Prajñāpāramitā Preliminary

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Khenpo Tsöndrü


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A Preliminary to the Explanation of the Prajñāpāramitā

Founders of Traditions, Explanatory Sūtras, Ways of Commenting, etc.

by Dzogchen Khenpo Tsöndrü

Earlier Tibetan scholars believed that there were four initial founders of traditions related to the Prajñāpāramitā:

  1. the glorious protector noble Nāgārjuna,
  2. Ācārya Dignāga,
  3. the author of Bṛhaṭṭīkā[1] and
  4. the venerable lord Maitreya.

The reason for proposing these as founders of traditions is that all four commented upon the intent of the Mother Prajñāpāramitā without relying upon other commentaries.

1. Nāgārjuna

The great master Nāgārjuna elucidated the aspect of emptiness, the direct teaching of the prajñāpāramitā, in the ‘Fivefold Collection of Mādhyamika Reasoning’. These texts were written both to refute any true reality as something to be established, and to refute the logical reasonings that might establish it. With regard to the first, there is:

(1) the main body-like treatise, the Root Verses of the Middle Way on Wisdom (Mūlamadhyamaka-kārikā) that refutes groups from this (Buddhist) and other traditions.

Then there are the two subsidiary treatises derived from this:

(2) The Refutation of Objections, which is an expansion of the first section of the Fundamental Verses on ‘Examining Conditions’; and

(3) The Seventy Stanzas on Emptiness, which is an expansion of the seventh section of the Fundamental Verses on ‘Examining Arising, Dwelling and Ceasing’.

Then there are:

(4) Sixty Verses on Reasoning, which is a refutation of some within our own (Buddhist) tradition in particular; and

(5) Crushing to Fine Powder, which is a refutation of the establishing logic known as the ‘sixteen topics of the logicians.’

Thus there are five texts in the collection altogether.

Some followers of the older scholastic tradition in Tibet[2] added Conventional Existence to the other five, and some more recent scholars have added Precious Garland (Ratnāvalī). In this and other ways, they have asserted a ‘Sixfold Collection of Reasoning’, but as the Lord of Dharma Shenpen pointed out:

“The Master Bhāvaviveka said:

‘Through the texts known as The Fundamental Verses, Refutation of Objections,
Seventy Stanzas on Emptiness, Sixty-verse Reasoning,
And Crushing to Fine Powder,
Things are established as beyond arising.’”

As he says, the number can certainly be put at five. And whilst the followers of the Gendenpa debate manuals count six by including Jewel Garland, this was not the assertion of Je Tsongkhapa himself, for he says in his Golden Rosary,[3] “You should understand that the belief in a fixed number of six texts in the Collection of Reasoning is erroneous.”

Discarding like hay the intent of Lobzang Drakpa,
The new Gelug works mislead the childish
With deceptive tricks of invention and false logic—
Who with an honest mind would deem them trustworthy?

2. Dignāga

The Ācārya Dignāga summarized the Eight Thousand Line text into the 32 principle themes of the Mother Prajñāpāramitā.

He wrote:

Basis and that to be mastered,
Activity together with cultivation,
Division, sign and downfall,
Together with benefit—
These are perfectly expressed.

The basis is the teacher, the Lord Buddha (1). That to be mastered is the assembly of bodhisattvas and śrāvakas (2). The activity is how to engage in the prajñāpāramitā (3). Cultivation refers to the ten antidotes to the ten uncritical and distracted concepts (13). Division refers to the sixteen emptinesses (29). Sign is the sign of not turning away from Māra (30). Downfall is taking birth in the lower realms when abandoning the prajñāpāramitā (31). Benefit is the greater merit that is gained by such acts as writing out the prajñāpāramitā, which surpasses an offering of the three-thousand-fold universe filled with the seven precious gems (32).

3. The Author of Bṛhaṭṭīkā

The elaborate explanation of the vast and intermediate Mother Prajñāpāramitā texts and the 18,000 Lines in the commentary Bṛhaṭṭīkā_ explains the meaning of the Mother Prajñāpāramitā by means of the three media and eleven categories.

The three media are:

1) The medium of the concise teaching for those who understand through stating the initial phrases;

2) The medium of the intermediate teaching for those who understand through slight elaboration; and

3) The medium of the elaborate explanation for those who are fond of words.

