A.K. Chatterjee

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A. K. Chatterjee
A K Chatterjee.png
Professor Chatterjee in November 2019

Ashok Kumar Chatterjee (born on 27 November 1925) is an Indian philosopher and Buddhist scholar who was professor of philosophy at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi. He is best known for his monumental work in the Yogacara-Vijnanavada school of Buddhism titled The Yogãcāra Idealism first published in 1962.[1] He lives in Varanasi.

Early Life and Education[edit]

Ashok Kumar Chatterjee was born in Allahabad, in a Bengali Bráhmaņa family. He did all his studies at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, where he had a distinguished academic record, first at Central Hindu School of Banaras Hindu University doing his high school and Intermediate (first rank) studies and then joined for his B. A. (first rank), M. A. (first rank), Ph. D. in Philosophy (under the supervision of Professor T. R. V. Murti), Diploma in French and Diploma in German. His command over Sanskrit, English, and Hindi too is well acknowledged. During his childhood days and later in his formative years to be a thinker he was first inspired by his uncle Professor A. C. Mukherjee of Allahabad University, and subsequently by his Guruji Professor T. R. V. Murti of Banaras Hindu University. At the same formative period he used to have very serious philosophical discussions with many of the leading luminaries in Indian philosophy like Professor Kalidas Bhattacharya. He was Sayajirao Gaekwad Fellow from 1947 to 1950 in the Department of Philosophy, Banaras Hindu University.[2]


A. K. Chatterjee taught from 1950 to 1963 in Agra University[3] (now Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar University, Agra, since 1995) and had become the Head of the Department of Philosophy. After the establishment of Centre of Advanced Study in Philosophy at Banaras Hindu University, he joined Banaras Hindu University in 1963 and retired in 1985 as Professor and Head, Department of Philosophy and Religion, Banaras Hindu University[4]. A. K. Chatterjee taught Logic and Analytic Philosophy at Banaras Hindu University, but his forte was Buddhist philosophy.

Indian Council of Philosophical Research (ICPR), New Delhi, honoured him with the National Lectureship in 1992 and Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014[5]. He was the president of the ‘Metaphysics and Epistemology Section’ of the 45th Session of the Indian Philosophical Congress in 1971 (held at Osmania University, Hyderabad). As one finds from his writings, the 1960s and 1970s were the most effervescent period of Professor A. K. Chatterjee’s academic acumen.[2]


A. K. Chatterjee is an authority on Buddhism in general and the Yogācāra in particular. Professor David J. Kalupahana wrote about Professor A. K. Chatterjee’s magnum opus (The Yogācāra Idealism): “Ashok Kumar Chatterjee… has produced one of the few detailed and significant treatments of Yogācāra. His work, The Yogācāra Idealism has not, unfortunately, enjoyed the same publicity as his teacher’s work (T. R. V. Murti’s The Central Philosophy of Buddhism). Yet, it is no way second to Murti’s treatment of Mādhyamika philosophy.”[6]


  • The Yogācāra Idealism (1962)
  • Readings on Yogācāra Buddhism (1971)
  • Facets of Buddhist Thought (1973)
  • Sākșī in Vedānta (1978)

In 2008 the students of A. K. Chatterjee brought out a festschrift to honour him.[2]


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