24: Tantric Buddhism

Fri., Aug. 22nd, 09:00-15:30

The Progenitor of all Dharma Protectors: Buddhist Śaivism in Eighteenth Century Tibet

Bailey, Cameron (University of Oxford, Oxford, GBR)

Traditionally, the deity Śiva, usually called Mahādeva (Tib. Lha chen), Maheśvara (Tib. Dbang phyug chen po), or Rudra, has been depicted in Tibetan Vajrayāna Buddhist myth and iconography as the ultimate enemy of the Buddhist teachings, the tantric Mara, and an anti-Buddha, in some ways easily comparable to the figure of Satan in the Christian tradition. The story of his subjugation is the central myth of Tibetan Mahāyoga/Anuttarayoga tantra. Rudra is especially important in Rnying ma canonical scriptures as the catalyst for the introduction of tantric teachings into the world, and his redemption in Rnying ma narratives has been seen as a mythological expression of the radical non-dualism and antinomianism of Rnying ma rdzog chen philosophy. Rudra’s iconography also provided the template for all the major Rnying ma wrathful meditational deities, and all Buddhist wrathful deities arguably owe their iconography to Śaivism, to say nothing of Buddhist tantric ritual practices. But despite his importance in Tibetan Buddhism, the figure of Rudra/Maheśvara remained practically significant largely as a Buddhist foil and was not himself popularly worshipped. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Within certain Tibetan contexts Maheśvara was rehabilitated and made into an important cultic figure in his own right. This paper is an examination of two such contexts. The first is the Thugs rje chen po gshegs kun ’dus (Avalokiteśvara, Embodiment of all the Sugatas) treasure cycle revealed by the founder of the important Rnying ma monastery of Smin grol gling, Gter bdag gling pa (1646-1714). The second is Sle lung bzhad pa’i rdo rje’s (1697-1740) Dam can bstan srung gi rnam thar (Biographies of the Oath-Bound Protectors). In the Thugs rje chen po gshegs kun ’dus, Maheśvara is depicted as Avalokiteśvara’s primary manifestation, and the main protector of the treasure cycle. Sle lung, who was a lineage holder of the Thugs rje chen po gshegs kun ’dus teachings, in his famous collection of protector deity origin myths, goes even further, describing Maheśvara as a primordially fully enlightened being, and the literal godfather of all dharma protectors. The paper will examine some of the ritual texts dedicated to Maheśvara in Gter bdag gling pa’s treasure cycle and Sle lung’s rhetoric regarding this deity in the opening chapter of the Biographies of the Oath-Bound Protectors. I will also argue that Gter bdag gling pa’s positive emphasis on Maheśvara relates to his interest in the Dgongs pa ’dus pa’i mdo (Compendium of Intentions Sūtra), which contains the longest and most detailed version of the Rudra subjugation myth, and the cultivation of a ris med (“nondiscriminatory”) worldview at Smin grol gling.


The Conflicting Positions of Tsongkhapa and Ngor chen Kun dga’ bzang po over the Interpretations of the Body Maṇḍala of Cakrasaṃvara

Bentor, Yael (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, ISR)

In the early 15th century, some famous debates took place between two parties: Ngor chen Kun dga’ bzang po (1382-1456) and prominent members of the Sa skya school on the one hand and Tsong kha pa (1357-1419) together with influential lamas who would eventually form the Dge lugs school on the other. Specifically it is well known that Ngor chen and one of Tsong kha pa's main disciples, Mkhas grub rje Dge legs dpal bzang (1385-1438), had intense debates over the explanation of the body maṇḍala. The following attack found in Mkhas grub rje's Bskyed rim dngos grub rgya mtsho, p. 250.2-4, is most likely aimed at Ngor chen:

Therefore, if those deprived of the transmitted instruction of the lamas, who have not studied much the Tantras and the works of the Great Charioteers, and are devoid of the capacity to analyze the scriptures with pure reasoning, would for a while take a rest from their investigation of the two stages of the path of Vajradhara, this would be of a great benefit for themselves, for their followers who exert themselves in competing to see who is bolder in explaining their teachings, for those who are satisfied by looking merely at the mouth of these followers, and also for the teachings of the Victorious One.

