Blue Annals (deb-ther sngon-po)

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

This page relates ‘Account of Yoga-tantras’ 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 7 (The preaching of the Tantras).

Chapter 1 - Account of Yoga-tantras

[Full title: Account of Yoga-tantras (yo ga’i lo rgyus kyi skabs. Chandra 312; Chengdu 429; Roerich 351).]

Now the manner in which the Tantras were preached is to be related.

In regard to the Kriya-Tantra (bya ba'i rgyud) and the Caryā-Tantra (spyod pa' rgyud), the exposition of the ācārya Buddhaguhya (slob dpon sangs rgyas gsang ba) was pre-eminent throughout the Period of the Early Spread of the Doctrine. Translators, basing themselves on the expositions of other paṇḍitas, and having mastered the teaching of the ācārya Buddhaguhya, translated the Ārya-Subāhuparipṛcchānāma-tantra[1] , Sarvamaṇḍalasāmānyavidhīnām guhyatantra[2] , the Dhyānottara-paṭalakrama[3] and other texts, as well as a brief commentary on the Vairocanābhisaṃbodhi-Tantra[4] of the ācārya Buddhaguhya which belongs to the Caryā-Tantra class. A commentary on the Ārya-Vajrapāṇyābhiṣekamahātantra[5] had also been translated.

Though there appeared to exist formerly a continuity in the preaching and study (bshad pa and nyan pa) of these texts, since the Period of the Later Spread of the Doctrine, the continuity of preaching does not appear to have been great. During the Period of the Later Spread of the Doctrine there has been a great increase in the preaching of both the "Outer" Yoga-Tantra and "Inner" Yoga-Tantra[6] . Namely, the puruṣottarna (skyes bu'i mchog) the great Translator known as rin chen bzang po, who had, in general, mastered and expounded all the basic texts of the Prajñāpāramitā and Tantra classes, has especially expounded the Yoga-Tantras.

Its story: This Great-Translator on three occasions journeyed to Kāśmīra, and there attended on many teachers. He also invited many paṇḍitas to Tibet and properly established the custom of preaching (the Yoga Tantras). He translated the Tattvāloka[7] , a commentary composed by the ācārya Ānandagarbha (kun snying) on the Sarvatathāgatatattvasaṃgraha-nāma-mahāyānasūtra[8] , an incomplete commentary on the dpal mchog rgyud[9] by the ācārya Ānandagarbha, the Rite and Ceremony of rdo rje 'byung ba, composed by Aanandagarbha[10] , the Māyājāla-mahātantrarāja[11] together with an exposition of the text by the ācārya Ānandagarbha [12] the Sarvarahasya—

nāma-tantrarāja[13] together with a commentary by the ācārya Śānti pa[14] and numerous short texts connected with the above.

He (rin then bzan po) performed these (Tantric) rites and maintained (the Doctrine), and had many disciples from mnga' ris, dbus and gtsang. Among them the Junior Translator (lo chung) legs pa'i shes rab, gur shing brtson 'grus rgyal mtshan of mang nang, gzhon nu shes rab of gra and skyi nor Jñāna -these four were known as his "Four Spiritual Sons" (thugs sras).

Further, an ston grags rin of spu hrangs, rgya ye tshul, gung pa ye shes and dkon mchog brtsegs of mar yul, these four have been the disciples of both the Great Translator (lo chen, i.e. Rin chen bzang po) and the Junior Translator (lo chus, i.e. Legs pa'i shes rab).

Moreover, rkyang pa chos blo of rgyan ro spe'u dmar in Upper myang attended on the Great Translator. Soon after the arrival of the Great Translator from Kāśmīra, he heard (from him) the rite of initiation into the rdo rje 'byung ba[15] , according to the Śraddha Lineage[16] and the ko sa la'i rgyan[17] . He also listened in company with zab rtse rgya gar to the exposition of the Śrī-Paramādya-nāma-mahāyānakalparāja, accompanied by an incomplete commentary[18] and the initiation rite. He also listened attentively (to the exposition) of the Guhyasamāja[19] according to the system of Jñānapāda (the ācārya sangs rgyud ye shes, ye shes zhabs). He studied the ceremonies (lag len) under dol po sgom chen.

The exposition of the text he chiefly obtained from the Junior Translator (lo chung, i.e. Rngog legs pa'i shes rab). After rin chen bzang po’s return from his second journey to Kāśmīra, kyang pa chos blo obtained the Śrī-Paramādya-nāma-mahāyanakalpa-rāja from him after the whole text had been translated, as well as all that had remained unfinshed from his previous studies.

