Chapter 7 On Vāgīśvarakīrti’s Influence in Kashmir and among the Khmer

In: Śaivism and the Tantric Traditions
Péter-Dániel Szántó
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1 Introduction

The aim of this article is to point out the far-reaching influence of an East Indian tantric Buddhist scholar, Vāgīśvarakīrti (floruit early 11th c.). In the first part I will show that his views were considered important enough to be contested sometime before 1057 ce, probably still during his scholarly activity, in Kashmir. In the second part I wish to propose the hypothesis that although unnamed, he is a master alluded to with great reverence on the Sap Bāk inscription from the Khmer Empire, dated 1067 ce.*

“Our” Vāgīśvarakīrti should not be confused with his namesake, a Newar scholar from Pharping, whence his epithet Pham mthiṅ ba (for what we can gather about this person, see Lo Bue 1997, 643–652). Nor should we confuse him with a rather nebulous person, whose name is re-Sanskritised as *Suvāgīśvarakīrti, author of a number of small works extant in Tibetan translation. Lastly, there is no good reason to assume that he is the same as a commentator of Daṇḍin’s Kāvyādarśa; this person’s name is often re-Sanskritised from the Tibetan as *Vāgīśvara, but it is more likely that his name was Vācaspati or Vāgīśa.

The writings of Vāgīśvarakīrti are fairly well known to scholars of esoteric Buddhism. A significant portion of his oeuvre survives in the original Sanskrit. While some of the attributions in the Tibetan Canon are disputed, the following major works may be assigned to him with confidence.

The Mṛtyuvañcanopadeśa is a learned anthology of rites to cheat death once its signs have been perceived. This work, which survives in at least four manuscripts,1 has been admirably dealt with recently by Johannes Schneider (2010). His German translation supersedes Michael Walter’s earlier English translation (2000). As Schneider conjectures (2010, 23), the Tibetan translation must have been completed in 1042/3 ce, since this is the only time the two scholars mentioned in the translators’ colophon, *Adhīśa (better known as *Atīśa or *Atiśa) Dīpaṃkaraśrījñāna and Rin chen bzaṅ po, spent time together at Tho liṅ. This date is also Schneider’s terminus ante quem for the text.

The Saṃkṣiptābhiṣekavidhi is a succinct initiation manual for the Guhyasamāja system, which also contains a fascinating polemic passage (Onians 2002, 279–289). At present we may access only one manuscript; this has been edited by Munenobu Sakurai, but is in dire need of being revisited. Another witness, now probably in Lhasa, is mentioned in the catalogue KCDS, p. 139.

The Tattvaratnāvaloka (henceforth TaRaA), a short treatise in twenty-one verses, and a largely prose auto-commentary thereof, the Tattvaratnāvalokavivaraṇa (henceforth TaRaAVi), are usually mentioned in the same breath and are indeed transmitted together in the only known manuscript. These texts have been edited by (presumably) Banarsi Lal. The Tibetan translations were undertaken by ’Gos Lhas btsas (although only Tōh. 1890 / Ōta. 2754 is actually signed by him), whose activity falls in the middle of the 11th century (Davidson 2005, 139).

The *Saptāṅga (henceforth SaA), another treatise, this time in mixed verse and prose, is the only major work of Vāgīśvarakīrti which appears to be lost in the original. One of its most important verses survives in quotation (Isaacson and Sferra 2014, 171, 271, passim). The Tibetan translation is the work of the same ’Gos Lhas btsas.

I shall not discuss here Vāgīśvarakīrti’s other, minor works, or the fact that some of his major works are present more than once in various recensions of the Tibetan Canon, some of them even annotated.

We shall have the opportunity to study some of Vāgīśvarakīrti’s ideas later on, although I cannot hope—nor do I propose—to be exhaustive here. The two most important features to keep in mind for the time being are these: that for the author, the most important cycle of tantric Buddhist teachings is the Guhyasamāja, and that he was a proponent of the view that full initiation consists of four consecrations, culminating in the so-called caturthābhiṣeka.

There is very little hard evidence for a prosopography of Vāgīśvarakīrti. All modern authorities conjecture that he lived during the 10–11th centuries and all seem to accept the statements of Tibetan hagiographies, namely that he was active in Vikramaśīla in the rather nebulous capacity of “door-keeper.” The primary source for this information is Tāranātha’s famous historiography, the Rgya gar chos ’byuṅ, which dedicates a long passage to Vāgīśvarakīrti, presenting him as a scholar, an accomplished tantric practitioner, a miracle worker, and a pious founder (Chimpa and Chattopadhyaya 1970 [2004], 296–299).

2 Vāgīśvarakīrti in Kashmir

The source I shall be using for starting the discussion here is found in an unpublished and little-studied commentary of the Mañjuśrīnāmasaṃgīti, the Gūḍhapadā of one Advayavajra (incorrectly spelt as Advayavakra or perhaps Advayacakra in the colophon), which survives in a single manuscript. This is a voluminous text, occupying 180 densely written palm-leaf folios; according to the colophon, it measures 4,000 granthas. It has not been translated into Tibetan. This Advayavajra is very likely not the same as the famous Advayavajra or Maitreyanātha (some good reasons against this identification are listed in Isaacson and Sferra 2014, 74–75).

Since it was not translated into Tibetan and it survives in a single manuscript, the Gūḍhapadā may nowadays be perceived as obscure. However, it was not an unknown work, at least not in the 12th century. Raviśrījñāna, one of the most famous exegetes of the Mañjuśrīnāmasaṃgīti, mentions it as one of the main sources he relied upon. Oddly, the particular verse where he does just this is not found in the published Amṛtakaṇikā, because the Sarnath editor did not have access to or ignored the tradition that transmits it. One such witness is Royal Asiatic Society London, Ms. Hodgson 35 (the so-called Vanaratna codex; see Isaacson 2008), folio 40r1–2.2 There can be little doubt that this closing verse is authorial: the Tibetan translation, although in a garbled way, mirrors it (D 96a5–6, P 115a8–115b1), and Vibhūticandra’s sub-commentary, the Amṛtakaṇikoddyota, has some of its words in lemmata (Ed., p. 216, ll. 13–16).3

Vibhūticandra’s sub-commentary gives us the upper limit for Raviśrījñāna. The former first came to Tibet in 1204 ce (Stearns 1996). We also know that the Amṛtakaṇikā is one of Raviśrījñāna’s earlier works, because he refers to it in his Guṇabharaṇī (Sferra 2000, 100). He cannot be much earlier than the late 12th century, since one of his masters, Dharmākaraśānti, lived during the reign of Gopāla (pace Sferra 2000, 47–48), in whose court he was a royal preceptor. This Gopāla must be Gopāla IV (r. ca. 1128–1143 ce), because the other Gopālas are too early for Raviśrījñāna to mention all three bodhisattva commentators of the Kālacakra system (see here, note 2). Therefore the Gūḍhapadā must have been in existence around these dates. The debate we are about to examine seems to suggest a mid-11th-century environment, but we cannot be entirely certain.

The Gūḍhapadā has the following commentary to Mañjuśrīnāmasaṃgīti 8.41ab on folio 128r4–128v4. The text is first given in diplomatic transcript. The line is here marked in bold; the manuscript highlights it in red. An akṣara added in the upper margin in the second hand is marked thus ⟨ ⟩. A deleted anusvāra is marked with ⟨| |⟩. I have added the line numbers in square brackets. I split the passage into seven units—marked (a) to (g)—for the sake of easier reference.

