Nāgārjuna on temporary happiness and liberation: readings of the Ratnāvalī in India, China, and Tibet

Scherer, B. (2012) Nāgārjuna on temporary happiness and liberation: readings of the Ratnāvalī in India, China, and Tibet. In: Sharma, A., ed. Buddhism in East Asia. Delhi: Vidyanidhi Prakashan. pp. 125-139 ISBN 9789380651408

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This paper focuses on the first chapter of Nāgārjuna's Ratnāvalī. After shortly introducing Nāgārjuna's life and works, the Ratnāvalī is discussed as a non-monastic discourse (addressing probably the Sātavāhana king Yajña Śrī Sātakarṇi) regarding its form, authenticity, content and structure. Then, the key concepts of Ratnāvalī 1 are introduced and evaluated: "temporary happiness" (abhyudaya) and "ultimate good" (naiḥśreyasa). These terms reflect the two-staged (lay and monastic) soteriology of Early Buddhism. By discussing the Sanskrit, Tibetan and Chinese versions of key passages, the wider debate about nihilistic (Lamotte, Wood, Burton) vs. non-nihilistic interpretations (Stcherbatsky, Ruegg) of Nāgārjuna's Mādhyamika philosophy is addressed. The paper analyses the central arguments against Nihilism in Ratnāvalī 1 and adduces corroborative arguments from Ratnāvalī 2, the Śūnyatāsaptatikārikā and the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā. The conclusion aligns Nāgārjuna's thoughts with Pāli material and, in the light of these findings, the question is posed whether Madhyamaka really makes ultimate truth claims or defies ontology in favour of a more pragmatic approach.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BQ Buddhism > BQ1001 Buddhist literature
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BQ Buddhism > BQ4061 Doctrinal and systematic Buddhism > BQ4180 Special doctrines
Divisions: pre Nov-2014 > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religious Studies
Depositing User: Professor B Scherer
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2013 16:41
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2014 14:10
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/11352

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00