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A h{cble Noose of }rlethods,

The Lotus Garland Synopsis:

A Mahayoga Tantra and its Commentary

oste rre ! c n i u. r, " n [*[ii3 g?l

der Wissenschaften



A Noble Noose of Methods, the Lotus Garland Synopsis:

A Mahyoga Tantra and its Commentary



Beiträge zur Kultur- und Geistesgeschichte Asiens Nr. 73

Herausgegeben von Helmut Krasser

DENKSCHRIFTEN , 449 . BAND Beiträge zur Kultur- und Geistesgeschichte Asiens Nr. 73 Herausgegeben von Helmut
DENKSCHRIFTEN , 449 . BAND Beiträge zur Kultur- und Geistesgeschichte Asiens Nr. 73 Herausgegeben von Helmut




A Noble Noose of Methods, The Lotus Garland Synopsis:

A Mahyoga Tantra and its Commentary

CANTWELL, ROBERT MAYER A Noble Noose of Methods, The Lotus Garland Synopsis: A Mah ダ yoga
CANTWELL, ROBERT MAYER A Noble Noose of Methods, The Lotus Garland Synopsis: A Mah ダ yoga

Vorgelegt von w. M. ERNST STEINKELLNER in der Sitzung am 15. Juni 2012

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ISBN 978-3-7001-7273-4

Copyright © 2012 by Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften Wien

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Note on Transliteration of Tibetan


Abbreviations and List of Sigla used in the Editions


Introduction Introducing the Textual Sources, and their Significance


The Contents of the Thabs zhags and their Significance for the Historical Study of the rNying ma pa


The Dunhuang Manuscript as a valuable source from the 'Time of Fragments'


A Summary of the Salient Points of our work on the Thabs zhags Textual Tradition


Methodological Issues in the Study of the Thabs zhags Textual Transmissions


The Ancient Tantra Collection (NGB)


Textual Obscurity and Scribal Corruption in the extant Ancient Tantra Collection


Increasing the usability of the Ancient Tantra Collection texts


How do we edit Ancient Tantra Collection texts? Can we stemmatise them? How do we account for their variations?


Concluding Reflections on the variations in TZ


Textual Analysis

a) The Editions of the Root Text and Commentary


b) Features of the Dunhuang Manuscript


c) Examination and Assessment of the Differing Boundaries of TZ in Different Editions


d) The Stemma of the Root Text


e) A Summary of The Commentary on A Noble Noose of Methods, the Lotus Garland Synopsis

('Phags pa thabs kyi zhags pa pad ma 'phreng gi don bsdus pa'i 'grel pa)



The "Citations" or Attributions of the Teachings in the Thabs zhags Commentary to other Tantras


Padmasambhava, the Thabs zhags and its Commentary Padmasambhava's Pith Instructions on the Garland of Views


The Evidence from the Commentary and its Dunhuang witness



Table of Contents

Introduction to the Editions of the 'Phags pa thabs kyi zhags pa pad ma 'phreng gi don bsdus pa and its Commentary


The Presentation of the Critical Edition of TZ


The Presentation of the Edition of TZComm


Critical Edition of the Root Text (TZ), The 'Phags pa thabs kyi zhags pa pad ma 'phreng gi don bsdus pa


Edition of the Commentary (TZComm), The 'Phags pa thabs kyi zhags pa pad ma 'phreng gi don bsdus pa'i 'grel pa



The Deities of the Peaceful Ma凹縁ala in the Thabs zhags tradition


The Deities of the Wrathful Ma凹縁ala in the Thabs zhags tradition






CD Images of the Dunhuang Manuscript IOL Tib J 321 from the Stein Collection in London



We are extremely grateful to the UK's Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), who so generously provided the funding that enabled both of us to spend a full quarter of our working time each, between 2006 and 2010, in pursuing the research for this book. We are equally grateful for the patience, generosity, and intellectual inspiration of our many colleagues and friends at Oxford University, and in particular in its Oriental Institute, who have been so unfailingly supportive of all our efforts since our arrival there in 2002. We would also like to thank the John Fell Oxford University Press (OUP) Research Fund, which provided vital support in the final stages of preparing the publication, and Mr. Dylan Esler, who helped with the final preparation of the manuscript, including the conversions of transliterated Tibetan into Tibetan script, and some additional collation in the process of rationalising the presentation of the root text edition. In the early months of the project, the International Trust for Traditional Medicine in Kalimpong helped with data input from the Golden Tenjur edition of the commentary.

Some sections of the book began life as conference papers, given in Berkeley, Vancouver, Santa Barbara, Atlanta, London, Bonn and Lumbini, while other sections started life as invited guest lectures delivered at the Universities of Chicago, Harvard, CNRS-Paris, SOAS-London, Humboldt-Berlin, and Vienna. We would like to acknowledge the valuable feedback from colleagues attending those presentations, as well as other academic exchanges we have had the good fortune to enjoy in the course of this work. In particular, we would like to mention Chris Beckwith, José Cabezón, Brandon Dotson, Lewis Doney, David Germano, Paul Harrison, Agnieszka Helman-Wazny, Adelheid Herrmann-Pfandt, Nathan Hill, Christian Luczanits, Chris Minkowski, Karma Phuntsho, Charles Ramble, Geoffrey Samuel, Sam van Schaik, Jonathan Silk, Phillip Stanley, Ernst Steinkellner, Péter-Dániel Szántó, Tanaka Kimiaki, Tsuguhito Takeuchi, and Vesna Wallace.

Very special thanks are due to Changling Tulku of Shechen Monastery, who so generously offered help with this text despite having so many other more pressing claims on his time, and similar thanks are also due to Khenchen Pema Sherab, Lopon P. Ogyan Tanzin, and Lama Kunzang Dorjee.

A large debt of gratitude is owed to Helmut Eimer, Helmut Tauscher and Bruno Laine, who at the final revision stages drew our attention to the versions of the Thabs zhags found in the so far uncatalogued local Kanjurs of Bathang and of Hemis, providing us also with copies of these additional witnesses that did so much to clarify and confirm our picture of the historical transmission of the text. We would also like to acknowledge the professionalism and efficiency of staff at the British Library's Asian & African Studies Reading Room, who facilitated our unhindered access to the original Dunhuang manuscript, IOL Tib J 321. The staff at the Central University of Tibetan Studies in Sarnath, notably P. Dorje and Ngawang Tsepag, went to quite exceptional lengths to make possible under very difficult technical circumstances our consultation of their microfilm copy of the Tawang O rgyan gling Kanjur, a particularly important historical witness for the edition. Finally, we are extremely grateful to Tsymzhit Vanchikova, who so generously took the trouble to supply us with suitable sample pages of the Ulan Bator manuscript Kanjur.

We must also thank the publisher's anonymous peer reviewers, who gave useful feedback at the final editing stages.

Following the example of Paul Harrison's edition of the Druma-kinnara-rja-paripcch-stra (1992), we have presented our critical edition of the root text in Tibetan font, in the hope that it might make our work more accessible to a Tibetan readership. This was no simple undertaking, and would not have been possible without the technical help and advice of a number of people. Firstly, we must thank Stefan Hagel, who gave us ongoing instructions on formatting Tibetan text within his Classical Text Editor software. Chris Fynn advised on a number of computing issues, and contributed the excellent DDC Uchen font that we use. David Chapman's WylieWord program enabled us to make the complex conversions between Roman and Tibetan fonts; and George Cantwell at very short notice wrote a macro for Classical Text Editor which resolved a difficult presentational problem in the Tibetan text.


Earlier versions of some materials from this volume have been published previously. A precursor to the section below entitled "Methodological issues in the study of the Thabs zhags Textual Tradition", was published in the JIATS (Cantwell Mayer 2009), with regards to which we must thank an anonymous peer reviewer who offered useful comments. Other earlier takes on materials that now contribute to this book appeared in the OTDO Monograph Series Volume III (Cantwell and Mayer 2011), and in the volume Tibetan Ritual edited by José Cabezón (Cantwell and Mayer 2010a).

We thank the British Library for permission to distribute their images of the Dunhuang manuscript IOL Tib J 321 with our book, which should enable readers swiftly to consult this important witness of the commentarial text.

Finally, we must acknowledge that whatever shortcomings there might be in this volume are without exception the result of our own failings, and for this we request our readers' forbearance.



Transliteration of Tibetan in this work conforms to the internationally widely used system often referred to as Wylie Conventions, 1 although we do not use the single contribution which Wylie proposed, that is, the capitalisation of the first letter of a word where appropriate. Instead, if necessary in the case of names or titles, 2 we capitalise the root Tibetan letter (or the first Roman letter representing the root letter), since this conforms more closely to Tibetan conceptions, and has a well-established usage in Western scholarly writings, from Nebesky-Wojkowitz 1956. 3 For Tibetan representations of Sanskrit letters, we use the generally accepted appropriate Roman letters with diacritical marks.

Conventions used in transcribing the Dunhuang document

In presenting transcriptions of the Dunhuang manuscripts, we have conformed to the usages established by Tsuguhito Takeuchi in a number of publications on Old Tibetan documents, made in accordance with the suggestions of A. Delatte and A. Severyns (1938: Emploi des signes critiques, disposition de l'apparat dans les éditions savantes de textes grecs et latins / conseils et recommandations par J. Bidez et A. B. Drachmann, Bruxelles : Union académique internationale).

We have not needed to use Takeuchi's complete list but have used the following. From Tsuguhito Takeuchi 1995 Old Tibetan Contracts from Central Asia, Tokyo pp.137-138:


reversed gi gu


editor's note


ambiguous readings


our conjectural restorations of letters partly illegible or lost in the original


uncertain readings



illegible letters, number unknown


illegible letters, number known, indicated by broken line


illegible letters, approximate numbers known, indicated by numeral with ±

] abc

beginning of line lost through damage

abc [

end of line lost through damage


blank spaces left by copyist (in the case of IOL Tib J 321, generally due to the string holes)

From Tsuguhito Takeuchi 1997-1998 Old Tibetan Manuscripts from East Turkestan in The Stein

Collection of the British Library, Tokyo and London Vol. 2: Descriptive Catalogue 1998, p.xxxii.


page initial sign (mgo yig, siddha)


text deleted in the original manuscript 4

1 Following Turrell Wylie 1959. Wylie adopted in its entirety the system earlier used by René de Nebesky-Wojkowitz (1956: xv) and David Snellgrove (1957: 299-300). See the discussion in David Snellgrove 1987a: xxiv, and our own comments in Cantwell, Mayer and Fischer 2002: Note on Transliteration: "Not Wylie" Conventions ( In line with Tibetan understanding and the most common contemporary scholarly usage, we modify the system by using "w" rather than "v" for the subjoined Tibetan letter, "wa" (wa zur).

2 We do not capitalise words at all in representing our Tibetan source documents, but do so within the English language discussion where necessary.

3 The root letter (ming gzhi) is the main letter of a syllable and that under which words are ordered in Tibetan dictionaries, so it is the letter of the syllable to which attention is drawn.

4 Tsuguhito Takeuchi's preferred usage is now not to include deleted words within the main text, but rather in the Critical Apparatus, marked as, "cancellavit" (this convention is given in his 1995 list). However, we have modified that list in this case, since it seems helpful in the case of our texts with only short deleted passages, for the reader immediately to see a transcription which as closely as possible resembles the original.


We have also added one further convention:

: ornamental punctuation mark, generally marking a section ending and new opening, and varying in design from two large vertically arranged circles to two dots.



Throughout the book, we use the anglicised word, Kanjur, for Tibetan bka' 'gyur, and Tenjur, for Tibetan bstan 'gyur.

Abbreviations used are:

NGB for rNying ma'i rgyud 'bum (Ancient Tantra Collection) MTph for Man ngag lta phreng TZ for 'Phags pa Thabs kyi zhags pa padma 'phreng gi don bsdus pa TZComm for 'Phags pa Thabs kyi zhags pa padma 'phreng gi don bsdus pa'i 'grel pa

We follow to some extent the sigla established by Harrison and Eimer (1997) for the editions of the Kanjur and Tenjur. This is modified because some of the letters from their lists were already used by our list for NGB texts. Since the Thabs zhags root text is found in both the NGB and a number of Kanjurs, and its commentary is found in three Tenjurs, as well as being represented in a Dunhuang document, it seemed most straightforward to qualify the sigla with a lower case letter, k, for Kanjur texts, and t, for Tenjur texts, when there might otherwise be confusion. Thus, D stands for the sDe dge NGB, and Dk for the sDe dge Kanjur, while Qk stands for the Peking Kanjur, and Qt for the Peking Tenjur. Recent work on local Kanjurs has also established the principle of using more than one letter for these further editions, and thus, we follow Helmut Eimer in using Ogl for the Tawang Kanjur from O rgyan gling, and Bth (used earlier in Michael Zimmermann's work on the Tathgatagarbhastra) for the Bathang Kanjur held in the Newark Museum. See the Bibliography for fully bibliographical references. The local Kanjurs and proto-Kanjurs from Western Tibet do not yet have established sigla. Pending such establishment by those working on these collections, principally at the University of Vienna, we use He for the (incomplete) Hemis Kanjur which contains our text.

We have

tried to present a shortened form of the Tibetan names, mostly using the place names where the edition was

produced or preserved, and we have tried to make them easy to guess, so that it should not be necessary to check this list repeatedly.

We have used Tibetan language sigla for the root text edition, which is presented in Tibetan.

Ms = Dunhuang manuscript; f = dddd

J = Lithang or 'Jang sa tham Kanjur; df = dddd

Qk = Peking Kanjur; Λdマコルf = ΛdQセdマコルdル★ロd Nk = Narthang Kanjur; ヱロdマコルf = ヱロdノセdマコルdル★ロd

U = Urga Kanjur; ôdマコルf = ôd⊆dマコルdル★ロd

Dk = sDe dge Kanjur; ポdマコルf = ポdハ&dマコルdル★ロd

D = sDe dge NGB; ポdずセ鄭 = ポdハ&dずセdム厭d∩ハdルЫムd

Hk = lHa sa Kanjur; 蝦dマコルf = 蝦d゚dマコルdル★ロd

V = Ulan Bator Kanjur; 欝dマコルf = 欝dワフdヘdノダロdマコルdル★ロd

Qt = Peking Tenjur; Λdマエフf = ΛdQセdマエフdル★ロd Gt = Golden Tenjur; シ音ロdマエフf = マエフdル★ロdシ音ロd§dワシdе゚dムd Nt = Narthang Tenjur; ヱロdマエフf = ヱロdノセdマエフdル★ロd




= mTshams brag NGB; ムモム゚f = ムモム゚dдシdずセdム厭d∩ハdルЫムd

= sGang steng b NGB (G-a is used for sGang steng a NGB); df = dddddЫd

Gr = dGra med rtse NGB; ハ◎f = ハ◎d宛ハd溢dずセdム厭d∩ハdルЫムd




= gTing skyes NGB; シやセ鄭 = シやセd}゚dずセdム厭d∩ハdルЫムd

= Rig 'dzin NGB; 於シf = 於シdル院フd飲dハマセdフダロdЫdずセdム厭d∩ハdルЫムd

= Kathmandu NGB; ±f = ±dマダムdずセdム厭d∩ハdルЫムd

Bth = Bathang Kanjur; ルマルf = ルマルdノセdマコルdル★ロd He = Hemis; 禾f = 禾d圧dマコルdル★ロd Ogl = Tawang Orgyan ling; àf = ムダフdわdハマセdàd⊂フd▼セdマコルdル★ロd


Introducing the Textual Sources, and their Significance

This volume represents the outcome of a research project on a famous rNying ma Mahyoga root tantra, the 'Phags pa Thabs kyi zhags pa padma 'phreng gi don bsdus pa (hereafter abbreviated as TZ), together with its commentary. The surviving sources have left us no clearly established Sanskrit titles, 1 but we translate the Tibetan title of the root text as A Noble Noose of Methods, the Lotus Garland Synopsis. Versions of TZ were, as far as we can tell, prominently included in all known editions of the Ancient Tantra Collection (rNying ma'i rgyud 'bum, hereafter NGB). 2 A version has also been transmitted through the editions of the Tshal pa branch of the Kanjur that contain a special Ancient Tantra (rNying rgyud) section. TZ has additionally surfaced in the three local Kanjur editions of Hemis, Tawang, and Bathang, that is, local manuscript Kanjur collections which do not reflect either of the two major transmissional branches of Tshal pa and Them spangs ma (which between them subsume all the popular printed Kanjur editions).

The Tibetan title of the commentary is, simply, 'Phags pa Thabs kyi zhags pa padma 'phreng gi don bsdus pa'i 'grel pa (hereafter abbreviated as TZComm). A version of TZComm is shared by three editions of the Tenjur (bsTan 'gyur), namely Golden, Peking, and Narthang. Unfortunately, this, the sole traditionally transmitted version of TZComm, has lost around thirty percent of its text, and has also here and there suffered further transmissional misfortunes. No other traditionally transmitted versions of TZComm appear to have survived, not even in such suitable rNying ma corpora as the various bKa' ma compilations (see below). Fortunately however, a probably tenth century manuscript in eighty-five folios preserving an almost complete TZComm was amongst the famous Dunhuang treasures brought to London by Sir Aurel Stein in the early 20th century, and is now held at the British Library (IOL Tib J 321).

TZ is admired as a key scripture by the rNying ma pa, and is consequently preserved within a distinct and prestigious doxographical section of the NGB known as 'The Eighteen Tantras of Mahyoga' (ma ha yo ga'i

1 Out of all the versions of TZ and TZComm, only the Bhutanese NGB edition of TZ attempts a Sanskrit title: rya ka la pa sha padma mle sang kra ha, perhaps intending *rya-upya-pヂXa-padma-ml-sagraha? Reconstructions of TZComm's Sanskrit title have been suggested by Chattopadhyaya (1972: 49, *Upya-pヂXa-padma-ml-piカれヂrtha-vtti) and Herrmann- Pfandt (2000: 270-1, *rya-arthasagraha-nma-upyapヂXa-padmvali-vtti for the front title and, *UpyapヂXa-padmaml- kalparja-arthasagraha-nma-vtti for the colophonic title). A much earlier attempt to reference the Sanskrit title of TZ is found in the Dunhuang text PT 849, which Hackin dubbed the Formulaire Sanscrit-Tibétain du X E Siècle. Here we find that a Tibetan entry rgyud thabs kyi zhags pa is mistakenly rendered a mo ga pa sa tan tra, a confusion between the AmoghapヂXa- tantra of the Kriytantra genre that was popular at Dunhuang, and our somewhat rarer *UpyapヂXa-tantra of the Mahyoga genre. Since the references occur within a list of famous Mahyoga texts, and directly next to the rGyud gsang ba'i snying po or *Guhyagarbha with which TZ is often paired, it is highly likely that *UpyapヂXa was intended by the author of PT 849 [Hackin 1924:6]. For further analysis of PT849, see Kapstein 2006. Excellent digital images of the original scroll of PT849 can now be accessed at The Mellon International Dunhuang Archive < mellon-dunhuang.shtml>.

