(Last Updated on : 12/03/2015)
Nagarjuna (150 CE) was presumably born in Andhra Pradesh
in South India into a Brahmin family. He later converted to Buddhism
. His writings formed the foundation of the Madhyamika School. The Prajnaparamita sutras were also developed by him. Nagarjuna was closely associated with the University of Nalanda
. Nagarjuna's most important works are the Mulamadhyamaka-karikas and Vigrahavyavartani. Nagarjuna insists that the Abhidharma
outlook is contrary to authentic Buddhist teaching which says everything is empty of inherent nature. According to him entities with essential nature would have to be self-created, which is not possible.
Nagarjuna is primarily remembered for his contribution to the Buddhist philosophy
. He developed further the concept of emptiness or Sunyata. This doctrine is also related to the concepts of anatta and dependent origination. He is also believed to develop the two-truth doctrine. According to this philosophy there are two levels of truth. One is the ultimate truth and the other is the conventional truth or the upaya. In Kaccayanagotta Sutta Nagarjuna describes the doctrine in details. There cannot be any dharmas with absolute nature. If reality consisted of dharmas possessing essence, the universe would be static and no changes would take place. Buddhists believe that everything in the world arises in dependence upon causes and conditioning factors. All Buddhists accept that accustomed entities lack essence. Nagarjuna insists that whatever is interdependently originated it is devoid of essential nature. If there are no essences, there are no stable entities with clearly defined identities. He denies that causation is a real relation. Events happen sequentially and human minds impose associations that are treated as causal realities. There are no types, kinds or classes of entities.
The truth is that there is no ultimate description of reality. Conceptual construction ends if there is a realisation that everything is empty. The realisation that there are no absolute truths leads to a compassionate outlook and mental peace. In Vigrabavyavartani Nagarjuna defends an extreme form of skepticism. Nagarjuna is not presenting an alternative version of objective reality.
His writings reveal that he was well conversed with the doctrines of the Nikaya School. Though the influence is apparent but there are not enough proofs to establish the connection. He was however predominantly a Mahayanist. In Buddhism he is also seen someone who has both the qualities of a human and the snake. In Indian tradition the snake is responsible for rain and other water bodies. In Buddhism this term refers to wise person or even an elephant.
He is also referred to as the Second Buddha. He is also referred to as a part of the Six Scholarly Ornaments. This group also includes Aryadeva, Asanga, Vasubandhu, Dignaga, and Dharmakirti
. Nagarjuna's death is also associated with several legends. While some say that he spent his last days meditating at Shri Parvatha Mountain, others are of the opinion that Nagarjuna was killed by his opponent. However, the teachings of Nagarjuna are still widely followed in Mahayana Buddhism