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The Bird-faced Monk and the Beginnings of the New Tantric Tradition: Part One

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The Bird-faced Monk and the Beginnings of the New Tantric Tradition: Part One*

Leonard W.J. van der Kuijp

Harvard University

Ter nagedachtenis van Tshe ring rgyal po (ca. 1961-2015), proud son of Gu ge.

rgyal po 'od kyi mtha' can dang //
dge slong bya'i gdong can gyis //
nga'i bstan pa rgyas par byed //

The king with the name ending in 'od and,
The monk with the face of a bird,
Will increase my Teaching.


In the late tenth and eleventh centuries, the expected friction of distance separating the Tibetan plateau and the Indian subcontinent was either suspended [a] by the conviction that the spread of Buddhism was a vehicle for good individual and shared karma, irrespective of the potential financial rewards, [b] by the promise of financial advantage and gain – the Buddhist dharma is indeed precious and can easily be made economically advantageous to those who possess it or to those who can convince others that they are in possession of its sacred and spiritually efficacious teachings and rituals -, or [c] by an agreeable combination of both. Whatever the suspension, its result was that a veritable avalanche of new, hitherto unknown works, all purporting to represent either the "enlightened word of the Buddha/buddha" (buddhavacana) or to have issued from the pen of bona fide and recognized Indian Buddhist masters, entered and spread over the Tibetan cultural landscape in new translations and/or in revisions of earlier ones.

A Tibetan Sanskrit scholar (lo ts? ba) who professed Buddhist beliefs – I do not know of any Tibetan Lo ts? ba-translators of Buddhist texts who were not recognized as being Buddhist by religious conviction - and his Indic/Newar/Kashmiri master-informant were usually responsible for crafting these translations that were done either in the northern reaches of the subcontinent, including Kashmir and the Kathmandu Valley, or somewhere in the Tibetan region. The more confident bilingual Tibetans and those Indic/Newar/Kashmiri masters who were tibétisant also managed to translate some of these texts by themselves without the assistance of a "native informant" – these translations are usually characterized as rang 'gyur. It was thus a time of wide-ranging literary and religious discoveries that were of such a sustained intensity as to have no parallel in the history of the world, let alone in the history of the Tibetan cultural area. It was a time that later Tibetan historians would call the subsequent propagation (phyi dar) of Buddhism ; the early propagation (snga dar), which began in the late eighth century, had come to an abrupt halt in the middle of the ninth century with the collapse of the Tibetan empire.

There is of course nothing wrong with a little religious enthusiasm, but it would be wrong to assume that the outright ebullience with which this flood of new and probably barely understood literature was greeted by a relatively small segment of the population had no serious social and intellectual downsides. The influx of a large number of different Buddhist religious texts of especially the tantric variety, one that proceeded in a rather haphazard way, created a series of problems that some felt needed urgent addressing. And, indeed, the few directives that we possess from the late tenth and eleventh century by the concerned powers – for these, see below – clearly suggest this. For one, this influx must have clouded the better judgment of a few to the extent that it prevented them from seeing that some of these writings might not be bona fide Buddhist texts at all, even if it may not be altogether clear what kind of criteria they might have used to distinguish what was and what was not authentically tantric Buddhist. There is a hint in the literature that at least one individual had simply asked those Indic and Nepalese individuals with whom he had come in contact on his travels whether such and such a work was actually considered Buddhist and that, when they had answered in the negative, he expunged these later from his list of authentic Buddhist writings. This was especially the case with the anonymous [or seemingly anonymous] texts that purported to be the word of the Buddha or buddha, and not necessarily those works men in search of a decent [or an indecent] livelihood had composed and propagated. Further, there was no central authority that could vouch for the "canonicity" of these

works, let alone one that was able to pass judgment on their authenticity and doctrinal integrity. The vulnerability of this situation was of course further exacerbated by the fact that, in contradistinction to Therav?da Buddhism, even "the very idea" of a canon in Mahayana [and Vajrayana] Buddhism seems to have been absent in the subcontinent. Why this should have been so is certainly worthy of sustained exploration. Further, the itinerancy of some of the South Asian men who had come to Tibet suggests that they were not associated with one or another religious institution such as a monastery. There do not seem to have been many voices that may have objected to the Vajrayana Budddhism or they had been effectively silenced long ago, and the scholarly practice of writing large-scale

and intricate commentaries, informed by a sizable "secondary" literature, suggestive of access to a decent library, already enjoyed a long and distinguished history when this form of Buddhist theory and practice was introduced to the Tibetan world. The "authenticity" of these works was not always clear and some were arguably only marginally "Buddhist" in inspiration or were purported to be so by those who carried them into the Tibetan area or by those Tibetans who had acquired copies of these works in the subcontinent. Needless to say, this situation easily lent itself to abuse by unscrupulous individuals, both from the subcontinent as well as native Tibetans, who initiated and led a number of popular cults in the tenth to twelfth centuries after which they either were discredited by the prevailing religious establishment and thus died a natural death, or were stripped from their obvious problematic parts and silently incorporated into a form of 'orthodox' religious practice. The lo ts? ba-translator Rin chen bzang po, this bird-faced son of Mnga' ris, may very well have been the very first individual in Tibetan religious history to essay to bring some form of 'orthodoxy' and structure in Vajray?na praxis and its textual foundations.

Born in 958 in Zhang zhung, in Mnga' ris, in the far western region of Tibet, Rin chen bzang po was one of the great Tibetan bilingual masters, who was active during this period. His life spanned almost a hundred years and thus coincided with the very inception of this movement, this great on-going experiment in which a large and vibrant portion of one culture was transferred to another, this renaissance that, taking its cues from what had transpired in the Tibetan empire during the late eighth and first half of the ninth century, was to change forever the religious landscape of the Tibetan cultural area and beyond. Rin chen bzang po himself had been among the handful of young West Tibetan men whom King Khri lde srong gtsug btsan (947-1019/24), ruler of the wealthy area of Gu ge in Mnga' ris, had handpicked in circa 974 to pursue the study of Sanskrit and Buddhism in general. In order that they accomplish this idea of his, the king

had provided them with the necessary financial support and sent them to Kashmir and other areas of the Indian subcontinent. Himself a born-again Buddhist, the depth of the king's religious conviction ultimately motivated him to abandon the secular life and take full monastic vows in 989. At this point, he adopted the name in religion of Ye shes 'od. Owing to the fact that he was a scion of Tibet's royal family and even if perhaps more of an honorary than an actual guru-teacher, his name is prefixed by lha bla ma, where lha indicates his royal family background and bla ma, that is, guru, points to him being regarded as a teacher. While he abdicated his rule over Gu ge in favor of his elder brother Khri dpal 'khor lde, who now added Gu ge to his original domain of Pu hrang, his pursuit of the religious life of a layman and then as a monk did not mean that he had become fully ineffectual where social and political policies were concerned. Indeed, his biography which Gu ge Pa? chen Grags pa rgyal mtshan (1415-1486) completed in 1480 is replete with quotations of passages from his bka'

shog-directives and edicts in which he can be seen to promote the rule of secular law with definite underpinnings of Buddhist canon law. We can be sure that these official documents must have carried some weight owing to his continued high social status in addition to having the moral authority of a man of religion. The fact that he embodied in himself a combination of the secular and the religious indeed made him a powerful force for cultural change.
We do not have much information about the development of Buddhism in Mnga' ris before the advent of Lha bla ma, not to mention other forms of religious practices and worship. Indeed, there are still a large number of unclarities about what exactly transpired upon the dissolution of the Tibetan empire that must have taken place after the assassination of its last ruler Khri dar ma 'u dum btsan (d. ?842), alias Glang dar ma. Not unproblematically, the tradition asserts that he had two sons, 'Od srung[s] and Yum brtan, whose descendants ruled, respectively, over the vast area that later came to be known as Mnga' ris and

Central Tibet. Especially with respect to Yum brtan, a strange name if there ever were one, the veracity of this tradition has come to be questioned in recent years, most notably by G. Hazod. Indeed, he and the lines of his descent are not always as clear as one would like them to be and Nor brang O rgyan has done us a great service by detailing the main differences in the accounts from a variety of historical sources that were available to him. In the interest of economy, I follow the information provided on this line by the circa 1200 chronicle of Lde'u Jo sras and the circa 1270 chronicle of Mkhas pa Lde'u, for, even when they diverge in many places, they contain extremely detailed genealogies of both branches of the family. We can deduce from the presence of many Uyghur and Tibetan Buddhist names in religion in the genealogical tables of the Mongol imperial families that, during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, Buddhism had become quite influential in the uppermost echelons of Mongol society – after all, Qubilai Qa?an's (1215-1294) first son was given the Tibetan name

Rdo rje! And we witness the very same changes in the onomasticon of names of indivduals that belong to the various the lines of descent of the royal houses of Mnga' ris. But this may not apply to Lha bla ma, because most sources suggest that he was self-ordained and thus had given himself a name of religion. Referred to as self- or masterless ordination, the sv?ma?/svayambh?tva or an?c?ryaka upasampad? is rather well known from the Vinaya literature and, for example, Vasubandhu also referred to it in his Abhidharmako?abh??ya, as is taking the Bodhisattva vow by oneself, in the ?r?m?l?si?han?das?tra and the Bodhisattvabh?mi on which basis one may become a member of the Mahayana religious community. On the other hand, Gu ge Pa? chen has a verse that first states, it seems uniquely, that Lha bla ma had received his ordination from a certain Gnas brtan 'Dul 'dzin Gzhon nu 'od concerning whom he writes :

lhag pa'i tshul khrims ngur miga gos kyis slubsb //
lung rtogs yid bzhin rin chen nor bus brgyan //
thub dbang bstan pa'i rgyal mtshan dpal 'bar ba'i //
gnas brtan 'dul 'dzin gzhon nu 'od de mchod //

a Read: smrig. b Read: bklubs.