Already in 1985, Leonard van der Kuijp pointed out that Ngor chen wrote two compositions on the body maṇḍala of Hevajra, the Smra ba ngan ’joms and the Lta ba ngan sel, in reply to this same criticism of Mkhas grub rje. Mkhas grub rje responded in his Gnam lcags ’khor lo, known also as Ngor lan. I will touch upon these heated exchanges at the end of my paper; however my center of attention will be the probably earlier specific points of disagreement between Tsong kha pa and Ngor chen regarding the body maṇḍala of Cakrasaṃvara.


Sarvadurgatipariśodhana Ritual Practice in Early Tibet

Dalton, Jacob (UC Berkeley, Berkeley, USA)

In considering the early Tibetan encounter with tantric ritual, two aspects might come to mind foremost: (1) the Buddhist-Bon competition over the imperial funerary rites, and (2) the emergence of an imperial Vairocana cult within the Pugyal court. Crucial to both of these aspects was the Sarvadurgatipariśodhana (henceforth SDPS), a Buddhist tantra that thus appears to have been central to the Buddhist ritual interests of the Tibetan empire. Yet what do we really know about how early Tibetans approached these pivotal rites? In an attempt to address this question, the paper proposed here will examine the available evidence from Dunhuang.

It will begin with an overview of the available materials. In fact, we have several useful manuscripts containing SDPS-based ritual instructions and diagrams. The ritual manuals reflect a variety of attempts to organize the same fundamental ritual building blocks. That is to say, the same basic prayers and ritual sequences are repeated across the manuscripts, but they are arranged in different orders according to the individual interests of each Tibetan author. In short, close examination of these manuals reveals a ritual system that appears to have enjoyed considerable popularity among early Tibetans, a set of rites that were rewritten over and again. In addition to these manuals are several complex diagrams of the SDPS mandala, each heavily inscribed with writing in either Tibetan or Chinese. Here again, we get the sense of a popular ritual system.

But perhaps even more significant for our understanding of SDPS practice in early Tibet is the important role that was played by the ritual patron (yon bdag) in most, if not all, of the rituals described. Whereas the Sarvatathāgata-tattvasaṃgraha (the other major Yoga-tantra represented in the Dunhuang manuscripts) inspired sādhanas for individuals to accomplish their own siddhis, the SDPS was more about performing tantric rites in the service of powerful patrons.

Having reviewed these SDPS materials, the paper will end by turning to one unstudied manuscript in particular. IOL Tib J 439 & IOL Tib J 712 originally comprised a single manuscript that contains a ritual manual for the SDPS initiation rite. A study of this manuscript reveals how Tibetans initiated the dead into the SDPS mandala as a tantric funerary practice. In this fascinating manuscript, then, we may be catching a glimpse of the kind of rite that early tantric Buddhists offered the Pugyal imperial court as an alternative to their native Bon funeral practices.


The Contribution to Tibetan and Buddhist Studies by the Swedish/Austrian Scholar Dr. Toni Schmid

Hammar, Urban (Department of History of Religions at Stockholm University, Uppsala, SWE)

