Buddhist Texts · indica lingua · lingua tibetica

♦ The 37 heresies listed in the Madhyamakaratnapradīpa

During these last days I was at work on the second chapter of the Madhyamakaratnapradīpa of Bhavya from Tibetan bsTan-’gyur. I have compared two versions: sDe-dge and dGa’-ldan (available for free on line). In this chapter we find a list of a number of heretical schools and of heretical teachers. Some of these names are – at least to me! – well-known, others unknown, others uncertain. Here I have organized Bhavya’s list in alphabetical order according to Tibetan, adding the Sanskrit parallel, and making use of the following symbols: (*) indicates the possible Sanskrit reconstruction of those names translated into Tibetan whose original Sanskrit is not certain; (°) indicates the possible or certain Sanskrit reconstruction of the names from the Tibetan phonetical translitteration or translitteration cum translation; (+) indicates the Sanskrit names of those Tibetan translations/renderings which are well attested. I have also added, where possible and if necessary, a brief description of the probable persons to whome the names allude to, and referred the different readings of sDe-dge (D) and dGa’-ldan (G), writing first the name I accept as correct.

As a preliminary remark, I assume that this Bhavya is not the author of the commentary on Nāgārjuna’s Mūlamadhyamakakārikā, etc.: indeed, the second chapter of the Madhyamakaratnapradīpa opens with a salutation to Nāgārjuna, Āryadeva and Candrakīrti as exponents of the same philosophical line. We know that Candrakīrti upheld the prāsaṅgika-madhyamaka which was in competition with Bhavya’s/Bhāvaviveka’s svatantrika-madhyamaka. The decision of an opponent of Candrakīrti, i.e. Bhavya/Bhāvaviveka, to pay devotedly homage in one of his works to his rival and criticizer would surely sound a bit strange. Seyfort Ruegg (1981:66-67 and note 214; 106, and note 339) reminds us that at least other two (perhaps three) later Bhavya-s existed in the history of Buddhism, thus we can suppose that Madhyamakaratnapradīpa has been compiled by one of them (lived around 1000-1100 AD).

The following must be considered as a provisional list, in the sense that I invite all those who know – or believe to know – something more about these names to add informations and/or corrections.

1. Ko bu ru ma = °Kauruma (?), otherwise °Kaurama; see Atharvaveda XX.127.1.

2. rGyun shes kyi bu = +Ātreya, lit. «son of Atri (an ancient ṛṣi)»; Ātreya is also the name of a physician.

3. sGyu rtsal shes kyi bu Ring phur = +Ārāḍa Kālāpa.

4. gCer bu pa gNYen gyi bu = +Nirgrantha Jñātaputra.

5. bDen ldan = +Satya (name of a ṛṣi; we know also a certain Satyācārya, who was an astronomer, author of the Horāśāstra).

6. sDe can = *Senya/*Vargya; Chandra Das, in his Tibetan-English Dictionary (s.v.), refers to Vaidūra g-ya’ sel, where sDe can is said to have been an ancient Indian sage.

7. Nar(a) ya ni = °Nārāyaṇi (?), perhaps °Nārya(ṇi) ?

8. rNam par smra ba’i bu Kun rgyal = +Vairaṭiputra Saṃjaya.

9. PHyugs lhas kyi bu Ma ska r’i (G)/PHyugs lhas kyi bu Mo ka ri (D) = +Gośāliputra Maskarin.

10. PHyogs can = *Pathyā (name of a teacher of Atharvaveda); see for instance Bṛhat-devatā I.128, II.78, VII.93, etc.

11. Bad rgya ya ni = °Vargyayaṇi (?).

12. Bha sa = °Bhasa (?) or °Bhāsa (?).

13. Bh’a smi (D) / Bha mi (G) = °Bhāsmi (?); the name perhaps refers to the practice, typical of certain ascetic sects, of besmearing the entire body with human ashes.

14. Bhri ku (G) / ’Bri khu (D) = °Bhṛgu (name of a ṛṣi; also, name of an ancient chef of a brāhmaṇical family); see Ṛgveda VII.18.6; VIII.3.9; etc.

15. Bu la skya = °Pulastya (name of a ṛṣi).

16. Bu la ha = °Pulaha (name of a ṛṣi).

17. dBang po = +Indra (name of a grammarian but also of a physician; or may be the name alludes to the worshipers of the god).

18. Ma bu = *Mātāputra (?); see Bṛhat-devatā IV.39, where the compound mātāputra is explained as: mātā=Vāc=Sarasvatī and putra=Prāṇa=Sarasvat.

19. Mi pham sKra’i la ba can = +Ajita Keśakambala.

20. TSa ra ka = °Caraka (physician: the compiler of Caraka-saṃhitā?).

21. DZe’i mi (D) / DZe mi (G) = °Jaimini (the founder of Mīmāṃsā).

22. DZny’a na pa la ka (D) / DZ-ha na pa la ka (G) = °Jñānapālaka (?).

23. gZegs zan = +Kaṇāda (the mythical founder of Vaiśeṣika).

24. ’Ug pa pa = +Aulūkya (another name of Kaṇāda, here probably referring to a Vaiśeṣika school, different from the previous one).

25. ’Od srungs rDZogs byed = +Pūraṇa Kāśyapa.

26. Rangs byed kyi bu Lhag spyod (D) / Rengs byed kyi bu Lhag spyod (G) = +Rudraka Rāmaputra.

27. Lo ma can = *Palāśi (?).

28. SHa ku na = °Śakuna (?).

29. SHing shun = +Valkala (name of a ṛgvedic school).

30. SHed = +Manu.

31. Sa la dga’ ba = °Śālānanda (?).

32. Sa la sba (D) / Sa la sbal (G) = °Śālagupta (?).

33. Ser skya = +Kapila (the mythical founder of Sāṃkhya).

34. gSal ba = *Gaura (this is the name of a yoga teacher); but gsal ba means also sphoṭa: should we consider the sphoṭavāda?

35. gSer can = *Hiraṇya (or *Hiraṇmaya, name of a ṛṣi); perhaps *Hiraṇyāṅga/*Hiraṇyākṣa (names of ṛṣi-s); Hiraṇya is also the name of a king of Kashmir mentioned in Kalhaṇa’s Rājataraṃgiṇī. gser translates the Sanskrit hiraṇa («gold»).

36. A shva ttha (G) / A shva dtha (D) = °Aśvatthāma (name of a ṛṣi).

37. Ang gi ra sa = °Aṅgirasa (name of a ṛṣi).


Seyfort Ruegg, D. (1981), The Literature of the Madhyamaka School of Philosophy in India, Otto Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden.

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