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Dharmakirti (Skt. Dharmakīrti; Tib. ཆོས་ཀྱི་གྲགས་པ་, Chökyi Drakpa, Wyl. chos kyi grags pa) (7th century) was born to a brahmin family in the South of India. After receiving a brahmanical education, he later became interested in the Buddhist teachings. He then travelled to Nalanda in order to receive teachings from a direct disciple of Vasubandhu. Dharmapala was still living—Dharmakirti received ordination from him—but Dignaga had passed away. Instead he received instruction from Ishvarasena, who was Dignaga's direct disciple. Having entirely comprehended Dignaga's oeuvre, he became perhaps the greatest master of pramana and went on to compose the 'Seven Treatises on Valid Cognition'.



སེམས་ཀྱི་རང་བཞིན་འོད་གསལ་ཏེ། །
དྲི་མ་རྣམས་ནི་གློ་བུར་བ། །

The nature of mind is clear light,
Defilements are only adventitious.

Dharmakīrti, Commentary on Valid Cognition, chapter II
བདག་ཡོད་ན་ནི་གཞན་དུ་ཤེས། །

བདག་གཞན་ཆ་ལས་འཛིན་དང་སྡང་། །
འདི་དག་དང་ནི་ཡོངས་འབྲེལ་ལས། །

ཉེས་པ་ཐམས་ཅད་འབྱུང་བར་འགྱུར། །

When there is an “I”, there is a perception of other,
And from the ideas of self and other come attachment and aversion,
As a result of getting wrapped up in these,
All possible faults come into being.

Dharmakīrti, Commentary on Valid Cognition, chapter II
དོན་དམ་དོན་བྱེད་ནུས་པ་གང༌། །

དེ་འདིར་དོན་དམ་ཡོད་པ་ཡིན། །

གཞན་ནི་ཀུན་རྫོབ་ཡོད་པ་སྟེ། །

That which can ultimately perform a function
Is here said to be ultimately existent.
All else besides has relative existence.

Dharmakīrti, Commentary on Valid Cognition, chapter III, 3

Further Reading

  • Georges B. J. Dreyfus, Recognizing Reality: Dharmakīrti's Philosophy and Its Tibetan Interpretations, SUNY, 1997
  • John D. Dunne, Foundations of Dharmakirti's Philosophy, Wisdom Publications, 2004
  • Tom J. F. Tillemans, Scripture, logic, language: essays on Dharmakīrti and his Tibetan successors, Wisdom Publications, 1999