‘Innate Kālacakra’: a new Translation Project

Inspired by the forthcoming Innate Kalacakra empowerment in Portugal, I am delighted to announce that I have begun a new translation project to collect and translate into English the extant Innate Kalacakra (dus ‘khor lhan skyes) sadhanas of the various Tibetan Buddhist lineages. The project translations will be made available either as a book or here (with restricted access to those who have the requisite empowerments and permissions).

The Innate Kalacakra practise is the first of the two uncommon preliminaries in the Kalacakra Six Yogas tradition. It involves visualising a simple two-armed figure of Kalacakra with a two-armed consort deity, Visvamata. See image below. One short and beautiful Sadhana text by Jamgon Kongtrul was written for those who wish to practise the Completion Stage Yogas but who do not like extensive, elaborate rituals. Good news!

I first got the Kalacakra empowerment from HH Sakya Trizin in London in 2010. Later, I got the empowerment and permission to practise the Innate Kalacakra from Jonang lama, Khenpo Chokyi Nangwa Rinpoche in India, in October 2016. As a result of the deep and lasting impression that had on me, I began working on translating two major Kalacakra texts by Jonang masters, Taranatha and Bamda Gelek Gyamtso. I have now completed both of these up to the five Common Preliminaries and these will be published soon. The Innate Kalacakra commentary sections of these texts will be started and completed next year.

The Innate Kalacakra sadhana can be found in the Tibetan Tengyur (the commentaries on the Buddha’s teachings). After that, several Tibetan Buddhist masters have collected and compiled their own versions of the sadhana, some concise and some short. Though in essence they remain generally the same. I am not sure if they are available in the original Sanskrit. I have asked a Sanskrit scholar to look into this.


The painting appears to follow the Palpung Monastery style of painting and can be dated, based on the last two figures at the bottom of the composition, to sometime between 1770 and 1798. At the top center is Vajrasattva, white in colour embracing the consort Vajragarvi, holding a vajra scepter in the right hand and a bell in the left cradled to the side. Seated at the immediate left side is an Indian teacher and below that is Taranata both wearing monastic robes. Seated on the viewer’s right is Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen. Below that is Katog Tsewang Norbu (1698-1755), dark skinned and wearing a cap. At the bottom left is the 8th Situ, Chokyi Jungne (1700-1774), depicted as a portrait created in old age, grey hair, wrinkles, wearing the typical red hat. (Note the cloud ornaments on the side of the hat – trailing to the back). The two hands are placed in the lap supporting a blue wish-fulfilling jewel. At the right side is the teacher Dragpo Dorje Tsal (1740-1798), the 4th Dzigar incarnation , a student of the 8th Situ. He wears the robes of a monk, adorned with a lotus hat. The right hand upraised holds a golden vajra and the left extended to the side strikes downward with a kila decorated with a black scorpion. The left leg is stretched slightly forward assuming a wrathful gesture with the entire body imitating the posture of the deity Guru Dragpo – a meditational form of Padmasambhava.

All the Tibetan Buddhist lineages hold the Innate Kalacakra practise via the transmission of the Kalacakra itself. I will focus mainly on those held in Jonang and Kagyu to start with. Eventually I will compile these into a book for publication with the two sections on it from the Jonang commentaries by Bamda Gelek and Taranatha. The sadhanas I will focus on to start with are by Jetsun Taranatha and Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, two great Tibetan Buddhist masters of Kalacakra and Shentong.

I am also preparing a catalogue of all the extant Tibetan texts about Innate Kalacakra. Watch this space for more details! If anyone has any particular requests for an Innate Kalacakra text they would like translated, please contact me here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s