The Place of the Aryasatyas and Pratitya Sam Utpada in Hinayana and Mahayana

The Place of the Aryasatyas and Pratitya Sam Utpada in Hinayana and Mahayana

BY Dr. Nalinaksha Dutt, Ph. D. (Cal.), D. Litt. (Lond.)

Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute

vol 6:2, 1930.01, pp. 101-127

p. 101
An important point of difference between Hinayana
and Mahayana, as pointed out by the
Saddharma-Pundarika, is that according to the former,
the realisation of the Four Aryasatyas ( Noble
Truths) and the Pratityasamutpada ( Law of Causation)
is of primary importance for the attainment of
Nirvana while, according to the latter, it is only of
secondary importance. The main reason for this
difference is that the Mahayanists consider the real
Nirvana to be the realisation of Sunyata
(essencelessness ) and Tathata (thatness) or Samata
(sameness) of all things Sarvadhharma, and not what
the Hinayanists look upon as the attainment of
Nirvana, viz., the realisation of the essencelessness
of all constituted things (Pudgala-sunyata) i.e. the
absence of any permanently existing entity ( anatmata
). The Mahayanists hold that the aryasatyas and the
pratityasamutpada are essential to the comprehension
of Pudgala-sunyata, and so far the Hinayanists are
right; but they cannot enable a being to realise
Dharmasunyata, the only gate to Nirvana.
What are really the Aryasatyas and the
Pratiyasamutpada? The Aryasatyas, as commonly known,
are, - Duhkha (misery), Samudaya ( origin of misery
), Nirodha ( cessation of misery ), and Marga ( means
of cessation of misery). Of these four, the second
and the third include the Pratityasamutpada, which
is, as is popularly known, a series of causes leading
to the origination and disappearance of duhkha
p. 102
(misery).(1) The underlying teaching of these four
truths is that they are to be treated as a formula
for application to everything perceived. That these
four truths constitute merely a formula and not a
doctrine has been brought out very clearly in the
Majjilima Nikaya(2) and the Lalitavistara(3) In
giving an exposition of what is the right view
(sammuditthi) according to the Buddhists, Sariputta
takes up, for instance, ahara (food), duhkha
(misery), jaramarana (old age and death), tanha
(desire), namarupa (name and form) and avijja
(ignorance), and applies to each of them the fourfold
formula examining it in this way: Take up for
consideration a material or an immaterial thing. What
is its origin? How does it decay? In pursuance of
this method Sariputta defines Sammaditthi through
ahara. He who knows ahara (food), aharasamudaya (how
food originates), aharanirodha (how food dacays) and
aharanirodhagaminipatipada (the way in which the
decay of food happens) is said to possess
Sammaditthi. The first truth relates to Ahara which,
in the Buddhist philosophy, is of four kinds.(4) The
second truth is aharasamudaya, i. e. ahara comes into
existence on account of tanha(5). The third truth is
aharanirodha, i.e., the ceasing of ahara when the
tanha is extinct. The fourth truth is the way in
which ahara ceases. It happens by the practice of the
eightfold path, viz., sammaditthi, sankappa, vaca,
etc. One who knows correctly these truths gets rid of
hatred and attachment, rises above the belief in a
self, drives out ignorance, and attains freedom from
misery. So, we see that; in these four truths there
is nothing particularly Buddhistic. They are found in
the Brahmanica systems of philosophy as well(6). For
1. Whatever remarks will he applicable to the Aryasa-
tyas will apply mutatis mutandis to the Pratitya-
samutpada. The truth of Magga, as usual, refers to
Sammaditthi, sankappa, vaca, kammanta, ajiva,
vayama, sati, samadhi. For Margasatya see Abhidha-
rmakosavyakhya (text), p. 13.
2. Majjhima, I, p. 261.
3. Lal. Vis., p. 349; see also pp. 416-7, cf.
Mahavastu II, p. 285; III, p. 53.
4. Digha, III, pp. 228, 276; Dhs, 71.3 , Vis M.,
p. 341.
5. Tanha (desire )is one of the links of the Pratity-
asamutpada which is included in this exposition.
6. Prof. Stcherbatsky remarks; "These four topics-the
four noble truths as the term has been very inade-
quately translated and represented as a fundamental
principle of Buddhism--contain in reality no
doctrine at all". Con. of N., p. 55.
p. 103
the Yoga-sutra of Patanjali (ll, 15) says:
Yathacikitsasastram caturvyuham rogo rogahetur
arogyam bhaisajyam iti evam idam api sastrerrn
caturvyuham eva tad yatha samsarah samsarahetur mokso
moksopaya eveti (just as the science of medicine has
four sections dealing with the diagnosis,cause and
cure of diseases, and their remedies so also this
science of spiritual healing has four sections
dealing with an examination of the nature of the
things, of the world, the cause of their origin,
their removal and the factors that bring ahout the
removal). The Abhidharmakosa also follows up this
interpretation. It coalesces the four truths into
two, viz., either cause and effect or Samsara (world)
and Nirvana ( cessation ). Thus duhkha end samudaya
relate to samsara, and nirodha and marga to nirvana.
Samsara (world) is the effect while samudaya is its
cause: so also Nirvana (cessation) is the effect
while marga is its cause.(1)
This position of the Hinayanists with regard to
the Aryasatyas is logical, for, their cardinal tenet
is that a being suffers through wrongly assuming the
existence of a self, thus conceiving himself as a
separate entity and standing in some form of relation
to every other being or thing of the world, to which
also he ascribes an individuality similar to his own.
The chief aim of Hinayana teachimg is to expel from
one's mind all ideas of individuality, whether of
himself or any other being or thing of the world, and
this can only be effected by an examination of
everything of this world under the four aspects
mentioned above. Scrutinizing all things in this way,
a being gets rid of his wrong assumption and sees
things as they really are. This is called Sammaditthi
(right view ) or Vijja (true knowledge). Once this is
reached he can be said to have attained freedom from
misery, or Nirvana.
With regard to the Aryasatyas, the Mahayanists
stand on a completely different footing from that of
the Hinayanists. Their cardinal tenet is
Dharmanairatmya or the non-existence of everything
perceived. All the things of the world have an
The reasons for the similar to the objects in a dream
inclusion of the Aryasa- or a mirage. Thus, if everything be
tyas and the Pratityasa- non-existent, the examination of a
mutpadain the doctrines non-existent thing is absurd; hence the
of Mahayana. Mahayanists should show reasons for
including the Aryasatyas and the Pra-
1. Kosa, vi. 4; see also Sogen, Sys. of B. Thought,
pp. 69 ff; Sutralemkara pp. 137--8; it supports the
interpretation of the Kosa.
p. 104
tityasamutpada in their doctrines. Nagarjuna and
Santideva, Asanga and Vasubandhu, therefore, took up
this challenge of the Hinsyanists and showed by
forcible and illuminating arguments that they were
justified in including the Truths in their doctrines.
