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A buddhist doctrine of experience

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  A New Translation and Interpretation of the Works of Vasubandhu the Yogacarin

THOMAS A. KOCHUMUTTOM

AND EXTREMES (MADHrANTA-VIBHAGA)

DISCRIMINATION BETWEEN MIDDLE AND EXTREMES (MADHYANTA-VIBHAGA)

1. Introduction

Having paid homage to the founder of this science, Son of the well-gone,

And also to its expositor for people like me, May I now endeavor to analyze its meaning.1 This is how Vasubandhu opens his commentary (bha$ya) on Madhyanta-vibhaga-karika. To begin a literary work with a prayer, or paying homage to one’s teachers, or, at least, with a noble thought, is traditional in India. Accordingly, Vasubandhu right in the beginning of his commentary devotes {his stanza to the honour of the founder (pranetr) and the expositor (vaktr) of this science (sastra). By the term pranetr Vasubandu means Maitreya,2 who is generally accepted as the founder of the Yogacara system. The same Maitreya is then qualified as “ son of the well-gone” (sugata-atmaja) , an epithet of any Bodhisattva. “The well-gone” (sugata) refers to the Buddha himself, and therefore suguta-atmaja means the son of the Buddha. According to Sthiramati, Maitreya is called “ son of the Buddha” either because he shares the intuitive knowledge (nirvikalpaka-jnana) of the Buddha, or because he is born in the latter’s lineage.3

1. Sdstrasya-asya pratfetaram-abhyarhya sugata-atmajam Vaktaram ca-asmad-adibhyo yatisye’rtha-vivecane. MVKB. (Introduction)
2. Karika-idstrasya-drya-maitreyah praneta. MVKBT. (Introduction)
3. . . . nirvikalpaka-jnana vilesa-atmakah sugatah, taj-janitalvannirvikalpasya jhanasya. Tasmat-tasmin vd jdtah sugata-dtmajah. Athaaa sugata-atmana jatah iti sugata-dtmajah. Tatha-uktam sutra-antare jato bhavati tathd-gata namse tad-dtmakavastu pratilabhad-iti.

(Introduction).

By the expositor (vaktr) of this science is meant Vasubandhu’s own brother Asanga. As legend has it, the Yogacara system was revealed to Asanga by Maitreya, and the former then wrote it down in the form of verses.

1 Thus he is aptly called the vaktr (expositor or spokesman) of this science (Sastra), contained in the Madhyanta-vibhaga-karika. The central thesis of this text claims to be a middle position between the two extreme views, namely, the extreme realism of the Sarvistivadins and the extreme relativism of the Madhyamikas. Hence the title Madhyantavibhaga- karika, which means “ The Verses on Discrimination between Middle and Extremes” .

The various topics discussed in this book are stated in

Commenting on this stanza Vasubandhu says: These are the seven topics discussed in this science. They are namely the definition, the coverings, the truth, meditation of the opposite, stages of that meditation, attainment of result, and, seventhly, the pre-eminence of the path.3 of these seven topics the first one makes the subject-matter of the first chapter of Mrdhyanta-vibhaga-karika, entitled “A Chapter on Definitions” .
1 which, along with its commentary

1. Vaktaram-iti . . . sa punar-arya-asangah. Tasya hi-idam Sastram abhivyaktam, akhyatam ca-arya-maitreya-adhiffhanal-dharma-santdnena. Ibid.
2. Laksanam hi-avrtis-tattvam pratipak$asya bhapana Tatra-avastha phala-praptir-yana-anuttaryam-eva ca.
3. Iti-ete sapta-artha hi asmin sastra upadiSyante. Tad-ula—laksanam, avaranam, taitvam, pratipaksasya bhavand, tasyam-eva ca pratipaksa-bhavanayam-avastha, phalapraptih, yana-anuttaryam ca saptamo'rthah. MVKB 1. 1
4. laksatfa-pariccheda. The term laksaria, literally meaning a “ sign” , “mark” or “ characteristic” , is technically used to mean a “ definition’* or a “ scientific description” .

by Vasubandhu, I propose to analyse in the following pages. This chapter tries to define, or rather describe, reality in its phenomenal as well as absolute aspects. Consequently this chapter may be subdivided into two main sections:

(i) Verses 2-11, dealing with reality in its phenomenal aspects. This section may be entitled ‘the imagination of the unreal’ ( abhuta-parikalpa) . The central theme of this section is that reality as it is experienced by one in the state of samsara is there owing to ‘ the imagination of the unreal’ (abhuta-parikalpa). In other words, it establishes that the form of subjectivity and objectivity, under which alone things are experienced, are ‘ imagination of the unreal’ .

(ii) Verses 12-23, dealing with reality in its absolute aspects. This section may be entitled ‘the emptiness’ (Sunyata). The central theme of this section is that reality in its absolute state, is empty (sunya) of subject-object distinction, or rather that, it is beyond subject-object characterization. 2. The Imagination of the Unreal

Terms explained

Verse 2, which opens the main discussion, makes a few crucial statements, which along with Vasubandhu’s commentary on them, should be considered the key-stones of the whole system. “ There, beginning with the definitions, [the text] says” :

.2 ] There exists the imagination of the unreal, There is no pair,

But there is emptiness,

Even in this there is that.1

This stanza contains four clear statements which I consider to be the key-stones of the entire system. Those statements are:

1. Abh uta-parikalpo'sti dvayam tatra na vidyate Sunyata vidyate tu-atra tasyam-api sa vidyate.

(i) an assertion of the imagination of the unreal: abhUtaparikalpo’sti,
(ii) a [[negation}} of duality]]: [[dvayam tatra na vidyate[[,
(iii) an assertion of emptiness: [[Sunyata vidyate tu-atfa[[,
(iv) an assertion of the co-existence of the imagination of the unreal (abhuta-parikalpa) and the emptiness (Sunyata) : tasyam-api sa vidyate.

These four statements involve three key-terms, namely:

the imagination of the unreal (abhUta-parikalpa),
(ii) pair (dvayam), and
(iii) emptiness (Sunyata).

A correct understanding of these three key-terms leading up to a correct understanding of the above four key-statements will provide all necessary clues to the understanding of the entire system of Vasubandhu. Now Vasubandhu himself has explained those terms and statements In his subsequent commentary as follows:

There, the imagination of the unrea1 means the discrimination between the graspable and the grasper. The pair is the graspable and the grasper. Emptiness means that state of the imagination of the unreal which is lacking in the form of being graspable or grasper. Even in this (emptiness) there is that, namely, the imagination of the unreal. Thus, when something is absent in a receptacle, then one, [ seeing ] that receptacle as devoid of that thing, perceives that receptacle as it is, and recognizes that receptacle, which is left over, as it is, namely as something truly existing here. Thus, the definition of emptiness is shown to imply no contradiction.1 I may now reconstruct verse 2 along with Vasubandhu’s

1. Tatra-abhuta-parikalpograhya-grahaka-vikalpah. Dvayam grahyam grahakam ca. Sunyata tasya-abhuta parikalpasya grahya-grdhaka-bhavena virahitata. Tasyam-api savidyata iti-abhuta-parikalpah. Evam yad yatra nasti tat tena Sunyam-iti yathabhutam samanupaiyati, yat punar-alra-ava£if{am bhavati tat sad-iha-asti-iti yathabhutamprajanati- iti-aviparitam iunyata-lakfanam-udbhdvitam bhavati. commentary on it as follows:

There exists the imagination of the unreal,1 namely, the discrimination

between the graspable and the grasper.2

However, there is no pair,3

such as the graspable and the grasper.4

There is instead emptiness,5

which means that state of the imagination of the unreal, which is lacking in the form of being graspable or grasper.4 Even in such emptiness

there exists the imagination of the unreal.7 Thus, when something is absent in a container, the latter is then perceived as such;

also, what is left over there, namely the container, is then recognized as such,

namely, as uncontradictably existing there: this indeed is the defining characteristic of emptiness.8 The meaning of the three terms, abhutaparikalpa, dvayam and Sunyata, is now unambiguously clear:

Abhuta-parikalpa, the imagination of the unreal, means the discrimination ( vikalpa) between the graspable (grahya) and the grasper (grahaka). This implies that whatever Vasubandhu traces to imagination (parikalpa) is the discrimination ( vikalpa) between the graspable and the grasper, and whatever he describes as mental construction (kalpita) and therefore unreal (abhuta) , is primarily such discrimination, and the consequent

1. Abhuta-parikalpo'sii. M V K 1.2.

2. Tatra-abhuta-parikalpo grahya-grahaka-vikalpah. Dvayam tatra na vidyate. .

4. Dvayam grahyam grahakam ca. Sunyata vidyate tu-atra.

6. Sunyata tasya abhuta-parikalpasya grahya-grahaka-bhavena virahitata.

7. Tasyam-api sa vidyate.; tasyam-api sa vidyata iti-abhutaparikalpah.

8. Evamyadyatra nasti tat tena Sunyam-iti yatha-bhvXam samanupaiyati, yat punar atra-avaiiftam bhavati tat sad iha-asti-iti yatha-bhutam prajananti-iti-aviparitam i unyata-lakfypam-udbhdvitam bhavati. forms of graspability (grahyatva) and grasperhood (grahakatva). In other words, the distinction between graspable and grasper, and the forms of graspability and grasperhood, under which things are experienced* are all mere imagination, and therefore unreal (abhuta) , too. Then, ultimately what Vasubandhu will describeas “ mere representation of consciousness” (vijnapti-matra) turn out to be the graspable-grasper forms and the distinction between them.

Dvaya, the pair, means the graspable and the grasper. Hence, wherever Vasubandhu uses the term dvaya, it must be taken to mean the duality between graspable and grasper. There are many instances in which Vasubandhu has used the term dvayam without giving any explanation.1 In all such cases dvayam means the duality between grasper and graspable. Consequently, denial of duality (dvayam or dvitva) in Vasubandhu’s system does not all mean denial of the multiplicity of beings, as is the case in Sankara’s advaita-system. In this latter system, for example, the statement ekam-eva advitiyam (one only without a second), means that there is only one being having no other being than itself. Here, therefore, the denial of duality, expressed by the term a-dvitiya amounts to the denial of the multiplicity ( bahutva) of beings. But in Vasubandhu’s system the denial of duality (expressed by terms like dvayam tatra na vidyate advayatvena yac-ca astidvaya-abhava-svabhava asaddvaya-svabhana , etc.) means only that a thing in its absolute state of existence is devoid (Siinya) of subject-object duality, or that it is lacking in the forms of subjectivity and objectivity (grdhya-grdhaka-bhdvena virahitata). Sankara is speaking about the absence of a second being (advitiya-vastu), while Vasubandhu is speaking about the absence of a dual nature (asaddvaya-svabhava) referring to each individual being. Incidentally, it might have been the tendency to read Sankara’s meaning of advitiya into Vasubandhu’s use of asad-dvaya-svabhavd that Ld many later interpreters to understand Vasubandhu’s system as monistic idealism.

Sunyta, the emptiness, means basically the state of existence, which is empty of grasper-graspable characterizations. Sunyata,
therefore, refers to the thing as it is (yatha-bhuta) , and is otherwise called ‘suchness’ (tathata). Thus, Sunyata, meaning the thing unqualified by subjectivity an<i objectivity, is far from suggesting any kind of nihilism. Again, what is denied of reality in its absolute state of existence, is not plurality of beings, but only the duality between subjects and objects, or rather the dualistic mode of apprehension that is based on graspable-grasper characterization. Also, what is attributed to mental construction is this duality between subjects and objects, not the plurality of beings. Vasubandhu in his commentary has interpreted Sunyata with reference to abhuta-parikalpa'. “ Emptiness means that state of the imagination of the unreal which is lacking in the form of being graspable or grasper.” 1 But ‘ the imagination of the unreal’ itself has been defined as “ the discrimination between the graspable and the grasper.” 2 Therefore, the state in which ‘ the imagination of the unreal’ is lacking in the forms of the graspable and the grasper, would mean the cessation of the ‘ imagination of the unreal’ itself. Thus Sunyata, ultimately means that state of existence which is empty of ‘ the imagination of the unreal’ and of the consequent subject-object distinction. Therefore to realize the absolute state of existence, namely, Sunyata, one has only to stop imagining (i.e. mentally constructing) the unreal forms of subjectivity and objectivity.

Let me now explain the meaning of the four statements mentioned above :

Firstly, there is an assertion of the imagination of the unreal: abhuta-parikalpo’sti. This in effect is a strong declaration of the fact that the imagination of the unreal is an undeniably real experience for one in the state of samsara, namely that one in the state of samsara is bound to construct mentally the unreal forms of subjectivity and objectivity, and then to see everything as endowed with those forms.

Secondly, there is an emphatic negation of duality: dvayam tatra na vidyate. This implies that the imagination of the unreal, which means the discrimination between the graspable and the See note 6 on p. 31.

2. See note 2 on p. 31.

grasper,1 has only phenomenal value, and therefore is real only on the level of samsara. As long as one is in the state of samsara one goes on discriminating between graspable and grasper, and treats things as if they are endowed with the forms of graspability and grasperhood. But in fact graspability and grasperhood are only subjective forms of experience, and therefore do not belong to things as such (yatha-bhuta) , and for that matter there is no duality between graspable and grasper. Thirdly, there is an assertion of emptiness: Sunyata vidyate tu-atra. This refers, as already explained, to the suchness ( tathata) of things, which is empty of subject-object characterizations. While the imagination of the unreal, and the consequent subject-object duality are inevitable parts of samsaric experience, in the state of nirvana one no more imagines the unreal forms of subjectivity and objectivity, and no more perceives things as grouped into subjects and objects. Thus in the absolute state of existence there is emptiness of subjectivity and objectivity.

Fourthly, there is an assertion of the co-existence of the imagination of the unreal and the emptiness : tasyam-api sa vidyate. A literal translation of this statement would be, “ Even in this (emptiness) there is that (imagination of the unreal ?subjectivity and objectivity]” . This is, as Sthiramati says,2 an explanation of the “ mystery” of samsara as follows: that things in their pure nature are neither subjects nor objects is a fact; but in the state of samsara the pure nature of things is obscured by the imagination of the unreal; therefore, even in this emptiness, i.e. inspite of the fact that things are empty of subject-object characterizations, there is that imagination of the unreal, which obscuring the real nature of things accounts for samsaric experience, namely the experience of things as discriminated into subjects and objects. According to Sthiramati there are four ways of understanding the present stanza:

First of all, it is a refutation of the blanket-denial of everything (sarva-apavada-pratisedhartham). The propounders of this

1. Tatra abhuta-parikalpo grahya-grahaka-vikalpah. MVKB 1.2 2. See below from the next paragraph onwards. latter theory, whom Stcherbatsky identifies as the Madhyamikas, 1 held that all elements are devoid of own-nature in all respects (sarva-dharmali sarvatha nih.svabha.vah), just as the horn of a hare is devoid of own-nature.2 Against this view the present stanza asserts the reality of ‘ the imagination of the unreal’ and of ‘ the emptiness’ , both having own-nature in one way or another. The imagination of the unreal has own-nature,3 which will be later identified as para-tantra svabhdva;* and the emptiness has own-nature in the absolute sense of the term,5 which will be later identified as parinifpanna-svabhava. The emptiness though always, present is obscured by the imagination of the unreal. Therefore one in the state of samsara does not realize it, and this inability to realize it explains the bondage in which one is.7

Secondly, it is directed against those who held that colour etc. are substances (dravyatvena santi) existing independently of mind and mental factors (citta-caiUdh) .8 According to Stcherbatsky the reference here is to the Sarvastivadins.9 Against them the first line of the stanza should be interpreted to ^ mean that what substantially exists is the imagination of the unreal, not colour etc. Why ? Because there is no pair of subjects and objects.10 Here Sthiramati is making a very 1. Th. Stcherbatsky, trans., Madhyanta-vibhaga : Discourse on Discrimination between Middle and Extremes, (Bibliotheca Buddhica 1936; reprint, Calcutta : Indian Studies, Past and Present, 1971), p. 41 2. Kecit-virudhanti sarva-dhc,rm,^ sarvatha nihsvabhdvali Salavisaiia-vad-ityatah saTva-apavdda-prati;edhdrthamaha abhuta-parikalpo'sti-iti. Abnuta-parikaipo’sti-iti. Svabhavatah iti vakyasesah. Ibid 4- Abhuta-parikalpali para-tantra-svabhavah. Paramarthatah svabhavah. Grahya-grahaka-abhaoah [=Siinyatd] parinispannah svabhavah. Ibid 7. . . . yasmdc-cchunyataydm-api-abhutaparikalpo vidyate tasmad bhavanto na muktah.

