The University of Wisconsin Press

Asian Studies


Early Madhyamika in India and China
Richard H. Robinson

Essentially a study in the intercultural transmission of religious and philosophical ideas, this book focuses on the introduction of Indian Madhyamika Buddhism into China. At this time, about A.D. 400, the Chinese Buddist intellectuals were conducting an intense inquiry into philosophical problems. Although many Buddist scriptures in Chinese translation were available, translations of the four Madhyamika treatises by the Indian Buddist teacher Kumarajiva were read by the Chinese scholars with excitement and a sense of discovery.


Among these scholars there were varied reactions to the new ideas, and Professor Robinson explains the intellectual reasons why certain Indian ideas were understood, others misunderstood, and still others ignored. Information about this initial impact of Madhyamika in China, afforded by surviving essays, prefaces, letters, and commentaries, is presented. Professor Robinson employs logical, philological, and philosophical analysis as components of an integral methodology more sophisticated than any hitherto applied to the Madhyamika school. In his careful examination of these writings by Kumarajiva and three of his Chinese contemporaries, Hui-Yuan, Seng-Jui, and Seng-Chao, each writer’s literary form, modes of reasoning, and ideas are analyzed, described, and compared.


Richard H. Robinson is professor in the department of Indian studies at the University of Wisconsin.

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June 1967
LC: 66-022853 BL
359 pp.
Cloth ISBN 978-0-299-04250-9

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