Acarya Bhavaviveka converting a nonbeliever to buddhism

Bhāviveka – The founder of the Svātantrika tradition of the Mādhyamaka school

, also known as Bhavya or Bhāvaviveka, was a 6th century . In , Bhāviveka is considered the founder of the Svātantrika tradition of the Mādhyamaka school, which is considered to be an antagonist of the Prāsaṅgika Madhyamaka.

The Madhyamaka school

The Madhyamaka school, also known as the “” school, is a major tradition within Indian .

The Madhyamaka , as propounded by the Indian Nāgārjuna in the 2nd century, asserts that ultimate reality is emptiness (shunyata), the absence of inherent existence in all phenomena.

Bhāviveka’s contributions to the Madhyamaka

Bhāviveka was an Indian who lived in the 6th century CE, and is known for his contributions to the development of the Madhyamaka philosophy, particularly through his commentary on Nāgārjuna’s Mūlamadhyamakakārikā.

Bhāviveka’s commentary, called the Madhyamakahrdayakārika, is considered to be one of the most important texts in the Svātantrika tradition of Madhyamaka.

The Svātantrika Madhyamaka

Bhāviveka was an important figure in the development of the Madhyamaka philosophy, and is considered the founder of the Svātantrika tradition within the Mādhyamaka school, which was considered antagonist of the Prāsaṅgika Madhyamaka .

Svātantrika Madhyamaka, as propounded by Bhāviveka, differs from Prāsaṅgika Madhyamaka in that it posits a distinction between conventional and ultimate truth.

According to Svātantrika, conventional truth is the conventional mode of appearance of phenomena, while ultimate truth is their ultimate mode of being.

In contrast, the Prāsaṅgika Madhyamaka does not posit a distinction between conventional and ultimate truth, instead asserting that all phenomena are empty of inherent existence.

Shaping the understanding of emptiness

Bhāviveka’s contributions to the Madhyamaka philosophy through his commentaries on Nāgārjuna’s Mūlamadhyamakakārikā has been a important in shaping the understanding of emptiness within Madhyamaka by clarifying and elaborating on key concepts and arguments presented in Nāgārjuna’s text.

Distinction between conventional and ultimate truth

One way in which Bhāviveka the understanding of emptiness is through his emphasis on the distinction between conventional and ultimate truth.

According to Bhāviveka’s Svātantrika Madhyamaka, conventional truth refers to the way things appear to us, while ultimate truth refers to their true mode of being.

In order to gain a clearer understanding of the idea before progressing, here comes a video in which discusses the dual truths within ’s philosophy:

This distinction allows Bhāviveka to assert that while all phenomena are ultimately empty of inherent existence, they still conventionally exist and can have causal effects.

Additionally, Bhāviveka’s emphasis on the distinctions between the two truths allows to account for the different ways in which emptiness can be understood, such as negation and affirmation.

By distinguishing the two truths, Bhāviveka claims that the ultimate truth is the complete absence of inherent existence, which is negated by reasoning and can be known only by a person.

On the other hand conventional truth, which is the appearance of things and the way they are perceived by ordinary people can be affirmed and known by them.

The use of logic and reasoning to support arguments

Another way in which Bhāviveka shapes the understanding of emptiness is through his use of logic and reasoning to support his arguments.

By using a combination of syllogistic reasoning and debate, Bhāviveka is able to elaborate on key concepts such as dependent arising and the two truths in a clear and systematic way, which helps to make the Madhyamaka understanding of emptiness more accessible to a wider audience.

In summary, Bhāviveka’s commentary on Nāgārjuna’s Mūlamadhyamakakārikā and his emphasis on the distinction between conventional and ultimate truth, and use of logical reasoning, greatly influenced the development of Madhyamaka philosophy, and specifically in shaping the understanding of emptiness as ultimate truth, which is the complete absence of inherent existence, and conventional truth, which is the appearances of things and the way they are perceived by ordinary people.

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