Details of Karma 7: Karmic Impulses According to Madhyamaka

Sources of the Madhyamaka View of Karma

Let us survey the Madhyamaka view of karma, starting with Nagarjuna (Klu-grub, Skt. Nāgājuna) in the late second century CE. It follows the Sarvastivada abhidharma assertion, also found in the Mahayana sutras, that the karmic impulses of the body and speech are revealing and nonrevealing forms. Nagarjuna’s formulation came about half a century after the Fourth Buddhist Council, which compiled the Vaibhashika interpretation of these abhidharma and sutra sources into The Great Extensive Commentarial Treatise on Special Topics of Knowledge (Chos mngon-pa bye-brag bshad-pa chen-mo, Skt. Abhidharma Mahāvibhāṣā). Since Nagarjuna refers to there being a more extensive presentation of the details of karma elsewhere, he was undoubtedly aware of The Great Extensive Commentarial Treatise while teaching at Nalanda Monastic University. He predates Vasubandhu, however, by about two centuries. 

Later Indian commentators on Nagarjuna’s texts, such as the early sixth-century masters Buddhapalita (Buddha-pā-li-ta, Sangs-rgyas bskyangs, Skt. Buddhapālita) and Bhavaviveka (Legs-ldan ‘byed, Skt. Bhāvaviveka), the seventh-century master Chandrakirti (Zla-ba grags-pa, Skt. Candrakīrti) and the eighth-century master Avalokitavrata (sPyan-ras-gzigs brtul-zhugs, Skt. Avalokitavrata), like Nagarjuna, were teachers at Nalanda Monastic University. By their times, not only Nagajuna’s texts but also the texts of Vasubandhu and his Indian commentators, such as Jinaputra Yashomitra (rGyal-sras Grags-pa bshes-gnyen, Skt. Jinaputra Yaśomitra) and Sthiramati (Blo-gros brtan-pa, Skt. Sthiramati), would also have been available and studied at Nalanda. These later Madhyamaka masters occasionally quote or paraphrase Vasubandhu’s texts.

The Prasangika division of Madhyamaka traces from Buddhapalita. Bhavaviveka refuted many of his contemporary, Buddhapalita’s, positions, though not his assertions about the divisions of karma. The Sautrantika-Svatantrika division of Madhyamaka traces from Bhavaviveka. Though the Yogachara-Svatantrika division of Madhyamaka, as elaborated by Shantarakshita (Zhi-ba ‘tsho, Skt. Śantarakṣita) and Kamalashila (Ka-ma-la shī-la, Skt. Kamalaśīla) in the eighth century, follows Asanga’s Chittamatra presentation of karma, it is clear from Bhavaviveka’s commentary on Nagarjuna’s works that he accepted Nagarjuna’s presentation. 

Chandrakirti was a defender of Buddhapalita against Bhavaviveka’s critique, and Avalokitavrata, in turn, defended Bhavaviveka against Chandrakirti’s critique.

There have been many Tibetan commentators on Nagarjuna’s texts. Here, we shall look at only a sample of them: those written by the Gelugpa founder Tsongkhapa (Tsong-kha-pa Blo-bzang grags-pa) (1357-1419), the Sakya master Gorampa (Go-ram-pa bSod-nams seng-ge) (1429-1489) and the nineteenth-century Nyingma master Mipam (Mi-pham ‘Jam-dbyangs rnam-rgyal rgya-mtsho) (1846-1912). They all explain Nagarjuna’s presentation without any indication that they disagree with each other about how to interpret it. 

Here, we shall survey these various Indian and Tibetan commentaries in chronological order.

The Division of Karma into Inciting and Incited Karmic Impulses

Nagarjuna writes in Root Verses on Madhyamaka, Called Discriminating Awareness (dBu-ma rtsa-ba’i tshig-le’ur byas-pa shes-rab ces bya-ba, Skt. Prajñā-nāma-mūlamadhyama-kārikā) (XVII.2) (Gretil. ed., Derge Tengyur vol. 96, 9B):

Inciting karmic impulses and incited (karmic impulses) have been spoken of by the Supreme Sage (Buddha). The division of these two (kinds of) karmic impulses into many types has been proclaimed (by him).
(Skt.) cetanā cetayitvā ca karmoktam paramarṣiṇā, tasyānekavidho bhedaḥ karmaṇaḥ parikīrtitaḥ.
(Tib.) drang-srong mchog-gis las-rnams-ni sems-pa dang-ni bsams-par gsungs, las de-dag-gi-bye-brag-ni rnam-par du-mar yongs-su bsgrags.

In his autocommentary, Commentary on “Root (Verses on) Madhyamaka,” (Called) Without Fear of Anything, (dBu-ma rtsa-ba’i ‘grel-pa ga-las ‘jigs-med, Skt. Mūlamadhyamakavṛtti-akutobhayā) (Derge Tengyur vol. 96, 64A), Nagarjuna states that his sources about karma are Buddha’s proclamations in an abhidharma text:

Since this division of those two (types of) karmic impulses has been proclaimed extensively (by him) in the abhidharma (text), here, with the aim of leaving out the elaborate (detail), it will not be discussed. 
(Tib.) las de dag gi bye brag rgyas par ni chos mngon pa las gsungs pas 'phros pa bsal ba'i phyir 'dir ma brjod de/ 

The extensive explanation of karma in an abhidharma text is most likely a reference to The Great Extensive Commentarial Treatise on Special Topics of Knowledge. 

Chandrakirti, in his Clarified Words: Commentary on “Root (Verses on) Madhyamaka” (dBu-ma rtsa-ba’i ‘grel-pa tshig-gsal-ba, Skt. Prasannapadā-madhyamaka-vṛtti), (Gretil. ed. 133, Derge Tengyur vol. 102, 102A), adds that Buddha already spoke of this division in a sutra, perhaps referring to The Sutra on Repaying the Kindness of the Buddha, the Great Skillful One in Methods (Thabs-mkhas-pa chen-po sangs-rgyas drin-lan bsab-pa’i mdo):

Inciting karmic impulses and incited (karmic impulses) have been spoken of by the Supreme Sage (Buddha) in a sutra.
(Skt.) tena paramarṣiṇā cetanā karma, cetayitvā ca karmetyuktaṃ sūtre 
(Tib.) /drang srong mchog des mdo las/ sems pa'i las dang bsams pa'i las so zhes gsungs so/

Definitions of Inciting and Incited Karmic Impulses

Nagarjuna’s Presentation

Nagarjuna continues in his Root Verses (XVII.3) (Gretil. ed., Derge Tengyur vol. 96, 9B):

Out of these, that karmic impulse that has been spoken of as inciting has been recorded as (being a karmic impulse) of the mind, and that which has been spoken of as incited is (a karmic impulse) of the body or speech.
(Skt.) tatra yac cetanety uktaṃ karma tan mānasaṃ smṛtam, cetayitvā ca yat tūktaṃ tat tu kāyikavācikam.
(Tib.) de-la las-gang sems-pa zhes gsungs-pa de-ni yid-kyir ‘dod, bsams-pa zhes-ni gang gsungs-pa de-ni lus-dang ngag-gir yin.

Note that Nagarjuna’s usage of the Sanskrit term “smṛtam” in this and the following two verses, meaning “recorded,” indicates that his statements are based on previously recorded written sources (smṛti), namely the sutras and the abhidharma texts. The Tibetan translation, “‘dod,” merely means “accepted” or “asserted.”

Nagarjuna does not comment on this line in his Autocommentary.

Buddhapalita’s Commentary

Buddhapalita, in his Buddhapalita Commentary on “Root (Verses on) Madhyamaka” (dBu-ma rtsa-ba’i ‘grel-pa buddha pā li ta, Skt. Buddhapalita Mūlamadhyama-vṛtti) (Derge Tengyur vol. 96, 231B, 232A), writes:

An inciting karmic impulse is one that becomes a tendency (a seed), and an incited karmic impulse is one that it initiates at a later time… Out of these, that karmic impulse that has been spoken of as “inciting” has been recorded as (being a karmic impulse) of the mind, and that which has been spoken of as “incited” is that which is enacted by body or speech after the intellect has thought, “I shall do this.” That which has been enacted without having been thought about is not (an incited karmic impulse). 
(Tib.) / sems pa sa bon du gyur pa dang / bsam pa dus phyi ma la rtsom par byed pa gang yin pa'o/ …  /de la las gang sems pa zhes/ /gsungs pa de ni yid kyir 'dod/ bsam pa zhes ni gang gsungs pa/ /de ni lus dang ngag gi yin/ /de la las gang sems pa zhes gsungs pa de ni yid kyi yin par 'dod do/ /las gang bsams pa zhes gsungs pa blos 'di bya'o snyam du gsungs nas lus sam ngag gi byed pa de ni lus dang ngag gi yin te gang ma bsams par byas pa ni ma yin no/ 

In stating “an inciting karmic impulse is one that becomes a tendency (a seed), and an incited karmic impulse is one that it initiates at a later time,” Buddhapalita indicates that there may be a time gap between an inciting karmic impulse and the incited karmic impulse that it brings on. If there is such a time gap, then the inciting karmic impulse gives rise to a tendency that will later ripen, causing the mental urge to arise that will initiate the incited karmic impulse.

Further, Buddhapalita makes it clear, here, that not all karmic impulses of (karmic actions of) the body or speech are incited karmic impulses. He implicitly implies that not all karmic impulses for (karmic actions of) the mind are inciting karmic impulses – for instance, the ones that bring on the karmic impulses of (karmic actions of) the body and speech that are not incited karmic impulses. This is in agreement with the Vaibhashika presentation. 

