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Integrating Non-Tantric and Tantric Doctrines Through Prajñaparamita at Vikramashila During the Mid-Eleventh Century

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In the controversy among Vikramaśīla scholars over the relationship between the socalled “perfection method” (pāramitānaya) and the “mantra method” (viz mantranaya), it is well known that, unlike Abhayākaragupta (12th century) and others who suggested that Buddhahood could only be achieved through the mantra method, Ratnākaraśānti (975-1045 CE) held the position that both the perfection and mantra methods were capable of leading practitioners to the goal

of buddhahood, albeit at very different speeds.2 Given that most other scholars, such as Bhavyakīrti, also held this position, it might seem that Ratnākaraśānti’s position was simply part of a mainstream trend.3 However, since Ratnākaraśānti had a particular way of interpreting the perfection and

mantra methods based upon his innovative framework for Prajñāpāramitā, his integration of non-tantric and tantric doctrines was, in some ways, unique.4 This paper will examine Ratnākaraśānti’s distinctive framework for Prajñāpāramitā, its grounding in conservative Yogācāra “three-vehicle” (yānatraya) theory, and its central place in his explanation of both the perfection and mantra methods. II. RATNĀKARAŚĀNTI’S PRAJÑĀPĀRAMITA FRAMEWORK

Since the Prajñāpāramitā scriptures often apply the term “Prajñāpāramitā” ambiguously to a number of different referents—such as a path, a goal, a text, a topic, a Goddess and so on—all scholars, who wished to justify and explain their assertion that the perfection and mantra methods lead to the same goal, had to integrate tantric and non-tantric doctrines by relying on a what we might call their “Prajñāpāramitā framework,” which defines the multivalent

central term “Prajñāpāramitā” from the perspective of their particular philosophical school and connects it with the five Mahāyāna paths. Most tantric scholars relied on Haribhadra’s Mādhyamika framework to integrate the doctrines within a single hierarchical pyramid-like structure based upon the single-vehicle (ekayāna) theory—according to which, the śrāvaka, pratyekabuddha and bodhisattva vehicles are all considered to lead ultimately

1 This is a first draft paper (August 12, 2017) for “Reconstruction the History of Late Indian Buddhism (Part III)” panel at International Association of Buddhist Studies Conference 2017. Please do not quote or distribute it without permission. 2 Ratnākaraśānti says this in many places, eg. Luo, 2014, p.21: manye tam eva subhagaṃ tanayaṃ munīnāṃ yo bodhaye ’ticiraduṣkaracaryayāste, mantrāṃs tad eva padam āśu sukhair dadānān yo vetti saugatamaṇīn sugataḥ sa

eva. 3 Many others, such Tripiṭakamāla, Advayavajra, Ratnarakṣita, Sahajavajra, Devacandra, Adhīśa, Raviśrījñāna, hold this position and cite the famous verse. See, eg. Amṛtakaṇikā p.137: ekārthatve 'py asaṃmohād bahūpāyād aduṣkarāt, tīkṣṇendriyādhikārāc ca mantranītiḥ praśasyate, see eg. regarding. For a

more complete list of scholars who cite this verse, see Harunaga Isaacson’s “Conceptions of Awakening (bodhi) in Indian Tantric Buddhism” Handout, Sept. 14th, 2010 (online version). 4 For ease, I will follow Conze’s practice of translating prajñāpāramitā as Perfection of Wisdom or Perfect Wisdom, although neither translation entirely captures the meaning of the term as Ratnākaraśānti sees it, which I might translate as the transcendent state of wisdom.

to the same single realization of emptiness. Ratnākaraśānti’s framework, however, is based on the conservative Yogācāra three-vehicle (yānatraya) theory, which holds these very same three vehicles to be inextricably tied to the three different terminal goals. Before explaining Ratnākaraśānti’s particular Prajñāpāramitā framework and how it informs his explanation of the relationship between the perfection and mantra methods, it may be useful first to sketch

out Haribhadra’s framework against which Ratnākaraśānti argues. First, in his Abhisamayālaṃkārālokā, Haribhadra interprets the term Prajñāpāramitā as meaning “the state of one who reaches the other shore of wisdom (prajñāyāḥ pāram+iḥ+tā),” which is to say, the state of one who reaches the highest point of the discerning (pravicaya) dharmas.” Next, Haribhadra explains the term’s usage in the Aṣṭa’s thesis sentence, by cleverly adapting Dignāga’s Prajñāpāramitāpiṇḍārtha v.1.1 to his own Mādhyamika perspective, as follows:5

Prajñāpāramitā is predominantly (mukhyā) a blessed buddha [who] is the illusion-like, nondual awareness.6 But as a figurative (gauṇī) [usage], She is both a text, which is the collections of words and sentences, and a path characterized by seeing and so on. Just as Ācārya Dignāga says:

Prajñāpāramitā is the nondual awareness. She is the Tathāgata. [She is] the goal (sādhya) of the text, [which] is the words about Her, and [the goal] of the path due to its relation with that goal (tādarthyayogena).

Based on this [[[definition]] by Dignāga], [we should understand] a restriction (avadhāraṇa) [that the term here is] is concerning only, i.e. predominantly, that Prajñāpāramitā, which is of three types, is the possessor of a connection (sambandhinī) with those, and is devoid of the instructions (upadeśa) that

are a mere likeness (prativarṇika) [of Her]. [We should] not [understand the term in the Aṣṭa’s thesis sentence as referring to that Prajñāpāramitā which] belongs only to those [[[bodhisattvas]]], because [[[Prajñāpāramitā]]] governs (adhikāra) the three [types of] awakening, insofar as [She] is inseparable [from them] (nāntarīyakatvenā).7

Here, if we compare Haribhadra’s introduction to Dignāga’s verse with Dignāga’s verse itself, we can see that Haribhadra adapts it to his own Mādhyamika perspective by making three simple additions. First, he adds the word “illusion-like” before nondual awareness, since he considers emptiness an absolute negation (prasajyapratiṣedha) of the existence of all dharmas including Prajñāpāramitā. Next, he

