Examination of the Noble Truths in the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā and its relevance to Early Buddhism





Buddhist philosophy, Nāgārjuna, Mūlamadhyamakakārikā, Mahāyāna, Śūnyatā


The article is devoted to an insufficiently explored page of history of early Buddhist philosophy, namely, the formation of the Noble Truths doctrine in the work of Nāgārjuna, the famous Indian philosopher of the II-III centuries AD, who is considered the founder of the Mādhyamaka school of Mahāyāna philosophy. An important source of this branch is the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā, or the “Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way”, compiled by Nāgārjuna. This book consists of 27 sections and is considered the basic text of the Mahāyāna, which had a great influence on further evolution of Buddhist philosophy in India, Tibet and East Asia. The article analyzes the 24th section “The Noble Truths Study”, which consists of 40 verses devoted to various issues on the conditions for learning the truth. The purpose of this article is to analyze the substantive issues of 24th section in the context of unfolding of early Buddhist philosophical discourse. Nāgārjuna’s views on the ways of achieving truth are compared with the interpretations of modern historians of Buddhist philosophy: D. Kalupahana, A. Tillakaratne, M. Siderits, S. Katsura and others. Given comparativistics allow us to understand more comprehensively Mahāyāna’s process of formation, as well as to provide a meaningful explanation of what the Śūnyatā is.

Author Biography

Wimal Hewamanage, University of Colombo

PhD (Wuhan), MPhil, MA, BA (Kelaniya)

Senior Lecturer in Pali & Buddhist Studies, Department of Buddhist Studies


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How to Cite

Hewamanage, W. (2021). Examination of the Noble Truths in the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā and its relevance to Early Buddhism. Skhid, (1(165), 12–16. https://doi.org/10.21847/1728-9343.2020.1(165).197404



History of Philosophy