NEW PUBLICATIONS: ‘WISH-FULFILLING JEWEL: PRAISES TO CHAKRASAMVARA’ BY LOTSAWA RINCHEN ZANGPO AND POEM ‘DIAMONDS DANCING IN THE DUST’

To the utterly pure, unchanging space, Dharmadhātu ,

Exemplifed by the teacher’s form, Heruka [Hero]

Play of non-dual method and wisdom

I prostrate to the supreme Bhagavan Supreme Bliss!

Hero with terrifying wrathful dancing postures,

Mesmerising expression, adorned with exquisite ornaments

Sensual, repulsive, compassionate and peaceful

I prostrate to the Supreme Bliss!

—Excerpt from Wish-Fulfilling Jewel: Praises to Luipa’s Chakrasamvara by Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo

To commence Losar, the new Tibetan Year of the Iron-Ox and the fifteen Days of Miracles with an auspicious offering, here is the first English translation of Wish-Fulfilling Jewel: Praise to the Lūipa Tradition of Glorious Cakrasaṃvara (dpal ‘khor lo bde mchog lU i pa’i bstod pa yid bzhin nor bu) by the renowned and acclaimed 10th Century Tibetan Dharma translator, Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo. Cakrasaṃvara (Chakrasamvara) was the first Highest Tantra Yoga empowerment I received in this lifetime, from HH 17th Karmapa in Bodh Gaya, 2007. It was also the first Highest Tantra Yoga empowerment the 17th Karmapa gave in his lifetime. Since that time, I have felt a close and strong connection to not only the 17th Karmapa but also this particular deity.

In this post, I first give a brief overview of the three main Cakrasaṃvara traditions,  Lūipa’s life and tradition and Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo. Second, the contents and source of the text with translation. Finally, I also offer my own ‘contemporary praise’ of Cakrasaṃvara, ‘Diamonds Dancing in the Dust’.

May it be of benefit and may all beings see the ‘diamonds in the dust’ visage of the Supreme Chakra of Bliss!

Cakrasaṃvara Tantra
Shri Cakrasaṃvara

The Cakrasaṃvara Tantra is a Buddhist Tantra roughly dated to the late eight or early ninth century by David B. Gray (with a terminus ante quem in the late tenth century).The full title in the Sanskrit manuscript used by Gray’s translation is: Great King of Yoginī Tantras called the Śrī Cakrasaṃvara (Śrīcakrasaṃvara-nāma-mahayoginī-tantra-tāja). The text is also called the Discourse of Śrī Heruka (Śrīherukābhidhāna) and the Samvara Light (Laghusaṃvara). Cakrasaṃvara may also refer to the main deity in this tantra as well as to a collection of texts or “cycle” associated with the root Cakrasaṃvara tantra[1].

According to the modern scholar and translator David B. Gray, “its study and practice is maintained by the Newar Buddhist community in the Kathmandu valley, as well as by many Tibetan Buddhists, not only in Tibet itself but in other regions influenced by Tibetan Buddhism, including Mongolia, Russia, China, and elsewhere, as Tibetan lamas have been living and teaching in diaspora.”

In the Tibetan classification schema, this tantra is considered to be of the “mother” class of the Anuttarayoga (Unsurpassable Yoga) class, also known as the Yoginī tantras. The text survives in several Sanskrit and Tibetan manuscripts. There are said to be at least eleven surviving Sanskrit commentaries on the tantra and various Tibetan ones.

The meaning of ‘Cakrasaṃvara’ and the three main traditions

Himalayan Art Resources has posted a brief overview of the three main traditions of Chakrasmavara of three Indian Mahasiddhas, Lūipa, Ghantapa and Krsnacarya. Why are they considered important? Because the primary commentarial literature on the tantra and practice come from these three. See here:

Lūipa’s tradition is essentially a 62 deity mandala with the consort’s legs wrapped around the waist of Heruka, but they can vary. The deity Cakrasaṃvara is common to all the Sarma (New Translation) Schools of Sakya, Kagyu, Jonang and Gelug. Within the latter he is commonly referred to as ‘Heruka’ (Hero). Rinchen Zangpo who is a Kadampa master, also refers to the deity as Heruka in his Praises. Among the many different forms and mandalas of practice, the form with one face and two hands (see below) is said to have entered Tibet with the great translator Rinchen Zangpo in the 10th-11th century.

