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Roger jackson
Dept. of Religion
Carleton College
Northfield, MN 55057
Peter N. Gregory
University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, USA
Alexander W Macdonald
Universiti de Paris X
Nanterre, France
Steven Collins
Concordia University
Montreal, Canada
Volume 13
~ ~ , . .
Ernst Steinkellner
University of Vienna
Wien, Austria
jikido Takasaki
University of Tokyo
Tokyo, japan
Robert Thurman
Columbia University
New York, New York, USA
Number 2
This journal is the organ of the International Association of Buddhist St d:;
Inc. I t is governed by the obj ectives of the Association and accepts scholarl u
tributions pertaining to Buddhist Studies in all the various disciplines,
philosophy, history, religion, sociology, anthropology, art, archaeology, PSych
ogy, textual studies, etc. ThejIABS is published twice yearly, in the summ' . ?l,
. er and
Manuscripts for publication (we must have two copies) and correspondence <
cerning articles should be submitted to the jIABS editorial office at the
given below. Please refer to the guidelines for contributors to the jIABS
on the inside back cover of every issue. Books for review should also be sent to th
address below. The Editors cannot guarantee to publish reviews of unsOlicited
books nor to return those books to the senders.
The Association and the Editors assume no responsibility for the views
by the authors in the Association's journal and other related publications
Editor's Address
Roger Jackson
c/o Dept. of Religion
Carleton College
Northfield, MN 55057
Andre Bareau (France)
M.N. Deshpande (India)
R. Card (USA) .
B.C. Cokhale (USA)
John C. Huntington (USA)
P.S. Jaini (USA)
Joseph M. Kitagawa (UA)
Jacques May (Switzerland)
Hajime Nakamura (japan)
John Rosenfield (US;;')'
David Snellgrove
E. Zurcher (Netherlan4ir
Both the Editor and Association would like to thank Carleton College
for its financial support in the production of the Journal. ....
Copyright The International Association of Buddhist Studies 1990.
ISSN: 0l93-600X
Indexed in Religion Index One: Periodicals, American Theological Library
Association, Chicago, available online through BRS (BibliographiC
Retrieval Services), Latham, New York, and DIALOG Information,
Services, Palo Alto, California.
Composition by Ann Flanagan Typography, Berkeley, CA 94710.
Printing by Thomson-Shore, Inc., Dexter, MI 48130.
A Lajja Gaud in a Buddhist Context at Aurangabad
by Robert L. Brown 1
Sa-skya Pal)Q.ita the "Polemicist": Ancient Debates
and Modern Interpretations by David Jackson 17
Vajrayana Deities in an Illustrated Indian
Manuscri pt of the A-ltasiihasrikii-prajiiiipiiramitii
by John Newman 117
The Mantra O1(l mar;i-padme hU1(l" in an Early
Tibetan Grammatical Treatise by P C. Verhagen 133
Buddhism Transformed: Religious Change in Sri Lanka)
by Richard Gombrich and
Gananath Obeyesekere (Vijitha Rajapakse) 139
The Emptiness if Emptiness: An Introduction to Early
Indian Miidhyamika) by C. W. Huntington, Jr.,
with Geshe Namgyal Wang chen
(Jose Ignacio Cabez6n) 152
1. Notice of The Buddhist Forum
(Roger Jackson) 163
fA Lajja Gaurl in a Buddhist
lfbontext at Aurangabad
fby Robert L. Brown

JIn a recent volume of Lalit Kalii/ V. H. Sonawane has discussed
illustrated a number of images of Lajja GaurI, the Indian
who displays her pudendum by squatting with her legs
'widely spread (see figs. 2 and 6). Sonawane shows that the god-
taess is associated in many instances with Saiva iconography
f(Nandin, trisula, linga, and concludes that ...
ishe can very well be considered as a manifestation of the Sakti
of Siva."2 In this light, it is interesting to consider a
(female figure in a Buddhist panel in Cave 2 at Aurangabad
I a and b). She appears to be naked, except for jewelry,
'iiind squats to display her pudendum. Yet, she is placed in a
with a Buddha image. How should we identify such

Y The panel in which the female figure appears is on the
wall of Cave 2, one of several panels that because of their
:various sizes and haphazard arrangement were presumably
by a variety of donors and are not part of the
'planned iconographic organization of the cave. The subject of
Kthese intrusive panels hardly varies; there is a single seated
;Buddha, either inpralambadiisana or (as in fig. 1) in padmiisana,
usually performing dharmacakramudrii. As in our panel, the
,Buddha is often flanked by two bodhisattvas, has two flying vi-
?dyiidharas above, and is raised on a lotus the stalk of which is
'upheld by two niigariijas. Finally, flanking the niigariijas are
or worshipping figures, seen in profile. In the case of the
"figure 1 panel, the squatting, front-facing female takes the
;place of the proper right-hand donor figure. Thus, the iconog-
;raphy of the panel, except for the appearance of the female
is standard, although the precise meaning of this
; 1
2 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
,arrangement is not certain.
Nevertheless, it is likely that eVe
a sure identification of the iconography, if one indeed
would be of little help in explaining the surprising appearand
of the "shameless woman" (Lajja Gauri),s as it is difficult
imagine in what ways she might relate to the iconography of
the Buddha. ' ,,'
Is she, in fact, a Lajja Gauri? As the numerous
, tions on the subject have made. clear, what the god:;
whatever name. she takes, IS her act of exposmg
raIsmg her knees. It IS not clear, however, whether thIS posture
is a sexual one, or whether it indicates paturition. The goddess
is worshipped today by women in order to promote fertility
particularly for barren women.
It is reasonable to
that this would have been the purpose of the goddess earlier as
well; although the 3rd-century inscription on a Lajja
from NagarjunikOI).<;la (fig. 2) specifically states that the donor
is flvaputii (one who has her child or children alive). 7 The
donor, the Queen Kharh<;iuvula, could of course be
dedicating an image in thanks for success in worshipping thd,
Fertility, in any regard, is what is (or was) desired}
and either a sexual or birth-giving posture could be seen as
facilitating it. ;.,;
The most likely explanation, in fact, appears to be that the,:
posture was used with both meanings; and it is probable that,
the "two" postures, representing (potential) sexual intercourse'
and resultant birth, are linked in the worshipper's mind as they-
are in reality. That the position is a sexual one, however, is:
somewhat difficult to support from ,artistic and textual evi-:
dence. The Lajja Gauri figures appear frontally and almost'
always without male partners, with the artist's intention beinf
the exposure of the yoni and not the presentation of a sexual act. "
Nevertheless, we see the association of the posture with sex in
reliefs in the fikhara of the 12th-century temple at Bagali, where;
a male literally aims his exaggeratedly large and erect phallus ,',
toward a female who looks his way and is in the knee-raised,
posture, but who occupies a completely separate relief
In a relief on the 8th-century Huchchimalli Temple at Aihole,'i
the squatting female actually reaches out and grasps theS
enormous phalluses of two flanking males.!O"
While one thus could see in the exposure of the yoni a ,
ual posture, the evidence tends to suggest that it is above all a
birth-giving posture. This position, called uttiinapad and gloss-
ed by Monier-Williams as "one whose legs are extended (in
paturition),"ll finds graphic depiction in late Chalukyan (12th
century) sculpture showing women giving birth (fig. 3). Its
association with birth and fruition, however, is well in
much earlier art, as in this small, 1st-century B.C. terra-cotta
in which a goddess removes (gives birth to) a sheaf of grain
from her vagina (fig. 4) .12 As several scholars have pointed out,
this imagery goes back even to the Indus civilization,13 and
whoever this goddess might be, she is seen as the creator of veg-
etation and must have associations with the earth.14 The birth-
ing posture of the earth or vegetation goddess is that used by
the Lajja Gaurl when human birth is desired ..
The Aurangabad figure does not spread her legs as widely
as the Lajja Gauri figures usually do, an exaggerated posture
that often produces an unnatural, frog-like form (as in figs. 2,
4 and 6) .15 She looks more to be in a squatting posture
(utkutiisana) , which in the context of Indian goddesses is the
posture frequently taken by the miitrkiis (fig. 5), particularly
during the K u ~ a 1 ) . a period (lst-3rd c. A.D.).16 Miitrkiis always,
however, are clothed. The Aurangabad figure compares to both
the miitrkiis and the Lajja Gauds in having the right arm raised
with the elbow resting on the knee. The lowered left arm, with
the hand lying on the left knee, is more suggestive of the
miitrkiis, however, than of the Lajja Gauris, who raise their left
arms in parallel with their right arms (fig. 6). Nevertheless, the
objects held by the Aurangabad figure are unlike those held by
either the Lajja Gauri or miitrkii figures. She holds in her low-
ered left hand a large circular object. The identification that
comes to mind is a gem, a cintiimafJi or ratna. The object in the
raised right hand is not distinct enough for a sure identifica-
tion. It is not a solid object, and gives the appearance of being
a bouquet of flowers or sheaf of grain. If the latter, we may be
able to connect our figure to the earlier imagery of the goddess
who removes sheafs of grain from her vagina, as seen in figure
4. We may, furthermore, see in the Aurangabad female an
association with the Buddhist goddess Vasudhara, whose most
characteristic attribute is the sheaf of grain (dhiinyamaiijarl).
Is the Aurangabad figure therefore a Tara, and specifically
4 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
Again, as with the identifications of her as Lajja Gaun or
miitrkii, the identification of her as a Vasudhara can be made
only partially. Vasudhara, like our figure, is frequently
described in iconographical texts as two-armed, and, as B:
Bhattacharyya . has pointed out, she may "be represented
any attitude, standing or sitting";l7 thus a squatting posture
although I know of examples of any.!
Tara m thIS posture. Further, Vasudhara, accordmg to
texts, holds gems (ratnamafijanl/
and even is mentioned in one
text as holding a cintiimanTJi.
But, Vasudhara always (accord-
ing to the texts as well as to artistic evidence) holds the sheaf"
of grain in the left hand; and the right, which holds the gems ".
is lowered in varamudrii. Of course, self-display is unknown iri
textual descriptions and images of Tara.
The Aurangabad female thus appears not to fit any of our
usual categories for goddesses, but, rather, has characteristics'
of several. We may say that all of them-the goddess giving
birth to vegetation, the Lajj a Guar!, the miitrkii, and Vasudhara
-relate to one another in a general waY,20 as goddesses of fer<
tility and fruition, and this is clearly the meaning of the Auran':
gabad figure as well. Nevertheless, that she displays
genitals, however discretely as compared to the usual Lajja
Gaur! images, must put her most fully into the Lajja Gaur!
egory, and into a unique category for a goddess in a Buddhist'
context. ..
Any explanation for her appearance in this panel at AurarF
gabad will fall largely into the realm of speculation. Still,if
these small sculptural panels are individual donations, it may
be that the donor of this particular panel was hoping or giving
thanks for a particular boon, a child. The kneeling figure in the
lower left corner appears to be a female. While she may be
regarded as a donor or worshipper, it is not possible to know if
her sex reflects that of the human donor as well. Nevertheless,
only female donor figures are depicted with Lajja Gaur!/l and
it is assumed that she is worshipped only by women. There is
no reason to assume that goddesses of the Lajja Gaur! type
'Jere worshipped only by Hindus, however, let alone only by
Saivites. The 3rd-century inscription placed on a Lajja Gaud,
mentioned above, was that of a queen who, like other
queens, was a patron ofBuddhism.
What is unusual about the.
Aurangabad figure is not that she might be worshipped by a
Buddhist, but that she has been brought into the official
iconography of a monastery. This was done by softening
aspects of .her Lajja Gaur! iconography, and giving her the
guise of a Tara: in addition to the arm positions (although
reversed) and attributes, her jewelry and hair-do are. typical of
those of a Tara.
A similar motivation, that of bringing Lajja Gaud into an
official temple context, produced comparable adjustmepts on
the Lajja Gaurl in Cave 21 (RameSvara) at Ellora, a Saivite
,cave. 24 The goddess here has the height of her knees lowered so
that her posture, like that of the Aurangabad figure, is not so
exaggerated; her head is, again like that of the Aurangabad
female, coiffed similarly to that of other goddesses depicted in
the cave's reliefs and is given prominence;25 and she is flanked
by two female attendants, as might befit an important Hindu
'goddess. As the dates of the Aurangabad and Ellora images are
'probably very close, and the two sites proximate, it is not
'unreasonable to see at playa similar interest in legitimizing the
;goddess in both cases.
. But that it was allowed at Aurangabad is due to the special
nature of the Kalacuri -period (second half of the 6th century)
rCaVeS,27 which include Cave 2, when female imagery began to
It is not only that the number of Tara images
;tlramatically increased in these later caves. According to John
Huntington, explicit sexual imagery is suggested by some of
rthe female figures in the caves' sculpture, making the genital
.display of our goddess less surprising.
In addition, there is in
so-called Brahmanical Cave at Aurangabad a set of sap-
;tamiitrkiis.29 The date for this cave, which combines Buddhist
and Hindu deities, is also the second half of the 6th century,
argues for a period when some close relationship between
;Hindu and Buddhist practices took place.
It is tempting to
that at nearby Ellora, where a Hindu phase of cave
,construction was ending and a Buddhist phase was beginning
:,around 600, there was a period of overlap of occupation of the
when both Buddhists and Hindus were using the caves.
};rhe Aurangabad saptamiitrkas find their direct Buddhist refle'c-
i#on at Aurangabad itself, where in Cave 7 there are six stand-
ting female figures who in their arrangement mimic the matrkiis,
6 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
. even to being bracketed by Avalokitesvara and Buddha as the
mothers are bracketed by Siva and GaI).esa.
In sum, I think the Aurangabad image can be identified as
a Lajja Gaur! who underwent certain modifications to enable
her to fit into an official Buddhist context. The key characteris_
tic of a Lajja Gaur!, a display of the pudendum, remains. That
she may be a proto-Vasudhara is a possibility, but with only
this single example it is impossible to argue this with any cer-
tainty. Finally, that the image is placed where one would
expect a donor figure, and is apparently being worshipped by
the female figure opposite, suggests some relationship to the
donor of the relief. Ultimately, it was the nature of Buddhist
practice at Aurangabad, when Hinduism was showing tremen-
dous influence
and female and sexual imagery was becoming
important, that allowed the appearance of our Buddhist Lajja
1. VH. Sonawane, "Some Remarkable Sculptures of Lajja Gaurl from
Gujarat," Lalit Kalii 23 (1988):27-35.
2. Ibid., p. 32.
3. The proper left-side bodhisattva in the figure 1 panel is
(Avalokitesvara); the other bodhisattva is probably, based on the 'iconography of
the flanking bodhisattvas in the Aurangabad caves, either or MaiijusrI.
The significance of the Buddha being raised on a lotus stalk held by two
niigariijas is uncertain. It was Alfred Foucher's contention that it indicated the
SravastI Miracle. [Alfred Foucher, "The Great Miracle at SravastI," in The
Beginnings if Buddhist Art, L.A. Thomas and F.W. Thomas (trans.) (1914; reprint,
Varanasi: Indological Book House, 1972): 176. Originally published in French in
Journal asiatique 13 (1909).J This identification continues to be made by scholars;
Carmel Berkson, for example, identifies the figure 1 panel as the Great Miracle
at SravastI. [Carmel Berkson, The Caves at Aurangabad: Early Buddhist Tantric Art
in India (New York: Mapin International, Inc., 1986) :203; see my review of this
book for a general warning regarding Berkson's iconographical identifications
at Aurangabad in Journal if Asian History, 22, no. I (1988) :79-80]. The
tion that the upheld lotus stem indicates the SravastI scene is, however,
ful. See my discussion in Robert L. Brown, "The SravastI Miracles in the Art of
India and DvaravatI," Archives if Asian Art 37 (1984) :79-95. Seealso G. v
terwallner, "The Brussels Buddha from Gandhara of the Year 5," in Investigating
Indian Art eds. Marianne Yaldiz and Wibke Lobo (Berlin: Staatliche Musetn
Preussischer, 1987):236-239.
4. There is no reason that this particular arrangement need have re-
one specific scene or textual reference. I t is perhaps best to see such
images as layered with readily identifiable associations, but used in a generic
'sense by the donor as an image to produce merit.
;' 5. Lajja Gaur!, which literally means "modest" GaurI, GaurI being a
;name of is explained by the story in which ParvatI is caught in dal-
'liance with Siva when they are interrupted during lovemaking by a devotee. But
'iSankalia has noted that glossing Lajja GaurI as '''a shy woman' ... is euphemis- .
Idc. Really it means 'a shameless woman.'" [H.D. Sankalia, "The Nude God-
"cless or 'Shameless Woman' in Western Asia, India, and .south-Eastern Asia,"
iArtibus Asiae 23, no. 2 (1960):12l.] This is substantiated by the etymology of the
>word lajjii proposed by R.C. Dhere as coming from old Kannada lanji or lanjikii
hich means an "adulteress" or "harlot." (See M.K. Dhavalikar, "LajjagaurI,"
:iBulletin of the Deccan College Research Institute 39 (1980) :3l.]
;' 6. Sonawane, "Some Remarkable Sculptures of Lajja Gaur! from
p. 33 and D.C. Sircar, ''Aspects of the Cult of the Indian Mother God-
Journal of the Indian Museums 36 (1980):14.
;;1. 7. H.K. Narasimhaswami, "Nagarjunikorida Image Inscription," Epi-
ffraphia Indica 29:138-9.
i'" 8. Dhavalikar mentions that the goddess (at least in an earlier form)
!!inay be worshipped for the welfare of children as well as to protect against
n:lrought. (Dhavalikar, "LajjagaurI," p. 33.) Also see Sircar, ''Aspects of the Cult
Indian Mother Goddess," pp. 15-16.

fl, 9. See Devangana Desai, Erotic Sculpture of India (New Delhi: Tata
Publishing Co., 1975) :ph. 104.
(: 10. See Devangana Desai, "Shades of Eroticism in Temple Art," Symbols
Maniftstations in Indian Art (Bombay: Marg Publications, 1985) :fig. 4.
1l. Monier-Williams, A Sanskrit-English Dictionary (Oxford: At the Claren-
irdon Press, 1974):ln
12. See Pratapaditya Pal, Indian Sculpture Volume I (Los Angeles County
;Museum of Art, 1986):141 and Gerald James Larson, et aI., In Her Image: The
Goddess in Indian Asza and The Madonna in Christian Culture (Santa Barbara:
;,University Art Museum, 1980):41; cf Desai, Erotic Sculpture of India, fig. 9.
\,> 13. Madho Sarup Vats, Excavations at Harappa, Being an Account of
t,Archaeological Excavations at Harappa Carried Out Between the Years 1920-21 and 1933-
i;34, vol. 2 (Delhi: Government ofIndia, 1940), pI. xciii, no. 304.
14. P.K. Agrawala, Goddesses in Ancient India (New Delhi: Abhinav
!;cations, 1984): 31-32.
"; 15. This pose reminds one of a yogic posture, the uttiinamar;.rf:i1kiisana,
,l;which literally means "posture of a stretched out frog (maTfrf:uka)." Interestingly,
!;;maTfif.iika alsQ means "a wanton woman" and "a kind of coitus." [Monier-
;fWilliams, p. 776.] .
F: 16. N.P. Joshi says miitrkiis with children are always seated. [N.P.
;JJoshi, "Matrka Figures in Sculptures at Mathura," in Investigating
iJndian Art, p. 159.] In the Gupta period the miitrkiis with children stand as well
fas sit. The seated miitrkiis in both the and Gupta periods are often
ts.hown squatting on low stools; in some instances the seats are so high as to give
8 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
. appearance,of chairs, with the mothers seated with both legs pendant (par-
yankasana or pratambapadasana).
17. Benoytosh Bhattacharyya, The Indian /!uddhist Iconography (reprint.
Calcutta: Firma K.L. Mukhopadhyay, 1968):245. .
18. Dipak Chandra Bhattacharyya, Studies in Buddhist Iconography (N
Delhi: Manohar, 1978):23. ew
19. Pratapaditya Pal, "Two Buddhist Paintings from Nepal," BUlletin oj
the Museum van Aziatische Kunst (Rijksmuseum Amsterdam) 5, no. 43 (/967)'
appendix III. .
20. These associations could be pursued. For example, Gaur!, which
means yellow, may refer to corn or grain, thus giving Lajja Gaur! a possible
association with both the goddess giving birth to corn and Vasudhara who
holds the of corn.
21. Sonawane, "Some Remarkable Sculptures of Lajja Gaur! from
Gujarat," p. 33. Sonawane illustrates several Lajja Gaur! images in which wor-
shippers are included, and, as with the worshipper in our Aurangabad panel,
they are kneeling female figures with their hands held in afijalimudra.
22. See note 7 above. Elizabeth Rosen that of the Ik(,vakus "all the
men of the royal family were Hindus, usually Saivites ... while most of the royal
women were Buddhists and patronized Buddhist monuments for the benefit6f
thier Hindu spouses and kin." Rosen, "Buddhist Architecture and Lay Patron-
age at NagarjunakoI,H;la," in The Stilpa: Its Religious, Historical and Architectural Sige
niJicance ed. Anna Libera Dallapiccola (Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag,
1980): 114.
23. Cf. Berkson, The Caves at Aurangabad, p. 223
24. See Sankalia, "The Nude Goddess or 'Shameless Woman' in Western
Asia, India, and South-Eastern Asia," Fig. 7. This image is unfortunately badly
worn and is broken in the pubic area, so that it cannot be stated categorically
that she is nude. Nevertheless, the posture of the legs indicates that she was.
25. As with the Lajja Gaur! in figure 6, the goddess is often depicted
without a head.
26. Geri H. Malandra finds that "there is a clear connection between.
Caves 21 [Ellora J and 6 [AurangabadJ, especially the shrine doors and
sculptural styles of some images." She suggests there was a common workshop
and, by inference, a common time period when these caves were being made.
(Personal letter)
27. I am following Walter Spink herein assigning these to the Kalacurls:
Walter Spink, Ajanta to Ellora (Bombay: Marg Publications, n.d. [1967J):9. The
caves that date to this period at Aurangabad are 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9.
o 28. See John C. Huntington in Suan L. Huntington, The Art rif Ancient
India (New York and Tokyo: Weatherhill, 1985):267-68 and John C. Hun-
tington, "Cave Six at Aurangabad: A Tantrayana Monument?", in Kaliidarfana:
American Studies in the Art rifIndia, ed. Joanna G. Williams (New Delhi: Oxford & .
IBH Publishing Co., 1981):52.
29. See Berkson, The Caves at Aurangabad, p. 226
30. At least I see no reason, based on the style of the admittedly badly
eroded images in the Brahmanical Cave, to place this cave in a different period
second half of the 6th century) than that which appears reasonable for
fthe later caves (Caves 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9) at Aurangabad. Needless to say, any
dating of the Brahmanical Cave will require a detailed analysis. The
image in the cave, centered on the back wall, is Gal).eSa, who serves to
the row of saptamiitrkiis which continues onto the back from the
right wall, the first image of which is Siva. A Durga is to the left of
YGaJ].eSa on the back wall. The proper left wall has images of the Buddha. See
l:Berkson, The Caves at Aurangabad, pp. 226-8, and R.S. Gupte, '1\. Note on the
iFirst Brahmanical Cave of the Aurangabad Group," Marathwada University Jour-
1, no. 1 (1960-61):173-176. . .
!f 31. Most scholars feel there was a clear break between the Hmdu and
fBuddhist phases at Ellora. (See Spink, Ajanta to Ellora, pp. 9-10.) This may be
for the construction of the caves, but we cannot say whether the occupation
friIthe Hindu caves ended when construction on the Buddhist caves began, par-
tiicularly in light of the Aurangabad Gal).esa Cave that indicates a shared reliii-
tus practice.
32. Compare illustrations on pp. 226 and 120 of Berkson, The Caves at
The identification of these six female figures is uncertain. Berkson,
1ibid., p. 117 identifies them as "prajnas." I assume by this she means piiramitiis,
ljthe sixth of whom would be Prajiiaparamita. Also, see R.S. Gupte, '1\.n Inter-
Panel from the Aurangabad Caves," Marathwada University Joumal 3, no. 2
:59-63. . .
33. The Hindu influence could be argued in much greater depth, for
in terms of the architectural design of the caves.

;. 1a. The Buddha. 6th century A.D., Cave 2, Aurangabad. (photo: Robert
L. Brown)
:" 1 b. Detailoffig. 1 showing Lajja Gaun. (photo: Robert L. Brown)
{ 2. Lajja GaurI. 3rd century A.D., Stone. From Nagarjunikol).c;la. Nagar-
junikol).c;la Museum. (photo: Robert L. Brown)
3. Birth Scene. 12th century AD., Bhatkal, Karl).ataka. (photo:
:Archaeological Survey ofIndia)
4. Goddess. Ca. 2nd-1st century B.C., Terra-cotta, H:5.7 cm. From
lChandraketugarh. Indian Art Special Purposes Fund, Los Angeles County
"N.[useum of Art. (photo: Los Angeles County Museum of Art)
5. Miitrkii (proper left figure) with Kubera. 2nd century AD., Stone,
H:17.8 cm. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Subhash Kapoor, Los Angeles County
,Museum of Art. (photo: Los Angeles County Museum of Art)
6. Lajja GaurY. 7th-8th century AD., Stone, H:91 cm. From Alampur.
Alampur Museum. (photo: Robert L. Brown)
10 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
(Figure la.)
(Figure lb.)
]IABS VOL. 13 NO.2
(Figure 4.)
]IABS VOL. 13 NO.2
'Sa-skya" Pa1J.dita the "Polemicist":
!Ancient Debates and Modern Interpretations
!l;J DavidJackson
11 am not overfond qf polemicals;
!they are almost as bad as galenicals.
, B. Barton (1844)1
bne of the reasonS for the lasting fame of the great Tibetan sav-
Sa-skya Pa1).<;iita (1182-1251) was his reasoned criticisms of
r2ertain of the interpretations and practices of his fellow Bud-
in Tibet. and philosophical criticisms,
he expressed In such maJor works as the sDom gsum rab
Thub pa'i dgongs gsal and Tshad rna rigs gter, inspired a large
['humber of further comments by later generations of Sa-skya-
and after a silence of about three centuries, they
provoked a number of detailed rebuttals from the Dwags-
bKa'-brgyud-pa schools, among others. Lately Sa-skya
critical writings have also begun to attract the atten-
of modern scholars, with the result that three discussions
!!Sn related topics have appeared so far in the present journal
3 Though some of the conclusions reached in them need
be reexamined, these articles have contributed to a better
of the history of doctrinal interpretation in
"ibetan Buddhism and the important role Sa-skya Pa1).<;iita (or
as he is known for short) played in it. They have also
thought-provoking, helping as they do to bring into focus
number of methodological questions regarding both the
of traditional Buddhist scholarship and how modern
can best study the tradition.
It is a truism that before you can accurately evaluate a
rgiven scholarly contribution, you need to determine what its
. proposed aims and methods were. This holds just as true for '.
article of modern scholarship as for. a tradt
tIOnal treatIse penned by a 13th-century savant. Usually
can agree with or at least understand the proposed method
and basic goals aimed at in a work of scholarship, whereas it'
ir: the realm where most disagreements arisd:
SImply to clanfy the alms and methods often helps resolv';
problems or at least helps establish an agreed
within which the problems can be better addressed and under::
stood. In the present study I would therefore like to reexamine!
three contributions on "Sa-skya Pal).c;lita the
namely those. by Roger Jackson, Leonard van der Kuijp, and'
Michael Broido, trying to clarify their purposes and methods
and then taking another look at some of their conclusions.
The Three Articles
(AJ Roger Jackson: A First Attempt
Roger Jackson began the discussion with his article "Sa skya;
pal).c;lita's Account of the bSam yas, Debate: History as'
Polemic."5 He concerned himself here not with a direct study
of the doctrinal debate that is held to have taken placea(
bSam-yas in the late 8th century, but aimed instead at coni
tributing to a "history of history," i.e., he attempted tel;.
examine Sa-pal).'s account of the debate in order to show how:
this account reflected the more contemporary concerns of its,'
author. To do this, he translated the historical passage from Sai,
pai),'s treatise the Thub pa'i dgongs gsal and then extracted
elements which he took to show a willful altering of the
tion by Sa-pal). to suit his own doctrinal purposes. ' :f!
R.J. advanced two main theses as being probably
about Sa-pal).'s account: (1) that Sa-pal). altered the wording of.
the argumentation within the account of the debate in order to,:
accord with his own interest in logic, and (2) that he attempted,
to discredit his contemporary bKa'-brgyud-pa opponents bX
ascribing their doctrine called White Panacea to the Chines(
master at the bSam-yas debate. In other words, R.J. accused}
Sa-pal). of tampering with the historical transmission of thi(
account and, worse still, with falsifying the account for the puri"
pose of fabricating evidence that he or others could then turIl!

agalDst doctrinal opponents. These are fairly
against a figure who IS acknowledged by the BuddhIsts of TIbet
to be one of the greatest lights in their religious and intellectual
How did R.J. attempt to establish these allegations? His
primary method was to argue from the absence of sources that
prove to the contrary. In the first case (p. 94) he reasoned that
"in no other account . .. is the dilemma employed so consistently."
Therefore: "In the absence qf any corroborating evidence, it is safest to
assume that the speech attributed to Kamalalla by Sa skya
Pa1).c;lita reflects more closely what a Buddhist logician would
like the acarya to have said than what he actually said" (italics
mine) .
On the second point too his reasoning was similar. He
summarized his argumentation very clearly (p. 96): "The con-
clusion is reasonable because [a] the White Panacea is men-
tioned as the bSam yas Chinese school in no other text) [bJ there
.is no evidence that there ever existed any Chinese school called
the White Panacea,6 [c ] there is no other indication that the White
.panacea existed as far back as the eighth century, ... and [dJ Sa
Skya Pal)c;lita's virulent opposition to the White Panacea and
other miihamudrii teachings gave him a motive for attempting to
discredit them." (Italics mine.)
The great danger or even the fallacy of arguing from "si-
lence" or from a lack of available sources showing the contrary
is well known in historiography. The trouble in many cases is
that sources supporting the very opposite can turn up at any
time. And this is precisely what has happened here. A version
of the sEa bzhed early Tibetan history which contains Sa-pal)'s
version of the debate almost verbatim was published from Beij-
ing in 1980, showing that Sa-pal)'s account in its wording and
content could well have been a faithful transmission of
received tradition.
(Sa-pal) himself was aware of the possibil-
ity that his account of the debate might be doubted, and there-
fore in the Thub pa)i dgongs gsal and elsewhere he took pains to
mention his sources, though what these sources were was
apparently not clearly understood by R.J.)B That recently pub-
lished version of the sEa bzhed and another newly available
source, the Chos )byung ofNyang-ral (fl. 12th c.), show now that
the "White Panacea" (Tib.: dkar po chig thub) is mentioned in
other probably earlier sources as a doctrine of the Chinese at
20 ]IABS VOL. 13 NO.2
the bSam-yas debate.
Moreover, the mention of a panacea a
a suitable comparison for the simultaneous (cig car) and sell
sufficient method occurs in the Tun-Huang Chinese material
in a work attributed to the Chinese master who is said to
participated in fhe controversy, Mo-ho-yen, as has been known
since the publication in 1952 of P. Demieville'sclassic study of
the debate.IO
But one of the reasons advanced by R.J. to prove his thesis
remains to be considered-the one which supposedly estab-
lished Sa-pal)'s motive for doctoring the historical account.
This was namely that Sa-skya opposition to the
White Panacea and other Mahamudra teachings was "viru"
lent" or "violent.': The .implication to be that Sa-pal)
would stoop to dIrty tncks to get hIS way, so great was his
animosity toward his opponents. But where is there evidence of
"virulence" or "violence" in what Sa-pal) says about the dkar
po chig thub doctrine in his Thub pa'i dgongs gsal, sDom gsum rab
dbye, or other works? His opposition is certainly strong, but it
is reasoned and principled, and is directed against doctrines
and not persons. For this, R.J. did not cite any evidence from
Sa-pal)'s writings, but rather refers to the interesting defence()f
the bKa' -brgyud-pa dkar po chig thub teaching assembled ina
fairly even-handed way by Thu'u-bkwan Chos-kyi-nyi-ma
(1737-1802) in his famed Grub mtha' shel gyi me long (kha 24b ff.)
Thu'u-bkwan here evinces considerable respect toward Sa-pal).
even when voicing his disagreements with him.ll There is no
evidence here at least that Sa-pal)'s views should be considered
"violent" or "virulent." Therefore the reasoning of RJ. here
seems to me to be either somewhat circular ("Sa-pal) attemp-
ted to discredit them because he wanted to discredit or
it is an attack upon the character of Sa-pal) the man ("He
attempted to discredit them because he was driven by virulent
and violent animosities"). But R.J. did not give the impression.
of trying to make a lot of easy mileage out of this kind of
argumentation, and he displayed even a certain sympathy for
Sa-pal) by trying to reconstruct the thought processes that
might have led him to his conclusions (p. 95).
A few additional remarks might be added about R.].'s
translation and findings. Though his translation is genera.lly
reliable, it breaks down in the key sentences in which the dkar
po chig thub doctrine is described or characterized. He
(p. 91): " ... When one examines the mind, that is the
Panacea." And (p. 92): " ... Meditating non-discur-
ksively, one attains Buddhahood just by the examination of the
ttnind." And, finally (p. 93): " ... the White Panacea, which
that Buddhahood is attained by pointing to the mind."
l;rhe key terms which R.J. rendered as "examines the mind"
"pointing to the mind" are sems rtogs "to understand the
of] mind and sems ngo 'phrod "directly to meet and rec-
Kognize the [nature of] mind." An understanding of these key
is a prerequisite for grasping what was mainly at issue
for Sa-pal)., and they will be discussed in more detail
Jf Another point, this one of a more methodological nature,
fkas to do with R.J.'s total reliance upon the writings of other
(including passages from works criticizing Sa-pal).'s
in order to gain his .understandirig of the main criti-'
ilsms attempted by Sa-pal). III the sDom gsum rab dbye. Though
lin the account of the bSam-yas debate found in the Thub pa'i
f&gongs gsal KamalaSlla indeed refutes what he takes to be a sort
lpf nihilistic quietism involving the rejection of words, deeds
tend conceptual thought, in the sDom gsum rab dbye Sa-pal). him-
criticizes the dkar po chig thub notion of the bKa'-brgyud-
Ipas along not entirely identical lines, and he is not out to refute
his specific target a tradition which embraced the rejection
ror all "mentation" (yid la byed pa: manasikara).13 Moreover he
taid not claim that the practice of bodhicitta generation was not
'f;followed by his opponents; on the contrary, he tried to point out
lihat his opponent's practice of bodhicitta was incompatible with
lihe special claims of self-sufficiency they seemed to make about
practice of Mahamudra as dkar po chig thub and indeed with
fthe very concept chig thub. These points will be discussed again
tpelow in more detail, but for now it is to remind our-
rselves of the obvious-that in polemical writings the oppo-
;$ent's view may receive a somewhat slanted or even distorted
[presentation. It behooves the modern researcher to read, to the
that it is still possible, the views of both sides in their
!,9riginal contexts.
ii. It is safe to conclude that an interpretative, second-order
of history" of this kind, though an interesting under-
I!aking in principle, was in practice here premature given the
number of primary sources utilized and the lack of
]IABS VOL. 13 NO.2
thorough and definitive "first-order" studies. Roger Jacks
basic insight that Sa-pal). used "history" in the Thubpa)i dg
n s
gsal to add weight to a doctrinal criticism was correct
certainly worth noting. But it was wrong to try to wring t IS
much from the available evidence. 00
(E) L. van der Kuijp: A Note on Newly Available Sources
The second contribution to this discussion was a brief note by
L. der Kuijp entitled "On the for Sa-skya
Pal).<;iItas Notes on the bSam-yas Debate. 14 It appeared some
four years later and was an attempt at disproving R. Jackson;s
basic thesis that Sa-pal). had unfairly employed history as
polemic or that Sa-pal). "was the first Tibetan scholar to 'use'
Hva shang Mahayana in this way, and ... perhaps the most
egregious .... " To demonstrate this, van der Kuijp listed a num-
ber of historical sources that R.]. did not have access to or did
not use. To begin with, he mentioned (p. 148) one important
source predating Sa-pal).'s Thub pa'i dgongs gsal, viz. the Cho;
)byung of Nyang-ral Nyi-ma'i-'od-zer (1124-1192 or
and also pointed out a close correspondence between it and the
parallel passages found in the Thub pa)i dgongs gsal and in
another of Sa-pal).'s works, the sKyes bu dam pa rnams la spring
ba'i yi ge. He also (pp. 149f) traced a number of references to
the word dkar po chig thub as the name of a drug within Tibetan
medicine. Finally he mentioned (p. 151) the existence of the
recently-discovered version of the sBa bzhed published from
Beijing, which gives the Thub pa)i dgongs gsal account almost
verbatim, and said that a similar account was attributed
explicitly to "the sEa bzhed" by the sDom gsum rab dbye commen-
tator sPos-khang-pa (fl. early-15th c.) and by the bKa'c
brgyud-pa historian dPa'-bo gTsug-lag-phreng-ba.
Van der Kuijp summarized his conclusions as follows (p ..
151): "This would seem to indicate that the association of dkar
po chig thub with the Chinese goes back to pre-phyi dar [i.e. pre':
11 th c.] Tibetan literature, and that there just might be
substance to Sa pal).'s linkage of some of the Dwags po bKa';
brgyud pa doctrines with those promulgated by the Chinese in
eighth-century Tibet." 16 Then he concluded on a more
note, pointing out the necessity to investigate the exact
'rents of dkar po chig thub, leaving open the possibility that they
were very different for the Hwa-shang and the later Dwags-po
bKa' -brgyud -paY
(C) JYf. Broido: Reinterpretations with the Help qfPadma-dkar-po
:The third contribution on this topic, that of Michael Broido,
was an article entitled "Sa-skya Pal)Q.ita, the White Panacea
and the Hva-shang Doctrine."18 It is unlike the first two in its
aims and methods, and it raises methodological questions of a
. quite different nature because it attempts not to describe or
analyze a sectarian controversy but rather to revive or reenact
At present, detailed investigations that treat or compare
the doctrines of more than one master from different schools
and eras are very difficult within the scholarly discipline of
Tibetan Buddhist studies. This is true first of all because defini-
tive descriptions and analyses of the main masters and their
systems have yet to be made. At this stage non-Tibetan schol-
';m are just beginning to map out the most salient and impor-
tant features in this still largely unknown terrain by studying
.the major treatises of individual major Tibetan teachers in
order to describe their main doctrinal conclusions as well as
.the methods and circumstances that led to them. For the pres-
ent, it is usually an ambitious enough project just to try to
understand a given master in his own terms and within the
context of his own school.
This prospect of doing largely synchronous and descrip-
tive studies may sound somewhat limited and unappealing,
but I am not suggesting that such investigations should be pur-
sued in a complete historical vacuum. One of the most interest-
ing things to try to learn is what the great masters thought of
their predecessors' and contemporaries' doctrines. Often the
best way to understand a particular teaching is as a further
development or opposing reaction to what has gone before,
and so sometimes one must simply plunge in, knowing the limi-
tations of one's own knowledge. But the danger in doing so is
that one is probably not in a position to do the second tradition
justice in drawing comparisons and reaching conclusions. Now
24 lIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
if such dangers exist for ordinary comparative studies, then th
situation is of course even trickier when one attempts to treat e
full-blown doctrinal controversy. And aJair and impartial pr
sentation becomes even more difficult if the modern schol:
also has a personal stake in the outcome of the debate-i.e ,.r
., I
the scholar has partly or wholly adopted the tradition of one
master and tries to present to the world the contents of a con-
troversy in which that master was in basic disagreement with
one of his opponents. In the practice of scholarship, the goal
must always be to present both sides of a debate as accurately
as possible. But this goal is unattainable if a scholar adopts the
prejudices of one side and treats the ideas of the other side asa
priori unworthy of serious consideration.
The fundamental problem with Broido's article, in my
view, is that he has adopted a traditional sectarian approach
and in doing so he has not made any effort to
the innate weaknesses of this one-sided method. He does n()t
concern himself with investigating or describing the views of
Sa-skya PaI).Q.ita except very cursorily; mainly he repeats theii'
rebuttal by the 16th-century bKa' -brgyud-pa scholar
dkar-po, though with some additional discussions and expan-
sions. Broido's special expertise on Padma-dkar-po to some
extent compensates for the shortcomings of his approach. But
in the study of a controversial discussion, I believe the main
challenge is to understand what both sides have to say andtq
present the disagreement from both points of view. In this
respect B.'s article leaves much to be desired. I cannot claim tq
have achieved in the following pages this ideal balance either,
but I hope that by my presenting here Sa-paI).'s views a
more clearly and assembling more references to the opinions of
both sides, future discussions of the controversy can be more
balanced and fruitful.
The Main Aim and the Theses to be Proven
B.'s main aim in writing his article was to show that
was guilty in his sDom gsum rab dbye of a completely unfair and:
unjustified polemic against the bKa'-brgyud-pa (which forB;;
is primarily represented by the later scholar Padma-dkar-po,
11527-1592J and the 'Brug-pa school). In order to do this, he
presents Padma-dkar-po's defence of certain Mahamudra doc-
"trines (mainly from Padma-dkar-po's Phyag chen rgyal baJi gan
rndzod) in reply to some ofSa-pal).'s "attacks" found in the sDom
gsum rab dbye.
...... B. begins his article by summarizing his understanding of
Sa-pal).'s negative attitude towards thedkar po chig thub doc-
trine, outlining what he (B. himself) takes to be the basic idea
behind this term for the bKa'-brgyud-pas, and then asserting
(po 28) that Sa-pal). in his sDom gsum rab dbye "ignores the views
of the bKa'-brgyud-pas and takes the word to stand for a com-
plete quietism, a 'do-nothing' attitude towards the doctrine,
and claims further that this was the heresy of the Hva-shang."
B. then tells us that he will present Padma-dkar-po's reply to
... "some of these attacks" and advances nine particular theses of
his own for which he will bring forward evidence. These nine
theses (numbered A through K, with I and J missing) can be
divided into three groups according to their subject matter:
[1.J The first four mainly have to do with showing the cor-
rect bKa'-brgyud-pa view on dkar po chig thub and showing that
Sa-pal). was accordingly wrong about it:
A. That dkar po chig thub was used by Zhang Tshal-pa in the
~ e n s e of" (mahiimudrii as) the only cure for the defilements" and
that this was in order to convey a particular idea.
B. That evidence is lacking for a systematic use of the term
before Zhang Tshal-pa.
C. That Padma-dkar-po never uses the term on his own
account, though he accepts the thesis of Zhang Tshal-pa.
D. That Sa-pal). in the sDom gsum rab dbye was not working
with any clear conception (1) of the term dkar po chig thub or (2)
of the Hva-shang doctrine.
[II.J With the second half of thesis D, Broido reaches his
second main contention, namely that Sa-pal). has misrep-
resented the bKa'-brgyud-pa position in his comparing it to
the doctrine of the Hwa-shang. B. asserts (D-2) that Sa-pal).
'was unclear about the Hwa-shang doctrine and:
E. That Padma-dkar-po rejects that his tradition merely
follows the Hwa-shang tradition.
26 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
, F. in this, mainly follows
the posItIOn of KamalasIla, though sometImes he agrees with
the Hwa-shang. And further that Sa-pa:tt.has failed to differe
tiate the notions of amanasikiira as used by the H wa-shang and.'
by Maitrlpada. , .,
G. That Sa:'pa:tt's identification of the "sudden gate"
ings of the Hwa-shang and the "sudden path" of the
brgyud-pas was confused.
That the notion of the path" personality'
applIes only to the tantras. In the sutras the problem never
[IlL] The final thesis ofB. has to do with the alleged peL
sonal motivation of Sa-pa:tt for making a certain criticism in'
the sDom gsum rab dbye, namely:
K. That Sa-pa:tt has attacked the "five aspects" lNga ldan
system of the 'Bri-gung-pa with particular force, and that thii"
may be explained by his personal animosity toward
gru-pa rDo-rje-rgyal-po. "
The Term dkar po chig thub
B. starts out by trying to establish the basic meaning of
term dkar po chig thub in general and then to clarify exactly.
what the early bKa'-brgyud-pa masters, and Zhang
(Zhang g.Yu-brag-pa brTson-'grus-grags-pa, 1123-1193)iri
particular, understood by the term. There is nothing wrong'
with using a later, more systematized layer of the tradition'
such as the writings ofPadma-dkar-po to help clarify an earlier,'
level of that tradition-as B. indeed does-but the primarY;:':
sources should naturally be the writings of the early
brgyud-pa masters who used the term.,i',
The dkar po chig thub, as B. realizes, is a medical metaphor.
applied to a spiritual practice or realization.
He, along with"
R. Jackson and L. van der Kuijp, employs the conventional:;
English rendering "white panacea" for this term. But neithefls
he nor other scholars have ever investigated or explained the)
term itself in any detail. It is clear, however, that originally the
term literally signified a certain white (dkar po) drug that
believed by itself alone (chig) to be able (thub) to effect a cure;;::;
hence, dkar po chig thub was a white self-sufficient "simple"()fJ;'
!;'l'nedical remedy of one constituent.
The key element of the
lterm is chig thub: "singly or solely (chig) capable or efficacious
)." The expression chi thub po. was already in the
of s. c. Das as to be able to do a thmg alone," and
t!in the Bod rgya tshig mdzod chen rna, we find chig thub defined as:
l"'which helps by itself' and "independently able" (gcig.pus phan
pa dang / rang rkya 'pher ba). In medicine the word has the
sense, as shown in the recent dictionary of medical
ba rig pa'i tshig mdzod g.yu thog dgongs rgyan, where chig
tthub sman is defined as: "a term for a medicine that possesses
property [lit.: the power] of being able to overcome the dis-
t'ease by itself singly, without depending on such things as coin-
[;pounding (sbyor sde) and an 'assistant' [grogs, i.e., another drug
together with it?] ."21
As a metaphor for a religious doctrine or practice, a dkar
chig thub is likewise a "panacea" of a similar "simple" and
t!self-sufficient kind. It is a teaching through which, by the
of realizing or knowing this one thing alone (gcig shes), a
tperson is able to be completely liberated (kun grol). Or to use
lanother expression familiar to the bKa'-brgyud-pa tradition
ri(padma-dkar-po, rGyal ba'i gan mdzod 55a.6), it is the notion
by a single understanding or realization, all stages and
are traversed (rtogs pa gcig gis sa lam ma lus pa b grad). In
words, whether it was a medicine or a doctrine, a dkar po
thub was thought to be a single thing which was sufficient
l'to effect the complete desired result. So while the English word
1"panacea" captures some of the word's semantic range (a dkar
chig thub is by extension also a cure-all or "universal
f}nedicine"), the Tibetan chig thub fundamentally denotes "sim-
self-suffiCiency," or the capability to do a thing alone.
That this was the sense of the term for many early and
;,jater bKa'-brgyud-pas is attested to by various sources. Thu'u-
(kha 26a.4) quotes from the Phyag chen
tgsal sgron ofNor-bzang:
The early bKa' -brgyud-pa masters' terming of the cultivation
of Mahamudra as the "White Self-sufficient Simple" (dkar po
chig thub) had in mind that the ultimate fruit will be attained
simply (gcig pus) by means of the meditative cultivation ofulti-
mate reality through the Original Mind's having arisen as the
nature of the Great Bliss.
28 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
. rDo-rje-shes-rab (fl. 13th c.), a disciple of'Bri-gung Shes-rab_
'byung-gnas (1187-1241), gets at the same thing i
his dGongs gcig )grel pa rdo shes ma (dGongs gcig yig cha, It
407 = 22b):
The lord 'sGam-po-pa, drawing a metaphor. from medicin
said: "This [teaching] of mine [of the] seeing ofthe nature e
mind is called 'the White Self-'sufficient Simple.'" To that sorn
. , e
great scholars have saId:.!
"Does that White Self-sufficient Simple of yours need bodhicitta
and dedication of merit or not? If it needs them, the Self-
sufficient [or Singly Efficacious] Simple will become triple."
[But] it has been authoritatively taught: "It is sufficient even
doing [it] without merit dedication and bodhicitta which are
other than the White Self-sufficient Simple. From the
standpoint ofliberation from cyclic existence with its three COS"
mic spheres, even taking the White Self-sufficient Simple by
itself alone is sufficient."23 ..... .
Zhang Tshal-pa teaches some of the same ideas near the begin-
ning of his treatise, the Phyag chen lam zab [or: lam mchogJ mthar
thug, though not using the term dkar po chig thub:
[When] one definitely understands [the nature of] one's owri
mind, all the gnoses of nirviir;.a will arise as great bliss.
fore, since everything without exception issues forth from one's
own mind alone, if one recognizes the reality of one's OWIl
mind, one will come to know the reality of all sentient beings.
[By] knowing that, one knows all dharmas such as nirviiTfa.