(a) tasyā ekakṣaṇamahāprajñaḥ sarvadharmāvabodhadhṛg iti | araṇaśrī nāmataḥ | tatra ekaś cāsau kṣaṇaś ca eka[5]kṣaṇaḥ | mahāś cāsau prājñaś ca mahāprājñaḥ sarvadharmavivekātmakas tataś cāyam arthaḥ | (b) ekakṣaṇaś caturānandaikamūrttitvāt | sahajasaṃbodhikṣaṇaḥ | sa ca [6] turyātītalakṣaṇaṃ | (c) tathā coktaṃ | śrīmaṅkāsmīrīyai sūkṣmāvarttabhaṭṭapādaiḥ | kasmīreṣu kathā nāsti caturthasyaiti niskṛpaḥ | asti deṣāntare tāvac caturthaṃ samyaksevida [7] iti | (d) kutaḥ yad vāgīśvarakīrttinoccyate | dambhaulibījaśrutaddhautasuddhaḥ pāthojabhūtāṃkurabhūtaḥ puṣṭi || turīyam asya paripākam eti | sphuṭaṃ caturthaṃ binduso [128v] pi gūḍham iti | (e) ātmīyābodhāhaṃkāratvāt nāstipakṣyā bhilaṣatam icchanti | evamādikṛta⟨||⟩sya śrīmaratnavajrāṃghrim āha | bhrāntyā yatra pravaramatayaḥ kīrttisāntyādayo [2] pi | idaṃ caturthālokakārakā pūrvadeśapaṇḍitaiḥ | vāṭyamātraṃ na vijñātā tadgranthatodgataṃ | (f) asmadīyagurupādamatam āha | turyātītam avācyaṃ tu kṣaṇam ekam arū [3]pakaṃ | sahajasaṃbodhinā me jñātājñeyau tu nirvitār iti | (g) evaṃ ekakṣaṇaiva kṣaṇena sampadyate mahāprajñatayā yathoktasarvadharmāvabodhanatayā ekakṣa[4]ṇamahāprājñaḥ sarvadharmāvabodhas tad dhārayatīti ekakṣaṇamahāprājñaḥ sarvadharmāvabodhadhṛk |

The beginning (tasyā eka° up to °vivekātmakas) and end (evaṃ eka° up to °āvabodhadhṛk) of the text—i.e. (a) and (g)—are of no concern to us here. These sentences should nevertheless act as cautionary devices that the passage is quite corrupt. Most of the content here is in any case an almost word-for-word copy of Vilāsavajra’s Nāmamantrārthāvalokinī.4

Unit (b) explains the compound ekakṣaṇa (“a singular moment”) in terms of post-Hevajra yoginītantra doctrine. According to this teaching, during initiation one experiences in sexual union the four “blisses” (ānanda), which are linked to four “moments” (kṣaṇa). This experience is then cultivated in meditation leading to enlightenment, a state sometimes referred to as “the innate” (sahaja). The passage should therefore be interpreted something like this: “[It is a] singular moment, because it embodies in a unitary manner the four blisses. [And this is nothing else but] the moment of innate complete awakening, which, in turn, is beyond the fourth [state of consciousness—the four being wake, sleep, deep sleep, and the fourth].”

Unit (c) seems to take a turn. Apparently, we have a continuation of the previous topic, but in fact here we turn to the problem of initiation. The passage is doubtless a quotation, introduced by tathā coktam. The author of the quoted passage is referred to—once we emend the text slightly, śrīmatkāśmīrīyaiḥ for śrīmaṅkāsmīrīyai5 and understand that the plural shows respect—as “the glorious Kashmirian, the venerable Sūkṣmāvartabhaṭṭa.” The anuṣṭubh verse following may be restored thus:

kaśmīreṣu kathā nāsti caturthasyetiniskṛpaḥ|
asti deśāntare tāvac caturthaṃ samyak[ ]sevitam ||

The only real intervention here is sevitam for sevida[ḥ], which is nonsense, whereas sevitam is both grammatical and yields good meaning. The emendation kaśmīreṣu for kasmīreṣu is rather banal, but I remain undecided whether this should be emended further to kāśmīreṣu (“among Kashmiris” rather than “in Kashmir”); the plural is otherwise often used with both toponyms and inhabitants of a region. As we shall see, there must be an iti hiding in caturthasyaiti. Spelling ai for e is not uncommon in East Indian manuscripts, although of course it is incorrect. We can safely dismiss the idea that the reading is correct and what we have here is the present third person singular of the root i, “to go”; in that case we would expect an accusative, probably of an abstract noun, but nothing of the sort can be conjectured. The corrupt niskṛpaḥ (or perhaps niṣkṛpaḥ) unfortunately masks a crucial word. We shall return to it forthwith.

The name of the author and the first third of the verse can be traced in Tibetan. The work in question is the *Caturthasadbhāvopadeśa, attributed in the colophon (D 159b3–4) to “the great Kashmiri master … *Ratnavajra” (kha che’i slob dpon chen po … dpal rin chen rdo rje). We see the same name in unit (e). Sūkṣmāvarttabhaṭṭa and Ratnavajra are one and the same, as the last verse of the work reveals (D 159b3):

| dpal kha che’i slob dpon rin chen rdo rje daṅ |
| mtshan gźan phra bar rtogs pa’i dpal źes bya’i |

It is immediately apparent that there is something wrong with the Tibetan translation: the number of syllables per quarter is out of balance—the initial dpal could be superfluous—and the daṅ seems just a little bit off, unless we think it is justified inasmuch as it links a name and an alternative name. However, the underlying meaning is clear enough: the author identifies himself as a Kashmiri master called Ratnavajra, also known as *Sūkṣmāvartaśrī, as āvartta—with a slight stretch—can be reconstructed from rtogs pa, whereas śrī is perhaps a metrical equivalent of bhaṭṭa or an unusual rendering into Tibetan.

Whatever doubts we may have about having correctly traced the author, they are dispelled once we look at the first line of the treatise (D 156b2–3):

| kha che ba la bźi pa’i gtam | | sṅar yaṅ yod par ma thos (em., thas) la |
| da ltar yod pa mthoṅ na yaṅ | | bźi pa rñed pa ma yin no |

Translated somewhat loosely, this means:

Previously, in Kashmir (or: among Kashmiris) not a [single] word was heard of [this] “Fourth” [Initiation]; although nowadays we see it practiced, [I will show that in fact] the “Fourth” cannot be found [to have authoritative sanction].

It is now clear that this is what we have echoed in our Sanskrit verse: kaśmīreṣu kathā nāsti caturthasyeti. The Tibetan ba (or pa?) seems to suggest that we should understand “among Kashmiris.”

But now we have a stylistic problem. Apparently, the introduction to the quotation applies only up to iti. The corrupt †niskṛpaḥ† must be some sort of dismissive statement, since the second line seems to contradict Ratnavajra: true, Kashmir has not heard of the Fourth Initiation (caturtham), but this does not mean anything, since it does exist (asti) and is correctly practiced (samyak sevitam) in another land or other lands (deśāntare). One tentative solution for niskṛpaḥ may thus be niṣkṛtam (“disregarded”, “dismissed”), but I must confess that I still regard this as nothing more than a diagnostic conjecture.

It is conceivable that we are wrong to emend śrīmaṅkāsmīrīyai to śrīmatkāśmīrīyaiḥ and that we must boldly conjecture bṛhatkāśmīrīye. As we have seen in the verse given here in note 3, Raviśrījñāna knew of such a work, since he lists it as one of his sources of inspiration. Moreover, this is not the only time he refers to it: in the body of Amṛtakaṇikā we find at least one reference (Ed., p. 25, l. 18), which is mirrored in the Amṛtakaṇikoddyota (Ed., p. 197, last line). If I interpret Vibhūticandra’s commentary correctly, in the text given here in note 4, he attributes this work to the famous Nāropāda. If Vibhūticandra is correct, we cannot take Ratnavajra/Sūkṣmāvarttabhaṭṭa to be the author of the Bṛhatkāśmīrapañjikā, since there is nothing to suggest that he might be the same as Nāropāda. (Of course, Vibhūticandra could be wrong, but then the number of variables becomes too great to contemplate meaningfully.) If we follow this idea, the introduction would give the source for the entire verse—i.e. the Great Kashmiri Commentary—, in which Ratnavajra’s idea is embedded as a prima facie view. However, the stylistic problem remains: it would be very unnatural to give a title and then a name, which is not that of the author but that of an interlocutor in it. Perhaps it is not impossible that Ratnavajra’s other name was once a gloss meant to elucidate the ownership of the point to be refuted, and that this gloss made it into the main text at some point during transmission.

