[INDOLOGY] Vajrasūcī

Dan Lusthaus yogacara at gmail.com
Sat Jan 25 21:40:52 EST 2020


Dear Vincent,

Thank you for your further comments.

I didn’t mean to suggest that the yukta pramāṇa described in the Caraka Saṃhitā was the same as the dharmārthayuktaṃ vacanaṃ pramāṇam of the Vajrasūcī. Only that a pramāṇa explicitly based on yukta (however one parses that phrase) is something seen early on, and then it disappears. The yukta-pramāṇa of the Caraka is a fascinating thing whose loss probably was a loss for the entire Indian philosophical enterprise. Farmers and doctors shared a common concern, which is that to get from initial cause to actual fruition involves a process in time of multiple causes, with multiple stages, any of which can effect or nullify the outcome: planting a crop and being able to harvest; pregnancy making it to term; etc. Taking all relevant factors into account and calculating the probabilities of a successful final outcome was what yukta pramāṇa was designed to accomplish. In some ways, that is closer to the probabalistic reasoning that has displaced causal thinking in western philosophy (and some sciences) since the early 20th c than the more mechanistic cause and invariant effect reasoning more prevalent in Indian thought. Obviously, the Caraka’s yukta pramāṇa is not the same thing as drawing knowledge through discourse employing reasoning based on dharma and artha (or the meaning/purpose of dharma).

The idea of prototypical ideas that emerge later under the rubric of Mīmāṃsā is intriguing. The Yogācārabhūmi is an often ignored treasure trove of ideas circulating in India earlier than is often recognized (as is the Tattvasiddhi, though not adequately captured in Sastri’s translations, in which many of the stock arguments repeated in pramāṇavāda texts are already found). Squeamishness about sacrifices is quite early — Jains and even Sāṃkhyans express those ideas, and one can see some reaction against that even in the Bhagavad Gītā (whether one dates that to 200 BCE or 200 CE). Dignāga does deal with Mīmāṃsā in PS, for which there is no (available) Chinese translation. (There is a hint that a one fascicle translation was made, but no evidence of it aside from a mention of its title in a catalogue of translations). 

The Chinese sources frequently cite a school by its founder’s name instead of the name of the school. Typically:
Kapila 迦毘羅, the founder of Sāṃkhya 數論; Ulūka 優樓佉 (a.k.a. Kaṇâda 食米齋), the founder of Vaiśeṣika 勝論宗, and Ṛṣabha 勒沙婆, the founder of the Nirgranthas.

As far as I can find, there is no Chinese version of Jaimini’s name. Again, I would be happy to learn otherwise.