18th Century Kagyu thangka, with consort’s legs wrapped around the waist ( Chakrasamvara (Buddhist Deity) (Himalayan Art))

 The noun samvara derives from a verb which means to “bind,” “enclose,” or “conceal,” and samvara commonly means “vow” and sometimes “sanctuary”. In the tantra it appears in various compounds, such as “the binding of the dakini net” (ḍākinījālasamvara), which is associated with the term “union with Śrī Heruka.” In this sense, samvara can also refer to “union”, which is supreme bliss and supreme awakening. Samvara/Heruka is typically depicted with a dark blue-coloured body, four faces, and twelve arms, embracing his consort, the wisdom dakini Vajravārāhī (a.k.a. Vajrayoginī) in Yab-Yum (sexual union). Other forms of the deities are also known with varying numbers of limbs and features, such as a two armed version. Among the many different forms and mandalas of practice this figure of Vajravarahi entwining the consort with both legs is common to the traditions of mahasiddha Lūipa and Maitripa.

Chakrasamvara 5 deities thangka from the Shangpa Kagyu tradition

The Tibetan translation of the Sanskrit name is ‘Wheel of Great Bliss’ (Khorlo Demchog) or Binding of the Chakra’ (‘khor lo sdom pa), which is closer to the Sanskrit. In Chinese, it is  勝樂, 胜乐.

Lūipa – Indian Mahasiddha and the Path of ‘eating excrement’
Lūipa

Rinchen Zangpos’ Praises are of the Lūipa tradition. Lūipa (c. 10th Century) is listed as one of the 84 great mahasiddhas of India. He was also a poet and writer of a number of Buddhist texts. as Keith Dowman writes in his bio of Lūipa:

“Lūipa’s first place in the eighty-four legends could reflect the belief of the narrator, or the translator, that Lūipa was First Guru (adi-guru) of the Mahamudra-siddhas in either time or status. The other claimant to this title is Saraha. Regarding time, Lūipa was born after Saraha, but although Lūipa’s Guru was Saraha’s disciple, their lifetimes probably overlapped. Regarding status and personal power, whereas Saraha’s reputation lies to a large extent in his literary genius, Lūipa’s name evokes a sense of the siddha’s tremendous integrity and commitment, the samaya that creates the personal power demonstrated in his legends. Both Saraha and Lūipa were originators of Samvara-tantra lineages, but it was Lūipa who received the title of Guhyapati, Master of Secrets, to add to his status of adi-guru in the lineage that practiced the Samvara-tantra according to the method of Lūipa; he received direct transmission from the Dakini Vajra Varahi. If Lūipa obtained his original Samvara revelation in Oddiyana, the home of several of the mother-tantras, he would have been one of the siddhas responsible for propagating this tantra in Eastern India. But whatever the tantra’s provenance, Lūipa became the great exemplar of what Saraha preached, as confirmed in his own few doha songs, and his sadhana became the inspiration and example for some of the greatest names amongst the mahasiddhas: Kambala, Ghantapa, Indrabhuti, Jalandhara, Krsnacarya, Tilopa and Naropa were all initiates into the Samvara-tantra according to the method of Lūipa. Marpa Dopa transmitted the tantra to Tibet, where it has remained the principal yidam practice of the Kahgyu school until today.”

In the 3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje’s Collected Works, there are two texts he wrote on the Luipa tradition of Chakrasamvara and two on that of Krsnacarya.