Thoroughly understanding all dharmas, one passes beyond the
whole of the three-realm [universe]. By knowing the one) one
becomes learned in all. If the root falls over, the leaves naturally fall
over. Therefore establish only [the nature of] one's own mind.24
B. 's portrayal of how the term dkar po chig thub was
stood by the early bKa' -brgyud -pas is somewhat different. To
begin with he takes it (p. 27) as basically indicating a cure-all,
but that when used by bKa'-brgyud-pas such as Zhang Tshal-
pa on their own account, the idea is that once the disease has
been cured, "there is no need to take any further medicine."
.Then on p. 28 he says that Zhang Tshal-pa uses it in the sense
,of" (mahiimudra as) the only cure for the defilements," thus
departing significantly from the idea of a cure-all. What, then,
does this notion of "only cure" convey? B. says it means that
"once mahiimudra has been attained, there is no more. effort to
ibe made, and the practitioner should act effortlessly .... "
He believes this to be plainly supported by Zhang Tshal-pa's
>dKar po c/Zig thub tu bstan pa chapter of the Phyag chen lam zab
mthar thug, but he fails to show how or where the text indicates
the sense of "only cure" or enjoins the practitioner to act in any
;Way, effortlessly or not. Actually, the main point of the chapter
is rather to describe what is effortlessly and simultaneously
brought to perfect completion by the practicer in the moment
of understanding the nature of one's own mind, namely: the
totality of all excellent spiritual qualities or attainments. B.
believes (p. 54) that this chapter mainly shows how the various
aspects of the Buddhist path "are complete when various condi-
tions are satisfied" (italics mine), thus missing the central point
that it is this very realization of the nature of mind which is
taken here to be by itself sufficient for bringing the path instan-
taneously to its highest, final fruition, i.e., to Buddhahood.
That this is the gist of Zhang Tshal-pa's teaching in this chap-
ter is indicated in the first verse:
In the moment of realizing [the true nature of] one's own mind,
all "white" (i.e., excellent, virtuous) qualities without, excep-
tion are effortlessly completed simultaneously.25
According to ZhangTshal-pa, in the understanding of (the true
nature of) one's own mind (rang sems rtogs pa) all the excellent
realizations of the path and of Buddha hood come to perfection.
Namely, all these excellent qualities are brought to perfection
instantly and simultaneously in the realization of mind itself
(sems nyid), whose nature is for instance like the sky (bar snang
Ita bu) and free from all discursive elaborations (spros bral).
B. (p. 31) explains that " ... the whole chapter is a series of
aphorisms listing the various stages of Buddhist practice and
'saying what has to be the case for them to be complete. This question
of completeness is adumbrated for the moment of abhisam-
30 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
bodhi." He then refers to the abhisambodhi chapter of th
AbhisamayiilaT(lkiira and Padma-dkar-po's notes on that.

surely Zhang Tshal-pa was not expressing or basing himself 0
the latter doctrine here. The idea is rather that all attainment
are won or perfected simultaneously in the moment that th S
gcig-car individual gains the insight into mahiimudrii; the notio e
of stages or of gradual attainments is thus excluded for one
achieves this realization. For such a one, the fruit is already
complete. That this was a radical doctrine liable to misin-
terpretation was no doubt felt by Zhang Tshal-pa himself, for
he felt it necessary to add four final lines to the end of the chapc
ter as a sort of afterthought or corrective, these lines
ing that until one has reached this insight that destroys the
postulation of a substantial self, there does exist a conventional
path of practices along with the fruition of karma and the
imperative to avoid evil and cultivate virtue.27
According to B., Zhang Tshal-pa expressed his thesis using
the term dkar po chig thub in the sense of " '( mahiimudrii as) the
only cure for defilements,' that is, to convey the idea that once
mahiimudrii has been attained, there is no more effort to be
made, and the practitioner should act effortlessly." The idea.
that there is no more effort to be made once mahiimudrii is
attained belongs to a closely related set of concepts and it is
also there by implication, but what Zhang Tshal-pa actually
makes explicit here is more positive, namely that all spiritual.
attainments are brought to perfection spontaneously and
effortlessly in the moment of the realization of one's mind as
mahiimudrii. The term dkar po chig thub is in fact nowhere
explicitly defined in the chapter, and Zhang Tshal-pa actually
uses it only once there, i.e., in the title appearing at the chap-
ter's end. There it is used metaphorically to characterize the
main point of the chapter: that the realization of the nature of
mind is sufficient in and of itself to bring about instantaneously
the consummation of all virtuous qualities, including Buddha-
hood itself. 28
It is good that B. took the trouble to quote from this
tant text at length because it illustrates a dkar po chig thub notion
<is it was taught by a great master prior to Sa-pal)., and not how
it was later interpreted (if we exclude the possibility of later
editorial changes or additions to the text). As for B.'s ow:r:
understandings of the term dkar po ehig thub, however, I think
they were based not on the contents of this chapter but rather
on something else, perhaps another occurrence of the term in
Zhang Tshal-pa in the chapter on "vows" (dam tshig) from
which B. quotes the last three lines after commenting (p. 54):
"the whole subject of the [dKar po ehig thub] chapter is not going
beyond this completeness. Zhang Tshal-pa makes this even more
explicit in an earlier passage."29 The last two verses of the pas-
sage B. then refers to could be translated as follows:
Having seen the nature of one's mind, one should abandon all
harm to the mind.
After the realization of non-duality has arisen, one should
avoid all specially directed activities (ched du bya ba). (3)
In all cases one's own mind should be made the "judge" (lit.:
"the witnessing arbiter," dpang po).
Having realized the reality of not going outside "the true nature
of things" (dbyings) , that "not-to-be-guarded" (srung du med) is
the highest pledge. [It] is called the "White Self-sufficient Sim-
ple." (4)
Here too the term dkar po ehig thub is not defined, though the
ultimate reality inherent in one's own mind (and specifically
realizing it as the "not-to-be-guarded") is taken to be the
singly decisive factor even in the context of vows or pledges.
As Zhang said (v. 4a): "In all cases one's own mind should be
made the 'judge.'"
B. perhaps takes this passage to indicate the fundamental
sense of the term (i.e., as "once mahiirllUdrii has been attained,
there is no more effort to be made, and the practitioner should
act effortlessly") because Zhang also states here: "After the
realization of non-duality has arisen, one should avoid all
specifically directed activities (ehed du bya ba)." In addition,
Padma-dkar-po too seems to be getting at something similar in
a comment that B. translates (p. 41):, "To seek for another
means after having attained this mahiimudrii would be like look-
ing for the same elephant which one had already found and
abandoned [and this is the point of the White Panacea]" (the
comment in square brackets was added by B.).32 On the other
hand, there can be no doubt that Zhang understood the term
32 ]IABS VOL. 13 NO.2
.dkar po ehig thub as a metaphor standing for a singly efficaci
or self-sufficient means, for he has used the term and
unequivocally in another work, the NJan: ngag snying po gsal
bstan beos. There, he speaks of pleasing the religious mast
(w.ho will i.ntroduce. disciple t? the
bemg the smgly declSlve factor whlch brmgs about realizatio
independently and without recourse to other things:33 n
That which pleases the guru
brings about full completion without depending on anything
that is the great "White Self-sufficient Simple."
Zhang Tshal-pa thus uses the term dkar po ehig thub in at least
three different contexts-i.e., soteriology, gnoseology, and
ethics-and in each case uses it to characterize a single factor
which he believed to be by itself sufficient to effect the highest
good. In his view: (1) the evocation of the realized guru's
spiritual power or grace is sufficient by itself to effect reaIiza-.
tion in the qualified student, (2) the insight into the nature of
mind so conferred to the disciple is sufficient to actualize all
enlightened qualities and realizations, and (3) the liberating.
insight into the nature of mind likewise has the power to
resolve all moral dilemmas.
Further Theses about the dKar po chig thub
B. further aims to show (thesis B) that there was no systematic
use of the term in a technical sense before Zhang Tshal-pa or
as part of any doctrinal scheme. This would indeed be worth
trying to demonstrate, but in the end B. never translates or dis-
cusses in detail the known instances of sGam-po-pa's use ofthe
term (two of which he lists on p. 63, n. 9), and he makes no
effort to show that they were less "systematic" or "technical"
than Zhang Tshal-pa's use. If normally sGam-po-pa (1079-
1153) preferred to avoid such terms, would we be wrong in
placing some importance on the exceptional cases when he did
use the term in question? It is very important for understand-
ing the whole controversy to know exactly where and how
sGam-po-pa and other early great bKa' -brgyud-pa masters
ffised this key term, and we can be grateful to B. for also quot-
ring (without translation or discussion) a fragmentary extract
one passage where sGam-pb-pa uses the word. There (p.
the term is glossed by the phrase gcig shes kun grol ("com-
Jplete through knowing one thing").34 .
ThesIs GIS that Padma-dkar-po never uses the on hIS
rbwn account, though he agrees wIth Zhang Tshal-pa s usage of
tthe word. In fact Padma-dkar-po does employ the word at least
!'once in the rGyal ba'i gan mdzod on his own account, i.e., in a
that is not a reply to the criticisms of others. At the end
his Nges tshig mdo rgyud gnyis kar bstan tshul section, Padma-
takes the notion of (Mahamudra as) dkar po chig thub
;'}o refer to an ultimate single "metatheory" of soteriology
iWhich relativizes, so to speak, the concept of the ultimate
fspiritual goal or fruit and integrates it in a special way with the
and the path, in consonance with the tantric notion of
if'making the fruit the path" ('bras bu lam byed). As he states just
fbefore the beginning of the De dkar po chig thub tu 'gro ba'i gnad
pa section (48a.2): "Therefore, though from the
itandpoint of the mind (blo ngor), the stages of 'basis to be
!!IJUrified' (shyang gzhi), 'purifier' (sbyong byed) and 'purified fruit'
'bras) may be acceptable, still in ultimate reality
of the sort is established, and consequently this
!,:Mahamudra has been termed a 'White Self-sufficient Simple'
l(dkarpo chig thub) ."35 This is apparently connected with what B.
Jrefers to on p. 34: "dKar-po chig-thub-remaining in Mahamudra
ias the place of origin of the dharmas-is precisely what holds the
together as one, and so is not itself subject to the notions
! of one and many (gcig dang du bral), even in a purely logical
;sense."36 In any case, thesis C is of no direct relevance to B. 's
'reply to Sa-pal).'s criticisms, although it may have some histori-
cal significance otherwise. Yet I am not clear what inference if
any we are supposed to draw from it-though surely not that
the concepts expressed by the term were unimportant or that
the term was considered problematic by the later tradition as
embodied by Padma-dkar-po.
, Thesis D-l is that Sa-pal). is not working with any clear
conception of the dkar po chig thub in the sDom gsum rab dbye. On
p. 28, B. states very clearly what for him is Sa-pal).'s opinion:
"[Sa-pal).] takes the word to stand for a complete quietism, a
]IABS VOL. 13 NO.2
'do-nothing' attitude toward the doctrine .... " Where did h
find this" clear" conception of Sa-pal)'s view, if Sa-pal) h i m s e l ~
was unclear on this point? It must be admitted that the treat_
ment of the bSam-yas debate is quite abbreviated in the sDo
gsum rab dbye. But I wonder why he di<;l. not look at the accoun:
that he knew to exist elsewhere, such as in the Thub pa'i dgo
gsal. Again in footnote 3 (p. 62) he alleges that ''As in the sDom
gsum rab dbye, so also here [in the Thub pa'i dgongs gsal] Sa skya
Paw;iita makes no attempt to state what he understands by dkar
po chig thub." This may indicate that B. did not go through all
the relevant passages of the work.
Nevertheless, he did trace
two or three of the relevant quotations directly addressed by
Padma-dkar-po back to some version of the sDom gsum rab
But he did not search out or discuss in the main body of
his article any of the other passages which clarify Sa-pal)'s con-
ception of the dkar po chig thub. 39
In a future article I plan to present in more detail the usage
of the term by Sa-pal), but briefly put, for him the dkar po chig
thub signified a self-sufficient simple medicine which had
become a metaphor used by others to characterize a spiritual
method as self-sufficient and singular. He understood the pro-
ponents of this self-sufficient method to maintain in particular
that the attainment of Buddhahood can arise simply through
the understanding (rtogs pa) of the nature of mind (sems) or the
direct meeting and recognition (ngo 'phrod pa) of mind (sems).
B. in a postscript (p. 48) translates one of the passages stating
precisely this, a quotation from the sJ<:yes bu dam pa rnams la
spring baJi yi ge: " ... To know one's own mind is to rise into bud-
dhahood. Thus if the nature of mind is known, there is [i.e. this
is] dkar-po chig-thub ... . "40 Could there be a simpler or clearer
statement of Sa-pal)'s basic conception than this? And in the
Thub pa'i dgongs gsal (tha 48b.5), which was the original point of
departure for R. Jackson's article, Sa-pal) repeats a summary
characterization of the doctrine as attributed to the Hwa-.
shang: "Words have no pith. One will not achieve Buddhahood
through a dharma ofvyavahrira [i.e., involving language and con-
ventional practices]. If one understands the mind, [that] is the
'White Panacea'" (tshig la snying po med tha snyad kyi chos kyis
'tshang mi rgya sems rtogs na dkar po chig thub yin). Sa-pal) presents
the doctrine once again in the same source (49b.2) as main-
tiitaining that "Through a doctrine thaI involves the doing of
ithings to be done [or religious duties?] one will not awaken to
:):J3uddhahood. One awakens to Buddhahood simply through
of mind, having cultivated non-concep-
hualizing" (bya byed kyi chos kyis 'tshang mi rgya bas rnam par mi rtog
bsgoms nas sems rtogs pa nyid kyis 'tshang rgya) .
[Logical Implications as Forciful Attacks
would be tedious to go one-by-one through all the remaining
,'theses and the evidence advanced to prove them; instead, I
"'would like to examine in the following pages his translations of '
fPadma-dkar-po's replies and just a few other passages of par-
iticular methodological interest. Let us begin with the last
Ithesis (i.e., thesis K), in which B. asserted that Sa-paI..1
';attacked the "fivefold" (lNga ldan) system of the 'Bri-gung-pas
'with particular force. The reason suggested for this was Sa-
personal animosity towards rDo-rje-
Where is Sa-paI..1 supposed to have made this attack?
is in the sDom gsum rab dbye where he says (na 34a.2):
Some say that the dedication of merit is needed after cultivating
this "self-sufficient simple" (or "singly efficacious") (chig thub)
[practice]. In that case the "self-sufficient simple" would
become two-fold. If, in addition to that, one requires such
things as going for refuge, the generation of bodhicitta, and
meditative practice involving a tutelary deity, the "self-
sufficient simple" would be manifold. Therefore such a tradi-
tion of a "self-sufficient simple" (chig thub) [practice] has not
been taught by the Buddha.
There is of course nothing here that could be taken as unusu-
allY,hard-hitting or forceful. It is just Sa-paI..1's plainly worded
demonstration of the contradiction he sees implicit in using the
term chig thub ("self-sufficient") to designate one out of two or
more essential elements in a system of religious practice: B.
(p. 34), however, considers this to be a sharp assault formu-
lated "semi-explicitly" against the 'Bri-gung-pas, and he finds
something to be "especially pigheaded" about it as so directed.
36 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
. B. has no doubt correctly understood from Padrna-dka _
po's reply that the lNga ldan ("fivefold") system or a simil r
doctrinal tradition is the implied subject of the criticism (to
extent that it simultaneously maintains a self-sufficient simple
method). B. lists the five factors of this system, as he
stands them, on p. 39:
1. bodhicitta-mahiimudrii
2. devakiiya-m.
3. devotional m.
5. vidyii-m.
In a quotation of'Bri-gung 'Jig-rten-mgon-po given by Thu'u-
bkwan (kha 23a-24a), however, as well as in numerous other
sources, a somewhat different list of the five factors of the lNga
ldan system is found (including one more element of practice
mentioned by Sa-pal) i.e., bsngo ba):
1. byang chub kyi sems bsgom pa (meditative cultivation of
2. rang lus lhar bsgom pa (visualization of one's body as a
3. bla ma la mos gus bsgom pa (cultivation of devotion toward
the guru)
4. mi rtog paJi lta ba bsgom pa (meditative cultivation of the
non-discursive view)
5. bsngo smon gyi rgyas (conclusion through sealing
with a prayer of merit dedication)
Insofar as Sa-pal)'s criticism has to do with the lNga ldan sys-
tem, it probably refers to this standard formulation of it and
not to the apparently mistaken one presented by B.42
Sa-pal)'s analysis here is a continuation of his criticism of
the notion of chig thub and of teachings which claim to be a
single method that is in and of itselfsufficient for effecting the
attainment of Buddhahood. The Sa-skya-pa commentator Go-
rams-pa bSod-nams-seng-ge (1429-1489) (ta 138b.6), who
flourished in the century before Padma-dkar-po, identified
such masters as Dwags-po lha-rje (sGam-po-pa) as the holder
of the views criticized in these lines, namely that the dkar po chig
thub (i.e., mahiimudrii as so characterized) should be practiced
with concluding dedication of merit, or with the introductory
stages of refuge and bodhicitta, and the yi-dam deity visualiza-'
There is no reason to suppose that Go-rams-pa would
r'not have attributed this doctrine to the 'Bri-gung-pas had he
of any special grounds for doing so; he makes a great
such .attributions elsewhere. Another very important Sa-
rskya-pa scholar, Shakya-mchog-ldan (1427-1507), similarly
the originators of the criticized view as "those main-
the tradition of the Lord sGam-po" (rje sgam poJi
f[bjrgyud 'dzin rnams).44 These attributions show that for the Sa-
rskya-pa commentarial tradition too this verse was not a known
of "particular force" specifically against the founder of
'Bri-gung-pa school or against Phag-mo-gru-pa.
Jc Some of B. 's difficulties in interpreting the above passage
::jn the sDom gsum raa dbye may stem from his almost total
freliance upon Padma-dkar-po. The latter's reply to Sa-pal).'s
observations is not always very clear, and the most
;'interesting comments start only after a long series of quota-
At first Padma-dkar-po (50b.5) merely states:
This is a childish criticism. If it is correct, then you too would
not be able yourself to arrange the two stages [of tantric medita-
tion] (krama) as two stages. This is also talk which is blind
regarding the realm of the ultimate truth, [because] in our own
tradition this very thing is the generation of the ultimate
bodhicitta .... 46
thus begins his reply by accusing Sa-pal). of
something here that would be incompatible with the lat-
own system. Evidently he takes Sa-pal). to be denying that
La spiritual practice in general may be two-fold or manifold,
:\Vhich is exactly the opposite of the view Sa-pal). actually main-
In other words, Padma-dkar-po apparently misun-
.derstands this as a criticism of a two-staged practice including
'mahiimudrii and the dedication of merit, instead of as a criticism
,of the validity of the term or concept "self-sufficiency" (chig
thub) within a tradition which mairitains that more than one
.essential element of religious practice is necessary. As his next
'point, Padma-dkar-po replies to Sa-pal).'s question regarding
:whether (relative) bodhicitta (as a preparatory practice for the
,dkar po chig thub) is essential by saying that "in our tradition
;!his [dkar po chig thub] is the ultimate bodhicitta generation." But
38 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
by introducing the ultimate bodhicitta into the discussion and
identifying it as the main practice, he refrains from directly
addressing the real issue. B. in his translation (p. 39) has Corn-
pletely misconstrued the last two sentences of this passage.47
But after his (at least to me) somewhat unclear initial
retorts and after several quotations, Padma-dka::-po finally
does show that he knows very clearly what Sa-par;t IS getting at
(i.e., that he is the [chig
thub]), and he summanzes the dIscuSSIOn at one pomt with the
words (p. 54b.l): "The above [ quotation] shows that by know-
ing that one thing alone, one understands the whole of this
other host of knowable things as clearly as ifit were a myrobalan
fruit laid out in the palm of one's hand. This is what is called in
bKa'-brgyud-pa terminology 'liberation of all [by] knowing
one' (gcig shes kun grol)." Many quotes follow, and one of the
basic points Padma-dkar-po thereby makes is that in many
authentic scriptures a single important teaching or practice is
said to be in some sense sufficient or decisive.
At one point
(55a.6) he summarizes again: "The above quote also shows the
serise of the bKa' -brgyud-pa saying 'By:a single realization, alL
stages and paths are traversed'" (rtogs pa gcig gis sa lam ma lui'
bgrod) , though this sentence has dropped out of B.'s
tion. B. extracts as the main point from these quotes the
iug (p. 40-41): "The essential point is that what is thereby
gained is always the same, even though the methods differ; and ".
so once one method has been pursued to the end, there is no
need to take up another." Then he makes a direct reference to,
a verse by Padma-dkar-po that he quoted at the beginning'of
the article (p. 27), which contains the phrase gcig shes kun grol :
("complete liberation through knowing one thing"). , '
To Sa-par;t's critiCism that a manifold method cannot
reasonably be termed "self-sufficient" or "singly efficacious,"
B. himself (cf. p. 33f) would perhaps reply that the term dkar
po chig thubcan mean various things and in fact covers many of
the meanings ofmahiimudrii, though with some special nuances;!
As a ground and goal it is essentially one, but as a path it is]
various. And in its widest usage as the ultimate single over:"
arching concept and underlying practice of this ultra-soterioP,,'
ogy, it is not subject to conventional logical analysis. In
own terms: "The seal (mudrii) is the understanding that in

case, items of that general category depend on the feature-univ-
ersal for their identity as items of that category." And (p. 34):
"dKar-po chig-thub-remaining in mahiimudrii as the place of ori-
. gin of the dharmas-is precisely what holds the many together
as one, and so is not itself subject to the notions of one and
many (gcig dang du bral), even in a purely conventional logical
. sense. "
This broad interpretation is plausible, and it accords with
Padma-dkar-po in places. But what remains to be done-ifit is
possible-is to trace these interpretations back and demon-
strate that rJe sGam-po-pa and bla-ma Zhang intended this in
their usages of the term.
Personal Animosity and Circumstantial Evidence
The thesis that Sa-pal). in the above-mentioned verses of the
sDom gsum rab dbye has attacked the lNga ldan system with par-
ticular force is not justified, because here Sa-pal). is criticizing
the notion of soteriological self-sufficiency and mentions
the separate elements of the lNga ldan system to point out an
inconsistency with the notion of chig thub (and not to reject a
multiple-element method as such, or to criticize these particu-
lar elements, which he accepts). Nevertheless it may be in-
structive to go on and have a look at the argumentation B.
subsequently gives.
Having apparently not clearly understood what Sa-pal).
was getting at, and having convinced himself that Sa-pal). is an
unprincipled opponent of the worst sort, B. tries to make his
charge stick through circumstantial evidence and traditional
ad hominem attack. By attributing base personal motives to Sa-
paI)., he thinks (p. 34) the whole thing "may become slightly
more comprehensible (though not really excusable)." The line
of reasoning he advances goes something like this:
(1) The attack is perhaps directed against 'Bri-gung 'Jig-rten-
mgon-po, since this system was a 'Bri-gung-pa specialty.
(2) The real originator of the teaching was the latter's teacher,
(3) Phag-mo-gru-pa had been a disciple of Sa-paI).'s grand-
father Sa-chen Kun-dga'-snying-po, but later studied under
40 JIABS VOL. 1.'3 NO.2
(4) After sGam-po-pa's death in 1153, Phag-mo-gru-pa sought
Sa-chen out and tried to speak with him, but had to go aWa
without being able to do so. This mighthave indicated a
out between the two. .
(5) The name of Phag-mo-gru-pa subsequently has not been
heard of much in the Sa-skya-pa tradition.
(6) Therefore "it is tempting to speculate that Sa-skya PaI).Q.ita's
attack on the lnga ldan system may have been motivated by
animosity toward Phag-mo-gru-pa, rather than towards
sGam-po-pa or 'Bri-gung-pa."
What B. assumes is that Sa-pal). is motivated by personal
animosity toward somebody, and that this fairly bland verse in
the sDom gsum rab dbye is not only a doctrinal criticism but also
a personal attack against somebody. Rather than attempting to
address directly the arguments Sa-pal). raises, he replies with a
tempting speculation that amounts to an attack on Sa-pal)'s
character. But in so doing, what he fails to see is that there is
no real need for personal factors to enter into the doctrinal
cussion at this stage. Sa-pal). is criticizing the term and notion
of chig thub. It is perfectly consistent doctrinally for him to make
his criticisms, so what further motive does he need? If Sa-pal)
were departing from his normal doctrine to make a criticism,
then it would be reasonable to search elsewhere for a motive.
Even supposing that personal factors may have been
strongly at work here, there is not sufficient evidence in this
case to establish those that B. suggests. The sources are not
very clear about what transpired on that last meeting between
Sa-chen Kun-dga' -snying-po and Phag-mo-gru-pa rDo-rje-
rgyal-po twenty-five years before Sa-pal).'s birth, and it would
be very problematic to assert that whatever happened, it was
the main factor motivating Sa-pal). some seventy-five years
later when he penned the above verses (he is said to have
written the sDom gsum rab dbye in c. 1232). Certainly Phag-mo-
gru-pa was not a target of hatred or animosity for subsequent
followers of the Sa-skya-pa tradition. The cave where Phag-
mo-gru-pa had meditated in Sa-skya was considered a shrine
worthy of respect, and it was renovated in the 16th century by
the Sa-skya-pa hierarch sNgags-'chang Kun-dga'-rin-chen'
(1517-1584).49 And, as the late Dezhung Rinpoche (1906-1987)
once told me, Phag-mo-gru-pa was spoken of respectfully also
byone ofthe recent main transmitters of the Lam 'bras, sGa-ston
Ngag-dbang-legs-pa (1864-1941), who appreciated his com-
mentary on the (Lam 'bras) rDorje tshig rkang, called the dPe
dzodma. .
The interpretation of what happened between Sa-chen and
.. Phag-mo-gru-pa hinges in large part on the understanding of
a single term found in the Tibetan sources: spyan rtsa 'gyur, an
expression unfortunately not attested in any dictionary accessi-
ble to me. In the Blue Annals of 'Gos lo-tsa-ba gZhon-nu-dpal
.. (nya 69a), the following passage occurs:
de nas yar byon te bla ma sa skya pa chen po de sngar nga la khams pa
shes rab can gsung zhing mnyes / da shes rab Hi 'dra ba skyes pas khong
gi drung du phyin la zhu dgos dgongs nas / slar yang sa skyar byon pas /
da res ni dri ba tsam yang mi mdzad par spyan rtsa 'gyur 'dug pas/
phyir 'ong du phebs nas mtshal sgang du bzhugs.
G. Roerich (p. 559) translated the key sentences: "But on this
occasion Sa-skya-pa did not ask him a single question, and
. seemed to be displeased. Phag-mo-gru-pa returned home."
Thus, Roerich took spyan rtsa 'gyur 'dug to mean "seemed to be
displeased," i.e., to indicate a change in attitude for the worse.
In that case, the whole passage could be translated:
Then [i.e., after completing the stilpa for the recently deceased
sGam-po-pa], he went West [to gTsang], and thinking,
"Previously the bla-ma Sa-skya-pa chen-po referred to me affec-
tionately as 'the Wise Khams-pa'; now that such great dis-
criminative wisdom has been born in me, I should go to his
presence and tell him," he went once again to Sa-skya. This
time [however] without so much as questioning him, [Sa-chen]
seemed to show a worsened attitude. Therefore he [Phag-mo-
gru-pa] returned back, and dwelled at mTshal-sgang.
Padma-dkar-po gives a similar account in his Chos 'byung
(271a, as quoted by B., p. 64, n. 22), though with some interest-
ing differences:
de nas yar byon te thugs la bla ma sa skya pa chen po de chos dri ba la
dgyes pas da nga la bshod rgyu thogs pa med snyam byon/ d{a} res dri ba
tsam yang mi mdzad par spyan rtsa 'gyur 'dug pas / bla ma de myur
'grongs par mkhyen /
42 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
Here Padma-dkar-po understood the phrase spyan rtsa 'gyur a .
a portent of impending death. This would more or less fit th S
known facts, since Sa-chen did die within a relatively
time (in lIS8).
The noun spyan rtsa is the honorific for mig rtsa, which
denotes the blood vessels or nerves of the eye. Mig rtsa 'khrugs
pa for instance is defined by Jaschke as "the blood vessels [of
the sclerotic] irritated, reddened." For this part of the eye to
redden or darken could be understood as a sign of anger or dis-
pleasure. In addition, another term derived from mig rtsa has a.
meaning, mig rtsa can, which signifies "stingy;:
mIserly. 50 A LadakhI fnend, however, understood mig rtsa 'gyur
to m.ean mig 'bak. the latter had a more specifically
medIcal meamng, mdIcatmg the occurrence of a particular
change in a person's eyes indicating a sickness (perhaps a dun':
sunken look or lack of liveliness in the eyes?). Following thi;
medical interpretation, the passage from Padma-dkar-po :
could be translated: '
Then going West [to gTsangJ, went [to Sa-skyaJ thinkinii"/
"Because the bla-ma Sa-skya-pa chen-po loves to inquire abouf;:
religion, [I should meet him again, since J I am now
peded in having things to tell [him] . [But] at that time without';.
so much as asking questions, [Sa-chen's] eye-"veins" seemed to;,
have changed [for the worse]. Therefore [Phag-mo-gru-paf
knew that this master would soon die. '
This more medical interpretation is also borne out even moreT
clearly by a third version of the story preserved within a histor-:
ical work of the 'Ba'-ra-ba bKa'-brgyud-pa tradition, where,"
moreover, there is no indication of a falling out between the;'
two. Following sGam-po-pa's death, and after staying for
time at 'On Tshal-sgang, where he trained a number of great}
meditators, Phag-mo-gru-pa is said to have gone back to
skya, accompanied by sGom bSod and several other old
pIes of his, bringing with him a manuscript of the large Pra-,
jfiiipiiramitii that had recently been executed by some disciples .'
or patrons in his honor. At Sa-skya the teachers requested [ahd
received? (zhus)] the four tantric consecrations [from Sa-cheri];;:,
It was sufficient for Phag-mo-gru-pa to give what he had for,;.!.

offerings, but still he expected to be questioned by Sa-
chen about religious things, since his teacher had been fond of
doing so in the past.
[Phag-mo-gru-paJ thought: ''After I went to sGam-po, my dis-
criminative understanding has increased a hundredfold. Reali-
zation has arisen. If the bla-ma questions me about this, [my
realization which is unimpeded] regarding all dharmas like a
spear waving in the air, I must give an answer." But he was not
questioned like before. [Phag-mo-gru-pa later] said "My bla-ma
will probably not have a long life. His eye-'veins' have changed
[for the worse]. He stopped without questioning about religion.
That is a sign of [impending] death." Accordingly, [it trans-
pired that Sa-chen] passed away when about a half a year had
From this source, 'which is the most detailed of the three, one
gets the impression that the relations between the two
remained correct until the end.
Sectarian divisions among
the gSar-ma-pa tantric traditions were not in the mid-12th cen-
tury as strongly established and institutionalized as they
became later. Nor was there any rule that a religious master
such as Phag-mo-gru-pa should study under or acknowledge
only one teacher. Indeed, both he and Sa-chen had studied
under many masters, among whom they each revered two or
three in a special way. Phag-mo-gru-pa would seem to have
continued to hold not only sGam-po-pa but also Sa-chen in the
very highest esteem. 53 That Phag-mo-gru-pa considered the
Lam 'bras teachings which he had received from Sa-chen still to
be very valuable is also indicated by the fact that he transmit-
ted them later to his disciple gLing-ras (from whom they were
passed down through gTsang-pa rGya-ras and the 'Brug-pa
lineage to Padma-dkar-po). 54 Therefore, rather than pointing
to the relations between Sa-chen and Phag-mo-gru-pa as an
instance of incipient sectarian ill-will, one could just as easily
interpret them as showing its successful avoidance. I t would be
useful to find and compare occurrences of spyan rtsa 'gyur and
the related terms in other contexts or to have them explained
by other Tibetan scholars. In any case, B.'s apparent under-
standing of the term spyan rtsa 'gyur as indicating an unwilling-
ness or refusal to meet with someone (pp. 34 and 64, n. 22) can
44 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
probably be e4 cluded, since according to the sources Sa-chen
and Phag-mo-gru-pa did meet: the only thing that failed to
take place was the expected questioning. '
By viewing this episode through the magnifying but dis-
torting lens of later sectarianism and finding here a source for
hostile feelings, one does not take into account the nature of the
special relation between a genuine master and devoted disciple
within the tradition. vyithin a rup-
ture between the two IS almost unthmkable, and It IS explicitly
rejected as impossible by no less an authority than Padma-
dkar-po when he discusses this very episode again in his record
of teachings received (gsan yig),. Here, in connection with the
Lam 'bras lineage he had received, Padma-dkar-po gives the fol-
lowing account;55
The great "Sugata" was the most learned of
his [Sa-chen's] disciples, and [Sa-chen] proclaimed him to
have attained the realization of the Path of Seeing. Later he
[Phag-mo-gru-pa] went to sGam-po. Then when he [later]
went into the presence of his teacher [Sa-chen again], [the lat-
ter] looked with clouded eyes (spyan sprin 'gyur). With regard t{)
this, others think that he was not pleased that
pa] had become the disciple ofsGam-po-pa, and they even say
this. But how could such a thing be possible for genuine mas-
ters? For they intentionally apply one to those [teachings] by
which one is [best] trained and from which the maximum
benefit will come to sentient beings. To think of it as like the dis"
carding and accepting of religious teachers is purely [the
erroneous conception illustrated by] the maxim of "the strict
monk [?] (ja gdan) drunk on beer."56 Moreover, [ eventually] it
[all] actually came to pass in accordance with the statement by
the lord Phag-mo-gru-pa himself, who said this was a sign that
the teacher would not live long.. "
Here Padma-dkar-po used the new term spyan sprin in place of
spyan rtsa. Spyan sprin means a cataract or a clouding of the
cornea, and this reinforces the other medical interpretations.
Still, it is interesting to note that the accounts of this event were
sufficiently ambiguous that 16th-century Tibetans
already interpreting it in different ways.,"
No matter how these terms are to be understood (and eved>
without Padma-dkar-po's unequivocal rejection of their inter-
pretation as indicating Sa-chen Kun-dga'-snying-po's displea-
sure), the interpretation of these events as establishing Sa-paIJ's
motives for writing two or three verses seventy-five years after
the fact co'uld never be more than an extremely shaky
hypothesis at best. B. too seems to sense that he is walking on
thin ice here since he characterizes his theory as something
which is "tempting" to "speculate."
* * *
One problem with discussions that arise in reply to prior
polemics-whether traditional or modern-is that they tend
almost automatically to continue the previous polemical tone
and framework of discussion. The presentation is selective, and
almost inevitably it is at least a bit slanted, if only for increased
rhetorical effect. But the readers of Buddhist controversial writ-
ings, like the real participants in Buddhist debates, should
always bear in mind that what is at issue is normally single
points of doctrinal' interpretation or practice, or at most a
restricted system of religious practices or philosophical ideas,
and that one Buddhist opponent is not normally attempting to
throw out the whole Buddhist tradition of the other side.
Within the traditional context, to do so completely would be to
risk committing the great evil of "discarding religion" (chos
spong ba'i las). There always remains between two Tibetan
Buddhists a large, commonly acknowledged body of scripture,
doctrine and practice which both maintain. Otherwise there
would be very little common ground for discussion and very
little scope to prove or disprove anything of mutual doctrinal
interest. 57 In a Buddhist doctrinal controversy, the goal is of
course to show that the particular teaching in question is unac-
ceptable to the opponent himself as a Buddhist in general or as
a follower of the Buddhist tradition he professes in particular.
Moreover, within the Indo-Tibetan Buddhist tradition
scholars usually differentiate clearly between criticizing faults
of doctrine (chos kyi skyon) and criticizing personal or individual
faults (gang zag gi skyon) .58 Personal faults can have no bearing
on the substance of a doctrinal discussion, and to introduce
them into a debate would thus constitute a "defeat" for the one
who did so. But the trouble with this idealized scholarly ethic
was that its application was not always so clear-cut: a pI .
criticism of the religious doctrines taught and practiced
another could easily have the same emotional impact as a p Y
slap the face, to th?se not train:J
III dIalectIcal dIsputatIOn and who habItually Identified
trines with persons. To say: "The Buddha never taught this c"
or: "To practice or teach this vitiates the essentials of th
Buddha's teachings," could easily provoke some
Buddhists to feelings of outrage and righteous indignation, just
asit still can today.
Sa-pal).'s criticisms were often phrased in rigorous and
straightforward terms, and therefore some adherents of the
criticized traditions felt that he had overstepped the bound-
aries of mere doctrinal criticism, and that in doing so he could
only have been motivated by vindictive personal animosity.
B. is not the first to seek out the old relation of Sa-chen with
Phag-mo-gru-pa as a possible historical explanation for later
tensions or animosities between the Sa-skya-pa and bKa'"
brgyud-pa-I had previously heard this suggested by others
within the living bKa'-brgyud-pa tradition, and Padma-dkar-
po records the existence of this theory in the 16th century in
the course of his firm rejection of it. But if one really wants to
attribute the writing of a specific passage in Sa-pal).'s sDom
gsum rab dbye to such supposed old animosities, it would be bet-
ter to examine carefully also the sections in the same work
where the author discusses what had motivated him. Sa-paJ)
himself was fully aware that his motives for making such criti-
cisms would be questioned, and therefore he devoted one ofthe
final sections of the sDom gsum rab dbye to a discussion of the
legitimate aims and motivations of doctrinal criticism as well
as to the history of such criticisms in India and Tibet. At the
end of the treatise he listed the various religious lineages that
he had received himself, and he denied accordingly that his
criticisms were one-sidedly biased.
Before that, he declared
that if perchance in an uncollected moment he has been guilty
of any vilification of others, he renounces that as a morally
rehensible mistake.
But as he explained further:
If you say that the differentiation of erroneous from correct reli-
gion is anger and jealousy, in that case, how [otherwise] are
sentient beings to be saved from the ocean of Cyclic Exis-
To differentiate carefully right doctrines from wrong was
thus for Sa-pal). crucial to the task of establishing and main-
taining the Buddhist Doctrine, and thereby making possible
Liberation itself. As he tried to show in the sDom gsum rab dbye
at some length, criticisms or philosophical disputations
.between schools as attempts to settle conflicting doctrinal
claims were legitimate and very important parts of religious
scholarship in the Indo-Tibetan tradition. Tibetan Buddhists
by and large came to accept that there can be principled and jus-
.tified "controversy" or doctrinal disputation.
This was
accepted as legitimate also by Indian philosophy in general, as
well as by Dharmaklrti and his school in particular, whose
views came to influence the whole Tibetan learned tradition.
In Dharmaklrti's manual of disputation, the Viidanyqya, it is
maintained that proper disputation should be for the sake of
investigating and explaining the truth, and not motivated
merely by the desire to win.
Disputation must use honest
methods: sound reasoning grounded in objective fact or based
on the citation of scriptures accepted by the opponent was the
sole criterion by which a definitive judgment could be
It must also avoid blameworthy methods such as
misrepresenting or falsifying evidence, personal attacks, abu-
sive language, etc. Within this tradition, even "minor" faults
such as redundancy or irrelevancy were considered grounds for
"defeat," for the only two legitimate functions of a debater
were soundly to state either the arguments proving his position
or the reasoning which refutes that of the opponenL
every scholar of the tradition lived up to these strict ideals com-
pletely in every case. The modern scholar in fact must some-
times sift very carefully through later polemical discussions to
try to glean what is substantial discussion from what is occa-
sionally just dialectical cleverness or even pure sophistry.
Nevertheless the underlying ideal of a fair, objective and
rational search for truth was always present, and within the
tradition it was this high standard against which doctrinal dis-
cussions ultimately were judged.
Implications and Interpretations
Let us return now to B.'s article and see how he presented
Padma-dkar-po's criticism of another passage from the sDom
gsum rab dbye, this one just preceding the discussion in connec_
tion with the "Fivefold" (lNga ldan) system. As mentioned
above, Sa-pal) identified the dkar po chig thub as a doctrine
claiming that one can attain Buddhahood through the single
method of understanding the nature of one's mind. He q u e s ~
tioned the validity of any "self-sufficient" or "singly effica-
cious" (chig thub) practice from the point of view of causation
and this is his subject here. Sa-pal) raises the question: I s i ~
acceptable that the three kay as of Buddha hood could arise from
a simple or unitary cause? In his Phyag chen rgyal baJi gan mdzod
(49a.4), Padma-dkar-po quotes this verse from the sDom gsum
rab dbye (p. 34a.l):
Some say that the result [ or fruit] of the three kiiyas arises from
the dkar po chig thub. However, a result cannot arise from a single
thing. Even if a single result could arise from a single thing,
that result too would be a single thing, like the cessation.
(nirodha) of the friivaka.
According to Go-rams-pa (ta 138b.3), the holders of this
position included Zhang Tshal-pa et al. As seen above, the lat-
ter did propound that all qualities of Buddha hood are instantly
and spontaneously realized in the understanding of the nature
of mind, and he specifically mentions the three Bodies (kiiya)
as understood as being perfectly complete in the mind (in the
moment of mahiimudrii realization) in such places as f. 22a.3
(sku gsum ye shes lnga Ldan gyi / / sang rgyas rang la tshang ngo zer / /
Jdi rangyinpardagdod shes/ /), f. 22a.6 (skugsum [22bJyon tan
sems la rd;::ogs) , and f. 31 b. 3 (' bras bu sku gsum de ru rdzogs).
Padma-dkar-po (49a) attempts to defend this view, replying to
begin with through a purely dialectical objection, asserting
that Sa-pal) has disproved or contradicted his own position
(rang La gnod) because the middle statement [or line of verse]
(i.e., the Tibetan phrase corresponding to: "like the cessatioh
of the friivaka") is refuted by the final two. Why? He asserts that
Sa-pal) himself has granted that a manifold result cannot arise
a single cause, but then he speaks of the friivaka's nirodha
as an example of "an effect that arises from a single cause."68
Padma-dkar-po and B. (p. 37) are apparently misled by the
wording of this versified argument and fail to see that Sa-pal).
cites the example of the friivaka)s nirodha merely as a simple
(non-manifold) effect and not as a simple effect from a single
What Sa-pal). is engaged in is eliciting a hypothetical
consequence from a purely hypothetical and contrafactual sup-
position. He is saying: "Even supposing that there could be .
such an effect, what would it be like? It would be single (or
simple), like the friivaka's nirodha, and not threefold." It is not
self-contradictory for Sa-pal). to cite the arhat's nirodha as an
example of a spiritual fruit that is simple or single (and also
.11nsatisfactory), whereas to cite it as an example of a simple
resultfrom a single cause would indeed be self-contradictory. The
placement of the example phrase between the supposition and
its hypothetical result (and the somewhat elliptical versified
phrasing) make it unclear at first sight what is meant.
I do not think Padma-dkar-po's misunderstanding was
. intentional or that he was here attempting to skirt the main
issue by means of a dialectical quibble based on a conscious
misinterpretation. Such a strategy would trivialize the discus-
sion (though such ploys are also not completely unknown in
Indian and Tibetan Buddhist controversial writings, in spite of
their having been unequivocally rejected by Dharmakirti).
Apparently Padma-dkar-po considered Sa-pal).'s wording of
his argument to be either genuinely self-contradictory or else
so hopelessly ambiguous that this needed to be pointed out.
On the other hand, Padma-dkar-po did understand that
the main thrust in this and the following passage of the sDom
gsum rab dbye was to criticize a notion of mahiimudrii as a singly
efficient and self-sufficient practice, for as seen above he does
eventually reply to just this point through various quotations
from scripture, and he also sums up his own ideas to the same
effect. (He begins his more substantive rebuttal with the words
[49b.1]: "[Sa-pal).'s] meaning too is unacceptable" don yang mi
)thad te.) He goes on to give what according to B. (p. 38) is "a
series of nine [i.e., eight?] quotations that simultaneously illus-
trate four points." All of these quotations would be acceptable
to Sa-pal). in their own particular contexts. But I cannot find
50 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
where the fourth point, that "it is essential not to go beyond
this one mahiimudrii" (which for B. is an especially characteri _
tic topic of the dkar po chig thub), is illustr.ated in any ofthe qu
tations, to say nothing of in all eight quotations
Even in the beginning of this same [Phyag chen] de dkar po
chig thub tu 'gro ba'i gnad bshad pa section of the Phyag chen rgyal
ba'i gan mdzod, Padma-dkar-po makes clear that in his own sys-
tem this idea of self-sufficiency or single efficaciousness or
something similar is maintained. He begins the chapter by
quoting Mar-pa's commentary on the Hevajra Tantra,appar_
ently tracing back the germ of the dkar po chig thub idea to the
All factors of existence (dharmas) from the subtle [read: "stable
static" brtan pa] to the "moving" (or "dynamic" g.yo ba) are no;
established on their own account. Having made oneself thus
understand this spontaneously and innately born (sahaja)
nature alone as the [correct] theory, meditatively to cultivate it
is referred to in the Tantra by the passage beginning with
"equality." And [that] meditative cultivation too is to place [the
mind] equally in the spontaneously and innately born gnosis
without [distinguishing] concentrated meditations (samiihita)
and post-meditative states If viewed by a person
who understands such a mahiimudrii, all factors of samsiira and
nirviir;a arise from it and are its emanations [read: 'phrul]. This
is shown by the passage [in the Hevajra Tantra] beginning with
the word "I" (nga).
Accordingly, if even a man with little merit who, having under-
stood that the whole of theory, meditative cultivation, and
action are mahiimudrii and having cultivated [that] for a long
time, will attain realization, it goes without saying that others
[of greater merit will do so]. The sense of these words is shown
by the passage [in the Hevajra Tantra] beginning with the words
"like that" (de lIar). 70
B. in his translation (p. 37) has misconstrued this passage,
partly through not understanding which words were
tions from the Tantra (he did not trace the quotation referred
to). The lines being commented upon are Hevajra Tantra, part
I, chapter viii, verses 39-42.71 Padma-dkar-po concludes this
section with the comment: "So at the time of realization (rtogs
pa), we do not maintain ('dod pa) any dharma at all other than
rnahiimudrii." 72
The next quote, fromJfianakIrti's Tattviivatiira (found in the
Peking Tanjur, vol. 81, p. 126.4.3), includes several sentences
which are essential to the discussion. For instance: "Then just
to gain competence [ or mastery] in that (de lagoms pa nyid) is
to complete perfectly all results without exception. Thus this,
,just the cultivation of n?n-dual [as that] which
:brings about all results without exceptIOn, IS a common posses-
sion of all yogins." 73
Sa-palJ is against the notion that certain teachings or prac-
tices being taught as "dkar po chig thub" can be self-sufficient
causes for bringing about Buddhahood, or that, in general, any
:single meditative or religious practice can claim to be in and of
itself the sufficient cause for Buddhahood. Wherever the scrip-
tures teach a single practice as being self-sufficient in effecting
complete liberation, he says this is to be taken as a statement
of provisional meaning or of special or 'hidden intent. 74
Throughout, his intention is to stress the necessity for manifold
skillful means (thabs) in addition to insight into silnyatii, and to
affirm that this was the definitive meaning taught by the
The second step of his discussion I have already
described, namely his attempt to point out the self-contradic-
tion implicit in first terming a practice "self-sufficient" (chig
thub) and then integrating it into a general system of practice
in which other preparatory, main and concluding factors are
said to be necessary. But before that, Sa-palJ presents the diffi-
culty that such a notion of causal self-sufficiency is incompati-
ble with accepted notions of causation, and by this reasoning
implies that a single practice cannot be a self-sufficient
soteriological means. In presenting Padma-dkar-po's reply,
B. correctly understands the main point at issue, but goes on
(p. 38) to add the commentary: "In any case, these arguments
of Sa-skya PalJQ.ita are irrelevant, since we are not talking
about causation in a technical sense." B. here is right, at least
technically speaking, if he means to say that ordinary causa-
tion is held not to function at the very moment of the attain-
rnent of Buddhahood, the moment bridging the conditioned
caus,es and the unconditioned fruit. Yet Sa-palJ apparently con-
sidered his remarks to have soteriological relevance because
52 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
. some people did think that a single simple practice was capabl
literally of causing in and of itself the full realization of B U d ~
dhahood, including the three kayas.
According to the sDom gsum rab dbye commentator Go-
rams-pa (ta 133b.3), the people who maintained this opinion
included Zhang Tshal-pa et al., and indeed the latter taught
that all the qualities of Buddhahood are realized instantane_
ously and simultaneously when one reaches the realization of
the nature of mind (as mahiimudrii) through the gcig-car indi-
vidual's method. Go-rams-pa's understanding was that such
masters had taught that by means of meditatively cultivating
insight into siinyatii alone, the so-called "White Self-sufficient
Simple," the three kay as will arise.
