Blue Annals (deb-ther sngon-po)

by George N. Roerich | 1949 | 382,646 words | ISBN-10: 8120804716 | ISBN-13: 9788120804715

This page relates ‘Spa tshab together with his lineage’ of the Blue Annals (deb-ther sngon-po)—An important historical book from the 15th century dealing with Tibetan Buddhism and details the spiritual doctrine and lineages of religious teachers in Tibet. This chapter belongs to Book 6 (The Origin of the Madhyamika (middle way)).

Chapter 2 - Spa tshab together with his lineage

[Full title: Spa tshab together with his lineage (pa tshab brgyud pa dang bcas pa’i skabs. Chandra 304; Chengdu 415; Roerich 341).]

The story of the origin of the teaching of the Mahāyāna-Mādhyamaka: The story of the exposition of the fundamental texts (of the system), in particular of that of the Prajñāpradīpamūlamādhyamakavṛtti[1] , by the great lo tsa ba blo ldan shes tab and his disciples has been given above. (Now the story of) the origin of the exposition of the basic texts (of the system) by the ācārya Candrakīrti according to spa tshab lo tsa ba nyi ma grags.

Spa tshab nyi ma grags

spa tshab nyi ma grags was a native of the upper district of Upper and Lower spa tshab in 'phan yul. In his youth, he proceeded to Kāśmīra, and heard the Doctrine from many paṇḍitas who included Sañjana’s two sons and others. After studying for 23 years, he returned to Tibet, and the monks of spu hrangs pa presented him with a large turquoise called "phag sgur" and requested him to translate the Commentary on the Abhidharma composed by Pūrṇavardhana[2] . He prepared an excellent translation of it. When he came to 'phan yul, he did not have a large following and the kalyāṇa-mitra shar ba pa sent to him many of his own disciples to study the Mādhyamaka system. Having established the teaching of the Mādhyamaka, he gathered numerous monks and prepared excellent translations of the Commentaries by the ācārya Candra(kīrti) on the Mūlamādhyamaka-kārikās [3] , the Mādhyamakāvatāra[4] and the Yukti-ṣaṣṭīkā[5] .

Later at ra mo che assisted by the paṇḍita Kanakavarman he compared them with texts from Magadha. The great Commentary composed by the ācārya Candra(kīrti) on the stong nyid bdun cu pa[6] has been translated by Abhaya[7] and snur dharma grags[8] . Spa tshab with the paṇḍita Mudita revised more than 300 ślokas (two bam pos) of the first part of this Commentary.

Spa tshab nyi ma grags on the Guhyasamāja

He stated about the great Commentary on the Guhyasamāja (gsang ba 'dus pa'i rgya cher 'grel pa) the Pradīpodyotana-nāma-ṭīkā[9] : "rin chen bzang po who was famous as an excellent translator, had boasted that he had made a translation of it, had revised it and had edited it. Having discovered that the translation was not properly done, I, nyi ma grags pa, have retranslated it." He prepared an excellent revision (of the translation), as well as translated many sections of the (Guhya)samāja and taught it.

Spa tshab nyi ma grags’ disciples

Among his disciples - gtsang pa sar sbos, rma bya byang chub ye shes, ngar yon tan grags and zhang thang sag pa ye shes 'byung gnas were known as the “Four Sons of spa tshab" (spa tshab bu bzhi). Due to them the teaching of the Mādhyamaka system spread throughout dbus and gtsang.

In particular, rma bya byang brtson, one of the "Great Lions" of the ācārya phya pa, heard the (exposition) of the Mādhyamaka system and the Guhyasamāja from spa tshab. Having transferred his monastery (chos gzhi) to Upper and Lower yar klungs, he taught there for a considerable time the Mādhyamaka system. He had many disciples including btsan thang pa rgyal ba dpal and others. He disseminated widely the system of Mādhyamaka.

Rma bya byang brtson was a disciple of khu lo tsa ba mdo sde 'bar and kha che Jayānanda. He composed a commentary on the Tarkamudgara-kārikā written by Jayānanda[10] . I have also seen a commentary on the Prajñāmūla[11] , a commentary on the Summary of the Prasannapadā, notes and an abridged summary of the Commentary on the Mādhyamakāvatāra, as well as an Abridgment of the Mādhyamaka system (composed by him). He seems also to have composed many text books on the Mādhyamaka system.

