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1. The Inner Kālacakratantra

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A Buddhist Tantric View of the Individual Vesna A. Wallace

Preface

The Kālacakratantra and its commentarial literature are a rich textual source for the study of diverse but mutually related fields of South Asian studies in general and of South Asian Buddhism in particular.

The works that belong to the Kālacakra literary corpus warrant careful research for several reasons. They express the doctrinal and social theories and the relevant tantric practices that were characteristic of north Indian Buddhism in its final stages.

A study of those theories and practices reveals the ways in which the Indian tantric Buddhists from the early eleventh century on interpreted and further developed earlier Buddhist ideas and their practical applications.

The Kālacakratantra literature also sheds light on the religious and social conditions of eleventh-century India in general and on the social standing and role of Indian tantric Buddhism of that era in particular.

For these reasons, a main focus of this book is on the Kālacakra tradition as an Indian Buddhist tradition.

Although the Kālacakra tradition has been a significant component of Tibetan Buddhism to this day and has produced a large body of tantric literature in Tibet, for a number of reasons the intended task of this book is not to provide a detailed analysis of the Indo-Tibetan Kālacakra tradition as a whole.


The Kālacakra tradition as a whole includes a plurality of texts and interpretative perspectives, some of which are not in agreement with each other; and it deals with an extensive variety of topics, which deserve separate scholarly analyses.

Likewise, the diverse and complex historiographical, textual, and philosophical problems surrounding the Kālacakra literature of both India and Tibet, which should be addressed in great detail, require a collaborative effort of scholars who are willing to undertake such a task.

The central topic of this book is the Kālacakratantra's view of the nature of the individual and one's place in the universe and society. Accordingly, a primary theme of the book is a textual, historical, and philosophical analysis of the second chapter of the Kālacakratantra, called the “Chapter on the Individual” (adhyātma-patala), and its principal commentary, the Vimalaprabhā.


However, since the Kālacakra tradition's theory of the human being permeates all the chapters of the Kālacakratantra, the second chapter of the Kālacakratantra is intimately related to the other chapters of this tantra.

For example, the Kālacakratantra's view of the individual is inseparable from its view of the universe as discussed in the first chapter of the tantra.

Likewise, the purpose of the Kālacakratantra's presentation of the individual's psycho-physiology in the “Chapter on the Individual” becomes clear only when examined in light of the tantric yogic practices described in the third, fourth, and fifth chapters.

Therefore, in this book the topics of the inner Kālacakratantra are dealt with in their relationship to the larger context of the Kālacakratantra's theory and practice. In accordance with the Kālacakratantra's theory of nonduality, this book analyzes the Kālacakra tradition's view of the individual in terms of the individual as cosmos, society, gnosis, and the path of spiritual transformation.

For this reason, the main chapters of this book are entitled the “Gnostic Body, ” the “Cosmic Body, ” the “Social Body, ” and the “Transformative Body. ” Santa Barbara, California August 1999 V. A. W.

-vi-

Acknowledgements

I owe a great debt of gratitude to the Fetzer Institute, and especially to the former director of the research program there, Professor Arthur Zajonc, for its generous financial support, which enabled me to continue the research and writing that I initially started during my graduate studies at the University of California in Berkeley.

My former professors and distinguished scholars in the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies and in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literature at the University of California, Berkeley, prepared me for this work and facilitated my initial research and writing of this book. I am very grateful to Ms. Cynthia Reed, editor at Oxford University Press, who believed in me and in this project long before it was finished. I also wish to express my appreciation to the editors at Oxford University Press, especially to Mr. Robert Milks and Mr. Theodore Calderara, for their meticulous work and graciousness.

I am also greatly indebted to Mr. Calvin Smith for his patience and endurance in the painstaking task of proofreading the manuscript and correcting the awkward expressions to which I as a nonnative English speaker am prone. I thank him for all the hours that he spent in making and adjusting the graphics in the book.

My sincere gratitude also goes to Mr. Brian Bailey for his professional help in creating the graphics for chapter 7 on the “Cosmic Body” and to Mr. David Reigle for his generosity in providing me with copies of the Sanskrit manuscripts.

I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to my husband, Alan Wallace, for reading the manuscript and offering his useful comments, for supporting me in my work, and bringing light to the darkness of my ruminations.

Finally, I wish to thank my daughter, Sarah, for her enduring love that inspires all my worthy endeavors.


Contents Introduction 3


1 The Broader Theoretical Framework of the Kālacakratantra 6
2 A History of the Ṣaḍ-aṅga-yoga of the Kālacakratantra and Its Relation to Other Religious Traditions of India 25
3 The Nature of Syncretism in the Kālacakratantra 31
4 The Concept of Science in the Kālacakra Tradition 43 5 The Cosmic Body 56
6 The Social Body 109
7 The Gnostic Body 143
8 The Transformative Body 182

Conclusion 215

Notes 217

Bibliography 245


The Inner Kālacakratantra

Introduction


The Kālacakratantra is an early eleventh-century esoteric treatise belonging to the class of unexcelled yoga-tantras (anuttara-yoga-tantra). To the best of our knowledge, it was the last anuttara-yoga-tantra to appear in India.

According to the Kālacakra tradition, the extant version of the Kālacakratantra is an abridged version of the larger original tantra, called the Paramādibuddha, that was taught by the Buddha Śākyamuni to Sucandra, the king of Sambhala and an emanation of Vajrapāṇi, in the Dhānyakaṭaka stūpa, a notable center of Mahāyāna in the vicinity of the present-day village of Amarāvatī in Andhra Pradesh.

Upon receiving instruction on the Paramādibuddhatantra and returning to Sambhala, King Sucandra wrote it down and propagated it throughout his kingdom.

His six successors continued to maintain the inherited tradition, and the eighth king of Sambhala, Mañjuśrī Yaśas, composed the abridged version of the Parāmadibuddhatantra, which is handed down to us as the Sovereign Abridged Kālacakratantra (Laghukālacakratantrarāja).


It is traditionally taught that it is composed of 1,030 verses written in the sradgharā meter. 1


However, various Sanskrit manuscripts and editions of the Laghukālacakratantra contain a somewhat larger number of verses, ranging from 1,037 to 1,047 verses.

The term an “abridged tantra” (laghu-tantra) has a specific meaning in Indian Buddhist tantric tradition.

Its traditional interpretation is given in Naḍapādas (Nāropā) Sekoddeśaṭīkā, which states that in every yoga, yoginī, and other types of tantras, the concise, general explanations (uddeśa) and specific explanations (nirdeśa) make up a tantric discourse (tantra-saṃgīti), and that discourse, which is an exposition (uddeśana) there, is an entire abridged tantra.


2 The tradition tells us that Mañjuśrī Yaśas's successor Puṇḍarīka, who was an emanation of Avalokiteśvara, composed a large commentary on the Kālacakratantra, called the Stainless Light (Vimalaprabhā), which became the most authoritative commentary on the Kālacakratantra and served as the basis for all subsequent commentarial literature of that literary corpus.

The place of the Vimalaprabhā in the Kālacakra literary corpus is of great importance, for in many instances, without the Vimalaprabhā, it would be practically impossible to understand not only the broader implications of the Kālacakratantra' cryptic verses and often grammatically corrupt sentences but their basic meanings.

It has been said that the Kālacakratantra is explicit with regard to the tantric teachings that are often only implied in the other anuttara-yoga-tantras, but this explicitness is actually far more characteristic of the Vimalaprabhā than of the Kālacakratantra itself. According to Tibetan sources, the ācārya Cilupā from Orissa, who lived in the second half of the tenth century, after reading the Kālacakratantra in the monastery in Ratnagiri, undertook a journey to Sambhala in order to receive oral teachings that would illuminate the text.

After his return to southern India, he initially had three students, one of whom was the great paṇḍita Piṇḍo, who was originally from Bengal.

The ācārya Piṇḍo became a teacher of Kālacakrapāda the Senior, who was from northern Bengal (Varendra).

After returning to eastern India, Kālacakrapāda the Se nior taught the Kālacakratantra to his disciples, the most famous of whom was Kālacakrapāda the Junior, who built the Kālacakra temple in Nālanda, believing that the propagation of the Kālacakratantra in Magadha would facilitate its propagation in all directions.

I shall not discuss here all the variants in the accounts given by the Tibetan Rwa and 'Bro traditions of the history of the Kālacakratantra in India, for these accounts have already been narrated in other readily available works by other Western scholars and in English translations of the Tibetan sources. 3

One of the references that seems significant for establishing the period of the propagation of the Kālacakratantra in India is the reference in the Kālacakratantra (Ch. 2, v. 27) and the Vimalaprabhā to the end of the sexagenary cycle that comes 403 years after the Hijrī, or Islamic era (mlecchendra-varṣa), of 622 ce.

Likewise, the same texts assert that the hundred and eighty-second year after the Hijrī era is the period of the eleventh Kalkī, the king Aja, which is corroborated by the Kālacakrānusārigaṇita, 4 which states further that after the time of Kalkī Aja, 221 years passed till the end of the sexagenary cycle.

Thus, adding 221 years to 182, one arrives at the number of 403 years after the Hijrī era. In light of this, I agree with G. Orofino in determining the year to be 1026 ce, relying on the Indian system of reckoning years, in which 623 ce is included in the span of 403 years. 5

This is in contrast to G. Grönbold and D. Schuh, who assumed without substantial evidence that the Kālacakra tradition incorrectly calculated the Hijrī era as beginning at 642 ce and thus determined the year to be 1027 ce by adding the span of 403 years to the year of 624 ce. 6

According to the Vimalaprabhā commentary, the Paramādibuddhatantra was composed of twelve thousand verses, written in the anuṣṭubh meter. 7


However, we cannot determine now with certainty whether the Paramādibuddhatantra ever existed as a single text or as a corpus of mutually related writings, since we know from the Vimalaprabhā 8 that the Sekoddeśa, which circulated as an independent text in early eleventh-century India, has traditionally been considered to be a part of the Paramādibuddhatantra.

Nearly two hundred and ten verses from the Ādibuddhatantra are cited throughout the five chapters of the Vimalaprabhā; and some verses attributed to the Paramādibuddhatantra are also scattered in other writings related to the Kālacakra literary corpus, such as the Sekoddeśaṭippanī 9 and the Paramārthasaṃgraha, 10 which cites the verse from the Paramādibuddhatantra that coincides with the opening verse of the ḍākinīvajrapañjaratantra. 11

Likewise, some citations from the Paramādibuddhatantra are found in the commentarial literature on the Hevajratantra, specifically—in the Hevajrapiṇḍāthaṭīkā 12 and in the Vajrapādasārasaṃgrahapañjikā. 13


In addition to these, there are other pieces of textual evidence found in the Abridged Kālacakratantra and in the Vimalaprabhā, such as the repeated references to the Hevajratantra, the Guhyasamājatantra, the Cakrasaṃvaratantra, and to the Mañjus´rīnāmasaṃgīti, which the Vimalaprabhā identifies as the sixteenth chapter of the Māyājālatantra.

These suggest that the Paramādibuddhatantra must have been composed after these tantric traditions of the seventh and eighth centuries were already well established. The works of the eminent Indian Kālacakratantra adepts, such as those of Dārika, Anupamarakṣita, and Sādhuputra, which are preserved in the different versions of the Tibetan Bstan 'gyur, can be dated to the beginning of the eleventh century.


The writings of the Bengali author Abhayākāragupta, who was a contemporary of the Bengali king Rāmapāla, and the works of Raviśrījñāna from Kaśmīr, can be traced to the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries. Likewise, the writings of the Bengali author Vibhūticandra who studied in Magadha, and the works of the Kaśmīr author Śākyasśrībhadra can be dated to the second half of the twelfth and the beginning of the thirteenth centuries.

Some Tibetan authors indicate that although writing on the Kālacakratantra might have ceased in India with the Turkish invasions of Bihar and Bengal at the beginning of the thirteenth century, the Kālacakra tradition did not completely die in India until the fifteenth century. 14

In his History of Indian Buddhism, 15 Tāranātha mentions one of the last of the Indian Buddhist paṇḍitas, Vanaratna, from eastern Bengal, who in 1426 was the last Indian paṇḍita to reach Tibet through Nepal.


Having reached Tibet, he taught and cotranslated several works of the Kālacakra corpus from Sanskrit into Tibetan. According to the Blue Annals, the best of the initiations and precepts of the Kālacakratantra came at that time from Vanaratna. 16

Thus, it seems that the doctrine and practice of the Kālacakratantra were promulgated in India for almost five centuries. It is difficult to determine with certainty the parts of India in which the first authors of the Kālacakra tradition resided.

The Tibetan accounts, however, indicate that even though the Kālacakra tradition initially may have started in south India, the Kālacakratantra's sphere of influence in India was confined to Bengal, Magadha (Bihar), and Kaśmīr, wherefrom it was transmitted to Nepal, Tibet, and eventually to Mongolia, where Kālacakra was instituted as the protective deity of the Mongol nation.


The Broader Theoretical Framework of the Kālacakratantra

The Kālackratantra belongs to the class of the unexcelled yoga-tantras (anuttarayoga- tantra); and together with its most authoritative Indian commentary, the Vimalaprabhā, it stands as the most comprehensive and informative tantra of its class. According to the Kālacakra tradition itself, the Kālacakratantra is the most explicit tantra, which imparts its teaching by revealing the actual meanings; whereas the other anuttara-yoga-tantras, which are regarded as secret, or concealed, tantras, convey their meanings in an implicit manner.

Accordingly, the Vimalaprabhā asserts that in every king of tantras (rāja-tantra)— specifically, in the method tantras such as the Guhyasamājatantra, and in the wisdom tantras such as the Cakrasaṃvaratantra—the Buddha taught the blissful state that arises from sexual union, but concealed it out of his great compassion for the sake of the spiritual maturation of simple-minded people.

For those who seek understanding of other anuttara-yoga-tantras, the Kālacakratantra is of inestimable value for it explains the meanings in detail. 1 In the instances in which other systems of the anuttara-yoga-tantras offer only scant information, the Kālacakratantra system explicates in detail.

For example, the Vimalaprabhā points out that unlike the other tantras of its class, which only suggest that the fourth initiation is like the third, the Kālacakra tradition reveals in full its content and implications. 2

The Kālacakra tradition also gives the most elaborate presentation of the human psycho-physiology and the individual's natural and social environments and their relevance to tantric practices.

With regard to the Kālacakratantra's explicit and elaborate manner of presenting its topics, the Vimalaprabhā, just like the Sekoddeśa, asserts that in the Ādibuddhatantra, the Buddha illuminated the vajra-word by means of general expositions (uddeśa), detailed descriptions (nirdeśa), and repeated references (pratinirdeśa). 3

In light of its explicitness, the Kālacakratantra claims superiority over all other tantras in the following manner: In every king of tantras, the Vajrī concealed the vajra-word, and in the Ādibuddha, he taught it explicitly and in full for the sake of the liberation of living beings.

Therefore, Sucandra, the splendid Ādibuddhatantra, a discourse of the supreme lord of Jinas, is the higher, more comprehensive and complete tantra than the mundane and supramundane tantras. 4


According to the Vimalaprabhā commentary on this verse, the Buddha Śākyamuni, who abides in the vajra of indivisible gnosis, the inconceivable mind-vajra, concealed the supreme, imperishable bliss (paramākṣsukha) in those yoginī and yoga tantras, because otherwise the conceited Buddhist paṇḍitas in the land of the Āryas, who did not wish to listen to the spiritual mentor (guru), would read the book and claim that they understood the vajra-word.


Thus, they would not receive the initiation and would go to hell, due to their self-grasping (ahaṃ-kāra). In contrast, he taught it explicitly in the Ādibuddhatantra, in order to mature those who were born in the land of Sambhala and whose minds were free of self-grasping.

On these grounds, the Vimalaprabhā affirms that the Ādibuddhatantra, which is the discourse of the innate Sahajakālya, is more comprehensive and higher than the kriyā and yoga tantras.

This is one way in which the Kālacakratantra system substantiates its self-designation as unexcelled (anuttara).

Likewise, interpreting yoga as the union, or absorption, of bliss and emptiness, or of method and wisdom, this tantric tradition presents itself as a nondual (advaya) yoga-tantra, which is ultimately neither a wisdom tantra nor a method tantra.


