The present book Hetubindu by Dharmakirti is an important work on the basis laws of logic, the nature and types of inferential mark (hetu), his
theory of negation etc. in addition, in this text he also gives his argument for the doctrine of momentariness, an important part of his ontology.
The two basic pramanas (types of knowledge) central to his epistemology and the concept of Svalaksana which is central to his ontology are also
introduced in the Hetubindu.
The Hetubindu like Vadanyaya is divided into two pats. In the first part Dharmakirti presents his own position by explaining an
aphorismic verse of his own. In the second part he criticizes a rival position on the same issue. In the Hetubindu the issue is the nature of a sound
The present book contains critical text in Sanskrit, a detailed introduction, an English translation alongwith notes and a Glossary. The
book is published in the Bibliotheca Indo-Buddhica Series.
Dr. Pradeep P. Gokhale, the author of Inference and Fallacies Discussed in Ancient Indian Logic, has already translated Vadanayaya of
Dharmakirti (c. AD 600-700) was a central figure, not only in the history of Buddhist philosophy, but in the history of Indian philosophy as a
whole. His contributions to epistemology, logic and ontology are evident from the works like Nyayabindu, Hetubindu, Pramanavarttika,
Vadanyaya and Santanantarasiddhi. The work under consideration here viz. Hetubindu mainly contains his contributions to logic which includes
his views on the basic laws of logic, the nature and types of inferential mark (hetu), his theory of negation (negative facts) etc. in addition, in this
text we also find his argument for the doctrine of momentariness, an important part of his ontology. The two basic pramanas (types of
knowledge) central to his epistemology and the concept of Svalaksana which is central to his ontology, are also introduced in the Hetubindu.
Dharmakirti has written the Hetubindu in lucid prose and not in a brief or aphorismic style like the Nyayabindu. The pattern of this
book may be compared with the pattern of his Vadanyaya. Like the Vadanyaya the Hetubindu is basically divided into two parts. In the first part
Dharmakirti presents his own position by explaining an aphorismic verse of his own. In the second part he criticizes a rival position on the same
issue. In the Vadanyaya the issue is the concept of Nigrahasthana. In the Hetubindu it is the nature of a sound probans. Both of these books
discuss their contents through lucid statements, arguments and critical remarks.
Though an important work of Dharmakirti’s, the Hetubindu has not been paid sufficient attention by indologists. This is partly because
the original Sanskrit text is not available. However, Tibetan versions of the work are available and we know of two important attempts to restore
the work in Sanskrit. One restoration is by Pandit Rahul Sanskrityayan, which was edited and revised by Pandit Sukhlalji Sanghvi and Muni Shri
Jinavijayaji and published as Appendix No. VII of the Hetubindutika (G.O. Series No. CXIII). The other one is the reconstruction of Ernest
Steinkellner which is a more critical version based on many Tibetan Manuscripts. Moreover, the commentary of the Hetubindu called the
Hetubindutika by Arcatabhatta and a Sub-commentary entitled Aloka by Durvekamisra are available. They enable us to peep into the possible
original text in more or less clear manner. Thought Prof. Steinkellner has translated the work into German, an English translation of the work is
not yet available. Considering the need for an English translation I have tried to bring the contents of the work into English. Though I am not a
student of Tibetan, I have dared to make this attempt out of my love for Dharmakirti’s logic. Following Kalidasa who said in Raghuvamsa with
regard to Raghu dynasty, (‘Its qualities have approached my ears and stimulated me to do the venture.’) I would like to say the same with respect
to the Hetubindu of Dharmakirti.
Although both of the restorations mentioned above are important, sometimes one of them was found to be clearer and closer to the
version accepted in the Hetubindutika (Hereafter, HBT) than the other. Sometimes a new version has to be constructed by comparing the two
restorations in the light of the HBT. So I have prepared my own version of the Hetubindu with the help of these three sources and have translated
into English. I have of course not deviated from the versions given by the Scholars of Tibetan unless I was compelled to do so by a consideration
of the clarity and closeness to the HBT version. Secondly, since my main interest in translating the work is to understand the philosophical
content of the book and since my interest is not primarily textual or hermeneutical, the reader is requested to look at my version with a broad
perspective. Here I do not claim that my version is closer to the original. My only claim is that my version may be found preferable in some
places insofar as the consistency and clarity of thought is concerned.
(While presenting my reconstructed version of the Hetubindu I have mentioned in the footnotes, the variant readings accepted by the
sources I have followed. There I have taken the version edited by Pt. Sukhlalji Sanghvi and Muni Shri Jina-Vijayaji (Hereafter, SJ) as the basis of
my version because it is older and better known to the indological community. I have given the variant readings in the footnotes only where my
version has deviated from SJ.)
Though the central theme of the Hetubindu is the nature and classification of a good probans (inferential mark, hetu), it can be better
appreciated against the background of Dharmakirti’s general ontology and epistemology. I would like, therefore, to survey some prominent
features of his ontology and epistemology first and then discuss his contribution to logic in general and to the theory of inference in
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Tantric Buddhism (87)
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