5 AAĀ (23:2): evamādiśrutacintābhāvanāmayajñānodayakrameṇa sarvākārajñānādhigamāt pāraṃ prakarṣaparyantam etīti vigṛhya, kvipi sarvāpahārilope ’nityam āgamaśāsanam ity atuki, tatpuruṣe kṛti bahulam ity aluki ca karmavibhakteḥ kṛte (MS, T; kṛtaḥ W) pāramis, tadbhāvaḥ pāramitā. prajñāyā

dharmapravicayalakṣaṇāyāḥ (MS, T; lakṣanāyāh W) pāramitā prajñāpāramitā. 6 I have translated mukhyā similarly to prādhānyena because they are synonyms and function in a similar way here. 7 AAĀ, p. 23:4. mukhyā buddho bhagavān māyopamaṃ jñānam advayaṃ. tatprāptyanukūlatvena tu padavākyasamūho grantho

darśanādilakṣaṇo mārgaś ca gauṇī prajñāpāramitā. tathā cāhācāryadignāgaḥ. prajñāpāramitā jñānam advayaṃ, sā tathāgataḥ. sādhyā tādarthyayogena tācchabdyaṃ granthamārgayoḥ|| iti. atas trividhām api tatsambandhinīṃ prativarṇikopadeśarahitāṃ prajñāpāramitām eva prādhānyād adhikṛtyety avadhāraṇaṃ, na tu teṣām eveti. bodhitraye 'syā nāntarīyakatvenādhikārāt. Cf. PPPAs, 1.1, p.53: prajñāpāramitā jñānam advayaṃ sā tathāgataḥ| sādhyā tādarthyayogena tācchabdyaṃ granthamārgayoḥ. For more on Dharmakīrtiśrī’s interpretation of this, see Seton, 2016, p. 171-176.

adds the word “predominantly” to qualify the linguistic usage of this term further, because, even though he considers Prajñāpāramitā to be what “sees” the ultimate truth of emptiness, he considers Prajñāpāramitā itself to be something relative. Finally, he adds the word “figuratively” to the causes of that

result, because he considers the illusory path leading to the illusory goal to have no ultimate causal efficacy.8 In this way, Haribhadra’s framework generally restricts the referent of the term Prajñāpāramitā to the goal, ostensibly so that he can interpret the scriptural statements coherently from his

particular Mādhyamika perspective. Although we cannot go into the details of his broader system here, it may be easy to see why many subsequent tantric scholars appear to have adopted this single unifying hierarchy, either explicitly or implictly, in order to integrate non-tantric and tantric doctrines,

when explaining that the perfection and mantra methods lead to the same goal.9 Contra Haribhadra’s system, Ratnākaraśānti brings the term Prajñāpāramitā in line with his Yogācāra understanding of emptiness as an implicative exclusion (paryudāsa) (rather than an absolute negation) by identifying it with the path, instead of the goal. To do so, he interprets the term Prajñāpāramitā as meaning, “That which is going to the other shore of wisdom” (rather than “that which reaches, or has gone to, the other shore”). Then, he states:

[If you ask,] what [is it] the other shore of ? [It is the other shore] of the conceptualization (rnam par rtog pa’i) of a bodhisattva [and] of the purity (dag pa; śuddhi) of the buddhas.10

Here, by saying the other shore is the conceptualization of a bodhisattva” and the purity of the buddhas, Ratnākaraśānti is indicating that the term Prajñāpāramitā refers, specifically, to the paths of seeing and cultivation up to the final moment before buddhahood, but does not include the nondual awareness of a buddha. After restricting the term in this way, he states:

[If you ask, “Why is the [[[name]]] Prajñāpāramitā [used] with respect to the path of preliminary practice (prayogamārga)?” [That usage] is because [the path of preliminary practice] is its cause. If you ask, “Why is the [[[name]]] Prajñāpāramitā [used] with respect to the dharmakāya and its activity?” [That usage] is only because [the Dharmakāya with its activity] is its fruit (’bres bu; phala).11

Here, in essence, Ratnākaraśānti is explaining Prajñāpāramitā as, predominantly, referring to the ārya bodhisattva’s path to awakening (rather than to the goal that is awakening itself).12 This is because, for Ratnākaraśānti, the bodhisattva’s path refers

8 For more on the illusory process, see, eg., AAv, p. 103:25a3: iti akṛtimārthena māyopamavijñānasarvadharmapratipattyādhigataḥ svābhāvikaḥ kāyaḥ. Or, AAĀ, p. 20:25ff, beginning at tadanu vibhāvitaikakṣaṇābhisambodhasya… For more on his single-vehicle theory, see, eg., AAĀ, p. 133:25ff beginning at ekaṃ hi

yānaṃ… 9 For a chart of Haribhadra’s framework, see Appendix. Some tantric authors make more explicit reference to Dignāga’s verse, see, eg., Kanakavarṇaprajñāpāramitāsādhana in Sādhanamālā, vol.1, 159, p. 321. 10 Śud, 53-195:1: gang gi pha rol zhe na, ’phags pa byang byub sems dpa (P/N sems dpa’i) ni rnam par rtog (P/N rtogs) pa’i ’o. de bzhin gsheg pa rnams kyi ni dag pa’i ’o. 11 See Śud, 53-195:4: sbyor ba'i lam la ci'i phyir pha rol tu phyin pa zhes bya zhe na, de'i rgyu yin pa'i phyir ro. chos kyi sku mdzad pa dang bcas pa ci'i phyir shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa zhes bya zhe na, de'i 'bras bu nyid yin pa'i phyir ro. For a discussion of these passages, see Seton, 2016, p. 263-4. Here, Dharmakāya is referring to the eighth realization and chapter of the AA and hence, for Ratnākaraśānti, it refers to all three bodies. 12 Sāratamā, ed. Jaini, p. 203: prajñāpāramitā vikalpataraṇī sā bodhisattvasya dhīḥ, dhīraiḥ saiva viśuddhipāragamane tāthāgatī kathyate. Śuddhimatī, p. 53-194:22: dngos po dam pa shes pas na shes rab ste,

to his reflexive awareness of sheer illumination (prakāśamātra), which can be subdivided into two types, namely: (a) his “transmundane awareness” (lokottarajñāna) free of mental forms (ākāra) during meditation periods on the first through tenth bhūmis and (b) his pure mundane awareness

