Now that 35 years have passed since Buddhism has spread to the mainstream In America and Europe, there are Western philosophers who are Buddhist and are familiar with both terminologies. This has given rise to the philosophical position called Buddhist Functionalism.
On the meaning of shunyata, the central Buddhist concept and its unique character, or
What is the place of Madhyamika in philosophy ?
An elucidation and summary of R. C. Pandeya's The Madhyamika Philosophy: A New Approach* from Philosophy East & West v. 14 (3-24) U. of Hawaii Press, 1964.
Dr. Ram C. Pandeya is also the author of Nagarjuna's Philosophy of No-Identity (With Philosophical Translations of the Madhyamaka-Karika, Sunyata-Saptati and Vigrahavya-vartani) 1991, and "Human Rights: An Indian Perspective," Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights. Paris: UNESCO, 1986.
NB Where Pandeya's exact words have been retained, they are indicated by quotation marks.
Using the approach and vocabulary of Western philosophy, about 30 years ago Pandeya meticulously and step-by-step showed that the Buddhist Madhyamika view is not a moderate position but rather, an entirely radical approach. It is certainly not to be considered a metaphysical view.
He begins by explaining the distinction between Vaibhasika and Svatrantika [or Sautantrika], two prior schools of Buddhist philosophy.
The Vaibhasika theory concerning the reality of all elements of past and future was criticized by the Sautrantikas on the ground that what we really know is only in the present. This view was made possible by the development of the original theory of impermanence into that of momentariness. This momentariness of any object depends upon a criterion of reality called efficiency. It is the "efficiency" of an object that ensures it reality, but that quality must always be changing since time is a flow and not a series of discrete moments. So, any real object is constantly changing: Impermanence is the very nature of existence.
Like Hindu Samkhya philosophers, Buddhists believe in natural, continuous change. Unlike the Hindu Nyaya-Vaishesikas, they reject the notion of an efficient cause in the form of a supernatural, metaphysical (outside "the game") reality, called Atman or God. But, since it goes against plain common sense to believe that a thing changes its very nature from moment to moment, Buddhists explain that this change happens only in the components of the object. This is the origin of the double character of a thing: THE TWO VIEWS.
According to this reasoning, reality is a present condition; it cannot exist in the past or in the future.
Now, reality, self-changing as it is, follows certain laws. It is obvious that there is a harmony between momentary reality and the apparent permanence of most things otherwise, a thing would be unrecognizable from one second to the next. Therefore there must be an unbroken series or flow of the set of realities that we experience and hence understand as one thing. This is where the Buddhist law of Dependent Origination comes into play.
Also, a preceding moment cannot be thought to cause the succeeding one; for going back in time, that would entail a cause and effect relation between the two object-moments that turns a cause into an effect into a cause ... which would make no (Hindu) Samkhya sense. And, thinking along the lines of the Hindu Nyaya-Vaisheshikas, how could something entirely new be produced out of something old? (Nyayikas might say that what seems new is only due to the fact that the old thing was lacking something.)
Buddhist philosophers called Vijnanavadins (Yogacharas,) saw a danger of eternalism in the theory of their idealist colleagues, for the latter said that the realities of the universe are merely appearances in the storehouse-consciousness (alaya-jnana.) The standard explanation of causality: "This being, HENCE that arises" cannot explain simultaneously existing elements -- for in that formula each particular element is supposed to follow a preceding particular. Thus causality was conceived by the Svatrantikas [also written, Sautrantikas] as 'appearance of such realities as are by their very nature evanescent, in co-ordination with other realities.' " This is like saying that there is no causality, only synchronicity.