Unit (d) is somewhat easier to tackle. The quotation reinforces the existence of the Fourth Initiation by quoting Vāgīśvarakīrti. The verse is very corrupt in the form given here, but fortunately we have access to the source, which is the TaRaA, verse 17. The TaRaAVi does not offer any explanation for the verse; indeed, it shrouds it in secrecy, stating that the meaning should be obtained from the oral teachings of a qualified guru (Ed., p. 100, l. 20: dambholītyādi| etat sadgurūpadeśato jñeyam|). Vāgīśvarakīrti seems to have changed his mind about this when he wrote his other major work, the SaA. There, he offers a very long explanation (D 199b7–201a3, P 235b4–237a2), alluding to the fact that misunderstandings of his position prompted him to do so. This verse is also quoted by Raviśrījñāna in the Amṛtakaṇikā (Ed., p. 76, ll. 22–23).

Thus, with the help of the TaRaA manuscript (Ms.), the edition (Ed.), the Tibetan translation (D and P agree in all the readings), the lemmata in the SaA (SaA), and Raviśrījñāna’s testimony as edited (AKa) with the readings of the unused Vanaratna codex (V, folio 29r10), we may restore unit (d) thus:

kutaḥ | yad Vāgīśvarakīrtinocyate
pāthojabhūtāṅkurabhūtapuṣṭi |
turīyaśasyaṃ paripākam eti
sphuṭaṃ caturthaṃ viduṣo ’pi gūḍham || iti||6

The verse does not immediately lend itself to understanding, but in the present context, as a cited authority, it must have been understood along these lines:

Cleansed by the oozing of the seed (i.e. semen) from the thunderbolt (i.e. the officiant’s penis) growing as a sprout born from a purified lotus (i.e. the consecrated vulva of the consort), the crop that is the fourth [state of consciousness] comes to full bloom; [although] the Fourth [Initiation] is manifest, it is hidden even from the wise.

The coded language expresses what happens in the three higher initiations (guhyābhiṣeka, prajñājñānābhiṣeka, caturthābhiṣeka), the first two of which are of a sexual nature. The SaA makes it clear that the first stage, where the seed from the thunderbolt oozes and cleanses, alludes to the guhyābhiṣeka, where in practice the officiating master copulates with a consort and the ejaculates are placed in the mouth of the blindfolded initiand. Via this rite, the mind of the initiand, which is similar to a field, is purified. The second stage, where a sprout is said to be born and made to grow in a pure lotus, alludes to the prajñājñānābhiṣeka, where it is the initiand who copulates with the/another consort. The sprout represents his fledgling wisdom. The logic of the allegory demands that it is in the caturthābhiṣeka where this sprout comes to full bloom, that is to say, reaches the highest state, here called “the Fourth.” This is somewhat confusing, since just above the author of the Gūḍhapadā seems to advocate a state “beyond the fourth” as the highest. Also note that sphuṭam could be construed in a different way, either as an adjective to paripākam or an adverb to eti.

Unit (e) is certainly the most challenging part of the passage. The first sentence seems to condemn those who do not recognise (nāstipaḳsyā[ḥ]) the existence of the Fourth Initiation on account of their stupidity and selfishness. What exactly the aim of their desire (doctrinal or otherwise) is, I cannot tell. We do not fare any better with the next statement. The compound evamādikṛtasya escapes me completely. The next statement again seems to introduce a quotation, but the accusative case is puzzling. It is perhaps better to emend to a nominative while also fixing the first honorific. Thus we get: śrīmadratnavajrāṃghrir āha. The other honorific, aṃghri (lit. foot), is somewhat unusual. It doubtless stands for the more common °pāda and it may do so for metrical reasons: if we observe the metrical pattern of Ratnavajrāṃghrir āha, the words would fit the last seven syllables of a Mandākrāntā line. However, in this case we must give up on śrīmad°, since here we would require laghu-guru (short-long) and not guru-guru. This idea must be considered, for what follows is indeed a perfect Mandākrāntā line (with some minor corrections applied): bhrāntā yatra pravaramatayaḥ kīrtiśāntyādayo ’pi, i.e. “in which respect even those of the choicest intellect, such as Kīrti and Śānti, are deluded.” We may safely assume that yatra refers to the matter at hand, i.e. the veracity of the Fourth Initiation, and we can reasonably suppose that these are Ratnavajra’s words, paying respect to his opponents, but claiming that they are wrong. Kīrti no doubt refers to Vāgīśvarakīrti, whereas Śānti is most likely shorthand for another great intellect of early 11th-century Eastern India, Ratnākaraśānti. While Vāgīśvarakīrti’s position on the Fourth Initiation is known, we know very little as to what Ratnākaraśānti thought of the matter.7

Although we seem to understand this particular passage, there is a slight problem: it is not from the *Caturthasadbhāvopadeśa and it is not from any other work attributed to Ratnavajra in the Tibetan Canon. The next sentence, a corrupt anuṣṭubh, on the other hand can be traced in the *Caturthasadbhāvopadeśa (D 157a7–157b1). I repeat the lines here along with the Tibetan translation, because they are quite crucial:

idaṃ caturthālokakārakā pūrvadeśapaṇḍitaiḥ |
vāṭyamātraṃ na vijñātā tadgranthatodgataṃ |
| bźi pa sgron (em., sgrol) ma mdzad pa yi |
| śar phyogs kyi ni mkhas pa yis |
| gtam tsam yaṅ ni mi śes so |
| de yi chos la bdag gis rtogs |

The pronoun idaṃ is puzzling and I am tempted to disregard it completely, all the more so since the Tibetan does not mirror it. Alternatively, one could emend it to ittham and consider it as an introductory statement. Emending the Tibetan sgrol to sgron is warranted by the Sanskrit °āloka°, and this makes good sense, because this is an attested title to which we will return shortly. If this is a title, it would make sense to emend °kārakā to °kārakaiḥ following the Tibetan mdzad pa yi understood in the sense of “author” to qualify the compound in the next pāda, or to °kāraka° joining the line into one compound. Unfortunately, this creates a serious metrical problem. I do not have a solution at present, except suggesting that we do indeed need a word meaning “author” for the broken part.

It is apparent that in the second verse quarter we are one syllable short. The most straightforward solution is probably to read °deśīya° for °deśa°. Assuming that the cruces hide a word meaning “author,” as I suggest, we would thus get a line in harmony with the Tibetan expressing a logical subject: caturthāloka†kārakā†pūrvadeśīyapaṇḍitaiḥ, i.e. “the learned one from the Eastern lands, the author of the Caturthāloka.” The plural is, again, for showing—here, mock—respect. This pundit is none other than Vāgīśvarakīrti, since Caturthāloka is an alternative title for his TaRaA. In fact, this alternative title seems to be the one preferred by the author himself, because this is the way he refers to his previous work in the SaA. He does so thrice (D 190b3, 199a2, 199b7 & P 225a7, 234b4, 235b4–5), calling the treatise Bźi pa snaṅ ba, and citing lemmata from TaRaA, verses 8, 11, and 17 respectively.8

As for the next pāda, this is probably where we should find the logical predicate, but for this we must emend vijñātā to vijñātam. For the first word, the Tibetan seems to suggest vākya° (gtam). No doubt, vāṭya° (“fried barley,” “fig” (?)) seems to be the more difficult reading, but I am not familiar with this idiomatic expression, if indeed it is one. Let us accept the emendations and read vākyamātraṃ na vijñātaṃ together with the first line, i.e. “not a single word was understood by the learned one from the Eastern lands, the author of the Caturthāloka [understand: Vāgīśvarakīrti].”

