Interpretation of Dejectedness and Insanity in Buddhist Exegetical Treatises

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The subject of the paper is the moral aspect of interpretations of dejectedness (daurmanasya) and insanity (cittavikṣepa-unmāda) in the treatises Abhidharmakośa-bhāṣya by Vasubandhu (4-5th centuries) and Sphuṭārtha-abhidharmakośa-vyākhyā by Yaśomitra (8th century). Buddhist interpretation of these phenomena is based on the canonical postulate that only corporeal suffering is a karmic retribution (vipāka-phala). Dejectedness is treated by Buddhist exegetics as a peculiar trait of imagination (kalpanā) manifesting in the moment of mental construction of evil projective situations. Dejectedness can be good (kuśala) and evil (akuśala) dependent on personal moral position. Good dejectedness is repentance (kaukṛtya) for an undone good deed or sin done. Opposite to it is evil dejectedness. Insanity is treated as destruction of predicative (abhinirūpana) and mnestic (anusmaraṇa) functions of consciousness. This mental suffering is determined by karma in cases when attempts to destroy other’s consciousness had place in the past. Karmic retribution in these cases is corporeal suffering, or disbalance of gross elements, and insanity is the consequence of this disbalance.

About the authors

Helena Petrovna Ostrovskaya

Institute of Oriental Manuscripts RAS

Author for correspondence.

D. Sci. in Philosophy, professor, chief researcher, section of South Asian studies, dept. of Central and South Asian studies

18, Dvortsovaya emb., St. Petersburg, 191186, Russian Federation


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