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Buddhist Epistemology (pramāṇa-vāda), and Research in Buddhist Studies

Notes for a lecture at the IBC, Summer Course 2008 | Mattia Salvini

Having bowed to the One who became a praṁāṇa, who wishes good to the world, to the Teacher, the Sugata, the Protector, a compendium from my own thought, spread in many works, is here made, for the sake of establishing the pramāṇas.1 Digṅāga

It is common to employ theoretical tools taken from contemporary European philosophies and social sciences to approach one’s research in Buddhist studies. For example, some scholars may employ phenomenology; or, structural anthropology; or, materialist historicism; and so forth. I here propose that many of the difficulties a researcher may face could be tackled, or at least better understood, by employing theoretical tools from within the Buddhist tradition; in particular, from the tradition of Buddhist epistemology (pramāṇa-vāda). The latter was always concerned with finding a suitable way to discuss in a broader (i.e. not necessarily Buddhist) forum.

1. Hetuvidyā and the Five Vidyās
The general purpose of the five Vidyās | The specific purpose of Hetuvidyā

The practice of debate and discussion is present in all layers of Buddhist literature. In the Sūtras, Buddha Śākyamuni himself often employs vāda; either with non-Buddhist opponents, or as a teaching tool with his own students (who often question the cogency of the teachings). We find debates in Abhidharma texts (like the Kathāvatthu, up to the Abhidharmakośa and beyond), and in practically all types of Buddhist śāstras.

pramāṇabhūtāya jagaddhitaiṣiṇe praṇamya śāstre sugatāya tāyine | pramāṇasiddhyai svamatāt samuccayaḥ kariṣyate viprasṛtād ihaikataḥ || Pramāṇasamuccaya 1.1


are for the purpose of obtaining omniscience. The knowledge of medicine and the knowledge of topics in the arts and crafts are for the sake of assisting others who need them. Knowing reasoning. knowledge of medicine and knowledge of topics in the arts and crafts. 11. moreover. he surely applies oneself to those. The specific purpose of ‘the science of reasons’ has to do with relating to externals. which here must be linked to debate. Inner knowledge is for the sake of directing oneself. to subdue or assist others. or for the sake of omniscience. There are five types of knowledge: inner knowledge. who have no conviction towards that (omniscience). Thus. is the way to convince them of the soundness of the Buddhist doctrines by starting from a common ground. the supreme Ārya does not in any way reach omniscience. without distinction.Within the Bodhisattvayāna. knowledge of reasons. it is even said that omniscience consists in the perfection of these five vidyās. In fact. the science of reasons (hetuvidyā) occupies an important place: it is one of the five sciences that a Bodhisattva has to master in order to obtain omniscience.60: 2 . knowledge of words. When we distinguish.2 From Sthiramati’s commentary to the Madhyāntavibhāga: 2 vidyāsthāne pañcavidhe yogam akṛtvā sarvajñatvaṁ naiti kathaṁcitparamāryaḥ | ity anyeṣāṁ nigrahaṇānugrahaṇāya svājñārthaṁ vā tatra karoty eva sa yogam || 60 || pañcavidhaṁ vidyāsthānam | adhyātmavidyā hetuvidyā śabdavidyā cikitsāvidyā śilpakarmasthānavidyā ca | tadyadarthaṁ bodhisattvena paryeṣitavyaṁ taddarśayati | sarvajñatvaprāptyartham abhedena sarvam | bhedena punar hetuvidyām śabdavidyāṁ ca paryeṣate nigrahārtham anyeṣāṁ tadanadhimuktānām | cikitsāvidyāṁ śilpakarmasthānavidyāṁ cānyeṣām anugrahārthaṁ tadarthikānām | adhyātmavidyāṁ svayam ājñārtham || Mahāyānasūtrālaṁkāra. non-Buddhists. he researches the knowledge of reasons and the knowledge of words in order to subdue others. Here he shows the purpose for which a Bodhisattva should research them: all of them. Texts From the Mahāyānasūtrālaṁkāra: Without having applied oneself to the fivefold knowledge.