The eleven categories are the (1) explanation granted to Śāriputra; (2) the elaborate explanation by Subhūti; (3) the explanation granted to Śakra;[4] (4) Subhūti; (5) Maitreya; (6) Subhūti; (7) Śakra; (8) Subhūti; (9) Maitreya; (10) Subhūti; and (11) Ananda.

The old texts of past scholars say that Bṛhaṭṭīkā was written by the Kashmiri Daṃṣṭrāsena. Some later scholars have claimed that there was some debate as to whether it is a commentary by Vasubandhu.

4. Maitreya

In the Abhisamayālaṃkāra, the victorious Ajita[5] comments by combining the eight topics of the Mother Prajñāpāramitā with seventy points.


It is clear that when Dignāga comments on the sūtras establishing the principal point to be expressed from the summary of the Eight Thousand Lines, the antidotes to the ten distracted concepts, it is done according to Distinguishing the Middle from Extremes, and the way he comments upon the sūtras on the three essential natures[6] is according to The Mahāyāna Compendium. So he has not founded a tradition that is distinct from [what is already in] the treatises of Maitreya.

The commentary Bṛhaṭṭīkā too, by quoting from The Fundamental Verses on Wisdom in its ascertainment of emptiness and so on, remains in accordance with the intent of the Collection of Reasoning, and therefore cannot be thought of as initiating a separate tradition, distinct from that of Nāgārjuna.

Therefore, in keeping with the assertion of Ācārya Dharmamitra, the founders of the commentarial traditions of the Prajñāpāramitā, are certainly two in number:

  1. Nāgārjuna, who elucidated the stages of emptiness, the direct teaching of the Prajñāpāramitā Sūtras; and

  2. Maitreya, who elucidated the hidden meaning, the stages of manifest realization.

Generally, it is said that the founder of the tradition of the Profound Middle Way is the noble and sublime Nāgārjuna and the founder of the tradition of Vast Conduct is the noble Asaṅga. There are also those who assert three founders in accordance with the Lord of Dharma Mipham Rinpoche who was really Mañjuśrī, and who, in his commentary to the Ornament of the Middle Way, added to these two the great Khenpo Śāntarakṣita as the founder of the tradition that united the Profound and the Vast. However, since these are the founders of the general traditions of the Mahāyāna, they should not be confused with the topic presently under discussion.

At that time, the word ‘founder’ [literally 'charioteer'] means one who has been directly prophesied by the Buddha himself as a founder of a tradition, and who is accepted by his or her chosen deity, like the foremost of the bodhisattvas Maitreya or Mañjuśrī, and who comments on the intent of the victorious ones independently, without relying upon any other commentary of human authorship.

Abu Patrul Rinpoche, in his Trainings of the Buddhas’ Heirs,[7] follows the intent of the omniscient father and son[8] as found in such works as the great omniscient one’s root text and commentary to Mind in Comfort and Ease and the second omniscient one’s root text and commentary to The Treasury of Precious Qualities. [In this regard, he mentions] the lineage of Profound View originating with Nāgārjuna; the lineage of Vast Conduct coming from Śāntideva; and the lineage of the Vast and Profound in Unity which comes from Asaṅga and Vasubandhu, as well as the complete bringing together of these three lineage traditions, which is praised in the writings of the omniscient father and son, and which is a special lineage tradition for a way of practice that brings together all the various stages of practice found in the general Mahāyāna path, so that they are all included within the two types of precious bodhicitta. This is not to be confused with the general traditions, nor is there any conflict between them.

Generally, regarding the founders, there are also founders of the Hinayana traditions, and of the mantra traditions, so one cannot make a final and unequivocal decision that there were two or three.

It also appears that the Gelugpas recite in a particular prayer, “Tsongkhapa, founder of the tradition of the Land of Snows…” Despite featuring in their recitations, this assertion is not to be found in any commentary of profound meaning.

Lobzang Phuntsok in his Notes on the Expedient and Definitive said:

Based on statements from [Je Tsongkhapa’s] Golden Rosary, such as “Jetsün [Maitreya] and Nāgārjuna both…”, it appears one or two scholars have claimed that Maitreya was the founder of a tradition. Yet if this is asserted because Maitreya clearly reveals the hidden meaning [of the Prajñāpāramitā] in the Abhisamayālaṃkāra, then since the Sūtralāṃkāra and the two texts of ‘Distinguishing Clearly’ show the way of Mind Only, it would follow that Maitreya is also the founder of the Mind Only school. If one accepted that, then it would follow that Noble Asaṅga could not be [the founder of Mind Only], and one would be forced to assert something unaccepted by the majority of scholars.

