By Swami Harshananda
Two Nāgārjunas are known to history though, sometimes, they are considered as one and the same person.
The first Nāgārjuna might have existed during the period 1st century B. C. to 1st century A. D. Born into a brāhmaṇa family, he got converted to Buddhism, by Aśvaghoṣa or Saraha. He was first known as Prajñādhara and the later as Nāgārjuna. He was the founder of the Mādhyamika school of Buddhism. He wrote the Mādhyamika Kārikā as the basic work of this school. The place where he lived with his disciples and died is the Nāgārjuna Koṇḍa area of Andhra Pradesh in the district of Guntur. It is now submerged under the water of Nāgārjuna Sāgara.
The second Nāgārjuna lived in the 6th century A. D. and belonged to the Karnataka State. He was the son of one Pādaliptasuri and a great scholar of Jainism, Vedānta and Ayurveda. He later on embraced Buddhism and was the head of a monastery in Tibet for a few years. He was an expert in rasavidyā. Later in life he settled down in Srīśailam of Andhra Pradesh where he perfected his rasavidyā. His works on this science are:
- Kakṣa-putatantra or Siddhacāmunda
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore