Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
About usFaculty of PhilosophyEducationThesis summaries

Palenstijn, J.J.

Author: Joost Palenstijn
Graduation Year: 2007
Department: History of Philosophy

Master's Thesis:

Nagarjuna and Samkara: a philosophical comparison of their concepts of nirvana and moksa



This thesis is about Nagarjuna’s and Samkara’s thinking. Both are influential philosophers in the Indian tradition. Nagarjuna lived around the 2nd century CE and stands in the Buddhist tradition. He is generally seen as one of the initiators of the innovative Mahayana movement. Samkara lived around the 8th  century CE and is the main philosopher and master in the Advaita Vedanta branch of Hinduism. Both of these systems nowadays still have a huge amount of followers.

Both masters have the liberation of beings from samsara, the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth, as their goal. Hence their systems can be called soteriological. Nagarjuna, like the Buddha, calls the goal of Buddhism nirvana. Samkara calls the goal of his system moksa, which could be translated with 'liberation'. In this thesis it is examined to what extent the concepts of moksa and nirvana correspond to each other. To do this there will also be dealt with the concepts of emptiness, Brahman and avidya, and with the notion of 'two truths' as it is used in both traditions.


Last modified:01 November 2013 2.53 p.m.