What exactly Vāgīśvarakīrti did not understand or how exactly it became clear to the Kashmirian author that the Easterner is a fool is a mystery, since the last pāda seems, at least to me, beyond redemption and the Tibetan is not very clear either. One may conjecture with great hesitation after having harmonised the two something like tadgranthato mayodgatam, in the sense “[this] I have understood from his work.” But this would create a metrical issue, since a ra-gaṇa is not permitted for syllables 2–4. A more serious intervention would yield tadgranthāt/tadgranthe tan mayodgatam. Another problem is that udgatam is not entirely elegant and does not make very good sense. However, we are probably not too far from a genuine solution. What Ratnavajra seems to be saying then is that he had read Vāgīśvarakīrti’s work, the Caturthāloka, and realised that the Eastern scholar is an ignoramus.

The meaning of unit (f) is somewhat clearer, but it is impossible to say who the speaker is. Somebody—deutero-Advayavajra? Ratnavajra?—states the viewpoint of his guru: the introductory clause asmadīyagurupādamatam āha does not need any correction. The first line of the verse seems to be fine as is, although the meaning is somewhat obscure: turyātītam avācyaṃ tu kṣaṇam ekam arūpakam, i.e. “as for that ineffable [state of consciousness called] ‘beyond the fourth,’ it is a singular, formless moment.” The second line is problematic. Pāda c is unmetrical: both the second and the third syllables are short, while the fifth, sixth, and seventh syllables form a ra-gaṇa, thus a ra-vipulā, but there is no caesura after the fourth. Pāda d with the closing particle should probably read jñātājñeyau tu nirvṛtāv iti or jñātṛjñeyau, etc., or jñānajñeyau, etc. The first of the possible solutions, that is to say, leaving the compound as transmitted, contains an irregular dvandva, perhaps inspired by the well-known mātāpitṛ-. In spite of these serious irregularities, I have no reason to think that the first half of the line is corrupt, especially since we already had the collocation sahajasaṃbodhikṣaṇaḥ in unit (b). The line therefore probably meant, “due to complete awakening of the innate, for me [the duality] of knower [or: knowledge] and objects of knowledge has been extinguished.” Let us attribute the irregularities to the ecstatic power that must have overcome the nebulous guru at the moment of enlightenment.

We will now return to Ratnavajra and his scathing attack on Vāgīśvarakīrti. Much light would be thrown on this matter if the Sanskrit original of the *Caturthasadbhāvopadeśa were to become available, or better said, accessible.

The work is reported to exist in the now famous—and notoriously inaccessible—Lhasa birch-bark manuscript. The existence of this unique codex, once penned in Kashmir and until very recently kept on display at the Tibet Museum, was first reported by Kazuhiro Kawasaki (2004). The Japanese scholar was allowed to consult the table of contents and the colophon on the last folio of this remarkable document. We know from his report that the manuscript is a composite codex containing twenty-seven works. The sixth item listed in the table of contents (Kawasaki 2004, 51/904) is none other than Caturthasadbhāvopadeśaḥ Śrīratnavajrakṛtaḥ.

A decade later, Kazuo Kanō (2014) provided a new reading of the colophon and converted the date precisely. According to his calculation, the [Kali] year 29 corresponds to 1057 ce, since the ruling king, Anantadeva, is also mentioned, and his reign falls between 1028 and 1063 ce (Kanō 2014, 62–63). This date is extremely important, because it gives us a rather early upper limit for the creation of the Caturthasadbhāvopadeśa and thus Ratnavajra’s mature activity, besides confirming his reading of Vāgīśvarakīrti’s work.

Ratnavajra was an authority not to be taken lightly. His influence and fame can be gathered from other sources as well. For example, *Prajñāśrīgupta, in his commentary on the Mahāmudrātilaka, now extant only in Tibetan (Tōh. 1201), eulogises him thus (D 154b3–4): “the great scholar, who has obtained initiation and the oral teachings, the king over overlords of kings, the best of gurus, the teacher from Kashmir, the glorious Ratnavajra.” *Prajñāśrīgupta also claims that Ratnavajra stood at the end of an uninterrupted lineage of masters stemming from the famous Indrabhūti. He also quotes from at least one of his lost works, probably simply called *Utpannakrama (D 155b3–4). In another work, the *Ratnamañjarī (Tōh. 1217), a commentary on the *Tattvapradīpa, he again eulogises Ratnavajra as his master (D 325a2).

We find several more references to Ratnavajra in the work of *Sambhogavajra, probably *Prajñāśrīgupta’s disciple or junior contemporary. In his *Rahasyanalinī (Tōh. 1418), he claims the same spiritual descent, while adding the equally prestigious name of *Avadhūtīpāda along the way. He is only slightly less loquacious when it comes to praising the famous master (D 250b2–3): “he who has crossed to the other shore of all Vedas, who has obtained the accomplishment of the mantra, the Kashmiri master, the glorious Ratnavajra.” *Sambhogavajra quotes the same passage (partially) from the lost *Utpannakrama (D 240b1) and a verse from another work entitled *Adhyātmapadma (D 244b6). He too emphasises that Ratnavajra was a Kashmiri (D 246b5).

Ratnavajra’s name was probably exploited to make other works more prestigious. One such pseudepigraphical case in my view is an initiation manual of the Sarvabuddhasamāyogaḍākinījālaśaṃvara system, the *Sarvasattvasukhodayā (Tōh. 1679). Contrary to the opinion voiced in the *Caturthasadbhāvopadeśa, this text does teach the Fourth Initiation (D 294a1–4). A less likely scenario is that Ratnavajra eventually changed his mind and accepted what was, to him, initially a controversial abhiṣeka.

Ratnavajra, too, seems to have been particularly proud of his Kashmiri heritage. In his *Akṣobhyavajrasādhana (Tōh. 1884) he proudly claims to have sat at the feet of Northern gurus (D 162b5), perhaps in yet another attempt to dissociate himself from innovations in the East.9 This work—which, in spite of the title, is a manual in the tradition of Jñānapāda—is most likely genuinely his, since the qualifications of the practitioner mention having received all initiations but the Fourth (D 144b1–2).

Returning to his Caturthasadbhāvopadeśa, here too Ratnavajra voices what is perhaps a challenge to all non-Kashmiris. The third verse of the text says (D 156b3–4):

| yul phyogs gźan na la la dag | gal te skal ldan gyur pa dṅos |
| yod pas gter ni mi nub ces | | bdag blo ṅes par dbugs dbyuṅ ṅo |

The verse is not entirely clear, but it probably means something along the following lines:

Should there be any fortunate ones (i.e. worthy Buddhists) in other countries, let them [come forward and] put my mind at ease so that [this] treasure would not fall into oblivion.

The “treasure” (gter, which more correctly would be rin chen) he refers to is in my view the Fourth Initiation, cf. an oft-quoted and later scripturalised pāda from the Prajñopāyaviniścayasiddhi (3.38d): vācaiva dadyād abhiṣekaratnam. Perhaps less likely is the possibility that he uses *ratna as a shorthand for TaRaA, in which case we have here yet another reference to Vāgīśvarakīrti’s work. In my reading, Ratnavajra was being ironic. He would not have found any comfort in his being convinced of the genuineness of the Fourth Initiation. It follows that the “treasure” he seems to be worried about should be read kākvā, in a mocking tone.