Nagarjuna has dealt with the Truths(1)
incidentally in his examination of Pratyaya,
Karmaphala, Atma, etc. and at length in his treatment
of the Aryasatyas.(2) He gives this summary of the
arguments of his opponents: If everything be
non-existent ( Sunya ), there cannot
Nagarjuna summar- arise any question about the origin and
iscs the position of the
Hinayanists generally. decay of a thing,---in this case, duhkha
(misery).The five constituents of be
ings which come into existence through pre-existing
cause and conditions are called duhkha, because they
produce suffering, being subject to change and
transformation, That these consittuents are a source
of suffering is realised by the Aryas ( i.e. Arhats
)only, and not by the common people, for the latter
labour under the four misconceptions ( viparyasas
)(3) of considering impure things as pure,
impermanent as permanent, unhappy as happy, and
egoless as having ego. The common people are like the
sick, to whom sweet things appear bitter. A person
who is not yet an arhat (anarya) does not know that
the five upadanaskandhas are a source of suffering.
It is for this reason that the Truths(satyas) are
called Truths for the perfect only. If everything be
Sunya (non-existent), there cannot be the first
Aryasatya called duhkha and consequently there can be
no samudaya (origin), nirodha (destruction), or marga
( means of destruction) of suffering. If the four
Aryasatyas do not exist, there cannot exist true
knowledge, exertion, or realisation, the four fruits
of sanctification or their enjoyer, the Sangha
Dharma, or even Buddha. The assertion of sunyata
(non-existence of everything) goes against the
existence of the three ratnas, in fact, of all
things, good or bad.
1. M. Vr., chs. 1 XVII, XVIII.
2. Ibid., ch. XXIV.
3. Bodhic.; p.375; M. Vr., p. 464 & 607 referring to
Netti., p. 114 and Index; siksa., p. 198; Anguttara,
II, p. 52; Yogasutras. 1,5; Sarvadarsana (ed. of Mm.
Vasudev Sastri Abhyankar, 1924) p. 361; see also
p. 105
Nagarjuna pities his opponents for their
inability to grasp the true sense of sunyata, or his
object of establishing sunyata, and also for their
wrong imagination. The object of teaching
sunyata is to bring about a complete cessa-
Nagarjuna's argu- tion of all prapanca (imagination looking
ments to meet charges upon unity as manifold) The view held
made by the Hina- by his opponents that moksa, (emancipa-
yanists. tion) is attained by the destruction of
action (karma) and passion (klesa) is incorrect. It
is a known fact that ordinarily persons are ignorant
of the real state of things. They conceive rupa
(form), vedana. (feeling), etc., and allow passion,
hatred and delusion to come into existence. this
statement as also from the Sutras, it is evident that
(i) Sunyata is nei- samkalpa (imagination) is the source of
ther nastitva nor abhava. all afflictions. From this it follows that
karma and klesa are only products of
imagination and have no real existence. Their origin
is due to the prapanca (thought-creation) which takes
hold of the mind of a worldly being, who from the
time immemorial is used to a variety of actions and
things such as gain and loss, happiness and misery,
action and the actor, known and the knower and so
forth. All these worldly thought-creations cease to
exist when a person realises the non-existence of the
things which are commonly supposed to have real
existence. Just as a person does not form any idea
(prapanca) about the' beauty of a barren woman's
daughter' and consequently does not weave a net of
fancies (kalpana) around her, so also a Mahayanist is
not troubled with the conception of "I" and "Mine",
the roots of a belief in self (satkayadrsti), nor is
he troubled by any cause for the origin of
afflictions. If a person realises that afflictions
(klesas) do not originate, he cannot have any idea of
good or bad action and consequently, of birth, old
age, disease and death. Therefore the Yogins (
ascetics ), established in Sunyata do not conceive
any real skandha, dhatu, ayatana, etc. and hence they
have no prapanca vikatpa, satkayadrsti, klesa, karma
or mrtyu. Thus, the realisation of Sunyata brings
about the complete cessation of all prapancas, and
so it is said that the realisation of Sunyata is the
same as the realisation of Nirvana.(1)
1. M.Vr., pp. 350-1.
p. 106

Having dealt with the object of the teaching or
Sunyata, Nagarjuna proceeds to an exposition of
Sunyata by stating its characteristic marks
(laksanas),(1) which are as follows:-
(i) It is aparapratyaya, i.e. it cannot be
imparted by one to another(2). One is to realise
within himself (pratyatma- vedya) the Truth, and not
to understand it by listening to the instruction of
Aryas (the Perfect) who can speak of the Truth only
through superimpositions (samaropa).
(ii) It is Santa, i.e. it has the nature of
(iii) It is prapancairaprapancitam, i.e. it is
inexpressible.(4) The first prapanca is taken as a
synonym of speech (vak),(5) i.e. the sense of sunyata
is not utterable by words.
(iv) It is nirvikalpa or unrealisable in
concepts. Vikalpa is thought-construction; so
sunyata is beyond ( lit;. devoid of ) thought-
construction. And, lastly,
( v ) it is ananartha i.e. devoid of different
Thus he points out; that sunyata is not to be
taken in the sense of nastitva ( nihilism ) or abhava
(absence of something ) as wrongly supposed by the
Hinayanists. He continues his exposition of sunyata
by equating it with the pratityasamutpada saying
yah pratityasamutpsdah sunyatam tam pracaksamahe
sa prajnaptir upadaya pratipat saiva medhyama (6)
(We say that dependent origination is sunyatas. It is
in that sense that the path is middle). All
phenomenal things are relatively existent, e.g.
sprout and seed, vijnanas with reference to cause and
condition, hence, Nagarjuna says that things, which
are only relatively existent, have in reality no
1. M. Vr. pp. 372-7.
2. Prof Stcherbatsky ( Con., of N. p. 41) translates
it us "uncognisable from without" but the commentary
of Candrakirti does not seem to warrant the rendering.
3. See M. Vr., p.169 where it is shown why santam is
taken in the sense of svabhava -cirahitam. The point
is that anything having real existence cannot he
subject to the causal law; so whatever is subject to
causal law has no roal existence, like the seed and
the sprout. Hence both of them can be described as
santa or svabhavavirahita. Prof. Stcherbatsky (op.
cit.) uses the word "quiescent" for Santa.
4. Prof. Stcherbatsky (op. cit.) translates it "undiffe-
rentiated in words"
5. See M. Vr. p.373.
6. Ibib., P. 491.
p. 107
tion, and the fact of this non-origination in reality
is sunyata. So it is asserted by the Teacher in the
Anavataptahradupasam- kramana-sutra(1) that whatever
is said to have come into existence through cause and
condition ( i.e. relatively ) is really unborn; it
cannot have real origination; and whatever is subject
to cause and condition is sunya. The statement made
in the Lankavatara and elsewhere that all dharmas are
sunya (non-existent) refers to the non-originstion of
things in reality. It is in this sense that the
connotation of sunyata has come into existence. Hence
it is said that sunyata, which bears the sign of
non-origination in reality, is the middle path. That
which is really non-originated can neither be said to
exist nor to vanish; hence is neither existent nor
non-existent, and is therefore the Middle path, which
keeps clear of the two extremes and is nothing but
the non-originating sunyata(2).
We may consider this topic in another way: There
is nothing which originates without cause and
condition and therefore there is nothing which can be
called asunya(3) (non- relative). It is said in the
Sataka and elsewhere that nothing is ever produced
without cause and condition, or, in other words,
there is nothing eternal. The ignorant; only conceive
of eternity, etc, in regard to the Akasa. The wise
know that all things are caused and conditioned, and
they never fall into the delusion of either of the
two extremes, If it be admitted, as is done by some
of the Hinayanists that things ( i.e. the elements
that constitute a being ) are uncaused and
unconditioned, then the four Aryasafyas are
contradicted, for how can there be duhkha, the first
truth, if things come into existence without cause
and condition (apratitya)?
