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The Marvel of Consciousness: Existence and Manifestation in Jñānaśrīmitra’s Sākārasiddhiśāstra


This paper considers Jñānaśrīmitra’s defense of manifestation (prakāśa) as the criterion of ultimate existence (paramārthasat). In the first section, "Asatkhyāti and Adhyavasāya: making sense of manifestation as the criterion of the real", I show the way that, in response to Ratnākaraśānti’s Nirākāravāda, Jñānaśrīmitra argues for a sharp distinction between manifestation and determination (adhyavasāya) in an effort to establish that the manifestation of something unreal (alīka, asat) is incoherent. The unreal, he thinks, is only ever determined; it is never manifest to consciousness, properly speaking. In the second section, “To be manifest is to be locked away in a single awareness-event”, I turn to one of the consequences of this view that Jñānaśrīmitra embraces: what manifests is only what appears in a single moment of conscious awareness. In the third section, “The scope of neither-one-nor-many: Jñānaśrīmitra’s Interpretation of PV 3.220–221”, I consider one of the problems this raises: how is it that an appearance with mutually opposed parts (a so-called citrākāra, for instance a variegated butterfly’s wing that is both blue and yellow) manifests in one and the same unitary moment of awareness? Jñānaśrīmitra solves this problem by appealing to the nature of manifestation and its distinction from determination: what is manifest, even if it is variegated, is nondual and indivisible; distinctions arise only on the basis of determination. I trace the details of this solution in the context of his discussion of an important pair of verses from Dharmakīrti. Finally, in the last section, “The marvelous nonduality of variegated awareness-events”, I turn to the surprising buddhological consequences of this solution.

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  1. Throughout, I give the approximate dates for Buddhist authors’ lives provided at the online resource maintained by Birgit Kellner, Patrick McAllister, and Pei-Lin Chiou, “Epistemology and Argumentation in South Asia and Tibet,” or EAST, (last accessed October 29th, 2021), currently operated out of the Institute for the Cultural and Intellectual History of Asia at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna.

  2. For what little we know about Jñānaśrīmitra’s life, see McCrea and Patil 2010, 2–3, and Kano 2016, 54–55. For remarks on Jñānaśrīmitra’s life and his lasting influence, see Anantalal Thakur 1956, 186–192, and his more extensive “Introduction” to JNĀ, 1–42: see especially 29–42 for an impressive litany of later citations of Jñānaśrīmitra’s work in non-Buddhist materials. For some information regarding his name and the significance of -śrīmitra, see Peter Skilling 1987, esp. 14 and fn. 18.

  3. Franco and Notake 2014, 35–37: arthakriyāsamarthaṃ yat tad atra paramārthasat.

  4. Franco and Notake 2014, 38–43: aśaktaṃ sarvam iti ced bījāder aṅkurādiṣu / dṛṣṭā śaktir matā sā cet saṃvṛtyāstu yathā tathā //. See Prueitt 2019, 50.

  5. See Franco and Notake 2014, 38–39, fn.2: abhipreta eva bhavatpakṣo ’smākam. This was not an uncontroversial interpretation. It runs against what is found in Dharmakīrti’s first commentators, Devendrabuddhi (ca. 630–690) and Śākyabuddhi (ca. 660–720), who instead hold Dharmakīrti to defend causal efficacy as the criterion of the ultimate, interpreting the enigmatic “be that as it may” as a discussion-halting “whatever—causal efficacy is still the criterion of the ultimate.” See Franco and Notake 2014, 39–41, fn. 3; Dunne 2004, 392–393, fn. 3.

  6. Prueitt 2019, 49. Compare Arnold 2012, 217–219. As noted by Franco and Notake 2014, this is the view Jñānaśrīmitra holds as well: see particularly the discussion in the opening section of the Kṣaṇabhaṅgādhyaya, at Kyuma 2005, 14.1–15.13 (JNĀ 7.4–24). See too Kyuma 2010; Tomlinson 2019, 245–249. We’ll return below to Jñānaśrīmitra’s interpretation of the verse, though note, in addition to the discussion at Kyuma 2005, 8.12–9.6 (JNĀ 4.17–25), he discusses it too at JNĀ 419.1–15, in the third chapter of his Sākārasiddhiśāstra, the Madhyamāvatārapariccheda.

  7. Prueitt 2019, 49.

  8. The seventh appendix in Dunne 2004 contains a translation of the passage, with copious selections from Devendrabuddhi’s and Śākyabuddhi’s commentaries. Much of it is translated, too, in Inami 2011, following and together with portions of Prajñākaragupta’s innovative commentary.

  9. Kapstein 2001, 181–204; Kellner and Taber 2014.

  10. In addition to Prueitt 2019, see Dunne 2004, 98–113; Yiannopoulos 2020, 257–290. Śākyabuddhi makes explicit reference to Vasubandhu’s argument in this regard (Dunne 2004, 404–405, fn. 14.).

  11. PV 3.208: […] kathaṃ buddhir ekā citrāvabhāsinī.

  12. Dunne 2004, 402 fn.13. I’ve modified the translation only slightly in accordance with my conventions here.

  13. Note that two of the great defenders of Dharmakīrti’s system, Śāntarakṣita (725–788) and Kamalaśīla (740–795), also understand this to be the ultimate criterion of existence and, with this understanding, refute the ultimate existence of all phenomena in a manner they would seem to ground on Dharmakīrti’s work. See the Madhyamakālaṃkāra, together with its Vṛtti and Pañjikā, in Ichigo 1985, as well as Allison Aitken’s forthcoming work on the neither-one-nor-many argument.

  14. See Devendrabuddhi’s comments referred to by Dunne 2004, 402 fn.13.

  15. PV 3.219: tad upekṣitatattvārthaḥ kṛtvā gajanimīlinaṃ | kevalaṃ lokabuddhyaiva bāhyacintā pratanyate ||. Dunne 2004, 410.

  16. For a discussion of Jñānaśrīmitra’s notion of “conditionally adopted positions,” as well as his innovative comportment toward Dharmakīrti’s text-tradition, see McCrea and Patil 2006. See Kyuma 2010 for an important contribution to our understanding of Jñānaśrīmitra’s various positions on existence.

  17. “Manifest,” “manifestation,” and so on translate the Sanskrit verbal root prakāś- and its various derivatives, prakāśate, prakāśa, and so on. In Jñānaśrīmitra’s usage, as I understand it here, for something to be manifest is for it to be directly present to conscious awareness. It is very close, in Jñānaśrīmitra’s usage, to “appear” and “appearance,” pratibhāsate, pratibhāsa, and so on, and so we will use these terms interchangeably. Further, insofar as to be directly present to conscious awareness is to be apprehended reflexively in that awareness-event itself, “apprehension” (upalabdhi) is also closely connected to manifestation and appearance, in Jñānaśrīmitra’s usage.

