natures of wrong views. The threefold (epistemological, ontological, axiological) evidence drives the author to the following conclusion.
Firstly, the epistemological evidence: the definition of cognition, criterion of right cognition, theory of correspondence, means of right cognition, importance of direct cognition, two means of valid cognition and limit of valid cognition; secondly, the contological evidence: two realities, atomism, non-eternalism, nature of reality, negation of eight kinds of consciousness, store-house consciousness and solipsism; and thir