Nagarjuna, thus establishing that sunyata is
neither nastitva nor abhava but a word signifying the
relative existence of things, says that the
Hinayanists, too much engrossed in the studies of
texts alone, have misunderstood the sense of sunyata
and do not understand that the Teacher delivered his
teachings in two ways, viz. conventional and real, or
empirical and transcendental. So it is said by
1. M. Vr., p.239.
2. Cf.: Bodhic., p.359:
Na san nasan na sadasan na capyanubhayatmakam I
Catuskotivinirmuktam tattvam madhyamika viduh II
3. Referring evidently to the Sarvastivadins.
p. 108

Dve satye samupasritya buddhanam dharmadesana
Lokasamvrtisatyam ca satvam ca paramarthatah(1)
(The teachings of Buddhas are based on two kinds of
truth,--the truth of the world, and the truth in the
highest sense). Nagarjuna as well as Santideva
points out that the words in common
(ii) Buddha's teachings usage, e.g. skandha, atma,
were delivered in two loka, etc being
ways: enveloped (samvrta,) on all sides are
(a)Samvrti. called conventional. The expression
Samvrti has three different senses, which are as
(i) Samvrti is the same as ignorance on account
of its completely enveloping the reality, or, in
other words, it is identical with
ignorance(avidya).(2) In elucidation of this,
Prajnakaramati, the commentator of the
Bodhicaryavatara, says that ignorance superimposes a
form on a non-existent thing and thus creates an
obstacle to the correct view of the reality. In
support of his statement be quotes from the
Aryasalistambasutra a stanza, in which it is stated
that ignorance (avidya) is nothing but
non-realisation (apratipatti) of the truth, and faith
in falsehood.
(ii) Samvrti implies a thing which depends on
another for existence, i.e. subject to cause and
condition,(3) for a really self-existent thing cannot
have origin and decay, or any kind of transformation;
so whatever is caused and conditioned is Samvrta
(iii) Samvrti refers to signs or words current in
the world, i.e. accepted the generality of people and
based on direct perception.(4) Santideva points out
that rupa (form), Sabda (sound), etc. should not be
1. M. Vr., p. 492; Bodhic., p. 361. The two kinds of
Truth have been exhaustively dealt with in the
Madhyamakavatara (chs. v. & vi ); see also Le
Muscon, 1907, N.S. VIII for sunmary of ch.v.
2. Bodhic., p. 352. Samvriyata avriyate yathabhutapa-
rijnanam svabhavavaranad avrtaprakasanac canayeti
samvrtih. Avidya moho viparyasa iti paryayah. (It
is called samvrti because it envelopes the real
nowledge and also because it helps to uncover that
which is, as a matter of course, enveloped. It is
synonymous with ignorance, delusion, or misconcep-
tion.) For Paramartha being the same as Nirvana,
see infra.
3. Bodhic., p.352: pratityasamutpannam vasturupam
samvitir ucyate.
4. Ibid., pp.374-5: pratyaksam api rupadi prasiddhya
na prama-- natah.
p. 109
to be really existing on account of their being
directly perceived by all in the same way. Their
existence is substantiated by proofs which are valid
from the worldly, and not from the transcendental
standpoint. If all that is perceived by the senses be
true, then a fool knows the truth, and there is no
need of exertion for the acquisition of Truth. In
support of his statement, he cites the illustration
that the body of a woman, though impure in the
highest sense, is regarded as pure by a man whose
mind is swayed by attachment, hence a fact cannot be
established merely by experience.
It may be argued that as the expressions like
dhatu, and ayatana occur in the scriptures, they are
real, and besides had they been non--existent, the
Teacher would not have referred to them as
momnentary, subject to decay, etc. Santideva explains
this away by saying that the Teacher used them only
as artifices to lead men, having minds engrossed in
thinking of object as existent, to the conception of
Sunyata, i.e. things are really non-existent.
Whatever Buddha said about skandha, dhatu, ayatana or
their transitoriness is conventional and not real;
hence the existence of dhatus and ayatanas in reality
is not established, if it be held that every object
of experience is unreal, how can we account for the
experience of ksanikatva (transitoriness) of pudgala
by the yogins (ascetics) who have perfected
themselves in the meditation of Pudgalanairatmya
(essencelessness of constituted things)? Santideva's
answer is very simple. He says that even the
experiences of yogins are not above samvrti, for
samvrti included everything that falls within the
scope of buddhi (intelligence), and the reality lies
beyond it. The experience of the yogins that a
woman's body is impure contradicts the experience of
an ordinary man who considers it to be pure. Thus it
is proved that the scriptural authority does not
establish the reality of skandha, dhatu, ayatana,
All that has been said above applies to
loka-samvrti, only,
i.e. truths valid in the world of con-
Two kind of samvrti vention which are accepted as such by
satyas. the generality of the people. There is,
however, another kind of the so-called truth, which
should be distinguished as Alokasamvrti i.e. truths
not accepted by the generality of the people. The
experiences of a man with diseased eyes or defective
organs of sense are peculiar to the

p. 110
man and are not true for all. Such experiences should
be called Alokasamvrti (conventional truths but not
Santideva calls these two kinds of conventional
truths Tathya-samvrti and Mithya-samvrti, and
distinguishes them thus: (1) The Tathya samvrti
(phenomenal truth) refers to things which originate
out of a cause (kimcit pratitya jatam) and are
perceived in the same way by all persons with
unimpaired organs of sense, e.g. the colour blue,
etc. The Mithya-samvrti refers to those things or
statements which are accepted only by individuals and
not universally, though they may have originated
through cause and condition, i.e. they are like
things perceived by a person with a defective organ
of sense.
The Truth of the Aryas, who see things as they
really are, is
quite different from the two so-called
(b) Paramartha- truths mentioned above. Nagarjuna
satya. says that this truth, Paramarthasatya,
is identical with Nirvana.(2) It does not admit of
any distinction as subject and object.(3) It is
un-originating and undecaying, and as such it is not
an object to be grasped by the mind. It is
indeterminable by speech and unknowable by know-
ledge.(4) Hence the highest truth is inexpressible
and can be realised only within one's own self." It
cannot form the subject matter of instruction, and
hence it cannot be imparted by one to another.
Santideva explains the truth (tattva or paramartha-
satya) as beyond the range of buddhi (intellection or
percep- tion) while that which comes within the range
of buddhi is conventional (samvrti).(6) According to
him, the truth is attainable by giving up of all
things which act as hindrances to knowledge, viz.,
impressions (vasana), connection (anusamdhi) and
passion (klesa) through comprehension of the real
nature of things. It is therefore the same as the
non-existence of all
1. Bodhic., p.353.
2. See ante, p.108; samvrti is identified with avidya
and buddhi. See bodhic., pp. 352, 366, also Stcher-
batsky, op. cit., p. 164.
3. Cf. Bodhic., p. 366; Paramarthasatyam sarvaryavaha-
msamatikrantam nirvisesam. Asamntpannam aniruddham.
