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[Bibliotheca Buddhica XXX:] Madhyānta-Vibhanga. Discourse on discrimination between middle and extremes, ascribed to Bodhisattva Maitreya and commented by Vasubandhu and Sthiramati. Translated from Sanskrit by Th. Stcherbatsky. Moscow; Leningrad: the USSR Academy of Sciences Press, 1936. VIII, 106, 058 p.


The Vijñānavāda school of Buddhism represents the latest and final form of that religion, the form in which, after having transformed India's national philosophy and leaving its native Indian soil, it spread over almost the whole of the Asiatic continent up to Japan in the East and Asia Minor in the West where it amalgamated with gnosticism. The Madhyānta-vibhanga-šāstra (or sūtra) of Maitreya-Asaňga with its commentaries, the bhāşya of Vasubandhu and the ţīkā of Sthiramati, belong to the most fundamental works of this Vijñānavāda (alias Yogācāra, Vijñapti-mātratā or Cittamātratā) school of Northern Buddhism.

The till now unique MS of its Sanscrit original has had the curious fate of having been discovered twice. The story of this double discovery and of the double text-edition which followed has been very pointedly narrated by the illustrious first discoverer, the much regretted late Prof. Sylvain Lévi. In his preface to the second (which really was the first) edition he inter alia writes: “il est fâcheux que l'édition concurrente, publiée en 1932 ne fasse pas mention (de l'autre édition) dans sa préface”. It seems that I have not been the only victim of this strange reticence. It is only much later that owing to the kind attention of Prof. L. de La Vallée Poussin and Prof. E. Lamotte I became aware of the second edition.

As soon as Prof. G. Tucci's edition reached me I started on the work of translating this important text for the Bibliotheca Buddhica series whose publication was going to be resumed. Unfortunately I had no inkling of the existence of the other edition. My pupil, the late Dr E. Obermiller published a review of Prof. G. Tucci and V. Bhattacharya's edition in which he suggested some corrections of those parts of the published text which represented retranslations from the Tibetan to fill up the lacunae of the Sanscrit MS. He also did not suspect the existence of the other edition which made some of his critical remarks superfluous.

My English version, besides the kārika's of Maitreya-Asaňga, contains a translation of Vasubandhu's bhāşya in full as well as of the ţīkā of Sthiramati. For Vasubandhu I have made use of a very correct block-print executed in the printing office of the Aga monastery in Transbaikalia, its folios are marked in my translation by figures preceded by the letter V. The other figures in margin refer to the pages and lines in Prof. Tucci and V. Bhattacharya's edition. I am sorry I could consider Prof. S. Yamaguchi's text, as far as the first part is concerned, only in the notes. The division in chapters and sections, as well as their titles, are added by me.

It is a great pleasure for me to express my gratitude to my young friend Prof. A. Vostrikov, PhD with whom I discussed several hard passages of the text and to whom I am indebted for many valuable suggestions.

An analysis of the philosophy of this treatise and an appreciation of its value will be contained in a following volume of the Bibliotheca Buddhica series.


The entire volume


Buddhist philosophy

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