Bedecked with the saffron attire of superior ethics,
Ornamented with the wishfulfilling gem of scripture and understanding
With the radiant lustre of the victory banner of the powerful sage's teaching,
Homage to the Elder 'Dul 'dzin Gzhon nu 'od!

But he then writes immediately following this verse that Lha bla ma had received his ordination from a Ku ma ra bha ?a, that is, Kum?rabhadra "in the earth-female-ox year [989]." Of course, "Kum?rabhadra" reflects Tibetan "Gzhon nu bzang po" and not "Gzhon nu 'od," which would be "*Kum?raprabha." The close homophony of the two Sanskrit names is probably to blame for the confusion and it is not clear whether this Gzhon nu 'od or Kum?rabhadra was an ethnic Tibetan. Whatever the case may have been, his presence would indicate that the area was not entirely bereft of Buddhist institutions prior to their resurgence under Lha bla ma's leadership. But there is no question that Lha bla ma was the first scion of the royal family that issued from 'Od srungs to adopt a recognizably name

in religion. What also needs to be recognized is that the Gnas brtan was evidently not part of the tradition of the Stod 'dul, the Western Vinaya, or what D. Martin has called the "Highland Vinaya," for he does not appear in its line of transmission that was outlined by Zhing mo che ba Byang chub seng ge (12thc.). In fact, the first person Zhing mo che ba mentioned in this line is a certain Dharmap?la whom Lha bla ma had invited to Mtho gling, the monastery in Gu ge that he had founded in 996. Whether Dharmap?la's arrival coincided more or less with the date of the foundation of this institution is not altogether clear.
Lha bla ma's contemporary, Tsha la na Ye shes rgyal mtshan was a fifth generation descendant of Yum brtan and must be identified as Mnga' bdag Lha Ye shes rgyal mtshan - the prefix Mnga' bdag implies that he was in charge of a domain. In fact, he was a ruler of sorts of Bsam yas monastery and its environs. Mnga' bdag Lha Ye shes rgyal mtshan was an important translator from Sanskrit in his own right and, among other texts, almost single handedly introduced the so-called Ye shes [*Jñ?na] traditions of Guhyasam?jatantra exegesis and practice that ultimately issued from Buddhasr?jñ?na (ca. 800) and his followers into Tibet's religious history. Lde'u Jo sras [LDE'U1A-B] and Mkhas pa Lde'u [LDE'U2] give the lines of descent of Tsha la na Ye shes rgyal mtshan from Yum brtan as follows:


Khri Lde mgon smyon Mgon spyod Khri Lde mgon snyan

Nyi 'od dpal mgon Nyi 'od Nyi 'od dpal mgon
Mgon spyod Dpal gyi mgon Mgon spyod

Tsha la [r]na Ye shes rgyal mtshan Tsha la na… Tsha la na…
[the eldest of his four sons was:]

Mnga' bdag Khri pa Khri pa Mgon ne

We encounter additional variations in the chronicle of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism the authorship of which is attributed to Nyang ral Nyi ma 'od zer (1124-1192). Whatever the problems with this attribution, Nyang ral states that Yum brtan's descendants settled in the Bsam yas and Lcang rgyab areas, and gives the following line :

Khri lde mgon po [two sons]

Rig pa mgon po Nyi 'od dpal mgon

Khri lde Mgon spyod

'Od po Tsha la na Ye shes rgyal mtshan
[three sons] [[[four sons]]]

A tsa ra Mgon po btsan Mgon brtsegs

It is clear that the "Ye shes rgyal mtshan" component of his name Tsha la na Ye shes rgyal mtshan is certainly a name in religion, although I have yet to find any information concerning how he may have received it. Tsha la na translated a number of texts with Kamalagupta and I think he must be the same Kamalagupta with whom Rin chen bzang po had worked on some of his translations. Provided that he was not a profligate monk with loose vows, then, if he were a monk, he most probably received his vows after he had fathered his four sons. Alternatively, his name in religion may have its origin in him having taken his layman's vows, the ceremony of which is also accompanied by the recipient being given a name in religion.

It is striking that Rin chen bzang po's parents and siblings all had Buddhist names and he himself was apparently given his novitiate by Legs pa bzang po at the age of twelve, that is, in 970, at which time he received his name in religion. These items also indicate that at a minimum a semblance of Buddhism was very much present in West Tibet prior to Lha bla ma's awakening to the faith, an idea that was also underscored by, to name but a few, Nor brang O rgyan, R. Vitali, and the regretted Gu ge Tshe ring rgyal po in their studies, as well as in sources that have only quite recently turned up. Nonetheless, we should be cognizant of the fact that Nyang ral, Lde'u Jo sras, and Mkhas pa Lde'u state in unison that the "flame of the Buddhist teaching" was lit by Lha bla ma, the ruler of Pu hrang, Khri lde mgon btsan of Dbu ru, that is, Central Tibet, and Tsha la na of Bsam yas.

1. Rin chen bzang po: His Biographies and Oeuvre

It is of course unfortunate that Rin chen bzang po's biography by his disciple Khyi thang pa Ye shes dpal (11thc.), alias Jñ?na?r?, is so far the most authoritative study of his life that is available. I write "unfortunate," because Khyi thang pa's work in whatever version, and there are several, regrettably falls ever so short on so many fronts that one is almost inclined to question whether it was in fact written by one of Rin chen bzang po's disciples or, to put it somewhat differently and less radically, by one who was a well informed disciple and actually interested in the life of his teacher! While it does contain, to be sure, a number of interesting anecdotes and some valuable information on Rin chen bzang po as well as a number of rather precious lexemes of the local dialect, it is remarkably reticent about the important dates of his subject's life, it is extremely quiet as far as the prodigious output of his translations

is concerned, it says nothing about Rin chen bzang po as a physician, and it has nothing to say about the master's own compositions. True, he does refer to a much larger (rgyas pa) biography, which apparently contained additional information on Rin chen bzang po's training and education, but it has not come down to us so far. What exacerbates the problems with this biography is that it has been transmitted in several different versions that are of different length.
Zhang Changhong recently edited this surprisingly difficult work on the basis of several recensions and also furnished an integral Chinese rendition that must be judged to be a considerable improvement of the earlier English translation by the pioneers D.L. Snellgrove and T. Skorupski. A recent publication included two versions of Khyi thang pa's study plus two other, later, retyped pieces on his life; these are :

1. Skyes mchog rin chen bzang po'i rnam thar ngo mtshar
By Khyi thang pa
2. Lo tstsha ba rin chen bzang po'i 'khrungs rab[s] rnam thar 'bring po ka dpyad pa rin chen sgron me
By Blo gros don yod (?15thc.)
3. Lo tstsha ba chen po skyes mchog rin chen bzang po'i rnam thar dka' spyad sgron ma
By Khyi thang pa
4. Lo chen rin chen bzang po rnam par thar pa bsdus pa

An additional biography is the following:

5. Lo tstsha ba chen po rin chen bzang po'i rnam thar dad ldan dge 'phel
By Blo bzang bzod pa (1922-1995)

A somewhat long piece on Rin chen bzang po's life and disciples is found Nyang ral's chronicle where we are told that Lha bla ma had gathered twenty-one young boys from all over Mnga' ris and, having given them the necessary funding, dispatched them to the subcontinent in order to invite to Gu ge some learned Buddhist intellectuals, including Pa??ita Dharmap?la from the east and Rin chen sde [*Ratnasena] from Kashmir. Of the twenty-one, nineteen ultimately succumbed to the unfamiliar heat and illness. Not so Rin chen bzang po and Pu hrang Legs pa'i shes rab, who became respectively known as the senior (lo chen) and junior

translator (lo chung). Rin chen bzang po spent a good number of years in Kashmir and returned to his homeland a very learned man with an excellent knowledge of Sanskrit. The result was that he and his disciples soon stood at the very heart of the aforementioned Buddhist renaissance and the course that Buddhism was to take in Tibet is quite unthinkable without them. Nyang ral also stated that Rin chen bzang po had translated the so-called Stod 'grel in the Kathmandu Valley, but he appears to have confused Rin chen bzang po, who never sojourned in the Valley, with Ati?a who did. The Stod 'grel or Commentary on the First Part is none other than the first part (stod!) or the dum bu dang po, of ?nandagarbha's (?8thc.) massive *Tattv?lokak?ri commentary on the Tattvasa?graha-s?tra/tantra,

the basic yogatantra scripture, that was translated by Rin chen bzang po. In a brilliant article, R. Vitali has given a detailed account of the mask of Mah?k?la that flew after him from the Indian subcontinent to the Tibetan area; additional material on this mask and Rin chen bzang po's connection can now be found in A mes zhabs' 1624 study of Sa skya Pa??ita Kun dga' rgyal mtshan's (1182-1251) work on instrumental and vocal music, the Rol mo'i bstan bcos. And some two hundred and fifty years after Nyang ral's capsule biography, Chos dbang grags pa (1404-1469), like Rin chen bzang po a native of Zhang zhung, composed a versified biography of his life, which D. Martin recently studied in consummate detail. In addition, Bu ston Rin chen grub's (1290-1364) and A mes zhabs' chronicles on the origins and development of the yogatantra literature of respectively 1342 and 1637 contain fairly substantial narratives of his life. And finally, we should also mention here Rme ru Tshe ring don grub's very recent general survey of Rin chen bzang po and his activities.

