The Gotra Theory in the Madhyāntavibhāgaṭīkā

Journal of Indian Philosophy 50 (1):47-64 (2022)
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Abstract

The Yogācāra school of Buddhism is well known for maintaining that the sentient beings are divided by nature according to five different spiritual dispositions. These five spiritual dispositions are established as a pentad and explained in one of Xuanzang’s Chinese translations, but the Indian origin of the pertinent textual passage is debated. In the introductory part of this paper, it is argued that Xuanzang’s explanations of the five spiritual dispositions in themselves are, to a great extent, in line with the orthodox Indian Yogācāra doctrine, although such pentad is hardly mentioned. The second and main part of this paper discusses a textual passage of Sthiramati’s Madhyāntavibhāgaṭīkā in which he juxtaposes—without bias—the orthodox position and the diametrically opposed idea of the potential of all sentient beings to attain the state of a buddha. By examining other parts of his work, it is shown that the author clearly favors and approves of the orthodox position.

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