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Mahayanavimsaka of Nagarjuna



I make my obeisance to the Buddha who is wise, free from
all attachment, and whose powers are beyond conception, and
who has kindly taught the truth which cannot be expressed
by words.


In the transcendental truth there is no origination
(utpada), and in fact, there is no destruction (nirodha).
The Buddha is like the sky (which has neither origination
nor cessation), and the beings are like him, and therefore
they are of the same nature.


There is no birth either on this or the other side (of the
world). A compound thing (samskrta) originates from its
conditions. Therefore it is sunya by its nature. This fact
comes into the range of knowledge of an omniscient one.


All things by nature are regarded as reflections. They are
pure and naturally quiescent, devoid of any duality, equal,
and remain always and in all circumstances in the same way


In fact, worldings attribute atman to what is not atman,
and in the same way they imagine happiness, misery,
indifference, passions and liberation.

6 - 7

Birth in the six realms of existence in the world, highest
happiness in the heaven, great pain in the hell,--these do
not come within the perview of truth (i.e. cannot be
accepted as true); nor do the notions that unmeritorious
actions lead to the extreme misery, old age, disease, and
death, and meritorious actions surely bring about good

It is owing to false notions that beings are consumed by
fire of passions even as a forest is burnt by forest
conflagration and fall into the hells, etc. As illusion
prevails so do beings make their appearance. The world is
illusory and it exists only on account of its cause and


As a painter is frightened by the terrible figure of a
Yaksa which he himself has drawn, so is a fool frightened
in the world (by his own false notions).


Even as a fool going himself to a quagmire is drowned
therein, so are beings drowned in the quagmire of false
notions and are unable to come out thereof.


The feeling of misery is experienced by imagining a thing
where in fact it has no existence. Beings are tortured by
the poison of false notions regarding the object and its


Seeing these helpless beings with a compassionate heart one
should perform the practices of the highest knowledge
(bodhicarya) for the benefit of them.


Having acquired requisites thereby and getting
unsurpassable bodhi one should become a Buddha, the friend
of the world, being freed fron the bondage of false


He who realizes the transcendental truth knowing the
pratityasamutpada (or the manifestation of entities
depending on their causes and conditions), knows the world
to be sunya and devoid of beginning, middle or end.


The samsara and nirvana are mere appearances; the truth is
stainless, changeless, and quiescent from the beginning and


The object of knowledge in dream is not seen when one
awakes. Similarly the world disappears to him who is
awakened from the darkness of ignorance.

The creation of illusion is nothing but illusion. When
everything is compoond there is nothing which can be
regarded as a real thing. Such is the nature of all things.


One having origination (jati) does not originate himself.
Origination is a false conception of the people. Such
conceptions and (conceived) beings, these two are not


All this is nothing but mind (citta) and exists just like
an illusion. Hence originate good and evil actions and from
them good and evil birth.


When the wheel of the mind is suppressed, all things are
suppressed. Therefore all things are devoid of atman
(independent nature), and consequently they are pure.


It is due to thinking the things which have no independent
nature as eternal, atman, and pleasant that this ocean of
existence (bhava) appears to one who is enveloped by the
darkness of attachment and ignorance.


Who can reach the other side of thc great ocean of samsara
which is full of water of false notions without getting
into the great vehicle (i.e., Mahayana) ?

How can these false notions arise in a man who thoroughly
knows this world which has originated from ignorance?

Here ends the Mahayanavimsaka of Acarya Nagarjuna.

Edited by Vidhusekhara Bhattacharya 1931 Visvabharati
Bookshop, Calcutta

Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression Home

Jerry Katz
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