The various listings of the large and varied corpus of his translations point to the obvious, namely, that he was among the most versatile and prolific Tibetan scholar-translators who were active in the late tenth and first half of the eleventh century. But we have to be a tad more careful. It now appears that, while he is credited with translating these for the very first time, it turns out that this may not be factual at all. For example, there has hardly been any question that he was the author of the translation of the Guhyasam?jatantra that is attributed to him and his counterpart ?raddh?karavarman in all the

published xylographed and manuscripts Kanjur-canons. But as we will see in Part Two of this essay, this may not have been the case. Of course, judging from the listings of his translations, it is clear that he mainly focused his linguistic skills on making tantric literature available in Tibetan translation. However, at the same time, he also made a name for himself in the area of Indian medicine. His circa 1015 translations of V?gbha?a's (7thc.) A??a?gah?dayasa?hita together with the auto-commentary and Candranandana's (9thc.) large commentary, together with several of his disciples who had studied Indian medicine with him assured him an important place in the history of Indo-Tibetan medicine as one of the founders of a very important tradition of medical knowledge in Tibet. But

these translations, too, may have had a partial precedent. In his so far undated history of the Tibetan medicine, Zur mkhar ba Blo gros rgyal po (1509-?1579) writes that the quartet of Pa??ita Dharma?r?varman, Nye bor Lo ts? ba Dbyig gi rin chen, Mar lo/po Rig pa gzhon nu, and Dbyig gu Dge slong Sh?kya blo gros had rendered the A??a?gah?dayasa?hita and its autocommentary into Tibetan during the early part of Lha bla ma's life. So far, no other sources known to me have anything to report about these men and Dbyig gi rin chen, for one, is not registered in any of the available listings of Lo ts? ba-translators. This translation appears to be no longer extant, but the recent and ongoing publication of medical texts from inter alia the enormous collection of the Potala

libraries may very well prove this to be false. Zur mkhar ba then states that Rin chen bzang po had offered the Kashmirian Pa??ita J?randhara the rather princely sum of some one hundred srang-measures of gold to aid in the translation of these works plus Candranandana's commentary. These translations then formed the nucleus of a medical tradition that was further developed by the so-called "four physicians from Pu hrang," whereby a certain Mang mo Sman btsun appears to have been the most influential of this quartet. Finally, and not unimportantly, Vitali mentions that Rin chen bzang po had been involved in the translation and dissemination of a work that Pho brang Byang chub 'od (984-1078) had retrieved from Bsam yas monastery. This work was partly written in Zhang zhung, the language of his native birthplace, and was a so-called treasure-text (gter ma) that was associated with the Old (rnying ma) Tantras! This is not as insignificant as it sounds, because striking in his survey of tantric literature that will be discussed below and in Part Two is the utter absence of any tantras that demonstrably solely belong to the Old Tradition.

In stark contrast to his fame as a Sanskrit scholar and translator, Rin chen bzang po had been up to the present almost unknown as an author in his own right. Indeed, it was only quite recently that manuscripts of several of short studies on tantric subjects that are attributed to him were discovered in one of 'Bras spungs monastery's libraries; these included the following :

1. Dpal mngon par rtogs pa'i dka' ba'i gnas bshad pa with glosses (mchan bu) that may have been written by him; fols. 13.
2. [B]sgrub pa'i thabs mdor byas pa with glosses; the editors queried: "Were the glosses written by Lo chen Rin chen bzang po?"; fols. 8.
3. Yo ga'i rab gnas; fols. 16.
4. Dam tshig mdor bsdus bstan pa; fols. 8.
5. Dpal 'khor lo bde mchog l? yi pa'i bstod pa yid bzhin nor bu; fols. 2.

Several of these plus two others that are not listed here have now been published in black-and-white facsimile reproductions; these are the following according to their title pages, opening statements, or colophons:

1. Dpal 'khor lo bde mchog l? yi pa'i bstod pa yid bzhin nor bu; fols. 2.
2. Rab tu gnas par byed pa don gsal; fols. 2.
3. Dpal mngon par rtogs pa'i dka' ba'i gnas bshad pa lo ts? ba rin chen bzang pos mdzad pa; fols. 13.
4. Cho ga bya tshul; fol. 1.
5. Bde ba can gyi smon lam; fols. 3.

To be sure, "Rin chen bzang po" is by no means an uncommon Tibetan name in religion, so that authorial attributions can be a tricky thing. Of these, nos. 1, 3, and 5 are prefixed by Lo tstsha ba or Lo ts? ba and this would perhaps render it more likely that he was in fact their author or that, at a minimum, since these are all copies and not autographs, at least someone in the tradition had ascribed them to him. No. 3 is actually a work he co-authored with Ati?a, and Kano Kazuo ???? and Kawasaki Kazuhiro ???? have recently made a study of it. It must be said that none of these works are especially noteworthy in terms of

their content. With the exception of no. 2 [= no. 1], which is a eulogy to according to the transmission of L?yip?da, they are all expository and tend to discuss their subject in a fairly introductory fashion. However, they do allow us a glimpse into his authorship. We do not know the true extent of his oeuvre, but it is for this reason that the recent recovery of his expository survey of tantra is of great im-portance for our understanding of the inculturation of Buddhist tantra in Tibet. Titled Rgyud sde spyi'i rnam par bzhag pa 'thad ldan lung gi rgyan gyis spras pa, An Exposition of Tantric Literature Embellished by an Ornament of Correct Scripture, a manuscript of this work in seventy-eight folios is registered in a recently published catalog of rare [and not so rare] works that are housed in the library of 'Phan po Na lendra monastery, which Rong ston Sh?kya rgyal mtshan (1367-1449) had founded in 1436. It also made a cameo appearance in a note in Kano's and Kawasaki's excellent study of one of Rin chen bzang po's later works, the Dpal mngon par rtogs pa'i dka' ba'i gnas bshad pa. It is too bad that the only text of this work that was available to me for the present essay is a typed, computer-input text and not a facsimile

reproduction of the original manuscript. In addition to the usual text-critical issues with which one is confronted when reading a manuscript, it is thus fraught with the possibilities of additional misreadings and mis-typed text, not to mention the tacit orthographic sanitation to which the manuscript no doubt has been subjected. Giving it a cursory reading, we notice that its topical outline (sa bcad) is quite detailed. In fact, in terms of its complexity, it goes well beyond the ones that we have for the writings of, say, 'Gos Lo ts? ba I Khug pa Lhas btsas,

whose name in religion may have been Byang chub rtse mo, Rong zom Chos kyi bzang po (11thc.), or Rngog Lo ts? ba Blo ldan shes rab (ca.1059-ca.1109). This may not be insignificant when we begin to look more closely into the question of its authorship. Without giving a source for this, W. Verrill recently put forward the idea that an "exposition of tantric lit-erature" (*rgyud sde spyi'i rnam bzhag) was attributed to 'Gos Lo ts? ba I. The basic title of Rin chen bzang po's work is of course quite reminiscent of the title of the short piece on tantra and the literature associated with it by the early Sa skya pa yogi-scholar Sa chen Kun dga' snying po (1092-1158), the Rgyud sde spyi'i rnam gzhag chung ngu, and the Rgyud sde spyi'i rnam par bzhag pa of his eldest son Slob dpon Bsod nams rtse mo (1142-1182), to which I will return severally below. Thus, if this treatise were in-deed by Rin chen bzang po, then it is the very first work of its kind in the history of Buddhism and I feel it is a privilege to be able to introduce it to a wider audience.
Its colophon and afterword are a bit perplexing; we read :

sgra bsgyur gyi lo ts? ba chen po rin chen bzang pos mar yul du sbyar ba'o // dge slong bzang po'i mtha' can gyis sbyar ba'o // // gang mo grub pa dpal bzang gis sbyar ba yin / rgyud las /

rang rig rtogs pa sangs rgyas te //
ma rtogs 'khor ba'i gzhi rtsa can //
de phyir rang rig rtogs byas la //
'khor ba'i gzhi rtsa gcad par bya //

zhes gsungs so // [note: ri brgyad ni / shar du rin po che'i lhun po // byang du ma?ya ra ljang khu / nub tu ke la sha dkar po / lho ru ma la ya ser po / dbang ldan du dbang chen nag po / mer spos ngad ldan ser po / bden bral du gangs can dkar po / rlung du dpal gyi ri sngon po // dge'o // // gcig zhus // //]

…written in Mar yul by the great Lo ts? ba Rin chen bzang po who translates. Written by the monk whose name has the ending of bzang po. Written by Gang mo Grub pa dpal bzang [po]. It is stated in the tantra: :

Non-referential realization is enlightenment;
Non-realization has the foundational root of samsara.
Thus, when one has created non-referential realization,
One will have cut the foundational root of samsara.

[Note: The eight mountains: the Heap of Jewels in the east, the green Ma?ya ra in the north, the white Kelasha [= Kailash] in the west, the yellow Malaya in the south, the black *Mahendra in the north-east (dbang ldan), the yellow *Gandham?dana in the Fire [= ?south-east], the White Snowy in the south-west (bden bral), the blue *?r?parvata in the Air [= ?north-west]. Happiness. Corrected once.]

