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Indian Scholar: Nagarjuna Biography

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Nagarjuna (1st/2nd century C.E.)

It was prophesied at his birth that Nagarjuna would live for only ten days but because of pious actions by his father, his life expectancy was raised to seven years. At age seven his parents sent him away from their home because they could not bear the thought of seeing his corpse. He eventually arrived at the great monastic academy Nalanda. At Nalanda he was initiated into meditation practice by the master Saraha (Rahulabhadra) and attained immortality. Nagarjuna became a great teacher and was widely known in all Buddhist traditions.

Over time Nagarjuna's grasp of the Buddha's teaching deepened and he expressed his understanding in a series of commentaries which taught the doctrine of emptiness and clarified the Middle Way. His teachings became especially revered and important to practitioners of the Mahayana Buddhist Tradition and became the foundation for the Madhyamaka School of philosophy. At one point during Nagarjuna's long life of ceaseless teaching Nagas, nature spirits that appear as snakes, visited him. The Nagas offered him a teaching of Shakyamuni Buddha known as the One Hundred Thousand Verse Prajnaparamita Sutra that had never been seen in the human world. Nagarjuna also established a vast number of temples and stupas and converted countless non-Buddhists in great debates. The end of Nagarjuna's life was spent in mediation at Shri Parvata and after his death Aryadeva carried on his work.

Monty McKeever 2-2006

(The images below are only a selection of examples).