Told to eat fish entrails by a prostitute and barwoman to eliminate his ‘royal pride’

Lūipa – Nepal, Patan or Thimi, early 17th century Sculpture Terracotta

The name Lūipa was translated into Tibetan as The Fishgut Eater (Nya Ito zhabs). However, it has been noted that the root of the word is probably Old Bengali lohita, a type of fish, and Lūipa is thus synonymous with Minapa and Macchendra/Matsyendra. Luhipa, Lohipa, Luyipa, Loyipa, are variants of the name. Dowman recounts the story of how he got his name from a dakini:

 “Lūipa was a master of the mother-tantra, and his Gurus were Dakini Gurus, mundane Dakinis, embodiments of the female principle of awareness.’ The Dakinis who indicated his sadhana was a publican and whore-mistress, for liquor shops doubled as brothels. The “royal pride” she discerned in his heart can be rendered more precisely as “racial, caste and social discrimination,” and with her putrid food she pointed at a method which can best be described as the path of dung eating. Cultivate what is most foul and abhorrent, and consciousness is thereby stimulated to the point of transcendence; familiarize yourself with what is most disgusting and eventually it tastes no different from bread and butter. The result of this method is attainment of the awareness of sameness that is at the heart of all pride, all discrimination and prejudice, and transmutes these moral qualities, that are the mental equivalent of fish-guts, into emptiness. To elaborate the Dakini’s parting sally: so long as you fail to perceive the inherent reality of emptiness in every sensual stimulus, every state of mind, and every thought, you will remain in dualistic samsara, judging, criticizing and discriminating. To attain the non-duality of nirvana find the awareness of sameness in what is most revolting, and realize the one taste of all which is pure pleasure.”[2]

Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo  – Acclaimed Translator, who first introduced the Cakrasaṃvara tantra to Tibet
Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo (rin chen bzang po) (958-1055)

Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo (rin chen bzang po) (958-1055) is considered to be one of the greatest translators of the New Translation period in Tibet[3]. He was born in Reni (rad ni) in the district of Khyungwang in Ngari, western Tibet nad was ordained at the age of 13 by Yeshe Zangpo in Ngari, western Tibet, and went to Kashmir three times.  Later, it is said he maintained a team of ten lotsawas and kept them continuously busy with translation. He edited or revised over 150 texts such as the Guhyasamaja Tantra. Among the texts he translated is the Chanting the Names of Manjushri. For an online English biography of Zangpo, see the one here by Dr. Alexander Gardner at Treasury of Lives:

“Neither of his parents were Buddhist, yet, at least according to tradition, they supported his childhood aspiration to immerse himself in the religion. He was ordained at the age of thirteen by Khenpo Yeshe Zangpo (mkhan po ye shes bzang po, d.u.). In 975, while still a teenager, he convinced his parents to allow him to go to India to study Buddhism. (As will be mentioned below, later histories have it that he was sent to India by royal decree.)  He set off with a travelling companion named (according to some sources) Tashi Tsemo (bkra shis rtse mo) and food provided by his mother. On the road they met considerable difficulties, including theft, illness, and bizarre customs, passing into Kashmir via Spiti and Kulu. In Kashmir he met his first teacher, Śrāddhakaravarman, and began studying Sanskrit texts on philosophy and tantric practice. He remained there for seven years, after which he went to the southeast, to Vikramaśila for several years, before returning again to Kashmir.”

Rinchen Zangpo promoted several tantric traditions, particularly Yogatantra, translating numerous commentaries on the Sarvatāthagatatattvasaṃgraha, and he was the first to introduce the Cakrasaṃvara tantra to Tibet. He also is credited with disseminating the “mother” (ma rgyud) and “father” (pha rgyud) classes of the Anuttarayoga tantra[4].

Kadampa master, Atiśa also teacher of Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo

Zangpo had several Indian teachers and was also taught by the famous Kadamapa master, Atiśa:

“When Rinchen Zangpo was eighty-five he first met Atiśa at Toling. At Atiśa’s request he listed his accomplishments and outlined his understanding. Atiśa exclaimed “If there are men like you in Tibet, then there was no need for me to come here!” But when Atiśa asked him how one should practice the tantras, and Rinchen Zangpo replied that one should practice each tantra in its own way (or, more specifically, Guhyasamāja on the ground floor, Hevajra on the second floor, and Cakrasaṃvara on the top floor), Atiśa exclaimed “Rotten translator! Indeed there was need for me to come! The tantras should all be practiced together!” Atiśa then gave him instruction and told him to enter meditation retreat[5].