It views its nonduality of wisdom and method as an expression of nondual gnosis, without which Buddhahood could never occur. 5

The Kālacakra tradition also affirms its unexcelled status by claiming that the Ādibuddhatantra does not come from a succession of transmissions of spiritual mentors, nor is it established by means of the spiritual mentor's authority (ājñā). 6

The Vimalaprabhā states that one cannot achieve omniscient Buddhahood and lordship over the three worlds by the mere blessing and authority of a spiritual mentor. 7

The Ādibuddhatantra asserts the same in this manner: The perishable mind, which is stained by attachment and other mental afflictions, is the cause of transmigratory existence. It is pure due to its separation from these impurities.

It is pure and stainless by nature. None [of the impurities can be taken out nor thrown into [the mind by the authority of a spiritual mentor. The sublime, imperishable, pure reality (tattva) cannot be given or taken away.


A spiritual mentor is neither a giver nor a remover of the pure reality. In the case of those who are devoid of the accumulation of merit, the omniscient lord himself [cannot give or remove the pure reality. 8

In light of this, the Vimalaprabhā disparages the Śaiva tantric tradition, which claims that its teaching regarding the supreme Īśvara who brings forth pleasure (bhukti) and liberation (mukti) is handed down by a succession of teachers and through the blessing of the spiritual mentor.

It warns against the dangers of following teachings that come in this way by deprecating the Śaiva tantric teachers on the basis that they have trifling knowledge but have become the spiritual mentors of the childish due to showing a few limited siddhis.

They require trust from their deluded followers, who, thinking that their spiritual mentor is liberated, do everything that he commands.

They kill, speak falsehood, steal, drink liquor, and so on. In this way, they perform the deeds of Māras and do not obtain the bodily siddhis by the blessing and authority of the supreme Īśvara; At death, their bodies are either incinerated by fire or eaten by dogs and birds, and their consciousness does not become Śiva. 9


According to the Vimalaprabhā, one cannot teach the tantra without knowing first the list of the principles of the Buddha Dharma (dharma-saṃgraha) for one who does not know it teaches the evil path. One becomes a knower of the dharmasaṃgraha and a teacher of the three Vehicles—the Vehicles of the Srāvakas, Pratyekabuddhas, and Samyaksambuddhas—only by accomplishing these two:

(1) gnosis (jñāna), which is the apprehending mind (grāhaka-citta) and wisdom (prajñā), and (2) space (ākāśa), or the empty form (sūnya-bimba), which is the apprehended object (grāhya) and method (upāya). 10 The Vimalaprabhā entreats those who desire to enter the Vajrayāna to completely investigate a potential tantric teacher, and it points to the danger of practicing a distorted Dharma and going to hell due to honoring a spiritual mentor who lacks the necessary qualifications. 11

The Kālacakratantra provides a list of the qualifications of a vajrācārya, who must have tantric pledges (samaya).


These qualifications, according to the Vimalaprabhā, are of two kinds—external and internal—and must be understood in terms of their definitive and provisional meanings. Likewise, the tantric teacher is expected to practice meditation on reality, and that meditation is also of two kinds—one which accomplishes mundane siddhis and the other which accomplishes full and perfect awakening (samyaksaṃbodhi).

He must be free of greed, not grasping onto his sons, wife, his own body, or anything else. He must be devoid of all mental afflictions (kleśa). He is to be patient, not having any expectations, and he must follow the path of full and perfect awakening.

The Kālacakratantra asserts that a spiritual mentor who has these qualifications is able to provide his disciples with the path and to remove their fear of death, because as a “celibate” (brahmacārin), meaning, as one who has attained supreme, imperishable bliss (paramākṣara-sukha), he is like a vajra-rod to the four classes of Māras. 12


In contrast to the qualified tantric teacher, a corrupt spiritual mentor is said to be full of conceit, which is of many kinds: conceit in one's own learning, in one's own wealth, seeing others as beneath oneself, and so on.

His absence of humility is seen as an indication of his lack of compassion. Likewise, one is advised to shun a tantric teacher who is overcome by anger, who is devoid of tantric pledges, and who publicly practices the secret pledges that disgust the world. 13

Similarly, a vajrācārya who is greedy and attached to mundane pleasures, or who is an uneducated fool, ignorant of the true path and not initiated into the tantra, or who is fond of liquor or sex, is to be avoided, for he leads his disciples to hell. 14

In light of this, the Vimalaprabhā points out that the well-known saying that one should look for the ācārya's good qualities and never for his faults has been misunderstood in the past and will be in the future by foolish people who have lost the true path.


It suggests that sayings like this should be understood in terms of both ultimate and conventional truths, that is to say, in terms of their definitive and provisional meanings. In terms of the ultimate truth, an ācārya refers to the Buddha Śākyamuni, to “the omnipresent and omniscient vajrācārya, who practices (ācarati) the vajra-word in order to benefit sentient beings within the three realms. ”

Thus, the aforementioned saying is to be understood literally only when examined from this point of view.

Supporting the Kālacakratantra's position that before honoring a spiritual mentor one should investigate his faults and his good qualities, the Vimalaprabhā cites the following verses from the Gurupañcāśikā, which support the Kālacakra tradition's stand on this issue.

An intelligent disciple should not make him who is devoid of compassion, who is angry, cruel, stubborn, unrestrained, and self-aggrandizing his spiritual mentor.

A qualified spiritual mentor is steadfast, disciplined, intelligent, patient, sincere, honest, versed in the tantric practices of mantras, compassionate, a knower of the śāstras, Fully acquainted with the ten principles, 15 a knower of the art of drawing maṇḍalas, an ācārya who explains mantras, who is propitious and has subdued his senses. 16

With regard to the hierarchy of the vajrācāryas, the Kālacakra tradition distinguishes the vajrācārya who is an ordained monk as the highest type of a vajrācārya. 17

It states that ordained monks should only mentally revere the vajrācārya who is a householder in order that they may be free of sloth and pride;

but when there is a vajra- holder who is an ordained monk, then neither the monks nor the king should honor a spiritual mentor who is a householder.

The reason for this injunction is based on the association of the white garment, which is generally worn by householders, with the Barbarian Dharma. The Vimalaprabhā explicitly states that the Buddhist system (bauddha-darśana) is never associated with the white robe.


It asserts that in the land of Mañjuśrī, when a monk or a wandering ascetic is expelled from a Buddhist monastery due to committing a sin of immediate retribution, he is allowed to leave the monastery only after he gives back his red robe and puts on a white robe. In light of this, the author of the Vimalaprabhā abhors the possibility of a householder who wears a white robe being a spiritual mentor to those who wear the red robe or of a householder dwelling in a Buddhist monastery.

He sees it as an insult to the Buddhist monastic community and as a great defect in Buddhists' judgment. 18


Likewise, it asserts that among men who are worthy of veneration, the vajrācārya who is endowed with extrasensory perceptions (abhijñā) and has attained at least the first bodhisattva-bhūmi is to be venerated for his knowledge. Such a man, be he an ordained monk or a householder, is said to be equal to ten respectable monks.

In the absence of this kind of vajrācārya, a monk who is an elder should be venerated for his asceticism by the monks whose ordination was later than his; and he should be venerated by tantric householders, since his initiation was prior to theirs.

The third kind of venerable man is said to be a learned paṇḍita who can illuminate the doctrine and tame the Māras who propound contrary doctrines. 19 In contrast, a householder who is devoid of extrasensory perception is not considered worthy of veneration. 20

Statements such as these reveal the strong monastic orientation of the Kālacakra tradition. With regard to tantric disciples, the Kālacakra tradition distinguishes three kinds of tantric trainees—the superior, the middling, and the inferior.

The superior disciple is one who has his mind set on the deep and profound Dharma that consists of wisdom and compassion, who delights in the ten virtues and has not violated the tantric precepts, who is free of attachment, who does not care about the mundane siddhis but desires a sādhana on the mahāmudrā-siddhi, and who does not associate with evil people such as ācāryas who are greedy householders and ascetics who live off the temples and monasteries.

Such a disciple is considered to be qualified to receive the first seven and the other four higher initiations in order to meditate on the path of emptiness.

The middling disciple is one who is endowed with mediocre qualities and who seeks a sādhana on the mundane siddhis, and he is qualified to receive only the first seven initiations in order to meditate on the maṇḍala, mantras, mudrās, and the like.

Lastly, the disciple of inferior qualities who respects the spiritual mentor is said to be qualified to be a lay practitioner, and he may receive the five Buddhist precepts but not the initiations. 21

In light of this, the Kālacakratantra classifies the Buddhist community at large into two groups—Śrāvakas and Anuttaras—each consisting of four types of Buddhist practitioners.

The four categories of Śrāvakas are the Buddhist nuns (bhikśunī) and monks (bhikṣu) and the great female (mahopāsikā) and male (mahopāsaka) lay disciples.

The group of Anuttaras includes the yoginīs and yogīs who delight in innate bliss—that is to say, those who have received the higher initiations and who practice the stage of completion—and the female (upāsikā) and male (upāsaka) lay tantric practitioners, who have received the first seven initiations and who practice the stage of generation. 22

The Kālacakratantra asserts the superior quality of the Anuttaras on the ground that there is no monk or celibate who can equal one who has taken the tantric vows and precepts and who is self-empowered by means of mantras. 23


The theoretical principles of the Kālacakratantra are imbedded in the conceptual context of Vajrayāna as a whole. Therefore, in order to understand the conceptual framework of the Kālacakra tradition in India, one needs to examine its own interpretation of Vajrayāna.

According to the Kālacakra tradition's explanation of the term Vajrayāna, the word vajra signifies liberation (mokṣa), or the indivisible omniscience that cannot be destroyed by conceptualization; 24 and the word yāna is understood as a vehicle that is of a dual nature.

It is the means by which the tantric adept advances toward liberation and the aim toward which the tantric adept progresses. 25


The Vimalaprabhā also identifies Vajrayāna as Samyaksaṃbuddhayāna (the “Vehicle of a Fully Awakened One”), since it cannot be damaged by the vehicles of heterodox groups (tīrthika), Śrāvakas, or Pratyekabuddhas. 26

The Kālacakra tradition also interprets Vajrayāna as the system of mantras (mantra-naya) and the system of perfections (pāramitā-naya). 27

As the system of mantras, it characterizes itself as the system that includes ideas pertaining to both mundane (laukika) and supramundane (lokottara) truths.

Teachings pertaining to the mundane truth are said to be discussed from the conventional point of view, and teachings pertaining to the supramundane truth are said to be discussed from the ultimate point of view.

Moreover, the ideas that are taught from the mundane, or conventional, point of view are said to have a provisional meaning (neyārtha); and the ideas that are taught from the ultimate point of view are said to have the definitive meaning (nītārtha).

Likewise, the ideas that are discussed from the conventional point of view are regarded as ideations (kalpanā) of one's own mind, which lead to the attainment of mundane siddhis.


They are said to be taught for mediocre Vajrayāna students who seek nothing more than the accomplishment of mundane siddhis. 28


The ideas that are imparted from the ultimate point of view are considered as clear manifestations, or reflections (pratibhāsa), of one's own mind, which are not of the nature of ideations. As such they are believed to lead to the achievement of the supramundane siddhi, called the mahāmudrā-siddhi, or the attainment of supreme and imperishable gnosis (paramākśara-jñāna-siddhi);

and they are said to be taught for superior Vajrayāna students, who aspire to spiritual awakening. Likewise, the Vimalaprabhā views Vajrayāna as a unified system that consists of both the cause and the result. Thus, the system of mantras is said to refer to compassion (karuṇā) and is characterized as the result. 29


In this tantric system, as in the related systems of the anuttara-yoga-tantras, in addition to the standard Mahāyāna practices of developing compassion, the cultivation of compassion also entails seminal nonemission. In this regard, compassion is here also referred to as the gnosis of sublime bliss (mahā-sukha-jñāna).

The system of perfections, on the other hand, refers to the wisdom (prajñā) that cognizes the emptiness (śūnyatā) of inherent existence.

This wisdom is viewed as the cause of the aforementioned result. Although the Kālacakra tradition acknowledges the Mādhyamika view of emptiness as its primary theoretical foundation, it has its own unique interpretation of emptiness, not only as a mere negation of inherent existence (svabhāva), but also as the absence of material constituents of the individual's body and mind.

Hence, this emptiness, which is also called the “aspect of emptiness” (śūnyatākāra), or the “form of emptiness” (śūnyatā-bimba), is a form that is empty of both inherent existence and physical particles.

It is a form that is endowed with all the signs and symbols of the Buddha.


That form of emptiness, also known as the “empty form, ” is also regarded as the “animate emptiness” (ajaḍā-śūnyatā). Due to being animate, this emptiness is the cause of supreme and immutable bliss (paramācala-sukha).

The nonduality of the cause and effect is the essential teaching of this tantra. From that unique view of emptiness stem the Kālacakratantra's unique goal and path to that goal.

The Kālacakratantra's most significant goal is the transformation of one's own gross physical body into a luminous form devoid of both gross matter and the subtle body of prāṇas.

The transformation of one's own mind into the enlightened mind of immutable bliss occurs in direct dependence upon that material transformation.

The actualization of that transformation is believed to be perfect and full Buddhahood in the form of Kālacakra, the Supreme Primordial Buddha (paramādibuddha), who is the omniscient, innate Lord of the Jinas, 30 the true nature of one's own mind and body.

Thus, according to this tantric system, the supreme Ādibuddha refers not only to the Buddha Śākyamuni, who is said to be the first to attain perfect awakening by means of the supreme, imperishable bliss, 31 but also to the innate nature of the mind of every sentient being.

This points to another unique feature of the Kālacakratantra's theory, namely, the assertion that all sentient beings are Buddhas, which will be discussed in greater detail in chapter 7 on the “Gnostic Body”.

The Kālacakratantra's view of the ultimate nature of sentient beings and their environment as blissful is reflected in the Kālacakratantra's explicit usage of sexual tantric practices on the spiritual path.

The generation of sexual bliss without emission of regenerative fluids is regarded in this tantra as the most direct method of generating the mental bliss that refines the mind by diminishing conceptualizations and thus makes it fit for the realization of the empty nature of phenomena.

One who practices the generation of sexual bliss without emission, which is referred to as sublime, imperishable bliss, is considered to be like a young virgin. Such bliss is believed to empower one's mind, just as the mind of a young virgin, who has not experienced sexual bliss with emission, can be empowered by deities and mantras that enable her to see appearances in a prognostic mirror.

Thus, it is thought that the empowerment of the tantric adept's mind, which enables him to perceive the three worlds as mere appearances in space, does not come from some external source such as the blessing or permission of a spiritual mentor, just as a young virgin's ability to see appearances in a prognostic mirror does not come from the blessing or permission of a spiritual mentor.

To those adherents of the Brāhma ic tradition ṇ who claim that many noncelibates who do not practice sexual bliss with nonemission demonstrate isolatory knowledge (kaivalya-jñāna) and predict the future, the Kālacakra tradition responds that their isolatory knowledge is nothing but a branch of astrology, which is common to all people and which enables one to predict the future events by means of calculations. 32


Likewise, it is believed in this tantric tradition that the five extrasensory perceptions (abhijñā) cannot arise without the practice of seminal nonemission. It is said that those Bodhisattvas who have the five extrasensory perceptions despite the fact that they occasionally practiced sexual bliss with seminal emission, should be considered celibate, because their seminal emission is an intentional emission, characterized by the motivation to reenter transmigratory existence for the sake of helping others.


According to the Vimalaprabhā, there are two types of seminal emission—one that is due to the power of wholesome and unwholesome karma, and one that is due to the power of controlling the mind.

Of these two types of emission, the first one, which is characteristic of ordinary human beings, is for the sake of wandering in transmigratory existence, and the other one, which is characteristic of Bodhisattvas, is for the sake of showing the path to those who are driven by karma in the cycle of transmigration. 33

The Classification of the Families in the Kālacakra Tradition The Kālacakra tradition, like the other tantric traditions of the anuttara-yoga class, categorizes the family of its principal deity into three, four, five, and six families (kula).


The Kālacakra tradition's classification and interpretation of the Kālacakra family can be summarized in the following manner. In terms of the individual, the classification into three families corresponds to the classification of the body, speech, and mind, or the left, right, and central nādīs and in terms of the universe, the three families are the three realms—the realms of desire, form, and formlessness.

