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Analysis of the Middle and Extremes/The Scripture on the Monk Nāgasena


Category: Product ID: 3086
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Analysis of the Middle and Extremes is the first English translation

of the Chinese translation of the Madhyāntavibhāga-bhāṣya from

Sanskrit by Xuanzang (602–664). The Madhyāntavibhāga-bhāṣya

is an explanation of Mahayana Buddhist thought, intended to explicate

the full path to buddhahood via gradual advancement through

the bodhisattva stages. The text can be regarded as a kind of

detailed manual explaining the career of a successful Buddhist

practitioner—specifically a bodhisattva—from the very beginning

until their achievement of the ultimate goal, buddhahood itself.

The work is comprised of primary verses (kārikā) together with

interspersed commentary (bhāṣya). This text subsequently became

an important component within the Yogācāra corpus.


The Scripture on the Monk Nāgasena is one of two extant Chinese

counterparts to the Pāli Milindapa ha, the “Questions of Milinda,”

a debate on central themes of Buddhist doctrine between a king

called Milinda, apparently corresponding to the Bactrian Greek

King Menander (second century B.C.E.), and the Buddhist monk

Nāgasena. While the actual circumstances of the translation into

Chinese of this text are unknown, and the identity of the translator(s)

and the time of the translation work remain uncertain, it was likely

done sometime in the second or third century C.E. The actual

encounter between Nāgasena and Milinda stands in the tradition of

ancient Indian debate, where the point is not primarily to refute an

argument with sound proofs but to successfully counter a challenge

in order to win the debate and convert the opponent. The discussion

reported in the Milindapa ha and its Chinese parallels gradually

evolves from its starting point as a debate to becoming more of an

exchange between teacher and pupil, and the debates are enlivened

by the rich use of metaphors and similes.

Additional information

Dimensions9.5 × 6.5 × 1 in
Publishing Date2021