 “Rinchen Zangpo is equally famous for his contribution to the creation of temples; he is said to have constructed one hundred and eight temples, a number that Tibetans use to signify a considerable amount. His fame is such that perhaps even more than that number of small temples are now claimed to have been built by him.”[6]

Here is an interesting video about some of the earliest Tibetan Buddhist monasteries of Rinchen Zangpo, including Tabo monastery, Spiti:

Rinchen Zangpo’s Praises

Finally, turning to the text itself, the colophon simply states that the verses were composed by Rinchen Zangpo. The text is available online in a collection of Kadampa works, which includes many rare manuscripts, written by masters during the Kadam period (bka’ gdams gsung ‘bum phyogs bsgrigs thengs dang po/)[7]. There is also a critical edition of the Tibetan text I found online[8]. The text can be read below or downloaded as a .pdf on request.May it be of benefit!

Luipa’s Chakrasamvara mandala (Source HAR)

WISH-FULFILLING JEWEL: PRAISES TO THE LŪIPA TRADITION OF GLORIOUS CHAKRASAMVARA

By Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo

དཔལ་འཁོར་ལོ་བདེ་མཆོག་ལཱུ་ཨི་པའི་བསྟོད་པ་ཡིད་བཞིན་ནོར་བུ་བཞུགས༎

༡. གང་གིས་འཁོར་བའི་ཉམས་ཐག་ནི༎

དྲན་པ་བལ་གྱིས་འཇོམས་མཛད་ཅིང་༎

བླ་མེད་བྱང་ཆུབ་ཐོབ་མཛད་པ༎

བླ་མའི་ཞབས་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ་ལོ༎

Whoever is distressed and stricken by samsara

Remembering gently the one who conquers it,

The one who attained the unsurpassable awakening

We prostrate to the venerable guru!

༢. སྐྱེ་མེད་ངང་མས་ཐུགས་རྗེ་ཆེན་པོ་ཡིས༎

ཀེང་རུས་འཇིགས་སུ་རུང་པའི་གདན་སྟེངས་སུ༎

བདུད་འདུལ་ཧཱུཾ་ལས་ཁྲོ་བོའི་སྐུ་སྤྲུལ་བ༎

བཅོམ་ལྡན་བདེ་བའི་མཆོག་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ་ལོ༎

By the great compassion of the unborn nature

Upon the seat of a fearsome, decaying skeleton

Tamer of demons, a HUM emanates your wrathful form,

Prostrate to the supreme Bhagavan Supreme Bliss!

༣.ཆོས་དབྱིངས་རྣམ་དག་འགྱུར་མེད་ནམ་མཁའ་ལ༎

མཚོན་པའི་སྐུར་བསྟན་དཔའ་བོའི་རྒྱན་གྱིས་སྤྲས༎

་ཐབས་དང་ཤེས་རབ་གཉིས་མེད་རོལ་བ་མཛད༎

བཅོམ་ལྡན་བདེ་བའི་མཆོག་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ་ལོ༎

To the utterly pure, unchanging space, Dharmadhātu ,

Exemplifed by the teacher’s form, Heruka [Hero]

Play of non-dual method and wisdom

I prostrate to the supreme Bhagavan Supreme Bliss!

༤.དཔའ་བོའི་སྟང་སྟབས་ཁྲོ་བོ་འཇིགས་སུ་རུང་༎

སྒེག་པའི་ཉམས་ཅན་སྣོགས་རྒྱན་གྱིས་སྤྲས༎

རྒོད་དང་མི་སྡུག་སྙིང་རྗེས་ཞི་བ་མཛད༎

Hero with terrifying wrathful dancing postures,

Mesmerising expression, adorned with exquisite ornaments

Sensual, repulsive, compassionate and peaceful

I prostrate to the Supreme Bliss!