4. M.Vr., pp. 364, 493.
5. Bodhic., p. 367: aryanam eva svabhavataya pratya.
6. Bodhic., p. 354.
p. 111
dharmas and as such it may be taken as a synonem of
sunyata (essencelessness), tathata (thatness),
bhutakoti (true limit) and dharmadhatu (totality of
things). What is caused and conditioned is not really
existent, because some things undergo change with
time, while in a really existent thing no change is
possible; neither can the fact of coming and going be
attributed to it. Things that are supposed to have
existence are like an illusion or an echo, because
they arise through cause and condition, and disappear
when the cause and condition cease. So in reality,
there can he no origination through cause and
condition, because real origination does not depend
upon and is not subject to something else. All things
arise subject to some preceding causes and
conditions; hence they are really non-existent. How,
then, can an existent thing be expected to aries out
of them? Can anybody ascertain whence the illusory
things produced by causes come and where they go? In
this connection Santideva comments elaborately on the
famous stanza of Nagarjuna:
na svato napi parato na dvabhyam napyahetutah
utpanna jatu vidyante bhavah kvacana kecana (1)
(Nowhere and never does a really existent thing
originate out of a self or non-self or both self and
non-self or without any cause ).
The aim of Santideva and of the other Mahayana
writers also is to assert that the real truth
(paramarthasaty) is that things of this world have no
more existence than the magic figures created by a
magician. As these figures and their movements are
taken as real by the ordinary people while the
magician himself does not concern himself about their
reality, so also in this world, the viparyastas i.e.
those whose vision is obscured and subject to error
run after, or weave their thoughts around, the
various phenomenal things, while the yogi, who knows
the highest reality, does not pay heed to them. In
short, the Paramarthasatya is nothing but the
realisation of the dreamlike or echolike nature of
the Samvrtisatyas.(2)
1. Bodhic., p. 357; M. Vr., p. 12.
2. Bodhic., pp. 368, 379. The Satyasiddhi school
introduced the two kinds of truth, Vyavaharasatya
and Paramarthasatya into the Buddhist metaphysics
In the Aksayamatinirdesasutra these two truths
form the principal subject of discussion (Vaidya,
Catubsatika, p.19). In the Mahayana literature
there are other expressions bearing the same sense
as Paramartha and Samvrti,e.g. Nirtartha Neyyartha,
see M. Vr., p. 41; V. Sastri, I.H.Q., iv, 2 on
Samdhya-bhasa, M.Vr. pp. 41 Sutra., p. 51
p. 112
If Paramarthasatya be of an inexpressible nature
and Samvrti satya he non-existing like an illusion or
echo as urged by Nagarjuna and Santideva, a
Hinayanist may enquire about the necessity of
preaching on the topics like skandha, dhatu ayatana,
aryasatyas, pratityasamutpada, and, which are
conventionally true but not true in the highest sense
(atattva). The reply is
Vyavaharam anasritya paramartho na desyate
Paramartham anagamya nirvanam nadhigamyate.(1)
(The highest truth connot be imparted without having
recourse to conventional truths; and nirvana cannot
be attained without the realisation of the highest
truth). In other words, the highest truth cannot be
brought home directly to a mind, which normally does
not rise above the conventional distinction of
subject and object, knower and known; hence it must
be imparted through conventional truths, and unless
it is so imparted one cannot be expected to extricate
himself from worldly limitations and arrive at
Nirvana. It is for this reason that the Mahayanists
cannot dispense with samvrti topics like dhatu,
ayatana, aryasatya and pratiyasamutpada; they are
like vessels to the seeker of water.
The other reason(2) for which the Mahayanists
cannot dispense with samvrti topics is that the
Paramarthasatya cannot be explained to another by
signs or predicate, but yet it has to be explained.
So the only alternative is to explain it by the
negation of samvrti matters. So it is said to be,
(i) agocara i.e. beyond the cognizance of buddhi
(ii) avisaya i.e. beyond the scope of knowledge:
(iii) sarvaprapansavinirmukta) i.e. beyond the
possibility of detailed descriptions:
(iv) Kalpanasamatikranta i.e. beyond every
possible form of imagination, e.g. existence or non-
existence, true or
For Paramarthika and Abhiprayiki, see M.Vr.,
pp.42 ff; Sutra. p. 138; Keith, B. Phil., p.235;
Journal Asiatique, 1903, ii, p. 360 for reference and
comments on Samvrti and Paramartha.
1. M. Vr., p.494; Bodhic., p. 365; cf Bodhic., p. 372:
Upayabhutam vyavaharasatyam upeyabhutam paramart-
hasatyam (also in the Madhyamakavatara, vi, 80).
Also Pancavimsati (A.S.B. ms) leaf 56 a:
Na ca Subhute samskrtavyatirekena asamskriam sakyam
2. Bodhic., p. 363
p. 113
untrue, eternal or non-eternal, permanent, or
impermanent, happy or unhappy, pure or impure, and so
forth.(1) This being so, the only way to explain
paramarthasatya to the people is through common place
terms and illustrations. a person with diseased eyes
sees a net of hair: he is corrected by another whose
eyes are healthy, who negates the afficted man's
statement that there (really) is a net of hair. The
man with healthy eyes does not indicate by such a
negation that he is either denying or affirming
something. Similarly, persons whose right vision is
obstructed by ignorance conceive of the existence of
skandha, dhatu, ayatana etc. which are in reality
non-existent phenomenal forms. Buddhas like the
persons with healthy eyes know this, and they cannot
help saying that there are in reality no skandhas,
dhatus, ayatanas, but thereby they neither deny nor
affirm their existence. Therefore the highest truth
cannot be preached without the help of the
conventional truths. So it is said.
Anaksarasya dharmasya srutih ka desana ca ka
sruyate desyate carthah samaropad anaksarah(2)
[How can there be hearing and preaching of Dharma
which is unutterable (lit. cannot be articulated); it
is by the superimposition of ideas on the reality
which is inexpressible that the latter can be
preached or heard].
If it be established that all mundane things are
really non-existent, there is a probability of the
Paramariha (the highest truth) being conceived as
nihilism. Nagarjuna sounds a note of warning against
such a conception by saying that sunyata should not
be identified with the extinction of a thing which
existed before. The question of extinction or
nihilism does not arise, because the existence of
something preceding is not admitted. Neither should
it be regarded as something existing by having
recourse to superimpositions. Those, who do not
realise the real distinction between these two kinds
of truth, fall into the error of either conceiving
sunyata as the non-existence of samskaras
(constituents of a being) or of assuming the
existence of something as the basis of sunyata. Both
are wrong views, and people of limited knowledge
misunderstand sunyata as the one or the other. The
distinction was, in fact,
1. Bodhic., pp. 366-7. This list can be expanded to a
great length. See Bodhic., p.367.
2. Bodhic., p.365; M. Vr., p. 264, XV. 2; cf. Lanka,
p. 114
so very suttle that even Buddha hesitated to preach
the truth at first.(1)
In concluding his argument, Nagarjuna says that the
The Hinayanists do not Hinayanists by attributing the sense
understand the stand- of abhava (absence or non-existence
point of the Mahayanists after assuming the existence of
because they tak sun- something) to sunyata, fall into the
yata as abhava. error and fail to understand the stand-
point of the Mahayanists. The Mahayanic conceptions
of sunyata, i.o., that everything is non-existent
fits in correctly with all dharmas and all
statements, it is when sunyata is seen in this light
that one can perceive the reasonableness of the
formulae of Causal Law and the Four Truths, the
fruits of sanctification, sangha, Dharma, buddha,
things worldly and transcecndental, deeds right; and
wrong, a good or bad condition and other conventional
matters. Nagarjuna, having stated his position,
attacks the Hinayanists for their inability
to-comprehend the correct sense of the Causal Law. He
says that just; as a rider, while riding may forget
his horse and revile another for stealing it, so also
the Hinayanists, because of their distracted mind,
fail to grasp the truth that Sunyata is the true
sense and the chief characteristic of the Causal Law,
and attack the Mahayanists, the Sunyatavadins, for
misinterprating the Causal Law.
