Translations by Stefan Mang
Stefan Mang, a student of Tibetan Buddhism since 2004, has been studying Buddhist philosophy and literary Tibetan since 2010 at Rigpa Shedra East in Nepal. From 2011 until 2018 he studied at the Rangjung Yeshe Institute in Kathmandu, where he completed his BA and MA degrees. He is the executive director of Lhasey Lotsawa Translations and Publications.
Texts translated into English by Stefan Mang
Adzom Gyalse Gyurme Dorje
This commentary by Adzom Gyalse Gyurme Dorje (1895–1969) presents a clear Nyingma perspective on the practice of gaṇacakra. The text does not refer to a particular sādhana, but offers a generic explanation that is remarkable for its clarity and detail.
A popular Nyingma version of the famous Bodhisattvas’ Confession of Downfalls (byang chub sems dpa’i ltung bshags), also known as the Sūtra of the Three Heaps (phung po gsum pa’i mdo), invoking the thirty-five buddhas of confession as a means of purifying transgressions of vows and downfalls of the bodhisattva vow.
Vajraṇakhī (rdo rje sder mo), 'Vajra Claw', is a wrathful ḍākinī whose mantra has a long history and can be found in various forms in, e.g., the Guhyasamāja, Vajravārāhī, and Vajrakīla traditions. In this text, her independent dhāraṇī, Vajraṇakhī is invoked as to protect the practitioner's domestic space, family, friends, and allies, and to avert any obstacles that might threaten them. Although her dhāraṇī is here attributed to Buddha Śākyamuni, it is not found in any of the extant Kangyur collections but is preserved in various dhāraṇī compendia (gzungs ‘dus).
This popular canonical work (Tōh. 662) teaches the incantation (dhāraṇī) and rituals associated with the goddess Vasudhārā. According to the text, the dhāraṇī grants prosperity and wealth and averts spirits, demons and disease.
- The Noble Dhāraṇī of The Supreme Accomplishment of Sitātapatrā Born from the Tathāgata’s Uṣṇīṣa, the Great Invincible Dispeller from the Words of the Buddha
This popular canonical work, which is included in the Kangyur (Tōh. 591), teaches the incantation (dhāraṇī) and rituals associated with the goddess Sitātapatrā, who is renowned for her power to avert or repel all types of spirits, demons, obstacles, misfortune and disease and is thus invoked by many Tibetan Buddhists on a daily basis.
- The Noble Incantation entitled ‘The Rituals for the Blue-Clad Vajrapāṇi’ from the Words of the Buddha
A popular text (Tōh. 748) teaching the incantation (dhāraṇī) and rituals associated with the Blue-Clad (nīlāmbaradhara) form of the deity Vajrapāṇi. According to Karmavajra’s commentary (Tōh. 2676), the dhāraṇī is at once a powerful protection against, and remedy for, spirits, demons and disease.
This popular canonical work (Tōh. 564) reveals the incantation (dhāraṇī) associated with Mārīcī, goddess of the dawn, and explains how it confers the deity's qualities and guards against adversity, danger and disease.
In this (Tōh. 23), the shortest of the Prajñāpāramitā or Perfection of Wisdom sūtras, the Buddha teaches the syllable ‘A’, which encapsulates the transcendent perfection of wisdom and all the literature related to it.
- The Praise to Tārā with Twenty-One Verses of Homage and The Excellent Benefits of Reciting the Praise from the Words of the Buddha
Perhaps the most popular of all prayers to Tārā, this tantra praises her twenty-one forms, both peaceful and wrathful. The first twenty-one verses are at once a series of homages to Tārā and a poetic description of her physical features, postures, qualities, abilities, mantras, and hand gestures. The remaining six verses describe how and when the Praise should be recited, as well as the benefits of its recitation.