Although Ratnavajra seems to refer to the Caturthāloka/TaRaA exclusively, it is very likely that his reading of Vāgīśvarakīrti was much broader. After all, verse 17 from that work does not reveal much about his position concerning the Fourth Initiation. I think that there is a possibility that this is what he refers to in the verse (D 157b1) immediately following the one we had attested in the Gūḍhapadā:

| ’on kyaṅ gti mug bsal ba daṅ | | som ñi rab tu źi ba daṅ |
| phyin ci log ni bsal ba’i phyir | | mkhas pas bstan bcos rgyas par mdzad |

Now, in order to dispel confusion, to put doubts at ease, and to clear up distortions, [this] learned man expanded his treatise.

In what follows, Ratnavajra echoes in his pūrvapakṣas many points brought up by the TaRaAVi. If this conjecture holds, it would seem that some time elapsed between Vāgīśvarakīrti’s writing his verses and the auto-commentary. It is also not impossible that the SaA was written partly as an answer to Ratnavajra’s criticism. However, for all this to be determined one would need access to the Sanskrit original of the Caturthasadbhāvopadeśa. Until that time, we must leave the matter to rest.

In spite of the numerous corruptions we have encountered in the Gūḍhapadā passage, let us recapitulate what may be gathered with certainty. At some point before 1057 ce, an influential Kashmiri master called Ratnavajra or Sūkṣmāvarttabhaṭṭa published a scornful refutation of the idea that there is a Fourth Initiation (caturthābhiṣeka). This position he seems to have attributed first and foremost to “Eastern” scholars, singling out Vāgīśvarakīrti and his Tattvaratnāvaloka or Caturthāloka. In spite of the vitriolic dismissal, it is evident that Vāgīśvarakīrti was too important to be ignored. The debate between the two remained well known, as some of its salvos were preserved perhaps already in the now lost Bṛhatkāśmīrapañjikā, and certainly in the Gūḍhapadā. The latter was still an influential work before the end of the 12th century, since the famous Raviśrījñāna used it as a source.

One could extrapolate a more general point from this debate, namely that scholarly communication between East India (at this point in time under Pāla sovereignty) and Kashmir was vigorous. Kashmiris seem to have been a little more orthodox in their views, but innovations—for which the hotbed was undoubtedly Pāla East India—did filter in. This exchange between the two regions was certainly not a unique event. The famous satirist Kṣemendra describes Bengali students flocking to Kashmir around the same time (Deśopadeśa, chapter 6 in 45 verses). He is even more scornful of Easterners, describing them as illiterate, dim-witted, pretentious, sanctimonious, vulgar, and ugly. I find it very likely that the poet’s bigoted diatribe met with many a sympathetic ear in his local audience.

3 Vāgīśvarakīrti among the Khmer

The document known as the Sab Bāk inscription (K. 1158), consisting of fifteen (idiosyncratic) Sanskrit verses and a few lines in Old Khmer, was discovered at an unconfirmed location in what is now Nakhon Ratchasima province, Thailand. It is one of the most important sources testifying to the presence of the Guhyasamāja system in Southeast Asia. The text of the inscription was first edited by Prapanvidya (1990). Since then it has been noted and discussed in a fairly large number of publications, the latest of which, at least to my knowledge, is by Conti (2014). This article also features a new translation by Tadeusz Skorupski.

The inscription, dated Śaka year 988, 7th of the waxing fortnight of Tapasya (Friday, 23rd of February 1067 ce), records the words of one Vraḥ Dhanus, given the title ācārya in the Khmer portion, a devotee of the Guhyasamāja. The text first eulogises three teachers of Vraḥ Dhanus, all indicated by toponymic surnames: the venerables of Cuṅ Vis, Campaka, and Dharaṇīndrapura. It then describes the erection of an unspecified number of icons beginning with an image of the Buddha. The Khmer portion refers to previous installations as well.

The document is fascinating and important, but still requires substantial work. I cannot touch on these topics here; instead, I wish to concentrate on a particular aspect, the identity of a master referred to in verses 3 and 4. The most reliable edition of the text is that of Estève (2009, 557–558), which I have checked against an estampage of the original (ÉFEO n. 1497); here I quote only the relevant couplet:

śrīsamāje parā yasya bhak(t)iḥ śraddhā ca nirmmalā
tasya dāsasya dāso haṃ bhaveyaṃ sarvajanmasu || [3]
ity ājñā paramaguroḥ śrutvā stutyā namaskṛtā
anukathyā mayā bhaktyā śrīsamājan name sadā || [4]

These are the translations that have been published thus far. Prapanvidya (1990, 12) interpreted the text as follows:

In all my births, may I become the slave of that slave, who has great devotion to and impeccable faith in the Śrīsamāja. ‘Having saluted with praise, I must hear and repeat the teacher’s command devotedly:’ thus is the command of the supreme teacher. I constantly pay my obeisance to Śrīsamāja.

Estève’s French translation is perhaps a bit more accurate (2009, 561):

«Ce Śrī Samāja pour lequel j’ ai une dévotion suprême et une foi pure, que j’ en sois le serviteur du serviteur dans toutes mes existences ». Après avoir entendu l’ ājñā du paramaguru, je dois lui rendre hommage avec des louanges puis, avec dévotion, le répéter. Je rends hommage perpétuellement à Śrī Samāja.

Finally, Skorupski’s translation published in Conti (2014, 393) is quite similar to that of Prapanvidya:

In all my existences, may I become a servant of the servant who has supreme devotion and stainless faith in the glorious Samāja. Having thus heard the command of the supreme guru, I respect it with praises, (and) having repeated it with devotion, I always pay homage to the glorious Samāja.

The first hemistich of the quoted portion is in my view an echo of Vāgīśvarakīrti’s words. The penultimate closing verse of his TaRaAVi is this:

śrīsamāje parā yasya bhaktir niṣṭhā ca nirmalā |
tasya vāgīśvarasyeyaṃ kṛtir vimatināśinī ||10

This is the work to dispel all opposed opinions of Vāgīśvara[kīrti], whose dedication to the glorious [Guhya]samāja is supreme and whose devotion is without blemish.

Moreover, this is the closing verse of his SaA (D 202b7–203a1, P 238b5–6):

| dpal ldan gsaṅ ba ’dus pa las | | dri med dad mchog mthar phyin pas |
| ṅag gi dbaṅ phyug de yis ’di | | byas pas blo ṅan (D, ldan P) ’jig gyur cig

I find it almost certain that this is a clumsy Tibetan rendering of the same verse. The small emendation las to la would fix the first pāda, whereas the second would better read *dad mchog mthar phyin dri ma med, were it not the case that mthar phyin pa (*niṣṭhāgata?) is a very bad choice for niṣṭhā. The third and fourth pāda may be seen as a very loose rendering: “may this work written by Vāgīśvarakīrti destroy wicked views!” However, here too the choice of words is inapposite, as we would expect lta and not blo for mati.

I am unaware of any other texts that would use the same phrasing; it can be said therefore that this is a ‘signature verse’ of Vāgīśvarakīrti.

The only difference between the hemistich of the Khmer inscription and the verse transmitted in India, Nepal, and Tibet is a mere synonym, śraddhā for niṣṭhā. Perhaps the Khmer author thought that the latter is a lesser-known word for “devotion” and decided to replace it with a metrically and gender-wise unproblematic, more current noun. Otherwise the echo is unmistakable.

In light of this discovery, the second line of the Khmer inscription would mean that someone is wishing to become a devotee (dāsa) of that devoted one (tasya dāsasya) in all subsequent rebirths—i.e., these are the words of a student of Vāgīśvarakīrti.