  18. In one of its introductory verses, Jñānaśrīmitra tells us that his Sākārasiddhiśāstra is meant to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of various Buddhist idealist views: “This whole triple-world is established to be nothing but consciousness. Here, we will address the strengths and weaknesses of rival positions regarding that idealist view.” (SSŚ 367.10–11: vijñaptimātram akhilaṃ sthitam etaj jagattrayam / tatrāvāntarabhedasya balābalam ihocyate //) The colophon to the whole work ends with reference back to this: “Completed now is this Sākārasiddhiśāstra, composed by the mahāpaṇḍita Jñānaśrīmitra, which was undertaken by means of a critical investigation into the strengths and weaknesses [of various Buddhist idealist views].” (SSŚ 513.8–9: samāptaṃ cedaṃ balābalaparīkṣāmukhenārabdhaṃ sākārasiddhiśāstraṃ kṛtir mahāpaṇḍitajñānaśrīmitrapādānām iti.) The Advaitabinduprakaraṇa, which is beyond our scope here, is meant to establish vijñaptimātratā; see in particular the forthcoming work on this text by Bhikṣu Hejung.

  19. See Tomlinson, forthcoming. The approximate dates for Ratnākaraśānti’s life, taken from Seton 2015, deviate from those conjectured on EAST for reasons Seton convincingly develops in chapter 2 of his dissertation.

  20. The Sanskrit text of the Prajñāpāramitopadeśa (PPU), edited by Luo Hong, is forthcoming. This line is cited as part of an extended citation from the work in the second chapter of Jñānaśrīmitra’s SSŚ 387.9–12: katham avasīyamānas tayā so ’rtho na prakāśyatei. prakāśyamānoii vā katham asau tasyāṃ na prakāśate. i Read prakāśyate with the ms., 79b2, against prakāśate in Thakur’s edition. ii Read prakāśyamāno with the ms., 79b2, against prakāśyamāne in Thakur’s edition. Compare the CAPV of Jñānaśrīmitra’s student, Ratnakīrti (ca. 990–1050), 136.9–13, where the same passage is cited, and PPU 394.12–18 for the Tibetan translation. All references to the manuscript of JNĀ are to the copies of Sāṅkṛtyāyana’s photographs preserved in the collection of Göttingen with the shelf-mark Xc 14/25. My thanks to Bhikṣu Hejung for providing me with photographs of these photographs.

  21. I thank Nilanjan Das for suggesting this clear formulation of Ratnākaraśānti’s argument.

  22. See Tomlinson 2018 and 2019 for more on Ratnākaraśānti’s and Jñānaśrīmitra’s debate.

  23. SSŚ 390.22–24: tathā hy asatpratibhāsa ity asadīśvarādeḥ khyātiḥ, bhāsamāno vākāro ’san, san vā kaścin na khyātīti vivakṣitam. Cf. CAPV 131.32–33.

  24. Jñānaśrīmitra is explicit that the second view is refuted in the same way as the first: “By this argument, the second position too should be understood to be rejected because, since existence is established only due to appearance, there is no room for a defeater [in this case too].” SSŚ 391.11–12: etena dvitīyo ’pi pakṣaḥ pratikṣipto veditavyaḥ, pratibhāsād eva sattāsiddher bādhakāvakāśābhāvāt. Cf. CAPV 132.17–18. He refutes the third view later, relying upon the pervasion he’s established between existence and manifestation to show that the manifestation of the nonexistent is absurd: “Therefore, the definition of error cannot be the manifestation of the nonexistent, for that is impossible. For just this reason, the third way [to define asatkhyāti], namely that something real does not appear, does not work, for existence is pervaded by manifestation, and nonmanifestation is consumed by nonexistence.” SSŚ 398.22–23: tataś ca nāsatkhyātiri nāma bhramalakṣaṇam asaṃbhavāt. ata eva san na prakāśate iti na tṛtīyo ’pi prakāraḥ, prakāśavyāptatvāt sattāyāḥ, aprakāśasyāsattayā grasteḥ. i Read nāsatkhyātir with ms., 83b5, against nāsataḥ khyātir in Thakur’s edition. Cf. CAPV 132.19–20.

  25. SSŚ 391.1–4: yasya svarūpanirbhāsas tad evāsat kathaṃ bhavet / bādhāto yadi sāpy ekā pratyakṣānumayor nanu // pratyakṣe yady aviśvāsa ekatrānyatra kā gatiḥ / tatpūrvam anumānaṃ vā katham āśvāsagocaraḥ // Cf. CAPV 132.7–10. Though he often silently cites Jñānaśrīmitra, Ratnakīrti here explicitly attributes these verses to his teacher, introducing them with yad āhur guravaḥ, as with the verses in the following note.

  26. SSŚ 391.5–10: svarūpasākṣātkaraṇād adhyakṣatvaṃ na cāparam / vikalpabhramabhūmitvam ata eva hi bādhitam // yadi nādhyakṣatā tasya rūpanirbhāsa eva na / tatas tad asad īśādi pratibhātīty asaṃgatam // yadi tu pratibhāseta rūpam asya sad eva tat / tad asat pratibhātīti pratibhāty asad eva vaḥ // Cf. CAPV 133.17–22. Note that, with asat pratibhātīti pratibhāty asad eva vaḥ, Jñānaśrīmitra’s wordplay adds insult to injury: it’s just the opponent’s position that the nonexistent appears that is the only appearance of something untrue.

  27. SSŚ 391.15: bādhyasyāpratibhāsanāt, pratibhāsinaś cābādhyatvāt. Cf. CAPV 132.14.

  28. On this distinction, and on Jñānaśrīmitra’s notion of determination and apoha more broadly, see McCrea and Patil 2006 and 2010; Patil 2009, 248–310. For a recent study of apoha in Ratnakīrti, whose work can help us better understand his teacher Jñānaśrīmitra’s view in many respects, see McAllister 2020. See also Kachru 2019, esp. 65–68, for an insightful discussion of Ratnakīrti’s view of manifestation.

  29. McCrea and Patil 2010, 24.

  30. We might note that Ratnakīrti again follows his teacher in this regard: see Patil 2009, 224–227. And note too that much of the following discussion in the second chapter of the SSŚ parallels passages in Jñānaśrīmitra’s Apohaprakaraṇa (AP), discussed and translated in McCrea and Patil 2010. In response to the view articulated so far, it may be worried that, even if a manifest appearance is not the object of goal-directed activity, it is nevertheless the object of the act of manifesting. (My thanks to Catherine Prueitt for pointing out the relevance of this objection here.) Here, however, we come to a point Jñānaśrīmitra develops in his defense of the complex notion of reflexive awareness (svasaṃvedana) in the fifth chapter of the Sākārasiddhiśāstra, which I will consider in detail elsewhere. Suffice it to say that, following Śāntarakṣita’s account of reflexive awareness, Jñānaśrīmitra takes the manifestation intrinsic to awareness not to be an action that bears analysis into an act (kriyā) and its various constituents (kāraka), such as subject (kartṛ), object (karma), instrument (karaṇa), and so on. As he puts it, silently quoting Śāntarakṣita’s Tattvasaṃgraha 1999cd–2000ab (=Madhyamakālaṃkāra 16cd–17ab), “Here is an intermediary verse: It is only the fact that it is not insentient matter that constitutes the reflexive awareness (ātmasaṃvitti) of consciousness [viz. asya = vijñānasya]. Consciousness’s reflexive awareness (svasaṃvitti), however, does not exist in terms of the relation between action and the constituents involved in action.” SSŚ 471.7–9: iyam evātmasaṃvittir asya yājaḍarūpatāi / kriyākārakabhāvena na svasaṃvittir asya tu //. i Read yājaḍarūpatā against Thakur’s yā jaḍarūpatā. See Ichigō 1985. For insightful readings of Śāntarakṣita’s view that highlight reflexive awareness’s not being an action, see Arnold 2005 and 2020.