Bhavaviveka’s Commentary

Bhavaviveka, in Lamp for Discriminating Awareness: A Commentary on “Root (Verses) for Madhyamaka” (dBu-ma rtsa-ba’i ‘grel-pa shes-rab sgron-ma, Skt. Prajñapradīpa Mūlamadhyama-vṛtti) (Derge Tengur, vol. 97, 171B) adds further detail:

“Those karmic impulses that have been spoken of as ‘inciting’ have been recorded as (being impulses) of the mind.” This is because “of the mind” means that they have been produced from the mind and reach a finale solely through the gateway of the mind. The (impulses of) the body and speech are not spoken of as mental urges because, although they are caused to arise (motivated) by a mental urge, they are completed through the gateway of body and speech. 
“Incited” is “that which is enacted, having been thought about by the intellect” (blos bsams-nas byed-pa, Skt. saṃcetanaḥ saṃcintya kṛtaṃ). Thus, what are spoken of as “incited karmic impulses” are (impulses) of the body or speech because they have been produced from the body or speech and reach a finale through the gateway of those two themselves. Because it is like that, two types of karma are indicated.
(Tib.) /las gang sems pa zhes gsungs pa de ni yid kyir 'dod de/ yid kyi zhes bya ba ni yid las byung ba ste/ yid kyi sgo kho na nas de mthar thug bar 'gyur ba'i phyir ro/ /lus kyi dang ngag gi dag ni sems pa zhes mi brjod de/ de dag sems pas kun nas bslang ba yin yang lus dang / ngag gi sgo nas yongs su rdzogs pa'i phyir ro/ /bsam pa zhes ni gang gsungs pa/ /de ni lus dang ngag gi yin/ /bsam pa zhes bya ba ni blos bsams nas byed pa gang yin pa ste/ de ltar las gang bsam pa zhes bya ba gsungs pa ni lus dang ngag gi yin te/ lus dang ngag las byung ba'i phyir dang / de dag gi sgo nyid nas mthar thug par 'gyur ba'i phyir ro/  

Chandrakirti’s Commentary

In his Clarified Words (Gretil. ed. 133, Derge Tengyur vol. 102, 102A), Chandrakirti adds:

(In Nagarjuna’s verse “Out of these, that karmic impulse that has been spoken of as ‘inciting’ has been recorded as [being a karmic impulse] of the mind),” being something in the mind (is the meaning) “of the mind,” because it goes to a finale through the gateway of the mind, and because it is not dependent on an engagement with the body or speech. Being only congruent with mental consciousness, an inciting (karmic impulse) is called a “karmic impulse of the mind.” The word “out of these” specifies that (out of body, speech and mind, it is of the mind). 
As for the second (type of) karmic impulse, called “incited karmic impulses,” they are to be known, on the other hand, as (being impulses) of the body or speech.
Further, the twofold (division of incited karmic impulses) are those of the body and those of the speech. That is because they are in the body and speech and because they go to a finale through the gateway of these two. Thus, the threefold (division of karmic impulses) is physical, verbal and mental ones.
(Skt.) manasi bhavaṃ mānasam, manodvāreṇaiva niṣṭhāgamanāt kāyavākpravṛttinirapekṣatvācca manovijñānasaṃprayuktaiva cetanā mānasaṃ karmetyucyate, tatraśabdo nirdhāraṇe, yattu dvitīyaṃ cetayitvā ca karmetyuktam, tatpunaḥ kāyikaṃ vācikaṃ ca veditavyam, evaṃ ca evaṃ ca kāyavāgbhyāṃ pravartiṣye ityevaṃ cetasā saṃcintya yat kriyate, taccetayitvā karmetyucyate. tatpunardvividham, kāyikaṃ vācikaṃ ca, kāyavācorbhavatvāt taddvāreṇa ca niṣṭhāgamanāt, evaṃ ca trividham- kāyikaṃ vācikaṃ mānasaṃ ca.
(Tib.) /yid la yod pa ni yid kyi ste/ yid kyi sgo nas de mthar thug par 'gro ba'i phyir dang / lus dang ngag 'jug pa la ltos pa med pa'i phyir yid kyi rnam par shes pa dang mtshungs par ldan pa'i sems pa kho na la yid kyi las zhes brjod do/ / de la zhes bya ba'i sgra ni dmigs kyis bkar ba'o/ /las gnyis pa bsams pa zhes gang gsungs pa de ni lus dang ngag gi yin par rig par bya ste/ lus dang ngag dag gis de lta de ltar 'jug par bya'o zhes de ltar sems kyis bsams nas gang zhig byed pa de ni bsams pa'i las zhes bya'o/ /yang de ni rnam pa gnyis te/ lus dang ngag la yod pa'i phyir dang / de dag gi sgo nas mthar thug par 'gro ba'i phyir na lus kyi dang ngag gi'o/ /de ltar na lus kyi dang ngag gi dang yid kyi ste/ rnam pa gsum du 'gyur ro/

Avalokitavrata’s Commentary

Avalokitavrata, in his Extensive Subcommentary to (Bhavaviveka’s) “Lamp for Discriminating Awareness,” (Shes-rab sgron-ma rgya-cher ‘grel-pa, Skt. Prajñāpradīpam-ṭīkā) (Derge Tengyur, vol. 101, 21A-B), explains:

As for (Bhavaviveka’s) statement, “Those karmic impulses that have been spoken of as ‘inciting’ have been recorded as (being impulses) of the mind” – they are recorded as karmic impulses of the mind since the mind (itself) doesn’t cause (the mental factors) to move (toward an object) in the way that it is accepted that the affecting variable of a mental urge causes (them to move like a magnet does to) iron filings. Furthermore, gathering together constructive, destructive and unspecified mental urges, there are three (types of) karmic impulses of the mind. 
As for his statement, “This is because ‘of the mind’ means that they have been produced from the mind and go to a finale solely through the gateway of the mind,” the term “of the mind” needs specifically to be explained. It is “of the mind” since, (as the Vaibhashika system asserts), the affecting variable of a mental urge is (the type of) phenomenon (that is) a mental factor – (one of the ten) great factors grounded in all mental states (sa-mang-po, Skt. mahābhūmika). (Thus), it is produced with and possessed by the mind in the manner of (arising together with mental consciousness that is) the cognitive stimulator that is a mind (sensor) – the two being inseparable through congruence of placement (on the same cognitive sensor), focal object, aspect, substantial entity and time. This is because it is solely through the gateway of the cognitive stimulator that is a mind (sensor) that the affecting variable of a mental urge – generating (a mind) in the nature of covetous thinking, thinking with malice, or antagonistic, distorted thinking, or in the nature of what is turned away (from them) or in the nature of unspecified (thinking) – reaches a finale and is completed. 
Suppose you ask, why aren’t karmic impulses of the body and speech (also) spoken of as (being) mental urges? The two (karmic impulses) of body and speech are not spoken of as (being) mental urges because it is stated that they are caused to arise (motivated) by a mental urge and brought to completion through the gateway of the body or speech. (Thus), the three karmic impulses of the body and the four karmic impulses of speech – these seven phenomena – are caused to arise by a mental urge but are not mental urges. They are not spoken of as mental urges because, being in the nature of speech and movement and (thus) included in the aggregate of forms of physical phenomena, they are completed, through the gateway of body or speech, in the essential nature (of being) an abstention (from committing a destructive action), a non-abstention (from committing a destructive action) or what is turned from both.
As for “what are spoken of as ‘incited karmic impulses’ are (impulses) of the body or speech” – in order to indicate the defining characteristic of “incited” (literally, what has been thought about), it was stated that “incited” (means) “that which is enacted, having been thought about by the intellect.” Whatever karmic impulses of body or speech that have been enacted, having been caused to arise from having been thought about by the intellect – an affecting variable (at the time of) the inciting mental urge – they are called “incited karmic impulses” because they are not produced without being affected by (having investigated and analyzed beforehand with) gross detection and subtle discernment. Because it indicates their actual nature (de-nyid), whatever karmic impulses like this have been spoken of as “incited” are stated to be “of the body or of speech.”
As for “because they have been produced from the body or speech and reach a finale through the gateway of those two themselves,” it is explaining the terms, “of the body or speech.” They are “karmic impulses of the body or karmic impulses of speech” because the three karmic impulses of body and the four karmic impulses of speech, having been caused to arise (motivated by) a mental urge that is constructive, destructive, or unspecified, are produced from body and speech, which are included in the aggregate of forms of physical phenomena. And because they reach their finale, through the gateway of body or speech itself, as constructive, destructive or unspecified phenomena).
(Tib.) /las gang sems pa zhes gsungs pa de ni yid kyir 'dod de zhes bya ba la/ 'du byed sems pa ni kha ba len gyis lcags g.yo bar byed pa bzhin du/ /yid g.yo bar byed pa ma yin pas yid kyi las su 'dod de/ de yang dge ba dang / mi dge ba dang lung du ma bstan pa'i sems pas bsdus pa yid kyi las gsum po dag go/ /yid kyi zhes bya ba ni yid las 'byung ba ste/ yid kyi sgo kho na nas de mthar thug par 'gyur ba'i phyir ro zhes bya ba ni/ yid kyi zhes bya ba'i sgra bye brag tu bshad pa ste/ 'du byed sems pa ni sems las byung ba'i chos sa mang po pa yin pas gnas dang / dmigs pa dang / rnam pa dang / rdzas dang / dus mtshungs pa'i sgo nas yid kyi skye mched gnyis dang / tha mi dad pa'i tshul du yid la byung zhing yod pas yid kyi zhes bya ba ste/ yid kyi skye mched kyi sgo kho na nas 'du byed sems pa brnab sems dang / gnod sems dang / log par lta ba'i rang bzhin nam/ de dag las ldog pa'i rang bzhin nam/ lung du ma bstan pa'i rang bzhin du skye ba de mthar thug cing yongs su rdzogs par 'gyur ba'i phyir ro/ /'o na lus dang ngag gi las dag sems pa zhes bya ba ci'i phyir mi brjod ce na/ de'i phyir lus kyi dang ngag gi dag ni sems pa zhes mi brjod de/ de dag sems pas kun nas bslang ba yin yang lus dang ngag gi sgo nas yongs su rdzogs pa'i phyir ro zhes bya ba smras te/ lus kyi las gsum dang / ngag gi las bzhi ste/ chos bdun po de dag ni sems pas kun nas bslang ba yin yang sems las byung ba'i chos ma yin te/ ngag dang bskyod pa'i rang bzhin gzugs kyi phung por gtogs pa yin pas lus dang ngag gi sgo nas spong ba dang / spong ba ma yin pa dang / de gnyis las bzlog pa'i ngo bo nyid du yongs su rdzogs par 'gyur ba'i phyir sems pa zhes bya bar mi brjod do/ /bsam pa zhes ni gang gsungs pa/ /de ni lus dang ngag gi yin/ /zhes bya ba la/ bsam pa zhes bya ba'i mtshan nyid bstan pa'i phyir/ bsam pa zhes bya ba ni blos bsams nas byed pa gang yin pa ste zhes bya ba smras te/ 'du byed sems pa zhes bya ba'i blos bsams nas des kun nas bslang ste/ lus dang ngag gi las byed pa gang yin pa de dag ni bsam pa'i las zhes bya ste/ ma brtags ma dpyad par las mngon par 'du mi byed do zhes 'byung ba'i phyir ro/ /de nyid bstan pa'i phyir/ de ltar las gang bsam pa zhes gsungs pa de ni lus dang ngag gi yin te zhes bya ba smras so/ /lus dang ngag las byung ba'i phyir dang / de dag gi sgo nyid nas mthar thug par 'gyur ba'i phyir ro zhes bya ba ni/ lus kyi dang ngag gi zhes bya ba'i sgra bye brag tu bshad pa ste/ lus kyi las gsum dang ngag gi las bzhi po dge ba dang mi dge ba dang lung du mi bstan pa'i sems pas kun nas bslang ba dag ni gzugs kyi phung por gtogs pa'i lus dang ngag las byung ba'i phyir dang lus dang ngag gi sgo nyid nas dge ba'am mi dge ba'am lung du ma bstan pa'i ngo bo nyid du mthar thug par 'gyur ba'i phyir lus kyi las dang ngag gi las zhes bya'o//

The cognitive stimulator that is a mind sensor includes any of the six types of consciousness that serves as both the dominating condition and the immediately preceding condition for the consciousness with which a karmic action is committed. In the case of a karmic action of the mind, the cognitive stimulator is a moment of mental consciousness; in the case of an action of body or speech, the cognitive stimulator is a moment of body consciousness. 

