Bhāviveka / Bhāvaviveka

Malcolm David Eckel

in Buddhism

ISBN: 9780195393521
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:
Bhāviveka / Bhāvaviveka

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Bhāviveka or Bhāvaviveka (also known as Bhavya) was an influential 6th-century Indian Buddhist philosopher. He is best known as a commentator on Root Verses on the Middle Way (Mūlamadhyamakakārikā) by Nāgārjuna and as the author of The Flame of Reason (Tarkajvālā), an encyclopedic compendium of the schools of Indian philosophy. Bhāviveka’s compendium provides a unique historical source for the study of Indian philosophy at a time of great intellectual ferment and change. It also provided a model for the genre of the philosophical compendium or “doxography” that has guided students and debaters through the intricacies of Indian philosophical disputes from Bhāviveka’s time to the present not only in India but also in Tibet. There is little reliable information about his life. A few surviving legends associate him with what is now Andhra Pradesh, the region in South India that also was the legendary home of Nāgārjuna. These legends also depict him as a determined debater who was willing to travel long distances to confront his philosophical opponents. Bhāviveka’s interest in debate was accompanied by a heightened concern for logical procedure. This concern gave rise to the deepest and longest-lasting division in the Madhyamaka tradition. Bhāviveka was recognized by his successors as a svātantrika-mādhyamika (one who uses independent inferences and makes independent assertions) as opposed to a prāsaṅgika-mādhyamika (one who simply reduces opponents’ assertions to consequences that are unacceptable to the opponents themselves). The distinction between a svātantrika-mādhyamika and a prāsaṅgika-mādhyamika was elaborated in great detail by Tibetan philosophers. For contemporary scholars of Mahayana thought, especially the concept of Emptiness, the svātantrika-prāsaṅgika distinction is an important point of entry into the deeper philosophical issues of Madhyamaka thought.

Article.  4705 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism ; Tibetan Buddhism ; Zen Buddhism

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