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Saturday, 07 February 2015 10:57

Letter to a Friend

Letter to a Friend - coverNagarjuna's Letter to a Friend
— with commentary by Kyabje Kangyur Rinpoche

The great Indian Buddhist master Nagarjuna wrote his celebrated poem Letter to a Friend  (Suhrllekha  in Sanskrit) as a gift of advice to a South Indian king, and it has since become a monument in the Indian shastra tradition.

Despite its short length (only 123 verses), it covers the entire Mahayana path, combining a practical approach to daily conduct with a theoretical exposition of the different stages leading to enlightenment.

It has thus been an ideal source for many of Tibet’s greatest scholars seeking a scriptural authority to enhance their own descriptions of the Buddhist path.

In addition to a new English translation of the poem followed by the original Tibetan, this book includes commentary and a structural outline by the great twentieth-century scholar Kyabje Kangyur Rinpoche.

Nagarjuna is generally considered with Asanga to be the most important figure in Mahayana Buddhism.

Acknowledged as the father of Madhyamika, it was he who brought to the human world the Prajnaparamita  in 100,000 verses (hitherto hidden in the realm of the nagas) which inspired his own Mulamadhyamakakarika  on which the entire Madhyamika is based.

Nagarjuna and NagaA prolific writer, his works include the Six Texts on Reasoning, hymns of praise and a number of discourses (including the Letter to a Friend). As principal abbot of Nalanda he was largely responsible for increasing this great monastic university’s reputation as a seat of learning and pure conduct.

Throughout his life he significantly benefited the doctrine and sentient beings, on many occasions using miraculous powers. The special relationship he cultivated with the nagas, and which enabled him to retrieve the 100,000 verse Prajnaparamita, is reflected not only in his name but in numerous representations of him depicting the nagas’ cobra-like heads shading him from the sun as he taught the Dharma.

This book appeal to any reader with interest in Mahayanna Buddhism and the great classic of Indain Buddisht literature.

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