So by committing the mistake of not distinguishing between the scriptural Mind Only and the philosophical school of Mind Only what appears like a logical consequence only obscures the intent of the Lord [Tsongkhapa], and it becomes rather like Jamyang Sakya Paṇḍita’s statement:

Monkeys living in the forest,
Throwing muck at the trees.

Maitreya’s clear explication of the hidden meaning of the Prajñāpāramitā is proven by scripture and reasoning to be a new tradition of commentary unlike any before it.

As for the explanation in the style of Mind Only which features in the three intermediate works of Maitreya,[9] called ‘scriptural Mind Only’, this was also explained in Nāgārjuna’s Sixtyfold Reasoning, when he said:

The great elements and so on that are explained
Are perfectly subsumed within consciousness.
If one lacks that understanding
Is that not a mistaken analysis?

If one claims that the three intermediate works of Maitreya make clear the philosophical tenets of the Mind Only, then one should be able to identify which work amongst the three asserts an all-ground consciousness or a truly existent self-awareness. Since there is none, if you then say, “It is so, because in our tradition we accept that these three intermediate works of Maitreya elucidate the tenets of Mind Only” then that is not a valid proof. It is rather like when those who believe in the sentience of trees say to the Buddhists, “Let us consider a tree, it must possess a mind, because its leaves curl up at night when it sleeps.”

The Sūtras that the Abhisamayālaṃkāra Explains

Regarding the root sūtras that are explained in the Abhisamayālaṃkāra, past writers have listed ‘seventeen mothers and sons’. There are said to be six ‘mother scriptures’ and eleven ‘son scriptures’.

As the Thang-yig says:

The Hundred Thousand, Twenty-five [Thousand],
Eighteen Thousand, Wisdom in Ten Thousand,
Eight Thousand and Condensed are the six ‘mothers’.
The Suvikrāntavikrāmī-requested, Five Hundred Prajñāpāramitā,
Diamond-Cutter, One Hundred and Fifty Modes,
Kauśika-Requested, Thirty, Twenty-five Doors,
Heart of Wisdom, Few Letters,
Single Letter, Four Groups of Piled Gems,
And the Seven Hundred Verses of Transcendent Wisdom are the eleven ‘sons’.

The commentaries on the Prajñāpāramitā list the six ‘mothers’ just as they are given in the Thang-yig:

1) 100,000 Lines on Transcendent Wisdom (Śatasāhasrikā)

2) 25,000 Lines (Pañcaviṃśatisāhasrikā)

3) 18,000 Lines (Aṣṭadaśasāhasrikā)

4) 10,000 Lines (Daśasāhasrikā)

5) 8,000 Lines (Aṣṭasāhasrikā)

6) Condensed (Saṃcaya)

The eleven ‘sons’ are:

1) 700 Verses on Transcendent Wisdom (Saptaśatikā)

2) 500 Verses (Pañcaśatikā)

3) 300 Verses (Triśatikā)

4) 150 Modes (Nayaśatapañcāśatikā)

5) 50 Verses

6) 25 Doors (Pañcaviṃśati)

7) Requested by Suvikrāntavikrāmī (Suvikrāntavikrāmīparipṛcchā)

8) Requested by Kauśika

9) Few Letters of Transcendent Wisdom (Svalpākṣarā)

10) Single Letter of Transcendent Wisdom (Ekākṣarī)

11) The Heart of Wisdom (Prajñāhṛdaya)

Regarding the criteria for classifying these as either ‘mother’ or ‘son’ scriptures, sūtras revealing the eight manifest realizations are termed ‘mother’ scriptures, whilst those revealing them only partially are termed ‘son’.

As for the objection raised by some later scholars[10] who dispute this enumeration of seventeen ‘mothers’ and ‘sons’, it is tantamount to opposing the Buddha himself, for it is stated in The Sūtra Requested by Kauśika:

The Bhagavān remained on Vulture Peak Mountain, on the occasion of completing the seventeen ‘mothers’ and ‘sons’ of the Prajñāpāramitā.