In the first pāda of verse 4, these words seem to be described as “the command (ājñā) of the paramaguru.” The syntax here is quite incorrect, since ājñā should also be construed with śrutvā, and we would therefore require an accusative; however, namaskṛtā and anukathyā forces the author to leave it in the nominative. This is not the only bizarre usage of Sanskrit in the text. To note only the most glaring examples, in verse 6 we have a double sandhi, saiva for sa eva, in verse 15 the enclitic cet stands at the beginning of the line, and so on. Another oddity is that such pious exclamations are not called ājñā, but praṇidhāna or praṇidhi, even in the tantric context (e.g. Hevajratantra 2.8.6–7 and prose before).

It should also be noted that the first quarter of verse 4 is a na-vipulā, with the minor blemish that the fourth syllable is not long. This perhaps suggests that the composer found it important to include the term paramaguru. This does not only mean “supreme teacher,” but has a more technical sense, namely one’s spiritual grandfather, i.e. one’s guru’s guru. I could not find Buddhist texts that clearly have this usage (a possible exception is the Balinese Buddhaveda, p. 75); however, it is prevalent in Śaiva literature. In Abhinavagupta’s Tantrasāra (Ed., p. 156) we find the sequence guru, paramaguru, and parameṣṭhin, followed by the collective pūrvācāryāḥ. In the glosses to the Īśānaśivagurudevapaddhati (Ed., vol. 3, ad 13.58ab) we find this list stretched for five generations: guru, paramaguru, parameṣṭhiguru, pūjyaguru, and mahāpūjyaguru. We sometimes (e.g. Puraścaryārṇava, Ed., vol. 1, 3.578cd-579ab) find parāparaguru between parama and parameṣṭhin.

Keeping in mind the hypothesis that paramaguru has a technical meaning here and does not simply mean “supreme teacher,” two further likely hypotheses emerge. The command, which Vraḥ Dhanus relates, is spoken by one of his teachers, namely his guru’s guru, in which case Vāgīśvarakīrti was the guru of this person, that is to say, Vraḥ Dhanus’ parameṣṭhiguru or parāparaguru. However, given the loose phrasing seen elsewhere in the document, it might just be the case that Vraḥ Dhanus is referring only to the first half of the verse, in which case he is acknowledging Vāgīśvarakīrti as his paramaguru. The latter is grammatically speaking less likely, but more likely if we think about the number of spiritual generations elapsed between Vāgīśvarakīrti, active in the earlier half of the 11th century, and Vraḥ Dhanus, whose commissioned inscription is dated 1067 ce. Whichever scenario we accept as the most plausible, what seems to be certain is that by this date Vāgīśvarakīrti’s person and Guhyasamāja-related teachings were known in the Khmer lands.

If Vāgīśvarakīrti was known in the Khmer lands, then so was Jñānapāda’s school of thought. Although more attention should be dedicated to this matter, I feel confident in saying that Vāgīśvarakīrti was a follower of the Jñānapāda exegesis. The strongest evidence for this claim is his brief overview of Jñānapāda’s Samantabhadra or Caturaṅgasādhana as well as at least one unattributed quotation from the same work in his SaA (D 202a2 ff., P 238a1 ff.).

4 Epilogue

During the editorial process, I came across two further possible testimonies for Vāgīśvarakīrti’s influence. I am grateful to the editors for allowing me the opportunity to include them here.

The first comes from what is now Burma/Myanmar, an inscription dated 1442 ce celebrating the construction of a monastery and related donations by a district governor called Thirizeyathu (Taw Sein Ko 1899, 37–47). The document records a large number of books as part of the governor’s generous gift, including the famous couple Mahākālacakka and Mahākālacakka ṭīkā, long accepted as evidence for the presence of the Kālacakra system in Burma. The work listed immediately before this (p. 47) is called the Mṛtyuvañcana. While this could refer to any death-cheating ritual manual, the most celebrated such work was that of Vāgīśvarakīrti. There is therefore a strong possibility that he was still read in Burma as late as the first half of the 15th century. Naturally, I do not claim this as conclusive evidence.

Another possible allusion to Vāgīśvarakīrti, or at the very least the debate he was famous for, comes from certain recensions of Saraha’s Dohākośa. In a verse criticising fellow Buddhists, the famous siddha (or the author posing as the siddha) says that “[without having realised reality,] some are immersed in explaining the Fourth.”

I read the verse in the following three sources: a) Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen manuscript Xc 14/16, folio 2r: ko vi vakkhāṇa caüṭṭhihi laggo; b) Tokyo University Library manuscript 517, folio 17v: ke vi vakkhāṇa caüṭṭhahiṃ laggaü; and c) NAK 1–1607 = NGMPP A 49/18, recto of 83rd leaf: koï vakkhaṇa caüṭhṭhihi laggo. The verse with this line was not available for Śāstrī (1916, 85), Shahidullah (1928, 129—although the Tibetan given here does mirror our reading very closely: kha cig bźi ba’i don ’chad pa la źugs) or Sāṃkṛtyāyan (1957, 4); Bagchi (1938, 16) reconstructs the verse, and his reading is followed by Jackson (2004, 58), who also suggests that one possibility for interpretation is the “Fourth Initiation”; see also Schaeffer 2005, 136.

The single-folio NAK fragment is a part of the Sahajāmnāyapañjikā commentary, a very precious (and unfortunately very corrupt) witness, as here Bagchi’s manuscript has a lacuna. The relevant passage in Tibetan can be found in D 184r7–185v2. Interestingly, here the target is identified as a monk, but caüṭhṭhihi is glossed either as a cardinal number, in which case the four schools are meant (Vaibhāṣika, Sautrāntika, Yogācāra, Madhyamaka), or as an ordinal number, in which case the meaning is innate bliss (sahaja). This commentator would therefore not think that the object of the (fruitless) explanation is the Fourth Initiation.

It is of course possible, and perhaps even likely, that Saraha here refers to the fourth and ultimate state of consciousness or the fourth and highest bliss (ānanda), but it is not out of the question that what he has in mind is the (or a) debate regarding the Fourth Initiation. However, again, this is hardly conclusive evidence.





Tibetan text in the Canon’s Derge (Sde dge) print. Numbers according to Tōh.




中国藏学研究中心收藏的梵文贝叶经 (缩微胶卷)目录 [Zhongguo zangxue yanjiu zhongxin shouzangde fanwen beiye jing (Suowei jiaojuan) mulu] Kruṅ go’i bod kyi śes rig źib ’jug lte gnas su ñar ba’i ta la’i lo ma’i bstan bcos (sbyin śog ’dril ma’i par) kyi dkar chag mdor gsal, n.a.




National Archives, Kathmandu


Nepal German Manuscript Preservation Project


Daisetz T. Suzuki (ed.), The Tibetan Tripitaka, Peking Edition—kept at the Library of the Otani University, Kyoto—Reprinted under the Supervision of the Otani University, Kyoto. Catalogue & Index, Tokyo, 1962.


Tibetan text in the Canon’s Peking (Pe ciṅ) print. Numbers according to Ōta.






Hakuju Ui, Munetada Suzuki, Yenshô Kanakura, Tôkan Tada (eds.), A Complete Catalogue of the Tibetan Buddhist Canons (Bkaḥ-ḥgyur and Bstan-ḥgyur), Tôhoku Imperial University, Sendai, 1934.




I have already discussed these two subjects in two separate lectures. The first subject was tackled at the First Manuscripta Buddhica Workshop in Procida, Italy in May 2011, where I received some extremely valuable feedback, especially from Professor Harunaga Isaacson, with whom I also had the opportunity to briefly study the passage in question in Kathmandu some months earlier. The second problem I have merely alluded to in a lecture at Kyoto University in February 2015; Professor Arlo Griffiths commented on an early draft of my notes and kindly encouraged me to publish my findings (e-mail, December 4, 2014). A later draft was read by Dr. Johannes Schneider, whose suggestions greatly improved some of my statements and saved me from a couple of blunders. To all involved, I offer my sincerest thanks. All remaining errors are mine.