Avalokitavrata, here, follows Vasubandhu’s assertion that the actions of body, speech and mind are all brought on by the mental factor of a mental urge. However, only the mental urge that brings on an action of the mind is an inciting karmic impulse.  

Tsongkhapa’s Commentary

 In An Ocean of Reasonings: An Explanation of Verses on Root Madhyamaka, Called Discriminating Awareness,” (dBu-ma rtsa-ba’i tshig-le’ur byas-pa shes-rab-ces-bya-ba’i bshad rigs-pa’i rgya-mtsho), (Drepung Gomang Monastery ed., 262), Tsongkhapa paraphrases Chandrakirti’s commentary:

As for the two (types of) karmic impulse spoken of, that which, among them, is called an “inciting karmic impulse” and which has been spoken of before is exclusively a mental urge that is congruent with mental consciousness. It is recorded as being of the mind because of its being in the mind and because it goes to a finale through the gateway of the mind and is not dependent on an engagement with the body or speech. What is called an “incited karmic impulse” is to be known as (a karmic impulse of the) body or speech because it is enacted after having been thought by the intellect, “I shall engage myself through the gateway of body or speech like this.”
(Tib.) las gnyis gsungs pa de la ste de’i nang nas sems pa’i las zhes sngar gang gsungs pa de ni yid kyi rnam shes dang mtshungs par ldan pa’i sems pa kho na yin te/ yid kyir ‘dod pa ste yid la yod pa’i phyir dang yid kyi sgo nas de mthar thug par ‘gro zhing lus dang ngag ‘jug pa la ltos pa med pa’i phyir ro/ bsams pa’i las zhes gang gsungs pa de ni lus dang ngag yin par rig par bya ste lus dang ngag gi sgo nas de ltar ‘jug par bya’o snyam du sems kyi bsams nas byed pa’i phyir ro/  

Gorampa’s Commentary

In his Rays of Light of the Correct View: An Explanatory Commentary on Root Verses on Madhyamaka, (Called) Discriminating Awareness,” (dBu ma rtsa ba’i shes rab kyi rnam par bshad pa yang dag lta ba’i ‘od zer) (gSungs ‘bum bSod nams seng ge, Sakya College ed., vol.4, 650), Gorampa explains:

The karmic impulse that is called “inciting” is recorded as being of the mind because of either its being in the mind or its being a mental urge that is congruent with mental (consciousness). That which is spoken of as “incited” is recorded as being (a karmic impulse of the) body or speech because of either its being in the body or speech or its (something brought on by) a mental urge that is coursing at the same time as the body or speech.  
(Tib.) las gang sems pa zhes gsungs pa de ni yid kyir ‘dod de/ yid la yod pa’am yid kyi mtshungs ldan gyi sems pa yin pa’i phyir ro/ bsam pa zhes ni gang gsungs pa de ni lus dang ngag gi yin par ‘dod de/ lus dang ngag la yod pa’am/ lus ngag dang dus mnyam su rgyu ba’i sems pa yin pa’i phyir ro/

Mipam’s Commentary

In his Filigree for the King of the Naga’s Intention, Clarifying Completely the Abiding Nature, A Word-for Word Commentary on “Root (Verses on) Madhyamaka,” (dBu-ma rtsa-ba’i mchan-‘grel gnas-lugs rab-gsal klu-dbang dgongs-rgyan) (Sonam Topgay Kazi, Gangtok ed., 190), Mipam, elaborating on Buddhapalita’s point, “that which has been enacted without having been thought about is not (an incited karmic impulse),” explains:

Concerning that, the karmic impulse that is spoken of “inciting” is recorded as being a karmic impulse (for an action) of the mind and in the division of mind. As for what is spoken of as a “karmic impulse enacted having been incited,” it is called a karmic impulse of the body or speech, because the name of its cause – not being possible without having been incited – is labeled on its result. Like this, there are three (types of) karmic impulses of the three gateways (mind, body and speech).
(Tib.) de la las gang zhig sems pa zhes bya ba gsungs pa de ni yid kyi sde yid kyi las yin par ‘dod la, bsams par byas pa’i las zhes ni gang gsungs pa de ni ma bsam par bya mi nus pa’i rgyu ming ‘bras bur btags pas lus dang ngag gi las zhes bya ba yin te de lta na sgo gsum gyi las gsum mo.

The Seven Types of Karmic Impulses

These three types of karmic impulses can be further divided into seven types. 

Nagarjuna’s Presentation

Nagarjuna states in his Root Verses (XVII.4-5) (Gretil. ed., Derge Tengyur vol. 96, 9B):

Speech, movement, and those that are distinguished as the nonrevealing (forms) of not having given up (committing a set of destructive actions), likewise, too, the other recorded nonrevealing (forms) of having given up (committing a set of destructive actions), likewise the meritorious (karmic impulses) associated with (others) making use (of something one has given or made) and, in a similar manner, the non-meritorious (karmic impulses), and also a mental urge – these seven phenomena are recorded as what are denoted by karmic impulses.
(Skt.) vāg viṣpando ‘viratayo yāś cāvijñaptisaṃjñitāḥ, avijñaptaya evānyaḥ smṛtā viratayas tathā. paribhogānvayaṃ puṇyam apuṇyam ca tathāvidham, cetanā ceti saptaite dharmāḥ karmāñjanāḥ smṛtāḥ.
(Tib.) ngag-dang bskyod-dang mi spong-ba’i rnam rig byed-min zhes-bya-gang, spong-ba’i rnam-rig byed-min-pa gzhan-dag-kyang-ni de-bzhin ’dod. longs-spyod-las byung bsod-nams-dang bsod-nams ma-yin tshul de-bzhin, sems-pa dang-ni chos de bdun las-su mngon-par ‘dod-pa yin.

Nagarjuna elaborates in his Autocommentary (Derge Tengyur vol. 96, 64A-B):

[1] As for “speech,” (it refers to) the four types of karmic impulses of speech. 
[2] As for “movement,” (it refers to) the three types of motion of the body. 
[3] As for “the nonrevealing (forms) of not having given up (committing a set of destructive actions)” – having accepted (to commit a set of) destructive (actions) and, from then on, not abstaining (from committing them), (they refer to) those (nonrevealing forms) of body and speech produced (from committing these destructive actions, which are) other (than abstaining from committing them). As for “nonrevealing (forms),” “not a (revealing form like a) movement” needs to be added. 
[4] As for “likewise, too, the other recorded nonrevealing (forms) of having given up (committing a set of destructive actions)” – having accepted (to commit a set of) constructive actions (to abstain from committing a set of destructive actions) and, from then on, abstaining (from committing these destructive actions), (they refer to) those (nonrevealing forms) of body and speech produced (from committing these constructive actions) other (than abstaining from committing them). This is indicated as being similar to not abstaining (from committing the destructive actions one has accepted to commit). 
[5] As for “the meritorious (karmic impulses) associated with (others) making use (of something one has given or made),” “arising from their making use (of it) as their cause” needs to be added. 
[6] As for “in a similar manner, the non-meritorious (karmic impulses),” “arising from their making use (of it) as their cause” (also) needs to be added. 
[7] As for “a mental urge,” “that affects (the mind)” needs to be added. 
“These seven phenomena are recorded as what are denoted by karmic impulses.”
(Tib.) /ngag ces bya ba ni ngag gi las rnam pa bzhi'o/ /bskyod pa zhes bya ba ni lus kyi g.yo ba rnam pa gsum mo/ / mi spong ba'i rnam par rig byed ma yin pa zhes bya ba gang yin pa de ni/ mi dge ba yang dag par blangs pa tshun chad nas mi spong pa gzhan nye bar skyes pa lus dang ngag gi gang yin pa'o/ /rnam par rig byed ma yin pa zhes bya ba ni bskyod pa med pa zhes bya ba'i tha tshig go/ /spong ba rnam par rig byed ma yin pa gzhan dag kyang de bzhin du 'dod do/ /zhes bya ba ni dge ba yang dag par blangs pa tshun chad nas/ spong ba gzhan nye bar skyes pa lus dang ngag gi gang yin pa ste/ mi spong ba dang 'dra bar bstan to/ /longs spyad pa las byung ba'i bsod nams zhes bya ba ni/ yongs su longs spyod pa'i rgyu las byung ba zhes bya ba'i tha tshig go/ /bsod nams ma yin tshul de bzhin/ /zhes bya ba ni yongs su longs spyad pa'i rgyu las byung ba zhes bya ba'i tha tshig go/ /sems pa zhes bya ba ni mngon par 'du byed pa zhes bya ba'i tha tshig go/ /chos de bdun las su mngon par 'dod pa yin no/

Buddhapalita’s Commentary

Buddhapalita (Derge Tengyur vol. 96, 232A-B) explains: 

Here, speech is an utterance of clear, distinct syllables. Movement is a motion of the body. Moreover, because those two are enacted under the power of a karmic impulse, they can be labeled as pathways of a karmic impulse, but here they are to be taken as counting as karmic impulses. 
(Tib.) /de la ngag ces bya ba ni yi ge gsal bar brjod pa'o/ /bskyod pa ni lus g.yo ba ste/ de gnyi ga yang las kyi dbang du byas pa'i phyir las kyi lam du gtogs pa ste/ 'dir yang las su bgrang ba yin par gzung bar bya'o/ 

Buddhapalita is referring to the explanation found in Revealing Karma (Las gdags-pa, Skt. Karmavijñapti) from the Abhidharma Pitaka, followed also by Vasubandhu, that karmic impulses of the body and speech, namely their revealing forms, are both karmic impulses and pathways of karma, since karmic impulses of mind engage in them, whereas karmic impulses of mind themselves are only karmic impulses and not pathways of a karmic impulse. 

