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Catuḥpratisaraṇasūtra - a sutra of the Sanskrit tradition that outlines the four reliances:[1]

  1. Rely on the Dharma, not on the teacher
  2. Rely on the meaning, not the letter
  3. Rely on the definitive meaning (nitartha), not on the provisional one (neyartha)
  4. Rely on wisdom (jnana), not on your ordinary mind (vijnana)

Alternate translation

Alternate translation of the four reliances:[2]

1) teaching (dharma) is a criterion (pratisaraṇa), not person (pudgala)
2) meaning (artha) is a criterion, not letters/words (vyañjana)
3) a sūtra of definitive meaning (nītārtha) is a criterion, not one of provisional meaning (neyārtha)
4) direct knowing (jñāna) is a criterion, not discursive knowing (vijñāna)

Sanskrit text

The four reliances in Sanskrit:[2]

dharmaḥ pratisaraṇaṃ na pudgalaḥ
arthah pratisaraṇaṃ na vyañjanam
nītārthaṃ sūtraṃ pratisaraṇaṃ na neyārthaṃ
jñānaṃ pratisaraṇaṃ na vijñānam


  1. Lopez, Donald S. Buddhist Hermeneutics, 1993, Introduction.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Problems with Scripture

Further reading