The Sautrantika does not believe like Plato that reality is a sort of shadow of an Ideal, nor like the Hindu Samkhya that a thing is a product of some interplay of manifestations (or the fun and trickery, of Lila or Maya) of a Higher Being or Force. He or she holds rather, ". . . that the very momentary existence of a naturally evanescent entity enables it to be efficacious and thus real. Strange though it may seem, for them reality consists in appearance; in the absence of its appearance a thing is unreal. This appearance is not of something, nor is it of nothing; it is because of the force (samskara) of coordinating realities. Thus realities make other realities appear; they do not create one, nor do they produce one. In this lies their efficacy. "
Any event, being or object in the here-and-now is only the basis of our perception of reality; the Real Thing cannot be directly grasped because it is momentary by nature. It can be inferred only as a consequence of its impact on a perceiving mind -- that is what is meant by something's "efficacy". But the existence of such a thing cannot be denied because how would it be possible to tell a Real thing from a seemingly-real thing -- an illusion ?
In other words, we perceive conditioned-reality only. This is because our minds are not capable of penetrating "the hard shell of generality," the result -- of linked moments of experience of heaps of kinds of characteristics (skandhas) -- that leads us to believe we are experiencing a relatively unchanging event, person, place or thing.
But this generality itself should not lead us to believe that a thing is entirely non-existent in some absolute sense because after all, it does derive from evanescent reality. However, it is entirely a creation of our own mind via our senses.
When we conclude 'This is a flower,' the this stands for the object of experience that is a momentary impression but is not felt as such, and flower stands for the concept using the this as its reference. So that any knowledge is ultimately only of "this," the momentary element which carries with it a "tinge of concepts." Therefore, we consider that the "this now" part is real but the conceptual part is make-believe.
Svatantra theory "rules out the possibility of knowing the real but accepts its existence on the strength of its impact on our mind." From our experience we are compelled to believe in its particularity, but its generic character is [only due to a sort of hypothetical knowledge] for what we know is the consequence of general experience, and 'efficacy' lies in a particular, not in the universal. So to a Buddhist reality is manifold, free from concepts -- "a directly unknowable something".
Monism ['it is all God'] is condemned as a wrong view. Madhyamikas had to defend their own view against Brahmanical systems -- Samkhya and Vaishesika on one hand, and Vaibhasikas and the Sautrantikas on the other. They came out with a new interpretation of the Buddha's teachings which they thought was not properly presented by any other school. Still preserving the sanctity of the Middle Path, they presented a novel interpretation of the theory of causality called the theory of Dependent Origination (pratitya-samutpada). This interpretation completely changes the picture of Buddha's teachings and is a landmark in Indian philosophy.
Chandrakirti, illustrious commentator on Nagarjuna, says that although the Brahmanas tell us about the soul or atman, describing it as existent, blissful, etc. it is something which is supposed to be beyond its components, the five elements. That view never depends upon direct knowledge of atman, and Hindu scriptures generally admit this unknow-ability. This criticism means that what the soul in-itself is is never found.
One of the reasons any description of soul cannot refer to
soul-in-itself, is that no Brahmana would say that any description really stands
for a conglomeration of five elements and that would reduce it merely to
evanescent reality. Therefore the 'soul' or atman is just a
word. Madhyamikas would say that such a view of soul is even worse
-- that is, inaccurate/inadequate -- than the Sautrantika view which at least
can present 'soul' as referring to something, if only of a generic
character. So that if the Brahmanas actually applied logic to their view,
they would have to conclude that soul is a purely imaginary notion with
no inherent existence. And just because words and concepts have a certain
utility, as Bertrand Russell pointed out, we ought not to
conclude that because we can say a word or phrase, that it actually confers
existence. We all know that a description without any reference is a
fabrication: "It is like the expression 'a barren woman's daughter'.
Such a description of a girl would not attract even highly passionate
"Apart from this distinction, the two cases are alike from the point of view of the knowledge-situation. In knowledge, we cannot tell veridical perception from illusory perception. This is the case with the knowledge of ordinary human beings."
In other words, sometimes we use a word as an aid to reasoning, or as part of
the thinking process, but that does not mean the words refer to anything
real. Also, we are rarely able to tell reality as it is being experienced
from reality as words, or reality as part of the stream of experience.