Yogācāra philosophers can be divided into two branches. Vasubandhu. Dharmakīrti introduces the distinction between śāstrasiddhi and vastusiddhi. if we go by the texts preserved to this day. (āgamānuyāyī) and comprises. or pramāṇa. those are called: inner. and comprises the school of Digṅāga and Dharmakīrti. Un-afflicted ignorance. being an impediment to knowledge in respect to those. since Digṅāga is considered to have been a direct disciple of Vasubandhu. They only accept six consciousnesses. who shaped a comprehensive system of epistemology.3 2. medicine. According to Dharmakīrti. But it is specifically Digṅāga and Dharmakīrti. devoted to this topic. In this context. They accept eight consciousnesses. ancient) India. 4 3 . vastusiddhi means ‘establishment according to the object’. Sthiramati. Śāstrasiddhi means ‘establishment according to one’s own school’. and topics in all the arts and crafts. Dharmapāla and so forth. Asaṅga.Something that should be known is ‘something to be known’: and that is in its entirety the five loci of knowledge. Vasubandhu also wrote a short treatise on Vāda. Epistemology and debate: Nyāya and Pramāṇa in relation to Vāda Yogācāra texts on Vāda | Digṅāga and Dharmakīrti | Śāstrasiddhi vs. Yogācāra authors of the Āgamānuyāyī branch4 composed a few treatises on proper debate: Asaṅga has a section of the Ahidharmasammucaya. The latter is called ‘Followers of Reason’(yuktyānuyāyī). 3 jñātavyaṁ jñeyam | tac ca sarvātmanā pañca vidyāsthānāni tāni punar adhyātmavyākaraṇahetucikitsāsarvaśilpakarmasthānākhyāni | tatra jñānavibandhabhūtam akliṣṭam ajñānaṁ jñeyāvaraṇam || Sthiramati’s sub-commentary on Madhyāntavibhāgabhāṣya 3. The first is called ‘Followers of Scripture’. There is nevertheless a very direct link between the two branches. Debate was the predominant mode of philosophical enquiry in medieval (and possibly. grammar. is the ‘obscuration to what is to be known’. only the second type of establishment has any force in a debate.12. closely linked with the issue of philosophical enquiry as a reasoned (and reasonable) debate. further commented upon by Sthiramati. Moreover. Vastusiddhi | The Vādanyāya of Dharmakīrti || The second feature of hetuvidyā concerns more precisely the science of correct argumentation or debate. and do not emphasize epistemology in a way comparable to the second branch. Most philosophical texts are in fact in the form of a debate. and lay great emphasis on epistemology. reasons.

. In this text Dharmakīrti states (among many other things) that: deception has no place in a debate. like false speech. digression into irrelevant topics is a cause of defeat. may also debate while employing some deception. who can use it as a starting point to prove something more about it. is proper. respect and praise by demeaning others is not the conduct of good people [.For example: sound is considered permanent by some... all four points can be helpful in finding a balanced style in academic research. Moreover.. no debate for the sake of winning.. 5 4 . na ca paravipaṁsanena lābhasatkāraślokoparjanaṁ satām ācāraḥ. impermanent by others. the Naiyāyika consider sound an attribute of the substance called ‘space’.] Following reasonable and proper ways is how good people debate.] Therefore.. we disagree: the śāstras composed by good people do not work where the erroneous perceptions of the wicked have jurisdiction. to obtain profit. aggrandizing oneself.. [.] tad eva nyāyānusaraṇaṁ satāṁ vādaḥ || Vādanyāya of Dharmakīrti. None of these specific positions could be taken as a suitable starting point for these philosophers to debate with each other: but sound is itself accepted by all the parties involved. durnanavipratipattyadhikāre satāṁ śāstrāpravtteḥ.] tasmān na yogavihitaḥ kaścid vijigīṣuvādo nāma [. [. and so forth. na. A remarkable text on the importance of reasonable debate as a means to understand reality (tattva) is the Vādanyāya of Dharmakīrti. one should start from a common ground with the opponent. a debate is for the sake of ascertaining what is true.5 chalavyavahāre’pi vijigiṣūṇāṁ vāda iti cet. As we will see. na hi parānugrahapravttā mithyāpralāpārambhātmotkarṣaparapaṁsanādīn asadvyavahārān upadiśanti. Texts From Dharmakīrti’s Vādanyāya If you say that those who wish to win. Those who are bent on helping others do not teach improper behavior.. demeaning others.

