Vasubandhu (Sanskrit. Chinese 世親. Korean 세친) was an Indian Buddhist scholar-monk, and along with his half-brother Asanga, one of the main founders of the Indian Yogācāra school. Vasubandhu is one of the most influential figures in the entire history of Buddhism.
Born in Gandhāra in the fourth century, he was at first a Sarvāstivādin when he initially studied Sarvāstivādin Abhidharma, as presented in the Mahā-vibhāsa. Dissatified with those teachings, he wrote the Abhidharmakośa in verse and his auto-commentary, the Abhidharmakośa-bhāsya, an important summary and critique of the Mahāvibhāsa from the Sautrāntrika viewpoint.
He later converted to Mahāyāna and composed many other voluminous treatises, especially on Yogācāra doctrines. Most influential in the East Asian Buddhist tradition was probably the Trimśikā, the Thirty Verses on Representation-only and its companion Vimśatikā, but he also wrote a large number of other works, including:
- a commentary to the Mahāyāna-samgraha
- the Daśabhūmikabhāsya (Ten Stages Sutra)
- Mahāyāna śatadharmā-prakāśamukha śāstra
- Amitayus sutropadeśa
- Discourse on the Pure Land
Some modern scholars, notably Frauwallner, have sought to distinguish two Vasubandhus, one the Yogācārin and the other a Sautrāntika, but this view should probably be rejected now on the basis of the anonymous Abhidharma-dīpa, a critique of the Abhidharmakośa which clearly identifies Vasubandhu as the sole author of both groups of writings.
- Abhidharma Kosha Bhashyam 4 vols, Vasubandhu, translated into English by Leo Pruden (based on Louis de la Vallée Poussin’s French translation), Asian Humanities Press, Berkeley, 1988-90.
- Stefan Anacker, Seven Works of Vasubandhu Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1984, 1998
- David J. Kalupahana, The Principles of Buddhist Psychology, State University of New York Press, Albany, 1987, pp173-192
- Francis H. Cook, Three Texts on Consciousness Only, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Berkeley, 1999, pp371-383 (“Thirty Verses on Consciousness Only”) and pp385-408 (“Twenty Verses on Consciousness Only”)
- Thich Nhat Hanh Transformation at the Base (subtitle) Fifty Verses on the Nature of Consciousness, Parallax Press, Berkeley, 2001; inspired in part by (but not necessarily faithful to) Vasubandhu and his Twenty Verses and Thirty Verses texts
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