༥.གང་ལ་ཆགས་དང་སྡང་བ་མི་མངའ་ཡང་༎

གང་གིས་འདུལ་བ་‹དེ་དང›་དེའི་སྲས༎

ཆགས་སོགས་ཉོན་མོངས་ཀུན་ཏུ་ཞི་མཛད་པའི༎

བཅོམ་ལྡན་བདེ་བའི་མཆོག་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ་ལོ༎

The one without attachment or aversion to anything

By taming his disciples as spiritual heirs,

Pacifying all afflictions, attachments and so on,

I prostrate to the supreme Conqueror Supreme Bliss!

༦.སྒྲིབ་གཉིས་ཉེས་པའི་རྒྱུ་ཚོགས་རྣམ་པར་སྤང‹ས›་༎

སྡུག་བསྔལའབྲས་བུའི་ཚོགས་དང་བྲལ་བ་ཉིད༎

འཁོར་དང་མྱ་ངན་འདའ་ལ་མི་གནས་པའི༎

གཉིས་མེད་ཡེ་ཤེས་བདེ་མཆོག་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ༎

To the one who abandoned the accumulation of negativities and two obscurations,

Who is free from the accumulated results of suffering,

Who abides neither in samsara nor nirvana,

I prostrate to the non-dual primordial awareness, Supreme Bliss!

༧.དག་པ་ཆོས་སྐུའི་སྤྲུལ་པ་ནི༎

དམིགས་པ་མེད་པའི་ཐུགས་རྗེ་ཡིས༎

གཟུགས་སྐུ་སྒྱུ་མ་ལྟར་སྟོན་པ༎

རྡོ་རྗེ་ཕག་མོ་ཕྱག་འཚལ་ལོ༎

The pure emanation of Dharmakāya

With objectless compassion

Manifests the illusory Nirmanakāya

I prostrate to Vajravārahi!

༨.ཡེ་ཤེས་བཞིའི་ངོ་བོ་ཡི༎

མཁའ་འགྲོ་ལ་མ་དུམ་སྐྱེས་མ༎

གཟུགས་ཅན་མ་དང་ཐོད་པ་བཞི༎

བདེ་ཆེན་འཁོར་ལོ་ཕྱག་འཚལ་ལོ༎

To the essence of the four primordial awarenesses,

Ḍākinī , Lāmā, Khaṇḍarohā,

Rūpiṇī and the four skullcups,

I prostrate to Cakrasaṃvara (Chakra of Great Bliss)!

རབ་ཏུ་གཏུམ་མོ་གཏུཾམ་མིག་མ༎

འོད་ལྡན་སྣ་ཚོགས་བརྟན་པའི་བློ༎་

མི་ཐུང་ལང་ཀའི་དབང་ཕྱུག་མ༎

ཤིང་གྲིབ་མ་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ་ལོ༎

To Pracaṇḍā, Caṇḍākṣī, Mahānāsā, Vīramatī

Kharvarī, Laṅkeśvarī, Drumacchāyā, I prostrate!

༡༠.ས་བསྲུངས་མ་དང་འཇིགས་བྱེད་ཆེ༎

རླུང་ཤུགས་ཆང་འཐུང་ལྗང་ལྷ་མོ༎

ཤིན་ཏུ་བཟང་མོ་རྟ་སྣ་མོ༎

བྱ་གདོང་མ་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ་ལོ༎

To Airāvatī and Mahābhairavī, Vāyuvegā, Surābhakṣī, Śyāmadevī,

Subhadrā, Hayakarṇā, Khagānanā, prostrate!

༡༡.འཁོར་ཤུག་ཁ་ཎཌ་རོ་ཧ་དང༎

ཆང་འཐུང་གོ་ཆ་རབ་དཔའ་མོ༎

སྟོབས་ཆེན་འཁོར་ལོ་བསྒྱུར་མ་དང༎

བརྩོན་ཆེན་མ་་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ་ལོ༎

Cakravegā, Khaṇḍarohā and Śauṇḍinī, Cakravarmiṇī, Suvīrā,

Mahābalā, Cakravartinī, Mahāvīryā, prostrate!