With regard to ultimate reality, however, the three families are the three bodies of the Buddha—the NirmāṇSaṃbhogakāya, and Dharmakāya. 34

In terms of the individual, the classification into four families corresponds to the classification of uterine blood, semen, mind, and gnosis, or to the classification of the body, speech, mind, and gnosis, which accords with the classification of the four drops (bindu) and with the four states of the mind—namely, waking, dreaming, deep sleep, and the fourth state. In terms of the universe, the four families are the families of the sun, moon, Rāhu, and Agni (Ketu), and in terms of society, they are the four castes.


With regard to ultimate reality, the four families are the four bodies of the Buddha— the aforementioned three bodies and the Jñānakāya. With regard to the individual, the five families are the five psycho-physical aggregates (skandha), and in terms of society, they are the four castes and the outcastes.

With regard to ultimate reality, they are the five types of the Buddha's gnosis manifesting as the five BuddhasAksobhya, Vairocana, ṣ Ratnasambhava, Amitābha, and Amoghasiddhi. 35 In terms of the individual, the six families are the five psycho-physical aggregates and their emptiness;

and in terms of society, they are the four castes and the classes of ḍombas and Caṇḍālas.

With regard to ultimate reality, the six families are the five aforementioned Buddhas and the Svābhāvikakāya. 36


The Mādhyamika Critique of Other Philosophical Systems in the Kālacakratantra

Although it has many unique features, as will be demonstrated in the subsequent chapters of this book, the Kālacakra tradition shares some of its fundamental ideas with other Buddhist systems.

The Kālacakratantra summarizes its fundamental philosophical views in this single verse: Identitylessness, the maturation of karma, the three realms, the six states of existence, the origination due to the twelve-limbed dependence, the Four Truths, the eighteen unique qualities of the Buddha, the five psycho-physical aggregates, the three bodies and the Sahajakāya, and animate emptiness.

The [system] in which these [[[Wikipedia:tenets|tenets]]] are taught is the clear and definite instruction of the Vajrī. 37


Positioning itself in the above-mentioned philosophical views, it criticizes all other philosophical systems, including the Buddhist schools other than Madhayamaka.

Although the Kālacakra tradition's refutation of the non-Buddhist philosophical systems is based on the standard Mādhyamika arguments, at times it uses some new and interesting examples in its logical analysis of other systems.

It regards its critique of certain tenets of other philosophical systems as a means of leading individuals of different mental dispositions to some understanding of emptiness, which would be the foundation of their attainment of mundane siddhis.


The following brief summary of the Kālacakra tradition's rebuttal of the dogmas that in one way or another contradict the view of the absence of inherent existence best demonstrates the degree to which the Kālacakra tradition follows the Mādhyamika mode of investigation.


The Kālacakratantra critiques Viṣṇuism for its view of the Veda as being selfexistent, eternal, and similar to space.

It refutes the notion of the Veda as self-existent and eternal on the basis that the wordVedasignifies a referent that is produced by the activity of the throat, palate, and the like.

It further argues that the Veda is also not identical with the referent, since a word and its referent cannot be identical.

If there were such an identity, then when one utters the wordfire, ” it would burn one's mouth.

Likewise, it repudiates the notion that the Veda is similar to space on the grounds that it is local in usage and recited by the mouth.

It also objects to the notion that the Veda is a standard for learned and knowledgeable men, since low castes such as Śūdras read and write. 38

Furthermore, the Kālacakratantra critiques the Śaiva notion of Īśvara as the creator.

The Kālacakratantra argues that if one asserts Īśvara; as the creator, one implies that Īśvara; is one who experiences karma, since it is never the case that one person eats a salty cake and another person experiences the result and dies from thirst.

An agent is never established without karma.

And if he is not an agent of karma, as Śaivas claim, then it implies that he is dependent on another agent, who is his instigator. This, it says, contradicts the very term “Īśvara;” which implies independence.

Thus, according to the Kālacakratantra, Īśvara; has never been the creator who bestows the results of virtue and sin, disregarding the karma of living beings.

Likewise, if the creator is devoid of the atoms of the elements, then in the absence of matter, he does not create anything; and if he is devoid of the sense-objects, as Śaivas say, then that creator has neither perceptual nor inferential means of valid knowledge. 39

In light of its view of dependent origination, the Kālacakratantra asserts that the efficacy of phenomena is not caused by anyone in the triple world but that the origination of all phenomena takes place due to the conjunction of things.

Thus, due to the conjunction of a moon-stone with moon-rays, water appears from the moonstone, and due to the conjunction of an iron-stick with a lode-stone, the iron stick is set in motion, and so on.

By means of these and other examples, it tries to demonstrate that things never occur by the will of the creator. 40 From the vantage point of identitylessness, the Kālacakratantra critiques the notion of the Self (ātman) as being omnipresent and permanent.


It argues that the Self cannot be omnipresent, since it experiences suffering due to separation from relatives. If it were omnipresent, it would exist as one and would not suffer due to being separated from loved ones.

Likewise, if the Self were omnipresent, then one sentient being would experience the suffering of all sentient beings.

Moreover, it argues that one cannot say that there are many Selves, because that would imply that there is no omnipresence of many Selves.

It refutes the notion of the permanent Self, pointing to its susceptibility to change, as in the case of falling in love. 41

In light of its refutation of the Self, the Kālacakratantra asserts that there is no one who departs to liberation—there is only a collection of phenomena in cessation— and yet there is a departure to liberation. Likewise, there is bondage for originated phenomena, but there is no one who is bound.

The state of the Buddha is identical with existence and nonexistence, and it is without inherent existence, devoid of conceptualizations and matter, and free of momentariness.


Therefore, the teachings of the Buddha, which are free of the demons of conceptualizations, cannot be destroyed by the words of gods and nāgas, which are accompanied by demons, just like a wrestler who is free of demons cannot be killed by a wrestler who is possessed by demons. 42


The Kālacakratantra refutes the teachings of Rahman, or the Dharma of Tājikas, on the basis of their assertion that in this life the individual experiences the result of actions that he performed earlier in this lifetime, and that a person who dies experiences pleasure or suffering in heaven or hell through another human form.

It argues that if it is as the Tājikas teach, then one could not annihilate one's own karma from one birth to another, and consequently, one could not escape transmigratory existence or enter liberation even in the course of an immeasurable number of lives. 43

It critiques the doctrine of the Materialists (Cārvāka), which denies the existence of god and the maturation of karma and claims that one experiences only the amassment of atoms, arguing that this Materialist doctrine destroys the path of liberation for people.

The Kālacakratantra argues that if, just like the power of intoxicating drink, the witnessing mind arises due to configurations of the elements, then trees would also have consciousness due to the agglomeration of the elements.


But if inanimate things lack the efficacy of living beings, then the agglomeration of the elements is inadequate for producing consciousness. 44

The Kālacakra tradition also repudiates the Jaina doctrine, specifically, the Jaina assertion of a permanent soul (jīva) that has the size of the body, and the Jaina view of the permanence of atoms. The Kālacakratantra argues that if the soul would have the size of the body, it would perish after the removal of the arms and legs.

Likewise, it argues that atoms are not permanent, since they are liable to change, as are gross and subtle bodies. The Vimalaprabhā critiques the Jaina argument that the substance of the soul is permanent, as gold is permanent, whereas its modes are impermanent, just as the modes of gold such as earrings are impermanent.


The Vimalaprabhā rejects this argument as invalid, on the basis that if the substance and its mode were identical, then there would be no difference between the two; and if they were different, there could be no mode without the substance; nor can one say that they are both identical and different, because of their mutual exclusion. Likewise, it refutes the Jaina notion that the three worlds are permanent on the basis that whatever is made of atoms never remains permanent.

It also critiques the Jaina view that one soul acquires one body, such that plants and grains are also living beings.


It argues against this view, stating that if a single soul is in a single body, then when one breaks the stem of a sugar cane into pieces, there would not be many pieces. But since there are many pieces, then the soul must have entered one of those pieces due to its karma.

That does not stand up to logical analysis, because a sprout arises from each of the pieces of sugar cane that are replanted in the earth. 45


The Kālacakra tradition also critiques the Vaibhāṣikas, Sautrāntikas, and Yogācārins as simple-minded Buddhist tīrthikas who, grasping onto their own dogmatic positions (pakṣa), grasp onto the dogmatic positions of others and see the similarity or the contrariety with this or that dogmatic position of others.

The Kālacakratantra refutes the Vaibhāṣikas' assertion of the reality of the person (pudgala) endowed with a body at birth as the implication of the inherent existence of the pudgala. It argues that the pudgala cannot be one's inherent nature, because if the pudgala were of the nature of cognition, then it would be impermanent, for the nature of cognition is impermanent;

and if the pudgala were of the nature of noncognition, then it would be unaware of its happiness and suffering. It critiques the Sautrāntikas for asserting objects by means of conventional truth and claims that for this reason they consider the unknown ultimate truth that has the Jñānakāya (“Gnosis-body”) as nonexistent, like the son of a barren woman.


Explaining the basis for the Kālacakratantra's critique of Sautrāntikas, the Vimalaprabhā cites the following verse from Āryadeva's Jñānasārasamuccaya:


Sautrāntikas know this: mental factors (saṃskāras) are not inanimate (jaḍa), there is nothing that proceeds through the three times, and an unimpeded (apratigha) form does not exist. 46


The Vimalaprabhā argues on the part of the Kālacakratantra that if the unimpeded form, that is, the Dharmakāya, does not exist, then the omniscient one would not exist either.

It asserts that nirvāṇa is not the same as the extinction of a lamp, that is to say, it is not the same as the cessation of all awareness. In the absence of the four bodies, there would not be Buddhahood with a localized body.


Without the unimpeded body, there would be no displays of the extraordinary powers of all the forms of the Buddha. The Kālacakratantra refutes the Yogācāra's assertion of the inherent reality of consciousness and its classification of consciousness.


In light of this rejection, the Vimalaprabhā asks the following:

If there is no form of an external object other than consciousness, then why does the external form of visual consciousness as the apprehender manifest itself as being of the nature of the apprehended?

It cannot be due to the power of the habitual propensities of spiritual ignorance, as the Yogācārins say, because spiritual ignorance has the characteristic of the three realms, and the three realms are mere consciousness.

Thus, mere consciousness is of the nature of spiritual ignorance, therefore, spiritual ignorance is not the disappearance of consciousness; but if the three realms are not mere consciousness, then the Yogācārins' position has failed.

The Vimalaprabhā also refutes the Yogācāra's assertion that self-knowing awareness arises and ceases in an instant, resorting to the standard Mādhyamika argument that the origination, cessation, and duration of phenomena do not occur simultaneously, for if they were to exist in a single moment, then due to the fact that time is a moment, birth, old age, and death would be identical.

Moreover, if consciousness were to arise from a consciousness that has ceased, then it would be like the origination of a flame from a flame that has ceased, and this makes no sense.


But if another consciousness were to arise from a consciousness that has not ceased, then it would be like the origination of a flame from a flame that has not ceased, which means that from origination to origination there would be a series of consciousness, like a series of flames.

In this case, one cannot say that after the cessation of an earlier consciousness there is an origination of another consciousness, nor can one say that there is an origination of another consciousness from the earlier unceased consciousness, nor from the combination of the aforementioned two manners of origination, because of their mutual contradiction. 47


However, the Kālacakratantra indicates that the Mādhyamika's negation of the inherent existence of consciousness, which inspired some to say that the Buddha's wisdom is not located anywhere, is a danger for those who, devoid of the self-aware gnosis of imperishable bliss, will grasp onto that emptiness and will thus fall into the trap of a doctrinal view and attain nothing. 48

After refuting the preceding tenets of the Indian systems of thought in the above-demonstrated ways, in order to assure one of the pure motivation behind its criticisms, the Kālacakratantra states that its assertion of the absence of inherent existence is free from mundane concerns and intended to be of service to others. 49

Likewise, in order to establish one's confidence in the supremacy of the source of its teaching and to bring one to final conversion, the Kālacakratantra ends its critique of other philosophical systems with these words of the Buddha to the king Sucandra:

I am Indra, the spiritual mentor of thirty-three men in heaven, the universal monarch (cakravartin) on the earth, the king of nāgas in the underworld, revered by serpents. I am the highest, gnosis, the Buddha, the lord of sages, the imperishable, supreme sovereign, the yogī's vajra-yoga, the Veda, self-awareness, and the purifier (pavitra).


O king, take refuge in me with all your being. 50 With regard to the criticism of one's own or other Buddhist tantric systems, the Kālacakra tradition views this as the major cause of committing the sixth of the fourteen root downfalls (mūlāpatti), which is specified in the Kālacakratantra (Ch. 3, v. 102) and the Vimalaprabhā as reviling the siddhāntas of the system of perfections within the mantra-system.

The Vimalaprabhā indicates that criticism of one's own or other Buddhist tantric systems is often an expression of one's own ignorance with regard to the relation between the subject and predicate in Buddhist tantras, and as such, it leads the faultfinder to hell. 51

The Concept of the Ādibuddha in the Kālacakra Tantric System One of the most important concepts in the Kālacakra system is that of the Ādibuddha.

Even though the concept of the Ādibuddha is not unique to the Ka¯lacakratantra, it is most emphasized and discussed in the Kalacakra literature.


To the best of our knowledge, the earliest reference to the Ādibuddha is found in the >Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra (Ch.9, v.77), which refuses the notion of the Primordial Buddha on the grounds that there is no Buddhahood without the accumulations of merit (puṇnya) and knowledge (jñāna).

Later references to the Ādibuddha are found in the Mañjuśrīnāmasaṃgīti (v.100), in the commentarial literature of the Guhyasam¯aja corpus, and in the yoginī-tantras.

The Kālacakra tradition's interpretation of the Adibuddha is primarily based on the Nāsaṃg¯iti's exposition of Vajrasattva, who is Vajradhara.

According to the Kālacakra tradition, the Ādibuddha is called the Primordial Buddha because he was the first to obtain Buddhahood by means of the imperishable bliss characterized by perfect awakening in a single moment. 52


In connection with this interpretation, the Vimalaprabhā asserts that according to the words of the Buddha in the Nāmasaṃgīti (v. 85), which praises Vajradhara as one who is free of mental obscurations, a person who is devoid of merit and knowledge does not in any way become a Buddha. 53


Such an interpretation does not seem to contradict the Mahāyānābhisamayālaṃkāra's assertion that there is no Buddha who has been enlightened since beginningless time. On the other hand, the Vimalaprabhā interprets the word ādi (“primordial”) as meaning “without beginning or end, ” meaning, without the origination and cessation. 54

This interpretation of the word ādi with regard to the Buddha is reiterated by Naḍapāda in his Sekoddes´ạṭīkā, which further interprets the Ādibuddha's freedom from origination and cessation as omniscience. 55

The Kālacakra tradition's interpretation of the word is based on the Nāmasaṃgīti, v. 100, which begins with: “Without beginning or end, he is the Buddha, Ādibuddha …” 56

This interpretation of the word ādi appears to contradict the aforementioned interpretation of the Primordial Buddha. However, analysis of the Kālacakra literature reveals that when the Kālacakra tradition speaks of the Ādibuddha in the sense of a beginningless and endless Buddha, it is referring to the innate gnosis that pervades the minds of all sentient beings and stands as the basis of both saṃsāra and nirvāna.

Whereas, when it speaks of the Ādibuddha as the one who first attained perfect enlightenment by means of imperishable bliss, and when it asserts the necessity of acquiring merit and knowledge in order to attain perfect Buddhahood, it is referring to the actual realization of one's own innate gnosis. Thus, one could say that in the Kālacakra tradition, Ādibuddha refers to the ultimate nature of one's own mind and to the one who has realized the innate nature of one's own mind by means of purificatory practices.

The Kālacakratantra and the Mañjuśrīnāmasaṃgīti The Kālacakra tradition views its essential topic, which is the Jñānakāya, or Vajrasattva, as indivisible from that of the Nāmasaṃgīti, which, according to the Vimalaprabhā, makes the Jñānakāya of Vajradhara evident.


