BUDDHIST EPISTEMOLOGY AS APOLOGETICS
by VINCENT ELTSCHINGER
The present volume is a collection of four studies which, though originally published as independent essays, have been conceived as chapters of an or¬ganic book dedicated to the socio-historical context and the dogmatic foun¬dations of early Indian Buddhist epistemology. The volume was intended as—and remains—a general introduction to this religio-philosophical cur¬rent's apologetic dimensions, properly speaking—proofs of the possibility of rebirth, insight, compassion, liberation and omniscience, i.e., a demon¬stration of the rationality of the Buddhist salvational path. Parts of the ma¬terials presented in Chapter 1 (“Apocalypticism, Heresy and Philosophy”) were first presented on the occasion of the international conference “World View and Theory in Indian Philosophy” (Barcelona, Casa Asia, 26-30 April 2009), and then twice in Japan (Tokyo University, 30 September 2009; Ryukoku University, 27 November 2009); the original study was published under the same title in a volume edited by Piotr Balcerowicz (World View and Theory in Indian Philosophy. Delhi 2012: Manohar [War¬saw Indological Studies Series 5], pp. 27-84). Chapters 2 and 3 go back to two papers delivered at the XIVth World Sanskrit Conference (Kyoto Uni¬versity, 1-5 September 2009): Whereas “Buddhist Esoterism and Episte¬mology” was initially published in the proceedings of the Kyoto panel ed¬ited by Eli Franco (Periodization and Historiography of Indian Philosophy. Vienna 2013: De Nobili [Publications of the De Nobili Research Library 37], pp. 171-273), “Turning Hermeneutics into Apologetics” first appeared in the volume of proceedings edited by myself and Helmut Krasser (Scrip¬tural Authority, Reason, and Action. Vienna 2013: Austrian Academy of Sciences Press [Beiträge zur Kultur- und Geistesgeschichte Asiens 79], pp. 71-145). The research that resulted in Chapter 4 (“Nescience, Epistemol¬ogy and Soteriology”) was originally presented in the framework of the XVth Congress of the International Association of Buddhist Studies (Atlan¬ta, Emory University, 23-28 June 2008) and published in two parts in the Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies (vol. 32/1-2, 2009 , pp. 39-83, and vol. 33/1-2, 2010 , pp. 27-73). Except for “Nescience, Epistemology and Soteriology,” which retrieves its original unity and was added section 4.4.6 on the cintamayi prajna, the studies un¬
derwent no substantial modification. Besides unifying styles, spellings and bibliographical information as well as adding all relevant cross-references, I have updated what was necessary. Thus, Chapter 1 incorporates materials drawn from and references to Giovanni Verardi's recently published (2011) Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism in India. Chapter 2 has benefitted from Christian Wedemeyer's Making Sense of Tantric Buddhism (2013) and Eltschinger 2012. As for Chapter 3, it now takes into consideration Richard Nance's recent (2011) Speaking for Buddhas: Scriptural Commen¬tary in Indian Buddhism. The studies that served as a basis for Chapters 1, 2 and 4 were funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF, project P21050-G15: “Tradition und Wandel in der indischen buddhistischen Logik”). Part of the research work that led to Chapter 1 was also made possible by the Numata Foundation, to whose generous support I owe an extremely fruitful stay in Kyoto (Ryuko- ku University, September-December 2009). I am very grateful to these institutions as well as to Ernst Steinkellner, Helmut Krasser and Shoryu Katsura.
I wish to express my most sincere thanks to Diwakar Acharya, Piotr Balcerowicz, Johannes Bronkhorst, Danielle Feller, Peter Flügel, Erika Forte, Eli Franco, Gérard Fussman, Dominic Goodall, Harunaga Isaacson, Kyo Kano, Shoryu Katsura, Birgit Kellner, Deborah Klimburg-Salter, Helmut Krasser, Hiroshi Marui, Jan Nattier, Marion Rastelli, Isabelle Ratié, Alexander von Rospatt, Masamichi Sakai, Cristina Scherrer-Schaub, Peter Skilling, Ernst Steinkellner, François Voegeli, Toshihiko Watanabe, Yuko Yokochi, Chizuko Yoshimizu, and Kiyotaka Yoshimizu for their very pre¬cious help. I am also very grateful to Cynthia Peck-Kubaczek and Katha¬rine Apostle, who improved the English of the original papers and the introduction. My deepest gratitude goes to two exceptional scholars, Alexis Sanderson and Lambert Schmithausen, for their extremely careful reading and improvement of the studies that were to become Chapters 1 and 4. Last but not least, I would like to address my most heartfelt thanks to Karin Preisendanz and Ernst Steinkellner for encouraging me not to postpone any further this publication, a habilitation thesis submitted to the University of Vienna.
