The Scope of Free Inquiry According to the Vīmaṃsaka - sutta and its Madhyama - āgama Parallel
The theme of the present article is the scope of free inquiry from the perspective of the Vīmaṃsaka-sutta of the Pāli Majjhima-nikāya and its counterpart in the Madhyama-āgama, preserved in Chinese translation. In these two specimens from the corpus of early Buddhist discourses, a prospective disciple is encouraged to investigate whether the Buddha’s claim to being a fully awakened teacher is justified. My presentation is based on an annotated translation of the Madhyama-āgama discourse, which is followed by a comparative study of the two versions and an evaluation of the significance of their presentation. My frame of reference in the present article is that of the thought-world of the early Buddhist discourses themselves, which for the most part can be considered representative of Buddhism in its pre-sectarian stage. This thought-world forms my point of departure in an attempt to illustrate the message these two parallel discourses convey on the theme of free inquiry in relation to one’s own teacher.