When refuted by this quotation, to then object that this sūtra was not taught by the Buddha is a deprecation reminiscent of the Chinese scholar Hva-shang taking whichever sūtras contradicted his own position and rolling them under his feet— besides amassing the severe karma of rejecting the Dharma, there can be no valid reason for it. There is absolutely no logical flaw in applying the convention of seventeen ‘mother’ and ‘son’ scriptures. If one applies the name ‘seventeen mother and son scriptures’ to group together seventeen prajñāpāramitā sūtras taught together by the Buddha, this does not imply that he did not teach any other Prajñāpāramitā sūtras.

It might be said, “It is unreasonable to fix the number of Prajñāpāramitā sūtras at seventeen, because this has the fault of being too few, since it omits such sūtras as The Heart of the Sun Prajñāpāramitā, The Heart of the Moon, The Sūtra Requested by Samantabhadra, The Sūtra Requested by Vajrapāṇi and The Sūtra Requested by Vajrakeṭu,[11] and also has the fault of being too many because The Condensed Sūtra is actually one chapter of the 18,000 Line text, and if that is to be counted separately so should the other chapters.” Although this appears logical, it would follow that it is equally unreasonable for you to fix the number of Prajñāpāramitā sūtras at three, i.e. vast, intermediate and condensed, since this too would not include [all the Prajñāpāramitā sūtras], and you yourselves have already accepted this line of reasoning.

Then you might say, “We are not saying definitively that there are no other Prajñāpāramitā sūtras in general besides these three, but we are counting these three as the main Prajñāpāramitā sūtras amongst the principal sūtras explained in the Abhisamayalankara, so there is no fault.” But this is just the same as when those [who assert seventeen mother and son scriptures] say that they do not claim these seventeen to be the only Prajñāpāramitā sūtras, but the seventeen principal sūtras explained in the Abhisamayālaṃkāra.

It is indeed true that The Condensed Sūtra is a single chapter of the 18,000 Line text, but it is not necessarily equal to the other chapters. One should perhaps consider why there are three commentaries that connect the Abhisamayālaṃkāra with The Condensed Sūtra, but none that connect the Abhisamayālaṃkāra with any other chapter. To consider that they are equal in what they express simply because they are similar in being chapters is the sort of thinking that leads one to believe a fox and a lion are the same since they are both equal in being wild creatures, or that a thought and a vase are the same since they are both knowable phenomena!

One should not think, “The sūtras explained in the Abhisamayālaṃkāra must be just the vast, intermediate and condensed sūtras, and it is unacceptable to state this about any other of the seventeen mother and son scriptures because that would conflict with the Clear Meaning  commentary [by Haribhadra].” Statements in Clear Meaning such as “The ornament of all” and “The discovery of treatises like this is wondrous indeed!”, can only mean that the sublime Abhisamayālaṃkāra is made more sublime by being the ornament of all the Mother Prajñāpāramitās, and that apart from increasing its value it does not constitute any defect whatsoever.

One should reflect carefully why, if it is especially sublime since it is understood as the ornament of the main three Prajñāpāramitā sūtras, it should not be made more sublime by being understood as the ornament of the main seventeen Prajñāpāramitā sūtras.

Therefore, the main basic sūtras that are explained in the Abhisamayālaṃkāra are the six ‘mother’ scriptures because they are the sūtras to which the subject matter of the Abhisamayalankara, i.e. the stages of manifest realization, can be applied. This is clear from the presence of actual Indian commentaries that combine the Abhisamayālaṃkāra with the 100,000 Lines, the 25,000 Lines, the 8,000 Lines and The Condensed Sūtra. In his Overview of the Prajñāpāramitā, the gentle-voiced Abu (Patrul Rinpoche) makes the point that because The Condensed Sūtra is combined, the 18,000 Lines is also combined indirectly, and it is evident that the 10,000 Line Prajñāpāramitā text is also suitable for combination—and that is just how it is. Therefore, the eleven ‘son’ scriptures and so on are ordinary sūtras that are explained.

In short, whether one considers the sūtras explained in the Abhisamayālaṃkāra to be the vast, intermediate and condensed sūtras or the seventeen ‘mother’ and ‘son’ scriptures, it is indeed true that these can not be said with certainty to be the only Prajñāpāramitā sūtras in general, or the only sūtras explained in the Abhisamayālaṃkāra in particular. I do not think there is any contradiction in such claims.