2 For those who are not familiar with the Ancient Tantra Collection, we should mention that the editions studied so far break down into three distinct branches, which we have provisionally termed the Bhutanese, South Central Tibetan and Eastern. These provisional names reflect the empirical data, in that the distribution of NGB editions has so far followed a consistently regional pattern. Future discoveries might well render these regional names inaccurate, and in due course, we hope to go beyond such ad hoc regional identifications by discovering the original source of each distinctive redaction, and then more appropriately naming the various branches after them. For now, we must talk of a Bhutanese branch in forty-six volumes, with four available manuscript versions, all virtually identical to one another; an Eastern branch in twenty-six volumes, so far represented only by the conflated single witness sDe dge xylograph edition; and a South Central Tibetan branch with two subdivisions, represented by four available complete manuscript versions, two with thirty-three volumes and two with thirty- seven volumes. Rig 'dzin and gTing skyes had thirty-three volumes; Nubri and Kathmandu had thirty-seven volumes. See Cantwell and Mayer 2007: 11, 16-19.



rgyud sde bco brgyad). It is interesting to note that a high proportion of the rNying ma tantras titles mentioned at Dunhuang are found within this grouping, which moreover includes some titles of known Indic provenance, such as the Guhyasamja, a Buddhasamyoga, and a Wrparamdya. TZComm, however, displays some sign of probable authorship in Tibet, or at least, contains some material most probably composed in Tibetan. Its Chapter Six glosses the Tibetan term for ma凹縁ala, dkyil 'khor, according to its two halves, giving first an explanation of centre (dkyil), followed by an elaboration on circle ('khor). 3 But the verses of TZ itself do not appear Tibetan in any such obvious way, and TZ was duly accepted as an authentic Ancient Tradition scripture in the text lists of two early Sa skya masters. Grags pa rgyal mtshan (1147-1216) selected it as one of the only six rNying ma scriptures included in his tantra catalogue, while his great- nephew Chos rgyal 'Phags pa (1235-1280) followed suit in his own catalogue of 1273 (Eimer 1997: 52). Later, TZ was included in the special three-volume rNying rgyud section of twenty-four texts added to the Tshal pa Kanjur, the dkar chag of which was established by the great bKa' brgyud scholar Tshal pa Kun dga' rdo rje (1309-1364). As we have mentioned above, TZ was also included in at least three local Kanjur collections. In the two very old local Kanjurs of Hemis and Bathang, as far as we can tell from these still uncatalogued collections, TZ is located in the midst of several other rNying ma tantras, which might (but need not) suggest a segregated rNying rgyud section; but in the case of the Tawang Kanjur of 1699, it seems that it and the other sixty rNying ma texts in that unique collection were not segregated in a separate section, but included among the other gSar ma tantras in the main rGyud section. 4 However, while not explicitly condemning it, the famous fourteenth century Kanjur compiler Bu ston (1290-1364) failed to endorse TZ as a valid translation from Sanskrit. Hence it does not occur in Kanjurs of the Them spangs ma branch, which do not have rNying rgyud sections. The various Kanjur traditions, then, were not in final agreement about the Indian origins of TZ, and we too remain uncertain of its provenance.

TZ has much to offer the philologist. It is one of only two full-length, complete Ancient Tantra scriptures recovered from Dunhuang, the other being the Guhyasamja (yet the latter is a text far more used by the gSar ma pa than the rNying ma pa, who de facto rarely practise Guhyasamja, even while retaining it in their NGB). TZ is furthermore one amongst that comparatively small band of Ancient Tantras still to have extant its own word-by-word commentary. TZComm must be old, since it was found at Dunhuang, and it serves also as our source for the Dunhuang witness of TZ, which comes embedded within TZComm in the shape of lemmata. Yet TZComm seems to have been comparatively neglected or even forgotten by the later rNying ma tradition: 5 despite the fact that an albeit corrupt and partial version of it survives in three Tenjur editions, it does not seem to have had a consistent presence in appropriate rNying ma collections such as the rNying ma bKa' ma, 6 and few if any of the highly learned rNying ma lamas we showed it to appeared to have had

3 It is unlikely that the Sanskrit word, ma凹縁ala, could have been similarly separated into two parts with exactly these implications. It seems then, that this part of TZComm cannot be an unmediated translation from a Sanskrit original. It is worth noting that Tibetan commentarial traditions sometimes break the Sanskrit word, maカれala, into two for the purpose of glossing its meaning, but the connotations would not correspond neatly to the Tibetan equivalent term. For instance, Mi pham glosses maカれal as essence or vital juice, and la as taking or holding, so that maカれala would mean, to grasp the essence enlightened qualities. He adds that if the word is taken as a whole, it can also mean, completely circular or entirely surrounded, and hence is translated as dkyil 'khor (maカれal ni snying po'am/ bcud dang la ni len cing 'dzin pa ste snying po'i yon tan 'dzin pa'i gzhir gyur pa'am/ rnam pa gcig tu sgra 'brel mar thad kar bsgyur na kun nas zlum zhing yongs su bskor ba'i don du 'jug pas dkyil 'khor zhes bya ste/, Mi pham rgya mtsho: 136. Thanks to Karma Phuntsho for drawing our attention to this source). 4 See Jampa Samten 1994. This edition of the Kanjur had been comissioned and copied in the late seventeenth to early eighteenth centuries at the temple of O rgyan gling (the Sixth Dalai Lama's family temple), on the basis of an earlier gold and silver illuminated Kanjur (gser chos bka' 'gyur).

5 We emphasise that this comment applies most especially to the recent past. Our research seems to indicate, however, that the versions of the root text included within the Bhutanese NGB, and the Tshal pa Kanjur editions, must both separately have been compiled through extracting the root text lemmata from an edition of the commentary (see below, p.35-42, 44-45).

6 No version of TZComm was included in Dudjom Rinpoche's bKa' ma collection. We do not know if it was included in earlier bKa' ma collections. A copy of the Peking Tenjur version has been included in the new bKa' ma shin tu rgyas pa compiled by Kathog mkhan po 'jams dbangs (Chengdu 1999: volume 80 Wu: 125-236). It has been copied anew for this collection, but it

The Textual Sources and their Significance


much prior awareness of its existence. Yet one finds citations from TZComm in the works of several early masters, such as the ninth or tenth century gNubs chen Sangs rgyas ye shes, the eleventh to twelfth century Rong zom chos kyi bzang po (Rong zom bka' 'bum: 397-398) and the fourteenth century Klong chen pa (1308-1363) (bDud 'joms bka' ma volume La: 63; see also Dorje 1988: 393; we discuss the citations more fully just below). The earlier figure, gNubs chen Sangs rgyas ye shes, in Chapter Six on Mahyoga of his famous bSam gtan mig sgron, 7 offered citations from both TZ and TZComm, yet without explicitly differentiating between the two. gNubs first paraphrases two statements given in TZComm's Chapter One, relating to engagement in all dharmas, and then, while discussing awareness of the sameness of dharmas, cites more exactly a single line relating to instantaneous omniscience. Finally, he cites the first two lines of TZ's Chapter Five, on the level of attainment. Rong zom and Klong chen pa both elected to cite from the discussion of samayas in Chapter Two (see below, p.4, and TZComm edition, Chapter 2), although they selected different passages to cite. Rong zom pa's citation is taken almost verbatim from TZComm although with some words omitted, while Klong chen pa's citation more generally paraphrases the meaning of a number of the points made in TZComm. As did gNubs before them, both Rong zom and Klong chen pa as often as not merely indicate that their respective citations are from the Noble Noose of Methods literature (using words such as 'phags pa thabs kyi zhags pa las), without specifying if they come from the commentary or the root text. Such a lack of consistently explicit differentiation between the root tantra TZ and its commentary TZComm, found in all three of these examples from the earlier literature, might prove of philological interest, in the light of some of our discussion to follow below.

The Contents of the Thabs zhags texts and their Significance for the Historical Study of the rNying ma pa The contents of the Thabs zhags literature amply demonstrate how historically interesting and worthy of editing such texts can be. General features of TZ suggest that to some extent it shares historical indicators with the type of tantric literature represented by the SarvabuddhasamyogaれヂkinjlaXavara (a version of which the rNying ma pas nowadays count as one of the Eighteen Tantras of Mahyoga mentioned above, and which is also listed in the Dunhuang text PT 849). This Indian tantra is historically intermediate between the Sarvatathgatatattvasagraha and the Guhyasamja on the one hand, and the full-on Yoginor Yoganiruttara tantras on the other hand. Sanderson locates the production of such literature from the late eighth century through the ninth century. Historical indicators which TZ shares with it include (i) Heruka in terrifying skull-bearing cemetery-dwelling (kplika) appearance as the main deity, with female retinue; (ii) an abbreviated form of the introductory verses setting the scene (nidna) that were previously standard in Buddhist scriptural literature, for example, unlike the Guhyasamja, it does not have the formula, "'di skad bdag gis thos pa dus gcig na"; (iii) the considerable (but not exclusive) use of verse rather than more balanced verse and prose; (iv) the inclusion of feast rites (gaacakra); (v) hints of sexual yogas; (vi) some rhetoric of taming Waiva deities; (vii) the absence of any inner yogas involving subtle physical veins and wheels (nヂれ┇, cakra), which first appear only with the subsequent Yoganiruttara tantras. In this text, however, we have no coded mantra table (sngags btu ba = Skt. mantroddhra), and moreover the rhetoric of taming Waiva deities, although present, is not elaborate. 8

TZ and TZComm when taken as a whole present a complex Mahyoga system that arguably equals the contemporary rNying ma tradition in sophistication and complexity. Vairocana is the expounder of the tantra, and Vajrasattva his interlocutor. Vairocana and the others of the five family buddhas, together with their consorts and retinues of bodhisattvas, make up the peaceful deities, and here we can see how TZ is aptly named a Mah-yoga tantra, in the sense of being a Greater-yogatantra. For its peaceful ma凹縁ala of fifty

does clearly correspond to the Tenjur versions of the text, and an additional colophon identifies its provenance: pe cin bstan 'gyur las bthus (presumably, btus or 'thus intended), "extracted from the Peking Tenjur" (volume Wu: 236.5).

7 Dylan Esler of the Institut Orientaliste, Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL), Belgium, has been working on a Ph.D on the bSam gtan mig sgron, and we would like to thank him for drawing our attention to these citations. The citations are given in the footnotes to our editions below.

8 For a brilliant historical analysis, see Alexis Sanderson 2009: 145ff.



deities is an adaptation of the thirty-seven deity ma凹縁ala of the Sarvatathgatatattvasagraha that is so basic to Yogatantra, but in TZ, the male and female figures are now paired together as consorts, and a number of further female deities are added to complete the set. The central male deity of the wrathful ma凹縁ala is a ferocious form of WrHeruka with nine heads and eighteen arms, 9 but we have not yet identified this exact form in later sources. Nevertheless, very similar and clearly related forms of WrHeruka or MahヂXrHeruka do still occur widely as the central figures in the wrathful ma凹縁alas of several important extant rNying ma pa cycles, such as the Tshogs chen 'dus pa and the sGrub pa bka' brgyad cycles, or in root tantra sources such as the rGyud gsang ba'i snying po. 10 The central wrathful deity is surrounded by the Ten Wrathful Deities, or Khro bo bcu. The central female is a great fearsome female deity ('Jigs byed chen mo), specified in TZComm as Ral gcig ma (Ekaja荻ヂ), still to this day the main ma mo or wrathful female deity of the rNying ma pantheon. These main deities are surrounded by a large entourage of emanations whose names, ordering and attributes as given in the commentary remain very similar in some transmitted rNying ma texts, including some modern liturgical texts (for a systematic exposition of the deity ma凹縁alas, see the Appendix below).

It is interesting that some later doxographers envisaged TZ, along with the famous root text for all the Mahyoga tantras, the rGyud gsang ba'i snying po, as the two texts from amongst the Eighteen Tantras of Mahyoga that expound Mahyoga in general (spyi'i rgyud), rather than merely a single ma凹縁ala, such as that of Hayagrva or Vajraklaya (Dorje 1988: 33-35). With a similar intention, in his thor bu entitled rGyud spyi'i dngos po gsal bar byed pa, Rong zom pa likewise singles out TZ for praise as a source for clarifying the general topics of all tantras. 11

TZ and TZComm present versions of Mahyoga theory and practice that in their details bear recognisable resemblances to the doctrine of the sameness of all dharmas (mnyam pa'i chos) of the rGyud gsang ba'i snying po. Like the rGyud gsang ba'i snying po, TZ and TZComm also on numerous occasions use terminology built around the words mnyam pa or mnyam pa nyid or mnyam nyid ('even', 'evenness' or 'sameness'). This famous doctrine of the rGyud gsang ba'i snying po, the basis of which involves realising all phenomena as primordially pure, is seen by some modern scholars (Karmay 1988: 11) as one of the historical roots of the rDzogs chen or Great Perfection mysticism of the rNying ma pa. A very similar kind of thinking pervades the entirety of TZComm, so that the various aspects of tantric ritual are consistently interpreted from this more inward or mystical viewpoint. In this respect, perhaps the author of TZComm can be seen as anticipating such views as those of Klong chen pa's famous commentary on the rGyud gsang ba'i snying po called Phyogs bcu'i mun sel, which interiorises Mahyoga and orients it towards a rDzogs chen view. In his Phyogs bcu'i mun sel, Klong chen pa refers to TZComm's Chapter Two on the samayas which need not be guarded, and he additionally cites TZ on a number of further occasions. Rong zom, whose views are seen by many to anticipate those of Klong chen pa, also offers citations from both TZ and TZComm. 12

9 Described in TZComm Chapter Twelve: 47r-49v (see summary below p.74-75 and text in the edition below p.293-296).

10 For the Tshogs chen 'dus pa, see Dharma Wr's version in the bDud 'joms bka' ma, volume Pha, p.376 ff; for the sGrub pa bka' brgyad cycles, see Nyang ral 1979-1980: Volume Ka: 132-134; and for the rGyud gsang ba'i snying po, see its Chapter Fifteen, mTshams brag edition of the NGB, volume Wa: 200.

11 See Rong zom, Chos kyi bzang po 1976: 490, where he begins this thor bu with the following statements: rgyud dang kalpa'i nang nas/ bstan par bya ba'i dngos po ni/ dam tshig dang/ dbang dang/ phrin las dang/ dkyil 'khor dang/ bsgom pa dang/ sngags dang/ phyag rgya dang/ dngos po 'di dgu khong khrar rgyud kun nas kyang 'byung na/ dngos po ming gdags par gsal ba ni/ tantra kun kyi mjug gi don 'phags pa thabs kyi zhags pa las 'byung ngo/.

12 Klong chen pa's discussion of Chapter One of the rGyud gsang ba'i snying po (bDud 'joms bka' ma volume La: 63; see also Dorje 1988: 393) has a citation which paraphrases some of TZComm's Chapter Two (see above, p.3). Klong chen pa's other references (bDud 'joms bka' ma volume La: 255, 279-280, 445-446, 488-489, 618-619), however, give lexically more precise citations from TZ's Chapters One, Five, Ten and the final words of Chapter Forty-two (see the notes to the relevant chapters of our editions of TZ and TZComm below for the quotations). In an incomplete text from his miscellaneous writings (thor bu), Rong zom (1976: 397-398) offers a citation from Chapter Two, which, like Klong chen pa's citation of a different part of Chapter Two, also parallels the commentary TZComm rather than the root text TZ. Elsewhere however, Rong zom (1976: 375,

The Textual Sources and their Significance


The evidence of TZComm suggests that in adopting such an outlook in his Phyogs bcu'i mun sel, which became so definitive for much of the later rNying ma pa, Klong chen pa was not innovating: on the contrary, such interpretations were current five hundred years before his time.

One example of how such interiorisation works in TZComm is the description of empowerment rites found in its Chapter Three. Usually, empowerments are described in terms of complex ritual procedures using various implements. But here, in the verse cited from the root text, Vairocana says to Vajrasattva, "Great Being, empowerments are obtained through the expressive power of one's own innate awareness." 13 The tiny marginal notes in the Dunhuang manuscript of TZComm observe, "Empowerment can be obtained both through ritual articles and through awareness. 14 Here, (it is) through the expressive power of awareness." 15 TZComm itself explains, "When one is aware of the sameness of all dharmas, (this) is called, obtaining empowerment through (one's own) natural qualities: that is what is meant." 16 After expounding further on this inward interpretation of empowerment, TZComm concludes with a citation attributed to a tantra that was to become a famous rNying ma scriptural title, the Rampant Elephant: (Glang po rab 'bog):

'Not indeed from anywhere within the worlds of the ten directions / Can the buddha be found to come;/ Since the buddha is the aware nature of mind/ Do not seek the buddha anywhere else.' 17

Another aspect of this interiorization process is TZComm's exegetical interpretation of all ostensibly pragmatic tantric rituals towards transcendental rather than mundane goals. Towards the end of TZ, for example, we find a series of short chapters on the four rites in which homa and phur pa rituals are used to achieve the apparently this-worldy goals of destroying, captivating, enriching and pacifying. But according to TZComm's exegesis, these four rites are not simply concerned with the outer performance of burnt offerings rites and liberating troublesome beings through striking an effigy with a phur pa and so on, but with the transformative power of the ritual in the path to enlightenment. Each phur pa comes to embody an aspect of understanding so that it can infuse the object of the rite with the realisation it exemplifies: for example, the wrathful phur pa is, "a single phur pa of [the nature of] mind", 18 and the pacifying phur pa is "the elemental nature's faultless essential pure awareness, the samdhi phur pa, so it pacifies everything through its natural qualities". 19 At the end of each of the chapters on the four rites, the ritual description is concluded with a verse further glossing the meanings in unambiguously soteriological terms, attributed, as in the extract from the Rampant Elephant above, to various named rNying ma tantras. TZComm in this way cites or refers to a good number of other tantras, including several with titles corresponding to prominent members of the Eighteen Tantras of Mahyoga. However, we have not located the quoted passages in the extant scriptures of the same names, and it appears that they may not be intended as exact citations in any case (see below, Textual Analysis, Section f, p.84-86).