A fragment missed by Schneider can be found in NAK 1–1697/vi. bauddhatantra 60 = NGMPP B 31/19. Nearly twenty-six verses survive on this single leaf (1.63c–1.89b), which may in fact be the earliest attestation of the original (Schneider’s earliest manuscript is from 1290 ce).


I give here a diplomatic transcript of the śārdūlavikrīḍita stanza in question: śrīvajrāṅkitapāṇigarbhabhagavallokeśaṭīkārthayā (°ānvayā?) ślāghyā gūḍhapadāśritādbhutabṛhatkāśmīrapañjīsakhā (?) | nānātantrarahasyavibhramavatī nānopadeśāśritā prītā ṭippaṇikā raviśriya iyaṃ prīṇātu cetaḥ satāṃ || The first pāda alludes to three exegetes of the Kālacakra tradition, known as the bodhisattva commentators: Vajrapāṇi, Vajragarbha, and Puṇḍarīka (here Bhagavallokeśa for metrical reasons).


The Sarnath edition lets us down once again here. For the pratīkas of pāda b we have this printed: … dapadam āśritā | śrīnāropādapañjikāsandhī(m adhītya) | The only manuscript of the Amṛtakaṇikoddyota I can consult for the time being is Tokyo University Library no. 18 (old no. 348), last folio, l. 1 and this fairly clearly reads ślāghyā gūḍhapadām āśritā | śrīnāropādapañjikāsaṅgī (?) |


For the sake of comparison, I give here Vilāsavajra’s text from Ms. Cambridge University Library Add. 1708, folio 81v5–7: ekakṣaṇamahāprājñaḥ sarvadharmāvabodhadhṛg iti | ekaś cāsau kṣaṇaś ca ekakṣaṇaḥ | mahāṃś cāsau prājñaś ca mahāprājñaḥ (em., °prājña Ms. post corr., °prājñaś ca Ms. ante corr.) sarvadharmavivekātmakaḥ (Ms. post corr., °ātmākaḥ Ms. ante corr.) | tataś cāyam arthaḥ sampadyate | ekenaiva kṣaṇena mahāprājñatayā yathoktasarvadharmāvabodhanatayā | ekakṣaṇamahāprājñasarvadharmāvabodhas (em., °āvabodha|s Ms.) tad dhārayatīti ekakṣaṇamahāprājñasarvadharmāvabodhadhṛk ||


The first error for t in ligature with k is a simple orthographic error. The second is a banal feature of East Indian scribal habits: sibilants are freely interchangeable. The third is a customary loss of visarga before sibilants, which may reflect pronunciation.


Variants are provided only for the verse, naturally: dambholi°] Ms. Ed. AKa V, rdo rje’i D, rdo rje SA • °sruti°] corr., °śruti° Ms. Ed. V, °śruta° AKa, ’bab pa D SA • °dhauta°] Ms. Ed. AKa, °dhota° V, dri med dga’ (!?) D, dag pa SA • °śuddha°] Ms. Ed. V, °śuddhaṃ AKa, dag pa’i D, dag pa SA • °pāthoja°] Ed. V, °pāthauja° Ms., °pāthojña° AKa, chu skyes D SA • °bhūta°] Ms. Ed. AKa V, ’byung D, ’byung ba SAturīyaśasyaṃ] AKa V, tutīyaśasyaṃ Ms., tṛtīyaśasyaṃ Ed., bźi pa’i ’bru D, bźi pa’i ’bras bu SAparipākam eti] Ed. AKa V, paripākam eta Ms., yoṅs gsal smin ’gyur ba’i D, yoṅs gsal smin par ’gyur ba yi SAviduṣo] Ms. Ed. AKa V, mkhas pa rnams la D, no lemma in SA


The most likely place for addressing this would have been his Hevajra initiation manual (to which he refers as the Hevajrābhyudayamaṇḍalopāyikā; see Muktāvalī, Ed., p. 215, ll. 15–16), but this text is most unfortunately lost.


For the sake of clarity, here are the passages: 1) de dag la yaṅ Bźi pa snaṅ ba ñid las | ñid mtshuṅs lha mos ’khyud daṅ źes bya ba la sogs (D, la sogs pa P) tshigs su bcad pa bdun […] citing svābhāṅgaśleṣi; 2) ji ltar Bźi pa snaṅ ba las sku ni nam mkha’ daṅ mtshuṅs źes bya bas […] citing gaganasamaśarīraṃ; 3) da ni Bźi pa snaṅ ba las smos pa’i rdo rje źes bya ba’i tshigs su bcad pas […] citing the beginning of the verse discussed above, dambholi°.


This is stated in the first quarter of the penultimate concluding verse: | de ltar byaṅ phyogs lam pa’i mkhas pa’i źabs bsten nas | […] Byaṅ phyogs lam pa mirrors Sanskrit *uttarapatha/uttarāpatha.


There are two silent emendations by Sarnath editors; the Ms. reads bhaktiniṣṭhā and vimatināsanī.


Primary Sources

  • Amṛtakaṇikā

  • (AKa). Banarsi Lal, ed. Āryamañjuśrīnāmasaṁgīti with Amṛtakaṇikā-ṭippaṇī by Bhikṣu Raviśrījñāna and Amṛtakaṇikodyota-nibandha of Vibhūticandra. Bibliotheca Indo-Tibetica XXX. Sarnath: Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, 1994.

  • (V) Royal Asiatic Society, London, Ms. Hodgson no. 35. Palm leaf, 62 folios (of which this work once occupied 1 to 40r), East Indian script (Maithilī/Bengali), undated (ca. mid-15th century).

  • (D) Tōh. 1395, translated by *Maṇiśrījñāna, Ñi ma’i dbaṅ po’i ’od zer, Chag Chos rje dpal.

  • (P) Ōta. 2111, ditto.

  • Amṛtakaṇikoddyota

  • (Ed.) see Amṛtakaṇikā.

  • (Ms.) Tokyo University Library, no. 18 (old no. 348). Palm leaf, 90 folios (once complete in 91 folios), Old Newar script, dated Nepālasamvat 420 = 1300 ce. (same as Ed.’s Ms. Ka)

  • Īśānaśivagurudevapaddhati

  • T. Gaṇapati Śāstrī, ed. Īśānaśivagurudevapaddhati, vol. 3. Trivandrum Sanskrit Series 77. Trivandrum, 1922.

  • Gūḍhapadā

  • (Ms.) Royal Asiatic Society, London, Ms. Hodgson no. 34. Palm leaf, 180 folios, hook-topped Old Newar script, undated (ca. 12–13th century?).

  • Caturthasadbhāvopadeśa

  • (Ms.) not accessible.

  • (D) Tōh. 2475, translated by *Vidyābhadra and Tshul khrims bkra śis.

  • (P) Ø.

  • Tattvaratnāvaloka

  • (TaRaA) [a.k.a. Caturthāloka]. (Ms.) see Tattvaratnāvalokavivaraṇa.

  • (Ed.) see Tattvaratnāvalokavivaraṇa.

  • (D) Tōh. 1889, no translator given.

  • (P) Ōta. 2753, no translator given.

  • Tattvaratnāvalokavivaraṇa

  • (TaRaAVi). (Ms.) NAK 5–252 = NGMPP A 915/4.

  • (Ed.) Dhīḥ 21, 129–149, reprint (used here) Bauddhalaghugranthasamgraha (A Collection of Minor Buddhist Texts). Rare Buddhist Texts Series 14. Sarnath: Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, 1997: 81–103.

  • (D) Tōh. 1890, translated by ’Gos Lhas btsas.

  • (P1) Ōta. 2754, ditto.

  • (P2) Ōta. 4793, no translator given.

  • Tantrasāra

  • Mukund Rām Shāstrī, ed. The Tantrasāra of Abhinava Gupta. Kashmir Series of Texts and Studies no. XVII. Bombay: Nirnaya-Sagar Press, 1918.