The Twenty-one Indian Commentaries

There are twelve commentaries which combine sūtras with the Abhisamayālaṃkāra, and nine which do not. Among the former group, four use the 25,000 Lines, three use the 8,000 Line text, three use The Condensed Sūtra, one uses the 100,000 Lines, and one uses the three texts of the 100,000 Lines, the 25,000 and the 8,000.

Firstly, the four are:

1) Ārya Vimuktisena’s Illuminating the 25,000 Lines

2) Bhadanta[12] Vimuktisena’s Commentary on the 25,000

3) Ācārya Haribhadra’s Eight Chapters on the 25,000

4) Ratnākaraśānti’s Pure 25,000 (Śuddhamatī)

Secondly, the three are:

1) Ācārya Haribhadra’s Light Ornament: A Great Commentary on the 8,000 Lines

2) Ratnākaraśānti’s Supreme Essence (Sārottamā)

3) Abhayākaragupta’s Moonlight of Points (Marmakaumudī)

Third, the three are:

1) Ācārya Haribhadra’s Easy-to-Comprehend Commentary on the Difficult Points of the Condensed Sūtra

2) Buddhaśrījñāna’s Commentary on the Difficult Points of the Condensed Sūtra

3) Kashmiri Dharmaśrī’s Key to the Treasury of Transcendent Wisdom

Fourth, there is:

1) Explanation of the 100,000 said to be by Kashmiri Dharmaśrī.


1) Teaching on the Three Renowned ‘Mother’ Scriptures in Conformity with the Eight Points said to be by Lord Smṛtijñānakīrti.

Secondly, there are the nine which do not connect [the Abhisamayālaṃkāra] with sūtras:

1) Ācārya Haribhadra’s Clear Meaning Commentary [13]

2) Dharmamitra’s Explanatory Commentary Clarifying the Words

3) Suvarnadvīpa’s Light on the Difficult-to-Comprehend

4), 5) and 6) Prajñākaramati’s, Lord Atiśa’s and Kumāraśrībhadra’s Three Essential Meanings

7) Ratnakīrti’s Kīrtikala

8) Kashmiri Buddhaśrījñāna’s Rosary of Liberating Wisdom

9) Abhayākaragupta’s Ornament of the Sage’s Realization

Among these, The Explanatory Commentary Clarifying the Words, Light on the Difficult-to-Comprehend, and Prajñakaramati’s Essential Meaning are commentaries on [Haribhadra’s] Clear Meaning Commentary.

It is explained in Drukpa Pema Karpo’s commentary on the Prajñāpāramitā that Haribhadra and Prajñākaramati both saw Maitreya directly, and that Dharmamitra saw him in a dream.

Some assert that The Ascertainment of Suchness written by Noble Asaṅga is a commentary that combines sūtra and Abhisamayālaṃkāra, and some even say that the Clear Meaning Commentary is a commentary combining sūtra and Abhisamayālaṃkāra. This would mean that the number of commentaries combining sūtras and Abhisamayālaṃkāra could not be fixed definitively at twelve, but since this would contradict what is generally accepted, it requires investigation. Scholars may take as an issue for further investigation the question of whether Kashmiri Buddhaśrī’s 100,000 Lines Commentary, Smṛtijñānakirti’s work on the Three Mother Scriptures in Comformity with the Eight Points, and Atiśa’s Lamp of Essential Meaning are to be classified as the works of Indian Paṇḍitas or Tibetan Scholars.

Concerning which of those amongst these commentaries are particularly sublime, the great learned and accomplished Prajñāraśmi said:

The progressive path from the hidden meaning of the middle turning,
Was elucidated by the Dharma Lord Ajita in Tuṣita.
In the Noble Land [of India] there were six transmissions
And many ways of commenting upon the intent of the Ornament,
But those commentaries of Ārya [Vimuktisena] and Haribhadra are especially sublime.

Just as he says, one should rely mainly upon the commentaries of Vimuktisena and Haribhadra.