After that sum ston ye 'bar attended on the Great Translator (rin chen bzang po) for seven years and received from him a commentary on the first half of the Tattvāloka[20] , a commentary on the first half of the Śrī-Paramādya-Tantra, an incomplete text of the Śrī-Paramādya-Tantra itself, the rdo rje 'byung ba, the Initiation rite according to the method of the two commentaries and the Initiation rites of dpal mchog rdor sems and deal mchog rigs bsdus[21] . From the Great Translator he recived initiations only, and conducted most of his studies under the junior Translator (rngog legs pa'i shes rab).

Then lce zhar of Upper myang became a disciple of the Great Translator, but mostly studied under the Junior Translator for seven years, and mastered the Yoga-Tantras in general, and in particular the Śrī-Paramādya-Tantra (dpal mchog).

After that gzhon nu rgya mtsho, father of spang kha dar chung, brag stengs pa of las stod, dmar ston chos kyi rgyal mtshan of kul ‘ching ru, kle ston of ldog, Śākya rdo rje of bal, kong kha pa, scholar of thang (thang ston) and ldog gong kha pa had a brief interview with the Great Translator, but studied chiefly under the Junior Ttanslator. Rngog se ser, srad ye gzhon of zangs came to see the Great Translator, but did not see him, and instead attended on the Junior Translator. Rngog ge ser ba mastered the great commentary on the Nāmacaṅgīti[22] .

After the death of the Great Translator, pho brang zhi ba’od who was learned in the work of a translator, made numerous translations, and having invited many translators and paṇḍitas, he filled in the incomplete portions of the Śrī-Paramādya-Tantra (dpal rnchog).

Zangs dkar ‘phags pa shes rab did not find the Great Translacor alive, and instead studied under the Junior Translator and the latter’s assistant preacher an ston grags rin, as well as attended classes on the Initiation rite and exposition of the Tattva-saṃgraha[23] , the Śrī Paramādya-Tantra (dpal mchog) and the Larger and Lesser recensions of the sbyong rgyud[24] .

Later when the paṇḍita Kumārakalaśa (gzhon nu bum pa) came by invitation to dbus, he expounded the Vajraśekharatantra[25] to mar pa rdor yes of smon gro, khams pa rgwa ston and yam shud klu chung, using a translation made previously by the paṇḍita Karmavajra and zangs dkar gzhon nu tshul khrims at 'dam, and the original Sanskrit text used by Kumārakalaśa. Zangs dkar lo tsa ba acted as translator. Then when they came to lha sa, an upāsaka named gnyal pa nyi ma shes rab heard on three occasions (the exposition) of the Vajraśekharatantra from the lo tsa ba and the paṇḍita, and took down many notes. Zangs dkar (lo tsa ba) and ntyi ma shes rab visited later Nepāl.

After that, the lo tsa ba and his disciple proceeded to mnga’ ris, from where the lo tsa ba journeyed to Kāśmīra. Gnyal preached on one occasion the Vajraśekhara-tantra. Later, when the Kashmirian Jñānaśrī came to Tibet. He took up residence at chos 'khor ta bo (in Spiti). After a three years, stay, this paṇḍita learned to speak Tibetan, and gnyal studied undcr him for three years.

From mang nang pa he received (instruction) on the Tattva-saṃgraha accordmg to the method of Ānandagarbha (kun snying). From skyi nor Jnana͂ he received (the exposition) of the sbyong rgyud[26] according to the method of the Master (Atīśa). Later zangs dkar (lo tsa ba) composed a commentary on the Vajraśekharatantra. The paṇḍita Mahākaruṇa (thugs rje chen po) and zangs dkar (lo tsa ba) also made a translation of three chapters of the second half of the Commentary[27] at myang ro.

Gnyal pa nyi ma shes rab, mar pa rdor yes, gngan ston tshul ‘bar and spyang tshan pa seng ge rgyal mtshan, the four, were called the “Four Sons of zangs dkar” (zans dkar bu bzhi). In general, zangs dkar (lo tsa ba) benefitted greatly the propagation of the Anuttara and Yoga Tantras and in particular that of the Yoga Tantra.

Sum ston ye ‘bar had the following disciples: gnyan ston tshul ‘bar, rgya mon chos grags of myang stod gtsang po, spu ston ‘bar thog of stag tshal gdong ston and kham pa shes rab rdo rje.

The kalyāNa-mitra gnyal pa’s disciple snur nyi ma ‘od zer had four discipies: glan chos ‘byung, rtsa skya dkon mchog grags, dmar chos rgyal and sgangs ston sher ‘bum. His son rdo rje seng ge composed numerous texts on the Yoga (Tantra). Snur chos ‘phags, from whom the Dharmasvāmin rgyal sras rin po che heard the initiation into the Trailokyavijaya-mahākalparaja [Trailokyavijayamahākalparāja?][28] , also belongs to tlle Spiritual Lineage of the (zangs dkar lo tsa ba).

