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Charya tantra

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Charya tantra, Upa tantra, or Ubhaya tantra is a yana (literally "vehicle") of Esoteric Buddhism-though there is debate about whether it is considered to be buddhism, and as such is both a class of tantric literature and of praxis.

The yana of Charya or ‘conduct’ tantra is given this name because it demonstrates a balanced emphasis on the outer ritual actions and ablutions of body and speech and the inner cultivation of intentionality and mindfulness.

Hence, outer and inner conduct.

The Charya tantra is enumerated as one of the three Outer Tantras in both the four-tantric-yanas classification scheme of the Sarma, or 'New Translation Schools' and the nine-yana classification of the Nyingma, 'Ancient Translation School'.

Charya Tantra:

The main Charya Tantra is the Mahavairocanabhisambodhi Tantra (tathagata lineage), in Japanese it is called the 大日経 (dainichikyou).

Two others are the Vajrapani Initiation Tantra (Vajra lineage)and the Extensive Tantra of Hayagriva (lotus lineage).

Also the Arya Manjushri Root Tantra is a Charya Tantra text.

Upa, or practice tantra, is also called Ubhayatantra, dual-tantra, because it combines the view of the next vehicle, Yoga tantra, with the action, or conduct, of Kriya tantra, the former one.

The abhiseka consists of the empowerment of the Five Buddha Families.

Realization may be gained in five lifetimes.

Yana of charya tantra sanskrit;caryātantra yāna tibetan;སྤྱོད་རྒྱུད་ཀྱི་ཐེག་པ་ chögyü kyi tekpa spyod rgyud kyi theg pa

Charya tantra (Skt. caryātantra; Tib. སྤྱོད་རྒྱུད, Wyl. spyod rgyud) aka Upayogatantra or Ubhayatantra (Skt.; Wyl. u pa'i rgyud) — the second of the three outer classes of tantra and the fifth yana according to the nine yana classification.

The vehicle of charya or ‘conduct’ tantra is so-called because it places an equal emphasis on the outer actions of body and speech and the inner cultivation of samadhi. It is also called the ‘tantra of both’ (Skt. ubhaya tantra) because its view conforms with that of yoga tantra, while its conduct is similar to that of kriya tantra.

==Overview Given by Alak Zenkar Rinpoche[1]==

===Entry Point===

One is matured by means of the five empowerments, which include the empowerments of the vajra, bell and name in addition to the water and crown empowerments[2], and then maintains the samayas of charya tantra, as described in the particular texts themselves.


The view is determined in the same way as in the yoga tantra.


One visualizes oneself as the samaya being (Skt. samayasattva) and visualizes the wisdom deity (Skt. jñānasattva), who is regarded as a friend, in front of oneself, and then practices the conceptual meditations on the syllable, mudra and form of the deity, and the non-conceptual meditation on absolute bodhichitta by means of entering, remaining and arising.[3]


The conduct here is the same as in kriya tantra.


In the short term, one attains the common accomplishments and ultimately one reaches the level of a vajradhara of the four buddha families (i.e., the three families mentioned in the results of the kriya tantra vehicle plus the ratna family)

    Tibetan: སྤྱོད་པ, Wylie: spyod pa
    Caryā (Sanskrit), चर्या (Devanagari)

Guarisco & McLeod et al. (2005: p. 41) render this class into English as "Conduct".


    Upayogatantra or Ubhayatantra (Sanskrit; Wylie: spyod pa'i rgyud kyi theg pa, Tibetan: སྤྱོད་པའི་རྒྱུད་ཀྱི་ཐེག་པ).

In the lexical compound Ubhaya-tantra, 'ubhaya' (Sanskrit, Devanagari: उभय) is a pronominal adjective that qualifies 'tantra' (English: loom, weaving) and holds the semantic field of 'two' or 'dual'.

One interpretation of 'Ubhaya' as the ‘tantra of both’ is demonstrated in that its literature and exponents hold the view of Yogatantra, whilst its conduct and activity is therein, as a general rule, is aligned with that of Kriyatantra and in function, forms a bridge between the two other Outer Tantras.


