Battle for Middle Way: Bhāviveka’s Dialectical Strategy in Context
AbstractIn a tumultuous socio-historical context, the Buddhist Madhyamaka philosopher Bhāviveka designed a coherent battle strategy that was to set the tone for the development of later philosophical compendia in India and beyond. Bhāviveka’s writings, especially his magnum opus, the Madhyamaka-hṛdaya-kārikā (MHK), his only text preserved in Sanskrit, is not only a rare window into the complex intellectual panorama of sixth century India, but it offers a vivid picture of an engaged Buddhist philosopher ascertaining various dialectical and exegetical strategies suited to the
challenges at hand. The first part of this paper is a briefing on the sociohistorical context in which Bhāviveka intervened. The second section borrows from ‘social-ecological coexistence theory’ to examine that context as a dynamic ecosystem. Finally, the mission assigned by the author to his bodhisattvas is presented in his own words, from the MHK’s opening section, the bodhicitta-aparityāgaḥ.