Root Tantra of the Vidyādharas

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Jigme Lingpa

Jigme Lingpa

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Skull Fragments: The Root Tantra of the Vidyādharas

from the Heart-Essence of the Vast Expanse

by Jigme Lingpa

oṃ āh hūṃ mahāguru sarva heruka
Skull Fragments: The Root Tantra of the Vidyādharas
Homage to the glorious Heruka!

Tantra means continuum:
Not originating from causes and free from conditions.
The tantra of the essence of the Bliss-Gone Ones, awareness itself,
Is beyond elaborations, utterly pure, and the nature itself:
Unfabricated, unaltered, thus gone.

The methods to actualize it
Constitute the tantra of the path.
Although limitless in number, in short they are as follows:
Father Tantras provide skilful means;
Mother Tantras teach mainly insight;
Non-Dual Tantras of Union present these elements[1] in equal measure.

Freedom from permanence and nihilism is the view.
Conduct should be in accord with place and time.
Then there is maṇḍala, perfecting the clarity of mudrā,
And perfecting the four enlightened activities.
The entrance door is the specific empowerment,
Its life-force the samaya.
The essence of the deity is secret mantra
And mudrā carries the power of truth.
Keeping the deities close to one’s heart is the approach,
Accomplishment is the group practice,
And offerings increase the accumulation of merit.
These are the eleven topics of tantra.
The learned maintain these to be the summarizing points.

Furthermore, the distinguishing features of the tantras,
Scriptures and pith instructions should be understood.
Tantras are the Words of the Teacher.
Scriptures are summaries made by those who requested them.
And the pith instructions, which clarify
All that is complicated, confusing or concealed,
Are of three types: those that explain
By means of essence, literal meaning and the three of enumerations and the rest:
So that there is no confusion regarding the nature of the essence,
No doubt about literal meanings,
Enumerations are understood and put into practice,
And any disorder is resolved.

Furthermore, the generation phase is of provisional
And the perfection phase of definitive meaning.
Indirect teachings convey the opposite of what is said
And not-indirect teachings the reverse of that.[2]
Similarly, there are the hidden and the not hidden.
Then there are the literally true and the not literally true.
These are the crucial pith instructions of the six limits.[3]

By means of pith instructions with the four modes in particular—
The linguistic and the general,
The hidden and the ultimate—
One savours the meaning of the profound king of tantras.

The tantra of the result is the Dharma of the essence.
When all obscurations, the various objects of purification,
Are eliminated in actuality through the power of the truth of the path
And the two accumulations, one realizes enlightened body, speech and mind,
Which have the nature of indestructible wisdom,
And reaches the essence of awakening itself,
Which is beyond words and cannot be exemplified.

To make these points clearer one must understand
That everything occurs within one’s own perception.
The main teacher and the assembled retinue,
The Dharma to be accomplished and all those who accomplish it
Are no different from oneself:
As wisdom, the radiance of the ninefold expanse,
As yidam deities, the Eight Great Maṇḍalas of the Sādhana Class;
As bodhisattvas, the Eight Close Sons;
As vidyādharas, like this:
In Uḍḍiyāna, the naturally arisen land of the ḍākinīs.
In the Great Cool Grove[4] strewn with corpses,
[The vidyādharas] gathered, and when it came time to discipline beings,
The Heruka, abiding in the Unsurpassed Realm,
Placed the eloquently written tantras of the entire assembly of Bliss-Gone Ones
In the Śaṅkarakūṭa caitya.
The Great Karmendrāṇī extracted them
And entrusted them to the eight vidyādharas.

To Vimalamitra,
Born in the country of Zahor,
She entrusted the casket of Supreme Heruka-Amṛtakuṇḍalin.

To Mañjuśrīmitra,
Born in Malaya as the son of a Brahmin,
She entrusted the casket of Supreme Body—Mañjuśrī.

To the brilliant Nāgārjuna,
Born in Vedalī[5] in brahmin family,
She entrusted the casket of Supreme Speech—Padma.

