Overview of Buddhist Tantra: General Presentation of the Classes of Tantra, Captivating the Minds of the Fortunate Ones

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Item Code: IHF067
Author: Panchen SonamDragpa
Publisher: Library of Tibetan Works & Archives, Dharamsala
Edition: 2014
ISBN: 8185102996
Pages: 160
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 9.5" X 6.2"
Weight 290 gm
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Book Description
From back of the book

The Overview of Buddhist Tantra, subtitled general presentation of the classes of Tantra, captivating the minds of the fortune ones, is a scholarly exposition of the framework of Tantric practice presented by its author, Panchen Sonam Dragpa, in a methodical and accessible manner.

Detailed explanations within this book include: the historical emergence of Buddhism in our world as interpreted by various Buddhist traditions; the differing tenets of the sects, and the differences between the vehicles (yanas); the doors to the path to liberation; and the classes of Tantric practice leading to that state of liberation.

This book will prove to be an invaluable reference text for practitioners of Buddhist Tantra, as well as being informative for readers interested in Buddhist Tantra in particular and in Tibetan Buddhism in general.


O Chos-rje bSod-nams grags-pa-dpal!
In the vast expanse of your bodhi-mind,
The mind that the Buddhas have lauded for
as many as one hundred times,

You have developed "merit" shining like the sun.
Through your skill in learning, debate and writing,
As illuminating as one hundred thousand sun rays,
You have developed in You a complete
knowledge of the entire sutras and tantras,

Resembling a garden of flowers in full bloom.
The power of your speech is like the sun;
The fame of your has reached the
three realms of this world.

O sonam Dragpa, the teacher of teachers!
I bow down at your feet.

In the vast garden of Your great teachings,
The intelligent young people gather for
The 'six ultimates' and the 'four modes of transmission'

Just as they are attracted to
The one hundred thousand types of nectar
Dripping from a flower of one hundred petals.
May I be able to experience
The taste of the secret tantra!

Panchen Chos-rje bSod-nams grags-pa-dpal, the holder of sutra and Vajrayana teachings, was a master whose outstanding learning and spiritual accomplishments are well known b all the learned ones in Tibet. His first incarnation came in the form of one of the five prestigious disciples of Lord Tsong-kha-pa and became known as Vinaya Holder Grags-pa rgyal-mtshan. Then came Panchen bSod-nams grags-pa-dpal, the author of the present text. The next was mNga'-ris sPrul-sku Grags-pa rgyal-mtshan. In this way, a line of his incarnations, each with the grags-pa surname, followed successively.

Panchen bSod-names grags-pa-spal was born in the 14th century in rTsed-thang in the Lho-kha region of Central Tibet. He entered the great seat of learning, Se-ra theg-chen-gling monastic university, where he became the personal disciple of spiritual master Dhon-yod dang-Idan and His Holiness the second Dalai Lam dGe-dun rgya-mtsho. Under them, he studied the entire teachings of sutra, tantra and their commentaries, and became known for this outstanding learning. He also received from them the empowerments, reading transmissions, guides and instructions of spiritual training. On becoming the fully blessed one, the Dalai Lama appointed him the abbot of the Blo-gsalgious College, one of the four colleges of 'Bras-dpung- the most prestigious monastic. He continued to be the abbot of this college for the next six years; and after him the tenure for each of his successors in this position was fixed for a period of six years, a rule that is followed even today.

He was then appointed the head of the dGe-Iugs-pa order, the throne holder of dGa'-Idan, thus becoming the 15th regent of Lord Tsong-kha-pa, the second Buddha. In his eulogy to him, mKhas-grub dGe-legs dpal-bzang says :

O Lama, the second successor of the Unsubduable one,
The regent of the Lord of Dharma,
You are the one who made the virtuous qualities thrie;
You are the one who ascended to the golden throne up-
lifted by the fearless lions.
May your success thrive forever!

He continued to be the throne holder for the next seven years, during which time he promoted the spread of Lord Tsong-kha-pa's precious teachings, the dGe-lugs tradition, across the land in all directions. He also paid special attention to the practice of monastic rules and the learning and meditation of Buddhism in the monasteries such as Se-ra, 'Bras-spungs, sKyo-mo-lung, Phag-mo chos-sde, Nye-sdings, 'Od-sna and Chos-sde rin-chen etc. and improved them to a great extent. He taught the Third Dalai Lama bSod-nams rGya-mtsho as the latter's spiritual master. It was form him that the Dalai Lama received the name bSod-nams.

His contributions in the literary field are enormous; and, indeed, they are the most valuable od all his contributions. Tson-kha-pa has rightly said :< br> Of all one's deeds,
The deeds of speech are the most valuable.