  • Deśopadeśa

  • E.V.V. Rāghavāchārya and D.G. Padhye, eds. Minor Works of Kṣemendra. Hyderabad: Osmania University, 1961: 273–306.

  • Dohākośa

  • See Śāstrī 1916, Shahidullah 1928, Bagchi 1938, Sāṃkṛtyāyan 1957, and Jackson 2004.

  • Puraścaryārṇava

  • Muralidhara Jhā, ed. Puraścaryārṇavaḥ, vol. 1. Benares: Prabhakari & Co., 1901.

  • Prajñopāyaviniścayasiddhi

  • Samdhong Rinpoche and Vrajvallabh Dwivedi., eds. Guhyādi-aṣṭasiddhi-saṅgraha. Rare Buddhist Text Series 1. Sarnath: Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, 1987: 63–87.

  • Buddhaveda

  • Sylvain Lévi, ed. Sanskrit Texts from Bali. Baroda: Oriental Institute, 1933: 72–84.

  • Muktāvalī

  • See Hevajratantra.

  • Saṃkṣiptābhiṣekavidhi

  • (Ed.) see Sakurai 1996, 412–421.

  • (Ms.) NAK 3–387 = NGMPP A 1156/24 and retake B 24/15.

  • (D) Tōh. 1887, translated by Sumatīkīrti, Klog skya Gźon nu ’bar, Mar pa Chos kyi dbaṅ phyug.

  • (P) Ōta. 2751, ditto.

  • Saptāṅga

  • (SaA). (D) Tōh. 1888, translated by ’Gos Lhas btsas.

  • (P) Ōta. 2752, ditto

  • Sahajāmnāyapañjikā

  • (Ed.) see Bagchi 1938.

  • (D) Tōh. 2256, translated by Vairocanavajra of Kosala.

  • (P) Ōta. 3101, ditto.

  • Hevajratantra

  • Ram Shankar Tripathi and Thakur Sain Negi, eds. Hevajratantram with Muktāvalī Pañjikā of Mahāpaṇḍitācārya Ratnākaraśānti. Bibliotheca Indo-Tibetica Series XLVIII. Sarnath: Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, 2001.

Secondary Literature

  • Bagchi, Prabodh Chandra. 1938. Dohākoṣa (Apabhraṁśa Texts of the Sahajayāna School). Part I. (Texts and Commentaries). Calcutta: Metropolitan Printing and Publishing House.

  • Chimpa, Lama and Alaka Chattopadhyaya. [1970] 2004. Tāranātha’s History of Buddhism in India. Reprint, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.

  • Conti, Pia. 2014. “Tantric Buddhism at Prasat Hin Phimai: A New Reading of Its Iconographic Message.” In Before Siam. Essays in Art and Archaeology, edited by Nicolas Revire and Stephen A. Murphy, 374–394. Bangkok: River Books and The Siam Society.

  • Davidson, Ronald. 2005. Tibetan Renaissance. Tantric Buddhism in the Rebirth of Tibetan Culture. New York: Columbia University Press.

  • Estève, Julia. 2009. Étude critique des phénomèmes de syncrétisme religieux dans le Cambodge angkorien. Ph.D. thesis, École Pratique des Hautes Études.

  • Isaacson, Harunaga. 2008. “Himalayan Encounter: The Teaching Lineage of the Marmopadeśa (Studies in the Vanaratna Codex 1).” Manuscript Cultures 1: 2–6.

  • Isaacson, Harunaga and Francesco Sferra. 2014. The Sekanirdeśa of Maitreyanātha (Advayavajra) with the Sekanirdeśapañjikā of Rāmapāla. Critical Edition of the Sanskrit and Tibetan Texts with English Translation and Reproductions of the MSS. Manuscripta Buddhica 2. Napoli: Asien-Afrika-Institut, Universität Hamburg and Università degli studi di Napoli “L’ Orientale.”

  • Jackson, Roger. 2004. Tantric Treasures. Three Collections of Mystical Verse from Buddhist India. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Kanō, Kazuo. 2014. “「普賢成就法」の新出梵文資料について [Fugen jōjuhō no shinshutsu bonbun shiryō ni tsuite = ‘Newly Available Sanskrit Materials of Jñānapāda’s Samantabhadrasādhana’].” 密教学研究 [Mikkyōgaku kenkyu] 46: 61–73.

  • Kawasaki, Kazuhiro. 2004. “On a Birch-bark Sanskrit Manuscript Preserved in the Tibet Museum.” Journal of Indian and Buddhist Studies 52 (2): 50–52/905–903.

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  • Lo Bue, Erberto. 1997. “The role of Newar scholars in transmitting the Indian Buddhist heritage to Tibet (c. 750–c. 1200).” In Les habitants du toit du monde. Études recueillies en hommage à Alexander W. Macdonald, edited by Samten Karmay and Philippe Sagant, 629–658. Nanterre: Société d’ ethnologie.

  • Onians, Isabelle. 2002. Tantric Buddhist Apologetics or Antinomianism as a Norm, D.Phil. thesis. Oxford: University of Oxford.

  • Prapanvidya, Chirapat. 1990. “The Sab Bāk Inscription. Evidence of an Early Vajrayana Buddhist Presence in Thailand.” Journal of Siam Society 78 (2): 11–14.

  • Sakurai, Munenobu. 1996. インド密教儀礼研究−後期インド密教の灌頂次第− [Indo mikkyō girei kenkyu: kōki Indo mikkyō no kanchō shidai = A Study of Indian Esoteric Ritual. Consecration in late Indian Tantric Buddhism]. Kyoto: Hozokan.

  • Sāṃkṛtyāyan, Rāhul. 1957. Dohā-koś [Hindī-chāyānuvād-sahit]. Paṭnā: Bihār-Rāṣṭrabhāṣā-Pariṣad.

  • Śāstrī, Haraprasād. 1917. Hājār Bacharer Purāṇa Baṅgalā Bhāṣāy Bauddhagān o Dohā (Caryācaryaviniścay, Sarojavajrer Dohākoṣ, Kāṇhapāder Dohākoṣ o Ḍākārṇav). Calcutta: Vaṅgīya Sāhitya Pariṣad.

  • Schaeffer, Kurtis. 2005. Dreaming the Great Brahmin: Tibetan Traditions of the Buddhist Poet-Saint Saraha. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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  • Schneider, Johannes. 2010. Vāgīśvarakīrtis Mṛtyuvañcanopadeśa, eine buddhistische Lehrschrift zur Abwehr des Todes. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences Press.

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  • Sferra, Francesco. 2000. The Ṣaḍaṅgayoga by Anupamarakṣita with Raviśrījñāna’s Guṇabharaṇīnāmaṣaḍaṅgayogaṭippaṇī. Text and Annotated Translation. Serie Orientale Roma LXXXV. Rome: Istituto Italiano per l’Africa e l’Oriente.

  • Shahidullah, Muhammad. 1928. Les chants mystiques de Kāṇha et de Saraha. Les Dohā-koṣa (en apabhraṃśa, avec les versions tibétaines) et les Caryā (en vieux-bengali) avec introduction, vocabulaires et notes. Paris: Adrien-Maisonneuve.

  • Stearns, Cyrus. 1996. “The Life and Tibetan Legacy of the Indian Mahāpaṇḍita Vibhūticandra.” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 19 (1): 127–171.

  • Taw Sein Ko. 1899. Inscriptions of Pagan, Pinya and Ava. Translation, with Notes. Rangoon: Government Printing.

  • Walter, Michael. 2000. “Cheating Death.” In Tantra in Practice, edited by David Gordon White, 605–623. Princeton; Oxford: Princeton University Press.

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Śaivism and the Tantric Traditions

Essays in Honour of Alexis G.J.S. Sanderson

Series:  Gonda Indological Studies, Volume: 22


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