Dan


> On Jan 25, 2020, at 8:11 PM, Eltschinger, Vincent <Vincent.Eltschinger at oeaw.ac.at> wrote:
> 
> Dear Dan,
> My impression is that the Buddhists became aware of Mīmāṃsā as a distinct religio-philosophical school (and not just as a purely intra-Brahmanical type of “theological/exegetical” inquiry) some time during the fourth century CE (or perhaps in the early fifth), even though the term may not occur, at least not regularly, before Dignāga (480-540). It is also around the fourth century CE that certain Buddhists started arguing against ideas that are close to those known to us from later Mīmāṃsaka sources (e.g., on sacrificial violence, the caste-classes, etc.), even though several among these ideas find interesting prototypes in the Mānavadharmaśāstra. This is especially the case in the so-called paravāda section of the Yogācārabhūmi. Hundreds of pages could be written on these topics.
> The stanza you quote is arguably the most important in the Vajrasūcī, for it spells out the philosophical-polemical program of the entire work. A rough translation might be: “The Vedas are authoritative (pramāṇa); the Smṛtis are authoritative; [any] speech/discourse endowed/connected (yukta) with dharma and artha is authoritative. A [person] for whom a [previously acknowledged] pramāṇa would cease (na bhavet) to be a pramāṇa [because it contradicts his/her position on the issue of the caste-classes], who [on earth] would take his/her speech/discourse to be a pramāṇa/authoritative?” One can certainly discuss the exact structure and meaning of the compound dharmārthayukta, but seriously doubt that yukta here has anything to do with the pramāṇa the medical tradition refers to as yukti (see articles by Filliozat, Steinkellner, and others). Or did I miss the point?
> I entirely agree with you as regards Sāṃkhya and Vaiśeṣika: from the 1st-2nd to the 5th century, these traditions/schools are the most frequent targets of the Buddhist controversialists. The Nyāya (works by [the pseudo?]Nāgārjuna) and the Mīmāṃsā play a comparatively minor role, as do the Jains (targeted as early as Āryadeva’s Catuḥśataka, and more frequently from the Yogācārabhūmi onwards). 
> Very best,
> Vincent
> 
> Vincent Eltschinger, korrespondierendes Mitglied der OeAW
> Directeur d'études 
> École Pratique des Hautes Études, Section des sciences religieuses
> Patios Saint-Jacques, 4-14 rue Ferrus - 75014 Paris
> vincent.eltschinger at ephe.sorbonne.fr <mailto:vincent.eltschinger at ephe.sorbonne.fr>
> 0033 1 56 61 17 34 / 0033 7 85 86 84 05
> Von: Dan Lusthaus <yogacara at gmail.com>
> Gesendet: Samstag, 25. Januar 2020 23:52:30
> An: Eltschinger, Vincent
> Cc: Matthew Kapstein; Olivelle, J P; indology at list.indology.info
> Betreff: Re: [INDOLOGY] Vajrasūcī
>  
> Dear all,
> 
> Just to comment quickly, though I haven’t studied the Vajrasūcī in any depth, the same passage that Vincent highlighted, naming the Vedas, Grammarians, et al. is also the one that caught my attention, especially the mention of Mīmāṃsikas. As far as I can tell, while the others do get mentioned in Chinese translations of Buddhist texts, the only text preserved in Chinese that mentions Mīmāṃsikas is Xuanzang’s translation of Bhāviveka’s Prajñāpradīpa, which mentions them twice in close proximity:
> 
> 《般若燈論釋》卷13〈22 觀如來品〉:「復有彌息伽外道言。佛家所說十二部經[1]者。非一切智人所說。有作者故。譬如鞞世師等論。」(CBETA, T30, no. 1566, p. 119, b15-17)
> [1]者=有【宮】。
> [1]者=有【宮】。
> “Again there are the non-Buddhist (tīrthika) Mīmāmsikas who say: ‘What is said by Buddhists In the twelve divisions of the their sūtras (canon), is that no person is omniscient, because they are conditioned (saṃskṭra), just as is stated in treatises by the Vaiśeṣikas, and so on.”
> 
> 《般若燈論釋》卷13〈22 觀如來品〉:「如彌息伽外道所計韋陀聲是常者」(CBETA, T30, no. 1566, p. 119, c5-6)
> “This like the non-Buddhist Mīmāmsikas who imagine that the Word of the Vedas is eternal.”
> 
> I have found no other mention of Mīmāṃsā in any other Chinese sources (if anyone has information on discussions I might have missed, please let me know). Bhāviveka, of course, devoted an entire chapter in his Madhyamakahṛdaya to Mīmāṃsā, but his description of their doctrines suggests they differed in several ways from the versions we are more familiar with post Prābhākara and Kumārila. It is the latter’s Ślokavarttika, of course, that made Mīmāṃsā hard to ignore for subsequent Buddhists.
