Early Yogacara and its Relation to Nagarjuna's Madhyamaka

Change and Continuity in the History of Mahayana Buddhist Thought
Elena France Hanson
Publish Place: 
Harvard University
Publish Year: 
October 1998
E-book Tag: 

This dissertation examines the relation between the Madhyamaka and Yogacara schools of Buddhism, focusing on the Yogacara perspective. It reevaluates the opinion, generally accepted among modern scholars, that the Madhyamaka and Yogacara schools constitute divergent and radically opposed movements within the Buddhist Tradition. To address this issue, the dissertation distinguishes between two separate questions. The first question is whether the early Yogacara writers were actively refuting what they perceived to be a distinct religious school within the Buddhist tradition. This question is doxographical, concerning itself with how the authors of certain Yogacara texts saw their own theories in relation to other Buddhist teachings. The second question is whether the philosophical doctrines of the early Yogacara writers are inconsistent with the foundational Madhyamaka writings. This question is one of comparative religious philosophies. In addressing the doxographical question, the dissertation examines the biographical sources pertaining to the early Yogacara writers, Asanga and Vasubandhu, as well as the philosophical writings which are attributed to them.