The Vimalaprabhā remarks that in every king of tantras, the Buddha described the vajra-word as the imperishable bliss of yogīs;; and in them he designated that vajra-word as the Jñānakāya, which is described by the Nāmasaṃgīti. 57

Accordingly, the Kālacakratantra teaches that one should meditate every day on Kālacakra, the progenitor of all the Buddhas, only after one “has taken apart, ” or investigated, this vajra-word. 58

The Vimalaprabhā comments that the path of purification that brings forth the mahāmudrā-siddhi was written explicitly in the Paramādibuddhatantra only after the Buddha made the Nāmasaṃgīti an authoritative scripture.

Knowing that in the future sentient beings will be free of doubts, the Buddha taught Vajrapāṇi the definitive meaning of all the tantric systems, in accordance with the Nāmasaṃgīti.


In light of this, it affirms that in order to know the Nāmasaṃgīti, one must know the Ādibud dhatantra. If one does not know the Nāmasaṃgīti, one will be ignorant of the Jñānakāya of Vajradhara, and not knowing the Jñānakāya of Vajradhara, one will not know the Mantrayāna.

Being ignorant of the Mantrayāna, one will be devoid of the path of Vajradhara and remain in transmigratory existence. 59

In verses 12–13, the Nāmasaṃgīti asserts its durability, claiming that the Buddhas of the past, present, and future have taught and recited the Nāmasaṃgīti and that innumerable Buddhas have praised it.

On the basis of these verses, the Vimalaprabhā affirms that it is due to Vajrapāṇ requesting the Buddha to teach the Nāmasaṃgīti that all the Tathāgatas taught the Mantra Vehicle. 60


This statement may clarify just why it is that most Buddhist tantric traditions mention Vajrapāṇi as one who both requests the teachings and compiles the tantras such as the Guhyasamāja and the Ādibuddha tantras. Similarly, according to the Vimalaprabhā, the yoga that is the imperishable bliss, the sublime goal (mahārtha) of the Kālacakratantra, has already been declared in the Nāmasaṃgīti by fourteen verses (28–36) in praise of the maṇḍala of the vajra-dhātu.

The Vimalaprabhā remarks that the fully awakened one, who is described by those fourteen verses, is taught in all the tantras, in accordance with the superior, middling, and inferior dispositions of sentient beings. 61

In light of its view of the inseparability of the Kālacakratantra and the Nāmasaṃgīti, throughout its five chapters, the Vimalaprabhā altogether cites sixty-five verses from the Nāmasaṃgīti in order to explain or substantiate the Kālacakratantra's views of Buddhahood and the path of actualizing it.

Thus, the Kālacakra tradition's view of the omniscient Buddha, who stands at the extreme limit of transmigratory existence and is superior to the Hindu gods such as Hari and Hara, who are born in the realm of gods within cyclic existence, is based on the Nāmasaṃgīti's statement in verse 54, which reads: Standing at the far limit of transmigratory existence, having his task accomplished, he rests on the shore.

Having rejected isolatory knowledge, he is a cleaving sword of wisdom. 62 Likewise, the Kālacakratantra's interpretation of the Jñānakāya as the fully awakened one who is imbued with nirvāṇa without remainder (nirupadhi) and transcends the reality of consciousness (vijñāna-dharmatā) is in full accord with that of the Nāmasaṃgīti (vs. 87, 99), according to which, the fully awakened one, being free of all remainders, dwells in the path of space, and transcending the reality of consciousness, is a spontaneous nondual gnosis that is free of conceptualization.


Furthermore, the Kālacakratantra's interpretation of enlightened awareness as the mind that, though free of the habitual propensities of karma (karma-vāsanā), supports transmigratory happiness and suffering and terminates them, is based on the Nāamasaṃgīti's (v. 96) description of the discriminating gnosis (pratyavekṣana-jñāna) of the Buddha as the mind that ends happiness and suffering.

Likewise, the Vimalaprabhā suggests that the Kālacakratantra's interpretation of the self-awareness that knows the nature of all things has its basis in the Nāmasaṃgīti's (v. 98) characterization of the Buddha's gnosis as omniscient, fully awake, and wide awake to itself. 63

The Kālacakra tradition also substantiates its exposition of Jñānakāya as devoid of form (rūpa) on the basis of the Nāmasaṃgīti's (v. 73) description of Vajrasattva as one whose hundred eyes and hair are blazing like a vajra;

and it asserts that it is not the Rūpakāya of the Buddha that is the subject of investigation in the Nāmasaṃgīti but the Vajradharakāya of Vajrapāni 64

Likewise, it bases its argument that the Buddha's body is not a localized (prādeśika) body on verses 61–63 of the Nāmasaṃgīiti, which speak of the Buddha as a torch of gnosis that arises instantly in space, and so on. 65

At times, the Kālacakra tradition offers an interpretation of certain passages from the Nāmasaṃgīti that radically differs from those found in the commentarial literature on the Nāmasaṃgīti.

For example, it interprets the Nāasaṃg¯iti's (v. 45) depiction of the Buddha as having ten aspects (daśākāra) in terms of the Vajrakāya that is the existence of ten kinds of phenomena—namely, the body, gnosis, space, wind, fire, water, earth, the inanimate, the animate, and the invisible deities of the formless realm. 66

Whereas, Mañjuśrīmitra's Nāmasaṃgītivṛtti (176. 1. 7) specifies the ten aspects as ten truths— provisional truth, conventional truth, and so on—whose words and meanings the Buddha intends to teach; 67 and Vilāsavajra's Nāmasaṃgītiṭikā (196. 5. 5) interprets the ten aspects as the ten types of grasping onto the Self, 68 on the grounds that the Buddha himself should be understood as undesirable mental factors and as their antidotes.

This cryptic interpretation makes sense when examined in the light of the Kālacakra tradition's view of enlightened awareness as the support of both saṃsāra and nirvāṇa.


Similarly, the Kālacakra tradition gives its own interpretation of the Nāmasaṃgīti's (v. 133) description of the Buddha as the referent of the truth that has twelve aspects, and as one who knows the sixteen aspects of reality and is fully awakened with twenty aspects. According to the Vimalaprabhā, he is the referent of the truth with twelve aspects, because he has attained the twelve bodhisattva-bhūmis due to the cessation of the twelve zodiacs;

69 and according to the Nāmasaṃgītivṛitti (182. 5. 1), he is the referent of the truth with twelve aspects, because he has the twelve sense-bases (āyatana), which are his aspects in terms of conventional truth.

Although the Kālacakra tradition and the Nāmasaṃgītivṛitti agree that the sixteen aspects of reality refer to the sixteen types of emptiness—to be discussed in chapter 7 on the “Gnostic Body”—the Kālacakra tradition offers its own reason for the manifestation of the sixteen aspects: the cessation of the sixteen digits of the moon.


With regard to the full awakening with twenty aspects, the Kālacakra tradition also departs from the interpretation given in the Nāmasaṃgītivṛtti (182. 5. 2).


According to the Vimalaprabhā, the Buddha has spiritual awakening with twenty aspects because he fully knows the five purified psycho-physical aggregates, the five sense-faculties, the five sense-objects, and the five types of consciousness, since they were purified in the central nāḍī by means of the six-phased yoga.

According to the Nāmasaṃgītivṛtti (182. 5. 3), on the other hand, the twenty aspects are the earlier mentioned sixteen aspects and the four types of the Buddha's gnosis.

The Kālacakra tradition also considers its exposition of Kālacakra as consisting of the four families— specifically, the four bodies of the Buddha—to accord completely with the Nāmasaṃgīti's (v. 108) description of the Buddha as the sublime mind (mahā-citta) of all the Buddhas, as the desire of the mind (mano-gati), as the sublime body (mahā-kāya) of all the Buddhas, and as the speech (sarasvatī) of the Buddhas. 70

Thus, it interprets the sublime mind of all the Buddhas as the Vis´uddhakāya, the desire of the mind as the Dharmakāya, the sublime body of all the Buddhas as the Nirmāṇakāya, and the speech of all the Buddhas as the Dharmakāya.

Likewise, the Vimalaprabhā suggests that the Nāmasaṃgīti's (v. 93) characterization of the Buddha as one who has five faces and five hair-knots is most relevant to the Kālacakra tradition's presentation of the Buddha as one who, due to the classification of the five psycho-physical aggregates and elements, consists of the five families. 71

Finally, it asserts that the Nāmasaṃgīti's (v. 35) description of the Buddha Vajradhara as one who bears the sublime illusions is taught there in terms of the Kālacakra tradition's classifications of the six families and the hundred families. 72

The Nāmasaṃgīti's presentation of Vajrasattva has also influenced certain forms of Kālacakratantra practice, whose goal is the actualization of Vajrasattva as he is described in the Nāmasaṃgīti.

For example, verse 111 from the Nāmasaṃgīti, which states that the sublime Vajradhara of the Buddha bears all illusions, is considered to be a theoretical basis for the Kālacakratantra practice of the stage of generation, more specifically, for the practice of meditation on the universal form (vis´va-rūpa) of the empty and blissful Buddha that has many arms, legs, colors, and shapes. 73

Similarly, the Nāmasaṃgīti's (vs. 61–62) description of the self-arisen Vajrasattva as the sublime fire of wisdom and gnosis that has arisen from space and its (v. 56) characterization of the Buddha as one who has abandoned all thoughts and is free of ideation are pointed out as reasons why the Kālacakratantra practice of the stage of completion is to be practiced in the form of meditation that is free of ideation. 74

Moreover, the Vimalaprabhā indicates that the Nāmasaṃgīti's (v. 53) assertion that the Buddha is free of the sense of “I” and “mine” is the reason why at the stage of completion practice one should not practice self-identification with Vajrasattva but should resort to ultimate truth. 75

The recitation of certain verses from the Nāmasaṃgīti also forms an integral part of Kālacakratantra practice.

Thus, at the end of the stage of generation practice, after the tantric adept has meditated on the kālacakra-maṇḍala and on the enlightened activities of the deities in the maṇḍala, and after he has practiced sādhanas on the yoga of drops (bindu-yoga) and the subtle yoga sūkṣma-yoga), he recites verse 158 from the Nāmasaṃgīti, with which he expresses his reverence for the enlightenment of the Buddha, whose essence is emptiness.


By reciting this verse, he establishes the appropriate attitude with which he is able to purify his four drops within the four cakras by emanating the principal deities within those cakras.


With regard to the Kālacakratantra initiation, the Kālacakra tradition's interpretation of the Kālacakratantra's four higher initiations as a symbolical passage from being a lay Buddhist practitioner to being a wandering ascetic, a monk, and a Buddha is justified in the light of the Nāmasaṃgīti (vs. 81, 51–52, 94–95), which describes the Buddha as being a youth, an elder (sthavira), and an old man, as a leader of the Pratyekabuddhas, an Arhat, a monk, and the progenitor (prajāpati), and as one who has the great vow, great austerity, and so on.

Likewise, the receiving of diadem (paṭta) and crown (mauli) during the four higher initiations is explained in terms of the Nāmasaṃgīti' (v. 93) description of the Buddha as an ascetic with a crest of hair and diadem. 76 A Brief Analysis of the Inner Kālacakratantra

The entire Kālacakratantra is divided into five main chapters—the chapters on the world system (lokadhātu), the individual (adhyātma), initiation (abhiṣeka), sādhana, and gnosis (jñāna).

The subjects of these five chapters delineate the Kālacakra tradition's vision of the gradual transformation from the macrocosmic and microcosmic aspects of provisional reality to ultimate reality, culminating in gnosis.

They also represent a unitary reality that manifests as the universe, the individual, the path of purification, and its result.


The first chapter of the Kālacakratantra begins with the words of King Sucandra requesting the teaching on the yoga of the Kālacakratantra from the Buddha Śākyamuni for the sake of the liberation of human beings who live in the kali-yuga; and the last chapter concludes with Sucandra's homage to Kālacakra, who is the tantra, the presiding deity Vajrasattva, the union of wisdom and method (prajñopaya-yoga), and the reality (tattva) with sixteen aspects.


Each of the other four chapters also begins with Sucandra's request for teachings on the main topic of the chapter, and the remaining verses of each chapter contain the Buddha's response to Sucandra's request.

The inner Kālacakratantra, or the “Chapter on the Individual, ” begins with Sucandra's question to the Buddha: “How can the entire three worlds be within the body?”

It continues with the Buddha's summary of how all phenomena in the world are the three modes of the Buddha's existence that are present in the human body, all of which should be known by means of the classifications of emptiness.

This is followed by a further exposition on the origination of the individual's body, speech, and mind by means of the agglomeration of atoms and the power of time.

The detailed description of the conception and development of the fetus in the womb indicates the author's familiarity with embryology, as taught in the earlier Buddhist writings such as the Abhidammatasaṃgaha, Āhārasutta, and the Āyuṣmannandagarbhāvakr¯ntinirdeśasūtra, in tantric works such as the Vajragarbhaṭīkā, and in the Buddhist medical treatises.

For example, the Kālacakratantra's description of the conditions necessary for conception, the characteristics of the fetus, and its growth correspond to that in the Āyuṣmannandagarbhāvakrāntinirdes´asūtra. 77


The view of the six tastes as arising from the six elements is common to the Kālacakratantra and the Vajragarbhaṭīkā 78 Likewise, the Kālacakratantra's statement that the marrow, bones, and ligaments of the fetus arise from the father's semen, and the skin, blood, and flesh arise from the mother's uterine blood corresponds to a great degree with the Amṛtahṛdayāṣṭāṇgaguhyopadeśatantra's assertion that the bones, brain, and spinal cord of the fetus arise from the father's sperm, and the muscles, blood, and viscera arise from the mother's uterine blood. 79

Similarly, the Kālacakratantra's classification of the human life into ten stages corresponds to that given in earlier works such as the Āyuṣparyantasūtra 80 and the Nandagarbhāvasthā 81

Explaining the functions of each of the elements in the formation of the human being and of the conditions in the mother's womb, the author tries to demonstrate the manner in which the principles of dependent origination (pratītya-samutpāada) apply to the origination of the human psycho-physiology.

This first section of the inner Kālacakratantra continues with an exposition of the preciousness of human birth and continues with an explanation of the ways in which the four bodies of the Buddha are present in the body of the individual.


It represents the individual in the specific stages of life within and outside the womb, as the provisional manifestations of each of the four bodies of the Buddha.

It identifies the individual with the four bodies of the Buddha in accordance with the degree of development of the individual's bodily, verbal, mental, and sexual capacities.

It shows further the manner in which the elements, the psycho-physical aggregates, the prāṇas and the mind support each other in the body of the individual; and it explains the relation among the sense-faculties and their corresponding sense-objects in terms of one type of element apprehending a different type of element.

For example, the olfactory sense-faculty, which arises from the water-element, apprehends taste as its sense-object, which arises from the fire-element.

Explaining their relation in this way, the author tries to demonstrate that all the constituents of the individual and all his experiences arise due to the union of opposites, often referred to in this tantric system as the “different families.

” He specifies the elements from which each of the psycho-physical aggregates, the prāṇas, and the cakras arise in order to demonstrate the material nature of the transmigratory body.

The second section of the inner Kālacakratantra (vs. 27–47) specifies the locations of the four bodies of the Buddha and of the six families within the individual's four cakras.

It describes the manner in which mental states enter the body and the body enters mental states, and thus they become of the same taste.

Likewise, it discusses the elements of the bodily constituents in terms of wisdom and method, and it suggests that everything pertaining to the body and the mind of the individual comes into existence due to the union of these two.

In this way, it provides the reader with a description of the kālacakra-maṇḍala in terms of the human being.

It further depicts the ways in which the presence of time and the universe is to be recognized in one's own body and shows the correspondences between the passage of time in the world and the passage of prāṇas within the body.

In this regard, this section also discusses the different functions and locations of the diverse types of the prāṇas in the body.

The third section of the inner Kālacakratantra (vs. 48–60) begins with a description of the current battle between the universal monarch (cakravartin) and the lord of the Barbarians (mleccha) within the body of the individual, which will take place in the land of Mecca and be between the external manifestations of good and evil.

It also discusses the ways in which the yogani and yoginī tantras, such as the Māyājāla and the Guhyasamāja, and the tantric families of their deities are present within the individual and included in the kālacakra-maṇḍala.