This famous vajra song (rdo rje’i glu), named after its initial syllables "ema kiri", appears in the Tantra of the Union of the Sun and Moon (nyi zla kha sbyor). It consists of a series of arranged syllables which a practitioner should intone melodiously. The individual syllables and their arrangement as a mantra are considered particularly sacred since they are said to have been revealed by the primordial buddha Samantabhadra.
Vajravidāraṇa (rdo rje rnam ‘joms) is a semi-wrathful form of Vajrapāṇi and the deity’s dhāraṇī (gzungs), counted as a kriyā-tantra, is known for its healing and purifying effect. The dhāraṇī has inspired a large number of ritual liturgies and commentaries, both Indic and Tibetan, and is commonly recited by Tibetan and Newar Buddhists. In Tibetan it is preserved mainly in two forms, one in the Kangyur and the Nyingma version presented here, which is said to be a reconstruction based on commentarial literature.
In this brief guide to Ujjain, most likely part of a personal pilgrimage diary, Chatral Rinpoche repeatedly refers to the city as Uḍḍiyāna. Ujjain is home to the Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga, one of the most famous temples dedicated to Lord Śiva, attracting thousands of devotees every day. Rinpoche concludes with a guide to Khoteshwar, identified here as the Sindhu Isle, birthplace of Guru Padmasambhava.
A short yet profound guru yoga composed at the insistence of close students and which is still recited daily by many disciples. The practice incorporates a unique mantra based on Rinpoche's name and employs imagery associated with the Great Perfection.
- Melodious Tambura of Delight: A Guide to Māratika Cave, Supreme Site of Immortality by Chatral Rinpoche
Kyabje Chatral Rinpoche wrote this brief guide to the sacred Māratika cave at the request of his daughter, Sarasvatī. In a series of verses, he describes the significance of this powerful place of longevity — the "destroyer of death" is the literal meaning of its name — where Guru Padmasambhava and the Lady Mandāravā attained immortality.
- The Sādhana and Empowerment for the Extremely Close Lineage of the Long-Life Practice that Unites the Oral, Treasure and Visionary Teachings by Chöje Lingpa
This pith instruction for accomplishing longevity (tshe sgrub) through Thangtong Gyalpo (1361–1485?) is said to bring together the oral, treasure and visionary teachings. According to its colophon, Chöjé Lingpa received the instruction from Thangtong Gyalpo directly in a vision. Jamgön Kongtrul included the text in the Precious Treasury of Revelations (Rinchen Terdzö).
Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa
This concise guru yoga centres around the famous prayer to Guru Padmasambhava known as The Prayer in Six Vajra Lines, or Dü Sum Sangye, Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa's own terma revelation. To this is added a simple visualization and a prayer to reach the Copper-coloured Mountain of Glory.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
- All Wishes Swiftly Fulfilled: A Prayer to the Mahāguru of Uḍḍiyāna in Eight Chapters by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
Dodrupchen Jigme Tenpe Nyima
- Garland of Night-Blooming Water Lilies: A Commentary on the Guru Siddhi Mantra by Dodrupchen Jigme Tenpe Nyima
This profound explanation of the individual syllables of Padmasambhava's famous Vajra-Guru Mantra is written in colloquial language that is concise and easy to understand. The text is explicitly aimed at 'town-dweller mantrins' who mistakenly confuse the fundamentals of Secret Mantra.
- A Brief Petitionary Offering to the Mātṛkā Pukkasī, Local Protectress of the Jarung Kashor Stūpa by Dudjom Rinpoche
This short daily sādhana of the wrathful ḍākinī Vajraṇakhī (rdo rje sder mo) includes a simple visualization and mantra recitation. According to the colophon, Dudjom Rinpoche extracted the practice from 'The Profound Long-Life Practice of the Three Roots' (rtsa gsum tshe zab), which is part of the Sevenfold Profundity revelation of Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa (1829-1870).
