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Texts from the Tengyur (bstan 'gyur), the canonical collection of translated treatises (śāstra; bstan bcos):


Middle Way

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.

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).

A brief guide to cultivating immeasurable loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity; it is attributed to the Indian master Buddhagupta and included within the Tengyur (Toh 3914).

In this short text, called Pratītyasamutpādahṛdaya in Sanskrit, Nāgārjuna explains the heart or 'essence' (hṛdaya) of dependent origination (pratītyasamutpāda) in just seven stanzas. He shows how the twelve links of dependent origination can be further condensed into the three categories of afflictions (kleśa), karma and suffering, and how all phenomena, being interdependent, are empty of true existence.

Lists of the seven branches (yan lag bdun; saptāṅga) vary. In this short text by the influential Kashmiri scholar Śākyaśrībhadra, which is included in the Tengyur (Toh 3980), the seven are: 1) prostration, 2) offering, 3) taking refuge, 4) confession, 5) rejoicing, 6) generating bodhicitta, and 7) making prayers of aspiration.

The first chapter of Śāntideva's classic text Bodhicaryāvatāra, which is included in the Middle Way section of the Tengyur (Toh 3871), introduces bodhicitta (byang chub sems)—the mind that is intent upon awakening—and explains its extraordinary qualities.

The second chapter of the Bodhicaryāvatāra (Toh 3871) includes verses on making offerings (mchod pa 'bul ba), taking refuge (skyabs su 'gro ba) and the confession of negativity (sdig pa bshags pa).

The third chapter of the Bodhicaryāvatāra (Toh 3871), which is entitled "Fully Adopting Bodhicitta" (byang chub kyi sems yongs su bzung ba), includes the ritual of taking the bodhisattva vow.


This four-line prayer for the dedication of merit known as the Extremely Concise Dedication (pariṇamanāsaṃgraha; bsngo ba shin tu bsdus pa) is included in the Tengyur (Toh 4390).

In the sūtra The Question of Maitreya (Toh. 85, Maitreya­paripṛcchā, byams pas zhus pa), Buddha Śākyamuni recounts this prayer that Maitreya made as a bodhisattva aspiring to accomplish the six perfections and attain the ten bodhisattva levels. The prayer is also included in the Miscellaneous section of the Tengyur (Toh 4378).

These verses, which appear in the Kangyur, invoke the auspiciousness of the seven successive buddhas (sangs rgyas rabs bdun): 1) Vipaśyin, 2) Śikhin, 3) Viśvabhū, 4) Krakucchandra, 5) Kanakamuni, 6) Kāśyapa, and 7) Śākyamuni. The text is included in the Tantra section of the Derge Kangyur (Toh 821) and the Miscellaneous section of the Tengyur (Toh 4412).

So popular and influential is Samantabhadra’s “Aspiration to Good Actions” (bzang spyod smon lam) from the Gaṇḍavyūha chapter of the vast Avataṃsaka Sūtra, it is known as the king of all aspiration prayers. It is included in the Dhāraṇī section of the Kangyur (Toh 1095) and the Miscellaneous section of the Tengyur (Toh 4377).

These verses, taken from the sūtra On Entering the City of Vaiśālī (Toh 312), are commonly recited on their own for the sake of auspiciousness and thus feature as a stand-alone text that is included in both the Kangyur (Toh 816) and Tengyur (Toh 4406). The version translated here appears in the collected writings of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö (1893–1959).


Sūtra Commentaries


This short text, which is included in the Tengyur (Toh 2478), explains the fourteen root downfalls of the Vajrayāna and became an important source for later commentaries on the samaya commitments.

This praise of Tārā is one of several such texts attributed to the famous Indian master Candragomin. It focuses on Green Tārā (śyāmatārā), who is lauded for her swiftness in action.

This is the version of Bhikṣuṇī Lakṣmī’s famous praise of Avalokiteśvara (known as the Po Praise) that appears in the Kriyātantra section of the Tengyur (Toh 2738).

The Viśuddhadarśanacaryopadeśa (lta spyod rnam dag gi man ngag) is a very brief work included in the Tengyur (Toh 2464). It discusses the empty, illusory nature of reality and recommends meditation on 'emptiness with compassion as its core' (stong nyid snying rje'i snying po can).

This liturgy, which is included in the Kriyātantra section of the Tengyur (Toh 2863), consists of verses for taking refuge and generating bodhicitta followed by a brief ritual for taking the eight vows of sojong with the mahāyāna motivation of wishing to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all beings.

This well-known and important source for the Mahāmudrā tradition, which is included within the Tengyur (Toh 2303), contains instructions that Tilopa imparted to Nāropa on the banks of the River Ganges.

Popularly known as the Gang gi lodröma (based on its first four syllables), this is perhaps the most famous praise of Mañjuśrī recited by Tibetan Buddhists. According to legend it was composed by 500 Indian paṇḍitas simultaneously, in response to a request from their abbot, after whom it takes its formal name—Śrī Jñāna Guṇaphala (dpal ye shes yon tan bzang po), "Glorious Wisdom's Excellent Qualities". It is included in the Kriyātantra section of the Tengyur (Toh 2711).

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