As indicated by our discussion of the empowerment rites above, the Dunhuang manuscript version of TZComm enjoys the added feature of copious marginal notes in a tiny handwriting, expanding on the commentary. These anonymous marginal annotations are a valuable source of historical data, and exist nowhere else, since the Tenjur versions of TZComm did not reproduce them. For example, they mention Wヂntigarbha on one occasion and three times speak of Sambhava or Padmasambhava, and in this and other

408) offers short lemmata from Chapter One, using words that coincide closely with the extant root text TZ. There is also a further apparent citation (1976: 392-393) we have not located within the extant versions of the Thabs zhags literature.

13 See our TZ edition for this statement: sems dpa' chen po dbang 'di dag ni rang gi rig pa'i rtsal gyis thob bo/.

14 Here and below, the annotation uses rigs, seemingly for rig. This is not uncommon in Dunhuang and other old texts. There are also some instances in the manuscript's main text (eg. below, 11v.6, where the Tenjur version gives rig).

15 dbang la yang yo byed kyis thob pa dang rigs pa thob pa gnyis la 'dir ni rigs pa'i rtsal gyis (11v.4).

16 chos thams cad mnyam pa nyid du rig pa na/ dbang rang bzhin gyis thob bo zhes bya ba'i don to/ (11v.5-6).

17 /glang po las kyang // phyogs bcu 'i 'jig rten gang nas kyang / /sangs rgyas rnyed par yong myi 'gyur/ /rig pa'i sems nyid sangs rgyas te//sangs rgyas gzhan du ma tshol cig / zhes 'byung ba lta bu 'o/ (12r.6-12v.1).

18 sems kyi phur pa gcig (64v).

19 chos nyid ma nor par rig pa nyid ting nge 'dzIn gyi phur pa yin te/ thams cad rang bzhin gyis zhi bar 'gyur (75v-76r).



ways (see below p.87, 95-98) help to shed light on the pre-history of the rNying ma tradition. In particular, they make it unambiguously clear that the Thabs zhags literature was seen by the annotator as specifically associated with Padmasambhava. We can only estimate that they were copied into the Dunhuang manuscript 20 in the mid to late tenth century, but the dating of Dunhuang texts remains too primitive to permit any real certainty. In short, the Dunhuang manuscript of TZComm adds considerable weight to the evidence for substantial representatives of what we now call rNying ma Mahyoga being already present before the Dunhuang caves were closed, or even earlier: for our stemmatic analysis shows that a Tibetan archetype of the root text, which we have sought to restore in our edition, must pre-date the Dunhuang manuscript. 21 But such continuity is hardly surprising, since TZ itself still exists within the NGB, and most of TZComm still survives in the Tenjur, even if somewhat neglected.

However, it is worth pointing out that there are some uncertainties in the exact list of deities in all surviving versions of the texts. TZ seems to have some inconsistencies between its mantra list for the peaceful deities in Chapter 9, and its mudrlist in Chapter 10, which moreover, appears not to be entirely complete nor in the most logical order throughout. TZComm to some extent fills in the gaps in the deity lists, especially in Chapter 7 for the peaceful ma凹縁ala and in Chapters 12 and 13 for the wrathful ma凹縁ala. Yet it also adds slightly to the confusion, suggesting some names for the peaceful deities which seem at odds to those given in the mantra and/or mudrlists, and seeming to introduce a few further inconsistencies of its own (see the Appendix below for tables of the principal deities). In both surviving versions, TZComm's Chapter 13, which specifies the female deities of the wrathful ma凹縁ala, appears to be rather corrupt in parts, and includes further female deities without specifying quite how they fit with those presumed to be the main set (assuming that the usual consorts and female attendants of the ten Wrathful Deities [khro bo bcu] are intended to constitute the principal wrathful females, an assumption consistent with Chapter 12's list of the male deities). Furthermore, Chapter 11 – which also in other respects does not fit entirely comfortably with the text as a whole (see e.g. below, p.39 note 7) – lists further wrathful female deities not included in Chapter 13. We cannot be sure, but a possible contributory reason for the later rNying ma pas' relatively lower level of interest in the Thabs zhags tradition, in comparison with, say, that of the rGyud gsang ba'i snying po, might be these uncertainties and corruptions in the texts inherited by the tradition. 22

The Dunhuang Manuscript as a valuable source from the 'Time of Fragments' Perhaps nowhere in the Buddhist world do questions of the production and reception of texts, of textual and cultural translation, and of the historical transmission of Buddhism across time and place, appear so fascinating yet more obscure and less understood, than in the occasion of the early transmission of Tantric Buddhism to Tibet. This is because for a crucial period of one hundred and fifty years, from the mid-ninth to the start of the eleventh century, much of the Tibetan historical record was obliterated, within a period of civil war and the collapse of the Tibetan state.

We know a little more about what happened before that disaster. Although refracted and patchy, we do possess some historical records of the efforts of Tibetan emperors to introduce Buddhism to their country between the eighth century and the mid-ninth century, in what is traditionally termed the early diffusion of Buddhism in Tibet (snga dar). We have sources describing their invitation of famous foreign Buddhist masters to Tibet, including Wヂntarakita, KamalaX┇la and many others. Likewise we have sources for their Imperially sponsored Buddhist foundations, their huge official translation and lexicographic projects, and the

20 We present evidence below (see p. 32-33) which suggests that they were copied from a previous exemplar.

21 This is because the Dunhuang version already incorporates indicative scribal errors shared by the Tshal pa Kanjur and Bhutanese NGB versions, but avoided by the texts of the South Central NGB and the local Kanjurs (see Textual Analysis, Section d below, especially p.50-54).

22 These uncertainties remain even today, when modern reprographic technologies facilitate such easy comparison of multiple witnesses, such as the Dunhuang manuscript, and the local Kanjur versions that originate from such far flung regions of Tibet. TZ's textual problems might have seemed even more intractable in the past, before such technologies existed.

The Textual Sources and their Significance


way they handled some of the controversies following the introduction of the foreign religion to Tibet. Yet after the mid-ninth century, when the three great empires of the Tang, the Uighurs and the Tibetans simultaneously suffered political calamity, our historical record in Tibet becomes much thinner. Tibet enters its notorious 'time of fragments' (sil bu'i dus) – and for around one hundred and fifty years we know very little about what went on.

However, when the historical record picks up again with the so-called later diffusion of Buddhism to Tibet at the turn of the eleventh century (phyi dar), we seem to encounter a country transformed. The evidence suggests that Tibet had entered the 'time of fragments' with Buddhism still working to institutionalise itself at a grass roots level, but it seems to have emerged as a country more or less predominantly Buddhist at all levels. Tibet entered the 'time of fragments' as a disintegrating empire ruled by martial aristocratic clans, but emerged one hundred and fifty years later with old and new leading families alike striving to project themselves as a religious aristocracy. As Samten Karmay has observed (1988: 9), it had entered the 'time of fragments' as a country where the state actively propagated exoteric Buddhism, but severely restricted, curtailed and some would say even outlawed the translation and practice of the more radical types of esoteric tantric Buddhism that used kplika imagery; it emerged from the period as a country overwhelmingly dominated by such radical forms of tantric Buddhism, with a substantial associated tantric literature, both indigenous and translated. It had entered the 'time of fragments' with no single religious specialist identified as the national patron guru; it emerged from the period with a cult and legend of Padmasambhava as a national patron guru clearly developing. It had entered the 'time of fragments' with nothing much resembling the clerical Bon religion of today; yet shortly after the period, we find the present form of the Bon religion beginning to emerge. 23

It appears that arguably the most significant transformations in Tibetan history occurred within a one hundred and fifty year period for which we have only the slenderest record of events. Moreover, the transformations of this period established fundamental cultural patterns of great importance that still persist:

this was truly a formative period in Tibetan history, out of which came the highly influential rNying ma or "Ancient Tantra" school, with its hereditary tantric lineages, its powerful cult of Padmasambhava, and the Mahyoga, Anuyoga and Atiyoga tantric systems that remain so hugely popular to this day. In this context, it is interesting to note that the social-historical origins of the Yoganiruttara or Yogintantras favoured by the Tibetan New Translation schools is equally obscure. Although hugely influential to this day, we know very little about the conditions or circumstances of their production south of the Himalayas at a time not distant to, and under conditions of political decline not entirely different from the sil bu'i dus in Tibet. 24

In many popular discussions of Tibet's conversion to Buddhism, terminological confusion arises through an unreflective and simplistic use of the Tibetan terms, snga dar and phyi dar. Especially if not analysed too carefully, Tibetan historians seem to speak of only two main phases of Buddhist dissemination: a late eighth to mid-ninth century Imperially sponsored snga dar, and a late tenth to eleventh century phyi dar beginning with the new translations of Smtijñnakrti and Rin chen bzang po. In much traditional writing, rNying ma tantras are primarily linked with Padmasambhava and the associated Imperial period and counted as snga dar. But this can become an occasional source of confusion, with some voices inaccurately allocating the first proliferation of the rNying ma tantras to a snga dar understood as late eighth to mid-ninth century, and some other voices equally inaccurately allocating it to a phyi dar understood as late tenth to eleventh century.

23 Jacob Dalton (2011: 5-8) discusses the sil bu'i dus as a culturally creative period which later came to symbolise chaos and darkness, in contrast to the Imperial glory which preceded it. This characterisation is generally apt, although it is also true that rNying ma pa historians were not wholly negative about the period, retaining some positive memories of the continuity of their lineages throughout the era.

24 This point point is made very clearly by Péter-Dániel Szántó in his description of 'The Dark Ages in India', the opening section of his article, "Before a Critical Edition of the Sampua", in Cüppers, Mayer and Walter forthcoming. The most sustained attempt so far to investigate or speculate about the social-historical origins of the Yogintantras is Ronald Davidson 2002.



The evidence found so far suggests that even though such kplika-style texts did exist in India at the time of Khri Srong lDe'u btsan (Sanderson 2009: 145ff.) and so might have been then translated into Tibetan in some restricted manner, the widespread proliferation and popularisation of what we now call rNying ma tantras came later. It began either towards the very end of empire (we have little direct evidence for this, but the possibility cannot be discounted), or, more certainly, in the hundred and fifty years after the fall of empire, for which we have plentiful evidence from Dunhuang. This means it actually occured after the snga dar as popularly defined, but before the phyi dar as popularly defined. The rNying ma tantra's first proliferation could be said to be located in the snga dar only if one clearly understood the snga dar to persist in full flood continuously up to the late tenth century; but some do not interpret it that way, instead implying the real snga dar to be co-terminous only with the late Empire, and wrongly seeing the post-Imperial century and a half as

a chaotic 'time of fragments' (sil bu'i dus), in which no such major cultural proliferation could have

happened. The mistake here is perhaps a failure to understand that religious culture, and especially tantric religious culture, can genuinely flourish in politically chaotic conditions. It might have been more felicitous for some purposes if the Tibetan chos 'byung authors of the past had instead adopted a three-part convention, counting the rNying ma tantras' first widespread dissemination as a bar dar, a third and culturally distinctive middle phase of Buddhist expansion falling between snga dar and phyi dar, and which gathered steam during the sil bu'i dus. But the first priority of Tibetan historians was to connect the rNying ma tantras with Padmasambhava and other famous personalities of Khri Srong lDe'u btsan's reign, so that they were more conspicuously concerned with the putative Imperial first seeds of rNying ma tantrism than with its historically very late-Imperial, or more verifiably post-Imperial, development and proliferation. One should add, learned traditional historiography could be far more complex than any such simplistic snga darphyi dar binary. Dudjom Rinpoche, for example, systematically divides the rNying ma propagation into three periods in his Chos 'byung, in saying that the rNying ma tantric teachings "fell first to gNyags, fell to gNubs during the intermediate period, and fell to Zur in the end" (Dudjom 1991: 599). 25 Several authors even

employed the term bar dar, although with a number of quite different meanings, and perhaps few if any in the exact sense that we discuss here.

In the last few years, following the digitisation and wider distribution in usable form of a significant proportion of the archaeologically recovered Dunhuang Tibetan texts, some evidence from the obscure sil bu'i dus is beginning to become more easily available. Yet this too has inherent limits. Current scholarship

believes that internal textual clues can help locate a few of these documents (such as the Annals) to the Imperial period, and a few others, such as PT 849, to the late tenth century (Kapstein 2006: 10-17). Yet given the currently still preliminary nature of Tibetan palaeographic scholarship, it remains beyond our capability accurately to locate the bulk of the Dunhuang tantric texts to precise decades within the long stretch of the 'time of fragments', so that in the absence of clear evidence, it is hard to draw conclusions about tantric developments through this important period. It is currently suggested by some scholars that the Dunhuang manuscript collections came from a storehouse of the Three Realms (Sanjie) Monastery. Rong Xinjiang reports that in the tenth century, a monk of this monastery named Daozhen collected considerable additions

to his monastery's library stocks, so that a proportion of the Dunhaung texts might originate from Daozhen's

efforts (Rong Xinjiang 2000; see also Takeuchi, forthcoming). However, the store also contained earlier materials, from the time of the Tibetan occupation of Dunhuang and throughout the intervening period. Yoshiro Imaeda discusses a number of features of the history of the collection, but like many other scholars, emphasises how little we know about the provenance of the various documents (Imaeda 2008). The library cave contained texts from a very long period, from Imperial times until the eleventh century, and moreover, documents were removed in the early twentieth century without proper records of which part of the cave they came from, so unfortunately, we can never know. Hence we need to exercise caution in fixing dates for manuscripts with no clear clues. In addition, even if we were able to date them all accurately, the Dunhuang

25 Dudjom Rinpoche understood gNubs to have lived for 111 years, beginning as a direct student of Padmasambhava, and continuing 37 years beyond the death of Glang dar ma (Dudjom 1991: 607-614).

The Textual Sources and their Significance


texts at best comprise a partial and possibly unrepresentative sample of the total manuscript corpus of their time, moreover all taken from a single multi-ethnic location, situated at a geographical and political extremity of the Tibetan cultural world.

Nevertheless, despite such limitations, the Dunhuang documents are quite extensive, and do offer our best available sources for understanding an extraordinarily important period in Tibetan history. On the horizon are other promising sources, the most important of which are the great volume of so far largely unread contemporaneous Tang dynasty Chinese sources describing Tibet and the Tibetans, as well as the findings of ongoing largely Chinese archaeological excavations within Tibet. 26 Of the Dunhuang sources, however, there is no doubt that the manuscript of TZComm we examine in this book is an exceptionally fine specimen. It offers possibly our best and certainly our most sustained window into the early doctrinal world of the tantric systems that were later to be known as rNying ma pa. Moreover, depending on the date of the original composition, it potentially offers a comparatively early window into the initial phases of the type of radical Buddhist Tantrism that was eventually to become dominant in Tibet, in which skull-bearing cemetery- dwelling kplika symbolism was prominently employed.

26 The huge quantity of unexplored Tang dynasty sources that could shed some light on Tibet in this period are described by Bianca Horlemann in her article, "Tang Dynasty (618–907). Sources for Tibetan Empire Studies: A Bibliographic Essay", in Cüppers, Mayer and Walter, forthcoming. The extraordinary potential of archaeological excavations for elucidating this period is made clear in the contributions to the same volume of Guntram Hazod, "The Plundering Of The Tibetan Royal Tombs: An Analysis of the Event in the Context of the Uprisings in Central Tibet of the 9th/10th Century", and of Amy Heller, "Observations on Painted Coffin Panels from Tibetan Tombs". A more comprehensive review can be found in the PhD dissertation of Tao Tong 2008.

A Summary of the Salient Points of our work on the Thabs zhags Textual Tradition

First, scrutiny of the textual variants of the twenty-one different versions of TZ we consulted exposed four distinctive textual groupings and four unique single witnesses. One of the textual groupings, and three of the single witnesses, descend unproblematically from an archetypal TZ text, it would appear quite independently of one another. These direct descendants of an archetypal TZ text are the three surviving witnesses of the South Central NGB recension, and the local Kanjurs of Tawang, Hemis and Bathang. We can deduce that two further textual groupings of TZ descended from a word-by-word commentarial text that contained the root text as lemmata, that is, they extracted TZ from a version of TZComm that had contained TZ as lemmata. The first of these comprises the eight Tshal pa Kanjur texts (which here must include the sDe dge xylograph NGB because it re-used the woodblocks of the sDe dge Kanjur), and the second comprises the four Bhutanese NGB manuscripts.

A fourth textual grouping and a fourth single witness have still retained their full commentarial character and

are thus witnesses to the root text only through the lemmata they contain: these are the three extant witnesses

to the Tenjur redaction of TZComm, and the single witness Dunhuang manuscript TZComm.

Second, analysis of the patterns of indicative errors within these four textual groupings and four single witnesses resulted in a stemma codicum that felicitously had more than two lines descending directly from the archetype, a necessary condition for the application of stemmatic reasoning to arbitrate between conflicting readings. The analysis also offered clear evidence for the existence of two hypearchetypes, and weaker evidence for the possible existence of a third. (i) A variety of errors and other readings shared between the Tenjur, Dunhuang manuscript, Tshal pa Kanjur, and Bhutanese texts indicated that these

witnesses must all descend from a common ancestor not shared by any of the others, which we designated hypearchetype b. Thus when taken together, these four constitute a major branch of the transmission, united

in error against the South Central NGB and the three local Kanjur texts. (ii) The Dunhuang manuscript, Tshal

pa Kanjur, and Bhutanese NGB versions share indicative errors, notably a significant accidental loss of text

in the final section of Chapter Ten, which does not afflict the Tenjur, nor the South Central NGB, Tawang,

Hemis and Bathang witnesses. The material in question is necessary to TZ, so that even prior to our belated collations of Tawang, Hemis and Bathang, it was already evident that the South Central redaction could not have simply added the passage as an expansion. With this and other indicative errors, we can infer hypearchetype c, common ancestor of the Dunhuang manuscript, Tshal pa Kanjur, and Bhutanese NGB versions, and itself a descendant of hypearchetype b. (iii) A third possible hypearchetype is d, which, if it existed, was a version of TZComm from which descended the Tshal pa and Bhutanese versions of TZ. But the crucial point arising from stemmatic analysis is that we have five separate branches descending directly and independently from the archetype: hypearchetype b, the South Central NGB editions, Hemis, Tawang and Bathang. Through their testimony, we can by logical deduction identify many readings with a high probability of their having been in the archetype.