(If we don’t accept this). In this way: someone may state the following proposition: We Buddhists say that there is no ‘Self’. yathā pratijñābhidhānapūrvakaṁ kaścit kuryāt.From the Vādanyāya of Dharmakīrti: what to do with people who bring up irrelevant topics? With these people one should simply stop talking: since there is nothing whatsoever that cannot be used by making a digression. || Vādanyāya of Dharmakīrti 5 . called Rāṣṭrapāla? Making such a digression. nairātmyavādinas tu tatsādhane ntyagītyāder api tatra prasaṅgāt. kaḥ punar bhadantāśvaghoṣaḥ. honored by the good!6 6 ebhiḥ kathāviccheda eva karaṇīyaḥ. hence he would be defeated. the Blessed One. yasya śāsane bhadantāśvaghoṣaḥ pravrajitaḥ. na hi kaścid arthaḥ kvacit kriyamāṇaprasaṅge na prayujyate. What a proper way to reflect upon reality on the part of the learned. sabhyaḥ sādhusammatānām viduṣāṁ tattvacintāprakāraḥ. prativādī tāṁ ca sarvaprasaṅgaṁ nānukartuṁ samartha iti parājitaḥ syād iti. he may dance and sing. Who is the Buddha. enters the stage-manager’. ke bauddhāḥ. yasya rāṣṭrapālaṁ nāma nāṭakam. it would then follow that an upholder of the doctrine of no-self might use dance and song to prove it. the Buddhist may recite ‘at the end of the invocation. the Blessed One? The one. then. ye buddhasya bhagavataḥ śāsanam abhyupagatāḥ. kīdśaṁ rāṣṭrapālaṁ nāma nāṭakam iti prasaṅgaṁ ktvā nāndyante tataḥ praviśati sūtradhāra iti paṭhen ntyed gāyec ca. And who is the Revered Aśvaghoṣa? The author of the drama called Rāṣṭrapāla. within whose teachings. Who are the Buddhists? Those who accept the teachings of the Buddha. ko buddho bhagavān. How is this drama. nāsty ātmeti vayaṁ bauddhā brūmaḥ. The opponent may not be able to imitate its entire digression-performance. the Revered Aśvaghoṣa became an ascetic.

’ In other words. In any case. and for this reason. because it is not necessarily concerned with matters of liberation. of course. the prominence given to direct perception and inference opens the possibility of an enquiry not bound by preconceived or inherited doctrinal standpoints. anyone should have some interest in what he is going to discuss. His chief commentator further elaborates that Dharmakīrti’s statement shows the purpose of the whole text: because. In other words. Firstly. no cautious (or. Hence. hence. the reader is going to be shown that correct knowledge is embodied in the Buddhist tenets of impermanence and no-self). correct knowledge has a purpose.3. by stating that ‘the accomplishment of all human aims is preceded by correct knowledge. it should be due to compelling reasoning. at least. Pramāṇavāda Dharmakīrti as the system of Digṅāga and The importance of correct knowledge in worldly and non-worldly endeavors | Only two pramāṇas | Reasons for accepting only two | How does textual tradition (āgama) fit? | Other views on Pramāṇa Dharmakīrti starts his short treatise. sensible) person would start studying something without ascertaining its purpose and value. but the validity of the latter is not independent from the first two. This view about two pramāṇas depends from a specific ontology: it depends on what Digṅāga and Dharmakīrti consider to be the 6 . It would be a waste of time. in reference to what we may describe as ‘conventional’ valid knowledge: the knowledge of tables. which may appear as an inversion of Dharmakīrti’s initial assertion. geopolitics or languages. one may strive towards such knowledge. and not merely because the Buddha stated that it is so. In fact. our initial purpose might be closely linked to the results of our ‘correct knowledge’. Dharmakīrti accepts only two means of sound cognition: perception and inference. planets. the Nyāyabindu. That does not necessarily exclude textual tradition or scripture. it may be even argued that being capable of a certain efficacy is the mark of existence: what exists can accomplish something. Furthermore. This. What constitutes accomplishment also depends from our purposes and usages. He leaves correct knowledge without any further qualifications (although. like studying a treatise on the number of teeth of a crow. he does not appeal to a specific view of correct knowledge. as he states that all human aims are preceded by correct knowledge. if one were to accept the tenet of noself. is nevertheless what his system seems to imply. What is to be noticed about Dharmakīrti’s assertion is that it is in no way specifically Buddhist. nor to a Buddhist doctrinal standpoint. Secondly.

