For over fifteen hundred years, the prevailing view of the Madhyamikas in India has been that they were absolute nihilists. According to the Mimamsakas, the Vedantins, the Naiyayikas, the Jainas and even their fellow-Mahayanists, the Vijnanavadins, the Madhyamikas denied the reality of both nirvana and samsara. In the first part of this century, St. Schayer and Th. Stchetbatsky rejected the nihilist interpretation of the Madhyamikas.The present work is a defence of the earlier nihilist interpretation (NI) of the Madhyamika against some of the leading non-nihilist interpretation (NNI) that have arisen to challenge it in recent times. This defence is conducted on two fronts. First, as a purely exegetical matter, it will be argued that the NI fits the Madhyamika writings better than the NNI. Secondly, it will be argued that the NNIs are not, as they are often claimed to be, more defensible on philosophical grounds.
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