This is a completely new translation of Nagarjuna's major work the Mulamadhyamakakarika, accompanied by a detailed annotation of each of the verses. The annotation identifies the metaphysical theories of the scholastics criticized by Nagarjuna, and traces the source material and the arguments utilized in his refutation back to the early discourses of the Buddha.
The Introduction presents a completely new hypothesis about the nature of treatise. The work is a grand commentary on the Buddha's "Discourse to Katyayana" (Kaccayanaqotta-sutta). The concluding part of the Introduction compares the teaching of the Buddha and Nagarjuna in regard to epistemology, ontology, ethics and philosophy of language indicating how the latter was making a determined attempt to reconstruct the Buddha's teachings in a very faithful manner, avoiding the substantialist metaphysics of the scholastics.
The book shows that Nagarjuna's ideas are neither original nor are they an advancement from the early Buddhist period. Nagarjuna is not a Mahayanist.
".....most significant is the manner in which the author proceeded to examine the subtle and complex metaphysical issues that blinded the Sarvastivadins and the Sautrantikas in a background in which speculative philosophy had reached a high watermark, both among the Buddhists and the traditional Indian philosophers.
"The book represents a bold, new and independent approach to the problem of Nagarjuna's philosophical stance and provides a readable and stimulating addition to the already existent literature on the subject. The index to the Karika and the general index appended to the work increase its research value for the serious investigators and students of Buddhist thought." - R.T. Vyas, Journal of the Oriental Institute, Vadodara, Vol.xlii, March-June, 1993
"In this book... Prof. Kalupahana has given a new interpretation of Sunyavada of Nagarjuna who is the reputed scholar of Buddhism... Sanskrit text and its translation have precision in presenting the exact nature of Nagarjuna as a truest interpreter of Buddha's teachings. - Prof. T.F. Bidari, Pathway to God, Vol.xxxvi, No.4, 1992
.....probed into almost every aspect of their speculations, whether relating to epistemology, ontology, moral philosophy, or philosophy of language. He linked disjointed concepts and dissolved the hardened and the solidified."-M.P. Pandit, The Vedanta Kesari, Vol.79, June 1992.
"In this book, which is a new translation of Nagarjuna's work Mulamadhyamakakarika, Prof. Kalupahana has given a new interpretation of Sunyavada of Nagarjuna who is the reputed scholar of Buddhism... Sanskrit text and its translation have precision in presenting the exact nature of Nagarjuna as a truest interpreter of Buddha's teachings. The author begins with a brilliant exposition of middle path Madhyama Marga, for about hundred pages, and then presents the Sanskrit text of Madhyamakakarika, translating all the 448 verses of the text, covering 200 pages; and the last 20 pages are devoted to index. The introduction is a discussion of all metaphysical problems raised in 27 chapters of the text."-Prof. T.F. Bidari, Pathway to God, Vol.xxvi, No.4, 1992.
About the Author(s)
David J. Kalupahana is professor of philosophy at the university of Hawai'i.