Aside from the problem of the identity of the tantra, these lines raise at least two questions, the first of which is: Who is Gang mo Grub pa dpal bzang [po]? The answer is that I have found not one source in which a name with a prefixed toponym or clan name Gang mo occurs. However, the name in religion Grub pa dpal bzang po (?-1237) is famously associated with Zhang Lo ts? ba, who figures not only as a disciple of Nyang ral and the Kashmirian ??kya?r?bhadra (1127-1225) and as a translator, often together with Ratnarak?ita of Patan, Nepal, but also as the exponent of the so-called Bde mchog snyan rgyud precepts. His short

biographies by Rba'i ban de [= the monk of the Rba/Sba clan] Dha ra shr? and one that is not signed do not make any mention of gang mo or that he ever wrote anything remotely resembling a survey of Buddhist tantra. For now, this must therefore be judged a dead end. The second question is: Where do we find the names of these eight mountains? Well, some of these are quite enigmatic and I have found no parallel passages for this enumeration. And this is another dead end! There is much else in the body of this work that is quite interesting if on occasion somewhat puzzling. This has to do with its quotations of many sources

that are not found in the collections of canonical literature as well as with its quotations of sources that are found in the literature but which have quite different readings than their canonical counterparts. A problem already begins with Rin chen bzang po's very first quotation of a verse that was apparently taken from a work with the title Dpal brtul shugs [read: zhugs] grub pa [*?r?vratasiddhi]. He cites it in connection with seven factors that would propagandistically indicate the superiority of Buddhist over non-Buddhist precepts; the verse has it that:

lta ba skyabs gnas mchod pa dang //
spyod pa 'bras bu grub pa'i mtha' //
dam chos la sogs bdun gyis ni //
sangs rgyas chos rnams khyad par 'phags //

The view, place of refuge, worship and,
Pratice, result, philosophical system,
The holy religion, etc., due to the seven,
The Buddha's precepts are quite superior.

It is quite reasonable to suppose that this quotation might be found in one of the two famous Praises of the Buddha and his teachings written by Udbha?asiddhasv?min (?) or in their commentaries by Prajñ?varman (ca. 790), or even in the discussions of the su-periority of Budhist tantra over exoteric Mahayana Buddhism in such tracts as Tri-pi?akam?l?'s (?mid 10thc.) apparently fairly widely read *Trinayaprad?pa or in Jñ?na?r?'s (early 11thc.) *Vajray?n?ntadvayanir?kara?a, works that are so far only available in Tibetan translations. Unfortunately, it is not. What is more, I have found neither the title of this work nor the wording of the quotation in the other main sources that I have used for this essay. That is to say, the relevant treatises of the Slob dpon, Bu ston, Klong

chen Rab 'byams pa (1309-1364), and 'Ba' ra ba Rgyal mtshan dpal bzang po (1310-1391), to name but four early expositors of tantra and its literature, do not cite this verse in their discussions of Buddhist tantra, and neither does Klong chen in his other writings nor Kun dga' snying po (1575-1634), alias T?ran?tha, in his oeuvre, both of which are now searchable courtesy of One should perhaps also add the great Sa skya commentator Gtsang Byams pa Rdo rje rgyal mtshan's (1424-1498) Rnam par bshad pa'i chu rgyun log par smra ba'i dri ma 'khrud byed of 1479 in which is embedded his lengthy defense of the Slob dpon's work against earlier criticism in inter alia a work in Pa? chen Phyogs las rnam rgyal's (1376-1451) massive De kho na nyid kyi 'dus pa en-cyclopedia and Mkhas grub Dge legs dpal bzang po's (1385-1438) circa 1425 Hevajra-tantra commentary, as well as Glo bo Mkhan chen Bsod nams lhun grub's (1456-1532) undated partial study of the Slob dpon's treatise.

Commenting on this verse, an unknown glossator of Rin chen bzang po's text – he probably was a member of the Old Tradition persuasion- cites Padmasambhava (8thc.) to the effect that he had spoken of one hundred and seventy different non-Buddhist points of view and also relates that a Master Snang grags had isolated three hundred and sixty-two of them. In my ignorance, and I stand to be corrected, I believe that the Man ngag lta ba'i phreng ba is the only work on different philosophical-cum-religious points of view (lta ba) that is generally attributed to Padmasambhava. That said, it does not contain the aforementioned enumeration. Further, I would be in-clined to hold that the name "Snang grags" was either miswritten in the manuscript or misread by the typist, and that it should be amended to "Snang bral," that is "*Bh?viveka/*Bhavivikta," one of the many names the Tibetan tradition has used to des-ignate Bh?viveka (6thc.). This would mean that the number of non-Buddhist positions should be amended to three hundred and sixty-three – numeral 2 may have been mis-read for 3 -, which is the number that occurs in his Tarkajv?l? as well as in the Madh-yamakaratnaprad?pa that, by the by, has been [quite wrongly] attributed to him and was written by a much later namesake. Both works are only extant in the Tibetan transla-tions by Ati?a and his disciple Nag tsho Lo ts? ba Tshul khrims rgyal ba (1011/2-ca.1070), although the first was already partly rendered into Tibetan by the beginning of the ninth century.

Now it is generally recognized that the Man ngag lta ba'i phreng ba is beholden to the two opening verses of the thirteenth chapter of the famous [or infamous] *Guhyagarbha[tattvavini?caya]tantra – we also find these two used in the tenth chap-ter of the cognate Gsang ba snying po nges pa'i bla ma chen po [*Guhyagarbhavini?ca-yamah?gurutantra - and the same holds quite expressly for Ka? thog pa Dam pa bde gshegs' (1122-1192) Theg pa spyi bcings in its discussion of different points of view. The Old School writer Rog bande Shes rab 'od (1166-1244) does not cite the

Man ngag lta ba'i phreng ba in his intellectual history of Buddhism in which lies embedded a de-fense of Old School thought, but there is hardly any question that he modeled his work after the said passage from the Guhyagarbhatantra. The searchable collected oeuvre of Klong chen, again courtesy of, elicits two instances where he cited the Man ngag lta ba'i phreng ba, even though neither occur in the context of Klong chen's reflec-tions on the non-Buddhist philosophical systems.
Finally, the figure of three hundred and sixty-two non-Buddhist points of view occurs in the Anuyoga-tantra of the Mdo dgongs 'dus, LX: 7, where we read the follow-ing :

log par rtog 'di ya mtshan can //
brgya phrag gsum dang drug cu gnyis //
nyi shu 'am sde bco lnga gnyis //
tha dad du ma du mar snang //

This misconception, which is amazing,
Appears in many different guises,
Three hundred and sixty-two,
In twenty or fifteen categories.

At one point, Rin chen bzang po discusses the idea of the three types of intelligent compassion and cites Bodhicittavivara?a, 3, for the one that is focusd on the Buddhist religion (chos la dmigs pa) :

snying rjes brlan pa'i sems kyis ni //
'bad pas bsgom pa bya ba yin //
thugs rje'i bdag nyid sangs rgyas kyis //
byang chub sems ni rtag tu bsgom //

One should cultivate with effort,
With an attitude that is moistened by compassion,
The resolve to become buddha, which was constantly cultivated,
By the Buddha, who embodied enlightened compassion.

The available record shows that this verse quite unambiguously belongs to the transla-tion of the text by the Indian Gun?akara[s?ri?bhadra] and his Tibetan counterpart Lo tsa? ba Rab [tu] zhi [ba'i] bshes gnyen of circa 1070 or, if not, then to its revised version of circa 1100 that was undertaken by the Indian Kan?akavarman and Lo tsa? ba Pa tshab Nyi ma grags. Of course there is the off chance that Rin chen bzang po had translated this work himself, but it does raise some concern in terms of its date and the correctness of its authorial attribution. For now, and unless there is credible evidence that the situa-tion is

otherwise, I will provisionally assume that Rin chen bzang po was indeed its au-thor. However, if this were indeed the case, then it needs to be pointed out that the only time that I have found a fragment from it cited in the sources used for the present essay is in a late sixteenth century work. In what follows, then, I will briefly discuss the envi-ronment in which the Rgyud sde spyi'i rnam par bzhag pa may have taken shape. Part Two will discuss in detail the fragment from this work that deals with the meaning of tantra - Sog bzlog pa Blo gros rgyal mtshan (1552-1624) cited it in one of his early works - and will also includean appendix which contains a title-list of the works that he sub-sumes under each of the four main classes of tantric literature that are so well known and had become standard.

