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Madhyanta Vibhanga Discourse on discrimination between middle and extremes ascribed to Bodhisattva Maitreya, commented by Vasubandhu and Sthirmati (An Old and Rare Book)

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Item Code: IDC894
Publisher: Sri Satguru Publications
Author: Th. Stcherbatsky
Edition: 1992
ISBN: 817030301X
Pages: 176
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 6.6" x 10.2"
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Book Description
About the Book
The Vijnanavada school of Buddhism rep-resents the latest and final form of that religion, the form in which, after having transformed India's national philosophy and leaving its native Indian soil, it spread over almost the whole of the Asiatic continent up to Japan in the East and Asia Minor in the West where it amalgamated with Gnosticism. The Madhyanta-Vibhan-ga-Sastra of Maitreya-Asanga with its commentaries, the bhasya of Vasubhandhu and the tika of Sthiramati, belong to the most fundamental works of this Vijnanavada (Yogyakarta) school of Northern Buddhism. This present book contains English translation of the first part of the text i.e. the double essence of ultimate reality. The book is divided into five chapters. They are Ch. I Introduction, Ch. II. The Universal constructor of phenomenal reality; Ch. III The three-fold aspect of the constructor of phenomena, Ch. IV The dynamics of the creator of the world-illusion; Ch. V The absolute. The translation contains the karika' s of Maitreya-Asanga, besides a translation of Vasubandhu's bhasya in full as well as of the tika of Sthiramati.

The Vijrianavada school of Buddhism represents the latest and final form of that religion, the form in which, after having transformed India's national philosophy and leaving its native Indian soil, it spread over almost the .hole of the Asiatic continent up to Japan in the East and Asia Minor in the West where it amalgamated with Gnosticism.

The Madhyinta-vibhanga-iastra (or sutra) of Maitreya-Asa riga with its commentaries, the bilis), a of Vasubandhu and the tiki of Sthiramati, belong to the most fundamental works of this Vijnavada (alias Yogyakarta, Vijnapti-matrati or Cittamitrata) school of Northern Buddhism.

The till now unique MS of its Sanskrit original has had the curious fate of having been discovered twice. The story of this double discovery and of the double text-edition which followed has been very pointedly narrated by the illustrious first discoverer, the much regretted late Prof. Sylvain Levi. In his preface to the second (which really was the first) edition he inter alia writes: „ill est. fichu queue ('edition concurrent, purlieu en 1932 ne face pas mention (de later edition) dans sa preface".'. It seems that I have not been the only victim of this strange reticence. It is only much later that owing to the kind attention of Prof. L. de La Vale Poisson and Prof. LaMotte I became aware of the second edition.

As soon as Prof. G. Gucci’s edition' reached me I started on the work of translating this important text for the Bibliotheca Buddhism series whose publication was going to be resumed. Unfortunately I had no inkling of the existence of the other edition. My pupil, the late Dr E. Obermiller published a review of Prof. G. Gucci and V. Bhattacharya's edition' in which he suggested some corrections of those parts of the published text which represented retranslations from the Tibetan to fill up the lacunae of the Sanskrit MS. He also did not suspect the existence of the other edition which made some of his critical remarks superfluous.

My English version, besides the karaka’s of Maitreya-Asanga, contains a translation of Vasubandhu's bhasya in full as well as of the like of Sthira-mati. For Vasubandhu I have made use of a very correct block-print executed in the printing office of the Aga monastery in Transbaikalia, its folios are marked in my translation by figures preceded by the letter V. The other figures in margin refer to the pages and lines in Prof. Gucci and V. Bhatta-charya's edition. I am sorry I could consider Prof. S. Yamaguchi's text, as far as the first part is concerned, only in the notes. The division in chapters and sections, as well as their titles, is added by me.

It is a great pleasure for me to express my gratitude to my young friend Prof. A. Vostrikov, PhD with whom I discussed several hard passages of the text and to whom I am indebted for many valuable suggestions. An analysis of the philosophy of this treatise and an appreciation of its value will be contained in a following volume of the Bibliotheca Buddhism series.

Am ttolostivsly 1 subjoin the following remarks. This translation alms at an intelligible, rendering of Buddhist ideas; it therefore, with rare esoeptions, avoids untranslated terminology, it tries to render Buddhist technical terms by more or less corresponding equivalents borrowed from European philosophy. This method seems to me not hopeless, because, in my opinion, Indian philosophy has reached a very high standart of development and the principle lines of this development run parallel with those which are familiar to the students of European philosophy. India possesses parallels to our rationalism and to our empiricism, it has a system of empirical idealism and a system of spiritual monism, it has, first of all, a logic and, what is remarkable, an epistemology. In this epistemology Buddhist authors play a leading part. From the Indian standpoint Buddhism is a distract and what an Indian gastro is Ideologists well know from the example of the great grammatical idiocies of Panini and Patanjali.

Now it is a remarkable fact, which variously can be explained, but which is undisputable, that the Pali-school of Buddhologists entirely over-looked that isstra, the system of philosophy which however is present on every page of the Pali kanon. An Indian lastra first of all frames a special terminology for the concepts with which it operates and establishes clear-cut definitions of these concepts. The Tibetans, being the pupils of Indian tradition, have carried this care of minutely precise definitions to an extreme, almost artistic, perfection. Therefore the study of Tibetan sources has greatly contributed to our under-standing of Buddhism. At the dawn of European Indology there has been a controversy between the great French scholar E. Bur no u f and the great Russian scholar W. Wassailed I on the question whether Buddhism could be better understood from Indian or also from Chinese and Tibetan sources.

According to the first, only Indian sources provided evidence on genuine Buddhism, according to the second, Buddhism in the totality of its develop-mint could be understood only from Chinese and Tibetan sources in addition to the Indian ones. Wissilieff's standpoint enabled him to determine the exact meaning of the crucial term :Sinhala in which he discovered under a dialectical terminology an idea similar to the Absolute Idea of Hegel 1. The present translation brings an eloquent confirmation of Wassilieff's discovery made a century since, whereas the Pali-school discovered in Mahayana nothing but degeneration and nihilism. Working in the traditions of the school of Professors W. Wassilieff and I. Minayeff, my much regretted pupil Prof. 0. Rosenberg in his „Problems of Buddhist Philosophy" and myself in my „Central Conception of Buddhism" and „Conception of Buddhist Nirvana" established the exact meaning of the basic technical terms of the system: 1) the term dharma meaning Element of existence; 2) the term cascara (= sam-bhaya-karin) meaning cooperating Element of existence and 3) the term pratitya-samutpada(= samskrtalvam) meaning cooperation of the Elements of existence. The three terms refer to one and the same system of pluralistic empiricism which is the core of early Buddhism. Prof. 0. Rosenberg has given to Buddhism the name of a dharma-theory and indeed Buddhism in the three main forms of its development is nothing but a theory of dharmcis, i. e. a system of a plurality of ultimate Elements of Reality to which a monistic foundation has been added in the Mahayana. The recent capital work of Prof. de La Vail e Poisson „Vijnaptimatrati-siddhi" (here quoted LVP) which is a magnificent thesaurus Of the most precious information on the ultimate phase of Buddhism contains among its 820 pages hardly a single one which would not be concerned with the elucidation and the profound implications of this or that dharma.

The term :far natal is an innovation of the Mahayana, an innovation made necessary by the course of philosophy.: development. Its germs are found in the Hiragana, but the Mahayana has given it a quite new interpretation, an interpretation in which the two main schools of the Mahayana radically diverged.

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