It is perhaps instructive to reflect on one of the implications of this second point above: contrary to popular expectation, the Dunhuang manuscript does not represent a pristine ancient version avoiding all the scribal errors accumulated through centuries of copying since the eleventh century sealing of the Dunhuang cave library. On the contrary, repeated cycles of copying have also left their damaging mark on the Dunhuang manuscript itself. It has its own unique errors, such as the accidental loss of passages of root text lemmata found in all other versions, and the misplacement of other passages, presumably the result of disarranged folios during a previous copying. Moreover, as noted above, it shares many errors, including a major omission, with some of the more popular extant witnesses of TZ, yet these errors are avoided by other more obscure witnesses in the form of the South Central NGB and the local Kanjur texts. So for those who may doubt the antiquity of the rNying ma tantras, it is worth reflecting not only on the self-evident external evidence, namely that the existence of the Dunhuang manuscript demonstrates that TZ and TZComm must date from some point prior to this late tenth or early eleventh century copy. One must in addition reflect on

Salient Points on the Thabs zhags Textual Tradition


the historical and also bibliographical implications of the internal evidence, which now shows that a less- favoured branch of the extant NGB transmission, and some decidedly obscure local Kanjurs, are in many ways our most reliable surviving witnesses, reproducing readings from a source older still than the Dunhuang manuscript's two deducible error-bearing ancestors b and c. The ancestor of the South Central NGB and local Kanjur texts was therefore as yet untainted by the combined transmissional faults of b and c, which the Dunhuang manuscript shares with the more popular extant editions such as the sDe dge NGB, Tshal pa Kanjur and Bhutanese NGB. We have no certain way of dating this earlier Tibetan version of TZ (which is of course our archetype a). Although it is not logically possible to draw temporal conclusions of any reliable historical significance purely from transmissional evidence, the layering and density of transmissional errors already accumulated in b and c and hence already reflected in the tenth or eleventh century Dunhuang manuscript, render it eminently possible (albeit unprovable) that a goes back a long way, perhaps even as far as the Imperial period. It is worth adding that the South Central NGB may transpire not only to represent a transmission established in a specific regional area. It is possible that its original source may have been a rDo rje Brag manuscript, or even one from sMin grol gling, and thus could have been much more culturally central than might be supposed from the currently known extant witnesses.

Third, it has also been possible to recover significant sections of TZComm lost or misplaced in one of its two extant versions but found in the other: the Dunhuang manuscript has proven invaluable in restoring long sections lost from the Tenjur versions, while conversely, some much smaller but still significant omissions and misplacements in the Dunhuang manuscript can be recovered from the Tenjur.

Fourth, although TZComm incorporates the entirety of TZ as lemmata, it is not always clear or consistent in marking these lemmata as such. A little unexpectedly to us, it further transpired that this fuzzy demarcation between lemmata and commentary within the body of TZComm eventually issued into significant differences between the three currently most popular recensions of TZ itself, namely the Tshal pa Kanjur (including the sDe dge NGB), the Bhutanese NGB, and the South Central NGB. As we have intimated above, investigation revealed that both the Tshal pa Kanjur and the Bhutanese NGB derived from separate efforts to extract or reconstruct TZ from out of TZComm. Yet because the lemmata were not clearly demarcated, their redactors made different decisions at various points about what was root text and what was commentary. Thus, the Tshal pa Kanjur version has some erroneously lengthened sections where their redactor mistook parts of TZComm as TZ. The Bhutanese NGB recension likewise both adds and omits materials at different points. The South Central NGB recension by contrast is descended from an archetypal TZ and was never confused in reconstruction from TZComm. The contrasting decisions about which passages of TZComm constituted the lemmata account for all significant recensional differences between these three currently popular versions of TZ. Virtually all other variations are transmissional in nature, purely scribal errors afflicting one version or the other, or minor spelling corrections and so forth. Furthermore, although we have been able to conclude through stemmatic analysis that it is the South Central NGB and three local Kanjur recensions which accurately reflect the original boundaries of TZ, it would have been hard or impossible to adjudicate between the different recensions in this way without stemmatic analysis: were it not for stemmatics, the different recensions of TZ would all ostensibly offer equally good or bad claims. Yet such unresolvable indeterminacy in itself offers a valuable clue to understanding the manner in which the rNying ma textual tradition has existed over the centuries, and how it can accommodate a certain level of variation within its texts across their different recensions and editions.

Fifth, the statements found in the Dunhuang manuscript suggesting its strong connection with Padmasambhava invited a comparative study with the Man ngag lta phreng (Pith Instructions on the Garland of Views), the one work which modern scholars see as credibly attributable to Padmasambhava. Our comparative study showed no indication that the texts were by the same author. Perhaps more interestingly, what we do find in the Dunhuang manuscript's mentions of Padmasambhava is an early association of the figure of Padmasambhava at the highest level of the Mahyoga transmission, not simply as



a human scholar composing a commentarial work, but rather as a realised being, in some ways recognisable from the later gter ma traditions.

Finally, the Dunhuang manuscript of TZComm is one of the most valuable items in the British Library's Stein collection. It is a fortunate and remarkable textual survival, portraying a highly developed Mahyoga system from post-Imperial Tibet. Its teachings claim to derive from Padmasambhava's tradition. In them, we find a detailed exposition of tantrism as a path to enlightenment, doctrinally similar to the rGyud gsang ba'i snying po, and striking in the way it turns even the ostensibly most worldly of rites towards a soteriological purpose. We hope our edition of it might stimulate some interest in a more popular re-appropriation of this remarkable text, as happened with the Saghヂをastra following Prof Giotto Canevascini's edition (1993) of the Gilgit manuscript. We are gratified to hear word of its inclusion in a forthcoming redaction of the rNying ma bKa' ma. 1

1 As yet we have no confirmation or details, but we understand that the Dunhuang manuscript version of TZComm may be included in a new bKa' ma apparently being compiled in Eastern Tibet.

e) A Summary of The Commentary on A Noble Noose of Methods, the Lotus Garland Synopsis ('Phags pa thabs kyi zhags pa pad ma 'phreng gi don bsdus pa'i 'grel pa)

Chapter 1 The Two Truths TZComm begins with a twofold classification of the Mahyna spiritual path, as consisting of the Vehicle of Characteristics, involving bodhisattva conduct, spanning a period of three aeons, and the Vajra Vehicle, involving the Secret Mantra, and bringing realisation in this lifetime. In this Vajra Vehicle, all dharmas are subsumed under the three ma凹縁alas and the total purification of all objects and domains of experience brings the enlightened qualities. The text title is glossed in terms of the features of the Vajra Vehicle: Noble since it indicates accomplishment in one lifetime, and the Buddha's own practice; Noose since it represents the non- abandonment of sasra, and Methods since evil beings are liberated through its great compassionate action. In the image of the Lotus Garland, Lotus symbolises wisdom and Garland symbolises methods. Synopsis indicates that it represents a summary of all the key scriptural sources. The root text begins with Vajrasattva offering to Vairocana and Vairocana teaching in response the sameness of all outer and inner dharmas, summed up in the two truths. The commentary elaborates that ultimate truth is the primary cause without essential nature, so that all dharmas arise without characteristics, while relative truth is the result, since they appear like an illusion, as a creative display. With this understanding, everything becomes pure, and all activities become the Two Accumulations. However much one may be immersed in all phenomena, understanding the ultimate cause prevents the two kinds of obscuration, so this is the Accumulation of Primordial Wisdom, while the immersion itself constitutes the Accumulation of Merit. The root text states that by means of the vajra of even awareness, the ten bodhisattva levels are unified in evenness. The commentary explains how each of the bodhisttva perfections are to be practised with this view. Since one does not fall into habitual tendencies while immersed in phenomena, one is endowed with the fruits of the Perfection of Giving. Since one has pure awareness of the karma of defilements as none other than complete purity, this is the Perfection of Ethics. Having patience towards dharmas and not becoming defiled even during conflicts, is the Perfection of Patience. Being aware of the four aspects of the conduct in everyday life as the Accumulations of Merit and Wisdom, is the Perfection of Effortless Diligence. The Perfection of Absorption is maintaining awareness of the five senses as the five family buddhas and the five sense objects as their five consorts, and that there is no movement from the dharmadhtu even when the mind is agitated, so that through a Vajra-like Samdhi, everything is entered into without obstruction. Awareness that the dharmas of sasra in which one is immersed, and those of nirvヂ凹a are not different, is the Perfection of Wisdom. Being aware of all defiled dharmas as the utterly pure dharmas, the purposes of self and others and liberation are achieved. This is the Perfection of Skilful Methods. Awareness that oneself and the enlightened are not different, and that all fields of experience and activity are utterly pure, is the Perfection of Aspiration. Since being aware that sasra and defiled action are nothing other than nirvヂ凹a and complete purification, the suppression of sasra and defilement is the Perfection of the Buddha powers. Having realised that the person and dharmas have no self, so being aware that the habitual tendencies do not even have their own essence, and not moving from such a primordial wisdom awareness at any time is the Perfection of Primordial Wisdom. The fruits of these are that the ten bodhisattva levels can be perfected instantaneously in this very life.

The results of virtuous and sinful actions are not nonexistent, but just as a light appearing within darkness, so dark thoughts dissipate naturally when the light has come. By awareness of all phenomena in their sameness nature, they are accomplished as buddha. There are four aspects of sameness: 1. the sameness of the outer world's five objects and the Tathgatas; 2. The sameness of the inner mental consciousnesses and the five primordial wisdoms; 3. The sameness on the relative level of the senses and their objects, and their mode as male and female deities; 4. Their ultimate sameness in their birthless and deathless mode. Without these awarenesses, non-virtuous actions make you fall into lower realms. Without awareness, the buddha fields may be seen as the hells, but with awareness, the hells are seen as buddha fields. If one is aware of the sameness of all dharmas, then virtuous and sinful dharmas are the same, and

A Summary of The Commentary


arise as the accumulations of merit and wisdom. lifetime, the state of omniscience is achieved.

If one engages in everything, in sameness, then in this very

The pleasures of the five senses are the natural qualities of the five kinds of offerings. Desire is the Buddha Body of Supreme Enjoyment. Hatred, rage and wrath are the power of great compassion. If conjoined with emptiness, without self, sentient beings' distorted behaviours can be joined with the truth of non-duality. Since emanations are sent forth, hatred is the Emanation Body. Since all dharmas are encompassed within complete non-conceptuality, delusion is the Dharmakya. Therefore, by not abandoning the three poisons, they become the three Buddha Bodies; this is the short path.

Even if one were to work only on abandoning defilements, there are one hundred and ninety-eight of them. Having abandoned these, one would achieve the fruit of the Arhat level. Then, having abandoned the primordial defilement of what is to be known, through countless aeons, one will become a buddha. In this way, like the Wrvakas, one may see the defiled and the pure dharmas separately. Yet if one is aware of the utterly defiled phenomena as without self nature, they are completely pure, and there is no abandonment. The level of omniscience is attained in a single moment. There is no need to tarry for a future buddha – there will be accomplishment in this life.

Chapter 2 The Samayas The root text says: "Delusion, hatred, pride, desire and jealousy: are the code of commitments in which there is nothing to guard against; they are the samayas which are vajra." Delusion is the samaya of Vairocana: it lacks any abandonment of ignorance, and lacks any accomplishment of awareness, for they are both of one taste in the dharmat. Hatred is the samaya of Akobhya, because it tames all beings, even though not moving from the dharmadhtu. Pride is the samaya of Ratnasambhava, because it is enduringly fixed in being aware of the truth of the sameness of dharmas. Desire is the samaya of Amitbha, because it is determined to bring everything under its power. Jealousy is the samaya of Amoghasiddhi, jealous in resenting the sending out of virtue and sin, when the sameness of dharmas is not realised. In short, if one enters into the sameness of dharmas, and becomes endowed with self-aware primordial wisdom, there is nothing to guard or not to guard. But if this is not accomplished, and one lacks the primordial wisdom sameness in the mind, but does not guard samaya, then one arrives in the deepest of the hells.

The major samayas are the three aspects of purity, the five samayas, the five sacred foods, the samayas of the absence of virtue and sin within phenomena, and of the lack of purity and impurity in foods. If these samayas are unimpaired, then even if one engages in the five evils or poisons, one is not tainted by their faults. This is the body vajra. Even if one says various things with the speech, one is untainted, and this is the speech vajra. Being aware in this way is the mind vajra.

Chapter 3 Empowerment The root text states: "these empowerments are obtained through the expressive power of one's own innate awareness." Through the three ma凹縁alas, when one is aware of the sameness of all dharmas, this is known as obtaining empowerment through one's own natural qualities.

Means and wisdom are the great empowerments, so the root text instructs that vajra and bell are to be held with awareness, and thus, all the dharmas of nirvヂ凹a and sasra are mastered. The male head of the family is skilful means, the sambhogakya, while the female head is wisdom, the dharmakya. The bodhicitta arisen from their consecration is the nirmヂ凹akya. This is the empowerment of the three buddha bodies. The vajra, the sign of means, is to engage in all phenomena. The bell, the sign of wisdom, is awareness of all phenomena as illusory. Hence, all the phenomena of sasra and nirvヂ凹a, are engaged in and brought under control. The Glang po is cited: "Since the buddha is the aware nature of mind, do not seek the buddha anywhere else."


Textual Analysis

Chapter 4 Offering It is crucial to understand "the supreme sacred offering". Because all enlightened and ordinary beings partake of the dharmadhtu sameness, the yogin who is aware that they are not separate and not differentiated, constantly engages in the five desirable sensual enjoyments. Through gratifying oneself, all the noble ones are delighted; and by consecrating sasra in this way, all sentient beings also become liberated and blissful. Thus should the yogin perform offerings at all times.

In performing the burnt offerings rite, with the samdhi that the noble ones and oneself are inseparable, through the five seed syllables within one's own body, transformed into the celestial palace, the noble ones are clearly visualised seated in the middle. The mouth is the homa fire offering pit, the tongue is the chief deity, along with his emanations, and the hands are the homa's vajra ladles. Since one is endowed with the mind of a noble one, one will be unmistaken as the almighty deity, so in this way, the food offering, adorned by embellishments, should be made.

Chapter 5 The Samdhi maズゐala To explain the opening of the three ma凹縁alas, the root text says: "Transcending the [eleventh bodhisattva] level of universal light, becoming the Lotus-Eyed [Buddha], by means of the great consecration of awareness, the naturally existent maカれala (rang bzhin dkyil 'khor) absorbs and emanates". The dharmakya abides all-pervasively. Then by the consecration of effortless awareness, it is like self-arisen light, radiating and re-absorbing. Arisen from the dharmakya consecration and absorbed into it again, the ma凹縁ala abides with its own natural expression without any characteristics. Thus, the root text continues:

"Endowed with the [thirteenth bodhisattva level of] the assembled wheel of syllables, the major and minor [buddha] marks all emanate from it. It is endowed with those whose forms are ravenous and fierce, and with the swift males and females as messengers".

The five buddhas arise from the five syllables, and the five female buddhas arise from the five primordial wisdom objects, and so too arise the sixteen male and sixteen female bodhisattvas, their total number of thirty-two related to the major buddha marks. Each of the sixteen bodhisattvas has a diadem of the five families, and these five times sixteen amount to a total of eighty, which are connected to the minor buddha marks. The male and female wrathful deities are fierce towards the extremes of eternalism and nihilism. The messengers go everywhere without going, indicating they are no different from the dharmadhtu. Since they are all self-arisen, with no exertion, this is called the naturally existent maカれala (rang bzhin kyi dkyil 'khor).

The root text describes this as, "the vital seed vajra (thig le rdo rje)". Here, vital seed is the dharmadhtu. Vajra is the mode of appearing as the male and female deities. The deep meaning is that it is what is known as the vajradhtu maカれala. This samdhi maカれala brings realisation of the absence of self within the person. The yogin, without needing effort, realises whatever arises as the expressions of these male and female deities.

Chapter 6 The Representational maズゐala The root text asserts that the five elements are the tathgatas, and that moreover, each of the five are within each one. The commentary elaborates that space is Vairocana, earth is Akobhya, water (or fire) is Ratnasambhava, fire (or water) is Amitbha, while air is Amoghasiddhi. Also, earth on its own has hardness, cohesion, heat, and mobility, and each of the five are latent within space. The other elements can be understood similarly. Body is the form realm, speech is the desire realm, and mind is the formless realm. Body is the sambhogakya, mind is the dharmakya, and speech is the nirmヂ凹akya.

by the mantra

and mudrempowerment, one's entire field of experience becomes the maカれala". Since the Tathgata and oneself are not separate, there is no need to invite the Buddha from elsewhere. All speech is mantra, so there

The root text says: "the five wisdoms and the five classes of beings are indistinguishable

A Summary of The Commentary


is no special reciting of essence mantras. Moving the body is the ritual mudr, so there is no need to uphold mudrs. The mantra and mudrs are empowered by the creative power of the pure primordial wisdom awareness of this great self identity.

The five faculties are the five male consorts, while their five objects are the five female consorts. The body is Vairocana. The eye is Akobhya. The ear is Amitbha. The nose is Ratnasambhava. The tongue is Amoghasiddhi. All forms are Vajralsy(Vajra Charm); all sounds are Vajragt(Vajra Melody); all smells are Vajraml(Vajra Garland); all tastes are Vajranty(Vajra Dance); all touchables are Samantabhadr.

The term for the ma凹縁ala, the Assembled Centre and Circle (tshogs kyi dkyil 'khor) is glossed as follows. Everything is gathered together and assembled through the consecration of oneself, so it is an assembly. It is called, centre since everything emanates from one's own mind, and since all the primordial wisdoms are emanated from the pure dharmat. With pure awareness, dharmas and mind become the same, so everything is said to be centred in the mind. The reason it is called, circle, is because primordial wisdom, without centre or circumference, is within everything, actively pervading and perfecting it.

Applying the technique of recognising the complete purity of the various aspects of the mind and consciousness, they become the five primordial wisdoms and the five buddha families. [The Tenjur version of this section is quite differently worded from the Dunhuang manuscript version, and seems rather more coherent (see TZComm edition p.254-255), but following this passage, it then omits all the next text, up until the final section of Chapter Ten.]

"Bodhicitta is the supreme siddhi." Without bodhicitta, even if one attains the divine superknowledges, there will be no siddhis of the Buddha, nor understanding of the dharmadhtu nature. Doubts are the dharmadhtu, so doubts are not cleared away. Since dharmas are not other than mental confusion, confusion itself is unborn, unmoving in the expanse of incomprehensible non-conceptuality.