II. Some Classifications of Tantric Literature

In addition to the frantic pace at which Buddhist texts from the subcontinent, in-cluding the Kathmandu Valley, were translated into Tibetan, the era of the works and days of Rin chen bzang po and those associated with him was one in which there also seems to have taken place a rediscovery of sorts of the Tibetan translations of Indic eso-teric and exoteric Buddhist texts that had been done during the late eighth and ninth centuries, together with re-enactments of the

practices associated with these. In particu-lar, the introduction of the body of esoteric literature and its associated practices, uncon-trolled, immensely varied, and haphazard in the extreme as it was, seems to have caused a great deal of bewilderment among the Tibetan Buddhist intellectual elite of the time, such as this was, and resulted in deep shifts and fissures in the contemporary religious status quo, such as that was. The main source for this bewilderment was that each of these very different works identified itself or was identified by one or another authority, recognized or otherwise, as having either emanated from an enlightened source such as the historical Buddha or from one of several exponents of the enlightening experience that is buddha such as Vajradhara,

Vajrap??i, Samantabhadra, etc., or as having been written or inspired by a qualified authority. Earlier translations as well as later ones that had hitherto not been part of the corpus of "acceptable" works or that had not been available in the western regions of the Tibetan cultural area were raising some concern, if not alarm, since their contents, and the practices that devolved from them, seemed to run counter to what had been more or less familiar territory or what had been consid-ered normative. The contents and the practices in question mainly had to do with those that were found in the great-yogatantras (mah?yogatantra) and in the more re-cent corpus of the so-called highest-yogatantras (niruttarayogatantra), specifically those of the so-called yogi?? variety,

which, as can be shown, grew out of redefinitions of the tenor of the great-yogatantras and the probably more recent category of the supreme-yogatantras (yogottaratantra, rnal 'byor bla ma'i rgyud). These classifications, re-classifications, and the privileging of one practice-system over the other that ensued in the course of the ever-growing body of tantric literature had no doubt as much to do with the politics of religion as with its corollary, namely, with competing interests in the religion market place.

Unlike some of his contemporaries, Rin chen bzang po did not countenance the rubric of great-yogatantra, for he recognizes only the four of ritual-(kriy?-), conduct-(cary?-), yoga- and highest-yogatantra. He thus went counter to the view maintained by ?raddh?karavarman, one of his earliest and main teachers and co-translators, who at one time had maintained four basic categories, namely, ritual-, conduct-, yoga- and great-yogatantras. In a rewarding essay, G. Orofina cites ?raddh?karavarman's some-what polemical *Niruttarayogatantr?rth?vat?rasa?graha where he isolated two sub-classes of the great-yogatantras, a natural

(rang bzhin) and a nominal one (btags pa). The first is so identified on the basis of two verses from the Guhyasam?jottaratantra, 34-35, verses to which we will return in Part Two. The second is divided into the two kinds of the yoga-means-tantra (rnal 'byor thabs kyi rgyud, *-up?yatantra) and the yoga-discriminative insight-tantra (rnal 'byor shes rab gyi rgyud, *-prajñ?tantra). These are then further subdivided into supreme-yogatantras and highest-yogatantras as well as in-to a wisdom-tantra (rig pa'i rgyud, *vidy?tantra) and fundamental-tantra (rtsa ba'i rgyud, *m?latantra). Unfortunately, unlike his brief descriptions of the Ritual-, Con-duct-, and Yogatantras, ?raddh?karavarman does not align any actual titles of the rele-vant tantras to his analsysis of those works he considered to be great-yogatantras.

Now Rin chen bzang po does not confront any of the other positions on tantra's typology, let alone the ones ?raddh?karavarman had proffered. But he does explain at some length the reasoning behind his fourfold classification under the following five ru-brics with the relevant textual sources :

1. In accord with the time of their origination, the four aeons; citing the [Dpal 'khor lo sdom pa'i rgyud kyi rgyal po] Dur khrod [kyi rgyan] rmad du byung ba'i rgyud [*Adbhuta?ama??n?la?k?ratantra]:

bskal pa rdzogs ldan gsum gnyis dang //
rtsod ldan dus bzhi rim pa yis //
rgyud kyang rnam pa bzhir gsungs te //
bya spyod rnal 'byor bla med do //

The *Satya-, the Treta-, the Dvapara-, and,
The Kali-aeon, due to the four successive tempora,
Tantra, too, was pronounced four-fold,
Ritual, practice, yoga, highest.

Part of the so-called Ra li corpus of thirty-two tantras that are connected with the Cakrasamvaratantra, this work is available in the translation of Gay?dhara and 'Brog mi Lo ts? ba Sh?kya ye shes (ca.995-1075). In the early 1320s, Bu ston expressed a very positive opinion about this corpus, stating in the catalog portion of his famous chronicle that it was wrong to hold that these were written by Tibetans, since Gay?dhara had ex-plained their Sanskrit texts to 'Brog mi

Lo ts? ba and Gnyos Lo ts? ba Yon tan grags. However, he later began to harbor serious doubts about its overall authenticity, and the final word in his general survey was that while these had earlier been controversial, some were authentic tantras. And he writes that the authenticity of the others appears to be quite open to doubt and that this should be further looked into. Rin chen dpal bzang po (1403-1479), who is better known by the name of Ratna gling pa, cites a simi-lar passage from the Dpal phreng dam pa'i rgyud in his important chronicle of Bud-dhism-cum-defense of the Old School, which he wrote over a period of eight years, from 1458 to 1466.
2. In accord with those who are to be disciplined, the four caste-types (rigs, *var?a) of individuals; citing the Dpal bde mchog sbyangs pa rol pa:

bya ba bram ze gtsang dang bstun //
spyod pa rje [rje'u] rigs bde [de] bas [nas] lhag //
rnal 'byor rgyal po 'khor tshogs mang //
gzhi [bzhi] dmangs gdod nas grol ba ste //
gzhan du su la'ang ma bstan par //
mdzes pa [ma] khyod la bstan pa yin //

Ritual, the brahmin [[[caste]]], accords with purification,
Conduct, the mercantile caste, is better than that,
Yoga, the king (rgyal po) and the many hosts of the entourage (= rgyal rigs, *k?atriyavar?a).
The fourth, the people at large (dmangs, ?udra[var?a]), is being free from the beginning.
Not at all taught to anyone else,
Oh, beautiful lady, it was taught to you.

Bu ston quotes these lines from what he describes as the alleged (zer) Dpal bde mchog sbyangs pa rol pa, albeit with the much better readings that I have provided in brackets and which I follow in my translation. Verrill also translated this passage from Bu ston's text. Aside from the fact that he renders the title Dpal bde mchog sbyangs pa rol pa by "the short Cakrasamvara…Tantra," which is incorrect, not to mention that these lines are not found in that tantra, he also omitted to signal that Bu ston closes this quotation by writing "…one should investigate whether the aforesaid explanation [or text] is or is not false" (…bshad zer rdzun ma yin min brtag go //). Klong chen cites this very same verse, albeit from what he calls the Bde mchog rol pa'i rgyud and with one variant, gzhi rmongs for gzhi dmangs, in his work on the philosophical systems (grub mtha'). And he cites the very same passage from the very same work in his Ngal gso skor gsum gyi spyi don legs bshad rgya mtsho and Sngags kyi spyi don/bcings tshangs dbyangs 'brug sgra. But there the reading in both is gzhi dmangs! And this goes to show once again that when reading Tibetan texts we must consult every possible witness!

3. In accord with the four types of individuals who engage in them; he cites these lines from a work he does not identify but which turns out to be the Rdo rje gur [Vajrapañjara, XIII: 6]:

dman pa rnams la bya ba'i rgyud //
bya med spyod pa de bas lhag //
sems can mchog la rnal 'byor rgyud //
rnal 'byor bla med de lhag pa'o //

Ritual-tantra for the inferiors,
Conduct without ritual is superior to that,
Supreme yoga is for supreme sentient beings,
Highest yoga is beyond that.

4. In accord with the four kinds of cupidity-attachment as the sites that need to be purified; he cites the Brtag gnyis [= Hevajratantra]:

lta dang dgod dang lag bcangs dang //
'khyud dang gnyis spyad la sogs pa //
rgyud kyang rnam pa bzhi rnams su //

Gazing, smiling, embracing, and,
Enjoying intercourse, etc.,
Tantra, too, [is stated] to be four-fold…

Rin chen bzang po's quotation from the Hevajratantra only runs parallel to but is by no means equivalent to either Hevajratantra, II, iii: 11, or II, iii: 54. The first reads in connection with the four types of empowerment:

dgod pa dag pa slob dpon nyid //
lta ba gsang ba de bzhin no //
lag bcangs las ni shes rab nyid //
gnyis gnyis 'khyud la de yang nyid //

And the second reads correlatively with the number of tantra-types:
hasita? cek?a??bhy?n tu ?li?ga? dvandakais tath? /
tantre??pi catur??? ca sa?dhy?bh??a? na ?abdita? //

dgod dang lta ba dag gis dang //
'khyud dang de bzhin gnyis gnyis kyi //
rgyud kyang rnam pa bzhi rnams kyis //
dgongs pa'i skad ni ma bsgrags pa //

One of the last verses of Laghucakrasa?varatantra, III, expresses a similar sentiment, albeit perhaps somewhat problematically. Something like it is also cited in the 'Phags pa 'jam dpal gyi mtshan yang dag par brjod pa'i phan yon gyi 'grel pa, a commentary on the Mañju?r?n?masa?g?ti that was allegedly written by a *K?lacakrapada, but which was widely held in Tibet as being of Tibetan (bod ma) rather than of Indic origin; the citation runs as follows :

rgod dang lta dang lag bcangs //
gnyis gnyis khyud rnam pa bzhi //
srin bu'i tshul gyis rgyud bzhi gnas //

According to Bu ston and Tsong kha pa, these lines are found in the Sa?pu?atanta and Bo dong Pa? chen cites these as being taken from the Kha sbyor, where the latter is of course a synonym of Sa?pu?a. Of some interest is that the otherwise little known commentator Dha?kad??a, that is, Ta?kad??a, cites the component parts of Hevajratantra, II, iii: 54, as follows in his Hevajratantra commentary in favor of a five-fold classification of tantric literature :

bya ba spyod pa'i rgyud ni dgod pa zhes brjod do // rnal 'byor gyi rgyud ni lta ba zhes pa'o // rnal 'byor bla ma'i rgyud ni lag bcangs zhes pa'o // rnal 'byor bla na med pa'i rgyud ni gnyis gnyis 'khyud ces pa ste / rgyud ni bzhi po rnams kyis kyang // dgongs pa'i skad ni ma bsgrags pa zhes bshad do //

The action- and conduct-tantras are "smiling"; the yogatantra is "gazing"; the supreme-yogatantra is "embracing"; the highest-yogatantra is "intercourse"; it is stated:

The four tantras, too,
Do not proclaim the intentional language.

