Vasubandhu


Vasubandhu

Vasubandhu (fl. 4th c.) was, according to Mahayana Buddhist tradition, an Indian Buddhist scholar-monk, and along with his half-brother Asanga, one of the main founders of the Indian Yogācāra school. However, some scholars consider Vasubandhu to be two distinct people. Vasubandhu is one of the most influential figures in the entire history of Buddhism. In the Jodo Shinshu branch of Buddhism, he is considered the Second Patriarch. In Zen, he is 21st Patriarch.

Born in Gandhāra in the fourth century, he was at first, or according to other scholars the first Vasubandhu was, a Sarvāstivādin when he initially studied Sarvāstivādin Abhidharma, as presented in the Mahā-vibhāsa. Dissatified with those teachings, he wrote the "Abhidharmakośa" in verse and his auto-commentary, the "Abhidharmakośa-bhāsya", an important summary and critique of the "Mahāvibhāsa" from the Sautrāntrika viewpoint.

He later converted to Mahāyāna, or according to other scholars the other Vasubandhu was a Mahayanist, and composed many other voluminous treatises, especially on Yogācāra doctrines. Most influential in the East Asian Buddhist tradition was probably the "Trimśikā", the Thirty Verses on Representation-only and its companion "Vimśatikā", but he also wrote a large number of other works, including:

*a commentary to the "Mahāyāna-samgraha"
*the "Daśabhūmikabhāsya" ("Ten Stages Sutra")
*"Catuhśataka-śāstra"
*"Mahāyāna śatadharmā-prakāśamukha śāstra"
*"Amitayus sutropadeśa"
*"Discourse on the Pure Land"
*"Vijnaptimatrata Sastra"

Vasubandhu: a possible conflation of two or three distinct personages

There may have been three distinct people conflated into the modern Vasubandhu:
*Vasubandhu the Yogācārin, the half brother of Asanga, and key personage in the founding of the Yogacara School. This Vasubandu resided at Kausambhi (near modern Allahabad, in the centre of India) where he was trained in the orthodox Sarvastivada Order of Buddhism, which had its seat at Kausambhi. This Vasubandhu was contemporaneous with King Chandragupta I, the father of Samudragupta. This information temporally places this Vasubandhu in the fourth century CE. [Dharma Fellowship (2005). "Yogacara Theory - Part One: Background History". Source: [http://www.dharmafellowship.org/library/essays/yogacara-part1.htm#one] (Accessed: November 15, 2007)]

Some modern scholars, notably Frauwallner, have sought to distinguish two Vasubandhus, one the Yogācārin and the other a Sautrāntika, but some scholars reject this view now on the basis of the anonymous "Abhidharma-dīpa", a critique of the "Abhidharmakośa" which clearly identifies Vasubandhu as the sole author of both groups of writings. there is no scholarly consensus on this question. [Macmillan "encyclopedia of buddhism", volume 1, page 7]

Notes

References

* "Abhidharma Kosha Bhashyam" 4 vols, Vasubandhu, translated into English by Leo Pruden (based on Louis de la Vallée Poussin’s French translation), Asian Humanities Press, Berkeley, 1988-90.
* Stefan Anacker, "Seven Works of Vasubandhu" Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1984, 1998
* David J. Kalupahana, "The Principles of Buddhist Psychology", State University of New York Press, Albany, 1987, pp173-192
* Francis H. Cook, "Three Texts on Consciousness Only", Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Berkeley, 1999, pp371-383 ("Thirty Verses on Consciousness Only") and pp385-408 ("Twenty Verses on Consciousness Only")
* Thich Nhat Hanh "Transformation at the Base" (subtitle) "Fifty Verses on the Nature of Consciousness", Parallax Press, Berkeley, 2001; inspired in part by Vasubandhu and his "Twenty Verses" and "Thirty Verses" texts

External links

* [http://www.iep.utm.edu/v/vasubandhu.htm Detailed biography and work]


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