Nagarjuna now proceeds to assail the position of
his opponents. He-says that those, who
Nagarjuna followed by admit the reality of unconstitued things
Santideva concludes that cannot logically support the Aryasatyas
the position of the re- and the Pratityasamutpada. It should be
alists, the Hinayanists, remembered that the Hinayanists apply
is not tenable with regard the Causal Law to constituted things
to the Four Truths and only. Nagarjuna attempts to make the
the Causal Law. position of the Hinayanists untenable
by asserting that the Causal Law should be
universally applicable, and that there cannot be
anything in the world which was excepted by Buddha as
beyond its range of the Causal Law, Starting with
this assumption, he argues that if things exist by
themselves, they are not subject to causes and
conditions, and such being the case there is no need
to draw distinctions of external and internal, of
causes and conditions, or the doer and
1. Buddhaghosa also uses this argument, see Vis,
p. 508.
p. 115
the doing of an action, In short, the Hinayanic
theory contradiets the origin and decay us well as
the fruits of sanctification. Hence, the position of
the Hinayanists that things exist by themselves is
untenable. It also contradicts the words of Buddha
who said on many occasions: apratityasamutpanno
dharmah kascin na vidyate (there never exists
anything which originated without cause and
condition). This statement of Buddha, however, fits
in with the definition of sunyata as given by the
If all things be existent (asunya) and if it
originates without cause and condition, there cannot
be anything impermanent and consequently no duhkha.
Again, if duhkha be taken as something existent
then the truths of samudaya and nirodha (origin and
decay) of misery, and marga (the eight-fold path
leading to the decay of misery ) are meaningless.
Nagarjuna thus pays back the Hinayanists in their own
Then, with reference to the parijnana ( detailed
knowledge) of the Hinayanists, Nagarjuna shows that
it is not logical to maintain that duhkha, assuming
it to be an existent thing, was unknown before, and
that it is known subsequently because existent;
things remain always in the same condition (svabhava-
samavasthitah) and never undergo any change. If an
existent thing be not subject to change, it cannot be
maintained that duhkha, which was unknowable at
first, was known later on. From this it folio we that
there is no duhkha-parjnana (knowledge of suffering).
Consequently, prahana (abandonment), saksatkarana
(realisation), and bhavana (meditation) are
As it is unreasonable to claim knowledge of
duhkha, which was formerly by nature unknowable, so
it is wrong to assume the existence of the. fruit of
Srotapatti, which (did not exist before but was
realised later on; and so with the other fruits of
sanctification. The same reasoning--that which was by
nature unattainable cannot be attained later on--is
applied to show that there can be no one who enjoys
these fruits, and consequently no Sangha. If there be
not the Aryasatyas, there cannot he Dharma, and in
the absence of Dharma and Sangha there cannot be a
Buddha. If it be assumed that Buddha and Bodhi exist
by themselves, then one remains without any
p. 116
reference to the other. If Buddhahood be taken as
already existing, a person, who by nature is a
non-Buddha, can never attain Bodhi, however much he
may practise the Bodhisattva duties, because a
non-Buddha cannot be expected to change.
Nagarjuna's point is that if a thing exists by
itself then it is absurd to speak of it; as created,
Nagarjuna's conclusion having a creator, and so forth. Just as
and quotation of texts in nobody speaks of uncovering the sky
support of his theory. because the open sky exists by itself, so
also nobody should say that a thing, existing by
itself, has been performed or attined. In fact, the
theory of pratityasamutpanna (one existing with
reference to another i.e. relatively) must be
admitted, as otherwise even the expressions of every
day usage such as 'go', 'do', 'cook', 'read', etc.,
become meaningless. If the world is supposed to exist
by itself, the world would be unoriginating,
undecaying and unchangeable as the self- existent is
changeless. The world, according to the Asunyavadins
(those who do not admit sunyata) would have no
concern with the Causal Law and be beyond the
possibility of diversity. Had the world been so, say
a the Pilaputrasamagamasutra, it would not hare been
dealt with by Buddha, and the Teacher would have, as
the Hastikaksya-sutra says, gone there with all his
Nagarjuna concludes by saying that he who
realises Pratityasamutpada can rightly know the four
truths and quotes a passage from the
Manjusripariprccha, dealing with the Mahayanic view
of the four truths. It runs as follows:--he who
realises that no dharmas have originated, has known
duhkha; he who realises the non-existence of all
dharmas, has suppressed the source (samudaya) of
misary; he, who realises that all dharmas are
completely extinct (parinirvrla), has comprehended
the truth of nirodha (cessation), and he, who
realises the means by which the absence of all things
is known is said to have practised the path (marga).
This has been developed thus in the
Dhyayitamustisutra. Unable to comprehend the four
truths properly on account of being troubled by the
four viparyasas ( misconceptions ), sentient beings
cannot beyond the world of transmgration. They
conceive of atma ( self ) and atmiya (things relating
to a self.) and thus have karmabhisam-
p. 117
skara (actions).(1) Not knowing that all things are
completely extinct (parinivrta) they imagine the
existence of themselves and others, and become
engrossed there in to the extent of having affection,
infatuation and ultimately delusion. They now perform
actions, physicaliy, verbally, and mentally, and
after making some superitmpositions of existing on
non-existing things, they think that they are subject
to affection, infatuation, and delusion. In order to
get rid of them, they take ordination ill the
doctrines of Buddha, observe the precepts and hope to
pass beyond the world and attain Nirvana. They
imagine that some things are good, some bad; some are
to be rejected, some to be realised; that duhkha is
to be known, the samudaya of duhkha to be given up;
the nirodha of duhkha to be realised; and the marga
to be practised. They also imagine that all
constituted things are impermanent and endeavour to
pass beyond them. Thus imagining, they attain a
mental state full of disgust; (or contempt) for
constituted things, having animitta ( absence of sign
or cause ) as its preceding condition. They think
that they have thus known duhkha, i. e. the
transitoriness of constituted things, become
terrified by them, and shun their causes. Having
imagined something as source (samudaya) of duhkha
they conceive of a cessation (nirodha) of duhkha and
de- cide to follow the path (marga) to attain it.
They retire to a secluded place with the mind full of
disgust and attain quietude (samatha). Their minds
are no longer moved by worldly things and they think
that they have done all that is to be done, they are
freed from all sufferings and have become arhals. But
after death they find themselves reborn among the
gods and in their minds exist doubts about Buddha and
his knowledge. When they die again, they pass to hell
because they doubt the existence of the Tathagata
after forming some misconceptions about all dharmas
which are unoriginated The four truths are therefore
to be seen in the light of the Manjusrisutra as
pointed out above.
