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A study of Śāntarakṣita's Madhyamakālaṃkāra



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The aim of this study is to survey the major philo­sophical themes of Śāntarakṣita's Madhyamakālaṃkāra (MA1). We have isolated these themes into five major issues according to the major Tibetan commentary on this work, the dBu-ma rgyan gyi rnam-bshad 'jam-dbyangs bla-ma dgyes-pa'i zhal-lung of Mi-pham rgya-mtsho (1846-1912). The Introduction surveys the history of the text and discusses some of the reasons for its neglect among traditional and modern scholars, this being the first major study and translation of the MA1 in a Western language. The work is also set against the general background of the development of the Madhyamaka tradition in Tibet. In the first chapter, the "methodology" of our study is outlined. We demonstrate the relevance of modern hermeneutical theories, particularly those of Hans-Georg Gadamer, for the concrete practice of text translation. The importance of the study of modern philosophy is stressed as a means whereby the translator can come to terms with his contemporary prejudices. Phenomenological philosophy is singled out as a tool for working with the issues of the MA1. In the second chapter, the first two major issues are discussed, arthakriyātva (causal efficacy as the distinguish­ing characteristic of conventional reality) and svasaṃvedana (reflexive, non-referential awareness as the distinguishing characteristic of the mental). First, Mi-pham's introduction to these issues are translated, and then the appropriate sections of the MA1 are likewise presented. The third chapter follows the same pattern in dealing with the third major issue, Śāntarakṣita's integration of the Yogācāra tradition into his Svātantrika-Madhyamaka philosophy. A long introduction is provided on the relationship of the Yogācāra and Madhyamaka traditions, and their respective approaches to perception are considered in the light of a phenomenology of perception. The fourth chapter focuses on the final two issues, which concern the specific Svātantrika contribution of the division of the ultimate truth into discursively-formulated and non-discursive aspects. Of special interest is Mi-pham's extensive commentary on these, which is considered in the context of the controversies Mi-pham was engaged in over interpretation of the Madhyamaka in the late 19th century. Four appendices are attached, including a translation of the Madhyamakālaṃkārakārikā; and Mi-pham's commentary on Bodhicaryāvatāra IX, 2, which deals with the relationship of the Prāsangikas and the Svātantrikas.





Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Far Eastern Studies


Far Eastern Studies



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