(śuddhalaukikajñāna) during post-meditation periods on those bhūmis. He explains this pure mundane awareness as a natural outflow (niṣyanda) of the transmundane awareness says that it is called “mundane”(laukika) in the sense that the bodhisattva perceives mental forms (ākāra) and “pure” (śuddha) in the sense that he recognizes the suchness (tathatā) of those forms at all times. 13 Here, it is important to note that, for Ratnākaraśānti, these two

referents of Prajñāpāramitā, i.e. transmundane awareness and pure mundane awareness, are absolutely real and causally efficacious (rather than figurative and illusion-like), and together they function as the main ingredient that transforms a noble bodhisattva’s experience into a path of awakening.14 In order

to demonstrate how this ingredient produces different effects when combined with different methods, Ratnākaraśānti explains that, when Prajñāpāramitā is practiced alone, it produces arhathood and pratyekabuddhahood. When Prajñāpāramitā is practiced together with the perfection method—which here means the

other five perfections—then it produces buddhahood after three incalculable aeons.15 When practiced together with the mantra methods— which for Ratnākaraśānti, includes both the yogatantra or niruttarayogatantra methods, but excludes the ritualistic practices, such as kriyāyogatantra—then

Prajñāpāramitā produces buddhahood within this life or proximate lives.16 In this way, Ratnākaraśānti’s definition of Prajñāpāramitā as the path allows him to explain tantric practice as leading those from the bodhisattva family (gotra) to the same goal, but does

                                                                                                                                      stong pa nyid la dmigs pa’i phyir ro. de yang yin la pha rol yang yin pas shes rab kyi pha rol lo. phyin (P/N sbyin) pas ni ’gro ba ste pha rol tu phyin pa’o. Other scholars before Ratnākaraśānti may also have held the main referent of Prajñāpāramitā to be the path, but not as being of two types in the same way, as explained below, eg. Śākyabuddhi’s 'Phags pa ga ya mgo'i ri D94b5: yongs su gcod pa'i lam ni shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa'o zhes bya ba ni de'i chos 

rnams ji lta ba bzhin du yongs su gcod pa'i phyir te, de'i bshad pa ni yongs su gcod pa ste de'i don ni snga ma bzhin no zhes bya ba'o. 13 *Madhyamakālaṃkāropadeśa, D226b1 (p. 78-611): sa de rnams su shes pa rnams gnas gyur cing mi ’dra bar smin pa’o. de ltar shes pa ni gnyis te, ’jig rten

pa’i shes pa dang ’jig rten las ’das pa’i shes pa’o. ’jig rten pa’i shes pa yang ma dag pajig rten pa’i shes pa dang dag pajig rten pa’i shes pa’o. lugs ’di ni rnam pa med pa yin. 14 See, eg., Sāratamā, ed. Jaini, 1979, p.82:16: dvividhā prajñāpāramitā lokottarā śuddhā laukikī ca. For more on this,

see Seton, 2016, 265. See also, eg., Seton, 2016, Appendix I, p.18: prajñāpāramitaiva mārgaḥ sambodheḥ. śeṣāṇām api tayaiva mārgīkaraṇāt. ity evam iyam ucyamānā sutarāṃ prādhānyenocyate. In this context, śeṣāṇām refers to the other five pāramitās which constitute the pāramitā method, but elsewhere

Ratnākaraśānti explains the mantra method similarly in terms of prajñāpāramita. For more discussion of this point, see Seton, 2016, pp. 235-269. For more on prajñāpāramita’s centrality, see Śuddhimatī p. 53195:4. Ratnākaraśānti uses Haribhadra’s terminology of mukhyā and gaunī occasionally, eg. Muktāvalī

1.1:10, p. 13/Isaacson (unpublished) p.8: …ayam ānimittaḥ samādhiḥ animittālambanatvāt | etac ca samādhitrayaṃ gauṇī prajñāpāramitā tatprayogatvāt… pāramārthikaṃ bodhicittaṃ mukhyā prajñāpāramitā sarvāvaraṇapratipakṣo mārga utpadyate. 15 Muktāvalī 1.1:10, p. 13/Isaacson (unpublished) p.8-9: ekayā hi prajñāpāramitayā mucyamānās tayā laghu laghv eva sarvakleśaprahāṇād arhattvaṃ sākṣātkuryuḥ tataḥ śrāvakabodhim adhigaccheyur na punar buddhabodhim.

mahākāruṇikās tu bodhisattvāḥ sattvārthānāṃ paraṃ sādhanam anuttarāṃ bodhim abhilaṣanti na hīnām. tad amī ṣaḍbhir eva pāramitābhir mucyante naikayā || 10 || 16 Muktāvalī 1.8.54-55, p. 102: yogatantreṣv ihaiva janmani bodhir uktā|| 54 || tebhyaḥ ko 'syātiśaya ity āha na cetyādi. ihaiva janmani janmāntare vā sannihite yaduttamā bodhis tantrāntare 'pi bhavati na sā tena sahajānandena vinā. asya tarhi tebhyaḥ ko viśeṣa ity āha hevajram ityādi. tantrāntarasūcitasya tasya samyak parijñānārthaṃ hevajram eva sādhakair jñātavyam ity arthaḥ. idaṃ teṣām uttaratantram iti bhāvaḥ || 55 ||

not prevent him from distinguishing the efficacy of three different vehicles according to his conservative Yogācāra three-vehicle (yānatraya) perspective.17 At the heart of the different paths available to bodhisattva types, Ratnākaraśānti explains Prajñāpāramitā as being developed in