On Critical Examination and Apologetics
1.1. How seriously should we take Dharmakirti's Buddhist affiliation? Did the great sixth-century logician and epistemologist simply pay lip service to Buddhism as a doctrinal and salvational system, or was Buddhism an integral part of his intellectual outillage, one that shaped his ideological convictions and religio-philosophical agenda? There can be little doubt that during its first seven or eight decades (say between 1900 and 1980), the re¬ception of Dharmakirti's philosophy betrays a clear assent to the first hy- pothesis. According to the Russian neo-Kantian scholar Th. Stcherbatsky (1866-1942),
“Buddhist logic” was to be interpreted as an Indic Aufklärung the most prominent representatives of which—Dignaga, Dharmakirti, Dharmottara—had emancipated themselves from any scriptural, dogmatic and metaphysical commitment. While Vasubandhu was ancient India's Plato, Dignaga was its Aristotle, and Dharmakirti its Kant. Briefly put, the Buddhist epistemologists were transcendentalist “free thinkers” engaged in the critical assessment of the nature
and legitimate scope of human under¬standing. According to Stcherbatsky, “the system had apparently no con¬nection with Buddhism as a religion, i.e., as the teaching of a path towards salvation. It claims to be the natural and general logic of the human under- standing.” Stcherbatsky's forces were declining as E. Frauwallner (1898¬1974), who did not share his Russian colleague's philosophical presupposi¬tions and advocated a historical-philological approach to Indian philosophy, published some of the richest and most innovating studies ever dedi¬cated to Dharmakirti. But in spite of his entirely
different background, Frauwallner equally understood Buddhist logic and epistemology as an axiologically neutral philosophical system in which religious, dogmatic and soteriological issues played virtually no role. With Dharmakirti, something like a hellenic and even “Aryan” (sic) period of Indian philosophy found its culmination—and its conclusion. Since the early seventies analytic philoso¬phy has become the paragon of philosophical reflection. In spite of its overall aversion for the history of philosophy, the analytical approach has remained—be it in a purely ideal way—the dominant paradigm in the
historiography of Buddhist epistemology besides the more philologically ori¬ented “Viennese school” founded by Frauwallner. Unsurprisingly, analytically oriented scholarship—what M. Kapstein has termed the “problems and arguments approach,” the program of which partly overlaps with the Problem geschichte inherited from Frauwallner—has generally disregarded the texts as organic wholes, the socio-historical contexts and the dogmatic frameworks in favor of an unhistorical, comparative and at times formal approach to logical quantification, linguistics and ontological theory. No less than deeply ingrained convictions, however, these different types of scholarship also reflect most of their promoters' aspiration to see these In¬dian and Indo-Tibetan scholastic productions finally recognized, against
resistant Anglo-Saxon and continental European prejudices, as properly and genuinely philosophical. As a side effect of this lack of interest in religious issues, many of those interested in Buddhism as a soteriological sys¬tem (or in Madhyamaka) have come to consider Buddhist logic and epistemology a serious betrayal of Buddhism, as the following judgment by E. Conze testifies: “The importance, validity and usefulness of Buddhist logic is circumscribed by its social purpose, and the works of the logicians can therefore exhibit the holy doctrine only in a distinctly truncated form.”
