Blue Annals (deb-ther sngon-po)

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

This page relates ‘Cakrasamvara’ 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 5 - Cakrasaṃvara

[Full title: Cakrasaṃvara (bde mchog gi skabs. Chandra 335; Chengdu 460;Roerich 380).]

The widely propagated teaching and manuals of meditation (sgrub yig) according to the initiation and Tantra of ŚrīSaṃvara, originated first in the Spiritual Lineage of the disciples of the Great-Translator (rin chen bzang po). In later times mar pa do pa, spu hrangs lo chung, mal gyo and others taught extensively this Tantra.

The Lineage is as follows: Vajradhara, Vajrapāṇi, Saraha, sha ba ra dbang phyug and his disciple lu yi pa whom some call lu i pa and some lu hi pa. My teacher the great paṇḍita[1] used to say: "There exists a book on the Sampannakrama degree composed by him, and in the Sanskrit text of the eighteenth śloka, (his name) is written as lu yi, so this (form) must be correct." lu yi pa taught the Tantra to king da ri ka pa[2] and his minister ḍanṅgi pa. The latter taught it to rdo rje dril bu pa[3] ;the latter to ru sbal zhabs can[4] ;the latter to Jayandhara; the latter to Kṛṣṇācārya (nag po spyod pa ba); the latter to Vijayapāda (rnam rgyal zhabs); the latter to Tilli pa and he in turn taught it to na ro pa. The biographies of teachers who preceded the last named are numerous, and since it is easy to consult them, I did not write them down.

Na ro pa: he was the guardian of the northern gate of Vikramaśīla. The ācārya Śānti pa[5] and the Venerable Maitrī pa heard the Tantra from him. The Venerable Master (Atīśa) heard it from Śānti pa. Atīśa in his turn taught it in mnga' ris to the Great Translator (rin chen bzang po) and his disciples. He also taught it to 'gar dge ba of gtsang rong. It is said that he expounded the text with the help of the commentary of Devarakṣita[6] .

Further, the Master taught the precepts (of this Tantra) in dbus to nag tsho lo tsa ba and to an aged khams pa. Further, a Nepālese known as pham mthing pa or a nges pa chen po had four brothers: the elder Dharmamati, and two younger ones dus 'khor pa and thang churng pa. Dharmamati spent 12 years with na ro pa. Pham mthing pa went to invite him. The elder said: "You, yourself stay here! Having received a prophecy from (my) teacher, I shall proceed to wu t'ai shan". He went away without anyone knowing where he was going[7] .

Pham mthing pa attended on na ro pa for nine years and heard from him (the exposition) of many doctrines, including that of Saṃvara and the Hevajra. He obtained the lower and intermediate siddhis with the help of the Cycle of Saṃvara. His younger brother dus 'khor ba attended on na ro pa for five years, and also heard many doctrines, such as the Saṃvara Cycle and others. The youngest thang khun pa came to invite dus 'khor ba, and also obtained initiation and some instructions in the Tantra from na ro pa. The elder brother said to thang chun pa: ''You should meditate on Vāgiśvara". He followed the advice and meditated. He threw a flower into a stream (in order to test his attainments) and three times the flower floated up-stream. The first two times they did not notice it, but on the last occasion when the flower floated upstream, he picked it up, and thus he did not obtain the higher and middle powers of Vāgiśvara, but he obtained the lesser powers by which he was able to compose ślokas and learn texts by heart.

When the flower was carried downstream, a servant named Bhadanta drank of this water and obtained very great wisdom. Pham mthing pa then said to thang chung pa: "You go to Tibet and look for gold, here (meaning the residence of na ro pa) you should keep the eternal lamp (burning)". Thang chung pa then took with him Bhadanta as servant and proceeded as far as gnyal. The servant Bhadanta while looking after horses at ngur smrig, learnt Tibetan. From brang ti he heard (the exposition) of the Abhidharmasamuccaya and mastered it. When he discussed it with the ācārya, he won the debate. Bhadanta then said to brang ti: "When I shall come again here as paṇḍita, you, Teacher, should receive me!" They, the master and servant, collected 500 golden srangs, and eternal lamps and gaṇacakras were kept up without interruption (at Pulahari in the vicinity of Nālandā).

