Buddhist Studies Workshop Lecture by Shoryu Katsura, Professor Emeritus of Hiroshima University, Former Director of BARC at Ryukoku University
ABSTRACT: In the prevalent version of the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā (MMK) Nāgārjuna makes a salutation to the Buddha or Gautama in the dedicatory verses as well as in the closing verse, where Gautama, the Buddha, is depicted as one who taught the true dharma, i.e., the dependent origination (pratītyasamutpāda). In MMK 25.24cd, however, Nāgārjuna declares that the Buddha taught no dharma whatever to anyone at anytime (na kvacit kasyacit kaścid dharmo buddhena deśitaḥ). Which is true? Did the Buddha teach any dharma according to Nāgārjuna?
In order to solve the riddle I shall analyze the content of the dedicatory verses with a special focus on the term prapañca and refer to MMK 24.18, which equates the dependent origination with emptiness (śūnyatā), conceptualization based on [something] (upādāya-prajñapti) and the middle way (madhyama-pratipad), as the key verse that may solve the riddle. I will also refer to several important verses of MMK that will shed a light on the problem.
In addition I would like to discuss Nāgārjuna’s way of argumentation: he first enumerates all possible propositions by means of dilemma, trilemma, tetralemma and pentalemma and denies them one by one through prasaṅga (reduction ad absurdum). I would also like to refer to his basic attitudes towards argumentation.