The means unite indivisibly with the wisdom, and the seed syllables are surrounding. Offerings should be made to the lama. Uttering the appropriate mantras, and focusing on the syllables at the tip of the vajra and at the centre of the lotus, the lotus petals are parted. Moving with the triple h┤臆, inconceivable light emanates, and offerings are made to the Noble Ones. The bodhicitta flows down and is unified in the private place. The bliss of the dharmatsatisfies all sentient beings, thus bringing their benefit. The outer offering goddesses are the various sensations, while the four inner goddesses relate to the inner union. When the bodhicitta is produced, one meditates in absorption in the unborn, and on the mahmudrsamdhi. If the mind wanders, one meditates on the absorption and emanation of tiny vajras. Uniting in desire with the mahmudr, the bodhicitta's natural qualities are meditated on in the immanent reality of great bliss. Meditating within the samdhi of unborn bodhicitta is the dharmakya. The great bliss engendered through the bodhicitta's natural qualities, is the buddha body of merit. The absorption and emanation of tiny vajras is the nirmヂ凹akya. Spontaneously unifying the three buddha bodies, together with the goddesses, one becomes aware in a naturally non-conceptual manner.

Chapter 7 The characteristics of the deities and the stages of the Maズゐala's Array, the consecrations of the five principal males and the five principal females, the sixteen male and the sixteen female bodhisattvas The root text explains that the buddha bodies of the ma凹縁ala deities, in all their seemingly diverse appearances, are entirely like jewels, so that all enlightened purposes and deeds will be achieved by meditating on them. The commentary elaborates on the specifics of these deities of the peaceful ma凹縁ala. They consist of twenty-five male and twenty-five female deities, divided into five groups of five. Each group is headed by one of the five Buddhas (Vairocana, Akobhya, Ratnasambhava, Amitbha, Amoghasiddhi) and their consorts. These deities are embodied in the outer world and its beings, differentiated by family. The tathgata family is golden, the vajra family is white, the jewel family is blue,


Textual Analysis

the lotus family is red, and the karma family is green. They are "like jewels", since they are clear and blaze with light, with stunning colours and shapes. Their mudrs are the wheel for the tathgata family, the vajra for the vajra family, the jewel for the jewel family, the lotus for the lotus family, and the sword for the karma family.

If one meditates on means and wisdom combined, the three kinds of siddhis will be attained. The objects of the twenty-five primordial wisdoms are identical in their dharmadhtu character, yet arise separately. Depending on one another, the means and wisdoms combine, and are endowed with bodhicitta. Consecrated by primordial wisdom, the countless forms become one, while simultaneously, through awareness, becoming countless different buddha bodies. Their suchness clear and radiating, they resemble jewels.

The deities are placed on the body parts with mantra syllables, and sensual experiences are transformed in this way. Thus, Vairocana and his consort are uniting upon the head, and the four other pairs of their group are on the eyes, ears, nose and tongue. Awareness of the emptiness nature of the seed syllable, there is seeing in the mode of non-seeing, hearing in the mode of non-hearing, and so on, and in this manner, seeing is universally activated, and so too the other sensual perceptions. Associations of the seed syllables and their relationship to each other are given.

The vajra family deities are on the fingers of the right hand, with Akobhya in union with his consort upon the middle finger. The right hand of the noble person is forceful in everything, so it is the right hand which is used, since the male and female deities of the vajra family vanquish all opposing mras and all siddhis are received.

The left hand of the noble person assembles every need and enables one to hold to the sacred. Thus, on the middle finger is Ratnasambhava and his consort, with the other deities of the jewel family on the other fingers. The primordial wisdom of sameness is non-abiding, so for this reason it burns up abiding in views in terms of self.

Upon the middle toe of the left foot are Amitbha and his consort, and the other deities of the lotus family are on the other toes. The left foot of the noble person in a leaping posture is held stably. Likewise, the male and female deities of the padma family desire in the mode of desirelessness, and since this is made stable, it is the left foot.

Amoghasiddhi and his consort are upon the middle toe of the right foot, and the other pairs of deities of his family are on the other right toes. The right foot of the noble person in a leaping posture causes one to arrive at the other shore, and likewise these deities bring accomplishments.

Chapter 8 The accomplishment of siddhi The yogins and yogins realise the ultimate meaning of the three ma凹縁alas in their inseparable cause and effect. The yogins are meditated on as the twenty-five in the circle of the five buddhas, and the yogins are meditated on as the twenty-five in the circle of the five objects. Thus, the yogins generate joy. The smooth jewelled lotus circles are offered with bright beaming smiles, so that the joyful plunging vajras magnetically invoke clouds of bodhicitta. When the bodhicitta flows, it is offered to the deities of the ma凹縁ala with the exclamation, "a la la la ho!"

Many emanations are produced, and ritual activities of the four types are performed. With the mantras and mudrs of the buddha families, the buddha family deities' natural qualities are generated in the medicinal elixir, and creative seeds are produced in one's heart and in all the sense faculties. Drinking them in, the supreme siddhi is obtained. Ultimately, consecrated by the conjunction of awareness and the spatial field's nature, the arising of awareness which unmistakably realises the ultimate meaning is the bodhicitta and this is Vajrasattva. Through this, subject and object dualism is transcended and the thirteenth (bodhisattva) level

A Summary of The Commentary


is attained, the supreme siddhi. The sGron ma brtsegs pa is cited as saying: "The bodhicitta becomes the supreme siddhi, called, essential self-arisen awareness."

The root text continues: "The yogin, possessing the female vajra holders, bestows empowerment onto the garments and offering foods, the substances of accomplishment, and in consuming (them), (they) are transformed into the supreme siddhi". The offerings are made with the appropriate mantras and mudrs. As they are consumed, the siddhis of vajra longevity are obtained. This means that the non-conceptual dharmatis the buddha body. This essential nature is dressed in various appearances, and it appears within awareness. Within the thusness of awareness, materiality is vanquished and consumed.

Then the yogin possessing the female vajra holders, consecrates the sounds of the songs and words as the essence of buddha speech, and they are transformed into the supreme siddhi. The songs are heard in the ten directions of the world, and mras are subdued through splendour. This means that the spatial field of the inseparable male and female deities pervades everywhere and the awareness nature of the spatial field is the sound which is heard.

Then the yogins, meditating on the male and female deities, emanate out all the movements of dance and display in various light rays, and once again gather them in, meditating on the deities and their assembly blazing and turning into light, so that supreme siddhi is attained. In other words, when all the male and female deities are conjoining at one moment, even the individual families are indefinable. At once, the vajra also transforms into a precious jewel. Visualising the transformations blazing in amassed light, the realisation is the supreme siddhi.

Chapter 9 Mantras The mantras are given for all the peaceful deities described in Chapter 7. The mantras come forth from the buddha body, speech and mind vajras. First comes the mantra for Vairocana, then his accompanying four male deities, then Akobhya, with his four male bodhisattvas, and so on. Then there are the five female buddhas, followed by the list of female bodhisattva goddesses, starting with the four in the first group, continuing with those in the the second, third, fourth and fifth groups, and ending with four concluding mantras. Since the list is self-explanatory, the commentary adds little, although the Dunhuang manuscript's annotations attach the names of the deities to their mantras.

Chapter 10 Mudrs The root text makes the point that when one is actually the male and female deities, the body possessing them at the five limbs (as described in Chapter 7 above), every movement is mudr. Meditating on the hands as means and wisdom, the various hand mudrs are made. A description is given of all the mudrs for the peaceful ma凹縁ala, and as in Chapter 9, the commentary makes no elaboration. Following the opening mudrs, each mudris given a name which identifies the deity whose mudrit is. The list begins with the mudrs for the five buddhas, followed by those for the male bodhisattvas (apart from Vairocana's group), and then continues with the female deities in a slightly less obvious order. The first four appear to be for four of the principal females, and with some anomolies, the female bodhisattvas are given starting with the second group. The Dunhuang, Tshal pa Kanjur and Bhutanese texts have a shared omission at the end of this chapter (and the Tenjur only picks up the final lines following its omission of text starting in Chapter 6), but the South Central NGB and local Kanjur manuscripts (apart from Hemis, which is missing these folios) complete the list appropriately, although a few anomolies in the list as a whole remain (see the table of peaceful deities in the Appendix, and especially note 3).

Chapter 11

Throughout the vast reaches of the ten directions of the world, the incomparable five male and female deities' consecrations for accomplishment are infinite. The male and female bodhisattvas are now joined by male and female wrathful deities with great powers of sorcery, who protect the world. The great heart vows

Cutting off VidyMantras


Textual Analysis

of yore are expressed: since all and every world without exception is unified with the Conqueror's field, one aspires to unify with the mahmudr. Those possessing the sorcery of the great spiritual warriors are requested to consecrate one's noblest intentions for accomplishment through the consecration of great compassion. Prostrations are made to the buddha emanations unified with the three realms, and a samdhi called, "wrathful display" is entered for the purpose of dealing with the harm caused by evil mantras. It is explained that the tathgatas' body, speech and mind vajras already discussed will be effective.

Then the Victorious One entered into a samdhi called, "vajra weapon", and from his body, speech and mind vajras, secret mantras were emitted, weapons fell and Vajrapヂ凹i collapsed with his retinue. The Victorious One revived him and explained the rituals to accomplish this secret mantra in future times.

On a sun ma凹縁ala, the Great Glorious Blood-drinker is to be invited. He has a smokey coloured body, dark russet brown hair, three heads and six arms, and his heads are red, smokey coloured and black. In the three right hands, he wields a large corpse staff, a human skull-cup filled with blood, which he stirs with a vajra. In the three left hands, he holds a noose of corpse intestines, a huge garua hawk, and from the belly of a thin corpse, rips out and eats the internal organs. On the crown of his head, Vairocana himself is seated. Akobhya is on his right shoulder, Ratnasabhava on the left; Amoghasiddhi is on the right foot, and Amitbha on the left. 1

A vajra wheel is sent forth from the syllable bhru, and the vidymantras of the swift females are invoked to summon the evil spirits. An effigy is drawn, and singing vajra invocation songs, the messengers are commissioned. The evil vidymantras embodied in the effigy are put into a triangular homa container, fire is ignited, and the evil perpetrators are called up by waving the scarf. Their vidymantras are burnt. The carnivorous spirits come for the feast. There is a further ritual attack; singing and brandishing the vajra, the deities are dissolved into oneself. Then magical hybrid deities are summoned from the different directions, their mantras are given, gtor mas are offered and they are entrusted with action. A variation on the visualisation of the deity is given for destructive action. Then further wrathful goddesses are visualised in the different directions of the outer circle, Sihamukhand so forth (the lion-, tiger-, fox-, and dog-headed etc.) Five seed syllables are then to be recited. With h┤臆, the principal deity is generated; with ha, the four inner goddesses are generated; with he, the four outer goddesses; with pha, all enjoined to be wrathful; while with the final h┤臆, all blaze with yellow primordial wisdom light.

The chapter ends with a description of the tshogs feast offering rite. Prostrations are made with a request for the evil ones who destroy samaya to be destroyed. With the practices of ritual union and liberation in the great tshogs feast, the majestic splendour of the wrathful deities of buddha body, speech and mind will expel all evil spirits. So majestic songs are sung at the feast and everyone becomes joyous. Having bound the vajra lotus mudrat the forehead, further mantras are recited. The circle of the retinue attending the tshogs feast praise the principal deity with song. The principal deity is delighted; he replies in a song which bestows the samaya. Goddesses strike the drums and sing melodies.

Chapter 12 The Maズゐala of the Wrathful Male Deities [Note that the Dunhuang manuscript contains a passage near the end of its Chapter 12 which in fact was misplaced, actually belonging in Chapter 13.]

The chapter gives a description of the wrathful male ma凹縁ala deities, with glosses throughout on the imagery's significance. The root text begins: "In the middle of an expanse of radiating and re-absorbing light rays, which blaze like the fire (at the end) of the aeon, the great wrathful deities abide, positioned in a posture of stretching (the right legs out) and bending (the left inwards)." In order to tame by intimidating and destroying the mras, obstacles, and so on, all the worldly realms blazed up in a great fireball, and light

1 Note that this placement fits with the schema for visualisation of the five buddhas at the parts of the body in Chapter 7 above.

A Summary of The Commentary


rays radiated from it. The wrathful deities were abiding in the middle, scowling with glaring eyes. The burning fire of light rays are the five primordial wisdoms entered without obstruction, and they swirl within the nature of the spatial field, embracing it within a non-dual samdhi, transcending the extremes. The stretching of the legs indicates wisdom, while the bending of the legs indicates means, together uniting in non-duality with the nature of the spatial field.

The root text says: "The central Great Blood-drinker is displayed in a form with nine heads and eighteen arms; vajra-filled wings raised up (at the shoulders), and also eight legs." The heruka lord has a white central head; the right is red and the left green. The next row's central head is yellow, the right light blue, and the left light red. The final row's central head is black, the right reddish maroon, and the left dark green. His hair is dark russet coloured, whirling upwards. He has a necklace of dried skulls, and a garland of fresh wet heads as a shoulder belt. His body colouring is black, but sometimes he assumes other colours and body forms. In the first two right and left hands, he stirs with a vajra and drinks from a skull-cup of blood. The two hands beneath these pull out and consume the heart of a fresh human corpse, while the next two wield a noose made from the innards of a human corpse. The hands beneath grasp a child's corpse and swallow it whole and the next hands hold sun and moon ma凹縁alas to his heart. The following pair of hands brandish weapons which transform into different types, and the two beneath these hold up magical hybrid deities. The two hands below hold ma凹縁alas of wind and fire, scattering and burning up all worlds, while the next two hold a water ma凹縁ala and mountains, tossing about and suppressing the worldly realms. The two hands beneath hold a chest of jewels and a wish-fulfilling casket, creating armour protecting the yogins and bringing them the attainments of siddhis.

His form (with nine heads?) represents the nine successive abidings in equilibrium, also not different from the dharmat. The arms are also the eighteen dhtus; awareness of them the eighteen emptinesses. Through eighteen primordial wisdoms, substantiality is destroyed, and this expresses means. Nine eyes look no-where other than the dharmat; eighteen eyes look to the eighteen emptinesses, and so these express wisdom.

Thus, means and wisdom are unified, so the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind are seen as the eighteen emptinesses; and eighteen times six makes one hundred and eight wrathful male deities. The objects perceived by the wrathful male deities are the forms seen, and the sounds, smells, tastes, touchables and mental dharmas, and their eighteen times six emptinesses, so the wrathful females also number one hundred and eight.

Similarly, all dharmas are the male and female wrathful deities. The wings filled with vajras are raised up, covering the worlds, and this means that primordial wisdom emanates from the dharmadhtu and pervades everywhere. The first two right and left legs trample on male and female mahklas, the next two trample on male and female mahdevas, the next pair on ganeas, and the final two on vinayakas. This trampling of the eight worldly gods indicates the vow to mount upon the eight complete liberations, to meditate on the four dhynas and the four equilibriums, and to realise the dharmat.

The root text continues: "His maカれala is of wrathful deities, with three heads, six arms, wings, and six legs, upon vajra rock, with the stance of worldly protectors paying homage." The ten wrathful deities (khro bo bcu) in the retinue of the Xrheruka are listed and described. Their names and some of their features are consistent with other sources, and the list conforms to the usual sequence, apart from the deity of the above direction, who is listed last instead of first. Although a standard set, there are some variations in the appearance of the ten. In this case, they have similar colour schemes to the usual group given in most Vajraklaya sources (such as Chapter 20 of the Myang ngan las 'das pa'i rgyud chen po in the NGB, see Cantwell and Mayer 2007: 207-215), and also their first two hands similarly stir skull-cups of blood with vajras. The specific implements given in their middle two hands are also generally the same or similar to those given in Vajraklaya sources, while the final pair of hands are different since the Vajraklaya set simply


Textual Analysis

roll phur pas in their lower hands. Yet some of the extra implements found in the list here are present in the Myang ngan las 'das pa'i rgyud chen po list. Then the names of the ten male attendant magical hybrid deities ('phra/phra men) are given. They correspond exactly to the list of male magical hybrid deities to the right of each wrathful deity in most Vajraklaya sources, each having the expected animal head. 2 Here, unlike the Vajraklaya sources, they wield corpses in their right hands, which they are about to eat, and in their left hands, they carry weapons which can transform into anything needed.

All these deities have arisen from primordial wisdom as though as from the mind and the dharmas arisen from the mind, and from primordial wisdom consecrations.

Chapter 13 The Glorious Vajra Rkass The chapter concerns the wrathful female ma凹縁ala deities, who are said to have the same number of arms and legs as their male counterparts, and they hold bells in their first right hands. The principal female is 'Jigs byed chen mo (Bhairav), further called Ral pa gcig ma (Ekaja荻ヂ) in the commentary, who, however, is not described. The set of ten female wrathful deities (khro mo bcu) have exactly the same names as those found in the usual lists, such as in the Vajraklaya texts (see the discussion of the male set appearing in Chapter 12), but the final four appear to be given out of order (see Appendix note 13). At this point, the Dunhuang manuscript seems to have an omission, but the text given in the Tenjur version of the commentary is itself perhaps a little garbled, and not all appropriate here. This text adds further goddesses and twelve inner messengers, who are then referred to in the passage below in the Dunhuang text also. It also adds description which is not altogether coherent. Then the list of female magical hybrid deities ('phra/phra men ma) is given, in exactly the standard order, except that the lizard-headed, associated with the above direction, is in most sources given at the top of the list, but here, in accordance with the order of the directions in Chapter 12, is given at the end of the list.

The root text then specifies that the student should cast a jewel or flower into this ma凹縁ala, the usual procedure during empowerment, through which the appropriate deity for the student to focus on is ascertained. The text adds that if the student then cultivates the deity wherever it lands, accomplishment will follow. The student is shown the samaya of engaging in all the virtuous and non-virtuous dharmas. Engaging in virtue is to be a Wrvaka, while engaging in non-virtue is to be a common sentient being. Here, however, all dharmas are understood relatively as the male and female wrathful deities, and ultimately they are the same, all equally unborn and unceasing. Then with (the master?) brandishing the vajra, (the student?) accepts (the samaya?) and all the deities are beckoned and offerings made. At this point, the deities are absorbed into one's body. The Lord Heruka pervades the whole body, H┤臆kara is absorbed into the brain centre, Vijaya into the forehead, Hayagrva into the region between the mouth and the chest, and so on, such that all the ten wrathful deities are absorbed into different body parts. The principal deity or the chosen deity becomes the whole body, and the messengers are absorbed into all the pores of the body hairs. The wrathful female deities are then similarly absorbed. Through this primordial wisdom consecration, the spatial field and the primordial wisdom should be unified in sameness within the essential dharmadhtu.