conjunction with either the perfection or mantra method, through the following four stages of practice (yogabhūmis). In the first stage, a yogi is focused (ālambana) on the phenomenological extent (yāvadbhāvikatā) of everything, (2) in the second stage, he is focused on the nature of everything being nothing

but mind, (3) in the third stage, he is focused on that mind’s suchness, and (4) in the fourth stage, he is not focused (anālambana) on any object at all.18 Since the first three stages involve increasingly subtle concepts of both things and their nature, they correlate only to paths of accumulation (sambhāramārga) and preparatory practice (prayogamārga) and not to the actual Prajñāpāramitā. It is only at the fourth stage that a yogi arrives at the

real referent of Prajñāpāramitā, since this is where the direct, nonconceptual experience of it begins to serve as the basis of the ārya bodhisattva’s path. 19 According to Ratnākaraśānti, the first moment of this direct experience is the transmundane awareness (lokottarajñāna) that constitutes the path of seeing (darśanamārga). The subsequent moments of this direct experience are the transmundane and pure mundane awarenesses that constitute the path of cultivation (bhāvanāmārga).20 Here, it should be pointed out that, although Ratnākaraśānti uses these four stages of Prajñāpāramitā as a basic framework to explain both the perfection and mantra methods, he also tells us, at least in one place, that, in the mantra method, the first stage is subsumed within the

second, and he elsewhere hints that the second and third stages rely on firm conviction (adhimokṣa) rather than philosophical analysis.21 It is beyond the purview of this paper to spell out the precise way that these four stages can be found within his explication of various tantric practices. But as one

important example, we can look perhaps at his explanation of the utpannakrama of Hevajratantra, which I would summarize as follows. First, based on believing that everything is pure by nature and on the firm conviction that one has the nature of Heruka, a yogi begins the sexual yoga with a mind-made consort at the level of the path of preparatory practice (prayogamārga) until he directly experiences this mind

17 See, eg., Muktāvalī, colophon, p.237: āroheyam ataḥ samastamahimaśrīmatpadaṃ vajriṇaḥ, saṃsārād akhilo janaś ca niyataṃ niryātu yānais tribhiḥ. Or, eg., PPu, D162a7: thob pa'i dge ba gang yin de yis bdag ni bde gshegs go 'phang thob gyur nas sna tshogs khams ldan skye bo ma lus rnams kyang theg pa gsum gyis nges 'byung shog. 18 PPu, D156a4: 'dir shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa'i rnal 'byor don du gnyer ba rnams la. rnal 'byor gyi rnam bzhi brjod par bya ste.

dngos po ji snyed yod pa la dmigs pa dang. sems tsam la dmigs pa dang. de bzhin nyid la dmigs pa dang. dmigs su med pa'o|| Although these four stages are evocative of common Yogācāra discourse, Ratnākaraśānti suggests that the stages of Mādhyamika meditation are similar. Whether analyzing from the Yogācāra or Madhyamaka perspective, a yogi in the first stage takes phenomenological account (yāvadbhāvikatā) of all things, in the next two stages considers their

ontological status (yathāvadbhāvikatā), and in the fourth stage has no meditative focus. 19 PPu, D159a1: rnal 'byor gyi sa gsum pa la zhugs pa'i rnal 'byor pa chos kyi rnal par rtog pa shin tu phra ba yang spyod pa de srid du ni sa gsum pa rdzogs pa ma yin la gang gi tshe chos nyid 'ba' zhig gi rnam par rtog pa shin tu phra ba la spyod pa de'i tshe ni yongs su rdzogs par brjod par bya'o. the second stage here involves a subtle concepts of “things.” The third stage involves only the subtle concept of a “true nature.” 20 PPu, D159a5: sa gsum pas yang dag par bsdus pa'i de bzhin nyid kyi ye shes ji snyed pa ni des de bzhin nyid la rnam par rtog cing rnam par mi rtog pa ma yin mod kyi, 'on kyang yang dag pa la so sor rtog pa yin pas rnam par mi rtog pa skye ba dang

rjes su mthun pa yin no. 21 See also PPu, D161a6: dpal gsang ba 'dus pa las kyang de nyid tshigs su bcad pa gcig gis gsungs te—rang gi sems ni brtags pas na, chos kun sems la rab tu gnas, chos 'di nam mkha'i rdo rjer gnas, chos dang chos nyid med pa'o zhes so. gnyi ga la yang rnal 'byor gyis dang po ni shugs kyis bstan par 'gyur te. ji srid du chos thams cad ni 'di dag go zhes ma bzung ba de srid du de dag gis stong pa nyid gzung bar mi nus pa'i phyir ro. See also, eg. Muktāvalī: iyatā mahāyāne yat karaṇīyaṃ tat samāsato vyavasthāpitam mahāyānābhisaṃgrahatvān mantranaye.

made consort as extremely blissful (mahāsukham). Through this practice, he passes through the first three phases of bliss—i.e. bliss like a cloud, an

illusion, and a dream—and finally reaches the fourth stage, bliss like a waking dream, which refers to his sexual practice with an actual external consort. By engaging in this practice again and again, he cultivates the two types of Prajñāpāramitā in meditative and postmeditative sessions until he fully

realizes the two types of innate bliss (sahajānada) as a result.22 In this way, even without spelling out the connections, we can see that Ratnākaraśānti’s Prajñāpāramitā framework informs his explanation of even the highest tantric practices. Whether the four stages of Prajñāpāramitā are

traversed through the perfection or mantra methods, it should be made clear that—unlike Haribhadra’s system in which Prajñāpāramitā is considered a path that is only relatively effective in helping a yogi become familiar with emptiness—Ratnākaraśānti’s Nirākāravāda-Yogācāra (viz “free of mental forms”)

system holds that Prajñāpāramitā is a path that is ultimately effective, because it actual eliminates all mental forms (ākāra), erroneously produced due to beginningless habitual tendencies (vāsanā) and fixations (abhiniveśa).23 In this way, Ratnākaraśānti envisions the perfection and mantra methods as

