[INDOLOGY] Nagararjuna finger pointing to moon reference?

Dan Lusthaus vasubandhu at earthlink.net
Wed Mar 20 10:56:15 EDT 2013


For those interested in the citation for Lamotte's original French version of that passage, it is:

Lamotte, Étienne. Le Traité de la Grande Vertu de Sagesse de Nāgārjuna (Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra), Tome 1, Louvain-la-Neuve: Université de Louvain, 1981, p. 538.

Dan Lusthaus


    "Relying on the meaning (arthapratisaraṇa), since goodwill or malice, defect or merit, falsity or truth, cannot be attributed to meaning. It is the letter (vyañjana) that indicates the meaning (artha), but the meaning is not the letter. Suppose a man points his finger at the moon to people who doubt the moon's presence; if these doubters fixate on the finger but do not look at the moon, this man tells them: "I am pointing to the moon with my finger so that you may notice the moon. Why do you fixate on my finger instead of looking at the moon?"  It is the same here: the letter (vyañjana) is the finger pointing to the meaning (artha), but the letter is not the meaning. This is why one should not rely on the letter."

    Page 425 of the attached translation of the Māhāprajñāpāramitāśāstra. 
    THE TREATISE ON THE GREAT VIRTUE OF WISDOM OF NĀGĀRJUNA 
    (MAHĀPRAJÑĀPĀRAMITĀŚĀSTRA) 
    ÉTIENNE LAMOTTE 
    VOL. I , CHAPTERS I – XV 

    TRANSLATED BY 
    THE TRIPIṬAKADHARMĀCĀRYA KUMĀRAJIVA 
     Translated from the French By Gelongma Karma Migme Chodron 2001 
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