The philosophy of the Medieval school of
Buddhism was ushered into existence by
Dignaga and Dharmakirti and later on
systematised and developed by Santaraksita,
Kamalasgila, Ratnakirti and others of repute.
The metaphysical and epistemological sides
of this school spread far and wide, even in
remote days, for they influenced not only
the Brahmanical thought but also the non-
Brahmanical speculations in Indian philosophical systems from the third century A.D.
to 1000 A.D.
But a systematic presentation of the
philosophy of this school had not been
attempted so far. The present book is
designed to fulfil this long-felt need. It
presents a clear exposi-tion of the
philosophy of critical Realism as
expounded by Dignaga and his school.
The work is divided into two parts
arranged into 26 chapters. Part I discusses
the Nature of Existence, Logical Difficulties,
Theory of Causation, Universals, Doctrine
of Apoha, Theory of Soul and Problem of
After-Life. Part II deals with the Organic
and Inorganic Perception, Inference and
Negative Judgement. The two parts bound
in one Volume deal also with many other
Dr. SATKARI MOOKERJEE was one of the
renowned contemporary scholars of the
country. He joined the Calcutta University
as a Lecturer, later rose to professorship and
occupied the prestigious Ashutosh Chair.
In 1955, he joined the Nava Nalanda
Maha Vihara as its Director. Some of his
Papers are collectively published in the
Nava Nalanda Maha Vihara Research
Publications Vol. I & II. His other important
works are Non-absolutism, and Exposition of
The present work is substantially based upon my thesis
which was approved for the Degree of Doctorate in Philosophy
by the University of Calcutta in 1932. It has since been revised
in many places and fresh matter introduced, the last chapter being
Buddhist philosophy is a vast subject with a large number
of ramifications. It is not possible to do full justice to the whole
subject within so short a compass. I have here dealt with only
a particular school. The previous writings on the subject are
rather sectional and fragmentary and a systematic presentation of
Dignaga’s school was a desideratum.
I take this opportunity to offer my grateful thanks to
Syamaprasad Mookerjee, Esq., M.A., B.L., Bar.-at-Law, Bharati,
Vice-Chancellor, Calcutta University, for the constant encouragement I received from him in connection with my researches and
for the provision he kindly made for the publication of my
book by the University of Calcutta.
My sincere thanks are due to my pupil, Mr. Satindrakumar
Mukherjee, M.A., for his ungrudging help in looking through
the proofs and for his valuable suggestions. Mr. Gaurinath
Bhattacharyya, M.A., Research Fellow, Calcutta University, who
is carrying on researches under my guidance, also deserves my
best thanks for the preparation of the Index. I must express
my heart-felt thanks to my pupils, Mr. Durgacharan Chatterjee,
M.A., P.R.S,, Lecturer, Bethune College, and Mr. Makhanlal
Mookerjee, M.A., Research Scholar of the University, attached
to me, for their valuable help in the preparation of the Table of
Contents. To Mr. Atulchandra Ghatak, M.A., Superintendent
of the University Press, Mr. Bhupendralal Banerjee, Printer,
Mr. Kalipada Das, B.A., and the other members of the staff of the
University Press, I offer my grateful thanks for the special care
and interest they have taken in my work. The publication of the
book within such an incredibly short time is entirely due to their
The present work is an humble attempt to give a critical
exposition of the philosophy of the Medieval school of Buddhism
that was ushered into existence by Dignaga aud Dharmakirti
and later on systematized and developed by Santaraksita, Kamala-
gila, Ratnakirti and other authors of repute. Of this philosophy,
again, the purely idealistic side has been left untouched in the
present work. The interest and character of this work are
purely philosophical and critical and not historical. There have
already appeared in the field several brilliant expositions and
accounts of Buddhist philosophy and religion, which have dealt
with the historical side with varying degrees of fullness. The
monumental works of Prof. Sir S. Radhakrishnan and Prof.
S. N. Dasgupta have provided an important place for Buddhist
philosophy, and though, from the very nature and scope of these
works, the treatment might appear not to be exhaustive, the
account and exposition constitute a substantial contribution to
Buddhist scholarship. ‘The writings of Prof. Louis de La Valle
Poussin, Prof. Stcherbatsky, Prof. Guieseppe Tucci, Prof B. M.
Barua, Prof. A. B. Keith, Dr. Nalinaksha Datta, Dr. E. J.