The great adept Zhang
Tshal-pa would probably have replied that his method was not
really singular and that it incorporated both method and wis-
dom (he spoke against "emptiness devoid of skillful method
and discriminative understanding" [thabs shes bral ba'i stong
nyid] on p. 27a.3). He may have also discounted the impor-
tance of the term dkar po chig thub and its implications. He was
not overly concerned with words, terms or concepts, and had
no great love for the fine distinctions of the scholiast or logician
(see his treatise, pp. 8b and 34a.5). Sa-paJ) by contrast, was
clearly convinced of the importance of the basic doctrinal
notions and terms as well as their logical and philosophical
implications,77 and he was concerned to what extent a method
such as Zhang Tshal-pa's could claim to include skillful means
(upaya: thabs) since for him it seemed to be a one-sided cultiva-
tion of insight into emptiness. Later in the sDom gsum rab dbye
(p. 315.4.4 = na 33b.4) he returns to the same basic point,
asserting that some people considered [the realization of the
ultimate as] the mere absence of discursive elaborations (spros
bral rkyang pa) to be a dkar po chig thub. This too, in Sa-pa1J.'s
opinion, will not suffice for bringing about the attainment of
There can be no doubt that some early masters of the
Mahamudra tradition made very special if not radical claillls
for their doctrine. Assertions of its "self-sufficiency" (chig thub)
or "all-at -once or instantaneous decisiveness" (chig chod)1a f o ~
instance were made more than once by Zhang Tshal-pa, and
one pair of lines to this effect attracted the attention of Sa-paIj
'so much that he repeated them in his Thub paJi dgongs gsal
,(tha 52b.2): one. errs who considers. stages
fand paths [as eXlstmgJ m the mstantaneously decIsIve mahii-
'mudrii."79 GQ-rams-pa (ta l40b.5) correctly attributes these
'lines to Zhang Tshal-pa. Thu'u-bkwan does the same, quoting
more of the passage (with slightly different readings) and inter-
'preting it as relegating to the level of erroneous and non-defini-
tive interpretation the alternative bKa' -brgyud -pa teaching
that the systematization of the Mahamudra path according to
the four yogas (mal Jbyor bzhi) entails the gradual passing
though the stages and paths.8o These lines are also quoted by
and Padma-dkar-po.82 The same lines
can indeed be located in Zhang Tshal-pa's Phyag chen lam zab
mthar thug treatise,83 though I present these references mainly
for the convenience of anyone who would like to take this up in
rnore detail in the future.
;lnteresting Comparisons
,One of the most interesting sections of the article is where B.
compares the views of Ho-shang Mo-ho-yen and Padma-dkar-
po (p. 41fI). But the author cannot rest content with presenting
important similarities and differences. Evidently he wishes to
prove his thesis (D-2) that Sa-pal) was not working with any
clear conception of the Hwa-shang's views, though one of his
immediate aims is to show that Sa-pal)'s linkage of an 8th-
century Chinese doctrine with that of certain 12th-century
bKa'-brgyud-pa masters was empty invective in which Sa-pal)
distorted the Hwa-shang's views. B. believes he can show this
by pointing out any difference at all between, on the one hand,
the opinions of the 16th-century Padma-dkar-po and, on the
other hand, the ancient Chinese and Tibetan materials on Mo-
ho-yen as retrieved from Tun-huang and investigated and
translated by modern scholars.85 In his own words (p. 45):
... This kind of more detailed comparison really does show up
the hollowness and emptiness of Sa-skya Pal)Q.ita's invective.
Because Sa-skya PaI).Q.ita has not taken any trouble to make
clear in exactly what ways the mahiimudrii is like the Chinese or
the H va-shang view, he can be refuted by pointing to any differ-
ence one can find; ...
54 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
. His reasoning seems to be that Sa-pal.l, by not specifyin
which points of the two "dkar po chig thub" are
same, has equated them completely, and that thIS can b
shown to be erroneous by finding any difference at all
the Mahamudra views ofPadma-dkar-po and the views oCMo_
ho-yen found in the Tun-Huang documents.
I must admit that I am having some difficulty following
the line of argumentation at this point, and I am no less dis-
oriented when I read to the end of the sentence just quoted:
" ... he [Sa-pal.lJ can be refuted by pointing to any difference.
one can find; and of course Padma-dkar-po has no difficultyin
finding important and substantial differences." Up until now I
and I take it the majority ofreaders with me, had assumed thai
it was B. who was making comparisons and finding differences
between what Padma-dkar-po said and what recent research
on the ancient documents ca,n tell us. Now why is Padma-dkar-po
himself popping up here? Will it be differences which Padma-
dkar-po points out between his understanding of the Hwa-
shang and his understanding of the bKa'-brgyud-pa that will
serve to "refute" Sa-pal.l? In a more general way, too, I am not
clear about the role Padma-dkar-po is supposed to be playing
here. Are his views in some respect essential, or would anyear-
lier or later bKa' -brgyud-pa master do just as well? Or are
to think that Padma-dkar-po, as spokesman for "the bKa'-
brgyud-pas," maintained exactly the same opinions as the
masters such as Zhang Tshal-pa who lived four centuries
before? Surely a comparison of these two different sets of
rials (Padma-dkar-po and translated excerpts from
Huang documents) cannot really prove anything about
whether Sa-pal.l misinterpreted or consciously misused his
sources. (Incidentally, I cannot find any precise mention.of
which works or passages in Padma-dkar-po's writings B. used
for this "comparison," and it would have been useful to
the citations in order to be able to check what Padma-dkarcp()
said in the original.)
I wonder whether B. can really be demanding more of Sa-
pal.l than that he did the best he could within his own cultural
context, in his own historical period, and using the documents
available to him. Is B. trying to prove the hollowness of Sa"
pal.l's "invective" by using the latest results of modern scholars.
who have access to the ancient Tibetan and Chinese docu-
ments from Tun-huang? Surely to do so would be unrealistic
and inappropriate.
. When it comes to his main authority, Padma-dkar-po, B.
is more charitable. On p. 46 he writes that though Padma-
dkar-po is perhaps not completely unbiased (i.e., from a West-
ern scholarly standpoint), "within the Tibetan cultural context he
was completely successful" (italics mine). Though indeed,
" ... we have no need to take everything he says at its face
value." But this dual-level scheme of standards or criteria for
.some reason does not apply to Sa-pal)..
The premise underlying B.'s reasoning in the above pas-
sage is that Sa-pal). has complete(y identified the mahiimudrii with
the Hwa-shang view and has not specified in what way he
takes the Hwa-shang's doctrine and later dkar po chig thub
notion to be alike. B. was led to this because he did not under-
stand Sa-pal).'s conception of dkar po chig thub and thus could
not make out what essential elements were in Sa-pal).'s view
shared between the two traditions. But Sa-pal). has made clear
what common soteriological error in his opinion unites the two
a.s dkar po chig thub: namely, the notion that a non-conceptual
realization of the nature of mind is in and of itself sufficient to
bring about the attainment of Buddha hood.
Perhaps B.'s understandings have been influenced by
Padma-dkar-po's argumentation, which likewise attempts to
refute a "complete" identification. But actually Sa-pal). does
not always identify the two traditions down to the last detail.
He states in one place that the Tibetan" dkar po chig thub" teach-:
ing, which he terms a "present-day Mahamudra" is "for the
most part" or "to a large extent" (phal cher) a Chinese religious
tradition. He has said this in so many words in the sDom gsum
rab dbye at the end of the passage criticizing the dkar po chig thub
notion and summarizing the bSam-yas debate:
da lta'i phyag rgya chen po nil I
phal cher rgya nag chas lugs yin I 1
When he criticizes the Tibetan dkar po chig thub elsewhere, he
specifies certain doctrines or instructions known to be taught
in- the Dwags-po bka' -brgyud-pa in connection with their
56 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
Mahamudra teachings; in the Thub pa'i dgongs gsal (50b.2) h "
specifies, for instance, the three "delaying diversions" or
viations" (gol sa), the four "occasions of lapsing" (shor sa) and
the simile of spinning the Brahmin's sacred cord. He states for
example (52a.4). that the latter simile is like the Hwa-shang's
simile of the eagle or garurja (khyung) in the traditional aCCOunt.
he does not assert that the two doctrines were formulated
exactly the same ways.
Nevertheless, insofar as it cites historical precedent,
paJ).'s argument has no force unless he is identifying the two
doctrines at least in their essential details. At one point in the
Thub pa'i dgongs gsal (SOb.S) he says: "This is to follow (rjes su
'brang ba) the White Self-sufficient Simple of China" (Hi rgya
nag gi dkar po chig thub kyi rjes su 'brang ba yin . .. ). Then as a,
reason showing that this doctrine contradicts the sutras and tan-
tras and is unacceptable when examined by reasoning, he
states (Sla.3): "[And it is unacceptable] because it is not even
slightly different from the Chinese master's White Self-;
sufficient Simple" (rgya nag mkhan po'i dkar po chig thub
khyad par cung zad med pa'i phyir ro /).88 By identifying it in this
way with a doctrine already refuted by Kamalaslla, Sa-pat;l\
indeed cites a historical precedent to give his argument addi-:
tional force. The implication he wants to draw is that no>
further refutation of the doctrine is really needed, since it had,
already been authoritatively repudiated and officially
But by not qualifying his statement with something like "in its:
basic doctrine" and thus seemingly identifying the two
trines completely in this passage, Sa-paJ). has strictly speaking 1
phrased his reason too strongly and has contradicted his
lier qualified statements. Perhaps he did this in order to give(;;
his argument added rhetorical impact, or maybe it was just an:.
oversight. In any case this was not mere rhetoric-he did con-'T
sider the two traditions to share one and the same fundamental,'!
error, namely the teaching that to realize the nature of mind)
through non-conceptualization suffices to bring about
(Scholasticism versus Direct Experience
In the next paragraph of the article (p. 45) B. clarifies more
about his attitude toward Sa-paI,l. He finds something to be
fundamentally objectionable about the variety of Tibetan
:Buddhism which he takes to be "represented by Sa-skya
PaI.H;lita-thoroughly scholastic, and considering only the
\graded path ... ," and he wants in particular to warn contem-
porary scholars not to repeat "the very mistakes of Sa-skya
Pal).c;lita," those errors being to identify Tibetan Buddhism
twholly with the "scholastic tendencies" in Indian Buddhism
and to link any elements stressing "direct experience" with
, . I really wonder whether such a condemnatory view of Sa-
.pal). as "thoroughly scholastic, and considering only the
Sgraded path" is justified in B.'s own thinking. To turn the
. tables, in what way is Padma-dkar-poless "thoroughly scholas-
ttic" than Sa-paI,l? Is it a question of method or of doctrine?
Padma-dkar-po can be quite scholastic in his own method, and
;B. himself (p. 57)-whose own work too is seldom if ever
:unscholastic-extols the superiority of Padma-dkar-po's Phyag
. chen rgyal ba'i gan mdzod over the Phyag chen zla zer of Dwags-po
(or sGam-po-pa) bKra-shis-rnam-rgyal:
Valuable though it is, the Zla-zer is merely a compendium of
aphorisms and man-ngag. The Gan-mdzod is a work of recon-
struction; that is, it provides an articulated structure, within
which the mass of traditional details can be seen as intelligibly
ordered .
. If we try to determine what analytical methods Padma-dkar-
po uses to give his material its intelligible order, what do we
find if not the common scholastic technique which he shares to
a great extent with Sa-paI,l? As a "scholastic" (mtshan nyid pa)
philosopher Padma-dkar-po automatically stands somewhere
;in the wider Sa-skya/ gSang-phu tradition.
In his study of the
:logical and epistemological theories of DharmakIrti's Pramii-
(T}aviirttika, for instance, he was a recipient of a lineage which
ihad been transmitted to all of Tibet by Sa-skya PaI,lc;litahim-
~ s e l f . (Padma:-dkar-po acknowledges this graciously in his writ-
58 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
ings and refers to Sa-pal). on occasion with words of highest
respect and honor, praising him as "the bodily manifestation
[sprul pa'i sku] of the Bodhisattva Manjusrl."92) In other Words
Padma-dkar-po had received some of the dialectical and
philosophical tools he used for answering the old criticisms of
Sa-pal). from the very tradition of Sa-pal) as transmitted by
later similarly minded scholars such as Bu-ston of the 14th cen-
turyor Rong-ston of the 15th.
Why is Padma-dkar-po hon-
ored with the designation "kun-mkhyen" ("omniscient one")
within his tradition if not largely in recognition of his great
scholastic achievements? Why did he write so many scholastic
treatises, and why are many of them still used as scholastic
manuals in the traditional seminaries, if the scholastic method
is basically bad? (And despite Padma-dkar-po's difficult style,
we still might well wonder whether it is not precisely the
scholastic superiority ofPadma-dkar-po's penetrating analyses
that recommends them to a Western scholar such as B. over
those of many other bKa'-brgyud-pa writers.)
I can only conclude that B. is not against the scholastic
method itself, but only against something he considers as bad
or lopsided scholasticism. He takes Sa-pal). to be "thoroughly
scholastic" and to consider "only the graded path." But this too
perhaps shows merely a basic doctrinal preconception or bias,
and in any case it cannot be established from a reading of S a ~
pal).'s biographies or from his own writings. Sa-pal). himself
was of course very much concerned with gaining "direct
experience" and to that end he was a highly accomplished
practicer oftantric meditation.
It would be strange indeed if
even this does not qualify as direct experience simply because
it was not the doctrine followed by the gcig car ba individuals of
the Mahamudra.
The impression I sometimes get is that B. is not addressing
the specifics of what Sa-pal). actually taught or practiced, but.
is instead attacking a straw man, in this case making Sa-pal).
the Tibetan prototype for the popular image of the fastidious,
persnickety par;r/.ita or the hair-splitting and over-intellectual
but contemplatively unaccomplished Geshe, a stock character
who is typically made the butt of dismissive criticisms in cer-
tain bKa' -brgyud-pa writings as well as in the related popular
culture. But there'is much more at stake here than just the
rejection of a popular stereotype or the condemnation of
scholastic "gradualism" in favor of "simultaneist" direct
meditative experience. Both sides of the conflict or tension
alluded to were embodied for instance in the person of Pad ma-
dkar-po, and both have been present in the bKa'-brgyud-pa
tradition since the time of rJe sGam-po-pa himself, for it was
he who first tried in that Tibetan order to integrate the disci-
plines of monasticism and scholasticism (stemming primarily
from the bKa' -gdams-pa order) with the ascetic practices and
transcending yogic insights of the anchorite.
A Suggestion for Modern Researchers: Trace Each Doctrine
B. in his next paragraph (p. 46) sets forth the program he
hopes will help modern researchers avoid "the very mistakes of
Sa-skya Par:l(;iita." But in doing so, he could hardly have stated
better Sa-pal).'s own preferred procedure: "Really, there is no
alternative for asking, separately for each system of doctrine or
doctrinal notion found in the Tibetan literature: did this come
from India? did it come from China? or is it a Tibetan innova-
tion?" In leading his contemporaries to face up to these same
critically framed questions, Sa-pal). was unusual in his day.
Behind Sa-pal).'s inquiry lies the old official decision (accepted
also by Padma-dkar-po) that for the Tibetans, India should be
counted as the one valid origin for Buddhist doctrines. The
fundamental point that B. seems to miss throughout is that Sa-
pal). does in fact accept as genuine the original bKa'-brgyud-pa
doctrines which are based on the teachings of Indian masters
such as Naropa and MaitrIpada, and which were transmitted
from them through such recognized masters as Mar-pa the
translator and his greatest disciple Mi-Ia ras-pa. He is not
launched upon a full-scale rejection of bKa' -brgyud-pa doc-
trines in general or of every teaching on Mahamudra in par-
ticular. What Sa-pal). doubts is whether certain teachings or
interpretations that gained later popularity can indeed be
traced back to Naropa, for instance, or were even taught in the
Tibetan tradition until sometime after Mar-pa or Mi-la ras-
pa. If these specific teachings did not accord with the widely
recognized doctrines of Indian Buddhism, i.e., if they seemed
to be later Tibetan innovations or introductions from some
60 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
unknown source, then according to Sa-pal). they deserved cri(_
cal investigation.
For Sa-pal)., the Mahamudra as dkar po
thub-with its similar name and certain strong doctrinal and
terminological reserr:blances to the teachings as
they were portrayed III some of the tradltIOnal sources available
to him-was one such case. Can we really fault then either Sa-
pal).'smethod or, within their own cultural context, even his
conclusions ?97
As B. acknowledges, Padma-dkar-po himself had the inten-
tion of proving the Indian origin of his tradition. Like Sa-pan
he was not "unbiased" in this regard. But with all due
to Padma-dkar-po's achievements, I cannot follow B. (p. 46)
when he gives the impression that Padma-dkar-po was com-
pletely successful within the Tibetan cultural context in estab-
lishing his views on the main historical or doctrinal points in
question to everyone's satisfaction. In fact he did not have the
last word on these subjects in his Phyag chen rgyal ba'i gan mdzod;
in due course theSa-skya-pa scholar Mang-thos Klu-sgrub-
rgya-mtsho (1523-1596) replied to Padma-dkar-po's remarks,
arid this led to still more discussion.
Moreover it is a bit mis-
leading to say that Padma-dkar-po established once and for all
that the bKa'-brgyud-pa doctrines were not "merely Tibetan
or Chinese inventions," for that was never really in question.
Sa-pal). for one did not doubt the authentic Indian origins of
such fundamental bKa' -brgyud-pa doctrines as the Six Dhar-
mas cif Naropa (Na ro chos drug) that had been transmitted by
Mar-pa and Mi-la.
A Common dKar po chig thub
In his own way even B. asserts indirectly that the bKa'-
brgyud-pas accept a dkar po chig thub doctrine that can be found
also in the very writings of the historical Mo-ho-yen or his
school (though of course without positing a historical connec-
tion between them). B. (p. 45) freely accepts the existence of .
important doctrinal parallels between the two traditions, and
he points out as a key point acceptable to Mo-ho-yen (who said
the following) and "the bKa'-brgyud-pas" (as represented by
his understanding of Padma-dkar-po):
... If concepts arise, one should not think anywhere of being or
non-being, purity or impurity, emptiness or the absence
thereof, etc. One does not think of non-thinking either. . .. But
if one were to experience non-examination and does not act
according to these concepts, or accept them or become
attached to them, then every instant of mind is liberated at
every moment.
As B. has stated already III connection with one sense of
mahiimudrii (p. 32):
... The realization of mahamudra as the great seal means just let-
ting the mind rest in its experiencing without becoming attached to
the labelling concepts which arise in the course of experi-
ence ... . dKar-po chig-thub is another way of expressing this same
But in reading the article one can almost fail to notice this
point, for it is certainly not stressed. (I t is also open to question
whether traditional bKa'-brgyud-pas would agree here.)
Sa-pal). himself probably would not have said that such a
meditational practice could play no role in the Buddhist path.
But he would have wanted to clarify the precise contribution to
the attainment of Buddhahood that such a practice could
claim to make. In the meantime he would be in agreement with
Padma-dkar-po (as portrayed by Broido) in totally rejecting
such claims as (pp. 42-43):
A. If one sees conceptions as no conceptions, one sees the
Tathagata. To understand this single thought is in itself the
greatest merit, surpassing by far all the merits that one could
obtain by cultivating good dharmas .... 101
And (p. 43):
G. When conceptualizations are given up, there is an automatic
attainment of all virtues .102
Sa-pal). considered the "self-sufficient simple method" (dkar po
chig thub) doctrines, both Tibetan and Chinese (as portrayed in
his sources), to be making these or similar claims. The p a r a l ~
]IABS VOL. 13 NO.2
leIs become allthe more obvious when one substitutes "under_
standing the nature of mind through non-conceptualization"
for the phrases "seeing conceptions as no conceptions" or "giv-
ing up conceptualizations." Broido therefore overstates the
case when he says (p. 31): "There is not the slightest reason to
think that what is described by Zhang Tshal-pa in this famous
work has .to wit? quietism or the
Mo-ho-yen.,. (ItalIcs mme). Zhang Tshal-pa hImself indi-
cates his own awareness that this doctrine might easily be
(mis) understood as a one-sided emphasis on the contempla_
tion of the highest reality to the exclusion of other standard
religious practices, or as a denial or abrogation of the normal
moral imperatives. This is shown for instance by the final lines
of the dKar po chig thub chapter (31 b.5), where he says as a sort
of corrective that until the liberating insight is gained, there
indeed does exist the normal path of practice. On the other
hand he teaches that once the mahiimudra insight into non-dual-
ity has been attained by the gcig-car individual, then the prac-
titioner should allow himself or herself to act ad libitum, not
thinking "This is to be done and this is not to be done." 103
Moreover, to find something the least bit similar with the
Ho-shang's views, one merely needs to compare statement G.
of the Ho-shang quoted above with the opening verse of Zhang
Tshal-pa's dKar po chig thub chapter.
There are other striking
similarities or parallels too, such as the passage of Mo-ho-yen's
writings devoted to showing how the single practice of non-
discrimination brings all six or ten perfections to completion.
B. curiously enough has failed to mention even the occurrence
of the "panacea" or "self-sufficient single medicine" notions in
Mo-ho-yen's writings, though any comparison must take this
into account.
It is probably also worth noting that Zhang
Tshal-pa in his chapter on the "Fruit" ('Bras bu'i le'u, the tenth
chapter, p. 104 = 28b) spoke approvingly of the hawk's or
eagle's (khra) sudden swoop from the sky to seize a fruit as like
the gcig-car individual's procedure for coming to see the dhar-
makaya, in contrast to the monkey's laborious limb-by-limb
ascent from below.
The example of the sudden descent of the
similar khyung bird is of course attributed to Mo-ho-yen and
criticized in the account Sa-par; gives of the bSam-yas debate
in the Thub pa'i dgongs gsal (49b.2) based on older
Tibetan materials (it is found in the alternative sBa bzhed tradi-
tion), and it may have been a Tibetan adaptation or extension
of a bird simile that Mo-ho-yen himself used for the cig-car
realization. lOB
Final Arguments
After trying to take into account the new sources mentioned in
van der Kuijp's note, B. marshals his final arguments (pp. 49-
50). As before, the goal is to prove something concerning Sa-
skya PaJj.<;lita, namely that it was unjustified for Sa-pal). t6 drag
Ho-shang Mo-ho-yen into the discussion of the Tibetan dkar po
chig thub. B. attempts to demonstrate this by enumerating and
then exhausting all logical possibilities, viz. by showing that
the above is true whether (a) the Chinese used the term simi-
larly to the bKa'-brgyud-pas, or (b) whether they used it dif-
ferently. But as previously, he overlooks the fact that whether
Sa-pal).'s criticisms "stand convicted of polemic" 109 can only be
decided by establishing that he doctored or twisted the sources
available to him in order to suit his own sectarian ends. One
would have to show that he misinterpreted or misused his
sources, or that his conclusions were unreasonable given what
he could or should have known on the subject. But instead, B.
pursues the investigation on a different level, using sources
that could not prove anything regarding what materials Sa-
pal). used or whether he used them in good faith.
In other words, though he thinks he is establishing Sa-
pal).'s guilt of polemical invective, B. is actl,lally trying just to
prove that Sa-pal). was historically wrong, thus combining and
confusing two very distinct things. What B. apparently fails to
see is that one can be innocent of malicious, unjustified criti-
cism and still be historically wrong. It is also .conceivable that
a person be accidentally correct about the historical facts and
at the same time be guilty of unprincipled polemic (i.e., if the
available sources had to be twisted to reach the conclusion that
promoted the desired sectarian end). But he evidently believes
that there is a necessary connection here between historical
correctness and non-polemicizing, and between historical
error and unjustified controversy. Hence his unabated concern
with showing the error of Sa-pal). and his overlooking the sig-
nificance of the sources mentioned by van der Kuijp.
Even the facts are not as cut and dried as they
are portrayed. B. claIms (p. 50, a) to have shown decisively
that the Tibetan use of the term dkar pa chig thub "does not
apply directly to the doctrines of Mo-ho-yen." Yet until he has
studied and described in more detail the relevant teachings by
Zhang Tshal-pa and Mo-ho-yen, he will not have anything
firm to compare and cannot exclude the possible existence of
important similarities. He has also not established convinc_
ingly his blanket statements that Zhang Tshal-pa's dkar po chig
thub was strictly non-Vajrayana or that it consists "of perfectly
orthodox and innocuous limitation principles relating to the
paths, stages, and paramitas .... " On p. 35 he has already
informed us that (according to Padma-dkar-po) in contrast to
the general non-Mantrayana doctrine of the Hwa-shang, "the
Indian cig-car-ba doctrine of nlopa [and] Naropa ... is a va-
jrayana doctrine." Was Zhang Tshal-pa's doctrine in fact differ-
ent from this one? In his own treatise Zhang Tshal-pa makes it
plain that the special method of the cig-car-ba that he teaches
belongs neither to the usual Paramita nor the usual Tantra
paths, transcending as it were both (in his view) essentially
rim-gyis-pa methods.1l0 After summarizing the rim-gyis-pa paths
in chapter 4, Zhang Tshal-pa then (11 b.3) introduces the prac-
tice of the cig-car-ba individual, showing it in actual practice to
include nevertheless certain Mahayana and Mantrayana ele-
The simultaneist (cig-char-ba) individual should gratify a
lineage-possessing guru with his body, life, and whatever
things he has. Possessing abhi{eka
or "spiritual impelling
force" (byin brlabs), propelled by bodhicitta, and possessing the
yoga of [oneself as] the deity, from the very beginning one
should cultivate the definitive meaning, mahiimudrii. The guru
who possesses the elixir of realization will introduce one to the
gnosis one possesses, like a treasure in the palm of one's hands,
and though there is nothing to be meditatively cultivated and
nothing to do the cultivating, one should not be distracted from
the non-cultivated.ll2
The main subject of Zhang Tshal-pa's treatise is of course just
this special path, which is "the ultimate of profound paths"
(lam zab mthar thug). The dKar po chig thub tu bstan pa chapter in
_ particular concerns itself with showing, in the context of
spiritual fruition, that this secref
and profound path is a
-singly and instantaneously effective complete spiritual
-"cure." 114
The only way to understand Zhang Tshal-pa's doctrines in
,a more complete and definitive way is to investigate Zhang's
life and writings systematically.115 The mere fact of the exis-
tence of a "White Self-sufficient Simple" (dkar po cftig thub)
notion among the mid- or late-12th-century bKa'-brgyud-pa
teachings or the mere fact of Zhang Tshal-pa's studies with a
certain early Dwags-po bKa'-brgyud-pa master does not prove
anything definite about the origin of the notion or about his
own interpretations or uses of it. Reasoning like the following
does not lead very far: 116
The White Panacea is in the. mainstream of the Kagyudpa
Zhang was a disciple of sGom-pa, who was a disciple of sGam-
Therefore Zhang stands squarely in a lineage going back to the
Indian siddhas.
Therefore the White Panacea belongs to the second diffusion of
Buddhism, whereas Chinese influence was felt in the first diffu-
sion, and- the White Panacea's determinable antecedents are
Indian, not Chinese. ,
Just how "squarely" Zhang stands in the lineage remains to be
proved, and it begs the question to assume from the outset that
the teachings he received or developed on this point derived
purely from the Dwags-po bKa'-brgyud-pa tradition, which in
turn is assumed by definition to be completely gSar-ma-pa and
purely Indian in origin.
The whole thing could have been
expressed better in a single descriptive sentence: "The notion
of a 'self-sufficient white simple' (dkar po chig thub) was
employed in Tibet most notably by the master Zhang Tshal-pa,
one of whose basic doctrinal affiliations lay with the Dwags-po
bKa'-brgyud-pas (a gSar-ma-pa or New-Translation-Era
school), having received Mahamudra teachings from sCom-
pa Tshul-khrims-snying-po (1116-1169), the nephew and suc-
cessor of sCam-po-pa whose lineages are held to go back to
Indian siddhas." Of course nothing firm can be inferred from
66 jIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
this information alone about Zhang Tshal-pa's particular inter-
pretations of the notion of a soteriological or spiritual self-
sufficient (chig thub) factor or even, strictlY' speaking, where it
ultimately originated or what influenced his formulation ofit.lIB
I doubt that anybody would nowadays reject out of hand
the possible ultimate origin of this or closely related doctrines
within the Indian siddha movement. But exactly how it was
transmitted to Tibet and how it was subsequently developed
and interpreted remain unclear. Was the kernel an Indian
notion which was extensively recast or reformulated some gen-
erations after its arrival in Tibet? If so, what influenced its r e i n ~
terpretation, and was it accepted and understood in the same
way by all later bKa' -brgyud-pa masters? The more radical
interpretations of a self-sufficient and simple (chig thub)
soteriology and the related notion of the gcig-car-ba)s all-at-once
or instantaneous (chig chad) realization not entailing the pas-
sing gradually through the paths and stages, for instance, seem
not to have been taught so unilaterally by every later
"mainstream" bKa-brgyud-pa master. 'Bri-gung 'Jig-rten-
mgon-po (1143-1217), for instance, apparently denied that the
progressive succession through the ten stages could be circum-
vented or that all qualities of Buddhahood could be attained
instantaneously by the yogin who realizes the nature of mind.
As the latter taught in the thirteenth and fourteenth main
points of his dGongs gcig doctrine: "all paths are traversed
through the ten stages" (lam thams cad sa bcus bgrod) and "all
paths are entered gradually" (lam thams cad rim gyis Jug).lI9
'Bri-gung rig-'dzin Chos-kyi-grags-pa, an authoritative l7th-
century commentator of the 'Bri-gung-pa, explained (II
45 = 23aA):
But as for what is maintained by the Mahamudra and rDzogs-
pa-chen-po, i.e., that Buddhahood is attained by an instantane-
ous realization: if there were a path apart from the two-Sutra
and Mantra-and which is other than [a matter of relative]
speed as in the previous example [in which the very fast
gradual path was merely designated as "instantaneous,"] this
would entail a path which was not taught by the Buddha. Con-
sequently the basic doctrine of such a path is difficult to be
known by the mind. Therefore the attainment of perfect Bud-
dhahood is achieved through the force of bringing to comple-
tion of the two preparatory assemblages [which participate in
the working] of moral cause and result. 120
But, as seen above, Zhang Tshal-pa maintained the radical
simultaneist and instantaneous approach (identified here by
Rig-'dzin Chos-kyi-grags-pa as characteristic of the Maha-
mudra and r Dzogs-chen), and he referred disparagingly to the
opposing notion of gradual realization with the words: "The
ignorant one errs who considers the stages and paths [as exist-
ing] in the instantaneously decisive Mahamudra.
Until we know our way safely through the tributaries and
sometimes divergent side channels of the key bKa' -brgyud-pa
maters' teachings, it is thus dangerous to launch every con-
troversial doctrinal notion immediately into the still uncharted
"mainstream." For the present, each teacher or doctrine needs
to be studied in his or its own right, especially in a school such
as this which otherwise shows a fair number of diverging doc-
trinal interpretations. It is true that there is no alternative to
asking, separately for each system of doctrine or doctrinal
notion found in the Tibetan literature: did this come from
India? did it come from China? or is it a Tibetan innovation?
And having asked ourselves these questions, there is also no
alternative but to admit that it is often neither easy nor uncom-
plicated to give satisfactory answers. The only starting point is
carefully to study and describe the doctrine or notion in ques-
tion in terms of its own system, preferably as it appears within
the writings of a single early authoritative master or of a closely
linked school. In the present case the notion or notions of a self-
sufficient simple spiritual factor or method (dkar po chig thub)
need to be understood as they were set forth by Zhang Tshal-
pa and his tradition, and then they should be traced back to
sGam-po-pa and carefully and systematically placed within
the framework of the latter's Mahamudra teachings. Having
described this in detail (and having indicated any important
differences of interpretation between those two that may have
existed), one could then usefully try to go on to determine how
sGam-po-pa reached his own special doctrinal formulations,
what he based them on, and what elements, if any, could
be justly called his own special emphases or even his "innova-
68 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
tions."122 Only then will we be in a better position to under_
stand such traditional statements about the sources of Or
influences on his teachings as the following by Thu'u-bkwan
Regarding the matchless Dwags-po rin-po-che's' [i.e., sGam-
po-pa's] composition of treatises proving the existence of the
[Buddha's] teaching of emptiness in the piiramitii tradition to be
Mahamudra by quoting many sutra quotations, some have said:
"Such words of the sutras do not appear in the canon of the
Translated Word (bka' Jgyur)." Nevertheless [regarding this] my
omniscient guru has said: "Those sutras are found within the
canon of the Translated Word translated into Chinese. And
though they are not worded in exactly identical ways, [passages
with] the same sense can be seen also in some other sutras trans-
lated into Tibetan, such as the [sutra] Sangs rgyas mngon sum du
bzhugs paJi mdo, which is now [available?] .123
Or the statement ofbKra-shis-rnam-rgyal in his Phyag chen da
baJi Jod zer:
Although in the Practice Lineage down to the great Reverend
[Mi-Ia] they mainly cultivated in meditation the instructions of
the Mantrayana, and taught the practical instructions on the
Mahamudra appropriately at the times of [instructions on]
Inner Heat and Luminous Awareness, nevertheless that Lord
sGam-po-pa, motivated by unlimited compassion, singled out
and brought to the fore this instruction of the Essential Sense,
the Mahamudra, in order that all disciples-high and low-
could easily realize [it]. And by [his] so teaching it, [this
Mahamudra instruction] increased very much and became
widespread, and it became the sole path used by all people of
fortunate endowments.
As long as a Tibetan school maintains the primacy of
received tradition-i.e., as long as the primary duty of a reli-
gious teacher is held to be the faithful realization, transmitting
and defending of received tradition-for so long will the ques-
tion of authentic, historically demonstrable Indian origins
remain very important for its followers. But if, on the other
hand, the tradition derives from a new revelation or major doc-
trinal development, or if it affirms in an iconoclastic spirit the
primacy of direct experience, then of course a different
approach to the questions of "origins" and "traditionalism"
may also be jlJ.stifiable for it. One of the great interests of the
bKa'-brgyud-pa tradition is how its masters attempted in dif-
ferent ways to reach their own balance between the claims of
received tradition and immediate experience, though of course
a tension between these two poles can also be found to greater
or lesser degrees in all the Tibetan schools and indeed probably
among all living religious traditions.
No tradition-minded follower of the Dwags-po bKa'-brgyud-
pa can be blamed for wanting to show that the historical thesis
of that there was a historical connection
between the Hwa-shang Mo-ho-yen's doctrine and the 12th-
century Mahamudra's gcig-car-ba teachings through the read-
ing of older texts recovered from caches
-was wrong, or at
least for trying to show that it cannot be directly substantiated
by the available evidence. But to exclude this possibility once
and 30r all or to establish definitively the origins of the
Mahamudra simultaneist doctrine will require a much more
detailed knowledge of the history of Tibetan Buddhism from
the 9th through the 12th centuries (and of its interactions with
Indian and Chinese Buddhism) than what we are likely to pos-
sess for some time.
Therefore, at present the most fruitful
approach for illuminating this problem will probably be a com-
parative one, an attempt to describe and gauge the most salient
similarities and differences between the main traditions
involved. One would have to begin by identifying and describ-
ing the key terms and doctrines called into question and then
tracing them (and other closely related terms, examples, cita-
tions and doctrinal formulations) in all the pertinent writings
that are available, including if possible even texts from early
Tibetan traditions whose possible roles as intermediaries in the
transmission have yet to be clarified or excluded. The broader
thematic discussions and typological comparisons must be
based at every step upon a careful and accurate philological
and historical treatment of the terms and texts.
70 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
But if, on the other hand, the main objective is to demon_
s ~ r a t e something about how Sa-pal). himself reached his conclu_
sions or what motivated his writings, this would entail a Some-
what different choice of materials. To establish how Sa-pan
(rightly or wrongly) understood the simple and self-sufficient
(chig thub) soteriology ascribed to the 8th-century Chinese mas-
ter Mo-ho-yen or to disprove any links between whatever Sa-
pal). should have understood and the "White Self-sufficient
Simple" (dkar po chig thub) notion of certain 12th-century bKa'-
brgyud-pas, the researcher will have to examine in detail the
sources immediately bearing on this. The only way to proceed
here, even if the sole motive is to "refute" -Sa-pal)., would be to
go through the relevant passages in Sa-pal).'s works and the
early historical sources he cites or may have used, and to com-
pare them with what the great early bKa'-brgyud-pa masters
such as sGam-po-pa and Zhang Tshal-pa said on this and
closely related subjects. Any other method could not yield
satisfactory results.
These historical and doctrinal problems have been dis-
cussed within the Tibetan tradition for generations, and it is
unlikely that foreign scholars will suddenly stumble upon easy
solutions to them. Moreover, it has to be admitted that from
the point of view of modern scholarship, both Sa-skya Pal).<;lita
and Padma-dkar-po have sometimes oversimplified things in
the course of their critical discussions. Nevertheless, their criti-
cisms can be very useful for modern scholars if used judi-
ciously, for they isolate and highlight many of the key concepts
and doctrinal issues that were considered essential but that
were interpreted differently by the different schools and mas-
ters. If used incautiously, however, such writings can misin-
form the reader because they seldom show the complete context
of a controversial remark or notion, and therefore without addi-
tional confirmation from the writings of the criticized tradition
itself they should never be trusted unconditionally as telling
the whole story.
Obviously such controversial writings can be dangerous in
the hands of any scholar who is not intimately familiar with
both traditions or who is not scrupulously trying to avoid using
them one-sidedly. But the intrinsic interest and importance of
the polemical treatises are so great that modern scholars can-
not simply shun these works like some sort of Pandora's box.
Regardless of the formidable difficulties they entail and despite
the new controversies they may occasionally provoke, such
writings when carefully studied can also reveal like nothing
else the multifaceted complexity and diverse richness that have
always been characteristic of Tibetan Buddhism.
1. B. Barton, Select. (1849), p. 63, as quoted in the Oxford English Dic-
tionary under the entry "polemical." A galenical is a remedy such as the 2nd-
century Greek physician Galen prescribed, e.g., a vegetable simple.
2. For a survey of some of these, see D. Jackson (1983).
3. R. Jackson (1982), van der Kuijp (1986), and Broido (1987). A more
recent discussion of several of the same P9ints is found in the recent book of
Karmay (1988), pp. 197-200. The first brief discussion of the dkar po chig thub
controversy in Western scholarship was given by Stein (1971), a recent English
translation of which has also appeared. See now Stein (1987), p. 58, n. 15. See
also D. Seyfort Ruegg (1989), which appeared too late to be cited in detail
below, but which contains many relevant discussions.
4. In later publications I hope to study in more detail the aims and
methods of Sa-pal)-'s own scholarship, and to take a closer look at the conclu-
sions he reached regarding the subjects dealt with in the above-mentioned three
5. R.Jackson (1982).
6. The reasoning in (a) and (b) that there was no Chinese school called
"the White Panacea" either in bSam-yas or China is not quite to the point
because dkar po chig thub was not a school name but rather a doctrinal notion.
7. This was noted by van der Kuijp (1986), p. 151.
8. Sa-pal)- lists four sources in his Thub pa'i dgongs gsal, pp. 25.3.6 and
25.4.1, and also three in his sKyes bu dam pa, p. 332.4. See D. Jackson (1987), pp.
402f. That three sources were mentioned in the latter text was noticed already
byVostrikov (1970), p. 25, n. 55.
9. Van der Kuijp (1986), pp. 148f.
10. Demieville (1952), pp. 122f. See also Gomez (1983), p. 92, quoting
the same passage from the Ching li chileh, p. 146b:
According to the MahaparinirvaT}-a Sutra, there is a certain medicinal herb
that will cure all diseases in those who take it. It is the same with this
absence of reflection and inspection.
This passage had previously been translated into English in E. Conze, Buddhist
Scriptures (London: 1959), p. 217. The term Mo-ho-yen uses is not, however, a
direct equivalent of dkar po chig thub, though he uses it in the sense of a panacea
and single, self-sufficient medicine. Cf. Broido (1987), pp. 51f, whose mention
of these references was not taken from Demieville (1952) or Gomez (1983), but
rather was drawn from the Jordan Lectures given by Professor D. Seyfort
Ruegg at SOAS in the Spring of 1987, the published version of which has now
appeared (D. Seyfort Ruegg [1989]).
11. Thu'u-bkwan refers to Sa-skya P a ~ l l : l i t a in this same chapter for
instance as "Jam-mgon Sa-par;." on p. 170.1 (kha 25b).
12. R. Jackson seems to have read sems rtog / brtags instead of sems rtogs, and
also sems ngo sprod instead of sems ngo 'phrod. Sa-par;. understands the Chinese
masters to have taught an understanding of the mind gained through a method
which avoided conceptualizing and intellectual examining. It is interesting to
note that myi rtog pa in the Tun Huang texts can mean "no-examining" (as a
translation of the Chinese pu kuan). See Broughton (1983), pp. 66, n. 79. See
also the more general comments of Gomez (1983a), p. 398, on mam par mi rtog
pa (Skt. nirvikalpa or avikalpa).
13. Cf. the comments ofThu'u-bkwan, p. 170.4 (kha 25b.4), which por-
tray these criticisms as having been so directed, and therefore reject them as
unsatisfactory: ci yangyid la mi byed pa'i phyogs ni min pax gsal bas sdom gsum gyi dgag
pa mams thub chad kyi gsung du mngon no. Sa-par;. never seems to mention specifi-
cally that the Tibetan dkar po chig thub involved the lack of "mentation" (manasi-
kiira, yid la byed pa), but uses instead such terms as "non-discursiveness"
(nirvikalpa: mam par mi rtog pal even when characterizing the Hwa-shang's doc-
trine in his presentation of the traditional history of the bSam-yas debate. In
the above-mentioned passage, Thu'u-bkwan tries to exculpate Zhang precisely
because this doctrine of "complete non-mentation" (ci yang yid la mi byed pal is
not to be found in Zhang's treatise. It was a typical later bKa' -brgyud-pa under-
standing that Sa-par; was "hostile" especially to Maitrlpada's non-mentation
cycle. See Seyfort Ruegg (1988), p. 1257, who translates Mi-bskyod-rdo-rje, p.
11.3 (6a.3). Here other bKa'-gdams-pas are also said to have shared this basi-
cally negative attitude, which Mi-bskyod-rdo-rje attributed originally to Gro-
lung-pa's criticisms of the Yid la mi byed pa as not being Madhyamaka.
Cf. Lopez (1988), p. 266, who translates lCang-skya Rol-pa'i-rdo-rje's dis-
cussion of this topic as follows: "The term 'One Pure Power' (dKar-po-chig-thub)
was not disseminated widely after Shang-tsel-ba (Zhang-tshal-pa) who wrote
a treatise which is concerned mainly with the One Pure Power. It appears that
this was the main object refuted by Mafijunatha Sa-gya Par;<;lita. Later many
of our own and other [sects] refuted this position. If Shang-tsel-ba's own asser-
tion rests in the position that mind is not to be directed to anything, then these
refutations are correct; I do not wish to elaborate on it in detail."
With reference to strictly "non-discursive" meditation, cf. the criticism of
this by Zhang, Phyag chen lam :cab mthar thug, p. 78.2, and that of sGam-po-pa,
voL 2, p. 111.6, who criticizes those who would stop all discursive thought (rtog
pa): fa las rtog pa byung tshad bkag nas rtog med la blo dril 'jog pa la yon tan du blta ste /
des lam gcod mi nus ye shes phye bo bya ba yin / . On the other hand, within the INga
ldan system for instance the main theory to be cultivated and realized was
called specifically the mi rtog pa'i {ta ba.
14. Van der Kuijp (1986). He had already referred to some aspects of this
problem in a footnote to his published dissertation (1983), p. 304, n. 303,
though wrongly identifying the dkar po chig thub with the dGongs gcig.
15. Though dPa' -bo gTsug-lag-phreng-ba retells this tradition, he did
not accept it as genuine. See his Chas 'byung, voL 1, p. 397 (ja 122a), and also
Karmay (1988), p. 200, n. 112. .
16. Van der Kuijp here has evidently assumed that the section in the sBa
bzhed corresponding to Sa-pal!'s account goes back to the phyi-dar period,
whereas all we can safely say at present is that it had appeared by the mid- or
. late-12th century. Its importance is thus not as a "smoking gun" proving the
historical link that Sa-pal! alleged to exist between the traditions. Rather, it (to-
gether with Myang-ral's history) shows primarily that Sa-pal!'s account was
based on a historical tradition which was already established in his day and was
not fabricated by him. On the other hand, we cannot exclude the possibility
that the account was first set down considerably earlier than the late-12th cen-
tury, for it contains elements that can be traced to still older sources. Cf. also
Karmay (1988), p. 200, who dates the seeming origin of this account of the
debate to the eleventh century, and "most probably prior to sGam-po-pa's elab-
oration of his Phyag chen theory," though he does not explain his basis for
pushing this dating back another century.
17. There is nothing in van der Kuijp's straightforward remarks in this
article that could be considered "an intemperate attack on [R.] Jackson's con-
clusions" (cf. Broido [1987], p. 50).
18. Broido (1987).
19. In Stein (1987), p. 58, n. 15, the English translation for the term is
given as: "the white one capable of acting alone (once only?)," which is closer
to the Tibetan. See also Karmay (1988), p. 197: "the white one that has power
of itself." Lhalungpa (1986), p. 439, n. 19, translated it as "omnipotent white
path," and Lopez (1987), p. 266, as the "One Pure Power."
For a curious modern occurence of the term, see the Tibetan foreword by
H. H. the Dalai Lama to the Japanese publication Hiroki Fujika, Tibetan Bud-
dhist Art (Tokyo: Hakushuisha Publishing Co., 1984), p. 2, where the following
sentence occurs: nyi hong dang hi ma la ya'i ri rgyud kyi yul dang / rgyal khams
rnams sa thag ring yang thub bstan la dad snang dkar po chig thub kyi ngang tshul la ngo
mtshar chen po thob byung. His Holiness probably did not expect anyone to catch
this allusion.
20. The word simple as a noun is defined in Chambers 20th Century Dictionary
(Edinburgh: 1983) as "a simple person (also collectively) or thing: a medicine
of one constituent: hence a medicinal herb." In Webster's New Twentieth Century
Dictionary qf the English Language Unabridged,Second Edition (Cleveland & New
York: 1971), the second definition for simple as a noun is: "a medicinal herb or
medicine obtained from a herb: so called because each vegetable was supposed
to possess its particular virtue and therefore to constitute a simple remedy."
Some other dictionaries mark the medical meanings as archaisms.
21. dBang-'dus, Bod gangs can pa'i gso ba rig pa'i dpalldan rgyud bzhi sogs kyi
brda dang dka' gnad 'ga' zhig bkrol tshig mdzod gyu thog dgongs rgyan, p. 157: chig thub
sman/ sbyor sde dang grogs sogs la bltos ma dgos par gcig gis nad 'joms thub pa'i nus pa
ldan pa'i sman gyi ming ste/. This information was drawn from De'u-dmar dge-
bshes, as dBang-'dus goes on to state (ibid.): de'u dmar dge bshes bstan 'dzin phun
tshogs kyis mdzad pa'i gso rig skor gyi ming tshig nyer mkho 'i don gsallas /
chig thub ces pa brda rnying ste / /
brda gsar rnams la gcig thub 'byung / /
sbyor sde grogs sogs ma bltos par / /
74 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
gcig gis nad 'joms sman gyi ming I I
zhes gsungs pa ltar ro I .
Thus the dkar po chig thub as a drug was some "simple,:' i.e., a medicine of on
constituent: perhaps a medicinal herb or vegetable simple. e
22. Thu'u-bkwan Chos-kyi-nyi-ma, p. 171.4 (kha 26a.4): bka' brgyud gong
ma rnams kyis phyag rgyachen po bsgom pa 1a dkar po chig thub ces gsungs pa yang mnyug
sems bde ba chen po 'i ngo bor skyes pas gnas lugs bsgom pa gcig pus mthar thug gi 'bras bu
thob par 'gyur pa la dgongs pa yin 1a I.
23. rDo-rje-shes-rab (fl. 13th c.), Khyad par 1ta bsgom spyod pa'i tshoms.
[dGongs gcig 'grel pa rdo shes mal, dGongs gcigyig cha, vol. 2, p. 407 (22b): rje sgam
po pas sman 1a dpe byas nas nga'i sems kyi ngo bo mthong ba 'di dkar po gcig thub bya ba
yin gsung I de la mkhas pa chen po 'ga' zhig gi zhal nas I
khyed kyi dkar po gcig thub la I I
sems bskyed bsngo ba dgos mi dgos I I
dgos na cig thub gsum du 'gyur I I
gsung ste I dkar po cig thub las gzhan pa'i [b }sngo ba sems bskyed med par byas kyang chog
khams gsum gyi 'khor ba las thar pa'i ngos nas I dkar po cig thub rkyang du byas kyang
chog gsung I I .