  31. SSŚ 393.10–13: tad ayam atra paramārthaḥ, vividhānādivāsanāvaśāt, prabodhakapratyayaviśeṣāpekṣayā vikalpaḥ kenacid ākāreṇopajāyamāna eva bahirmukhapravṛttyanukūlam arthakriyāsmaraṇābhilāṣādiprabandhami ādhatte. tataḥ puruṣasyārthakriyārthino bahirarthānurūpāṇi pravṛttinivṛttyavadhīraṇāni bhavanti.i Read -ābhilāṣādi- with ms. after correction, 81b3, and CAPV. Before the correction, the ms. reads -ābhiṣalāṣādi-, while Thakur’s edition reads -ābhilāpādi-. Cf. CAPV 137.13–16, and compare too AP, JNĀ 226ff., viz. McCrea and Patil 2010, 88ff.

  32. Given their concern with Jñānaśrīmitra’s rethinking of particulars and universals, McCrea and Patil 2010, 24, put this same point slightly differently: “Images are labeled as ‘particulars’ or ‘universals’ only in relation to a subsequent determination. Thus, for Jñānaśrīmitra, ‘particular’ and ‘universal’ are not really ontological categories at all. Instead, he defines them contextually. Images are categorized as either one or the other, depending on the role that they are made to play by subsequent acts of conceptualization.”

  33. SSŚ 393.18–20: svavidi apīyam arthavid eva kāryato draṣṭavyeti nyāyāt, tathā vikalpasyāpy agnir atretyādinākāreṇotpadyamānasya pravṛttyākṣepakatvam eva bāhyādhyavasānam. i Read svavid with the ms., 81b5, as well as CAPV and PVin, against svacit in Thakur’s edition. Cf. CAPV 137.21–23, PVin 37.5–6.

  34. The reading of Dharmakīrti’s view of apoha given in Prueitt 2017 is, I believe, particularly helpful in seeing how Jñānaśrīmitra’s view relates to that of his tradition’s founder.

  35. As Jñānaśrīmitra puts it at one point, “The non-conceptual cognition contains an error, which is the fact that it is connected to an appearance that has within it (garbha) the capacity to produce conceptual cognition of such a sort [that instigates externally directed activity].” SSŚ 395.3–5: sarva eva ca vikalpo bahir aspṛśann eva saty asati bāhye pravṛttiprayojakatayā bhrānta ucyate. asati tu tādṛgvikalpotpādanaśaktigarbhākārayogo nirvikalpakasya bhrama iti sthitam. He then restates his view in an elegant summary verse at SSŚ 395.6–9: sarvā nirviṣayaiva kalpanamatir vyāvṛttibhedānugasvākārotkalitā tu vīkṣitaphalasmṛtyādim ātanvatī / lokasyākṣipati pravṛttim anapekṣyaivānyad adhyakṣavad vastvāropa itīrito ’rciṣi jalāropo janānāmi iva // i Read janānām with ms., 82a6, against jalānām in Thakur’s edition. “All conceptual cognition really has no object. Nevertheless, inasmuch as it has sprung up with its proper appearance that conforms to a particular exclusion, stretching to incorporate (ātanvatī) such things as the memory of a result perceived in the past, conceptual cognition instigates (ākṣipati) purposeful activity on the part of ordinary people without requiring anything else at all, in this respect being like perceptual awareness. It is said to be the superimposition of an entity, just like the superimposition of water onto rays of light on the part of ordinary people [when they experience a mirage].”

  36. For a discussion of Jñānaśrīmitra’s view of momentariness in relation to a project of revisionary philosophy, see Tomlinson 2021.

  37. SSŚ 398.24–25: nanu prakāśo nāma vastunaḥ sādhakaṃ pramāṇam. na ca pramāṇanivṛttāv arthābhāvaḥ. arthakriyāśaktis tu sattvami. tac ca nāprakāśasyāpi virudhyata iti ceti Read arthakriyāśaktis tu sattvam with ms. after correction, 83b6, and CAPV. Before the correction, the ms. reads arthakriyāśaktiś castu sattvam, while Thakur’s edition reads arthakriyāśaktiś ca vastusattvam. Cf. CAPV 132.21–22.

  38. See again the reason Jñānaśrīmitra gives for the incoherence of the view that the existent is not manifest (i.e. the prasayjapratiṣedha-reading of asatkhyāti): “Because existence is pervaded by manifestation and nonmanifestation is consumed by nonexistence.” SSŚ 398.22–23: […] prakāśavyāptatvāt sattāyāḥ, aprakāśasyāsattayā grasteḥ.

  39. SSŚ 399.1–2: sarvathā bahirarthābhāve tu jñānasya prakāśāvyabhicārāt tāvataiva sattve kim arthakriyayā. Cf. CAPV 132.24–25.

  40. Compare Prajñākaragupta’s comment here with the extensive remarks by Devendrabuddhi and Śakyabuddhi, translated at Dunne 2004, 406–408, fn. 15, as well as the discussion in Prueitt 2017.

  41. PV 3.212: paricchedo ʼntar anyo ʼyaṃ bhāgo bahir iva sthitaḥ / jñānasyābhedino bhedapratibhāso hy upaplavaḥ //. Note that Dharmakīrti does indeed use the phrase, bhedapratibhāsa here, which, for Jñānaśrīmitra, is tantamount to asatkhyāti. However, Jñānaśrīmitra would say that the point should be read in accordance with Prajñākaragupta’s comment: Dharmakīrti is speaking loosely here; really, he means bhedādhyavasāya. Note his comments on hermeneutics at SSŚ 398.5–6: evaṃ yatra yatra tarkāgamayor asad alīkaṃ vā pratibhātīti pratītiḥ bhāṣyakāravyākhyānād anyatra tatrādhyavasitāpekṣayaiva vyāvahārikābhiprāyād vā. “So, wherever we find, either in texts of logic or in scripture, statements like ‘The non-existent appears’ or ‘The unreal appears’—aside from the explanations of Prajñākaragupta—it is only with reference to what is determined, or else it is in accordance with the way ordinary people speak.” This would strike against Prueitt’s interpretation of this form of error as nonconceptual (see in particular Prueitt 2017), as far as Jñānaśrīmitra is concerned, though this is possible only through Jñānaśrīmitra’s innovative (not to say revisionary) equation of “conceptualization” and “determination.” As he puts it in his AP, “‘Conceptualization’ and ‘determination’ refer to the same thing. It’s just that the [use of the] word ‘conceptualization’ is occasioned by connection with words and the like, while ‘determination’ is occasioned by suitability for activity, even with respect to [an object] that is not grasped [by awareness].” See McCrea and Patil, 31–32.

  42. PVA 288.3–5: jñānam api yadīdaṃ svasaṃvedanaṃ svasvarūpaparyavasānāt bhedāvabhāsitā na yuktā. na hi svasaṃvedane parasaṃvedanaṃ. tato na bhedapratibhāsaḥ.

  43. I hope to consider Jñānaśrīmitra’s refutation of difference in detail elsewhere. See Tomlinson 2019, 261–266; 386–398. Ratnakīrti borrows from his teacher at the end of his Santānāntaradūṣaṇa, where he offers his own streamlined refutation of difference. See Tomlinson 2019, 267–270; SAD 147.6ff. Compare Ganeri 2012, 202–221, and Kachru 2019.

