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Bodhipathapradīpa

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Bodhipathapradīpa is a Buddhist text composed in Sanskrit by the teacher Atisha and widely considered his magnum opus. The text reconciles the doctrines of many various Buddhist schools and philosophies, and is notable for the introduction of the three levels of spiritual aspiration: lesser, middling and superior. which in turn became the foundation for the Lam Rim (Stages of the Path) tradition.

The text was translated into Tibetan in language the title is rendered (Wylie) as Byang-chub lam-gyi sgron-ma.

Sanskrit text

The full Sanskrit text, prepared by Giuseppe Tucci (1894–1984) with diacritics is available here.


(The theory of the Path of Three Grades of PURUSA, as propounded by the Venerable ATISA after his arrival in Tibet (1042 AD) was an attempt to unify Mundane and Suramundane Dharmas, The Mahayana, The Theravada,The Exoteric and Esoteric teaching into one text entitled BODHI – PATHA – PRADIPA, which he

composed in Tibet. He share the same idea with the phyana teacher Venerable YAN-SHOU of the Yong-ming Monastery who combined all the methods of the Dhyana (Meditation), the Pravacana (Teaching) and the Sukhavati (Pure Land) with the Chan Sect and compiled THE MIRROR OF THE SECTS in 100 volumes for unification

of the Buddhist theories in the Han area in China. This comprehensive theory of the Venerable ATISA which may be considered as a summery of Indian Buddhism, opened up a new epoch for Buddhism in the Tibetan region and exerted a great influence over all the Buddhist sects established later in Tibet

particularly the Dge-lugs-pa (the Yellow Sect), which became the largest sect among all the others, and its first Patriarch, the Venerable Tson-kha-pa (1357-14719 A C), inherited and did his best to propagate this theory founded by Venerable ATISA. - This text is taken from the articles of Mr. Li Rongxi of China Buddhist Association of "ATISA : A historical Link between Bangladesh and China")

(Translated by Lama Chimpa and Alaka Chattopadhyaya)

In Indian Language it is called Bodhi-pradipa, in Tibetan Byan-chub-lam-gyi-sgron-ma.

Salutation to Bodhisattva Manjusri Kumarabhuta. On the request, of my good disciple Byan-chub-‘od. (Bodhi-prabha),I shall, after worshipping with profound respect all the Jinas of the three times along with their dharma and sangha, expound the Bodhi-patha-pradipa.

PURUSA is to be known as [belonging to either of the] three [types, viz] : Adhama (Inferior), Madhyama (Mediocre) and Uttama (Superior). The characteristics of each are very clear. Therefore, “I shall write the distinguishing features of each.” //1

By the Aadhama Purusa is to be known onewho, in one’s own interests, acts in every way for the worldly pleasure’s only (Samsara-sukha-matra). //2

One who, indifferent to the pleasures of birth (Bhava-sukha) and by nature opposed to sinful acts, works for one-self alone, is to be known as the Madhyama Purusa. //3

One who always wishes to remove all the sufferings of others by his won sufferings is the Uttama Purusa. //4

To the noble being (Pafama-pranij) whois desirous of the highest enlightenment (Uttama-bodhi), I shall explain the best means as preached by the teachers. //5

Offer flowers, incense, etc., whateveryou may obtain to the picture of the Samyak-sambuddha [[[Buddha]], the all perfect],the caitya and the scriptures. //6

Kneeling down and with folded hands,first repeat the sarana-gamana-s thrice. Until the final attainment of the essence of bodhi (Bodhi-sara), revere the tri-ratna-s with a mind that never turns back. Also perform the seven forms of worship as mentioned in the Samantabhadra-carya. //7 & //8

Then the first thing’ to do is, to establish empathy (Maitricitta) with all living beings, inclusive of the three kinds of beings with degraded births (Tri-durgati-jatarni) suffering from both birth and death, etc. Look at all living beings as suffering from miseries and arrive at the firmest determination (Citta-utpadana) to work with the resolution of never turning back (Anivitta-pratijita) for liberating all living beings from the miseries that are born of miseries. //9 & //10

The qualities of Pranidhana-citta-utpadanaare explained by Maitreyanatha in the sDon-po-bkod-pai-mdo. Read it or listen to it from the guru. Thus it should be known that the qualities of Sambodhi-cittaare unlimited. Therefore, practice this repeatedly. // 11 & 12

The punya of that (Bodhicitta) is well-explained in the Vira-datta-pariprechita-sutra etc...I shall write (about it) only in three brief verses. //13

If the punya of Bodhicitta had visible form (rupa), it would have filled the whole firmament (Aantariksa) and yet remain unexhausted. //14