A similar quotation is given by Shakya-mchog-ldan, Legs bshad gser gyi thur
ma, Collected Works, vol. 7, p. 85 (43a). The points are basically the same,
though they are worded differently: dgongs gcig tul rje sgam po pas I sman la dper
mdzad nas I nga'i sems nyid rtogs pa 'di sman dkar po gcig thub dang 'rira I de la mkhas pa
chen po gcig gis rgol ba na I khyod kyi dkar po gcig thub de la bsngo ba dang sems skyed
dgos sam mi dgos zer ba la I gcig thub kyi ngos nas mi dgos byas kyang chog I 'khor ba las
thar pa rkyang pa'i ngos nas gcig thub yin zer ba byas kyang chog.
24. Zhang Tshal-pa, Phyag chen lam zab mthar thug, p. 53 (3a):
rang sems nges rtogs my a ngan 'das pa yi I I
ye shes mtha'yas bde ba chen par shar I I
de phyir ma 1us rang gi sems nyid las I I
'phros phyir rang sems chos nyid ngo shes na I I
sems can kun gyi chos nyid shes par 'gyur I I
de shes my a ngan 'dassogs chos kun shes I I
chos kun yongs shes khams gsum kun las 'das I I
gcig shes pas ni kun la mkhas par 'gyur I I
rtsa ba 'gyel bas 10 'dab ngang gis 'gyel I I
de phyir rang sems gcig pu gtan la dbab I I
Cf. Lhalungpa (1986), p. 212. On the similar stressing of the need to establish
all appearances as mind (snang ba sems su sgrub pal as a preliminary stage of
meditation in the Sa-skya-pa and other pre-dGe-lugs-pa schools, see D.
Jackson (1987), p. 427, n. 144.
25. Zhang Tshal-pa, p. 107.5 (30a.5):
rang sems rtogs pa'i skad cig mar I I
dkar po 'i yon tan ma 1us pa I I
bsgrub pa med par dus gcig rdzogs I I
Probably there is a word play here, since the word dkar po appears once, and
cig I gcig appears twice. Here the element dkar po is a quality of what comes to
completion, instead of the agent effecting that, and cig I gcig forms a part of both
the ideas of "an instant" skad cig ma and "simultaneous" dus gcig.
26. It is interesting to note that Sa-pal). in his sDom gsum rab dbye, p. 320.3.3
(na 48a.3), records the existence in the early 1200s ofa distinct tradition ofprac-
tical instructions on the simultaneous realization of Buddhahood which had
been formulated apparently in connection with this passage of the
AbhisamqyiilaT[lkiira, referring to it as "skabs brgyad cig char bsgom pa."
27. Zhang Tshal-pa, p. 1l0.5 (31b.5):
ji srid bdag 'dzin yod kyi bar I I
lta sgom spyod 'bras dam tshigyod I I
las dang las kyi mam smin yod I I
sdig spangs bsod nams" bsag pa gees I I
28. The question of whether this "Buddhahood" is in fact real Buddha-
hood is addressed by sGam-po-pa in his Lam rim mdor bsdus, who teaches there
that it is not yet actual Buddhahood but it is present as a full potentiality which
is prevented from appearing by the presence of the body which is the fruit of
previous karma. Nevertheless it will actualize in the intermediate stage (bar do)
immediately after death. See his Collected Works, vol. 2, p. 240.3. (This
"graduated" teaching also includes mention of the mal 'byor bzhi.)
sGam-po-pa explains this idea by making use of the metaphors of the lion
cub or the eagle or garut/a chick (klryung phrug) that springs forth fully developed
at birth, but which until its birth i"s kept sealed up by the womb or egg (240.4).
See also his Dus gsum, Works, vol. 1, p. 407.3:yon tan thams cadnam mngon du byed
ce na I lus rgya dang bral ba'i dus su'o I I. Later he qualifies and explains (p. 407.7):
chos nyid rtogs pa'i phyir sangs rgyasyin par 'drayangyon tan mi mnyam tel ....
-sGam-po-pa on occasion does portray the rDzogs-chen as occupying a
parallel doctrinal position to the Mahamudra as a practical instruction (man
ngag) of the Mantrayana rdzogs rim, and on occasion even seems to identify the
two. See his Tshogs bshad legs mdzes m.a, p.220.2 and his Tshogs chos yon tan phun tshogs,
p. 269.1. In the first source, p. 220.7, he characterized the Mahamudra as phyag
chen dri med zang thal. On the other hand, in his Dus gsum mkhyen pa'i zhus lan, p.
438-39, he distanced himselffrom what he portrays as the more extreme cig-car-
ba doctrines of the rDzogs-pa chen-po. According to a characterization of the
rDzogs-chen attributed to the dge-bshes brGya-yon-bdag appearing just before
in the same work (p. 438.1), the rDzogs-chen-pa typically maintained: "If you
attain realization (rtogs) in the morning, you awaken to Buddhahood in the
morning; if you attain realization in the evening, you awaken to Buddhahood
in the evening" (nang rtogs na nang sangs rgyal nub rtogs na nub sangs rgya). sGam-
po-pa maintains that there are three paths (Paramitayana, Mantra and
Mahamudra), and also two individuals (rim-gyis-pa and cig-car-ba), but says
that the latter approach is extremely difficult and that he considers himself a
"gradualist" (rim-gyis-pa). He goes on to relate that once when Mi-Ia ras-pa was
in the company of many people sGam-po-pa asked him what rDzogs-chen was
like, to which Mi-la replied that his teacher Mar-pa had said: "Though some
people say it is not the Dharma (chos men pa), that is not [so], but it is a dharma
belonging to the sixth or seventh bhilmi and above." Then [Mi-Ia] pointed to a
little boy of about five years of age and said, "The followers of the rDzogs-chen
are like him. It is like this child saying that he has the powers of a
year-old [adult]. The followers of the rDzogs-chen too speak of 'Buddhahood
now,' but it is not really meaningful.' (Chos men pa is apparently a misspelling
76 ]IABS VOL. 13 NO.2
for chos min pa, and presumably not a corruption based on ston min pa, which Was
the traditional Tibetan rendering of the Chinese equivalent for "cig-car", i.e
tun men; see also Padma-dkar-po, Chos 'byung, p. 391 [ka cha 196a.5], where m e ~
occurs instead of min: de la rgya men bod men zer skyon gtong te / .)
The same image of the khyung chick in its shell is used by Zhang Tshal-pa
in his Phyag chen lam zab mthar thug (p. 91 = 22a) in connection with the attain_
ment of sgom med, the fourth and ultimate stage in the fourfold system of the rnal
'byor bzhi. There he teaches:
The capacities of the khyung come to completion within the egg-shell.
When it leaves the egg-shell, it flies in the heights of the sky. The excellent
qualities of the three Bodies (kifya) are complete within the mind. The
[powers of working] for the benefit of others arise after the [constraining]
"seal" of the body has been destroyed [at death].
Zhang stresses the instantaneous nature of the attainmeni: of mahiimudrii through
his use of the term chig chod, using the simile of a lamp in darkness (whose light
instantly fills the darkness). He also uses the simile of the early morning Sun
(103.5= 28a), saying that even though immediately upon the attainment of the
realization of non-duality sufferings are not removed and the powers or
capacities of the enlightened qualities do not arise, still one should not criticize
it as not being the Path of Seeing. For even though in the morning immediately
after sunrise the sun does not have the power capable of melting ice and does
not warm the earth and stones, one should not deprecate it as not being the sun.
Cr. the use of the example of the sun's sudden appearance in the morning but
its gradual melting of the frost as the second example for sudden enlightenment
followed by gradual cultivation used by the Ch'an master Kuei-feng Tsung-mi
(780-841). See Gregory (1987), p. 286.
To stress that the mahiimudrii realization entails a radically altered view of
causation and conceptually conceived reality, Zhang compares the instantan-
eously effective mahiimudrii to the fruit of the breadfruit tree (which arises simul-
taneously with the growth of the parent tree, and for which the standard
categories of cause and effect thus do not apply), stating:
The instantaneously effective mahiimudrii, like the fruit of the breadfruit
[tree], is simultaneous in cause and effect, and [in it,] phenomenal marks
dissolve of themselves.
He goes on (p. 104 = 28b.4) to mention the metaphor of the sudden descent of
the hawks (khra) from above, in contrast with the gradual limb-by-limb ascent
of the monkeys from below. Elsewhere (p. 83.4) he uses the image of the monkey
running up and down the tree as a symbol for mental activities against the
background of the unchanging mind.
The 16th-century bKa'-brgyud-pa master bKra-shis-rnam-rgyal men-
tions the example of the lion cub and khyung chick while defending the notion
that the appearance of enlightened qualities can be delayed, in reply to a criti-
cism of this notion (by Sa-pal).). He similarly quotes lines from Zhang Tshal-pa.
See Lhalungpa (1986), pp. 406f; bKra-shis-rnam-rgyal, pp. 375b-376a. I have
not yet been able to find a defence of this notion by Padma-dkar-po.
The criticism by Sa-pal). is found in the sDom gsum Tab dbye, p. 309.4.6 (na
26b), in connection with a criticism of those who would ident!fy minor medita-
tive attainments or realizations as the iirya's "path of seeing" (mthong lam), no
doubt referring to the passage of Zhang just discussed. He denies that the expla-
nation in terms of the garurja's egg is found in any [authentic] svira or tantra of
'the Mahayana, and finds the whole notion strange, like someone saying that
the rays of the'sun which rises today will not come into being until tomorrow
These images and notions entered Tibetan Buddhism at an .early stage,
and according to gNubs Sangs-rgyas-ye-shes (10th c.?), they were accepted and
used by the tantric tradition of the (rNying-ma) Mahqyogii, as well as by the
early rDzogs-chen, apparently, In the bSam gtan mig sgron's chapter devoted to
the Mahqyoga, the two ways of attaining nirvaTJa are discussed. After mentioning
a number of early Tibetan. masters who attained enlightenment without leaving
their body, Sangs-rgyas-ye-shes mentions the attainment of liberation
immediately after death (p. 278 = 179b). The simile ofthe khyung and lion is said
in a (later?) explanatory note to be "stated in numerous scriptures of the Man-
tra[yana]" (gsang sngags kyi bka' du ma las 'byung). The simile of the lion-cub
alone is mentioned two folios later (p. 281 = 141a) in two quotations, in connec-
tion with the special points of superiority of the Mantra over the (szUra-based)
Madhyamaka. The works quoted are the [nris lan] lNga bcu pa and the [Las kyi]
Me long, which I have yet to identify.
A fundamental passage in which these similes are employed is quoted at
great length by Sangs-rgyas-ye-shes in an earlier section of his work (p. 40 =
20b.6). Here not only the khyung chick and lion cub are mentioned, but also the
metaphor of the kalavinka bird, which can sing while yet in its egg. In a (later?)
explanatory annotation, this quotation is said to be from the 'Od srungs le'u, pre-
sumably referring to section 84 of the Kiifyapaparivarta Sutra where the kalavinka
bird image is indeed employed in a related sense.
The khyung and lion are also used as images offearlessness by Sangs-rgyas-
ye-shes. The 8th-century Tibetan Ch'an master sBa Shang-shing is also said in
the rNying-ma gter-ma bKa' thang sde lnga to have used a lion simile similarly.
See G. Tucci (1958), p. 73,1. 16-19 (Minor Buddhist Texts 11), as cited also by J.
Broughton (1983), p. 54, n. 24. .
The example of the perfectly developed garurja or eagle (khyung chen) chick
within the egg is also found in a rDzogs-chen tantra, lTa baye shes gting rdzogs kyi
rgyud (p. 52), here explaining how Buddhahood is ,present in a full potential
form but kept from manifesting by the present body: dus ni da lta byung ba lus
kyi[s} sgribs/ dper na khyung chen sgong nga'i nang na gshog rgyas'kyang/ sgo nga ma
chag [bar} 'phur mi nus pa bzhin/. (Cited by Karmay [1988], p. 185, n. 58.)
These specific images may well have entered early Tibetan Buddhist tradi-
tion through the writings and teachings ofCh'an masters such as Mo-ho-yen.
In one of the Tibetan fragments of the latter's writings recovered from ~ u n
Huang (Stein 709, second fragment, f. 9a), Mo-ho-yen uses precisely the similes
of a lion cub and a special bird as two of the very few comparisons that are suit-
able for his method, which yields simultaneous and immediate realization
(another acceptable simile being that of a panacea, as he states in another
source). Gomez (1983), p. 116, has translated the relevant passage: "This may
be compared to the lion cub that even before it has opened its eyes brings terror
78 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
to the other animals,.or to the young of the kalavinka bird who upon leaving their
eggs are able to fly like their mother. The qualities of this contemplation cannot
be easily compared with other things in this world." ,
29. Broido seems to understand the phrase dbyings las mi 'da' ba'i don as
expressing' the idea "not going beyond completeness." sGam-po-pa (Works
vol. 2, p. 375.7) defines'the term dbyings as "the defining mark [or true nature]
of all factors of existence" (chos thams cad kyi mtshan nyid) , i.e., what is known in
the insight into ultimate reality. The term is here paired and contrasted with
"gnosis" (ye shes), which he defines as "the pure nature of mind, which is lumin_
ous" (sems nyid rnam par dag pa 'od gsal ba).
The idea of "completeness" is of course an essential aspect of the notion of
chig thub: it is something that suffices alone to effect the complete result. See also
Broido (p. 32), who states: "The Tibetans emphasize the notion of 'not going
beyond' as part of'seal.'" Cf. sGam-po-pa, Works, v o l . ~ 2 , p. 103.7: rang gi sems
ma bcos pa de nyid rtogs nal snang grags kyi chos thams cad de'i ngo bo las ma 'das pa'ol
de rtogs nas de las gzhan pa'i chos [104] sku cigyang dag par rdzogs pa'i sangs rgyas kyis
rgyud rnams su I bla ma rje btsun grub pa thob pa rnams kyis kyang I de las ma gzigs pa
yinl. Cf. also the idea of completeness expressed through the word zin in the
rDzogs-chen system.
30. Zhang Tshal-pa, p. 99.5 (26a.5):
dam tshigji Itar bsrung zhe nail
dang po'i las pa'i dus tshod dull
so sor thar pa'i sdom pa sogs II
bde gshegs bla ma'i bka' mi bcag II (1)
rtsa rlung bsgom pa'i dus tshod du / I
bde drod mi mthun phyogs rnams spang II
mi rtog nyams myong shar gyur nas I I
ting 'dzin 'gal rkyen thams cad spang II (2)
rang sems ngo bo mthong gyur nas I I
sems La gnod pa thams cad spang I I
gnyis med rtogs pa shar nas ni I I
ched du bya ba thams cad spang II (3)
kun La rang sems dpang por zhog I I
dbyings las mi [26b] 'da'i don rtogs nas II
srung du med de dam tshig mchog I I
dkar po gcig thub bya ba yin I I (4)
dam tshig le'u ste dgu pa'o II II
The first two verses of this short ninth chapter of Zhang's treatise could
also be translated:
How are the pledges to be observed? At the time of [being] a beginner,
one should not break the command of the Tathagata-Guru [regarding]
the vows such as the pratimok.ra [monastic discipline]. (1)
At the time of cultivating the "channels" (rtsa) and "winds" (rlung), one
should abandon all things not conducive to bliss and heat. After the
experience of non-conceptualizing (mi rtog) has arisen, one should avoid
all factors inimical to meditative absorptions (samadhi). (2)
Zhang's comment thus occurs in a system of practice in which the monastic
vows are taken to be mainly the concern of "beginners." The system includes
the realization of: special tantric yogas, the experience of non-conceptualiza-
tion, the nature of one's own mind, non-duality, and the "not going beyond the
true nature of things" (dbyings las mi 'da' ba'i don).
31. C[ sGam-po-pa, Lam rim mdor bsdus, p. 240.2, whose explanation of
the sgom med rnal 'byor would seem to correspond to the srung du med.referred to
by Zhang: chos thams cad mnyam pa nyid du thag chad pas I spang bya spang du medl
gnyen po [bJsten du medl sangs rgyas sgrub tu medl 'khor ba spang du medl bsgom bya
sgom byed med par 'byung ste I de nyid sgam med kyi rnal 'byor bya ba yin no I I de tsa na
rang gi sems kho nar 'dug pas . ...
32. This apparently derives from the famous analogy of the spiritual path
as the searching for and finding of an elephant or ox (glang po), as mentioned by
sGam-po-pa, rJe phag mo gru pa'i zhus lan, p. 489.3: glang po rnyed nas rjes mi btsal.
The way that he reached the second part of thesis C., namely that Padma-
dkar-po accepts the thesis "expressed by Zhang Tshal-pa," was thus apparently
to look elsewhere in Zhang Tshal-pa to find something that accorded better
with his understanding of Padma-dkar-po. The latter does also express else-
where the idea of "self-sufficiency" or "single efficaciousness" and B. (p. 37)
translates, for instance: "So at the time of understanding there is no need to con-
sider any other dharma than mahiimudrii."
33. Zhang Tshal-pa, Writings, p. 711.7:
gang gis bla [712] ma mnyes byed pal I
gang la'ang mi ltos phun sum 'tshogs I I
dkar po chig thub chen po yin I I
In this work Zhang stresses the need for the disciple's previous preparation and
for the guru's grace, and says (p. 705.7-706.1) that when through those condi-
tions one realizes the ultimate reality of one's own mind (rang gi sems kyis [= kyi]
de kho na nyid rtogs par gyur na), one goes in that very moment to the highest level
of all the Buddhas (dus gsum gyis sangs rgyas thams cad kyi go 'phang mchog skad cig de
nyid la bsgrod par byed do I I). Others of less merit, however, will not understand
this doctrine, and therefore it is important to keep it very secret, he adds.
Very similar teachings are expressed in his Phyag chen lam zab mthar thug,
pp. 78.6-79.1 (15b-16a), though here two factors are stressed as necessary for
the attainment of realization: the teacher's grace and the student's previously
acquired merit. Later, on p. 96 (24b.1), he stresses the master's grace as the
singly decisive factor: bla ma'i byin brlabs 'ba' zhigyinl I. Zhang devoted another
brief treatise to the importance of the guru's grace: gNad kyi man ngag, Writings,
pp. 696.7-703.5, and stresses the same point in his Mal dbu dkar la gdams pa,
34. One occurrence of the term in sGam-po-pa's writings is in the latter's
reply to the questions of his learned Khams-pa disciple Phag-mo-gru-pa, rJe
phag mo gru pa'i zhus lan, p. 471. 7. There he speaks of the realization he teaches as
being utterly beyond the range of intellectual understanding (being "unknown
even by a greatly learned man or pa7Jqita") and that it is only arises through the
grace of the teacher who transmits it non-verbally. He adds: "When it is born,
since this has become a White Self-sufficient Simple, i.e., full liberation through
80 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
knowing one thing, Buddha[hoodJ is acquired in oneself." The Tibetan reads:
'di mkhas pa par;tfitas kyang mi shes / shes rab kyis mi rtogs / rtog ge ba'i spyod yul ma
yin/ [po 472J [sgom don? (unclear)] rgyud la skye ba la bla ma rtogs ldan cig la slob mas
mas gusbyas byin brlabs kyi stabs kyis tshig dang bral ba blo 'i yullas 'das pa las rab 'char
te / ngo bo 'phags pa klu sgrub la sags pa mkhas pa mams kyang khas len dang bral ba yin
te / ... [canonical quotations follow J
... de skyes pa'i dus na / dkar po cig thub cig shes kun grol du song bas / sangs rgyas
rang la myed / .
On the subject of the limitations of the "par;tfita's" approach, which uses
concepts and words, cf. also the Tshogs chos chen mo (included in sGam-po-pa's
works but which was not set down in its final form until some generations after
sGam-po-pa by dPal Shes-rab-gzhon-nu), p. 348.5 (re: tha mal gyi shes pa): de
rtogs na par;tfita rig pa'i gnas lnga la mkhas pa bas kyang Yen tan chef par;tfita ni don
spyi'i mam pa yul du byed / sgra mtshan nyid du byed pa yin / kun shes cig bdugs bya ba
yin/ 'di rtogs na Gig shes kun la mkhas pa bya bayin/.
The term dkar po chig thub appears in sGam-po-pa's writings a second time
in the latter's first words in his Dus gsum mkhyen pa'i zhus lan, p. 376.7. Dus-gsum-
mkhyen-pa had received the instructions from sGam-po-pa and had experi-
enced after a few days of meditating an experience of great lucidity, and he had
no idea where it had come from. sGam-po-pa advised him: "That is the 'White
Self-sufficient Simple.' Such will always occur tomorrow, the next day, and
later, and therefore you should use a warm curtain behind you, wear thin cloth-
ing, and so meditate. You will probably be able to bind consciousness (shes pal
to your service." Tib.: de dkar po chig thub bya ba yin gsung / sang gnangs dang dus
phyis rtag tu de tsug 'ong ba yin pas rgyab yol dro bar gyis / gas bsrab par gyis las [ = la?J
bsgoms dang / shes pa [b] kol tu btub par 'dug gis gsung /
sGam-po-pa's third usage of the term is also in his Dus gsum mkhyen pa'i
zhus lan, p. 380.2. In this context Dus-gsum-mkhyen-pa has requested explana-
tions of the Thabs lam. sGam-po-pa replies by stressing the sufficiency of what
he always teaches (kun tu bshad pa des chog) , adding: "If you too are able to culti-
vate it still more, it will suffice to foster just that" (khyed rang yang da rung bsgom
nus na de skyangs pas chog par 'dug). Dus-gsum-mkhyen-pa asks: "If I am able to
cultivate [itJ, will that suffice?" (bsgom nus na des chog gam). rJe sGam-po-pa
answers: "The 'White Self-sufficient Single' refers to that. I too have nothing
besides that" (dkar po cig thub de la byed pa yin / nga la yang de las med). Cf. also his
Collected Works, vol. 2, p. 327.5: nga la blta rgyu sems nyid gcig pu las med/ /.
The same conception, phrased as gcig shes kun la mkhas pa, is found in a
song of Mi-Ia ras-pa as recorded in the biography by gTsang-smyon Heruka
(1452-1507). See Karmay (1988), p. 198. For this term in sGam-po-pa, see also
for instance his Tshogs chos chen mo, p. 348, as quoted previously in this note, and
the Dus gsum mkhyen pa'i zhus lan, p. 452.6.
The 13th-century 'Bri-gung bKa'-brgyud-pa commentator rDo-rje-shes-
rab, as quoted in note 23, specified in his dGongs gcig 'grel pa rd.o shes ma that the
dkar po chig thub was identified by sGam-po-pa precisely with "seeing" or
"realizing" the nature of mind.
35. Padma-dkar-po, Phyag chen gan mdzod, 48a.2: de bas na blo ngor sbyang
gzhi sbyong byed sbyangs 'bras kyi go rim yang rigs la / gnas tshul la de lta bu gang yang
ma grub pas phyag rgya chen po 'di la dkar po chig thub ces gsungs so I I. In light of this
statement, I wonder whether Broido's description (pp, 29f) ofPadma-dkar-po's
view of the Mahamudra cig-car individual's path as being "a view about the
path, and not the goal" is quite adequate. It would seem to be a special view
about the relation of the path and goal. Cf. also ibid, p. 194.4 (4b.4): g::.hi dang
laml lam dang 'bras bu gnyis su mi phyed pas cig car ba'i lam bstanl.
The term dkar po chig thub of course also occurs within the rubric or title De
dkar po chig thub tu 'gro ba'i gnad bshad pa which Padma-dkar-po gives to the whole
discussion and which is similar to Zhang's chapter title dKar po chig thub tu bstan
pa'i le'u.
36. Much of what Broido presents in his broadened interpretation of the
term is standard tantric theory acceptable also to Sa-palf and others. Tantric
philosophy is based on a special approach to causation and soteriology; it is,
after all, the "Resultant Mantra Vehicle" ('bras bu sngags kyi theg pa), as opposed
to the "Causal Defining-mark Vehicle" (rgyu mtshan nyid kyi theg pa) where the
normal theories of causation hold sway. In the Lam 'bras tantric precepts of the
Sa-skya-pa based on the Hevajra cycle and traced back to the Indian siddha Vir-
up a, one also finds similar instructions on "the path which includes its fruit"
(lam 'bras bu dang bcas pa'i gdams ngag), "the fruit that includes its path" ('bras bu
lam dang bcas pa'i gdams ngag), and "that by knowing a single thing, one knows
many" (gcig shes pas mang po shes pa 'i gdams ngag).
37. Broido states, p. 62, note 3: "I shall make less use of this source [the
Thub pa'i dgongs gsal]."
38. He did not identify in the bibliography which version of the work he
consulted. In any case, it was not from the Derge edition of the Sa skya bka' 'bum
(reprinted Tokyo: Toyo Bunko, 1968), which is considered by the tradition to
be the standard edition of the Sa-skya-pa masters' writings and which should,
if possible, be cited in modern scholarship in the absence of a critical edition.
39. In his postscript, p. 48, Broido does, however, repeat one quotation
from Sa-palf's sKyes bu dam pa rnams la spring ba'i yi ge, drawing it from van der
Kuijp's article.
40. The insertion in square brackets is mine. It would have been better
to have translated this phrase as: "this is (yin) the dkar po chig thub," i.e., clearly
differentiating the verb yin pa from yod pa. Broido, p. 48, mistakenly explains
the term ngo 'phrod pa as "to show the nature of a thing," citing Jaschke and
Das. But he actually refers to the definition found for the verb ngo sprod pa and
misses the fundamental distinction between that transitive and active verb and
the former, which is the corresponding intransitive verb meaning "to have been
introduced to" or "to recognize and understand [the nature of a thing]," i.e.,
the verb form in which the result or experience undergone by the grammatical
"patient" is stressed.
41. Sa-palf, sDom gsum rab dbye, 34a.2:
'ga' ::.hig chig thub bsgom pa yi I I
rjes la bsngo ba bya dgos I I
'0 na chig thub gnyis su 'gyur I I
de la'ang skyabs 'gro sems bskyed dang I I
yi dam lha bsgom la sogs pa I I
82 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
dgos na chig thub du mar gyur I I
des na chig thub 'di 'dra'i lugs I I
rdzogs sangs rgyas kyis gsungs pa medl I ,
On the necessity of bodhicitta as a separately cultivated aspect of the path in
KamalasIla's view, in contrast with the opposing view ofMo-ho-yen, see Gomez
(1987), p. 112.
42. Cf. the different Phyag rgya chen po lnga ldan presented in sGam-po-pa's
works, vol. 2, p. 380.2f.
43. See also sGam-po-pa, rJe phag mo gru pa'i zhus lan, p. 470.3, where
Dags-po lha-rje advises the cultivation of bodhicitta with devotion to the guru
and integrated gtum-mo and mahiimudrii. Cf. p. 488.5 where there is a reference
to the bKa' -gdams-pa position that relative bodhicitta should be cultivated
before ultimate bodhicitta: jo bo bka' gdams pa kun nas I stongpa nyid bsg
sngas na kun rdzob byang chub kyi sems ma 'byongs par stong pa nyid du bsgoms pas rryan
thos sugol nas I ... Cf. also vol. 2, p. 113.7: rje rin po che'i zhal nas I byang chub kyi
sems rnam pa grryis med na sangs mi rgya ba yin gsung ba I kun rdzob byang chub sems skye
ba'i rgyu tshang bar byas nas smon 'jug kyi dam bca' byal ... don dam lhan cig skyes pa'i
grryug ma yin no gsung I .
44. SM.kya-mchog-ldan, Legs bshad gser gyi thur ma, Collected vVorks, vo!'
7, p. 85: gzhung 'dir yang I la la gcig thub sgom pa yi I I rjes la bsngo ba bya dgos zer I I
zhes sogs rnams kyang I rje dags po 'i [b Jrgyud 'dzin rnams la gsung ba yin pas so I I. In
this section Shakya-mchog-ldan displays a familiarity with the dGongs gcig
system, quoting it explicitly twice (pp. 84.2 and 85.1) in connection with sGam-
po-pa's views on the chen po gsum gyis ma reg pa and dkar po chig thub.
Karmay (1988), p. 199, states: "Although Sa-paI)'s chronic doubts about
sGam-po-pa's Phyag chen had a lasting influence on later Tibetan Buddhist
writers, his criticism has never really been accepted as valid. On the contrary
his views are refuted even by eminent Sa skya pa scholastics, like Sakya
ldan .... " Actually Shakya-mchog-ldan agrees with Sa-paI) to a considerable
extent when commenting on controversial passages in the sDom gsum rab dbye,
saying for instance that little can be seen to distinguish the theory (lta ba) of the
master Mo-ho-yen as better or worse than that of the (Mahamudra) exponents
of this bKa'-brgyud (bka' brgyud 'di pal rgya nag mkhan po dang lta ba la bzang ngan
mi snang yang I), though he stresses the superiority of the practice (spyod pal of
the latter, and warns that it should not be falsely criticized. See ibid., p. 85.3.
Before that, after specifying carefully (on p. 84) which particular unacceptable
doctrinal statements of early bKa' -brgyud-pas he believed Sa-paI) had in mind
when he criticized the "latter-day Mahamudra" as a "Chinese-tradition
rDzogs-chen," he concludes: don de dag mi 'thad pa'i dbang du mdzad nas I deng sang
gi phyag rgya chen po dang I rgya nag lugs kyi rdzogs chen gnyis don gcig tu mdzad nas
'gog parmdzad pa'i gzhung rnams gsungs pa yin no I I. Still later (p. 192) he explains
Sa-paI)'s position without indicating any disagreement: '0 na ci zhe nal mid layan
chad du nil nii ro pa'i [bJrgyud 'dzin dag la nii ro'i chos drug de las gzhanl lam 'bras
dang I phyag chen gyi ming can dkar po chig thub sogs la goms par byed pa med la I rje
dags po lha rjes I chos drug kho na rang [b Jrgyud la nan tan du goms par byed pa bor nas I
phyag rgya chen po 'i ming 'dogs can gyi dkar po gcig thub la sgom du byas pa dang I phag
mo gru pas lam 'bras goms pas gTub pa brnyes pa lta bill nii TO ta pa las gzhan gyi gdam
ngag sgom bz;hin dul brgyud pa gz;han de dag gsang nasi rje nii ro pa kho na'i [bJrgyud
thin du 'dod pa ni rang gz;han gyi lugs gnyis dang 'gall z;hes bstan bcos mdz;ad pa 'dis
nil .... And again in the next section (p. 194.6) he presents position as
being precisely: '0 na ci z;he nal rgya nag lugs kyi rdz;ogs chen la phyag rgya chen por
ming btags pa de-sgom bz;hin dul nii ro'i brgyud pa 'ded na lugs g11J'is dang 'gal z;hes pa'i
don tel ji skad dul gz;hung 'di nyid las I da lta'i phyag rgya 9hen po nil I phal cher rgya
nag chos lugs yin I I ....
Shakya-mchog-1dan's attitude toward these criticisms by is thus
hardly one of overt rejection in these contexts. It is mainly when he writes a
treatise specifically in defence of the Phyag-chen and as a follower of the latter
tradition that he expresses contrary opinions or tries to clarify the disagree-
ments and misunderstandings. In his Phyag rgya chen po gsal bar byed pa'i bstan bcos
tshangs pa'i 'khor los gz;han blo'i dregs pa nyams'byed, Collected Works, vol. 17, p. 344
(7b), for instance, he explains and justifies the dkar po chigthub notion:
The "white self-sufficient simple" refers exclusively to theory, but it is not
an expression denying [the importance of] the preparatory accumula-
tions of merit. Moreover, it means precisely that the mahiimudrii by itself
alone is sufficient, there being no necessity to exert oneself in applying
separate remedies to the individual klefas and thought-constructions.
dkar po chig thub z;hes bya ba I I
lta ba rkyang pd'i ldog cha nas I I
yin gyi bsod nams tshogs dag la I I
skur ba 'debs pa'i tshig ma yin I I
de yang nyon mongs rnam par rtog I I
so so'i gnyen po tha dad la I I
'bad mi dgos par phyag Tgya che I I
gcig pus chog pa'i don nyid do I I
Just before (p. 344.2), he referred to the Hwa-shang comparison:
lta ba yas babs hwa shang gi I I
bsgom dang mtshungs z;hes gsungs mod kyang I I
sngags lugs phal cher lta ba nas I I
brtsams te lam la Jug par bshad I I
Then in his Phyag rgya chen po 'i shan byed [the first oftwo identically titled works],
Collected Works, vol. 17, p. 365, he summarizes very clearly the opposing lines
of argument which had been introduced and discussed from another
viewpoint on pp. 355-6. Also, in his gSer gyi thur ma las brtsams pa'i dogs gcod kyi
'bel gtam rab gsal rnam nges saml nges don rab gsal, Collected Works, vol. 17, pp.
529.5 and 541.5, he discusses the references to the "rgya nag lugs kyi rdz;ogs chen"
within a larger exposition of the mentions of the rNying-ma-pa in the sDom gsum
rab dbye, and he clarifies his own quoting of 'Bri-gung dPal-'dzin's criticisms in
the gSer gyi thur mao
Moreover, within the Sa-skya-pa scholastic tradition, Shakya-mchog-
1dan's attitude toward the Phyag-chen tradition (which incidentally stood him
iIi good stead with his Rin-spungs-pa patrons) was a highly unusual-if not
unique-exception; all other Sa-skya-pa sDom gsum rab dbye commentators to my
knowledge accept and follow position as they understand it without
such reservations or qualifications. (I doubt whether another example like.
84 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
, Shakya-mchog-Idan is to be found among eminent Sa-skya-pa scholars.) Thus,
it is incorrect to assert that Sa-paJ.1's criticisms "have never really been accepted
as valid," for that would ignore the main thrust of subsequent Sa-skya-pa
scholarship and the writings of such influential masters as Go-rams-pa and the
four great earlier commentators that Shakya-mchog-Idan had based his own
sDom gsum rab dbye studies on. For a listing of the extensive commentatorialliter-
ature on the sDom gsum rab dbye by some twenty-seven Sa-skya-pa scholars who
followed Sa-paJ.1's interpretations more or less faithfully, see D. Jackson (1983),
pp. 12-23.
In other contexts Karmay (1988) does admit, albeit somewhat grudgingly,
that' certain of Sa-paJ.1's critical comments in the sDom gsum rab dbye are found to
be not lacking in basis when one investigates the earlier sources and traditions
in more detail. For example on p. 148 he states: "His [Sa-paJ.1'sJ contention
[regarding the theg pa dguJ is not simply philosophical pedantry as it may seem."
And on p. 200: "It is therefore this particular version of the account of the
debate containing the question of dKar po chig thub and the two terms on
which Sa-paJ.1's criticism of Phyag chen, however misleading it sounds, is
45. It is a little curious that Padma-dkar-po quoted the next two lines of
the sDom gsum rab dbye out of context. This lack of clear context has completely
thrown off Broido's translation (p. 39). The words begin the discussion of
another point, and they read:
thub pas stong nyid bsngags pa ni / /
dngos por 'dzin pa bzlog phyir yin / /
"The Muni's celebration of voidness was for the purpose of averting the
postulation of existing entities."
46. Padma-dkar-po, 50b.5: 'di ni byis pa'i klan ka ste/ 'thad na rang nyid
la'ang rim gnyis rim gnyis su bzhag rgyu mi yong / 'di yang don dam pa'i phyogs su long
gtam ste / kho bo cag gi lugs [51 a] la 'di ka don dam pa'i sems bskyed yin pas / .
47. Padma-dkar-po then goes on to quote various scriptures, in order,
according to Broido (p. 40), to show that each of the five aspects of mahiimudrii
of the lNga ldan system is treated as standing for the whole. It hardly needs men-
tioning that Sa-paJ.1 would have accepted these scriptures in their respective
Mantrayana or Paramitayana contexts, and it does not necessarily follow that
for him all these Indian sources were "foolishly confused" (cf. Broido, ibid.).
Doctrinal confusion in Sa-paJ.1's opinion does not subsist in the scriptures, but
rather in their erroneous interpretation, as he goes on to discuss explicitly in the
following verses of the sDom gsum rab dbye.
48. In another context, Padma-dkar-po carefully specifies in his Klan ka
gzhom pa'i gtam, p. 556.5 (zha nga 2b) that he does not accept a cultivation of
merely non-discursiveness (mi TtOg pal as being by itself sufficient, contrary t ~
what the Hwa-shang is said to have held, and here he enumerates rnam par ml
TtOg pa as just one of many stages of practice entailed in the. practice of the
Mahamudra. . .
49. See van der Kuijp (1987),p. 132, who cites 'Jam-mgonA-mes-zhabs's
biography ofKun-dga'-rin-chen, pp. 112-113.
50. See M. Goldstein, Tibetan-English Dictionary if Modern Tibetan (Kath-
mandu: 1975).
51. bKa' brgyud gser phreng chen mo: Biographies if Eminent Gurus in the Trans-
mission Lineage if Teachings if the 'Ba'-ra dKar-brgyud-pa Sect, p. 343.2 va phag gru
de nas yar byon nas 'on gyi tshal sgang du bzhugs I bsgom chen 'ga' re yang skyangs I
gsung rabs rgyas pa la sags pa'i bsnyen bkur yang dpag tu med pa byung I rgyas pa de sa
skya ru spyan< drangs nas I sgom bsod la sags pa'i slob ma bgres po khrid nas I slob dpon
rnams dbang gi bzhi po yang zhus I 'bul ba skur bas chog pa yin te I bla ma chos 'dri ba la
dgyes pas I nga sgam par phyin nas shiel s rab [b }rgya 'gyur du song I rtogs pa skyes I chos
thams cad ni nam mkha' la mdung skor ba dang 'rira ba 'riil bla ma 'riri tsam nal lan gdab
dgossnyam pa la sngar bzhin 'ririr ma byung I nga'i bla ma la sku tshe ring po mi yongs par
'dug I spyan rtsa 'gyur song chos mi 'dri bar chad de 'grongs [344] ltags [better: ltasJ yin
gsung tsa nal lo phyed tsam Lon pa dang 'das so I I The parallel passage in the sTag-
lung bKa'-brgyud-pa gSer phreng omits this episode. See Chos 'byung ngo mtshar rgya
mtsho (Tashijong: 1972), vol. I, p. 251.
52. See also the account of dPa'-bo gTsug-Iag-phreng-ba, vol. I, p. 815,
which concludes: bla ma sa skya pa sngon nas nga la chos 'dri zhing mnyes pa la da kho
bo chos thams cad nam mkha' la mdung bskor ba ltar song ba 'rii la bla ma'i lan tshul bzhin
gdab dgos snyam nas 'bul ba rnams skyel pa dang sgres pa 'ga' dbang bskur zhu 'riod dang
bcas byonl ... da res chos kyang mi 'dril spyan rtsa'ang 'gyur 'dug ste 'grongs ltas ma lags
sam gsungs te myur du grongs I. I t might be useful to trace this episode in the oldest
and longest biographies ofPhag-mo-gru-pa, such as that by 'Bri-gung skyob-pa
'Jig-rten-mgon-po or the one by Chos-kyi-ye-shes entitled dPal phag mo gru pa'i
rnam thar rin po che'i phreng ba which was published in The Collected Works of
Phag-mo-gru-pa rDo-rje-rgyal-po (Gangtok: 1976), pp. 5-62.
53. More light on their relation may be shed by the text rJe btsun sa skya pa
dang dpal phag mo gru pa gnyis kyi zhus lan, which is included in the list of Phag-
mu-gru-pa's works in the bibliographical compilation: Grags-pa (ed.), Bod kyi
bstan bcos khag cig gi mtshan byang dri med shel dkar phreng ba (mTsho-sngon: mTsho
sngon mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 1985), p. 159.
Zhang Tshal-pa was similar in holding a non-Mahamudra teacher, rGa
lo-tsa-ba, in the highest respect. He also honored the memory of Sa-chen Kun-
dga'-snying-po, who had been the teacher of his master rJe-btsun gShen-pa. In
his [b}rGyud pa sna tshogs, p. 442.1, Zhang mentions Sa-chen with the following
words: "He who was like the crest-jewel from among many people in the
Kaliyuga, the lord Sa-skya-pa, master of a treasury of instructions" (rtsod pa'i
dus skye bo mang po 'i nang nas gtsug gi nor bu lta bur gyur pa rje sa [s) kya pa gdams ngag
gi mdzod mnga' bal. The same rje-btsun gShen-pa was a teacher of the Lam 'bras
to Dus-gsum-mkhyen-pa.
54. See Padma-dkar-po, bKa' brgyud kyi bka' 'bum gsil bu rnams kyi gsanyig,
Collected Works, vol. 4, pp. 460-464 (nga na 76b-78b).
55. Padma-dkar-po, bKa' brgyud kyi bka' 'bum gsil bu rnams kyi gsan yig,
Collected Work,s, vol. 4, pp. 461.5 (nga na 77a.5): bde gshegs chen po 'di'i slob ma'i
mkhas shos mthong lam gyi TtOgS pa thob par gsung pa))inl phyis sgam par byonl de nas
bla ma'i spyan sngar byon dus spyan sprin 'gyur ba gzigs pa lal gzhan dag sgam po pa'i
slob ma byas pa la ma m71:yes so yang snyam I gleng yang gleng ngo I mtshan nyid [77bJ
dang ldan pa'i bla ma dag la de 'dra ga la srid / gang gis 'dul ba dang / gang las sems can:
la phan thogs che ba la de dag ched du sbyor ba mdzad pa'i phyir ro / / bla ma spong len lta
bur sem[sJ pa nijo gdan chang bzi'i gtam dpe nyid do / / de yang phag gru nyid kyis bla
ma yun ring du mi bzhugs pa'i mtshan mar gsungs pa ltar thog tu bab bo / / .
In the passage just before this, Padma-dkar-po sharply rejects a similar
negative and sectarian interpretation regarding the relation of Sa-chen and
Phag-mo-gru-pa as "the words of a fool" (blun po'i tshig).
56. I am not familiar with the maxim or saying jo gilan chang bzi. The
wordjo gdan is evidently not correctly defined in any dictionary to which I have
access, but the word jo stan apparently refers to a monk of a strict monas-
tic discipline, andjo gdan may be an alternative spelling for it. Except in a few.
exceptional circumstances,jo gdan does not refer to a Jo-nang abbot (jo nang gic
gdan sa pa), as some dictionaries suggest when they list the word at all.
Regarding the termjo stan, it is presumably the abbreviation ofjo bo stan
gcig pa. The gDan-gcig-pas or sTan-gcig-pas were strict monastic adherents
who kept "the discipline of a single mat" (stan gcig gi brtul zhugs), and a commu"
nity of them known by this name was based in 'Phan-po at the Jo-stan tshogs-
pa ofJo-stan-thang. Some teachers of the "Female gcod" (mo gcod) tradition such
as bla-ma sTan-gcig-pa gZhon-nu-tshul-khrims (fl. c. 1200), who was also
known as were based there. See the Blue Annals, p. 993. In the
reproduction of the Tibetan text, see p. 955 (pa 7a). Note that here folios 7 of
fascicles pa and ba have been exchanged in the reprint edition. Thus pp. 955-6
and pp. 881-2 appear in the wrong places. See also the far klungjo bo'i chos 'byung
(Chengdu: 1988), pp. 77 and l79f, where the monastic communities founded as'
a result of Sakyasrlbhadra's activities are referred to as jo gdan tshogs pa andjo
dansde (sic).
57. Broido (p. 62, n. 3, and p. 66, n. 67) has misinterpreted Sa-pal). as
calling his opponents "outsiders" [i.e., non-Buddhists] by the word phyi rabs,
not realizing that the word means "later or recent generation" (cf. phyi pa or phyi
rol mu stegs pa). Sa-pal). does however say (Thub pa'i dgongs gsal, that he
considers the traditions he criticizes there to be "neither Sravaka nor
Mahayana but which is held [by the opponent] to be the Buddha's Doctrine"
(nyan thos dang theg chen gnyis ka ma yin pa sangs rgyas kyi bstan par 'dod pa). That a
teaching must fit in somewhere within the usual doctrinal classes, such as
Buddhist or non-Buddhist, Mahayana or non-Mahayana, tantric or non-tantric
was accepted by nearly everyone. Although in some extreme interpretations the
Mahamudra was proposed to be a third (or even fourth) class of teachings out-
side of both non-tantric Mahayana and tantra (see for instance Lhalungpa
transl. [1986], pp. IIO-II2, quoting sGam-po-pa), others have not rriaintained
such a threefold scheme because of the unacceptable doctrinal difficulties it
would entail. See for instance 'Bri-gung rig-'dzin Chos-kyi-grags-pa, p. 45
(23a): mdo sngags gnyis las tha dad pa'i lam zhigyod na l'dzogs pa'i sangs l'gyas kyis ma
gsungs pa'i lam du thal bas, and rDo-rje-shes-rab, vol. I, p. 396.1 25a.1).
also Broido, pp. 46 and 50, who in formulating his final arguments sharply dIS-
tinguishes between Vajrayana and non-Vajrayana Mahayana as a mutually exc-'
lusive pair. According to him, a Mahamudra doctrine must be either one or the
other. See also his theses Gand H, p. 30.
For sCam-po-pa's three-fold division of the path, see for instance his Dus
gsum mkhyen pa'i zhus lan, pp. 418 and 438. In the first passage he gives two alter-
natives: 1) ryes dpag lam du byed pa = mtshan nyid
2) byin brlabs lam du byed pa = sngags
3) mngon sum lam du byed pa = phyag chen
1) gzhi spong ba'i lam = phar phyin
2) gzhi sgyur ba'i lam = sngags
3) gzhi shes pa 'i lam = phyag chen
In other contexts he follows the more standard classifications. See for instance
his Tshogs chos legs mdzes ma, pp. 172.1, where he contrasts the Paramitayana as
tshogs kyi lam with the Mantrayana which is thabs kyi lam. Cf also ibid., pp. 219-
220 where he enumerates the usual pairs: drang doni nges don, theg chen I theg chung,
phar phyinl 'bras bu sngags, bskyed rim I rdzogs rim, and finally rdzogs chen I phyag chen.
58. One of the "four reliances" (rton pa bzhi) was that one should rely not
on the person but on the doctrine. Mi-bskyod-rdo-rje suggested that critics of
the Mahamudra (such as Sa-paJ;!) have deviated from this principle through
"hostility." See Seyfort Ruegg (1988), p. 1262; Mi-bskyod-rdo-rje, p. 15 (8a.5):
rton pa bzhi la rton pa na chos la rton gyil gang zag la mi rton par zhal nas gsungs pa la
sdang dbang gis de las bzlog pa'i phyir ro I I.
59. bKra-shis-rnam-rgyal, for instance, attributes the criticisms of Sa-
paJ;! to a sheer wish to criticize, questioning whether Sa-paJ;! was dispassionate
in his criticism or uninfluenced by personal feelings, jealousy, etc. See
Lhalungpa (1986), pp. 105f et passim; bKra-shis-rnam-rgyal, p. 93b.6:smra
'dod pa tsam du zad, p. 94b.1: rang gi zhe 'dod bden par sgrub pa'i rdzun rib kho nar
snang stel, p. 94b.4: ma nges bzhin du bsnyon nas smra ba gzur gnas rnams kyi spyodyul
ma yin pa'i phyir I, p. 97a.6: phrag dog gis sgo nas sgro btags kyi skur 'debs smra bar mi
rung, etc. As mentioned above, Mi-bskyod-rdo-rje takes a similar tack. See the
translation ofSeyfort Ruegg (1988), pp. 1257 and 1262, and Mi-bskyod-rdo-rje,
pp. 11 and 15 (6a.3 and 8a.5). Padma-dkar-po too becomes on occasion quite
exuberant in his criticisms, terming Sa-paJ;!'s comments "a madman's words"
(smyon pa'i tshig) in his Phyag chen gan mdzod, pp. 580.1 (198b) or as "bod sm)lon
mchong," ibid., p. 589.3 (203a). In his Klan ka gzhom pa'i gtam, p. 563 (zha nga 6a)
he states that the mere objections (klan ka) of a biased ordinary individual (so so
skye bo) cannot disprove anything because such people praise their own side and
dispraise the positions of others: so so sk)le bo dag ni rang gi la bstodl gzhan phyogs la
smod pas I de dag gis klan ka tsam g)lis ci la gnod I and adds that there is no use gaz-
ing with the blind eye of bias: phyogs 'dzin zha1"ba'i mig des bltas kyang cil I.
60. Sa-paJ;!, sDom gsum rab dbye, p. 320.3.6 (na 48a.d):
de phyir chos rnams phal cher thos I I
des na bdag la phyogs lhung medl I
de phyir gzu bos dpyad pa 'di I I
blo ldan rnams kyis 'di !tar zung I I
61. Ibid., p. 319.4.4 (46b.4):
bdag ni sems can kurda byams I I
gang zag kun la bdag mi smod I I
blgya la mT'.yam par ma bzhag pas I I
88 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
smad pa srid na'ang sdig de bshags / /
62. Ibid., p. 320.1.2 (47a.2):
chos log pa dang ma log pa'i/ /
rnam par dbye ba byas pa la / /
sdang dang phrag dog yin zer na / /
'0 na 'khor ba'i rgya mtsho las / /
sems can rnams ni ji ltar bsgml/ /
Cf. also ibid., 46b.