Buddhapalita continues:

As for what are called “the nonrevealing (forms) of not having given up (committing a set of destructive actions),” they are those destructive (nonrevealing forms) that a destructive state of mind has formally received, (swearing), “I shall enact these specified destructive karmic impulses with my body or speech,” and, from then on, come to arise – even including when not enacting (them) with body or speech – solely produced from the destructive state of mind that has formally received (them) as their cause. Those have obtained the name “nonrevealing (forms) of not having given up (committing a set of destructive actions).” 
The other nonrevealing (forms), the ones of having given up (committing a set of destructive actions) are asserted similarly. As for what are called “the nonrevealing (forms) of having given up (committing a set of destructive actions),” they are those constructive (nonrevealing forms) that a constructive state of mind has formally received, (swearing), “I shall enact these specified constructive karmic impulses with my body and speech,” and from then on come to arise – even including when not enacting (them) with body and speech – solely produced from the constructive state of mind that has formally received (them) as their cause. Those have obtained the name “the nonrevealing (forms) of having given up (committing a set of destructive actions).”
(Tib.) /mi spang ba'i rnam par rig byed ma yin pa zhes bya ba ni mi dge ba'i las 'di zhes bya ba lus sam ngag gis bya'o snyam du mi dge ba'i sems yang dag par blangs pa de tshun chad nas mi dge ba de lus sam ngag gang dag gis mi byed du zin kyang mi dge ba'i sems yang dag par blangs ba'i rgyu las byung ba kho na'i mi dge ba dag skye bar 'gyur ba gang dag yin pa ste/ de dag ni mi spong ba'i rnam par rig byed ma yin pa zhes bya ba'i ming 'thob bo/ /spong ba'i rnam par rig byed ma yin pa gzhan dag kyang de bzhin du 'dod de/ dge ba'i las 'di zhes bya ba lus sam ngag gis bya'o/ /snyam du dge ba'i sems yang dag par blangs ba de tshun chad nas/ dge ba de lus sam ngag gang dag gis mi byed du zin kyang dge ba'i sems yang dag par blangs pa'i rgyu las byung ba kho na'i dge ba dag skye bar 'gyur ba gang dag yin pa ste/ de dag ni spong ba'i rnam par rig byed ma yin pa zhes bya ba'i ming 'thob bo/ 

Although Buddhapalita does not specify here, “nonrevealing forms of not having given up committing a set of destructive actions” refer to avowed non-restraints (sdom-pa ma-yin-pa, Skt. asaṃvara; negative vows), while “nonrevealing forms of having given up committing a set of destructive actions” refer to vowed restraints (sdom-pa, Skt. saṃvara; vows). 

Buddhapalita goes on:

As for “the meritorious (karmic impulses) associated with (others) making use (of something one has given or made),” they are the meritorious (karmic impulses) produced from utilization (by others of something one has given or made) as their cause. As for “produced from them as their cause,” they are the meritorious (karmic impulses) that subsequently come, subsequently get connected and augment their continuum. As for “and in a similar manner, non-meritorious (karmic impulses),” they are those associated with (others) making use (of something one has given or made). 
(Tib.) /longs spyod pa las byung ba'i bsod nams ni yongs su longs spyod pa'i rgyu las bsod nams byung ba ste/ rgyu las byung ba zhes bya ba ni/ rjes su 'gro ba dang rjes su 'brel ba dang rgyun 'phel ba ste bsod nams nyid do/ /longs spyod pa las byung ba'i bsod nams ma yin pa yang tshul de bzhin no/ /sems pa zhes bya ba ni sems mngon par 'du byed pa'o/ /de ltar las rnam pa du ma de dag kyang dag la sogs pa'i chos rnams su 'dus pas de nyid kyi phyir ngag la sogs pa chos bdun po de dag ni las su mngon pa dang las kyi ming can dang / las kyi mtshan nyid dag tu 'dod pa yin no/ 

Again, Buddhapalita does not specify, but “the meritorious (karmic impulses) associated with (others) making use (of something one has given or made)” and “the non-meritorious (karmic impulses) associated with (others) making use (of something one has given or made)” refer, respectively, to constructive and destructive intermediate nonrevealing forms (bar-ma’i rig-byed ma-yin-pa, Skt. madhyamā avijñapti). They are intermediate in the sense that, being in between avowed restraints and avowed non-restraints, they are neither of the two. 

Buddhapalita concludes:

As for “and also an inciting karmic impulse,” it is something that affects the mind. By gathering these many types of karmic impulses like this into the phenomena, speech and so on, then because of this, these seven phenomena, speech and so on, are asserted as being what are denoted by a karmic impulse, what are given the name “karmic impulse,” and what have the defining characteristic of a karmic impulse.       
(Tib.) sems-pa zhes-bya-ba-ni sems-mngon-par ‘du-byed-pa’o. de-ltar las rnam-pa du-ma de-dag-kyang ngag-la sogs-pa’i chos rnams-su ‘dus-pas, de-nyid-kyi phyir ngag-la sogs-pa chos bdun-po de-dag-ni las-su mngon-pa dang las-kyi ming-can-dang, las-kyi mtshan-nyid dag-du ‘dod-pa yin-no. 

Bhavaviveka’s Commentary

Bhavaviveka (Derge Tengur, vol. 97, 171B-172A) adds some more detail:

Speech is an utterance of clear, distinct syllables. Movement is a motion of the body. As for what are called the “nonrevealing (forms) of not having given up (committing a set of destructive actions),” they are the nonrevealing (forms) with the defining characteristic of not having given up (committing a set of destructive actions) that, having promised, “I shall commit a destructive (action) like this with my body, speech or mind,” from that moment on –  even including when, as the agent, one is not enacting these karmic impulses – are solely produced from that destructive (state of mind) having formally taken (them) on as their cause. 
The other nonrevealing (forms), the ones of having given up (committing a set of destructive actions) are asserted similarly. As for what are called the “nonrevealing (forms) of having given up (committing a set of destructive actions),” they are the nonrevealing (forms) with the defining characteristic of having given up (committing a set of destructive actions) that, having promised, “I shall do constructive (actions) like this with body, speech or mind,” from that moment on –  even including when, as the agent, one is not enacting this karmic impulse – are solely produced from that constructive (state of mind) having fully taken (them) on as their cause.
As for their being “nonrevealing,” it is because, even though they are included as having the essential nature of a form of physical phenomenon and something that is being done, they do not reveal themselves as revealing (forms do).
As for “the positive karmic force associated with (others) making use (of something one has given or made),” it is the term applied to positive karmic force produced from utilization (by others of something one has given or made) as its cause. As for “utilization,” it is (for example, others) making use of a donation of something (made) to the Three Jewels as its object. As for “produced from that as its cause,” it is what is generated afterwards, which is a synonym for what gets connected and augments. As for “positive karmic force,” it is a positive karmic force through its being purifying. As for “constructive,” it is a synonym for “pure.” As for “and in a similar manner, non-positive karmic force,” it is that which is associated with (others) making use (of something one has given or made). The words “produced from utilization (by others of something one has given or made) as its cause” need to be added. As for “non-positive karmic force,” it can be comprehended from it being something that is the opposite of being a positive karmic force.    
As for “And also an inciting karmic impulse,” it indicates a karmic impulse of the mind. Suppose you ask, “Well, what is an inciting karmic impulse?” It is something that affects the mind (to go) toward (an action of body or speech) that has good qualities or faults. 
These seven, speech and so on, like this are phenomena (dharmas). They are phenomena in the sense of their being things that hold their own defining characteristics. “They are recorded as karmic impulses” means they are accepted as having the defining characteristic of karmic impulses.    
(Tib.) /de la ngag ni yi ge gsal bar brjod pa'o/ /bskyod pa ni lus g.yo ba'o/ /mi spong ba'i rnam par rig byed ma yin pa zhes bya ba ni/ bdag gi lus sam ngag gam yid kyis mi dge ba 'di lta bu zhig bya'o snyam du yi dam bcas pa'i skad cig ma tshun chad nas byed pa pos las de mi byed du zin kyang / mi dge ba yang dag par blangs pa'i rgyu las byung ba mi spong ba'i mtshan nyid kyi rnam par rig byed ma yin pa gang dag yin pa'o/ /spong pa'i rnam par rig byed ma yin pa gzhan dag kyang de bzhin du 'dod de/ bdag gis lus sam ngag gam yid kyi dge ba'i las 'di lta bu zhig bya'o snyam du yi dam du bcas pa'i sems pa tshun chad nas byed pa pos las de mi byed du zin kyang dge ba'i bya ba yang dag par blangs pa'i sems pas bskyed pa spong ba'i mtshan nyid kyi rnam par rig byed ma yin pa gang dag yin pa'o/ /rnam par rig byed ma yin pa zhes bya ba ni/ gzugs dang bya ba'i ngo bo nyid yin du zin kyang rnam par rig byed bzhin du gzhan la rnam par rig par mi byed pa'i phyir ro/ /longs spyad pa las byung ba'i bsod nams zhes bya ba ni yongs su longs spyad pa'i rgyu las bsod nams de byung ngo zhes bya bar tshig rnam par sbyar te/ yongs su longs spyod pa zhes bya ba 'di dkon mchog gsum gyi yul la dngos po yongs su btang ba nye bar spyad pa'o/ /de'i rgyu las byung ba zhes bya ba ni de'i rjes las byung ba ste/ 'brel pa dang 'phel ba zhes pa dag gi rnam grangs so| /bsod nams zhes bya ba ni dag bar byed bas bsod nams te/ dge ba zhes bya ba dag gi rnam grangs so/ /longs spyad pa las byung ba'i bsod nams ma yin pa yang tshul de bzhin te/ yongs su longs spyad pa'i rgyu las byung zhes bya ba'i tha tshig go/ /bsod nams ma yin pa ni bsod nams las bzlog pa las khong du chud par bya'o/ /sems pa zhes bya bas ni yid kyi las bstan te/ 'o na sems pa zhes bya ba de gang yin zhe na/ yon tan dang skyon las sems mngon par 'du byed pa ste yid kyi las so/ /de ltar ngag la sogs pa bdun po de dag ni chos te/ rang gi mtshan nyid 'dzin pa'i don gyis chos yin no/ /las su mngon par 'dod pa yin zhes bya ba ni las kyi mtshan nyid dag tu 'dod pa yin no/ 

Nonrevealing forms have the essential nature of not only a form of physical phenomenon but also something that is being done. What is being done by them, so long as the mental act that initiated them has not been given up, is restraining one from giving up, or not giving up, doing or saying something destructive. They do this even when one is not actively refraining from either. In the case of intermediate nonrevealing forms, they continue to provide the circumstances for others to build up positive force or negative force, so long as what one has made or given for their use has not perished.

Chandrakirti’s Commentary in “Clarified Words”

In Clarified Words (Gretil. ed. 134, Derge Tengyur vol. 102, 102A-103A), Chandrakirti clarifies even further, explaining that revealing forms refer in general to all movements of the body and utterances of speech that cause a nonrevealing form to arise. By adding “in general,” he implies that they include not only the movements and utterances involved in requesting and taking vowed restraints or avowed non-restraints and in making or giving something to be used by others but also those involved with ordering someone to do or say something as well as all that are strongly motivated.

“Speech” is an utterance of clear, distinct syllables. “Movement” is a motion of the body. Out of these, “speech” is, in general, all constructive or destructive speech that can cause a nonrevealing (form) to arise with the defining characteristic of an abstention or a non-abstention (from committing a set of destructive actions). Likewise, in general, (“movement” is) all constructive or destructive movement that can cause a nonrevealing (form) to arise with the defining characteristic of an abstention or non-abstention (from committing a set of destructive actions).
Just as these revealing (forms) are divided into two kinds (those of body and speech), so too are nonrevealing (forms), because there are a pair of nonrevealing forms with the defining characteristic of a non-abstention and a pair of nonrevealing forms with the defining characteristic of an abstention. The pair of nonrevealing forms with the defining characteristic of a non-abstention are like this: from the time onwards of having sworn (to enact) karmic impulses that are negative forces, (pledging), “From now on, I shall make my livelihood from taking the lives of living beings or stealing,” then even when not enacting the two, this pair of nonrevealing forms are generated, caused by having sworn (to enact) these destructive karmic impulses. And starting from fishermen and the like’s working with nets and traps, then even when not enacting (these destructive karmic impulses), nonrevealing forms are still generated. These are what are called (nonrevealing forms) having the defining characteristic of a non-abstention.
Similar to these is the other pair, the one that has the functional nature of being constructive. They are like this: from the time onwards of having the defining characteristic of having completed the physical and verbal revealing (forms of the ritual of taking a set of vows, pledging), “From now on, I shall give up taking lives and so on,” then even in situations of being drunk and so on, the pair of nonrevealing (forms of body and speech) are generated with the functional nature of building up and reinforcing constructive (positive force). This pair is called the pair of nonrevealing (forms) having the defining characteristic of an abstention. Although having the essential nature of forms of physical phenomena and things that are being done, these two (types of) nonrevealing forms do not reveal themselves to others like revealing (forms do).
Likewise, as for the meritorious (karmic force) associated with (others) making use (of something one has given or made), (“meritorious karmic force”) has the meaning of a constructive (phenomenon). “Associated with others making use (of something one has given or made)” (means) it is associated with (others) making use of it. “Making use of” (means) the utilization of an object donated to the monastic community and the like. “Associated with” (means) comes afterwards. It has the meaning of there being an arising of an increase and reinforcement of constructive (positive force) on the mental continuum of the donor.
“In a similar manner, the non-meritorious (karmic force)” means (the non-meritorious karmic force) associated with (others) making use (of something one has given or made). It is like with the building of a temple or the like in which animals are slaughtered (as a sacrifice). Whenever sanctioned pairs of creatures are slaughtered there, then from the utilization of that temple or the like, non-positive karmic force associated with (others) making use (of something one has given or made) is generated on the mental continuum of those who have made that (temple or the like). “In a similar manner, the non-meritorious karmic force” is like that. “And also, an inciting karmic impulse” is something that has the defining characteristic of being a mental karmic impulse, something that affects the mind. 
Gathered together, this becomes the sevenfold (division of) karmic impulses: [1] constructive and destructive speech, [2] constructive and destructive movement, [3] that which has the defining characteristic of a constructive nonrevealing (form), [4] that which has the defining characteristic of a destructive nonrevealing form, [5] that which is a meritorious (karmic force) associated with (others) making use (of something one has given or made), [6] that which is a non-meritorious (karmic force) associated with (others) making use (of something one has given or made), and [7] a mental karmic urge. These seven phenomena are recorded as what are denoted by a karmic impulse, what are declared as a karmic impulse and what have the defining characteristic of a karmic impulse.               
(Skt.) tatra vyaktavarṇoccāraṇaṃ vāk, viṣpandaḥ śarīraṃceṣṭā, tatra kuśalākuśalā vā vāk sarvaiva viratyaviratilakṣaṇā vijñaptisamutthāpikā sāmānyena vāgiti gṛhyate, evaṃ kuśalo 'kuśalo vā viratyaviratilakṣaṇo vijñaptisamutthāpako viṣpandaḥ sāmānyena gṛhyate. yathā caitadvijñapterdvidhā bhedaḥ evamavijñapterapi, aviratilakṣaṇā avijñaptayaḥ viratilakṣaṇāśceti kṛtvā, tatra aviratilakṣaṇā avijñaptayaḥ tadyathā adyaprabhṛti mayā prāṇinaṃ hatvā cauryaṃ kṛtvā jīvikā parikalpayitavyeti pāpakarmābhyupagamātprabhṛti tadakāriṇo 'pi akuśalakarmābhyupagamahetukāḥ satatasamitamavijñaptayaḥ samupajāyante, kaivartādīnāṃca jālādiparikarmakālātprabhṛti tadakāriṇāmapi yā avijñaptaya upajāyante, tā etā aviratilakṣaṇā avijñaptaya ityucyante, yathā caitāstathā anyāḥ viratilakṣaṇāḥ kuśalasvabhāvā avijñaptayaḥ, tadyathā- adyaprabhṛti prāṇātipātādibhyaḥ prativiramāmīti kāyavāgvijñaptiparisamāptikālakṣaṇātprabhṛti taduttarakālaṃ pramattādyavasthasyāpi yāḥ kuśalopacayasvabhāvā avijñaptaya upajāyante, tā etā viratilakṣaṇā avijñaptaya ityucyante, etā rūpakriyāsvabhāvā api satyo vijñaptivat parānna vijñāpayantītyavijñaptayaḥ. tathā paribhogānvayaṃ puṇyam, kuśalamityarthaḥ, paribhogena anvayaḥ asyeti paribhogānvayam, paribhogaḥ parityaktasya vastunaḥ saṃghādibhirupabhogaḥ, anvayaḥ anugamaḥ, dāyakasaṃtānajaḥ kuśalopacaya ityarthaḥ. apuṇyaṃ ca tathāvidham, paribhogānvayamityarthaḥ, tadyathā devakulādipratiṣṭhāpanam, yatra sattvā hanyante, yathā yathā hi tatkīrtau prāṇino hanyante, tathā tathā taddevakulādyupabhogāt tatkartṛṇāṃ saṃtāne paribhogānvayamapuṇyamapi jāyate, ityevamapuṇyaṃ ca tathāvidhaṃ bhavati. cittābhisaṃskāramanaskarmalakṣaṇā cetanā ceti. saṃkṣepeṇa etatsaptavidhaṃ karma bhavati- kuśalākuśalā vāk, kuśalākuśalo viṣpandaḥ, kuśalamavijñaptilakṣaṇam, akuśalamavijñaptilakṣaṇam, paribhogānvayaṃ puṇyam, paribhogānvayamapuṇyam, cetanā ceti. ete ca sapta dharmāḥ karmāñjanāḥ karmatvenābhivyaktāḥ karmalakṣaṇāḥ smṛtāḥ. 
(Tib.) /de la ngag ni yi ge gsal por brjod pa'o/ /bskyod pa ni lus kyi g.yo ba'o/ /de la ngag ces bya bas ni dge ba dang mi dge ba'i dag rnam par rig byed ma yin pa'i spong ba dang / mi spong ba'i mtshan nyid can kun nas slong bar byed pa thams cad spyir bzung ste/ de bzhin du dge ba dang mi dge ba'i bskyod pa rnam par rig byed ma yin pa spong ba dang mi spong ba'i mtshan nyid can kun nas slong bar byed pa yang spyir bzung ngo / /ji ltar rnam par rig byed 'di'i dbye ba rnam pa gnyis su 'gyur ba de bzhin du/ rnam par rig byed ma yin pa'i yang yin te/ mi spong pa'i mtshan nyid can gyi rnam par rig byed ma yin pa dag dang / spong pa'i mtshan nyid can gyi rnam par rig byed ma yin pa dag ces bya bar byas pa'i phyir ro/ /de la mi spong ba'i mtshan nyid can gyi rnam par rig byed ma yin pa dag ni 'di lta ste/ deng nas bzung nas bdag gis sems can bsad cing chom rkun byas la 'tsho bar bya'o zhes sdig pa'i las khas blangs pa'i dus nas bzung ste/ de mi byed pa dag la yang rtag par rgyun mi 'chad par mi dge ba'i las khas blangs pa'i rgyu can gyi rnam par rig byed ma yin pa dag nye bar skye bar 'gyur ba dang / rgya'i las byed pa nas bzung ste nya pa la sogs pa rnams de mi byed pa la yang rnam par rig byed ma yin pa dag nye bar skye ba gang yin pa ste/ 'di dag ni mi spong ba'i mtshan nyid can zhes bya'o/ /'di dag ji ltar yin pa de bzhin du spong ba'i mtshan nyid can gyi rnam par rig byed ma yin pa dge ba'i rang bzhin can gzhan dag kyang yin no/ /'di lta ste/ deng nas bzung ste srog gcod pa la sogs pa dag spong ngo zhes lus dang ngag gi rnam par rig byed yongs su rdzogs pa'i dus nas bzung ste/ dus phyis myos pa la sogs pa'i gnas skabs su yang dge ba bsags pa'i rang bzhin gyi rnam par rig byed ma yin pa dag nye bar skye ba gang yin pa 'di dag ni spong ba'i mtshan nyid can gyi rnam par rig byed ma yin pa zhes bya'o/ /gzugs dang bya ba'i rang bzhin yin du zin kyang / rnam par rig byed bzhin du gzhan la rnam par rig par mi byed pas na rnam par rig byed ma yin pa dag go/ /de bzhin du longs spyod las byung ba sod nams te/ dge ba zhes bya ba'i don to/ /longs spyod las byung ba 'di la yod pas na longs spyod las byung ba'o/ /longs spyod ni yongs su btang ba'i dngos po dge 'dun la sogs pa rnams kyis nye bar longs spyod ba'o/ /byung ba ni rjes su byung ba ste/ sbyin pa po'i rgyud la skyes pa'i dge ba'i 'phel bar 'gyur ro zhes bya ba'i don to/ /bsod nams ma yin tshul de bzhin te/ longs spyod las byung zhes bya ba'i don to/ /ji ltar gang du srog chags dag gsod pa'i lha khang la sogs pa brtsigs pa lta bu ste/ ji lta ji ltar lha khang der srog chags dag gsod pa de lta de ltar lha khang la sogs pa der longs spyad pa las byed pa po rnams kyi rgyud la longs spyad pa las byung ba'i bsod nams ma yin pa skye bar 'gyur ro/ /de ltar na bsod nams ma yin pa yang tshul de bzhin du 'gyur ro/ /yid kyi las kyi mtshan nyid can sems mngon par 'du byed pa sems pa zhes bya ba dang ste/ mdor bsdu na las rnam pa bdun po 'di dag tu 'gyur ro/ /dge ba dang mi dge ba'i ngag dang bskyod pa gnyis dang / dge ba rnam par rig byed ma yin pa'i mtshan nyid can dang / mi dge ba rnam par rig byed ma yin pa mtshan nyid can dang / longs spyod las byung ba'i bsod nams dang / longs spyod las byung ba'i bsod nams ma yin pa dang / sems pa zhes bya ba ste/ chos de bdun las su mngon par te las nyid du gsal zhing las kyi mtshan nyid can du 'dod pa yin no/

Avalokitavrata’s Commentary

Avalokitavrata (Derge Tengyur, vol. 101, 22B-25B) comments extensively on Bhavaviveka’s presentation of these seven types of karmic impulses by including several points made by Vasubandhu. For example, he explicitly identifies “nonrevealing (forms) of not having given up (committing a set of destructive actions)” as being avowed nonrestraints, “nonrevealing (forms) of having given up (committing a set of destructive actions)” as being the vowed restraints of one of the seven sets of pratimoksha vows, and “(karmic impulses) associated with (others) making use (of something one has given or made)” as being, respectively, constructive and destructive intermediate nonrevealing forms. 