The offerings of one, who, with folded hands bows down in mind to the Bodhicitta, being boundless, are far greater than those of one who fills the Buddha-ksetra-s, numbering as many as the grains of sand on the bank of the Ganges, with jewels offered to Lokanatha (The Buddha). // 15 & //16

After the Pranidhana-citta-utpadna for Bodhi,try always to increase it with great care. Preserve for remembrance even in the next life the siksa as explained (Yatha-ukta). //17

The perfect Pranidhana-citta-utpadana cannot be increased without having within oneself the vow (Samvara) of Avatara-citta-utpadana. Desirous of increasing the vow of perfect enlightenment (Sambodhi samvara), one must acquire it [i.e. the vow of Avatara-citta-utpadana] with great care. //18

One can always have the seven kinds of Pratimoksa samvara. However, without being (especially) fortunate one cannot have the vow of Bodhisattva. //19

As preached by the Tathagata, the glory (Sil) of Brahmacarya is the noblest of the seven kinds of Pratimoksa vows. That is intended to be the vow of the Bhiksu. //20

According to the principles (Vidhi) regarding the (Ten stages of saintly perfection of a Bodhisattva (Bodhisattvabhumi), as explained in the sila-adhyaya, one should receive the Samvara-s from a sad-guru with appropriate accomplishments (Samyak-laksanayukta). //21

One is to be known as the right guru who is with pure Samvara (in oneself), has full mastery over the rules of Samvara (Samvara-vidhi) and has kind forgiveness for those that are fallen from Samvara (Samvara-patita). //22

To those that have failed to find such a guru in spite of various efforts, I shall explain the principles of “taking the pure vow.” //23

As explained in the Manjusri-boddha-ksetralamkara-sutra, when in, the past, he was born as Amba Raja, Manjusri got initiated into the Bodhi-citta. This will be clearly noted down. //24

He (Manjusri) attained the supreme enlightenment (Samyaksambodhi citta) in the presence of the Nathas and invited all the living beings to the freedom from the cycle of births (Bhava-chakra). //25


From then on – until the attainment of the final enlightenment (Uttama-bodhi), never allow the mind to be polluted by ill-will,anger, miserliness and envy! //26

By the adherence to Brahmacharya and the Avoidance of sin and lust and by remaining content with the Sila-samvara, one follows the precepts of the Buddha. //27

Do not be anxious to attain quick enlightenment (Bodhi) for yourself. Live up to the end (of the samara) for the sake of, even a single living being. //28

Purify the boundless and unthinkable (number of) ksetra-s and live for (the emancipation of) each individual by name that exists in all the ten directions. //29

"Purify" all your actions, physical, oral and mental and never indulge in any sinful act (Akusala-karma). //30

By your own purified body-speech-mind, you will place yourself in the samvara of Avataracitta; you will thus have high reverence for the three Siksapada-s of Sila (Moral Courses) that you have acquired. //31

By that (viz., purification, etc. mentioned above) and by being careful of the pure Sambodhisattava-vow among (all) vows, one's enlightenments (Sam-bodhi-sangha) will be attained. //32

As shown by all Boddhas, the acquirement (Utpadana, literally production) of Abhijnana alone is the cause of the fulfillment of the essence (Svabhava) of all punya-s and all the jnams. //33

One without the power of Abhijnana cannot work for the sake of the living beings, just as a bird with unfledged wings cannot fly in the sky. //34

The punya that can be acquired by one with Abhijnana in only a day-and-night, can not be acquired by one without Abhijnana even in the one hundred lives. //35

One who wants to attain quickly the full perfection of supreme enlightenment can succeed not by idleness but by working hard with the help of Abhijnana. //36

Abhijnana cannot be attained without tranquility (Samatha), therefore, one should work again and again to reach Samatha. //37

One who loses even a single component of the state of tranquility (Samatha) cannot, even by hard meditation for thousands of years, reach Samadi. //38

Threfore, firmly adhere to the components (of Samatha) as explained in the chapter on the Samadi-varga. Whatever may be the object of your meditations, direct the mind always to, pubya. //39

Abhijnana cannot be attained without the Yoga-samatha state being accomplished, Without Prajna-paramita, Avarana cannot be dispelled. //40

Therefore, for fully abandoning the klesa-vrti and jneya-vrti, the jogi should constantly meditate on Prajna-paramita along with the upaya-s. //41

Prajna without upaya and upaya without Prajna are said to be unfree (lit. "tied" i.e. one by itself cannot act). Therefore, do not ignore any (of them). //42

For removing doubts as to whar is Prajna and what is upaya, it is necessary to distinguish clearly between Prajna and Upaya-s. //43

As said by the Jinas, except the Prana-paramita-s all the kusala-dharma-s like the dana-paramita-s etc. are the Upaya-s. //44

