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Mulamadhyamaka-karika (Skt. Prajñā-nāma-mūlamadhyamakakārikā; Tib. དབུ་མ་རྩ་བ་ཤེས་རབ་, Uma Tsawa Sherab, Wyl. dbu ma rtsa ba shes rab; Trad. Chin. 中論), The Root Verses on the Wisdom of the Middle Way — the most famous and important treatise on Madhyamika philosophy, composed by the great master Nagarjuna. It is included among the so-called "thirteen great texts", which form the core of the curriculum in most shedras and on which Khenpo Shenga provided commentaries.


There are twenty-seven chapters:

  1. Examination of Conditions (Skt. Pratyayaparīkṣā)
  2. Examination of Motion (Skt. Gatāgataparīkṣā)
  3. Examination of the Senses (Skt. Cakṣurādīndriyaparīkṣā)
  4. Examination of the Skandhas (Skt. Skandhaparīkṣā)
  5. Examination of the Dhatus (Skt. Dhātuparīkṣā)
  6. Examination of Desire and the Desirous (Skt. Rāgaraktaparīkṣā)
  7. Examination of the Conditioned (Skt. Saṃskṛtaparīkṣā)
  8. Examination of the Agent and Action (Skt. Karmakārakaparīkṣā)
  9. Examination of the Prior Entity (Skt. Pūrvaparīkṣā)
  10. Examination of Fire and Fuel (Skt. Agnīndhanaparīkṣā)
  11. Examination of the Initial and Final Limits (Skt. Pūrvaparakoṭiparīkṣā)
  12. Examination of Suffering (Skt. Duḥkhaparīkṣā)
  13. Examination of Compounded Phenomena (Skt. Saṃskāraparīkṣā)
  14. Examination of Connection (Skt. Saṃsargaparīkṣā)
  15. Examination of Essence (Skt. Svabhāvaparīkṣā)
  16. Examination of Bondage (Skt. Bandhanamokṣaparīkṣā)
  17. Examination of Actions and their Fruits (Skt. Karmaphalaparīkṣa)
  18. Examination of Self and Entities (Skt. Ātmaparīkṣā)
  19. Examination of Time (Skt. Kālaparīkṣā)
  20. Examination of Combination (Skt. Sāmagrīparīkṣā)
  21. Examination of Becoming and Destruction (Skt. Saṃbhavavibhavaparīkṣā)
  22. Examination of the Tathagata (Skt. Tathāgataparīkṣā)
  23. Examination of Errors (Skt. Viparyāsaparīkṣā)
  24. Examination of the Four Noble Truths (Skt. Āryasatyaparīkṣā)
  25. Examination of Nirvana (Skt. Nirvānaparīkṣā)
  26. Examination of the Twelve Links (Skt. Dvādaśāṅgaparīkṣā)
  27. Examination of Views (Skt. Dṛṣṭiparīkṣā)

Tibetan Text



It is said there were eight important commentaries on the text in India, but only four of them have been translated into Tibetan and subsequently found their way into the Tengyur.

  • Akutobhayā (Skt. Akutobhayā; Wyl. dbu ma rtsa ba'i 'grel pa ga las 'jigs med) [1]
  • Buddhapalita, Mula Madhyamaka Vritti (Skt. Mūla-madhyamaka-vṛtti; in Tibetan referred to as the Buddhapalita commentary; Wyl. dbu ma rtsa ba'i 'grel pa buddha pā li ta)
    • Buddhapalita, Buddhapalita's Commentary on Nagarjuna's Middle Way, introduction and translation by Ian James Coghlan (Wisdom Publications, 2021)
  • Bhavaviveka, The Wisdom Lamp: A Commentary on the Root Verses on the Wisdom of the Middle Way (Skt. Prajñā-pradīpa-mūla-madhyamaka-vṛtti; Wyl. dbu ma'i rtsa ba'i 'grel pa shes rab sgron ma)
  • Chandrakirti, Clear Words (Skt. Mūla-mādhyamaka-vṛtti-prasannapadā)
དབུ་མ་རྩ་བའི་འགྲེལ་པ་ཚིག་གསལ་བ་, dbu ma rtsa ba'i 'grel pa tshig gsal ba


དབུ་མ་རྩ་བའི་ཚིག་ལེའུར་བྱས་པ་ཤེས་རབ་ཅེས་བྱ་བའི་མཆན་འགྲེལ་, dbu ma rtsa ba'i tshig le'ur byas pa shes rab ces bya ba'i mchan 'grel
  • Khenpo Tsültrim Gyamtso, The Sun of Wisdom: Teachings on the Noble Nagarjuna's Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way, translated and edited by Ari Goldfield (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2003)
  • Mipham Rinpoche, [A Jewel of the Powerful Nagarjuna's Intention that Perfectly Illuminates the True Nature]
དབུ་མ་རྩ་བའི་མཆན་འགྲེལ་གནས་ལུགས་རབ་གསལ་ཀླུ་དབང་དགོངས་རྒྱན་, dbu ma rtsa ba'i mchan 'grel gnas lugs rab gsal klu dbang dgongs rgyan



  • Garfield, Jay. The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way (Oxford University Press 1995)
  • Goldfield, Ari. Khenpo Tsültrim Gyamtso, The Sun of Wisdom: Teachings on the Noble Nagarjuna's Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way
  • Inada, Kenneth. Nagarjuna: A Translation of his Mulamadhyamikakarika (Tokyo: The Hokuseido Press, 1970)
  • Kalupahana, David. Nagarjuna: The Philosophy of the Middle Way (Albany: State University, 1986)
  • Nagarjuna. The Root Stanzas on the Middle Way (translated by Padmakara Translation Group). (Boulder: Shambhala, 2016)
  • Siderits, Mark and Katsura, Shoryu. Nagarjuna's Middle Way: Mulamadhyamakakarika (Wisdom Publications, 2013) translated from Sanskrit
  • Streng, Frederik. Emptiness: A Study in Religious Meaning (Nashville: Abdingdon Press, 1967)


  • Nagarjuna, Les Stances Fondamentales de la Voie Médiane - Mûlamadhyamakakârikâ, Padmakara Translation Group (trans. Patrick Carré). Translation from Tibetan.
  • Nagarjuna, Stances du milieu par excellence: (Madhyamaka-kārikās), Guy Bugault (Traduction) (Gallimard, 2002). Translation from Sanskrit.


  1. Some attribute the text to Nagarjuna, but others cite the fact that the text quotes Aryadeva as evidence that it could not have been composed by Nagarjuna, who was Aryadeva's teacher.

Teachings Given to the Rigpa Sangha

Further Reading

  • Andy Karr, Into the Mirror—A Buddhist Journey through Mind, Matter, and the Nature of reality (Shambhala: 2023), pages 99-112.

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