According to its colophon, the Kashmiri scholar Vimala?r?bhadra and Shong Lo ts? ba Blo gros brtan pa had translated Ta?kad??a's work in Sa skya monastery. The team had done so by order of Bla ma dam pa Chos kyi rgyal po, that is, 'Phags pa Blo gros rgyal mtshan (1235-1280), and with the financial support of the official (dpon) Zhang btsun. And this five-fold characterization is also found in the Bla ma'i bsnyen bkur gyi dka' 'grel, the undated commentary on the Gurupañc?sik? by V?pilladatta (?9th-10thc.), which is extant in a translation 'Gos Lo ts? ba II had prepared in Lha khang steng.

In connection with his citation of Hevajratantra, II, iii: 54, the Slob dpon makes the interesting statement – but see below for an important text-critical remark - that some earlier scholar-yogis such as Vir?pa, the founder of the Path-and-Result (lam 'bras) system in which the Hevajratantra occupies a center-stage position, felt that this verse indirectly indicated a five-fold classification of tantric literature and practice where the so-called supreme-yogatantra (rnal 'byor bla ma'i rgyud, yogottaratantra) was inserted between the yogatantra and the highest-yogatantra. He does not provide a source where Vir?pa and

company may have asserted this, but he does suggest that this indicated that some had privileged the Hevajratantra as the highest-yogatantra. Himself an exponent of what arguably was to become the most important transmission of the Path-and-Result system, the Slob dpon states that since both the supreme-yogatantra and the highest-yogatantra include the unsurpassed secret gnosis (gsang ba'i ye shes bla na med pa) as a key category, there are actually only four tantra classes. He thus collapses these two into one category. The expression rnal 'byor bla ma (*yogottara) appears only in such yogi??tantras as the *Ratnam?

l?tantra and the *Jñ?natilakatantra. The Guhyasam?jatantra is possibly the best-known tantra in the academy where it is au courant as a highest-yogatantra. But it was not always thusly classified in the Indian subcontinent. Possibly a disciple of a certain Rin chen rdo rje [[[Ratnavajra]]], the otherwise unkown Indian Longs spyod rdo rje [*[Sa?bhogavajra] refers to it as a supreme-yogatantra in his Dpal gsang chen padma [*?r?m?haguhyapad-ma] commentary, which he translated by himself, and this trend persisted as late as the early twelfth century when Abhay?karagupta (ca.1050-ca.1125) still classified the Guhyasam?jatantra as a supreme-yogatantra and not as a highest-yogatantra.

Based on Bu ston's work on the classification of tantric literature, the said tract in Bo dong Pa? chen's encyclopedic De kho na nyid kyi 'dus pa provides the same sources for a pentad typology of tantric literature in connection with the ideas that are expressed in the Hevajratantra and the Sa?pu?atantra. But he on occasion disagrees with Bu ston. In the series of quotations concerning the five different classes, they both cite the Rab tu sgron gsal, which would be Candrak?rti II's (ca. 900) highly influential Prad?poddyotana exegesis of the seventh century Guhyasam?jatantra in the seventeen-chapter recension, and have it that that the five of action-, conduct-, yoga-, supreme-yoga-, and yogi??-tantra are found therein. Be this as it may, the Prad?poddyotana does not contain

such a classification. And, indeed, it turns out that the quotation is from Bhavyak?rti's lengthy study of the Prad?poddyotana, which is only extant in the Tibetan translation by a certain Kum?ra, who may be the same as Kum?rakala?a! Bo dong Pa? chen then cites Hevajratantra, II, iii: 54, and partly quotes the passage where the Slob dpon addressed Vir?pa's alleged classification of action-, conduct-, yoga-, supreme-, and highest-yoga-tantra. At this point, he first rhetorically queries whether this does not contradict the passage of the Hevajratantra and then cites Bu ston who, without having referenced the Hevajratantra, held that there was no problem with such a classification. Bo dong Pa? chen disagrees with this for reasons that will not concern us here. A little later he

turns his attention to the distinction between the supreme- and the highest-yogatantra. In so doing, he cites a statement in which such a distinction is made - rnal 'byor bla ma dang / rnal 'byor bla na med pa'i rgyud kyis dbye bas so // zhes pa – and then, no doubt with an eye on the Slob dpon's remark, critiques on five counts. Sometime later, he in turn taken to task point by point by Gtsang Byams pa, who quotes this very same passage, states in his turn that these critiques are not reasonable (de ni rig[s] pa ma yin te], and then offers his reasons for having said so. Of interest is that he held that there was a wording problem (nor tshig) with the statement bla ma and bla na med pa, and that the Slob dpon did not speak of Vir?pa but rather of ?Bha ba pa. The latter points suggest of course that Gtsang Byams pa was working with a manuscript of the Slob dpon's text that was differently filiated from the ones that are currently available.

5. In accord with the four foundations of spiritual practice where he cites from each of the four types of tantras:

a. Ritual-tantra: Rtag pa bsdus pa'i rgyud
b. Conduct-tantra: Blo gros rgya mtshos zhus pa'i rgyud
c. Yogatantra: Dam tshig mngon par 'byung ba'i rgyud
d. Highest-yogatantra: Dpal dam tshig chen po'i rgyud [*Mah?samayatantra]

bde ba chen po'i sku gsung thugs //
ye shes gcig sbyor sdom pa'o //

dpal ldan chos kyi sku gsung thugs //
ye shes gcig sbyor sdom pa'o //

longs spyod rdzogs pa'i sku gsung thugs //
ye shes gcig sbyor sdom pa'o //

sprul pa yi yang sku gsung thugs //
ye shes gcig sbyor sdom pa'o //

In vain do we look for the first three titles in the title-list of tantras of the four classes that are mentioned towards the end of the text – this list is reproduced in the appendix of Part Two of this paper.

Profound reservations were voiced by some in the Indian subcontinent as well as in Tibet concerning the monastic, that is, the celibate integrity of the ordained clergy, especially in connection with the secret- (guhya-, gsang-) and insight-gnosis- (prajñ?jñ?na-) empowerments (abhi?ekha, dbang) in which coital sacraments play a fundamental role, and the unambiguously antinomian and thus prima facie ethically counterintuitive nature of some of the pronouncements found in these tantric writings. We find these reservations well articulated in, for example, the first chapter of the *Vajr?c?ryakriyasamuccaya as well as, more famously, in Ati?a's *Bodhipathaprad?pa, a work that he wrote at the request Byang chub 'od while he was staying in the Gu ge-Pu hrang region, and its pañjik?-commentary that is not entirely unproblematically attributed to him. Rin chen bzang po defines the idea of empowerment and the two kinds of empowerments just mentioned as follows :

The Secret Empowerment
[29] gsang dbang gi ngo bo ni / phyogs bcu dus gsum gyi de bzhin gshegs pa thams cad khu ba'i rang bzhin nyi zla rgyun gyis dbang bskur ba'o // de'ang rin chen 'khor lo nas /

ji srid sangs rgyas thams cad kun //
rdo rje'i lam nas padmar 'khyil //
shu tra rakta 'dres pa las //
yab yum bde'i ba'i ngang du gsal // zhes so //

nges tshig ni / ghu ya du a bhi ?e kha ta / zhes pa [30] dbang rdzas te / gsang chen gyi dam tshig yin pas na'o // de yang bla ma brgyud rim nas /

thabs dang shes rab gnyis sbyar ba'i //
gsang ba las byung gsang ba'i dbang / zhes so //

The essence of the secret empowerment is an empowerment by means of the stream of the sun [= menses] and moon [= seminal fluid], the essence of the sexual fluids of all the tath?gatas of the ten directions and the three times. That, too, is stated in the Rin chen 'khor lo (= *Ratnacakr?-bhi?ekhopade?akrama) :

As long as all Buddhas,
From the path of the *vajra [[[Wikipedia:penis|penis]]], are gathered in the padma [vagina],
From the admixture of white (*?ukla) and red (rakta), they are obviously in the state of the father-mother bliss.

The "origin" (nges tshig, *nirukta): it is called guhy?bhi?ekha, because the empowerment (dbang) being the "substance," it involves the spiritual commitment for what is a great secret (gsang chen). Moreover, the Bla ma brgyud rim (*Gurupara?parakrama) states :

What has taken place on the basis of the secret of joining the means [= male] with discriminative insight [= female], is the secret empowerment.