In this regard, it further describes the location of the male and female deities of the kālacakra-maṇḍala within The fourth section of the “Chapter on the Individual” (vs. 61–81) gives a detailed description of the characteristics of the unfavorable signs of death, beginning with descriptions of the ways in which one can determine the number of the remaining days of life by examining the flow of the prāṇas in the nāḍīs.


For example, if the prāṇa uninterruptedly flows in the left nāḍī for a day and a night, then one has one more year to live, and so on.


It associates the unfavorable signs of untimely death with the gradual ceasing of the prāṇas' flow in the individual nāḍīs of the navel-cakra.

It also describes the characteristics of timely death, which begins with the disintegration of the nāḍīs in the navel-cakra and progresses throughout the body through the severance of the nāḍīs within all the other cakras and bodily joints.

It compares the process of death to the moon and the sun leaving their lunar and solar mansions.

The gradual severance of the nāḍīs is said to manifest for six days in the acidity of urine and in the prāṇas' departure from the sense-faculties.

During the other six days, it is said to manifest in the following symptoms: one perceives the tip of one's own nose as dangling down, one perceives the sun as being black and the full moon as being yellow, and the planets as the sparks of fire, and a black line appears below one's tongue, and so on.

The fifth section of the inner Kālacakratantra (vs. 82–106) discusses the kālacakrī, or the moment of seminal emission, in terms of conventional reality, as an agent of the creation and annihilation of the individual.

It also points to the individual's conceptualizations and karma that is contained in the guṇas of prakṛti as causes of transmigratory suffering and happiness.

It classifies the karma of human beings into three kinds: gross, subtle, and subtlest, in accordance with the classification of the body, speech, and mind. It also distinguishes a karma with regard to the individual's grasping onto the agent of action.

When one thinks,

“I am the agent, ” this is a distinct karma; when one thinks, “The supreme Iśvara is the agent, ” this is a karma; but when one thinks,

“Neither I nor someone else devoid of prakṛ is the agent, ” this is not a karma. It further asserts that it is the mind of the deluded person that creates his own suffering and happiness and not the Bhagavān Kālacakra, who is devoid of the guṇas and conceptualizations.

In light of this, it affirms that the mental state that characterizes the individual's mind at the time of death determines the state of his next rebirth.


The sixth section of the “Chapter on the Individual” (vs. 107–160) is dedicated to the discussion of the ways of guarding the body from illness and untimely death.

It first depicts various tantric yogic practices and practices of prāṇāyāma as methods of eliminating malignant illnesses and preventing untimely death. In addition to these practices, it also prescribes herbal medication, elixirs, and dietary regulations.

It also gives guidance on storing medicinal herbs and spices and preparing their combinations, and on preparing and storing rolls of incenses, unguents, and fragrances. Additionally, it discusses ritual tantric methods of protecting pregnant women and infants from diseases caused by malevolent spirits, and it describes the symptoms of such diseases.

The last section of the inner Kālacakratantra (vs. 161–180) discusses the Kālacakratantra's philosophical views and those of other Indian Buddhist and non-Buddhist systems of thought.

After briey expounding the fundamentals of its own philosophical tenets, the author presents the tenets of other systems, without offering any comment on them.

Upon giving an overview of the other systems, he engages in a critique of those tenets that he finds contrary to the Kālacakratantra's philosophical orientation.



A History of the ṣạdaṅ-yoga of the Kālacakratantra and Its Relation to Other Religious Traditions of India

Aclose look at the Kālacakratantra's six-phased yoga reveals its correlation and historical connection to earlier forms of the six-phased yoga, found in both Hinduism and Buddhism.

Moreover, it also reveals the unique character of the practical applications and implications of the Kālacakratantra's sixphased yoga.

To the best of my knowledge, the earliest reference to a six-phased yoga is found in the Maitrāyaṇīya, or Maitrī Upaniṣad, which belongs to the branch of the black Yajur Veda and is considered to be the last of the classical Upaniṣads.

The ṣaḍ-aṇga-yoga of the Maitrāyaṇīya Upaniṣad, Ch. 6, v. 18, contains the following six phases: breath-control (prāṇāyāma), retraction (pratyāhāara), meditative stabilization (dhyāna), concentration (dhāraṇā), contemplative inquiry (tarka), and samādhi. 1 It is taught in this Upaniṣad as a method for achieving union with the supreme Self (paramātman).

If we accept that the Maitrāyaṇīya Upaniṣad predates Patañjali, we can assume that this six-phased yoga also predates the eight-phased yoga (aṣṭāṅga-yoga) of the classical Yoga system.


The fact that Patañjali never makes any reference to a six-phased yoga and that his Yogasūtra never mentions contemplative inquiry (tarka) is not sufficient evidence to regard the six-phased yoga as a later revision of the eight-phased yoga, as Günter Grönbold suggests.

2 Even if the sixth chapter of the Maitrāyaṇīya Upaniṣad, which incorporates a six-phased yoga, is a later interpolation, as Mircea Eliade speculates,

3 the antecedence of the sixth-phased yoga to the yoga of Patañjali is still quite plausible.

The phrase “for it is said elsewhere, ” which often occurs at the beginning of the verses of the sixth chapter, indicates that the Maitrāyaṇīya Upaniṣad draws its yogic elements from the earlier yogic sources.

Even though we are unable to determine the exact sources of the yogic elements in the Maitrāyaṇīya Upaniṣad, it is obvious that different forms of its six-phased yoga have very early origins in India.


The six-phased yoga was later modified into diverse forms of yoga with varying numbers of phases

For example, in one of the earliest Purāṇas, the Vāyu Purāna, Ch. 10, v. 76, 4 one enounters a fivephased yoga, whose fifth phase is recollection (smaraṇa), corresponding in name to the fifth phase of the Kālacakratantra's six-phased yoga.

In this Purāṇa as in the Kālacakratantra, contemplative inquiry (tarka) is replaced by recollection.

Considering that the Purāṇas underwent many revisions after the majority of their material was composed during the Gupta reign (c. 320 —c. 500 CE), it is extremely difficult to establish whether the recollection phase of yoga was established first in the Purāṇic tradition or in the Buddhist tradition, specifically, in the Guhyasamājatantra, which some scholars date as early as the fourth century ce and some as late as the eighth century CE.

Within later Hindu sources, a six-phased yoga is also mentioned in a number of texts belonging to the Upaniṣads of the Yoga class—specifically, in the Amṛtabindu Upaniṣad—and in the Śaiva Āgamas, Śaiva tantras, and some Dharma Sūtras, where there is a slightly different order of phases than that found in the six-phased yoga in the Maitrāyaṇīya Upaniṣad.

For example, in the Amṛtabindu Upaniṣad, v. 6, the six phases of yoga are;

retraction (pratyāhāra),
meditative stabilization (dhyāna),
breathcontrol (prāṇāyāma), concentration (dhāraṇā),
contemplative inquiry (tarka), and
samādhi.

This particular sequence of the phases of yoga is almost identical to that of the Kālacakratantra.


The difference between the two lies in the designation of the fifth phase of yoga as contemplative inquiry (tarka) instead of recollection (anusmṛti). 5

Even though contemplative inquiry is not explicitly mentioned among the six phases of the Kālacakratantra's six-phased yoga as a separate member, it is not absent from there.

Rather, it is included within the phase of meditative stabilization (dhyāna), along with wisdom (prajñā), analysis (vicāra), joy (rati), and immutable bliss (acalasukha). 6

Contemplative inquiry as a constituent of the phase of meditative stabilization is explained in the Vimalaprabhā as the apprehension of the phenomenon of empty form that is being observed or meditated upon during this phase. 7

As such, it is an indispensable element in the practice of the Kālacakratantra's six-phased yoga.


Nevertheless, it is not given superiority over all other phases of the six-phased yoga and their elements as it is in Kaśmīr Śaivism—specifically, in the Śaivāgamas and in the works of Abhinavagupta and Jayaratha. Abhinavagupta (975–1025) in his Paratrīśikavivara asserts that “among all the lights of the component parts of yoga, ”

contemplative inquiry (tarka) has already been determined in the earlier Mālinīvijaya “to be the brilliant sun by which one gets liberated and liberates others. ” 8

When commenting on Abhinavagupta's Tantrāloka, Jayaratha (thirteenth century) in his Tantrālokaviveka mentions the six-phased yoga that has breath control (prāṇyāma) as its first member and contemplative inquiry (tarka) as its fifth member and exalts it as the highest (uttama) phase. 9

Moreover, just as contemplative inquiry is included in the six-phased yoga of the Kālacakratantra, even though it is not regarded as a separate phase, so too are meditative posture (āsana) and restraint (niyama) implicitly included in this yoga.

The vajra-posture (vajrāsana) is often referred to as the posture in which an adept of the Kālacakratantra does his meditative practice, whereas niyama is included in the observance of the Kālacakratantra's ethical discipline, in the form of restraint from indulging in the five objects of desire and keeping the twenty-five tantric precepts (vrata), which are deemed prerequisites for the successful outcome of the practice of the six-phased yoga. 10

The Vimalaprabhā defines niyama as a Buddha's command (buddhānujñā) with regard to the twenty-five precepts. 11

Since these two prerequisites to the Kālacakratantra's six-phased yoga are present in each phase of the yoga as qualifying conditions, they are not considered to be separate phases.

Within later Hindu sources there are also those who speak of a six-phased yoga that does not include the phase of contemplative inquiry but includes meditative posture (āsana) as the first phase.


For example, some Yoga Upanisads—specifically, the Dhyānabindu Upaniṣad, v. 41 and the Yogacūḍāmaṇi Upaniṣad, v. 2—several texts of the Gorakṣa corpus (c. twelfth century), and the www.shivashakti.com, cited in Kṣemarāja's Vimarśinī (eleventh century) commentary on the Śiva Sūtra 6, contain the following list of the six phases:

posture (āsana), breath-control (prānāyāma), retraction (pratyāhāra), meditative stabilization (dhyāna), concentration (dhāraṇā), and samādhi.

This form of the six-phased yoga seems to be later than that found in the Guhyasamājatantra and later incorporated into the Kālacakratantra.

Thus, it is most likely that the Buddhist six-phased yoga chronologically succeeds the six-phased yogas containing contemplative inquiry (tarka) as the fifth phase, which continued to be in practice in later times as well.

However, it is more difficult to determine with certainty whether the Buddhist six-phased yoga precedes the six-phased yoga of Kaśmīr Śaivism that contains meditative posture (āsana) as its first phase or whether it was contemporaneous with it.

If one were to rely only on the extant Śaiva texts that refer to the sixthphased yoga having meditative posture as its first member, it would seem that the Buddhist sixth-phased yoga preceded that particular yoga of Kaśmīr Śaivism.


Considering the incompleteness of textual and historical information, it is impossible to reconstruct an accurate and precise history of the six-phased yoga in India.

Therefore, I offer here only a limited comparative table of the different types of six-phased yogas that were cited in specific Śaiva, Vaiṣṇava, and Buddhist texts.

As table 2.1. indicates, not only teachers of different religious traditions but also various teachers of different schools within the same tradition taught diverse forms of the six-phased yoga, according to their intended goals.

Even though these diverse types of the ppsixphased yoga]] were couched within the different theoretical and practical frameworks of disparate traditions, they all share some commonalities.


The most salient point of commonality is that each form of the six-phased yoga is viewed within its own tradition as inducive to the accomplishment of both limited, or mundane, and supreme siddhis.

There are also certain commonalities in the more general interpretations of some phases of the diverse types of six-phased yoga, despite the clear divergence in the manner in which particular phases are structured and practiced within the different traditions.

For example, in both Kaśmīr Śaivism and Buddhism, the phase of breath-control (prāṇāyama) involves bringing the prānas into the central nāḍī phase of retraction (pratyāhāra) involves the withdrawal of the senses from external objects; and meditative stabilization (dhyāna) implies meditation on a divine form, and so on.

Their interpretations also coincide to a certain degree with Patañjali's definitions in the Yoga Sūtras.

For the variant listings of the six members of the ṣaḍ-aṇgayoga within the different schools of the Hindu and Buddhist traditions see table 2.1.

Within the Indian Buddhist tradition, teachings on the six-phased yoga are found within two Buddhist tantric systems—the Guhyasamājatantra and the Kālacakratantra.

The Hevajratantra (Ch. 8, vs. 21– 22) also mentions a six-phased yoga, but it does not list its members nor does it elaborate on it.

Even though the six-phased yogas of the Kālacakra and Guhyasamāja systems accord in the names and in the sequences of their phases, they differ in their content and practical implications.

Among the Indian sources of these two traditions, the majority of treatises and commentaries on the six-phased yoga belong to the Kālacakra corpus.


According to the Blue Annals, the six-phased yoga of the Kālacakratantra was initially taught by Vajradhara in the form of Avadhūtipa to Anupamarakṣita (c. eleventh-twelfth centuries), who passed it on to his friend Śrīdhara. 12

Two works on the six-phased yoga are traditionally attributed to Anupamarakṣita: the ṣaḍaṅgayoga and the ṣaḍaṅgayoganāma.

The later Indian author Raviśrījñāna (eleventh-twelfth centuries)—in the introductions to his Guṇabharaṇī, a commentary on the ṣaḍaṅgayoga and to his ṣaḍaṅgayogaṭīkā, commentary on the ṣaḍaṅgayoganāma—gives a brief account of Anupamarakṣita's revelatory experience. 13

According to the accounts recorded in the Guṇabharaṇi and the ṣaḍaṅgaṭīkā, Anupamarakṣita studied Buddhism and other Indian systems of thought.

Under the guidance of Śrīkhasarpana, he practiced for twelve years a meditation on reality without an object and free of conceptualizations, but was unable to gain a special insight.

Depressed, he fell asleep, during which Vajrayoginī appeared to him, instructing him to go to Vikramapura, where he would attain that special insight.

After arriving at midnight in Vikramapura—accompanied by his disciple, the great paṇḍita Śrīdhara——Anupamarakṣita received instruction on the six-phased yoga directly from the Buddha in the form of Avadhūta.

By merely receiving the instruction that confirmed,

“This is reality, ” he entered samādhi; and upon emerging from his samādhi in the early morning, Anupamarakṣita taught this knowledge to Śrīdhara. With some variations, this story is repeated several times in later Tibetan chronicles of Buddhism and the lineage of the Kālacakratantra's six-phased yoga. 14

Apart from Padma dkar po, who mistook Vikramapura for Vikramaśīla monastery in Bihar, none of the sources specify the location of Vikramapura nor the place from which Anupamarakṣita went to Vikramapura.

It is likely that the Vikramapura to which Raviśrījñāna refers is Vajrayoginī village in contemporary Dacca, located in east-central Bengal, which is also thought to be the birthplace of Atīśa. 15

This is perhaps the same Vikramapura mentioned in the inscriptions found in north India.

In the inscriptions related to the rulers of the Varman and Vikramāditya dynasties of northern India, Vikramapura is mentioned as their capital during the eleventh and twelfth centuries.

The Varman dynasty ruled eastern Bengal in the second quarter of the eleventh century, and their Vikramapura was eventually overtaken by Vijayasena, the greatest king of the Sena dynasty, in the middle of the twelfth century.

Thus, Raviśrījñāna, who, according to Tāranātha's History of Buddhism in India, lived during the reign of the Sena dynasty, could have been referring to that Vikramapura. 16 Some inscriptions mention Vikramapura as a capital founded by Vikramāditya VI (c. 1076–1126).

His father, Someśvara I, reigned in Magadha and eastern Bengal, and he himself conquered central Bengal shortly before 1068 ce, after defeating Vigrahapāla III. According to Tāranātha's History of Buddhism in India, Anupamarakṣita lived during the period of the Bhayapāla and Nayapāla kings of the Pāla dynasty. 17

Nayapāla, the father of the mentioned Vigrahapāla III, ascended the throne in the early eleventh century and ruled the kingdom that extended on the west up to Bihar and to the east to central Bengal.

Tāranātha's information coincides with '[[Gos lo tsa ba gzhon nu dpal's assertion in the Blue Annals that Anupamarakṣita could not have been later than Nāro (956–1040 ce), since Nāro cites Anupamarakṣita's teaching in his Sekkodeśaṭīkā. 18

Thus, whether Raviśrījñāna was referring to the Vikramapura of the Pālas, Varmans, or Vikaramādityas, according to Buddhist tradition the Kālacakratantra's six-phased yoga was first disseminated in Bengal.

