Chandrakirti

Candrakīrti (IAST: Candrakīrti; traditional Chinese: 月稱; pinyin: Yuèchēng; Japanese: Gesshō; Tibetan: ཟླ་བ་གྲགས་པ་, Wylie: zla ba grags pa, Lhasa dialect: [tàwa ʈʰàʔpa]; c. 600 – c. 650) was a Buddhist scholar of the Madhyamaka school and a noted commentator on the works of Nagarjuna (c. 150 – c. 250 CE) and those of his main disciple, Aryadeva, authoring two influential works, Prasannapadā and Madhyamakāvatāra.[1]

Very little is known about Chandrakirti's life. Tibetan sources state that he was born in Samanta, South India.[citation needed] and was a student of Kamalabuddhi. He is traditionally associated with Nalanda Mahavihara where he may have been a monk.[1]

Chandrakirti was the most famous member of what the Tibetans came to call the Uma Thelgyur (Wylie: dbu ma thal 'gyur) school, an approach to the interpretation of Madhyamaka philosophy typically back-translated into Sanskrit as Prāsaṅgika or rendered in English as the "Consequentialist" or "Dialecticist" school.[2]

In his writings Chandrakirti defended Buddhapālita against Bhāviveka, criticizing the latter's acceptance of autonomous syllogism. He also offered refutations of a number of earlier Buddhist views such as the Vijñānavāda or Yogācāra school.[3] He also attacked the views of the school of Dignāga for attempting to ground their epistemology on foundational propositions.[4]

Chandrakirti's works include the Prasannapadā—Sanskrit for "clear words"—a commentary on Nāgārjuna's Mūlamadhyamakakārikā and the Madhyamakāvatāra (his supplement to Nagarjuna's text) and its auto-commentary. The Madhyamakāvatāra is used as the main sourcebook by most of the Tibetan monastic colleges in their studies of śūnyatā "emptiness" and the philosophy of the Madhyamaka school.

The Tibetan translation of Charyapada provided the name of its compiler as Munidatta, that its Sanskrit commentary is Caryāgītikośavṛtti, and that its lotsawa "translator" was Chandrakirti. This is a later Chandrakirti, who assisted in Tibetan translation in the Later Transmission of Buddhism to Tibet.