does have a role in Dharmakīrti’s system: through inference. Yogācāra philosophers like Sthiramati talk about valid cognition in terms only partly similar to those of Dharmakīrti’s school. Textual tradition. there have been open divergences (like Candrakīrti’s acceptance of four pramāṇas and criticism of the svalakṣaṇa). ‘planet’. 1. And the latter are only two: the owncharacteristic (svalakṣaṇa) and the generalized-characteristic or the universal (sāmānyalakṣaṇa). there are also only two types of valid cognition: direct perception cognizes the own-characteristic. would not be fit to be taken up. saying that emptiness is not understood through pramāṇas. ‘I’. and to let direct perception ‘go with the flow’ of ineffable.1 7 . and so forth.possible objects of knowledge. though. lasts only one instant and has either minimal or no extension. but pramāṇas are used to help the non-Buddhists understand). hence they can be resorted to in cases where direct perception and inference do not provide us with any compelling evidence. of continuity through space and time: like ‘table’. The second is a conceptual imputation of similarity. This is partly justified by its great popularity and influence. we find discussions about valid cognition in the Abhidharmakośa. Because there are only two possible objects of cognition. 7 samyagjñānapūrvikā sarvapuruṣārthasidhhir iti tad vyutpadyate || Nyāyabindu. The first is unique. In Madhyamaka.7 If what is spoken of would have no purpose. Just like. then a composition of words for the sake of understanding that. I have spoken of Dharmakīrti’s as the system of Buddhist epistemology par excellence. or conciliatory stances (like Atīśa. the latter is here explained. Needless to say that most of our ordinary experience is entirely bound within the conceptual and ultimately unreal world of the universals. as well as the sustained attention that this philosophy gives to the question of valid cognition. Before Dharmakīrti. Nevertheless. the words of the Buddha can be shown to be reliable. and inference cognizes universals. Texts Dharmakīrti and Dharmottara on the purpose of their work: The accomplishment of all human aims is preceded by correct knowledge: therefore. The scope of Dharmakīrti’s system is to undo one’s habit of freezing instants into continuities. selfless moments. it is important to know that many other schools have discussed epistemological issues and have come up with very divergent solutions.

and for what purpose is it listened to by the listeners? In reference to such a doubt. for what purpose did the Master compose this work. there is nothing else to be cognized by the pramāṇas. direct perception and inference are the pramāṇas. Direct perception has the own characteristic as its object. direct perception is devoid of mental constructs and non-erroneous.2 with Digṅāga’s own commentary.9 Digṅāga on the two pramāṇas: In this context. Apart from the own-characteristic and the general characteristic. And this work is listened to by students who want for themselves the explanation done by the teacher: therefore.4 and 1.8 In this way: all sensible people engage in something after having enquired for a purpose in such engagement. Then. 8 .10 Dharmakīrti’s definition of the two pramāṇas: Among those two. while inference has the general characteristic as its object.11 abhidheyaṁ tu yadi niṣprayojanaṁ syād yadā tatpratipattaye śabdasandarbho’pi nārambhaṇīyaḥ syāt | yathā kākadantaprayojanābhāvāt na tatparīkṣā ārambhaṇīyā prekṣāvatā || Dharmottara’s commentary on the same. there are two types of characteristic as what is to be cognized by those pramāṇas. explanation is declared as the purpose: in order to make correct knowledge explained and oneself as the one who explains. 11 tatra pratyakṣaṁ kalpanā’poḍham abhrāntam || 4 || abhilāpasaṁsargayogyapratibhāsā pratītiḥ kalpanā || 5 || Nyāyabindu. this work has been composed. yasmāt lakṣaṇadvayam | prameyaṃ na hi svasāmānyalakṣaṇābhyām anyat prameyam asti. A mental construct is an apprehension with an appearance fit to be joined with speech.5. svalakṣaṇaviṣayaṃ ca pratyakṣaṃ sāmānyalakṣaṇaviṣayam anumānam iti pratipādayiṣyāmaḥ || Pramāṇasammuccaya 1.since the teeth of a crow have no useful purpose. a sensible person should not take up their examination. 9 tathā hi sarve prekṣāvantaḥ pravttiprayojanam anviṣya pravartante | tataś cācāryeṇa prakaraṇaṁ kim arthaṁ ktaṁ śrtotbhiś ca kim arthaṁ śrūyata iti saṁśaye vyutpādanaṁ prayojanam abhidhīyate | samyagjñānaṁ vyutpādyam ātmānaṁ vyutpādakaṁ karttuṁ prakaraṇam idaṁ ktam | śiṣyaiś cācāryaprayuktām ātmano vyutpattim icchadbhiḥ prakaraṇam idaṁ śrūyata iti prakaraṇakaraṇaśravaṇayoḥ prayojanaṁ vyutpādanam || Dharmottara’s commentary on Nyāyabindu 1. 1. as we are going to explain. the purpose of composing and listening to this work is an explanation.1. 8 10 tatra pratyakṣam anumānaṃ ca pramāṇe te dve eva. Only those two: because.