> 
> Harivarman’s Tattvasiddhi (translated by Kumārajīva at the beginning of the 5th c) identifies (among others) Vaiśeṣika, Sāṃkhya, Nyāya, and Jains as pūrvapakṣins. More generally in Buddhist literature preserved in Chinese prior to the middle of the seventh century, the most commonly cited opponents are Vaiśeṣika and Sāṃkhya. Nyāya is mentioned infrequently, as are Jains.
> 
> As for the pramāṇa issue mentioned by Matthew, the Vajrasūrī verse identifies what serve as authorities for non-Buddhists (the following verse turns to lineage):
> 
> vedāḥ pramāṇaṃ smṛtayaḥ pramāṇaṃ dharmārthayuktaṃ vacanaṃ pramāṇam |
> yasya pramāṇaṃ na bhavetpramāṇaṃ kastasya kuryādvacanaṃ pramāṇam || 2 ||
> 
> Which are more or less equivalent to śruti, smṛti, and āpti-pramāṇa, and analogous to “scripture and reason” (āgama, yukti) that was the established criteria for validity for Buddhists, even into the pramāṇavāda era. And, as I wrote elsewhere:
> 
> "Pramāṇa-theory rst appears in the eleventh chapter of the first part (Sūtra-sthāna) of the CS [Caraka-saṃhitā]. Here the CS intriguingly proposes, along with the three pramāṇas one would expect (perception, inference, and authori- tative testimony), a fourth not found anywhere else: synthetic inductive reasoning (yukta-pramāṇa). Discussion of pramāṇa occurs in two other parts of the CS: part 3, Vimāna-sthāna, chap. 4 and chap. 8, but the unique yukta-pramāṇa is absent from those discussions, a sign of the strati ed nature of the text.”
> 
> So a yukta pramāṇa suggest to me a possibly early date for that category.
> 
> Has anyone considered whether it is possible that the verses may have been written by Aśvaghoṣa or someone relatively early while the prose exposition may have been added by a later hand?
> 
> Dan
> 
>> On Jan 25, 2020, at 4:35 PM, Eltschinger, Vincent via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info <mailto:indology at list.indology.info>> wrote:
>> 
>> Dear Matthew,
>> I was referring to most of the elements of the list I quoted, of course, not to the entire Vajrasūcī. But you are right, Matthew: the Mahābhārata plays an important role in the Vajrasūcī, as does… Manu – which may be the reason for Patrick’s query. It is well known that the Vajrasūcī attributes several verses to Manu that cannot be traced in the extant Mānavadharmaśāstra (if I remember well, this is the reason why some scholars tentatively attributed them to a lost Mānava Dharmasūtra). Whatever the case may be, we might perhaps agree that the Vajrasūcī is unlikely to have been composed before the 3rd-4th century CE. I am inclined to believe that it is even younger.
>> Very best,
>> Vincent
>> 
>> 
>> Vincent Eltschinger, korrespondierendes Mitglied der OeAW
>> Directeur d'études 
>> École Pratique des Hautes Études, Section des sciences religieuses
>> Patios Saint-Jacques, 4-14 rue Ferrus - 75014 Paris
>> vincent.eltschinger at ephe.sorbonne.fr <mailto:vincent.eltschinger at ephe.sorbonne.fr>
>> 0033 1 56 61 17 34 / 0033 7 85 86 84 05
>>   
>> Von: Matthew Kapstein <mkapstei at uchicago.edu <mailto:mkapstei at uchicago.edu>>
>> Gesendet: Samstag, 25. Januar 2020 22:13:42
>> An: Eltschinger, Vincent; Olivelle, J P; indology at list.indology.info <mailto:indology at list.indology.info>
>> Betreff: Re: Vajrasūcī
>>  
>> Not wishing to differ with my learned colleague Vincent Eltschinger's remarks (which are surely based on a deeper engagement with this corpus than my own), I tend nevertheless to think it not quite plausible that "most of its individual elements could have been known around 100 CE."
>> My sense is that the several epic and puranic parallels point to a somewhat later period.
>> 
>> Matthew
>> 
>> 
>> Matthew Kapstein
>> Directeur d'études, 
>> Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes
>> 
>> Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies,
>> The University of Chicago
>>  
>> From: Eltschinger, Vincent <Vincent.Eltschinger at oeaw.ac.at <mailto:Vincent.Eltschinger at oeaw.ac.at>>
>> Sent: Saturday, January 25, 2020 10:00 AM
>> To: Olivelle, J P <jpo at austin.utexas.edu <mailto:jpo at austin.utexas.edu>>; Matthew Kapstein <mkapstei at uchicago.edu <mailto:mkapstei at uchicago.edu>>; indology at list.indology.info <mailto:indology at list.indology.info> <indology at list.indology.info <mailto:indology at list.indology.info>>