Glosses on the female magical hybrid deities are then given, in terms of their names or the animal represented by their specific head, connected with features of the meditations transforming ordinary experience. As a group, they are said to be known as magical hybrid deities ('phra/phra men ma), since their

2 The list of ten males and ten females are common in the Vajraklaya literature, including liturgies widely used in contemporary times, such as the bDud 'joms gNam lcags spu gri cycle (see bDud 'joms Rin po che Volume Tha: 99-103), and the Sa skya Phur chen (17v-21v). In the early Vajraklaya commentary known as the 'Bum nag, the imagery of the specific animal heads is glossed in terms of metaphorical associations between the features of the animal and the specific wrathful deity they accompany. For instance, the vivid variegated colouring (bkra ba) of the Dharma eye of the eastern wrathful deity, Vijaya, is connected with the tiger-headed magical hybrid deity because of the tiger's stripes (bDud 'joms bka' ma edition, Vol.Tha: 340.5-6; Boord 2002: 188).

A Summary of The Commentary


universal love is the spatial field consecration and with the primordial wisdom consecration, (they) are consuming all material things. They are accomplished in the ordinary body, the spatial field as the body, and the primordial wisdom as the limbs, and then they emanate from out of the pores of the skin. The root text says that they go everywhere more swiftly than snapping the fingers, and the commentary explains that these swift females, consecrated by the dharmadhtu, go everywhere without travelling since the spatial field pervades everywhere. Further analogies follow, relating to the concealing female, the inciting female and the killer female.

If the samaya should be broken, the female deities will cause the heads of the transgressors to burst. The commentary explains that when the appropriate actions have not been accomplished, this transgresses against the dharmadhtu and the spatial field's primordial wisdom unified in sameness. Thus, the transgressor will come to circle around under the power of perverted thoughts. So this is said to be the samaya bursting the head.

Chapter 14 The Mantras for the Wrathful Male Deities and for ritual action combined together The mantra for casting the flower is given along with the invitation mantra (presumably, for the casting and invitation as described in Chapter 13 above). Then the mantra for the principal deity (obadzra kro dha shri he ru ka h┤ォ/ a a a h┤ォ pha/) 3 , is followed by a version of the standard mantras for the ten wrathful male deities. Finally, mantras enjoining the four ritual actions, and the seed syllables of the five classes of beings complete the chapter. As in Chapter 9, the commentary adds little, although again the Dunhuang manuscript's annotations attach the names of the deities to their mantras.

Chapter 15 The Mantras for the Vajra Rkass This short chapter gives the mantra for the female rkas(the archetype probably had obadzra kro dha h┤ォ, which some editions emend to obadzra kro dhe h┤ォ) and the awareness mantras for the female magical hybrid deities. There are two mantras to commission them; then syllables for dissolution, and for the completion of ritual actions. The usual set of mantras for the ten wrathful female deities is not given.

Chapter 16 Mudrs The opening point is similar to that made at the beginning of Chapter 10, in discussing the mudrs for the peaceful deities. Here, it is explained that having understood the sameness of everything, all bodily movements become mudrs. While Chapter 10 dealt with the hand gestures for the peaceful buddha family deities, this chapter describes the full bodily postures needed to embody the various wrathful deities. First, the positions to assume for the principal heruka deity are given, making the body like a vajra shape, and becoming a single-spoked, a nine-spoked and an eleven-spoked vajra. The postures for each of the ten wrathful male deities are then outlined, and these are followed by those for the magical hybrid deities as a group. Once again, virtually all the text in this section is from TZ, and little elaboration is added by the commentary, although the Dunhuang manuscript's annotations add a few clarifications, including the appropriate mantras to accompany the movements of the wrathful deities (corresponding to their mantras as given in Chapter 14).

Chapter 17

Invitations, offerings, and praises are made to the central Blood-drinker and the ten wrathful deities. The chapter ends with a praise (omitted in the Dunhuang manuscript), giving the words for a praise of the hatred vajra (zhe sdang rdo rje) and retinue, through whom all worldly realms are obliterated.

Ritual Actions

3 It is not entirely clear if this second phrase, a a a h┤ォ pha/, is also intended as part of the principal male deity mantra, or if it is a separate mantra.


Textual Analysis

Chapter 18 The Destructive Ritual The series of chapters on the four rituals begins the sequence with the destructive ritual action (drag po'i las), describing it in terms of the fierce actions of the vajra magical hybrid deities ('phra-men), seizing and offering the evil spirits to the wrathful deities as food. The commentary supplies an inner interpretation, that through the ritual, the viewing of sentient beings as substantial is consumed by its own true nature. The active sense faculties are removed since in the context of the six primordial wisdom emptiness consecrations, material things seen as solid wholes contradict their essential genuine nature. Thus, their qualities are made to degenerate or they are naturally brought into sameness.

The magical hybrid deities are meditated upon as hindering the actions of and inciting divisions between the objects of the rite, since material and one-sided accomplishment contradicts emptiness and sameness, creates divisions within the tantric group and prevents ultimate accomplishment.

Chapter 19 The Destructive Homa For the destructive fire ritual, the triangular hearth is prepared with three black phur pas and iron wire or black rope. Thorny wood is used for the fuel, and the substances include poison, blood, black mustard, realgar powder and iron filings. For the ritual, the magical hybrid deities are dispatched to summon the objects who will burn up in the fire. The flesh mixed with the vegetarian burnt offerings is offered to all the deities. Vajra songs are sung, and the offerings of the flesh, blood and bones of the elemental spirits are consumed with delight by the deities. In conclusion, the commentary explains that the primordial wisdom fire of buddha body, speech and mind burns up factors which are not conducive. With the striking arrows of the primordial wisdom consecration, the deities delight in these factors, which naturally become conducive to buddha body, speech and mind.

Chapter 20 The Phur pa for Destruction The phur pa needed for destruction is described, made out of iron or black wood and featuring a head, knot and three-sided blade. The commentary explains that Heruka and Ral pa gcig ma (Ekaja荻ヂ) are meditated upon above the knot, and the male and female wrathful deities around the sides in appropriate order. The rite of striking with it is said to transfix and take the life of the object, even if the object is a god. Through the non-dual primordial wisdom emptiness consecration, the male and female wrathful deities strike with the single phur pa of the nature of mind, and nothing is not permeated by this.

Chapter 21 The Destructive gTor ma The recipe for making the destructive gtor ma is given, including iron filings, poison and gravel, mixed with blood and mashed beans or black grains. In offering the gtor ma, a mere sight of it causes the vomiting of blood. The commentary explains that this means that by meditating in thusness, with primordial wisdom emptiness pervading everywhere, there will naturally be ruin and rot.

Chapter 22 The Destructive Ritual Union The destructive ritual of union is described in terms of the male wrathful deity beating his hammer within the female wrathful deity's mortar, thus beating the rite's object. The commentary explains that the dharmadhtu nature is the mortar, with the spatial field of pure awareness the beating hammer. A concluding remark on destructive rituals gives the instruction that black clothes should be worn for these practices.

Chapter 23 Conferring (transference of) Abode The teaching on conferring the consciousness of the objects of the destructive ritual is described. The doors of ordinary rebirth closed, the consciousness is taken up with the syllable h┤臆 and elevated with the syllable phato the wombs of the female deity in union with the male deity in the place of Akani遠荻ha, thus effecting liberation. The commentary adds meditations on each of the ordinary destinies to close the doors – in each case, involving recognition of the true empty nature of the emotional afflication associated with each realm. For instance, the cause for sentient beings falling into hell is to experience hatred as though it has

A Summary of The Commentary


substantial reality. Recognising that hatred in fact has no real nature, the mind of hatred is not born, and this closes the doors of hell. The same reasoning is applied to the other emotional afflictions and birth in the other realms. The final meditation is of activating the male and female union of awareness within the dharmadhtu spatial field, one's own belly as Akani遠荻ha, producing bodhicitta through which one's own consciousness becomes accomplished.

Chapter 24 The Captivation Ritual The chapters on captivating rituals are opened with an invitation to the male and female wrathful deities to alight upon the eight spokes of the semi-circular ma凹縁ala, and then the making of offerings of songs, dance and red items. The root text says that the vajra of passion, along with the retinue, captivates the objects of the rite with passionate attraction, and as a result, all the worldly realms are entirely captivated.

The five types of garments are worn and the magical hybrid deities are sent out, summoning the objects of the rite, and then they are gathered, along with their qualities of success and brilliance, by the Great Wrathful deity, using the method of passionate attraction. They are thus captivated and will then do whatever is desired. The commentary's interpretation is that the emptiness dharmadhtu pervades all, so outer and inner things are indistinguishable. With the primordial wisdom of passionate awareness, one is aware that the outer world is not different from oneself, so the outer is naturally attracted, revolving around oneself.

Since everything is oneself, it can be seen as, "the great self", with everything as one's own emanation. The senses are transformed, and everything appears beautiful. With the awareness of this inseparability of self and others, even the thoughtless become joyful and excited.

Chapter 25 The Captivation Homa For the captivating fire ritual, the semi-circular hearth is prepared with five red phur pas and red boundary rope. Fragrant smelling wood is used for the fuel, and the substances include copper filings, molasses, red mustard and a drawing of the hearts of the rite's object, painted with shellac. In making the burnt offerings, the vajra magical hybrid deities are meditated upon, burning up the thoughts of those who are unhelpful and unfriendly towards you, and they will then obey you, and will start to think helpfully. The interpretation is that the view regarding the self and all discursive thoughts arisen from it are burnt up in the primordial wisdom emptiness fire. In the state of sameness, their great self-nature and single taste are said to cohere together. Discursive thoughts are the great cause for sasra, so they are termed, unhelpful, and primordial wisdom awareness without self, is termed, helpful thoughts, freed from sasra. Likewise, if there is awareness that self and other are not different, others will also cohere together naturally, and come to think helpfully.

Chapter 26 The Phur pa for Captivation The phur pa needed for captivation is described, made out of copper or red-coloured wood and featuring a head, knot and a semi-circular blade. The wrathful deities are visualised around the phur pa, and the rite of striking with it captivates and brings everyone under control. The commentary explains that the pure awareness's primordial wisdom phur pa will strike universally, and since there is no separation between oneself and everything else, everything is naturally captivated.

Chapter 27 The Captivating gTor ma The recipe for making the captivating gtor ma is given, including copper filings, molasses, mashed red rice and other red grains. In offering the gtor ma, a mere sight of it causes the objects to become obedient. If it is eaten, they will obey any commands whatsoever and become joyful too. The commentary explains that since the dharmadhtu has no characteristic marks, it is all-pervasive. There is nothing to set apart the great self-identity, and it will naturally captivate everything.


Textual Analysis

Chapter 28 The Captivating Ritual Union The captivating ritual of union is described in terms of union of the ma凹縁alas of the male and female wrathful deities, which means that all will be captivated joyfully. The commentary explains that since the dharmadhtu has no characteristic marks, it is all-pervasive, so the primoridial wisdom awareness unites with it in non-duality. The unerring pure awareness of this non-dual state is bodhicitta, and it will naturally captivate blissfully.

Chapter 29 The Increasing Ritual The increasing rituals begin with an invitation to the deities to alight upon the eight spokes of the square ma凹縁ala, and then the making of offerings of songs and yellow items. The root text says that the pride vajra, along with the retinue, instantaneously increase the great successes and brilliance of the worldly realms.

The five types of garments are worn and the male and female wrathful deities, along with the magical hybrid deities, are meditated upon as increasing the qualities of success and brilliance. If this meditation is done, it will be actualised in a great self-identification. The commentary's interpretation is that the emptiness dharmadhtu without characteristic marks pervades all, so the whole universe is indistinguishable from oneself. Due to the primoridial wisdom awareness of this, all meritorious deeds, actions and so forth, are oneself, or belong to oneself. If one is meditating on this, then it is like the sun arising in the skies, hot due to the natural qualities of the sun, and also, since the heat itself is the sun, or the sun is light, so the light is the same as the sun. All is a single identity, or the qualities belong to themselves.

Chapter 30 The Increasing Homa For the increasing fire ritual, the square hearth is prepared with four yellow phur pas and yellow boundary rope. The offered substances are the five types of jewels, the five medicines, the five grains, boiled rice pulp and melted butter. In making the burnt offerings, the meditation is that all one's successes increase. The interpretation is that with the dharmadhtu mirror-like primordial wisdom, the five male and the five female principal deities arise as buddha body; the sixteen male and sixteen female bodhisattvas arise like the buddha's major marks, and the five-fold diadems of each deity arise as the minor marks. The primordial wisdom burns up material substance and it increases through its own natural qualities.

Chapter 31 The Phur pa for Increasing 4 The phur pa needed for increasing is described, made out of gold or yellow-coloured wood and featuring a head, knot and a four-sided blade. The deities are visualised above the knot, and the rite of striking with it brings accomplishment and increases successes and brilliance. The commentary explains that the sambhogakya is the samdhi phur pa, which increases successes and brilliance naturally.

Chapter 32 The Increasing gTor ma The recipe for making the increasing gtor ma is given, including gold dust, mashed yellow rice grains, milk and honey. In sending forth the gtor ma, successes and brilliance will increase and spread. The commentary explains that since the dharmadhtu has no characteristic marks and is all-pervasive, with nothing to set apart this great self-identity, it will naturally bring increase, and this is known as giving and sending out primordial wisdom awareness.

Chapter 33 (numbered 31 in the Dunhuang Manuscript) The Increasing Ritual Union The increasing ritual of union is described in terms of union of the ma凹縁alas of the male and female deities, and meditating on emanating bodhicitta. The commentary explains that if you meditate on taking pleasure and increasing enjoyment, it will be accomplished accordingly. With union in the samdhi ma凹縁ala,

4 Note that Chapters 31 and 32 are missing from the Dunhuang manuscript, so the summary of these chapters relies on TZ and the Tenjur version of the Commentary.

A Summary of The Commentary


pure awareness is the bodhicitta, so great enjoyment naturally increases.

Chapter 34 (numbered 32 in the Dunhuang Manuscript) The Pacifying Ritual The pacifying rituals begin with an invitation to the deities to alight upon the eight spokes of the circular ma凹縁ala, and then the offering of melodies and white offering gifts. The root text says that the delusion vajra, along with the retinue, instantaneously pacify the vast extent of the worldly realms.

The five white garments are worn and the deities, along with their retinues, are meditated upon as pacifying all disturbances, harm and evil. If this meditation is done, pacification will be instantaneous. The commentary's interpretation is that the dharmadhtu emptiness samdhi of primordial wisdom pacification will pacify everything by pervading all.

Chapter 35 (numbered 33 in the Dunhuang Manuscript) The Pacifying Homa For the pacifying fire ritual, the circular hearth is prepared with six white phur pas. Silver filings and white substances are offered. In making the burnt offerings, the meditation is that all disturbances are pacified. The commentary's interpretation is that the dharmadhtu samdhi pacifies all discursive thoughts through its own natural qualities, and the deities will also be venerated by this.

Chapter 36 (numbered 34 in the Dunhuang Manuscript) The Phur pa for Pacifying The phur pa needed for pacifying is described, made out of silver or white-coloured wood and featuring a head, knot and a round blade. The deities are visualised around the knot, and the rite of striking with it while meditating on the deities pacifying would even pacify a god. The commentary explains that the elemental nature's faultless essential pure awareness is the samdhi phur pa, so this pacifies everything naturally.

Chapter 37 (numbered 35 in the Dunhuang Manuscript) The Pacifying gTor ma The recipe for making the pacifying gtor ma is given, including silver and mashed white rice grains etc., mixed with milk. In sending forth the gtor ma, even gods will be pacified. The commentary explains that since the essential nature of the dharmatof all dharmas is to pacify, so primordial wisdom awareness accordingly pacifies through pervading all material things.

Chapter 38 (numbered 36 in the Dunhuang Manuscript) The Pacifying Ritual Union The pacifying ritual of union is described in terms of the accomplishment of the male and female deities, generating majestic power and consecration, and pacifying everything. The commentary explains that the dharmadhtu is in itself pacification, resembling the male and female deities in combining the dharmadhtu and primordial wisdom awareness, and naturally pacifying. Thus, everything is pervaded with its consecration, so everything becomes peaceful.

Chapter 39 (numbered 37 in the Dunhuang Manuscript) Summing up [all] the Ritual[s] The root text says that the mudrwhich has no characteristic marks and the substantial mudrs arisen out of it are explained by the warrior bodhisattva as unspecifiable, so the wise will be accomplished in doing whatever they enjoy. The commentary adds that everything is the mudrwithout characteristic marks and everything has arisen from the dharmakya. So if there is awareness of the flawless dharmakya, and the yogin engages in any meditations, mudrs and marks of whatever type he likes, and commences the four ritual actions, there must be accomplishment.

Chapter 40 (numbered 38 in the Dunhuang Manuscript) The Benefits of the Accomplishment The root text says: "Through destructive [ritual], all are tamed; through captivation, the supreme union is also accomplished. By increasing, [this accomplishment] is increased in the form of majestic splendour. Through pacification, Supreme Bliss is also accomplished."


Textual Analysis

By captivating rituals, supreme

enjoyment will be experienced. Increasing rituals will stimulate successes and brilliance, while pacifying rituals will bring attainment of supreme bliss. This is the great accumulation of merits, and the awareness that there is nothing with characteristic marks is the great accumulation of primordial wisdom. Thus, the four types of rituals should be continually engaged in, bringing this ultimate mahmudrinto awareness. Even if one deity is accomplished as explained above, the countless resultant siddhis will be inconceivable.

Through destructive performance, all gods and demons will be tamed.

Chapter 41/42 (final unnumbered chapter in the Dunhuang Manuscript, which together with the Tshal pa Kanjur and Bhutanese tradition, loses the title to Chapter 41 and thus the chapter division)

Chapter 41 (= Final Chapter Part 1 in the Dunhuang Manuscript), The Maズゐala of the Great Captivator) The characteristics of the ma凹縁ala are that it is the ma凹縁ala of the Great Captivator (dbang chen bsdus pa), and within it, the circular base indicates that the dharmadhtu is unfabricated. Abiding within the circular base, made as a wheel with angled spokes, signifies that within the unfabricated dharmadhtu, the consecrated deities proceed from its very nature. Made with four huge corners, which bring the entire inanimate and animate universe under control, signifies increasing great bliss. From the centre, close to the spatial field, the female deities are looking outwards, signifying seeing, the bodhisattva's approach to the spatial field. The five male bodhisattvas looking inwards, signify viewing the approach to the spatial field. Further glosses are given to the directions in which the other deities are looking, some looking inwards and some outwards. The male and female wrathful deities as a whole look outwards, signifying the vanquishing and taming of outer material substances and adversaries.