  44. SSŚ 420.15–16: na hi saṃvit parasaṃvidam āviśati. ekasaṃvidargalavigamād eva ca svaparavidām anyonyavedanāpavādaḥ.

  45. SSŚ 420.18–20: pratibhāsaś ca teṣāṃ svasvarūpasākṣātkaraṇam iti nānyonyavedanam upapāditam, santamasamagnasaṃnihitānekapuruṣavat. “Appearance is an awareness-event’s immediate manifestation of its own form. Thus, the mutual awareness [of multiple awareness-events in a single continuum] is not shown, just as multiple people who are close to one another but plunged into intense darkness [are not aware of one another].”

  46. See SSŚ 420.7–11: nānākāraṃ hi citram abhidhīyate, tataḥ parasparaviruddhadharmādhyāsinām ākārāṇāṃ katham abhedaḥ? bhedo ’pi tarhi katham ekavedanāntargatānāṃ bhinnasantānavat parasparam asaṃvedanāt ekasyaiva kasyacit pratibhāsaprasakteḥ. tad ayuktam, viruddhadharmādhyāsasya tad avasthatvāt. tasmād anekam evedam, abhinnopādānajanyatvāt parasparam adhyakṣabhāvaḥ sāhityapratihāsasvabhāvaḥ. santānāntarabhuvāṃ tu buddhīm abhinnopādānatāvirahān nātivyāptiḥ. “For something that has various forms (nānākāra) is called variegated (citra). Then how can there be non-difference of multiple ākāras that consist of the imposition of mutually opposed properties? ‘Then, how can there be difference either, because it would undesirably follow that only one ākāra would appear since the mutually opposed ākāras within a single awareness cannot be aware of each other, just liked different continua [are not aware of each other].’ That is not right, for there is still the superimposition of opposed properties. Therefore, this must be only multiple. However, because of the property of being produced from the same proximate cause (abhinnopādānajanyatvāt), there can be mutual awareness [viz. the awareness of blue and of yellow], which has as its nature appearance with accompaniment (sāhityapratibhāsa-svabhāvaḥ). However, for cognitions that arise in other continuities, there is no state of having the same proximate cause; hence, there is no over-extension.” Compare Ratnākaraśānti’s response to Prajñākaragupta on this issue in his Vijñaptimātratāsiddhi, viz. VMS 849: de bas na tha dad pa gcig yin pa spangs nas lhan cig snang ba’i rgyu mtshan dpyad de, de dag kyang nye bar len pa tha mi dad pa nyid can yin pa’i phyir rtogs par bya ba de rnams kyi nye bar len pa tha mi dad pa yin nyid yin la rtogs par byed pa de rnams kyi yang de nyid de, rang dang gzhan gyi sems ni nye bar len pa gcig pa can nyid ma yin pas de rnams kyi lhan cig snang ba med do.

  47. SSŚ 412.18–21: anātmasaṃvittyabhimānakāle samastam etad vyavahārayogyam / svarūpasaṃvittiparāyaṇatve kva bhedapūrvāparabhāvayogaḥ //

  48. SSŚ 437.12–13: [athaikasya jñānasya jñānāntareṇa nirviṣayatvapratipādanaṃ bādhārthaḥ, sa ca bhinnakālayor na virudhyate.] so ’rthas tatra jñāne yadi pratibhāsate, tadā sann eveti kuto bādhā? apratibhāse tu svayam evāsan kiṃ niṣedhāntareṇa?

  49. SSŚ 439.1–6: bādhakenāpi viṣayīkaraṇe kva bādhakāvakāśaḥ, viṣayīkaraṇasya svarūpanirbhāsatvāt. bādhyamānatvenaiva svarūpasya nirbhāsa iti cet. vyāhatam etat. svarūpanirbhāsa iti svarūpasattvaṃ, bādhyamānatā cāsattvam. krameṇa dvayam apīti cet. na tāvat prathamaṃ bādhā, sambandhino ’pratīteḥ. atha svarūpanirbhāsas tadā tāvataiva sattvākṛṣṭeḥ kva bādhā. na khalu kālāntare bhavanty api tasyai syāt, tadā tasya svayam evābhāvāt. bhāve vā bādhakaśatenāpi na kiṃciti Read tasya with ms., 96a1, after correction, against ms. before correction, which reads tasyā, and Thakur’s edition, which reads tasyāḥ. “If it is made an object of defeat by the defeater, what room is there for the defeater [to refute its object]? For making-into-an-object is the appearance of a nature. “But there is the appearance of a nature only insofar as it is being defeated.” This is contradictory. The appearance of the object of defeat’s nature means the existence of its nature, and something that is being defeated is non-existent. “These are both present in sequence.” Defeat cannot be first, because there is no awareness of something related to it [i.e., its object]. Alternatively, if the appearance of the nature [of the object of defeat] is first, then, because true existence is implied by just this much [i.e., by its appearance], where is there defeat? Obviously, even if defeat occurs at another time, it will not of that, for at that time that [object of defeat] itself no longer exists. Or if the object does exist at that time, too, then it won’t be defeated by even a hundred defeaters!” Jñānaśrīmitra goes through all the options exhaustively at SSŚ 438.25–439.14; Tomlinson 2019, 340–342.

  50. SSŚ 439.16–17, 24–26: bāhyagrahavyavasthāparibhave hi svasaṃvedanamagnam aśeṣam iti kasya kena kiṃ kriyā syāt? […] vinmātracintāyāṃ punaḥ sarvavyāpāroparamaḥ. tad ayaṃ bādhyabādhakabhāvaḥ sāṃvṛta eva, na tattvarūpāmukhīkaraṇakāle avakāśam āsādayati. Note that, in what I’ve skipped over, Jñānaśrīmitra cites verse 27 of Vasubandhu’s Triṃśikā here as support for his view.

  51. SSŚ 416.6: kathaṃ tarhi hetunā hetvabhāvasiddhir iti.

  52. SSŚ 416.8–11, 16–18: tataḥ savyāpārapratītatām upādāya nirvyāpāro ’pi svapratibhāsa etasmin savyāpāra iva lakṣyate. […] na ca kalpanākāravivartaviśeṣād anyas tattvādhigamopāyaḥi. na tu svavidekalakṣaṇaparamārtha-niṣṭhāyāṃ kasyacit kvacit vivādaḥ, sādhanadūṣaṇāvatāro vā. […] anumānam apīndriyapratyakṣavat saṃvyavahārata eva pramāṇaṃ, na tattvataḥ sambandhagrahaṇādyapekṣatvāt. na ca svavinmātramagnena tac chakyamii, svabhāvahetāv apy anvayavyatirekayoḥ pratītibhedasādhyatvāt. i Read tattvādhigamopāyaḥ with the ms., 88b1, after correction against Thakur’s edition, tattvābhyadhigamopāyaḥ, which is the ms. reading before correction. ii Read tac chakyam with the ms., 88b3, after correction. Before correction, the ms. reads tac cha śakyam, while Thakur’s edition reads tac ca śakyam.

  53. SSŚ 419.13–14: ata evāha, sāṃvyāvahārikasya cedaṃ pramāṇasya rūpam uktam ityādi tasmān na sāmvyavahārikasya pratiniyatasādhanānusāradoṣaḥ. Cf. PVin ad 1.58: sāṃvyavahārikasya caitat pramāṇasya rūpam uktam. See Patil 2009, 321–323, for a discussion of this passage.

