Atiśa Dīpaṃkara Series
Courtesy of Himalayan Art Resources
You imparted all the profound and vast teachings given by the Buddha,
By explaining the paths for beings of the three levels of spiritual capacity,
And caused the Buddha’s teachings to flourish within the Land of Snows—
Kind and precious Lord Atiśa, to you I pray!
Atiśa Dīpaṃkara Śrījñāna (982–1054), known as Jowo Jé Palden Atisha (jo bo rje dpal ldan a ti sha) in Tibetan, was a great Indian master and scholar. He spent the last ten years of his life in Tibet, teaching and translating texts, and was instrumental in reinvigorating Buddhism there after a period of persecution and decline.
Atiśa Dīpaṃkara Śrījñāna imparted this advice to his disciples at the request of Lha Changchub Ö as he was preparing to return to India. In it, he offers basic guidance on how to lead a spiritual life, escape "the swamp of saṃsāra" and reach "the dry shores of liberation."
This short text, Atiśa Dīpaṃkara Śrījñāna's most famous and important work, served to establish lamrim, the 'graduated path', as a genre of Tibetan literature and to introduce the three types of being (skyes bu gsum) as a significant typology. It is included in the Middle Way section of the Tengyur (Toh 3947).
This aspiration prayer to accompany the offering of butter-lamps is said to have been recited by Atiśa and his disciples in the shrines they visited throughout the central and southern provinces of Tibet.
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This short text (Bodhisattvamaṇyāvalī in Sanskrit), which is included in the Middle Way section of the Tengyur (Toh 3951), is regarded as a classic work of the Mind Training (blo sbyong) tradition. With its direct and pithy language, it is not so much a poem as a series of maxims on the bodhisattva path.
Popularly known as 'The Teachings Blaze' (bstan 'bar ma), this prayer for the spread of the teachings (bstan rgyas smon lam) is especially popular in the Gelug tradition. The first verse appears to be taken from the Pratimokṣa-sūtra (so sor thar pa'i mdo), while the remainder of the prayer, from the second verse onwards, is to be found in Atiśa Dīpaṃkara's Great Compendium of the Sūtras (Mahāsūtrasamuccaya; mdo kun las btus pa chen po).
It is said that Atiśa spoke this prayer to the goddess Tārā during a life-threatening storm on his journey across the ocean to meet the master Serlingpa. Tārā, who is renowned for the swiftness with which she protects living beings from fear and danger, appeared directly and rescued Atiśa and his fellow travellers from peril.