Primordial wisdom knowledge is clearly luminous

like the sun's light; its consecration is like the sun's warmth and heat. Its vanquishing of outer material substances and so on is like the sun drying out and burning up objects.

The spatial field resembles the ma凹縁ala of the sun.

The female deities signify pure awareness of the dharmadhtu, within the spatial field, while the male deities spontaneously vanquish material substance and adversaries, and by their unification, the male and female wrathful ones activate the four ritual actions and protect the world with compassion. The protection of the world is demonstrated by the worldly gods and ngas, gathered into the retinue.

The eight auspicious symbols signify captivating everyone. They show the auspiciousness of remaining unaffected by the bonds of sasra, even while engaging with it, and of remaining unaffected by the Xrvaka's bias towards peace, even while engaging with nirvヂ凹a. Thus, this is the auspiciousness of not being overawed by anything. The glorious endless knot is the auspiciousness of being endowed with primordial wisdom knowledge. The wheel represents captivating all, and the auspiciousness of turning the wheel of the dharma. The jewel is the auspiciousness of being endowed with inexhaustible treasure. The lotus is the auspiciousness of not being in sasra's thrall. The parasol is the auspiciousness of being untormented by the afflictions. The flask is the auspiciousness of being endowed with the supreme taste of elixir. The conch is the auspiciousness of proclaiming the sounds which intimidate all adversaries. The fish is the auspiciousness of satisfying the stream of all worlds and sentient beings of the five classes, with great compassion.

The four continents consecrated by the five families demonstrate to sentient beings of the five classes that they have the natural qualities of the tathgatas. This is also the affirmation that their benefit is accomplished through compassion.


twenty male and female bodhisattvas treat everyone as an only child, and through their love, together with the male and female wrathful deities, they see all outer and inner material things like a hunter seeing game

In this, the male and female principal deities, each with a fivefold retinue, do nothing whatsoever.

A Summary of The Commentary


animals. By the force of such aversion, everything is unified in the spatial field itself. In this union, even while engaging in the dharmas of sasra, there is great enjoyment since one is unaffected by the bonds of the emotional afflictions, so this is the accomplishment of desire. Through the shining of the natural condition of the spatial field of the dharmat, there is jealousy. Since the dharmatis unfabricated, this is delusion. The dharmatis victorious over the three realms, so this is pride.

The consecrations of the five retinues of each of the five buddhas are located at the five parts of the body (see Chapter 7 summary above). The male and female wrathful deities and their retinues share the consecrations of their specific buddha families. Deeds involving solidifying are the work of the vajra family. Those involving heating relate to the jewel family; moistening is connected with the lotus family, and moving with the action family. The hallmark of the tathgata family is that these deeds are universally accomplished from complete equilibrium.

The absence of inherent existence in solidifying, heating and the other deeds listed above constitutes the consecrations of the five female buddhas and their retinues. The ability to perform action is the sign of the male bodhisattvas, while the absence of inherent existence in this ability is the female bodhisattvas. Likewise, pure awareness is the male and female wrathful deities. Although everything is absorbing and radiating, in all outer and inner dharmas, these features are similarly to be seen.

Chapter 42 (= Final Chapter Part 2 in the Dunhuang Manuscript), with various titles, The Conclusion or Ultimate Perfection in the South Central and local Kanjur root text versions; Praising the Wondrous in the Bhutanese version; Synopsis of the King of Reflections in the Tenjur version; untitled in the Dunhuang and Tshal pa Kanjur versions) Vairocana addresses the Victorious One with a series of praises of the features and qualities of the wrathful deities. For instance, their dark russet brown locks of hair coil upwards, to reach the summit of existence, while their scowling eyes are taming perverted views. Baring their vajra fangs causes the root of birth and death to be cut, and their body, speech and mind consecrations appear in their various implements. Their loving rays of light flash like lightning and awesome voices roar like thunder. Moreover, the consecration of great compassion activates the consecration within oneself, and these deities' attributes are the primordial wisdom which transcends concepts. Their wrath has the natural condition of sameness and generates enjoyments, in its vajra absorption and radiation. These verses of praise end the root text, with a final visualisation of the ma凹縁ala being absorbed within the heart. The commentary adds a slightly cryptic passage, perhaps first saying that the emergence from out of sameness means that when a noble being in pure awareness has produced sounds articulated in speech, these are called, tantra, and the vajra wheel is thus turned in Akani遠荻ha. Relying on this, the Buddha/Protector's body, speech and mind secrets are yogically accomplished, so this (the speech, tantra or the Buddha's three secrets) is considered flawless. There is a final verse praising Padma rgyal po, who unravels the great secret pith teachings from the expanse.


In this section, we explore the question of what Padmasambhava may or may not have had to do with TZ and TZComm. This question is raised by a four line verse of homage at the close of TZComm, as well as the mention of Padmasambhava three times in the set of marginal annotations in small writing which occur throughout the Dunhuang manuscript. Other scholars, following Kenneth Eastman's short discussion of this text in the 1980's (Eastman 1983: 49-52), have assumed they represent Padmasambhava as author of TZComm, 1 but as we show below, the references are not unambiguous. For textual reasons which we explain above (see Textual Analysis, Section b, p.32-33 above), it seems clear that these annotations do not merely represent the reflections of a single reader of the manuscript. Rather, it is probable that they had been written on the exemplar of the text which was copied by the Dunhuang scribe, and that they had thus been copied along with the main text at least once. We might therefore perhaps consider them to reflect an ancient teaching lineage on TZ, even if these teachings are no longer replicated in any other extant source. Here we are concerned with only one characteristic of the content of these comments on the text, that is, three somewhat enigmatic references to Padmasambhava, one right at the beginning of the text when explaining the title, and two near the end. Unfortunately for us, the annotator makes no clear statement about Padmasambhava's role in the text, rather as though he assumes the reader already knows this, and the point of the annotations is simply to draw attention to some aspect of that role. Put together, the three comments would seem to indicate TZComm, or perhaps TZ, as the work of Padmasambhava – or at the least, as representing his teachings, or as having some association with him.

Padmasambhava's Pith Instructions on the Garland of Views

As well as our analysis of TZ and TZComm, we made a comparison between the doctrines, language and terminology of these compositions—and in particular TZComm—with another genuinely early work attributed to Padmasambhava, the Man ngag lta phreng (Pith Instructions on the Garland of Views, henceforth MTph), to see whether any obvious links between the two approaches can be discerned. In brief, we can say simply that there are some similarities, but the style and content of these different kinds of texts do not provide us with close parallels. MTph aims to provide a comprehensive classification of views, with special attention given to the tantric path, while TZ and TZComm give a more limited classification of the variety of paths, focusing primarily on the single Vajrayna perspective they represent. Moreover, TZComm says little about stages through which the practitioner should progress, since it is principally concerned with expressing and elaborating on its vision of the ultimate sameness of the dharmas of sasra and nirvヂ凹a, and the total purity of the defiled dharmas as the enlightened body, speech and mind of the tantric deities.

Specifically, MTph's initial categorisation of erroneous views is not parallelled in TZComm, although ordinary beings (sems can phal ba) are mentioned in TZComm's Chapter 13. Both texts start with a twofold classification of the path into the Vehicle of Characteristics (mtshan nyid kyi theg pa) and the Vajra Vehicle (rdo rje'i theg pa), but the way they describe these is rather different. In MTph, the Vehicle of Characteristics is subdivided into the Xravaka, pratyekabuddha, and bodhisattva paths, while for TZComm,

1 Eastman himself expresses some caution, finally concluding, "It appears

that we have one of the few surviving works of

Padmasambhava" (1983: 50, my emphasis). Jacob Dalton (2004: 763 note 17), states rather more positively that, "in the interlinear notes to the Dunhuang versions of the Thabs kyi zhags pa pad mo'i 'phreng ba commentary (ITJ321), the commentary is attributed to Padmasambhava". An article from Sam van Schaik (2008: 47) also states that, "the Dunhuang Ms IOL Tib J 321 contains a colophon which states that Padmasambhava was the author of the commentary". However, van Schaik reassesses the evidence in his blog (dated June 2007 but presumably written after the article), where he no longer refers to a colophon and writes, "Finally, just in case I have given the impression that Padmasambhava actually wrote this manuscipt, let me be clear that he didn't". However, it seems that he simply means that the manuscript is no autograph copy, since he

continues to speak of , "the attribution of this text to Padmasambhava", and interprets one of the annotations in this way (see p.96, note 16 below).


Padmasambhava, the Thabs zhags and its Commentary

the twofold division is simply that of Mahyna in contrast to Vajrayna (Dunhuang ms.1r.2-4), so that in TZComm, the Vehicle of Characteristics relates to the bodhisattva path. This includes, for example, the ten pramits, regarding which TZComm mentions the associated long time scales (gradual accomplishment) and difficulties (various ascetic practices). Pratyekabuddhas are only briefly mentioned in the Dunhuang manuscript's marginal notes, and nowhere in the main body of TZComm. Wrvakas occur in TZComm's Chapters 1, 13, 2 and 41, where TZComm on each occasion contrasts the tantric perspective with that of the Hearers. 3 MTph's characterisation of the bodhisattva path does not differ materially from TZComm (both mention the ten pramits), but rather than detailing its inadequacies, MTph's emphasis is instead on the bodhisattva perspective itself, and how it understands the lack of any inherent nature (rang bzhin) ultimately, while particular characteristic marks identified at the relative level are to be seen as illusory.

MTph divides the Vajra Vehicle into different tantra classes; TZComm does not. TZComm's Vajra Vehicle – the Ultra Great Vehicle of the Great Vehicle (theg pa chen po['i] yang theg pa chen po) is similar to MTph's inner yoga method tantra (rnal 'byor nang pa thabs kyi rgyud). But TZComm does not have MTph's division into the techniques of Generation, Completion (or Perfection), and Great Completion/Perfection (bskyed pa'i tshul, rdzogs pa'i tshul, rdzogs chen po'i tshul). None of these three terms (nor the standard categories used in the tradition of the Generation and Completion Stages (bskyed rim, rdzogs rim) are mentioned in TZComm, even if the teachings they represent may be implicitly present.

For MTph, the ma凹縁ala is gradually established by the three samdhis, using the Generation technique. In TZComm, the three samdhis are not discussed. 4 In general in TZComm, there does not seem to be a sense of the ma凹縁ala building up gradually – it appears to be complete from the outset.

MTph's Completion technique is classified into ultimate and relative. The ultimate corresponds in part to TZComm's fourth type of sameness, as given in Chapter 1: ultimate sameness in the birthless and deathless mode (don dam par skye 'gag med pa'i [Gt par] tshul du mnyam pa'o). This follows a listing of three other types, relating to 1. the outer world's five objects and Tathgatas; 2. the inner mental consciousness(es) and five primordial wisdoms; 3. the senses and (their) objects on the relative (level) and (their) mode as gods and goddesses. This fourth kind of sameness is also referred to in Chapter 13 (given in error within Chapter 12 in the Dunhuang manuscript), the sameness of all dharmas, ultimately equally unborn and unceasing. MTph mentions its ultimate Completion technique in relation to the male and female deities, ultimately unborn and unceasing (rdzogs pa'i tshul ni don dam par skye 'gag med pa'i lha dang lha mo). It adds that the non- conceptual ultimate middle way, is to be unmoving from the dharmadhtu. TZComm includes a brief mention of the ultimate middle way (don dbu ma) once in Chapter 7, in relation to a meditation on seed syllables.

MTph's relative Completion technique is to meditate clearly on the Noble One's Rpakya ('phags pa'i gzugs kyi sku). This term is not used in TZComm. Then MTph speaks of being accomplished through meditating in sameness without any adulteration (mnyam la ma 'dres par bsgom pas 'grub), which does sound reminiscent of TZComm's approach, but the words, without any adulteration (ma 'dres par), are not used in TZComm.

MTph's Great Completion/Perfection technique (rdzogs chen po'i tshul) seems in keeping with TZComm's ethos throughout. The second verse of the root text TZ's Chapter 6 is similar to MTph's expression here, stating that all worldly and transcendent dharmas are indistinguishable, primordially the

2 The relevant passage is mistakenly placed within Chapter 12 in the Dunhuang manuscript.

3 Here, TZComm explains that the Vajrayna is not gradual and not biased towards the peace of nirvヂカa, and that its ultimate and relative truths are summed up in the doctrine of sameness, which is quite unlike the Xrvaka view. Wrvakas are virtuous and unlike ordinary beings, but the view of the sameness of all dharmas is superior.

4 There is one reference to the three samdhis in the annotations to the Dunhuang manuscript (Ms 66r: (it is) the three samdhis which activate the union of the male and female deities), but it is not altogether clear whether or not the reference refers to the three as usually explained, and in any case, they do not occur in the main text of TZComm.

Pith Instructions on the Garland of Views


ma凹縁ala of body, speech and mind. MTph supplies a tantra citation – not in the root text TZ but similar in approach – equating the vajra skandha limbs with the five buddhas. TZComm's Chapter 41 (Ms 81v-82r) outlines a series of associations, the Buddha Akobhya as the right hand or arm and the right sides of the ribs, and so forth. TZComm's Chapter 6 expresses a similar view, with associations made between the elements and the wisdom deities. However, TZComm gives the elements as the male deities, space as Vairocana and so on, while MTph associates the elements with the five consorts. But then TZComm adds that the five faculties are the five male consorts, while the five objects are the five female consorts. Overall, then, the sentiment of this section in MTph is exactly the same as TZComm, but the specific associations vary. Similarly, TZComm would be in entire agreement with MTph's statement that the three planes of existence are totally pure, although the exact point is not parallelled in TZComm.

Apart from four inner goddesses mentioned Chapter 6, TZComm does not group the deities into sets of fours in the way that MTph does. Unlike MTph, Samantabhadra and Samantabhadrare not a prominent pair in TZComm. Kun tu bzang mo occurs in the list within TZComm Chapter 5 as the first of the female consorts, and in Chapter 6 as one of the female deities (all touch is Samantabhadr), and also in the list of mudrs in TZ Chapter 10, but neither kun tu bzang po nor kun tu bzang mo are given explicitly in the list of deities of the peaceful ma凹縁ala of TZComm's Chapter 7, nor in the mantras in TZ's Chapter 9. In any case, the few references to kun tu bzang mo do not amount to MTph's assertion of Samantabhadra as the nature of the mental consciousness, bodhicitta, and Samantabhadras the nature of conditioned and unconditioned objects.

There is a similar focus on finding Enlightenment by looking into one's own mind. TZComm's Chapter 3, with reference to the Glang po, states: Since the buddha is the aware nature of mind, Do not seek the buddha anywhere else. 5 TZComm, however, has nothing quite like MTph's citation that all dharmas are in the mind, mind dwells in space, and space no-where. There is also no close parallel in TZComm to MTph's citation that all dharmas are empty in their essential nature, that they are primordially totally pure, entirely clear light, nirvヂ凹a in nature, promordially the completely perfected buddhahood. But clearly, this is entirely in line with TZComm's teaching.

MTph devotes a lengthy section to a presentation of the methods involved in the Great Completion/Perfection. Here, there is an emphasis on yid ches (conviction or trust). The word does not even occur in TZComm. Apart from a couple of references to paying respect and making offerings to the lama (one of which is only found in the Dunhuang manuscript's annotations), there is little emphasis on devotion or faith – even empowerment is emphasised as taking place through one's own pure awareness. Of course, MTph is stressing the gaining of conviction through one's own experience, but there is the suggestion that it is through conviction or faithful believing in the depths of one's mind, that the realisation comes.

MTph gives a classification of four aspects of understanding (rtogs pa): 1. understanding of the single cause (rgyu gcig par rtogs pa); 2. understanding the technque using the seed syllables (yig 'bru'i tshul rtogs pa); 3. understanding through consecration (byin gyis rlob kyis rtogs pa); 4. direct realisation (mngon sum par rtogs pa). TZComm does not use this classification, but its content could be seen as consistent with it. For example, the single cause of all phenomena could be said to be expressed in TZComm's Chapter 1, that the cause is the ultimate truth, all dharmas arising without characteristics, while the relative truth of them appearing like an illusion is the result. For the second aspect, TZComm's Chapter 7 gives associations of mantra syllables in a similar although not identical way to that of MTph, and much more extensively than the MTph's short passage. There is nothing in TZComm like the imagery of dyeing the cloth which MTph uses to illustrate the tantric transformation through consecration, but the concept of consecration (byin rlabs) recurs throughout TZComm, and the focus on both the real empty nature and the wisdom manifestation. Direct realisation is clearly expressed throughout TZComm and is fundamental to its vision.

5 rig pa'i sems nyid sangs rgyas te/ sangs rgyas gzhan du ma tshol cig. By comparison, in MTph we find: 'dus byas dang 'dus

ma byas pa'i chos thams cad rang gi sems las gud na med

rang sems so sor rtogs pa ni/ sangs rgyas byang chub de nyid do/


Padmasambhava, the Thabs zhags and its Commentary

In MTph, ultimate perfection in these four aspects takes place through the Three Characteristic marks (mtshan nyid gsum). 6 TZComm does not refer to these characteristic marks. They are mentioned briefly by the Dunhuang manuscript's annotator in Chapter 1. 7 The annotator's language is clearly in line with MTph's list, which speaks similarly of a progression through the set of three. However, there is nothing in the root text TZ or TZComm resembling MTph's elaboration using a further set of 1. connections/union ('brel ba); 2. requirements (dgos pa); and 3. the ultimate requirements of the requirements (dgos pa'i yang dgos pa). Nonetheless, although not expressed in these terms, TZComm's perspective is entirely in line with MTph's discussion of these features. In TZComm's Chapter 1, the Vajrayna is described in terms of sameness, and the result of buddhahood mentioned as free from accepting and rejecting; MTph defines requirements, through the characteristic mark of engagement, in a similar manner (thams cad ye nas sangs rgyas pa'i mnyam pa chen po la blang dor med par spyod pa ni 'jugs pa'i mtshan nyid do). MTph speaks of the ultimate requirements in terms of the actualisation of the endless embellished wheel of enlightened body, speech and mind (sku gsung thugs mi zad pa rgyan [brgyan] gyi 'khor lo mngon sum gyur pa). TZComm does not use these terms, but clearly, the entire text and commentary is developing such a vision.