The lo tsa ba klog skya shes rab rtsegs heard the Tantras of the Saṃvara Cycle from pham mthing pa. When the latter came to Tibet, the mal gyo lo tsa ba blo gros grags obtained the Saṃvara initiation and method of concentration from him. Later mal gyo himself went to Nepāl and thoroughly heard the Cycle of Saṃvara from pham mthing pa and (his) brother Bodhibhadra (byang chub bzang po), a disciple of na ro pa, and the Nepālese Mahākaruṇa, a disciple of the Nepālese Kanakaśrī. The bla ma sa chen (kun dga' snying po) heard it from him. When the latter was expounding the Tantra, sun lung pa bsod nams rdo rje wrote down notes, which became known as the "Commentary[8] composed by sa chen". Sa chen taught it to his own son rtse mo (rje btsun bsod nams rtse mo) and brother. This Venerable One taught it to Śa skya pang chen[9] . Dmar chos kyi rgyal po heard the Saṃvara Tantra from the Venerable One (bsod nams rtse mo). The pang chen taught him the three Tantras[10] together with precepts.

This dmar chos kyi rgyal po belongs to the line of the nephew of dmar chos kyi rgyal mtshan, a disciple of spu hrangs lo chen. He had three nephews: dmarshes rab rdo rje, thub pa shes rab and brtson 'grus rdo rje. He studied under his own uncle brtson 'grus rdo rje the Saṃvara-Tantra, according to the teaching of the Lineage of his own teacher, the Yoga Tantra, the "Six Doctrines" of lo tsa (lo tsa chos drug i.e. Rin chen bzang po'i chos drug) and other texts. There must have existed many lineages of disciples, holders of the doctrine of Saṃvara, originated from sa skya pa, father and sons, but I did not hear of anyone else, except dmar chos rgyal, and therefore I am unable to write about it.

Mar pa do pa was born in the family of yar 'brog bla do, in which many kalyāṇa-mitras had been born. His father was named kalyāṇa-mitra chos rgyal. His own name was chos kyi dbang phyug. At first he studied Sanskrit with a paṇḍita and met rong zom chos kyi bzang po. Later he studied also with go rub lo tsa ba tshul khrims rgyal ba. Then he proceeded to Nepāl and it is said that he met there mar pa lho brag pa who was returning from India.

According to this (story) and the account of his meeting with cog ro chos rgyal, this lo tsa ba seems to have been born, when the Venerable mar pa was about 31. He lived to the age of 95. He presented to mar pa lho brag pa one golden zho when he met mar pa. Mar pa said to him: "You may be in need of even one golden se be[11] . You take it yourself. I am going to Tibet to sweep gold. Na ro pa is not there, as he has gone for Secret (Tantric) practice. You should listen to the Doctrine from the four disciples of na ro pa." Then when mar pa do pa arrived in ti ra hu ti[12] , a large crowd had gathered, and he inquired: "What was there?" They said to him: "We are looking at the coming of na ro pa." He mingled with the crowd, and having approached na ro pa, offered him one golden zho. Na ro pa after holding it in his hand, threw it on the ground and gazed at him with wide-open eyes. Though he did not say anything, mar pa do pa understood that he had been blessed (by na ro pa). After that (mar pa do pa) proceeded to Magadha.

Following the advice received from mar pa lho brag pa, he obtained the initiation into the Cycle of Saṃvara, the Tantra and its precepts according to the system of na ro pa, from na ro pa’s disciples Manaka[13] śrī, Prajñārakṣita, kha che byang chub bzang po636 and Pramudavajra[14] . He also heard many instructions from many paṇḍitas.

After returning again to Nepāl, he heard the exposition of the na ro pa’s system from pham mthing pa, from the latter’s younger brother Vāgiśvara (ngag gi dbang phyug) and the Nepālese Kanakaśrī. He also received many instructions from the siddha phyag na[15] , a direct disciple of Maitrī pa, who was residing in Nepāl. He also studied under the brāhmaṇa Kṛṣṇapāda, a disciple of the Nepālese dza hūṃ. He translated many texts belonging to the Cycle of Saṃvara with the assistance of Sumatikīrti.

On reaching Tibet, this lo tsa ba (mar pa do pa) gathered numerous disciples who heard from him the Cycle of Saṃvara, and gtsang mi mkhas pa rgya nam, do'i gze ba blo ldan and cog ro chos rgyal of khams continued successfully his Spiritual Lineage. A disciple of the Lord sgam po pa, possessed of excellent knowledge, and known as la yag pa byang chub dngos grub, also obtained from gze ba the Cycle of Saṃvara, according to the system of mar pa do pa (mar do) at bla do. He composed an extensive commentary, basing himself on the instructions received by him from sgam po pa, on the (Saṃvara) mūla-tantra and the kun spyod[16] . He also composed a commentary on the commentary of the Pañcakrama by dril bu pa[17] and an exposition of the Utpannakrama (bskyed rim). Mar pa do pa himself composed an extensive commentary and a summary on both the Mūlatantra[18] and the Yoginī-sañcaryā[19] .

When the son of mar do, named nam mkha' 'od was born, he obtained the complete precepts of his father’s teachings. He went to skyi sod (lha sa) and other places. He taught to others short precepts, and died at one and the same time with his father, so that his Lineage did not continue. Gze ba taught (the system) extensively to his own son bde mchog rdo rje. From the latter the lineage received a great spread. Mkhyen rab dbang phyug heard the exposition of the Cycle of Saṃvara from yan rtse ba rin chen seng ge. He also heard it from khang gsar pa bsod nams mgon, but he used to say that he had not found the preceding Lineage. It must have been the school of mar do (mar pa do pa).

Its Lineage of initiation: the Buddha (Cakrasaṃvara), Vajravārahī (ye shes, mkha' 'gro ma), lu yi pa, ḍeṅgi pa, la ba pa, Indra-bodhi (Indrabhūti), ka tsa pa, Vajraghaṇṭa (dril bu pa), Jālandhara pa, Kṛṣṇācārya (nag po pa), ku sha la na, Tilli pa, na ro pa, Manakaśrījñana, the Nepālese Bhadanta, mar pa do pa, gze ba blo ldan, gze ba jo bde, the ācārya khu lhas pa, the ācārya lho tshang pa, the lo tsa ba mchog ldan, the bla ma dpal ldan seng ge, and bu ston.

In general, bu ston rin po che was the holder of seven different Lineages of initiations into the Cycle of Saṃvara. Bu ston rin po che (bu ston) composed an exposition of the system of lu yi pa[20] , and its maṇḍala rite[21] . He also composed a commentary called 'khrul spong[22] on the Śrī-Cakrasaṃvara-sādhana-nāma[23] and a commentary[24] on both the bde mchog rtsa ba'i rgyud[25] and the Yoginī-sañcaryā[26] . He also wrote on the maṇḍala rite of Saṃvara[27] . From among the many manuals on maṇḍala rites composed (by bu ston), in this manual he discussed in details the fourth initiation[28] .

Cog ro chos kyi rgyal mtshan, was born in the year Earth Male Mouse (sa pho byi ba - 1108 A.D.) in Lower khams[29] . At the age of 19, he came to the school of rgya dmar (stod lung). This Earth Mouse year is the Mouse year which preceded the Iron Tiger year (lcags stag - 1110 A.D.) in which dpal phag mo gru pa was born. He studied the Pramāṇaviniścaya (tshad ma rnam nges) and the teachings of the school known as Mādhyamaka-Svātantrika (dbu ma rang rgyud), and became a learned man. At the age of 24, he taught the Pramāṇaviniścaya.

His fellow students at the school were: the Lord phag mo gru pa, mkhan po ka ba and 'bal tshad ma pa. Do pa’s son jo sras nam mkha' also came to that school. Cog ro also obtained from him the lesser precepts and studied extensively under ar and the khams pa a seng. At gzhung he studied with rngog mdo sde the Cycle of Hevajra and the Māyā, as well as composed a text-book called rin chen ljong shing[30] . After that, on three occasions he visited the bla ma (mar pa) do pa, and pleased the Teacher with offerings. He studied the Saṃvara-Tantra together with its branches, and mastered it thoroughly. Jo sras revealed to him the hidden precepts (possessed by his father).

The bla ma lo tsa ba (i.e. Mar pa do pa) passed away at the age of 95. About the same time jo sras also passed away. After that, he (cog ro) studied the Vajravārahī Cycle with a direct disciple of ha mu dkar po called dpyal lo kun dga' rdo rje. Then he taught for a while the exposition of the (Pramāṇa)viniścaya, and meditated for six years at gnam tsho. After that he founded the me dge lha ‘tsho, and established there a college (brad grwa) and a meditative school (sgom grwa). (He) had hunters as disciples who proceeded to Heaven without leaving their physical bodies behind. He (cog ro) composed a commentary on the (bde mchog) rtsa rgyud and taught it extensively. He lived to the age of 69 and died on the second day of the month of Kārtika[31] of the year Fire Ape (me spre 1176 A.D.). His method of explaining basic texts was continued by the kalyāṇa-mitra gu Śrī'brom pa [32] , rong po dge rings and others.

The great ācārya of 'bri khung (continued) to bestow initiations (according to his method). Zhang maintained the abbot’s chair. Zhang was named tshul khrims shes rab. He, having met 'bri khun pa, attained the understanding of the Mahāmudrā (Buddhahood), His disciple was kun tu 'od. Rom po ba was a disciple of these two. I doubt that these facts were obtained from the scholar gyor ston, who based himself on a statement by the ācārya Dharmaketu[33] .

Kun tu 'od: (This) was his title (che ming), his real name being dbang phyug seng ge. He was also called rno ra ba. His disciple was zhang btsun smon lam dbang phyug, who lived till the age of 85, from the year Fire Ape (me spre 1176 A.D.) to the year Iron Ape (lcags spre 1260 A.D.). He was also a disciple of khro lo (khro phu lo tsa ba), and was a famous and great magician. His disciple was rdzong pa, who was born in the year Water Tiger (chu stag 1182 A.D.). At 20, in the year Iron Hen (lcags bya 1201 A.D.), he was appointed to the abbot’s chair. He died at the age of 69 in the Iron Dog (lcags khyi 1250 A.D.).

His disciple known as the bla ma dam pa rin po che was born in the year Wood Female Sheep (shing mo lug 1235 A.D.). At the age of 16, in the year Iron Dog (lcags khyi 1250 A.D.) he was appointed to the chair. He died at the age of 39 in the year Water Hen (chu bya 1273 A.D.). He seems to have been called gnyan thog jo 'bum. The teaching of the Saṃvara-Tantra has thus lasted for a long time. Tre bo mgon po studied well the four ākhyā tantras (bshad pa'i rgyud) of the Samvara Cycle[34] according to the method of mar do (mar pa do pa) with the great scholar rgya nam mkha'. Idum ra sgang pa gnyan rdo rje seng ge heard (the Tantra) from him. He was pleased to bestow the teaching on snye mdo, the All-Knowing.

The assistant translator of mar pa do pa grags pa shes rab studied in India and Nepāl under the teachers (at whose feet) mar do (mar pa do pa) had heard the Tantra. Later he studied extensively with the rājaputra Bhīmadeva. People used to say that the Junior Translator possessed more doctrines than the great lo tsa ba himself (i.e. Mar pa do pa) and had numerous disciples. After having preached for a considerable time the Cycle of Saṃvara, he practised meditation at the cave of Śrī in Southern las stod. Soon after that he proceeded to Heaven.

I did not hear about the continuation of the exposition (of the Saṃvara Cycle by) his other disciples, except for the Lineage of dmar chos kyi rgyal mtshan, and for this reason am unable to give an account of it here. Further, the sum pa lo tsa ba of rong, Dharma yon tan proceeded to Nepāl, and requested a paṇḍita known by the name of Jayasena, who was also known as dam pa khang gsar pa and who later came to Tibet, and was attended on by the Venerable grags pa rgyal mtshan, to translate the Śrī-ḍakarṇava-mahāyoginītantrarāja[35] its commentary[36] composed by the siddha Saroruha (mtsho skyes), as well as its initiation rite[37] and sādhana[38] composed by Jayasena.

He revised the translation of the Tantra and its commentary at the request of his uncle dpal mchog dad pa'i rdo rye. This Tantra spread throughout Tibet from many quarters. The Dharmasvāmin rang byung rdo rje composed also many text-books on it. Saroruha, the author of the commentary[39] , seems to have been Padmavajra (pad ma rdo rje) who belonged to this Lineage.[40]

Ratnarakṣita composed a commentary[41] on the sdom pa 'byung ba[42] . I am of the opinion that since chag lo tsa ba had been his direct disciple, he must have possessed the method of exposition of (this Tantra). In later times, the Venerable tsong kha pa also followed the Lineage of bu ston rin po che and wrote a commentary on the bde mchog rtsa rgyud, having compared the text with its ākhyā-tantra and the great commentaries on it; he also composed a mngon rtogs, a dkyil cho[43] , a mngon dkyil (mngon rtogs dkyil 'khor), according to the system of Ghaṇṭa (dril bu pa), an Analysis of the Five Stages according to the system of Ghaṇṭa (dril bu rim lnga'i rnam par bshad pa) called rim lnga gsal don and the “Practice of the great yoga of the Sampannakrama degree according to the method of lu yi pa" (lu yi’ pai lugs rdzogs pa'i rim pa rnal 'byor chen po nyams su len lugs) and the “Exposition of the method of lu yi pa" (lu yi pa'i mngon rtogs kyi bshad pa) called 'dod 'jo. In this manner he revived the practice of the Cakrasaṃvara ('khor lo sdom pa) which had deteriorated (in Tibet).