1.2. Dharmakirtian scholarship's interest in the dogmatic and soteriological dimensions of Buddhist epistemology became stronger in the early eighties thanks to the pioneering work of E. Steinkellner, R. Hayes, T. Vetter, E. Franco and T. Tillemans. These scholars called attention to various topics such as Dharmakirti's Buddhology, its indebtedness to Dignaga, rebirth, apologetics, doctrinalism, and scriptural authority. Reading these innova¬tive contributions, however, one gets—or should I say “I get”?—the impres¬sion that their authors regarded the religious issues at stake as exhibiting the logicians' treatment of, and solution to, purely occasional and neatly circumscribed problems with little or no connection to the heart of the sys¬tem. In
other words, these pioneers remained very cautious not to interpret these and other issues as representing more than specific aspects—less open-minded scholars would say “peripheral aspects”—of an otherwise strictly philosophical enterprise aimed at uncovering the true nature and possibilities of human knowledge. And indeed, there can be no doubt that at the surface level at least these Buddhist intellectuals' overarching con¬cern was epistemology in the sense of a rational and polemical inquiry into the nature, the number and the operation of the means of valid cognition (pramana). But there is also very
little doubt that these intellectuals were Buddhist monks active in Buddhist educational and ritual centers as spe¬cialists of the “science of [justificative] reasons(/evidences)” (hetuvidya); that the early descriptions of the hetuvidya reflect its essential connection to, and function as, positive and negative apologetics on behalf of Bud¬dhism, a connection that could only gain in strength in a context of exacer¬bated religious rivalry; that at least since the sixth century CE Buddhism was the object of orthodox Brahmanical hostility and had to struggle, mainly against Saivism, for economic patronage and political support; that the Buddhist logicians understood their own intellectual enterprise as in¬strumental in putting Buddhists as well as non-Buddhists in an epistemic position to enter the Buddhist path; that their works provide systematically argued “rationalizations” and defenses
of key Buddhist dogmas such as the two “truths” (on perception, concept formation, language, and error—the apoha theory), momentariness, selflessness and nescience; that several the-oretical statements regarding the two pramanas (perception's direct en¬counter with the ultimately true features of reality; inference's corrective and “sapiential” functions) reflect a clear attempt to have them fit the needs of Buddhist soteriology; and finally that, of course, significant parts of these works are dedicated to defend, against the critiques of allodox schools such as materialism and Mimamsa, the four nobles' truths, the doctrine of skandhas, or the Buddhist position on rebirth, insight, compassion, the path, salvation, buddhahood, omniscience and the like. To sum up, I be¬lieve that the socio-historical matrix (religious pluralism, Brahmanical hos¬tility, competition for patronage), the identity of the opponents (rival salvational systems with strong apologetical concerns expressing them¬selves through linguistic and epistemological theory), the doctrinal founda¬tions and the issues at stake call for a description of Buddhist epistemology as an apologetical enterprise—whence the title of the present book, “Buddhist Epistemology as Apologetics.”
1.3. By heuristically resorting to the concept of “apologetic(s),” my aim is to provide a more accurate and flexible description of the ways in which the religious dimensions of Dharmakirti's philosophy can be meaningfully taken into historical and doctrinal account. My idea is not, and has never been, to deny Dignaga, Dharmakirti and their successors the quality of philosophers—after all the greatest among the Christian apologists such as Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Augustine, Anselm of Canterbury, Abelard or Thomas Aquinas were no insignificant philosophers. As I understand them, those who wrote so extensively on pramanas were Buddhist monas¬tics (rarely lay people) who engaged in a twofold defense of Buddhism as a religion, attacking its rivals'
systems—this is positive apologetics—and neutralizing their real or potential objections—this is negative apologetics. But this is also to say that even regarding allegedly non-confessional issues such as (ontology,) language, gnoseology and epistemology, the directions taken by these scholiasts' philosophical answers were shaped by their Bud¬dhist education and persuasion—by their Buddhist intellectual reflexes, their “habitus” so to say—, and that they deliberately organized these an¬swers so as to avoid any possible contradiction with received doctrine and scripture (agamavirodha, which included
contradiction with Vasubandhu's AKBh). In other words, I believe that our authors knew what and where the truth was before engaging in philosophical analysis, and that to them this scripturally and dogmatically given truth needed to be defended: “Under the direction of faith, the apologist constructs arguments that are valid be-fore natural reason.” What Dharmakirti and his followers did was to con¬struct and to defend, on the basis of a logical organon inherited—and up- dated—from Dignaga and the hetuvidya/vada tradition, a system of the world, the mind, cognition and salvation that conformed in every single point to the doctrinal exigencies of (a minimal and broadly consensual ver¬sion) of Buddhism. I fail to see how and why such a picture could
threaten the claim that these intellectuals were genuine philosophers. For in my opinion, the apologists of late Antiquity or the twelfth- to fourteenth-cen¬tury scholastic intellectuals, all of whom structured their account of Chris¬tianity so as to defend it in contexts of real or virtual religious pluralism and competition against pagans, Gnostics, Jews, Muslims or Christian her-etics, are the most likely counterparts of the Buddhist epistemologists. This is not only to say that these intellectual traditions resemble each other—a fairly trivial observation that can only result in naive and superficial comparatism—, but also that the institutional and socio-historical contexts which at least partly account for them are roughly similar.
