ASANGA (Aryasanga)—a Buddhist thinker, commentator, and author of many mahayanist treatises, probably lived in the fourth century.

Asanga come from Gandhara in north-west India (today Peshawar). He was at first a follower of hinayana but with his brother Vasubandhu (a Buddhist philosopher) he affiliated himself with mahayana. In the writings ascribed to him, including Yogacarabhumishastra (Manual of stages of the application of yoga), Mahayanasamgraha (The concept of mahayana), and Abhidharmasamuccaya (Collection of abhidharma), he regards mahayana as the sole authentic doctrine of Buddha (abhidhamma). According to Asanga, awakening, or the intuitive knowledge of the highest truth, can be obtained only by methodical yogic practice, and so he founded the school of yogacari and developed the Buddhist theory of consciousness. He introduced into that theory the concept of “the store of consciousness”, i.e. superconsciousness, which hides the embryos of ideas and actions future and past, and also gathers the results of the influence of truth—karman. One consequence of the presuppostion referring to more ancient thoughts, that all perceptible phenomena and their features are only a projection of ideas from “the store of consciousness” was that Asanga accepted the idea that the world is an illusion (maya).

M. Winternitz, A History of Indian Literature, Ca 1933; II 354–356; S. Radhakrishnan, Indian Philosophy, Lo 1951 (Filozofia indyjska [Indian philosophy], Wwa 1959–1960, I 571–588); E. Conze, Buddhist Thought in India, Lo 1962, 133–134, 250–254; M. Mejor, Buddyzm [Buddhism], Wwa 1980; S. Schayer, O filozofowaniu Hindusów [Of the philosophical thought of the Indians], Wwa 1988.

Artur Karp

<--Go back