deconstructive processes leading to a complete transformation of the basis (āśrayaparāvṛtti), which results in the bodhisattva’s transmundane and pure mundane awarenesses both collapsing into a single all pervasive, nondual awareness of a buddha. But beyond the standard Nirākāravāda-Yogācāra

interpretation of this transformation, Ratnākaraśānti further specifies that when a buddha finally realizes the ultimate sheer illumination (prakāśamātra) “free of mental forms” (nirākāra), he deliberately, out of compassion, retains a small amount (leśa) of error enabling him to directly benefit beings

through relatively pure forms (ākāras), of whose suchness he is constantly aware.24 Lest this notion of a buddha retaining error seem outlandish, it might be helpful to keep in mind that Ratnākaraśānti still grounds his explanation of buddhahood firmly in the traditional Yogācāra three-kāya system, in which

the svābhāvikakāya—here a synonym of dharmakāya rather than a separate kāya as in Haribhadra’s system—is simply the dharmadhātu with its natural glow of transmundane awareness; the sāmbhogikakāya has the nature of pure mundane awareness and is simply the svābhāvikakāya’s natural outflow (niṣyanda); and the nairmāṇikakāya is just a buddha’s

22 For Ratnākaraśānti’s summary, see Sahajasadyoga, Isaacson, 2001b, p. 464-6 beginning atrāyam abhisamayaḥ up to the end of the sādhana, but especially the section: prāk siddher meghopamas tanumeghacchannapūrṇacandravad aparisphuṭatvāt. siddhau māyopamo manonirmitavidyābalena vyaktam udayāt. tataḥ svapnopamo bolākṣarayogabalena yoganidrāgatasya sahasotpatteḥ. tad anu svapnajāgaropamaḥ. katham jāgaropamaḥ? bahirvidyāyogajanitatvāt. kathaṃ svapnopamaḥ? svaparayor anupalambhāt. ete ca yathottaraṃ viśiṣyante pūrvapūrvabalād uttarottaraniṣpatteḥ. katham antimaḥ sarvottaraḥ? saty api vikṣepahetāv atyantasamāhitatvāt, samagrasamayatvāc ceti. Then compare it with, eg., Mutkāvalī: padmeṣu iti dharmadhātusvabhāve kamale. jñānam iti prayogamārgasvabhāvaṃ kuliśam. dhyātveti praveśya. etat trayam ādiḥ sahajadvayam antaḥ anayor madhye kurvīta bhāvanām. samāhitā pratiprattir anuṣṭhānaṃ parispandaḥ samāpattiḥ sā

bhāvanā bhāvanāyāḥ phalaṃ sahajānandadvayam… artham āha bodhicittam iti. tad eva svasaṃvedyaṃ dharmakāyasvabhāvaṃ bodhiḥ. bodhiniṣyandaṃ cittaṃ bodhicittam. sāmbhogikakāyasvabhāvaṃ sūkṣmākārayogād vajradharamūrtir ity arthaḥ. 23 For how this might work in the mantra method, see, eg., the Guṇavatī

section, beginning with p.14 kathaṃ tāvat prajñopāyena sukhaharṣā ity āha nābhītyādi and ending with p.18 ayaṃ cāsya vajradharasya sūkṣmajñānamudrākāraḥ,

where he explains the meditation on Vajradhara’sform as a seal” (mudrākāra) as the blissful subtle drop (bindu), which insofar as it is “shining forth” (prakāśa) is nothing but mind, and hence, when that mind itself is the focus, the meditation quickly leads to the disappearances of all signs of

proliferation characteristic of the path of seeing. 24*Madhyamakālaṃkāropadeśa, D226a7; 78-611: de la dag pajig rten pa’i ye shes zhes bya ste. ye shes des de kho na nyid yongs su gcod pa nyid kyis dag pa yin la. ’khrul ba nyid kyisjig rten pa yin bzhin du sangs rgyas kyi sa la dgos (P/S/N dgongs)

pa’i dbang gis rdzogs pa’i byang chub cung zad ’khrul pa yin te. dag pajig rten pa’i bdag nyid yin pa’i phyir ro. Draft Paper – Delivered for IABS panel, August 22, 2017 7

compasionate manifestation as pure forms (ākāra), which merely consist of words and actions that cause appearances within the minds of confused sentient beings, like a deity manifesting within a dream.25


Ratnākaraśānti’s explanation of Prajñāpāramitā—including its main referent, its ontological status, its causal efficacy on the path, and its resulting buddhahood in which error remains—is diametrically opposed to the frameworks employed by other tantric commentators who also hold that the perfection and mantra methods arrive at the same goal. Although Ratnākaraśānti’s Prajñāpāramitā framework draws from many conservative sources, it integrates tantric and

non-tantric doctrines in an unusual way. Quite the opposite of the common views that all paths lead to buddhahood or that all beings possess tathāgatagarbha, Ratnākaraśānti views the perfection and mantra methods as exclusively for those with bodhisattva genes (gotra). Furthermore, although he

holds that practitioners on the non-tantric paths attain distinct terminal goals due to their different gotras being attracted to different methods, he differentiates Mahāyāna practitioners on the basis of their different propensities (ruci) that lead them to particular paths. Those who are strong and

energetic seek to attain awakening painstakingly over a long period of time, while others who are wise and have faith in either the tantric paths—excluding kriyāyoga etc.—aim to attain the same goal in a single lifetime.26 In this way, Ratnākaraśānti’s particular Prajñāpāramitā framework provides a unique, Yogācāra justification for the position that the perfection and mantra methods both lead to the same goal. 27


Since the convenor of this panel has asked me to include some information about the impact of Ratnākaraśānti’s doctrinal position on monastic education at Vikramaśīla, it

25 See Abhidharmakośa 2.57c: niṣyando hetusadṛśaḥ iti lakṣaṇam. See also Khasamātantraṭīkā (Upadhyaya 241 ll. 3–4; corr. Isaacson): tanniṣyandaśuddhalaukikajñānasvabhāve sambhogakāye. It is understood here that the cause of the “natural outflow” may itself continue after producing the