63. sGam-po-pa in his Tshogs chos legs mdzes ma, p. 187, advises his follow-
ers to avoid sectarianism and not to indulge in criticisms of other religious tradi-
tions, specifying the great faults this would entail for both followers of sutra and
tantm. He does allow as an exception criticisms through which one rejects a
lower philosophical theory and enters a higher one, as is mentioned in the
Bodhicaryiivatiim. Cf. Padma-dkar-po, Phyag chen gan mdzod, p. 189.3-6 (3a), who
accepts the legitimacy of doctrinal criticisms and exhorts others not to get
angry when their own traditions are criticized!
64. See Steinkellner (1988), pp. 1441-43. See also the discussion in Sa-
paI).'s mKhas pa rnams 'jug pa'i sgo, III 12-13 (D. Jackson [1987J, p. 329) and the
references in the same publication, p. 378, n. 27. Sa-pan stresses there the fun-
damental motivation as being to maintain one's own doctrines honestly.
65. The situation was of course far more complicated in actual practice,
because both sides could maintain some scriptures which one of them interpre-
ted for instance to be of only "provisional meaning" (dmng don). To avoid a self-
contradiction, they could interpret the contradictory scripture as not having
"definitive meaning" (nges don).
66. This was stated by Dharmaklrti in the opening verse of his Viidanyaya.
Seefor instance D. Jackson (1987), p. 324 and n. 11.
67. Sa-paI)., sDom gsum mb dbye, p. 34a.l:
kha eig dkar po chig thub las / /
'bras bu sku gsum 'byung zhes zer / /
gcig las 'bms bu 'byung mi nus / /
gal te geig las 'bms bu zhig / /
byungyang nyan thos 'gog pa bzhin/ /
'bms bu de yang gcig tu 'gyur / /
68. Padma-dkar-po, Phyag chen gan mdzod, p. 49a: tshig bar ma phyi ma gnyis
kyis bkag pas na mng la gnod do / / rgyu mtslzan/ gcig las 'bras [49bJ bu ma 'byung bar
kha tS/lOn bead nas / yang rryan thos kyi 'gog pa rgyu gcig las 'byung ba'i 'bms bur bslzad
pas 50/ /
69. For a similar traditional response to these criticisms by Padma-dkar-
po (which I located after completing the rest of this article), see also Ngag-
dbang-chos-grags, sDom pa gsum gyi mb tu dbye ba'i rnam bshad legs par bshad pa zla
'ad nor bu (New Delhi: 1978), p. 376 (188b): sprul sku mchog padma dkar pos/ 'di la
snga phyi 'galla zhes pa'i sun 'byin gnang ba ni mi 'tlzad del gal te zhes dang / 'byung
yang zhes pa'i tshig nus kyis rtag pa mtlza' bzung tsam gsungs pa yin raj ei ste de la sun
'byin gnang na gzhung lugs chen po kun la '0 brgyal 'byung ngo / 77yan tlios 'gog pa bzlzin
zhes pa yang / spyir 'bms bu gcig gi dpe tsam ma gtsogs rgyu gcig las byung ba'i 'bras bu
gcig gi dper 'd; pa ma yin no / / .
For Sa-palf, incidentally, there are no chig thub methodso The nirodha of the
arhat arises from a number of causes and factors, one of which being the genera-
tion of the intention (sems bskyed) to attain arhatshipo For a mention of this sems
bskyed, see his Thub pa'i dgongs gsal, po 5.3.1 = tha lOa: "For generating the
Thought [of Awakening] (bodhicitta), there are two main traditions: that of the
Sravaka schools and that of the Great Vehicle schoolso In the Sravaka schools,
one produces the thought of attaining one of three goals: Arhatship,
Pratyekabuddhahood, and perfect, complete Buddhahood:'
700 Padma-dkar-po, Phyag chen gan mdzod, po 27903 (nga 48a): 10 tsa ba chen
po'i brtag pa gnyis pa'i rgyud 'grel dul phra ba nas g:'yO ba'i bar gyi chos thams cad rang
rgyud par grub pa med do I I
lhan cig skyes pa'i rang bzhin nyid de ltar Ita ba rtogs par byas nas bsgom pa ni
mnyam nyid la sogs pa ste I bsgom pa yang mnyam gzhag rjes thob med par lhan cig skyes
pa 'i ye shes su mtshungs par bzhag go I I
de Ita bu'i phyag rgya chen po rtogs pa'i gang zag gis bltas na 'khor ba dang my a
ngan las 'das pa'i chos thams cad de las byung zhing de'i mam [48b] par 'khrul [ = 'phrul]
pa yin te I nga la sogs pa gsungs so I I
de ltar na Ita sgom spyod pa thams cad phyag rgya chen por shes nas dus yun ring por
bsgoms na bsod nams chung ba'i mis kyang 'grub nagzhan Ita ci smos zhes bstan pa nil de
ltar la sogs pas bstan to I I
7L Hevajra Tantra, part I, chapter viii, verses 39-420 See Snellgrove
(1959), vol. 2, po 31:
gang mams de mams brtan dang g:'yo I I
'di lam zhes bya nga nyid de I I
mnyam nyid mtshungs par 'dod pa nyid I I
ro mnyam de nyidbsgom pa nil I (39)
mnyam zhes bya ba mtshungs par brjod I I
de yi 'khor 10 ro zhes brjod I I
sgom pa TO gcig mnyam pa nyidl I
'dis ni don gyis brjod par bya I I (40)
nga las 'gro ba thams cad 'byung I I
nga las gnas gsum po yang 'byung I I
nga yi 'di kun khyab pa ste I I
'gro ba'i rang bzhin gzhan ma mthong I I (41)
de ltar mal 'byor pas shes na I I
shin tu mnyam gzhag gang goms pa I I
bsod nams chung ba'i mi yis kyang I I
deyi 'grub pa the tsom medl I (42)
Cf the translation of this passage, vol. 1, po 770
720 Padma-dkar-po, Ph)!ag chen gan mdzod, po 280 (nga 48b03): rtogs pa'i tshe
phyag rgya chen po las gzhan pa'i chos ci yang mi 'dod pas so I I
730 Jfianaklrti, Tattvavatara, Peking Tanjur, rgyud 'grel58 [nu] 46a = voL 81,
po 12604: de nas de la goms pa nyid 'bras bu ma Ius pa yongs su rdzogs pa yin te I de ltar na
'di ni phyag rgya chen po gnjis su med pa'i sgom pa nyid 'bras bu ma Ius pa thob par byed
pa [P reads: par] mal 'byor pa thams cad kyi thun mongyin no I I
90 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
Broido has rendered this: "Thus, its cultivation leads completely to count-
less results. Accordingly, the cultivation of non-dual mahiimudrii is what all
yogins who attain countless results have in common."
It is essential in Tibetan to distinguish carefully the active, transitive ver-
bal forms (which enter into the ergative construction), such as sgom "to culti-
vate," from the corresponding non-active forms, in which the result of such
actions is stressed, namely here: goms "to have gained mastery [through cultiva-
tion]" or "to have internalized something [as the result of cultivation]'''
74. sKyes bu dam pa, na 73b (= 3b) summarized this point: ''And
as it is said in the Vairocaniibhisambodhi Tantra:
The teaching [by the Buddha] of disciplines and gnosis which possess no
'means was expounded by the Great Hero for the sake of introducing the
friivakas into that. Those who are the Buddhas of the past, present and
future attained the unconditioned highest vehicle having trained in that
[path] which possesses methods and discriminative knowledge.
''And likewise it is not taught in any sutra, tantra or great treatise that one can
awaken to Buddhahood by a White Self-Sufficient Simple as distinct from
[through] the perfectly replete possession of methods and discriminative knowl-
edge. It is indeed taught in [some] siltras and tantras that one can gain Buddha-
hood by merely respectfully saluting or circumambulating, and by offering one
flower, or by reciting a single rjhiiraTf'i, or by reciting just the name of the Buddha,
or by a single act of worshipful reverence, or by the arising of a single thought
of bodhicitta, or by the mere understanding of emptiness. Yet one should under-
stand those as being [statements with special] intention (dgongs pal or allusion
(ldem dgongs) , but they are not direct expression."
75. On KamalaSIla's similar rejection of anyone segment of the ..
bodhisattva's path as sufficient for yielding the highest Buddhahood, see Gomez .,
(1987), pp. 116f.
76. Go-rams-pa (ta 138b.3): zhang tshal pa la sogs pa kha cigl dkar po chig
thub zhes bya bal stong 11:JIid kho na bsgom pa las 'bras bu sku gsum 'byung zhes zer ba.
n See remarks in the sDom gsum rab dbye, p. 303.3.2 (na l4a):
la la rdzogs pa'i sangs rgyas kyil I
gsung rab tshig don zab mo dang I I
grub thob rnams dang mkhas rnams kyil I
shin tu legs par bshad pa'i chos / I
tshig gi na ya yin pas na / I
dgos pa med pas dor zhes zer / I ....
This point of view is attributed by Go-rams-pa in his commentary (p. 152a) to
"zhang tshal pa dang I bka' phyag pa la la." ..
78. The same terms and ideas as well as the related gcig shes and gcig grot
also appear as aspects of a fundamental concept in the rDzogs-chen, which
Karmay (1988), p. 48, terms "singleness" or "oneness." See also ibid., pp.49.
and 198, where in the former citation chig chod is translated as "enough by

For an occurrence of chig chod in a Mahamudra context, see dPa' -bo gTsug-
lag-phreng-ba, vol. 1, p. 799f: sems kyi ngo bo ston pa phyag rgya chen po chig chod.
See also Lhalungpa (1986), pp. 402 and 404, who translates occurrences ofthe,
term in Zhang and bKra-shis-rnam-rgyal (p. 37lb) as "attainable in one
stride" and "all-in-one." Cf sGam-po-pa, Works, vol. 1, pp. 421. 7-422.1.
p. 201 (lOla.3), also characterizes this doctrine as:
mdo sngags kyi gzhung lam la ma bltos par phyag rgya chen po'i lam gcig chod kyis grol
bar bzhed pa yin lal , cf. Lhalungpa (1986), who translates, p. 112: "the onlY path
of instantaneous realization, which does not depend on the paths of the sl1tras and
tantras" (italics mine).
79. The Tibetan text: phyag rgya chen po chig chod lal I sa lam brtsi ba'i
rmongs pa 'khrull I The word chig chodhere is apparently adjectival instead ofver-
bal, and the la not a verbal particle. Cf the translation of Lhalungpa (1986), p.
402. The same quote appears at least twice elsewhere in bka' 'bum, in
minor works. The first is the bKa' gdams do kor (p. 403.4.5), where it is said:
phyag rgya chen po chig chod la I I
sa lam brtsi ba'i rmongs pha [sic] 'khrull I
de skad zer ba bstan pa yi I I
bdud tshigyin pas rna ba dgab I I
The second occurrence is in the work rTogs ldan rgyan po'i dris lan, p. 335.3.l (na
79b), which is attributed to his disciple Bi-ji.
80. Thu'u-bkwan, p. 165.2 (kha 23a.2):
phyag rgya chen po gcig chod lal I
rmongs pas sa lam brtsi ba 'khrul I I
'on kyang rmongs pa dga' ba'i phyir I I
mtshan nyid theg pa'i sa lam rnams I I
'dir yang dod po rtsi bar bya I I
sGam-po-pa, Lam rim mdor bsdus, pp. 239f, taught the four yogas in connection
with a path of graded practices leading to mahamudrii.
81.' Lhalungpa (1986), p. 402: "The great seal is attainable in one stride.
It is deluded ignorance to divide it into grounds and paths." bKra-shis-rnam-
rgyal, p. 371b, quotes Zhang favorably here and follows his views. The text
reads nearly the same as in Thu'u-bkwan. The same translator (ibid.) translates
chig chod in the immediately following passage as "all-in-one."
82. Padma-dkar-po, Klan ka gzhom pa'i gtam, p. 561.6 (zha nga 5a.6).
83. Zhang Tshal-pa, p. 103.3 (28a.3): .
phyag rgya chen po chig chod la I I
rmongs pa sa lam rtsi ba 'khrul I I
'on kyang rmongs pa dga' ba'i phyirl I
mtshan nyid theg pa'i sa lam rnams I I
'dir yang 'dod pas rtsi bar byal I
Cf also p. 28b.3.
84. See also Shakya-mchog-Idan, Collected Works, vol. 17, p. 361.6-7,
Who quotes two of these lines as a preliminary to his discussion of the
Mahamudra in this tradition.
Cf 'Bri-gung rig-'dzin Chos-kyi-grags-pa, dGongsgcig rnam bshad nyi ma'i
mang ba [composed 1633], 'Bri-gung-pa Texts, vol. 2, p. 45 = 23a.l, who speaks
out in favor of the oppo&ing opinion, in defence of the statement by 'Bri-gung
skyob-pa 'Jig-rten-mgon-po: gal te mtshan nyid theg par sa lam rim bgrod du mthun
kyang sngags bla med kyis lam brtsi mi dgos par skad cig mar 'dod na I sngags lam gyi rtsa
92 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
ba smingroLLas gzhan med Lal .... Cf. the parallel passage in rDo-rje-shes-rab, vol.
1, p. 395.7 (nga 24b. 7).
Zhang Tshal-pa held to the contrary that such gradualist teachings were
not the ultimate intent of the Buddha but were taught rather with provisional
meaning for ignorant disciples (p. 104 = 28b):
sa dang Lam gyi rim pa dang I I
drod rtags khyad par so so kun I I
rim Jug gduL bya drang don dul I
thub pas Ldem por gsungs pa La I I
rmongs rnams nyi tshe'i phyogs char zhenl I
gduL bya'i mtho dman bsam mi khyab I I
sangs rgyas gsung rabs bsam mi khyab I I
rang rang gzhung dang ma mthun yang I I
smad cing spang bar mi bya zhing I I
nam zhig go bar Lam thob I I
See also sGam-po-pa, Tshogs bshad Legs mdzes ma, p. 234.5, where the siltras
and tantras (as opposed to direct instructions, man ngag} are said to degenerate
or fall to the level of conceptualization (don spyi'i rnam pa La shor). Among man
ngag, the gradualist teaching is said there to be of provisional mean-"
ing (drang don) and the cig-car-ba is of definitive meaning (nges don). Cf. his
chos yon tan phun tshogs, pp. 265 and 268.2, where it is specifically the
Paramitayana method which is said to be limited to grasping the subject as a
conceptually conceived universal, and not the Mantrayana.
The last lines in the above quote from Zhang seem to be intended to ward':'
off criticisms from adherents of other systems: "Though it may not accord
your own basic texts, you should not disparage and abandon it, but rather you "
should make a formal resolution [or prayer] that you at some future time will .
understand it." .
Zhang wrote a small treatise on the four yogas, the Nyams rnaL 'byor rnam pa':>
bzhi (Writings, pp. 499.5ff.), in which he states that this was given for the rim- .
gyis-pa individual ('on kyang rims kyis pa'i gang zag rnams La dgongs nas [510] dampa
.gong mas sgom chen rnams kyi 11:J!ams rnaL 'byor pa [sic] rnams [= rnam] bzhir phye
85. He bases himself on the article ofG6mez (1983), who surveys the con-
tributions of Japanese scholars.
86. One of the reasons that Sa-pal). may have tended to link these
trines with China and with earlier Tibetan tradition, in addition to the "typo-c'
logical" similarities, was that the Mahamudra as presented in the [han cig
sbyor and related systems was apparently not well known or widely recog
as an established Indian Buddhist doctrine by the Indian scholars with
he had contacts. He may have reasoned that ifit was not known from IndIa, It,
must have come from elsewhere. . d
The junior pal).c,iita Vibhilticandra, with whom Sa-pa9- had studle ,
together under SakyaSrlbhadra, is said to have criticized the Mahamudra ofthe.
early 'Bri-gung-pa in particular (in. c. 1207, before Sa-pal). rejoined the
and received ordination at Myang-smad in 1208), saying their Maham
doctrine was a "great lie" (nor 'bri klzung ba che zer te plryag rgya chen po ba 'di rdzun
ehe ba yin zer byas pas). This account given in the biography of Sa-paJ:.l's teacher
Sakyasribhadra (1127-1225) by bSod-nams-dpal-bzang-po, would not seem to
be a later fabrication for the purpose of discrediting the Mahamudra, for if any-
thing, it is meant to show that in spite of Sakyasribhadra's refusal to visit 'Bri-
gung though he was twice invited, the great Kashmiri master respected and
approved of the 'Bri-gung-pa (,Jig-rten-mgon-po), saying he was an emanation
of Nagarjuna. The reason he is said to have given for not coming is that some
among his Tibetan followers (specifically certain bKa'-gdams-pa and gDan-
gcig-pas) might possibly accrue demerit in relation to the 'Bri-gung-pa if he
accepted the invitation there [because of their lack offaith in that bla-ma] (de
nas 'bri khung pa rnams la ehas rje'i zhal nas nga'i 'khar la bka' gdams pa dang gdan geig
pa la sags pa mang bas / khyed la las phyin ei lag bsags pa srid). See bSod-nams-dpal-
bzang-po, Sa'i steng na 'gran zla dang bral ba kha ehe par;i ta shiikya shrf bhadra'i rnam
thar, p. 45a-b. 'Gos lo-tsa-ba (Roerich, trans!., Blue Annals, p. 1070) also men-
tions Sakyasrlbhadra's refusal of two invitations to 'Bri-gung, though he gives
no further details. It is interesting to see that Mi-bskyod-rdo-rje cites Sakyas-
ribhadra as one of the Indian sources (besides Mitrayogin) of the Mahamudra
teachings received and transmitted by Khro-phu lo-tsa-ba. See Seyfort Ruegg
(1988), p. 1261; Mi-bskyod-rdo-rje, p. 15 (8a.2). .
Sa-paJ:.l was thus by no means the first to question the origins and validity
of certain Mahamudra teachings followed in the Dwags-po bka'-brgyud,
though that is a common misconception (see for instance Lhalungpa [1986],
pp. 434f, n. 73). In fact, resistance to this or similar teachings is said to have
gone back a long ways among the Tibetans. The bKa'-gdams-pa tradition,
beginning with the master 'Brom-ston rGyal-ba'i-'byung-gnas, is said from the
beginning to have objected to the Mahamudra's being taught (he was concerned
in general about the suitability of tantra-based doctrines for the Tibetans), and
later some bKa' -gdams-pas took a more neutral attitude of non-approval, say-
ing the Mahamudra should neither be practiced nor criticized. See the Blue
Annals, pp. 268 (ca 13b) and 843-4 (da 3a-b), andSeyfort Ruegg (1988), p. 1273,
n. 98. Moreover Zhang Tshal-pa, writing sometime in the period ca. 1160-ca.
1190, already mentions in one of his autobiographies (rNam thar shes rab grub ma,
p. 49.3) the criticisms of others who doubted that certain points of the
Mahamudra doctrine under discussion were possible, and who in this way
abandon the Buddhist teaching (Hi mi srid zer nas / dam pa'i chas spang du 'ang pa
yin). But he had tried to show the reverse by quoting statements from a tantra
and from the sayings of Saraha, and he then replied himself: "As for whether it
is possible or not, look at the mind!" (srid dam mi srid pa sems la ltas I). A little
later (p. 50.1) he mentions that the same opponents (who are said to imagine
themselves to be learned though they merely mouth words like a parrot) call
this teaching an erroneous doctrine (lag chas). See also his similar remarks On p.
52.5. The same opponents are addressed in his sNa tshags zhi gnas, Writings,
In his Mal dbu dkar la gdams pa (Writings, p. 657.5), which was evidently
addressed to a dge-bshes <;>f a non-bKa' -brgyud-pa tradition who had asked him
to be frank, he also mentions those who were repelled by his doctrine of a sud-
den realization which arises from within through the guru's grace (which he
94 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
says can occur only very rarely), and who were especially troubled by the
notion that this alone was the decisive thing: 'di cig phu yin ;:::,er ba 'di shin tu mi
'thad ;:::,er nas I [s] kyug log log song ba mang du byung I da sun nas dang po ;:::,er ba 'di 'tsher .
ba gda'i dge bshes pa nyid kyi gsung nas ngo bsrung ma byed gsungs pas drang par bgyispa
lags II
Even the approach of sGam-po-pa and that of his successor sGom-tshul
are said to have been criticized by others, who included dialectically trained
scholars (mtshan nyid pal. The former is said to have incurred the criticism of cer-
tain great scholars of scholasticism and Buddhist philosophy by introducing
young monks directly into mahiimudrii insight without their having received any
prior religious educational training, and thus "wasting" many bright young
monks. (Blue Annals, p. 460; Tibetan text p. 400.5 = nya 25b): thos bsam sngon du
ma song ba'i btsun chung mang po yang rtogs pa la bkod pas I mtshan nyid pa'i dge ba'i
bshes gnyen chen po 'ga' ;:::,hig gis I blo gsal mang po sgam po pas chud ;:::,os su bcug ces 'bar
ba la I gsung gis I mtshan nyid pa rnams nga la bka' bkyon te I ... The great master
Gro-Iung-pa (fl. early 1100s) of gSang-pu is also said to have criticized certain
amanasikiira doctrines of Maitrlpada as not being the Madhyamaka, which the
later bKa'-brgyud-pas took to be the starting point for various criticisms of
their central doctrines by Sa-pal,l and a number ofbKa' -gdams-pas. See Seyfort
Ruegg (1988), p. 1257, translating Mi-bskyod-rdo-rje, p. II (6a.2): lugs 'di dbu
mar 'chad pa la rigs par smra ba gro lung pa sags dpyod ldan mang pas ma rangs nas a ma
na si pa sags ci rigs kyi lugs dbu ma pa'i lugs dang mi mthun ;:::,hes 'gags par md;:::,ad lal
tshig 'di tsam la brten nas sa skya par;. chen dang I bka' gdams pa ci rigs pa ;:::,hig gis I rje
btsun mai tri pa'i chos rnam par dag pa a ma na sa'i skor thams cad la sdang ;:::,hen byed pa
dang I. sGom-tshul, too, was criticized by some who had never met him but who
had nevertheless reviled him from afar, as alluded to in a verse of praise com-
posed in his honor by gTsang-nag-pa, one of Phywa-pa's main students (Blue
Annals., p. 465; Tibetan p. 405 = nya 28a.2): skal med skye bo ring nas ngan brjod
Thus, by the mid-to-Iate-12th century these doctrines and their upholders
had already come under fire, notably from dialectically trained scholars (rtog ge
pa or mtshan nyid pal who in that period in Central Tibet probably belonged to
the circle ofPhywa-pa Chos-kyi-seng-ge (1109-1169) and his disciples or succes-
sors, i.e., to the gSang-phu Ne'u-thog tradition. But as just mentioned, the criti-
cisms were not unanimous. The great scholar gTsang-nag brTson-'grus-seng-
ge, for instance, is said to have renounced such a negative attitude after meeting
sGom-tshul personally. Moreover, a bKa'-gdams-pa dge-bshes who honored
sGom-tshul was Phyag-sor-ba: see ibid., p. 456; nya 28a.2.
Already by sGam-po-pa's time the dialectically oriented scholars (mts/zan
nyid pal of rNgog and Phywa-pa's tradition were thus recognized as a distinct
significant trend in the religious life of Tibet. sGam-po-pa in Dus gsum, p. 453.3,
mentions the bKa'-gdams, mTshan-nyid-pa and sNgags-pa traditions as dis-
tinct from the Mahamudra. Elsewhere in the same work (p. 437.7) he repeats
an enumeration of traditions attributed to the dge-bshes brGya-yo'n-bdag:
1) r Dzogs-chen
2) mTshan-nyid-pa, who dissolve false conceptions through reasoning
3) Pha-rol-tu-phyin-pa, who stress method and wisdom
4) sNgags-pa .
5) bKa'-gdams-pa, whose special instructions utilize the threefold divi-
sion of personality types into great, middling and lesser
Cf. his biography, Collected Works, vol. 1, p. 112.5, where mTshan-nyid-pas are
distinguished from bKa'-gdams-pas.
One of the above-mentioned opposing scholars may have been the "later
dialectician who hates the profound meaning" (phyis kyi rtog ge pa zab don la ldang
ba) suspected and accused by dPa' -bo gTsug-lag-phreng-pa of concocting and
inserting the account which relates the reasoning involving the garuq.a or khyung
simile-i.e., the account that is found in some sBa bzhed histories in which
KamalaSIla is said to have refuted the Hwa-shang by this argumentation and
that is repeated by Myang-ral and by Sa-pa9- in his Thub pa'i dgongs gsal. See
dPa'-bo gTsug-lag-phreng-ba, vol. I, p. 397 Ua 122a): hwa shang gi dpe don dgag
pa de dag kyang nus pa dman te nam mkha' lding gcig char du 'dab gshog rdzogs pa los
yong ste 'jig rten gdags pa las nam mkha' lding brdzus skyes bshad pa'i phyir don yang ma
khegs te rnam par mi rtog pa sgom pa ni rang lugs la yang 'dod dgos la de'i tshe sngar gyi
thal tshur ldog na 'khor gsum ga la lan gyis dben pa'i phyir ro I I des na rgya gar gyi mkhas
pa nyi zla lta bu la de 'dra'i rigs pa'i mu ge gar ldang I de dag ni phyis kyi rtog ge pa zab
don la ldang ba chos spong la mkhas nyams dang phrag dog la khyad nor re ba rnams kyis
bcug par go sla'o I I. Zhang himself used the swooping hawk example in his Phyag
chen zab lam mthar thug (p. 104.1 = 28b) as will be quoted below.
87. Sa-pa9-, sDom gsum rab dbye, p. 309.3.4 (na 26a.4). A few lines before,
he typifies this "Chinese tradition" as a "Chinese-tradition rDzogs-chen" (rgya
nag lugs kyi rdzogs chen). See p. 309.2.5 (na 25b). This linking of the rDzogs-chen
with Chinese teachings propagated in 8th-century Tibet was taken to be a fan-
tastic if not sacrilegious absurdity by certain later bKa'-brgyud-pa scholars.
See for example bKra-shis-rnam-rgyal (f.94a, Lhalungpa trans!' [1986],
p. 105), who criticizes this on the grounds that Sa-pa9- is here saying the
Chinese system is the same as the tantric Atryoga rDzogs-chen. Padma-dkar-po,
Phyag chen gan mdzod, p. 579 (nga 198a) interprets Sa-pa9- as making this same
identification, and says that the slUra-based refutations by KamalasIla would
not have held water had they been directed toward a tantric system such as the
Atryoga rDzogs-chen. He challenges upholders of Sa-pa9-'s views to cite the
specifics: where did this Chinese tradition spread and into whose hands in Tibet
did it first come? See also his dGe bshes mar yul pa'i dris lan legs par bshad pa'i gzhi,
vol. 21, p. 582 (zha da 15b): rabdbye ba rang la 'di thad du tig tig med del rgya nag
[16a] lugs kyi rdzogs chen zhes smros pas so I I sgom rim gyi lo rgyus rting mar theg chen
mdo lugs kyi gdams ngag ston pas 'od srungs la gnang ba rgya gar ba bcu I rgya nag po pa
bcu I bod du 'ongs pa'i hwa shang ma hii yan nar bcas pa la gtad I gal te 'di rdzogs chen pa
yin na de ni theg pa rim pa dgur 'dod pa'i rtse mo yin pas ka ma la shZ las mdo lung gi dgag
pa sun 'byin ltar snang du 'gro I. See also Broido, p. 64, n. 34. Probably the first
discussions of the above sDom gsum rab dbye passage in the Western literature are
in Stein (1971), p. 9, and (1972), p. 23, n. 3. A recent discussion is Karmay
(1988), p. 198. For references to other discussions, see D. Jackson (1987), pp.
In spite of the strong denials of many, within the rDzogs-chen tradition
itself such a link was nevertheless sometimes admittedo See for instance K10ng-
chen rab-'byams-pa, gNas lugs kyi mdzod, po 33b, as cited by Seyfort Ruegg
(1988), po 1257, note 370 See also Karmay (1988), po 93, no 42, who lists the
rDzogs-chen masters A-ro Ye-shes-'byung-gnas (11 th Co) and Sog-zlog-pa
(1552-1624) as having asserted that the rDzogs-chen received one of its trans-
missions through a succession of seven Chinese masters (though Sog-zlog-pa
predictably denying the specifically Ch'an connection) 0 Kal;-thog rig-'dzin
Tshe-dbang-nor-bu (1698-1755), however, states that the lineage of seven ema-
nated [Chinese] teachers (sprul pa bdun brgyud) of the bka' thang is precisely the
Ch'an lineage down to Mo-ho-yen, and certain other rNying-ma masters such
as 'Jigs-med gling-pa (1728-1791) defended the Chinese cig-car-ba teachings, as
Karmay also notes (ibido,.and po 96, no 60)0 Karmay (1988, passim) contributes
importantly to the question by distinguishing the early rDzogs-chen from some
of the other distinct strands of early (ioeo, 9th-10th Co) Tibetan espe,
cially from the Tibetan cig-car-ba tradition descending from Mo-ho-yeno In this
he follows the bSam gtan mig sgron of sNubs Sangs-rgyas-ye-shes (10th Co?)o He
therefore also (ppo 89f) discounts the ready identifications of the r Dzogs-chen
with Ch'an made on two occasions by Go Tucci (1958), Minor Buddhist Texts 11,
based for instance on a passage in the Blon po'i bka' thang, and in this Karmay
accords with the cautious stance ofF Kvaerne (1983), ppo 368, 384, and 386, no
50 But Karmay goes a bit too far at one point (po 91) in asserting: "The author
of [the Blon po'i bka' thang] therefore had no access to documents comparable to
those of Tun-huang as has been assumed 000," for other research has uncovered
some striking overlaps by comparing the relevant sections of the Blon po'i bka'
thang and the bSam gtan mig sgron with Pelliot Tibo 1160 See Broughton (1983), po
51, no 7, who refers to the findings ofOkimotoo
As noted above, sGam-po-pa sometimes portrays the rDzogs-chen as
occupying a parallel doctrinal position to the Mahamudra as one of two practi-
cal instructions (man ngag) of the Mantrayana rdzogs rim, and on occasion even
seems to identify the two as being the same ultimate third path beyond the
Paramitayana and Tantrao See his Tshogs bshad legs mdzes ma, po 22002: rdzogs pa'i
rim pa gdam[s 1 ngag ston I de la gnyis I rdzogs pa chen po'i man ngag dang phyag rgya
chen po gnyis yod pa las 10 And his Tshogs chos yon tan phun tshogs, po 269.1: [gsum pal
Tryon mongs pa ye shes chen po'i gzhir shes pa ni gsang sngags bla na med pa phyag rgya
chen po'i don dam I rdzogs pa chen po'i don tel 0 On the other hand, sGam-po-pa also
sometimes distanced himself from what he portrayed as the more radical and
unrealistically extreme cig-car-ba doctrines of the rDzogs-pa chen-poo See his
Dus gsum mkhyen pa'i zhus lan,ppo 438-39, as translated above, note 280
880 As Sa-pal]. also said in the sDom gsum rab dbye, po 3090205 (na 25b05):
The present Mahamudra and the Chinese tradition of rDzogs-chen are
in substance (don la) the same, except for their substituting the terms
"descent from above" and "ascent from below" for "gradualist" and
da lta'i phyag rgya chen po dang I I
rgya nag lugs kyi rdzogs chen la I I
yas 'bab dang ni mas 'dzegs gnyis / /
rim gyis pa dang cig char bar / /
ming 'dogs bsgyur ba ma gtogs pa / /
don la khyad par dbye ba med / /
89. In Chinese Buddhism, and especially in Ch'an, it was by no means
uncommon to propound such a teaching; in fact, "see the nature and achieve
. Buddhahood" became the paradigmatic statement of Ch'an gnoseology,
according to Buswell (1987), p. 34l. The idea is also expressed in the concise
saying on Ch'an practice traditionally attributed to Bodhidharma: ''A separate
transmission outside the scriptures, / No reliance upon words and letters, /
Directly pointing to the human mind, / See the nature and achieve Buddha-
hood." See Buswell (1988), p. 250, note 1, who refers to further discussion of
this saying in D. T. Suzuki's Essays in Zen Buddhism (London: 1958), vol. 1, p.
176. The first Chinese master to state "see your own nature and become a
Buddha" was apparently Seng-liang, who flourished in the early 6th century
and was inspired to that statement by a passage in the NirviiTfa Sutra. See Chap-
pell (1983), p. 123, note 19. .
The Ch'an master Wu-chu (714-774) openly and at all times taught his
doctrine of no-thought, encouraging his students simply to see their nature and
become a Buddha. See S. Yanagida (1983), p. 34. Some of the teachings of
Ma-tsu Tao-i (709-788) would also be familiar to Tibetan followers of radical
simultaneist approaches. According to him, it is the encounter with the words
. of the master-who directly points to the mind-that is able to awaken the
student to enlightenment. Awakening to the essence of mind occurs instantane-
ously; cultivation means .simply to let the mind act spontaneously. And "since
cultivation is just the functioning of that essence, it is also instantaneously
perfected, leaving nothing further either to develop or to be overcome." See
Buswell, Jr. (1987), p. 340. By the Sung dynasty (960-1279), Ch'an hadjustified
itself as "first, an independent transmission of Buddhism separate from the doc-
trinal teachings, and second as an abrupt approach to spiritual attainment that
involved nothing more than the direct vision of the enlightened nature of the
human mind" (ibid., pp. 321f.). could well have come into direct contact
with late-Sung exponents of Ch'an while at the court of the Mongol prince
Kaden in ca. 1250, though his criticisms of the dkar po chig thub were probably
formulated before this.
90. It would be most useful to know more about the relation between
these two scholars and their works. Padma-dkar-po writes in his author's col-
ophon that he had written his own work in response to a request to do so from
bKra-shis-rnam-rgyal that he had received along time before. Had bKra-shis-
rnam-rgyal in the meantime already completed his own treatise?
9l. Padma-dkar-po in his Chos 'byung, p. 382 (ka cha 191 b) mentions that
the entire scholastic tradition of Tibet for a time in the late-14th/ early-15th cen-
tury became "Sa-skya-pa" owing to the great influence of g.Yag-ston Sangs-
rgyas-dpal (1348-1414) and Red.mda'-ba gZhon-nu-blo-gros who
were teaching, so to spea.k, "competitively" at Sa-skya in those days: 'gran bshad pa'i stobs kyis mdo slob 'dod thams cad der tshogs pas kun sa skya par song / . They
in turn had received important lineages from the old seminary of gSang-phu,
98 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
and indeed g.Yag-ston and his chief disciple Rong-ston both were active as
teachers also at the latter establishment.
92. Padma-dkar-po in his Chos 'byung bstan pa'i padma rgyas pa'i nyin byed,
p.381 (ka eha 191a.2) respectfully acknowledges the indebtedness of the whole
later Tibetan learned tradition to Sa-skya Pal).<;Iita, especially through the lat-
ter's disciple 'U-yug-pa (who had also studied under Myal-zhig at gSang-phu)
with the following words: 'uyug pa bsod nams seng ge sa skya/ khong gis 'jam pa'i
dbyangs kyi sprul pa'i sku sa par;rf.ita kun dga' rgyal mtshan la rnam 'grel gsan de bshad
pas / da lta'i tshad ma thams cad kyi thug sar gyur pa yin/ . See also Padma-dkar-po's
bKa' brgyud kyi bka' 'bum ... , p. 431.3, where he records receiving another lineage
from Sa-pal). and refers to him as: 'jam pa'i dbyangs par;rf.i ta kun dga' rgyal mtshan.
Padma-dkar-po composed two major treatises on pramiir;a, which were
included at the end of the first volume of his collected works in the gNam 'Brug
Se-ba Byang-chub-gling edition: the Tshad ma mdo dang sde bdun gyi don gtan la
phab pa'i bstan beos rye btsun 'jam pa'i dbyangs kyi dgongs rgyan and Tshad ma mdo dang
beas pa'i spyi don rigs pa'i snying po.
93. I have not yet been able to trace Padma-dkar-po's tshad ma and phar
phyin lineages precisely, but no doubt the main ones passed through Rong-ston
(1367-1449) and (for Phar-phyin at least) probably also Bu-ston (1290-1364).
Padma-dkar-po describes the important contributions of these two and others
in his Chos 'byung, pp. 381f (ka eha 191a-b). Some of his scholastic lineages link
up with the traditions ofgSer-mdog-can and Shakya-mchog-ldan (1428-1507),
who had studied under Rong-ston as a youth and who was mainly a student of
Rong-ston's disciple Don-yod-dpal-ba (1398-1483?). Others come from the
school of (,Bras-yul) sKyed-tshal near Rin-spungs, a continuation of Rong-
ston's tradition through the activities of his student Byams-chen rab-'byams-pa
Sangs-rgyas-'phel (1412-1485) and the latter's students such as Go-rams-pa
(1429-1489). Padma-dkar-po's autobiography, Sems dpa' chen po padma dkar po'i
rnam thar thugs rye chen po'i ;dos gar, Collected Works, vol. 3, p. 410 (ga nya35b.2),
mentions his youthful studies of some of Shakya-mchog-ldan's writings on pra-
miir;a. On p. 404 Padma-dkar-po speaks very highly of Shakya-mchog-ldan's
immediate disciple (Bya Pal)<;Iita) bKra-shis-rnam-rgyal, whereas his teachers
preferred 'Bum rab-'byams-pa from sKyed-tshal. Elsewhere he records receiving
certain other non-tantric lineages of 'Bum rab-'byams-pa Rin-chen-chos-
dbang from the latter's disciples Brag-sle-ba and 'Thel mkhan-chen Chos-
rgyal-lhun-grub. See Padma-dkar-po, bKa' brgyud bla ma, pp. 459.2, 464.1, and
94. The great importance of the experiential component for Sa-pal). can
be witnessed even in his most "scholastic" and "gradualist" writings, such as in
his Thub pa'i dgongs gsal, p. 31.4.3 (62b.3) where in his discussion of the twO
truths, his ultimate position is not that of the scholastic philosopher (he
explicitly rejects here the scholastically worked out Svatantrika and Prasangika
systems) but rather that of the meditator of the Mantrayana.
95. See for instance dPa' -bo gTsug-lag-phreng-pa, vol. 1; p. 815, who
identified this trend as having been continued by Phag-mo-gru-pa, including
the heavy emphasis on the Vinqya: rje dwags po'i lugs bka' phyag ehu bo gnyis 'tires
kho nas bskyangs shing 'dul ba la gtso bor mdzad / . Cf. Roerich trans!' (1975), p. 560,
Tib., nya 69a.5). Phag-mo-gru-pa is said to have preferred ordained disciples,
Gling Ras-pa being one of the notable exceptions to this preference. He used to
avoid visiting inside the houses and villages oflay people. Like Zhang, he had
previously also studied some under rGwa-lo, though in temperament and
approach he and Zhang were strikingly different. According to the Blue Annals
(p. 557f; Tib. p. 487 = Irya 68a.5) the two of them knew each other and went
together as companions to sGam-po for their first time (in the early 1150s).
There is no record of Zhang's ever having met sGam-po-pa,but rather his con-
nections were with the latter's nephew and successor sGom-pa Tshul-khrims-
snying-po, who had been appointed monastic leader by sGam-po-pa in 1150.
96. Sa-paJ? held as a general principle the importance offollowing a doc-
trine which was known and widely acknowledged in India as genuine, and
which had been transmitted, taught and translated in a recognized lineage. See
his mKhas 'jug II 3 (p. 94.4.6=28b.6), and D. Jackson (1987), pp. 4f. This
approach was held to have been officially decreed after the bSam-yas debate,
as mentioned in dPa'-bo gTsug-lag-phreng-pa, vol. 1, p. 380:
lo tsiis ma bsgyur pa1Jq.itas ma bshad I I .
rgyal pos bka' btags sqyin bdag ma qyas pa'ill
chos la spyad du mi gnang bka' khrims bsgrags II.
97. Sa-paJ?'s procedure is a common one in critical scholarship. He
began from a sense that something was anomalous or out of place doctrinally
in a text or teaching, which led him to suspect that the doubtful doctrines had
been later introductions into the tradition, for which he believed he had found
convincing proof in some of the available historical sources .and other writings.
dPa'-bo gTsug-lag-phreng-pa similarly sensed that something was amiss with
the alternative sBa b;:;hed historical account which Sa-paJ? had probably used,
alleging that it was obviously a later insertion by a scholar hostile to his tradi-
tion. Even among modern scholars such a line is not uncommon. It was used
for instance by R.Jackson (1982), who sensed that historically and methodolog-
ically there might be something amiss in Sa-paJ?'s account in the Thub pa'i
- dgongs gsal, and hypothesized by way of explanation that its author had modified
and introduced new elements into the historical tradition.
98. These writings of Klu-sgrub-rgya-mtsho were the three works: 1)
Phyag chen rtsod spong, 2) Phyag chen rang lugs, and 3) Phyag chen rtsod spong giyang
lan. The third would seem to be the secondary reply entitled Yang lan mkhas pa'i
mig thurwhich was printed at 'Dar Grang-mo-che. See D.Jackson (1983), p. 20.
For a subsequent response to some of replies, see also Ngag-
dbang-chos-grags, sDom pa gsum gyi rab tu dbye ba'i mam bshad legs par bshad pa ;:;la
'od nor bu (New Delhi: 1978), p. 376 (188b), as quoted above, n. 69.
99. Sa-paJ? received three traditions of the Nii ro chos drug as well as vari-
ous doha teachings, including those of Maitrlpada, as he himself records near
the end of the sDomgsum rab dbye (p. 320.3.4= na 48a.4). As he said in a previous
passage, any criticisms he made of this Phyag rgya chen po tradition could only
be made through pointing out contradictions with what Naropa had taught (p.
317.l.2 =na 41a.2):
de b;:;hin phyag rgya pa yang ni II
no ro pa la mos qyed cing I I
100 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
nil ro'i gzhung dang 'gal gyur na I I
phyag rgya pa la gnod pa yin I I
This is an instance of the general rule that only internal contradictions have any
force to disprove when criticizing another tradition through scriptural citation.
A little later he cites the authority of Mar-pa's lineage of the Nil ro chos drug
(p. 317.1.6 = na 4Ia.6).
To this, the later bKa' -brgyud reply would seem to be that this special
transmission of the Mahamudra was not transmitted by Naropa but rather by
Maitripada, it being the quintessential sense of the Mahamudra (phyag rDa chen
po snying po'i don) realized by Sarahaand transmitted to Nagarjuna and then to
the latter's student Savari, who was Maitripada's master. See dPa'-bo gTsug-
lag-phreng-pa, vol. 1, p. 772. See also bKra-shis-rnam-rgyal's account in
Lhalungpa transl. (1986), p. 117; Tib. p. 106a. Mi-bskyod-rdo-rje too portrayed
the ((Yid la mi byed pa'i dbu ma" of Maitripada as that "Madhyamaka" which
Mar-pa, Mi-la and sGam-po-pa were teaching. See Seyfort Ruegg (1988),
pp. 1256-58; Mi-bskyod-rdo-rje, pp. 10-11 (5b-6a).
On the other hand, Sa-pal).'s tracing of the lineage through Naropa was
not unfair, 'because this is precisely what Zhang Tshal-pa himself did in his own
lineage record, [b }rGyud pa sna tshogs, Writings, p. 439.2: phyagrgya chen po dang I
nil ro pa'i chos drug 'di'i dbang du byas nal bcom ldan 'das rdo rye 'chang gis sprul pa te lo
pas I nil ro pa la byin gyis brlabs I des mar pa lo tsha ba la byin gyis brlabs I mar rngog
rnam gnyis kyis rye btsun mi la ras pa la bshad I des bla ma dags po nyid sgom pa la bshad I
des bla ma dags po sgom tshul la bshad I des bdag la gnang ba '0 I I . The Lam cig char ba
is also considered by Zhang to be a teaching ofNaropa. See his Bla ma sna tshogs
kyi tho byang, p. 427.3: rye btsun rin po che yer pa ba las I lam cig char ba la sags pa nil ro
pa'i gdams ngag sna tshogs I thogs bab la sags pa mi tri pa'i gdams ngag sna tshogs I ....
The lineage for the Lam cig char ba is given as follows ([b}rGyud pa sna tshogs,
436.4): lam cig charba dang I rims kyis pa dang I kha 'thor ba'i dbang du byas nal bcom
ldan 'das dpal dgyes pa rdo ryel sa bcu pa'i byang chub sems rdo rye snying po la bshadl
des sprul pa'i sku te lo pa la bshadl des nil ro pa la bshadl des rye btsun mar pa lho brag
pa la bshadl des rye btsun [r}ngog ri bo ba la bshadl mar pa rngog gnyis kyis rye btsun mi
la ras pa la bshad I des rye btsun gling ka ba 'bri sgom ras chen la bshad I des rnal 'byor chen
po mal yer pa la bshadl des zhang gi sbrang ban bdag la gnang ba'ol I. sGam-po-pa
too stressed Naropa as the main source of the lineage (Works, vol. 1, p. 445.6),
though elsewhere he sometimes coordinates Naropa's teachings (as bsgomyod
and lam dus su) with Maitripada's (as bsgom med and 'bras bu'i dus su). See also the
discussion of Shakya-mchog-Idan in his Legs bshad gser gyi thur ma, Collected
Works, vol. 7, pp. 187-194; and Go-rams-pa's answers, Collected Works, vol. 14,
pp. 268.4.5-269.2.2 (ta 57a-58a).
The thog bab[sJ ("Thunderbolt Strike") specifically is identified by Zhang
(Writings, p. 427) as having been one ofMaitrlpada's instructions which Zhang
had received from rJe-btsun Yer-pa. A brief instruction by this name is also
found in the collected works ofsGam-po-pa (voL 2, pp. 215. 7ff), and it contains
a formulation of several key principles of the cig-car-ba approach. The title there,
is given as Chos rye dags po lha lje'i gsung I thog babs kyi 'rtsa ba, and it begins with
the phrase: phyag rgya chen po'i gdams ngag thog babs yas thog tu gdab pa 'di Za: ..
"With regard to this instruction of the Mahamudra, the Thunderbolt
which is applied on top from above ... To begin with, before the actual.practI-
cal instruction, five erroneous notions are refuted:
1) Maintaining the attainment of a later excellent gnosis after one has got-
ten rid of the evil mind one presently has (because as the root of all dhar-
mas, the mind is not to be abandoned in this system).
2) Maintaining the purification of the five poisons or klefas (because in
this system the poisons are to be: assimilated and incorporated into the
path). .
3) Maintaining that realization (rtogs pa) is reached after three long aeons
(because in this system realization is maintained to be right now).
4) Maintaining that realization is reached through intelligence (rig pa) or
discriminative understanding (shes rab), (because in this system realiza-
tion is said to be reached through the direct, practical instruction [gdams
5) Maintaining there is a qualitative distinction of better or worse
between a Buddha and an ordinary sentient being (because in this sys-
tem, there is no difference between them, beyond the presence or absence
Of realization [rtogs pa] ) . .
The gCig car ba'i lam gtso bor bton pa Thog babs instructions are classified within
Padma-dkar-po's gsan yig as belonging to the section gdams ngag nyams len gyi skor.
See Padma-dkar-po, bKa' brgyud pa, pp. 376 and 377.2.
The tradition of stressing the role ofMaitrIpada's teachings (especially the
amanasikiira) as paramount and of tracing the origin of the key Mahamudra
teachings through him back to Saraha (and to Nagarjuna) apparently occurred
at a stage of the tradition after the time of sGam-po-pa and Zhang, approxi-
mately during the life ofSa-paIJ. (perhaps as a response to his criticisms or those
of others). According to later bKa'-brgyud-pa historians, this was asserted
especially by rGod-tshang-pa (1l89-1258?) (and his chiefdiscip1e). See 'Gos 10-
tsa-ba as translated by G. Roerich, p. 841 (Tib. p. 745 = da 2a.5): 'dir chos rje rgod
tshang pa'i zhal nas / rgyal ba shiikya thub pa'i bstan pa 'di la plryag rgya chen po zhes
lam phul du byung bar mgo 'don mkhan bram ze chen po sa ra ha pa gda' ba bu [?] / de'i
lugs 'dzin pa rgya gar narje ri khrod zhabs yab sras yin/ /. Cf. Mi-bskyod-rdo-rje as
translated by Seyfort Ruegg (1988), p. 1260; Tib. p. 14 (7b.2): don 'di la dgongs
nas rgyal ba rgod tshang pa chen po yab sras kyis kyang / phyag rgya chen po 'i chos 'di mgo
'don mkhan bram ze chen po dang / klu sgrub gnyis yin / . For a recent study of the life
ofMaitrIpada, see M. Tatz (1987).