Regarding intermediate nonrevealing forms, he explains:

To indicate (what are) the constructive karmic impulses that are included as neither vowed restraints nor avowed non-restraints, their defining characteristic is that, having been generated, relying on a revealing form of body or speech, (they are) imperceptible, nonobstructive nonrevealing forms having the defining characteristic of something that increases one’s positive potential from (different) kinds of constructive thoughts, fields or phenomena. As for the way in which they are generated, (it can be, for example), on the planes having forms of physical objects, donating to the Three Precious Gems, with a mind of love that reaches (the point) of (practicing) generous giving, (one of the) seven material objects that are items (which, when offered, bring about) the production of positive karmic force. From the utilization (of them) by the Three Precious Gems as a cause, a great positive force comes to be generated on the continuum of the donor. From then on, so long as the continuum of their positive force is not halted and it has not (finished) giving its result in this life, then whether the mind of the donor is in a situation of straying, being without a mind, or not straying, and even if the meritorious mind (with which the offering was made) is no longer manifestly active, (nevertheless) a form that is included as a nonrevealing (form) included as being a constructive one – (due to its) characteristic feature of (arising from) an item (which, when offered, brings about) the production of positive karmic force – is generating on their mental continuum. Similarly, one may apply this fittingly to phenomena (which, when practiced, bring about) the production of positive karmic force produced from ethical self-discipline, or produced from listening (to teachings), or produced from meditating. 
(Tib.) des ni sdom pa yang ma yin pa sdom pa ma yin pa yang ma yin par gtogs pa'i dge ba'i rnam par rig byed ma yin pa'i las bstan te/ de'i mtshan nyid ni lus dang ngag gi rnam par rig byed la brten te/ skyes ba sdom pa dang sdom pa ma yin par ma gtogs pa dge ba'i bsam pa dang zhing dang / dngos po'i khyad par las bsod nams 'phel ba'i mtshan nyid rnam par rig byed ma yin pa'i gzugs bstan du med pa thogs pa med pa yin te/ de skye ba'i tshul ni gzugs can gyi khams su sbyin pa gtong phod pa byams pa'i sems dang ldan pas dkon mchog gsum la rdzas las byung ba'i bsod nams byas pa'i dngos po bdun la sogs pa yongs su gtong ba/ dkon mchog gsum gyis yongs su longs spyod pa'i rgyu las sbyin bdag de'i rgyud la bsod nams rgya chen po skyes par gyur na/ de tshun chad nas ji srid du bsod nams de'i rgyun ma spangs shing / tshe de la 'bras bu ma spyad kyi bar du sbyin bdag des sems g.yengs pa dang / sems med pa dang / sems ma g.yengs pa'i gnas skabs dag na/ bsod nams kyi sems de mngon sum du mi byed du zin kyang / sbyin pa las byung ba'i bsod nams bya ba'i dngos po'i mtshan nyid dge bar gtogs pa'i rnam par rig byed ma yin par gtogs pa'i gzugs sems kyi rgyud las skye bar 'gyur ro/ /de bzhin du tshul khrims las byung ba dang thos pa las byung ba dang / bsgoms pa las byung ba'i bsod nams bya ba'i dngos po dag la yang ci rigs par sbyar ro/  

Tsongkhapa’s Commentary

Tsongkhapa (263-264) explains:

There are two divisions of revealing (forms): constructive or destructive utterances of the clear syllables of speech and constructive or destructive driven movements of the body – these pairs. Similarly asserted as being of two (kinds), constructive and destructive, other than these revealing (forms), is the pair of nonrevealing (forms). Also, from the utilization, by monastic members and so on, of an object given over (to them), there is also the meritorious karmic force that augments and reinforces, afterwards, the constructive (positive force of the nonrevealing form) on the mental continuum of the donor. And similar to this manner in which constructive (positive force) is generated, there is – from the utilization of a (Durga) temple, built for sacrificing animals, to sacrifice animals in such temples and the like – non-meritorious karmic force that generates, afterwards, (augmented and reinforced) negative karmic force on the mental continuums of those who made (the temple). There are also the inciting karmic impulses – the karmic impulses of the mind – that affect (the mind to go) toward constructive or destructive (actions). These seven have been recorded as karmic impulses.
As for the nonrevealing (forms) that are destructive, they are what are called, the “nonrevealing (forms) of having not given up (committing a set of destructive actions).” From when fishermen and the like have sworn, “From now on, we shall from make our livelihood from killing living beings and stealing” and then work with nets and traps – from then on, even at times when they are not actually enacting those deeds, they generate destructive nonrevealing (forms on their mental continuums) without break. 
Further, (as stated) from A Treasure House (of Special Topics of Knowledge) (IV. 37ab), “The obtainment of an avowed non-restraint (a negative vow) is by means of what is done or by means of a swearing,” there are two ways of obtaining avowed non-restraints. It is explained from (Vasubandhu’s) Autocommentary that the first (way of) obtaining (them) is by those born into the caste of fishermen and the like implementing methods for killing, and the latter is by those born into the castes of others from having sworn, “We shall make our living by this livelihood.” Although these are the ways for obtaining nonrevealing avowed non-restraints, they are not (applicable) to what are merely destructive nonrevealing phenomena. 
As for the nonrevealing (forms) that are constructive, they are the nonrevealing (forms) of having given up (committing a set of destructive actions). From the time onwards of completing the physical and verbal revealing (forms of vowing), “From now on, I shall give up taking lives and so on,” then afterwards, even in situations of being drunk and so on, one generates constructive nonrevealing (forms on one’s mental continuum). Although this is the manner of generating some avowed restraints and (some) nonrevealing (forms) of intermediate (avowed restraints), it is not the case for all constructive nonrevealing (forms). They are nonrevealing forms because, although they have the functional nature of forms of physical phenomena and things that are being done, they do not reveal their motivation to others like revealing (forms do).
(Tib.) dge mi-dge’i ngag yi-ge gsal-por brjod-pa dang dge mi-dge’i lus-kyi bskul-bskyod gnyis dang rig-byed-kyi dbye-ba gnyis yod-pa de-bzhin-du rig-byed las gzhan-pa rnam-par rig-byed ma-yin-pa-dag kyang dge mi-dge gnyis-su ‘dod-pa dang, yongs-su btang-ba’i dngos-po dge-‘dun-la sogs-pa rnams-kyis longs-spyad-pa-las de’i rjes-su sbyin-pa-po’s rgyud-la byung-ba’i bsod-nams dge-ba ‘phel-ba-dang, dge-ba skye-ba’i tshul-de bzhin-du srog-chags gsod-pa’i lha-khang brtsigs-par srog-chags-bsad-cing lha-khang-la sogs-pa der longs-spyad-pa-las de’i rjes-su byed-pa-po-rnams-kyi rgyud-la byung-ba’i bsod-nams ma-yin-pa sdig-pa skye-bar ‘gyur-ba-dang, yid-kyi las dge mi-dge-la mngon-par ‘du-byed-pa’i sems-pa-dang chos de bdum-ni las- su mngon-par ‘dod-pa yin-no. rnam-par rig-byed ma-yin-pa mi-dge-ba-ni mi-spong-ba’i rnam-par rig-byed min-pa zhes-bya-ba gang yod-pa-ste, deng-nas bzung-nas sems-can bsad-cing chom-rkun byas-la ‘tsho-bar bya-‘o zhes khas-blangs-pa dang nya-ba-la sogs-pa rgya’i las byed-pa-nas bzung-ste bya-ba de-dag dngos-su mi-byed-pa’i dus-su’ang rgyun mi-chad-par mi-dge-ba’i rig-min skye-ba’o. de-yang mdzod-las, sdom-pa min-par bya-‘am, khas-len-pa-las ‘thob-par ‘gyur, zhes sdom-min thob-tshul gnyis gsungs-pa’i dang-po-ni nya-ba la-sogs-pa’i rigs-su skyes-pa rnams-ni bsod-pa sbyor-ba byas-pa-dang, phyi-ma-ni gzhan-gyi rigs-su skyes-pa rnams-ni bdag-cag-kyang ‘tsho-ba ‘dis ‘tsho-bar bya’o zhes khas-blangs-pa-las ‘thob-par rang-‘grel-las bshad-do.’di-yang rig-min-gyi sdom-min ‘thob-tshul yin-gyi rigs-min-gyi mi-dge-ba tsam-la min-no. dge-ba’i rig-byed ma-yin-pa-ni spong-ba’i rnam-par rig-byed min-pa ste deng-nas bzung-ste srong-gcod-pa sogs spong-ngo zhes lus-ngag-gi rig-byed rdzogs-pa’i dus-nas bzung-ste, dus -phyi myos-pa-la sogs-pa’i skabs-su yang dge-ba’i rig-min skye-ba’o. ‘di-yang sdom-pa dang bar-ma’i rig-smin ‘ga’-zhig-gi skye-tshul yin-gyi dge-ba’i rig-min thams-cad-la min-no. gzugs-dang bya-ba’i rang-bzhin-yin-kyang rig-byed bzhin-du kun-slong gzhan-la rig-par mi byed-pas rig-byed ma-yin-no.

Gorampa’s Commentary

Gorampa (vol. 4, 650-651) explains in a similar fashion:

The two (kinds of) revealing forms, constructive and destructive, (that are) [1] utterances of speech and [2] movements of the body; [3] the avowed nonrestraints that are called the nonrevealing (forms) of not abstaining from destructive (actions, such as) taking lives and so on; [4] the vowed restraints that are (called) the nonrevealing forms of abstaining from faulty behaviors, (such as) taking lives and so on, and other pairs of nonrevealing forms that also, like this previous (pair), are asserted as pairs of constructive and destructive (nonrevealing forms); [5] (the nonrevealing forms that are a) meritorious (karmic force) produced on a donor’s continuum from the monastic sangha and so on making use of something of use that they have offered; and [6] (the nonrevealing forms) that are produced as non-meritorious (karmic force) on a builder’s continuum (from) however many living beings are later sacrificed in a temple for sacrificing living beings that they have built– and which, like this, constitute a pair as well – like this, the pair of constructive and destructive revealing forms, the pair of nonrevealing (forms that are) vowed restraints and avowed nonrestraints, and the pair (of nonrevealing forms that are) meritorious and non-meritorious (karmic force) – these are the six (types of) incited karmic impulses. Together with the previously explained inciting karmic impulses, they make seven phenomena that are accepted as bases with the defining characteristic of being a karmic impulse. (These) are the divisions in the count (of types of karmic impulses).      
(Tib.) ngag smra ba dang/ lus skyod pa ste dge ba dang/ mi dge ba’i rnam par rig byed gnyis dang/ srog gcod la sogs pa mi dge ba mi spong ba’i rnam par rig byed ma yin pa zhes bya ba gang yin pa sdom pa ma yin pa dang/ srog gcod la sogs pa nyes spyod spong ba’i rnam par rig byed ma yin pa sdom pa ste gzhan rig byed ma yin pa dag kyang di snga ma de bzhin du dge ba dang mi dge ba gnyis su ‘dod do/ longs spyod phul bas dge ‘dun la sogs pas long spyod pa las sbyin pa po’i rgyud la ‘byung ba’i bsod nams dang srog chags gsod pa’i lha khang la sogs pa gtsigs pas phyis der srog chags ci tsam bsad pa ni rtsig pa po’i rgyud la bsod nams ma yin pa ‘byung ba’ang tshul de bzhin du gnyis te/ de ltar na rig byed la dge mi dge gnyis/ rig byed ma yin pa la sdom pa dang/ sdom min gnyis/ longs spyod las byung ba la bsod nams dang bsod nams ma yin pa gnyis te/ bsam pa’i las drug dang/ sngar bshad pa’i sems pa’i las dang chos de bdun las kyi mtshan gzhir mngon par ‘dod pa yin ces pa ni grangs kyi dbye ba’o/