MTph divides the path into striving in the fourfold practices of Approach, Close Approach, Accomplishment and Great Accomplishment. This classic yogic progression is not referred to in TZComm. There is little mention of striving in TZComm, so for instance, in Chapter 1, there is a reference to perfecting effortless diligence ('bad pa med pa'i brtson 'grus). The content of these MTph practices, however, is not dissimilar from the Thabs zhags in approach, although again, the specifics are different. Approach is defined in terms of applying the antidote so that dharmas are realised as uncontrived, primordially in the nature of buddhahood. Here, we witness wording which does not occur in TZ or TZComm (gnyen pos bcos su med


deity primordially, a theme which runs throughout TZComm's ma凹縁ala descriptions. Accomplishment and Great Accomplishment are connected with the consort practice, and are a little reminiscent of imagery given


but clearly, the practice is in keeping with TZComm. Close Approach relates to realising oneself as the

in Chapters 6-8 of TZComm, although again, the specifics vary.

MTph follows the outline of these stages with a section on entering the ma凹縁ala of the Great Perfection. Here, there is an elaboration of the stages of the empowerment ritual which interprets their significance in terms of the appropriate meditative understandings associated with them. Although all the meanings are inner glosses and not very different from the ethos of the Thabs zhags texts, in TZComm, even the empowerment rite remains unelaborated. The emphasis in Chapter 3 is on empowerment through one's own natural awareness, while the discussion on entering the ma凹縁ala in Chapter 13 stresses understanding unborn and unceasing sameness. MTph describes the final stage of the Great Perfection as the Wheel of Syllables at the stage of the Great Accumulation (yi ge 'khor lo tshogs chen gyi sa). This is a widely used term for the culmination of the inner Vajrayna path, often described as the thirteenth bhmi. The Wheel of Syllables is referred to in Chapter 5 of the root text TZ, 8 in the context of the natural expression of the samdhi ma凹縁ala.

6 These categories remain very much a part of contemporary Mahyoga exegesis: the late Dudjom Rinpoche, for example, analysed them in his survey of rNying ma doctrine, the bsTan pa'i rnam gzhag, citing verbatim from MTph: rtogs pa rnam pa bzhi'i tshul rig pa ni shes pa'i mtshan nyid (Awareness (through) the methods of the four aspects of understanding is the characteristic mark of knowledge); yang nas yang du goms par byed pa ni 'jug pa'i mtshan nyid (repeated familiarity with this is the characteristic mark of engagement); goms pa'i mthus mngon du gyur ba ni 'bras bu'i mtshan nyid (and direct experience through the inherent power of this familiarisation is the characteristic mark of the result). See Karmay's edition of MTph (Karmay 1988: 167); also Dudjom Jikdrel Yeshe Dorje 1991, Vol 1: 265; Vol 2: 111; and bDud 'joms Rin po che 1979-1985, Volume Kha: 310.

7 The annotations in TZComm's Chapter 1 (1r.5) present them as: "When (one) understands through the Characteristic mark of Knowledge, by the inherent power of becoming familiarised with the Characteristic mark of Engagement, the Characteristic mark of the Fruit is accomplished as Buddha Body, Speech and Mind." (shes pa'i mtshan nyid gyis rtogs na 'jug pa'i mtshan nyid gyis goms pa'i mthus 'bras bu 'i mtshan nyid sku gsung thugs su 'grub bo).

8 It is also described as representing the Great Accumulation (tshogs chen) in most of the versions, but the Dunhuang manuscript and the Bhutanese NGB version have it rather that it is endowed with the assembly (or accumulations, tshogs can).

Pith Instructions on the Garland of Views


In this case, the term is shared but the content is a little different in that MTph is speaking of the fruit accomplished when the great siddhi is attained, while the elaboration in TZComm is discussing the natural presence of full enlightenment, and the arising of the buddhas from the seed syllables.

MTph has a section pointing out that only mentally superior persons can understand primordial enlightenment, and thus, others should practise more gradual paths, and the teaching is taught as the "ultra secret vehicle" (yang gsang ba'i theg pa, an expression not occurring in TZComm) so as not to disturb such ordinary people. TZComm, on the other hand, does not concern itself with the problems of those who do not yet understand its profound teachings, and mainly uses the word secret (gsang) in the term, secret mantra (gsang sngags), without explaining its rationale. The implication at the end of the final chapter, where the buddha body, speech and mind secrets (gsang ba) are discussed, is that they are secret since inaccessible or hidden to most.

MTph in conclusion discusses the different types of ascetic conduct and practices of those who accept the different views it has discussed. The only parallel in TZComm is the contrast it draws in Chapter 13, using different phrasing from MTph, between the approach of Xrvakas, practising virtue and avoiding non-virtue, with the Vajrayna sameness teaching taught in TZComm. The ethical dilemmas mentioned by MTph, in which bodhisattva compassion may need in some cases to take precedence over the basic precepts, are not discussed in TZComm.

MTph cites the dam tshig chen po'i mdo which draws on the classic Buddhist imagery of the lotus to illustrate that those established in the Buddha vehicle remain pure in morality while engaging in the afflictions, like a lotus in muddy water. A similar point is made in different words in TZComm's Chapter 1 in discussing the text's title, and the sentiment is also present in TZComm's brief treatment of the lotus in the list of the auspicious symbols given in Chapter 41. However, there does not need to be any direct connection between the two teachings. The lotus is a ubiquitous Buddhist symbol and this interpretation of it simply expresses a general Vajrayna perspective.

Thus, we can conclude that although there may be a number of parallels to TZComm in the teachings given in MTph, these are not especially striking. Clearly, they are different kinds of texts: a root tantra and the commentary elaborating on its specific ethos on the one hand, and a scholarly outline of progressively more advanced types of perspectives within the Buddhist teachings on the other hand. If Padmasambhava's teachings are represented in both MTph and TZComm, he did not leave any obvious clues in the content and styles of the texts which would confirm this.

The Evidence from the Commentary and its Dunhuang witness

Apart from the annotations on the Dunhuang manuscript, there is only one firm indication that the Thabs zhags transmission owes anything to Padmasambhava, and this is in the homage at the end of the commentary, which we discuss below. As most tantric scriptures, the root text, TZ, is in the anonymous voice of the buddhas. TZ lacks any translator's colophons, apart from the Bhutanese and South Central NGB editions, which share a final colophon identifying Vimala and gNyags Jñnakumra as translators. This colophon is not shared by the local Kanjurs and it seems most unlikely that the identification descends from the archetype. Colophons may be detached and added to texts and to the catalogues of textual collections, and the relative geographical proximity between Bhutan and the South Central regions mean that it is quite likely that the attribution might have been more recently shared between the two textual traditions. In any case, there is no mention of Padmasambhava. Apart from what appears to be a scribal signature given at the


Padmasambhava, the Thabs zhags and its Commentary

very end of the Dunhuang manuscript in the small writing of the annotations, 1 neither the Dunhuang nor the Tenjur versions of the commentary have any obvious authorial colophon, ending simply with the statement that the text ends here, using the usual formula with the text title followed by rdzogs so.

However, the Tenjur versions are placed in a section of texts associated with names from the early rNying ma pa historical accounts, including Padmasambhava. In particular, in all three of our Tenjur editions, TZComm immediately follows a commentary on the Dur khrod khu byug rol pa, which is attributed to mTsho skyes rdo rje, most likely to be identified with Padmasambhava. 2

More specific evidence of an association within TZComm itself is a four line verse of homage immediately preceding the final colophon. In the Dunhuang manuscript, it is separated by the page layout from the rest of the text, and includes a new opening yig mgo, as though it might have been appended to the text. No such setting is witnessed in any of the Tenjur versions, where the verse is explicitly included within TZComm's final chapter, since its colophon refers to the chapter ending as well as the text ending. Whether an integral part of the final chapter, or an addendum, the verse pays homage to, "he who has attained the supreme siddhi, of great wonder, Padma rGyal po [The Lotus King] (who) is not worldly; (he who) unravels from the expanse the tathgata's great secret pith instructions". 3 There are two questions here: is this verse paying homage to Padmasambhava, and if so, what is it indicating about him in relation to the text?

We are now in the position to answer the first question with a clear positive. At first sight, it may not seem certain that this verse refers to Padmasambhava at all, even though the annotator seems to take it as doing so. Taken on its own, there are only two hints. The name, Padma rGyal po [Lotus King], came to refer to one form of Padmasambhava in the Guru Padma rnam thar literature, although we have not seen it used in other Dunhuang manuscripts. Secondly, the first line of this eulogy consists of a few words which at a later date are found, in a different order, in the famous supplication and prayer to Padmasambhava, the Seven Syllable Supplication (tshig bdun gsol 'debs), but the coincidence of these few words in a different order can hardly claim any significance. 4

1 "Written by Bo'u-ko of Kam-cu (Ganzhou?)" (kam cu pa bo'u ko gis bris). The fact that the note is given in small writing would seem to imply that it is not to be considered part of the main text itself. It is probable that this apparently Chinese name is that of the scribe of this manuscript copy, but it is also possible, since the name is given in the small writing of the annotations, that it represents the author of the annotations, which as mentioned above, have been copied from the exemplar.

2 Nyang ral, for instance, uses this name in his hagiography: see below p.94. This commentary is found also in the bKa' ma shin tu rgyas pa (Volume 62: 403-756), and the expanded version of the bDud 'joms bKa' ma (Volume Thu 70: 249-594). Its colophon (reproduced in the Tenjur and bKa' ma versions) refers also to Lotus Skull-Garlanded (padma'i thod phreng), another name for Padmasambhava, as overseeing the translation and editing of the text. In full, it reads: "Here ends the extensive commentary on all the tathgatas' body, speech and mind secrets, the Charnel Ground Cuckoo's Display, called the Elixir's Vital Seed, composed by the (Vajra) Master, Lake-Born Vajra (mtsho skyes rdo rje). In the presence of the Indian Scholar Lotus Skull-Garlanded, the chief editor, the Translator Jñnakumara, edited, translated and codified it" (de bzhin gshegs pa thams cad kyi sku dang gsung dang thugs gsang ba dur khrod khu byug rol pa'i rgya cher bshad pa/ bdud rtsi thigs pa zhes bya ba slob dpon mtsho skyes rdo rjes mdzad pa rdzogs so/ /rgya gar gyi mkhan po padma'i thod phreng gi zhal snga nas/ zhu chen gyi lo tsba dznyna ku ma ras zhus nas bsgyur te gtan la phab pa'o).

3 dngos grub mchog brnyes ya mtshan chen po 'i [Tenjur: yis]/ /'jig rten ngam gyur [bsTan 'gyur: ma 'gyur] pad ma [Tenjur:

padma'i] rgyal po yis [Tenjur: las]/ /de bzhin gshegs pa'i man ngag gsang chen rnams/ /klung [Tenjur: klong] nas bkrol mdzad de la phyag 'tshal lo//

4 The words are terms often used in association: "supreme siddhis" (dngos grub mchog) everywhere imply enlightenment; they are often said to be discovered (rnyed pa), and describing them as wondrous (ya mtshan) need not be more than a coincidental use of the same words. However, it is interesting that another old source also has a slightly similar categorisation of Padmasambhava. A surviving manuscript copy of the ninth century 'Phang thang ma catalogue of translations, which begins with a list of Indian masters, apparently representing the captions of illustrations on the earlier scroll from which the scribe copied, describes him as: u rgyan gyi paカ れi ta grub pa brnyes pa'i pad ma 'byung gnas (dKar chag 'phang thang ma/ sgra sbyor bam po gnyis pa 2003: f.1v.4; see also below, note 13).

The Evidence from the Commentary and its Dunhuang witness


Following up the hint that the name, Padma rGyal po, may connect this verse with the Guru rnam thar hagiographies, and the phrasing of the verse as so enticingly evocative of Padmasambhava's later mystique, we looked for similarities within the Zangs gling ma, the early gter ma hagiography of Guru Padma revealed by Nyang ral Nyi ma 'od zer (1124-1192). And we found a closely parallel verse of praise to the great guru:

Final Verse of the Commentary to the 'Phags pa thabs kyi zhags pa padma 'phreng gi don bsdus pa (Dunhuang manuscript IOL Tib J 321 [Ms], f.84r; bsTan 'gyur: Golden [Gt] rgyud 'grel Bu, 78-321, Peking [Qt] rgyud 'grel Bu, 129b, sNar thang [Nt] rgyud Bu 228)

Nyang ral, Nyi ma 'od zer Slob dpon padma 'byung gnas kyi skyes rabs chos 'byung nor bu'i phreng ba zhes bya ba, rnam thar zangs gling ma (based primarily on the Kathmandu National Archives manuscript in dbu med (IMG_1670+1671, reel E2703/10, f.16r.5-16v.1). 5

fハ6゚d□マdムoシdマそ゚dレdムモフdnフdヘダd苑゚d [Ms 厭d ] k


fルzシdんフdムdル★ロd [Ms セムd★ロd ] ヘ禽厭d [Ms ヘハdムd ] ⊂ワdヘダd苑゚d [GtQtNt ;=- ] k




fヽセd [Ms ‾セd ] プdマ´ワdムヤハdゾdワdЁシdルモワdワダf


(I) prostrate to he who has attained the supreme siddhi, of great wonder,

(I) prostrate to and praise the (buddha) body who has attained the supreme siddhi, of great wonder,

Padma('i) rGyal po [The Lotus King] (who) is not worldly;

the body of incomparable realisation, Padma rGyal po [The Lotus King];

(he who) unravels from the expanse

you (who) unravel from the expanse

the tathgata's great secret pith instructions.

the tathgata's great secret pith instructions.

It is clear that the verse is simply a variant on the phrasing, the first words of the second line a clear improvement on TZComm's slightly obscure 'jig rten ma 'gyur. Nyang ral follows up the praise with a further statement that the Guru then received two names: Padma Thod 'phreng, since he was wearing a garland of skulls, and Padma rgyal po, since he had been made a king's son. 6 Thus, the Zangs gling ma uses the name, Padma rgyal po, for the Guru at exactly this point. It is worth adding that the name is not used repeatedly in the Zangs gling ma: the Guru is mostly referred to as Padma 'byung gnas, or simply by the title,

5 Lewis Doney of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, has worked on critically editing Nyang ral's Guru Padma hagiography. He argues convincingly that the earliest and historically most influential recension is that represented by two manuscripts in the National Archives in Kathmandu and two manuscripts from Bhutan, which he classifies as ZL3. The version of ZL3 used here is Lewis Doney's discovery in the Kathmandu National Archives. We have emended rtog in line 2 to rtogs, found in all the other witnesses of ZL3. The Rin chen gter mdzod chen mo version (Paro: Ngodrup and Sherab Drimay, Kyichu Monastery, 1976, Volume Ka: 25), which has more recently become the most widely used version, incorporates later material. It gives a variant second line (rtogs ba bla med mchog tu gyur pa yis/) for this verse.

6 zhes bstod nas/ thod pa'i 'phrengs pa sku la gsol bas/ padma thod 'phrengs du btags/ rgyal po'i sras mdzad pas/ padma rgyal por btags/ (Kathmandu National Archives, IMG_1671, reel E2703/10, f.16rv.2-3).


Padmasambhava, the Thabs zhags and its Commentary

Slob dpon (master, guru). But as in the Guru's later hagiographies, many of the incidents related in the text, and especially in the first part of the text focusing on the Guru's training and activities before the period in Tibet, are followed by a note that at that time he was called by such-and-such a name. In the earlier description of King Indrabodhi's discovery of the lotus-born emanation and his installation as the king's son, the name he is given is, rGyal po mTsho skyes rdo rje (King Lake-born Vajra; p.9). 7

In the fourteenth century Padma bKa' thang shel brag ma of O rgyan gling pa, we find a fully developed system of the eight principal names of the Guru (gu ru mtshan brgyad, or sku gcig mtshan brgyad, Padma bKa' thang Chapter 19: 88-9), which include Padma rgyal po, 8 and the name is also used during the narrative of his enthronement as a prince following his birth upon a lotus. 9

It would seem that there is little doubt that the Padma('i) rgyal po who is praised at the end of TZComm is none other than the Great Guru Padmasambhava, eulogised in the same manner as that used in the slightly later hagiographical literature. 10 It is worth adding that the first line of the praise occurs also just above in Nyang ral's hagiography (IMG_1670, reel E2703/10, f.15v.4), again within a four line verse in the context of the King of U rgyan's astonished wonderment at the sight of the Guru in union with his consort arising from a lotus.

Assuming this identification of Padma('i) rgyal po in TZComm is correct, 11 the significance of the homage depends on whether it is seen as the final part of the text of TZComm, or whether it is an addendum. If it is an addendum, it might be praising the author of TZComm; but if it is part of the main text, as seems likely by its positioning in the Tenjur version, and the fact that even in the Dunhuang version it occurs before the concluding text title, then it is the authorial voice of TZComm itself that is praising Padma rGyal po. The context of the preceding lines of TZComm would seem to increase that likelihood that this eulogy is in fact an integral part of the final chapter of TZComm. TZ's final chapter or section consists of a series of praises to the ma凹縁ala deities, and their consecrations of oneself, and ends with a line cited by Klong chen pa in his Phyogs bcu'i mun sel commentary on the rGyud gSang ba'i snying po root Mahyoga tantra, to the effect that the ma凹縁ala becomes invisible through absorbing into the deity's own heart. The commentary adds further lines which would seem to eulogise TZ as enlightened speech called "tantra", flowing from the Buddha/Protector's turning of the vajra wheel, flawless and bringing realisation. The final verse praising Padma rGyal po would seem to fit perfectly well with the tone of this passage, which is also written in the same seven syllable meter and four line verse form.

7 The name mTsho skyes rdo rje (Lake-born Vajra), continues to be used in the narrative, both in praises (Rin chen gter mdzod chen mo Volume Ka: p.22, 24), and in the Guru's self-appellation (p.48). It became one of the principal names for the Guru as a meditational deity, used in many cycles of ritual meditative practices.

8 There is a set of homages to the group in Chapter 19; the one for Padma rgyal po reads: thabs mkhas rgya chen padma'i lho phyogs su: ye shes klong chen padma rgyal por sprul: rin chen mkha' 'gro ma tshogs 'khor gyis bskor: cir snang rig pa gang la gang 'dul bzhugs: padma rgyal po'i sku la phyag 'tshal bstod: (1985 edition, p.145). Again, in Chapter 41, there is a shorter set of praises to the eight. The one for Padma rgyal po reads: khams gsum srid gsum dbang du sdud: padma rgyal po'i sku la