Anupamarakṣita's name could have been easily related to the well-known Anupama monastery (vihāra) in Kaśmīr, which produced Buddhaśrījñāna, Sarvajñaśrīrakṣita, and Śākyaśrībhadra, the great early eleventh-century Kaśmīr scholars of the Kālacakratantra.

His name also could have been related to Anupamapura, the seat of the two greatest Buddhist centers of learning in Kaśmīr during the eleventh and twelfth centuries—the monasteries of Ratnagupta and Ratnarāśmi.

In either case, Anupamarakṣita could have come to Bengal from Kaśmīr.

It is clear from the extant Indian and Tibetan sources that there were several lineages of the Kālacakratantra's six-phased yoga in India.


As these sources indicate, the most important among those lineages was that of Anupamarakṣita.

In the Guṇabharaṇī, Ravis´rījñāna gives the following lineage: Anupamarakṣita 19 —ŚrīdharaBhāskara—Ravis´rījñāna.

The same lineage, but in an extended form, is also given in the Blue Annals, the fifteenth-century Tibetan chronicle of Buddhism in Tibet, which also mentions the famous lineages of Indian Buddhist masters. According to the Blue Annals, the most famous lineage of the Kālacakratantra's six-phased yoga in

India begins with Anupamarakṣita and ends with the Bengali mahā-paṇḍita, Vanaratna (1384–1468).

Vanaratna received the transmission of the six-phased yoga from the mahā-siddha Śavaripa, one of the eighty-four legendary mahā-siddhas of India, and he taught it extensively in Tibet during the first half of the fifteenth century. 20



The exact same lineage of Indian masters is also mentioned in Padma dkar po's (sixteenth century) Dpe med 'tsho'i lugs kyi rnal 'byor yan lag drug pa'i khrid rdo rje'i tshig 'byed. 22

Earlier Tibetan historians of Buddhism in India and Tibet recorded a shorter branch of Anupamarakṣita's lineage in India.

In his Dpe med 'tsho'i sbyor drug gi br gyud pa, included in the Gsang sngags rgyud sde bzhi'i gzungs'bum, 23

Bu ston offers the following list for the Indian masters following the lineage of Anupamarakṣita:

AnupamarakṣitaŚrīdharaBhāskaradevaDharmākaras ´ānti—Ravis´rījñāna— RatnarakṣitaVibhūticandra.

This line of Indian Buddhist masters ends with Vibhūticandra (twelfth—thirteenth centuries).

According to Padma gar dbang, 24

Vibhūticandra received his Kālacakratantra initiation and teachings from three Indian scholars:

Śākyaśrībhadra, the mahā-paṇḍita of Kaśmīr, 25 who was his principal spiritual mentor, Vikhyātadeva, and Dharmadāsa.

In Nepal, he mastered the Kālacakratantra under the guidance of Ratnarakṣita, the Newari mahāpaṇḍita, from whom he received the teachings of the six-phased yoga of the Kālacakratantra in the tradition of Anupamarakṣita.

During his stay in Nepal, Vibhūticandra became an expert in the Kālacakratantra and in the practice of the six-phased yoga.

According to Padma gar dbang, 26 he wrote annotations to the Kālacakratantra and the Vimalaprabhā, which influenced later Tibetan translators and commentators on the Kālacakratantra.

As one of the Indian mahā-paṇḍitas, Vibhūticandra visited Tibet three times and became fluent in the Tibetan language.

He himself translated his ṣaḍaṅgayoganāma (Rnal 'byor yan lag drug pa) 27 into Tibetan.

According to the Tibetan six-phased yoga tradition, the ṣaḍaṅgayoganāma is the direct transmission of the six-phased yoga practice that Vibhūticandra received from Śavaripa during his stay at Stham Bihar monastery in Kathmandu, upon which he attained dhāraṇā, the fourth phase of this yoga.

In subsequent centuries, this text became one of the most important and authoritative texts for the direct transmission of the Kālacakratantra's sixphased yoga in Tibet, especially in the Jonangpa tradition.

According to Tāranātha, 28 the teachings on the six-phased yoga that Śavaripa revealed to Vibhūticandra were based on the dohas of Saraha, and Saraha's yogic practice itself was based on the six-phased yoga. In the Sbyor ba yan lag drug gi rdzogs rim gyi gnad bsdus pa, Tshong kha pa 29 (fourteenth—fifteenth centuries), following his teacher Bu ston, cites the Indian lineage of Anupamarakṣita in this way:


AnupamarakṣitaŚrīdharaBhāskaradevaDharmākaraśāntiRaviśrījñānaRatnarakṣitaVibhūticandra.


The Nature of Syncretism in the Kālacakratantra

Reading the Kālacakratantra, one immediately notices its prominent, syncretistic character, but close examination of this tantra and its commentarial literature reveals that the Kālacakra tradition has preserved a distinctively Buddhist orientation, and that its affiliation with non-Buddhist Indian systems is in form rather than content.

The syncretism of this tantric system is a self-conscious absorption, or appropriation, of the modes of expression that are characteristic of the rival religious systems of India.

This self-conscious syncretism variously permeates several areas of the Kālacakratantra, such as its theoretical system, language, medicine, and cosmology; and it is often inextricably related to Buddhist tantric conversionary efforts.

For this reason, the term syncretism does not quite fit this tradition, whose rhetorical strategies and linguistic divergences, though cleverly disguised, are firmly rooted in Buddhist doctrine.

The Kālacakra tradition expressly justifies its adaptive character as a skillful means for leading individuals of diverse mental dispositions to spiritual maturation.

The Paramādibuddhatantra asserts that “one should teach the Dharma in whatever manner matures sentient beings. ” 1

The conversionary mission of the Kālacakratantra is not the sole basis of its syncretistic character.

The growing pluralism within the inner life of Indian Mahāyāna communities could have been another contributing factor in the proliferation of syncretism, for the flourishing of religious pluralism often makes syncretism a necessity rather than just a possibility.


The pluralism that is characteristic of Indian tantric Buddhism can be described as a self-conscious recognition that although the Buddhist tradition is shared by all the members of a specific Buddhist community, the way it is interpreted, analyzed, and experienced differs within that community.

It seems that the Kālacakra tradition tried to find grounds for dialogue with other Buddhist and non-Buddhist systems without ignoring their differences; while at the same time, it was apprehensive about losing its own distinct identity.

Its ambivalence with regard to its own syncretism is evident throughout the Kālacakratantra and the Vimalaprabhā.

For example, while refuting the particular views of the Indian non-Buddhist and the so-called Buddhist heterodox schools, the Kālacakratantra states:

Kālacakra imparts instruction on the earth for the sake of this and other knowledge of people who have dull, sharp, and other mental dispositions due to the power of their karmic habitual propensities. 2 At the same time,

it warns against the dangers of grasping onto one's own dogmatic position or falling under the influence of other teachings by familiarizing oneself with those teachings in order to refute them:

Since the mind, like a crystal, is colored by the colors of the objects in its proximity, the yogī should not criticize any teaching that belongs to his own or to another family. 3

The Vimalaprabhā justifies the Kālacakra tradition's syncretism, asserting that the principle (niyama) of the Bhagavān Kālacakra is that “whatever is identical to the words of the Buddha either in terms of conventional or ultimate truth must not be criticized. ” 4


In accordance with this principle, it cites passages from the writings of heterodox Buddhist schools at times—the Vaibhāṣikas, for example—in order to substantiate its theory;

and at other times, it vehemently criticizes other passages from the same writings that express views contrary to those of the Kālacakra tradition.

Likewise, on the one hand, the Kālacakratantra asserts that even when one's own mind is pure, one should not create discord among intelligent and unintelligent people, since they are all Buddhas;

5 and on the other hand, it states that one should not use ferocious mantras to kill living beings but to terrify the host of Māras who are “the authors of the Smṛtis and other murderous heterodox groups (tīthika) who are fond of fighting. ” 6

The Vimalaprabhā interprets here “Māras” as proponents of the Vedic Dharma, and it affirms that a Bodhisattva should use ferocious mantras to generate fear in heterodox groups that their Dharma will be destroyed. 7

The Theoretical Syncretism of the Kālacakratantra

As mentioned earlier, the philosophical position advocated in the Kālacakratantra and its related literature is that of the Mādhyamikas, following the line of Nāgārjuna.

According to the Kālacakratantra, only Mādhyamikas who assert the nonduality of compassion and emptiness avoid philosophical failure.


Thus, adhering to the ontological view of the Mādhyamikas as the only valid one, the Kālacakratantra refutes the tenets of all other Buddhist and non-Buddhist systems.

Although the Vimalaprabhā acknowledges diverse Buddhist systems such as Vaibhāṣika, Sautrāntika, Yogācāra, and Madhyamaka as equally authentic teachings of the Buddha, it presents the Madhyamaka system as the pinnacle of the Buddha's teaching, and it claims that the Mādhyamikas are the only ones who are qualified to attain “the non-abiding (apratiṣṭhita) nirvāna that is without remainder (upadhi-rahita), due to the cessation of causes and results, and that is devoid of the waking and deep sleep states and is similar to the dream and the fourth state. ” 8

It affirms the superiority of the Madhayamaka school over other Buddhist schools on the grounds that the Mādhyamika treatises, unlike the scriptures of the aforementioned Buddhist schools, elucidate ultimate reality. 9



The Vimalaprabhā interprets the differences among the four schools of Buddhism

as the Buddha's response to different mental dispositions of sentient beings, some of whom have the fortune of being closer to enlightenment, while some are further from enlightenment.

It also views the differing teachings of the four Buddhist schools as the Buddha's response to the teachings of four different non-Buddhist groups, that is, as his conversionary means.

It asserts: Since beginningless time, all sentient beings have been heterodox (tīrthika), devoted to the Dharmas of gods, spirits (bhūta), and asuras, deprived of the path of omniscience, placing themselves into one of the four castes, desiring the pleasures that are the reward of heaven, and asserting [the existence of] a creator and the Self (ātman).

Among them, those who rely on the Dharmas of gods and pretas are proponents of “correct words” (śabda-vādin), Īśvara, the Self, and social discrimination (jāti-vādin).

Those who rely on the Dharmas of the Barbarians (mleccha) and asuras are proponents of a creator and a soul (jīva) and are devoid of the propagation of social discrimination. 10

Thus, according to the Kālacakra tradition, all followers of the four schools of Buddhism at some time or another belonged to the heterodox groups, and as they further pursued the issues related to the religious teachings they followed and finally settled with Buddhist answers to those issues, they converted to Buddhism.


Thus, the Vaibhāsikas are said to be Buddhist converts who previosly followed the Barbarian Dharma.

The Sautrāntikas are Buddhist converts who previously propagated the theories of a creator, correct words, Īśvara, and class discrimination; and the Yogācārins are Buddhist converts who previously held the view of the permanent Self and the creator;

whereas, the Mādhyamikas are the converts who abandoned not only the aforementioned heterodox views but also the dogmatic positions and related meditative practices that are characteristic of the other three Buddhist schools.

The Vimalaprabhā describes the manner of their conversion to Buddhism in the following way:

Among those Barbarians (mleccha) there are two types of grasping—grasping onto the agglomeration of atoms and grasping onto the [truly existent person (pudgala) who has origination.

Their belief is: “If a person who has the origination and dwells in the body that consists of the agglomeration of atoms does not exist, then who will take on another body after the body that consists of the agglomeration of atoms has perished?

Therefore, a spontaneously arisen person (upapāduka-pudgala) does exist.

By meditating on this, the reward of heaven, or the reward of nirvāna, comes about. Apart from the reward of heaven, there is no other nirvāna. ”

At the time when they sought the truth, knowing the thoughts of their minds, the Bhagavān who knows reality said:

“There is a person who carries the burden, but I do not say that he exists permanently or impermanently. ”

This is true, since according to the Bhagavān's words, it is not possible to say that a person who is [a manifestation of] mental habitual propensities in the dreaming state is permanent or impermanent.

Abandoning the Dharma of Barbarians due to this statement of the Tathāgata, they have become the Buddhist Vaibhāsikas.

Moreover, some, hearing the highest Dharma as it was being taught to the Bodhisattvas and abandoning the grasping onto the [truly existent person, resorted to the path of the Samyaksaṃbuddha.


Furthermore, among the Sautrāntikas, there is grasping onto the agglomeration of atoms.

The belief of these substantialists (artha-vādin) is: “If the animate and inanimate things that inhabit space do not exist, then the triple world would not exist

either. In the absence of samsāra, there would be nonfavorable or unfavorable states of existence. Likewise, neither Buddhas nor Bodhisattvas would exist, nor would the supreme nirvāna exist.


One could not see the Bhagavān's relics because of the absence of the substance present in the matter. ”

At the time when they sought the truth in this way, the Bhagavān, knowing the thoughts of their minds, said:

“There is the final body [of the Bhagavān that consists of the agglomeration of atoms and is endowed with thirty-two characteristics of the Great Man, by means of which the state of the Samyaksaṃbuddha and the sublime parinirvāna come into existence.

” This is true because of the appearance of the Bhagavān's relics.

Thus having heard of the power of the body that consists of the agglomeration of atoms and abandoning the propagation of social discrimination, correct words, Īśvara, and a creator, they became the Buddhist Sautrāntikas.

Moreover, some, hearing the instruction on the supramundane Dharma to Bodhisattvas and abandoning the grasping onto that substance (artha), resorted to the path of the Samyaksaṃbuddha. Among the Yogācārins, there is grasping onto consciousness.

The belief of these proponents of consciousness is: “The entire three worlds are consciousness only.

The so-called atom does not exist because it is a division that consists of the six constitutent parts.

Just as in the dreaming state the things that are mere appearances of the mind engage in activities even though there is an absence of atomic matter, so too in the waking state a thing appears by means of an unreal thing, like a hair-net or a golden conch appearing to the eye soiled with dark dirt. ”


At the time when they sought the truth in this way, the Bhagavān, knowing the thoughts of their minds, said: “The triple world is consciousness only. Apart from consciousness, there is no other samsāra.

The cessation of the seed of cyclic existence is due to the cessation of mundane consciousness (laukika-vijñāna). Due to that, there is nirvāna. ” This is true.

The manifestation of suffering and happiness arises from the animate and not from the inanimate.

So-called suffering and happiness are samsāra, and their absence is nirvāna.

Thus, hearing the Bhagavān's words and abandoning the theory of the creator and the Self, they became the Buddhist Yogācārins.

Moreover, some, hearing the instruction on the supramundane Dharma to Bodhisattvas and abandoning the propagation of consciousness, resorted to the path of the Samyaksaṃbuddha. 11

It further argues that just as the Buddha taught different theories to the four types of Buddhists, so he taught them different meditative practices that were in accordance with their differing views.

For example, he taught meditation on the impermanence of a person to the Pudgalavādins, meditation on the kṛtsnās to the Arthavādins, meditation on cognition only (vijñapti-mātra) to the Vijñānavādins, and to the Mādhyamikas, he taught meditation on the dreamlike and imperishable gnosis. 12

Thus, in light of its view of the superiority of the advanced Mādhyamika teachings and practices, the Kālacakra tradition associates the Mādhyamikas with spiritually mature Buddhists who, abandoning all dogmatic positions and related meditative practices of the other three Buddhist schools, succeed in reaching the highest spiritual goal.

Nevertheless, the Kālacakra tradition argues that there is no distinction between the Mādhyamikas and the heterodox groups with regard to the manner in which conventional reality appears.

It regards the investigation of conventionally existent phenomena and the notions of the conventional creator, means of action, and action as common to all, Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike.

It affirms that the only major difference between its philosophical views and those of the heterodox groups

is in its understanding of the nature of emptiness, which is identitylessness of two kinds—personal identitylessness (pudgala-nairātmya) and phenomenal identitylessness (dharma-nairātmya). 13


That view of the commonality of the Mādhyamika's and the heterodox groups' speculative approaches to conventional reality facilitated the Kālacakratantra's import of certain ideas and theoretical models from other philosophical systems and induced its theoretical syncretism.

By incorporating the ideas characteristic of other philosophical systems into its own theoretical framework and by attributing conventional validity to them, the Kālacakratantra attempts to accomplish two objectives: namely, to provide rational explanations pertaining to human psycho-physiology, and to convert heterodox groups.