We have seen that for both Buddhist schools, knowledge refers to something external. In the phenomenological sense, all knowledge is intentional and this is also true of illusory cognition. But for Sautrantikas, "the external is something in coordination with which knowledge arises, and this is a necessary presupposition by which they distinguish veridical perception from illusory cognition. There is not only intentionality, there is also a real sense-datum. But Madhyamikas cast a doubt upon the reality of this, i.e., the coordinating character of the intended reality. The this is said to be the object of knowledge because it is efficacious in the appearance of veridical perception. Hence, in spite of the fact that it is not known in itself, its existence cannot be denied. "
However, Madhyamikas do not subscribe to this view saying that an efficacious reality is not a necessary condition or coordinating factor for perception, because perception takes place even when there is no such reality present, e.g., the perception of triple suns or double moons. I think, therefore it is ?
Perception is dependent on something external but that thing does not need not be actual. So we can say that in that view veridical perception is on a par with illusory perception. In both the cases there is an awareness of this but we cannot at the same time confirm the truth of the actual existence of this. Chandrakirti therefore condemns the view of truth of this as childish.
But then, how can we distinguish between a veridical perception and an illusory one?
For Madhyamikas, this question does not arise. But since Sautrantikas think that knowledge depends upon things other than the knowledge itself, they co-ordinate to make it appear. The so-called real is known as the other. This otherness is either superfluous, if it is supposed to refer to something which is already different from knowledge, or else it is impossible, if it actually does not refer to the other.
"The supposed reality at the root of veridical perception cannot
be proved; hence, knowledge operating only with concepts will have to be
explained in terms of concepts. The supposed reality in itself does not
contribute to our knowledge. The concept of it alone will explain knowledge.
Thus, illusory cognition is as much conceptual as non-illusory cognition.
In the absence of any effective tool at our disposal to institute a distinction,
we have to take them as of one kind. "
If knowledge were purely conceptual, perception or non-perception would
depend on the will of the perceiver. To explain this, the famous twelve-linked
formula of Dependent Origination is pressed into service, but with a
rather different interpretation. We need not say that reality actively
coordinates since activity itself is a concept. We can assert only that
the all concepts are relative to each other, so that coordination is
replaced by relativity.
Coordinating factors must be different from the supposed thing resulting from their co-ordination. That is, coordination presupposes difference on the one hand, among coordinating factors, and on the other hand, between coordinating factors and their result. But the fact is that these momentary factors cannot ever coordinate, and even if coordination is accepted, they cannot be said to be in a causal relation with something yet to be produced. Relationship can be assumed to exist only between two things existing simultaneously.
In knowledge we assume that there is an object which is responsible for it. But can we show the relationship between an object and its knowledge?
Madhyamikas say No, as what we are aware of is only the concept of an object; this concept is based upon another concept of relation. The concept of relation, in its turn, depends upon two things that are related. In order to prove actual relation between two things we refer to the concept of relation and say that had there been no relation the concept of relation would never have arisen.
But Madhyamikas would pay the realists back in their own coin, because, for
them, if there had been no concept of relation, actual relation itself would
never have been assumed. Therefore, we can say with justification
that the concepts are responsible for the notion of actually existing things,
but we cannot say the converse because except for concepts we have no way of
ascertaining the actual state of affairs. Thus, causality for Madhyamikas
is not rooted in co-ordination of factors, but only in the dependence of one
concept upon another.
An example of this type of dependence, very often repeated in their texts, is that of big and small. It is clear that in itself a thing is neither big nor small; it is only when we come to compare two things, that in relation to one the other is big or small . . . . Thus the concept of bigness arises because there is a concept of smallness and vice versa.
Similarly, the entire furniture of our knowledge is nothing but a great fabrication of mutually dependent concepts. In that case, we have to explain the origin of the primary concepts. For realists there is no difficulty: these concepts arise in co-ordination with actual realities. But Madhyamikas who intend to eliminate altogether the notion of metaphysics -- ultimate reality -- cannot agree to this saying that so-called basic concepts are in no way any better than other concepts.
