Within this project, research is being done on the Tibetan Madhyamaka tradition in the era before prāsaṅgika became the dominant orientation. Being investigated in particular are the earliest Madhyamaka works currently available from the interpretative lineage stemming from rNgog Blo ldan shes rab (1059–1109).

Selected publications

  • Hugon, Pascale, Who is the proponent of Candrakīrti portrayed by Phya pa Chos kyi seng ge in the sNying po? In: V. Eltschinger, J. Kramer, P. Patil, Ch. Yoshimizu (eds.), Burlesque of the Philosophers: Indian and Buddhist Studies in Memory of Helmut Krasser, Hamburg Buddhist Studies Series 19, Bochum/Freiburg, 2023: projekt verlag, pp. 153–200.
  • Hugon, Pascale, Vaibhāṣika-Madhyamaka: A Fleeting Episode in the History of Tibetan Madhyamaka. In: V. Tournier, V. Eltschinger, and M. Sernesi (eds.), Archaeologies of the Written: Indian, Tibetan, and Buddhist Studies in Honour of Cristina Scherrer-Schaub. Naples, 2020: Università degli Studi di Napoli “L’Orientale” (Series Minor, LXXXIX), pp. 323–371. PDF.
  • Hugon, Pascale, Proving Emptiness – The Epistemological Background for the ‘Neither One nor Many’ Argument and the Nature of its Probandum in Phya pa Chos kyi seng ge’s Works. Journal of Buddhist Philosophy 1 (2015) 58–94. (The printed version is available through SUNY Press. The online version is available at pdcnet.org. The accepted manuscript version is provided here with permission of the editor.)


The Analysis of the Essence of Madhyamaka of rGya dmar ba Byang chub grags

Research: Pascale Hugon, Kevin Vose (College of William & Mary, Virginia)

Running period: since June 2017

The Analysis of the Essence of Madhyamaka is one of three works by the twelfth-century scholar rGya dmar ba that are currently known to be extant. rGya dmar ba was an important figure in the rNgog lineages of both Madhyamaka and epistemology, preceding Phya pa Chos kyi seng ge and following Khyung Rin chen grags, the foremost disciples of rNgog Blo ldan shes rab (1059–1109) in these areas of Buddhist learning.

This work is being edited based on a unique 31-folio manuscript preserved at Drepung monastery. The latest version of our edition and translation in progress, as well as related publications, are available for download on the project’s webpage.

Phya pa Chos kyi seng ge's Commentary on the Madhyamakāloka

Research: Pascale Hugon, Jongbok Yi (The Richard Stockton University of New Jersey)

Running period: since July 2019

Kamalaśīla’s Madhyamakāloka (MA) is one of the three most important works for the so-called Svātantrika branch of Madhyamaka – the other two being Śāntarakṣita’s Madhyamakālaṅkāra and Jñānagarbha’s Satyadvayavibhaṅga. The MA has been preserved only in its Tibetan translation. There is no known Indian commentary on this work. The commentary by Phya pa Chos kyi seng ge (who also wrote commentaries on the other two works) is the earliest available Tibetan commentary on this treatise. There are only two other later commentaries, both by Mongol scholars: the dBu ma snang ba’i brjed tho by bsTan dar sNgags rams pa bShad sgrub bstan dar (1835–1915), and, restricted to the topic of conventional truth, the dBu sems kyi kun rdzob tu yod tshul las brtsams pa’i rtsod lan dbu ma snang ba las byung ba rnams dang / bsdus nas bshad pa’i kun rdzob tu yod tshul bcu gcig gsal bar byed pa’i tshig gi sgron me by Ngag dbang mkhas grub (1779–1838).

Phya pa’s commentary offers new insight into Phya pa’s Madhyamaka thought, and constitutes one of the rare pieces of evidence for the early tradition of Madhyamaka in Tibet, in the period before the prāsaṅgika orientation became dominant.

Two manuscripts of Phya pa’s text have been preserved at Drepung Monastery. One has been published as a facsimile in the bKa’ gdams gsung ’bum collection; the other was used as the basis for a modern typeset publication of the transcribed text. Our critical edition of Phya pa Chos kyi seng ge’s commentary on the Madhyamakāloka is based on these two witnesses. It will be made available both as a print publication and (with the technological support of Patrick McAllister) as a digital edition. An English translation of the text is also being undertaken.