Textual study of this tantric tradition reveals the following two goals of the Kālacakra tradition's theoretical syncretism: the conversion of heterodox groups, and the modeling of conventional reality for meditational purposes.

For example, the Sā khya's qualitative ṃ dualism of consciousness (puruṣa) and matter (prakṛti) is adopted by the Kālacakratantra as a heuristic device for explaining the nature of the human being from the conventional point of view.

However, the Sāṃkhya's concepts of puruṣa and prakṛti, which permeate the theoretical framework of this tantra, are not taken literally from the Sāṃkhya philosophical system. Rather, they are reinterpreted and adapted to the Kālacakratantra's own unique system.

The prakṛti of the human being is devoid of inherent nature (svabhāva), and from the ultimate point of view, it is luminous.

In contrast, in the Sāṃkhya philosophical system, the twenty-four principles of prakṛti forming the human being include the primordial prakṛti (mūla-prakṛti), which is an independently existent and inherently generative phenomenon, and its twenty-three temporal subdivisions.

Likewise, in the Kālacakratantra, the aggregates, elements, and sense-bases form the prakṛti of the transmigratory body, 14 and the five elements, intellect, self-grasping, and the mind form the prakṛti of the transmigratory mind. 15

In Sāṃkhya, on the other hand, only the intellect, self-grasping, and the mind form the “inner organ” (antaḥh-karaṇa); and when combined with the sense-faculties (buddhīndriya), faculties of action (karmendriya), and subtle elements (tanmātra), they form the subtle body (liṇga-śarīra), which is separable from the gross body and thus capable of transmigrating through a series of gross bodies which are aggregations of the five gross elements.

There is also a difference in terms of the origination of the gross and subtle elements.

According to Sāṃkhya, the five gross elements are derivatives of the subtle elements beginning with sound, and so forth; 16 whereas in the Kālacakratantra, the five gross elements are said to give rise to sound and other subtle elements. 17

It is not quite clear what is meant in the Kālacakratantra by the terms buddhi, manas, and ahaṃkāra.

The Indian commentarial literature does not elucidate these points, and Tibetan commentaries understand them in different ways.

For mKhas grub rje, the eight constituents of the prakṛti of the transmigratory mind are eight of the twenty-five principles of prakṛti and puruṣa, as categorized by the Sāṃkhya philosophical system. mKhas grub rje does not mention whether or not we should understand buddhi, manas, and ahaṃkāra in the way in which Sāṃkhya interprets them. He thus leaves us with a puzzle and room for speculation.

Bu ston's annotations [438], on the other hand, suggest that buddhi here refers to the five sensory faculties (buddhīndriya), that manas designates conceptualization (vikalpa), and that ahaṃkāra refers to the defiled, or afflicted mind (kliṣṭa-manas), referring to a subtle feeling of “I. ”


This concept of an afflicted mind is characteristic of the Yogācāra's classification of the mind and not of the Mādhyamika.

Bu ston's interpretation of the term buddhi definitely differs from that in Sāṃkhya, which considers buddhi a part of the “inner organ” that makes decisions, cognitively and ethically. 18

However, Bu ston's explanations of the terms manas and ahaṃkāra correspond in some ways to the implications of those terms in Sāṃkhya, which regards conceptualization as one of the functions of the manas, 19 and interprets ahaṃkāra as a part of the “inner organ” that appropriates all experiences to itself.

The fact that the Kālacakratantra uses these philosophical terms without clearly explaining their meaning is one more indication of the author's conscious attempt to incorporate the Sāṃkhya system into its universal model of conventional reality. 20

Likewise, despite some striking similarities between the Sāṃkhya's and the Kālacakratantra's interpretations of puruṣa, there are some basic differences with regard to the nature of the puruṣa and its relation to prakṛti.

In both systems, the puruṣa refers to consciousness which pervades prakṛti but itself is neither prakṛti nor its derivative, and which is free of the three properties—namely, sattva, rajas, and tamas—and is neither bound nor liberated by anything.

However, whereas in the Sāṃkhya philosophical system, the puruṣa is an independently existent reality, a contentless presence, or an inactive witness devoid of bliss, in the Kālacakratantra, the puruṣa is of the nature of innate gnosis (sahaja-jñāna), which is blissful omniscience; and it transcends both samsāra and nirvāna, and yet is active in supporting both.

For the schematization of the above mentioned differences between the Sāṃkhya's and Kālacakratantra's interpretations of puruṣa and prakṛti, see table 3.1. Similarly, the Kālacakratantra way of understanding the guṇas of prakṛti does not correspond in every way to the Sāṃkhya's interpretation.

In some instances, instead of sattva, rajas, and tamas, the Kālacakratantra specifies the five sense-objectssmell, sound, form, taste, and touch—as the guṇas of prakṛti. 21

Being subject to origination and cessation, they are said to have the characteristics of conceptualizations and bind the individual to the cycle of existence. In other instances, the three guṇassattva, rajas, and tamas—correspond to the moral distinctions among sentient beings' mental dispositions that are induced by their own karma. 22


In yet other instances, the Kālacakra tradition refers to the three guṇas in ways that are open to multiple interpretations.

For example, when it speaks of the gross, subtle, and supreme natures (prakṛti) of the mind as being contained in the three guṇas, it does not fully explain the manner in which it understands the three guṇas in this particular context.

The Vimalaprabhā suggests only that in the Kālacakratantra's classification of the nature of awareness as gross, subtle, and supreme, the gross nature of the transmigratory mind, which apprehends phenomena with the gross sense-faculties, is characterized by the waking state.

This state is said to correspond to sattva, that is to say, to the daytime.

The subtle nature of the mind, which apprehends mental phenomena that are like an illusion, is characterized by the dreaming state, which is said to correspond to rajas, or to twilight.

The supreme nature of the mind, which discards all phenomena, is characterized by the state of deep sleep, which is thought to correspond to tamas, or to midnight.

If not examined within its own context and in light of the Madhyamaka view of sattva, rajas, and tamas, this threefold classification of the nature (prakṛti) of the mind, related to sattva, rajas, and tamas, may appear identical to that of non-Buddhist tantric systems, particularly of the nondual Kaśmīr Śaivism. 23

It is quite plausible that the Kālacakratantra introduced that type of categorization of the nature of awareness from Kaśmīr Śaivism as a useful model to describe the conventional aspects of the transmigratory mind.


In light of the fact that the Kālacakra tradition explicitly reaches out to a nonBuddhist audience, sattva, rajas, and tamas may be interpreted in accordance with the Sāṃkhya philosophy.

On the other hand, there are some internal indications that for Buddhists not committed to that interpretation, the names of these three guṇas can simply be taken as ciphers to relate the three humors in the body—phlegm (kapha), bile (pitta), and wind (vāyu)—to the three nāḍīs in the body—idā on the left, pingalā on the right, and suṣumnā in the center—and to specific physiological or mental processes of three kinds, and so on. 25

Likewise, it is plausible that the Kālacakratantra's description of the fourth nature of the mind comes originally from the Śaiva tantras, for the classification of the four types of awareness was known in non-Buddhist Indian traditions since the time of the Upaniṣads.

Within the context of the Kālacakratantra, the fourth state of the mind is a state that supports the three aforementioned states.

It is characterized by the emission of regenerative fluids.

Comparative analysis of the expositions of the fourth state of the mind in the Kālacakratantra and in Śaiva tantras reveals striking similarities, and yet it shows some fundamental differences with regard to the nature of that state.

They agree that the fourth state of the mind marks the blissful state of consciousness in which all conceptualizations disappear and any sense of duality vanishes.

However, in Śaiva tantras, 26 the fourth state of the mind is also a state of selfrealization, a state in which one becomes aware of one's undivided, essential Self, and consequently becomes free of spiritual ignorance (avidyā).

It is a condition by which one rises to the fifth state, or the state of liberation, within one's lifetime (jīvanmukti).

In the Kālacakratantra, on the other hand, the fourth type of awareness, though nondual at the time of the emission of regenerative fluids, is still tainted with the habitual propensities of spiritual ignorance (avidyā-vāsanā) and is thus embedded in the cycle of existence.

The aforementioned examples demonstrate some of the ways in which the Kālacakratantra endeavors to simultaneously achieve both its goals—to offer rational explanations concerning the individual, and to convert Śaivites and other heterodox groups adhering to the Sāṃkhya's world view—without compromising its fundamental tenets.

Similarly, in order to attract the Vaiṣṇavas and to illustrate its view of the physical and mental development of the human being, the Kālacakratantra uses the model of the ten avatāras of Viṣṇu as an analogy for the ten phases of human life.

By so doing, it introduces its own unique interpretation of Viṣṇu's avatāras.

Thus, in the Kālacakratantra, 27 Viṣṇu is also referred to as Viṣṇu Vajradhara, the individual's mindvajra.

He is identified here with the gandharva being, or the being of the intermediate state (antar-bhāva), being conveived in the womb and undergoing different stages in the different phases of life inside and outside the womb.

For example, as a fetus, one assumes the forms of a fish, tortoise, and boar;

at birth, one becomes a man-lion;

in early childhood, one is in the dwarf-stage; at the time when the first teeth grow until they fall out, one is in the stage of Rāma;

in adolescence, one experiences the stage of Paraśurāma; from adolescence until the appearance of gray hair, one experiences the stage of Kṛṣṇa; in old age, one is in the stage of a Buddha, and on the day of death, one attains the stage of Kalkī.

Interpreting Viṣṇu's avatāras in this manner, the Vimalaprabhā cautions against adopting the standard interpretation of the

Purānic teachings on the grounds that they are meaningless, lead to hell, and are devised by corrupt Brāhmanas in order to deceive simple-minded people. 28

This is one of many instances in which the Kālacakratantra tradition contemptuously disparages the Vaiṣṇava tradition and its teachings.

It frequently refers to the Brāhmaṇic teachings, especially those of the Purānas, as false teachings, devoid of reasoning, creating confusion among foolish people, and composed by corrupt Brāhmaṇic sages for the sake of promoting their own social class. 29

One reason for such assertions was the overt animosity between the Buddhists and the adherents of the Brāhmaṇic tradition in the northern India of the late tenth and eleventh centuries.

This was an era in which the influence of the Purānas and strength of Brāhmaṇism steadily increased, and in which orthodoxBrāhmaṇic schools jointly stood in opposition to Buddhist ideology, posing a threat to the entire Buddhist tradition.

One of many examples of internal evidence of the antagonism between the Brāhmaṇic and Buddhist traditions of that time is their contention over the issue of which Dharma is the best one.

The Vimalaprabhā refutes the Brāhmaṇic claim that the Vedic Dharma is superior to the Buddha Dharma because it is earlier and innate (sahaja), whereas the Buddhist Dharma is later and fabricated (kṛtaka).

It argues that just as the earlier and innate ignorance is not better than later knowledge, so too the fact that the Vedic Dharma is earlier and innate does not mean that it is best.

Even though it is earlier and innate, it does not illuminate the path to omniscience, for it is characterized by the darkness of ignorance. Therefore, the Vimalaprabhā states, the later Buddha Dharma was created in order to destroy the great darkness of the Vedic Dharma.


Speaking from the Buddhist tantric point of view, the Vimalaprabhā argues that the Buddhist Dharma is superior to the Vedic Dharma because nirvāṇa comes about only by means of a sādhana on the supreme, imperishable gnosis (paramāksarajñāna) and not by means of the Vedic Dharma, which consists of nothing but the habitual propensity of seminal emission. 30

In addition to the aforementioned instances in which the Kālacakratantra adopts and redefines concepts characteristic of non-Buddhist systems, it also incorporates non-Buddhist cosmological views without reinterpreting them.

For example, in its classification of the infernal realms and its description of the size of Meru, the Kālacakra tradition closely parallels the Jaina cosmological view; and its description of the four cosmic maṇḍalas also parallels those in the Purāṇas. 31

The fact that the conversion of heterodox groups was one of the motivations behind the Kālacakratantra's adoption of specific non-Buddhist ideas implies that its teachings pertaining to the Kālacakra worldview were not kept secret from the public; that is, they were not guarded as secret teachings intended for an initiated elite.

Moreover, the Kālacakra tradition's preference for explicitly presenting its specific tantric views is a result of its openly professed conversionary endeavors. The Syncretism of Kālacakratantra Practice There is clear evidence in the Kālacakra literature that even the teachings and practices pertaining to the Kālacakra initiation were accessible to heterodox groups, whether they were seeking only mundane siddhis or the realization of the supramundane gnosis.

With regard to its initiation, the Kālacakratantra 32 asserts that whether one is a Buddhist,

a Śaiva, a Brāhmaṇa,
a naked mendicant (nagna), a snātaka (a Brāhmaṇa beggar),
a kāpālī (a follower of a Śaiva sect, who wears a garland of human skulls and eats and drinks from them),
a Jaina mendicant (lupta-keśa),
a hermit (maunī), or
a follower of the left-hand Śāktism (kaulī),


one will obtain purity and all virtues by receiving the Kālacakra initiation.

It substantiates that assertion on the grounds that through initiation into the Kālacakra-maṇḍala one becomes initiated into all maṇḍalas, including those of the deities belonging to those heterodox groups. 33

In its attempt to attract heterodox groups, the Kālacakratantra includes in its maṇḍala the deities that were equally accepted by Hindus, Jainas, and Buddhists as objects of worship and meditation.

In this way it introduced its practical syncretism into the practice of the stage of generation.

However, just as the Kālacakratantra's theoretical syncretism often lends itself to both Buddhist and non-Buddhist interpretations, so too can these deities of the heterodox groups be viewed either as nonBuddhist deities or—as the Vimalaprabhā 34 suggests—as symbolic representations of the diverse factors of Buddhahood. 35

The Kālacakra tradition is the only Buddhist tantric tradition that fully discloses the symbolic representations of its adopted nonBuddhist deities.

While the Kālacakratantra incorporates into its maṇḍala the diverse deities that were worshipped by both Buddhists and non-Buddhists, the Vimalaprabhā admonishes the Buddhist tantric yogīs who seek liberation and wish to advance in Kālacakratantra practice by meditating on the supramundane siddhis not to perform sādhanas on the deities and mantras of the outsiders.

Its rationale for this is that the deities of the outsiders cause minor misfortunes, and even when they are meditated upon, they look for the faults of the meditator and become his enemies.


It points to the futility of meditation on non- Buddhist deities in this manner:

Meditated upon, what will they, who are like poor men, give? When meditated upon, they say:

“Hey sādhaka, we will obey your every command. ”

If the sādhaka says, “Tie the king and bring him here, ” then they refuse, [saying]: “We are incompetent in this matter. ”

Likewise, the insignificant deities who are meditated upon refuse [to help] with regard to omniscience. 36


Moreover, textual study of the Kālacakratantra shows that receiving the Kālacakratantra initiation did not entail taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Saṅgha.

It is clear that non-Buddhist recipients of the Kālacakra initiation did not have to become Buddhists.

However, the fact that the subsequent tantric practice of the stage of generation begins with taking refuge 37 implies that those wishing to engage in more advanced Kālacakra practices had to commit themselves to the Buddhist path.

Study of the fourth chapter of the Kālacakratantra, which describes the practice of the stages of generation, suggests that that mode of practice was introduced partly with the intention of accommodating new converts to this tantric path.


Moreover, the Vimalaprabhā 38 asserts that the Kālacakra sādhana is to be taught first as a dualistic practice, based on the differentiation between the visualized deity as permanent (nitya) and the meditator as impermanent (anitya), for the sake of the mental purification and conversion of the foolish who have not yet realized that their visualized object is ultimately their own mind.


The term “foolish” (bāla) is recurrently used in the Kālacakra literature to describe the members of heterodox groups.

The examples given above demonstrate two important facts.

The first is that the Kālacakra tradition's reconciliation of non-Buddhist views with its own is primarily achieved through its reinterpretation of non-Buddhist ideas; and the second fact is that its conversionary effort was the most important factor in inducing its theoretical and practical syncretism.


The Syncretism of the Kālacakratantra's Language

The Kālacakratantra's aforementioned expressions of syncretism are also reflected in its language.

They induce the specific types of lexical and semantical syncretism found in this tantra, which is characterized by a diverse mixture of Buddhist and nonBuddhist terms. As we saw earlier, at times the terms borrowed from non-Buddhist systems convey the ideas characteristic of those systems;

at other times, they convey traditional Buddhist ideas; and at yet other times, they designate new Buddhist ideas specific to this tantric system.

