The incentive to this work was given by Sir D. Ross, Director of the School of Oriental Studies in London, when I was asked by him to contribute for the Bulletin of the School a review of Professor L. de la Vallée Poussin's book upon Nirvāņa. While considering some of the points there discussed I was led to reconsider the position of the Sautrāntika School and its supposed «denial» of Nirvāņa. This school then disclosed itself as an intermediate step between Hīnayāna and Mahāyāna, and its attitude could not be understood without clearly realizing the Central Conception of the latter. I have thus been further induced to elicit the Mahāyāna Conception of a Buddha and his Nirvāņa. The contrast between Hīnayāna and Mahayana then appeared as an occasional confirmation of the views and explanations of technical terms contained in my «Central Conception of Buddhism» (published by the Royal Asiatic Society, London 1924). The present work can be regarded as a sister volume to it and could have also born the title of «The Central Conception of Mahāyāna».
I have appended a translation of the principal parts of those works of Nāgārjuna and Candrakīrti which are the foundation stone of Mahāyāna.
In the process of this my work I derived great help from many valuable suggestions of my friend Prof. M. Tubiansky to whom I here express my gratitude. The preparation of the Indexes of proper names and Sanskrit words is due to the self-denying industry of Miss Alexandra Schneider to whom my deepest thanks are due.
In the reading of proofs I have been assisted by my aged mother. Since an Englishman has become a rara avis in this country, we both are alone responsible for all the imperfections of English style that may be found in this book.
In the transliteration of Sanskrit words I have abstained from the use of diacritics for guttural n since its value is always clear without it.