Dudjom Rinpoche composed this short prayer invoking the Abbot, Master and Dharma-King (Khen Lob Chö Sum), i.e., Śāntarakṣita, Guru Padmasambhava and Trisong Detsen, at Samyé monastery in Tibet at the request of his son, Thinley Norbu Rinpoche.
A brief daily practice of The Heart Essence of the Sublime Lady of Immortality, or Chimé Phakmé Nyingtik ('chi med 'phags ma'i snying thig), the popular long life sādhana discovered as a mind treasure by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo in 1855.
A short remainder torma offering (lhag gtor) liturgy composed at the request of Sakya Dakchen Rinpoche (1929–2016) as an addition to the feast offering (tshogs mchod) for Mipham Rinpoche's famous Seven-Line Prayer Guru Yoga.
Fifth Dalai Lama
The Great Fifth Dalai Lama wrote this prayer to Guru Padmasambhava in his eight manifestations, calling upon him to remember his pledge to Tibet and its people, for recitation on the tenth day of each lunar month.
Gönpo Tseten Rinpoche
Gönpo Tseten Rinpoche wrote this explanation of the significance of the Tenth Day (or Guru Rinpoche Day) of each lunar month for his American students, in California in 1981. He tells the life-story of Guru Rinpoche, highlights the significance of the tenth day, explains the practice of gaṇacakra, and outlines its benefits.
Guru Chökyi Wangchuk
- Meeting the Buddha Face to Face: A Pith Instruction on Realizing the Fortress, Ravine, and View of the Practice of Vajrakīlaya by Guru Chökyi Wangchuk
This pith instruction on how to accomplish Vajrakīla (or Vajrakīlaya) was given by Guru Padmasambhava to his closest disciple Khandro Yeshé Tsogyal. Following the Atiyoga approach, the text comments on the oft-quoted verses of the Vajrakīla Root Tantra Fragment (Tōh. 439). This and a short protector offering, also preserved in the Treasury of Revelations (Rinchen Terdzö), are the only two surviving texts from Guru Chöwang’s Vajrakīla revelation.
- The Dhāraṇīs That Encapsulate the Essence of the Kangyur, the Collected Words of the Buddha revealed by Guru Chökyi Wangchuk
A collection of brief ḍhāraṇīs that are said to encapsulate the essence of the entire Kangyur (bka' 'gyur), or Collected Words of the Buddha, and serve as a powerful means of purification when recited.
Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye
This epic of Guru Padmasambhava, as recorded by Khandro Yeshe Tsogyal, was revealed by Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye as a “siddhi”. The text consists of ten short chapters, each related to a different aspect of the master’s life and activities.
- The Life and Liberation of Padmākara, the Second Buddha from A Precious Garland of Lapis Lazuli by Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye
Extracted from the famous collection of the life stories of 108 treasure revealers called A Precious Garland of Lapis Lazuli, this account of Guru Padmasambhava's life and liberation synthesises and even comments upon earlier sources.
- The Tambura’s Yearning Song of Devotion: A Prayer Summarizing Khandro Yeshe Tsogyal’s Life and Liberation by Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye
Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye composed this beautiful prayer summarizing Samten Lingpa’s famous terma biography of Khandro Yeshe Tsogyal in 1893 at the request of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and the yoginī Doshul Khandro.
Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö
This is a poetic guide to the sacred site of Yangleshö (yang le shod) near the village of Pharping to the south of the Kathmandu Valley, where it is said that Guru Padmasambhava attained the level of a Mahāmudrā vidyādhara. Jamyang Khyentse wrote the text following a series of visionary experiences; it has the quality of a revelation and ends with a series of cryptic prophecies.
- Extremely Secret Unelaborate Daily Sādhana for the Heart Practice of the Great Demon-Slayer by Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö
A short 'means of recitation' (bklag thabs), providing additional prayers and practices to be chanted before and after the root text of the Sūtra of Boundless Life and Wisdom (tshe dang ye shes dpag tu med pa’i mdo).