To Hūṃkāra,
Born on the forested isle of Singhala,
She entrusted the casket of Supreme Mind—Yangdak.

To Prabhahasti,
Born in the country of Uḍḍiyāna, the land of the turbaned ones,
She entrusted the casket of enlightened activity—Kīla.

To Dhanasaṃskṛta,
Born in the country of Tokhara,[6]
She entrusted the casket of Fully Perfected Heruka.

To Rombuguhyacandra,
Born in the land of ḍākinīs,
She entrusted the casket of Worship of the Tamer of Haughty Spirits.

To Śāntigarbha,
Born in a grove on an island,
She entrusted the casket of Maledictory Fierce Mantra.

None of these were ordinary independent beings.
Although it seemed as if deities existed and transmissions took place,
In reality, the practice and practitioners were of a single taste,
Merely appearing within the perception of those to be trained.
Similarly, the great Karmendrāṇī
Entrusted the precious casket that contains all,
To the Vidyādhara who had been miraculously born
On the isle of Lake Dhanakośa.[7]

The Teacher himself emanated as the vidyādhara Vajradharma—
Compiler of the teachings
And keeper of the profound secrets.
These nectar-like pith instructions
Were seemingly revealed by the teacher to his students.
It is the fruition of the entire Secret Mantra Vehicle,
The sacred teaching entrusted to the mighty king.[8]

“When you[9] are in your last of thirteen
Pure and impure emanations in this world,
When your compassionate incarnations,
Including those with number, such as the twenty-one, and those countless in number,
Appear everywhere,
You will come disguised as an ordinary person.
One of your seven speech incarnations
Will be empowered with the aspirational entrustments.
When the time comes to benefit beings
Only you, a vidyādhara, will be able to decipher
These magical scrolls of the ḍākinīs,
Which ordinary beings cannot comprehend.
These Dharma treasures that contain
The symbolic scripts of the Blazing Relics of Enlightened Body [10] will be,
Immediately upon their bestowal by the ḍākinī of all-pervading space,
Entrusted to you, one with the yogic conduct of great purity
And endowed with the four perfect knowledges.
Lacking such mastery, some people pretend that ordinary teachings fabricated by the conceptual mind
Are profound treasures.
These things symbol are like a mere painting
And an insult to the authentic treasures of the Lotus-Born.
At that time, although difficult to fathom by fools,
Wise persons such as you will know its nature.”
May anyone with a connection
To the Lord of Dance Jigme Lingpa be benefited!
Seal, seal, seal! Let the signs be absorbed!

| Translated by Han Kop and reviewed by Khenpo Sonam Tsewang and Stefan Mang, 2021, for the Longchen Nyingtik Project. With gratitude to Tulku Dawa Rinpoche for his clarifications.


Tibetan Edition

'Jigs med gling pa. "'rig ‘dzin rtsa rgyud thod pa’i dum bu", in klong chen snying thig rtsa pod. 5 Vols. BDRC W1KG13585. Bodhnath, Kathmandu and Bodhgaya, Bihar: Shechen Publications, 1994. Vol. 1: 81–87.

Version: 1.0-20210729

  1. I.e., skilful means and insight  ↩

  2. In other words, here the teachings express directly what is meant.  ↩

  3. The six limits are 1) provisional meaning, 2) definitive meaning, 3) indirect, 4) not indirect, 5) literally true and 6) not literally true.  ↩

  4. Skt. Śītavana  ↩

  5. See  ↩

  6. Also known as Bactria or Tokharistan.  ↩

  7. I.e., Padmasambhava  ↩

  8. This refers to King Tri Songdetsen.  ↩

  9. I.e., King Tri Songdetsen, who will reincarnate as Jigme Lingpa.  ↩

  10. One of the Seventeen Tantras of the pith instruction class (dpal nam mkha' med pa'i sku gdung 'bar ba chen po'i rgyud)  ↩

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