"Chandrakirti makes a distinction between general relativity and specific relativity. Relativity as a basic tendency of mind may be compared to a field which is given to the mind to play in. Within this relativity-field our mind encounters other things, but, conditioned as it is by the relativity-field, it takes those specific objects in the light of relativity. To say that this relativity is associated with mind without any beginning is to assert indirectly that it cannot go beyond its field. Mind is confined to the field of relativity; only concepts and not things can be legitimately relative; hence, mind cannot know the thing-in-itself."
Sautrantikas think that although realities cannot be directly known, they are many, momentary, and efficacious. This view is rejected by Madhyamikas such as Chandrakirti since to say that reality is many involves the concept that relation, momentariness, and efficacy are not possible without the concept of causation.
The very logic which rejects an Advaita oneness of reality by saying that regarding knowledge only the manifold is given, and thus monism is fictitious compels us to disown plurality altogether since not the manifold real, but only the concept of relation is given to play with. Thus reality-in-itself can neither be one nor many.
The relativity-field performs, and therefore is, as the general law of causality as expressed in the formula "this being, that arises," which means that any concept will lead to another concept. This causal formula expressed by the Master shows that reality is not born, nor does it die; it is neither momentary nor is it efficacious. Nagarjuna discusses this relativity-field in the first chapter of his famous book and, in subsequent chapters, particular concepts arise as a result such as motion, conjunction, time, space, emancipation, and soul.
He invariably comes to the conclusion that all these are mere concepts rooted in their mutual dependence, and hence they cannot describe the real-in-itself. The task of philosophy is to show that reality conceived within the relativity-field is conceptual, and hence it has no essence of its own, i.e., it is not what it would be in itself.
The question as to what causes the relativity-field in our mind cannot be answered because that involves a state beyond it and our mind cannot go there. An unanswerable question is no question. Similarly, the question whether this relativity-field is itself relative also cannot be answered because any answer to that would presuppose relativity.
Thus, the most consistent position is to take experience as a play of interdependent concepts which, having no connection with reality, are empty. Within the field of relativity emptiness means devoid of content (nairatmya), but not of existence (abhava). Concepts prevail upon and obscure the vision of the mind, and though they are there, ought not be confused with reality.
But the concepts are pregnant with intentionality: a concept refers to
another concept, and if a concept is taken as referring to reality, that is
delusion or a 'wrong notion.' "Notion and truth should be carefully
distinguished. To think that the existence of a concept means the existence of a
thing is a notion which is utterly false; to think that a concept exists because
there are other concepts is a truth. The former has its repercussions in the
form of bondage; the latter has no repercussions in the sense that bondage,
being a relative concept, has a contentless existence."
One who says that there are realities first denies that there are relative concepts (a truth) and then forms a notion that these concepts must be real in themselves because they exist. He takes relativity as an indication of the existence of concepts. Nagarjuna thinks that those people who reduce the relative truth of concepts to a mere notion are incurable. Hence, relativity should not be made a notion, just as eternalism is a notion.
Truth as relativity is accepted by people with no particular philosophical view in mind. For them, one concept leads to another: Causality presupposes cause and effect, motion depends upon a mover, space depends upon an occupant, time assumes changing objects, soul depends upon mental activities, and even liberation depends upon the concept of prior bondage and subsequent release. We are not justified in going beyond these concepts to assume any reality ... .
What we know are mere concepts, and they are not realities in any aforementioned sense. It would be absurd to maintain the existence of realities, but it would be more so to maintain their non-existence. We are only conceptually undecided about there being realities, and thus Madhyamikas are exonerated from a charge of agnosticism. Thus, any statement should always be construed in the sense that the meaning of it refers either to concepts or to words or to both together, but never to a state of material reality.