ཐོད་པའི་དུམ་བུ་ཀེང་རུས་ཆེ༎

ཀེང་རུས་མཆེ་རྩིགས་ལྷའི་སྒྲ༎

འོད་དཔགམེད་དངརྡོ་རྗེའི་འོད༎

རྡོ་རྗེ་སྐུ་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ་བསྟོད༎

To Khaṇḍakapālina, Mahākaṅkāla, Kaṅkāla, Vikaṭadaṃṣṭriṇa, Surāvairiṇa,

Amitābha, Vajraprabha, Vajradeha, prostrate and praise!

༡༣. མྱུ་གུ་ཅན་དང་རལ་པ་ཅན༎

དཔའ་ཆེན་ཧཱུཾ་མཛད་རབ་ཏུ་བཟང་༎

རྡོ་རྗེ་བཟང་དང་འཇིགས་བྱེད་ཆེ༎

མིག་མི་བཟང་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ་ལོ༎

To Aṅkurika, Jaṭila, Mahāvīra, Hūṃkāra, Subhadra

Vajrabhadra, Mahābhairava, Virūpākṣa, I prostrate!

༡༤.སྟོབས་ཆེན་རིན་ཆེན་རྡོ་རྗེ་དང་༎

རྟ་མགྲིན་མཁའ་སྙིང་ཧེ་རུ་ཀ༎

པདམ་གར་དབང་རྣམ་སྣང་དང་༎

རྡོ་རྗེ་སེམས་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ་ལོ༎

‹སྒོ་འཚམས་མ་བརྒྱད་ལ་བསྟོད་པ་ནི༎›

To Mahābala, Ratnavajra, Hayagrīva, Ākāśagarbha, Heruka,

Padmanarteśvara, Vairocana and  Vajrasattva, I prostrate!

༡༥. ཕྱོགས་བཞིའི་སྒོ་རྣམས་སྐྱོང་མཛད་པ༎

ཁྭ་གདོང་མ་དང་འུག་གདོང་མ༎

དེ་བཞིནཁྱིའི་གདོང་མ་དང་༎

ཕག་གདོང་མ་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ་ལོ༎

To the Gate Protectors of the Four Directions,

Kākāsyā,  Ulūkāsyā, Śvānāsyā and Śūkarāsyā, I prostrate!

༡༦. གཟུགསགཉིས་ཀྱིས་ནི་ཡིད་འཕྲོག་མ༎

བརྟན་པ་མོ་དང་ཕོ་ཉ་མོ༎

མཆེ་བརྩིགས་མ་དང་འཇོམས་མ་དང་༎

གཤིན་རྗེབཞི་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ་ལོ༎

To the two forms of the mind-captivating goddess, Ḍāḍhī and  Dūtī

Daṃṣṭriṇī and  Mathanī ; the four Yama, I prostrate!

ལོ་ཙྪ་བ་རིན་ཆེན་བཟང་པོས་བསྟོད་པ་སཛོགས་སོ༎ དགེའོ༎

Composed by Rinchen Zangpo. Virtue!

Translated and edited by Adele Tomlin, 14th February 2021. Copyright Adele Tomlin/Dakini Publications.

Diamonds Dancing in the DustPraise to the Chakra of Supreme Bliss

Praise to the Chakra of Supreme Bliss!

A surfer riding a bone-breaking white wave

Sky-blue space kissing soft, silky sands

A brilliant, black bassist with a horny, rocking vibe

Balmy, warm breeze wafting Balearic beats

Mind-blowing, deep pulsating orgasms

A scarlet-hot bikini on a vermillion Vespa

Fresh coffee and croissants, strawberries and cream

The sexual seduction of a romantic rose

The sweet, alluring scent of white jasmine fleur

Scorching eyes of lust and an aching, longing heart

A scintillating smile and belly-ache laughter

Exquisite edibles and daring, devilish dance

A hilarious hoax and heart-breaking melody

Midnight violet vajras in deep- red lotuses

Fiery-crimson sunsets reflected in turquoise seas

Ecstatic, wild dancing under a moonlit sky

An African Queen with sublime, funky afro

The kind, warm hand of a total stranger

The courage and compassion of a slum-dwelling beggar

An Indian widow washing saris in the Ganga

Integrity and honesty of the enslaved and oppressed.