Mipam’s Commentary

Mipam (189-190) echoes the commentaries of these prior masters:

Clearly spoken constructive or destructive words of speech as the revealing forms of speech and driven movements of the body as the nonrevealing forms of body make two. Further, the non-abstention from ever taking a life and so on as the nonrevealing (form) of an avowed nonrestraint and the abstention from that as the nonrevealing (form) of a vowed restraint also make two. Further, (there are) the two (kinds of) intermediate nonrevealing (forms), constructive and destructive – namely, the constructive nonrevealing (form) produced, without a break, on (the continuum) of an agent who has offered a temple and the like to the monastic community, for as long as it is used, up until it is no longer (used), and, similarly, the intermediate destructive nonrevealing (form) produced from building a slaughter house, for instance, up until it is no longer (used) for this non-meritorious purpose. These, together with the constructive or destructive karmic impulse that is a mental urge, affecting (the mind) and causing (motivating) all of them to arise, make seven.   
(Tib.) de la dge mi dge’i ngag gi tshig ’bru gsal por brjod pa ngag gi rig byed kyi las dang/ dge mi dge’i lus kyi bskul bskyod lus kyi rig byed dang gnyis/ yang srog gcod sogs gtan nas mi spong ba sdom min kyi rig byed min pa dang/ de spong ba sdom pa’i rig byed min gnyis/ yang bar ma’i rig byed min pa la yang dge mi dge gnyis su yod de dge ‘dun la gtsug lag khang sogs phul ba ji srid longs spyod pa ma chad kyi bar di de byed pa po la dge ba’i rig min rgyun mi chad du byung ba dang/ de bzhin srog gcod pa’i khang pa byas pa lta bu bsod nams min pa’ang don de dag ma chad kyi bar du bar ma’i mi dge’i rig min ‘byung bas so/ de dag kun gyi kun slong du gyur pa dge mi dge’i las mngon par ‘du byed pa’i sems pa dang ni bdun po’o/  

Chandrakirti’s Presentation of Karma in “A Discussion of the Five Aggregates”

Both the Madhyamaka and the Vaibhashika presentations of karma derive from The Extensive Great Commentarial Treatise on Special Topics of Knowledge, compiled at the Fourth Buddhist Council from the sutras and previous abhidharma texts. Nagarjuna presents only the main points, and his Indian and Tibetan commentators subsequently add a certain amount of detail derived from Vasubandhu’s works and their Indian commentaries. Tsongkhapa even quotes from Vasubandhu’s Treasure House.

Another source, however, of the Madhyamaka presentation of karma is Chandrakirti’s Discussion of the Five Aggregates (Phung-po lnga’i rab-tu byed-pa, Skt. Pañcaskandhaprakaraṇa). Here, Chandrakirti borrows heavily from the works of Vasubandhu and his commentators. However, Chandrakirti makes it clear that he does not accept the Vaibhashika philosophical view with which Vasubandhu couched his presentation when it conflicts with his Madhyamaka view, specifically concerning the mode of existence of karma.  Let us examine what he says.

The Aggregate of Forms of Physical Phenomena

In A Discussion of the Five Aggregates (Derge vol. 103, 239B), Chandrakirti states:

Concerning these (five aggregates), let’s speak in terms of the aggregate of forms of physical phenomena. Concerning this, the aggregate of forms of physical phenomena is something with an identity nature of eleven (types of) substances, those called, “the five cognitive sensors – those of the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue and the body – and the five sensory objects – sights, sounds, smells, tastes and physical sensations – and nonrevealing (forms).” These come to be of two types: those that are elements (earth, water, fire and wind) and those that are derivatives of the elements.
(Tib.) /de la gzugs kyi phung po'i dbang du byas nas brjod pa/ de ni mig dang / rna ba dang / sna dang / lce dang / lus te dbang po lnga dang / gzugs dang / sgra dang / dri dang / ro dang / reg bya ste yul lnga dang / rnam par rig byed ma yin pa zhes bya ba ste rdzas bcu gcig gi bdag nyid ni gzugs kyi phung po'o/ /de yang rnam pa gnyis su 'gyur te/ 'byung ba dang / 'byung ba las gyur pa'o/

Although Chandrakirti refers to the aggregate of forms of physical phenomena as comprised of these eleven types of substances (rdzas), as Vasubandhu does, nevertheless, unlike the Vaibhashika and Sautrantika assertions, he refutes that they have existence established from their own sides as substances (rdzas-su med-pa) (Derge vol. 103, 248B): 

Therefore, because (phenomena) do not exist as (substances established by) their own essential natures, they do not exist; but because of the fact of their existence being caused by means of dependent arising, it is not that they do not exist (at all). If (things) had their existence established as substances, clinging to them as having truly established existence would arise. But they do not have existence (established) by means of their being substances, like reflections in a mirror. Conceptually clinging (to substances as having their existence established like that) just brings about uncontrollably recurring samsara. 
(Tib.) /de lta bas na rang gi ngo bor med pas ni de med la/ rten cing 'brel bar 'byung bas byas pa'i yod pa nyid kyis de med pa yang ma yin no/ rdzas su yod par gyur pa bden par yod pa nyid kyis zhen par yang 'gyur na/ rdzas su med de gzugs brnyan lta bu'o/ /zhen pa las ni 'khor ba na 'gyur ro/ 

Revealing Forms

With this in mind, Chandrakirti (Derge vol. 103, 243A) explains revealing forms:

The revealing (form) of body is the distinctive shape, like this and this, of the body that is generated by the mind that is focused on it (on the body). As for the revealing (form) of speech, it is the phrases being spoken that are generated by the mind that is focused on it (on the speech). These two like this are revealing (forms) in that they reveal the mind that causes them to arise (that motivates them). 
(Tib.) de-la dmigs-pa’i sems-kyis bskyed pa’i lus-kyi de-dang de-lta-bu’i dbyibs-kyi khyad-par-ni lus-kyi rnam-par rig-byed-do. ngag-gi rnam-par rig-byed-ni de-la dmigs-pa’i sems-kyis bskyed-pa’i brjod-par bya-ba brjod-pa’i tshig ste, de lta-bu de-gnyis-ni kun-nas slong-ba’i sems rnam-par rig-par byed-pas-na rnam-par rig-byed-do/

These two types of revealing forms are generated by the mind – referring to sensory consciousness and its accompanying mental factors, especially a mental urge – when focused on the body or the speech. 

In calling the revealing form of the body “the distinctive shape, like this and this, of the body” and the revealing form of the speech as “phrases being spoken,” Chandrakirti seems to be contradicting his agreement with Nagarjuna in explaining, in his Clarified Words, that: “‘Speech’ is an utterance of clear, distinct syllables. ‘Movement’ is a motion of the body.” He seems to be reaffirming Vasubandhu’s assertion of the revealing form of the body being a shape, but apparently rejecting his assertion of the revealing form of speech being a sound. Let us analyze. 

Since revealing forms are forms of physical phenomena, they must fit into the eleven types of substances included in the aggregate of forms of physical phenomena. Utterances of clear, distinct syllables and phrases being spoken must be included as sounds, while movements of the body and shapes of the body must be included as sights. 

A syllable (yi-ge) is a synthesis of a consonant and a vowel; a word (ming) is a synthesis of syllables that has been assigned a meaning; and a phrase (tshig) is a synthesis of words that have been assigned a meaning. Although these three syntheses are noncongruent affecting variables – nonstatic phenomena that are neither forms of physical phenomena nor ways of being aware of something – nevertheless, when they are spoken, the vocalizations of them are sounds that can be heard.  Thus, “utterances of clear, distinct syllables” and “phrases being spoken that are generated by the mind,” as revealing forms of speech, are clearly sounds. Buddhapalita specifies “clear, distinct syllables” undoubtedly because someone can only utter one syllable at a time. 

Color and shape do not constitute separate substantial entities as Vaibhashika asserts, nor do they constitute one substantial entity as Sautrantika asserts. Neither color nor shape are substantial entities because there is no such thing as a substantial entity. Nevertheless, color and shape are inseparable and dependently arise inseparably as visible forms. Thus, when Chandrakirti states that the revealing form of the body is a distinctive shape of the body, that shape must be a colored shape. 

Further, as a visible form, the movement or motion of the body while committing an action of body can also be seen. It is a nonstatic collection synthesis (tshogs-spyi) of a series of consecutive moments of the body in different positions. The body in different positions over a series of consecutive moments can be said, conventionally, to have a shape, as an imputation phenomenon on the basis of the synthesis of a series of moments of each of its parts in different positions. The revealing form of an action of the body is an imputation phenomenon on the basis of this shape. This must be understood in terms of Chandrakirti’s assertion that shapes, movements and revealing forms are devoid of substantially established existence and can only be established in terms of dependent arising. 