8. Citia-caittebhyo'nyatra rtipadayo dravyatvena santi iti yad darsanam tadpratisedhartham- aha . . . Ibid

9 Th. Stcherbatsky, (rans., Madhyanta-vibhaga : Discourse on Discrimination between Middle and Extremes, (Bibliotheca Buddhica , 1936; reprint, Calcutta: Indian Studies, Past and Present, 1971), pp. 42-43 10. . . .nasti rupam tad-abhutaparikalpa-iyatiriktam dravyata iti. Kim karandt ? yasmat “ dvayam tatra na vidyate” . Ibid important point : the forms of subjectivity and objectivity in which things are experienced, are mental constructions, and therefore are not substances existing independent of mind and mental factors-. Colours etc., which are experienced as objects, are only different modes of objectivity under which things are ' experienced, and for that matter have no reality independent of mind and mental factors. Here what is to be particularly noted is that when Sthiramati says that colour etc. are not substances (dravya) other than mind and mental factors (cittacaittebhyo ’nyatra) , by colour’ etc. he means the different modes of objectivity under which things are experienced, and not those things themselves. That this is his meaning is clear from the fact that the reason he gives for saying that colour etc. are not substances existing independent of mind and mental factors, is that “ there is no pair” of subjectivity and objectivity.1 In other words, what he says is that colour etc., since they belong to the categories of subjectivity and objectivity, do not have any reality independent of mind and mental 'factors. T o make the point clear I may formulate his argument as follows: All forms of subjectivity and objectivity are but mental forms, and therefore have no reality independent of mind and mental factors.

Colour etc. are forms of objectivity under which things are experienced.

Therefore, they, too, do not have any reality independent of mind and mental factors.

In short, whenever reality is denied to something, it invarialjly refers to some of subjectivity or objectivity. So Sthiramati continues his explanation in the following manner. The imagination of the unreal is itself neither grasper of anything nor is grasped by anybody. On the contrary, objectivity and subjectivity are but abstract concepts. For colour etc. are not grasped outside consciousness. Just as a dream, consciousness produces the appearance of colour etc. . . . The graspable being absent there cannot be the grasper either, for in the absence of the 1. See note 10 on p. 35

graspable there is also the absence of the grasper. Therefore, colour as an object of experience does not exist apart from the imagination of the unreal. This does not mean that there is nothing apart from the imagination of the unreal. For there is indeed the emptiness which is the basis of purity. However, it is obscured by the imagination of the unreal forms of subjectivity and objectivity. Hence the state of bondage.

1 Thirdly, the stanza endeavours to portray the middle position between, the above-mentioned extremes. On the one hand it is not an outright denial of everything (sarva-apavada), for there is the assertion of the imagination of the unreal; on the other hand it is not an indiscriminate assertion of everything, for the pair of subjectivity and objectivity, which includes the senseobjectssuch as colour etc. has been denied. Further, the assertion of emptiness, which means the unreality of subject-object distinction, explains the meaning of non-substantiality (nairatmya) . This latter theory does not mean “ the absence of a person who acts from within” (antar-vyapara-puru$a-rahitata), but only the absence of subject-object characterization.2 However, the state of emptiness is obscured by the imagination of the unreal, and therefore the state of bondage.3

Fourthly, the stanza brings home the distinction between the two realms of existence, namely the realms of defilement (sanklesa) and of purity (vyavaddna) .4 The imagination of the unreal belongs to the realm of defilement, for it is characterized by illusion (bhranti) ,5 That is, the imagination of the unreal is 1. jVa hi abhuta-parikalpah. kasyacid grshako na-api kenacit grhyate. Kim tarhi grdhya-grahakatsam bham-matram-eva. Tato vijnanat bald rupadayo na grhyante. Svapna-adivad vijnanam rupadydbhasam-utpadyate. . . .Grahya-abhave grahakasyaabhavad grahye'sati grdhako bhavitum nayujyate. Tasman-narupam-abhuta-parikalpatprthag- asti. . . . Sunyata vidyate tu-atra. . .Sunyata hi msuddhi-dlambana. Sa ca grahya-grdhaka-rahitata. . .abhutaparikalpa-dvrtatvan-na grhyate. . Anyair-antar-vydpara-purusa-rahitata dharmanatn sunyata-ili-ucyate. Atah sunyatd-apavada-pratisedhartham bhuta-nairatmya-khyapandrthan-ca-dha : Sunyata vidyate tu-atra iti.

3. For full text see M V K B T 1.2

4. Laksariam sankleSa-vyavadanad-anyan-nasti-iti-atah sankleia-vyavadana-laksariapradarsandrtham- dha.
5. Abhuta-parikalpa-svabhavah saiikleso bhrdnli-laksanalvat. Ibid of illusorycharacter in the sense that the forms of graspable and grasper (grahya-grdhaka-akara) in which things appear (prakhydna) do not belong to those things themselves (sva-atmani-avidyamana)

-1 Emptiness of subject-object characterization, however, is the very form (svarupa) of purity (vyavadana) ,2 Conversely, too, the very nature (svabhdva) of purity is such emptiness, for purity means the absence of subject-object duality (dvayaabhava-svabhava) ,3 Thus, in short, abhuta-parikalpa and Sunyata. respectively stand for sankleSa and vyavadana. Hence the following equation may be made :

abhuta-parikalpa = grahya-grahaka-vikalpa = sanklesa = samsara. SBnyata= grahya-grdhaka-vikalpa-abhava = vyavadana = nirvana. In the state of samsara one is under the illusion that the subject-object duality is a genuine characteristic of things,4 and this exactly is one’s bondage.

Sthiramati has drawn two analogies to help one understand the theory of abhuta-parikalpa, the imagination of the unreal. One is that of an illusory elephant made to appear by the working of mdyd. He says: “ the graspable-grasper discrimination is like the [ unreal ] form of an elephant in mdyd in which there is no such form” .5 That is, mdyd produces the form of an elephant so that a piece of wood, for example, will appear like an elephant. Mdyd, which is one’s power to produce such illusory forms, as such is devoid of the form of an elephant \futsti-dkdra- s unya-maya ), for as such mdyd is the power to produce such forms, not those forms themselves, nor does it exist in such forms. However, sutfi forms are within mdyd ( . . .mdydydm-iva hastiakdrah), in the sense that their seeds (bija) or rather the tendency ( vasana) to create such forms, were already there within oneself. The form of an elephant does not belong to the piece 1. Sva-atmani-avidyamanena grahya-grahaka-akarerja prakhydmd-bhrdnti-svarupepa jnayate. Ib id

2. Vyavadana-svarupa-pradarsandrtharn-aha-Sunyatd vidyate tu-atra-iti. Ibid. 3. -Vunyatd-svabtmro hi vyavadanam dvaya-abhdva-svabhavatvat. Ibid 4. Yadi dvayam nasti katham tasydm vidyamandydm toko bhranta iti aha— tasyamapi sa vidyate— iti. Ibid

5. Grahya-grahaka-vikalpo hasti-dkdra-sunya-maydydm-iva hasli-akdra-adayah.

of wood, either, which appears as an elephant. In other words, the piece of wood does not exist in the form in which it appears to exist, namely in the form of an elephant. Then, the working of abhuta-parikalpa should be understood on the above analogy. Abhuta-parikalpa is one’s power to produce unreal forms, namely the forms of subjectivity and objectivity. “ It is called the abhuta-parikalpa, [ the imagination of the unreal, ] because by it, or in it, is imagined [ = mentally constructed ] the unreal pair. By the term abhuta is meant that it [ = abhutaparikalpa] does not exist as it is imagined, namely in [ terms ] of Subjectivity and objectivity. By the term parikalpa is meant that the thing does not exist as it is imagined, [namely in the form of a subject or object). Thus its definition that it is free of subject-object characterization, is made clear.” 1 Thus the theory of abhuta-parikalpa is meant to shatter one’s belief in the subject-object characterization of things. About what comes under abhuta-parikalpa Sthiramati continues: Abhuta-parikalpa includes the entire range of citta and caitta which are in accordance with samsara. In particular, however, it means the graspable-grasper discrimination. There, the discrimination of the graspable refers to the consciousness which appears as non-living and living beings; and the discrimination of the grasper refers to the consciousness which appears as self and representation of consciousness.2 These words of Sthiramati may be explained as follows : The abhuta-parikalpa includes everything (aviSefena) that is called mind and mental factors, under the influence of which one finds oneself in the state of samsara.

They cease to operate at the attainment of nirvana (nirvana-paryavasanah). All such citta and caittas can be subsumed under the fontis of subjectivity, and objectivity, and, therefore, abhuta-parikalpa particularly

1. Abhutam-asmin dvayam parikalpyate’nena va-iti abhuta-parikalpah. Abhutavacanena cayaihd-ayam parikalpyate grahya-grahakalvena tatha ndsti-iti pradarsayati. Parikalpa-vacanena tu-artho yathd parikalpyate talha-artho na vidyate iti pradarfayati. Evam-asya grdhva-grdhaka-vinirmukttm laksajiam paridipitam bhavati. sarnsdra-anurupas-citta-caitta avisesena-abh uta-parikclpah. Viseseria tu grahya-grahaka-vikalpah. Tatra grdhya-vikalpo’ arthasattva-pratibhdsam. Grdhakavikalpa dtma-vijnapti-pratibhdsam. Ib id

means the graspable-grasper distinction (grahya-grahaka-vikalpah). Graspable-discrimination (grahya-vikalpa) refers to the form of objectivity under which consciousness appears as non-living and living beings (artha and sattva), and the grasper-discrimination refers to the form of subjectivity under which consciousness (vijnana) appears (pratibhasa) as self and representations of consciousness ( atma and vijnapti) -

1 Explaining the terms grahya and grahaka Sthiramati again says: “ Grahya means colour etc., and grahaka means eye-consciousness etc.
2 This is an important clue to the understanding of the whole system. Colour etc., namely colour, taste, touch, smell and sound, are the forms under which things are experienced : they are mere forms of objectivity, and as such they are unreal ( abhuta) ; eye-consciousness etc., namely the eight types of consciousnesses, are forms of an experiencing subject: they are mere forms of subjectivity, and as such they are unreal too. What I am trying to say is that unless colour etc. and eye-consciousness etc. are summarized respectively as forms of objectivity and subjectivity, their distinction into grShya and grahaka, and the subsequent denial of their reality will make no sense. Therefore Sthiramati’s statement means: Colour etc. being mere forms under which things become knowable (grahya), are mere imagination (parikalpa) and therefore unreal (abhuta), too. Similarly, eye-consciousness etc. being mere forms under which one becomes a knower (grahaka), are mere imagination (parikalpa), and therefore unreal (abhuta), too.

Thus, as I have already made it clear, whenever something is denied reality, it is treated under the aspect of being a knowable (grahya) or a knower (grahaka). The second of the two analogies mentioned above is that of a rope appearing under the form of a snake. The message of this analogy is that what is unreal (abhuta) in this case is the nature of the snake ( sarpa-svabhava) while the rope as such is real. Similarly, the forms of subjectivity and objectivity, under 1. This point will be further explained under Tatra grahyam rupadi. Grdhakam cakswr-vijn&nadi. which abhuta-parikalpa appear, are unreal, but not abhutaparikalpa itself.1 That is, abhuta-parikalpa as such, i.e. short of the forms of subjectivity and objectivity, is real. This statement has two meanings:

(i) abhuta-parikalpa, namely, that one mentally constructs unreal forms, is an undeniably real fact of samsaric existence, although those forms are themselves unreal; (ii) what remains once the forms of subjectivity and objectivity have been negated, namely Sunyata, otherwise called tathata,, is eternally (sarvakalam) real. Thus having exploded the myth of subject-object distinction two assertions can be made about any individual: (i) as long as he is in the state of samsara he is subject to the imagination of the unreal (abhuta-parikalpa) ; (ii) in the state of nirvana he realizes the emptiness (Sunyata) of subjectivity and objectivity.2 Neither void nor non-void

Thus all that can be said with reference to any individual in the state of samsara can be reduced to two statements :

(i) an assertion of the imagination of the unreal and of the absolute state of emptiness;
(ii) a negation of subjectivity and objectivity. To understand any individual these two statements, one affirmation and the other negation, have to be put together. Nothing is exclusively void (Sunya) nor exclusively non-void ( asunya) .
3 It is in avoiding these two extremes4 that the Yogacarins claim to be holding a middle position.8 Hence the next stanza says:

[M VK 1.3] Neither void nor non-void :

So is everything described,

That indeed is the middle path,

1. Grdhya-grahaka-bhdvena virahitata viviktata hi-abhuta-parikatpasya Sunyata. .Na iu-abhuta-parikalpo'pi-abhavah yatha Sunya rajjuh. sarpa-svabhavena-atat-svabhavat sarvakalam Sunya, na tu rajju-svabhavena tatha-iha-api. Ibid 2. Tat punar-avaSisfam tat-sat. Kim-punariha-avasisjam ? Abhuta-porikalpah Sunyata ca. Ibid

3. Sarvam na ekantena Sunyam na ekantena aSunyam. antah, as in the title of the book, Madhya-anla-vibhaga. 5. Sa ca madhyama-pratipad yad sarvam na-ekantena Sunyam na-ekantenaasunyam.

For there is existence as well as non-existence, And again existence.1

Commenting on this stanza Vasubandhu says : On account of the existence of emptiness, on the one hand, and that of the imagination of the unreal, on the other, it is .not void. And on account of the non-existence of the pair of graspable and grasper, it is not non-void, either. This description applies to everything whether conditioned or unconditioned. The term ‘ conditioned’ goes for what is called the imagination of the unreal, while the term ‘unconditioned’ goes for what is called the emptiness. That indeed is the middle path, for, on the one hand, there is the existence of emptiness within the imagination of the unreal, and, on the other, the existence of the imagination of the unreal within the emptiness. It is therefore neither exclusively void nor exclusively non-void. This reading is thus in accordance with the scriptures such as Prajnd-pdramitd, [ where it is said]: ‘all this is neither void nor non-void.’2 The statement, “ So is everything described” ,3 deserves special attention. It implies that the description that it is “ Neither void nor non-void” applies to every single being separately, not to reality in general. In other words, here there is an indication that the text is speaking about individual beings, not about a cosmic, monistic, reality. The Sanskrit term translated as “ every” is sarva. It could also be translated as “ all” . In either case the term jarva stands for a multiplicity of beings. This observation of mine is confirmed by Vasubandhu’s subsequent commentary. He says that the 1.

Na Sunyam na-api ca aSunyam tasmat sarvam vidhiyate Satlvad-asattvat sattvac-ca madhyama pratipac-ca sd. Na Sunyam Sunyataya ca-abhiita-parikalpena ca. Na ca-aSunyam dvayena grahyena grahakena ca. Sarvam-saniskrtam ca-abhuta-parikalpakhyam, asamskrtam ca tfinyata-akhyam. Vidhiyate nirdiSyate. Sattvad-abhuta-paril^lpf, tasyam ca-abhutaparikalpaSya sd ca madhyama pratipat. Ta( sarvam tia-ekdntena Sunyam, na-ekantena asunyam. Evam-ayam pa(hah prajndpuramitdtisu-dnulamito bhavati.—Sarvamidam na Sunyam na-api ca-aSunyam-iti. M Tasmat. sarvam vidhiyate.

term sarvam in the verse stands for everything whether “ conditioned” (samskrta) or “ unconditioned” (asamskrta) . Division of the entire (sarvam) range of elements ( dharmah) into “ conditioned” and “ unconditioned” goes back to the time of the Buddha. Therefore, Vasubandhu’s interpretation of the term sarvam as covering both the conditioned and the unconditioned elements implies that he retains the original analysis of reality into so many individual elements. Then it is to each of those individual elements that the description “ neither void nor nonvoid” applies. Therefore, eveiy individual element is envisaged as having two aspects, one positive (aSunya) and the other negative (Sunya).

The terms SUnya and asunya, here translated respectively as “ void” and “ non-void” , too, need explanation. Linguistically they are just opposites. However, in the present context they are not quite so. Sunya evidently refers to the absence of subjectobject characterizations. Then one could rightly expect a Sunya to mean the presence of such characterizations. That is not the case, though. Instead, it refers to the existence of that to which the subject-object characterizations are denied. In other words, sunya means that something is devoid of subject-object characterizations, while asunya means that the same thing, although devoid of such characterizations, still exists. Similarly, according to the present stanza, everything (sarvam) conditioned (samskrta) as well as unconditioned (asamskrta) is devoid of subject-object characterizations,1 but still is an existing reality, either as abhuta-parikalpa or as Sunyata. The conditioned elements exist as abhuta-parikalpa while the unconditioned ones exist as Sunyata,2 Abhuta-parikalpa, as has been explained in the previous stanza, exists as an undeniable factor of samsara, although the forms of subjectivity and objectivity, in which it manifests' itself, do not exist.3 Consequently, the conditioned elements, 1. Na-Sunyam Sunyataya ca-abhuta-parikalpena ca. Na ca aSunyam dvayena grahyena grahakena ca. Sarvam samskrtam ca-abhuta-parikalpa-akhyam, asamskrtam ca sunyatakhyam. MVKB 1.3

2. Sarvam samskrtam ca-abhuta-parikalpdkhyam, asamskrtam ca iunyata-akhyam MVKB 1.3.

3 . Abhuta-parikalpo'sti, dvayam tatra na vidyate. too, which make ujj the realm of abhuta-parikalpa,'1 are undeniablefactors of samsara, although the forms of subjectivity and objectivity, in which they manifest themselves, do not exist, and therefore are unroll (abhuta). The point at issue will be clearer if one remepfbers that “ the abhuta-parikalpa includes everything tnST; is'-CaTlpd citta and caitta under the influence of which one fiafSfcaaeseif in the state of samsara, and which cease to operate at the attainment of nirvana’” .2 That is, what is presently treated as “ conditioned” should be referred to the same citta-caitta complex. So ultimately it is those citta-caittas that are described as samskrta-dharmas and as abhuta-parikalpa and finally as both Sunya as well as asunya : they exist {asunya) as undeniable factors of samsara, but are devoid (sunya) of the forms of subjectivity and objectivity in which they manifest themselves. Similarly, Sunyata. exists in the absolute sense of the term, but is eternally devoid of subject-object characterizations. Consequently, the unconditioned elements, which make up the realm of Sunyata,3 exist in the absolute sense of the term, but are eternally devoid of subject-object characterizations. Thus everything (sarvam), whether conditioned (samskrta) or unconditioned (asamskrta), the former under the aspect of abhutaparikalpa and the latter under the aspect of Sunyata, is rightly described as “ neither void nor non-void” (na Sunyam na-api ca aS unyam).

Abhuta-parikalpa and Sunyata, theoretically speaking, refer to mutually excluding modes of existence, namely samsara and nirvana. But in a concrete individual undergoing the samsara experience those two modes co-exist, so to speak, abhuta-parikalpa overshadowing and obscuring (avarana) Sunyata. An individual undergoing the state of samsara combines in himself abhutaparikalpa and Sunyata, samskrta-dharmas and asamskrta-dharmas, sankleSa and vyavadana, samsara and nirvana. All dharmas, samskrta as well as asamskrta, which constitute his being, are each Sunya as well as aSunya, as explained above. At the dawn of nirvana, 1. samskrtam ca-abhuta-parikalpakhyam. .nirvatfa-paryavasanah samsara-anurupaS-citta-caitta amiisena-abhulaparikalpah.

3. Asamskrtam ca iunyata-akhyam.samskrta-dharmas, which are the same as citta-caittas cease to exist, and for that matter so do abhuta-parikalpa, sanklesa and samsara. It is this co-existence of abhuta-parikalpa and Sunyata, a point already emphasized in stanza 1.2, that Vasubandhu has in mind when he says: “ On the one hand, there is the existence of emptiness within the imagination of the unreal, and, on the other, the existence of the imagination of the unreal within the emptiness.” 1 Then by shedding the covering (avarana) of abhutaparikalpa one attains the state of Sunyata, which is the same as nirvana.

Forms of the imagination of the unreal The next stanza is a further inquiry into the particular forms of the imagination of the unreal. It has already been said that the imagination of the unreal expresses itself in two primary forms, namely the forms of subjectivity and objectivity. However, each of those primary forms may have different secondary forms. What are such secondary forms ? This is the question discussed in the next stanza. Vasubandhu calls it the “ owndefinition” (svalakfana) of the imagination of the unreal. The previous two stanzas gave a positive definition ( sal-lakfana) and a negative definition (asal-lakfana) of the same imagination of the unreal. Positively it was defined (or rather described) as an existing reality,2 and negatively as not having within itself the pair of subjectivity and objectivity.® However, what particular forms it takes was not clearly discussed, except that Vasubandhu in his commentary said that “ the imagination of the unreal means the discrimination between the grasper and the graspable” .4 Hence, “ thus having stated the positive and negative definition of the imagination of the unreal, now [ the author ] gives its own definition.” 6 As for the distinction between the positive definition 1. See note 2 on p. 42.

2. I dam sattvena laksyate iti sattvam-eva sal-laksanam. Abhuta-parikalpo vidyata iti-anena-abhuta-parikalpasya sattvam pradarSayati-iti-arthah. Evam-asativena laksyate m agattvam-eva-aml-laksariam. Tat punar-yad grahya-grahaka-bhdvem-asattva^.yasmad-abhuta-parikalpe dvayam nasti tasmadabhutaparikalpo’p i dvayitmana nasti-iti-utkam bhavati. Tatra-abhuta-parikalpo grahya-grahaka-vikalpah. Evam abhuta-parikalpasya sal-lak;anam-asal-laksanam ca khyapayitoa sva-- laksanam khyapayati.

and the own-definition Sthiramati says that the former is only a general (samanya) assertion while the latter is a particular ( visesa) one,1 implying that the positive definition was concerned with only a general assertion of the reality of the imagination of the unreal, while the own-definition is going to give more particulars about the same imagination of the unreal. Now, the first part of the stanza reads as follows: Under the appearance of things inanimate, Living beings, self and representations of consciousness Is born the consciousness.2

Commenting on these lines Vasubandhu says: In the form of colour etc. the consciousness appears as inanimate things, and in that of five senses it appears as living beings. These five senses refer to one’s own as well as others’ streams of existence. The appearance of consciousness as self is the same as defiled thought, because it is associated with self-delusion etc. The representations of consciousness are otherwise called the sixfold consciousness.3 According to Sthiramati this passage answers two questions. The first one is concerned with the possibility of having senseknowledge. It has been said in the previous stanzas that although there is the imagination of the unreal, there is no graspable-grasper duality. How then could there be sense-knowledge, which necessarily presupposes the duality between graspable objects and grasping subjects ? This question, says Sthiramati, is answered by the present stanza saying that it is the abhuta-parikalpa itself which appears in the different forms of 1. Ko viSeso'sti sal-laksai?a-svalaksanayoh ? Sal-laksariam hi samanyam. Svalaksaxiam tu viiesati-

2. Artha-saitva-atma-vijhapti-pratibhdsam prajayate Vijnana Tatra-artha-pratibhdsam yad rupadi-bhavena pratibhasate. Sattva-pratibhdsam yat paHca-indnyattvena-sva-para-sanlanayoh. Atma-pratibhdsam klis(am tnanah, dtmamohadi- samprayogat. Vijnapti-pratibhasam sad uijrtanani? Nasti ca-asya-artha-iti arthasattvapratibhdsasya- anakaratvat, atma-vijhapti-pralibhdsasya ca vitatha-pratibhasatvat. Tadabhavat tad-api-asad-iti yat grahyam rupadi, panca-indriyam, manah, sad-vijhanasahjnakam caturvidham tasya grdhyasydbhavat tadapi grahakam vijhanam asat.

subjectivity and objectivity.1 Here Sthiramati obviously means that the above said four appearances of consciousness, namely artha, sattva, alma and vijnapti, and the consciousness itself, are different forms of subjectivity and objectivity in which the abhuta-parikalpa ex.presses itself. I shall return to this point later. The second question which Sthiramati thinks the present stanza answers is the following. It has been positively, said that there exists the imagination of the unreal. But its own-nature remains to be explained. It has also been said that there is no subject-object duality at all. If so it remains to be explained how one has still the passion for making a distinction between the graspable and the grasper, and how one can be led to believe that there is no duality.2 These problems are solved, says Sthiramati, by the present stanza as follows. The own-nature of abhuta-parikalpa is consciousness (i.e. the abhuta-parikalpa is of the nature of consciousness). The same consciousness is to be understood together with its associates. However, primarily it is consciousness. The same consciousness, which is bound up with the appearances of artha, sattva etc., is itself the passion for the graspable-grasper distinction.3 What Sthiramati says may be put in other words: abhuta-parikalpa for all practical purposes is the same as consciousness (vijnana), including its associates (samprayoga), namely, citta and caittas. This consciousness, or more specifically, the citta and caittas, is always the consciousness of something, either artha, or sattva or atma or vijnapti, and therefore appears as if split into two parts, one of subjectivity and the other of objectivity, and thus accounts for 1. Yadi sva-laksanam-anakhydlam-alra kim syat ? . . .grahya-grahaka-rahitataabhuta- parikalpa-matrata-iti-uddistam. Tasya-abhuta-parikalpa-matratayam-indriyavifaya- vijnanam yatha-vyavasthitam ( tatha) na jnayata (iti). Abhuta-parikalpapratibhasa- bhedena tad-vyavasthili-jhapanartham-abhuta-parikalpasya sva-laksanam khyapayati.

2. . . . abhuta-parikalpo'sti-iti-anena tat-sattva-matram jnayate, na tu tatsvabhavah. Dvaya-abhave'pi yad grahya-grahaka-abhiniveia-karariam na jnayate, dvayam ca nasti-iti yatah pratiyate tad-api na-uktam-iti-atah-tat-pratipadanarlhamaha. Ibid

3. Tatra vijnanasvabhavo’bhutaparikalpah. Tac-ca vijnanam sa-samprayogamabhipretam. Pradhanena tu vijnanam grhltam. Sa eva grahya-grahaka-abhiniveSo- ?artha-sattva-adi-pratibhasa-nibandhah. Ibid one’s passion for graspable-grasper distinction (grahya-grahakaabhiniveSa), and leads one to believe that there is really the distinction between the subjects and objects.

Before proceeding further I must make one point clear. That consciousness appears in the form of different objects is the basic contention of the present stanza. This should not be understood to mean that there are no things other than consciousness. On the contrary, it means only that what falls within the range of experience are different forms of consciousness, while the thingsin- themselves remain beyond the limits of experience. For example, when a rope is mistaken for a snake, it is the form of snake, which is being experienced, that can be explained as a mental form, while the rope itself rerrtains outside that experience. That just the same is the message of the present stanza is clear from a similar example cited by Sthiramati which is as follows. One may mistake a stump for a man. There, one is projecting one’ s past experience of man on to the stump before one, and thus making oneself unable to recognize the stump as such. Similarly, says Sthiramati, ‘the ignorant people mistake the different forms of consciousness for things other than consciousness, just as people with bad eyes rpistake their own mental images for hair, egg etc.’1

- It is obvious that the present stanza is dealing with the ordinary categories of experience/thought, namely consciousness (vijnana), non-living beings (artha), living beings (sattva), self ( atma), and representations of consciousness (vijnapti). Analyzing those categories the stanza says that they are different forms of subjectivity and objectivity, and as such being different appearances of consciousness itself they do not represent things in themselves. I shall now explain hovsr those categories can be interpreted as different forms of subjectivity and objectivity. The central point is that they present themselves to thought/ experience either as subject or as object of some experience. Thus, first there appears consciousness as the subject of all the 1. Katham asati-arthadau vijnanam tad-abhasam-udpadyate ? JVa hi puruse asati sthanuh bhavati-iti. Na esah dosah. Artha-adi-abhasatfl hi vijnanam balah vijnanat prthag-arlha-astitvena-abhiniviiante taimirikasya kesandukddiuat. Ib id other four categories.1 That is, consciousness is invariably the consciousness of either self or ideas or living beings or nonliving beings. Apart from being the subject of those other categories consciousness is nothing, and therefore it makes sense only as an experiencing subject. Again, self and the representation of consciousness are contrasted with living beings and nonliving beings as subjects and objects. Self defined as defiled thought ( klisfam manah, literally meaning impassioned thought)* is described as the subject of passions such as ego-delusion, egobelief, ego-desire and ego-pride,3 all these passions having living and non-living beings as their objects.4 In other words, self is a bundle of passions which presuppose external beings as their objects.

The representations of consciousness stand for the sixfold consciousness, namely the five sense-consciousnesses (indriyavijnanani) and the thought-consciousness (rnano-vijndnam). Being consciousness none of them has any meaning without reference to the respective objects, either animate or inanimate. So they are essentially in the form of subjects. Finally, living and nonliving beings are there as objects of either self, or one or another form of consciousness. By living being are meant those which are endowed with five senses. Such beings ultimately represent one’s own as well as other people’s streams of existence.5 What is important here is that those “ persons” (or streams of existence) are experienced only as objects of one’s consciousness and passions. Similarly the non-living beings, which can be reduced to sense-data (i.e., colour etc.), are presented to consciousness through the senses.6 As they appear, they, too, have the form of objects of consciousness, the latter appearing either as self or as representations of consciousness.

1. Cf. . . .tad-grahyam riipadi, panca-indriyam, manah, sad-vijnana-sanjftaka-n catur-vidham tasya grahyasya . . . tadapi grahakam vijnanam . . . Ibid. 2. atma-pratibhasam klistain manah. MVKB 1.4 3. Atma-pratibhasam ktisfam manah, atma-mohadi-samprayogad-iti kliftasya manasa dtma-mohena-dtmadrsfyd-atma-trsyayd-asmimdnena ca nityam samprayuktatvat, le§am-ca Mma-alambanatvad-yuktam atma-pratibhasatvam klisfasya manasah. MVKBT 1.4

4. Because underlying these passions (klesas) is the I-consciousness as opposed to other objects. ,

5. Sattva-pratibhasam yat panea-indriyattvena sva-para-santanayoh. MVKB 1.4 6. Tatra artha-pratibhdsam yad-rupadi-bhavena pratibhasate. Ibid The remaining part of the stanza under discussion, and its commentaries by Vasubandhu and Sthiramati, evaluate those categories and show how, under the aspects of subjectivity and objectivity, they are false and unreal:

[MVK 1.4 cont’d.] There is nothing as its [i.e. consciousness’s] object,

And thus that object being absent

That (consciousness), too, is non-existent.1 What the author says here could be differently put as follows: Consciousness makes sense only with reference to its object (artha).

There are no such objects.

Therefore there is nothing called consciousness either. Vasubandhu now in his commentary on the above lines examines and explains the minor premise of the argument, namely that there are no such objects. The objects (artha) referred to are evidently the categories of self, representations of consciousness, living beings and inanimate things, all of which have been spoken of in the former part of the stanza as appearances (pratibhasa) of consciousness itself. Now, then, what is meant by saying that there are no such objects ? In what sense are those four objects absent ? Here is the answer given by Vasubandhu:

The appearances of inanimate things as well as of living beings are devoid of form; likewise the appearances of self and representation of consciousness are not in the way they appear to be. This is why it is said that there is indeed nothing as its [ i.e. consciousness’s ] object. That is, the four kinds of graspables—namely, (i) colour etc., (ii) the five senses, (iii) thought, and (iv) the sixfold consciousness—are absent. Thus the graspable being absent, the grasper, namely the consciousness, too, is non-existent.2 1. . . . nasti ca-asya-arthas-tad-abhavat tad-api-asat. Nasti-ca-asya-artha iti artha-sattva-pratibhdsasya-anakaratvat, qtmavijnapti- pratibhasasya ca vitatha-pratibhasalvat. Tad-a.bha.vat tadapi-asad-iti yat tadgrahyam riipadi, panca-indriyam, manah, sad-vij nana-sanjiiakam catur-vidham tasya giahyasya-abhavat tadapi-grahakam vijnanam-asat. MVKB 1.4 The main concern of this passage is to show in what sense the five categories of experience are unreal. And the whole thrust of the argument derives from contrasting consciousness as the grasper with the other four categories as the graspables. And the argument itself may be summarized as follows: graspability being a fake concept, grasperhood, too, does not make sense. How is then graspability a fake concept ?

First of all Vasubandhu distinguishes between inanimate and living beings on the one hand, and self and representations of consciousness on the other. Then he says that the former pair is absent/non-existent (abhava) because they have no form. The Sanskrit term translated here as ‘form’ is akara. In the ordinary language it means ‘form’ , or ‘shape’ or ‘frame’ . But in an epistemological context, such as the present one, it stands for the form in which a thing is perceived or grasped, and therefore can be better translated as ‘objective frame’ or ‘objectivity’ . That in the present context akara means ‘objectivity’ is clear from Sthiramati’s subsequent commentary. He gives two interpretations:

(i) In the first instance, for him akara means ‘ the mode in which an object is grasped’.1 In other words, for him akdra means prakara, this latter term being the one employed by Indian logicians to denote ‘ the way or mode in which . an object is experienced.’2 Sthiramati then says that both inanimate and living beings do not have such a prakara (objectivity) in which they could be grasped. Why? Because they only appear in the form of graspables (grahyarupena prakhyanat).3 Here are Sthiramati’s own words:

A form [ akara ] indeed is the mode in which an object [ dlambana ] is grasped, for example, as an impermanent thing etc. Neither of them [i.e. inanimate and living beings), 1. grahfitia-prakdrah. See note 1 on p. 52. 2. For example Annambhatta’s Tarka-sarigraha, (Varanasi : The Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series, I9 6 0 ) , pp. 14-15, defines true experience as “ that which presents the object in the form in which it really is” ( tad-vati tdd-prakarako nubhavayathdrthah) .

