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The Anūnatvāpurnatvanirdeśa (“Neither Increase nor Decrease Sūtra,” Sutra Of No Increase No Decrease) is a short Mahayana text belonging to the tathagatagarbha class of sutras.[1]


The scripture is only extant in the Chinese translation (Ch. Bu zeng bu jian jing, 不增不減經) produced by Bodhiruci (6th century) in 525.[2][3] Quotations from the sutra in the Ratnagotravibhāga demonstrate that it was composed before 400 CE.[4][5]

An English translation and analysis of the Anunatvapurnatvanirdesaparivarta was published by Jonathan Silk in 2015.[6]



It presents a teaching, delivered in this text by the Buddha to Sariputra, that nirvana is not utter vacuity or the cessation of being, but is the realm of the tathagatagarbha, the unfabricated, utterly pure and everlasting essence of all creatures and beings.

According to Grosnick, in this sutra:

the Buddha responds to the question of whether there is any increase or decrease in the number of beings transmigrating through the triple world by rejecting the questions as ill-conceived, and then by explicitly attacking the idea that nirvana represents a kind of severance, destruction or non-being (the view of decrease), and the idea that it represents a reality over and above the phenomenal life that arises suddenly without cause (the view of increase).[7]


The Buddha links the tathagatagarbha to the spotless immaculacy of the "dharmakaya" (the ultimate true nature of the Buddha) and "dharmadhatu" (the all-pervading realm of dharma) and states:[8]

First, the tathagatagarbha is intrinsically conjoined with pure qualities from time without beginning; secondly, the tathagatagarbha is intrinsically not conjoined with impure qualities from time without beginning; and thirdly, the tathagatagarbha is unchanging sameness throughout the future [...] it is veridical and not delusive, a pure reality that is without separation and exclusion from jnana [knowingness, awareness], an inconceivable 'dharma' [entity] that is the dharmadhatu.

This sutra is notable for its doctrinal closeness, regarding the tathagatagarbha, to the "Srimaladevisimhanada Sutra" (commonly known as the "Srimala Sutra").

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Buswell, Robert Jr; Lopez, Donald S. Jr., eds. (2013). Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. p. 52. ISBN 9780691157863.
  2. ^ Buswell (2013, pp. 52
  3. ^ T16, no. 668, pp. 466-468
  4. ^ Radich, Michael (2015). "Tathāgatagarbha Scriptures." In Jonathan Silk, Oskar von Hinüber, Vincent Eltschinger (eds.): Brill's Encyclopedia of Buddhism, Volume 1: Literature and Languages. Leiden: Brill, p. 262
  5. ^ Hodge, Stephen (2003). Anunatva Apurnatva Nirdesa Sutra, draft translation of the Sanskrit quotations.
  6. ^ Silk, Jonathan A. (2015). Buddhist Cosmic Unity. An Edition, Translation and Study of the Anunatvapurnatvanirdesaparivarta (PDF). Hamburg University Press. ISBN 9783943423228. Archived from the original on 2015-10-16.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  7. ^ Grosnick, William (1981). Nonorigination and Nirvāṇa in the Early Tathāgatagarbha Literature Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 4/2, pp. 34-35
  8. ^ Hodge, Stephen (2003). Anunatva Apurnatva Nirdesa Sutra, draft translation

External links[edit]