“natural outflow,” eg. a flame producing another flame, while still itself remaining. For more on nairmāṇikakāya, see Seton, 2016, p. 120-122 and, eg., Sāratamā, ed. Jaini, 1979, p. 184:24ff: nanu cittacaitasikanirmāṇam apīṣyate buddhānāṃ-- “kāyavākcittanirmāṇaprayogopāyakarmakaḥ” ||MSA 9.58|| iti vacanāt.

satyam iṣyate, kin tu saty upādāne devatādhiṣṭhānena svapnadarśanavat, vācā vāgarthanivedanavac ca. 26 PPu, D134a3, v.6: pha rol phyin pa'i tshul la yun ring dka' bas 'bras bur smin, sngags tshul dka' ba med par myur du byang chub reg par 'gyur. 'di ni brtson 'grus 'bar ba'i stobs ldan lam ni dang po ste,

dad pas rnam par 'phel ba'i blo can rnams la cig shos yin. (v.7) byang chub phyir ni shin tu dka' bas yun rings spyod byed pa, thub pa rnams kyi sras po de ni dpa' bo yin snyam byed, go 'phang de nyid myur du bde ba ster bar byed pa'i sngags, bde gshegs rin chen de ni sus rig de ni skal bzang po. 27 Since Ratnākaraśānti’s extant texts say little about tantric initiation, we do not know how Ratnākaraśānti’s theory might have manifested in practice. However,

we do know that Ratnākaraśānti’s disciple Adhīśa considered the sexual elements of initiation admissible only for householders and that Ratnākaraśānti’s own explanation of sexual practice in utpannakrama involves an external consort only in the final stage in fulfillment of their pledge (samaya). Thus, we

might speculate that, during his tenure at Vikramaśīla, some advanced monks might have felt compelled to leave behind their monastic vows in order to engage in sexual practice with a physical consort. If such a departure of advanced monks increased after Ratnākaraśānti’s looming presence had faded, it

would certainly explain why later Vikramāśīla scholars, such as Abhayākaragupta etc., might wish to establish a rule allowing advanced monks to receive actual sexual initiation until they had realized emptiness. For more on differences in Buddhist initiations, see Sanderson 1994, eg. p.97.

may be worth pointing out here that, although Ratnākaraśānti’s Prajñāpāramitā framework was not followed by any later Tibetan commentators, many sources suggest that Ratnākaraśānti’s Prajñāpāramitā commentaries based on this framework were not only influential in India but a major factor in his renown as the pre-eminent scholar and guardian of Vikramaśīla’s eastern gate during its golden age.28 For instance, in a passage within the famous rNam-thar rgyas-pa

Lam-yig—which might contain traces of first hand accounts from Nag-tsho’s (1011-65 CE) visit there in the mid-eleventh century—Nag-tsho depicts Ratnākaraśānti as Vikramaśīla’s most powerful (dbang che) guru, who served as head (dbu mdzad pa) of its very large multiethnic monastic assembly, and

presided over the daily practice in the main temple, along with three other famous tantric gurus, namely Vidyākokila, Nāropa, and *Vīravajra,29 whose disciples joined together each day to chant the Heart Sūtra (prajñāpāramitā-hṛdaya-sūtra) in a religious ceremony with seemingly tantric overtones that

ended with (at least some) monks going outside to offer beggars food for spirits and gods (gtor zan dang lha bshos).30 Based on this passage, we might speculate that, unlike armchair theoreticians or gurus who might have lived in small forest hermitages among small communities of disciples,

Ratnākaraśānti’s Prajñāpāramitā commentaries were at the forefront of the effort to bring tantric practices into the monastic environment, where the successful scholar-Guru felt might need to explain the relationship between non-tantric and tantric doctrines to a large, diverse group of actual disciples

from varying backgrounds, who were reciting the Prajñāpāramitā scriptures daily in the context of their monastic vows and interest in tantric practice. In other words, Ratnākaraśānti might have seen his most important job as defining the term Prajñāpāramitā in a way that could coherently explain the

niruttatantra practices, which he felt Haribhadra’s framework did little to explain. By creating his own Prajñāpāramitā framework for students to engage in daily practice of, presumably, either the perfection method or the mantra method, he appears to have been meeting a very pressing and practical need on the ground.


I would like to thank both Harunaga Isaacson, who has inspired and guided me in my reading of many works by Ratnākaraśānti, and Taiken Kyuma for their encouragement and feedback on this paper.

28 Most historians say he was at the “eastern gate.” See, eg., Chimpa & Chattopadhyaya, 1979, 295; Roerich, 2002, 206; Mimaki, 1991, 301; Davidson 2005,

171. One divergent source suggests “southern gate” instead, see Dowman, 1985, 99. For “tantric adept,” see, eg., the colophon to *Madhyamakālaṃkāropadeśa D 231a3. Regarding his fame for Perfect Wisdom, see, eg., Eimer 1977 vol.2, pp. 23, 40; Stearns, 2001, p. 87. 29 ibid., 250:6-255. 30 ibid., p. 253:1 Tibetan reads dpa' bo bzhed pa'i rdo rje =*Vīradattavajra? (p. 253:2), but this appears to a longer form of dpa' bo rdo rje, Vīravajra, a.k.a.

Prajñendraruci, ’Brog mi’s teacher. According to Stearns, 2001, p. 211:33ff, there are two versions of ’Brog mi’s meeting with Vīravajra, the second of which is supported by rNam thar Lam Yig, insofar as it describes him as being a mendicant and guru to the king. For Ratnākaraśānti’s connection to

Prajñendraruci, see Schaeffer, 2013, 193-4. Nag-tsho also describes here non-Indians being taught to recite Sanskrit properly. Draft Paper – Delivered for IABS panel, August 22, 2017 9 APPENDIX – CHARTS

The following charts are a graphic attempt to distinguish the Prajñāpāramitā frameworks of Haribhadra and Ratnākaraśānti. They were designed as slides to be explained but may provide some use for readers and hence, are attached here.




