QUERY> Sources for An Āgama Quoted Three Times by Candrakīrti

John Newman's picture

Dear Colleagues:

I would appreciate help locating any other sources, assuming there are any, for the following āgama Candrakīrti quotes at least three times:

(1a) Prasannapadā (S) ad MMK 19.6 [LVP ed.] 389.5–6 (de Jong reports no v.l.):

tadyathā | pañcemāni bhikṣavaḥ saṃjñāmātraṃ pratijñāmātraṃ vyavahāramātraṃ saṃvṛtimātraṃ yadutātīto 'dhvā 'nāgato 'dhvā ākāśaṃ nirvāṇaṃ pudgalaś ceti ||

[(1b) Quote is absent from PP (T) sDe dge bsTan 'gyur no. 3860 [ACIP E-Text] f. 126a.]

The sarvajña Louis de la Vallé Poussin also references the following:

(2) Madhyamakāvatārabhāṣya ad Madhyamakāvatāra 6.127 [LVP ed.] 246.13–16:

dge slong dag lnga po 'di rnams ni ming tsam tha snyad tsam btags pa tsam ste | gang 'di lta ste | 'das pa'i dus dang ma 'ongs pa'i dus dang | nam mkha' dang mya ngan las 'das pa dang | gang zag go zhes bya ba dang |

This quotation also appears here:

(3) Catuḥśatakaṭīkā ad Catuḥśataka 9.20; sDe dge bsTan 'gyur no. 3865 [ACIP E-Text] f. 155b6–7:

bcom ldan 'das kyis dge slong dag lnga po 'di dag ni ming tsam ste | khas 'ches pa tsam tha snyad tsam kun rdzob tsam ste | 'di lta ste | 'das pa'i dus dang | ma 'ongs pa'i dus dang | nam mkha' dang mya ngas las 'das pa dang | gang zag go zhes bya ba de lta bu la sogs pa gsungs pa'i phyir ro |

I feel like I've seen this somewhere else, but a fairly lengthy hunt for it came up blank. Thank you in advance,

John Newman


Categories: Query

Dear John Newman,

I don't know the āgama sūtra that Candrakīrti is quoting from, but I do know offhand that this passage also appears similarly quoted by Haribhadra in the Nyāyapraveśapravṛtti (pasted from GRETIL): pañca imāni bhikṣavaḥ saṃjñāmātraṃ saṃvṛtimātraṃ pratijñāmātraṃ vyavahāramātraṃ kalpanāmātram / katamāni pañca / atītaḥ addhā anāgataḥ addhā pratisaṃkhyānirodhaḥ ākāśaṃ pugdala iti /

I hope other H-Buddhism members may know more.

With my best wishes,
Charles DiSimone

Dear Charles (if I may),

Thank you very much. Having another Indic text is extremely useful, even without a reference to a source sūtra. As you may have noticed, there are significant variants among the three versions that appear in Candrakīrti's works, and the reference you've provided is a valuable piece of the puzzle.

With gratitude,


Dear John and Charles (if I may),

Here is another parallel, but this time in Chinese:

In the 大乘廣百論釋論 (T1571) translated by Xuanzang:
故契經說:「去、來及我、虛空、涅槃,是五種法,但有名想都無實義。」(CBETA 2022.Q1, T30, no. 1571, p. 191c28-29)
Just a rough translation: “Therefore, it is said in a sūtra, 'The past, the future, the self, empty space, nirvāṇa are the five kinds of dharma that, though having names, have no real meanings.’”

I am not sure if this is āgamic. The quote seems to suggest that even an asaṃskṛtadharma is name-only?

Best wishes,
Allan Ding
DePaul University

Dear John Newman, et al.,

The stanza is discussed and the sources documented on page 182 of the following article:

Apple, James B. 2016. “The Knot Tied with Space”: Notes on a Previously Unidentified Stanza in Buddhist Literature and Its Citation. The Indian International Journal of Buddhist Studies, v.17, 167 - 202.

Jim Apple

Summary of Responses to QUERY> Sources for An Āgama Quoted Three Times by Candrakīrti

Dear Colleagues:

I assume that I have received all the responses triggered by my Query for the time being, so I will briefly summarize some of what I've learned. First, sincere thanks to all those who responded: I never would have learned some of this on my own.

As James Apple (unknown to me) pointed out in 2016, Candrakīrti quotes this text (at least) four times; i.e., with the Pañcaskandhaprakaraṇa added to the three texts I cited — off-list Iain Sinclair also drew my attention to this quotation. I direct those interested to p. 182 of Apple's paper for further details. Apple translates the Tibetan of the Madhyamakāvatārabhāṣya version of the sūtra there. The Madhyamakāvatārabhāṣya (as represented in LVP's edition of the Tibetan) is an outlier as far as the list of qualifiers applied to "past time, future time, space, nirvana, person" is concerned because it omits saṃvṛtimātraṃ (kun rdzob tsam), found in the other three Candrakīrti texts. The (hopefully soon to appear!) edition of the Sanskrit of MABh 6 may shed light on this. The five things qualified — "past time…person" — are identical in all four of Candrakīrti's texts.

Allan Ding's information on T1571 translated by Xuanzang raises interesting questions because both the order of the five things qualified and the way the qualifications are treated differ dramatically from all of Candrakīrti's versions. My ignorance of Chinese prevents me from pursuing this further.

Charles DiSimone's reference to the quotation in Haribhadra Suri's Nyāyapraveśapravṛtti is interesting because we have a Jaina author quoting a Bauddha sūtra which thus far I have been able to locate in any canonical source. Haribhadra Suri's version corresponds in many ways to Candrakīrti's citations (is he drawing on Candrakīrti?) but the order of the five things differs, he gives pratisaṃkhyānirodha in place of nirvāṇam, and he seems to add kalpanāmātram to the list of qualifiers.

My interest in this sūtra was triggered by the fact that Candrakīrti cites it often, and because it contains the term saṃvṛtimātra (kun rdzob tsam) which plays such an important role in his MABh 6.28 account of how śrāvaka arhats, pratyekabuddha arhats, and advanced bodhisattvas see saṃvṛtisatya. As almost always seems to be the case with Buddhist texts, when one pulls on a single thread one finds oneself drawn into a tapestry. Thanks again to all those who enlightened me on this quotation.

John Newman