100. Quoted from Gomez (1983), p. 125, who translates from Pelliot 21.
101. Quoted from Gomez (1983), p. 90, who translates from the Cheng li
chueh, p. 134a.
102. Quoted from Gomez (1983), p. 99, who cites five passages in the
Cheng li chueh. .
103. In his own words (Lam zab mthar thug, 20a.4):
gnyis med rtogs pas zin byas la / /
'di bya 'di mi bya med par / /
spyod lam gar dgar btang bar bya / /
There is nothing wrong with this statement from the point of view of the doc-
trines of the siddhas and the anuttarayoga tantras. But there do remain potential
problems in its actual application. Even in the great master bla-ma Zhang's
Own life this type of siddha-like conduct caused certain difficulties, according to
102 jIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
the bKa'-brgyud-pa historians. He is widely acknowleclged within the tradition
to have reached the highest realization, and he himself professed to that. There-
fore he did not have to concern himself with conventional morality and could
justifiably conduct himselflike a siddha. According to the Blue Annals of'Gos 10-
tsa-ba, p. 137b, after he attained realization, he involved himselfin a number
of religious building projects in which he used force aggressively to achieve his
aims. Moreover (Roerich transl., p. 714): "Against those who did not obey his
orders, he used to dispatch repeatedly soldiers, and fought them." In other
words, though he was an enlightened monk, he forcefully pursued ambitious
projects, holding that his detachment and extraordinary realizations made him
exempt from the normal consequences of his deeds. As he once said (ibid., p.
715): "I have given up the World in my Mind. The link between me and the
World has been completely severed ..... Many people may doubt me, judging
me after my exterior works, except for some stout-hearted disciples." The Tibe-
tan text, p. 624 = rrya 137b.
dPa'-bo gTsug-lag-phreng-ba, vol. 1, p. 808, explains a little of the histori-
cal background of this and mentions the beneficial consequences for a number
of Zhang's students who participated in these martial exploits: spyir de'i dus bod.
rgyal khrims med pa sil bur song ba'i skabs yin pas thams cad la ri rgya klung rgya lam
rgya mdzad / rgya 'og tu mi 'du ba rnams la dmag g.yul ngo sogs drag po 'i 'phrin las mdzad
pas slob ma rnams la'ang 'khrug gral du phyag rgya chen po'i rtogs pa skyes pa tnang du
byung zhing dpon dar ma gzhon nus 'khrug gral du bde mchog zhal mthong /. Zhang is
said (dPa'-bo gTsug-lag-phreng-ba, vol. 1, p. 810) to have taught Mahamudra
also to the Ti-shri Ras-pa, a realization having awakened in the latter through
his' teacher Zhang's words: "However you may do [or act], that is the
mahiimudrii" (zhang rinpo chesji !tar byas kyang phyag chen yin gsungs pas ngo 'phrod
pas). Cf. his Phyag chen lam zab mthar thug, p. 99.1 (26a.1-3).
Zhang's well-travelled and widely experienced contemporary Grub-thob
O-rgyan-pa (see dPa'-bo, ibid.) is said to have remarked that Zhang's "violent
enlightened activities" (drag po'i 'phrin las) had never been exceeded by anyone
before him in Tibet, like the unsurpassed activities of Birwapa in India: spyir
ngan song gsum b gral ba'i zhing du bshad kyang drag po 'i 'phrin las mngon sum du mrk;ad
pa rgya gar du birwa pa dang bod du zhang rin po che las. ma byung zhes grub thob 0
r[gyJan pas gsungs /.
This approach of Zhang'S, which was similar in certain respects to that of
some religious madmen (ohos smyon pa) or siddhas (except for instance that he
wielded considerable temporal power), did not go over very well with some of
his fellow influential bKa'-brgyud-pa masters. The Karma-pa Dus-g
mkhyen-pa (1110-1193), for instance, who evidently saw himself as acting in
part on behalf of Zhang's master sGom-tshul (sGom-pa Tshul-khrims-snying-
po [1116-1169], sGam-po-pa's nephew and successor who was a known peace-
maker), is said to have stated once (cf. Blue Annals, p. 715, Tibetan text p. 479 =
nya 34a.3): '''The purpose of my coming to dBus fulfill sGom-tshul's c o ~
mand, who had told me "Regardless of what situation you find yourself Ill.
Khams, return west!" and to establish monasteries ... , and to offer a hundred
volumes written in gold to Dags-lha sGam-po, and to make a request to bla-m
Zhang not to engage in fighting, because people are unhappy with his fighting.
I have come for these purposes.' When he beseeched Zhang not to engage in
fighting, Zhang consequently grasped his [Karma-pa's] finger, danced about a
lot, and henceforth did not engage in fighting."
Zhang's approach contrasts vividly with the pacific teachings that Mi-Ia
ras-pa is recorded to have given sGam-po-pa. These included the instruction to
continue to train oneself in serving the guru and to observe even small meritori-
ous and moral matters even though one has already understood one's mind as
the Buddha, even though ultimately there is nothing to be cultivated or
purified, and even though one has understood that the connection of moral cau-
sation is from the ultimate point of view empty like the sky, respectively (dPa;-
bo, vol. I, p. 797). See also bKra-shis-rnam-rgyal and the latter's quotations of
sGom-tshul in Lhalungpa (1986), pp. 107 and 391; Tib. 96b and 362b. Cf. ibid.,
p. 372 (Tib. p. 345b), where sGam-po-pa is quoted as stating that moral cause
and effect cease to function after the realization of the dharmakiiya. Cf. also
gNubs Sangs-rgyas-ye-shes, bSam gtan mig sgron, p. 47.2, on no longer needing
to observe moral discipline to attain enlightenment once the theory has been
realized (lta ba rtogs nas). Zhang elsewhere in his Phyag chen lam zab mthar thug, p.
88 (20b), taught that the practitioner should completely avoid strife: skad cig
tsamyang 'khrug mi bya//.
According to one source, the controversies surrounding Zhang had started.
even before he met sGam-po-pa, and it seems that sGam-po-pa avoided meet-
ing Zhang on the occasion that Phag-mo-gru-pa and Zhang went to sGam-po
for the first time specifically to see sGam-po-pa and to ask his help in settling
some dispute involving Zhang. Phag-mo-gru-pa, by contrast, was privately
summoned, accepted as a student and instructed then by sGam-po-pa. See the
Blue Annals, p. 558; Tib. nya 68a.5.
Bla-ma Zhang is one of the most colorful and intriguing of the 12th-cen-
tury bKa'-brgyud-pa masters. He founded Tshal Gung-thang in ll87, near the
end of his life, though he had assumed an important position in Central Tibet
already by the late ll50s when he was entrusted to oversee the Lha-sa temples
by his teacher sGom-pa Tshul-khrims-snying-po after the latter had pacified
some severe political unrest there and had done extensive restorations (see
dPa' -bo, vol. I, p. 801). For Zhang's biography, see the Blue Annals, pp. 711-715
(nya 136a-137b), and Dpa'-bo gTsug-lag-phreng-ba, vol. 1, pp. 806-809. His tra-
dition had died out by the 16th century according to ibid., vol. 1, p. 811. Many
of his writings, including numerous autobiographical reminiscences, are pre-
served in a modern reproduction: Writings (bka' thor bu) qf Zhang g. Yu-brag-pa
brtson-'grus-grags-pa (Tashijong: 1972). Zhang has mentioned the role he played
and his attitude toward the above-mentioned activities for instance in the brief
autobiographical poem sNa tshogs zhi gnas, Writings, pp. 620.7-623.6, which he
composed in a bird year at bSam-yas. Some of his songs and poems are classics
of ruthless arid sardonic self-criticism that is so extreme that the overall effect it
produces on the reader becomes ironical and humorous. See for example his
pompously and ironically entitled Bla ma zhang ston gyis / bla ma zhang ston rang
l'f'Yid la shin tu ngo mtshar,ba'i sgo nas bstod pa, Writings, pp. 666.6-673.2.
S a - p a ~ probably had first-hand experience with Zhang'S tradition and fol-
lowers, for he visited dBus more than once, and in the 1220s he spent quite a
104 lIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
long time in bSam-yas, where Zhang had stayed and which had been a strong"
hold of Zhang's support a few decades before-the bSam-yas ruler brTsad-po
Khri-seng having been one ofbla-ma Zhang's most ardent supporters (dPa'-bo
1810). During the years ofSa-pal).'s visit to Central Tibet, the head of Zhang's
main temple was one Sangs-rgyas":'bum, who was expelled from his position
(for reasons that are not specified by 'Gos lo-tsa-ba) in 1231 by sGom-pa Ye-
shes-ldan, and only allowed to return in 1242 to found a meditation center (sgom
sde). See the Blue Annals, p. 716; Tib. nya l38b. According to dPa'-bo (1809) his
expulsion was because of a dispute between religious and secular ieaders.
104. The statement of Mo-ho-yen as presented by Broido (p. 43) was:
G. When conceptualizations are given up, there is an automatic attain-
ment of all virtues.
The opening verse of this chapter of Zhang (p. 30a) as translated above was:
In the moment of realizing [the true nature of] one's own mind, all white
(i.e., excellent, virtuous) qualities without exception are effortlessly com-
pleted simultaneously.
L. Gomez (1983), p. 99, cites five places in the Cheng li chUeh where Mo-ho-yen
"claims that there is an automatic or all-at-once attainment of all virtues when
one gives up all conceptualizations." See furthermore ibid., p. 114, Gomez's
translation of Stein 709, p. 7b: ' ~ mind that is free from examination
accomplishes the six perfections simultaneously in an instant," and further,
p. 100, where Gomez e x p r ~ s s e s reservations about such an "automatic practice,"
which would have been classified by Mo-ho-yen as the "internal" perfections
or practice.
See also Gomez (1983a), p. 424, who seems to come to the conclusion that
KamalasIla was attempting to refute the claim of soteriological self-sufficiency
for a single method, and that this was at the heart bf the controversy in the
Bhiivaniikramas and not "subitism," thus according with the general thrust of
Sa-pal).'s critique of the dkar po chig thub and his assertion of its identity as the
main doctrine refuted by KamalaSila: "The question is not whether enlighten-
ment is sudden or gradual, but rather whether the different elements of the path
should be analyzed, defined and practiced separately." "[If KamalaSi1a is
right,] ... it is obvious that upqya, the altruistic aspect of Buddhahood, is not
merely an automatic fruit of understanding or enlightenment, and that it should
be practiced separately."
This accords remarkably well also with the comments of Go-rams-pa on
the dkar po chig thub controversy in his dBu ma'i spyi don (rGyal ba thams cad kyi
thugs kyi dgongs pa ;:;ab mo dbu ma'i de kho na nyid spyi'i ngag gis ston pa nges don rab
gsal) (vol. 5, p. 345.1; ca l73a.1):dkar po chig thub ces bya bastong nyid kho narbsgoms
pas thams cad mkhyen pa sgrub par 'dod pa la ni mkhas pa ka rna la ski: la dang / dpal
ldan sa skya par;rjita la sogs pa don rna 'khrul par g;:;igs pa rnams kyis thabs kyi cha ma
tshang bas rd;:;o'gs pa'i -sangs rgyas sgrub par mi nus so / / ;:;hes lung dang rigs pa du ma'i
sgo nas sun phyung ;:;in pas 'dir 'bad pa ma byas so / /
105. See Gomez (1983), pp. 121-123, translating Pelliot 116. Compare this
with the seventh through tenth verses of Zhang's dKar po chig thub tu bstan pa
chapter, Broido's transcription, p. 54 (Tib. text, pp. 30b-3la). Cf. the parallel
lines attributed to the early Tibetan Lo-tsa-ba Ka-ba dPal-brtsegs, as quoted
by gNubs Sangs-rgyas-ye-shes in his bSam gtan mig sgran in the chapter on the
approach of the stan-min or cig-car (p. 132.2 = 66b):
Jig rten thams cad yangs btang ste / /
rdul tsam 'dzin pa'i sems med pas / /
sbyin pa'i pha ral phyin pardzags / / (1)
n;yes pa rdul tsam yang mi 'byung bas / /
tshul khrims pha ral phyin pa rdzags / / (2)
chas kyi dbyings la bzad pas na/ /
bzad pa'i pha ral phyin pa rdzags / / (3)
de n;yid dan la mi g:ya bas /.
brtsan 'grus pha ral phyin pa rdzags / / (4)
mn;yam nyid mi g.ya bdag med pas / /
bsam gtan pha ral phyin pa rdzags / / (5)
dmigs med dan la rang rig pas / /
shes rab pha ral phyin pa rdzags / / (6)
In the early rDzogs-chen a similar cqnception was expressed through the term
zin pa, and gNubs in the bSam gtan mig sgran (pp. 344-345) lists twenty ways in
which the path and its attainments are "already complete" (-zin) in rDzogs-
chen. On this term and that passage, see S. Karmay (1988), pp. 49f, note 42, and
106. The occurrence of the notion of a single, self-sufficient medicine or
panacea among the teachings of Mo-ho-yen (in the Cheng-li chueh) has been
known since the classic study of Demieville (1952), who translated and dis-
cussed it on pp. l22f. Here Mo-ho-yen responds to the question of whether more
than one "medicine" are or are not necessary to remove separately the three dis-
tinct "poisons", i.e., klefas. The translation of the question concludes:
S'il en est ainsi, comment done voulez-vous extirper les passions en cul-
tivant 1'abstention des notions de l'esprit? Les rendre temporairement
invisibles, ce n'est pas un moyen de les extirper radicalement.
[Mo-ho-yen's reply begins:]
D'apres Ie NirvaTfa-siltra, il y a medicament, nom me agada, qui guerit de
toute maladie les etres auxquelles il est administre. 11 en est de [po 123]
meme du sans-reflexion et du sans-examen. Toutes les fausses notions
dues au triple poison des passions sont des produits nes, par transforma-
tion, de l'imagination particularisante associee ala reflexion.
See also the translation of Gomez (1983), p. 92. An obscure passage occurs
later, summarized by Demieville, note 8:
Le sens general est qu'il ne s'agit pas d'operer la deliverance par une serie
purgatifs graduels, mais de 1'assurer d'un seul coup par 1'expurgation
totalitaire des "fausses notions".
Mo-ho-yen concludes as follows:
Veuillez done, nous vous en prions, vous debarrasser des fausses notions,
et, par la meme, etant absolument sans reflexion, vous pourrez vous
delivrer, en une seule fois et de fa<;on totale, de toutes les impregnations
de fausses notiol}s dues au triple poison des passions.
Demieville (1952), discusses the agada notion at more length in note 8, com-
menting at one point (p. 122): "On comprend cependant que 1'image de l' agada
ait pu venir it l'esprit des avo cats du subitisme: une panacee est, en effet, essen-
tiallement totalitaire, unitaire, 'subite'." See also G6mez (1983), who charac-
terized the Mo-ho-yen's doctrine with such words as (p. 90): "The sole effective
method of spiritual cultivation is an allopathic prescription, an antidote .... "
and (p. 92): "Mo-ho-yen leaves no room for doubt regarding the superiority of
his method of liberation-it is the only effective method, and the only one that
is required, a true panacea."
Broido, pp. 51f, minimizes this similarity: "Agada means simply 'medicine'
or 'medical treatment,' and this metaphor no doubt applies both to the Hva-
shang's doctrine and to the later bKa' -brgyud-pa one. Nevertheless there seems
to be no reason to think that the two doctrines have more in common than this
general typological similarity."
Cf. the occurrence of a mention of a "great medicine" of the instantaneous
method becoming a great poison for the gradualist, and vice versa the medicine
of the gradualist for the simultaneist, as quoted twice from a work entitled
Ka dpe gsar rnying by bKra-shis-rnam-rgyal, pp. 112b and 132b (cf. also
Lhalungpa trans!' [1986], pp. 123 and 144):
cig car payi sman chen del /
rim gyis pa yi dug tu 'gyur / /
!O7. Zhang Tshal-pa, p. !O4.l (28b):
phyag rgya chen po chig chad ma / /
pa na se yi 'bras bu bzhin / /
rgyu dang 'bras bu dus mtshungs shing / /
mtshan ma rang sar gTol ba yin / /
spre'u rnams mas 'dzegs shing thog len/ /
khra rnams thog babs kho nas len / /
kh[rJa rnams yal ga ma mthong ste/ /
shing thog len la smraT ci yod / /
de bzhin gcig char gang zag gis / I
sa lam drod rtags ma mthong yang / /
chos sku mthong ba smrar ci yod / /
!O8. Mo-ho-yen uses a special bird simile for simultaneous realization,
though not that of the hawk or khyung or garutj.a. As translated by G6mez (1983),
p. 116, Mo-ho-yen compares his method to: " ... the young of the kalavinka bird
who upon leaving their eggs are able to fly like their mother." As I have
described above in note 28, here Mo-ho-yen (Stein 709, second fragment, f. ga)
also uses the image of a lion's cub. In rDzogs-chen sources too the images of the
khyung, kalavinka, and lion's cub appear singly or together as symbols for the
"innateist" awakening.
The account of the alternative sEa bzhed tradition was rejected as a late:
addition by dPa' -bo gTsug-lag-phreng-ba, who said that the criticism attrI-
buted to KamalaSi:la of the garutj.a simile was unworthy of a great Indian
and was unfounded because are taught in scripture to be
miraculously born (rdzus te skyes pa) and not born from eggs. By
Padma-dkar-po in the course of presenting an objection in his Klan ka gzhom pa z
gtam, p. 558.2 (zha nga 3b.2) portrays the Hwa-shang's views similarly as part
of a purvapak.ra and does not reject this characterization itself as false: hwa shang
gis bya byed kyi chos kyis 'tshang mi Igya bas! rnam par mi rtog pa bsgoms nas sems rtogs
pa [gJnyis kyis 'tshang rgya ste/ khyung nam mkha' las shing rtser 'bab pa ltar yas babs
kyi chos yin pas dkar po chig thub yin no / / zer ba . ... Cf. also the mention of the
khyung-chen image of the rDzogs-chen by 'Bri-gung rig-'dzin Chos-kyi-grags-pa,
Broido, p. 64, n. 24, in this connection erroneously links the termsyas 'bab
("descent from above") and mas 'dzeg ("ascent from below") which occur in this
historical account with the internal heat practices.
109. When Broido says that Sa-paJ;l's "attacks" "stand convicted of
polemic," he apparently implies that polemical controversy is some sort of
blameworthy deed. Nevertheless, he also seems to acknowledge that there can
be both malignant and relatively benign or even salutary forms of controversy,
for he mentions (p. 42) that Padma-dkar-po too indulges in "attacks" on Sa-paJ;l
and has written at least one "polemical" work of his own.
llO. One ofthe statements attributed to sGam-po-pa about his mahiimudrii
method was that it was distinct from and superior to the "three great [tradi-
tions]" (chen po gsum): i.e. the Madhyamaka, the tantric Mahamudra, and the
rDzogs-pa-chen-po. This statement is discussed by Karmay (1988), p. 197,
based on its occurrence in the dGongs cig commentary of rDo-rje-shes-rab
(pp.403-404) [which Karmay attributes to Shes-rab-'byung-gnasJ. The same
quotation appears in Shakya-mchog-ldan, Legs bshad gser thur, Collected Works,
vol. 7, p. 84, and elsewhere.
bKra-shis-rnam-rgyal, quoting sGam-po-pa, likewise views the
Mahamudra as belonging to a third vehicle or path distinct from both sutra and
tantra, and wants to deny specifically that it is based on tantric mysticism. In
his view, the integration of the teachings into the sutra and tantra systems was a
introduced later by followers of the tradition. See Lhalungpa
(1986), pp. llO-ll2; bKra-shis-rnam-rgyal, pp. 99a-lOla. For the threefold
classifications in sGam-po-pa, see also his Dus gsum, Works, vol. 1, pp. 418 and
438. In the first he gives two alternatives, as described above, note 5 7. See also
his Tshogs chosyon tan phun tshogs, pp. 268.6 and 283.5.
Cf. the traditional characterization of the rDzogs-chen as "the doctrine
that transcends all those of Sutrayana and Vajrayana" quoted by S. Karmay
(1988), p. 19.
Mi-bskyod-rdo-rje took exception to the view expressed by certain others
that the l\1ahamudra linked to tantric mysticism was inferior to non-Tantric
Mahamudra. See Seyfort Ruegg (1988), p. 1261, and Mi-bskyod-rdo-rje, p. 15.5
(7b.5): mdo sngags so so'i dgongs par byas nas / phyag chen phyi ma las snga ma bzang ba
bka' brgyud rin po che'i bzhed pa yin ces bris gda' ba ni ches mi 'thad pas gzhan du bkag
zin to / /.
lll. Zhang holds, incidentally, (ll b.l) that even for the gradualist prac-
titioner, is sometimes received without its having been conferred. Cf.
Sa-paJ;l, sDom gsum rab dbye, p. 307.3.6 (na 22b.6): la la dbang bzhi mu bzhi 'dod/ /
dbang bskur byas kyang ma thob dang / / ma byas kyang ni thob pa dang / /, etc. This
presentation of the four possibilities (mu bzhi) is said by Go-rams-pa, sDom gsum
rnam bshad, p. 166b, to have been maintained by such masters as Ti-phu-pa and
108 jIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
Ras-chung-pa. By contrast, himself maintains that for it to be Mantra-
yana there must be the conferment of and that without receiving the
fourth empowerment, such things as mahiimudrii should not be cultivated. See
the sDom gsum rab dbye, p. 310.2.6 (na 27b.6): dbang bskur bzhi pa ma thob pari I
phyag l;gya chen po sogs bsgom dang I I.
112. Zhang Tshal-pa, p. 70.3 (lIb):
cig char ba yi gang zag gis I I
lus srog dngos po ci yod kyis I I
[bJ rgyud ldan bla ma mnyes par bya I I
dbang ngam byin brlabs ldan pa yis I I
byang chub sems kyis rab 'phang lall
lha yi rnal 'byor dang ldan pas I I
thog ma nyid nas nges pa'i doni I
phyag rgya chen po bsgom par bya I I
rtogs pa'i bcud ldan bla ma yis II
rang la yod pa'i ye she5 de I I
lag mthil gter bzhin ngo sprod la II
bsgom bya bsgom byed med mod kyi I I
bsgom med ngang las g .yengs mi bya I I
113. Zhang Tshal-pa, p. 116.5 (34b), warns at the end of his work that it
will entail demerit if someone from outside the tradition is shown this treatise:
phyi mir [bJ stan na sdig pa sog II. A similar warning occurs at the end of one of his
autobiographies. See his Writings, p. 57.5: gzhan la bstan na sdig pa sog.
114. The same ideas are expressed in various other part& of the treatise,
such as on p. 104.6 (28b):
gnyug ma rtogs pa'i skad cig nas II
my a ngan 'das pa'i rgyal srid 'thob II
thob med sems nyid dag pa [29a] 'di II
'bras bu yin par da gdod shes II
115. As mentioned above, many of his wrItmgs, including numerous
detailed autobiographical reminiscences and biographical works, are preserved
in a modern reproduction of his incomplete oeuvre: Writings (bka' thor bu) of
Zhang g. Yu-brag-pa brtson- 'grus-grags-pa (Tashijong: 1972). In a brief poem writ-
ten at Bral-dro'i Mon-pa-gdong, he lists his main writings and where he wrote
them, concluding on a regretful note. See his Writings, pp. 600.1-601.1. The
works he lists there are:
(1) rNal 'byor lam ring
(2) Phyag rgya chen po 'tshang 'bru (both at Bhe-brag?)
(3) Bum pa'i 'phreng ba, at Gong-dkar-mo
(4) Cal cal ring mo, at 'Brog-bu lkug-pa
(5) gNy.en poyig chung, at Bya mKhar-rtse
(6) Mas 'dzeg go rim, at Yud-bu'i gad-pa
(7) gSang sngags lag len, at sTod-lung mTshur
(8) Kha 'thor sna tshogs, at Byang Byi-'brong
(9) Lam mchog mthar thug, at
(10) Kha na 'thon tshad, at Mon-pa-gdong
A more complete listing is given by Padma-dkar-po in his record of teachings
received, bKa' brgyud kyi bka' 'bum ... , Works, vol. 4, pp. 453-456 (nga na 73a-
116. Extracted from Broido, pp. 50-51, who quotes the corresponding pas-
sage approvingly from R.Jackson (1982), pp. 95-96.
117. Bla-ma Zhang studied under a total of thirty-six masters, from
among whom he considered these four as especially important:
(1) rGwa lo-tsa-ba
(2) Mal Yer-pa-ba
(3) dNgul-chu Be-ro-ba
(4) rJe sGom-tshul
In addition, two more teachers were added to these to make up those he consi-
dered his six rtsa ba'i bla ma:
(5) 'Ol-kha-ba
(6) gShen-pa rDo-rje-seng-ge
See dPa'-bo gTsug-lag-phreng-ba, vol. 1, p. 807. See also Zhang's own composi-
tion, rTsa ba'i bla ma drug gi gsol 'debs, Writings, pp. 445-447. The full list of his
teachers is given by Zhang in his [bJrGyud pa sna tshogs kyi tho byang, Writings,
118. Zhang received a number of important bKa'-brgyud-pa instructions
also from Mal Yer-pa, who was not a disciple of sGam-po-pa, but rather of
Gling-ka-ba 'Bri-sgom ras-chen who had studied directly under Mi-las ras-pa
and was one of the "Eight Cotton-clad Brothers" (ras pa mched brgyad). Zhang
has written a fairly extensive biography ofYer-pa. See his Writings, pp. 393-
, 426. For the teachings Zhang received from him, and their lineages, see pp. 427
and 436. Another bKa' -brgyud-pa master who influenced him was 'Ol-kha-ba.
119. The original lines of 'Jig-rten mgon-po can be found contained in
Shes-rab-'byung-gnas, dBon-po (1187-1241), Dam chos dgongs pa gdg pa'i rtsa
tshig rdo 'lje'i gsung brgya lnga bcu pa, vol. 1, pp. 158.2: 13 mtshan nyid pha rol tu phyin
pa'i theg pa'i lam ni sa bcus bgrod la gcig char 'jug pa rnams la de ltar mayin par 'dod pa
yin mod kyil 'dir ni lam thams cad sa bcus bgrod par bzhed do I 14 rims kyis 'jug pa dang
gcig char 'jug pa gnyis su 'dod payin mod kyi I 'dir ni lam thams cad rims kyis 'jug par
bzhed dol/.
120. 'Bri-gung rig-'dzin Chos-kyi-grags-pa, Dam pa'i chos dgongs pa gcig pa'i
rnam bshad lung don gsal byed nyi ma'i snang ba, p. 23a.4: 'on te phyag rdzogs pa rnams
kyang rtogs pa skad cig mas sangs rgyas thob par 'dod pa yang sngar gyi dpe ltar myur bul
las gzhan pa'i mdo sngags grryis las tha dad pa'i lam zhig yod na rdzogs pa'i sangs rgyas
kyis ma gsungs pa'i lam du thal bas de 'dra ba'i lam gyi mdo ni blos gzhal bar dka'o I I des
na rdzogs byang thob pa ni rgyu dang 'bras bu'i tshogs gnyis rdzogs pa'i mthus grub pa'ol I.
See also the same source, p. 25a.5: zhib tu brtags na myur ba la skad cig ma'i brjod
bya btags pa tsam las cung zad rim gyis ldang ba kho nar nges lal. Though the phrase
blos gzhal bar dka'o in the first quote would thus seem to indicate the author's
intellectual rejection of that doctrine, it should also be kept in mind that the
"simultaneist" doctrine of Mahamudra is never taught as being something
accessible to conceptual understanding. Cf. rDo-rje-shes-rab, vol. 1, p. 397.3
(nga 25b), for the parallel explanation of this passage.
]IABS VOL. 13 NO.2
bKra-shis-rnam-rgyal represents sGam-po-pa as having held precisely
that the Mahamudra was a doctrine independent of the sutras and tantras. See
his Nges don, p. lOla; L. Lhalungpa transl., p. 112.
121. Zhang, like 'Bri-gung rig-'dzin Chos-kyi-grags-pa, was aware of cer-
tain basic doctrinal parallels between the Mahamudra and the rDzogs-pa
chen-po. I have not been able to trace any record of formal studies of the
rDzogs-chen by Zhang, but there is no doubt that he was familiar with it, and
saw it as having a fundamental similarity with Mahamudra, the two occupying
in his opinion the parallel ultimate positions within the New and Old Tantric
teachings. He discusses this at some length in his Mal dbu dkar la gdams pa,
where in contrast to the bKa' -gdams-pa teachings and the Madhyamaka
reasoning and meditations which are don spyi'i mam pa tsam las mos pa yul du byed
pa, the Mahamudra and rDzogs-chen are tantric paths of the guru's sustaining
spiritual power: phyag rgya chen po dang / rdzogs pa chen po la sogs pa sngags gsar my-
ing mthar thug mams kyang / gsang sngags byin brlabs kyi (655) lam yin pa la / (see his
Writings, p. 654.7). In this Zhang agreed with certain statements ofsGam-po-
pa, who as cited above sometimes portrayed the Mahamudra and rDzogs-chen
as occupying a similar doctrinal position and indeed as being from some points
of view identical. See the latter's Tshogs bshad legs mdzes ma, p. 220.2, and his
Tshogs chos yon tan phun tshogs, p. 269.1. See also the characterization of the
rDzogs-chen as "[a doctrine authoritatively] maintained to be the ultimate of
Mantra teachings, the :Atryoga'" (rdzogs chen ni a ti yo ya zhes pa gsang sngags kyi
mthar thug tubzhed pa) by bKra-shis-rnam-rgyal, p. 93b.6; Lhalungpa transl.,
122. dPa'-bo gTsug-lag-phreng-ba, vol. 1, p. 799f, places this development
in sGam-po-pa's teaching in the latter part of sGam-po-pa's life: sku tshe smad la
sems [800] kyi ngo bo ston pa phyag rgya chen po chig chod kho na gtso bor mdzad de /.
Zhang (Writings, p. 550.2) mentions the important role of the ngo sprod in
sGam-po-pa's method by characterizing the Dags-po system briefly as: dags po
ba'i lugs kyi p!l)!ag rgya chen po ngo sprod, contrasting it with the other lineages of
phyag rgya chen po'i man ngag. A little later (p. 557.4) he characterizes it as: gnyug
ma'i ngo sprod dags pos gcer mthong byed. Speaking of how sGom-pa transmitted
these teachings to him, he says: spyir skyes bu dam pa 'dis / tshig la ma rten pa'i byin
brlabs 'ba' zhig gis / klzo bo'i rgyud la lhan cig skyes pa lhag gis shar bas . ...
On the subject of sGam-po-pa's innovations, Broido writes (p. 30): "For
example, if anything in Buddhism is ever invented by anyone, sGam-po-pa was
the inventor of the lhan-cig skyes-sbyor (sahajayoga) system of mahiimudra. (While
the idea of a goal common to both sutras and tantras goes back to Naropa, sGam-
po-pa was the first person to teach them both on a parallel basis.)" Cf. Roerich
transl. (1975), pp. 46lf.
Cf. Dorje Loppon Lodro Dorje Holm in Lhalungpa, transl. (1986), p.
xlvii: "Gampopa unified the mahamudra and tantric teaching he received with
his background in the Kadam tradition, and founded many monasteries. Prior
to his time, mahamudra seems to have been presented primarily in a fruition-
teaching, oral-instruction style. From Gampopa's time onward, this perspective
was integrated, at least in his writings, with a gradual, 'stages of meditation
style' .... "
123. Thu'u-bkwan, p. 168.4 (kha 24b.4): mnyam med dwags po rin po ches
phar phyin theg pa'i lugs la stong nyid la phyag rgya chen por gsungs pa yod tshul indo lung
mang po drangs nas bsgrubs pa'i bstan bcos mdzad pa la I 'ga' zhig gis I mdo tshig de 'dra
bka' 'gyur na mi snang zhes zer modi rgya nag tu 'gyur ba'i bka' 'gyur khrod na mdo de
dag snang lal tshig ris ji lta ba bzhin min kyang don gcig pa da ltar gyi sangs rgyas mngon
sum du bzhugs pa'i mdo sogs bod du 'gyur ba'i mdo gzhan 'ga' zhig na'ang snang ngo I I.
Cf. the question of apocryphal Chinese siltras in Tibetan translation or
their use by Chinese debaters in Tibet. On this, see the article of H. Obata,
mentioned by Ueyama (1983), p. 333; G6mez (1983a), p. 395; and Broughton
(1983), pp. 48f, n. 6 and p. 57, n. 36.
124. bKra-shis-rnam-rgyal, p. 216 (108b): 'on kyang rje btsun chen po yan gyi
sgrub brgyud lo, gsang sngags kyi man ngag rnams gtso bor sgom zhing I gtum mil dang 'ad
gsalla sogs pa'i skabs ci rigs su phyag rgya chen po'i gdams pa ston par mdzad pa las I rje
sgam po pa de tshad med pa'i thugs rjes kun nas bslang ste I gdul bya mchog dman thams
cad kyis rtogs sla ba'i ched dul snying po don gyi gdams pa phyag rgya chen po 'di nyid
rtsal du phyung ste bstan pas shin tu 'phel zhing rgyas pa dang I skal pa can thams cad kyis
bgrod pa gcig pa'i lam du gyur payin nol I. Cf. Lhalungpa transl., p. 119.
125. Sa-pal) in his Thub pa'i dgongs gsal (p. 25.3.4= tha 50a) states that the
writings of the aefeated Chinese tradition were gathered and cached away at
bSam-yas after the debate (rgya nag gi dpe rnams bsdus nas bsam yas su gter du sbas
sol I). In his sDom gsum rab dbye (p. 309.3.4=na 26a) he states that later after
the decline of the Tibetan polity, based merely on the texts of the Chinese mas-
ter's basic works, these doctrines were secretly reintroduced:
phyi nas rgyal khrims nub pa dang I I
rgya nag mkhan po 'i gzhung lugs kyi I I
yi ge tsam la brten nas kyang I I
de yi.. ming 'dogs gsang nas ni I I
phyag rgya chen por ming bsgyur nas I I
The survival of texts for two or three centuries in hidden caches was not at all
unknown in the dry climate of Tibet. But it should also be noted that the earlier
Chinese-influenced traditions may not have been as thoroughly suppressed as
the traditional accounts followed by Sa-pal); and upon which he based this
hypothesis, would have us believe.
126. Karmay (1988) has r e v e ~ l e d the complexity of such studies and has
demonstrated the need to isolate early states of the tradition and to trace the
discrete lineages and doctrines that later all came to be lumped together under
single school names such as "rNying-ma-pa." As the study of the history of
Tibetan Buddhism in these centuries proceeds, modern scholars with their
access to the Tun Huang texts may not be convinced by Sa-pal)'s simple thesis
of direct doctrinal descent via the unacknowledged influence of texts that had
been suppressed and then later recovered from caches. The influence ofCh'an
on early Tibetan Buddhism was more complex, and it persisted after the time
of Mo-ho-yen, as shown for instance by Kimura (i981); cf. Ueyama (1983),
p. 349, n. 30. Nevertheless, the existence of important and striking doctrinal
parallels between the Phyag-chen and similarly oriented earlier Tibetan tradi-
tions makes the question of possible cross-fertilization (in one or both direc-
tions) between the rDzogs-chen for instance and the Mah1imudra definitely
112 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
worth investigating further. According to Broido too (p. 47), Padma-dkar-po is
also "not unsympathetic to the possibility of some parallelism or mutual influ-
ence between Chinese ideas and those of the bKa'-brgyud-pas." Broido also
asserts there that "the non-vajrayana parts of the rNying-ma doctrine do seem
to have undergone Chinese influence, recorded, for instance, in the bSam gtan
mig sgron."
Another line of possible inquiry would be into the Zhi-byed tradition,
whose founder Dam-pa Sangs-rgyas (who was in Western gTsang from 1097
until his death in 1117) is said to have taught seemingly parallel. doctrines such
as those suitable for the byin brlabs kyi lam pa, gang zag rim gyis pa, and gang zag cig
char ba, etc. For rDzong-pa, who was of the latter type, he taught the Phyag rgya
chen mo [sic] as dbang chig mo. See 'Gos lo-tsa-ba, p. 812 (na 22b), Roerich trans!.,
p. 914. Some of his other instructions included (ibid.): blo bral sems kyi me long la
brten nas phyag rgya chen po'i don la ngo sprodll zha ma lcam sring la do ha'i gzlzung la
brten nas rim cig char gnyis su ngo sprodl. See also Seyfort Ruegg (1988), p. 1261
(quoting Mi-bskyod-rdo-rje, p. 8a.l), and the Blue Annals, p. 976 (na 49a), in
which the "later" Zhi-byed (especially the Plryag chen dri med tlzigs pa practices)
is identified with Maitripada's Mahamudra.
To put own position in broader terms, what he believed he had
detected was an influx of certain previously absent doctrines into the Mar-pa
bKa'-brgyud-pa after Mi-la ras-pa, some of which were radically "simul-
taneist" in content and bore significant resemblances to doctrines associated
with the rDzogs-chen and to teachings which had already been identified by
previous Tibetan historians as the doctrine of the Hwa-shang. He believed this
doctrinal influence had occurred through the reading and unacknowledged
influence of previously concealed early texts. (It s40uld be remembered that in
the traditional context, similar doctrines, terminology and doctrinal formula-
tions normally indicated a common origin.)
. What is needed at this stage is a carefully framed study of the early
Mahamudra, based on a critical evaluation and historical ordering of sources.
At present one cannot accept for example even all that one finds in sGam-po-
pa's "Collected Works" as coming from his hand for much of it has obviously
been transmitted through subsequent oral retelling or later editing (cf. lCang-
skya Rol-pa'i-rdo-rje's comments on such textual problems, translated by
Lopez [1988], p. 266). Until such a study had been made, one should give due
consideration to the opinions of all the traditional historical authorities such as
'Gos lo-tsa-ba, dPa'-bo gTsug-lag-phreng-ba, sGam-po-pa bKra-shis-rnam-
rgyal and Padma-dkar-po (and even as broadly understood) on the ori-
gins of the Mahamudra teachings and their doctrinal development, but final
judgment should be reserved.
I would like to acknowledge with thanks the comments of Prof. D. Seyfort
Ruegg and Mr. Burkhard Quessel, who read the first draft of this paper. I am
likewise obliged to Mr. Jonathan Silk for his suggestions at a later stage. I would
also like to acknowledge gratefully the support received from the Alexander
von Humboldt-Stiftung which made possible the writing of this paper at
Hamburg University in 1988-89.
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the American Oriental Society. Vol. 107, pp. 695-71l.
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Tun-huang: A Review of the Field and Its Prospects," Early Ch'an in China
and Tibet. Berkeley Buddhist Series. No.5, pp. 327-349.
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Awakening," Early Ch 'an in China and Tibet. Berkeley Buddhist Series.
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Lineage qfTeachings qfthe 'Ba'-ra dKar-brgyud-pa Sect. Dehra Dun, Ngawang
Gyaltsen and Ngawang Lungtok, 1970.
bKra-shis-rnam-rgyal, sGam-po-pa (1512/13-1587). Nges don phyag rgya chen po'i
sgom rim gsal bar byed pa'i legs bshad zla ba'i 'od zeT. rTsib-ri spar-rna. Kagyud
Sungrab Nyamso Khang, 1984. Vol. 3, pp. 1-759 (ga 1a-380a).
Go-rams-pa bSod-nams-seng-ge (1429-1489). sDom pa gsum gyi rab tu dbye ba'i
mam bshad rgyal ba'i gsung rab kyi dgongs pa gsal ba. Sa skya pa'i bka' 'bum.
Tokyo: Taya Bunko, 1969. Vol. 14, pp. 119.1.1-199.3.6 (ta la-161a).
sGam-po-pa bSod-nams-rin-chen (1079-1153). rJe phag mo gru pa'i zhus lan, Col
lected Works (gSung 'bum) of sGam-po-pa bSod-nams-rin-chen. Delhi, .
Khasdup Gyatsho Shashin, 1975. Vol. 1, pp. 469-496.
--. Dus gsum mkhyen pa'i zhus Ian. Collected Works (gSung 'bum) of sGam-po-
pa bSod-nams-rin-chen. Vol. 1, pp. 376-469.
--. Tshogs chos chen mao Collected Works (gSung 'bum) of sGam-po-pa bSod-
nams-rin-chen. Vol. 1, pp. 326-360.
--. Tshogs chos legs mdzes mao Collected Works (gSung 'bum) of sGam-po-pa
bSod-nams-rin-chen. Vol. 1, pp. 171-258.
--. Tshogs chas yon tan phun tshogs. Collected Works (gSung 'bum) of sGam-po-
pa bSod-nams-rin-chen. Vol. 1, pp. 258-293.
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Collected Works (gSung 'bum) of sGam-po-pa bSod-nams-rin-chen.
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nams-rin-chen. Vol. 2, pp. 237.6-240.7. .
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Sata-pitaka Series (New Delhi, 1974). Vol. 212.
Thu'u-bkwan Chos-kyi-nyi-ma (1737-1802). Grub mtha' thams cad kyi khungs dang
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116 ]IABS VOL. 13 NO.2
rDo-rje-shes-rab (fl. 13th c.). Khyad par lta bsgam spyad pa'i tshams. [dGangs gcig
'grel pa rda shes ma], dGongs gcig yig chao Bir: D. Tsondu Senghe, 1975. Vol.
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The Sungrab Nyamso Gyunphel Parkhang, 1972.
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Senghe, 1975. Vol. 1, pp. 154ff.
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--.sDam pa gsum gyi rab tu dbj'e ba. SKKB. Vol. 5, pp. 297.1.1-320.4.5 (na
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Vajrayana Deities in an Illustrated Indian
Manuscript of the AJtasiihasrikii-prajiiiipiiramitii*
by John Newman
Among the treasures contained in Orientalia Iosephi Tucci
Memoriae Dicata-the three volume collection of essays in honor
of the late Professor Giuseppe Tucci-a brief article by
Sadashiv Gorakshkar and Kalpana Desai deserves the special
attention of students ofIndian Vajrayana Buddhism and its art
history. Entitled "An Illustrated Manuscript of Ashtasahasrika
Prajiiaparamita in the Asiatic Society of Bombay" (Gorakshkar
and Desai 1987), the article describes and discusses Asiatic
Society Acc. No. 210, and contains ten black-and-white plates
reproducing the manuscript's eighteen illustrations. No infor-
mation is given about the Society's acquisition of the manu-
script, but it ultimately originated in eastern India around the
end of the 12th century: it was produced frfmad-gouindapala-
deuasyatitariiJjasainuat 39-i.e., in the 39th year subsequent to
the beginning of the defunct reign of the Pala king Govin-
dapala (rg. ca. 1161-65).1
This brief article will not attempt to address all of the
issues raised by the manuscript and its illustrations, and we
will only be directly concerned with six of the eighteen illustra-
tions. The eighteen illustrations appear "on the first two (f. 1
rev.-2 obv.) , middle two (f. 106 rev.-107 obv.) and the last two
(f. 221 rev.-222 obv.) folios" (Gorakshkar and Desai
1987:562). The six we will discuss are on folios 106 rev. and 107
obv., each of which contains three illustrations. In other words,
when folio 106 is turned we encounter two sets of three illustra-
tions, one set above the other. The illustrations on 106 rev.
depict male deities; those on 107 obv. portray female. deities.
Upon closer examination it becomes clear that we are dealing
with three divine couples: a male deity on the viewer's left of
118 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
106 rev. above his female counterpart on the left of 107 obv., a
male in the center of 106 rev. above his female counterpart in
the center of 107 obv., etc.
Table A indicates the locations of the illustrations of these
six figures and their identifications as proposed by Gorakshkar
and Desai (1987:563). Table Bproposes some refinements and
alternative identifications that will be discussed below.
Folio 106 rev. 1.: Dvibhuja-Sambara
This form of Sambara is described, for example, in verses 4-7
of the Dvibhuja-sambaropadefa contained in the Siidhanamiilii:
"(v. 4) [The sadhaka] should assume the form (dhiirayet) [ofVaj-
ra<;laka] with [a diadem of] skulls placed at his forehead and a
half-moon at his crown. He has the six mudrii,3 a garland of
heads, the crossed-vajra [on his head], and three eyes. (v. 5) His
feet are placed in the iili:rjha stance.
He is surrounded by the
syllables of the universe, and mounted on Kalaratri together
with Bhairava. He is clad in a tiger skin, (v. 6) with
at his crest. He is dark blue [read kU1Jo for kubjo] , endowed with
a vajra and bell, and hair in twisted locks. That hero [is
embraced by] Vajravarahi:, .who holds a vajra and a skull full of
blood. (v. 7) She has a khatviiizga and a mekhalii. She is red, has
three eyes, a garland of heads, and the five mudrii.
Her hair is
free-flowing; she is naked, and has a Buddha at her crest."
(Siidhanamiilii #255; 504.1-8; Bhattacharyya 1958: 160-161; cf.
de Mallmann 1975:50, 187-189).6
The major discrepancy between the manuscript illustra-
tion and the siidhana description is that the illustrated figure
stands in pratyiilfcJha whereas the siidhana prescribes iilfcJha.
all other respects they are remarkably similar.8
Folio 107 obv. 1.: Vajraviiriihf
This form ofVajravarahi is described, e.g., in the Vajraviiriihf-
siidhana of Advayavajra:
"[The siidhaka] should think of himself as Bhagavati: Vaj-
ravarahi:, [red] like a pomegranate flower, with two arms. She
appears to menace with the vajra in her right hand; she holds a
skullcup and khatviiizga in her left. She has a single face and
Table A
FOLIO 106 rev.l. 106 rev. c. 106 rev. r.
I.D. Vajrapal).i Mafijusri Nairatmya
FOLIO 107 obv. I. 107 obv. c. 107 obv. r.
I.D. Sarvabuddha Female deity Female counter-
:Qakil).i with the same part of
(Naro mkha- attributes as Nairatmya
spyod-ma) (sic) Mafijusrl
Table B
FOLIO 106 rev. I. 106 rev. c. 106 rev. r.
I.D. Dvibhuja- Pil).<;likrama- Trai1okyak$epa-
Ak$obhya Heruka/Hevajra
FOLIO 107 obv. I. 107 obv. c. 107 obv. r.
I.D. Vajrav3,rahi
Spadavajra Nairatmya
120 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
three eyes; her hair is free-flowing. She is marked with the six
mudrii, and is naked. She consists of the five gnoses, and has the
nature of connate joy. Standing in pratyiilfr/ha, she treads on
Bhairavaand Kalaratri. Her body is ornamented with a gar-
land of moist heads. She drinks a stream of blood."
(Siidhanamiilii #217, 425.5-11; Bhattacharyya 1958:218; cf.
SaT[lvarodaya 13.22-24; de Mallmann 1975:77-79, 425-429,
Again, the single major discrepancy between the figure
and the siidhana description is that their stances seem to be
In the plate the khatvii:hga is barely visible, but one
can easily discern a stream of blood flowing from the skullcup
to Vajravarahl's lips. Her hair fans out behind her, and she is
clad only in a mekhalii.
Folios 106 rev. c. & 107 obv. c.:
and Sparfavajrii
These figures are best treated together. Iconographically they
are virtually identical: only the breasts of the figure in 107 obv.
c. distinguish it from the male in 106 rev. c.
These deities are
described in Nagarjuna's Pi1Jej,zkrama-siidhana vv. 27 & 30, 53-
54, 107-110:
madhyamal).<;lalake dhyayad atmanarp. mudraya yutam I
trimukharp. indranllasamaprabham I I (27)
sthitaiva sparsavajra tu vajrasattvasamayuta I (30cd)
trimukharp. I
indranIlaprabharp. diptarp. vajrasattvarp. vibhavayet I I (53)
vajrarp. cakrarp. tatha padmarp. bhavayet I
ghal).tarp. ratnarp. tatha kha<;lgarp. bhavayet II (54)
trivajradhiHhitasvakam I
padmamadhye tu bhavet punal; II (107)
pasyed I
j atamukutadhararp. natham bhyakrtasekharam II (108)
nrpavartakasarp.kasarp. I
sarvalailkarasampurl).arp. tu vibhavayet II (109)
vajrarp. cakrarp. tatha padmarp. dharayet I
ghal).tarp. cintamal).irp. kha<;lgarp. tasya bhavayet 1/ (110)
"(v. 27) [The siidhaka] should think of himself in the middle
malJrfala, joined with [his] mudrii, in a three-faced, six-armed
form having the radiance of a sapphire. (v. 30cd) ... and Spar-
savajra sits joined with Vajrasattva. (v. 53) With the entrance
of [into himself, the siidhaka] should imagine [him-
self] as Vajrasattva, three-faced, radiating six arms, blazing
with the radiance of a sapphire. (v. 54) He should imagine a
vajra, wheel, and lotus in his right hands, and a bell,jewel, and
sword in his left hands. (v. 107) Having effected his completion
of the mantra syllables, and being blessed as the three vajras in
the middle of the lotus, [the siidhaka] should become DVeSava-
jra again. (v. 108) He should see produced
from the mantra vajradhrk. He should imagine [himself as] the
lord beating twisted locks of hair and a diadem, with a crest
formed by (v. 109) resembling a king, with dark
blue, red, and white faces, fully endowed with all ornaments,
and six-armed. (v. 110) He should hold a vajra, wheel, and lotus
in his right hands, and imagine a bell, wishing-gem, and sword
in his left hands."