Dancing like diamonds in the dust, your visage sweetly subtle,

Always present, in every split second.

Eternal , diamond bliss, timeless space.

Indivisible union, Heruka and Varahi.

I bow down, paying homage and praise,

May we always see your divine face, sounds and mind in all!

Composed by Adele (Zangmo) Tomlin, published 14th February 2021. Dedicated to all beings and to the embodiment of Chakrasamvara, precious root lama and three roots, 17th Karmapa, Orgyen Trinley Dorje. May your life be long and free from all obstacles!

Further Reading

Gray, David B. (2007). The Cakrasaṃvara Tantra: the discourse of Śrī Heruka (Śrīherukābhidhāna). American Institute of Buddhist Studies at Columbia University.

Gray, David B. (2019), The Cakrasaṃvara Tantra (The Discourse of Sri Heruka): A Study and Annotated Translation, Wisdom Publications.

Dharmabhadra, Dṅul-hu; Gonsalez, David (tr.) (2010). Source of Supreme Bliss: Heruka Cakrasaṃvara Five Deity Practice and Commentary. Snow Lion Publications.

Gray, David B. (2003). “The Cakrasaṃvara Tantra: The Text and Its Traditions”. In Huntington, John C.; Bangdel, Dina (eds.). The Circle of Bliss: Buddhist Meditational Art. Serindia Publications.

Yeshe, Losang; Gonsalez, David (tr.). The Ecstatic Dance of Cakrasaṃvara: Heruka Body Mandala Practice and Commentary. Dechen Ling Press.

Rinchen Zangpo – The Treasury of Lives: A Biographical Encyclopedia of Tibet, Inner Asia and the Himalayan Region


[1] There are three genres of Cakrasaṃvara literature: “explanatory tantras” (vyakhyatantra); commentaries; and ritual literature (sadhanas, mandala manuals, initiation manuals). The explanatory tantras refers to independent tantras that are seen as being part of the Cakrasaṃvara cycle.

The main explanatory tantras (given by Buton Rinchen Drub) are: the Abhidhānottara, the Vajradāka; Ḍākārṇava, Herukābhyudaya, Yoginīsaṃcāra, Samvarodaya, Caturyoginīsaṃpuṭa; Vārāhī-abhisambodhi, and the Sampuṭa Tantra.[23] Most of these texts show no internal evidence they consider themselves as subsidiary to the root Cakrasaṃvara Tantra, and it is likely they were grouped into this category by the later tradition.[24] Furthermore, it seems the root Cakrasaṃvara Tantra is not as important in the Newari tradition, which instead privileges the Samvarodaya.

The main Indian commentaries to the root tantra are listed as:

Jayabhadra of Laṅka (early to mid 9th century scholar at Vikramashila), Śrī-cakrasaṃvara-mūla-tantra-pañjikā. The oldest, word-for-word commentary. It survives in two Sanskrit manuscripts and Tibetan translation.

Kambala (possibly 9th century), Sādhana-nidāna-nāma-śrī-cakrasaṃvara-pañjikā. This is another early commentary that was very influential and relied upon by various later authors.

Bhavabhaṭṭa (late 9th century scholar at Vikramashila), Śrī-cakrasaṃvara-pañjikā-nāma. This is a larger work which relies on Jayabhadra but also sometimes contradicts him. It also replies older Shaiva readings with more Buddhist oriented ones.

Devagupta’s Commentary which is basically an expansion of Kambala’s

Bhavyakīrti (early 10th century scholar at Vikramashila), Śrī-cakrasaṃvarasya-pañjikā-śūramanojñā-nāma. This is a shorter and more conservative commentary which stays closer to the Jayabhadra commentary.

Durjayacandra (late 10th century scholar at Vikramashila), Ratnagaṇa-nāma-pañjikā. This commentary is particularly important for the Sakya school since it was used by Rinchen Zangpo.

