Nagarjuna - Founder of Madhyamaka
Nagarjuna, known as the greatest Buddhist philosopher and was also considered as the king of nagas.
Nagarjuna is one of the most famous Buddhist philosophers and was even considered as the greatest Buddhist philosopher after Lord Buddha himself. According to Buddhist tradition, Nagarjuna was the founder of the Madhyamika School. Madhamaka School is one of the important schools where Buddhist monks and disciples are preached and taught about Mahayana Buddhism. It is said that Nagarjuna together with his disciple Aryadeva founded this famous school and Mahayana Buddhismthus became popular and famous. One of the greatest achievements of Nagarjuna was his work on the Middle Way. He wrote “Mula-Madhyamaka-karika” for Madhyamaka School which is also known as “Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way”. The Mula-Madhyamaka-karika is considered as the best-known work of Nagarjuna.
In Mahayana Buddhism, Nagarjuna is depicted as the “titanic figure” and also depicted as Buddhist monk with naga characteristics. Many Buddhist scholars have praised him for his influence in the foundation of Mahayana Buddhism. According to Mahayana Buddhism, Nagarjuna was born in a Brahmin family and became Buddhist monk later.
NagarjunaÂ was considered as the most important philosopher afterÂ Gautama BuddhaÂ in the history ofÂ Mahayana Buddhism. One of the most important philosophies thatÂ NagarjunaÂ contributed toÂ BuddhismÂ was theÂ concept of Sunyata. TheÂ sunyataÂ simply means âemptinessâ andÂ NagarjunaÂ concept ofÂ SunyataÂ was about bringing together mainÂ Buddhist doctrines.Â NagarjunaÂ particularly tried to bringÂ Buddhist doctrinesÂ such asÂ Anatman ânot-selfâÂ andÂ Pratityasamutpada âdependent originationâ. According toÂ Nagarjunaâs Concept on Sunyata, all sentient beings cannot exist independently thus these sentient beings are without any self-nature.Â
Another greatest philosophy proposed byÂ NagarjunaÂ was theÂ concept of Two Truths. According toNagarjuna, there are two truths or two levels of reality inÂ Buddhaâs teachings. Thus, theÂ concept of Two TruthsÂ was the key things in the development ofÂ Two Truths DoctrineÂ ofÂ Mahayana Buddhism. The Two levels of reality or Truths represent two types of truths inÂ Buddhist Course. These two truths areÂ relative truthÂ andÂ absolute truth. TheÂ relative truthÂ is also known as theÂ commonsensical truthÂ and theÂ relative truthÂ describes the experience in the concrete world or life. TheÂ absolute truthÂ is also known as theÂ ultimate truthÂ and the absolute truth refers to the reality ofÂ Sunyata.
Nagarjuna as Friend of Nagas
TheÂ legend of NagasÂ can be found in the myths ofÂ HinduismÂ as well asÂ Buddhism.Â NagasÂ are the snake beings and according toÂ Buddhist tradition, they are from theÂ unseen realms. According to legend related toÂ Nagarjuna,Â nagasÂ were keeping and protecting sutras that containedÂ the teachings of BuddhaÂ and they are hiding these sutras from mankind.Â NagasÂ entrusted these sutras toÂ NagarjunaÂ and asked him to take the sutras back to theÂ human realm. The sutras entrusted toÂ NagarjunaÂ were calledÂ Wisdom SutrasÂ andÂ NagarjunaÂ collected these sutras under theÂ Prajnaparamita Sutra (Perfection of Wisdom). Thatâs whyÂ NagarjunaÂ is remembered for his work onÂ Wisdom Sutras.
Madhyamaka School is the school that refers to Mahayana Buddhist School that is based on the philosophy of Nagarjuna on Middle Way.
"“Whatever is dependent arising; We declared that to be emptiness. That is dependent designation And is itself the middle way.”"- Nagarjuna
According toÂ Madhyamaka, all phenomena are dependent and are empty and without essence. They have no independent reality of their own.