Karen C. Lang

in Buddhism

ISBN: 9780195393521
Published online April 2012 | | DOI:

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Candrakīrti (b. c. 570–d. c. 650) is an important commentator and author whose works influenced the development of Madhyamaka Buddhist philosophy in India and in Tibet. He wrote major commentaries on Nāgārjuna’s Mūlamadhyamakakārikāḥ (Middle way stanzas), Yuktiṣaṣṭikā (Sixty stanzas on logical reasoning), and Śūnyatāsaptati (Seventy stanzas on emptiness) and on Āryadeva’s Catuḥśataka (Four hundred verses). His most important independent work, Madhyamakāvatāra (Introduction to the middle way), and its extensive autocommentary introduce the Madhyamaka school’s ideas on the ten stages of the bodhisattva path, which correlate with ten “perfect virtues” (pāramitā) to be mastered before reaching the goal of buddhahood. Candrakīrti’s works were translated into Tibetan in the 11th century and are preserved in the Tibetan Buddhist canon. According to medieval Tibetan historians’ accounts, Candrakīrti was born in South India, entered a monastery where he studied the works of Nāgārjuna and Āryadeva with students of the two rival interpreters of Madhyamaka thought, Bhāviveka (b. c. 500–d. c. 570) and Buddhapālita (b. c. 470–d. c. 540), and eventually became abbot of Nalanda, the great Buddhist university. In his commentaries, Candrakīrti criticizes the views of Bhāviveka as well as the views of the Buddhist epistemologists and the Vijñānavādins. Jayānanda’s twelfth commentary on the Madhyamakāvatāra indicates revived interest in his work in India, which spread to Tibet through the efforts of Jayānanda, who worked extensively in Tibet, and Patshab Nyima grags, who translated many of Candrakīrti’s works into Tibetan. Candrakīrti’s works remain important not only as sources for the history and development of Indian and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy but also because they still form part of the curriculum of present-day Tibetan Buddhist monasteries.

Article.  6287 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism ; Tibetan Buddhism ; Zen Buddhism

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