Works of the Ancient Translation School

The great omniscient Mahāpaṇḍita Shenpen Chökyi Nangwa’s annotation commentary (mchan ‘grel) on The Clear Meaning Commentary also makes reference to Dharmamitra’s Explanatory Commentary Clarifying the Words, and Suvarnadvīpa’s Light on the Difficult-to-Comprehend, as well as Acharya Haribhadra’s Light Ornament, Ratnākaraśānti’s Pure 20,000 and others. It does not spoil the intent of the Indian commentaries and is unadulterated by even the slightest assertion from a Tibetan scholar. The tradition of expounding this has been maintained and developed by successive khenpos at the seat of the great and accomplished Lord of Dokham—Dzogchen—where it has not declined even to this day.

The second throne-holder of Mindroling Pema Gyurme Gyatso[14] wrote an overview of the Commentary Clarifying the Meaning called The Quintessence of Nectar (bdud rtsi'i nying khu) that accords with the commentary of the great Sakya scholar Rongtön. This fits with the saying of many early scholars that:

The Vinaya goes back to Tso,[15]
The Abhidharma goes back to Chim,[16]
The Madhyamaka goes back to Re[ndawa],[17]
The Prajñāpāramitā goes back to Yak.[18]

The Dharma Lord Patrul Rinpoche composed an Overview of the Prajñāpāramitā, a Word-by-word Commentary and Progressive Stages of Meditation, which accord with the Golden Rosary commentary of the great Jetsün Tsongkhapa. Regarding the use of Jetsün Tsongkhapa’s commentary as a basis, the great Dzogchen khenpos always used to say that since this was [actually] Omniscient Longchenpa’s Prajñāpāramitā commentary, it remains purely an explication of the Ancient Translations school.

Jamyang Mipham Rinpoche composed a commentary on The Condensed Sūtra which takes the Ancient Translations tradition as its basis, an application of the Abhisamayālaṃkāra to The Condensed Sūtra, and a commentary on the Abhisamayālaṃkāra. The commentary of his follower, the supremely learned Böpa Tulku,[19] is now being spread by his own students.

I have spoken at length here so as to inspire confidence in those newcomers [to this tradition].

In short, the pure explanations of the Ancient Translation school belong to the scriptural tradition of the Six Ornaments and Two Supreme Ones,[20] together with their followers. These are the scriptures that were established in the past through translation, explanation and study by the lotsawas and paṇḍitas of India and Tibet during the era of Khenpo Śāntarakṣita, Ācārya Padmasambhava and Dharma-king Trisong Detsen. At that time, these same works were taught and studied by those who began the thirteen great centres of learning, such as the study college (shedra) at the glorious Samye. This also refers to the works composed by the two victorious ones, Rongzom and Longchenpa, in addition to those of the omniscient Jamyang Mipham in this tradition of the Nyingma.

Therefore, for the Nyingmapas themselves to feel that their assertions must be quite unlike those of anyone else, or for others to consider them as incompatible with any other system is simply to flaunt the signs of one’s own misunderstanding, and is not even worthy of investigation. So whether one belongs to this tradition or another, one should feel wary about accumulating the karma of rejecting the Dharma, by following after unsubstantiated claims, which are like the warning cries of the rabbit who heard a falling branch in the well-known story. Nevertheless, this is not the time for me to explain the many profound qualities of the special instructions of the Kama, Terma and Pure Vision traditions of secret mantra.

This was a preliminary to the teaching and study of the Ornament,
Identifying the founders of traditions based on the Prajñāpāramitā sūtras,
Which sūtras are explained in the Abhisamayālaṃkāra,
And the Ornament’s Indian commentaries.

By Vīrya.[21]

Composed by the first Khenpo at the Ngagyur Nyingma Institute’s centre for the study of sūtra and mantra, Khen Rinpoche Thubten Tsöndru.

May virtue abound!

| Translated by Adam Pearcey, 2004. Revised 2008 & 2015.


Primary Sources

dPal sprul 'Jigs med chos kyi dbang po. dPal sprul o rgyan 'jigs med chos kyi dbang po'i gsung 'bum. 8 vols. Chengdu: Si khron mi rigs dpe skrun khang. 2003.

______. Shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa'i man ngag gi bstan bcos mngon par rtogs pa'i rgyan gyi spyi don. In dPal sprul o rgyan 'jigs med chos kyi dbang po'i gsung 'bum, vol. 6.