One quickly attains enlightenment (Bodhi) not by mere meditation on the void (nairatmya) but by (first) acquiring in one self the mastery of the Upaya-s (Upaya-abhyasa) and (then) by meditation on Prajna. //45

As it is well-explained (in the scriptures), Prajna is that knowledge which is the realisation of the intrinsic nature of the void (Svabhava-sunyata) of the Skandha-dhatu-s and of the ayatana-s being unborn (ajata). //46

That which exists by nature cannot come into being. Again that which is by nature non-existing is like the sky-flower. Both (alternatives), implying fallacy (dosa), both are unreal(literally, belong to the category of non-being). //47

Things (Bhava) can not be born neither of themselves, nor of both. These cannot be without cause either. Hence, they are by nature netureless (Svabhavena nith-svabhava). //48

Again, the nature of all things (dharm-s) examined either as unities or as compounds, cannot be determined. Therefore, it is certain that are void. //49

In the Sunyata-sadtati-vidya, Mula-madhyamaka, etc. the nature (Svabhava) of things is emphatically asserted to be void (Sunyata). //50

This text (if all these are explained here in details) will be voluminous. Therefore, (all these details) are not explained here. Only the doctrine (Siddhanta) already proved (Siddha) is clearly stated here for contemplation. //51

Therefore, the nature (Svabhava) of everything is unsupported (Analambana), literally, not proved by any pramana). So to meditate on the void (Nairatmya) is to mediate to prajna. 52

The nature (Svabhava) of everything, as seen by prajna, is invisible (i.e. prajna sees-no svabhava in anything). This prajna is demonstrated by logic. Therefore, meditate on prajna without any doubt (vikalpa, delusional thought). //53

This word (Bhava), among out of delusional thought (vikalpa) is itself delusional (vikalpatmaka). Therefore. Nirvana is the best because it is completely free from vikalpa. //54

As said by the Tathagata, vikalpa is the Great Ignorance (Maha-moha). It causes one to fall in the ocean of samsaras. (Therefore), be firm on the a-vikalpa samadhi (contemplation without any disturbing reflection), (which is) as pure as the akasa. //55

As said in the Nirvikalpa-avatara-dharani also, if the Jinaputra (Bodhi-sattva) takes hid stand on the Real Doctrine (Satyadharma) by meditating on the nirvikalpa, he will, by overcoming the difficult vikalpa-s gradually attain the nirvikalpa. //56

With the help of the scriptural instructions and logical thinking know it for certain that everything is non-born (ajata) and nature-less (a-svabhava). Then mediate on the (nirvikalpa). //57


Then, meditating thus, one can graduallyteach the stage of usna etc. and then move on to the stage of pramudita etc.After that, Buddhahood would be quite near. //58

If one wants easily (Sukhena)to complete the bodhi by the rites like santi and vistara with the power of spells(mantra) and also with the power of asta-siddhi resulting from the rites ofBhadra-kumbha etc., or, if one wants to follow the path of the Guhya-tantra byperforming the practices (kriya) and rites (carya) prescribed in the Tantras,then, for the sake of being properly initiated by the acarya, offer jewels etc.to him by way of serving him and please him by obeying him in every way. //59-61

When the guru, being fullypleaded, confers the initiation that purifies all sins, he [the initiate] becomesa fit receptacle for the siddhi-s. //62

The Brahmacari cannotreceive guhyajnana-abhiseka, for it is strongly prohibited in the Adi-buddha-mahatantra,//63

For the Brahmacari receivingthis initiation means the violation of the prohibitions and hence a fall fromthe tapas samvara. Such a vrati will suffer great sin (maha-pataka) and willcertainly fall among the low-born. He will never attain siddhi. //64 & 65

But there is nothing wrongabout that abhiseka for him who has lcirnt and can explain the Tantras, offersthe right kind of fire offerings, has received the proper initiation from hisguru and has the real understanding of all these. //66

The explanation ofbodhi-patha, based on sutra-s etc., is here presented in a condensed form byacarya Dipamkarasri to Bodhiprabha at his request. Here ends the Bohdi-patha-pradipaby maha-acarya Sri-Dipamkarajanana. Translated, revised, and established by theIndian acarya Dipamkara-sri-jnana and the Tibetan lo-tsa-ba bhiksu Subhamatimangalam.

Written by maha-acaryaSri-dipam-kara jnana. Translated by the same Indian pandita and the greatlo-tsa-ba Subhamati. This book is written in the Tho-in temple of Shan-shun.

    • Source : Souvenir of Celebration of one thousand & thirty three anniversary of ATISHA DIPANKARA SRIJANAN published by Bangladesh Heritage Foundation.

and special thanks to Mr. Ritan Kanti Barua, Religious Secretary at Bangladesh Bouddha Kristi Prachar Sangha.