- The Accomplishment of Supreme Enlightened Activity: A Recitation Manual for The Vajrakīla Root Tantra Fragment by Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö
Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
- A Beautiful and Wondrous Udumbara Garland: A Supplication and Summary of the Chronicles of Padma, The Life and Liberation of the Precious Guru of Uḍḍiyāna by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
This prayer beautifully summarizes the Padma Kathang (The Chronicles of Padma), one of the most famous and influential of Guru Padmasambhava's many biographies. It reveals how Guru Rinpoche manifests in an infinite variety of forms in order to protect and spread the Buddhadharma.
- Song and Dance to Delight the Ḍākas and Ḍākinīs: An Aspiration for the Sixfold Satisfaction of the Maṇḍala of the Feast-Gathering by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo composed this short aspiration prayer to be recited during the gaṇacakra. The prayer invokes the goal of the gaṇacakra, a six-fold satisfaction (tshim pa drug) of those assembled, i.e., the deities, teacher and vajra-brothers and sisters. Khyentse Wangpo dedicates one verse to each of these six satisfactions and concludes the prayer with an additional seventh verse of dedication.
- The History of the Hearing Lineage of the Profound and Secret Practice of Siṃhamukhā by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo recounts the origin of the teachings of Siṃhamukhā and how they have been subsequently passed down to him. He closely follows the story associated with the lineage of Bari Lotsawa (ba ri lugs).
Jetsün Drakpa Gyaltsen
A brief version of the Vajraṇakhī dhāraṇī (rdo rje sder mo’i gzungs) arranged for daily recitation, invoking Vajraṇakhī to protect the practitioner's domestic space, family, friends and allies and to avert any obstacles that might threaten them.
- The Swift Steed of Garuḍa, King of Birds: An Instruction for Travelling to Sukhāvatī: A Visualization and Recitation of Uṣnīṣa-Sitātapatrā by Karma Chakme
To practise this short sādhana of the deity Sitātapatrā (gdugs dkar, “White Parasol”) is, in the words of the text itself, "to hold aloft an indestructible vajra sword that can avert disease, obstacles, black magic, evil spells and all oppressing forces." The sādhana is also said to be a swift means of travelling to Sukhāvatī, akin to flying on the back of a garuḍa.
Minling Terchen Gyurme Dorje
- Damchen Chitor: A Brief Practice of Torma Offering to the Oath Bound Guardians by Minling Terchen Gyurme Dorje
This praise to the Abbot Śāntarakṣita is part of a set of three praises commemorating the lives of the so-called Abbot, Master and Dharma-King (Khen Lob Chö Sum), i.e., Śāntarakṣita, Guru Padmasambhava and Trisong Detsen.
This praise to the Emperor Trisong Detsen is part of a set of three praises commemorating the lives of the so-called Abbot, Master and Dharma-King (Khen Lob Chö Sum), i.e., Śāntarakṣita, Guru Padmasambhava and Trisong Detsen.
- The Glorious Gift of Longevity and Granting All Desires: A Liturgy for Saving Lives by Mipham Rinpoche
This collection of secret mantras, compiled by Mipham Rinpoche in 1898, is said to be especially powerful in overcoming the various forms of disease and harmful influence prevalent in the current age.
This praise to the Master Padmasambhava is part of a set of three praises commemorating the lives of the so-called Abbot, Master and Dharma-King (Khen Lob Chö Sum), i.e., Śāntarakṣita, Guru Padmasambhava and Trisong Detsen.
Ngakchang Shakya Zangpo
In this famous history of the sacred stūpa of Boudha, Guru Padmasambhava recounts the stūpa's origins. In response to a request from King Trisong Deutsen, he tells how a humble poultry-woman first extracted a promise from the king and then built the stūpa together with her four sons, who were all later reborn as prominent figures in the introduction of Buddhism to Tibet. Padmasambhava also describes the benefits to be gained from circumambulating the stūpa and making offerings before it, and concludes with a series of prophecies concerning the stūpa's restoration.
