Refuting the Conditioned: the Saṃskṛtārthapratiṣedha of Candrakīrti's Catuḥśatakaṭīkā - Introduction, Translation and Summary, together with a Critical Edition of the Tibetan Translation


Dennis Johnson

  • Betreuung: Klaus-Dieter Mathes

The "Commentary to the Four Hundred [Verses] on the Bodhisattva's Practice of Yoga" (Bodhisattvayogacāracatuḥśatakaṭīkā, CŚṬ) is the only extant Indian commentary to Āryadeva’s famous Mādhyamaka treatise in verse in its entirety, known as the 'Treatise in Four Hundred [Verses]' (Catuḥśatakaśāstra, CŚ). The treatise is structured around the Bodhisattva's accumulation of the prerequisites of merit (puṇyasambhāra, chapters I-VIII) and wisdom (jñānasambhāra, chapters IX-XVI). Chapter XV specifically concerns the concept of conditioned things (saṃskṛtārtha) and presents the Mādhyamaka's refutation of the existence of the conditioned and it's characteristic marks (saṃskṛtalakṣana, i.e. origination, duration and ceasing), a position strongly advocated by the Sarvāstivāda, amongst others. In the commentary, this polemic takes the form of a dispute with a fictional opponent, in which the verse text is cited to provide arguments and counterarguments.

The original Sanskrit text of CŚṬ is available only in form of fragments that cover about one third of the work, and there is a critical edition of these, based on a single manuscript (Suzuki 1994). A complete Tibetan translation by Sūkṣmajñāna and Nyi ma grags is contained in the Tanjur (P. vol. 96, 5266 ya 33b4-273b6; D. ya 30b6-239a7; C. ya 29a6-236a7; N. ya 34b2-246a6). Furthermore, there is an English translation of the verse text (Lang 1986), but not of the commentary, for which there are but translations of single chapters into different languages (Lang 1976 and 2003; Tillemans 1990 are the English ones).

The thesis further contributes to this work by presenting a translation and summary of the hitherto unaddressed chapter of CŚṬ XV, on the basis of the remaining Sanskrit text (in this case CŚṬ XV.18-25) and a critical edition of the Tibetan translation. An introduction gives an overview of relevant material and the current state of research concerning CŚ/CŚṬ and their authors, together with a short summary of the work, focussing especially on the content of chapter XV. It also includes an introductory presentation of the concept of the conditioned, focussing on Sarvāstivāda and early Mādhyamaka thought. The critical edition of the Tibetan text contains readings of the Derge, Peking, Cone, Narthang and Ganden Tanjurs, as well as text critical notes with reference to the available Sanskrit material, which is followed by the annotated translation and summary of CŚṬ, which refers to relevant parallel passages in the Saṃskṛtārthapratiṣedha of Candrakīrti's Prasannapadā (LaVallée Poussin 1992; May 1959). A concluding summary will revisit the main points of the thesis and give future perspectives.


  • Lang, Karen. 1976. Showing the realization of the refutation of holding extreme views: chapter fourteen of Candrakīrti's Bodhisattvayogācāracatuḥśatakaṭīkā. Master's thesis: University of Washington.
  • ———. 1986. Āryadeva's Catuḥśataka: on the Bodhisattva's cultivation of merit and kowledge. Indiske Studier 7. Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag.
  • ———. 2003. Four illusions: Candrakīrti's advice for travelers on the Bodhisattva path. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • LaVallée Poussin, Louis de. 1992. Mūlamadhyamakakārikās de Nāgārjuna avec la Prasannāpadā de Candrakīrti. 1. Indian ed. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers.
  • May, Jacques. 1959. Madhyamakavṛtti: douze chapitres traduits du sanscrit et du tibétain, accompagnés d'une introduction, de notes et d'une édition critique de la version tibétaine. Collection Jean Przyluski 2. Paris: Adrien-Maisonneuve.
  • Suzuki, Kōshin. 1994. Sanskrit fragments and Tibetan translation of Candrakīrti's Bodhisattvayogācāracatuḥśatakaṭīkā. Tokyo: Sankibo Press.
  • Tillemans, Tom J. 1990. Materials for the study of Āryadeva, Dharmapāla and Candrakīrti: the Catuḥśataka of Āryadeva, chapters XII and XIII, with the commentaries of Dharmapāla and Candrakīrti: introduction, translation, Sanskrit, Tibetan and Chinese texts, notes. 2 vols. Wiener Studien zur Tibetologie und Buddhismuskunde 24. Wien: Arbeitskreis für Tibetische und Buddhistische Studien, Universität Wien.