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Kaccānagotta Sutta

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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The Kaccānagotta Sutta is a short, but seminal Buddhist text preserved in Pāli (Saṃyutta Nikāya 12.15), Sanskrit, and Chinese (Samyuktāgama 301). The Chinese translation was carried out by Guṇabhadra, ca. 435-443 CE as part of a Samyuktāgama (雜阿含經) translation. A Sanskrit text, also part of the Samṃyuktāgama and dating from the 13th or 14th century, is preserved. The text is cited in Sanskrit in works by Nāgārjuna and his commentators. There is considerable agreement across the various versions with the Sanskrit and Chinese being more or less identical and both a little different from the Pāli. Nāgārjuna's citation suggests he had a different version from the extant Sanskrit.

Themes in the Text

Kaccāna asks about the meaning of the phrase 'right-view' (sammadiṭṭhi; Skt. samyagdṛṣṭi; Ch. 正見).

The main theme of the text is the avoidance of the extremes 'existence' (Pāli atthi) and 'non-existence' (Pāli natthi) with respect to the world (Pāli loka), and instead seeing the world in terms of the Middle Way which is illustrated by the twelve nidānas. The one with right-view understands this.

In Chinese the words existence and non-existence are rendered yǒu and wú. The Sanskrit text uses asti and nāsti. Nāgārjuna's Sanskrit citation uses the words bhava and abhava instead, though in the context these terms mean more or less the same as the roots of both atthi (Sanskrit asti) and bhava come from verbs meaning 'to be' (i.e. √as and √bhū).

The question of existence and non-existence is discussed in the context of right-view (sammādiṭṭhi) with Kaccāna initially asking the Buddha to define right view for him.

Kaccāna is a moderately prominent character in the Pāli Canon, and two canonical commentaries are attributed to him.

Sources

Primary

Secondary

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The sutta is quoted in the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra (Section LXII; p. 145). It is also cited in Sanskrit in Nāgārjuna's Mūlamadhyamakakārika (MMK 15.7) and in commentaries on this work by Candrakīrti, namely Prassanapadā and Madhyamakāvatārabhāṣya.

As the only text cited by name in MMK it is pointed to as evidence that Nāgarjuna might not have been a Mahāyānist. David Kalupahana has referred to the MMK as "a commentary on the Kaccānagotta Sutta".

English Translations

from Pāli

from Chinese

External Sources

Source

Wikipedia:Kaccānagotta Sutta