Here Vajrasattva, DVeSavajra, and are all
names or epithets of this form of This description
fits the figure in 106 rev. c. precisely. We can glean additional
details about this divinity from the
ma1J.<;lala" of Abhayakaragupta's Nifpanna;yogiivalZ:
"In the middle of the kii{iigiira is dark blue, wrathful,
[left] face white, the rIght red, radiating a kula [i.e., vajra] ,
wheel, and lotus with his right hands, and a bell, wishing-gem,
and sword with his left, embraced by Sparsavajra in his own
likeness." (Ni-!pannayogiival'l 5.3-4; cf. English precis p. 35; see
also de Mallmann 1975:43,91-93; 351-353).12
Folios 106 rev. r. & 107 obv. r.:
Trailokyiikfepa-Heruka/ Hevajra and Nairiitmyii
Again the male and female figures depicted in these illustra-
tions are virtually identical: only the breasts of the female and,
perhaps, the treatment of the faces serves to distinguish them.
This form of Heruka / Heva j ra is called (cf.
Hevajra I.ii.7, I.iii:1-16; Siidhanamiilii 474.1, 476.16; Nifpan-
na;yogiival'l 14.4-7; Bhattacharyya 1935; Bhattacharyya
1958:157; de Mallmann 1975:46, 48, 182-190, 380).
122 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
IS described in the
siidhana vv. 3-6:
"(v. 3) [The sadhaka] should imagine himself as [Heruka],
standing on a corpse in the ardhaparyanka stance, well-clad in a
human skin, his body smeared with ashes. He flourishes a vajra
in his right [hand], (v. 4) has a khatviinga with a waving banner
[on his left arm], and a skullcup full of blood in his left [hand].
He has a delightful necklace made from a garland of fifty heads.
(v. 5) He slightly bares his fangs, his eyes are red, he frolics, his
hair is tawny and stands erect on his head. He has an
diadem, earrings, (v. 6) and he is decorated with bone orna-
ments. His head [is crowned] with five skulls. He bestows
Buddhahood, and protects the world from the Maras."
(Siidhanamiilii #244,473.10-17; Bhattacharyya 1958: 155-156).13
Nairatmya is described in the Kevala-nairiitmyii-siidhana:
"Nairatmya stands dancing in ardhaparyanka on the heart of a
corpse on a moon. She is dark blue, with one face, tawny hair
flowing upward, an diadem, bared fangs, and a lol-
ling tongue. She bears a cleaver [kartri]I4 in her right [hand],
and a skull and khatviinga in her left [hand and on her left arm] .
She has three red, round eyes, and is adorned with the five
mudrii." (Siidhanamiilii #230,451.2-6; cf. Hevajra I.viii.l8-19; de
Mallmann 1975:47, 27l-272).15
* * *
Having established the identities of these six deities, we can
consider them and their iconographic configuration in more
general terms. First, these are worshipped deities of
three of the most important anuttarayogatantra traditions: the
Sambara (or Cakrasarpvara), Guhyasamaja, and Hevajra tan-
tras. All three of these tantras are headed by chief of
the vajrakula, bu.t the Guhyasamaja is classified as an upifJa
tantra, a tantra that emphasizes the production of the mifJiideha,
whereas the Sambara and Hevajra tantras are the two main
members of the prajiiii tantra class that emphasizes the realiza-
tion of the prabhiisvara.
The Pir;Zkrama-siidhana of Arya Nagarjuna teaches the
utpattikrama siidhana of the Arya tradition ofGuhyasamaja prac-
tice and exegesis. It looks back to the explanations of the
Guhyasamiija-tantra found in the Vajramiilii, a Guhyasamaja l!Yii-
khyii-tantra (cf. PilJJ!zkrama-siidhana 230). Thus the manuscript
illustrations of and Sparsavajra depict a form of
Guhyasamaja that a siidhaka visualizes and becomes through
the Arya tradition practice of the Guhyasamaja utpattikrama.
Even a cursory examination of the CakrasaIP-vara and
Hevajra tantras reveals that these two traditions are very closely
Further study may show that Bhattacharyya was
essentially correct in his claim that "Heruka in no way differs
from the famous Buddhist deity Hevajra" (Bhattacharyya
1935:23); "Sambara ... is only another form ofHevajra'; (Bhat-
tacharyya 1958: 160). The manuscript illustrations of these
divinities represent sa'f[l}annakrama forms.
If we assume the six illustrations as a group depict a p.ierar-
chy we can hypothetically "read the text" of this configuration
as follows: In the center is and his consort Sparsava-
jra representing the utpattikrama of upqya tantra. To their right
are Sambara and Vajravarahi of the Cakrasarpvara tantra, and
to their left are and Nairatmya of the Hevajra
tantra--these two pairs represent the sa'f[l}annakrama of prajfiii
tantra. In other words, the lord of the vajrakula, is
flanked by his progeny. If we follow this line of reasoning one
step further, we can conjecture that the "author"18 of this
iconographic scheme imagined upqya tantra in some sense giv-
ing birth to prajfiii tantra, similar to the way the utpattikrama
gives birth to the sa1!lpannakrania.
In this note we will not attempt to discuss the role these
and similar images played in Indian Vajrayana Buddhist cult
practice. Although great strides have been made in the icono-
graphic and stylistic categorization of Vajrayana icons, the
study of their religious symbolism and cultural context lags far
behind. Among the questions that need to be addressed we
might pose the following: To what extent is Vajrayana Bud-
dhism indebted to the classical natyafiistra tradition? That is,
what does it mean that erotic blood-drinking deities such as
Sambara and Hevajra are "endowed with the nine rasas of
niitya?" (See, e.g., ,Sa1!lvarodaya 13.22; Hevajra II.v.26; Ni.fpan-
nayogiivalz 2.0.4-5, 26.9. For the Guhyasamaja cf. Guhyasamiija
p.29.l7and vv.lO.l3, 12.55; Pradzpoddyotana17, 90, 93, 114;
124 . JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
Wayman 1977:326-328.) An earlier generation of Western
scholars reacted to the imagery ofVajrayana Buddhism with
horror and disgust. We should consider the possibility that the
Indian Buddhists who practiced these teachings had a more
sophisticated aesthetic appreciation of the deities they created
and strove to become. Indeed, as the study of Vajrayana
Buddhism progresses it is becoming every more apparent that
we must examine the relationship between aesthesis and gnosis
that lies at the foundation of this mystery tradition.
Gorakshkar and Desai are to be congratulated for discover-
ing and publishing these fine representatives of the once
flourishing tradition of Indian Vajrayana Buddhist painting.
These manuscript illustrations number among the few surviv-
ing Indian painted images of anuttarayogatantra deities.
As such
their value to the study ofVajrayana Buddhist art history can
hardly be overestimated. We hope these paintings will be
reproduced again in the high resolution color enlargements
that are a necessary condition for thorough study of their stylis-
tic and iconographic content.
*The author and editor are grateful to the Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed
Estremo Oriente for the photographs reproduced below, and to Professors
Sadashiv Gorakshkar and Kalpana Desai, and the Asiatic Society, Bombay, for
permission to reproduce them.
1. The Sanskrit is given following Gorakshkar and Desai (1987:562); a
few of the ak{aras and numbers in Plate Ia (which contains the colophon) are
difficult to read. Govindapala's regnal period is given according to D.C. Sircar
(1977:968). Note that Asiatic Society of Bengal MS No. G.9989A is dated Gov-
indapala 18, which would extend Govindapala's reign (Saraswati
1977:LXXV) .
2. This siidhana is as.cribed to "Mahapal).<;Iita Ratnakaragupta" in the
colophon of the Siidhanamiilii text, but a somewhat shorter version is attributed
to "*SrI Vajraghal).ta" (dPal rDo rje dril bu) in the Tanjur (Peking 2155; Toh.
1438). I suspect Vajraghal).ta composed the basic siidhana, Ratnakaragupta
produced a new redaction, and the latter was then credited with composition
of the text by the textual tradition of the Siidhanamiilii.
3. On the six mudrii see Bhattacharyya (1935:24; 1958:438-439).
4. Alfq.ha and pratyiilfq.ha are two postures used in dh(lnurveda, nii!ya
and-most important for our purposes-iconography. These terms have
created confusion among students of Indian iconography, and it is perhaps
worthwhile to review the issue. All agree that both stances entail one leg being
bent at the knee and the other held straight, but scholars have arrived at con-
trary conclusions as to. which knee is bent in a particular stance (see Harle
1971: 10; cf. Bhattacharyya 1958:432). This problem is not new. Agn.ipuriiIJa
249.13 (treating dhanurveda) clearly prescribes the left knee bent iri pratyiilfq.ha,
which is the "inversion" (viparyasta) of the iilfq.ha stance described in 249.12:
etad eva viparyyastan;t pratyiilfrfham iti smrtam /
tiryyagbhilto bhaved viimo dak{iIJo 'pi bhaved / / (249.13)
However, Niityasiistra 1O.70cd-7Iab (describing niitya stances) just as' clearly
prescribes the opposite:
kuficitan;t dak{iIJan;t krtvii viiman;t piidan;t prasiirya ca / / (1O.70cd)
iilfq.haparivartas tu pratyiilfq.ham iti smrtam / (10. 7I ab)
In Niityasiistra 1O.67cd-68ab iilzrfha is described as stretching the right leg out
from the previously described maIJrfala stance. [Note: Niityafiistra 1O.68d
prescribes iilfq.ha to depict vfra and raudra behavior.] This obviously creates
difficulties for scholars attempting to identify images based on these stances.
Fortunately, for Vajrayana Buddhist images we are given some help by the con-
cise Tibetan glosses contained in the tantric terminology section of the
Mahiivyutpatti (#4266 & 4267):
iilfq.ham: g:yas brkyang ba, "right extended"; pratyiilfrfham: g:yon brkyang ba,
"left extended."
In this essay we will follow the Niityasiistra and the Mahiivyutpatti even though,
as we will see, this creates certain problems. Abhayakaragupta's Vajriivalf (f. 25-
26), discussing the stances portrayed in Vajrayana iconography, agrees with the
Niityasiistra and the Mahiivyutpatti in its description of iilfrfa and pratyiilfrfa. See
I)hfh 9( 1990) 72.
5. For the five mudrii see Hevajra Liii.13-14, ILv.3,
6. My translation is indebted to the pioneering work ofBenoytosh Bhat-
7. See note 4. A Tibetan scholar, Gen Losang Namgyal, informs me that
VajraghaJ;lta wrote that both stances are used, and that this is connected with
. the relationship between the prajfiii and upqya modes of anuttarayoga tantric prac-
tice. Note also that all the Indian stelae and metal sculptures of the 12-armed
form of Sambara listed below are standing in iilfq.ha, i.e., left leg bent, leg
8. Another manuscript of the A{tasiihasrikii, dated GovindapaIa 18, con-
tainsa similar illustration of what appears to be Dvibhuja-Sambara standing
in pratyiilfrfha (Saraswati 1977:XCV, fig. 273). For a closely related six-armed
form of Sambara (called "Heruka" in the text) see San;tvarodaya 13.15-22. A
twelve-armed form is described in the Ni{pannayogiivalf's "SambaramaJ;l9-ala"
26.3-9 (cf. Bhattacharyya 1958:161-162). Several Indian stelae of this twelve-
armed form have been found: (I) Ratnagiri, Cuttack Dt., Orissa (Chanda
1930: 12, plate IV fig. 3; Mitra 1960:43-45, plate I; Mitra 1981 :429-430, plate
CCCXXVII A; Benisti 1981: 116-117, fig. 139). (2) Cuttack Dt. [almost identi-
cal to (I)] (Banerji 1931:plate facing 409). (3) North Bengal (Majumdar
1937:80, plate XXIV,c; cf. Mitra 1960:46; Mitra 1981:430, n.4). Several Indian
metal sculptures of this form have also been found: (I) Patharghata, Bhagalpur
Dt., Bihar (Banerji plate XXXVII (c); Mitra 1960:45-46, plates II &
III; Huntington 1984:153, fig. 195). (2) Northeast India (Uhlig 1981:140, fig.
37). (3) Northeast India [with consort] (Uhlig 1981:138, fig. 35). (4) Kashmir
(Pal 1975:173, fig. 64a & 64b; Uhlig 1981:120, fig. 16).
126 ]IABS VOL. 13 NO.2
9. See notes 4 & 7. As with Sambara above, the seeming inversion of the
stance is puzzling. The figure in folio 107 obv. 1. is almost identical to the Na ro
mkha' spyod form of rDo rje mal 'byor rna (NagogakinI-VajrayoginI) (cf.
Chandra, L. 1976: 1333), which, to my knowledge, is only depicted in the iilfha
stance. The only major iconographic difference between the Vajravaram of the
illustration and siidhana and NagogakinI is that the former wields a vajra in her
right hand whereas the latter holds a cleaver.
10. An iconographically identical figure appears in another Indian
manuscript of the A{tasiihasrikii (Pal 1988: 87, 89, fig. 28a). A stone stele ofVaj-
ravarahlwas found in Chauduar, Orissa: "a two-armed goddess (14-3/4/1 by 8/1)
standing in archer's attitude [viz. iilfha] with vajra in her right hand and a cup
(upper half of a human skull) held up by her left hand" (Chanda 1930:22, plate
VIII, fig. 1). A very similar stele was found in Bihar (Saraswati 1977:LXI, fig.
174) ..
11. In fact the treatment of the faces also appears to distinguish male and
female, but the smallness of the plates makes it difficult to be certain.
12. Closer examination of a small stone image found at Bodh Gaya (or
Nalanda?) may lead to its identification as and Spar-
savajra in the "yuganaddha" pose (Huntington 1984:101, fig. 111; cf. Saraswati
1977:LXII, fig. 175).
13. also appears in another Indian manuscript of the
(Pal 1988:85, pI. 18). Five stone stelae of this form of Heruka have
been discovered: (1) Subhapur, Tipperah Dt., East Bengal (Siidhanamiilii II.
clxi-clxii, plate X; Bhattasali 1929:35-37, plate XII; Lad 1956:317, fig. 37; Hun-
tington 1984:172-173, fig. 215). (2) Ratnagiri (Chanda 1930:12, plate V, fig. 2;
Mitra 1981 :443, plate CCCXXXVI B; Uhlig 1981: 115, fig. 10). (3) Sarnath
(Saraswati 1977:LVIX-LX, fig. 171). (4) Nalanda (Saraswati 1977:LX, fig.
172). (5) Amaravati, Andhra Pradesh (Murthy 1988:37, 42-43, pI. II). The
same figure fills niches in two "miniature stupas" found at Ratnagiri (Mitra
1981: 126, plate LXXIII B; Benisti 1981: 115, fig. 138). Three Indian metal
sculptures of this form of Heruka are known to exist: (1) Achutrajpur, Orissa
(Mitra 1978:85-86, fig. 77). (2) Unknown provenance, now apparently in the
Baroda Museum (Siidhanamiilii 11. clxiii, plate XI). (3) Eastern India (Sotheby's
1985 :lot # 138). Several Indian sculptures of 16-armed forms of Hevajra have
also been discovered: (1) Paharpur, Raj shahi Dt., Bengal [stone, in the round,
with Nairatmya] (Chandra, G.C. 1936: 122, plate LV(c-d); Uhlig 1981:138-
140, fig. 36; Huntington 1984: 164, fig. 202). (2) Bengal [stone stele, with Nairat-
mya] (Lad 1956:314, fig. 97). (3) Bengal [metal lotus mar;ala sculpture, with
Nairatmya] (Pal 1978:96-97, no. 57). (4) Dharmmanagara, Tippera State, Ben-
gal [inscribed metal sculpture, 4-legged, without Nairatmya] (Bhattasali
1929:270-271, plate L).
14. Note that the female figure in folio 107 obv. r., like the male in 106 rev.
r., appears to be holding a vajra in her right hand, not a cleaver. Also, the icono-
graphy of Nairatmya fits a generic ardhaparyaizka yoginf/ iikinf type: compare
Nairatmya with the eightyoginfs surrounding the extraordinary Hevajra-Nairat-
my a stele from Bengal (Lad 1956:314, fig. 97), and with the iikinfs
illustrated in the Bris sku mthong ba don ldan (Chandra, L. 1976:289, 291-293,
294-295,300, etc.).
15. A stone stele of Nairatmya was discovered in Bihar (Nalanda?)
(Sadhanamiilii II.clxix-clxx, plate XV; Lad 1956:317, fig. 40; Saraswati 1977:LX,
fig. 173). A figure, in a manuscript illustration apparently synthesizes icono- '
graphic features ofNaid.tmya and VajravarahI (Pal 1988:72, pI. 11).
16. This is according to mKhas grub rje's rGyud sde spyi'i rnam par gzhag
pa 260-266. Other Tibetan scholars subdivide the anuttarayogatantra class
17. The archaeological evidence reviewed above indicates the Sambara
and Hevajra cults specially flourished in eastern India, i.e., Bihar, Bengal, and
Orissa. This coincides with the impression one gets from the contents of these
tantras, and from their Indo-Tibetan hagiographies.
18. We assume this arrangement of these six deities is deliberate,
although we do not know when or by who it was originally devised.
19. As noted above, there are quite a few Indian sculptures of anut-
tarayogatantra deities, but they invariably lack the coloration that is such an
important part ofVajrayana symbolism.
The corpus of Indian painted images of anuttarayogatantra deities may be
expanded if an illustrated manuscript of the Vimalaprabhii can be relocated. The
manuscript, noticed by H.P. Shastri in 1897, was produced at the Sri Dhar-
madhatu vihiira in Nepal by two Bengalis in the year 1818 of a nirvii1J.a era (i.e.,
ca. 1274 CE). Shastri notes: "There are numerous illustrations in this work rep-
resenting Buddha as Upaya, as male, and Dharma, otherwise praJfiii, as female.
The Kamakala is represented as producing the Sarp.gha represented by the
bodhisattvas. The MS. and the illustrations are in excellent preservation" (Shastri
1897:316). Unfortunately, this MS., along with other illustrated MSS., is mis-
sing from the National Archives in Kathmandu (cf. Pal 1988:36, n. 32).
Agnipurii1J.a: Baladeva Upadhyaya (ed.), Agnipurii1J.a of Maharfi T!eda1!Jliisa' (Var-
anasi: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office, 1966) [Kashi Sanskrit Series 174].
BaneIji (1931): R.D. Banerji, History of Orissa from the Earliest Times to the British
Period vol. II (Calcutta: R. Chatterjee, 1931).
Banerji (1933): R.D. Banerji, Eastern Indian School of Mediaeval Sculpture (Delhi:
Manager of Publications, 1933) [Archaeological Survey ofIndia, New Impe-
rial Series vol. XLVII].
Benisti (1981): Mireille Benisti, Contribution a l 'etude du stiipa bouddhique indien: les
stiipa mineurs de Bodh-gayii et de Ratnagiri 2 vo1s. (Paris: Ecole Fran9aise d'Ex-
treme-Orient, 1981) [Publications de l'Ecole Fran9aise d'Extreme-Orient
vol. CXXVJ.
Bhattacharyya . (1935): Benoytosh Bhattacharyya, "Iconography of Heruka"
Indian Culture 2.1 (1935) 23-35.
Bhattacharyya (1958): Benoytosh Bhattacharyya, The Indian Buddhist Iconog-
raphy: Mainly Based OT! the Siidhanamiilii and Cognate Tantric Texts of Rituals 2nd
ed. (Calcutta: Firma K.L. Mukhopadhyay, 1958).
Bhattasali (1929) : Nalini Kanta Bhattasali, Iconography oj Buddhist and Brahmani-
cal Sculptures in the Dacca Museum (Dacca: Dacca M u s e u ~ Committee, 1929).
128 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
Chanda (1930): Ramaprasad Chanda, Exploration in Orissa (Calcutta: Govern-
ment of India, Central Publication Branch, 1930) [Memoirs of the
Archaeological SurveyofIndia no. 44].
Chandra, G.C. (1936): G.C. Chandra and K.N. Dikshit, "Excavations at
Paharpur" Annual Reports qf the Archaeological Survey qf India Jor the Years 1930-31,
1931-32, 1932-33 & 1933-34 Part One (Delhi: Manager of Publications,
1936) pp. 113-128.
-Chandra, L. (1976): Lokesh Chandra, Tibetan-Sanskrit Dictionary (Kyoto: Rinsen
Book Company reprint, 1976).
de Mallmann (1975): Marie-Therese de Mallmann, Introduction a l'iconographie
du t8.ntrisme bouddhique (Paris: Librairie Adrien-Maisonneuve, 1975) [Bib-
1iotheque du Centre de Recherches sur l'Asie Centrale et 1a Haute Asie vol. I].
Gorakshkar and Desai (1987): Sadashiv Gorakshkar and Kalpana Desai, ' ~ n
Illustrated Manuscript of Ashtasiihasrikii Prajiiiipiiramitii in the Asiatic Society
of Bombay,'? in G. Gnoli and L. Lanciotti (ed.), Orientalia Iosephi Tucci
Memoriae Dicata (Roma: Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente,
1987) pp. 561-568, 12 plates [Serie Orientale Roma LVI,2].
Guhyasamiija: Yukei Matsunaga (ed.), The Guhyasamiija Tantra: A New Critical Edi-
tion (Osaka: Toho Shupp an, 1978).
rGyud sde spyi'i mam par gzhag pa: mKhas grub dGe legs dpa1 bzang po, in F.D.
Lessing and A. Wayman, Introduction to the Buddhist Tantric Systems (Delhi:
Motilal Banarsidass reprint, 1983).
Harle (1971): J.C. Harle, "Remarks on iil'iq.ha," in William Watson (ed.),
Mahayanist Art After A.D. 900 (London: University of London Percival David
Foundation of Chinese Art, 1971) pp. 10-16 [Colloquies on Art & Archaeol-
ogy in Asia no. 2].
Hevajra: D.L. Snellgrove, The Hevajra Tantra: A Critical Study 2 vols. (London:
Oxford University Press, 1959) [London Oriental Series vol. 6].
Huntington (1984): Susan L. Huntington, The "Piila-Sena" Schools qf Sculpture
J (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1984) [Studies in South Asian Culture vol. X].
Lad (1956): P.M. Lad, The Way qf the Buddha (Delhi: Publications Division,
Ministry ofInformation and Broadcasting, Government ofIndia, 1956).
Mahiivyutpatti: Sakaki Ry6sabur6 et al. (ed.), Mahiivyutpatti (Tokyo: Suzuki
Research Foundation reprint, 1962).
Majumdar (1937): N.G. Majumdar, "Indian Museum, Calcutta" Annual Report
qf the Archaeological Survey qf India 1934-35 (Delhi: Manager of Publications,
1937) pp. 78-83.
Mitra (1960): Deba1a Mitra, ' ~ n Image of Sam bar a in the Patna Museum" The
Orissa Historical Research Joumal9.3 (1960) 43-46.
Mitra (1978): Debala Mitra, Bronzes from Achutrajpur, Orissa (Delhi: Agam Kala
Prakasha,n, 1978).
Mitra (1981): Deba1a Mitra, Ratnagiri (1958-61) 2 vo1s. (New Delhi:
Archaeological Survey ofIndia, 1981 & 1983) [Memoirs of the Archaeo1ogi-
cal Survey ofIndia no. 80]. .
Murthy (1988): K. Krishna Murthy, Iconography qf Buddhist Deity Heruka (Delhi: .
Sundeep Prakashan, 1988).
Niityafiistra: Madhusudan Shastri (ed.), Natyashastra qf Bharatamuni 2nd part
(Varanasi: Banaras Hindu University, 1975).
Benoytosh Bhattacharyya (ed.), qf Mahii-
pa1Jr/ita Abhayiikaragupta (Baroda: Oriental Institute reprint, 1972) [Gaek-
wad's Oriental Series no. 109].
Pal (1975): Pratapaditya Pal, Bronzes qfKashmir (Graz: Akademische Drutk-u.
Verlagsanstalt, 1975).
Pal (1978): Pratapaditya Pal, The Sensuous Immortals: A Selection qfSculpturesfrom
the Pan-Asian Collection (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art,
Pal (1988): Pratapaditya Pal and Julia Meech-Pekarik, Buddhist Book Illumina-
tions (New York: Ravi Kumar Publishers, 1988). .
Pi1Jr/fkrama-siidhana: L. de la Vallee Poussin (ed.), Etudes et textes tantriques: Pafi-
cakrama (Gand/Louvain: H. Engelcke/J.-B. Istas, 1896) pp. 1-14 [Recueil
de travaux publies par la Faculte de Philosophie et Lettres de l'Universite de
Gand, 16me fascicule].
Pradfpoddyotana: Chintaharan Chakravarti (ed.), Guhyasamiijatantrapradf-
(Patna: Kashi Prasad Jayaswal Research Insti-
tute, 1984) [Tibetan Sanskrit Works Series No. 25].
Siidhanamiilii: Benoytosh Bhattacharya (ed.), Siidhanamiilii 2 vols. (Baroda:
Oriental Institute reprint, 1968) [Gaekwad's Oriental Series no. 26 & 41].
Sa11Jvarodaya: Shinlchi Tsuda, Sainvarodaya-tantra: Selected Chapters (Tokyo: The
Hokuseido Press, 1974).
Saraswati (1977): S.K. Saraswati, Tantrayiina Art: An Album (Calcutta: The Asia-
tic Society, 1977).
Shastri (1897): Hara Prasad Shastri, "Notes on Palm-leaf MSS. in the Library
. of His Excellency the Maharaja of Nepal" Journal qftheAsiatic Society qfBengal
66 (1897) 310-316.
Sircar (1977): D.C. Sircar, "The Pala Chronology Reconsidered," in Wolfgang
Voigt (ed.), XIX. Deutscher Orientalistentag (Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag
GMBH, 1977) pp. 964-969 [Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlandischen
Gesellschaft Supplement 111,2].
Sotheby's (1985): Indian, Himalayan, South-East Asian Art and Indian Miniatures
[auction catalogue] (New York: Sotheby's, 1985).
Uhlig (1981): Helmut Uhlig, Tantrische Kunst des Buddhismus (Berlin: Verlag Ulls-
tein GmbH, 1981).
Wayman (1977): Alex Wayman, Yoga qf the Guhyasamiijatantra (Delhi: Motilal
Banarsidass, 1977).
130 JIABS VOL. 13 NO" 2
Folio 106 rev" L
Folio 107 obv" I.
Folio 106 rev. c.
Folio 107 obv. c.
132 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
Folio lO6 rev. r.
-Heruka / Heva j ra
Folio lO7 ov. r.
The Mantra" OT(l mavi-padme hUT(l"
in an Early Tibetan Grammatical Treatise
byP. C. Verhagen
Among the treatises on Sanskrit grammar incorporated into
the Tibetan Buddhist canon commonly known as Bstan- Jgyur, a
few can be found that were written originally in Tibetan, while
the vast majority are translations of Sanskrit texts.! One of
these original Tibetan compositions dealing with Sanskrit
grammar is a highly interesting treatise entitled SgraJi-rnam-
par-dbye-ba-bstan-pa, "Expose (of) the Nominal Cases."2 It
describes the essentials of the Sanskrit system of nominal
declension, while also relating this system to the semantics-
and sometimes even the morphology-of the Tibetan case-par-
The author's name is not mentioned in the text or its col-
ophon. Nevertheless, it can be argued that the SgraJi-rnam-par-
dbye-ba-bstan-pa and the two titles immediately preceding it in
the Bstan- Jgyur, also grammatical treatises,3 have been written
by the Tibetan grammarian and translator Lce-khyi-'brug
(alias Ci-khyi-'brug or Ce-khyi-'brug), who can positively be
associated with the period 798-815 A.D.4 It seems fair to
assume a date of composition for this treatise in the early
period of the formation of the Tibetan canonical literature,
most likely the ninth century A.D. 5 In the treatise under con-
sideration the Sanskrit nominal declension is described as a
system of eight cases, with a further subdivision of each case
into singular, dual and plural. These eight cases are dealt with
in the traditional order: nominative, accusative, instrumental,
dative, ablative, genitive, locative and vocative.
For each of
these cases a summary description of the semantics and the
134 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
main points of the morphology are presented, supplemented
with Sanskrit examples (with their Tibetan translations).
In the final section of the text, dealing with the vocative
case, the well-known mantra" Or[l ma1Ji-padme hUr[l" is cited as an
example. Here I will present a short excerpt from the text,
containing the reference to this mantra and its subsequent
(grammatical) interpretation. In the paragraphs immediately
preceding this excerpt it has been stated that the vocative case
is indicated in Sanskrit mainly by (the interjection) he, "Oh!"
or (the case-ending) -e. 7 As examples for the use of he the
author gives" *he he bhagavan," "Oh, oh, venerable one!" and
"*he vajra," "Oh, vajra!": as an example for -e he mentions
"*vrkse "8 "Oh tree!"
.. , ,
Excerpt from
S gra'i-rnam-par -dbye-ba-bstan-pa
[Peking Bstan-'gyur: Mdo-'grel: vol. NCO 63v7-64r2:J
/ gzhan-yang-bod-pa-'di-phal-/ [63v8:Jcher-e-ston-pa-yin-la/ de-
yang -snying -po-rnams-ni-bod-pa-kho-na-yin-pas -phal-cher -e-yod-de /
de-yang- >Ji-ltar-or[l-ma-1Ji-padme-hur[l-zhes-pa-lta-bu-la / or[l-ni-ye-
shes-lnga'i-ngo-bo-yin-pas-dang-por-smos-pa-[64rl :Jyin-pas / hUr[l-
dngos-ni-ma-1Ji-ni-nor-bu-yin-la / padme-ni-dngos-te-sor-bzhag-go [/1
/ des-na-nor-bu-padma-zhes-pa- la-[64r2: Jphyag- 'tshal-gyi-sgo-nas-
bod-pa-yin-la / me-zhes-pa'i-e-sbyar-ba-ni-kye-yin-te /. kye-nor-bu-
padma-zhes-pa-lta-bu'o /
'Morever (gzhan-yang) , this vocative (case) (bod-pa) is gener-
ally9 (phal-cher) indicated (by case-ending) -e, and as
the hearts (or essences) (snying-po-rnams) (scil. the mantras, or:
of the mantras) are precisely (kho-na) invocations (or: vocatives)
(bod-pa), (these invocations/vocatives in the mantras) generally
(phal-cher) have (yod) (case-ending) -e; so then (de-yang) (this
vocative case-ending occurs) accordingly ('di-ltar) for instance
in (lta-bu-la) (the mantra) "Or(! ma1Ji-padme hUr[l."
(In this mantra) Or[lis uttered (smos-pa) as first (dang-par),
because it is the essence (ngo-bo) of the five wisdoms (ye-shes-
; hUr(l, (which is to be translated as) "Be mindful of
(this)!" (thugs-dgongs-shig),l! is placed at the end (mjug-bsdus), so
the actual (dngos) vocative (or: invocation) (bod-pa) in between
(bar-gyi) (Or(l and hUr(l consists of) malJi, (to be translated as)
"jewel" (nor-bu) and padme (emend to: padma) ("lotus"), which
is the same (dngos) (word in Tibetan as in Sanskrit) and so
remains unchanged (sor-bzhag)I2 (in translation).
So (des-na) , to (this) "jewel-lotus" (nor-bu-padma) 13 an invo-
cation (bod-pa) by means of a salutation (phyag-'tshal-gyi-sgo-
nas) is (addressed), (which results in) the application (sbyar-ba)
of (case-ending) -e in (the syllable) me, which is (to be trans-
lated as) "Oh!" (kye), so that (the translation of) the example
(lta-bu) is: "Oh,jewel-lotus!".
Short Evaluation
The choice of the mantra Or(l malJi-padme hUr(l as an example in
the above passage from the Sgra'i-rnam-par-dbye-ba-bstan-pa-
presumably dating from the ninth century-seems to be an
indication of the relative popularity of this formula already in
the early period of the spread of Buddhism in Tibet. This is
contrary to the opinion prevalent in western Tibetology until
rather recently that, as no mention of Or(l malJi-padme hUr(l had
(until then) been discovered in the Tibetan literature of that
period, this mantra did not playa role of any significance in the
earliest phases of Tibetan Buddhism.
However, early references to this mantra can be found in the
ninth- and tenth-century Tibetan literary remains from Dun
Huang, notably in a text entitled Dug-gsum-'dul-ba,15 as well as
in the well-known, rather cryptic, Sanskrit-Tibetan formul-
ary. 16 I t would seem that the present passage can now provi-
sionally be added to the ninth-century textual evidence of Or(l
malJi-padme hUr(l. ..
It should be noted that in this passage from the Sgra'i-
rnam-par-dbye-ba-bstan-pa, the formula is nowhere explicitly
associated with the bodhisattva AvalokiteSvara.
From a grammatical point of view it is rather interesting
that the term malJi-padme is cited as an example of the vocative
case.17 This means that according to the morphology of classical
Sanskrit this form should be considered either as a vocative
dual of a neuter compound stem malJi-padma or as a vocative
136 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
singular of a feminine compound stem ma1J.i-padmii. In the
former interpretation it would most likely be a dvandva-type of
compound ("Oh, jewel and lotus!")/8 while in the latter, a
bahuvrfhi-type of compound would have to be supposed ("Oh,
[you woman] who have thejewel-lotus!").19
Considering the above it would seem that the formula Orrz
mar;i-padme hurrz, which was to become such a prominent fea-
ture oflater Tibetan Buddhism, was-at least-known in Tibet
already in the period of the first propagation (snga-dar) of
1. Cf. PC. Verhagen, "Sanskrit grammatical literature in Tibet: a first
survey," to be published in: Panels of the VIIth World Sanskrit Confirence, voL7(?),
Leiden (1991), pp. 47-62.
2. Peking ed. Suzuki (1955-1961) title nr. 5838, Bstan-'gyur Mdo-'grel
NGO ff. 54r6-64r4. The text is not extant in the Sde-dge, Co-ne or Snar-thang
editions of the Bstan-'f[yur.
3. Gnas-brgyad-chen-po'i-rtsa-ba, Peking ed. Suzuki (1955-1961) title Dr.
5836, Bstan-'gyur lvIdo-'grel NGO ff. 40v6-43v7 and Gnas-brgyad-'grel-pa, Peking
ed. Suzuki (1955-1961) title Dr. 5837, Bstan-'gyur Mdo-'grel NGO ff. 43v8-:54r6.
4. On Lce-khyi-'brug in general and his dating, cf. S. Inaba, Chibetto-go
Katen Bunpogaku, Kyoto 1954, pp. 24-29, N. Simonsson, Indo-tibetische Studien I,
Uppsala 1957, pp. 243-244 and RA. Miller, "Thon-mi Sarpbhota and his
Grammatical Treatises," JAOS 83 (1963), pp. 486-487 (= repr. in: Studies in the
Grammatical Traditions in Tibet, Amsterdam 1976, pp. 2-3).
There are ample text-internal indications (such as striking similarities in
method and terminology) that the three texts-the first of which is certainly the
work of Lce-khyi-'brug-are closely related, almost certainly contemporaneous
and quite possibly by the same hand. Text-externally the main arguments for
the attribution to Lce-khyi-'brug are to be found in several canonical catalogue-
indexes (dkar-chag); the earliest Bstan-'gyur catalogue, written by Bu-ston Rin-
chen-grub (1290-1364) (ed. L. Chandra, The Collected T1in"ks of Bu-ston, voL 26,
New Delhi 1971, = Sata-Pitaka Series voL 66, f. 1l7r3), a slightly later version
by Bu-ston's pupil Sgra-tshad-pa Rin-chen-rgyal-mtshan (1318-1388) (ed.
L. Chandra, The Collected works of Bu-ston, vol. 28, New Delhi 1971, = Sata-
Pitaka Series voL 68, f. III r6), as well as the catalogue of the Peking Bstan- 'gyur
written by the fifth Dalai Lama Ngag-dbang-blo-bzang-rgya-mtsho (1617-
1682) (ed. L. Chandra, Catalogue of the Peking Tanjur, voL I, New Delhi 1983, =
Sata-Pitaka Series vol. 325, f. 138r4) have virtually identical entries pertinent
to these texts, that seem to indicate that Lce-khyi-'brug was the author of all
three texts.
5. Besides the characteristic similarities between our text and the
treatise that can be positively attributed to Lce-khyi-'brug (cf. note 4), another
indication for an early date of composition is the location of the text in the
canon, viz. among a group of treatises written by early Tibetan scholars, e.g.,
the Sanskrit-Tibetan lexicon Mahiivyutpatti and its partial commentary Sgm-
sbyor-bam-pa-gnyis-pa (Peking ed. Suzuki 1955-1961 title nrs. 5832 and 5833),
both datable to the late eighth, early ninth century, and Sum-cu-pa and Rtags-kyi-
'jug-pa (Peking ed. Suzuki 1955-1961 title nrs. 5834 and 5835), the well-known
treatises on Tibetan grammar.
6. It should be noted that it is not common practice in the Indian indi-
genous grammatical traditions to employ the total number of eight for the
cases; usually we find a sevenfold there with the vocative case as a
subtype of the first, nominative case.
7. In classical Sanskrit the case-ending -e as specific for the vocative
case occurs only in vocative singular of nominal stems (of all genders) ending
in i and feminine stems ending in ii, cf. W.D. Whitney, Sanskrit Gmmmar, 1889,
par. 335.h, 339, 363.f, 364. This is by no means the only-or even the most
frequent-form the vocative case assumes. Moreover, the case-ending -e also
occurs as vocative (here identical to nominative and accusative) dual of neuter
stems ending in a and feminine stems ending in ii, cf. Whitney, op. cit., par.
328.b, 330, 363.g, 364.
The ending -e as specific for the vocative case does not seem to have been
particularly more frequent in Buddhist hybrid Sanskrit, cf. F. Edgerton, Bud-
dhist Hybrid Sanskrit Grammar and Dictionary, New Haven 1953, vol. I, par. 8.27-
28,9.14-15,10.33-41,12.15-16,13.9; note the occasional use of nominative sin-
gular endings (-0, -u, perhaps -e) for vocative of stems in a (cf. Edgerton, op.
cit., par. 8.28) and the use of -e as vocative singular for stems in r (cf. Edgerton,
op. cit., par. 13.9).
8. This, in fact, is not the correct classical form. The vocative singular
of the nominal stem "tree," is identical to the stem-form: vrk!a; however,
cf. Edgerton, op. cit., par. 8.28.
9. It certainly does not hold for classical Sanskrit that the case-ending
-e is the "general" or most frequent ending for the vocative case; cf. note 7.
10. Cf. e.g. Mahiivyutpatti, ed. R. Sakaki, Kyoto 1916-1925, entry nrs.
11. Note that a respectful expression (sci!. thugs-dgongs) is employed here.
12. Translation of sor-b:::.hag is based on the relevant entry in dge-bshes
Chos-kyi-grags-pa's Tibetan dictionary entitled Brda-dag-ming-tshig-gsal-ba
(n.p., n.d.; Chinese translation Peking 1975), p. 744: "g:::.han-du-ma-sgyur-bar-
rang-ngo-bor-gso-bar-b:::.hag-pa," "to establish (b:::.hag-pa) (something), preserving
(gso-bar) the thing itself (rang) in identical (form) (ngo-bor) without altering
(ma-sgyur-bar) (it) into another (form) (g:::.han-du)."
13. Apparently the author regards mar;i-padma as a compound. Unfortu-
nately he does not specify the relation between mar;i and padma, the two members
of the compound; cf. "short evaluation" and note 19. .
14. Cf., e.g., P. Pelliot, T'oung Paa XXXI (1934), p. 174, M. Lalou, ''A
Tun-huang Prelude to the Karar;rjavyulza," Indian Historical Quarterly vo!' 14
(1938), p. 200. However, cf. also C. Regamey, "Motifs vichnouites et sivaites
dans Ie KaraJ)<;Iavyuha", in: Etudes tibitaines, dediees it la memo ire de Marcelle Lalou,
138 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
Paris 1971, p. 419-420, particularly note 13.
15. Cf. the important article by Y. Imaeda, "Note preliminaire sur la for-
mule OT[l mar;i padme hUT[l dans les manuscrits tibetains de Touen-houang," in:
M. Soymie (ed.), Contributions aux etudes sur Touen-houang, Geneve-Paris 1979, pp.
The three Dun Huang manuscripts of this text studied by Imaeda give
variant readings of the mantra, sci!.: "oT[l-ma-ni-pad-me-hum-myi-tra-swa-hii," "oT[l-
ma-ma-ni-pad-me I hum-mye I I" and (correct Imaeda's reading of Pelliot tib. 37
to:) "oT[lm-ma-ma-r;[?] i-pad-mel hum-myil."
Imaeda suggests an interpretation of the syllables myi-tra in the first ver-
sion as equivalent to mitra, either the Sanskrit word meaning "friend" (cf. also
maitrf, "compassion") or perhaps even connected with the Iranian deity
A different interpretation seems possible: I propose that the syllable myi in
the first version and the final syllables mye and myi of the latter two versions,
could be interpreted as a notation of the stressed (and in ritual recitation often
prolonged) nasalization which is the pronunciation of the anusviira (viz. T[l) in
the preceding syllable *huT[l. This could also account for the curious repetition
of syllable ma in the latter two versions; in either version the first syllable ma
could then be regarded as notation of this same pronunciation of anusviira in the
preceding syllable OT[l.
This interpretation would not allow the reading of myi-tra as mitra; the
syllable tra would have to be read separately or combined with the following
element swa-hii (* trii-sviihii?).
16. In this text the mantra itself is not quoted, but it is referred to with the
terms *{atj-anak{ara (cf. {atj-ak{an) and yi-ge-myi-btub-pa-drug; cf. R.A. Miller,
"Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit iili, kiili as Grammatical terms in Tibet." HJAS 26
(1966), pp. 141-143 (= repro in: Studies in the Grammatical Tradition in Tibet,
Amsterdam 1976, pp. 49-51); edition:]. Hackin, Formulaire sanscrit-tibitain du Xe
siecle, Paris 1924, cf. p. 23, 38, 81.
Note the different interpretation of this passage in A. R6na-Tas, Wiener vor-
lesungen ;cur Sprach- und Kulturgeschichte Tibets, Wien 1985 (= Wiener Studien zur
Tibetologie und Buddhismuskunde 13), p. 350 (viz. *s[v}ara anak{ara).
-17. It should be noted that the interpretation of (mar;i-) padme as ending
in a vocative case is already found in the well-known account of the 18th-cen-
tury Jesuit Ippolito Desideri's missionary activities in Tibet between 1716 and
1721, commonly called Relazione; cf. R.A. Miller, "Notes on the Relazione of
Ippolito Desideri, S.].," Monumenta Serica XXII:2 (1963), pp. 467-469.
18. The neuter gender is not common for padma, the final member of the
compound, but not unthinkable either.
19. The bahuvrfhi type of compound allows a variety of grammatical rela-
tions between the members internally; possible translations for a bahuvnhi mar;i-
padmii would be inter alia: "(woman) who has the lotus of the jewel" or
"(woman) who has the lotus with the jewel" or "(woman) who has the lotus in
the jewel" or "(woman) who has the lotus that is ajewel." Could it be that this
feminine compound noun mar;i-padmii refers to Prajiiii-piiramitii, the well-known
Mahayana concept of "transcendental wisdom," which is grammatically
feminine and, when personified, female?
II. Book Reviews
Buddhism Transformed: Religious Change in Sri Lanka, by Richard
Gombrich and Gananath Obeyesekere. Princeton: Princeton Uni-
versity Press, 1988, pp. xvi, 484.
Recent social scientific investigations ofTheravada practice in South
and Southeast Asian countries may have not only brought to the fore
interesting information about the character of "popular" Buddhism,
but also generated intriguing analyses of the contours, range and
roots of the religiosity this Buddhism encompasses. Since the Pali
textual corpus-the "Great Tradition" in sociological parlance-has
for generations been the mainstay of Theravada studies, there is
good reason to welcome these new focusings on the long neglected
"Little Tradition" -the symbolism, rituals and beliefs through which
the masses of people in Theravada countries project their religious
commitments on a daily basis. Yet it is difficult to view the many
social scientific analyses of "popular" Buddhism with equal
enthusiasm. Frequently informed by an insensitivity to the numin-
ous and a regrettable refusal to appreciate the richly diverse ways in
which it is apprehended or reified in human life, these analyses can
also be faulted for other, more specific, reasons. As they are, for the
most part the work of "outsiders," there is, for one thing, room to
doubt the adequacy of the empathetic understanding they incorpo-
rate (in particular, connections between Pali canonical positions and
living Theravada practice are often overlooked or misperceived
because of this), and for another, they are apt to encompass explana-
tions and assumptions that are on occasion questionable on logical
and inductive grounds. Besides, it is possible to recognize in them
some unthoughtful applications of those old categories in social sci-
entific studies of religious phenomena-taboo, black magic, white
magic and the like.
These are considerations that might usefully be borne in mind
in reading Buddhism Transformed, a notable investigation ofTheravada
practice in Sri Lanka which actually seeks to "describe, analyze and
interpret recent changes in the religious life of Sinhala Buddhists."
This book's factual content is for the most part interesting and
instructive, but many reservations are in order about the analyses it
offers. One could, in particular, impugn several details in its evalua-
tions of the place and spread of the worship of deities ("spirit reli-
gion") in Sri Lapkan Buddhist life, and also take issue with the
whole explanatory frame epitomised in the neologism "Protestant
Buddhism." It appears, moreover, that at some levels, sceptical
140 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
reductionism tends to assume new shapes here: the authors make
unmistakable moves to link meditation to possession, and also seek
to interpret. certain manifestations of religious observance and
prayer as obsessive-compulsive acts of neurotic origin. But, before
. developing these critical points further, it would be instructive to out-
line some salient features of the investigation Buddhism Transformed
Buddhist practice in Sri Lanka emerges here as an interestingly
multi-faceted phenomenon. Organized in four parts, each of which
embraces studies on several related topics, the book's initial elucida-
tions serve to place in focus the "new religious orientation" man-
ifested in the country. Traditional Sinh ala Buddhism (identified as
"the religion ofa rice growing peasant society," as is Theravada else-
where in Southeast Asia) was, according to the authors, "a system of
belief and action with a distinctive ethos." Though the basic struc-
ture of Buddhist soteriology is conceded to be still "intact" in Sri
Lanka, religious practice here, they maintain, has assumed new
characteristics under the impact of mainly social forces (among
which population growth is viewed as "the greatest single catalyst of
change"). Modernist tendencies innovatively (and conflatedly)
designated as "Protestant Buddhism" (encompassing protesting
reactions to political and cultural influences generated by Sri
Lanka's last colonial rulers, the Protestant Christian Britishers, and
also the putative imitative adoption of some of the stances of Protes-
tant Christianity itself on the part of Buddhist leaders) are rep-
resented as one complex element in these characteristics. The
authors recognize the other (which is no less so) in a range of devel-
opments in the "spirit religion" -the religiosity focused on deities
seen as flourishing and spreading especially among the less
privileged urban classes. These latter developments are held to entail
some radical departures from old traditions of belief and, more sig-
nificant, as tending to move Buddhism away from its rational and
humane foundations. Indeed, the book in large part is an attempt to
"characterize" this "Post-Protestant" phase in Buddhism: and its
title, "Buddhism Transformed," in turn appears to derive its raison
dJetre in some notable respects from a particular estimate of the
nature, roots and the spread ofthe religiousness projected in what is
seen as this newly emerged phase in Sri Lankan Buddhist practice.
How is this religiousness oriented? What are its inspiring con-
cerns? As is to be expected in a social scientific investigation, the
answers provided to these questions are very much predicated on
descriptive observations, and so cannot be adequately summarized.
However, the main points are clear: deeply penetrated by
devotionalism (bhakti) of Hindu inspiration, the recently evolved reli-
gion of the Sinhala people is not found to be "rational," and, sec-
ondly, actually to incorporate several departures from beliefs and
practices as traditionally understood. Evidence to support this con-
clusion is initially identified in the burgeoning "spirit religion"
associated with shrines located in and around Colombo. In Nawala,
Lunawa, Bellanwila and other such shrines, the religiousness in
vogue is shown to involve the worship and propitiation of deities on
the part of cult groups led by priests and priestesses who go into
trances or become possessed; "a roaring trade in black magic" is
what the authors observe, for instance, in the last place mentioned.
They also find much that is striking in the deities central to the new
religiousness, such as Huniyam and Kali. With demonic pasts, these
increasingly propitiated deities are invested by their believers with
greater capacities to help and this, it is argued, reflects the felt social
needs ofthe expanding underprivileged classes. The authors' view of
the way this religiousness centered on the worship of gods is trans-
forming traditional Buddhist belief is detailed in especially captivat-
ing terms in their account of the practices at Kataragama. The
devotionalism and expressions of cultic commitment that are seen
here are represented as rather strange developments whose roots are
for the most part more Hindu than Buddhist.