  54. Dunne 2004, 401, fn. 12. Compare Dunne 2004, 98–113; Prueitt 2017, part I, and 2019, 53–58; Yiannopoulos 2020, 270–274.

  55. Prueitt 2019, 55.

  56. As shown in Inami 2011, this interpretation is indebted to Prajñākaragupta, at least as Jñānaśrīmitra understands his own view. He comes to Prajñākaragupta toward the end of the chapter, on SSŚ 461–462. Though we have made some reference to Prajñākaragupta above, a sustained consideration of Jñānaśrīmitra’s relation to Prajñākaragupta will be forthcoming. It’s worth noting, too, that Jñānaśrīmitra’s interpretation of this passage bears a striking resemblance to that of his near-contemporaries, Utpaladeva (ca. 925–975) and Abhinavagupta (ca. 975–1025). See Ratié 2020, esp. 501–510; Ratié 2013. A comparison between Jñānaśrīmitra’s view and that of his colleagues in Kashmir would be fascinating; though it’s beyond our scope here, we’ll have opportunity to note certain parallels below. My thanks to Catherine Prueitt for pointing out these parallels to me in conversation.

  57. This discussion takes up the majority of SSŚ 4. For a provisional translation of this chapter, see the appendix to Tomlinson 2019. It’s worth noting that the reading of PV 3.221 in particular is subject to some variation. His initial citation of the verse reads: yad yathā bhāsate jñānaṃ tat tathaivānubhūyate / iti nāmaikabhāvaḥ syāc citrākārasya cetasaḥ //. This is how we find the citation in the ms., 98a7; Thakur’s edition presents the common variant of the last pada, citrākāre ’pi cetasi, SSŚ 445.16–17. Jñānaśrīmitra presents these verses a number of times throughout the chapter, and later he considers the reading citrākāre ’pi cetasi at a number of places, suggesting that he was fully aware of both readings and was happy to show his position followed either way (though I suspect that his presentation of the genitive reading first, as well as its occurrence in Prajñākaragupta, suggests he prefers it): for the locative reading, see SSŚ 447.12, 454.23, SSSū 4.134; for the genitive reading, see also SSŚ 448.15, 455.2, SSSū 4.104, 4.174. Only Manorathanandin supports the reading of the two words in different cases, viz. citrākārasya cetasi, which occurs in Sāṅkṛtyāyana’s 1938 edition of the kārikās of the PV and is repeated in Miyasaka 1971/1972 and Tosaki 1979. Cf. Manorathanandin’s gloss, PVV 185.10–11: citrasya nīlapītādyākārasya cetasi buddhāv ekabhāvo nāma bhavet tadā ko doṣaḥ. Finally, Birgit Kellner has suggested (see Isaacson and Sferra 2014, 269 fn. 93) that the reading of prakāśate for anubhūyate in 3.221b is unattested anywhere; Sāṅkṛtyāyana first conjectured this on the basis of Manorathanandin’s gloss since his principal witness was damaged here, and it has since been suggested by others as a viable reading. Jñānaśrīmitra does, however, have anugamyate for anubhūyate at two places: see SSŚ 448.14, SSSū 4.174. It is possible, though, that he is playing with the verse here rather than suggesting an alternate reading.

  58. SSŚ 445.19–20: bhāsate iti jāyata ity arthaḥ, prakāśamānasyaiva janmety abhiprāyāt.

  59. See SSŚ 461.10–14: tasmāt, yad yathā bhāsate jñānam, nīlapītādibhāsitvena, tat tathaivānubhūyate, nīlapītāditvena, svasaṃvedanāt parasparātmatvenety arthaḥ. Unfortunately, the text here, at ms. 104a6, is something of a mess. The underlined portion is added as a marginal correction that is rather faint in Sāṅkṛtyāyana’s photographs (and is partially cut off in Tucci’s photographs), so it is necessarily conjectural. Both the ms. and Thakur’s edition read parasparātmatveneti ity arthaḥ; I’ve deleted one iti.

  60. The opponent here is very possibly Ratnākaraśānti. In his Vijñaptimātratāsiddhi, Ratnākaraśānti singles out Prajñākaragupta for special criticism on precisely this point and then inists that mutually opposed properties simply cannot occupy a single locus. See in particular the discussion beginning at VMS 848.

  61. This whole passage is worth citing here, as it grounds the following discussion. SSŚ 460.14–20: nanu paraḥ spaṣṭākāraṃ nīlapītādi viruddhadharmādhyāsii bhāsamānaṃ katham apahnotuṃ śakyate. nedam apahnūyateii, ata eva citram ucyate. tasya citraśabdābhidheyasya nīlapītādeḥ pratisvaṃ bhedaṃ tattvato na kṣamate, svasaṃvittir ity ucyate. tatra ca viruddhadharmādhyāsa iti viruddhau vā dharmau viruddhayor vā. prathamapakṣe apy āśrayadvāreṇa vā, svarūpeṇa vā. āśrayapakṣe, saṃvedanād evādhikaraṇatāsiddher asiddhir viruddha-dharmādhyāsasya, svasaṃvedanasvīkṛte pramāṇāntarāvatāravirahāt. atha svarūpeṇa, tanmātraṃ na vyathate ’bhediny āśraye pratibhāsamānau maitrīm evāvahato hato virodhaḥ, kṛtakānityatvavatiiii Read nīlapītādi viruddhadharmādhyāsi against Thakur’s nīlapītādiviruddhadharmādhyāsiii Read apahnūyate with the ms., 104a1, against Thakur’s apahnayate. iii Read kṛtakānityatvavat with the ms., 104a3, against Thakur’s edition. “‘But how,’ you may object, ‘is it possible to deny blue and yellow and so on, whose vivid appearance is right before the eyes, which is appearing and is the imposition of opposed properties?” We do not deny it—that is what we call variegation! Self-awareness does not tolerate in reality the individual differences among blue, yellow, and so on that are expressed by the word variegation. In your objection, does ‘the imposition of opposed properties’ mean ‘two properties that are opposed (viruddhau dharmau),’ or ‘two properties of two opposed things (viruddhayor [dharmau])’? In the first case, are the two properties opposed because they belong to two different substrata? Or due to their respective natures? [If it is thought that blue and yellow are opposed to each other] given their two different substrata, then because their having a common basis is proven precisely on the basis of awareness, the imposition of opposed properties is unestablished, because no other means of knowledge can be introduced when self-awareness is accepted. If they are opposed to each other by their respective natures though their substrata are in fact one and the same, this does not cause any trouble: when two things appear in a substratum that is not distinct (abhediny āśraye), there is simply benevolence between them; their opposition is destroyed, just like being a product and being impermanent [which occur in the same substratum and are in agreement with one another].”

  62. The translation is based on Jñānaśrīmitra’s reading, given in the next note. See Dunne 2004, 410–411, for a translation based on Devendrabuddhi and Śākyabuddhi: “A color such as blue in a variegated or multicolored awareness is a quality contingent on awareness (jñānopādhi) and as such it does not participate in any other awareness [such as the awareness of just blue]. Hence, it cannot be seen [as distinct from the variegation] because when analyzing it [as distinct], one is focusing on the object (artha) [that produced the awareness, not the awareness itself].”

