Two groups of texts are attributed to him.
The Collection of Praises concerns the Third Turning of the Wheel of Dharma)].
In those days, there was a terrible famine in the land that grievously affected the monks, for they were supported only by the surrounding community's generosity. Nagarjuna is said to have gone to a distant planet and returned with a Philosopher's Stone that could turn base metals into gold.
- "Whoever is born has to die; whoever are together have to separate; whatever is saved has to be used; whatever is created is impermanent. So do not be upset over these laws of nature."
He warned against wrong interpretations, saying:
(They were powerless to do him any physical harm.)
- Nagarjuna's head that was severed by a blade of kusha grass is kept in this walled-enclosure, guarded by the tiger on its door, that is a part of the Swayambhu complex.
Nagarjun, [[[Wikipedia:ancient|ancient]] case suffixes are dropped in Hindi and other contemporary languages) as he is called in India and Nepal, is believed by Nepalis to have retired to Nagarjun Mountain near Katmandu.
There was also an alchemist by that name who may also have become identified with the great teacher Nagarjuna. Therefore there is wide disagreement as to how long Nagarjuna lived, with estimates as high as 300 years.
Andrew Tuck, in an inquiry into the philosophy of scholarship, charts three phases in the sequence of views of Western-trained scholars concerning interpretation of Nagarjuna's Treatise on the Middle Way:
- "A classic is a classic because it engenders multiple meanings.
The most lasting truths are found in the least reductive configurations of the largest possible number of conflicting interpretations. In other words, the most useful interpretation may well be one that takes into account as many previous interpretations as possible and attempts to disclose the ways in which these earlier readings made sense, both to the interpretative scholar and to his or her readers . . . .
- Every reading of a text--including, of course, the most carefully contextualized and historicized readings--will, in some ways, be unavoidably determined by some set of prejudgments. The choice is, therefore, not between good readings, undetermined by irrelevant considerations, and bad readings, rendered inaccurate by interpretive prejudice. The choice between one reading and an even better reading is a difference in degree and not in kind.
- Within any set of rules for what counts as a desirable interpretation, choices between more and less preferable readings of texts can and will be made.
And a study such as this suggests that our conventionally agreed-on rules of interpretation--the rules that tell us what is relevant, and what sorts of judgments are harmfully prejudiced--are anything but constant.
Our preferences in regard to what constitutes a good interpretation are just as determined as our readings themselves... .
Nagarjuna's celebrated warnings about the perils of wrongly understanding sunyata [... ] or holding this non-position as if it constituted a philosophical view in itself ("Those for whom sunyata is itself a theory, I call incurable." ch. 13, v. 8) thus become doubly important in the new Western climate of skepticism about philosophical theorizing.
- Nagarjuna ... did not intend to substitute his theory for those of his opponents. His only intention...was to cure others of the philosophical illness ... . Nagarjuna was convinced, as a Buddhist, that the salvation of all living beings was at issue ... .
- This study offers neither an indictment of the comparative enterprise nor a suggestion that any new interpretive perspective . . . will offer anything like a 'final and infallible,' or even a wholly satisfying, interpretation.
Kumarajiva’s (AD 344) Life of Bodhisattva Nagarjuna says much about this young scholar. Kumarajiva went to China and translated many Sanskrit works into Chinese. These Chinese translations too relate to the lives of (Ashwaghosh and Nagarjuna.
However, in AD 102, Nagarjuna reigned supreme. We have references to the effect that the learned Vasumitra came to Pataliputra, all the way from Purushpur (Peshawar), to pay homage to that great philosopher.
During the time of Nagarjuna, Buddhism had seen many changes and Nagarjuna did not entirely agree with the Buddhist philosophy. He founded ‘Shunyavada’, the cult of nothingness. He had not entirely forsaken the Vedic teachings, and his ‘Shunyavada’ shares many similarities with Kashmir Shaivism. He is also the founder of the Madhyamik School of Buddhism. Two of his works are well-known:
His work, Suhrilekha (letters to the King), is addressed to the Satavahana king, Yashshri (AD 173-230). He also studied the Mahayana creed in great detail and later propagated it in north India. His views of Hindu and Buddhist philosophy on existentialism have comparable perspectives to the modern views of Heideggar and Sartre.
We still do not know how these processes impart special qualities to known chemical compounds.
Nagarjuna had a command over iron and mercury. The treatise on iron (Lauha Shastra) existed in ancient times and Dhanvantari and Agnivesh refer to it. Kashyap and Dhanvantari experimented on the transformation of iron into gold but were unsuccessful. Patanjali's also refers to a Lauha Shastra, yet it is undeniable that the Lauha Shastra of Nagarjuna is excellent.
Nagarjuna was the first to use mercury and Kharpar (antimony?) as medicine, making them insoluble (agnisah). He found five types of mercury : The examples red and grey (slake) were good; yellow, white or multi colored (peacock color) had bad qualities and needed at least 18 treatments (sanskar) before they could be used. Regarding mercury, quicksilver, a vast amount of literature (post-Nagarjuna) is available. The Siddha sect (neither Buddhist nor Vedic) held that parad is Shiva, Mica is Parvati, gandhak is the raja of Parvati, and many fanciful theories were formulated. Mercury becomes solid and a Shiva linga can be made out of it. They worshipped a parad Shiva linga, called it Raseshwar, and started Raseshwarvad.
Buddhism had sects like Vajrayana (vajra is iron), Lingayana, or Sahajayana, and Mantrayana. They believed that the knowledge of Mantra and Tantra must be kept a secret, but Gorakhnath discussed them and his chief disciple believed this secrecy was merely for show.
Vagbhatta lists the names of 27 Rasa Siddha Rasacharyas and Nagarjuna is one of them. Bharvi, the great poet, includes him in the quartet of four great scholars, the other three being Aryadeva, Ashwaghosha, and Kumar Labdh. He also forms part of the list of 84 Siddhas of Vajrayan.
The Arabic word alchemist, the Latin word chemist, and modern chemistry are gifts of Nagarjuna. All these alchemists were in search of the elixir of life (and still are), and of a prescription capable of transforming iron or base metals into gold.
Although he was a Buddhist scholar of which Pali was the principal language, Nagarjuna wrote in Sanskrit, a language which was being discarded at that time. Sanskrit scholars too owe a debt of gratitude to Nagarjuna.
The Buddha in one of his discourses said one who serves a patient serves him. Nagarjuna followed this tenet, inscribing his prescriptions on stone slabs in Patna so that they were available to all. Nagarjuna’s preaching of religion was not orthodox, and was acceptable to all in the perspective of the land, time, and people, and that is why he has been called the "Bodhi tree".
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