Prelim Practice









Bodhisattvayāna Pratyekabuddhayāna







Prelim Practice










Mantra Perfections (Bodhisattva) Pratyekabuddha Śrāvaka

Mantra or Perfection method

Śrāvaka and Pratyekabuddha




No mantras or perfections


Amṛtakaṇikā by Raviśrījñāna Āryamañuśrīnāmasaṃgīti with Amṛtakāṇikā-ṭippaṇī by Bhikṣu Raviśrījñāna and Amṛtakāṇikoddyota-nibandha of Vibhūticandra, ed. by Banarsi Lal. Bibliotheca Indo-Tibetica 30, Central Institute for Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarnath, 1994.

Abhidharmakośabhāṣya by Vasubandhu Abhidharmakośa and Abhidharmakośabhāṣya of Vasubandhu, ed. by Prahlad Pradhan. K.P. Jayaswal Research Institute, Patna 1967.

Abhisamayālaṃkārālokā by Haribhadra AAĀ Abhisamayālaṃkāra-Ālokā-Prajñāpāramitāvyākhyā: Commentary on Aṣṭasāhasrikā-Prajñāpāramitā by Haribhadra, ed. by Unrai Wogiha-ra. Tōyō Bunko Publications, Series D, vol.2, The Tōyō Bunko, Tōkyō 1932-35. Abhisamayālaṃkāra-Ālokā ed. by Guiseppe Tucci. In The Commentaries on the Prajñāpāramitās. Volumen 1st. The Abhisama-yālaṃkārāloka (sic) of Haribhadra, being a commentary on the Abhisamayālaṃkāra of Maitreyanātha and the Aṣṭasāhasrikāprajñā-pāramitā, ed by Giuseppe Tucci, Gaekwad's Oriental Series 62, Oriental Institute, Baroda 1932.

Abhisamayālaṃkārakārikāśāstravivṛti by Haribhadra. AAv Abhisamayālaṃkāra-kārikā-śāstra-vivṛti: Haribhadra's commentary on the Abhisamayālaṃkāra-kārikā-śāstra: edited for the first time from a Sanskrit manuscript, ed. by Koei H. Amano, printed by Heirakuji- shoten, Kyoto 2000.

Avikalpapraveśadhāraṇī Nirvikalpapraveśadhāraṇī: Sanskrit Text and Japanese Translation, ed. by Kazunobu Matsuda. Bulletin of the Research Institute of Bukkyo University, No. 3 March 1996.

Khasamātantraṭīkā by Ratnākaraśānti "Khasamatantrasya ācāryaratnākaraśāntiviracitā khasamā-nāmaṭīkā," ed. by Jagannāth Upādhyāya. Saṅkāya Patrika 1, Śramaṇavidyā, Varanasi, 1983: 225-255.

Guṇavatī by Ratnākaraśānti. Mahāmāyātantra with Guṇavatī, ed. by Samdhong Rinpoche and Vrajavallabh Dwivedi. Rare Buddhist Text Series 10, Project edition, Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarnath, Varanasi, 1992.

Guhyasamājatantra The Guhyasamājatantra. A New Critical Edition, ed. by Matsunaga Yūkei. Tōhō Shuppan, inc., Osaka 1978.

Jñānaśrīmitranibandhāvalī by Jñānaśrīmitra Jñānaśrīmitranibandhāvalī, ed. by Anantalal Thakur. Tibetan Sanskrit Draft Paper – Delivered for IABS panel, August 22, 2017 11 Works Series no. 5, Kashi Prasad Jayaswal Research Institute, Patna 1987 (1st ed. 1959)

Durbodhāloka by Dharmakīrtiśrī DBA Durbodhāloka, ed. by Guan Di and Hodo Nakamura (unpublished). See rTogs par dka' ba'i snang ba.

Prajñāpāramitāpiṇḍārthasaṃgraha by Dignāga PPPAs “Dignāga, sein Werk und seine Entwicklung,” in Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde Süd- und Ostasiens 2: pp. 140-44, 1959. First published by Giuseppe Tucci in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1947, pp. 53-75.

Prasannapadā by Candrakīrti In Clear Words: The Prasannapadā, Chapter One. vol. 1, ed. by Anne MacDonald.Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien 2015. Mādhyamikasūtras de Nagarjuna avec la Prasannapada Commentaire de Candrakirti, ed. by Louis de la Vallée Poussin. Bibliotheca Buddhica IV, St. Petersbourg 1903.

Bhramaharanāma by Ratnākaraśānti See Harunaga Isaacson 2002.

Muktāvalī by Ratnākaraśānti MAhp Hevajratantram: Ratnākaraśāntiviracita-Hevajrapañjikā-muktāvalī- saṃvalitam, ed. Rāmaśaṅkara Tripāṭhī & Ṭhākurasena Negī. Kendrīya Uccạ Tibbatī Śikṣāsaṃsthānam, Vārāṇasī 2001. Muktāvalī – A Critical Edition of Sections 1.1-1.3, ed. by Harunaga Isaacson. (unpublished). See also dPal dgyes pa'i rdo rje'i dka' 'grel mu tig phreng ba.

Yogaratnamālā by Kṛṣṇapāda The Hevajra Tantra: A Critical Study. Part 2, Sanskrit and Tibetan Texts, ed. D.L. Snellgrove. Oxford University Press, London 1959 (reprint 1980). Hevajratantram with Yogaratnamālāpañikā of Mahāpaṇḍitācārya Kṛṣṇapāda, ed. by Ram Shankar Tripathi and Thakur Sain Negi. Central Institute of Highter Tibetan Studies, Sarnath, 2006.

Śuddhimatī by Ratnākaraśānti Śud See Dag ldan under Ratnākaraśānti's works.

Sarvarahasyanibandha by Ratnākaraśānti Ed. by Harunaga Isaacson (unpublished).