2.1. As the pious hagiographies have it, the Buddha did not obtain awak¬ening immediately after taking up homeless life. Abandoning the Vedic anachorites he had first joined, Gautama became the disciple of the then famous teacher Arada (or: Arada, Pali Alara) Kalama, whose salvational method relied on the attainment of an “incorporeal realm” (arupya) called the “stage of nothingness” (akincanyayatana). The future Buddha was soon to master Arada's meditation techniques and, though offered co-responsi- bility over the latter's religious congregation, left him for the concurrent teacher Udraka (or: Udraka, Pali Uddaka) Ramaputra, another representa¬tive of “mainstream meditation” who regarded the attainment of the stage of neither-ideation-nor-non-ideation (naivasanjnanasanjnayatana) as bringing about salvation. Sakyamuni was equally disappointed and reached the bank of the Nairanjana River in order to give himself up to the most severe forms of asceticism—which in turn proved to be no less unsat¬isfactory methods of salvation.
Most canonical versions of the events end with a recension-specific, generally stereotyped formula pointing to the unsatisfactory character of the practices experienced by the Buddha. Here is the Theravada formula concerning Alara Kalama: “But it occurred to me: ‘This Dhamma does not lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana, but only to reappearance in the stage of nothingness.' Not being satisfied with that Dhamma, disappointed with it, I left.” Its Sarvastivada counterpart runs as follows in the LV: “The
bodhisattva replied [as follows to Udraka Ramaputra]: ‘This path, Sire, does not lead to bliss, to detachment, to cessation, to appeasement, to super-knowledge, to awakening, to [being] a [true] sramana and a [true] brahmana, to cessation.' And thus, O monks, the bodhisattva [...] [said to himself] ‘Enough,' and departed[, saying] ‘Enough of [all] this for me.'” The Mulasarvastivada Vinaya's formula is much shorter: “Then the [fol¬lowing] occurred to the bodhisattva: ‘This path is not conducive to knowledge, is not conducive to vision, is not conducive to the supreme [and] perfect awakening.” Equally short is the Mahasanghika/Lokottara- vada version: “But, O monks, the following occurred to me: ‘Arada's doc¬trine does not lead him who practices it to
the real exhaustion of suffering.'” As we can see, neither do the canonical versions of the events shed any theoretical light on the practices involved nor do the various dissatisfaction formulas provide any argument against the teachings ipso facto abandoned by Gautama. In the mind of the Buddha and/or the compilers of the various canonical recensions, the failure of these practices to bring about detachment (viraga, etc.), cessation (upasama, nirodha, nirvana, duhkhaksaya, etc.), knowledge (jnana, abhijna, etc.), intuition (darsana) and awakening (sambodha, sambodhi) is strong enough an argument to disqualify them as proper soterial paths (marga).
Consider now Asvaghosa's brief outline of the same biographical se¬quence in the SNa: “Then quitting the majestic and secure city of Kapila- vastu, whose population was devoted to him and which was thronged with masses of horses, elephants and chariots, he started resolutely for the forest to practise austerities. But finding that the sages were practising austerities according to varying scriptures and under varying rules and were still made wretched by desire for sensory objects, he concluded that there was no certainty in asceticism and turned away. Then, with his mind fixed on the ultimate truth, he sat
at the feet of Arada who preached emancipation and of Udraka who held the doctrine of quietude, but left them, deciding in his discrimination of paths that theirs were not the right paths. After consider¬ing which of the various sacred traditions in the world was the highest, and failing to obtain exact knowledge from others, he entered after all on austerities of extreme difficulty. Then seeing this to be a false path, he gave up that extended course of
austerity too and, realizing that the sphere of trance was the highest, he ate choice food to prepare his mind for the understanding of immortality.” Asvaghosa's narrative displays innovating features. The future Buddha is depicted as a path expert (margakovida) in search of certainty (niscaya) and looking for decisive conclusions as to the (un)reliability of the respective salvational methods. No less importantly, Sakyamuni critically examines (viCAR) “which of the various sacred traditions in the world [is] the highest.” In other words, entertaining soteri- ological expectations in a context of religio-philosophical pluralism makes a critical appraisal of the competing salvational methods necessary: There can be neither choice nor success in