if we consider that: modern academic research is in the form of a debate. the debate is between people with very different backgrounds and convictions.14 4. 14 trirūpaliṅgākhyānaṁ parārthānumānam || 1 || Nyāyabindu 3. inference for oneself is the knowledge about what is to be inferred. derived from an inferential sign with three aspects. moreover. are: the invariable existence of the inferential sign in what is to be inferred.12 The three aspects. 12 tatra svārthaṁ trirūpāl liṅgād yad anumeye jñānaṁ tadanumānam || 3 || Nyāyabindu. it will be difficult to establish any originality in one’s own research. its existence only in similar instances. In regards to the first point. and its invariable. 13 trairūpyaṁ punarliṅgasyānumeye sattvam eva sapakṣa eva sattvam asapakṣe cāsattvam eva niścitam || 5 || Nyāyabindu 2.3.13 The expression of an inferential sign having three aspects is inference for the sake of someone else. a researcher is expected to situate one’s work within the available literature on the subject: and it is very much likely that one will have at least some difference of opinion with what has already been written.5. If one does not show one’s differences. sure nonexistence in dissimilar instances.Among the two types (of inference). research scholars must prove that their research is an ‘original contribution’. reading a few pages of secondary literature should suffice to prove it! More specifically. Academic research as a form of debate Does the distinction between Śāstrasiddhi and Vastusiddhi help? | Does it affect one’s style? | Is purpose to be taken into account? The discussion presented so far could help a researcher. The expectation of originality may be disputed with good reasons: but as the present state of affairs is concerned.1. 2. 9 .

It does not entail rejecting one’s own conclusions or what one finds more reasonable: but it must be presented skillfully. A further. is a Buddhist practitioner. One may state that. in other words. The colleague also asserted that ‘academia cannot accept such things’. I was immediately (and quite aggressively) attacked by a colleague who even requested that I walk on water then and there to support my position (incidentally. as there was no water in the room. for example. Since this view is not a commonly accepted paradigm. I raised my hand. one may be a Buddhist practitioner because he or she thinks that karman is plausible). all the students were asked whether they felt it was possible that Jesus may have walked on water. It would also be unreasonable and ineffective. I have no idea as to whether Jesus did walk on water or not. this may be of particular interest for those who have convictions not very well fitting with mainstream views (in other words. one may accept the doctrine of karman and rebirth as reasonable (in fact. Here the distinction between vastusiddhi and śāstrasiddhi turns useful. The question was precise: is it possible? Since I have no way whatsoever to establish that it is impossible. as it would have no weight for most readers. or perhaps comprehensibly. Unfortunately. for those who have some striking originality). however many good reasons one may have. a direct participant in the object of one’s study: like. To be precise. genuine originality can meet with suspicion: only a limited degree of variation is easy to welcome. specification: not all counterintuitive positions are directly traceable to one’s being an ‘insider’ (which means. it would be almost impossible to actively employ it as the basis for one’s arguments or reconstructions. To say that it is scientifically impossible is in fact contradictory. there is no way to rule out a priori a certain type of empirical occurrence. Openly counterintuitive positions are always difficult to maintain. I would have even had to surpass Jesus’ own deed: how to walk on water where there is no water?).As for the second point. a Buddhist studying Buddhism). In a course on research methodology. walking on water is improbable. perhaps even extremely improbable (depending on the extent to which one relies upon the physical 10 . Hence. I was the only one to raise my hand. If one. One may employ only certain shared presuppositions (vastusiddhi) and talk of what is more counterintuitive only with a specified context. I will offer a precise example. since scientific laws depend on observation and the possibility of observing a divergent case is the basis to do experiments in the first place. but important.

Dharmakīrti is not simply saying that what is not perceived does not exist. One way in which an inference can be made is through non-perception. which I find inconclusive. This type of caution in asserting non-existence (especially. skipped some steps. cogent and not rhetorically charged style. He noticed that. I was rebuked without being given any logical ground or argumentation. rather than brushing them aside. Hence. to be able to express oneself in a clear. We (in theory) do research to broaden our horizons of understanding. Regarding cogency and clarity. or did not express important logical junctures between paragraphs. avoid digressions (see above!) and make sure one’s arguments have some cogency. as I said. having obtained the conditions for being perceived. a ghost) or too far in time or place. For example. I know of no way whatsoever to establish that it is impossible. But. Yet. It is usually the style that first jumps to the eyes of a learned reader: many scholars will be rather uncharitable in judging whatever they consider indexes of lesser sophistication. that does not exist. he may not have raised the question in the first place. if he thought it was entirely senseless. occasionally. it was the seminar convener (a senior scholar) who seemed to be the only one sympathetic to my position. is not perceived. Yet. like the system of anumāna 11 . At least. Nevertheless. We can once again look at the same issue from the perspective of Dharmakīrti’s system of inference. it is important to aim at clarity. non-existence in the past) can be sensibly employed while talking about distant histories. cannot conclusively be said not to exist. being acquainted with traditional Indian scholastics. He says: what. nobody else in the classroom accepted even the remotest possibility that someone may have walked on water: on the other hand. In fact. He remarked that. One of the greatest difficulties a researcher has to face is to find one’s ‘voice’. the system of inference for one-self and for others as explained by Digṅāga and Dharmakīrti is a most useful guideline. and not to consolidate preconceived closures. I would think that a researcher should reflect upon counterintuitive positions. The argument I just made may be convincing to some and not convincing to others. with a balanced language. I doubt that anyone would brush it away hastily as being completely unreasonable or out of bounds. I do not feel obliged to uphold positions. my arguments lacked clarity. After all. I would say that Jesus walking on water is too far in time and place for me to ascertain conclusively existence or non-existence. things which are: imperceptible by nature (like.sciences). primarily. When I used the term ‘skillfully’ I meant. This was kindly brought to my attention by one of my supervisors.

Moreover. I should be able to express myself in more cogent steps. both of us were somehow uncomfortable with the handling of Buddhism as a series of easily reconstructed facts. a syllogism needs to express the inferential sign having three aspects. and so forth. Such detail. it would possible to ascertain such truths as the exact date of an author. For example.(inference). could be placed. especially in respects to one’s own writing. which to me would 12 . as it offers an analysis of what an argument does and does not need to express. what could and could not have happened in his life. if we accepted the possibility of a pure research. The consideration of purpose is a reasonable ethical concern for those who engage in Buddhist studies while being Buddhist practitioners themselves. or speaking the false. or is it uninterrupted chattering (one of the ten akuśalakarmas)? It may be worth asking such questions. striving for clarity and balanced expression To focus the topic on a more specific ‘case study’. is academic writing useful. assuming that research is a purpose in itself? The second position would be reasonable. is: purpose. Is it worthwhile and ethical to take into account the purpose and possible benefit of one’s research? Or is more ethical not to bring up the issue. just due to the pressure of conforming to academic standards? I would say this is at least possible. within which other by-products. Within such a framework. brought up by Dharmakīrti. Buddhist pramāṇa-vāda can be of help in this regard. mithyāvāda. 5. Possible ways to bypass controversies Focusing on interpretation: the interpreter starts from the presuppositions of the authors interpreted | Employing sophisticated tools: phenomenology? | Remain within close readings of the texts. encouraged only for the sake of knowledge in an environment where only knowledge is at stake. The issue at stake was history: in particular. I would like to refer to a fruitful discussion I recently had with a senior colleague. perhaps. A last concern. and practically every Indian traditional text speaking of one-self. is a breach of basic discipline. For example. We need lots of optimism to see things that way. like doctrine and so forth. Is not the researcher brought to express positions he or she does not believe in. Following his advice I was indeed able to present my reasoning in a more accessible and coherent style.