The Upa-yoga scriptures first appeared in 'Mount Jakang Chen' Tibetan: རི་བྱ་རྐང་ཅན, Wylie: ri bya rkang can (alternate names:

Riwo Jakang,

Mount Jizu) and the

charnel ground of Cool Grove Tibetan: བསིལ་བའི་ཚལ, Wylie: bsil ba'i tshal. Cool Grove is also known as 'Śītavana' (Sanskrit).

Tantras in this class

    'Awakening of Great Vairocana' (Wylie: rnam(-par) snang(-mdzad) mngon(-par) byang(-chub pa); Sanskrit: Mahãvairocanãbhisaṃbodhitantra T.494 ]
    'Empowerment of Vajrapãṇi' (Wylie: phyag na rdo rje dbang bskur; Sanskrit: Vajrapãṇyabhiṣekamahãtantra, T.496 )

Textual dissemination

Davidson relates the movement of the Mahãvairocanãbhisaṃbodhi-tantra by the Ch'an monk Wu-hsing (2002: p. 118):

    "The Ch'an monk Wu-hsing remarked around 680 C.E. that the popularity of the esoteric path was a new and exceptional event in India, observable even while he was in residence.

He reputedly brought back with him the earliest version of the Mahãvairocanãbhisaṃbodhi-tantra, although he did not translate it."


The Carya class of tantras holds the smallest number of texts of all the traditional classifications of tantric literatures. An important tantra in this class is the Mahavairocana Sutra.

The presence of Buddha Vairocana is often evident in tantras of this class where he is often depicted in the centre of a mandala with four other Buddhas of his retinue placed to the four quarters, the cardinal directions.

Importantly, during the Carya tantra class and literary period, there developed the salient innovation wherein the sadhaka is to cultivate identification with the deity in meditative absorption.

This class of literature was important to Kūkai (774–835) and the development of Shingon Buddhism. Kūkai traveled to China in 804 as part of the same expedition as Saichō.

In the T'ang capital of Xian, Kūkai studied esoteric Buddhism and Sanskrit and received initiation from Huikuo.

Kukai received a lineage of the Mahavairocana Sutra (Dainichikyo 大日経).

On returning to Japan, Kūkai establish the esoteric school of Shingon (真言).

Guarisco & McLeod et al. (2005: p. 41) set Jamgon Kongtrul's (1813–1899) codification of this class in English as follows:

    "Conduct tantra, where conduct encompasses both outer ritual activity and inner contemplation, involves training in a vast range of deeds while entering the inner reality that presents itself in visual and audible divine representations.

The notion here is that of being close to the state of a perfect divine being, a state not yet fully realized.

This limited view is overcome by visualizing oneself as the deity, understanding that form to be the appearance aspect of emptiness."

Jinpa (2004) renders a section of 'A Garland of Views' (Tibetan: མན་ངག་ལྟ་བའི་ཕྲེང་བ, Wylie: man ngag lta ba'i phreng ba) that focuses Ubhaya tantra through the lens of the Two truths doctrine, a text attributed to Padmasambhava in the Mantrayana tradition, thus:

    "The view of those who have entered the vehicle of Ubhaya-tantra is as follows. Whilst there are no origination and cessation on the ultimate level, on the conventional level one visualizes [oneself] in the form of a deity.

This is cultivated on the basis of both the practice of meditative absorption endowed with four aspects as well as the [necessary] ritual articles and conditions."


In sadhana, the sadhaka visualizes themselves or ritually rarefies their mindstream into the 'commitment being'

(Sanskrit: samayasattva) and visualizes the 'gnosis being' (Sanskrit:

jñānasattva), who is envisioned in the relationship of a spiritual friend, to their front and facing them which subsumes a certain style of form meditations or meditations with a support: e.g.:

mandala and/or

rupa of the deity, the

'gnosis being', the yidam.


  1. A Brief Presentation of the Nine Yanas by Alak Zenkar Rinpoche
  2. Of the Kriya tantra

  3. Entering’ refers to the realization that all phenomena are beyond arising, ‘remaining’ means to abide once the non-conceptual nature has manifest and ‘arising’ means developing intense compassion for all beings who do not realize this.


Wikipedia:Charya tantra