Nagarjuna in Context: Mahayana Buddhism and Early Indian by Joseph Walser

By Joseph Walser

Publish yr note: First released in 2005
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Joseph Walser presents the 1st exam of Nagarjuna's lifestyles and writings within the context of the non secular and monastic debates of the second one century CE. Walser explores how Nagarjuna secured the canonical authority of Mahayana teachings and considers his use of rhetoric to make sure the transmission of his writings through Buddhist priests.

Drawing on shut textual research of Nagarjuna's writings and different Buddhist and non-Buddhist assets, Walser bargains an unique contribution to the knowledge of Nagarjuna and the early historical past of Buddhism.

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From these accounts the following points become clear: (i) Mañjusrô lived for a long time in Andhra and Dhányakaìaka was the centre of his activi- Walser,Nagarjuna in Context 2/9/05 10:50 AM [26] Page 26 Locating Maháyána ties. 37 Using the Gaçfavyñha to argue for the early presence of Maháyána in Andhra Pradesh presents many problems. First, the word “Dhányakaìaka” occurs nowhere in the Gaçfavyñha, nor does Dutt claim that it does. ”38 Although the eagerness to identify the places mentioned in the Gaçfavyñha with archaeological sites is understandable, we have to proceed with caution.

Given this problem with Hirakawa’s argument, we are left to assume that the term bodhisattva in early Maháyána texts may include both monks and laypeople. Even if one asserts the monastic context of early Maháyána, there is no reason to deny the existence of other contexts. It is undeniable that the sñtras cited by Hirakawa and Ray distinguish between the bodhisattvas and monks, and others may stress an ascetic life outside the monasteries. Although both Ray and Hirakawa argue that, over time, Maháyána moved into the monasteries, this does not preclude some Maháyánists from living in monasteries, while others were forest-dwellers and still others were laypeople.

Harrison concludes that the distinctions they are primarily concerned with are not sectarian but, rather, doctrinal. The rarity of the terms maháyána and bodhisattvayána already invites the conclusion that at this stage there is no rigid division of the Buddhist saégha into two hostile camps to the extent that the modern understanding of the terms “‘Maháyána” and “Hônayána” implies. . 29 Contra Ray, many Maháyána sñtras seem to be perfectly comfortable with settled monastic life. For examples, we might turn to the Maitreya Mahásiåhanáda Sñtra,30 the Ugradattaparipëcchá, or the Upáliparipëcchá— each of which seem to assume settled monastic life.

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