This paper treats the Swedish/Austrian scholar Dr. Toni Schmid (1897-1972) and her work concerning Tibetan and Buddhist studies in the later part of her life.
Antonia (Toni) Elisabeth Magdalena Schmid was born in Fischamend Dorf near Wien in September 1897 in a family of a wealthy mill-owner. She was sent to a Catholic monastery school in Wien. Then she went on to the University for studies in History and presented a doctoral dissertation on Swedish 17th century history en 1922. She came to Sweden after the First World War when Sweden received German and Austrian children and students in order to relieve their difficult living conditions. At Lund University she continued her studies and presented another doctoral dissertation on a mediaeval Swedish saint. After that she was employed at the Swedish National Archives for the rest of her working life.
According to some information she studied Sanskrit already in Wien and anyway it was sure that she studied both Sanskrit and Tibetan with prof. Helmer Smith at Uppsala University in the 1940s. One of his students and a friend of Toni Schmid was the late prof. Nils Simonsson who wrote his doctoral thesis on the methods of translation used in the translation of the Buddhist canon into Tibetan in the 8th century.
In this environment Toni Schmid also came into contact with the iconographical material brought to the Ethnographical Museum in Stockholm by the Sven Hedin expedition to China and Mongolia 1927-35. Her first article was published in Ethnos 1950 on the series of painted scrolls on Milarepa that she two years later treated in detail in the book ”The Cotton-clad Mila. The Tibetan Poet-Saints' Life in Pictures”. This book treated the same series of thangkas in the museum collection and Toni Schmid translated the text on the paintings. The book was reviewed by Tucci, de Jong and Heissig mostly in positive terms. Her next book was published in 1958 entitled ”The Eighty-five Siddhas” and treated another series of thangkas from the museum. The pictures were analysed in the same way as in the fore-going publication. It was also reviewed by Tucci, Stein and de Jong in a positive way. The last of her books was published in 1961 entitled ”Saviours of Mankind. The Dalai Lamas and former Incarnations of Avalokiteshvara” and treated another series of paintings. During these years she also published a number of articles in various journals on subjects treating Tibet and Buddhism in general.
In 1955 she began traveling to Asia by visiting Nepal and Sikkim and she wrote an interesting book in Swedish on the land and culture of especially the Tibetans living in these countries. She then made several journeys to almost all of the Buddhist countries, but she was perhaps mostly interested in Nepal and Sikkim where she also studied the Tibetan language. She also bought material and books to the Ethnographical Museum and participated in Orientalist conferences.
To conclude Toni Schmid was an advanced scholar on especially Tibetan Buddhist iconography and a pioneer in Buddhist and Tibetan Studies in Sweden. She deserves to be remembered and appreciated for this work which was produced at the same time as she was working as an excellent researcher in Swedish mediaeval history.


A Dhāraṇīsaṃgraha Manuscript at the Cambridge University Library

Hidas, Gergely (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, HUN)

There are more than a hundred Sanskrit manuscripts surviving titled Dhāraṇīsaṃgraha that contain collections of dhāraṇī-spells. Some list up to ca. four hundred dhāraṇīs and thus provide a glimpse into arrays of incantations apparently in use up to modern times. This paper examines a voluminous Nepalese codex (Add. 1326) from NS 839/1719 CE and describes its contents along with comparisons with other such works and observations on the possible contexts of this textual tradition.




Byang chub kyi sems bsgom pa and its Different Versions

Pauls, Dimitri (University of Hamburg, Hamburg, GER)

In the present paper I will focus on the work Byang chub kyi sems bsgom pa (Bodhicittabhāvanā) which is, according to the rNying-ma tradition, one of the first five rDzogs-chen texts ever introduced to Tibet, which are believed to have been translated by the great Translator Vairocana in the 8th century.

The work has been transmitted in at least four different collections—namely, the Bai ro rgyud 'bum, bsTan 'gyur, rNying ma rgyud 'bum, and gDams ngag mdzod — where it has been classified in different ways according to their respective organizational schemes. While in the bsTan 'gyur and the gDams ngag mdzod it is regarded as a treatise composed by the Indian master Mañjuśrīmitra ('Jam-dpal-bshes-gnyen), in the Bai ro rgyud 'bum and rNying ma rgyud 'bum it is classified as a tantra. Moreover, while it is considered by the rNying-ma tradition a rDzogs-chen work, in the bsTan 'gyur it is found within the Yogatantra section. The text is cited in its entirety in the Byang chub kyi sems bsgom pa don bcu gnyis bstan pa (Bodhicittabhāvanādvādaśārthanirdeśa), presumably an autocommentary by Mañjuśrīmitra. Furthermore, we also find a tantra titled Byang chub sems bsgom pa’i rgyud in the rNying ma rgyud 'bum, which is approximately of the double length of the standard work, and in which most of the verses of the shorter version are included.