Thomas and other scholars bave already provided the learned
world interested in Buddhism with elaborate and fairly wide
account of the growth and development of Buddhist philosophy
and religion. Any attempt in that line would necessarily involve
a repetition or reduplication of much the same thing, though it
is not denied that there is room for expansion and elaboration
even in that direction.
The present work has, however, steered clear of the
historical side and is chiefly preoccupied with the dry
metaphysical and epistemological sides of the Sautrantika
philosophy. What particularly impressed the present writer is
the fact that the whole course of philosophical speculations in
Indian systems of thought, Brihmanical and non- Brahmanical
alike, from the third century A.D. down to 1000 A.D., which
may be described as the adolescent and fruitful period of Indian
philosophy, bears unmistakable evidence of Buddhist influence.
Even Vatsyayana and Sabarasvamin are not immune from it.
Of course, they have borrowed little or nothing from the
Buddhists and their chief interest in Buddhist philosophy is only
negative, all their energies being directed to a refutation of the
Buddhist position. But this adverse criticism does not minimise
their debt; on the other hand, it is proof positive of their obligation. It has been very aptly observed by a modern philosopher
that "‘ Every writer on philosophical subjects is indebted, beyond
all possibility of adequate acknowledgment, to the great thinkers
of the past......... But the debt is one which he makes for him-
self, or at least incaleulibly increases, by free and honest criti-
cism. If the labours of those whom he criticizes have rendered
his criticism possible, it is only by criticizing that he is brought
to the intelligent appreciation of their work.’’} The real deve-
lopment of the Nydya philosopuy may be legitimately believed
to commence with Uddyotakara, who, on bis own avowal,
derived his incentive to write his commentary from the hostile
critics, whose sophistical (according to Uddyotakara) arguments
went a long way to bring discredit on the Nyaya Philosophy.
Uddyotakara’s taciturmity in regard to names is notorious.
Vacaspati Misra has supplied the lacuna and tells us that it was
the adverse criticism of Digniga and men of his ilk that gave
the much-needed fillip to Uddyotukara for writing his master-
piece. In fact, the sole justification for this attempt lay in the
necessity of a refutation of Dignaga’s animadversions which
created a perilous situation tor Nyaya.’
The subsequent career of Ayaya philosophy and of Post-Dignaga Vhilosopby, for the matter of that, is but a progressive
record of the daring and desperate fights between these two
schools, which were fought on a hundred and one battle-fields.
The fight was keen and vigorous and continued with unabated
enthusiasm down to the days of Vacaspati, Jayanta, Udayana
and Sridhara, on the one hand, and Santaraksita, Kamalagila,
Ratnakirti and their followers, on the other. But we have
omitted to mention another philosopher, a towering personality
and a hero of a thousand and one battle-fields, I mean, Kumarila
Bhatta. Kuméarila came after Uddyotakara and he was, to all
intents and purposes, a greater fighter, who fought clean and
hard. Uddyotakara’s polemics smacked of rankling jealousy
and were rather full of transparent sophistry and claptrap. So
the Buddhists did not find it very hard to expose his fallacies.
In Kumirila, however, they found a veritable Tartar. It is not
seldom that the Buddhists were compelled to revise their old
theories and to re-formulate them in the light of Kumirila’s
criticism. In fact, a more formidable critic, so firmly posted
in the niceties of Buddhist philosophy and dogmas, could bardly
be imagined. Kumirila’s siedge-hammer blows were telling
in their effect and the replies of Sintaraksita, Dharmottara,’
Ratnakirti and subsequent writers indirectly acknowledged the
justice of his criticism in more places than one, inasmuch as they
had to re-shape their theories in fundamental aspects.
What is, however, particularly refreshing in this tense
atmosphere of fighting is the fact of the earnestness of the
fighters. Though all cannot be regarded as equally honest or
honourable in their methods, their earnestness and sincerity are
beyond doubt or cavil. The fighting has all the freshness of life
and reality. There is no air of unreality about it. In fact, they
fought for what they believed to be a question of life and death.
Philosophy was not a matter of academic interest in India.
Change of philosophy meant the change of entire outlook and
orientation in life. Victory in a philosophical debate, therefore,
was essential to the preservation of one’s religion and mode of
life, and defeat spelt inglorious death or apostacy from the
accepted faith. There was, in fact, no line of demarcation
between philosophy and religion in India. A religion without a
philosophical backing was unthinkable.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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