Panchen bSod-nams grags-pa-dpal was a preson with an extraordinary talent for teaching, debate and writing. In his colophon to dBu ma'ispyi don zab don gsal ba'I sgron me, he wrote:
In the field of teaching, I am [next to none!] Knowing that I would outdo them in this field, Arya Asanga and his brother transmigrated into another realm.

In the field of debate, I am [next to none!] Knowing that I would find out the areas they had contradicted and that I would examine them and put forth my arguments, the logician Digh-naga and Dharmakirti tactfully bypassed me.

In the field of writing, I am [next to none!] [In my eyes,] Arya-sura was just good at spreading the works, which are like 'disputes between an insect and a field. I am the learned man. Peerless in the field of teaching, debate and writing!

For some this passage might sound utterly nonsensical, but the most learned master of our age, the talented teacher, logician and writer, the late tutor to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Yongs-dzin Khri-byang rDo-rje- Chang, said: "Now, some people of our time, who consider themselves learned scholars, think that this is utter nonsense; but they are wrong.

Panchen bSod-nams grags-pa-dpal wrote over 45 volumes of books dealing with many different subjects, such as the commentaries on the sutras and tantras, the saddhana manuals of the tutelary deities, history, religious history and so forth. Among these, one that is very important for all who wish to learn and meditate on the path of the practical aspect of Buddhism in general and that of Vajrayana in particular is the Legs bshad rgyud sde spyi'i rnam par bzhag pa skal bzang gi yid 'phrod. In this book, he has explained precisely how the four tentras differ from one another. He has also fully described the stages of the two spontaneous path practices of the Vajrayana tradition, dealing with the 'six ultimates' and the 'four modes of transmission', thus interpreting without mistake the intention of Adhi-Buddha Vajradhara.

May the reprint of text, which the Library of Tinetan works and Archives is publishing herewith, bring peace and happiness in this world!

Table of Contents

Publisher's Note xi
1Author's introduction 1
2How the Teacher attained completely pure enlightenment 2
The Sravaka tradition2
The Mahayana tradition2
The Paramitayana tradition 2
The Mantrayana tradition 3
The Yogatanatra tradition 3
The Anuttarayogatantra tradition 6
3How the Buddha Turned the wheel of Dharma 9
How the Buddha turned the wheel of the sutras9
How the Buddha turned the wheel of secret mantra 13
4How all those who seek Liberation must follow the teachings of the Buddha 14
5The different doors to the stages of the path 15
Differentiation in terms of tenets 15
Differentiation in terms of vehicles 16
The Hinayana 17
The Mahayana 17
The Paramitayana 19
The secret mantra vehicle (Guhyamantrayana) 22
6Action Tantra (Kriyatantra) 24
Inner classification 24
The Tathagata family 24
The Lotus family26
The Vajra family 27
General classification 28
Explantion of Empowerments and Vows 29
Empowerments in Kriya and Caryatantra 29
Explanation of vows31
Stages of Practising the path 32
The ways of Practising on the path34
7 Performance Tantra and Yoga Tantra38
Explanation of performance Tantra (Caryatantra)38
Explanation of Yoga Tantra (Yogatantra)38
Explanation in accordance with texts 38
Methods of practice 42
8Highest Yoga Tantra (Anuttarayogatantra) 43
Explanation by way of name 43
Explanation by way of distinction 43
Views of other schools 43
The view of our own school 45
Differentiating between Father and mother tantras 46
Summary of father Tantra 47
Destroyer of the Lord of Death Tantra 47
Summary of Mother tantra 50
The Hevajra Tantra50
The supreme Bliss Tantra 51
The wheel of Time Tantra 54
9The Secret assembly Tantra 56
Meaning of the term 'root tantra' 56
Explanation of the greatness of this text58
How the commentaries came into being 59
How the teachings came to Tibet 63
Explanation of the actual meaning of these precious precepts 64
10The explanation of empowerment 66
The principal features of empowerment 66
Defining the qualities of the vajra master 67
Defining the qualities of the disciple 68
Defining the mandala 68
The number of empowerments and commitments 70
Vase empowerment 77
Secret empowerment 79
Wisdom empowerment80
Fourth empowerment80
11Explanation of the commitments and vows 85
Fourteen root tantric downfalls 85
Eight secondary tantric downfalls 88
12 Colophon91
Appendix I: Vows and Commitments of a Boddhisattva 92
Appendix II: Vows and Commitments of the Tantric path 95
Notes 97
Canonical texts: Sutras & Tantras (words of the Buddhas) 110
Canonical texts: Works by Indian and Tibetan authors129
Modern studies 154
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