This explanation of shape as an imputation phenomenon on the basis of parts – in this case, temporal parts – can be extrapolated from Chandrakirti’s demonstration of the voidness of a chariot that he gives in A Supplement to (Nagarjuna’s “Root Verses on) the Middle Way” (dBu-ma-la ‘jug-pa, Skt. Madhyāmakāvatāra), (VI.151-155) (Derge Tengyur vol. 102, 211B): 

A chariot is not something that can be asserted as other than its parts, nor as something not other (than them). It does not possess them, nor is it in its parts. The parts are not in it; it is not the mere collection (of them), nor is it their shape.
If the mere collection were to be taken as the chariot, then existence as being a chariot would be something abiding in (each) separate part. Because there can be no possessor of parts without there being parts, (not only the mere collection of the parts, but) also the mere shape (of the collection of the parts) is not reasonable as being the chariot.
For you (asserters of substantially established existence), just as the shape (of each part) existed previously in each of the parts (when they were unassembled) and, like that, (the shape of each part) also (exists in each part) when (all the parts) are included in the (assembled) chariot. But (similarly), just as (the chariot did not exist) when they (the parts) were separated, like that as well the chariot does not exist (when the parts are assembled).
If now, at this time of being a chariot, the wheels and so forth have different shapes (from when they were separated), these would be cognized, but these (different shapes) also do not exist. Therefore, the mere shape does not exist as the chariot.
Because your collection (of parts as a substantially existing entity) does not exist at all, the shape is not (the shape) of the collection of parts. How could something be seen here as a shape by depending on something that does not exist at all (as its basis for imputation)?
(Tib.) /shing rta rang yan lag las gzhan 'dod min/ /gzhan min ma yin de ldan yang min zhing / /yan lag la min yan lag dag der min/ /'dus pa tsam min dbyibs min ji bzhin no/ /gal te tshogs tsam shing rtar 'gyur na ni/ /sil bur gnas la shing rta nyid yod 'gyur/ /gang phyir yan lag can med yan lag dag/ /med pas dbyibs tsam shing rtar rigs pa'ang min/ / khyod dbyibs yan lag re re sngar yod gyur/ /ji bzhin shing rtar gtogs la'ang de bzhin no/ /bye bar gyur pa de dag la ji ltar/ /de ltar yang ni shing rta yod ma yin/ /da lta gal te shing rta nyid dus 'dir/ /'phang lo sogs la dbyibs tha dad yod na/ /'di gzung 'gyur na de yang yod min te/ /de phyir dbyibs tsam shing rtar yod ma yin/ /gang phyir khyod kyi tshogs pa cang med pas/ /dbyibs de yan lag tshogs kyi ma yin na/ /gang zhig ci yang ma yin de brten nas/ /'dir ni dbyibs su lta zhig ji ltar 'gyur/

Thus, when seen in the context of Chandrakirti’s presentation of the Prasangika view, there is no contradiction in his assertion in one text that the revealing form of the body is the movement of the body as the implementation of a method for committing an action of the body and, in another, the shape of the body while committing the action.

Nonrevealing Forms

As for nonrevealing forms, Chandrakirti, relying heavily on Vasubandhu’s presentation, explains in A Discussion of the Five Aggregates (Derge vol. 103, 242B-243A):  

Suppose you ask, “What is a nonrevealing (form)?” It is to be known as that form of physical phenomenon, among the cognitive stimulators that are all phenomena (chos-kyi skye-mched-kyi gzugs), that is imperceptible and nonobstructive and can only be cognized by mental consciousness. In other words, it is that which has the essential nature of a continuum of something constructive or destructive summarized as being either an avowed restraint, an avowed non-restraint or an intermediate (avowed restraint). 
Concerning these: 
[1] Some are states that are subsequently entered into by the mind. They are like this: they are those in the essential nature of the vowed restraints of mental constancy (one of the levels of dhyana of the two upper planes in which certain mental factors are temporarily blocked) (bsam-gtan-gyi sdom-pa) and the untainted vowed restraints (of one of the levels of dhyana in the mind of an arya) (zag-pa med-pa’i sdom-pa). 
[2] Some are produced from having properly taken them on (yang-dag-par blangs-pa). These are like this: they are those in the essential nature of pratimoksha vowed restraints (vows) for individual liberation, which, even when it so happens that the mind wanders, doesn’t wander or is unconscious, enter into a continuum, like that of a river, and, day and night, so long as they subsequently enter (into that continuum) in a superior state, (last for) either a lifetime or for a day.
[3] Some are in the essential nature of avowed non-restraints (negative vows). They are like this: They are those that subsequently enter (into a continuum) in situations both when there is mental wandering and when there is no mentally wandering.
[4] As for those that are in the essential nature of being neither a vowed restraint nor a vowed non-restraint, some are produced by someone making use of an object given to a special field (for building up positive force), for instance objects that will bring positive force produced from the type of substance they are. Some are from setting up offerings to the Buddha and constructing a mandala and so on for a Buddha-figure (yidam). Some are from enacting actions such as making prostrations to a stupa with respect. As for those that are destructive, they should be applied to making an altar (for making blood sacrifices) to the goddess Durga and undertaking some action with a very strong disturbing emotion. 
For these (types of nonrevealing forms), one attains the vowed restraints of a state of mental constancy from attaining a level of mind having a tainted state of mental constancy (as a non-arya). One attains the vowed untainted restraints from attaining an untainted state of mental constancy (as an arya). One relinquishes them by rising up (from the state of mental absorption in which they are attained). 
Pratimoksha vowed restraints are obtained from the revealing forms of requesting them from someone else and so on. They are relinquished by relinquishing having properly taken them on, dying, or becoming a hermaphrodite, or (in the case of one-day vows), a day passing. The vows of a full monk, full nun, novice monk, novice nun, probationary nun, layman and laywoman can be relinquished after more than a day has been spent. Full monk and full nun vows are also (relinquished) by (committing) a downfall of (one of the four) full defeats. Also, one-day vows are relinquished after a day has been spent. 
Avowed non-restraints are like those of a fisherman. They obtain avowed non-restraints by the cause (of the caste in which they are born) and taking up the weapons (of fishing gear) and so on. Those in castes other than that receive them by taking them on. As for relinquishing them, they are relinquished by dying, becoming a hermaphrodite or by obtaining vowed restraints. Those that are neither vowed restraints nor avowed non-restraints are broken by strong disturbing emotions (in the case of constructive ones) or a pure mind (in the case of destructive ones) or by what one has set up falling apart.   
(Tib.) rnam-par rig-byed ma-yin-pa gang zhe-na, gzugs-gang chos-kyi skye-mched-du gyur-pa bstan-du med-cing thogs-pa med-pa yid-kyi rnam-par shes-pa tsam-gyis shes-par bya-ba ste, sdom-pa dang, sdom-pa ma-yin-pa dang, bar-ma bsdus-pa dge-ba dang mi-dge-ba’i rgyun-gyi ngo-bo gang-yin-pa de-ni rnam-par rig-byed ma-yin-pa’o/ /de la kha cig ni sems kyi rjes su 'jug pa ste/ 'di lta ste/ bsam gtan gyi sdom pa dang / zag pa med pa'i sdom pa'i ngo po'o/ /kha cig ni yang dag par blangs pa las byung ba ste/ sems g.yengs pa dang sems ma g.yengs pa dang / sems med pa'i gnas skabs gsum char na'ang chu po'i rgyun bzhin du 'jug pa dang / nyin dang mtshan du ji srid 'phags par rjes su 'jug pa ji srid 'tsho'i bar ram/ nyin zhag gcig pa ni 'di lta ste/ so sor thar pa'i sdom pa'i ngo bo'o/ /kha cig g.yengs ba dang ma g.yengs pa'i gnas skabs ni rjes su 'jug pa ni 'di lta ste/ sdom pa ma yin pa'i ngo bo'o/ /sdom pa yang ma yin sdom pa ma yin pa yang ma yin pa'i ngo bo ni kha cig 'ga' zhig la zhing khyad par can gyis sbyin pa'i dngos po longs spyad pa las byung ba ste rdzas las byung ba'i bsod nams bya ba'i dngos po lta bu'o/ /kha cig ni sangs rgyas la mchod pa dang / dkyil 'khor la sogs pa yi dam du blangs nas byed pa'o/ /kha cig ni gus pa dang bcas pas mchod rten la phyag 'tshal ba la sogs pa'i bya ba byed pa'o/ /mi dge ba ni lha mo du rga la sogs pa'i rten byed cing longs spyod pa dang / nyon mongs pa'i shugs drag pos bya ba rtsom pa la sogs par sbyar ro/ /de la zag pa dang bcas pa'i bsam gtan gyi sems thob pa las ni bsam gtan gyi sdom pa 'thob bo/ /zag pa med pa'i bsam gtan gyi sems thob pa las ni zag pa med pa'i sdom pa 'thob pa/ /de dag btang bas ni de dag gtong ngo / /so sor thar pa'i sdom pa ni gzhan la gsol ba 'debs pa'i rnam par rig byed la sogs pa las 'thob ste/ yang dag par blangs pa btang ba dang / shi ba dang / mtshan gnyis byung ba dang / nyin zhag 'das pas gtong bar 'gyur ro/ /de la dge slong dang / dge slong ma dang / dge tshul dang / dge tshul ma dang / dge slob ma dang / dge ba snyen dang / dge bsnyen ma'i sdom pa rnams ni nyin zhag zad pa las gzhan pas gtong ba'o/ /dge slong dang dge slong ma'i sdom pa dag ni pas pham pa'i ltung bas kyang ngo / /bsnyen gnas kyi sdom pa ni nyin mtshan zad pas kyang ngo / /sdom pa ma yin pa ni nya pa la sogs pa'i ste/ de rnams kyis rgyu dang mtshon cha la sogs pa'i sbyor bas sdom pa ma yin pa 'thob la/ de las gzhan pa'i rigs kyis ni de dag gi las yang dag par blangs pas 'thob po/ /gtong ba ni shi ba dang / mtshan gnyis byung ba dang / sdom pa thob pa las gtong ngo / /sdom pa yang ma yin sdom pa ma yin pa yang ma yin pa'i ngo bo ni nyon mongs pa drag po dang / rab tu dang ba'i thugs dang / yang dag bar blangs pa chad pas 'chad do/ 

Karmic Impulses of the Mind

Chandrakirti explains karmic impulses of the mind as being the mental factor of an urge, as Vasubandhuu does, in A Discussion of the Five Aggregates (Derge vol. 103, 245B):

A mental urge is something that affects the mind; (it is) a karmic impulse of the mind. Just as kings are led, by ministers, to engage in things to be done, likewise the mind, as well, is shown, by mental urges, those and those phenomena (to engage with), including things to be done. “Those” phenomena (that the mind is led to engage with) are (phenomena) abiding in the state of tendencies that will give rise to affecting variables. Various (affecting variables and things to be done that the mind) goes to arise because of a karmic impulse, because that is the essential nature of karmic impulses. Further, (mental urges, as karmic impulses) have three aspects: constructive, destructive, and unspecified. In addition, when divided, there comes to be a sixfold network of mental urges: from those that are congruent with eye consciousness up to those that are congruent with mind consciousness.   
(Tib.) sems pa ni sems mngon par 'du byed pa yid kyi las te/ ji ltar rgyal po rnams blon pos bya ba de dang / de la 'jug par byed pa de bzhin du sems kyang sems pas bya ba dang bcas pa'i ngo bor de dang der ston par byed do/ /de ni 'du byed rnams 'byung ba la sa bon gyi ngo bor gnas te/ 'gro ba sna tshogs las las skyes la de ni las kyi ngo bo nyid kyi phyir ro/ /yang de ni rnam pa gsum ste/ dge ba dang / mi dge ba dang / lung du ma bstan pa'o/ /yang dbye na sems pa'i tshogs drug tu 'gyur te/ mig gi rnam par shes pa dang mtshungs par ldan pa nas yid kyi rnam par shes pa dang mtshungs par ldan pa'i bar du'o/ 

Thus, Chandrakirti makes clear that mental urges, as karmic impulses of the mind, bring on all sensory and mental cognitions, although not all are inciting karmic impulses. Furthermore, mental urges activate those mental factors that are in the state of being tendencies that are led, together with one of the six types of primary consciousness, to engage with an object. 

Top