3. sa [akdrah] ca anayoh (artha-sattva-pratibhasayoh] nasti gidhva-rupena prakhydndt.

however, has such a mode, because they only appear in the form of graspables. Therefore, the phrase ‘because they have no form’ means ‘because they have no graspability’ .1 This denial of akaratva has to be understood in the light of, and on the model of, the denial of the pair (dvayam) in the second stanza. In the light of it, for my analysis of the denial of dvaya showed that “ whenever reality is denied to something, it invariably refers to some form of subjectivity and objectivity” (see above p. 36), or that “ whenever something is denied reality, it is treated under the aspect of being a knowable {grahya) or a knower {grahaka) ” (see above p. 40). Therefore in the present case, too, the denial of akaratva has to be understood with reference to forms of subjectivity and objectivity, and, as I have already explained, it definitely refers to the form of objectivity. Again, on the model of the denial of dvaya, for denial of dvaya means that neither abhutaparikalpa nor Sunyata has within itself the duality between subjectivity and objectivity, and that such a duality is altogether illusory just as the form of a magical elephant. Similarly, the denial of akaratva (i.e. the form of objectivity, which is one of the above-mentioned pair, dvaya), too, should be understood to mean that neither appearances of consciousness as living and non-living beings, nor the things (no matter living or nonliving) in themselves have akaratva, and that akaratva is altogether illusory as the form of a magical elephant. ( ii) A Second interpretation of akara given by Sthiramati is that “ akara is the experience of subject. But no such experience of either of them [i.e. inanimate or living beings) is there. Therefore, they are formless in the sense that there is no perception of them.” 2 These words of Sthiramati imply a down1. Akaro hi-alambanasya-anityddi-Tupena grahaka-prakarah. Sa anayor-nasti grahya-rupena prakhyanat. Ato-anakaratvad-agrahakatvfid-iti- arthah. In this passage agrdhakatoat has been translated as “ because they have n o graspability.” Grahakatva in normal situations would mean ‘grasperhood’ which does not fit in with the present context. As the suffix ka can also refer to objectivity it is here accordingly translated, as in the term karartaka. 2. Atambema-samvedanam va akdrah. Tac-ca tayor nasti iti upatabdhi-abhdvait andkdrah.

right denial of experience of a thing, whether inanimate or living, as it is in itself. What is thought to be experienced is only the appearance (pratibhdsa) of consciousness (vijnana), which under the aspect of knowable (grahya) is as illusory as the form of a magical elephant, and therefore docs not altogether exist ( alyanta-abhdva Cf. TSN. 11).

Thus the above two interpretations of akara amount to the same conclusion, namely that the form in which a thing is thought to be grasped is purely imagined (parikalpita) , and therefore is no sure guide to the thing-in-itself. It is in this sense, and only in this sense, that Vasubandhu’s system can be called idealism. It by no means implies that there is nothing apart from ideas or consciousness.

Now coming to Vasubandhu’s evaluation of the categories of self and the representations of consciousness, he has said that they are ‘false appearances’ . The Sanskrit term translated as ‘false appearance’ is vitatha-pratibhdsa, which literally means ‘appearance of something in a false manner’ . That means, the appearance of self and the representations of consciousness as objects (artha) of consciousness is false. Why ? Sthiramati explains: ‘The other two objects, namely self and representations of consciousness manifest (prakhyana) themselves as graspers (grahaka-rupena), but take on the false appearance of graspables, and for that matter are absent ( abhdva ).x In other words self, and representations of consciousness stand for forms of subjectivity, as I have already explained above on pp. 48ff. Therefore, their appearance (pratibhdsa) as objects ( artha) of consciousness ( vijnana) is false ( vitatha) , and for that reason (kdranam) is said to be absent, too. How their manifestation as graspers (grahaka), too, are illusory is already made clear, for all forms of subjectivity have been described as altogether non-existent. Further, for them to be graspers there should be some objects which they can grasp. Living as well as non-living beings could be such graspable objects. But it has already been said that the graspability of living and non-living beings just does not exist. As graspable objects the living and non-living beings 1. Natu-anyayor-grahya-rupena pralchyanad-anakarah; iilathapral:':ihasatvameva- artha~abhave karanam-uktam.

are altogether non-existent (atyanta-abhava) . Thus the graspable objects being absent, the term “ grasping subjects” becomes meaningless and redundant. It is in this sense that self and representations of consciousness are said to be absent. Sthiramati says: “ The graspable objects being absent, the appearances of both self and representations of consciousness, which manifest themselves as grasping subjects, are false.” 1 Sthiramati has one more explanation for the false appearance of self and representations of consciousness as graspables. He says:

False appearance means the absence of the objects in the way they are imagined to be there by the consciousness. False appearance is thus owing tofalse basis [ = object), just as a false rumour about the presence of a tiger etc. is owing tofalse basis.2

Thus there are things independent of consciousness, although they are not in the manner they are imagined by the grasping subject.

After having thus established the non-beingness (absence) of the categories of self, representations of consciousness, inanimate beings and living beings, the authors now call one’s attention to consciousness, of which the former four are seemingly the objects. However, now that those objects (artha) are proved to be absent (abhava) , it is no longer sensible to call consciousness a subject.3 Hence consciousness as a subject, too, is so much absent. It does not get at anything other than its own forms. In a way its own subjectivity itself is one of its own constructions. Sthiramati says:

The objects being absent, there is no consciousness of them either. Consciousness is that which knows objects. Therefore in the absence of objects there cannot be the act of knowing as well. Thus, since objects are absent, consciousness, too, as a knowing subject, is non-existent.4

1. Grahya-abhdve dvayor-atma-vijnapli-pratibhasayor-grahaka-akarena prakhyanat vitatha-pratibhdsalvam.

2. Yathd vijHanena-arlhah parikalpyate tatha-arthasya-abhavo vyaghradi-sruti-iva vitalha-dlambanatvdd-vitatha-pratibhdsata. Ibid. 3. Artha-abhdvdd-vijnntrtrena lijndnam-asat. Artha-abhavat-tad-vijmnam-asat. Vijdndti-iti-vijfidnam grahya-abhdve vijanand- api ayuktam. Tasinad-artha-abhavad-vijnatrtiena vijiidnam-asat. Ibid. The above analysis could be summarized as follows. The categories of consciousness, self, representations of consciousness, living beings and inanimate beings, insofar as they fall within the range of experience, are all but subjective constructions, and for that reason unreal, too. Those categories are experienced as one or other form of subjectivity and objectivity, and as such do not represent the things-in-themselves ( things in their suchness). The things-in-themselves (i.e. the things in their suchness) are beyond the range of experience, because they do not have the forms of subjectivity and objectivity, under which alone experience is possible. Those categories, subjective forms as they are, are experienced either as subject or as objects. Categories of inanimate and living beings, insofar as they are objects of experience are absent/unreal, because they do not have objectivity (anakaratvat). Categories of self and the representations of consciousness insofar as they are objects of experience, are likewise only mentally constructed forms and are therefore unreal, having nothing to do with things-in-themselves. Self and representations of consciousness insofar as they are subjects of experience, too, are mentally constructed forms, and therefore unreal, and as such are false appearances of consciousness. Consciousness itself insofar as it is subject of experience is unreal and non-existent. Thus, in short, whatever is referred to as subject or object is mere subjective construction, and therefore unreal; things-in-themselves are neither subjects nor objects.

Summarizing the discussion sofar stanza 1.5 says: Therefore its being the imagination of the unreal Remains established.1

For Vasubandhu the meaning of these lines are so clear that he does not bother to elaborate it. According to Sthiramati’s commentary the term “ its” (asya) stands collectively for the four appearances of consciousness mentioned in the previous stanza.2 The term “ therefore” (atah) refers to what has been 1. Abhiita-parikalpatvam siddham-asya bhavati-atah. Abhiita-parikalpatvam-ca tesdm calurnam lijiiananam siddham. said in the previous stanza, namely that ‘ the objects being absent, the knowing consciousness, too, is non-existent’ .1 Thus the meaning of the above lines turns out to be as follows : On the basis of what has been said in the previous stanza It becomes established that the four objective categories, Namely, artha, sattva, atma and vijnapti, Insofar as they are thought to be objects, Are but imagination pf the unreal.

According to Sthiramati the term “ therefore” (<zto#) may refer also to what is subsequently said in the same stanza, namely,

[M VK 1.5 cont’d ] For it is not so,

It is not altogether absent, either.2

commenting on which Vasubandhu says,

For its existence is not the way it appears to be. It is not totally absent, either, because there is the production of illusion only.3

Here the pronoun “ it” evidently refers to the fourfold appearance of consciousness. It appears to be objects (artha) of consciousness, which it is not (na tatha). It is not altogether absent, either (na ca sarvatha-abhavah). Why not ? “ Because there is the production of illusion-only” says Vasubandhu. Illusion ( bhranti) does not mean the absence of the appearance of a particular form, says Sthiramati, but the absence of its essence (atmatvem-abhava).4 For example, when a rope appears in the form of a snake, that it appears in that form is a fact, while it does not have the essence of a snake. Similarly that there are appearances of consciousness as objects is an undeniable fact, while they do not really exist as objects. In 1. Ata iti anantaroktad-kelor-artha-abhavat-tadapi-asad’ iti. Ibid 2. Na tatha sarvatha-abhavat. [

3. Yasman-na tatha-asya bhavo yatha pratibhasa utpadyate. Na ca sarvatha abhavo bhranti-matrasya-utpadat. dtmatvena-abkavo na tu yad-akarena pratibhasate tena bhranlir-ncyate maya-vat. [

other words, there is illusion of objects,1 although there is no objectivity itself. Why should one recognize, the existence of illusion at all ? Vasubandhu himself has raised this question: “ why not admit the absence of that illusion itself ?” 2 His answer is, “ For otherwise there would be neither bondage nor liberation, which would imply the denial of the facts of defilement and purity.” 3 This is, according to Vasubandhu, the interpretation of the final part of the stanza, which says, [M VK 1.5 cont’d. ] From its cessation results liberation.4 The entire discussion can be summarized as follows: That there is the imagination of the unreal, which gives rise to the illusion that there are graspable, enjoyable, objects,5 is a fact. And this has to be accepted as a fact, so that the distinction between samsara and nirvana may be explained: cessation of the imagination of the unreal, and of the consequent illusion of objectivity, explains nirvana/mukti, and the noncessation ( aparikfina) of the same explains samsara!bandha.6 Facts of defilement and purity, too, are similarly explained: state of samsara/bandha is characterized by defilement (sankleSa) while that of nirvanajmukti is characterized by purity ( vyava d a r n ) ‘ ‘Therefore” , concludes Sthiramati, “ the imagination of the unreal as well as the absence of the pair [ of subjectivity and objectivity] should necessarily be recognized” .8 1. Bhrdnli-vijfianasya sad-bhavan-na sarvathd-abhAva. Ibid.

2. Kim-artham punas-tasya [bhrantimatrasya] abhdva eva na isyate ?

3. Yasmad-anyatha na bandho na moksah prasidhyed-iti sanklesa-apavadadosah syat. [

4. . . Tat-ksayan-muktir-isyate. [ . grahya-grahakatvena bhrdntir-udbhasita. .[ grdhya-grahakapratibhasam- utpadyate. Ibid

6. Tat-ksayan-muktir-isyate. Tasmin-ca-aparikslrie bandha iti-arthad-uktam bhavati. Ibid

7. . .evam sati nityah sankleSa syat. Tatha ca nirvdna-abhavah. Evam ca bhrdnti-mdtrasya-api-abhave sanklesa-abhdvo vityam-ca vyavaddnam prasajyate. M VKBT. 1.5

8. Ato’i'asyam-abhuta-parikalpa-bhdvo'bhyupagantavyo dvaya-abhavas-ca. [. Thus, observes Sthiramati, on the one hand denying the graspable- grasper duality, and, on the other, asserting the fact of the imagination of the unreal, the present stanza is simply restating what has already been said in “ There exists the imagination of the unreal; however there is no pair” .1 The imagination of the unreal in relation to the three natures The next stanza relates the idea of the imagination of the unreal to that of the three natures, • namely, the absolutely accomplished, the other-dependent and the imagined. According to Vasubandhu the very purpose of this stanza is to show that the idea of the imagination of the unreal includes that of the three natures. He says: “ Thus having stated the own-definition of the imagination of the unreal, now the [author] states its inclusive definition. It shows, how, there being only the imagination of the unreal, there could be the inclusion of the three natures.” 2 The stanza reads: [ The imagined, the other-dependent, And the absolutely accomplished,

Are derived respectively from

The objects, the imagination of the unreal, And the absence of the pair.3

In other words, the imagined, the other dependent, and the absolutely accomplished natures refer respectively to the objects (artha), the imagination of the unreal (abhuta-parikalpa) and the absence of the pair (dvaya-abhava) of subjects and objects. So Vasubandhu has the following commentary on this stanza: The object is the imagined nature, the imagination of the unreal is the other-dependent nature, and the absence of the 1. Evam grahya-grahaka-abhavat-tat-pratibhasa-vijnana-sad-bhavac-ca yatpurvam praiijnatam, abhuta-parikalpo'sti dvayam tatra na-vidyate (1.2), iti tatprasiddham- iti-pradarsayan-aha- [

2. Evam-abhuta-parikalpasya sva-laksapam khyapayitva sangraha-laksatfam khyapayati. Abhuta-parikalpa-matre sati yatha trayanam svabhavanam saiigraho bhavati. Ibid. 1.6

3. Kalpitah para-tantras-ca parinispanna-eva ca. Arthad-abuta-kalpac-ca dvaya-abhavac-ca deSitah. [ graspable-grasper duality is the absolutely accomplished nature.1

This is an explanation of the three natures in terms of the imagination of the unreal. Sthiramati puts it clearly as follows: That the imagination of the unreal is lacking in the graspablegrasper duality has already been said. But it is not just the absence of such duality. The same imagination of the unreal is, moreover, the other-dependent, because it depends on causes and conditions. The same imagination of the unreal, again, is the imagined, because it manifests itself in the forms of graspables and graspers, forms which do not exist within the imagination of the unreal itself. Also, the same imagination of the unreal is the absolutely accomplished, because it is lacking in the graspable-grasper duality. Thus the three natures are included in the same imagination of the unreal. Thus, by referring to the imagination of the unreal, is shown that reality which should first be known, then abandoned, and finally realized.2

What the three natures stand for is now quite clear : First, there is the fact of the imagination of the unreal, which in effect is the act of discriminating between subjects and objects. It is this act of discrimination between subjects and objects that is described as the other-dependent nature, “ because” , says Sthiramati, “ its birth depends on causes and conditions” .3 It means that one is forced to discriminate between subjects and objects because of the forces ( samskaras) and 1. Arthah parikalpitah svabhavah. Abhuta-parikalpah paratantrah svabhavah. Grahya-grahaka-abhavah parinispamah svabhavah. [ Atra hi-abhuta-parikalpasya dvaya-rahitata grahya-grahaka-abhava xiktah. Na tu ivayasya abhava-matram. Evam-abhuia-parikalpa-eva hetu-pratyaya-paratantryat paratantrah. Sa eva grahya-grahaka-rupena sva-atmani-avidyamanena prakhyanat parikalpitah. Sa eva grahya-grahaka-rahitatvat parinispamah. Evam abhutaparikalpe trayah svabhavah sangrhitah. Etena-abhuta-parikalpam-anudya parijneyam, parijftaya prahatavyam, parijftaya saksat-kartavyam ca vastu sandarsitam bhavati

3. Para-tantrah, para-vasah, hetupratyaya-pratibaddha-janmakatvat.

habits (vasanas) of one’s past deeds (karma), which function as the causes (hetu)and conditions (pratyaya) of the imagination of the unreal.

Secondly there are the appearances of the same imagination of the unreal as graspable and grasper (grdhya-grahaka-pralibhasam). It is such appearances of the graspables and graspers that are called the imagined nature. “ For” , says Sthiramati, “ the graspable as well as the grasper are devoid of own-nature, and therefore unreal too. However, they are imagined to be existing, and therefore called the imagined. Again, although substantially non-existent, still they do exist from the practical point of view, and therefore are said to have own-nature.” 1 What exactly, then is the imagined nature ? It is the objects ( artha) ,2 or rather those which are thought to be objects of consciousness. Here the reference is clearly to the fourfold appearance of the consciousness referred to in stanza I. 4. Hence Sthiramati says, “ Here artha stands for colour etc., eye etc., self and the representations of consciousness. They do not exist within the imagination of the unreal, and thus being nonexistent they are called the imagined nature.” 3

Thirdly, there is that state of the same imagination of the unreal, which is lacking in the duality between subjects and objects. It is this subject-object distinctionless state that is called the absolutely accomplished nature, “ because” , says Sthiramati, “ this state of existence is unconditioned and unchangeably accomplished” .4

The negative definition further explained The negative definition ( asal-laksana) of the imagination of the unreal, namely that it is lacking in subject-object duality, Abhuta-parikalpah para-tantra-svabhavah iti, parair-hetu-pratyayais-tantryate, janyate, na tu svayain bhavati iti paratantrah. Ibid 1. Grahyam grdhakam ca svabhdva-sunyatvdd-abhutam-api astitvena iti parikalpyata ucyate. Sa punar-draiyato'san-api lyavah&rato’sti iti svabhava ucyate. Ibid

2. Arthah parikalpitafi svabhavah. ..artho’tra r upadayas-caksuradaya-dtma vijnaptayai-ca kalpitena svabhdvena- abhuta-parikalpe ndsti-iti-asan parikalpitah svabhdva ucyate. Ta-abhuta-parikalpasya dvaya-rahitatd sa parinispanna-svabhdvah, tasyaasamskrtatvdt, nirvikdratvena parinispannatvat. Ibid.

has already been stated. Now the question is how one can realize it. The next stanza answers this question. Introducing it Vasubandhu says, “Now is shown a definition which can be used as an instrument in comprehending the negative definition of the same imagination of the unreal.” 1 Sthiramati further comments, “ The imagination of the unreal, unaware of the negative definition, works in favour of the defilement of klesa, karma and janma. Hence the present stanza to show an instrument of knowing the negative definition.” 2 The stanza says: [M VK 1.7] Depending upon perception

There arises non-perception,

And depending upon non-perception

There arises non-perception.3

Vasubandhu interprets these lines as follows: Depending upon the perception that there are only representations of consciousness, there arises the non-perception of knowable things. Depending upon the non-perception of knowable things, there arises the non-perception of the mere representations of consciousness, too. Thus one understands the nagative definition of graspable and grasper.4 This is rather the intellectual process whereby one attains to the realization of the emptiness of subjectivity and objectivity. First, one realizes that what have been taken to be objects ‘ are only representations of consciousness. This realization of mererepresentations shatters one’s belief in objectivity. Then the realization that there is no objectivity makes one give up one’s belief in subjectivity as well, for this latter term makes sense only with reference to objectivity. Absence of subjectivity means 1. Iddnim tasmin-eva-abh uta-pankalpe'sal-laksaw-anvpraveia-upaya-lakmnam paridipayati.

2. Aparijnata-asal-laksario hi-abhu.ta-parikalpah klesa-karma-janma sanklesaya sampravartate.

3. Upalabdhim-samasritya nopalabdhih prajayate Nopalabdhim samasritya nopalabdhih prajayate. Vijhapti-matra-upalabdhim nisrilya-artha-anupalabd.hirja.yate. Artha-anupalabdhim nisritya vijnapti-matrasya api-anupalabdhirjayate. Evam-asallaksanam grahyagrahakayoh pravisati.

that there are not even mere-representations of consciousness, because consciousness is meaningful only as a knowing subject. Thus one finally realizes the emptiness of graspability and grasperhood.

Sthiramati, too, makes the same point in a different way: It [i.e. the object ] is mere-representation of consciousness. That is, the consciousness, which has no supporting object, due to the maturing of its own seeds, appears in the form of colour etc. There is no object like colour etc. actually existing. Depending on such perception of the grasper, one comprehends the non-perception of the graspable...Just as the mind, knowing that the imagined-graspable-does not exist outside the consciousness, comprehends the absence of the graspable, so on the basis of the absence of the graspable, the absence of mere-consciousness, too, is obtained. In the absence of graspables, grasperhood does not make sense. For, the conception of grasper is relative to that of the graspable . . . For the graspable and the grasper are never independent of each other.1

“ Thus” , concludes Sthiramati, “ one comprehends the negative definition, not of the imagination of the unreal, but of the imagined forms, namely the forms of the graspable and the grasper” .2

The next stanza is almost a repetition of the previous one in another fashion. The first half of the stanza reads: Therefore it remains established That perception has the same nature

As non-perception.3

1. ldatn-vijrmbti-mi.tr am-dlambana-artha-rahilam sva-bJjaparipakad rupadi- abhasam vijnanam pravartate na tu nlpadiJicniho' sti-iti-evam grdhaka-upalabdhim niSritya grahya-anupalabdhim pravisati. .Yatha na vijnanad bahih parikalpitam grahyam-asii-iti vijhapti-matrala-balena tnano grahya-abhdvam praviiati, tatha grahya-abhdva-balena vijnapti-malrasya-api abhdvam-pratipadyate. JVa grahya-abhdve grdhakatvam yujyate. Grahyam apeksya lad-grahakasya vyapasthdpanat. . . Grdhya-grahakayoh paraspara-nirapeksatvdt.

2. Evam-asal-laksanam grdhya-grahakayoh. parikalpita-rupayoh pravUati, na-abhutaparikalpasya-iti darsanam bhavati. Ibid 3. Upalabdhes-latah siddha nopalabdhi-svabhdvata. Wherefore ? “ Because"’ , says Vasubandhu, “ there being no perceivable things, there is no possibility of having perception either” .1 It must be particularly noted that Vasubandhu is speaking about the absence of “ perceivable objects” (upalabhyaartha- abhava) , not of things-in-themselves. There could well be things-in-themselves, independently of the perceiving subject, but they are not perceivable. And what are thought to be perceived are not things as they are, but only one’s own mental constructions. Hence the second half of the stanza: Therefore the sameness Of non-perception and perception

Should be recognized.2

Wherefore ? “ Because” , says Vasubandhu, “ perception as such is not obtained” .3 He means that a perception is properly so called (upalabdhir-upalabdhitvena) only when it reaches real objects existing independently of the perceiving subject. As there is no perception that reaches real objects, i.e. things-in-themselves, no perception can be properly so called. Hence what is usually called perception is in fact non-perception. Why then is it called perception at all ? Vasubandhu continues his commentary, “ Though not having the own-nature. of perception, still it is called perception because there are the appearances of unreal objects.” 4 That is, the so-called perceptions perceive the unreal objects (abhuta-artha-pratibhasa), and thus the nameperception’ is somehow justified, too. What is ultimately conveyed by this stanza is that, as Sthiramati notes, “ to say that one does not perceive objects is the same as to say that one perceives only representation of consciousness.” 5 The next stanza is a further look at the contents of the imagination of the unreal. Vasubandhu calls it the classification 1. Upalabhya-artha-abhave upalabdhyayogal. • Tasmac-ca samata jneya nopalambha-upalambhayoh. . Upalabdhir-upalabdhitnena-asiddlid

4. Abhuta-artha-pratibhasaiaya tu-upalabdhir-ili-ucyate’ nupatabdhi-svabhavaapi salt.

5. Artha-anupalambhasya viiflapti-matrata-upalambhasya ca-satvad-avisesatah.

definition (prabheda-lakfanam). Introducing the first half of the stanza he says, “ Now follows the classification-definition of the same imagination of the unreal” .1 The first half of the stanza reads:

The imagination of the unreal Is citta as well as caittas,

Belonging to all three worlds.2

Commenting on it Vasubandhu says that the three worlds, refer to “ the distinction between the worlds of passion, forms, and formless beings” .3 That the imagination of the unreal (abhuta-parikalpa) includes whatever is called ‘mind’ and ‘mental’ in western thought has already been repeatedly said. The above lines are a clear statement of the same point: the imagination of the unreal is nothing but the mind (citta) and the mental factors (caittas) , no matter to which of the three modes of existence they belong.

Introducing the second half of the stanza Vasubandu says, “ Now follows the synonym-definition” .4 It says how citta and caittas operate, and therefore serves as a synonymous description of the imagination of the unreal. Hence the name ‘synonym-definition’ (parydya-laksanam). It reads as follows: [M VK 1.9 cont’d .] There, perception of objects is consciousness, And perception of their qualities

is mental factors.5

Vasubandhu then comments :

Consciousness is perception of just the objects. The mental factors, namely, feeling etc., are the perception of the qualities of the same objects.6

1. Tasya-eva-iddmm-abhuta-parikalpasya prabheda-laksanam khyapayati.

2. Abhuta-parikalpas-ca citta-caittas-tridhdtukah. . Kama-rupa-arupya-avacara-bhedena.

4. Paryaya-lahartam khyapayati. Tatra-artha-drslir-vijnanam tad-visese tu caitasah. . Tatra-artha-matre drstir-vijnanam. Arthavisese drsfis-caitasah vedanadayah.

Here one or two terminological clarifications are required. First of all, what are referred to as consciousness (vijnana) and mental factors (caitasah) are respectively the mind (citta) and mental factors (caittah) mentioned in the first half of the same stanza. Secondly, what are referred to as objects (artha) and their qualities (viSefa) are respectively what are otherwise called bhuta and bhautikas. BhStas are just the objects (arthamatra) in the sense that they do not refer to the qualities (vtiefas, characteristics) such as being pleasant, unpleasant etc., while bhautikas are such qualities. Perception of bhuta/ artha-mdtra is what is called vijnana/citta, while perception of their bhautikasjartha-viksa is called cetasajcaitta.1 In both cases it is just the imagination of the unreal (abhuta-parikalpa-matra), for the object (artha) perceived (drffa), no matter whether it is bhuta/artha-mdtra or bhautika/artha-viie$a, is only imaginary or rather mentally constructed (parikalpita-svabhava). So Sthiramati says, ‘Citta and caittas operate with reference to the ownnature and qualities of the things which though unreal are imaginable. Citta and caittas, which are respectively the perception of the own-nature and qualities of objects, are themselves the imagination of the unreal, and therefore are synonyms of the latter.’2

The store-consciousness and the active consciousness The next stanza introduces the distinction between the storeconsciousness (alaya-vijnana) and the active consciousness (pravrtti-vijnana). They are both viewed as functions of the imagination of the unreal, and in that sense Vasubandhu has named this stanza the activity-definition (pravrtti-lakfanam) of abhuta-parikalpa. Introducing the stanza • he says, “ [The next verse] states the activity-definition.” 3 The stanza reads: 1. . . . malra-sabdo visesa-nirasarthah. Tena-agrhita-viiesa vaslu-svarupamdtraupalabdhir- iti-arthah. . .tatra-ahladaka-paritdpakatvaviieso yas-tasya bhavasya yat-saumanasyadislhanam tad-grahariam vedarn. Stri-purusa-vyavahara-laksano yo'rtha-viiesas-tadgrahariam sanjM. Evam-anye’pi yatha-yogam yojyah. . Abhuta-parikalpya-vastunah svabhava-viiesa-parikalpanayd citta-caittanam pravrttatvat. Arlha-svar upa-viSesa-drslii-citta-cailta-abh uta-parikalpai-ca-iti par -yaya - antarbhutah.

3. Pravrtti-laksanam ca khyapayati. One is the source-consciousness, And the other is the enjoyment-consciousness, There, the mental factors are

Enjoyment, determination and motivation.1 Vasubandhu commenting on this stanza says: The store-consciousness being the source of other consciousnesses is called the source-consciousness. The active consciousness, which has the latter as its source, is called the enjoyment- consciousness. Enjoyment refers to feelings etc., determination to concept, and motivation to the conditioning forces such as volition, attention etc., of consciousness.2 Sthiramati places this stanza and the following one in the context of life-process. Pravrtti for him means process/movement. When it is applied to life, he recognises two levels of movement: (i) movement from one moment t o t h e n e x t f o r m i n g a series of moments which is responsible for defilements and enjoyments in the present life; ( ii) movement from one life to the next, which is responsible for the defilements of kleia, karma and janma. The present stanza, says Sthiramati, “ deals with the former type of movement, leaving the latter for the next stanza. The concept of movement involves that of cause-effect relationship. In Buddhism, causality means, to put it rather naively, one moment giving way to the next, or, in technical terms, the rising of one moment depending on the previous one (pratityasamutpada) . In any case such a view of causality presupposes the distinction between the causal moment and the resultant moment.

There being only the imagination of the unreal ( abhUta-parikalpa-matra) how could one account for the distinction between cause and result (heiu-phala-prabhedam)? This, according to Sthiramati, is the concern of the present stanza.3 1. Ekam pratyata-vijndnam dsitiyam aupaihogikan Upabhoga-pariccheda-prerakas-tatra cnitamh. Alaya-vijrumam-anyesam vijUdndndm pratyayatvdt pratyaya-vijndnam. Tatpralyayam pravrlti-vijrldnam-aupabhogikam. Upabhogo vedana. Paricehedah sanjhd. Prerakah sarriskara vijndnasya cetand-manaskarddayah. MVKB 1.10 3. A bhuta -pirikalpa-mdtre 'nyasya ca-abhave hetu-phala-prabhedam na vijhdyala iti tad-pratipadanartham pravrtti-lakfmmm-ca khyapayati. According to him this stanza must be interpreted so as to mean that it is the imagination of the unreal itself that appears as both cause and result (hetuphal-bhdvena) J1 That is, the imagination of the unreal on the one hand appears as the storeconsciousness, which functions as the causal source (hetu-pratyaya) of the active consciousnesses;2 the same imagination of the unreal appears on the other hand as the resultant active-consciousness.
3 The sevenfold active consciousness is called enjoyment consciousness (aupabh.ogik.am vijnanam) because it leads to enjoyment (upabhoga-prayojakatvat) .* The mental factors (caitasajcaitta), too, are part of the resultant consciousness.5 Thus what the whole stanza is trying to establish is that every sort of consciousness, whether alaya-vijnana or pravrttivijnana or caitta, is an expression of the same imagination of the unreal. The imagination of the unreal, transforming itself into various types of consciousness, each involving the subjectobject distinction, keeps one*s empiricaf life going from moment to moment. A stream of consciousness is what constitutes the stream of samsaric existence, and this is made possible by the continuous imagination of the unreal forms of subjectivity and objectivity.

The life-circle

Now it remains to explain in terms of the same imagination of the unreal how one moves from one life to the next (janmamtara- pravrtti). This is done in the next two stanzas, which according to Vasubandhu, “ state the defilment-definition” 8 of the imagination of the unreal. It shows how by the operation of the imagination of the unreal the defilements (sanklesa), namely klesa, karma and janma, bring about the sufferings of the world.7 1. Artena hetu-phda-bhavena-abhuta-parikalpa iti laksanam. MVKBT 1.10 2. Talra-ekam-iii-alaya-vijftdnam Sesamm vijndndnam hetu-praiyayabhdvena hetur-iti pratyaya-vijiianam. Ibid.

3. Dvitiyam-aupabhogikam. .phalam iti vnkya-Sesah. Ibid 4. Sapta-vidham pravrlU-vijndnam-upabhoga-prayojakalidl aupabhogikam. Ibid 5. Tatra vijftime y e caitasds-U'pi tat-phalam-iti sambaiidhah. Ibid 6. Samkleia-laksartam-ca khyapayati. . Klesa-harma-janma-sanklesa yatha pravartamdna jagdtaU pariklesdya bhavanli . tat-saiikUsa-lakmnam.

Thus it shows “ how, although there is no substantial self, solely from the imagination of the unreal there arises the samsara" .1 The stanzas under reference may be translated as follows: The world is oppressed/defiled2

1) By being concealed,

(2) By being raised,

( 3) Be being led,

(4) By being seized,

(5) By being completed,

(6) By being trebly determined,

(7) By enjoying,

(8) By being attracted,

( 9) By being bound,

(10) By being orientated, and

(11-12) By being subjected to suffering.' This clearly is the Yogacarin’s version of the twelve links ( iddana) of the chain of dependent origination (pratilya-samutpada) , which explain the ever-reverting process of samsara. The Sanskrit word translated here as “ world” is jagat. This term literally means “moving” or “ going” . So it is just another word for sams&ra, meaning “ going round” . Sthiramati says, “ Jagat is that which keeps going” .4 Just like the term samsara, the term jagat, too, although it ordinarily refers to the world as a whole, for all practical purposes refers to the individual beings who constitute that world. Therefore the above-described process of oppression/defilment (sankleSa) by the twelve-linked 1. Tathd-ca asati-api-atmani abh uta-parikalpa-mdlrat samsarah prajayate iti pradarianarlham khyapayati.

2. Sthiramati points out that the verb klifyate in this context may be taken either to mean pidyate(is oppressed)or to mean na vyavadayatc (is made impure): “ klifyata iti. .pidyata iti arthah. KlUyata iti na vyavaddyata iti-apare” MVKBT I.'ll. Sthiramati personally. seems to prefer the first meaning, namely, pidyate.

3. Chadanad-roparmc-ca nayandt samparigrahdt Pur anal tri-paricchedad-upabhogac-ca karfan&t. jNlbandhanad-dbhimukhyad duhkhanat klisyate jagat. Gacchati-iti jagat.process of dependent-origination should be understood as applying to each individual undergoing the experience of samsara. Vasubandhu interprets those twelve links as follows: There,

(1) ‘by being concealed’ means ‘by being impeded by ignorance from seeing things as they are’ ,

(2 ) ‘by being raised’ means ‘by the installation of the impressions of deeds on consciousness by the conditioning forces’ ,

(3) ‘by being led’ means’ ‘by being taken by consciousness to the place of re-birth’ ,

(4) ‘by being seized’ means ‘ [by being seized] by the nama and rBpa of egohood,

(5) ‘by being completed’ means ‘ [by being completed] by the six organs’,

(6) ‘by being trebly determined’ means ‘ [by being trebly determined] by contact’ ,1

(7) ‘by enjoying’ means ‘by feeling’ ,

(8) ‘by being attracted’ means ‘ [by being attracted]by the desire for a new existence the seeds of which have already been sown by previous deeds’ ,

(9) ‘by being bound’ means ‘ [b y being bound] by the inclinations towards sense-pleasure etc., which are conducive to a new birth of the consciousness’ ,

(10) ‘by being orientated’ means ‘by making the deeds of former existence tend to manifest their matured fruits in a new existence’,

(11-12) ‘by being subjected to suffering’ means ‘ [b y being subjected ] to birth, old age and death’ . By all these is the world oppressed/defiled.2 1. Here ‘ contact’ (sparsa) means ‘sensation’ which is trebly determined ( pariccheda) b y indriya, visaya and vijnana: Tatra-

Chadanad—avidyaya yaiha-bh uta-darSana-avabandhanat. Ropanat—samskarair-vijnane karma-vdsandyali pralisthupanat. Nayandt— vijndnena-upapatli-sthdna-samprdpandt. Samparigrahandt—nama-rupena-dtmabhdvasya. puranat—sad-ayatanena.

[ The same stanza continues: ]

The oppressives/defilements,

cont’d. ] All proceeding from the imagination of the unreal,

Could be classified

Either into three groups,

Or into two groups,

Or into seven groups.1

Vasubandhu’s commentary on these lines reads as follows: The classification of the oppressives/defilements into three groups is as follows:

1. Oppressive opressors, namely ignorance, desire and inclinations;

2. Deed-oppressives, namely conditioning forces and existence/ birth;

3. Birth-oppressives, namely the remaining members. The classification of the oppressives/defilements into two groups is as follows:

1. Causal oppressives/defilements which include the groups of oppressive oppressors, and deed-oppressives;
2. Resultant oppressives which are the same as the birthoppressives. The classification of tlie oppressives/defilements into seven groups refer to the seven kinds of causes such as: 1. cause of error, namely ignorance,

2. cause of sowing of seeds, namely conditioning forces,
3. cause of direction, namely consciousness, 4. cause of seizure, namely nama-rupa and the six bases, 5. cause of enjoyment, namely contact and feeling, Tri-paricchedat—sparlena.

Upabhogat—vedanaya.

Karsanat— Trsnayd karma-aksiptasya punar-bhavasya. Nibandhandt-—updddnair-vijiUinasya-utpatti-anukuUsu kamadisu. Abhimukhyat— bhavena krtasya karmamh punar-bhme vipakaddnaya-abhimukhikaranat. Duhkhanat—jatyd jara-maramna ca parikliSyate jagat.

1. Tredha dvedha ca sankleSah sapladha-abhutakalpan&t cause of attraction, namely desire, inclination existence,

7. cause of unrest, namely birth, old age and death. All these oppressives/defilements operate due to the imagination of the unreal.1

What is to be particularly noticed here is the fact that the entire sankleSa, which is just another name for samsara,2' is traced to the imagination of the unreal.® This is so, because, as already explained, the experience of sarrisdralsankleSa is ultimately the passion for graspable-grasper distinction,4 which depends entirely on the imagination of the unreal.8 Sthiramati derives the same conclusion in a different way:

All these oppressives/defilements operate due to the imagination of the unreal, because the oppressives/defilements depend on citta and caittas, about which it has been said: The imagination of the unreal

Is citta as well as caittas

Belonging to all three worlds. Tredhd sankleSah— kUSa-sanklesah, karma-sankleiah janma-sankleiaS-ca. Tatra klesa-sankleio’vidya-trsnopdddndni. Kanma-sankUfah samskara-bhavaS ca. Janma-sankleSan sesdni-angdni.

Dvedhd sankleiah— Hetu-sanklesah phala-sankleSaS-ca. Tatra hetu-sankleSah kUSakarma- svabhdvair-afigaih. Phala-sankleias-ca Sesaih. Saptadhd sanklesah saptavidho hetuh : viparyasa-hetuh, akfepa-hetuh, upanayahetuh, parigraha-heluh, upabhoga-hetuh, dkarfana-hetuh, udvega-hetuS-ca. Tatra mparyasahetur- avidya. Aksepa-hetuh samskarah. Upanaya-hetur-vijiidnam. Parigraha-hetur-ndmarupa- sad-ayatane. Upabhoga-hetuh sparia-vedanc. Akarsatia-hetus-tr}nopdddndbhdvah. Udvega-hetur-jali-jara-maraiie.

SarvaS-ca-esa sankleso'bh uta-parikalpat pravartata iti. See the equation above on page 38

3. Sarvasca esasankleso'bhuta-parikalpiit pravartate. Also, Tredhd dvedhd ca sanklesah saptadhd-abh uta-parikalpanat. For example, see above pp. 38 ff

5. Abhuta-parikalpo grahya-grahaka-vikalpah. Sarve-ca-ete sanklesd abhitta-parikalpdt pravartante iti dtta-caittaasrayatvat sankleSasya. Uktam hi tat, abhuta-parikalpaS-ca citta-caittas-tridhdtukah it,.

The summary-meaning of the imagination of the unreal Vasubandhu now winds up the discussion on the imagination of the unreal by recalling the various definitions of it: The ninefold definition, giving the summary-meaning of the imagination of the unreal, has f now] been explained. Those definitions are, namely, positive definition, negative definition, own-definition, inclusive definition, instrumental definition, classification-definition, synonym-definition, activity-definition and the defilment-definition.1

3. The Emptiness

From the next stanza onwards one has the discussion on the emptiness (Sunyata), which has already been described as “ that state of the imagination of the unreal which is lacking in the form of being the graspable and grasper.” 2 Introducing the next stanza Vasubandu says, “ Thus having explained the imagination of the Unreal, the author now shows how the emptiness should be understood.” 3

[ MVK 1.13] About the emptiness

One should summarily know

Its definition,

Its synonyms along with their meaning,

Its classification,

And the reason4 for its classification.5 1. Pindarthah punar-abk uta-parikalpasya navavidham laksartam paridipitam bhavati. Sal-laksatfam, asal-laksanam, sva-lakfariam, sahgraha-laksanam, asallaksana-anupraveSaupdya- laksartam, prabheda-laksanam, paryaya-lakfatiam, pravrttilakfanam, saMeialakfanaH

2. MVKB 1.2 See above page 30 and note 1 for the text. 3. Evam abhiitaparikalpam khyapayitvd yatha Sunyata vijneya tan-nirdisati.

4. The term translated here as ‘reason’ is sadhanam, which ordinarily means ‘a proof’. However, as Sthiramati has pointed out, in the present context it means ‘reason’ (yukti) : sadhanam Sunyataprabheda-pradariane yuktih.

5. Lak}anam-ca-athaparyayas-tadartho bheda eva ca Sadharum-ca-iti vijHeyam Junyatdyah samasafah. This is just an enumeration of the various topics that are going to be dealt with in the subsequent stanzas. First of all the author attempts a definition of the emptiness. “ How the definition of the emptiness is to be understood The negation of the pair

Is indeed the assertion of such negation; This is the definition of the emptiness.2 That is, when one denies the existence of the pair of subject and object, it amounts to the assertion that there is no such pair. In other words, to say that there is the absence of the pair (dvaya-abhavah) is the same as to say that there is the presence of such absence ( abhavasya bhavah). Thus, by emptiness is meant the positive state of existence in which there is no place for the duality between subjects and objects. Vasubandhu comments.

There is the negation of the pair of the graspable and grasper. The definition of emptiness then, is the assertion of that negation. Thus, it is showA how the emptiness is to be defined in negative terms. And, what those negative terms are,is further stated:

It is neither [ total] assertion, cont’d.] Nor [total] negation.4

“Why not [total] assertion ? Because there is the negation of the pair of subject and object. Why not [ total ] negation ? Because there is the assertion of the negation of that pair. This indeed is the definition of the emptiness. Therefore, Wlth reference to the imagination of the unreal” 5 the emptiness is: 1. Katham lakfapam mjfleyam ?

2. Dvaya-abhavo hi-abhdvasya bhavah Sunyasya laksartam. Dvaya-gr&hya-grdhakasya-abhavah. Tasya ca-abhavasya bhavah iunyatayah lakfanam-iti-abhiiva-svabhdva-Lakfa(udvam Sunyatayah paridlpitam bhavati. TaSca- asau tad-abhava-svabhavah sa—

4. Na bhdvo na-api ca-abhanah. Katham na bhavah ? Tasmad dvayasya-abhavah. Katham na-abhavah ? Yastnad dvaya-abhavasya bhavah. Etac-ca iunyatayah laksanam. Tasmad-abhiitaparikalpat—

[MVK 1.14 Neither different [from the imagination of cont’d .] the unreal],

Nor identical [with the imagination of the unreal].1

Vasubandhu explains it as follows:

If different, it would imply that the ‘universal’ [ dha.rm.ata J is other than the particular thing (dharmas), which is unacceptable. For example, ‘ impermanence’ is not other than the impermanent things, and the state of suffering is not other •than suffering itself. If identical, there would be no place for purifying knowledge, nor would there be the commonplace knowledge. Thus is shown a definition which states that emptiness is that which is free from being different from thatness.2

Thus, Sunyata stands to abhuta-parikalpa just as dharmata stands to dharma, or anityata to anityadharma, or duhkhata to duhkha. The terms of these pairs are not quite different from each other, nor quite identical with each other. Similarly Sunyata. and abhutaparikalpa are neither quite different (na-prthak) from each other, nor quite identical (na-eka) with each other. They are instead just two different modes of existence of the same individual: Sunyata refers to one’s mode of existence in the state of nirvana, while abhUta-parikalpa refers to one’s mode of existence in the state of samsara. Thus both Sunyata and abhuta-parikalpa refer tothe same individual. They are not, however, identical with each other.

If, for example, Sunyata were identical with abhuta-parikalpa, it would mean either that one is always in the state of samsara, characterized by abhuta-parikalpa and that, therefore, the idea of purifying knowledge (viSuddhi-alambanamjnanam), which is believed to lead one to the state of nirvana, would make no sense; or that one is always in the state of nirvana, and that, therefore, commonplace/empirical/conventional knowledge 1. Na-prthaktva-eka-laksariaTn. Prthaktve sati dharmad-anya dharmatd-iti na yujyate, anityata-duhkhatavat. Ekatve sati visuddhi-alambanam jnanam na syat sdmanya-laksanam-ca. Etena taltva-anyatva-vinirmuktam laksartam paridipitam bhavati. (sdmanya-lakfanam jndnam) , which is characteristic of samsara experience cannot occur at all.1 Sunyata, then is the bare reality ( tattvam) , characterized neither as subject nor as object. It should be defined as nothing other than thatness.2 The next question is, “ how is the synonym [ of emptiness) to be understood?”® Hence the next stanza: [M VK 1.15] Suchness, the extreme limit of existence, The uncaused, absoluteness,

The source-reality:

These are summarily the synonyms of

emptiness.4

The next stanza explains, “ how is the meaning of these synonyms to be understood ?” *

The synoyms respectively mean [that the emptiness is]

Never otherwise,

Never falsified,

Never admitting a cause,

The object intuited by the sages,

And [that it is]

The source of the powers of the sages.8 Vasubandu interprets the above two stanzas as follows: The emptiness is called suchness in the sense that it is never otherwise insofar as it remains ever the same way. It is called the extreme limit of existence in the sense that it is never falsified, because it is never an object of doubts It is called the uncaused, because it does not admit for itself any cause, for it is far from having any cause whatsoever. It is called the

1. Cf.

2. Sunyata. . lallva-anyatva-vinirmukta-laksand.

3. Katham paryayo vijneya ft

4. Tathata bh utakotii-ca-animittam paramdrthata Dharma-dhatuS-ca paryaya iunyatayah samasatah.

5. Katham paryaya-artho vijneyah ?

6. Ananyatha-aviparyasa-tan-niroddha-arya-gocaraih Hetutvac-ca-arya-dharmanam paryayartho yathakramam. absoluteness/the ultimate object, because it is the object of the knowledge of the sages, meaning that it is the object of the ultimate knowledge. It is called the source-reality, because it is the source of the powers of the sages, meaning that the powers of the sages have their origin depending upon it: here the term dhatu is used in the sense of hetu, indeed.1 As I have already pointed out here there is no attempt to describe emptiness in terms of consciousness, which would justify the interpretation of the Yogacara system as idealism.2 Next, “ how is the classification of the emptiness to be understood” .3

It is defiled and purified;4 “ So is its classification. In what condition is it defiled, and in what condition is it purified?” 6

It is with and without impurities.9 cont’d.

That is, “when it is with impurities, then it is defiled, and when it is rid of the impurities then it is purified.” 7 Here the emptiness is considered as defiled ( sanklifta/samald) and pure ( viiuddha] prahinamala) . However, this classification of the emptiness raises a problem, which Vasubandhu formulates as follows: “ Getting rid of the impurities once associated with it [i.e. emptiness) 1. Arumyathdrthena tathata, nityam tatha-iti krtva. Aviparyasd-rthena bhuta-kotih, viparyasa-avastutvat. Nimitta-noirodharthena animittatvam, sarva-nimitta-abhavat. Aryajflana- gocaratvat paramdrthah, parama-jMna-visayatvat. Arya-dharma-hetutvdd dharmadhatuh, arya-dharm&nam tadalambana-prabhavatvdt. Helu-artho hi-atra dhatu-arthah.

2. See above page 6.

3. Katham sunyatayah prabhedo jHeyah

4. Sanklisfa ca vUuddha ca.

5. Iti-asyah prabhedah. Kasydm-avasthdyam sanklisfa, kasyam-visuddha ?

6. Samala nirmald ca sd.

7. Tada saha medena vartate lada sanklisfa. Yada prahinamala tada visuddhH.

implies that it [i.e. emptiness) is changing in character. How is it then that it is still not impermanent ? Because its”

1— Purity is understood

cont’d. ] As the purity of elemental water, Gold and space.2

That is, elemental water (abdhatu), gold, and space are pure by nature. However, they can be made impure by the addition of foreign matter. Such foreign matter cannot, however, change their inner nature, but can only externally cover it, so to speak. Moreover, to recover their original, pure, nature, one needs only to remove that foreign matter, which will not imply any change in the character of water or gold or space. Similarly, the stanza argues, the factors which are thought to constitute the impurities of the emptiness are only externals or accidentals ( agantuka) which do not affect it substantially. Nor does the removal of these accidental impurities (agantuka-malah) imply any change in the character (dharma) of the emptiness. Vasubandhu, interpreting the above lines says, “ [The purity of the emptiness is recovered ] by shaking off the accidental impurities, which does not mean a change in its own-nature” .3 The next stanza is trying to classify the emptiness from another point of view. Introducing it Vasubandhu says, Here is another classification according to which there are sixteen kinds of emptiness:

(1) emptiness of internal (elements),

(2) emptiness of external (elements),

(3) emptiness of internal as well as external (elements), (4) emptiness of the great,

(5) emptiness of emptiness,

(6) emptiness of the absolute object,

(7) emptiness of the conditioned [ elements ,

1. Tadi samald bhutva nirmalS bhavati, katham vikara-dharmi(iitvddanityd na bhavati? Tasmad-asyah—

2. Abdhatuka-naka-akasa-hddkivac-chuddhir-ifyate.

3. Agantuka-mala-apagamdt, na tu tasydh svabhaua-anyatvam-bhavati.

(8) emptiness of the unconditioned (elements),

(9) emptiness of the ultimate (element),

(10) emptiness of the eternal [ element ],

(11) emptiness of the unforsaken [ element ],

(12) emptiness of nature,

(13) emptiness of defining marks,

(14) emptiness of every power,

(15) emptiness of negation,

(16) emptiness of negation as own-nature.1

This enumeration of the sixteen kinds of emptinesses is an attempt to show that all kinds of characterizations are bound to be only approximations, when they are applied to things in themselves. There are different elements (dharmas), but their characterizations as internal (adhyatma), external (bahya) etc., are empty of meaning. The elements in their suchness are just things (vastuni) without any qualification. Their multiplicity is accounted for not by different, predications, but merely by numerical distinctions. “ That all elements are of non-dual form, is the general definition of emptiness. The multiplicity is shown on account of the numerical multiplicity of things, not otherwise.” 2 This observation of Sthiramati is important. Right in the beginning of this chapter it was made clear that emptiness essentially consists in the absence of the duality between subjects and objects. In other words, emptiness means that nothing can be characterized as subject or object. A strict application of this concept of emptiness will demand that all characterizations of things as such and such are to be avoided.

For, any characterization of a thing implies attribution of some kind of objectivity to that thing. For example, when one says, “ This is good” , one is characterizing “ this” as “ good” . In so 1. Ayam-aparah prabhedah— sodaiavidha sunyata. Adhyatma-sunyata, bahirdha- Sunyatd, adhydtma-bahirdha-iunyatd, mahd-Sunyatd, iunyala-sunyatd, paramarlha-Sunyatd, samskrta-Siinyatd, atyanta-sunyata, anavaragra-sunyatd, anavakara-funyata, prakrtilunyata, laksana-sunyatd, sarva-dharma-Sunyata, abhava-s unyatd,abhava-svabhava-Sunyatd ca.

2. Sandnya-laksariam Sunyatayih sarva-dharmaya-advaya-svariipalvam. Nanyathd ndnatvam sakyatc darSayitum-iti-ato vastu-naimtverm tan-ndndtvam darsayaii.

doing one is first of all envisaging a distinction between the subject “ this” and its predicate “ good” , which is just another form of subject-object distinction. Secondly, one is claiming that one has experienced “ this” as “ good” , which again, presupposes the distinction between the experiencing subject and the experienced object. Thus the characterization of “ this” as “ good” violates the definition of emptiness as the absence of duality in two ways: first by making a distinction between the subject (i.e. “ this” ) , and the predicate (i.e. “ good” ) , and secondly by making a distinction between the experiencing subject, and the experienced object. This applies to all the sixteen characterizations mentioned by Vasubandhu. All those characterizations may be valid and useful from a commonplace ( samvrtijsamdnya-laksana/vyavahdrika) point of view. But in the abolute state of existence one cannot think of any characterizations which will distinguish the individual things ( vastuni) from one another, although they are numerically different things ( vastu-nanatvam).

“All those kinds of emptiness should be briefly understood” .1 Hence the next four stanzas.

[MVK I. 18] There is the emptiness of the enjoyer, Emptiness of the enjoyed,

Emptiness of the body [of the enjoyer and enjoyed],

Emptiness of the basic thing,

Emptiness of that by whichit [i.e. the emptiness of the enjoyer etc.] is perceived,

Emptiness of the way in which it is perceived, and

Emptiness of that for which it is perceived.2 Here the first six kinds of emptinesses correspond to the first six of the sixteen emptinesses enumerated above by Vasubandhu, He, therefore, says:

1. Sa-esa samdsato veditavya. Ifiio'ictr-btwjana-tad-deha-pratista-vastu-sunyaia Tacca yena yalha drsfam yad-artham tasya Junyata. Here, the emptiness of the enjoyer means the emptiness of the internal senses etc., the emptiness of the enjoyed means the emptiness of the external elements, the emptiness of their bodies, namely the Sariras which are the basis of both the enjoyer and the enjoyed, means the emptiness of the internal and the external elements. The basic thing means the universe which is the basis [ of the enjoyer, the enjoyed and their bodies). Its emptiness is called the emptiness of the great because of the vastness of the universe. The emptiness of the internal senses etc. is perceived by the knowledge of emptiness, whose emptiness is called the emptiness of emptiness. The emptiness of internal senses is perceived as the absolute object, whose emptiness is the emptiness of the absolute object.1

The last kind of emptiness mentioned in the above stanza covers the last ten kinds of emptinesses on Vasubandhu’s list. Explaining it Vasubandhu says,

The emptiness of that for which the Bodhisattva attains [ the emptiness of the internal senses etc.] is the [final] kind of emptiness. For what, indeed, is the emptiness of the internal senses etc. attained ?2

This question is answered as follows :

For the attainment of the twofold prosperity.3 That is, for the attainment of “ the conditioned as well as the unconditioned fortune” .4 The emptiness of the conditioned as well as the linconditioned fortune corresponds respectively 1. Tatra bhoktr-Sunyatd adhyatmikani-ayatananyarabddha, bhojana-Sunyata bahyani. Tad-dehas-tayor-bhokrlr-bhojanayor-yad-adhisthanam Sarvam lasya Sunyatdadhyatma- bahirdha Sunyata-iti-ucyate. Pratista-vastu bhajana-loka, lasya vislirnatmc- chunyata maha-iunyata-iti-iuyate. Tac-ca-adhydtmika-dyatanadi yena Sunyam drsjarn Sunyatd-jSdnma, tasya Sunyata Sunyata-Sunyata. Tatha ca dr/fam paramartha-akarena lasya Sunyata paramdrtha-Sunyata. MVKB 1.18 2. Tadartham-ca bodhisatvah prapadyate tasya ca Sunyata. Kimartham-ca prapadyate ?

3. Subha-dvayasya praptyartham. . KuSaiasya sartiskrtasya-asam^krtasya ca. to “ the emptiness of the conditioned” and “ the emptiness of the unconditioned” on Vasubandhu’s list. For the everlasting benefit of the living beings.1 cont’d.]

That is “ for the ultimate benefit of the living beings

2, the emptiness of which has been referred to by Vasubandhu as “ the emptiness of the ultimate element” .

And for not leaving the samsara,3 cont’d.

That is, if one does not perceive the emptiness of the internal senses etc., then “ not seeing the emptiness of the eternal samsara, one, being depressed, would rather leave the world.”

4 The emptiness of ‘not leaving the samsara' has been referred to as ‘ ‘the emptiness of the eternal (element)” .For the non-cessation of fortune.

“ Even in the absolute state of nirvana there is something that one does not give up, the emptiness of which is called the emptiness of the unforsaken.” 6

[MVK 1.20] For the purity of the lineage.7 ‘ ‘Lineage means nature, for it belongs to one’s own-nature.” 8 Its emptiness has been referred to as “ the emptiness of nature” . 1. Sada sattva-hitaya ca.

2. Atyanta-sattva-hitartham.

3. Samsara-atyajamrtham.

4. Anavaragrasya hi samsarasya Sunyaiam-apaSyan khinnah samsaram parityajate.

5. KuSalasya-aksa.ya.ya.

6. NirupadhiSese nirvdne'pi yan-na-avikirati notsrjati tasya Sunyata anavakdra- Smyatd-iti-ucyate. MVKB 1.19

7. Gotrasya ca viSudhyartham. MVK 1.290

8. Gotram-hi prakrtih, svabhasikatndt. MVKB 1.20 For attaining the defining marks.1 cont’d. ]

That is, “ for attaining the marks that are characteristic of great men.” 2 Its emptiness has been referred to as “ the emptiness of defining marks” .

And for the purity of the powers of an enlightcont’d.] ened one.

Does the Bodhisattva attain the emptiness of internal senses etc.*

Namely, for the purity of the powers such as “ strength, fearlessness, special endowments etc.” ,4 the emptiness of which has been referred to as “ the emptiness of every power” . “ Thus, indeed, the fact of the fourteen kinds of emptiness should be known.” 5

The last two kinds of emptiness are still to be explained, which the next stanza does. “ What other kinds of emptiness are still there?” 6

The negation of pudgala and dharmas, Is indeed one kind of emptiness there,

The existence of that negation in it [ i.e. in the enjoyer etc.]

Is another kind of emptiness.7

Vasubandhu explains this stanza as follows: The negation ofpudgala and dharmas is one emptiness. Another kind of emptiness is the existence of that negation in the above said enjoyer etc. These two kinds of emptiness are explained at the end in order to make the definition of the

1. Lakfana-vyaKjana-dptaye. M

2. Mahdpurusa-lakafaodnam sa-amwyaf^anandm-prdptaye.

3. Suddhayc Buddha-dharamamm bodhisattvah prapadyate. . BalavaiSdradya-avettikadindm. 5. Evam tdvac-caturdaSdndm Sunyatdndm vyasasthSnam veditavyam. . Ka punar-atra Sunyata ?

7. Pudgalasya-atha dharmdpdm-abhdoah Swryata-atra hi Tadabhduasya sad-bhdms-tasmin sd Sunyatd-apard, M VK 1.21 emptiness clear: in order to avoid the exaggeration of pudgala and dharmas the emptiness is explained, on the one hand, as the negation of pudgala and dharmas, and in order to avoid the underestimation of their negation the emptiness is explained, on the other hand, as having the negation of (pudgala and dharmas) for its own-nature. This is how the classification of emptiness is to be understood.1 « Here, as it is clear from Sthiramati’s commentary, pudgala and dharma stand respectively for the subjective (bhoktr-sammata) and objective ( bhogya-sammata) aspects of experience. These two aspects are merely imaginary (kalpita-lakfana) . Therefore they are to be negated, and their negation is one kind of emptiness. However, their negation does not mean nihilism.

On the contrary, it points to a positive state of existence which cannot be characterized either as pudgala jbhoktr or as dharma/bhogya. This positive state of existence, which has negation for its ownnature (abhava-svabhava) is the last and final sort of emptiness.2 These two kinds of emptiness have to be put together to construct a complete definition of emptiness. Why ? Sthiramati answers as follows:

If Sunyata as the negation [of pudgala and dharmas ] is not mentioned [in the definition], it would mean that there is indeed the existence of pudgala and dharmas, which in fact are only of imagined forms. If, on the other hand, SRnyati as having the negation [ of pudgala and dharmas) for its ownnature is not mentioned, it would mean that there is not even' the emptiness. Such negation of the emptiness itself 1. Pudgala-dharma-abhavaS-ca Sunyata. Tad-abhavasya ca sad-bhauastasmin yathokte bhoktradau sa anya Simyaia-iti Smyata-laksana-akhyanaartham dvividham-ante Sunyatam vyavasthapayati-abhdm-SunyaUim-abhdoa-svabhdvaSunyatam-ca, pudgala-dharma samaropasya tac-chunyata-apamdasya ca parihdrartham yathdkramam. Evam Simyatayah prabhedo vijneyah.

2. Tatra-adhyatmikesu-ayatanesu vipaka-vijiiana-svabhavesu balandm bhoktrsammatesu bhoktr-pudgalasya kalpitalaksandnam ca caksuradinam-abhavas-tadabhdvasya ca sadbluho'adhyiltnm- iurryata. .

would mean the existence of the same pudgala and dharmas.1

Therefore, it is necessary that the definition of the emptiness includes both abhava-Sunyata and abhava-svabhava-Sunyata as well. of the four topics mentioned in stanza 1.13, the last one, namely, ‘the reason for the classification of Sunydta’, now remains to be discussed. This is what the next stanza does by showing why Sunyata has to be classified into defiled (sanklisfa) and purified (viSuddha), a classification mentioned in stanza 1.17. “ How is the reason [ for such clasification ] to be understood ?” 2 If it were not [ever] defiled, Then all living beings would be [ ever]

liberated;

If it were not [ever] purified,

Then all efforts for liberation would be futile. The meaning of this stanza is clear enough: it is necessary to distinguish between the defiled and the purified aspects of the emptiness, in order to explain the distinction between samsara. and nirvana. One is in the state of samsara when one experiences reality, which is otherwise called emptiness, as defiled, and one is in the state of nirvana when one experiences the same reality as pure. So, S&nyata is considered defiled or purified depending upon whether it is looked at from the sphere of samsara and nirvana. Interpreting the above stanza Vasubandhu says : If the emptiness of elements would not be defiled by the accidental ajid secondary defilments, even when.no remedy is applied, then, since there are no defilements whatsoever, all living beings would become liberated without any effort at all. Again, if it would not become purified, even when some

1. Yadi-abhava-Sunyata ruxyeta parikalpita-svarupqyor-dharma-pudgalqyor-astitvamsva prasajyeta. Yadi-abhava-svabhava-Sunyata nqtyeta Sunyatayah abhdva eva prasajyeta. Tad-abhavac-ca pudgda-dharmayoh purvavad bhavah syat.

2. Katham sadhanam vijneyam?

3. Sahklisfa-ced bhaven-na-asau muktas-syuh sarva-dehinah ViSuddha ced bhaven-na-asau vyayamo nifphalo bhavet. remedy is applied, then the efforts towards liberation would prove fruitless.1

In other words, the fact that some are not liberated while others are, shows that the emptiness is looked at as defiled and purified.

However, Sunyata, considered in itself, is neither defiled nor purified. It is defiled or purified only with reference to the way it is looked at. As Sthiramati says: There, the defilement is on account of the inclusion of the sankleSa-dharma, and the purity is on account of the grasping of the viSuddhi-dharma. On the contrary, neither defilement nor purity issues directly from Sunyata, for the substance \dharmata) depends for its manifestation on its attributes [ dharmas) .2 What Sthiramati means by these words may be expressed differently as follows; A substance (dharmata, reality) as such is not perceived, but only in accordance with the attributes ( dharmas) imposed on it by the perceiver. If attributes of defilements are imposed on it, then it will be perceived as defiled ( sanklisfa), and if attributes of purity are imposed on it, then it will be perceived as purified ( viSuddha) . It then follows that the distinction between the defiled and purified modes of emptiness is only an epistemological one, and that the emptiness in itself is neither defiled nor purified. This is explicitly stated in the next stanza, which Vasubandhu introduces with the conjunction “ however” 3 to suggest its contrast from the previous stanza.

It is neither defiled nor undefiled, Also, it is neither purified nor unpurified;4 1. Yadi sarva-dharmatfam Sunyata agantukair-upakleSair-anutpanne’pi pratipakse na sanklisfa bhavet, sankleia-abhavad-ayatnata eva muktah sarva-sattva bhaveyuh. Atha-utpanne’pi pratipakse na visuddha bhavet, moksdrthamarambho nisphalo bhavet.

2. Aira sanklesadharma-upadanat sankleSo, viSuddhi-dharma-grahanad visuddhih. Na tu Sunyatayah saksat sankleso viSuddhir-va-isyate, dharma-paratantratvad-dharmatayah.

3. Evam-ca krtva.

4. Na klisfa na-api va-akliffa suddha-asuddha na ca-eva sd“ How is it that it is neither defiled nor unpurified ? It is so by its very nature.” 1

Because of the shining nature of citta;2 cont’d]

Evidently, this line does not fit in with the context, because it abruptly suggests citta to be another name for Sunyata, the absolute state of reality. Nowhere before, not even on the list of the synonyms o i SUnyata? was citta mentioned as another name for Sunyata. On the contrary Vasubandhu has always used the term citta to mean alaya-vijnana, or in conjunction with caitta. Therefore, the present line sounds very much out of context. It is, therefore, difficult to believe that this is part of the original text. S. Yamaguchi, in his edition of Madhyantavibhaga- tika (Nagoya 1934) does not in fact consider it as part of the original stanza. Th. Stcherbatsky treats it as a Scriptural quotation cited by Vasubandhu.5 It is quite possible, indeed, that the original line is lost, and that the present one is only a Scriptural quotation occurring in Vasubandhu’s commentary, as Stcherbatsky’s translation suggests Even so the problem about considering citta as another name for SUnyata remains unsolved. Is it possible that Vasubandhu really means that citta is another name for Sunyata? No, because it would contradict his other passages which treat citta only as alayavijnana, whiph operates only on the samsaric sphere. So, how is one to understand the present line? Sthiramati, as if sensing the problem, says that the term citta in the present context should be taken to mean citta-dharmata.* This interpretation 1. Katham na ktiffa na-api ca-aSuddha? prakrtya-eva. . Prabhasvaratvac-cittasya.

) 4. Cf. R. C. Pandeya, ed., Madhyanta-vibhdga-idstra, (Delhi, Varanasi, Patna : Motilal Banarsidass, 1971), p. 49, note 4. 5. Cf. Th. Stcherbatsky, trans., Madhyanta-vibhaga: Discourse on Discrimination between Middle and Extremes, (Bibliotheca Buddhica X X X , 1936; reprint, Calcutta ; Indian Studies, Past and Present, 1971), p. 215. The reference is possibly to Anguttara-nikaya 1.10 : Prabhdsaram idam cittam.. 6. Atra ‘ca citta-dharmata-eva citta-Sabdena-ukta, cittasya-eva maltdaksanatvat.

solves the problem partly, for any element (dharma) in its abstract state (dharmata) is for the Yogacarins another name for the absolute state of Sunyata. Consequently, the element citta, in its abstract state of existence is no more the phenomenal intellect nor the alayavijnana, but is the absolute state of Sunyata. It is just like the case of abhuta-parikalpa which, once it is rid of the subject-object characterizations, turns out to be identical with Sunyata..1 Thus, Sthiramati’s interpretation of citta as citta-dharmata somehow solves the problem at issue. However, it may be still asked how the attribute ‘shining’ {prabhasvara) can be validly applied to citta, which here means citta-dharmatajSunyata, for the explanation of the different kinds of Sunyata (stanzas 18-22) implied that no attribute whatsoever can validly be applied to the thing-in-itself, for which the term Sunyata stands.2 If so, how can the attribute ‘shining’ (prabhasvara) be meaningfully applied to citta-dharmataiSunyata. A possible answer to this question may be that Vasubandhu, while quoting a traditional passage, does not take the attribute ‘ shining’ in its literal sense, but only in its metaphorical sense of ‘par excellence.’ However, I feel that the entire line under discussion can be interpreted in a much simpler way. That ‘ the citta is of shining nature can be understood literally to mean that citta, i.e. alaya-vijnana,® is of shining nature (prabhasvara) sd that it leaves its reflections on the things around, which consequently would look different from what they really are. Then the first three lines of the present stanza would mean, the following: Sunyata is neither defiled nor undefiled, Also, it is neither purified nor unpurified, It is neither defiled nor unpurified

Because the defilements and impurities,

Which are attributed to Sunyata,

1. Sunyata lasya abhuta-parikalpasya grdhya-grdhaka-bhavena virahitata.

2. See above pages

3. In fact in one of the Tibetan versions of this stanza the term used is st’ms. which means ataya-vijiidna. Cf. Th. Stcherbatsky, op. cit., p. 215, note 162.

Are only reflectiqps from citta,

Which is otherw^e called alaya-vijnana.

This latter is shining in nature, and, therefore, Can cause'its ewn defiled and impure contents to reflect on snnysrn,

Which will consequently appear as defiled and unpurified. The final line of the same stanza explains “ how is it [i.e. sunyata) neither undefiled nor purified 1.23 Because of the accidental character of the cont’d.] defilements.2

That is, the defilements attributed to sunyata are only some accidentals which by no means affect it substantially. So the Sunyata never really gets defiled or impure. Consequently the removal of those defilements, which means only a change in the perceiver, rather than in the perceived Sunyata, cannot be said to be an undefiling or purification of Sunyata “ Thus, the above-mentioned classification of emptiness [into defiled and purified) is justified.” 3

Finally Vasubandhu summarises the discussion on the emptiness as follows:

There, the summary-meaning of emptiness is to be understood under two heads: one, the definition [of emptiness), and the other, the establishment [of the same definition]. There, definition is, again, twofold: positive and negative. The positive definition is likewise twofold: one, [ the assertion that emptiness is ] neither assertion nor negation, two, [ the assertion that emptiness is] that which is free from being different from thatness. By the establishment [of definition] is to be understood the establishment of synonyms of emptiness 1. Katham na-aklisfa na Suddhd ? MVKB 1.23 2. KleSasya-agantukatvatah.