while purporting to employ very modern tools that should ‘refine’ the understanding of Buddhism. Otto. For those who are less interested in factual details. The latter option should be of some interest to Buddhist practitioners. which avoids one’s engagement with possibly very lengthy and unpleasant controversies. Such sincerity is an ethical responsibility. In the study of religions. There are historians who would disown any definition of historical writing that reduces it to a reconstruction of ascertainable facts. may become the bedrock of academic research. a few avenues are still available even within the present framework.15 15 na ca nyāyaśāstrāṇi sadbhir lābhādyuparjjanāya praṇīyante || Vādanyāya. one may find out that with a balanced and cogent expression it is possible to say rather counterintuitive ideas without others even noticing. Indeed. phenomenology has been employed with some success by authors such as Eliade. within the cautionary justification that those are the starting point for the authors he studies. This is the solution adopted by my colleague. The first possibility is to focus on interpretation. who can then employ traditional presuppositions about the texts. not only as a Buddhist. Any further analysis becomes a satellite of these. we must retain the intellectual freedom to reflect on such issues. What a fact could be is also a rather complex issue (is there such a thing in the first place?) As researchers. purportedly trustworthy. and so forth. It is in effect unfortunate that. to work mostly on the comprehensibility of one’s style. A simpler and reasonable solution is also to remain within a close reading and translation of the texts. It is a clever move. while avoiding excesses that would make it sound ‘odd’. Alternatively. dates. Such views are more often than not at odds with the sophisticated approaches that trained historians or social scientists may be familiar with. and so forth. and who wish to focus more on the meaning or content of one’s object of study. one may look for relatively sophisticated tools within the social sciences themselves. why should we ever be paid to write what we consider untrue? As Dharmakīrti said of his own field: Treatises on proper reasoning are not composed by good people for the sake of earning profit and the like. strings of facts. 13 . but as a human being and a researcher in general: after all. ‘insider’ scholars often end up using very uncompromising and over-critical views about traditional positions. and to make such a focus clear.seem both unascertainable and uninteresting. who wish to write about Buddhism being sincere to their own reasoned convictions.

शुभमसतु च सवे‌षाम् दुःिखतो मासतु कशन । यिद पुणयं वयं पापताः सवे यानतु परं पदम् ॥ Bibliography: Nyyabindu of Dharmakrti with Dharmottara’s  k  Malvania.). Patna: Kashi Prasad Jayaswal Institute. (ed. (ed. Chapter 1. Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications. Ernst ( Dignāga’s Pramāṇasamuccaya.). (ed. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.P. 1993 14 . www.oeaw. Vādanyāya of Dharmakī and tr. 1970 Vādanyāya of Dharmakīrti Gokhale. 1955 (revised ed.).1971) Pramāṇasamuccaya of Digṅāga with auto-commentary Steinkellner.). Darbhanga: The Mithila Institute. April 2005 Madhyntavibhga stra with Vasubandhu’s bhāṣya and  Sthiramati’s ṭīkā Pandeya. D. Paṇḍita Durvekamiśra’s Dharmottarapradīpa. P. Mahāyānasūtrālaṁkāra of Asaṅga.pdf . S. 1971 Mahynastrlakra of Maitreya/Asaga Bagchi. Ramchandra (ed. Madhyāntavibhāgaśāstra.