  63. Here is Jñānaśrīmitra’s initial gloss of the verse, which has informed my translation: SSŚ 445.8–15: atra citra ity ekatāniṣedhaḥ. vijñāna ity ekapratipattuḥi pratibhāsamānatayā ekasaṃvidantargamād anekatāniṣedhaḥ. jñānopādhir iti jaḍād vyāvṛttyā jñānātmatayā bādhakābhāvaḥ. ākārāntaraṃ pītādim abhajan na śakyate draṣṭum ity anena bhedavyavahāre prayojanābhāvam āha. yadi hi tataḥ pṛthag apy eko labhyaḥ syāt, tasmāc ca tatsādhyasiddhiś caitramaitrādivad ucito ’nekavyavahāraḥ. na caivaṃ, tata eka evocitaḥ. taṃ hītyādinā ca yāvad eva bahir ityādikam artham āha. buddhirūpatāparāmarśe hi buddhyādikalāpe vihitacaitrādyekaśabdaṃ tatrāpi tathaiva pravartayet. i I’ve deleted the daṇḍa here, and thus read ekapratipattuḥ pratibhāsamānatayā together as a subsidiary reason for the main hetu, ekasaṃvidantargamāt. “Here, ‘variegated’ is a negation of being unitary. ‘Awareness’ is the negation of being manifold because, insofar as manifestation belongs to a single perceiver (ekapratipattṛ), [the variegated appearance] is included in a single awareness-event (ekasaṃvidantargama). ‘The nature of awareness’ means that it has no defeater insofar as it consists of awareness since it is excluded from what is insentient. [To explain ‘not joined with the other [appearances in the variegation]’:] Blue that is not partaking of other images like yellow cannot be seen. With this, Dharmakīrti says there is no purpose in talk about difference. For if one [color, e.g. blue] could be obtained, though separate from that [other color, e.g. yellow]; and there would be something to establish through that [talk of manifoldness]; then there would be talk of manifoldness as in the case of Caitra and Maitra. But it is not so. Therefore, being unitary is all that is appropriate [when speaking of variegated awareness]. The last portion of the verse (taṃ hītyādi) means [the same as our verse stated a moment ago]ii: ‘This and that are separate only as long as there is the determination of externality.’ For, when we are considering the fact that appearances have the nature of awareness, then the word ‘unitary’ may be used with respect to awareness, in the same way as with Caitra, etc., [when the word ‘unitary’] is applied to the collection of [Caitra’s] awareness[, hands, feet,] and so on. ‘Analyzing’ or differentiating [blue, etc.], one ends up with just an external object [not awareness]. For it is only for objects that arising and apprehending are distinct, not for awareness.” ii The verse Jñānaśrīmitra refers to here was on the last page, SSŚ 444.23–26: yāvad eva bahiradhyavasāyas tāvad eva pṛthag etad idaṃ ca / tanmatis tu sakaleti sa eva jñānapāṇicaraṇādir asau hi //.

  64. Jñānaśrīmitra makes this explicit later, glossing the last part of the verse with bahirarthavāda eva nipatet at SSŚ 461.9.

  65. Compare Jñānaśrīmitra’s remarks later, at SSŚ 461.6–9: ananyabhāg ity ananyasvabhāvabhāk. pītādisvabhāvam abhajan nīlādir aśakyapratibhāsaś citravijñānastha ekākī śakyadarśanaḥ syād api pītādyekaikaniyatatvāt taddharmatāpannasya pratibhāsasya. parasparasvabhāvas bhajanni eva śakyapratibhāsa ity arthaḥ. i Read bhajann with ms., 104a5, against Thakur’s edition, tyajann. “‘Not joined with the other [colors in the variegation]’ means that which does not partake of another nature. Blue that does not partake of the nature of yellow cannot manifest when it is located in variegated awareness (though it may be that blue can be seen alone [in conceivable but rare cases of homogenous, monochrome cognition]). [This is so] because appearance, which has come to be a property of [awareness] (taddarmatāpanna), is restricted to each and every [other appearance] like yellow and so on. The point is that for any appearance to be possible [in the cognition of variegation], it must participate in the nature of every other [appearance].”

  66. See fn. 63; SSŚ 445.8–9: atra citra ity ekatāniṣedhaḥ. vijñāna ity ekapratipattuḥ pratibhāsamānatayā ekasaṃvidantargamād anekatāniṣedhaḥ.

  67. See fn. 63; SSŚ 445.9–10: jñānopādhir iti jaḍāt vyāvṛttyā jñānātmatayā bādhakābhāvaḥ. It is worth noting here, in the phrase jaḍāt vyāvṛttyā, the allusion to Śāntarakṣita’s definition of reflexive awareness in the Tattvasaṃgraha, which Jñānaśrīmitra cites in his discussion of svasaṃvedana in the fifth chapter of the Sākārasiddhi. See fn. 30 above.

  68. SSŚ 445.4: prakāśatayā sann eva nīlādir ekānekavidhuraś ceti saṃgrahaḥ.

  69. Jñānaśrīmitra expresses this distinction between the world of externally directed activity and the world of sheer appearance, or of awareness alone, at, for instance, SSŚ 449.12–15: nanu viruddhadharmādhyāso bheda ucyate, sa ca bāhyasya buddher veti nātra niyama iti cet. niyama eva. bāhyābhede hi nārthakriyāpratiniyamah ̣itadanādare ca pratibhāsamātrān na viśeṣa iti tadabhāva eva syāt. buddhes tu bhede eva svarūpahāniḥ, arthakriyānapekṣāyās tasyāḥ prakāśād eva sattvāt. bhede ca prakāśābhāvaprasaktis tadavasthāyāḥ. i Read -pratiniyamaḥ with the ms., 99b4, against Thakur’s edition, -pratiniyama eva. “You may object, ‘Surely difference is said to mean the imposition of opposed properties, and there is no rule about whether this applies to external things or to awareness.’ There is indeed a rule. Were there no difference in the external, there would be no individual restrictions regarding causal efficacy; and if those [restrictions] are not honored, [the external] would not be different from mere appearance; hence, there would not be externality at all. However, in the case of awareness, difference is really the abandonment of the nature [of awareness itself], for the existence of awareness, which is independent of causal efficacy, is only due to manifestation. And if you accept that there is difference [in awareness], it would undesirably follow that awareness that is in that state would not have manifestation.”

  70. SSŚ 449.7–10: pītād anyat nīlam iti vikalpasya svavedanavyāpāram anādṛtya vṛtteḥ, indriyajñānavyāpārānusārasyaikasya svarasavāhitvāt. ata eva ca citram ekam iti na virodhaḥ. nīlapītāditayā hi citraṃ, na tu nānātvena. Compare Utpaladeva’s and Abhinavagupta’s reading of PV 3.220, Ratié 2020, 501–510, where the verse is taken to draw a clear distinction between difference (bheda) and variegation (vaicitrya). Utpaladeva introduces a citation of the verse in his Vivṛti to his own Īśvarapratyabhijñākārikā ad 2.1.4. As per Ratié 2020, 503–504 and fn. 44: citratvam ekatve ’pi bodhātmano bhavati, bhedas tu parasparaparihārād ekatvena virudhyate tathā cāryadharmakīrtiḥ: [PV 3.220]. “What consists in consciousness [can] have variety even though [it] has a unity, whereas [exclusive] difference is contradicted by unity, because of the mutual exclusion [that it entails]. And accordingly, the distinguished Dharmakīrti [has said]: [PV 3.220].” As Ratié, 504–505, then explains, “Whatever Dharmakīrti’s exact intention may have been in composing the verse quoted in the Vivṛti, Utpaladeva interprets it (as can be seen from his short explanation following the quotation) as saying that in the cognition of a variegated patch of colour, we cannot apprehend each colour apart from the others as long as we focus on the way in which this patch appears within our cognition, because then all the colours are grasped as having the fundamental unity of the single cognition that perceives them together; whereas when we start distinguishing this or that specific colour within the variegated patch, we have already left the plane of the cognition’s unitary appearance for that of the objects themselves.” See her fn. 48 for Abhinavagupta’s explanation of this in his Vivṛti Vimarśinī.

  71. PV 3.221: yad yathā bhāsate jñānaṃ tat tathaivānubhūyate / iti nāmaikabhāvaḥ syāc citrākārasya cetasaḥ. As noted in fn. 57 above, the ms., 98a7, has citrākārasya cetasaḥ; Thakur prints citrākāre ’pi cetasi.

  72. See fn. 63; SSŚ 445.19. Jñānaśrīmitra does entertain the indeclinable sense of nāma later, at SSŚ 447.14–15.

  73. See one of Jñānaśrīmitra’s later glosses on PV 3.221 at SSŚ 447.15–19, especially SSŚ 447.17–18: yad yathā yataḥ prakārād abhedalakṣaṇāt bhāsate jñānaṃ tat tathaivānubhūyate abhedenaivāsti, anubhavaḥ satteti nyāyāt.

  74. SSŚ 447.15–17: yadā tu jñānaparamāṇor api digbhāgabhedād anupapattir eva, na cānaṃśaiḥ sāṃśarāśer ārambha ity anābhāsa eva syāt nānātvapakṣe, ato ’yam ābhāsa ekatva eva viśramyatīti. “Or else, when atoms of awareness, too, are completely unacceptable because they are broken into parts according their spatial divisions, and so partless entities cannot produce aggregates that have parts; then, on the position that the appearance is manifold, there would be no appearance at all. Thus, appearance depends only on being unitary.”

  75. SSŚ 448.17–20: satyam anekavad ekabhāvo na syāt, prakāśamānasya tu sattāpahnavo mā bhūd iti nāniṣṭaṃ kiñcit. ayam abhiprāyaḥ, sattvaṃ cet svavidaḥ siddham anekatvaṃ ca bādhitam / ekatve ca tavaivecchākṣatir nobhayathāpi naḥ // sattāsiddhau nānekatvenāpi nāparāddham asmākaṃ kiñcit. kevalaṃ nyāyānusāriṇa ekatvam anuśiṣmaḥi Read sattvaṃ cet svavidaḥ with ms., 99a7, against Thakur’s reading, satyam cet saṃvidaḥ.

  76. Jñānaśrīmitra even suggests taking nāma in this sense of “accept” at SSŚ 448.17: nāmety aṅgīkāre.

  77. Prueitt 2019, 56. Compare now the reading in McCrea 2020, esp. 259–261.

  78. SSŚ 440.9–10: bahirbodhe ’numānādi mānaṃ na svaikasaṃvidi / svaikasaṃvitprasiddau tu tadgrahād eva tadbhavaḥ //

  79. SSŚ 462.23–24: nopayogaś citrādvaitena vyavahāriṇām iti tu na bādhakaṃ buddhagocaratvāt, śūnyatāvat.

  80. SSŚ 444.12–15: grāhyagrāhakahānito ’dvayam idam yad vā jaḍasyātyayād ekānekahateś ca sākṛtitayā citraṃ tathāścāryataḥ / citrādvaitam iti smṛtaṃ nṛpativac caikadhvaniḥ sāṃvṛto ’nekatvaṃ ca na tattvato na ca phalaṃ tenāsti satsaṃvṛtaui // i Read satsaṃvṛtau with ms., 98a1, against Thakur’s satsaṃvṛtā.

  81. SSŚ 444.16: ekānekavirahe ’pi sattvam ity āścāryārthaś ca citraśabdaḥ.

  82. It is only the sambhogakāya that so captures the uniqueness of Buddha as teacher for a number of reasons. First, Jñānaśrīmitra maintains that any coherent account of buddhahood must explain the special distinction of Buddha’s realization vis-à-vis our ordinary cognition. The profundity of the dharmakāya, the reality the Buddha realizes, cannot account for this. Emptiness is innate (prakṛti), and so that innate nature is shared by all awareness, whether defiled in saṃsāra or purified by the path. (See Kano 2016, 65–66.) It may be understood as the Buddha-nature or the Buddha-element (Jñānaśrīmitra uses both tathāgatagarbha and tathāgatadhātu): it is that innate reality present in all awareness, a reality that is always already there to be realized in order for buddhahood to be attained. But while the dharmakāya may be said to explain the innate purity (prakṛtiviśuddhi) of cognition, it is not this that marks Buddha as special. This innate purity is present in all sentient beings. Rather, it is the purity of Buddha’s immaculate characteristics (vaimalyaviśuddhi) that makes Buddha Buddha. This is the purity of the sambhogakāya. See Kano 2016, 60–61, 65–66. See Griffiths 1994 and Makransky 1997 for accounts of the Yogācāra buddhology in the background here.

  83. SSŚ 431.4: svargopadeśād eva hi bhagavān pramāṇam.

  84. SSŚ 431.6–10: saṃbhoga eva paryavasānaṃ vyāpārasya, guṇās tadekaniyatās tadekaniyatā ruciḥ / tadekarasikaṃi mānaṃ [bādhenaiva samaḥ paraḥ] // para eva jino yeṣāṃ taiḥ svaśāstāpi hāritaḥ / ṛjukramagṛhīto ya āgamāl lakṣaṇojjvalaḥ // i Read rasikaṃ with ms., 93b5, against Thakur’s niyataṃ.

  85. For further sources on the notion of Buddha as marvelous, see fn. 97 below.

  86. See preliminary considerations of Jñānaśrīmitra’s buddhology in Kano 2016 and Tomlinson 2019, chapter 5. Future research will have to take into account Bhikṣu Hejung’s forthcoming work on the sixth and last chapter of the Sākārasiddhi, wherein (among other things) Jñānaśrīmitra grounds his interpretation of buddhahood on canonical Yogācāra and Madhyamaka sources.

  87. Jñānaśrīmitra says this, for instance, at the very end of the fourth chapter of the Sākārasiddhi, where he concludes his extended discussion of Dharmakīrti’s PV 3.220–221 by saying that “the proof (siddhi) that the Blessed One is exclusively endowed with appearances (sākāra) is without refutation.” SSŚ 464.20: sākārasyaiva bhagavataḥ siddhir bādhāvinākṛteti.

  88. SSŚ 409.13–16: evaṃ tarhi yāvadbodhas tāvad ākāro yāvac cākāras tāvad bahiḥpravṛttikṛtāi bhrāntisthitir iti na kadācid vyavadānam. alīkatve tv ākārāṇāṃ svaprabhavavāsanāsamūhasamudghātād atyantam atyaye nirābhāsam ākāśasaṃkāśaṃ prakāśamātram avaśiṣyata iti vyavadānam ucyate. ākārasatyatāmate tu durlabham etad iti cet.

    i Read bahiḥpravṛttikṛtā with ms., 86b3, against Thakur’s edition, bahiṣṭhā vṛttikṛtā.