Nyangral Nyima Özer
- A Prayer Recalling the Life and Liberation of the Precious Master Padmasambhava by Nyangral Nyima Özer
This prayer in 26 verses recounts the major events of the life of Guru Padmasambhava, from his miraculous birth upon a lotus to his final departure from Tibet for the land of the rakṣasas. Upon recollecting each stage or episode in the Guru's life, the reader requests empowerment and blessings.
This revelation of Orgyen Lingpa, discovered at Samye Chimphu, provides a brief account of Guru Padmasambhava's life and deeds. Each of its sixteen chapters describes eight features, beginning with Padmasambhava's eight manifestations, his eight life-giving fathers, eight mothers, and so on. The text concludes with a series of prophecies.
- Victory Over All Adversity: A Prayer to Invoke Guru Rinpoche’s Wisdom for the Swift Fulfilment of Wishes by Rangrik Dorje
- Cloud Banks of Blessings: A Prayer Recounting the Eleven Deeds of the Life and Liberation of the Guru from Uḍḍiyāna by Ratna Lingpa
A prayer to Guru Rinpoche recounting eleven significant deeds in his life: 1) forming the enlightened intention to tame beings, 2) descending into the lotus flower, 3) spontaneously taking birth, 4) enjoying the pleasures of a prince, 5) taking ordination, 6) practicing various austerities, 7) overcoming Māra's hosts, 8) attaining complete awakening, 9) turning the wheel of the Dharma, 10) engaging in yogic disciplines, and 11) hiding terma treasures to spread the Dharma far and wide.
In this brief treasure text, Padmasambhava prophesies the many ways in which he will reveal himself to disciples in the future. He encourages his students to pray to him continually and gives specific instructions on how to invoke him on the tenth day. The text concludes with a description of the destined revealer of this treasure, Ratna Lingpa.
- A Prayer Recounting the Lives and Liberation of the Exalted Ḍākinī Mandāravā revealed by Samten Lingpa
This short practice of Vajrapāṇi in the form of Ucchuṣma is part of the treasure cycle The Essence of Liberation: Self-Liberation of the Wisdom Mind (grol thig dgongs pa rang grol). The text provides a short history of the practice, instructions on how it should be performed, a prophecy about the treasure-revealer, and instructions on the vase ritual.
- The Sādhana of the Five Self-Arisen Noble Brothers: An Instruction in the Union of Generation and Completion by Shikpo Lingpa
Revealed during a vision in 1557, this is a sādhana of the five self-arisen Avalokiteśvara brothers ('phags pa rang byon mched lnga). These are four ancient statues associated with King Songtsen Gampo, i.e., Ārya Vati Zangpo, Ārya Bukham, Ārya Jamali, and Ārya Lokeśvara, as well as the self-visualization of Avalokiteśvara generated by the practitioner.
This short commentary (Tōh. 4353) on the secret mantra or tantric meaning of the famous Heart Sūtra is attributed to the Atiyoga teacher Śrī Siṃha. According to the colophon, he gave this explanation to his disciple Vairocana, who put it into writing and taught it to King Trisong Detsen.
- A Stream of Blessing: Verses of Supplication to the Accomplished Holders of Mantra who Gained Realization in this Snowy Land of Tibet by Tashi Tobgyal
Tsele Natsok Rangdrol
- Sweet Droplets of the Honey of Accomplishment: A Concise Explanation of the Indispensable Points of the Feast-Gathering by Tsele Natsok Rangdrol
Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche
Tulku Zangpo Drakpa
This terma (gter ma), which Tulku Zangpo Drakpa revealed and passed on to Rigdzin Gödem (1337–1408), presents a sūtra-like scenario in which Buddha Śākyamuni reveals a dhāraṇī for subduing enemies and demonic forces.