3. Evam Sunyatdyah uddisfah prabhedah sadhito bhavati. etc. There, by the fourfold introduction of the emptiness the following four definitions of it are intended : its owndefinition, operative-definition, defilement-purity-definition and rationality-definition; these definitions help one respectively to get rid of uncertainty, fear, indolence and doubt.1 1. Tatra Sunyatdyah pinddrtho laksanato vyavasthdnalaS-ca vedilavyah. Tatra laksanato bhdva-laksanato'bhdbva-laksa$ataS-ca. Bhava-tak$anam punarbhava-abhavavinirmukta- laksanatas-ca talva-anyatva-vinirmukta-laksanataS-ca. Vyavasthdnam punah parydyadi-vyavasthanato veditavyam. Tatra-etayd caturprakara-deSanayd Sunyatdyah sva-laksanam, karma-laksaoam, sankleSa-vyavadana-laksariam, yukti-laksariam-ca udbhavitam bhavati : vikalpa-trasa-kausidya-vicikitsdnpasdntaye. M V K B I. (conclusion)

A p p e n d i x I

THE VERSES ON

DISCRIMINATION BETWEEN MIDDLE AND EXTREMES AND

VASUBANDHU’S COMMENTARY ON THEM

A CHAPTER ON DEFINITIONS

Having paid homage to the founder of this science,* Son of the well-gone,

And also to its expositor for people like me, May I now endeavour to analyse its meaning. 1. The definition,

[28] The coverings,

The truth,

Meditation of the opposite,

Its stages,

Attainment of results,

And the pre-eminence of the path.

These are the seven topics discussed in this science. They are namely the coverings, the truth, meditation of the opposite, stages of that meditation, attainment of results, and, seventhly, the pre-eminence of the path. There, beginning with the definitions, [the text] says :

2. There exists the imagination of the unreal, [ 29 ] There is no pair,

But there is emptiness,

Even in this there is that.

  • T he numbers in square brackets refer to pages above where the respective stanzas and passages are analysed.


There, the imagination of the unreal means the discrimination between the garspable and the grasper. The pair is the graspable and the grasper. Emptiness means that state of the imagination of the unreal which is lacking in the form of being graspable or grasper. Even in this (emptiness) there is that, namely, the imagination of the unreal. Thus, when something is absent in a receptacle, then one, seeing that receptacle as devoid of that thing, perceives that receptacle as it is, and recognizes that receptacle, which is left over, as it is, namely as something truly existing here. Thus, the definition of emptiness is shown to imply no contradiction.

3. Neither void nor non-void :

[41 ] So is everything described,

That indeed is the middle path,

For there is existence as well as non-existence, And again existence.

On account of the existence of emptiness, on the one hand, and that of the imagination of the unreal, on the other, it is not void. And on account of the non-existence of the pair of graspable and grasper, it is not non-void, either. This description applies to everything, whether conditioned or unconditioned. The terjn ‘conditioned’ goes for what is called the imagination of the unreal, while the term ‘unconditioned’ goes for what is called the emptiness. That indeed is the middle path, for, on the one hand, there is the existence of emptiness within the imagination of the unreal, and, on the other, the existence of the imagination of the unreal within the emptiness. It is therefore neither exclusively void nor exclusively non-void. This reading is thus in accordance with the scriptures such as Prajna-paramita, [ where it is said ] : “ all this is neither VQid nor non-void” .

Thus having stated the positive and negative definition of the imagination of the unreal, now the [ author] gives its owndefinition :

4. Under the appearance of things inanimate, [46] Living beings, self and representations of consciousness, Is born the consciousness.

There is nothing as its [ i.e. consciousness’s] object, And thus that object being absent

That (consciousness) , too, is non-existent. In the form of colour etc. the consciousness appears as inanimate things, and in that of five senses it appears as living beings. These five senses refer to one’s own as well as other’s streams of existence. The appearance of consciousness as self is the same as defiled thought, because it is associated with self-delusion etc. The representations of consciousness are otherwise called the sixfold consciousness. The appearance of inanimate things as well as of living beings are devoid of form; likewise the appearances of self and representations of consciousness are not in the way they appear to be. This is why it is said that there is indeed nothing as its [i.e. consciousness’s] object.'That is, the four kinds of graspables—namely, (i) colour etc., (ii) the five senses, (iii)thought, and (iv) the sixfold consciousness—are absent. Thus the graspable being absent, the grasper, namely the consciousness, too, is non-existent. 5. Therefore its being the imagination of the unreal [55] Remains established,

For it is not so,

It is not altogether absent, either.

For its existence is not the way it appears to be. It is not totally absent, either, because there is the production of illusion only, for

From its cessation results liberation.

For otherwise there would be neither bondage nor liberation, which would imply the denial of the facts of defilement and purity.

Thus having'stated the own-definition of the imagination of the unreal, now [ the author ] states its inclusive definition. It shows how, there being only the imagination of the unreal, there could be the inclusion of the three natures. 6. The imagined, the other-dependent,

[58] And the absolutley accomplished,

• Are derived [respectively] from

The objects, the imagination of the unreal, And the absence of the pair.

The object is the imagined nature, the imagination of the unreal is the other-dependent nature, and the absence of the graspable-grasper duality is the absolutely accomplished nature. Now is shown a definition which can be used as an instrument in comprehending the negative definition of the same imagination of the unreal :

7. Depending upon perception

[61] There arises non-perception,

And depending upon non-perception

There arises non-perception.

Depending upon the perception that there are only representations of consciousness, there arises the non-perception of knowable things. Depending upon the non-perception of knowable things, there arises the non-perception of the mere representations of consciousness, too. Thus one understands the negative •definition of graspable and grasper.

8. Therefore it remains established

[ 62 ] That perception has the same nature As non-perception.

Because, there being no perceivable things, there is no possibility of having perception either.

Therefore the sameness

Of non-perception and perception

Should be recognized.

Bacause perception as such is not obtained. Though not having the own-nature of perception, still it is called perception because there are the appearances of unreal objects. Now follows the classification-definition of the same imagination of the unreal :

9. The imagination of the unreal

[64] Is citta as well as caittas,

Belonging to all three worlds.

[The three worlds refer to] the distinction between the worlds of passion, forms, and formless beings. Now follows the synonym-definition :

There, perception of objects is consciousness, And perception of their qualities is mental factors. Consciousness is perception of just the objects. The mental factors, namely, feeling etc., are the perception of the qualities of the same objects.

The next verse states the function-definition : 10. One is the source-consciousness,

[ 66 ] And the other is the enjoyment-consciousness. . There, the mental factors are

Enjoyment, determination and motivation. The store-consciousness being the source of other consciousnesses is called the source-consciousness. The active consciousness, which has the latter as its source, is called the enjoymentconsciousness. Enjoyment refers to feeling etc., determination to concept, and motivation to the conditioning forces such as volition, attention etc., of consciousness. [ The next two verses ] state the defilement-definition : 11. The world is oppressed / defiled

[68 ] (1) By being concealed,

(2) By being raised,

(3) By being led,

(4) By being seized,

(5) By being completed,

(6) By being trebly determined,

(7) By enjoying,

(8) By being attracted,

12. (9) By being bound,

[68] (10) By being orientated, and ,

(11-12) By being subjected to suffering. There, (1) ‘by being concealed’ means ‘by being impeded by ignorance from seeing things as they are’ , (2) ‘by being raised’ means ‘by the installation of the impressions of deeds on consciousness by the conditioning forces’ , (3) ‘by being led’ means ‘by being taken by consciousness to the place of re-birth’, (4) ‘by being seized’ means ‘ [b y being seized] by the nama and rupa of egohood’ , (5) ‘by being completed’ means ‘ [by being completed] by the six organs’ , (6) ‘by being trebly determined’ means ‘ [by being trebly determined] by contact’ , (7) ‘by enjoying’ means ‘by feeling’ , (8) ‘by being attracted’ means ‘ [by being attracted ] by the desire for a new existence, the seeds of which have already been sown by previous deeds’ , (9) ‘by being bound’ means ‘ [by being bound] by the inclinations towards sense-pleasure etc., which are conducive to a new birth of the consciousness’, (10) ‘by being orientated’ means ‘by making the deeds of former existence tend to manifest their matured fruits in a new existence’ , (11-12) ‘by being subjected to suffering’ means ‘ [by being subjected] to birth, old age, and death’ . By all these is the world oppressed / defiled. This [ list of]

The oppressives / defilements,

All proceeding from the imagination of the unreal, Could be classified

Either into three groups,

Or into two groups,

Or into seven groups.

The classification of the oppressives/defilements into three groups is as'follows : (1) oppressive oppressors, namely ignorance, desire and inclinations; (2) deed-oppressives, namely conditioning forces and existence/birth; (3) birth oppressives, namely the remaining members.

The classification of the oppressives/defilements into two groups is as follows:

(1) causal oppressives/defilements which include the groups of oppressive oppressors, and deed-oppressives;

(2) resultant oppressives which are the same as the birthoppressives. The classification of the oppressives/defilements into seven groups refer to the seven kinds of causes such as,

(1) cause of error, namely ignorance,

(2) cause of sowing of seeds, namely conditioning forces, (3) cause of direction, namely consciousness, (4) cause of seizure, namely ndma and rupa and the six bases, (5) cause of enjoyment, namely contact and feeling, (6 ) cause of attraction, namely desire, inclinations and existences/birth, and (7) cause of unrest, namely birth, old age and death. All these oppressives/defilements operate due to the imagination of the unreal.

The ninefold definition, giving the summary-meaning of the imagination of the unreal, has [now] been explained. Those definitions are, namely, positive definition, negative definition, own-definition, inclusive definition, instrumental definition, classification definition, synonym-definition, activity-definition and defilement-definition.

Thus having explained the imagination of the unreal, the author now shows how the emptiness should be understood : 13. About the emptiness

[ 72 ] One should summarily know

Its definition,

Its synonyms along with their meaning,

Its classification,

And the reason for its classification.

How the definition of the emptiness is to be understood ? 14. The negation of the pair

[ 73] Is indeed the assertion of such negation; This is the definition of the emptiness. There is the negation of the pair of the graspable and grasper. The definition of emptiness, then, is the assertion of that negation. Thus, it is shown how the emptiness is to be defined in negative terms. And, what those negative terms are, [is further stated] :

It is neither [total] assertion,

Nor [total] negation.

Why not [total ] assertion ? Because there is the negation of the pair of subject and object. Why not [total] negation ? Because there is the assertion of the negation of that pair. This indeed is the definition of the emptiness. Therefore, with reference to the imagination of the unreal, the emptiness is : Neither different from the imagination of the unreal,

Nor identical with the imagination of the unreal. If different, it would imply that the ‘universal’ \dharmata\ is other than the particular things (dharmas) , which is unacceptable. For example, ‘ impermanence’ is not other than the impermanent things, and the state of suffering is not other than suffering itself. If identical, there would be no place for purifying knowledge, nor would there be the commonplace knowledge. Thus is shown a definition which states that emptiness is that which is free from being different from thatness. How is the synonym [of emptiness ] to be understood ? 15. Suchness, the extreme limit of existence, [75] The uncaused, absoluteness,

The source-reality :

These tire summarily the synonyms of emptiness. How is the meaning of these synonyms to be understood ? 16. The synonyms respectively mean that the emptiness is

[75] Never otherwise,

Never falsified,

Never admitting a cause,

The object intuited by sages,

And that it is

The source of the powers of the sages. The emptiness is called suchness, in the sense that it is neve# otherwise, and insofar as it remains ever the same way. It is called the extreme limit of existence in the sense that it is never falsified, because it is never an object of doubt. It is called the uncaused, because it does not admit for itself any cause, for it is far from having any cause whatsoever. It is called the absoluteness/ the ultimate object, because it is the object of the knowledge of the sages, meaning that it is the object of the ultimate knowledge. It is called the source-reality, because it is the source of the powers to the sages, meaning that the powers of the sages have their origin depending upon it : here the term dhatu is used in the sense of hetu, indeed. How is the classification f the emptiness to be understood ? [76] 17. It is defiled and purified;

So, is its classification. In what condition is it defiled, and in what condition is it purified ?

It is with and without impurities.

When it is with impurities, then it is defiled, and when it is rid of the impurities, then it is purified. Getting rid of the impurities once associated with it, implies that it is changing in character. How is it then that it is still not impermanent ? Because its

Purity is understood

As the purity of elemental water,

Gold and space.

[The purity of the emptiness is recovered] by shaking off the accidental impurities, which does not mean a change in its own-nature.

Here is another classification according to. which there are sixteen kinds of emptiness:

(1 )emptiness of internal (elements),

(2) emptiness of external (elements) ,

(3) emptiness of internal as well as external (elements) ,

(4 ) emptiness of the great,

(5) emptiness of emptiness,

(6) emptiness of the absolute object,

(7) emptiness of the conditioned (elements),

(8) emptiness ofthe unconditioned (elements) ,

(9) emptiness of the ultimate (element) ,

(10) emptiness of the eternal (element) ,

(1 1 ) emptiness of the unforsaken (element),

(12) emptiness of nature,

(13) emptiness of defining marks,

(14) emptiness of every power,

(15) emptiness of negation,

(16) emptiness of negation as own-nature.

All those kinds of emptiness should be briefly understood : 18. There is the emptiness of the enjoyer, [79] Emptiness of the enjoyed,

Emptiness of the body of the enjoyer and enjoyed, Emptiness of the basic thing,

Emptiness of that by which it

[i.e. the emptiness of enjoyer etc.] is perceived, Emptiness of the way in which it is perceived, and

Emptiness of that for which it is perceived. Here, the emptiness of the enjoyer means the emptiness of the internal senses etc., the emptiness of the enjoyed means the emptiness of the external elements, the emptiness of their bodies, namely the Sarirds which are the basis of both the enjoyer and the enjoyed, means the emptiness of the internal and the external elements. The basic thing means the universe which is the basis of the enjoyer, the enjoyed and their bodies. Its emptiness is called the emptiness of the great because of the vastness of the universe. The emptiness of the internal senses etc., is perceived by the knowledge of emptiness, whose emptiness is called the emptiness of emptiness. The emptiness of internal senses is perceived as the absolute object, whose emptiness is called the emptiness of the absolute object. The emptiness of that for which the Bodhisattva attains the emptiness of the internal senses etc., is the final kind of emptiness.

For what, indeed, is the emptiness of the internal senses etc. attained ?

[80] 19. For the attainment of the twofold prosperity, [namely], the conditioned as well as the unconditioned fortune,

For the everlasting benefit of the living beings, [ namely ], for the ultimate benefit of the living beings, And for not leaving the samsara,

[that is, otherwise], not seeing the emptiness of the eternal samsara, one., being depressed, would rather leave the world. For the non-cessation of fortune,

Even in the absolute state of nirvana there is something that one does not give up, the emptiness of which is called the emptiness of the unforsaken.

[ 81] 20. For the purity of the lineage, Lineage means nature, for it belongs to one’s ! own nature.

For attaining the defining marks,

[thatis], for attaining the marks that are characteristic of great men.

And, for the purity of the powers of enlightenment, Does the Bodhisattva attain the emptiness of internal senses etc.

[namely], for the purity of the powers such as strength, fearlessness, special endowments etc. Thus, indeed, the fact of the fourteen kinds of emptiness should be known. What other kinds of emptiness are still there ? 21. The negation of pudgala and dharmas [82] Is indeed one kind of emptiness there, The existence of that negation in it [i.e. in the enjoyer etc.]

Is another kind of emptiness.

The negation of pudgala and dharmas is one emptiness. Another kind “of emptiness is the existence of that negation in the above said enjoyer etc. These two kinds of emptiness are explained at the end in order to make the definition of the emptiness clear : in order to avoid the exaggeration of pudgala and dharmas the emptiness is explained, on the one hand, as the negation of pudgala and dharmas, and in order to avoid the underestimation of their negation the emptiness is explained, on the other hand, as having the negation of pudgala and dharmas ter its own-nature. This is how the classification of emptiness is to be understood. How is the reason [for such a classification] to be understood ?

22. If it were not ever defiled,

[84] Then all living beings would be ever liberated; If it were not ever purified,

Then all efforts for liberation would be futile. If the emptiness of elements would not be defiled by the accidental and secondary defilements, even when no remedy is applied, then, since there are no defilements whatsoever, all living beings would become liberated without any effort at all. Again, if it would not become purified, even when some remedy is applied, then the efforts towards liberation would prove fruitless.

However,

23. It is neither defiled nor undefiled, [85] Also, it is neither purified nor unpurified; How is it that it is neither defiled nor unpurified ? It is so by its very nature,

Because of the shining, nature of citta; How is it neither undefiled nor purified : Because of the accidental character of the defilements.

Thus, the above-mentioned classification of emptiness into defiled and purified is justified.

There, the summary-meaning of emptiness is to be understood under two heads : one, the definition [of emptiness), and the other, the establishment [of the same definition] . There, definition is again, twofold : positive and negative. The positive definition is likewise twofold : one, [the assertion that emptiness is] neither assertion nor negation; two, [the assertion that emptiness is] that which is free from being.different from thatness. By the establishment [of definition] is to be understood the establishment of synonyms of emptiness etc. There, by the fourfold introduction of the emptiness the following four definitions of it are intended: its own-definition, operative-definition, defilement-purity-definition and rationality-definition; these definitions help one respectively to get rid of uncertainly, fear, indolence and doubt.

Source

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