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Bhāviveka Converts a Nonbeliever to Buddhism, 18th-century painting

Bhāvaviveka (T. legs ldan 'byed ལེགས་ལྡན་འབྱེད་; C. quinbian), aka Bhāviveka (T. snang bral སྣང་བྲལ་) or Bhavya (T. skal ldan སྐལ་ལྡན་) (c.500-570), was an influential sixth century master of the Sanskrit Madhyamaka tradition. In Tibet, he was identified as a proponent of the Svatantrika-Madhyamika school.

He was critical of Buddhapalita’s interpretation of Nagarjuna’s classic work Mulamadhyamaka-karika, because he believed Buddhapalita should have put forward independent logical arguments, rather than simply pointing out the flaws in others’ positions. The great master Chandrakirti later defended Buddhapalita’s approach and sought to refute Bhavaviveka.



Trying to reach the great mansion
Of the authentic nature of reality
Without the steps of the authentic relative
Is not an approach the wise should take.

Bhāvaviveka, Heart of the Middle Way, III, 12

Further Reading

  • 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.
  • Malcolm David Eckel, Bhāviveka and His Buddhist Opponents (2008), Harvard University Press
  • "Baviveka" chapter in "Madhyamaka", Richard Hayes (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: 2019)


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