However, the transformation of Buddhism brought about
through "Protestant Buddhism" is depicted as no less far-reaching.
In fact, the authors equate its historical impact at one point to the
consequences of Emperor Asoka's missions to Sri Lanka. According
to them, "Protestant Buddhism" generated some characteristic
attitudes: it abandoned the irenic treatment of other religions tradi-
tional to Buddhism and adopted instead a polemical stance, was fun-
damentalist in outlook, held that Buddhism was not a religion, but a
philosophy, and depended on English-language concepts. They find
these characteristic attitudes epitomized in the Buddhism preached
or interpreted by a variety of Sri Lankan figures ranging from the
19th century monk-debater Gunananda to the late university
teacher of the sixties, K.N. Jayatilleke. Portrayed as a more recent
"extreme case" given to chauvinistic accountings of Buddhist
thought by Gombrich elsewhere (see Theravada Buddhism, A Social
History from Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo, London and New York,
1988, p. 196), J ayatilleke's attempt to see anticipations of positivism
and empiricism in the Buddha's teachings is here taken as a "Protes-
tant" stance (it is }nteresting to note that the impact of his controver-
sial interpretative positions on certain Sri Lankan academic exposi-
tions of Buddhist doctrine is duly observed in Paul Griffiths, On Being
142 ]IABS VOL. 13 NO.2
Mindless, Buddhist Meditation and the Mind-Body Problem, La Salle, Ill.,
1986, pp. 139-140). "Protestant Buddhism" in a paradigmatic sense
is identified in the life and work of Anagarika Dharmapala: a specifi-
cally Calvinist orientation is discerned in the social, moral and reli-
gious values he inculcated.
The creation or invention of tradition, it is again pointed out, is
yet another source of religious change witnessed in Sri Lanka. Bud-
dhism TranifOrmed documents and analyses what are taken as several
different manifestations of this notable phenomenon. Beginning with
the Buddhist model of social development fostered through the Sar-
vodoya movement, the authors analyze the recent attempt to give a
Buddhist orientation to the marriage ceremony, efforts directed
towards instituting a female Buddhist Order, the character of the
newly evolved temple ceremony, "Bodhi Puja," and the significance
of recent Sinhala myths created to Buddhicize the Kataragama tem-
ple complex. These interpretations generally serve to reinforce the
book's informing perspectives centered around "Protestant Bud-
dhism" and "spirit religion." For instance, the authors consider the
Sarvodoya movement to be "rooted in the Protestant Buddhism of
Dharmapala"; and "Bodhi Puja" is taken as an innovation which
"covers every contingency requiring white magic for which it has
been customary to use spirit religion." Not surprisingly, the same
perspectives also loom large in the analyses of representative Buddh-
ist leaders, from Ananda Maitreya to the so-called "Sun Buddha."
In the discussions of these and other charismatic personalities a
striking connection is made between meditation and possession: the
"enlightenment experience" of the "Sun Buddha," for example, is
likened to the "ecstatic trance of possession." And this, significantly,
. is a point the authors again broach in their concluding remarks-
training in meditation, they think, can lead to "trance states very
like possession."
Buddhism Traniformed shows in unmistakable terms the fascinat-
ing world of belief and commitment that Buddhist practice in Sri
Lanka currently embraces. Though very real, this is a world that is
almost wholly disregarded in the course of Pali doctrinal exposition.
Hence what is observed and described here retains both significance
and value. The authors' analyses must be recognized as significant,
too, for they incorporate some perspectives from which Theravada
practice in Sri Lanka is apt to be understood and judged in certain
scholarly circles. Yet, there is little reason to regard theseperspec-
tives as wholly valid or sufficient. On the contrary, there are several
contestable features in the ways in which what the book so readably
documents, tends finally to be understood and judged. Since social
scientific explanations of Buddhist practice in Sri Lanka have prolif-
erated over the years with little evidence of serious critical scrutiny,
it would be perhaps useful to draw some attention to these contesta-
ble features.
In a noteworthy (and still valid) cautionary observation, John
Stuart Mill, the pioneer methodologist of the social sciences,
emphasized that "social phenomena are those in which a plurality
of causes prevails in the utmost possible extent" (A System if Logic,
VI: 7:4). Yet it is questionable whether in their various interpretative
commentaries our authors (or for that matter most other inves-
tigators of the Theravada scene in South Asia) have always been
guided by a sufficiently scrupulous recognition ofthe heuristic prin-
ciple that is articulated here. Buddhism Traniformed, one might argue,
bears witness to several attempts at explaining complex religious
behaviours in rather simplistic terms, invariably invoking a narrow
range of causes (economic standing, class as determined by the lat-
ter, or personal health). This kind of accounting serves to reinforce
the view that religious belief is mainly a function of material condi-
tions, and as such it should no doubt warm the hearts of Marxists in
particular. But methodological considerations apart, there is reason
enough to question its adequacy if one recognizes that there is a
transcendent dimension to life, and is withal ready to make some
concessions to the "reality of the unseen" as grasped by religious
individuals, however depressed their worldly condition might be (cf.
W. James, Varieties if Religious Experience, New York, 1958, Lecture
This does not exhaust the methodological reservations that
could be entertained about this book It is also possible to impugn
its central thesis that Buddhism in Sri Lanka has oflate been "trans-
formed" on account of a burgeoning "spirit religion" (more on this
below), and a generalized "flight to the occult." Though the transfor-
mation is portrayed as a pervasive phenomenon ("radical shift" and
"sea change" are two of the more expressive phrases used to charac-
terize it), one may fairly ask whether things are really so: indigenous
observers of the Sri Lankan religious scene who share this assess-
ment in its entirety will be hard to find, and at all events, on a close
review of the evidence adduced, there is room to argue that what one
encounters here is in the main a vast generalization built on a
limited sampling of religious behaviours. Since the field work back-
ing this book's investigation is at many levels not recent, it should be
pointed out that as far as the younger Sri Lankans are concerned,
the dominant trend currently is perhaps towards secularism-a drift-
ing away from religious attachments of any kind, The violence
144 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
attending the country's still un contained insurgencies (which, sig-
nificantly, are now engulfing several areas with sacred sites, making
travel to them unsafe) might, for all we know, have engendered a
wider erosion of belief in supernaturalism focused on deities, creat-
ing a general atmosphere more suited to an acceptance of traditional
Theravada emphases on suffering (dukkha) and impermanence
(anicca) .
Again, a host of queries, both methodological and otherwise,
can be raised about "Protestant Buddhism." The authors of course
consider the "double meaning" they have given to it as a pointer to
its particular "utility," and it is adopted by other inquirers into
religious developments in Sri Lanka without the slightest hint of
reservation, let alone criticism (perhaps the latest testimony to this
is to be found in George D. Bond, The Buddhist Revival in Sri Lanka:
Religious Ti-adition, Reinterpretation and Response, Columbia, S.C., 1988).
Yet readers who are sensitive to the demands of inductive thinking,
and, afortiori, many Sri Lankan Buddhists, are likely to take a differ-
ent view of the neologism and its explanatory scope. Clearly, "Pro-
testant Buddhism" is a "label" under which a very wide range of
facts and considerations relating to the transformation of Buddhism
in Sri Lanka are identified and interpreted. But can all the
heterogeneous details highlighted in the process find equally sound
or cogent explanation within its framework? Not only is it possible to
entertain some serious doubts on this score, but one might even
argue that the ways in which "Protestant Buddhism" is applied or
invoked in the book's investigation does not reflect a meticulous con-
cern for an established requirement in valid a posteriori thinking and
inductive generalization, namely, that dissimilar phenomena must
not be resolved into or placed under one category. In this connection
one could, for instance, question the propriety of treating the efforts
of Sri Lankan academics to link Buddhist positions in philosophy
and logic to Western thought simply as a.manifestation of "Protes-
tant Buddhism." No doubt, the tones of polemical one-upmanship in
which Buddhism is related to other systems in some of their writings
(cf. K.N. Jayatilleke, Early Buddhist The07Y oj Knowledge, London,
1963; for a more recent instance see G. Dharmasiri, A Buddhist
Critique oj the Christian Concept oj God, Colombo, 1974) are in large
part better understood when the characteristic stances of "Protes-
tant Buddhism" are taken into account. But significant segments of
them also deserve to be viewed as contributions to long standing,
cross-culturally pursued exegetical and evaluative endeavours
associated with the advanced study ofPali Buddhism. Few are likely
to grudge that this is very much the case with Jayatilleke's book
Uayatilleke's researches into rebirth, though admittedly unsophisti-
cated, again merit consideration in larger perspectives: survival,
after all, is an issue in both empiricist philosophy and parapsychol-
ogy, and the case for it has come under scrutiny in the work of British
academic philosophers of the calibre ofC.D. Broad and H.H. Price).
There is, similarly, scant reason to regard positive estimations
of Buddhism accompanied by the view that Buddhism is not a mere
religion, but a philosophy with scientific emphases, as a peculiarly
"Protestant Buddhist" phenomenon localized in Sri Lanka. Many
whose thinking cannot be even remotely connected with "Protestant
Buddhism" (or even theosophy) have commented on Buddhism in
these as well as much more admiring terms, and what that points to
is Buddhism's appeal to people with a certain turn of mind, and also
an intrinsic feature in its doctrines. The idea that Buddhism is
unique and encompasses an insightful philosophic core, for instance,
is notably broached by Huxley (cf this reviewer's "Buddhism in
Huxley's Evolution and Ethics: A note on a Victorian Evaluation and
its Comparativist Dimension," Philosophy East and West, vol. 35,
1985). And in some of their comments on the system, the
philosophers Nietzsche and Schopenhauer sometimes went still
further than that eminent Victorian scientist-thinker. If more recent
testimonies to the same effect are needed, one could refer to the
evaluative stances in N.P. Jacobson's The Heart qf Buddhist Philosophy
(Carbondale, Ill., 1988) or S.C. Kolm's Le boheur libert! :Bouddhisme
pnifond et modernit! (Paris, 1984). Buddhism is viewed in this latter
study as a philosophy and a value system which can be used to
restructure modern civilization.
I t also can be argued that the use of "Protestant Buddhism" as
an explanatory frame entails other misperceptions andjudgments of
questionable historicity on the matter of influences in particular.
That Sri Lankan Buddhism in the British colonial era interacted
with Protestant Christianity is of course a fact (however, influence,
it is well to note in passing, was not one-sided: the ambient Sinhala
Buddhist culture has affected the Christianity practiced in Sri
Lanka, too, as evidenced by such things as the language of the
Sinhala Bible, modern church architecture and liturgy, and certain
customs of the converts to Christianity). Still, careful consideration
of the various details discussed under "Protestant Buddhism" allows
room to say that when invoked and used as an explanatory frame,
the concept is often distorting in that it (a) leads to an exaggeration
of the historical e;'Ctent of Protestant Christianity's formative influ-
ence over Buddhist developments in modern Sri Lanka and (b)
serves to deflect attention away from Theravada Buddhism's very
146 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
notable inner doctrinal resources to generate reformist criticism, sus-
tain meliorist social action, motivate lay religiosity, and generally
help further the processes of adaptive change. Recognizing parallels
is one thing; but ascribing causes is something else. The emphases of
Protestant Christianity are no doubt an instructive backdrop against
which the developments in the Sri Lankan Buddhist scene can be
clarified, especially to a Western readership. However, the extent to
which the two-in other words the Protestant emphases and Bud-
dhist developments-admit of being causally related is open to
debate because of some distinct considerations about Buddhisrri
which, surprisingly, are well-nigh ignored in this book. Those, put
baldly, are, on the one hand, the paradigmatically protestant nature
of the Buddha's message, which originated in reaction to Brahmani-
cal Hinduism and, on the other, the existence within its classic
sources of many critical viewpoints that can validate much that goes
with "protestant" religious behaviour. Indeed, given early Buddh-
ism's innovative critique of religion defined in terms of rites per-
formed by a priestly elite, its valuation of the vernacular in religious
instruction (it is a clear recognition in the Vinqya texts that the
Buddha's word should be studied "each in his own dialect"; cf. Cul-
lavagga, V:33) and, above all, its doctrinal insistence that as regards
spiritual liberation, each should "be a lamp unto himself," taking
refuge in "none but the Truth" (cf. Mahiiparinibbiina Suttanta, Dzgha
Nikqya, II: 100), the invocation of some parallel Christian positions
evolved several centuries later to explain or account for Buddhist
developments seems quite otiose.
It is in particular questionable whether it is really necessary to
go far afield to Christian Protestantism to elucidate the roots of
many characteristic stances in Dharmapala's reformist thinking:
quite in keeping with the "Principle of Parsimony" (to which social
scientific investigation of religion must needs defer), these can in
large part be traced to that widely accessible compendium of Bud-
dhist teachings Dharmapala must surely have read, namely, the
Dhammapada. Thus, his criticisms of monks, for instance, can be
directly related to several stanzas there which stress that many who
wear the yellow robe are not worthy of it since they lack moral and
religious virtues (cf. Dhammapada, stanzas 9,10; cf. 264, 266, 307). The
personal religiousness founded on discipline and focused on moral
practice that Dharmapala favoured is discussed in the Dhammapada
section devoted to the "Just or the Righteous" (Dhammatthavagga) ,
and could well have been an inspiration to him and others' after him.
Long available in Sinhala and English (and frequently cited in ser-
mons and the popular press),. the Dhammapada is in some ways the
"Bible" ofTheravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Its opening
statement that mind is focal to everything, and ordains and deter-
mines every condition (manopubbangamii dhammii manosetthii manomayii)
is indeed the probable source of much popular enthusiasm for medi-
tation and the associated view that Buddhism's core concern is the
mind, though this enthusiasm is also supported by purely Sinhala
sources such as the medieval Lovadasangariiva (verse 127), where
bhavanii (meditation) is projected as the best field of merit. Finally, if
one goes to the Nikiiya texts, even Dharmapala's economic meliorism
and associated social mores can be given a sure Theravadafooting:
the Buddha's discourses addressed to the "house father" Anathapin-
dika, for instance, as set forth in the Anguttara-Nikiiya carry explicit
references to the "Ariyan disciple" who, "with wealth acquired by
energetic striving, amassed by sweat, lawful, and lawfully gotten"
generates happiness for both himself and all around him (see Gradual
Sayings, trans. FL. Woodward, London, 1982, vol. II, p. 75 ff. and
"On Getting Rich," vol. III, p. 37ff.). That worldly self-improve-
ment, wise fiscal management and moral commitment are informing
considerations in the lives oflay Buddhists is clearly indicated here.
When viewed-In the light of canonical teachings and the discer-
nible theoretical underpinnings of modern Buddhist practice, the
interpretations in Buddhism Transformed can be said to incorporate
still other questionable positions. Evidently, the Weberian distinc-
tion between virtuoso religious specialists and ordinary people tends
to condition many of the authors' analyses of the roles of monks and
the laity. Yet it could be argued that the applicability of the above dis-
tinction to a Buddhist society is limited, for account must be taken
of the fact that Theravada thinking stresses the unity of Buddhist .
religious life through the inclusive notion of caturparisii (or the "four
assemblies," encompassing monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen; cf.
Gradual Savings, vol. I, pp. l6ff.). In this connection there is also good
reason to pay some attention to a point that Peter Mansfield (Divine
Revelation in Pali Buddhism, London, 1986, chap. I) has made recently:
it is a mistake to assume that the social division between monks and
laymen is also the spiritual division of the Buddhist world (the latter,
Mansfield rightly insists, is found in the distinction between savaka
and puthu)jana, those who actually pursue the Buddhist religious
way, and those who do not). Then again, anyone who is religiously
sensitive, and withal willing to extend some recognition to the
numinous, must be critical of the narrow perspectives from which
the newly emergeq. "Bodhi Puja" practice is considered in the book.
Once a modicum of empathetic understanding is brought to bear on
this practice, what is most characteristic in it should strike many as
148 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
a new endeavour to generate an anciently acknowledged form of
religious feeling best epitomised in the Pali term pasadasamvega (cf.
Mahavamsa, 1:3-4). To turn to some other matters, whether so criti-
cal a portrayal of the Sarvodaya movement as here provided is entirely
warranted is likewise open to question (the evaluations projected in
Bond, op. cit. chap. 7, on this score are sometimes more under-
standing, and merit perusal for balance). In any event, it is well to
remember that "profit, happiness and welfare of many-folk" being a
consideration that is aired rather frequently in Pali canonical texts
(and the Sri Lankan chronicles as well; cf. Dzpavamsa; 12:29 ...
"bahujanahitiiya . .. bahujanasukhiiya lokanukampiiya atthaya hitiiya
sukhiiya . .. "), it is possible to explain the inspiring principles of that
movement in traditional frames. Indeed, service-oriented social
activism on the part of Sri Lankan monks is increasingly justified
locally now through appeals to the above anciently articulated
Contestable views of a no less far reaching nature can be iden-
tified in the book's interpretations of the role played by gods and
meditation in Sinhala Buddhism. As regards the former, it must first
be pointed out that the position that Sinhala Buddhism confers
authority in the universe upon the "warrant gods" referred to in the
Mahavamsa, though axiomatic for the discussion here, will neverthe-
less not pass muster in wider thought frames: there is good reason to
argue that for this form of Buddhism even at the popular level (as for
Theravada Buddhism generally), dhamma, is the fount of authority in
the universe, gods being helpers and protectors of limited power
who function within the limits of the dhamma. That this was a par-
ticularly Sinhala recognition seems to be borne out by a poignant
remark carried in the latter part of the Mahavamsa, in the course of
its account of the destruction wrought by South Indian invaders of
Sri Lanka led by Magha (see Ciilavamsa, II, 80:55-56). There, it is
said that the deities entrusted with the protection of the island failed
to discharge their functions on that occasion because of the "various
evil deeds" of its people. As already indicated, it is possible to enter-
tain misgivings about the authors' estimate of the spread of "spirit
religion"; but it is equally important to point out that there is room
to wonder whether beliefs associated with gods that Sri Lankans
have come to embrace recently should be viewed as developments in
Buddhist practice that are entirely at odds with tradition. True, new
gods and new styles of devotion have evolved; but one must also
remember that belief in gods and spirits is as old as Buddhism itself,
as evidenced by the contents of such ancient Pali texts as the Petavat-
thu, Vimanavatthu and their commentaries (cf. M.M.]. Marasinghe,
Gods in Early Buddhism, Kelaniya, Sri Lanka, 1974; Mohan
Wijayaratana, Le culte des dieux chez les bouddhistes singhalais, Paris,
1987). In the Anguttara Nikiiya (see Gradual Sayings, vol. III, p. 37) the
Buddha himself seems to refer approvingly to oblations to spirits
(petas) and deities (devas) and even characterize the offering of such
oblations as duties of the successful lay disciple. Besides, though lit-
tle taken account of in this book, the propitiation of deities is very
much legitimized in contemporary Sri Lankan thinking as fan-
tikarma, in other words, religious exercises performed to ward off evil
and better one's material conditions (cf. W.S. Karaunatillake, "The
Religiousness of Buddhists in Sri Lanka Through Belief and Prac-
tice," in John Ross Carter, ed., Religiousness in Sri Lanka, Colombo,
1979, p. 19ff.).
To turn, finally, to meditation, the perspectives from which this
age-old concern of Buddhist (and indeed Eastern) religiosity are
approached here are likely to disappoint many, for they tend to
reflect (a) a scant regard for the possibilities of human spiritual
development and (b) a disinclination to extend even a passing recog-
nition to the fact that several sciences (psychology, physiology and
even clinical medicine) have studied meditational experiences and
actually amassed data that attest to the changes (both mental and
physical) that they often accompany (cf. C. Tart, Altered States if Con-
sciousness, New York, 1969; C. Naranjo and R.E. Ornstein, On the
Psychology Of Meditation, New York, 1971). The altogether striking
move made to link meditation and possession might make sense
within the perspectives adopted; but it appears to be a move that is
in great measure pivoted on a tacit (behaviouristic) presumption
that outer observation is an infallible guide to inner states, which
everyone cannot concede. Besides, given the widespread recognition
that there are several levels of meditational experience and training
(cf. Christmas Humphreys, Concentration and Meditation: A Manual if
Mind Development, Baltimore, 1973; J. Hamilton-Merritt, A Meditator's
Diary, New York, 1979), it is doubtful whether an attempt to reduc-
tively explain meditation as possession should be taken seriously in
the absence of clarifications as to the level of meditational achieve-
ment considered; in its analyses of charismatics in particular, the
book often treats meditation as a simple, undifferentiated phenome-
non. In any event, it is well to observe that the basic religious experi-
ences of the "Sun Buddha" reported and analysed here with several
references to Protestant Christianity, but little regard for the inner
springs and the pistorical manifestations of Buddhist spirituality,
seem actually to parallel those of Zen masters in some striking ways.
The setting and suddenness of his illumination,. and the very charac-
150 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
terization of the informing principle in his religiousness as a "know-
ing by seeing" (diikZma diin'ima in Sinhala) are very reminiscent of
satari in Zen Buddhism, with its extra-rational seeing into the nature
and essence of things (kenshO in Japanese, chien-hsing in Chinese), a
seeing that opens revolutionary new vistas within which "life
assumes a fresher, deeper, more satisfying aspect" (D.T. Suzuki, Zen
Buddhism, ed. by W. Barrett, New York, 1956, p. 83; cf. S.Park,
Buddhist Faith and Sudden Enlightenment, New York, 1984). Spiritually
illuminative processes juxtaposable with the above are not unknown
within the Theravada tradition itself: consider, for example, the
accession to "saving knowledge" (vimutti iianadassana) through an
acquisition of the "divine eye" (dibbacakkhu) as celebrated in some
verses of the Thera-Theri Gatha.
To sum up, Buddhism Transformed is a book that holds a mirror on
a rich variety of details relating to modern religious practice in Sri
Lanka, and can be said to exhibit both the strengths and the limita-
tions of social scientific investigations conducted on the "popular
Buddhism" ofTheravada societies. That the analyses provided could
be controversial among Sri Lankan Buddhists is of course acknow-
ledged by the authors themselves; but, as has been shown in the
foregoing, they are also vulnerable to certain technical and scholarly
criticisms. The emergence of new forms of belief and practice in Sri
Lanka's Buddhist milieu is a notable fact which merits study, and the
authors must indeed be commended for focusing attention on it in a
systematic manner. Still, few informed observers who review the
nature and diffusion of those innovations against a background of
the traditional emphases ofTheravada Buddhism are likely to go so
far as to conclude that Buddhism in Sri Lanka has oflate been trans-
formed by them or because of them: considered in this light, the
book's title seems hyperbolic. On the other hand, the authors' per-
ception that popular practices in Sri Lankan-Buddhism are often at
odds with the "rational and humane" spirit of canonical doctrines is
not without some validity. However, this is not a circumstance that
should unduly worry Buddhists (or, for that matter, puzzle students
of Buddhism) very much: that the "fear-stricken" are apt "betake
themselves to hills, woods, gardens, trees, and shrines" is an ancient
doctrinal recognition (underscored in Dhammapada stanzas 188-189)
which, significantly, also add that no such refuge is "safe or
supreme"), and going by the book's own accountings, it appears that
it is in the main people who are "fear-stricken" in various ways who
have come to embrace practices that display irrational and
superstitious characteristics. Besides, it is a further doctrinal recog-
nition that the receptivity to the dhamma on the part of people is
uneven and subject to change, and in any case, tolerance being an
important aspect of Buddhism, Buddhists are likely to view new
cults, however bizarre, with equanimity, as long as they do not con-
travene moral norms (szla).
Those students of Buddhism who bring to bear some philosophi-
cal perspectives on their study of the new manifestations of popular
practice in Sri Lanka have even less reason for feeling disturbed.
Insightful philosophers of religion, such as Hume, have long insisted
that given the facts of human nature, the reign of reason over religion
at the popular level in particular is and indeed has to be precariously
weak: the gulf between "precept and practice" observed in Sri
Lanka would, in Hume's thought, be just a projection of the natural
history of religion witnessed in all places and at all times. The ordi-
nary individual, he held, is not only little attuned to deal with the
abstruse principles of doctrinal religion, but is also prone to leave
them aside and evolve beliefs more suited to his or her own genius
and concrete concerns. Irrationality, no doubt, is a corrupting influ-
ence on religion; but reflective thinking will have to recognize that it
is an influence that cannot be shaken off altogether (in this connec-
tion it is well to remember that irrational cultic practices of many
sorts, including satanism accompanied by ritual sacrifices, persist
even in advanced Western societies). Taking due account of the prac-
tical realities encountered in religious life, Hume actually cautioned
against judging "the civility or wisdom of any people or even of
single persons, by the grossness or refinement of their theological
principles" ("Of the Standard of Taste," Essays Moral) Political and
Literary, Oxford, 1963, p. 253). However, notwithstanding its appar-
ent failure to pay attention to these and other considerations, Bud-
dhism Transformed, it is well to reiterate, remains a very readable and
factually instructive book. Though they deserve to be regarded in a
critical light for reasons indicated, even the explanatory frames it
uses to interpret the many new developments in Sri Lankan Bud-
dhist practice are not without meaning and value: they are certainly
a means of integrating those developments for purposes of study, and
also, after a manner, of accounting for their inner springs and
grounding causes.
Vijitha Rajapakse
152 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
The Emptiness if Emptiness: An Introduction to Early Indian Madhyamika,
by C.W. Huntington, Jr., with Geshe Namgyal Wangchen. Hon-
olulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1989. xvi + 276 pp. + bibliog-
raphy + index. $35.00 (cloth).
The Emptiness if Emptiness is the first complete annotated translation
into a Western language of one of the greatest classics of Indian
Buddhism, the Madhyamakavatara. It is accompanied by an extensive
and detailed introduction covering a wide range of relevant topics.
Given that the volume is itself in two parts (the introduction and the
translation), I have opted for dividing my discussion of the work
accordingly, though in reverse order.
The original Sanskrit is, of course, lost, though there surface
from time to time rumors of a Sanskrit original from Tibet now in
the hands of the Chinese. Huntington's annotated translation is
therefore based primarily on the Tibetan. It is clear from the' annota-
tions., however, that the author has scrupulously searched for, made
reference to, and cited the available Sanskrit fragments, a great vir-
tueofthe work. Huntington also has made extensive reference to the
Tibetan translation of the Bha.rya, Candrikirti's autocommentary to
the text, to a host of other relevant texts of Indian Buddhism, and to
a great deal of secondary source material, making his translation a
sound piece of philological research. The translation itself is excel-
lent. Anyone who has worked with Indian philosophical verse is
aware of the problems involved in the translation of such works.
Huntington's translation, however, makes the task seem straight-
forward. It is at once accurate and readable, a rare accomplishment.
Although one might quibble with the choice of some terms, e.g.,
"nondefinitive sense" for neyartha- "provisional" seems to me prefer-
able-his translation choices are for the most part clear-cut and at
times even insightful. One significant drawback is that the index to
the volume is essentially an index to the introduction alone, a great
impediment to the scholar who wishes to make reference to the
translation. This, however, does not detract from the quality of the
translation itself, which is unusually accessible, clear and accurate.
The introduction to the work is written in the same lucid prose
as the translation. I t is a bold undertaking in which the author dis-
cusses a wide variety of issues relevant to the study of Madhyamaka:
methodology, history, historiography, doctrinal context, soteriology
and the use of philosophical language. Given that the translation
was done under the guidance of an eminent Tibetan dge bshes of the
dGe lugs pa school, however, it is ironic that the main thrust of Hun-
tington's introduction should be so at odds with the dGe lugs pa
reading of the Madhyamaka. Huntington's reading of Candrakirti
has clearly been influenced by Wittgenstein, American pragmatists
(e.g., James) and neo-pragmatists (e.g., Rorty) and deconstruc-
tionists. A dGe lugs pa (and many of their Sa skya predecessors)
would take exception with much of what Huntington writes in his
introduction, and I would like to devote the remainder of this essay
to the task of pointing out what some of these differences are. My
aim here is not to demonstrate that Huntington's is a misreading of
Candrakirti, thought I do believe that there are evaluative criteria
that can be employed to decide questions of authorial intent. My
goal here is more modest. It is simply to show that there is at feast
one jnterpretation of Candrakirti that varies radically from the one
presented in the introduction to this work. Which comes closer to the
mark will be left up to the reader.
1. The influence of the deconstructionists on Huntington's
reading is perhaps more evident in his discussion of philosophical
views Early in the book (p. xii) he states:
Early Madhyamika explicitly claims to operate as a rejection, or
deconstruction, of all attempts to create a value-free, objective view
of truth or reality ... Ultimately, the Madhyamika's rejection of all
views is more the rejection of an attitude or way if thinking than the
rejection of any particular concept .... Accordingly, the significance of
the words and concepts used within the Madhyamika system derives
not from their supposed association with any objectively privileged
vocabulary supporting a particular view of truth or reality, but from
their special efficacy as instruments which may be applied in daily life
to the sole purpose of eradicating the suffering caused by clinging, .
antipathy, and the delusion of reified thought.
In Huntington's view, then, the Madhyamaka eschews all
philosophical views! and it rejects technical philosophical terminol-
ogy that has as its aim the setting forth of a normative and true:
philosophical viewpoint. Being a pragmatic philosophy for living a
truly free and non-clinging life, it has no need for such things. The
claim that all things are empty, for Huntington, is not a philosophi-
cal view but "the groundlessness of all experience" (p. 26). By main-
taining that emptiness is itself empty (hence the title) the
Madhyamika extricates him/herselffrom the foundationalist predi-
cament of having to justify a belief system through rational means.
The Madhyamika philosopher rejects our most fundamental empiri-
cal propositions and the matrix of rationality in which they are cast
as matters of strictly normative and ultimately groundless belief.
154 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
More specifically, according to the Madhyamika, concepts oflogic as
well as practical concepts dealing with empirical phenomena like cau-
sation, are all grounded in a particular way of life which is itself
groundless. Everyday experience is empty of a fixed substratum for
the justification of any type of kriowledge or belief, and precisely this
lack of justification-this being empty even of "emptiness"-is itself
the truth of the highest meaning. (p. 10)
The dGe lugs pas' view of the Madhyamaka finds such a posi-
tion anathema. According to them, though the ultimate task of the
Madhyamaka is indeed a pragmatic one, the elimination of an innate
(Tib. lhyan skyes) ignorance that reifies the self and the world into
something it is not, it also is viewed as a philosophical system in its
own right. As such, it functions to subvert faulty conceptual struc-
tures that are learned or acquired (kun brtags). 2 It deals with
philosophical terms and concepts, has beliefs, and advocates a
philosophical position.
Further, the elimination of philosophical
misconceptions and the acquisition of right view is seen as a neces-
sary stepping-stone to the elimination of innate ignorance. What
Huntington does, a dGe lugs pa would claim, is to conflate the
theory and practice of the Madhyamaka by making it seem as
. though the Madhyamaka is all practice. According to the dGe lugs
pas, the theoretical super-structure, with all the full-blown
philosophical accoutrements, though distinct from the practice, is
considered as a prerequisite to and is fulfilled in the practice, the
series of spiritual exercises that lead to the elimination of the subtle
innate ignorance that abides in the minds of all sentient beings.
Over and above this, however, the dGe lugs pas present a
plethora of philosophical objections to the view that the
Madhyamikas hold no philosophical position. For example, in his
sTong thun chen mo, the great dGe lugs pa exegete mKhas grub dGe
legs dpal bzang (1385-1438) states that the Prasangika
Madhyamika's claim to "be in accordance w i t ~ the world or with
worldly conventions" is not a repudiation ofthe use of philosophical
terminology, concepts or beliefs:
As for those who claim that (the Prasarigikas believe in being in
accordance with) those who are untrained in philosophy, they are
quite mistaken. This is because no one trained in philosophy could
possibly come to accept the majority of the technical ways Prasarigika
Madhyamikas use terminology ... '
I t is difficult to imagine how anyone who has read even a portion of
CandrakIrti's Prasannapadii could possibly doubt his commitment to
the rational and systematic justification of the philosophical truth of
the doctrine of emptiness. The fact that emptiness is itself empty is,
according to most Tibetan scholiasts, not meant to imply that it
requires no rational justification. Rather it is a corrective to those
who would reify the doctrine of emptiness into an independent
philosophical concept with no connections to the human predica-
Later in the sTong thun chen mo mKhas grub rje states:
What do we mean by saying that Prasangikas set forth the conven-
tional in accordance with the world? All ordinary beings and aryans
still in training have innate mundane minds, and following mere
names, they engage in effective action without analysis. Likewise, the
Prasangika Madhyamika sets forth the conventional following mere
words, without analysis. (But suppose one interprets "according with
worldly convention" to mean that) what worldly idiots who are ignor-
ant of tenets claim exists one should also claim to exist and what they
regard as non-existent one should also claim to not exist. If one takes
this as the meaning of "positing things in accordance with the world"
then one has gone far astray_ 5 .
Hence, from the dGe lugs pa perspective, the Madhyamika rejects
neither philosophical beliefs (tenets) nor the use of philosophical ter-
minology. ''According with worldly usage" does not oblige the
Madyamika to reject philosophical concepts and terminology in
favor of common parlance. It means, instead, that the Madhyamika
uses terminology with the awareness that, when subjected to an ulti-
mate analysis, - referents to such terms cannot be found.
Madhyamaka, therefore, is not a form of ordinary language
One of the most extensive refutations of the view that the Pra-
sangikas have no position of their own and that they only refute the
positions of their opponents through the use of reductio arguments,
neVer relying on positive syllogistic reasoning, is to be found in the
sTong thun chen mo.7 After laying out the opponent's position in great
detail (including purported proof-texts from the Vigraharyiivartanf,
Yukti-Fa-Ftikii, Madhyamakiivatiira, and Prasannapadii) ,
mKhas grub rje presents a series of arguments aimed at repudiating
such a view. Unfortunately, the discussion in the sTong thun chen mo is
too detailed and extensive to cite here. It behooves us, however, to
outline some of the more interesting portions of the text.
(a) His first argument is fairly straightforward. The belief in
no-beliefs is itself a belief. Hence, the opponents contradict them-
selves by holding a belief after all. Of course, the conundrum here
156 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
arises from the self-referential nature of the proposition.
(b) His second objection has as a presupposition the siddhiinta
schema, a systematization of all of Buddhist philosophy in which the
Prasangika school is posited as the "highest" school of tenets.
mKhas grub rje states that for someone who maintains that the Pra-
sangikas hold no philosophical position all notions of distinct
philosophical schools or traditions vanish, and gradations in
philosophical accuracy become impossible, leaving one with no
ground from which to evaluate other systems. This reduces one to
having no basis from which to claim that one's own view is the
superior one, that one's beliefs are the "ultimate purport" (dgongs pa
mthar thug pa) of the Buddha. In short, it leaves one a relativist. It is
possible that this consequence of the view that the Prasangikas hold
no philosophical position may not seem problematic to a modern
Western interpreter, but it was (and still is) considered devastating
by traditional scholars.
(c) In an interesting argument, mKhas grub rje asks his oppo-
nent what it is that makes Candraklrti a Prasangika. Is not one's
philosophical identity determined by the philosophical beliefs one
holds? Indeed, if one has no beliefs at all how can one even call one-
self a Buddhist? If it is enough that Candrak"irti argue against his
opponents and make certain claims for their sake, without believing
in any thinK himself, then, he says, "it follows, absurdly, that the
Conqueror Sakyamuni is a Cittamatrin because, though he does not
accept the tenets of the Cittamatran himself, when he taught the
SarlJdhinirmocana Siitra he accepted them merely for the sake of other
(d) If the Buddha, as a Prasangika, had no beliefs of his own,
then there is no point in reading scripture. There is neither a reason
nor a way to interpret it, and the entire Madhyamaka neyiirtha/
nftiirtha hermeneutic becomes pointless.
(e) Finally, mKhas grub rje states that there are a plethora of
passages (which he cites) in which both Nagarjuna and Candrakirti
make one-pointed philosophical claims, "'this is so,' 'this is not so,'
'this is correct,' 'this is not correct. '" Given that these quintessential
"Prasangikas" make such claims, is it not fitting to maintain that
they hold the views which they so vehemently assert?
I t is equally interesting that mKhas grub rje ascribes the follow-
ing motivation to those who believe that the Prasangikas accept no
philosophical position:
They think that the reasoning of the Prasaitgika Madhyamikas is
refuting everything. Then, once refuted, realizing that all those forms
of reasDning can be used to refute what they themselves accept, they
repudiate the fact that all the absurdities urged on others are applica-
ble to themselves. Should such absurdities be urged, being totally una-
ware of how to avert such arguments (when turned against them),
their one last hope is to say, "we accept nothing at all."g
Hence, for mKhas grub rje, the claim that there is no view is the
refuge of the intellectually feeble:
Those who are poor in intellect and fortune may not be able to under-
stand the system (ofCandraldrti), but at least they should not slander
it by saying that there is no such .rystem! To say "we do not accept any
system, whether Prasangika or Svatantrika Madhyamaka" clearly
identifies one as not being a Madhyamika. So do not take up such a
. contradictory system which prides itself on being the best among
philosophical schools.1O
2. A major difference between Huntington and the dGe lugs
pas occurs in the area of epistemology and logic. As we have seen
above, Huntington maintains that our ordinary experience is
groundless, that is cannot be justified epistemologically, and he
takes this to be the meaning of the Madhyamika claim that empti-
ness is itself empty. A dGe lugs pa would respond that "our most fun-
damental empirical propositions and the matrix of rationality in
which they are cast" are not at all groundless, for they find their
ground, their justification, in the conventionally valid knowledge of
the world (Jig rten pa'i that snyad pa'i tshadma), which, as we have seen
above, does allow for philosophical discourse.
The radical critique
set forth by the Madhyamika may mean that nothing will be found
when subjected to reasoning which analyzes the ultimate nature of
things (don dam dpyod byred kyi rigs pa), but this does not mean that
things are left groundless at the conventional level. At this level "our
most fundamental empirical propositions" are left intact and
philosophy is still possible.
Huntington also maintains that Candraklrti's refutation of the
svatantra is a repudiation of all syllogistic reasoning in general, leav-
ing Candraklrti with the reductio (prasanga) as his only logical tool:
The Prasangika maintained that this sort of syllogistic argumenta-
tion, even with the modifications introduced by Bhavaviveka, is inap-
propriate in the service of the concept of emptiness, for "emptiness"
is not to be sought after in the propositional structure of an inferential
judgment. According to the Prasallgika one must be led toward a
gradual realization of emptiness solely by means of a critique directed
at his own prejudices and presuppositions about so-called enlpirical
158 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
experience and the arguments either consciously or unconsciously
posited to support these preconceived ideas. (p. 34, my emphasis)
I have shown elsewhere
that in dGe lugs pa exegesis the refutation
of the svatantra is not viewed as a repudiation of logic in general.
Indeed, according to most Tibetan Madhyamikas, syllogistic reason-
ing is not only permissible but appropriate. The point being made in
the Bhavaviveka/ Candraklrti debate is, in part, that a full-blown
syllogism, especially one in which the trairiipya conditions are viewed
as inherent to the structure of logical inference, is not always neces-
sary. Hence, prasanga arguments are not the sale tool available to the
Prasarigika, though they are a tool, together with formal syllogistic
3. I have shown in the introduction to my translation of
mKhas grub rje's text, A Great Dose if Emptiness, that the dGe lugs
pas hold several claims to be corollaries of each other: (1) the
methodological claim that the Prasarigikas have no philosophical
view...,-relativism, (2) the epistemological claim that they repudiate
inference and syllogistic reasoning-skepticism, (3) the soteriologi-
cal claim that the proper method of Prasarigika meditation is to
empty the mind-quietism, and (4) the ontological claim that they
negate the existence of all phenomena-nihilism. All of these views
are considered by them to be related, and all are rejected as faulty.
Consistent with the dGe lugs pa analysis of these problematic areas,
Huntington at times also seems to subscribe to the fourth view by
taking the at face value (i.e., literally):
Most contemporary scholars believe that the term emptiness refers
neither to existence nor non-existence. (p. 18)
Contemporary dGe lugs pa scholars, however, do not hold to such a
position. It is precisely in response to someone who does that the fol-
lowing dialogue takes place in the sTong thun chen mo:
[mKhas grub rje:] By advocating that the sprout does not exist one is
advocating that it is non-existent. .. ,
[Opponent:] These are not in direct contradiction, for although the
Svataritrikas and all the lower schools understand reality in terms of
the law of excluded middle, in the Prasarigika system reality is not
understood in terms of the law of excluded middle. Hence there is
no fault.
[mKhas grub rje:] Then it would follow, absurdly, that (two things)
could never be in direct contradiction, that they could never mutually
each other, for (according to you) one is unable to understand
something to be non-existent by negating its existence .... Desist (in
claiming) that the Prasangika refutes the realist by relying on internal
contradiction. Moreover, it follows, absurdly, (from your views) that
there is no difference between right tenets and wrong ones, whether
they be Prasangika or realist tenets. This is because (for you) the
point expressed by a philosophical tenet can neither be disproved by
a valid cognition (prarniilJ-a) nor established by one.13
According to the dGe lugs pa interpretation of the the "exis-
tence'" that is repudiated must be qualified. It is "inherent exis-
tence" that the Madhyamika refutes, not existence in general. This
is how the dGe lugs pas manage to uphold the principle of the
excluded middle in their interpretation of the tetralemma. Later in
this same section of the sTong thun chen rno (pp. 107-108) mKhas grub
rje citesa variety of passages from Candraklrti in order to show how
Candraklrti himself distinguishes "between existence and inherent
existence," upholding the latter and rejecting the former.
For mKhas grub rje and the dGe lugs pas that follow him the
repudiation of existence is tantamount to nihilism:
Nowadays it seems that quite a few Madhyamikas also accept, as do
the realists, that if something is essenceless it must be non-existent.
However, the realists, being expert philosophers, accept that things
inherently exist without being nihilists in regard to karma and its
effects. The Madhyamikas of today, however, advocate that karma
and its effects do not exist, and yet these idiots consider theirs the
highest view! 14 .
4. Who were the Madhyamikas' opponents? From their works,
it is clear that they were varied, including non-Buddhists, and a host
of Buddhist schools such as the Abhidharmikas and Yogacaras.
Intuitively one might say that the Madhyamikas argue for their
beliefs against these different opponents, but for Huntington this
is not possible, since what the Madhyamikas are doing is not
philosophy. Instead, it is something more akin to therapy of the
Wittgensteinian kind:
I suggest that the Madhyamika philosophers can be best understood
by entirely disposing of the idea that they are presenting a series of
arguments against one set of claims and in favor of another .... Like
Wittgenstein and the pragmatists, with whom they have much in
common, the'Madhyamikas "keep trying to find ways of making anti-
philosophical points in nonphilosophicallanguage." (p. 10)
160 JIABS VOL. 13 NO.2
Now if the Madhyamikas are not philosophers who argue against
other philosophical traditions then what are they arguing against?
Huntington states:
The Madhyamika sets itself in opposition to a philosophical tradition
which was preoccupied with the search for more and more precise
technical terminology and had neglected the practical application of
philosophical theory ... (a tradition) that had severed theory from
practice. (p. xii, my insertion) 15
Hence, according to Huntington, since the Madhyamikas cannot be
arguing truth with fellow philosophers they must be urging scholas-
tics to practice. What a terribly poor picture this paints, however, of
the great Abhidharma and Yogacara masters! Was the Abhidharma
truly the dry scholasticism that Huntington implies it was? Was
Asanga merely twiddling his thumbs the twelve years he spent in the
cave? Isn't it both the kinder and the more accurate interpretation to
say that Nagarjuna and Candrakirti were not criticizing their oppo-
nents for their lack of practice, but for their faulty beliifS? This, how-
ever, is not an option for Huntington.
There are a number of other issues which, though important,
cannot be dealt with here due to restrictions on space. Among them
are Huntington's claim that the Madhyamika holds a non-referential
view of language (pp. 30-32), and his very Theravada vipassanii-
like interpretation of Madhyamaka meditation (pp. 35, 81-82),
both problematic. All this notwithstanding, I cannot sufficiently
emphasize that Huntington's introduction is a clear, well-written
and provocative piece of scholarship, additionally amazing given the
fact that he has been so heavily influenced by the French deconstruc-
. tionists!
That the views criticized by mKhas grub rje in the above pas-
sages correspond to many of Huntington's own views is in a sense a
tribute to Huntington. It implies, of course, that the views he holds
are views held by mKhas grub rje's opponents, great scholars in
their own right. Regardless of what position one takes on these
issues, it is a great virtue of Huntington's volume that he introduces
them in a lucid, straightforward and advocative style. If there is a
major drawback to his presentation it is only that he gives the reader
little clue as to the fact that there are living contemporary inter-
pretations of Candraklrti, traditional Tibetan readings of the
Madhyamaka, that are substantially at variance with his own views.
1. This position is further amplified on pp. 8, 10, 15, 27,47, 98, 106-8,
llO, etc. In many of these passages its connection to pragmatism is also further
2. On the distinction between these two forms of ignorance see TTC pp.
132-134; all references to the sTong thun chen mo (TTC) are to the Madhyamika
Text Series edition [New Delhi: Lha mkhar yongs 'dzin bstan pa rgyal mtshan,
3. For the dGe lugs pa interpretation of Madhyamaka passages (e.g.
from the Vigrahavyiivartanf) that seem to suggest otherwise, see my forthcoming
translation of mKhas grub rj e's sTong thun chen mo, A Great Dose of Emptiness [Al-
bany, N.Y.: SUNY Press].
4. TTCp.84.
5. TTC pp. 172-173.
6. Notice that this is different from claiming that Madhyamaka posits a
non-referential view oflanguage. Words, as long as they are used in accordance
with common usage, do have referents. The fact that under an ultimate analysis
those referents cannot be found does not mean that, within the realm of conven-
tions, the referents are non-existent. There is only one arena in which
philosophy can be undertaken, and that is the realm of worldly usage, but
philosophers are part of the world and technical philosophical terminology
does not fall outside of "worldly usage." Hence, the Prasangika Madhyamikas'
claim that the referents of terms cannot be found when a term or concept is sub-
jected to an ultimate analysis does not stand in the way of the philosophical
enterprise, or so a dGe lugs pa would argue.
7. SeeTTC pp. 296-311.
8. The argument goes on and is actually more complex than I make it
out to be here; see TTC pp. 296-7.
9. TTC p. 296.
10. TTC p. 302.
11. See note 6.
12. "The Prasangikas on Logic: Tibetan dGe lugs pa Exegesis on the
Question ofSvatantra," Journal of Indian Philosophy, vol. 15 (1988), pp. 55-62.
13. TTC pp. 98-99.
14. TTC p. 109.
15. See also his p. 17 for a similar remark.
Jose Ignacio Cabezon
Notice of The Buddhist Forum
A welcome recent addition to the rolls of periodicals concerned with
Buddhism is The Buddhist Forum, edited by Dr. Tadeusz Skorupski
and published under the auspices of the School of Oriental and Afri-
can Studies of the University of London. Volume I (1990) contains a
selection of SOAS seminar papers from the academic year 1987-88,
as follows: R.F. Gombrich, "Recovering the Buddha's Message,"
R.F. Gombrich, "How the Mahayana began," K.R. Norman, "Pali
Philology and the Study of Buddhism," A. Huxley, "How Buddhist
is Theravada Buddhist Law?" TH. Barrett, "'Kill the Patriarchs!'"
TH. Barrett, "Exploratory Observations on some Weeping Pil-
grims," and 1. Astley-Christiansen, "Images and Permutations of
Vajrasattva in the VajradhatumaI;H;l.ala." Subscription inquiries
should be directed to Dr. Tadeusz Skorupski, School of Oriental and
African Studies, University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell
Square, London WCIH, OXG, England.
Roger Jackson
VOl. 12, no.2
"Jhiina and Buddhist Scholasticism," by Martin Stuart-Fox
p. 98, last line: note 74 should be note 76. All subsequent endnote
numbers within the text (nos. 75-95) should be two higher than
TOt. 13, no. 1
p. 114, after endnote 18: The author of the review should be listed
here as Matthew Kapstein.
Prof. Robert L. Brown
Dept. of Art History
405 Hilgard Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90024-1417
Pr:of. Jose 1. Cabezon
Iliff School of Theology
2201 South University Ave.
Denver, CO 80210
Dr. David Jackson
62Jorino-cho, Ichijoji
Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606
Prof. Roger Jackson
Dept. of Religion
Carleton College
Northfield, MN 55057
Prof. John Newman
Dept. of Religion
New College of the
University of South Florida
Sarasota, FL
Dr. Vijitha Rajapakse
35950 Timberlane Dr.
Solon, OH 44139
Dr. PC. Verhagen
Kern Institute
Faculty of Letters
State University of Leiden
2300 RA Leiden