>> Subject: AW: Vajrasūcī
>>  
>> Dear Patrick,
>> As you know, Aśvaghoṣa directed some arguments against the Brahmanical understanding of the caste-classes in one of his dramas, the Śāriputraprakaraṇa/Śaradvatīputraprakaraṇa, several fragments of which have been preserved in Central Asian manuscripts and edited by Heinrich Lüders around 1910. It is thus plausible that Aśvaghoṣa dedicated an individual treatise to this topic. The style, the method and the philosophical ressources of the Vajrasūcī, however, are very different from the ones we know from Aśvaghoṣa’s genuine works, and may presuppose Buddhist works such as the Śārdūlakarṇāvadāna if not Kumāralāta’s Kalpanāmaṇḍitikā Dṛṣṭāntapaṅktiḥ. Even if I am not aware of any convincing argument against the attribution of the Vajrasūcī to Aśvaghoṣa, I have always regarded the following statement as anachronistic: dṛśyante ca kvacic chūdrā api vedavyākaraṇamīmāṃsāsāṃkhyavaiśeṣikanagnā*jīvikādisarvaśāstrārthavidaḥ /. “And one observes in some cases that even śūdras know the meaning of all śāstras such as the Veda, Grammar, Mīmāṃsā, Sāṃkhya, Vaiśeṣika as well as [those of] the Jainas and the Ājīvikas.” (*-nagnā- em. : lagnā- Ed.) Although such a list is not per se impossible in Aśvaghoṣa’s time, i.e., although most of its individual elements could have been known around 100 CE, I do not believe that such an enumeration would have been possible, as a doxographic statement, at that time, and even less so under Aśvaghoṣa's "pen." (The absence of the Nyāya from the list is intriguing.)
>> Another element possibly deserving some consideration is the Sanskrit colophon in which Aśvaghoṣa is characterized as siddhācārya (kṛtir iyaṃ siddhācāryāśvaghoṣapādānām iti), an expression the exact meaning of which remains somewhat unclear to me.
>> I am looking forward to reading other opinions on this interesting topic.
>> Very best,
>> Vincent
>> 
>> 
>> Vincent Eltschinger, korrespondierendes Mitglied der OeAW
>> Directeur d'études 
>> École Pratique des Hautes Études, Section des sciences religieuses
>> Patios Saint-Jacques, 4-14 rue Ferrus - 75014 Paris
>> vincent.eltschinger at ephe.sorbonne.fr <mailto:vincent.eltschinger at ephe.sorbonne.fr>
>> 0033 1 56 61 17 34 / 0033 7 85 86 84 05
>>  
>> Von: INDOLOGY <indology-bounces at list.indology.info <mailto:indology-bounces at list.indology.info>> im Auftrag von Matthew Kapstein via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info <mailto:indology at list.indology.info>>
>> Gesendet: Samstag, 25. Januar 2020 15:09:59
>> An: Indology List; Olivelle, J P
>> Betreff: Re: [INDOLOGY] Vajrasūcī
>>  
>> Dear Patrick,
>> 
>> You'll find some discussion of it, inter alia, in Vincent Eltschinger, "Caste" et Philosophie Bouddhique WSTB 47 (2000). As you no doubt know, the Chinese translation is late - 10th c. if I recall correctly - and is attributed to DharmakIrti. I rather doubt that the true authorship can be established, given the available evidence. The emphasis on pramANa seems to suggest that it was written during the second half of the first millennium, not much before. But the way in which pramANa is used there does not resonate closely with the Buddhist pramANa school. The precise milieu in which it was composed remains a puzzle (at least to me!).
>> 
>> all best,
>> Matthew
>> 
>> Matthew Kapstein
>> Directeur d'études, 
>> Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes
>> 
>> Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies,
>> The University of Chicago
>>  
>> From: INDOLOGY <indology-bounces at list.indology.info <mailto:indology-bounces at list.indology.info>> on behalf of Olivelle, J P via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info <mailto:indology at list.indology.info>>
>> Sent: Saturday, January 25, 2020 6:59 AM
>> To: Indology List <indology at list.indology.info <mailto:indology at list.indology.info>>
>> Subject: [INDOLOGY] Vajrasūcī
>>  
>> Does anyone know of newer work on the identity and date of the author of Vajrasūcī, often ascribed to Aśvaghoṣa? Any new ideas on its possible date? With thanks and best wishes,
>> 
>> Patrick Olivelle
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