Tathāgatarakṣita (scholar at Vikramashila), Ubhayanibandha-nāma

Indrabuti’s Commentary which relies on Kambala’s

Vīravajra’s two 11th century commentaries. Gray states that “They are very sophisticated works, and represent a high point of Indian tantric Buddhist scholarship. His commentaries are also among the most thorough. He relies both upon Jayabhadra and Kambala, as well as Bhavabhaṭṭa and Durjayacandra, and he is also quite erudite, quoting from a number of other sources, including Yogacara texts and a number of other tantras.”

There are also several Tibetan commentaries, including those of Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158), Buton (1290-1364), and Tsongkhapa (1357-1419).

[2]    Dowman explains: “More light is shed on Luipa’s practice by considering what fish meant in his society. First, fish is the flesh of a sentient being and therefore anathema to the orthodox brahmin; but left-over fish-guts is fit only for dogs, the lowest life-form on the totem pole. Such a practice, if indeed Luipa performed a literal interpretation, would have made him unclean in the eyes of his former peers, untouchable and unapproachable. Self-abasement and humiliation is the corollary of “dung eating;” destroy every vestige of those associations with former birth, privilege and wealth, and in an existential pit discover what there is in human being that can inspire real pride, divine pride, that is inherent in all sentient beings. Second, fish is a symbol of spirituality and sense control, and Luipa’s Samvara sadhana, which is not described here, involves transformation of his universe into that of a god in his paradise, and attainment of control of his energies (prana) and thus of his senses.”

[3] Sarma ( gsar ma) — the New Schools of Tibetan Buddhism which followed the later translations made from the time of the great translator Rinchen Zangpo (958-1055) onwards, i.e. Kagyü, Sakya, Kadampa and Gelug.

[4] Rinchen Zangpo is credited with promoting the Prajñāpāramitā literature in Tibet, having translated several important works, including the Prajñāpāramitā in 8,000 verses (Aṣṭasāhastrikā), as well as in 20,000 verses, and the Abhisamayālaṃkāra, one of the most important commentaries on the Prajñāpāramitā literature. In addition to his translation work he also composed commentaries on topics such as Prajñāpāramitā, sādhāna, and abhiṣeka.

[5] “Following his encounter with Atiśa, Rinchen Zangpo practiced for ten years. According to tradition, he wrote three inscriptions above consecutive doors to his medication cell, each corresponding to one of the three vehicles (Mahāyāna, Hīnayāna, and Vajrayāna); above outer door to his meditation cell: “Within this door, should a thought of attachment the phenomenal world arise for even a single moment, may the dharmapāla split open my head.” Over the middle door he wrote: “Should a thought of self-interest arise for even a single moment, may the dharmapāla split open my head.” Over the inner door he wrote: “Should an ordinary thought arise for even a single moment, may the dharmapāla split open my head.”

[6] “Most of the attributions to Rinchen Zangpo must be taken with some suspicion, as they are the invention of later tradition. Some of the more notable contributions he is said to have made include what would have been his first major temple, after Toling, Khachar (kha char; also spelled ‘kha’ char and ‘khab char), a royal temple sponsored by either King Lhade (lha lde, 996-1024), the nephew of Yeshe Wo and the uncle of Jangchub Wo (byang chub ‘od, r. 1037-57) who invited Atiśa Dīpaṃkara (982-1054) to Tibet, or, alternately, by King Khorre (khor re, r. 988-996), Lhade’s father and the brother of Yeshe Wo. This temple is likely near a town called Langka northwest Ladakh. Another temple was named Nyarma (mya ma), now a pile of ruins near Thiksay in Ladakh. He is also credited with establishing the famous Tabo Monastery in Spiti in 996.” – from Treasury of Lives bio.

[7] Published by si khron dpe skrun tshogs pa/ si khron mi rigs dpe skrun khang / 2006. TBRC W1PD89051.

[8] Made available in the framework of the project “A Gateway to Early Tibetan Scholasticism” by P. Hugon and K. Kano. Please refer to the project website for more information: https://www.oeaw.ac.at/ikga/forschung/tibetologie/materialien/a-gateway-to-early-tibetan-scholasticism/

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