soteriological matters without a thorough prior evaluation of the different systems (dharma) at hand. Asva¬ghosa lays even more emphasis on critical examination (pariksa, vicara) in his BC. Consider, e.g., the monk poet's treatment of Gautama's encounter with Vedic asceticism in BC 7. Here, the future Buddha's dissatisfaction (na santutosa BC 7.19) with the religious aims and methods of his fellow forest dwellers is based on a detailed critical examination (pariksamana BC 7.34) and results in a thoroughly argued (bahuyuktiyukta BC 7.32) critique of tapas. The BC's treatment of Gautama's rejection of Arada's dharma (which Asvaghosa fancies, most certainly due to the great success of San- khya in his time, to be a kind of proto-Sankhya doctrinally
close to that of the CS ) provides a paradigmatic instance of pariksa—in spite of the fact that the expression itself does not occur in this context. After spelling out Arada's theoretical commitments and salvational method (a substantialist and abridged version of the Buddhist dhyanas and samapattis) in great detail, Asvaghosa presents the future Buddha's very systematic arguments against his early teacher's system. The passage ends with the following statement: “Thus he was not satisfied on learning the doctrine of Arada, and, discerning that it was incomplete, he turned away from there.” As we can see, Asvaghosa 1. makes a Sankhya philosopher out of the philosophi¬cally uncommitted canonical Arada, 2. has the bodhisattva himself refute the latter's
doctrine 3. on the basis of philosophical arguments instead of practical experimentation. It is because first- to second-century Sankhya philosophy—an agama or sastra (“treatise”) among several others in competition—fails to stand critical examination that it does not qualify as a soteriologically relevant system, that it is a non-path (amarga SNa 3.3) and is accordingly to be rejected as unsatisfactory. Though much shorter, Asvaghosa's depiction of
Gautama's dissatisfaction with Udraka's teach¬ings displays very similar features and explicitly alludes to vicara: “But, having grasped [[[Arada]]]'s speech and [thoroughly] examined it, the [bodhi¬sattva] replied [as follows].” As for Sakyamuni's abandonment of severe asceticism, it conforms to a similar pattern: the sage is shown reflecting upon (anuCINT BC 12.102) the value of austerities, providing a row of reasoned arguments against them, and finally concluding (niscaya BC 12.107) that the salvational means can only be based on one's intake of food (aharamulo 'yam upaya iti BC 12.107). This provides the rational jus-tification for the bodhisattva uttering the now well-known formula: “This is not the way of life for passionlessness, for awakening, for liberation.”
Asvaghosa's representation of the (future) Buddha as subordinating rational choice to a critical examination of the competing salvational sys¬tems can be seen at work on several other occasions in the BC —and
points to Asvaghosa as one of the most significant early Buddhist philoso¬phers, as was already suggested by Yijing. This picture, however, is also part of the poet's wider concern with the (future) Buddha as challenging wrong systems and converting their representatives. This can be seen, e.g., in the Buddha's dialogue with the Sankhya-oriented “philosopher” (pariksaka BC 26.7) Subhadra who, freshly converted by the Buddha, claims that “previously he had held birth to be by nature, [and] now he saw that there was no salvation in that [[[doctrine]]],” or that “previously he had held with respect to that which is manifested (vyakta) that the self is other than the body and is not subject to change[, and that] now that he had listened to the sage's words he knew the world to be without self and not to be the effect of self.” Asvaghosa's representation of the bodhisattva's entire career is encapsulated in BC 25.9, according to which the Buddha, “after refuting the allodox erroneous paths, proceeded on such a path that
he [could] teach the right path (*sanmdrga?):” In short, “in Kasi he turned the wheel of the Law and by being [so] judicious brought content to the world; he caused those who were to be converted to practise the way of the Law, and brought bliss to us for our good. Others he caused to see the real truth that they had not yet seen, and he united the followers of the Law with the virtues. By refuting the other systems and by argument he caused men to understand the meaning which is hard to grasp. By teaching everything to be impermanent and without self and by denying the presence of the slightest happiness in the spheres of existence, he raised aloft the banner of his fame and overturned the lofty pillars of pride.” Proclaiming the final truth of impermanence, selflessness and painfulness does not go without critically examining and overcoming (*niGRAH?) competing religio-phi- losophical claims.
2.2. The Savitarkasavicdrddibhumi of the YBh (itself a section of the YBhS) provides us, in its Paravdda (“allodoxy”) section, with a fascinat¬ing outline of early Buddhist philosophy in concreto and another early tes¬timony of the use of pariksa in a scholastic context. This section is remark¬able in several respects. First, contrary to the BJSu and the SPhSu, to which it is confessedly indebted, it does not limit itself to listing and condemn¬ing sixteen false views qua false views in a doxographical manner, but pro¬vides sophisticated arguments against each of them. Second, contrary to the
overwhelming majority of prior and contemporary Buddhist polemical works, which focus on coreligionists' views (the pudgala, the existence of the three times, etc.) in an Abhidharma-like manner (notably by resorting to the yukti-agama methodology), this section targets, by means of rea- son(ing) (yukti) alone, the most prominent representatives of third- to fourth-century Indian philosophy: early Sankhya (satkaryavada), (Vaisesi- ka?) atomism, Brahmanism (self, creator God, ritual violence, etc.), the Buddhist Sarvastivada, Jainism as well as several allodox views already mentioned in the BJSu (eternalism, annihilationism, etc.) and the SPhSu (Jainism, Buddhist as well as non-Buddhist “nihilism,” etc.). Third, the Paravada section addresses non-Buddhist
practices and institutions (ritual, purity, caste classes, etc.) in addition to purely theoretical tenets, and thus it echoes Asvaghosa's way of submitting both philosophical doctrines (early Sankhya, self, creator God, etc.) and religious practices (asceticism, Vedic ritual) to sustained critical examination. Here are the sixteen allodoxies: “These allodoxies [amount to] sixteen, i.e.: (1) the doctrine [according to which] the effect [pre]exists in [its] cause, (2) the doctrine of manifestation, (3) the doctrine [according to which] the past and the future exist as [real] substances, (4) the doctrine of the self, (5) the doctrine of eternal[ity], (6) the doctrine [according to which present suffering] has past deeds as its [sole] cause, (7) the doctrine [ac¬cording to which entities] such as God are agents, (8) the doctrine [accord¬ing to which ritual] violence is a [[[religious]]] duty(/is righteous), (9) the doctrine of finite[ness]-and-infinite[ness], (10) the doctrine of “eel-wrig¬gling,” (11) the doctrine [according to which things are] without a cause, (12) the
doctrine of annihilation, (13) the doctrine of the [[[universal]]] deni¬ers, (14) the doctrine [according to which the Brahmins are] the best [[[caste]] class], (15) the doctrine of purification, and (16) the doctrine of festivals and auspicious things.” The aim of the Paravada section of the YBh is to criticize these sixteen allodoxies as instances of incorrect reflection (ayoni- somanaskara) or as false views originating from nescience. These allo- doxies are initiated and/or defended by (groups of) ascetics and Brahmins (and twice at least by coreligionists) who are presented as reasoners (tar- kika) and investigators (mimamsaka).43 They are attempting, according to the BoBh, to make their points on the basis of scripture and reason(ing),
the more striking that, with the exception of vedapramanya, all of Dharmakirti’s “signs” already occur in the Paravada section of the YBh: kasyacit kartrvadah (note the similarity in wording) = isvaradikartrvadah and atmavadah (see Eltschinger forthcom¬ing c, §§2.2.4 and 2.2.7; on the two traditional interpretations of Dharmakirti’s kasyacit kartrvadah, see Eltschinger/Krasser/Taber 2012: 77, n. 171), snane dharmeccha ~ su- ddhivadah (see Eltschinger forthcoming c, §2.2.15), jativadavalepa ~ agravadah (see Eltschinger forthcoming c, §2.2.14), santaparambhah papahanaya ~ purvakrtahetuva- dah (see Eltschinger forthcoming c, §2.2.6).
43 YBh 119,7-9 (YBhMS 34a2-3 [nearly illegible], YBhT D60b7-61a1/P71b3-4): yuktih katama / yathapi tat sa^ eva sramano va brahmano va tarkiko bhavati mimamsakas tarkaparyapannayam bhumau sthitah svayampratibhanikyam parthagjanikyam mima- msanucaritayam / tasyaivam bhavati /. ^yathapi tat sa YBhMS (cf. also Wezler 1985: 5) yatha sa eva YBh (YBhT simply reads: 'di ltar [*yatha]). “What does reason(ing) consist of? For instance [here in the world, (a certain/)]this ascetic or (a certain/)this Brahmin is a reasoner, an investigator who remains on a level that belongs to ratiocina¬tion, which is based on one’s own wit, [which is] ordinary and pervaded with [[[philosophical]]] investigation. The following occurs to him.” The origin of this formula can be sought in the BJSu (DN I.16, 21, 23, 29: idha bhikkhave ekacco samano va brah¬mano va takki hoti vimansi. so takkapariyahatam vimansanucaritam sayampatibhanam
evam aha [...]. “In this case, brethren, some recluse or Brahman is addicted to logic and reasoning. He gives utterance to the following conclusion of his own, beaten out by his argumentations and based on his own sophistry [...].” Translation Rhys Davids 1899: 28-29). The BoBh provides the duly expanded formula, which characterizes the intellectual inclinations and practices of those, most certainly Buddhists but also non¬Buddhists, who construe a purely rationally based level of reality. BoBhD 25,15- 19/BoBhW 37,22-38,1: yuktiprasiddham tattvam katamat / satam yuktarthapanditanam vicaksananam tarkikanam mimamsakanam tarkaparyapannayam bhumau sthitanam svayampratibhanikyam parthagjanikyam mimamsanucaritayam pratyaksam anumanam aptagamam pramanam nisritya suvicitaniscitajnanagocaro jneyam vastupapattisadha- nayuktya prasadhitam vyavasthapitam idam ucyate yuktiprasiddham tattvam /. “What does reality
established by means of reason(ing) consist in? [It is the level of reality that belongs] to [those] wise [persons] who are experts in reasoned matters, sagacious, rea¬soners [and] investigators [who] remain on a level that belongs to ratiocination, which is based on one’s own wit, ordinary and pervaded with [[[philosophical]]] investigation; [this kind of reality consists in] something cognizable that is the object of a well-examined and ascertained cognition, [something] that is demonstrated and determined by [that type of] reason(ing) which proves by means of arguments on the basis of a means of valid cognition, [viz.] perception(/the perceptible), inference [and] trustworthy scripture. This is what [we] call ‘reality established by means of
reason(ing).’” that is, by depending on the (three) means of valid cognition or pramanas (a term that, to the best of my knowledge, never occurs in this technical sense in the entire Paravada section). This section's critical stance and me¬thodology are best reflected in its concluding statement: “Thus [it appears that] these sixteen allodoxies are entirely unreasonable once they are eva¬luated by means of a(/the) twofold (dvayabhinirhara) [type of] reason(ing) consisting in a [critical] examination.” The author(s) and/or compiler(s) of the Paravada section thus regarded it and its/their polemical endeavor as a pariksa
2.3. The Sanskrit term pariksa provides an important element in the YBhS's (somewhat cryptic) definition of the hetuvidya, the “science of [justificative] reasons(/evidences).” The fact is of primary importance granting the impact of the so-called Hetuvidya section of the YBhS (HV) on later Buddhist philosophers, especially those who are labeled “episte- mologists.” The HV testifies to an early connection between critical examination as a philosophical and (negative) apologetical concern and the hetuvidya as a normative discourse about dialectics and logico-epistemo- logical theory. Here is
the HV definition of the hetuvidya: “What does the science of [justificative] reasons(/evidences) consist of? It is something that exists for the sake of a [critical] examination. But what does this [some¬thing], i.e., dialectics, consist of?” Whereas the text remains entirely silent on the definition and the scope of the pariksa, it explains “something” (vastu) as “dialectics” (vada) and thus suggests the latter to be aimed at, and instrumental in, critical examination. In other words, whatever critical examination may consist of and be concerned with, it has hetuvidya ~ vada for its means. Now according to
the HV (1,2-4), the hetuvidya ~ vada consists of all the eristic-dialectical items subsumed under the following seven headings: speech (vada, HV 1,5-4,1), target group of a debate (vadadhikarana, HV 4,2-5), basis of a debate (vadadhisthana, HV 4,6¬17,1), ornament of a debate (vadalankara, HV 17,2-20,16), defeat in a debate (vadanigraha, HV 20,17-25,8), getting out of a debate (vada- nihsarana, HV 25,9-27,7), and the properties held to be variously useful in a debate (vade bahukara dharmah, HV 27,8-16). This is tantamount to claiming that the logical and epistemological items instantiating the category “basis of a debate,” and especially its subdivision “proof” (sadha- na), i.e., “the thesis, the reason, the example, similarity, dissimilarity, perception(/the
perceptible), inference, and authoritative scripture,” are regarded as the bases or instruments of critical examination. As we can see, those items that were to become key-components of logical theory (prati- jna, hetu, udaharana) and those that would come to be known as the (four, three or two) “means of valid cognition” (pramana) now play a signifi¬cant role in the pariksa. The pramanas, in particular, are responsible for providing material evidence in favour of a thesis concerning the point to be proven, as the HV makes very clear: “What does the reason(/evidence) consist of? It is the justification
that, based on an example and drawn from similarity and dissimilarity, or perception, or inference, or scripture, is aimed at establishing the point [at stake] in the thesis.” Although the HV's understanding of the nature, the purpose and the target(s) of the pariksa remains unclear (I would be very reluctant to interpret them in the light of the Paravada section in spite of their belonging to the same corpus), one thing is certain: The HV provides us with the earliest known Buddhist instance of a connection between pariksa, hetuvidya and the pramanas.
2.4. At this point, let us pause for a while and attempt a provisional defini¬tion of pariksa in the early Indian Buddhist context. A critical examination consists in the evaluation, by means of reason(ing) (identified or not to the pramanas) and/or scripture (provided the opponent belongs to the same confessional denomination ), of an opponents' theoretical and/or practical tenets in order to assess their rationality and, further, the soteriological rel¬evance of the system as a whole (note that a pariksa does not necessarily entail, and in actual fact rarely entails, a systematic exposition of the examinator's own tenets [svamata]). As the so-called dialectical tradition developed and underwent its “epistemological turn” in the
hands of Dignaga, critical examination remained true to its nature, purpose and tar¬gets, but its association with the theory and practice of pramanas grew ever more intimate—so much so that both became nearly indistinguishable. As we shall see in Chapter 2, the epistemological turn of the hetuvidya coin¬cided with a shift in the polemical targets and audience of the Buddhist di¬alecticians, a shift that is mirrored in the titles of several works
authored by Dignaga, viz. the Nyayapariksa (“[Critical] examination of the Nyaya [sys¬tem]”), Vaisesikapanksa (“[Critical] examination of the Vaisesika [sys¬tem]”), and the SdhkhyaparTksd (“[Critical] examination of the Sankhya [system]”), which may well have consisted in monographs targeting, on the likely model of works such as Vasubandhu's Paramarthasaptatika, the (epistemo)logical theories (and religio-philosophical doctrines?) of these non-Buddhist schools.
2.5. There is at least one hint to the fact that Dignaga's philosophy amounted to a pariksa in the mind of Dharmakirti. In this oft-quoted pas¬sage, Dharmakirti outlines, allegedly in the footsteps of Dignaga, his posi¬tion concerning the appraisal of scriptural authority (agamapramanya): “The person [who wishes to engage in religious practice] cannot live with¬out resorting to scriptural authority[, and this for two reasons: first,] be¬cause [it is only in scripture that this person] learns the great benefits and evils [that are to be expected from] engaging in and refraining from certain
[actions/intentions] whose results [remain entirely] imperceptible [to him/her; and second,] because [this person] does not see [anything] contra¬dictory to the existence of these [desirable or undesirable results]. Thus if [this person] is [necessarily] to act [on a scriptural basis], it is better that (s)he act in this way [i.e., after evaluating scripture, and] this is the reason why [[[Dignaga]] recommends that scriptural] authority [be decided] through [critical] examination [...] The [treatise]'s reliability consists in the fact that neither perception nor the two kinds of inferences invalidates the empirical or transempirical things [that are] their [respective] objects. [A treatise's] not being invalidated by perception consists [first] in the fact
that the things it holds to be perceptible are indeed such [i.e., perceptible], as [the five skandhas, i.e., colours] such as blue, [affective sensations such as] pleasure and pain, [[[ideation]] consisting in one's] grasping the characteristics [of things, conditioning factors] such as desire, and cognitions[, which are all perceived by sensory perception and self-awareness. Second, a treatise's not being invalidated by perception consists] in the fact that the [things] it does not hold to be such [i.e., perceptible,] are [indeed] imperceptible, as [pseudo-constituents] such as pleasure, which [the Sañkhya
erroneously takes to] combine in the form of sounds, etc., and [categories] such as sub¬stances, motions, universals and connections[, which the Vaisesika errone¬ously takes to be perceptible]. Similarly, [a treatise's not being invalidated by inference] consists [first] in the fact that the [things] it holds to be the objects of an inference that does not depend on scripture are really such [i.e., inferable], as the four nobles' truths, [and second] in the fact that the [things it holds to be] non-inferable are really such [i.e., noninferable], like the self, [[[God]],] etc. [And this type of invalidation is] also
[relevant] con¬cerning an inference that depends on scripture[, which consists in identify¬ing internal contradictions within a treatise]: For example, once it is admit¬ted that demerit has the nature of [[[defilements]]] such as desire and the [cor¬poreal and verbal acts] that originate from them, one does not prescribe [things] such as ablutions and fire oblation in order to remove it [i.e., de-