Padma badzra, "Sher phyin mngon rtogs rgyan gyi spyi don byams mgon dgongs pa'i gsal byed bla ma brgyud pa'i zhal lung" in rDzogs chen mkhan po padma badzra'i gsung thor bu. Chengdu: Si khron mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 2001, pp. 36–74 (Translated here).

Thub bstan brtson 'grus phun tshogs. mKhan chen Thub bstan brtson 'grus kyi gsung 'bum. 2 vols. Lhasa: Bod ljongs bod yig dpe rnying dpe skrun khang. 2011.

______. Shing rta'i srol 'byed bshad mdo 'grel thsul sogs sher phyin 'chad pa'i sngon 'gro. In Thub bstan brtson 'grus phun tshogs kyi gsung 'bum, vol. 1: 239–66. Mysoorie, India: Nyingma Monastery, Mkhan-po Padma-śes-rab. 1985?

______. Bstan bcos chen po mngon rtogs rgyan gyi lus rnam bzhag gi 'grel pa 'jigs med chos kyi dbang po'i zhal lung. In mKhan chen Thub bstan brtson 'grus kyi gsung 'bum, vol. 2: 103–122 (Translated here)

Secondary Sources

Conze, Edward, trans. Abhisamayālaṃkāra. Serie Orientale Roma 6. Rome: Istituto Italiano per il Medi ed Estreme Oriente. 1954.

______. The Prajñāpāramitā Literature. Gravenhage: Mouton & Co. 1960.

Obermiller, Eugene. Prajñāpāramitā in Tibetan Buddhism. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. 1991.

Pearcey, Adam. "Tubten Tsondru," Treasury of Lives, accessed February 07, 2015,

Version: 3.2-20230604

  1. Yum gsum gnod 'joms. Believed to be Daṃṣṭrāsena (mche ba'i sde), see below.  ↩

  2. This mainly refers to Butön Rinchen Drup (bu ston rin chen grub,1290-1364).  ↩

  3. The Golden Rosary of Excellent Explanation (legs bshad gser phreng) is Tsongkhapa’s commentary on the Abhisamayālaṃkāra.  ↩

  4. i.e., Indra  ↩

  5. Another name for Maitreya  ↩

  6. Tib. ngo bo nyid gsum, i.e., the imputed, dependent and fully established.  ↩

  7. rgyal ba’i sras kyi bslab bya mdor bsdus nyams len snying po, Collected works vol 2., pp. 571-585.  ↩

  8. i.e., Longchen Rabjam (klong chen rab 'byams) and Jigme Lingpa ('jigs med gling pa).  ↩

  9. i.e. Sūtralāṃkāra, Madhyāntavibhanga and Dharmadharmatāvibhanga.  ↩

  10. i.e., Tsongkhapa and the Gelug school.  ↩

  11. See Conze, Prajñāpāramitā Literature, p.84.  ↩

  12. Bhadanta Vimuktisena (btsun pa rnam grol sde) was a student of Ārya Vimuktisena (‘phags pa rnam grol sde).  ↩

  13. This became the most celebrated of the Indian commentaries.  ↩

  14. Pad+ma 'gyur med rgya mtsho, 1686–1718  ↩

  15. i.e., Tsonawa Sherab Zangpo (mtsho sna ba shes rab bzang po).  ↩

  16. i.e., Chim Jampeyang (mchims 'jam pa'i dbyangs).  ↩

  17. i.e., Rendawa Shyönnu Lodrö (red mda' ba gzhon nu blo gros, 1349–1412).  ↩

  18. i.e., Yaktruk Sangye Pal (g.yag phrug sangs rgyas dpal, 1350–1414), or Yak-Rong, with the inclusion of Rongtön Sheja Kunrik (rong ston shes bya kun rig, 1367–1449).  ↩

  19. Böpa Tulku (d.1959), who was a student of Khenpo Kunpal, is said to have written two commentaries on the Abhisamayālaṃkāra, called The Words of the Invincible Maitreya (Ma pham zhal lung) and Ornament for the Enlightened Vision of the Invincible Maitreya (Ma pham dgongs rgyan), but only the former is known to have survived.  ↩

  20. The Six Ornaments are Nāgārjuna, Āryadeva, Asaṅga, Vasubandhu, Dignāga and Dharmakīrti. The Two Supreme Ones are Śākyaprabha and Guṇaprabha.  ↩

  21. Vīrya is the Sanskrit for Tsöndrü.  ↩

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