Using modern philosophical terms, we would have either conceptual mode or formal mode, but not the material mode of speech. The formal mode differs from the conceptual mode in that it depends purely upon habit or patterns of speech and does not arouse any concept. For example, "A flower in the sky is fragrant" does not convey any real sense because all it is is a phrase based on a grammatical pattern or language-habit -- it has no significance. Madhyamikas call this a language fabrication.
Significant sentences, on the other hand, give an idea of the state of affairs. They are significant in two ways: first, they are framed in accordance with rules, just like the first sentence, but second, they arouse some concept in the minds of hearers and can continue a chain of concepts. They are therefore not only the fabrications of language but also of mind.
But the realm of reality is inaccessible; concepts may simply create an illusion of reality in the mind of a person. It is as if there is an intentionality of concepts. And if concepts cannot give us a glimpse of realities, how can we expect language to be able to describe it? Reality therefore eludes both our concepts and language. It is entirely outside the realm of the fabrications of language but it is not metaphysical.
***Some interpreters commit the mistake which is emphatically avoided by
this school. They think that, although the Madhyamikas deny speech and thought
to reality, they still maintain from a "higher standpoint" an existent
Real in the form of the Cosmic Body of the Buddha (dharmakaya) which is
described as "without a second" (advaya). In actuality this all
seems to be a mere fabrication of mind.
Similarly, there is nothing higher than these concepts, because again, the concepts themselves, being relative, cannot lead to the pinnacle of absolute truth. Even if that higher truth were to be there it would be relative, since it would be achieved through relative concepts. Therefore, it is difficult to agree with that interpretation which ascribes to the Madhyamikas an Absolute.***
But Nagarjuna says that truth is twofold: the truth about relatives and the truth in itself. It is absurd to say, as many have, that the phrase "empirical truth" means relative truth. Truth, rightly speaking, can never be relative. [And] Truth about relatives is not the same thing as relative truth. For example, to say that concepts are relative is a truth about relatives, but it itself is absolute.
If this were not so, then it would be impossible to distinguish between the Jaina theory of relative truth and this newer concept of the Madhyamikas. Thus, when truth is conceived in itself without any reference to relative concepts, it is absolute truth. But any and all concepts are governed by the law of relativity and wherever that law applies, there is relativity.
But, what about this relativity? Even a casual reader of the Madhyamika
Karikas can see that for this school, the law of relativity itself is
everything, and Nagarjuna salutes the Master [Shakyamuni]
because he proclaimed this as truth. Hence, to think that Madhyamikas
believe in some Brahman-like Absolute seems to be reading too much between the
lines. [That is, we ought not to confuse
words such as Buddha-nature or Dharmakaya as referring to an
Absolute such as Brahman, or some people's notion of Ishvara
Reality is: self-realizable, quiescent, not fabricated by speech and mind, and without distinction. Therefore, so long as we operate with concepts we are not dealing with reality. And when concepts cease to appear relatively, then speech and mind stop fabricating. As a result, all afflictions arising out of attachment to these concepts cease to bother a person.
This aware state is not achieved by means of preaching. Chandrakirti beautifully illustrates this:
Similarly, a person, although convinced about the unreality of
concepts, continues to be led astray by their intentionality. He has to
stop even the flow of relative concepts to get at the real. And he has to
do it by himself. What he gets when the whirlwind of relative concepts is
over is the Real, but he will not be competent to speak about it to the world at
large. Truth about the relativity of concepts can be told to the
world because the concepts are still there, but the truth in itself can
never be told since concepts do not contribute to it. However,
since it is entirely against the accepted canon of logic to maintain a truth and
yet refuse to say it, it has been found convenient to state that truth in a
negative way -- Truth is the negation of concepts.
Truth in itself is always positive. Reality is distinct from propositions because it can neither be affirmed nor denied; it is neither true nor false. It is not the same thing as truth, because it is merely the view that we have. Hence, when we find a distinction instituted between two truths, a lower and a higher one, it means only a less correct and a more correct view of reality. And . . . the view is not the same thing as the real.
