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3. Kangyur and Tengyur

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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Aryabhumi or Bharat is one of the most ancient civilisations of Earth. It is a land of mythology, great Rishis and Munis. It is also the origin of many religions and philosophies as preached by Maharishis like Kapila, Kammad, Vyas, Mahavir etc. Gautama Buddha, born in 625 B.C. was also one of the great

teachers of the time. Of all the religions that have originated in India only Buddhism reached and flourished in Tibet for over 1465 years. King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet, introduced Buddhism from India to Tibet. He sent many young and bright Tibetans to study Buddhism, Sanskrit, Pali and other Indian

languages. This was the dawn of the Guru and Disciple relationship between Indian Archaryas and Tibetan students. However, most of the young Tibetans perished during the long, difficult and dangerous journey. Thonmi Sambhota was among the few who reached India to study at the feet of many learned

Acharyas. Thonmi Sambhota, on his return to Tibet, invented the Tibetan script on the basis of Gupta script and wrote grammar text with many features of Sanskrit. He also initiated the translation of some Buddhist texts and he is remembered as the first Lotsawa (translator) of Tibet. During the reign of the

three Dharma Rajas, Tibetan students continued to come to India and studied in the famous monastic universities of Nalanda, Vikramshila, Odantapuri, and Valabhi. Translation of the Buddha’s teachings, and works of great Indian pundits, although not well organized, continued for about a century; the corpus

of translated scriptures increased. King Trisong Detsen (755-797 A.D), invited the learned Shantarakshita of Nalanda University to Tibet followed by Padmasambhava from Swat Valley and Kamalashila from Nalanda. The famous Samye Vihara was built on the model of Odantapuri and established the translation

wing to reorganise the entire translation work. The King patronized the composition of the first Sanskrit-Tibetan dictionary called the Mahavyutpatti and made guidelines for translation and standardization of the Dharma translation. In proportion to its population, Tibetans had done the

largest volume of translation work of Buddhist literature for over six centuries. The munificence of titles speaks for itself. Kagyur: The Tibetan translation of Buddha’s words Kagyur, the translation of Buddha’s own words contained over 11 hundred titles. Most of the Kagyur editions have 108 big volumes of over 500 folios. The subjects of Kagyur are categorized under Vinaya, Prajnaparamita, Avatamsaka, Tantra, Dharami etc. Many of Archaryas and

Pandits were involved in such gargantuan efforts to translate and standardise works such as: Archarya Kusara, Brahman Shankar, Anu of Kashmir, Sheelamanzu of Nepal, Buddaguhay, Shantarakshita, Padmasambhava, Yogacharya Dharma Kirti, Kamalashila, Surendra Bodhi, Mimi Verma of India, Huashang Mahadevatse of


China etc. This was during the earlier propagation of Buddhism in Tibet. In the later propagation period, even more number of Archaryas like – Shrikar Verma, Dharmapa, Padma Gupta, Deepangkara Srigyana, Chandra Rahula, Gayadhara, Jeenagupta, etc. participated. A far greater number of Lotsawas (230+)

contributed to this work. They include: Thonmi Sambhota, Khache Ananda, Bha Yeshe Wanpo, Pagor Vairochana, Tsan Bandaraksheeta, Kavapaltseg, Lha Lama Yeshe-od, Lochen Rinchen Sangpo, Nagtso Tsultrim Gyalva, Marpa Choekyi Lodoe, Nyima Dorje, Buton Thamched Khenpa, Shalu Chokyong Sangpo and so on and so

forth. These most valuable heritages have been sincerely preserved in Tibet for many centuries. Tibetan refugees in India dream of handing over this back to the land of its origin, as a token of saying “Thank you India”. Tengyur: The translation of the works of Acharyas, Yogis and Pundits Tengyur is the

Tibetan translation of mainly the works of Buddhist scholars, Yogis and logicians in India over at least ten centuries. This consists of works of nearly 100 others, but the most prominent ones are the great scholars of Nalanda like Vikramashila, Odantapuri, Valabhi and Takshshila, Acharya Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Buddhapalita, Bhav-vivekar, Chandra Kirti, Shantideva, Shantarakshita, Kamalashila, Asanga, Vasubandhu, Dignaga, Dharmakirti,

Haribhadra, Atisha and so on so forth. Tangyur has 220 volumes and more than 3300 titles, which are categorized as Stotragan, Tantra, Prajnaparamita, Madhyamaka, Abhidharma, Vinaya, Jataka, Shabdavidya, Chikitsa Vidya, Niti Shastra etc. Since these all are in the Tibetan Language, only a very small

percentage of the world’s population can read them. Tibetans, Mongols and the Buddhist communities of the Himalayan regions can read them. Under the prevailing circumstances the Tibetans alone may not be able to preserve this precious treasure of mankind for many centuries to come. Tibetans, therefore wish to share the heritage with India, the land of its origin.




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