The Discriminative insight-gnosis Empowerment

[31] shes rab ye shes kyi dbang gi ngo bo ni / las rgya byin gyis brlabs nas / snyom par 'jug pa'i dbyings dang ye shes dpe don ci rigs par ngo 'phrod do // de yang sku gsung thugs kyi rgyud nas /

chos dbyings shes rab ces bya ste //
ye shes bzhi ni ye shes yin /

zhes pa dang / rin chen 'khor lo nas /

bud med sgyu ma la brten nas //
dga' ba dang po sems kyis myong //

zhes so / nges tshig ni / pradzny? dzny? na a bhi ?e ka ta/ zhes shes rab ma la brten nas lhan cig skyes pa'i ye shes rgyud la gnas pa'o // sku gsung thugs kyi rgyud nas /

shes rab la ni brten nas ni //
bde ba'i ye shes skye bas na //
shes rab ye shes dbang du gsungs //

zhes so //

The essence of the discriminative insight-gnosis empowerment involves the instruction in all the variety of meanings and similes of the sphere of being absorbed by the blessing-bestowing actress-seal (*karmamudr?) [woman] and gnosis. Now the Sku gsung thugs kyi rgyud (*K?yav?kcitta-tantra) states:

The range of meaning (*dharmadh?tu) is called discriminative awareness;
The four types of gnosis involve gnosis.

And the *Ratnacakr?bhi?ekhopade?akrama states :

Depending on an illusory woman,
One mentally experiences the first bliss.

The "origin": prajñ?jñ?n?bhi?ekha. Relying on a prajñ?-consort, the in-nate gnosis remains in one's life-stream. The *K?yav?kcittatantra states :

Inasmuch as the gnosis of bliss arises,
On the basis of discriminative insight,
It is stated to be the discriminative insight-gnosis

III. Rejecting Allegedly Spurious Tantras and Allegedely Unorthodox Prac-tices

The first recorded Tibetan reaction to the ethical and social problems that seem to have arisen from the misinterpretation of the religious texts, willful or otherwise, or from texts that were considered non-Buddhist was the famous open bka' shog-letter/directive of Lha bla ma that S.G. Karmay studied some time ago. In this document, Lha bla ma did not mention any personal names or book-titles, but he did take issue with what he said village "tantric practitioners" were doing in the name of Buddhism, with those who, practicing the religion of the non-Buddhist 'Ba' ji pa, had said that whatever they were doing was a form of Buddhism, with those who practiced what they called Rdzogs chen – this is of course different from saying those who practiced Rdzogs chen! -, and with what he considered to be false, that is, inauthentic tantric texts (sngags log), the titles of which he did not name. The following two lines from his open letter are especially pertinent as their sentiment continued to resonate in the Tibetan cultural area in various forms throughout the subsequent centuries :

sgrol ba dar bas ra lug nyal thag bcad //
sbyor ba dar bas mi rigs 'chol bar 'dres //

Due to the proliferation of sgrol ba, "effecting liberation,"
goats and sheep are sacrificed.
Due to the proliferation of sbyor ba, "effecting intercourse,"
the social groupings of people are confusingly mixed.

There is a good reason for using this order, namely, sgrol and sbyor, instead of sbyor sgrol, as later authors beginning with his great-nephew Lha btsun/Pho brang Zhi ba 'od (1016-1111), alias Lha btsun Zhi ba 'od, commonly used - Zhi ba 'od was Byang chub 'od's younger brother. The tantras of the so-called Old School (Rnying ma pa) such as the Guhyagarbhatantra, the De bzhin gshegs pa thams cad kyi gsang ba'i ye shes don gyi snying po rnal 'byor grub pa'i rgyud, and the Dpal he ru ka snying rje rol pa'i rgyud gsang zab mo'i mchog, to name but three, use this binome or dvandva compound. The intent of the latter is not always as clear as one might think. Indeed, in his commentary on the Guhyagarbhatantra, the possibly ninth century *S?ryasi?haprabha isolated as many as six different senses for the expression sbyor sgrol.

Gu ge Pa? chen notes in his biography of Lha bla ma that the latter had written a Sngags log sun 'byin gyi bstan bcos, Treatise that Confutes False Mantras/Tantras, which, right or wrong, I take to be this very same open letter, and he adds with some enthusiasm that :

'di ni mdo dbus khams rnams kyi mkhas shing grub pa brnyes pa mtha' dag gi yid kyi shing rta gang bar byed pa bcom ldan 'das kyi bka' ltar tshad mar gyur to //

This work, which fulfills "the vehicle of the mind" [= the desires] of all the scholars and spiritually realized ones of [A]mdo, Dbus and Khams, became authoritative like the enlightened speech of the one who, having overcome the embodiments of evil, passed beyond (bcom ldan 'das) [ = the Buddha].

It is of course quite doubtful that Lha bla ma in distant Mnga' ris was able to exert any influence over whatever was being done or practiced in distant Amdo and Khams. It is also relevant to note that in this particular directive, Lha bla ma made no use of the words "Bon" or "Bon po," let alone that he used these to refer to the adherents of the area's indigenous beliefs that were not alleged to be Buddhist. It is therefore prima facie difficult to interpret Gu ge Pa? chen's explicit and repeated remarks that he had taken great pains at eradicating anything that had to do with the Bon religion, even to the point of throwing

its texts into the rivers. Perhaps the latter statement is a bit over the top, because Gu ge Pa? chen's quotations of pieces from his other directives do unambiguously support the notion that Lha bla ma did subject what he called Bon and its adherents to a persection of sorts. Gu ge Pa? chen wrote his work at Mtho ling monastery, which Lha bla ma had caused to be built in 996, and no doubt had access to her archives. Thus, if this were a historical fact and not a mere trope – there is an echo here of what is said to have happened during the large-scale introduction of Buddhism in the reign of Khri srong lde btsan (d.

800) –, then we can at least at a minimum assume that there was a Buddhist surpression, if not persecution, of those who held competing beliefs, whatever they and their literary foundations, if any, may have been. C. Scherrer-Schaub has drawn attention to yet another work contra questionable tantric practices. This is the brief text that was recovered from the manuscript holdings of Tabo monastery.
Of course, the notion of killing and sacrifice as religious sacrements and sundry antinomial practices were not foreign to the more "orthodox" tantric literature. Thus, for example, Hevajratantra, I, vii: 21c-d, states :

'bad pas snying rje bskyed pa yis [var.: bskyed nas ni ] //
bsad [var.: gsad] par bya ba brjod pa nyid //

By having [or: Having] effected enlightened compassion with effort,
It is simply said that one should kill.

These lines are also found at the end of the fifth chapter of the Sa?pu?atantra [I: 5], albeit with a variant reading in the second line :

'bad pas snying rje bskyed nas ni //
mkhas pas gsad [var.: bsad] par bya ba nyid //

Having effected enlightened compassion with effort,
Expertise should simply kill.

And elsewhere, for example, in Sa skya Pa??ita's translation of the *Vajrak?layam?la-tantrakha??a, we read the following :

snying rjes bsgral ba'i dam tshig ni //
bsad cing mnan a pa nyid minb te //
phung po rdo rje'i bdagc nyid de //
rnam par shes pa rdo rjer bsgom //

a Yongle, Li thang, Beijing, and Co ne Kanjurs: gsad cing gnan; Snar thang
  and Zhol Kanjurs: bsad cing mnan.
b Snar thang and Zhol Kanjurs: yin.
c Yongle, Li thang, Beijing, and Co ne Kanjurs: phung po rdo rje'i bdag;
  Snar thang and Zhol Kanjurs: phur pa'i rdo rje de.

The sacred oath of 'delivering' with enlightened compassion,
Is not simply to kill or suppress, that is,
It is to meditate on the very essence of the adamantine
psycho-physical constituents,
On consciousness as admantine.

Another deity in this tantra is Rdo rje gzhon nu, that is, Vajrakum?ra. Kum?ra is the son of ?iva and he is also known as Skandha. Of course, Tibetan phung po reflects Sanskrit skandha, so that phung po rdo rje could also reflect or at least point to the personal name Skandhavajra.
The great Kun dga' snying po (1575-1634), alias T?ran?tha, cites both passages in his 1600 commentary on his very own versified homage to the deity Cakrasa?vara. Signaling that the first derives from the Hevajratantra, his quotation of Hevajratantra, I: vii: 21c-d, is entirely unproblematic. On the other hand, he does not source the origin of the second one as taken from the Vajrak?layam?latantrakha??a. His reading of the verse is :

snying rjes bsgral ba'i dam tshig ni //
bcad cing mnan pa ma yin te //
phung po rdo rjer gtams byas nas //
rnam par shes pa rdo rjer spar //

It turns out that similar variations of this verse are found in a good number of Vajrak?laya texts. For example, Boord records the reading of the last two lines of this verse in the Dpal rdo rje phur ba spu gri nag po rab tu gsang ba'i rgyud, an Old School tantra, which comes close to Kun dga' snying po's readings; there we have:

phung po rdo rjer gtams byas nas //
rnam par shes pa rdo rjer sgom //

Having "filled" the psycho-physical constituents as adamantine (?),
One meditates on consciousness as adamantine.

Note: Kong sprul Blo gros mtha' yas (1813-1899) commented on both readings, the one by Sa skya Pa??ita and from what he refers to as an "early translation" (snga' gyur), in his study of this tantra, which he had written in 1899 at the age of eighty-six and thus shortly before his passing!
Kun dga' snying po states immediately following these two citations :

yang lo ts? ba rin chen bzang po'i zhal snga nas / bsad chog byas pas sems can de rnams grol bar 'gyur na / de bzhin gshegs pas kyang bsad chog kho na mdzad cing ston rigs par 'gyur gsung ba ni thugs brtse ba chen pos gsang sngags log par spyod pa 'gog pa'i dgos pa yod par mkhyen zhing gzigs nas gsungs par snang bas lan brgyar phyag bya'o //

Further, since the statement by Lo ts? ba Rin chen bzang po "If sentient beings become liberated through ritual killing, it is reasonable that the Tath?gata, too, can simply do and teach ritual killing." appear to have been stated on the basis of having understood and intuited with great compassion that there was a need for confuting wrong tantric practices, I should bow a hundred times.

