and teachings spread around Southern Asia, it is thought that he was asked by the King of the nāga kingdom, where the previously mentioned prajñāpāramitā texts were kept, and teach him and his people the philosophy of these texts, which were previously thought to be too difficult and that the world was not ready for these challenging teachings. Nagarjuna was able to conquer these texts and spread their teachings which Buddha was not able to do. Using these texts, he was able to explain and defend śūnyatā. However, while these and many more accounts attribute so much of early Buddhist history to Nagarjuna, almost none of it is 100 percent reliable. Along with his most famous philosophical works, Nagarjuna is thought to have also written “hymns, devotional poetry, and letters to royal patrons, as well as tantric and alchemical texts.” (Garfield) Yet, there is no way to know for certain if they are his works or the works of another personality with the same name. There is also some evidence that suggest Nagarjuna may have been the first to write a philosophical text in Sanskrit. The style and structure of Nāgārjuna’s works were also different in comparison to earlier texts. Nagarjuna composed his works in verses as well as chapters, which had not been done before and later becomes widely used by Mahayana Buddhists. Nagarjuna is extremely prevalent and important to Tibetan Buddhist traditions. His philosophical and tantric works are regarded by the Tibetans as being from the same person, while many historians have a hard time believing this. For the Tibetan’s, “…the image of Nagarjuna combines…the most advanced meditative practices with the most sublime form of Buddhist thought.” (Garfield) Thought to be one of Nāgārjuna’s most important contributions to Mahāyāna Buddhism, śūnyatā, or emptiness, is the building block of his philosophies, teachings, and practices. This
concept is best illustrated in Nāgārjuna’s most famous work: the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā, which translates to “Fundamentals of the Middle Way.” His philosophies are rooted in that idea that all
You've reached the end of your free preview.
Want to read all 5 pages?
- Fall '19
- Buddhism, Mahayana, Nagarjuna, Buddhist philosophy