The son of snur ye shes rgyal mtshan chos rgyal taught the system extensively to the All-knowing 'phags 'od. 'phags 'od taught it to bu rin po che (bu ston) and initiated him in the manner of pouring water from one vessel into another. Bu rin po che composed (several) abridgements on the Yoga Tantra, an extensive exposition of the 'byung ba (rdo rje 'byung ba) and manuals on the different maṇḍala rites. He used to say that "his former karmic inclinations (vāsanā) towards the Yoga Tantra had awakened in him."

Most of the Lineages which handed down the Initiation rites of the Yoga Tantra are existing at present, but I failed to find (the Lineage) which handed down the exposition of the (Yoga) Tantra and that of its commentaries.[29] rngog chos kyi rdo rje studied the Yoga Tantra first under skyi bye ma lung pa and then under khams pa shes rab rdo rje. This Spiritual Lineage continues to exist. The Lineage which handed down the (meditative) practice and the maṇḍala rites of the gsang ldan[30] , and the exposition of the Nāmasanṅgīti exists to the present day among the followers of rngog.

The Chapter on the History of the Yoga (Tantra)

Footnotes and references:


dpun bzangs, Kg. rgyud 'bum, No. 805 (R).


gsang ba spyi rgyud, Kg. rgyud 'bum, No. 806 (R).


bsam gtan phyi ma, Kg. rgyud 'bum, No. 808 (R).


rnam par snang mdzad mngon par byang chub pa'i rgyud, Kg. rgyud 'bum, No. 494 (R).


phyag na rdo rje dbang bskur ba'i rgyud, Kg. rgyud 'bum, No. 496 (R).


phyi nang, i. e. the Yoga and the Anuttara-yoga-Tantras (R).


Sarvatathāgatatattvasaṃgraha-mahāyanābhisamaya-nāma-Tantra-Tattvālokakarī-nāma-vyākhyā, Tg. 2510 (R).


de nyid bsdus pa'i rgyud, Kg. rgyud 'bum, No. 379 (R).


Śrī-Paramādya-nāma-mahāyānakalparāja, Kg. rgyud 'bum, No. 487 (R).


Tg. rgyud, No. 2516 (R).


sgyu 'phrul dra ba'i rgyud, Kg. rgyud 'bum, No. 466 (R).


Māyājala-mahātantrarājatikā-ākhyā, Tg. rgyud, No. 2513 (R).


thams cad gsang ba'i rgyud Kg. rgyud 'bum, No. 481 / (R).


Śrī-Sarvarahasyaṃbandharahasyapradīpa-nāma, Tg. rgyud, No. 2623 (R).


Vajradhātumahāmaṇḍalavidhisarvavajrodaya-nāma, Tg. rgyud, No. 2516 (R).


Śraddhākaravarman (R).


Kosalālaṃkāratattvasaṃgrahaṭīkā, Tg. rgyud, No. 2503 (R).


Śrī-Paramādyavivaraṇa, Tg. rgyud, No. 2511 (R).


Sarvatathāgatakāyavākcittara-hasyaguhyasamāja-nāma-mahākalparāja, Kg. rgyud 'bum, No. 442 (R).


Tg. rgyud, No. 1293 (R).


n. of a mandala (R).


Tg. rgyud, No. 2533 (R).


Sarvatathāgata-Tattvasaṃgraha-nāma-mahāyānasūtra, Kg. rgyud 'bum, No. 479 (R).


sbyong rgyud ma bu, Kg. rgyud 'bum, Nos. 483 and 485 (R).


Vajraśekhara-mahāguhyayogatantra, Kg. rgyud ‘bum, No. 480 (R).


Kg. rgyud ‘bum, No. 483 (R).


Sarvatathāgatatatt-vasaṃgraha-mahāyāna-abhisamaya-nāma-Tantratattvāloka karī-nāma-vyākhyā. Tg. rgyud, No. 2510 (R).


khams gsum rnam rgyal, Kg. rgyud bum, No.482 (R).


'gos lo tsa ba means here that the Lineage which handed down the lun or permission had come to an end. In Tibet no text can be expounded without obtaining a permission or lun from a teacher, member of the Spiritual Lineage to which the text belonged (R).


Tg. rgyud, Nos. 2584, 2585 (R).

Let's grow together!

I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased sources, definitions and images. Your donation direclty influences the quality and quantity of knowledge, wisdom and spiritual insight the world is exposed to.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: