Guhyagarbha Tantra (with Commentary)

by Gyurme Dorje | 1987 | 304,894 words

The English translation of the Guhyagarbha Tantra, including Longchenpa's commentary from the 14th century. The whole work is presented as a critical investigation into the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, of which the Guhyagarbhatantra is it's principle text. It contains twenty-two chapters teaching the essence and practice of Mahayoga, which s...

Text 9.4 (Commentary)

[Guhyagarbha-Tantra, Text section 9.4]

Endowed with five seeds, five scents, five gems.
Five essences, five medicines, and five nectars,
It is exceedingly level.
And its lines should be pitched with awareness. [4]


'bru-lnga spos-lnga rin-chen lnga /
snying-po lnga-dang sman-lnga-dang /
bdud-rtsi-lnga-nyid rab-bsnyams la /
rig-pas thig-ni gdab-par-bya / [4]


[The pitching of the lines:]

This refers to the purification of the mind of that location (i.e. the mudrā or female consort). It is endowed with five seeds ('bru-lnga), namely, the seeds of birth or the five poisons which (inherently) abide as the pristine cognitions; the five scents (spos-lnga), namely, the five pristine cognitions which are their inherently pure nature; the five gems (rin-chen lnga). namely, the five components; the five essences (snying-po lnga), namely, the five Buddha-bodies; the five medicines (dang sman lnga), namely, the five enlightened families; and (dang) the five nectars (bdud-rtsi lnga). namely, the nature (nyid) of mind where the fivefold buddha-body, speech, mind, attributes and activities are indivisible, and which is pure Inner radiance.[1]

The maṇḍala is also said to be exceedingly level (rab-bsnyams-la) in that it reveals all things as sameness in Buddha-hood. This is because they are such and are known as such. It is with this awareness (rig-pas) that its supreme and pure Brahmā lines (thig-ni) should be pitched (gdab-par-bya) or visualised, representing the mind of the female consort as it radiates great pristine cognition.[2]

If the mudrā is one whose mind has not previously been purified in accordance with the secret mantras, the master should pitch the lines which gradually make her mental continuum pure and radiant according to the lay vows and so forth. Once her mind has been purified, the ritual activities included in the creation and perfection stages, and in the training of the energy channels are also expressed in these lines.

At this Juncture, there are some who draw the four-inch maṇḍala on (a base of) ivory and so forth. Then the lines are (physically) pitched: The five seeds are barley, wheat, peas, sesame, and rice', which derive from the nature of the five components purified as the five buddha-bodies. The five scents are camphor, saffron, white and red sandalwood, and aloeswood, which derive from the nature of the five sense-organs purified as the five enlightened activities. The five precious things are gold, silver, coral, pearl, and gemstones which derive from the nature of the five sense-objects purified as the five enlightened attributes. The five essences are salt, honey, molasses, butter and fruits which are derived from the nature of the five aggregates of consciousness purified as the five pristine cognitions. The five medicines are white Acorus calamus (shu-dag dkar-po), Cedrus deodars (dbang-po lag-pa), Tinospora cordifolia (sle-tres), Solanum xanthocarpum (kantakārī), and mango fruit (amra'i 'bras-bu), which derive from the nature of the five desired attributes purified as the five modes of buddha-speech.[3]

And the five nectars are the pure-essences of sun, moon, water, earth and human flesh which derive from the nature of the five elemental properties purified as the five enlightened families.[4]

It is held that the lines are pitched after the yarn has been soaked in a solution of these ingredients in equal proportion Then the maṇḍala of painted colours is placed on the palms of the master, and it is claimed that the empowerment is conferred, beginning from the point when (the maṇḍala) is surrounded with offerings in its cardinal directions and continuing as far as the attainment of the maṇḍala.[5]

However that procedure is not intended in this text (the Secret Nucleus). It is indeed impossible to draw such a maṇḍala, and even if one could, the empowerment into it would lack the superior enlightened attributes. And if, being small, it had (these attributes) It would be implicit that even the smallest of physical forms and the like would have the greatest of merits. This artificial (maṇḍala) is, rather, designed for those of feeble acumen.

The Cakrasaṃvara Tantra (T. 362) concurs with the following words:

There is the ritual for drawing (the maṇḍala),
The procedure for colouring the lines,
And the maṇḍala naturally formed
By these living beings.
The former two artificial sorts of maṇḍala
Are essentially objects to be attained,
But the learned do not regard them
As the actual object of their attainment.

Thus, the empowerment is conferred in the natural maṇḍala of the body.

[The fourth concerns the drawing (of this maṇḍala). (It comments on Ch. 9.5):]

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Footnotes and references:


See below, p. 815, for a more external interpretation of this maṇḍala and its attributes.


On the pitching of the Brahmā lines, see above p. 765 and note 17.


On the "twenty-five resultant realities” ('bras-bu chos nyer-lnga) of the buddha-level, which are described here, see below, pp. 1034-1039; also NSTB, Book 1, Pt. 4, p. 162a. Cf. S. Beyer, The Cult of Tārā. p. 290, for a slightly variant list of symbolic substances.


I.e. vaginal fluids, semen, urine, excrement and human flesh are inherently pure as the five enlightened families.


On the making of offerings and attainment associated with the present maṇḍala of the female consort, see below, pp. 818-828.

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