Aryadeva

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Aryadeva
Aryadeva

Aryadeva (3rd Century CE), was a disciple of Nagarjuna and author of several important Mahayana Madhyamaka Buddhist texts. He is also known as Kanadeva the 15th patriarch in the Zen tradition and Bodhisattva Deva in Sri Lanka where he was born as the son of a king. Some Chinese sources however, suggest he was born in Southern India in a Brahmanical family.

Most of Aryadeva's works were not preserved in the original Sanskrit, but they mainly survived in Tibetan and Chinese translations. His best-known text is probably the Catusataka (400 verses), in sixteen chapters of twenty-five stanzas each. One of his best-known students is Asvagosha.

Several important works of esoteric Buddhism (most notably the Caryamelapakapradipa or "Lamp that Integrates the Practices") are attributed to Aryadeva. Contemporary research suggests that these works are datable to a significantly later period in Buddhist history (late ninth or early tenth century), but the tradition of which they are a part maintains that they are (at least in some measure) the work of the Madhyamaka Aryadeva. Traditional historians (for example, the 17th century Tibetan Tāranātha), aware of the chronological difficulties involved, account for the anachronism via a variety of theories, such as the propagation of later writings via mystical revelation. A useful summary of this tradition, its literature, and historiography may be found in Wedemeyer 2007.

According to the Drikung Kagyü school of Tibetan Buddhism, Garchen Rinpoche is the current incarnation of Aryadeva.

Texts Attributed to Aryadeva

  • Catuhsataka-shastra-nama-karika (the Four Hundred Verses) was translated to English as Aryadeva's Catuhsaka. On the Bodhisattva's Cultivation of Merit and Knowledge by Karen Lang. Snow Lion Publications published the Four Hundred Verses as Yogic Deeds of Bodhisattvas. A new edition will be published in 2008 titled: Aryadeva's Four Hundred Stanzas on the Middle Way.
  • Sata(ka)shastra (Treatise on the One Hundred Songs)
  • Aksarasataka (One Hundred Syllables) is sometimes attributed to Nagarjuna
  • Hastavalaprakarana (Hair in the Hand) is sometimes attributed to Dignaga and was translated to English as On Voidness. A Study on Buddhist Nihilism by Fernando Tola and Carmen Dragonetti.
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