  89. It’s worth noting that Ratnākaraśānti himself would seem to have granted, at least in certain places, that the Buddha’s embodiments in form are indeed unreal insofar as they are constituted by appearances—all of which, Ratnākaraśānti thinks, are unreal. See Tomlinson 2019, 98–104, as well as Tomlinson, forthcoming.

  90. SSŚ 409.18–20: cittākāraviśeṣabhāvanāyāḥ śubhasaṃbhārābhiyogasya ca sāmarthyād abhimatākāraviśeṣasya samudaye kīdṛśo doṣaḥ. na ca kadācid ākāre doṣadarśanāt sarvadā tanniyamaḥ.

  91. SSŚ 409.22–25: yātaṃ kāṃcit pariṇatiśikhāṃ lakṣaṇavyañjanaśrīcitraṃ cetaḥ śubhaśatasamullāsatābhyāsa-bhūmnaḥ / saṃbuddhātmāi guṇanidhir asadvāsanāsaṃnibaddhā śuddhākāraprakararahitaṃ na tv anākāram eva //

    i Read saṃbuddhātmā with the ms., 86b6, against Thakur’s edition, saṃbaddhātmā.

  92. This comparison is suggested by Jñānaśrīmitra in the verse at fn. 80 above, SSŚ 444.12–15. For other comparisons to a Cakravārtin king in the Sākārasiddhi, see Kano 2016, 58–59, 66–67.

  93. On these epithets, see Franco 1997, 15–43.

  94. SSŚ 444.16–20.

  95. SSŚ 455.3–5: yathā hy eko bhagavān ucyate, tathā catvāri vaiśāradyāni, dvātriṃśali lakṣaṇānītyādi dṛśyate eveti kā kṣatir asmākam? i Read dvātriṃśal in the ms., 104a2, against dvātriṃl in Thakur’s edition. For this both-one-and-many reading PV 3.221 leading up to this statement about the Buddha’s marks, see SSŚ 454.22–455.3, translated in Tomlinson 2019, 383–384.

  96. SSŚ 464.13–15: tad ayaṃ prakaraṇārthaḥ, bhedo ’bhedo dvidhā ’dvedhā dhīrūpe ’stu yathā tathā / nālīkatvaṃ prakāśasya bādhagandhavirodhinaḥ // The precise meaning of prakaraṇa might be up for debate: though I take it to refer to the Sākārasiddhiśāstra as a whole, it may refer just to the fourth chapter. Jñānaśrīmitra uses the word, though, to refer to other works as a whole, such as the Apohaprakaraṇa, the Yoginirṇayaprakaraṇa, and the Advaitabinduprakaraṇa, whereas his chapters in the Sākārasiddhi are referred to with the usual pariccheda.

  97. See above, fn. 81. For background on the marvelous character of Buddha, see Fiordalis 2010 and Gómez 2010. See, too, Fiordalis 2008, especially 161–217. (I thank Fiordalis for his comments on an earlier version of these reflections.) In Pali sources and in Vasubandhu’s Abhidharmakośa, as Fiordalis 2010 shows, the Buddha’s teaching the dharma is singled out as his most significant miracle, that superpower that sets him apart from all other magicians, teachers, gods, or supernatural beings. That the citrādvaita may be understood as the marvelous nonduality of the Buddha’s appearance is best construed as part of this long tradition: the Buddha is marvelous because the sambhogakāya manifests in the enjoyment of the teaching of the Dharma.

  98. See PV 1.1, cited at SSŚ 367: vidhūtakalpanājālagambhīrodāramūrtaye / namaḥ samantabhadrāya samantasphuraṇatviṣe // Note that Jñānaśrīmitra’s interpretation of this verse, which he gives in a verse of his own, markedly differs, I think, from the interpretation we find in Śākyabuddhi, Karṇakagomin, and Manorathanandin. A separate study of the significance of this will be forthcoming. Jñānaśrīmitra’s interpretation reads: “That which has realized its elegance (audārya) through its own major and minor marks which are innate to it; which is profound (gambhīra) insofar as it is not in others’ scope, empty of the waves of elaborations (śūnyaṃ prapañcormibhiḥ); from which the rays of gnosis (jñānatviṣ) emanate (sphuranti) throughout the world through the nirmāṇakāyas—that body (vapus) is not stained by unreality (alīkatva). Thus, this body of the Sage is auspicious from every angle (bhadraṃ samantāt).” SSŚ 464.23–26: sānuvyañjanalakṣaṇairi adhigataudāryaṃ nijenātmanā yad gambhīram ananyagocaratayā śūnyaṃ prapañcormibhiḥ / nirṃāṇaiś ca yataḥ sphuranti jagatīṃ jñānatviṣas tan na cālīkatvena kalaṅkitaṃ vapur ato bhadraṃ samantān muneḥ // i Read sānuvyañjanalakṣaṇair with the ms., 105a5–6, against Thakur’s sānnavyañjanalakṣaṇair.



Apohaprakaraṇa (In JNĀ; compare McCrea & Patil, 2010)


Citrādvaitaprakāśavāda (In RNĀ)


Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies


Journal of Indian Philosophy


Jñānaśrīmitranibandhāvali (Thakur 1959)


Palm-leaf manuscript of JNĀ. Prints of Sāṅkṛtyāyana’s photographs, Göttingen University Library, Xc 14/25. Prints of Giuseppe Tucci’s photographs, Istituto Italiano per l’Africa e l’Oriente, Rome, Photograph No. 3.1.40


Prajñāpāramitopadeśa (BsTan ’gyur dpe bsdur ma, vol. 78)


Pramāṇavārttika (Tosaki, 1979)


Pramāṇavārttikālaṃkārabhāṣya (Sāṅkṛtyāyana 1953)


Pramāṇaviniścaya (Steinkellner, 2007)


Pramāṇavārttikavṛtti (Sāṅkṛtyāyana, 1938–1940)


Ratnakīrtinibandhāvali (Thakur, 1975)


Santānāntaradūṣaṇa (In RNĀ)


Studies in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism


Sākārasiddhiśāstra (In JNĀ)


Sākārasaṃgrahasūtra (In JNĀ)


Tibetan Sanskrit Works Series


Vijñaptimatratāsiddhi Of Ratnākaraśānti (bsTan ’gyur dpe bsdur ma, vol. 106)


Verlag der Österrichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften


Wiener Studien zur Tibetologie und Buddhismuskunde


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My understanding of Jñānaśrīmitra’s work has been shaped over the years by reading the Sākārasiddhiśāstra with many teachers and colleagues, but especially Pradeep Gokhale, Parimal Patil, Harunaga Isaacson, and Bhikṣu Hejung. I thank them tremendously for their generosity and insight. Some of this research was made possible by a Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies Dissertation Fellowship, for which I am very grateful. I am grateful, too, for comments on various stages of this work from Dan Arnold, Matthew Kapstein, Parimal Patil, Nilanjan Das, Cat Prueitt, and an anonymous reviewer.

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Tomlinson, D.K. The Marvel of Consciousness: Existence and Manifestation in Jñānaśrīmitra’s Sākārasiddhiśāstra. J Indian Philos 50, 163–199 (2022).

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  • Jñānaśrīmitra
  • Dharmakīrti
  • Yogācāra
  • Ultimate existence
  • Nonduality
  • Neither-One-nor-Many argument
  • Prakāśa
  • Adhyavasāya
  • Citrādvaita