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Nagarjuna (150-250 ?), an Indian philosopher, the founder of the Madhyamika school of Mahayana Buddhism. He was born in South India, probably near the town of Nagarjunikonda. He was initially a scholar of brahmanistic texts, but later converted to Buddhism. He first studied the various Nikāya (Nikaya) doctrines along with early Mahāyāna. He would end up leaning toward the latter, conducting extensive study on the various sutras. Based on his extensive study and ardent meditation practice he composed a number of influential texts, most important of which was the Mādhyamaka-kārikā (Memorial Verses on the Middle Way), which contains the essentials of his thought in twenty-seven short chapters. He is also considered to be the author of the Mahāyāna-vimśika (Twenty Verses on the Mahāyāna) and of the Dvadaśadvāra-śāstra (Treatise of the Twelve Gates). His writings were the basis for the formation of the Mādhyamika (Middle Way) school, which was transmitted to China under the name of the Three Treatise (Sanlun) School. He is credited with developing the philosophy of the prajnaparamita collection of sutras. He is strongly associated with the Buddhist university of Nalanda.

Table of contents
1 Writings
2 English Translations
3 External Links


Nagarjuna's greatest work is the Mulamadhyamakakarika, the Fundamental Verses of the Middle Way. This is an extended systematisation of the philosophy behind the prajnaparamita sutras.

Many other works are attributed to Nagarjuna. According to Lindtner the works by definitely Nagarjuna are:

There are other works attributed to Nagarjuna, some of which may be genuine and some not. There is evidence for a second, later, Nagarjuna who was the author of a number of tantric works which have subsequently been incorrectly attributed to the original Nargajuna.

It is worth noting that Lindtner considers that the Mahaprajnaparamitopadesha, a huge commentary on the Large Prajnaparamita not to be a genuine work of Nagarjuna. This is only extant in a Chinese translation by Kumarajiva. There is much discussion as to whether this is a work of Nargarjuna, with a some original comments by Kumarajiva, or an original work by Kumarajiva based on the philosophy of Nagarjuna.

English Translations


Author Title Publisher Notes
Garfield, J L The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way Oxford, 1995 A translation of the Tibetan version together with commentary
Inada, K Mulamadhyamakakarika Hokuseido, 1970 A transaltion of the verses only.
Kalupahana, D J The Philosophy of the Middle Way SUNY, 1986 Translation and commentary
Sprung M Lucid exposition of the Middle Way RKP, 1979 Partial translation of the verses together with Chandrakirti's commentary.

Other Works

Author Title Publisher Notes
Lindtner, C Nagarjuniana Motilal, 1987 [1982] Contains Sanskrit or Tibetan texts and translations of the Shunyatasaptati, Vaidalyaprakarana, Vyavaharasiddhi (fragment), Yuktisastika, Catuhstava and Bodhicittavivarana. A translation only of the Bodhisambharaka. The Sanskrit and Tibetan texts are given for the Vigrahavyavartani. In addition a table of source sutras is given for the Sutrasamuccaya.
Komito, D R Nagarjuna's "Seventy Stanzas" Snow Lion, 1987 Translation of the Shunyatasaptati with Tibetan commentary
Bhattacharya, Johnston and Kunst The Dialectical Method of Nagarjuna Motilal, 1978 A superb translation of the Vigrahavyavartani
Kawamura, L Golden Zephyr Dharma, 1975 Translation of the Suhrlekkha with a Tibetan commentary
Jamieson, R.C. Nagarjuna's Verses on the Great Vehicle and the Heart of Dependent Origination D.K., 2001 Translation and edited Tibetan of the Mahayanavimsika and the Pratityasamutpadahrdayakarika, including work on texts from the cave temple at Dunhuang, Gansu, China
See also:

External Links