Zhang thang sag pa

Zhang thang sag pa: He founded thang sag (in 'phan yul) and taught extensively the Mādhyamaka system. I have seen a Commentary on the Mādhyamakāvatāra, a Commentary on the Yukti-ṣaṣṭīkā by Nāgārjuna, a Commentary on the Catuḥ-śataka[12] and a Commentary on the Ratnāvalī by Nāgārjuna[13] composed by him. He seems to have also composed other texts besides the above mentioned. Due to him, the Teaching of the Mādhyamaka system continued uninterruptedly up to the present time at thang sag.

Many excellent kalyāṇa-mitras from dbus and gtsang attended (classes there). This monastery was of great benefit for the Mādhyamaka system.

Lineage of thang sag monastery

zhang thang sag pa was followed by 'brom ston, dbang phyug grags pa, the ācārya shes rab rdo rje, the two brothers -the ācārya don tshul and grags ldan, lu dpon su kha de va[14] , the ācārya darma shes rab, bang ston shes rab rin chen, the Venerable Preceptor bsod nams seng ge, phag ston bsam gtan bzang po, the ācārya thang sag pa, the ācārya bkra shis seng ge, rta pa gzhon nu bzang po, the ācārya chos grags of gsos khang, thang sag pa bsod nams rgyal mtshan rtse pa kun dga' gzhon nu, the ācārya Śākya gzhon nu, the ascetic (kun spangs), gzhon nu rgyal mtshan, dmar ston gzhon nu rgyal mtshan, the ācārya tshul khrims dpal pa, grags pa rgyal mtshan, the ācārya rin chen rgya mtsho and the abbot blo gros dpal rin pa.

Up to the time of the last mentioned, they all taught the (Mādhyamaka) system, basing themselves on the two texts -the Prasannapadā[15] and the Great Commentary on the Mādhyamakāvatāra[16] .

When the thang sag pas describe their Lineage in India, they mention the following: Munindra (thub pa'i dbang po), the upādhyāya (mkhan po) Rāhulabhadra (sgra gcan zin), Nāgārjuna (klu grub). Candrakīrti (zla ba grags pa), Mañjukīrti, Devacandra, the brāhmana Ratnavajra (rin chen rdo rje), Parāhita, Hasumati and spa tshab lo tsa ba.

The Chapter on spa tshab and his Spiritual Lineage.

Footnotes and references:


Tg. dbu ma, No. 3853 (R).


gang ba spel; this is the Abhidharmaṭīkālakṣanānusāriṇī-nāma, Tg. mngon pa, No. 4093 (R).


Mūlamādhyamakavṛtti-Prasannapadā-nāma, Tg. dbu. ma, No. 3860 (R).


Mādhyamakāvatārabhāṣya-nāma, Tg. dbu ma, No. 3862 (R).


rigs pa drug bcu pa, Tg. dbu ma, No. 3825; Yukti-ṣaṣṭīkavṛtti, Tg. dbu ma, No. 3864 (R).


Śūnyatā-saptati, Tg. dbu ma, No. 3827; Candrakīrti composed the Śūnyata-saptati-vṛtti, Tg. dbu ma, No. 3867 (R).


Abhayākara (R).


the original manuscript of Dharma grags is still preserved at the zhwa lu monastery in gtsang. Verbal communication by the Rev. dge 'dun chos 'phel (R).


sgron ma gsal bar byed pa zhes bya ba'i rgya cher bshad pa, Tg. rgyud, No. 5785 (R).


rtog ge tho ba, Tg, dbu ma, No. 3869 (R).


rtsa ba shes rab, Tg. dbu ma, No. 3824 (R).


bzhi brgya ba, Catuḥśatakaśāstrakārikānāma, Tg. dbu ma, No. 3846 (R).


rin chen phreng ba, Tg. spring yig, No. 4158 (R).


Sukhadeva (R).


Tg. dbu ma. No 3860 (R).


by Candrakirti; Tg dbu ma, No. 3862 (R).

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