Sāratamā by Ratnākaraśānti Sār Sāratamā: A Pañjikā on the Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra by Ācārya Ratnākaraśānti. ed. by Padmanabh S. Jaini. Kashi Prasad Jayaswal Research Institute, Calcutta 1979 = editio princeps. (See also under Jaini)

“Āryāṣṭasāhasrikāyāḥ prajñāpāramitāyāḥ Sāratamākhyā pañjikā: A Hybrid Sanskrit and Tibetan Edition,” ed. by Gregory Max Seton, in Defining Wisdom: Ratnākaraśānti’s Sāratamā, (doctoral thesis), Oriental Institute, Oxford University, 2016, Appendix I

Shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa brGyad stong pa’i dKa’ ’grel sNying po Mchog: A Tibetan Critical edition,” ed. by Gregory Max Seton, in Defining Wisdom: Ratnākaraśānti’s Sāratamā, (doctoral thesis), Oriental Institute, Oxford University, 2016, Appendix II.

Sādhanamālā Sādhanamālā. ed. by Benoytosh Bhattacharya. 2 vols., Gaekward’s Oriental Series 26, 41, Oriental Institute, University of Baroda, Baroda 1925, 1928 (reprint 1968).

'Siddha Biography.'

Known as 'Siddha Biography' or Sham Shere MS 142. Catalogued as MS 142 in the Kaiser Library, Kathmandu in the collection of General Kesar Sham Sher Jung Bahadur Rana. Photographed and held in the NepaleseGerman Manuscript Project. Printed in Isaacson and Sferra, 2014:429430 Appendix 7 "The Life of Maitreyanātha/Advayavajra in Kaiser Library MS 42."


rTogs par dka' ba'i snang ba by gSer gling pa (Dharmakīrtiśrī) DBA shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa'i man ngag gi bstan bcos mngon par rtogs pa'i rgyan ces bya ba'i 'grel pa rtogs par dka' ba'i snang ba zhes bya ba'i 'grel bshad. Ōta.5192, G 3196. dPe bsdur ma vol. 52, (bsTan ‘gyur, Par theṅs 1. Peciṅ:

Kruṅ go’i Bod kyi śes rig dpe skrun khaṅ; Źin-hwa dpe tshoṅ Pe-ciṅ ’grem spel khaṅ gis bkram, 1994- 2008, TBRC W1PD95844, p.362-651). Dag ldan (*Śuddhimatī)31 Śud mNgon par rtogs pa'i rgyan gyi tshig le'ur byas pa'i 'grel pa dag ldan zhes bya ba (Abhisamayālaṃkārakārikāvṛtti Śuddhamatī-nāma) by Rin-chen-'byung-gnas-zhi-ba (Ratnākaraśānti). Trans. by Subhūtiśānti & Śākya-blo-gros. Rev. Śāntibhadra & dGeba'i-blo-gros. Rev. by ’Gos [[[Khug pa]]]-lhas-btsas. (Tōh. 3801) dPe bsdur ma vol. 53, (bsTan ’gyur, Par theṅs 1. Kruṅ go’i Bod kyi śes rig dpe skrun khaṅ; Źin-hwa dpe tshoṅ Pe-ciṅ ’grem spel khaṅ gis bkram, Pe-ciṅ 1994-2008, p.191-527).

31 The Tibetan transliteration of this title as *Śuddhamati has been corrected to Śuddhimatī. Draft Paper – Delivered for IABS panel, August 22, 2017 13

gNad kyi zla ba'i 'od by Abhayākaragupta 'Phags pa shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa brgyad stong pa'i 'grel pa gnad kyi zla ba'i 'od (Āryāṣṭasāhasrikā-prajñāpāramitā-vṛtti-Marma-kaumudī) Trans. Shes-rab-dpal. Tōh. 3805.

rNam thar yongs grags rNam thar rgyas pa yongs grags in Lokesh Chandra (ed.), Biography of Atīśa and his disciple ḥBrom-ston, Zhö edition, vol. 1, pp. 49-237 (roman folio numbers), New Delhi 1982.

rNam thar Lam Yig rNam thar Lam Yig in Lokesh Chandra (ed.), Biography of Atīśa and his disciple ḥBrom-ston, Zhö edition, vol. 1, pp.237-96 (roman folio numbers), New Delhi 1982.

'Phags pa ga ya mgo'i ri mdo dang spel mar bshad pa (*āryagayāśīrṣa-nāmasūtramiśrakavyākhyā) by Śākyabuddhi Trans. unlisted. Tōh. 3992, D, mdo sde, ngi 154b2-231a7; dPe bsdur ma vol. 65, (bsTan ‘gyur, Par theṅs 1. Kruṅ go’i Bod kyi śes rig dpe skrun khaṅ; Źinhwa dpe tshoṅ Pe-ciṅ ’grem spel khaṅ gis bkram, Pe-ciṅ 1994-2008, TBRC W1PD95844, pp. 980-1052).

dBu ma rgyan gyi man ngag (*Madhyamakālaṃkāropadeśa) by Rin-chen-'byung- MAu gnas-zhi-ba (Ratnākaraśānti). Trans. by Śāntibhadra & Śākya-'od. Rev. by Amogha & 'O ru. Tōh. 4085, D, sems tsam, hi 223b2-231a7; dPe bsdur ma vol. 78, (bsTan ‘gyur, Par theṅs 1. Kruṅ go’i Bod kyi śes rig dpe skrun khaṅ; Źin-hwa dpe tshoṅ Pe-ciṅ ’grem spel khaṅ gis bkram, Pe-ciṅ 1994-2008, TBRC W1PD95844, p.604-625).

Shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa'i man ngag (Prajñāpāramitopadeśa) by Ratnākaraśānti. PPu Trans. by Zhi-ba-bzang po (Śāntibhadra) & ’Gos [[[Khug pa]]]-lhas-btsas. Tōh. 4079, D, sems tsam, hi 133b7-162b1.


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