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Nagarjuna was an Indian philosopher of the 2nd century CE, the founder of the Madhyamika school of Mahayana Buddhism. He is credited with developing the philosophy of the prajnaparamita collection of sutras. He was born in South India, probably near the town of Nagarjunikonda[?]. He is strongly associated with the Buddhist university of Nalanda.

Table of contents


Nagarjuna's greatest work is the Mulamadhyamakakarika, the Fundamental Verses of the Middle Way. This is an extended systematisation of the philosophy behind the prajnaparamita sutras.

Many other works are attributed to Nagarjuna. According to Lindtner the works by definitely Nagarjuna are:

  • Mulamadhyamakakarika
  • Shunyatasaptati
  • Vigrahavyavartani
  • Vaidalyaprakarana
  • Vyavaharasiddhi
  • Yuktisastika
  • Catuhstava
  • Ratnavali
  • Pratityasamutpadahrdayakarika
  • Sutrasamuccaya
  • Bodhicittavivarana
  • Suhrllekha
  • Bodhisambhara[ka]

There are other works attributed to Nagarjuna, some of which may be genuine and some not. There is evidence for a second, later, Nagarjuna who was the author of a number of tantric works which have subsequently been incorrectly attributed to the original Nargajuna.

It is worth noting that Lindtner considers that the Mahaprajnaparamitopadesha, a huge commentary on the Large Prajnaparamita[?] not to be a genuine work of Nagarjuna. This is only extant in a Chinese translation by Kumarajiva. There is much discussion as to whether this is a work of Nargarjuna, with a some orignal comments by Kumarajiva, or an original work by Kumarajiva based on the philosophy of Nagarjuna.

English Translations


Author Title Publisher Notes
Garfield, J L The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way Oxford, 1995 A translation of the Tibetan version together with commentary
Inada, K Mulamadhyamakakarika Hokuseido, 1970 A transaltion of the verses only.
Kalupahana, D J The Philosophy of the Middle Way SUNY, 1986 Translation and commentary
Sprung M Lucid exposition of the Middle Way RKP, 1979 Partial translation of the verses together with Chandrakirti's commentary.

Other Works

Author Title Publisher Notes
Lindtner, C Nagarjuniana Motilal, 1987 [1982] Contains Sanskrit or Tibetan texts and translations of the Shunyatasaptati, Vaidalyaprakarana, Vyavaharasiddhi (fragment), Yuktisastika, Catuhstava and Bodhicittavivarana. A translation only of the Bodhisambharaka. The Sanskrit and Tibetan texts are given for the Vigrahavyavartani. In addition a table of source sutras is given for the Sutrasamuccaya.
Komito, D R Nagarjuna's "Seventy Stanzas" Snow Lion, 1987 Translation of the Shunyatasaptati with Tibetan commentary
Bhattacharya, Johnston and Kunst The Dialectical Method of Nagarjuna Motilal, 1978 A superb translation of the Vigrahavyavartani
Kawamura, L Golden Zephyr Dharma, 1975 Translation of the Suhrlekkha with a Tibetan commentary
Jamieson, R.C. Nagarjuna's Verses on the Great Vehicle and the Heart of Dependent Origination D.K., 2001 Translation and edited Tibetan of the Mahayanavimsika and the Pratityasamutpadahrdayakarika, including work on texts from the cave temple at Dunhuang, Gansu, China
See also: Shunyata

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