The chapter on the Saṃvara (bdem chog) Tantra.

Footnotes and references:


pang chen, i.e. Vanaratna (R).


Dārika (R).


Kurmapāda (R).


Ratnākaraśānti=śāntipāda (R).


lhas sbas, Tg. rgyud, No. 1407 -

Śrī-Cakrasaṃvarasādhanasarvasāla-nāma-ṭīkā (R).


according to Rev. chos 'phel the elder and younger brother were known by the name of pham mthing pa che chung gnyis. On the Sino-Tibetan border, near mchod rten dkar po, stands the sepulchre (sku gdunh) of pham mthing pa and his mudrā or Tantric assistant /rgya mo gcig/. The remains are now preserved inside a statue of Saṃvara known as lo gya dun bde mchog rang 'byung, worshipped by both Tibetans and Chinese (R).


ṭīkā (R).


kun dga' rgyal mtshan, 1184-1250 (R).


Kg. rgyud 'bum, Nos. 368,369,370 (R).


the berry of the tree man͂jari, used as weight (R).


Tirhut (R).


Bodhibhadra (R).


Pramuditāvajra (R).


Vajrapāṇi (R).


Yoginī-sancary͂ ā, Kg. rgyud 'bum, No 375 (R).


Śrī-Cakrasaṃvarapn͂cakrama-vṛtti, Tg. rgyud, No. 1435 (R).


Kg. rgyud 'bum, No. 368 (R).


kun spyod, Kg. rgyud 'bum, No. 375 (R).


dpal 'khor lo sdom pa'i sgrub thabs rnal 'byor bzhi ldan, bu ston gsung 'bum, vol. VII /ja/ (R).


lu’i pa'i dkyil mchog, bu ston gsung 'bum, vol. VII/ja/ (R).


dpal 'khor lo sdom pa'i sgrub thabs 'grel pa 'khrul pa spong bar byed pa or nag po pa'i sgrub 'grel. bu ston gsung 'bum, vol, VII /ja/ (R).


mngon par rtogs pa, Tg. rgyud, No. 1445 (R).


Volume VI (Cha) of the Bu-ston g Sun 'buni contains two commentaries by Bu-stun on the bÐc-ni'hog rtsa-ba'i rgyud: the b Dc-m~hog rtsj-rgyud-kyi bsdus-don gsa G-ba 'byed-pa and the b De-mcbog rtsa-rgyud-kyi rnam-bsad gsanba'i dc-kho-na-nid gsal-bar, byed-pa (R).


Kg. rgyud 'bum, No. 368 (R).


kun spyod rgyud 'grel bde mchog gi don rab tu gsal ba, bu ston gsung 'bum, vol. VI /cha/ (R).


bde mchog sdom pa 'byung ba’i dkyil chog dri med. Chu rgyan, bu ston gsung 'bum, vol. VII /ja/ (R).


see sdom 'byung dkyil chog, fol. 50a-55a (R).


mdo smad or Amdo (R).


a text on the Hevajra Cycle (R).


smin drug -October-November (R).



grag corresponds to Sanskrit Kila, and expresses doubt (R).


Śrī-Vajradāka-nüma-mahütantrariìja, Kg. r Gyud-'bunt. No. 370; Śrī Dikārnava-mahāyuginitantrarājā-nāma, Kg. r Gyud-'bum, No. 372; Śrī Mahi samvaraoaya-tantrarāja-nartra, Kg. r Gyud-'bum, No. 373, a'i'd the Yogini san carya, Kg. r Gyud-'bum, N. 375 (R).


bde mchog' mkha'i 'gro rgya mtsho'i rgyud, Kg. rgyud 'bum, No. 372 (R).


Tg. rgyud, No. 1419 (R).


Tg. rgyud, No. 1521 (R).


Tg. rgyud, No. 1516 (R).


Tg. rgyud, 1419 (R).


m Tsho-skyes or m Tsho-skyes rdo-rje translates the Sanskrit Sarāruha or Padmavajra. -In Tibet among the r Riri-ma-pas, Saroruha is said to have been Padmasambhava (R).


Tg. rgyud, No. 1420 (R).


Kg. rgyud 'bum, No. 373 (R).


maṇḍala rite (R).

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