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Bhāvaviveka (T. legs ldan 'byed ལེགས་ལྡན་འབྱེད་; C. quinbian 清辯) (c.500-570), a.k.a. Bhāviveka (T. snang bral) or Bhavya (T. skal ldan), was an influential Indian master of the Sanskrit Madhyamaka school.[1] In Tibet, he was identified as a proponent of the Svatantrika-Madhyamika school.[1]

His major works include: The Lamp of Wisdom (Prajñāpradīpa) and The Heart of the Middle Way (Madhyamakahṛdaya).

The Prajñāpradīpa is a commentary on Nāgārjuna’s Mūlamadhyamakakārikā.[1]

...this work has an extensive subcommentary by Avalokitavrata. Although important in its own right as one of the major commentaries on the central text of the Madhyamaka school, the work is most often mentioned for its criticism of the commentary of Buddhapālita on the first chapter of Nāgārjuna’s text, where Bhāvaviveka argues that it is insufficient for the Madhyamaka only to state the absurd consequences (prasaṅga) that follow from the position of the opponent.[1]

Regarding the Madhyamakahṛdaya, the Princeton Dictionary states:

The other major work of Bhāvaviveka is his Madhyamakahṛdaya, written in verse, and its prose autocommentary, the Tarkajvālā. The Madhyamakahṛdaya is preserved in both Sanskrit and Tibetan, the Tarkajvālā only in Tibetan. It is a work of eleven chapters, the first three and the last two of which set forth the main points in Bhāvaviveka’s view of the nature of reality and the Buddhist path, dealing with such topics as bodhicitta, the knowledge of reality (tattvajñāna), and omniscience (sarvajñātā). The intervening chapters set forth the positions (and Bhāvaviveka’s refutations) of various Buddhist and non-Buddhist schools, including the śrāvaka, Yogācāra, Sāṃkhya, Vaiśeṣika, Vedānta, and Mīmāṃsā. These chapters (along with Śāntarakṣita’s Tattvasaṃgraha) are an invaluable source of insight into the relations between Madhyamaka and other contemporary Indian philosophical schools, both Buddhist and non-Buddhist.[1]

Other works attributed to Bhāvaviveka include:

  • Summary of the Meaning of the Middle Way (Madhyamakārthasaṃgraha) - outlines of the basic topics of the Madhyamaka school
  • Jewel in Hand Treatise (Skt. Karatalaratna; C. zhangzhen lun) - extant only in Chinese translation


Further reading

  • Tsadra commons icon.jpg Bhāvaviveka, Tsadra Commons
  • Sep-man-red.png Richard Hayes (2019), "Madhyamaka: Bhavaviveka" , Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  • Malcolm David Eckel, Bhāviveka and His Buddhist Opponents (2008), Harvard University Press
  • David Seyfort Ruegg, The Literature of the Madhyamaka School of Philosophy in India, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1981
  • David Seyfort Ruegg, 'On the Authorship of Some Works Ascribed to Bhā(va)viveka/Bhavya' in The Buddhist Philosophy of the Middle, Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2010
  • Lobsang N. Tsonawa, Indian Buddhist Pandits from The Jewel Garland of Buddhist History, Dharamsala: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, 1985.