At the outset, the moving force behind the reinvestment in Buddhism that took place in Mnga' ris in the late tenth century had a semblance of having a central authority. The royal patronage that it received at least initially made the influx of purported Buddhist works from the subcontinent possible and no doubt, later on, added clout to one of the first tasks the royal family had set for itself, namely, to bring order into this literary chaos and the apparent free-for-all practices. At the same time, this reinvestment also had an unintended consequence in that it led to the introduction of competings forms of authority by

the different forms of texts all claiming to be sacred scripture, together with their exponents. This influx of a very large body of purportedly sacred literature soon necessitated a sifting out of works of questionable origin, provenance, and what was perceived to be of questionable theoretical and practical orthodoxy, even if the exact criteria for such sifting were usually left unarticulated and lacked any tangible degrees of detail. Lo ts? ba Rin chen bzang po was, if not the first, then among the very first intellectuals who were Sanskritists and translators (lo ts? ba) in their own right to make an attempt to sort out and distinguish among this large variety of different works those that were Buddhist, those that were non-Buddhist, and those that were contaminated with non-Buddhist notions and practices. His Sngags log sun 'byin or Confutation of False Tantras may thus have been the very first Tibetan attempt at separating the orthodox from the heterodox and at setting things straight as far as "false" and counterproductive practices were concerned.

Evidently a rather substantial tract, it has not [yet] been recovered, let alone published, so that we cannot make any pronouncement on the kind of criteria he may have used in making his determinations. But we do have fragments from it. For example, Nya dbon Kun dga' dpal (?1285-?1379) cites several passages from this work in his post-1371 defense of the Jo nang pa tradition and criticism of the Old School and 'Gos Lo ts? ba II Gzhon nu dpal (1382-1481) observed in his pañjik?-commentary on the K?lacakra corpus' Vimalaprabh? of 1467 that it contained citations of some passages from the "K?lacakra." As yet unpublished, 'Gos Lo ts? ba II's work is available to me in a xylograph with one hundred and ninety-nine folios with a marginal notation Ca. The scribe of the original text was his very own disciple and biographer Smon lam grags pa, and the printing blocks were carved in 1472 with the financial support of Ngag gi dbang po (1439-1495), the Phag mo gru Spyan snga hierarch of Gdan sa mthil. Rin chen bzang po does mention the K?lacakra corpus in the Rgyud sde spyi'i rnam bzhag in his exposition of the so-called non-dual tantras of which there are two.

Glo bo Mkhan chen was yet another author who cites this work, but he refers to it as the Chos log sun 'byin, which I take to be a variant of Sngags log sun 'byin. Also called 'byam[s] yig or "document for public circulation" – Dorji Wangchuk has sug-gested "propaganda pamphlet" - other key-figures in the composition of works be-longing to this genre of literature were Pho brang Zhi ba 'od and the late eleventh century Sanskritist 'Gos Lo ts? ba I. They were followed by Tsa mi Lo ts? ba Sangs rgyas grags (ca. 1150) and his Spring yig chen mo, Rngog Lho brag pa [or: Lha btsun Rngog] and his Gsangs sngags kyi byung

tshul rnam par bshad pa'i gtam chen mo, Chag Lo ts? ba II Chos rje dpal (1197-1264) and his *Sngags log sun 'byin, Dar ma rgyal mtshan and his contribution, and Zhang Bsod nams grags pa's (1292-1370) disciple 'Bri gung [or: Thang skya] Dpal 'dzin (ca. 1400) and his Chos dang chos ma yin rnam par dbye ba'i bstan bcos. A treatise that shares considerable similarities with the last named, and I do not mean merely in terms of its title, is the one written by the great Bka' brgyud pa hierarch Karma pa VIII. One word of caution: While most of these writers had reservations about the authenticity of certain specimen of tantric literature that we now associate with the Old and the New Schools (Gsar ma pa), most would no doubt side with Dar ma rgyal mtshan when he wrote the following passage - we find this cited time and again in the literature - in his yet to be fully studied Bslab pa gsum rgyan gyi me tog :

gter ma rnying pa snyan rgyud sogs //
sde snod gsum [3] dang rgyud sde bzhi'i //
don dang mthun na skyon med yin //
mi mthun rang bzor shes par bya //

If the old treasure-texts, the aural transmission, etc.
Comport with the intent of the Tripi?aka,
And the four tantric classes, there is no fault.
One should know what was does not comport to be

Gu ge Pa? chen cites the concluding verses of Mantrakala?a's and Pho brang Zhi ba 'od's revision of the earlier translation of ?nandagarbha's (?8th c) ?r?param?dhya??k? by ?raddh?karavarman, Kamalagupta, and Rin chen bzang po to the effect that Lha bla ma had dispatched Rin chen bzang po to Kashmir precisely because he felt that so much had gone awry with what he considered to be the orthopraxy associated with Buddhist tantric literature, that is to say :

gsang sngags spyod pa'i lugs kun nyams pa dang //
dkyil 'khor sbyin sreg cho ga nyams pa dang //
[[[cho ga]]] dkyil 'khor cho ga padma stong ldan de //
de bzhin sbyin sreg shan ti shug ti byed //

gzhan yang gsang sngags sbas don kun nub cing //
sbyor sgrol dang ni tshogs la sogs pas slad //
'di yi don rnams btsal phyir bka' gnyer te //
lo chen rin chen bzang po kha cher brdzangs //

All the methods of practicing the tantras were corrupted and,
The mandalas, burnt offerings, and rituals were corrupted and,
The Padma stong ldan mandala-ritual and,
Likewise performing ???? burnt offerings.

Furthermore, all of the secret intent of the tantras had disappeared and
Were contaminated by such notions as sbyor, sgrol, and tshogs.
Because he searched for their intent, he made an effort and,
Dispatched Lo chen Rin chen bzang po to Kashmir.

The text in the Tanjurs is somewhat different :

gsang sngags spyod pa'i chos lugs kun nyams dang //
dkyil 'khor sbyin sreg cho ga nub gyur pas //
dkyil 'khor cho ga padma stong ldan te //
de bzhin sbyin sreg shag ti shug tis byed //

gzhan yang gsang sngags sbas don nub gyur cing //
sbyor sgrol dang ni tshogs la sogs pas slad //
'di rnams don nges btsal phyir bkas gnyer te //
lo ts? rin chen bzang po kha cher brdzangs //

Finally, Bu ston and A mes zhabs cite these verses as follows in their chronicles of the Yogatantra literature :

gsang sngags spyod pa'i lugs kun nyams pa dang //
dkyil 'khor sbyin sreg cho ga nub gyur pas //
dkyil 'khor cho ga padma stong ldan tea //
de bzhin sbyin sreg shag ti shug tib byed //

a A mes zhabs: de.
b A mes zhabs: cho ga shag ris.

gzhan yang gsang sngags sbas dona nub gyur cing //
sbyor sgrol dang ni tshogs la sogs pas sladb //
'di rnams don gnyer btsal phyir bka' gnyer te //
lo tstshad rin chen bzang po kha cher brdzangs //

a A mes zhabs: don rnams. b A mes zhabs: bslad
c Bu ston: lo tstsha.

Rin chen bzang po's Rgyud sde spyi'i rnam bzhag, as does his Sngags log sun 'byin, not only reflects the deeply felt concerns of the time, but also sheds light on the beginnings of a body of Tibetan intellectual practices that no doubt had an Indic back-ground in which certain individuals were trying to make sense of and classify the baf-fling corpus of Buddhist tantric texts, large and small. The Rgyud sde spyi'i rnam bzhag has of course to do with a rational classification of the varieties of "authenticated"

Buddhist tantric literature and the second, the Sngags log sun 'byin, with an inquiry into this literature and a dismissal of what he considered to be spurious and inauthentic writ-ings. In the first, he does not once hint at what he might have considered objectionable either in terms of the authenticity of some of its literary sources or spiritual practices. But he does discuss the difference between non-Buddhist (phyi), and Buddhist (nang) tantras towards the end of his Rgyud sde spyi'i rnam bzhag. Truth be told, the Rgyud sde spyi'i rnam bzhag is a "modernist" (gsar ma pa) treatise per excellence, since it makes no mention whatsoever of the tantric literature that is specific to the "old" (rnying ma pa) tradition. Although we cannot be absolutely certain of this, it would appear that the gsar ma pa versus rnying ma pa distinction may have been made towards the end of his life, but certainly not long after his passing.


BKA' Bka' 'gyur [[[dpe]] sdur ma], ed. Krung go'i bod rig pa zhib 'jug lte gnas kyi bka' bstan dpe sdur khang (Beijing: Krung go'i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang, 2006-2009), 109 vols. BSTAN Bstan 'gyur [[[dpe]] sdur ma], ed. Krung go'i bod rig pa zhib 'jug lte gnas kyi bka' bstan dpe sdur khang (Beijing: Krung go'i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang, 1994-2008), 120 vols. RGYUD Lo ts? ba Rin chen bzang po, Rgyud sde spyi'i rnam par bzhag pa 'thad ldan lung gi rgyan gyis spras pa, Sngon byon sa skya pa'i mkhas pa rnams kyi rgyud 'grel skor, vol. 1 (Kathmandu: Sa skya rgyal yongs gsung rab slob gnyer khang, 2007), 1-77/78.