It seems very likely indeed, that the Byang chub kyi sems bsgom pa was translated from Sanskrit and was composed as a treatise by the Indian Master Mañjuśrīmitra, since a work with the same title and with the authorship of Mañjuśrīmitra is listed in both the lDan dkar ma and ’Phang thang ma catalogues. However, a question about the length of the text arises: the entries in the catalogues speak about 68 verses (shlo ka drug cu rtsa brgyad), whereas the commentary refers to the work as consisting of 40 verses (tshigs bcad bzhi bcu pa)—which indeed corresponds to the actual length of the standard version of the text. The longer Byang chub sems bsgom pa’i rgyud is, at first glance, an enlarged version of the original text, where supplementary verses and introductory and concluding chapters have been added in order to emphasize the authoritativeness of the text and to raise its status to that of a tantra. Interestingly, on a few occasions where the readings of the shorter version—and also its citation in the commentary—deviates from the longer version, the commentary seems to reflect the meaning found in the longer version much better than that found in the shorter one.

In my paper, I would like to present this case of the Byang chub kyi sems bsgom pa as a case study of formation and authentication of scriptures.


Dorjé Lingpa on the Chöd Tradition of Machik Labdrön

Sorensen, Michelle (Columbia University, Memphis, USA)

Following discussions with Khamtrul Rinpoche in Dharamshala and with the Nyingmapa Lama, Orgyen Tenzin, in Sarnath, I became interested in the question of why Dudjom Lingpa's (Bdud 'joms gling pa, 1835-1904) Thröma Nagmo (khros ma nag mo) practice has become one of the predominant practices of Chöd (Gcod) and what the prevalence of this practice reveals about the place of Chöd in the Nyingma (Rnying ma) tradition. As an early stage in this research project, my paper will examine Dorjé Lingpa's (Rdo rje gling pa, 1346-1405) interpretation of Machik Labdrön's (Ma gcig lab sgron, c. 1055-1153) major text, The Great Speech Chapter (Bka' tshoms chen mo), included in his collection of writing on Chöd.i This volume includes the earliest Nyingma commentary on this foundational Chöd text, a study of which will shed light on both the role of Chöd in the Nyingma tradition and the role of the Nyingma tradition in the transmission of Chöd.

My study of Dorjé Lingpa’s commentary follows on my dissertation work investigating the transmission of Chöd in the Karma Kagyü (Karma bka’ brgyud) school through a commentary on The Great Speech Chapter by the Third Karmapa Rangjung Dorjé (Rang byung rdo rje, 1284-1339), a near contemporary to Dorjé Lingpa. In my study, I found that the innovation of Rangjung Dorjé’s interpretation becomes obvious when contrasted with the commentary composed by Dorjé Lingpa. For example, Dorjé Lingpa follows The Great Speech Chapter closely in pointing out the confusions of the fundamental standpoints of the various traditions, including both Mahāmudrā and Dzogchen (Rdzogs chen). Unlike Rangjung Dorjé, Dorjé Lingpa does not find external textual authority to establish the superiority of any particular tenet system—not even the Dzogchen perspective, as one might expect given his own affiliation with the Nyingma. While Rangjung Dorjé was influential in developing what came to be known as Mahamudra Chöd, Dorjé Lingpa successfully retained and transmitted aspects of important early Chöd teachings that were ignored or altered by Rangjung Dorjé. My study of Dorjé Lingpa’s early Nyingma commentary on this Chöd teaching will allow me to begin to trace the transmission and development of Chöd in the Nyingma tradition, particularly in charting how he adopted and adapted Machik’s teaching. In turn, this will help me to contextualize later texts such as Dudjom Lingpa's Thröma Nagmo practice and Jigmé Lingpa’s transmission of The Laughter of the Dakinis (Gcod yul mkha’ ‘gro’i gad rgang), important practices for many Nyingma (and non-Nyingma) Chöd practitioners to the present day.

i Bka’ tshoms chen mo’i ti ka lta sgom gyi khogs byung khyung chen nam mkha’i ldings ltar / bshad pa bzhugs soha / badzra bho tra’o. In Gcod skor gter chen rdo rje rdzing pa’i (sic. gling pa) gter chos. Thimphu, Bhutan: Druk Sherig Press, 1984, 365-447.


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