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Candrakírti (Tib., Zla-ba-grags-pa; Chin., Yüehcheng; Jap., Gesshō). A distinguished Buddhist teacher of the Mādhyamaka school who flourished in the 7th cent. CE. Candrakīrti championed the Prāsaṅgika form of the Mādhyamaka doctrine in his commentaries on the work of Nāgārjuna, the founder of the school, and Āryadeva, his disciple. According to this, the method of the Mādhyamaka is to reduce to absurdity the position of the opponent through a dialectical process which reveals the internal contradictions of his argument. The alternative interpretation of Mādhyamaka, that of the Svātantrika-Mādhyamaka sub-school led by Bhāvaviveka, was that the Mādhyamaka should seek to establish a positive thesis of its own, and that a purely negative dialectic was inadequate.

The contribution of Candrakīrti to an understanding of the terse aphorisms of Nāgārjuna, most notably through his ‘Clear Words’ (Prasannapadā) commentary cannot be overestimated. Also of great importance is his own composition, An Introduction to the Mādhyamaka System (Mādhyamaka-Āvatāra).

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