A ChatGPT3.5 translation of Nāgārjuna's Mūlamadhyamakakārikā

Hi all, I am trying to get together a ChatGPT translation of MMK. I thought I would post it here a chapter at a time and if anyone is interested in helping me proof it and improve it please post suggestions!

“Verses on the Fundamental Teaching of the Middle Way.”

by Nāgārjuna
“Arjuna, the Serpent.”

Translation by ChatGPT3.5

pratyayaparīkṣā nāma prathamaṃ prakaraṇam|
Examination of the basis is the name of the first chapter;

Without cessation, without arising, without annihilation, eternal;

With many meanings, not having no meaning, not coming, not going.

yaḥ pratītyasamutpādaṃ prapañcopaśamaṃ śivam|
He who taught dependent origination, the pacification of elaboration, auspicious;

deśayāmāsa saṃbuddhastaṃ vande vadatāṃ varam||2||
The fully awakened one, I bow down to him, the best among those who speak.

na svato nāpi parato na dvābhyāṃ nāpyahetutaḥ|
Not from self, not from others, not from both, not without cause;

utpannā jātu vidyante bhāvāḥ kkacana kecana||3||
Entities that are born have no existence, some do arise.

catvāraḥ pratyayā hetuścālambanamanantaram|
Also, four conditions, and support, and without end;

avidyamāne svabhāve parabhāvo na vidyate||5||
Similarly, dominion is the fifth condition.

kriyā na pratyayavatī nāpratyayavatī kriyā. |
Action is not characterized by a cause, nor is action without a cause.

pratyayā nākriyāvantaḥ kriyāvantaśca santyuta. ||6||
Those with causes are not devoid of action, and those with action are associated with causes.

utpadyate pratītyemānitīme pratyayāḥ kila. ||5||
The existent arises in dependence; indeed, these are the perceived causes.

yāvannotpadyata ime tāvannāpratyayāḥ katham. ||7||
As long as these arise, how can there be non-causes?

AI-generated translations of EBT (Early Buddhist Text) material are acceptable if sourced and of sufficient quality, or welcomed by expert human translators. Whole-text AI translations must be hosted outside the forum.


Nagarjuna is an absolutely brilliant philosopher and has an ability to put really deep Dhamma into ultra short sentences which defy translation :nerd_face:! Even human translators are unable to do justice to this magnum opus of succinct philosophy :exploding_head: … see for example - 7 translations of MMK side by side.

I wonder if ChatGPT is quite upto the task! :thinking: :upside_down_face:


ChatGPT might have indeed met its match with Nagarjuna :wink: One could get lost very quickly even trying to discern which verses are meant as reflecting Nagarjunas erstwhile opponents speech and which verses are meant as reflecting Nagarjunas.

To study this Nagarjuna text, in the Gelug school one usually looks at:

  1. Buddhapalita
  2. Bhaviveka who criticized Buddhapalita’s commentary
  3. Chandrakirti who criticized Bhaviveka’s commentary criticizing Buddhapalita
  4. Tsongkhapa who sided with Chandrakirti and Buddhapalita, but also gave his own unique interpretation

But this is just a tiny fraction of the commentary literature. Even this tiny fraction spans a huge length of time, culture, and geography.

Here is another resource that I’ve found to be useful. Good luck!


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@faujidoc1 thats a great resource, thanks! @yeshe.tenley and so is that!! Wondeful! Thanks again.

What i am interested in is ChatGPT’s “independence” so to speak. Because it is trained on an LLM rather than actual “knowledge” it is unlikely to be “opinionated” in the way human scholars are.

This, I hope, might give some level of insight into the bias of some of the translations.

So far its doing a pretty good job as far as i can tell, and i am interested to see if we can use it as a starting point to do something a bit fresh, rather than just rehashing the commentarial glosses, as most of the modern english translations basically do.

Thanks again for the study aids!