The new point of view from which the Aryasatyas
are looked at by Nagarjuna appers in the
Prajnaparamitas in connection with the attempt to
establish the conception of sunyata. The Pancavimsati
thus defines the Aryasatyas:(2)
1. Cf. Bodhic., p. 350 : Viparyasasamjnino' satsattva-
samarepabhinivesavasad atmatamiyagrahapravrtter
yonisomanasikaraprasuto ragadiklesaganah samupajayate.
Tasmat karma. Tato janma, etc.
2. Pancavimsati Prajnaparamita, pp.43 f.
p. 118
What is duhkhasatyavavada? A Bodhisattva while
practising the prajnaparamita should not consider
himself as attached or unattached (yukta or ayukta)
to any one of the five skandhas, or to any organ of
sense, or to their objects, or to the consciousness
produced by the contact of the organs of sense with
their respective objects, or to any of the four
truths, twelve links of the chain of causation,
eighteen kinds of sunyata, and so forth. He should
not look upon anything as rupa, vedana etc., as
connected or unconnected. This is called, according
to the Prajnaparamita, the sermon on the first truth
Duhkha. The underlying idea is that if a Bodhisattva
thinks of himself as connected or unconnected with
anything, which according to the Prajnaparamita, is
non-existent or has only a conventional existence,
then the Bodhisattva is subject to duhkha
(suffering); even if a Boddhisattva considers himself
as having realised the truths or the causal law or
sunyata, he would be subject to duhkha, though,
according to the Hinayanists, the Bodhisattva is to
attain thereby sukha or nirrana.
What is samudayasatyararada? A Bodhisattva while
practising prajnaparamita does not consider whether
rupa or any other skandha is subject to origination
or destruction (utpadadharmi or nirodhadharmi), or to
contamination or purification (samklesatharmi or
vyaradanadharmi). He knows into samjna, and so forth;
a dharma, in fact, on account of its nature being
unreal (prakrti-sumata) cannot be converted into
another dharma. Neither that which is
sunyata(non-existence) of rupa, is rupa nor does the
sunyata of rupa take a rupa (form); therefore sunyata
is neither different from, nor identical with, rupa,
and in this way the other skandhas are treated. This
is called the sermon on samudaya. The object of this
discourse is to establish that the so-called things
of the world have really no existence and hence there
can be no origination, transformation or destruction,
and so a Bodhisattva should remain unconcerned with
the conception of samudaya of things.
What is nirodhasatyavavada? A Bodhisattva is to
know that sunyata has no origin, decay,
contamination, purification, decrease, increase,
past, present, or future. In it, therefore, there can
be no rupa, vedana etc, no duhkha, samudaya, etc. not
even sratapanna, sakrdagami or Buddha. This is called
nirodhasatyavavada. This statement is meant to convey
that nirodha is nothing but the realisation of the
real nature of sunyata.
p. 119
Arguing in this way Prajnaparamita shows that the
truth is sunyata, i.e. the non-existence of the
so-called things of the world, and this may be called
the third truth, nirodha, while duhkha consists in
thinking of oneself as related in some way or other
to the conventional things, and samudaya in believing
that the origination of things does really happen. As
the marga has no place in this interpretation of the
aryasatyas, the Prajnaparamita safely omits it.
Nagarjuna, as we have seen, establishes by quota-
Hinayanic arhats labo- from the Mahayanic texts that Hina-
ur under the misconcep- yanic Arhats labour under miscon-
tion of substantiality of ceptions. Of the four common miscon-
the world. ceptions (viparyasas), they are not free
from the fourth, viz., seeing ego in egoless things,
thinking non-existent things as existent.(1) But this
statement of Nagar juna or of the Mahayanic texts
with reference to the Hinayanists has in view the
egolessness of things generally (dharma- sunyata) and
not merely of constituted things, with which the
Hinayanists are concerned. Nagarjuna ends his
discourse by asserting that the truth is that all
things are like echo, mirage, or images in dreams.
When one realises this, he has neither love nor
hatred for any being and with a mind like the sky, he
does not know of any distinctions as Buddha, Dharma
or Sangha and does not have doubts regarding
anything. Being without doubt and without attachment,
he attains parinirvana without upadana.
Santideva(2) also reasons in this way and says
that a person's avidya, the source of delusion, which
comes about on account of the attribution of
existence (sat) to non-existent things (asat) or ego
(atma)to egoless things (anatma), ceases to exist
when he realises truly (paramarthalah) that things
have only a dream-like or echo-like existence, On the
cessation of avidya, the other links of the chain of
causation(3) get no opportunity to arise, and hence
the person obtains Nirodha.
1. Cf. Bodhic., p. 350.
2. Cf. Bodhic., pp. 350-1.
3. Santideva speaks of the chain of causation as
consisting of three parts:
(i) Klesakanda-avidya, trsna and upadana;
(ii) Karmakanda-samskara and bhava; and
(iii) duhkhakanda-all the remaining links of the chain.
p. 120
The Mahayanists, thus relegate the four Truths
and the Causal Law to the domain of matters,
conventional and not real, and assert that they are
necessary in the doctrines of Mahayana inasmuch as
they serve as a means for the guidance of living
beings, who as individuals in this world, cannot but
have their vision distorted or screened by
Nagarjuna, followed by Santideva, explains the
of the Madhyamikas with regard to the
The Yogacara treat- Four Ttuths and the Causal Law.
ment of the Aryasatyas Asanga, Vasubandhu and other writers
and the Pratityasamutpada on the Yogacara system deal with this
topic incidentally. Asanga, for instance,
refers to the Four Truths,(2) saying that the first
two relate to the origin of the world or the
happening of repeated births and the cause thereof,
while the second two relate to the disappearance of
things and the causes thereof. The first two need
suppression while the second two need realistion. In
connection with the fourteen ways of practising the
smrtyupasthanas (power of recellection) by
Bodhisattvas, it is pointed out that out can enter,
and also make others enter, into the four truths by
means of the smrtyupasthanas. Other Yogacara
writings, viz., the Siddhi and she Lankavatara do not
specifically refer to the four trutlhs but they deal
with the doctrines of the Hinayanists for the sake of
comparisonl and contrast. For instance, they speak of
the Hinayanists as those who maintain the overt sense
of Buddha's teachings and not their deeper
meanings;(3) being satisfied only by ascertaining the
generic characteristics of things but never
questioning about their
1. The commentator of Bodhic, (p. 362 )in order to
allow that the four Arvasatyas are really two, says
that duhkha, samudaya and marga should be classified
under samvrti and nirodha under paramartha.
2. Sutra., pp. 137-8, 140-1.
3. Lanka., p. 14: yatharutarthabhinivista. For a desc-
ription of the rutarthagrahi, see Lanka., pp. 154 f.
160 f. 197. 227. Lanka., p. 77 says "sutrantah sar-
vasattvasayadesanarthavyabhicarini na satattvaprat-
yavas thanakatha (the discourses are not faithful
expositions of the truth because they were preached
according to the mental tendencies of beings.)
For a remark like this, see M. Vr., Sutra., p.51:
alpastrutatvam nitartha sutrantasravanat.
p. 121
essential unreality.(1) They labour under the
misconception (parikalpana) of taking the three
worlds as real, of postulating distinctions as
subject and object, of assuming the existence of
skandhas (constituents of beings), dhatu (organs of
sense), ayatana (spheres of the organs of sense ),
citta (mind), hetupratyaya (cause and condition),
kriyayoga (action), utpada (origin), sthiti
(continuance), bhanga (dissolution), etc.(2) The
Lankavatara(3) speaking of Pratityasamutpada, says
that it is by comprehending that things originate
through cause and condition that one can get rid of
the misconception of taking non-existent things as
existent, and of assuming gradual or simultaneous
origin of things. Then it explains as usual that the
dependent origination happens in two wage, externally
and internally, e.g. an earthen pot,butter, sprout
etc. originate through an external cause (hetu)(4)
and condition (pratyaya), while ignorance (avidya),
desire (trsna), action (karma), etc. originate
through an internal cause and condition. The remarks
of the Yogacara writers indicate that the four truths
and the causal law of the Hinayanists belong to the
domain of imagination (parikalpana) and not to that
of reality.
It should be remembered that though the Yogacarins
sharply criticised by the Madhyamikas(5)
The Samvrtian Para- for their conception of the eighth con-
martha of the Madhya- sciousuess called Alaya-vijnana (or
mikas replaced by Pari- store-consciousness), both these schools
kalpita; Paratantra and of thought agree in holding that all
Parinispanna of the things(dharmas) Ore non-existent, and
are without origin and decay,(6) and that the highest
truth is unutterable (anaksara),(7) is identical with
Thatness and Uncha-
1. Lanka., pp. 51, 63, 71, Yah skandhadhatvayatana-sva-
samanyalaksa- uaparijnanadhigame desyamane romanc-
iiatanur bhavati. Laksanapari cayajnane casya buddhih
praskandati na pratityasamutpadavinirbhaga-laksana-
2. Lanka., pp. 42, 43, 225.
3. Ibid, pp. 82--3, 84, 140.
4. For six kinds of hetu, see Lanka., p. 83.
5. M. Vr. p. 523 ;
6. Trimsika., p. 41: sarvadharma nihsvabhava
anutpannaaniruddha iti nirdisyante.
7. Budhhas are silent (mauna) and never preach a word.
Lanka., pp. 16, 17, 144, 194.
p. 122
ngeableness, possesses the signs of anayuha and
niryuha (non- taking and non-rejection) and is beyond
every possible means of determitation.(1) Passages
like this can be multiplied from the Yogacara works
to show that their conception of the Reality apart
from Alayavijnana is the same us that of the
Madhyamikas. They also hold with the Madhyamikas(2)
that from time immemorial, the mind has been under
the delusion of imputing existence (sat) to
non-existent things (asat), and that the Hinayanists
were not able to rid their minds completely of the
four viparyasas (misconceptions)(3) inasmuch as they
meditated on Pudyalanimitta (individuality as basis)
only and not on Sarvadharmanimitta (all things
whatsoever as basis) and conceived of Nirvana as
something existent,(4) full of peace and beyond
misery. Their conception is that the highest truth,
which they usually call Parinispanna for the
Paramartha of the Madhyamikas is the realisation of
the fact that all dharmas perceptible to our mind
have no more existence than the images in a dream or
the reflection of the moon in water. But from time
immemorial, our minds are so deluded that we cannot
help perceiving in the images or reflection something
existent, or in other words, with our common
knowledge, we cannot rise above parikalpana
(imaginary existence),the samvrti of the Madhyamikas
and others. The Yogacaras add a rider to the
Parikalpana, saying that it depends for origination
on something else, and hence it is always paralantra,
the pratityasamutpanna of the Madhyamikas and others.
It is not necessary that the basis of a parikalpana
need be anything existent or reel, e.g. a person may
be frightened by can echo. In short, Parikalpita and
Paratantra relate to phenomenal matters only, to the
anitya, anatma, and duhkha of the Hinayanists, while,
parinispanna relates to Nirvana, the Santa(5) i.e.
where all klesas and vikalpas cease.
Asanga brings out the relation of the three forms
of truth thus: The highest truth (paramartha or
parinispanna) is non-
1. Lanka, p. 196: Tathatvam ananyathatvam anayuthani-
ryuhalaksanam sarvaprapancopasamam; p. 73; sunyata-
nutpadadvaya nihsvabhavalaksanam.
2. M. Vr., ch, xxiv quoting Aryadhyayita-mustisutra.
3. Sutra., p. 169: Tatra catur viparyasanugatam
pudgalanimittam vibhavayan yogi sravakabodhim
pratyakabodhim va labhate. Sarvadharmanimittam
vibhavayan mahabodhim.
4. Lanka., p. 72.
5. Sutra, p. 149, cf M. Vr., chap. on Atma.
p. 123
duality, which is shown in five ways. Two of these
are that it is non-existing under the aspect. of
parikalpita and paratantra and not non-existing under
the aspect of parimispanna. It is not the same
because the parikalpita and paratantra are not the
same as Parinispanna. It is not different, because
the former two are not different from the latter.(1)
In another connection Asanga says that a Bodhisattva
can be truly called a sunyajna (one who knows the
real nature of non-existence) when he understands it
under three aspects, viz., first, that the non-
existence means the absence of signs which are
commonly attributed to an imaginary object
(parikalpita), second, that the non-existence is the
absence of ally particular form of existence that one
imagines it to be (paratantra), and third, that which
is by nature non-existent (parinispanna).(2) The
Vijnaptimatratasiddhi(3) elucidates this point by
saying that the nature of non-existence is of three
kinds(4) viz, (i) laksanautpattinihsvabhavata (non
existence of the signs commonly attributed to a
thing, and hence of the thing itself, (i.e.
parika'pita), (ii) utpattinihsvabhavata non-existence
of a thing when considered from the standpoint of its
origin, i.e. paratantra); and (iii)
paramarthanihsvabhavata (non-existence of a thing in
the highest sense, i.e. parinispanna).
Sthiramati, in commenting on it, says that the
category parikalpita refers to the non-
A. Parikalpita existence of things by its characteri-
stics or signs. A thing cannot be conceived to exist
unless it is accompanied by some characteristics,
thus the sign of form is attributed to an object, or
the sign of pain, pleasure etc. is attributed to a
feeling. Endless things which people imagine, not
excluding the dharmas attributed to a Buddha, have
existence only in one's imagination, hence they are
parikalpita i.e, have nothing corresponding to them
in reality. The Lankavatara says that the parikalpita
existence is inferred from signs(5) (nimitta) and
explains it thus: All dependently originating things
tare known by nimitta (impressions)
1. Ibid. p.22 na san na casan na tatha na canyatha,
2. Sutra., pp. 94-5.
3. Siddhi, pp. 39-42.
4. Lanka, p. 67.
5. Prof. Levi translates nimitta by "signs of
p. 124
and laksana (characteristics)(1). Now, things, having
nimitta and laksana are of two kinds. Things known by
nimitta only refer to things generally, internal and
external, while things known by nimittalaksana refer
to the knowledge of generic characteristics of things
both internal and external.(2) Asanga(3)
distinguishes parikalpita into three kinds. They take
as real (i) the basis (nimitla or alambana) of one's
thought constructions, (ii)the unconscious
impressions(rasana) left by them upon one's mind, and
( iii ) the denominations (artha, khyati) following
the impressions.
The second category, paratantra refers to the
existence pointed out above regard-
B. Paratantra ed from the aspect of its origin,
i.e. all objects of feelings, which
have existence only in imagination, and depend for
origination on something else. Things as they appear
are not the same as their origin or source; so it is
said that the unreality of things is perceptible when
they are viewed from the standpoint; of their origin.