That concepts are relative is a truth, but a less correct one -- one that assumes relativity as the standard. A and B are conceived as relatives because of the standard of relativity. But to ask whether relativity is relative is absurd since there cannot be another relativity for this relativity to be relative to.
It is an absolute standard of reference in the case of all things, concepts included, other than itself. But it is equally obvious that, in the absence of anything relative, relativity itself loses significance. Either believe in relativity or in the Absolute -- but you cannot believe in both together.
[Hindu] Advaita Vedanta reconciles the difference between the empirically real and the absolutely Real by introducing maya, the principle of cosmic illusion, but whether that illusion itself is illusory or not can never be adequately explained -- since, if maya itself is not illusory, then it in no way differs from the Absolute; if it is illusory, we require another illusion to make it illusory [ Mahamaya? :-) ]
In [Buddhist] Madhyamika this anomalous position does not arise because, unlike Advaita (non-dual) Vedanta, it is an out-and-out anti-metaphysical system. (That is, there is no higher, or ultimate, or revealable Reality.) Relativity applied to concepts is an effective tool but when devoid of concepts, it devours itself. Thus relativity conceived in itself would be the end of relativity. Thus, it is said to be the consummation of the cessation of all notions, concepts, and ideas.
The word shunyata used by this school is very significant in
this connection. It does not mean a vacuous reality but rather, vacuity
of thought. And to say so is the most perfect wisdom that can
be conceived of (prajnaparamita.)
But the question remains: Can there be a truth without reality? If there is nothing which this truth-statement purports to assert, it is false. Thus it may be urged, and has been urged, that since a truth is here being asserted, therefore there must be a reality.
Such an interpretation of Madhyamika would go entirely against the spirit of it. If Madhyamikas had ever maintained that at the empirical level concepts and realities are inextricably mixed up, as Advaitins assert, then it would be proper to say that, once they have denied any reality to concepts, whatever remains undeniable is Real for them.
But the case is just the opposite: Since for them relative concepts are, though existent, devoid of any touch of Reality, when their existence (only due to the relativity) disappears there is nothing remaining as a substratum or essence to shine in its own light. For Advaitins, negation is used with the ultimate aim of implicit affirmation. ("Not-A" implies something other than A.) But for Madhyamikas, negation is used simply to affirm the negation itself: "Not-A" means exactly that -- simply an absence of A. So, if the absence of a table is a fact and "table is absent" is a truth, it is equally justified to maintain, as do Madhyamikas, that "the concepts are non-existent" is a truth because of the fact that concepts are not to be found. And this is not only a matter of emphasis on the negative approach; this is the very essence of the philosophical vision of Madhyamikas. So if contrary to all contextual usage, we want to call a negative fact a Reality or the Absolute, we are free to do so.
For "Words," says Chandrakirti, "are like a policeman with a chain and a baton in hand, and do not compel us to use them in one way and not the other."
Thus the relativity of concepts is a truth about relative concepts, but cessation
of all concepts is a truth about relativity itself. Just as no reality
is involved in the relativity of concepts, no Reality or Absolute is involved in
cessation of concepts.
Nirvana, the final goal of a Buddhist, is certainly to be viewed in this light. The soul, merely a conceptual idea, is denied, and hence no conceivable thing can attain this state; nor can this state be described because, having been discovered after the cessation of all concepts, it remains beyond concepts altogether.
"The truth about Nirvana can be couched in negative language. Even questions like whether Nirvana is the same as the Real can best be answered by comparing two negative concepts, and not by identifying [ie. equating] them. Nagarjuna says that the nature of reality is like Nirvana. Yes, Reality is like Nirvana only in the sense that each 'item' is conceived by negating all concepts fabricated by our mind and with language. It would be like saying that X1 is not a, b, c ... n, X2 is also not a, b, c ... n, therefore X1 and X2 are similar. But to say that they are identical would have to presuppose a common positive factor the presence of which warrants the identity [equivalence] of the two states.
