Jinendrabuddhi's Visalamalavati Pramanasamuccayatika, chapter I.

Author:Hayes, Richard P.
Position:Book review
 
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Jinendrabuddhi's Visalamalavati Pramanasamuccayatika, Chapter I. Edited by ERNST STEINKEILNER, HELMUT KRASSER, and Horst LASIC. Part I: Critical Edition, with an Introduction by Ernst Steinkellner. Part II: Diplomatic Edition, with a Manuscript Description by Anne MacDonald. Sanskrit Texts from the Tibetan Autonomous Region, no. 1. Beijing: CHINA TIBETOLOGY RESEARCH CENTER; and Vienna: AUSTRIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES, 2005. Pp. Ix + 209, xxxviii + 161.

Anyone who has worked to interpret a Tibetan translation of a Sanskrit text without the benefit of the original text is familiar with fantasies of the original text being uncovered in a remote monastery. Those who have struggled with Dignaga's works will therefore be delighted to know that something very close to that fantasy has come true. Some years ago, while visiting the People's Republic of China. Professor Ernst Steinkellner was granted access to photocopies of archived Sanskrit texts kept in China. As he studied one of the photocopies, he realized he was holding a manuscript of Jinendra-buddhi's commentary to Dignaga's Pramanasamuccaya (PS). Eventually arrangements were made with the Chinese officials to authorize a team based at the Austrian Academy of Sciences to work extensively on the text and to create a diplomatic edition and a critical edition of this extensive commentary, hereinafter referred to as PST. The editions of the first chapter of PST have now been published, with promises that the remaining chapters will follow. The PS has six chapters in all; this first chapter is on the topic of pratyaksa. Moreover, because Jinendrabuddhi was a commentator who quoted nearly every phrase from the text he was commenting upon, it should be possible to use the PST as the basis for producing a reliable reconstruction of nearly all the Sanskrit text of the PS itself. Needless to say, this publication and the ones to follow will put the study of Dignaga's philosophy on a more secure footing than it has had in the past several decades.

The discovery of the manuscript would in itself be arguably the most significant breakthrough in the modern study of Indian Buddhist logic and epistemology since the discovery in the 1940s of a Sanskrit manuscript of Dharmakirti's Pramanavarttika. But the significance of this recent breakthrough only begins with the discovery of the manuscript of PST; it is the culmination of that discovery in the production of a beautifully careful and elegantly presented set...

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