Though the things, good, bad and indeterminate, or
the three worlds (dhalu) or the mind and its various
functions, have only imaginary existence, they arise,
however, from causes and conditions, i.e. they depend
for origin on others, and hence they cannot be said
to exist really, because a real thing remains always
the same and does not. depend on cause and condition.
The Lankavatara puts it very briefly:
yadasrayalambanat pravartate tat paratantra (that
which, proceeds from a basis is dependently
originated or paratantra). Asanga analyses the
paratantra in this way; the mark of being paratantra
is the false thought-construction The
thought-constructions create a subject (grahaka) and
an object (grahya).
1. Lanka., pp. 224=6: five natures of existent things,
(i) nama, (ii) nimitta, (iii) vikalpa, (iv) samya-
kjnana, and (v) tathata. Nama= samjna, samketa.
Ignorant persons, deluded by varous signs (laksana)
become attached to things as self or mine, and thus
weave a net of thought-constructions around
Nimitta=The reflection (abhasa) of eye-conscious-
ness known as form; so also the reflections of ear-
consciousness, nose-c., tongue-c., body-c., mind-c.,
known as sound, sunell, taste, touch and things are
called nimitta. Nimitta is more or less a sign,
impressed upon consciousness and laksana is defini-
tion, or feature constituting a definition.
2. Lanka,. p. 67; also pp. 150, 163.
3. Sutra., p. 64.
p. 125
The third category, parinispanna, refers to the
Paramartha (the highest truth) or Tathata (Thatness).
Like akasa (space) it is of uniform nature (lit. has
one taste-ekarasa), pure, and changeless. The
Parinispanna-svabhava (absolute reality) is
called paramartha because it is the
C. Parinispanna highest aspect in which all dependently
originated things are to be looked upon.
In this sense, it can be called also dharmata (the
nature of things), or in other words, it is the
Absolute, immanent in the phenomenal world. The
Siddhi points out that the parinispanna (the
Absolute) is so called because it is absolutely
changeless If it be compared with are the paralantra,
it may be said to be that paratantra which is always
and ever completely devoid of the differentiations as
subject and object, which are, in fact, the mere play
of imagination, and hence absolutely non-existing.
Thus, it follows that the parinispanna is the same as
the paratantra minus the parikatpita.(2)
It is clear from the discussions summarised above
that the
expressions Paramartha and Samvrti of
Two truths in Hina- the Madhyamikas, and Parinispanna,
yana. Paratantra and Parikatpita of the Yoga-
caras are relative. The paramartha of the one and the
parinispanna of the other indicate the Truth as
concieved by them. Accepting that Truth is the only
reality, they relegate everything else to the domain
of unreality calling them conventional, samvrti or
parikalpita, with the reservation that the
conventional things happen subject to causes and
conditions, or in other words they conform to the law
of causation, the Pratityasamutpada of the Buddhists
in general, and the Paratantra of the Yogacaras. The
Hinayanists too utilise these expressions just as
much as the, Mahayanist and they also call their
Truth the only reality, Paramattha, everything else
being conventional, sammuti. Their Truth, in one
word, is anatta, non-existence of any sub-
1. For seven different kinds of Paramartha, see Lanka.,
2. This exposition is based on the Sibbhi, pp.39-42.
Musuda has utilised the Chinese version of this
treatise, for which see his Der individualistische
Idealismus der Yogacara-schula, pp. 40-43. For
general discussion, see La Vallee Poussin, E.R.E.
sv. philosophy (Buddhist);
L.D. Bernett, The Path of Light (Wisdom of the East
Series), p. 102; Keith, Buddhist Philosophy,
pp.235-236; Sogen, Systems of Buddhistic Thought,
pp. 145, 146; Stcherbatsky, Conception of Nirvana,
p. 33.
p. 126
stantiality in the so-celled things of the world,
with the corollary that everything being anatta is
impermanent (anicca) and misery (duhkha).
Buddhaghosa(1) draws the distinction, saying that
Buddhas use two kinds of speech, conventionaland
real. The expressions, satta (being), puggalo
(person), dera (god), etc. are conventional, while
those like anicca (impermanence ), duhkha (misery),
anatta (essencelessness), khandha (aggregates), dhatu
(organs of sense), ayatana (objects of senses),
satipatthana (practices of self-possession),
sammappadhana (right exertion ), etc. wore used in
their true sense. Nagasena explains that when Buddha
said "I shall lead the Sangha or the Sangha is
dependent on me"(2), he used the expressions "I" and
"me" in the conventionnl and not in the real sense.
Ledi Sadaw(3), explains sammuti-sacca as those
statements which are true by popular usage and are
opposed to "inconsistency, and untruthfulness in
speech" while paramattha-sacca are those which are
established by the nature of the things and do not
depend on opinion or usage. As an example he points
out that when it is said "there is a soul", it is
conventionally true but ultimately false,(4) for the
real ultimate truth is "there is no personal entity".
The latter is true in all circumstances and
conditions, and does not depend for its validity on
usage or popular opinion.(5) The contention of the
Hinayanists is that a name is usually given to
constituted things; that name is conventional e.g.
when the wheels, frame, and other parts of a chariot
are fitted up in a particular order, all the things
taken together go by the name of a chariot. The term
'chariot' therefore depends on convention. If the
constituted things, e.g. the chariot is divisible
into various parts, it is no longer called a chariot
when it is so divided. From this, it follows that the
things, at which one ultimately arrives after
repeated analysis, are the only real entities. They
never undergo changes and they bear the same name at
all times and places and under all conditions.
1. Kvn. Atthakatha. pp. 33. 34.
2. Milindapanha, pp. 28, 60.
3. J. P. T. S., 1914, pp. 129 f.
4. Cf. Stcherbatsky, Central Conception of Buddhism;
"Buddhism never denied the existence of a persona-
lity, or a soul, in the empirical sense; it only
maintained that it was no ultimate reality."
5. See also Prof. Poussin's article in the Journal
Asiatique, 1902, p. 250; Points of the Controversy,
pp. 63 fn. 180.
p. 127
So, according to the Hinayanists, all the various
ultimate elements, which constitute a being or thing,
are real, and when reference is made to them they may
be called ultimate truths or paramattha sacca; hence
the dhatus or ayatanas, satipatthanas or
sammappadhanas are expressions used in the ultimate
The Kosa(1) explains also the two truths in a
slightly different way. It says that the things like
jug and clothes, after they are destroyed, do no
longer bear the same name, so also things like water
and fire, when examined analytically, dissolve into
some elements and are no longer called water or fire.
Hence the things, which on analysis are found to be
changing, are given names by convention. Such
expressions, which convey ideas temporarily and not
permanently, are called Samvrtisatyas. The
Paramarthasatyas are those expressions, which convey
ideas, which remain unchanged whether the things are
dissolved, analysed or not, e.g. rupa; although one
may reduce the rupa into atoms, or withdraw from it
taste and other qualities, the idea of the real
nature of rupa persists. In the same way one can
speak of feeling (vedana), therefore such expressions
are Paramarthasatyas (ultimate truths).
But these ultimate truths of the Hinayanists, we
have seen, are relegated by the Mahayanists to the
domain of convention. Hence, what are real according
to the Hinayainists, namely the Aryasatyas and the
Pratityasamutpada are unreal and matters of
convention according to the Mahayanists.
1. Kosa., VI. 4.