On the negative side, the world and Nirvana are identical because the world
in itself is unaffected by transitory and relative concepts and so is Nirvana,
but on the positive side nothing can be stated because Nirvana and
reality are not known to share certain common characteristics."
Any result to be achieved is contingent upon the act done to achieve it
and thus it is relative. Nirvana, on the other hand, is simply the
cessation of all relatives and therefore cannot be said to depend upon the
act. Only when relatives cease to exist, is Nirvana revealed and this is
not made or unmade, known or unknown. [achieved or not.]
If we are permitted to see in Madhyamaka a philosophy of numbers, we could say that they take delight in the concept of zero. It is against the background of zero that the concept one can arise. To say that a number is not one means it is two or more, but to say that it is not two may mean: it is one, or, it is more than two. In order to avoid this ambiguity, they introduce the term shunya, or zero -- a number which is definitely not two (advaya,) and this zero (shunya) just is obviously zero, without a reference to any positive number.
Vedantins describe the real as One only (ekam eva) that is, without any second (advitiyam). Numerically speaking, they do not recognize zero as something significant. Zero itself stands between the absence of numbers and all positive numbers from one to infinity. So the word advaya read with the word shunya means "complete absence of numerable objects or the number concept." But what the nature of this sunya is cannot be described. Any attempt to answer this question will land us in relativity.
However. one thing is certain; shunya is not nothing. Had that been the case, the relative concepts would never have arisen.
They are out-and-out analysts; they profess the analysis of concepts. Adept as they are in bringing out an element of contradiction in every concept, they do not move upward to some synthetic unity, either in the Kantian or in the Hegelian sense. They operate upon the concepts and leave the wound gaping without making any attempt at bandaging or balming it.
They [are absolutely not doing dialectics or synthesis but] simply show that the concepts are self-contradictory; they never attempt to remove the contradiction. As contradiction is the very core of the truth about relative concepts, if the contradiction is somehow removed, even relative concepts cease to be, and that would be a state of utter nothingness which is to be avoided. [So] Let there be no illusion about the existence of un-contradictory concepts, because that would be a mere nothing.
Madhyamikas show contradiction because they feel that in this way they would accord some reality to concepts. Is it not a fact that what is dependently originated alone is real ? This purpose cannot be achieved by synthesis.
Pandeya's footnotes 47& 48:
Nagarjuna's analysis seems to be the original on which Shankara modeled his dialectic. When the former shows every concept to be self-contradictory and leaves it there, the latter seeks to synthesize self-contradictory concepts with the Absolute. In Shankara we find an unwarranted jump from concepts to reality, and this is invariably the trait of all metaphysical systems. In this respect Yogacharas are more cautious and faithful to their basic standpoint in as far as they deny any external world. Analysis of concepts and their self-contradictory character do not warrant the self-contradictory character of objects as well. The objective reality stands unaffected by the contradiction in concepts.
Pandeya's article makes reference to:
Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita (Calcutta 1932)
The Sriimad Bhagavata.
Shankara-bhasya on the Brahma-sutra, I.
T. R. V. Murti. The Central Philosophy of Buddhism. London: Allen & Unwin, 1960.
L. S. Stebbing. A Modern Introduction to Logic. New
York: Crowell, 1930.
For Madhyamikas, every symbol, including demonstratives, is
an incomplete symbol, and we can know "by description only."
And "There is no reason to single out the Madhyamika as especially nihilistic. If anything, it is a very consistent form of absolutism."
MV, P. 493. It is wrong to translate "Nirvana" by
"Absolute" and the Ashta.sahasrikaa Prajnaparamita
(Calcutta 1932, 40) clearly states Nirvana also is only another concept.
[That is the key distinction between the orthodox Hindu
view, and the Buddhist view.]