The Vimalaprabhā interprets the Kālacakratantra's linguistic divergences as its way of transcending the class discrimination of the rivaling Hindu groups, which prohibit the Vaiṣyas, Śūdras, and other low classes from studying their scriptures, saying,

“Here in the land of mortals, the Vaiṣyas, Śūdras, and others born in degraded wombs, must not study the Vedas and must not take up the mendicant's life and staff. ” 39


It also views the Kālacakratantra's linguistic syncretism as a way of overcoming the alienation created by conservative Buddhist ways of institutionalizing the language of the north Indian Buddhist tradition, upheld by Buddhists who, “seeing the arrogance of the heterodox paṇḍitas who propound the proper words, think: '

Just as the chosen deities of the Brāḥmaṇas, Vaiṣṇavas, Śaivas, and others—Brahmā, Hari, Hara, and others—speak Sanskrit, so too our chosen deities, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, speak Sanskrit. ” ' 40

Another facet of the Kālacakratantra's lexical syncretism manifests in the usage and reinterpretation of Buddhist terms of different Buddhist schools.

For example, the Kālacakratantra frequently employs the Yogācāra's term ālaya-vijñāna (repository consciousness) simply to designate vijñāna (consciousness).

Taking into account the interpretation of the Vimalaprabhā commentary, which glosses ālaya-vijñāna as vijñāna and jīva, the Kālacakratantra's general view of the nature of the mind, and its refutation of the Yogācāra's classification of the mind, one may infer that the term ālayavijñāna in this tantric tradition designates not the Yogācāra's concept of an ethically neutral repository of the habitual propensities of karma, but a continuum of mental consciousness.

This particular type of lexical syncretism results from the Kālacakratantra's effort to convert the adherents of Buddhist schools other than Madhyamaka.


The Vimalaprabhā explicitly refers to Yogācārins, Sautrāntikas, and Vaibhāsikas as simple-minded Buddhist heretics (bauddha-tīrthika). 41

The Kālacakra tradition's conversionary endeavors may also be traced to yet another facet of its lexical syncretism, namely, the usage of terms originating from Indian vernaculars.

For example, the terms chandoha, upachandoha, melāpaka, upamelāpaka, and others, which designate the names of the specific bodily joints, do not have clear Sankrit etymologies.

Since the author of the tantra demonstrates his familiarity with the Āyurvedic medical treatises such as the Caraka and Suśruta

Samhitās, which employ standard Sanskrit terms to designate those bodily parts, it is certain that the usage of these terms was not accidental.

In light of the preceding discussions, one may draw several conclusions.

First, the above-mentioned characteristics of the Kālacakratantra's pervasive syncretism demonstrate the diversity of that syncretism.

Second, it is the prevailing reinterpretative aspect of the Kālacakratantra's syncretism that ensures this tantra's coherence and gives it a distinctively Buddhist character.

Third, the different features of the Kālacakratantra's syncretism are incidental to the various immediate goals that this tantra attempts to accomplish by resorting to syncretism. As mentioned earlier, there are several reasons for the Kālacakratantra's syncretism.

The first is to enhance and enrich its presentation of conventional reality.

The second is its expressed aim of proselytism.

In support of this claim, it is well to remember that during the late tenth and early eleventh centuries, northern India was subjected to frequent raids by the Muslim chief Amīr of Ghaznī and his son Sultan Mahmūd, whose forces took tens of thousands of slaves and plundered the country's treasures.

In the midst of this brutal invasion, the author of the Kālacakratantra may well have sought to form a united front of heterodox groups and Buddhists, a new ecumenical movement that would stand up against this common foe, who exemplified the “Barbarians” (mleccha).

Likewise, dangerous times like these often create a world of religious uncertainty that can sometimes be warded off by precarious theoretical and practical forms of religious affirmations, which may be seen as heretical.

The fact that a conversionary mission is the most compelling factor in inducing the Kālacakratantra's syncretism brings us to a simple but pertinent question: Why does the Kālacakratantra resort to syncretism in order to fulfill its conversionary goals?

The answer may be threefold.

First, by incorporating heterodox theories and practices, it makes its own system more accessible to those whom it is trying to attract.

That is, by presenting its own views in terms that the heterodox groups are steeped in and with which they are comfortable, it makes its own theory more readily understandable to them.

Second, it acknowledges aspirations already cherished by its potential Buddhist and non-Buddhist followers—such as physical health, mundane siddhis, immortality, and liberation—and shows them how to accomplish these aims by means of Kālacakratantra practice.

Third, by means of syncretism, it tries to demonstrate that in terms of conventional reality there is no fundamental difference between the views of the heterodox systems and the Kālacakratantra, and that no theory describes any purported inherent nature of the world.

However, this assertion of the essential compatibility between the heterodox and Kālacakratantra views appears to be contradictory, for the Kālacakra tradition undeniably refutes and reinterprets others' views concerning the conventional nature of phenomena.

This dilemma may be a philosophical one which the Kālacakra tradition, due to its adoptive strategies, cannot avoid; but there may perhaps be a deeper justification that can be discovered through further research into this subject.


The Concept of Science in the Kālacakra Tradition

When the issue of science is raised within the context of Indian Buddhist thought, there are no more advanced or comprehensive matrices of theory and practice than those presented in the literature of the Kālacakra tradition.

A textual study of the Indian literary sources of this tantric tradition reveals that when Brāhma ic for mal education in eleventh-century India was ṇ exclusively theological and disdainful of technical knowledge, 1 north Indian Buddhist monastic education incorporated training in nontheological skills that required knowledge of medicine, alchemy, mathematics, artisanship, and even weaponry. 2

The sharp split between theological and scientific education, which impaired the Brāhmaṇic educational system of that time, was absent in Buddhist monastic education due to the prevailing Buddhist view that theological knowledge and technical and scientific learning are not only compatible but complementary as well. 3


The literature of the Kālacakra tradition with its diverse and well-integrated topics and applications of the diverse fields of knowledge best attests to that fact.

The integration of diverse fields of knowledge by this tantric tradition has its roots in the Buddhist monastic, educational system.

The study of the five fields of knowledge (pañca-vidyā)—linguistics, logic, inner science (metaphysics and philosophy), medicine, and creative arts—was incorporated in Buddhist education at the time of the emergence of the Mahāyāna Buddhist monastic universities.

Mahāyāna monasteries were the first to offer educational opportunities to both the monastic and lay Buddhist communities; and they were the first to provide them with religious and secular education as well.

This is very significant in light of the fact that in the Indian Buddhist world, educational opportunities did not exist apart from monasteries.

In early Buddhism, Buddhist education was entirely monastic in its content and available only to those who entered or intended to enter the Buddhist monastic order.

The origin of the Buddhist educational system was closely tied to the inception of the Buddhist monastic order.


The Buddhist educational system actually arose from the need for instructing monastic novices. Each novice (śrāmaṇera) at his ordination (pravrajyā) was placed under two senior monks, one called a preceptor (upadhyāya) and the other a personal teacher (ācārya). From

the description given in the early Buddhist Pāli texts (Mahāvagga, Ch. 1. ), it seems that the upadhyāya was responsible for instructing the novice in Buddhist texts and doctrine, whereas the ācārya was responsible for training the novice in the proper conduct of a fully ordained monk.

After the novitiate period was over, a novice aged twenty or older underwent a second ordination (upasampadā).

As a fully ordained monk (bhikṣu), one received further training to become well versed in Buddhist scriptures and meditation.

That period was called niśraya, or “dependence, ” and it could be reduced to five years or extended for a lifetime. Once that period was over, a trained monk was allowed to teach younger monks as an independent ācārya. Thus, in early Buddhism the unit of the Buddhist educational system was a young monk or a group of young monks living under the supervision of two elders who were responsible for their entire well-being.

Many such groups of students and teachers resided together within a single monastic institution.

This pattern of collective life and organization of education carried over to the educational system of Mahāyāna Buddhism where it was further developed.

However, unlike the Mahāyāna texts, the early Buddhist writings 4 refer to the creative arts, craftsmanship, scribing, and similar fields of knowledge as vulgar fields of knowledge (tiracchānavijjā), which are studied only by lay people.

Likewise, in the early Buddhist period, the Buddhist laity had to seek other educational centers when they needed nonreligious education.

With the advent of Mahāyāna, there was greater emphasis on promoting general education for the entire Buddhist community.

There were two main reasons for that shift in the priorities. One reason was Mahāyāna's recognition of the Buddhist lay life as a viable way of life in the pursuit of spiritual awakening, and the other reason lay in the Bodhisattva ideal and the ideal of perfect enlightenment characterized by omniscience.


Therefore, whereas in early Buddhism attention was given almost exclusively to the elimination of spiritual ignorance, Mahāyāna Buddhism was concerned with the eradication of every kind of ignorance.

As some Mahāyāna texts attest, a Bodhisattva was encouraged to gain proficiency in all kinds of knowledge in order to attain the six perfections and assist others in every way needed.

The Bodhicaryāvatāra, for instance, declares, “there is nothing that the Children of the Jina should not learn. ” 5 In this regard, in the Mahāyāna Buddhist tradition, the study of the five fields of knowledge was considered necessary in both pursuits—the pursuit of one's pragmatic, mundane ends and the pursuit of spiritual awakening.

It is said in the Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra: An Āa who does not undergo training in the five fields of knowledge in no way attains omniscience.

He trains in them in order to defeat and assist others, and in order to gain knowledge for himself. 6

The text further explains that by studying linguistics and logic one is able to defeat opponents in debate; by studying medicine, the creative arts, and similar disciplines, one assists those who desire so;

and by studying the inner science, or Buddhism proper, one gains knowledge for oneself.

Likewise, mastery of the five fields of knowledge was considered as one of the characteristics of Buddhahood itself.


In the Vyākhyāyukti, 7 or the Sūtravyākyāyuktyupadeśa, Vasubandhu states that Buddha's teaching is called comprehensive because it demonstrates his proficiency in every field of knowledge.

In tantric literature, specifically in the Vajrapañjaratantra, a good vajrācārya is said to be completely versed in all fields of knowledge.

As I will try to demonstrate throughout this book, the Kālacakra tradition supports this view of the Buddha's omniscience as inclusive of all forms of learning, and it accordingly integrates the diverse branches of exoteric learning into its esoteric theories and practices.

The fact that the entire Kālacakratantra can be divided into two main parts—one dealing with diverse disciplines pertaining to the theoretical knowledge of the world and the other pertaining to meditation—indicates that the Kālacakra tradition also agrees with the Mahāyāna view that one is unable to get the firm footing in Buddhist teachings and practice by study and analysis alone, without the practice of meditation, or with meditation alone, without study.

In this way, it concords with the earlier Maha flyāna view expressed by the following verse from the Mahāyānasūtrālamkāra: Meditation would be useless if reality could be perceived through mere study; and the teaching would be useless if one could practice meditation without having studied. 8 The topics of the Kālacakratantra's first two chapters—called respectively “

The Universe” and “The Individual”—deal with the investigation of the universe as macrocosm and of the individual as its microcosm.

The Kālacakratantra's inquiry into the nature of the external world and the individual as two facets of the phenomenal world—the external (bāhya) and internal (adhyātma)—utilizes knowledge of the various branches of Buddhist science.

Disciplines analogous to cosmology, astronomy, astrometry, chronometry, embryology, physiology, psycho-physiology, anatomy, medical therapeutics, pharmacology, alchemy, botany, psychology, and philosophy are either directly or indirectly incorporated into the Kālacakratantra, especially into its first two chapters.

For this tantric tradition, those diverse scientific disciplines provide a systematic analysis of the natural world, provisionally viewed as an object of purification, and humans' place and interactions in that world.


Thorough understanding of the structures and functions of conventional reality (saṃvṛti-satya) is considered here indispensable for the realization of ultimate reality (paramārtha-satya), or Buddhahood.

Since the earliest period of Buddhism, Buddhists' investigation of the world has been based on their understanding of nature as an orderly system governed by discernible causal laws.

This same theoretical basis of investigation also permeates the discussions of the universe and the individual in the Kālacakratantra. An analysis of this tantra and its related literature indicates that the primary goal of the tantric Buddhist investigation of the natural world is to discover the causal factors operating within the universe as macrocosm and within the individual as microcosm.

The secondary goal is to demonstrate the correspondence between the universe and the individual by identifying the properties of the external physical universe in the body of the individual. 9

This goal reflects the Kālacakra tradition's intent that its very presentation of Buddhist scientific truths be nondual, that is, without drawing an absolute distinction between subject and object.

The tertiary objective of the Buddhist tantric scientific investigation is to ascertain the properties of the cosmos and the individual as mere appearances invoked by the power of the individual's habitual propensities.

Finally, the ultimate aim is to see things as they are (yathā-bhūta) by means of acquiring direct knowledge of the nature of reality. Seeing things as they are means perceiving the illusory nature of conventional reality and realizing the nonduality of conventional and ultimate realities.

The nature of this nonduality is that conventional reality, although manifesting as the universe, has the form of emptiness (śūnyatā-rūpiṇī, and emptiness has the form of conventional reality (saṃvṛti-rūpiṇī 10

The realization of the fundamental nonduality of the conventional and ultimate realities and the contemplative path to that realization are the chief topics of the other three chapters of the Kālacakratantra, called respectively the “Initiation, ” “Sādhana, ” and “Gnosis. ”

An analysis of those three chapters indicates that this Buddhist tantric path of actualizing Buddhahood is structured on two theoretical grounds. One is a theory that the universe is contained within the body of the individual as demonstrated by the diverse disciplines of Buddhist natural sciences; and the second is that the natural world as we experience it and explain it through scientific analysis is already nirvāna but needs to be recognized as such.

Thus, in the context of Buddhist tantric soteriology, the proper understanding of the conventional world that is the object of purification, the genuine practice of the Buddhist tantric path that is the means of purification,

and the authentic actualization of Buddhahood, which is the result of that purification, are directly contingent upon adequate knowledge of the Buddhist natural and social sciences.


The concept of science in the Kālacakratantra is indicated by the Sanskrit word vidyā, meaning “knowledge. ” Already in some of the early Buddhist expositions on vidyā, the term signifies more than knowledge regarding the Four Noble Truths.

In the Nettipakaraṇa, 11 the definition of vidyā includes such concepts as investigation (vicaya), scrutiny or observation (upaparikkhā), and correct views or theories (sammādiṭṭhi).

Thus, from early times, Indian Buddhists have recognized the relevance of rational and empirical methods in their studies of the natural world and human thought and relations.

However, just as the Western concepts of religion and philosophy do not clearly apply to Buddhism as a whole, so too the Western concept of science does not directly correspond to the phenomenon of Buddhist science.

There are several critical reasons for that—namely, Buddhist science is characterized by widely known and used contemplative and introspective methods of scientific investigation, 12 its application of extrasensory perception as one of the means of scientific verification, the difficulty of demonstrating the knowledge acquired by contemplative means, and its goal of progress toward, not unprecedented knowledge, but knowledge previously acquired by Buddha Śākyamuni and other Buddhist contemplatives.

Nevertheless, I think the term “science” is justified here for several reasons.

First, in Buddhist science there are working hypotheses that are tested by means of experience and that are capable, in principle, of being refuted experientially.

Moreover, the conclusions drawn from experience are formulated as rational theories that are internally consistent and make intelligible a wide range of phenomena.

In light of the Kālacakratantra's classification of reality into the provisional and ultimate, this tantric system speaks of two types of science (vidyā). 13


The first type of scientific knowledge is knowledge of conventional reality, which is acquired by means of investigation.

As such, it is described as perishable scientific knowledge (kṣara-vidyā), since it is provisional and highly subjective. 14

It is subjective in the sense that it is affected by the habitual propensities of saṃsāra, which are nothing

other than the measure of the habitual propensities of one's own mind. Scientific knowledge of conventional reality is provisional also due to its being perceptual and conceptual.


The verification of provisional scientific truths is based on the sensory perceptions and on inference based on perceptual experiences; but one's perceptions and conceptions of the world are said to depend on the power of one's own merit, or virtue (puṇya). 15

Scientific knowledge of conventional reality is also provisional due to its being characterized by a series of momentary cognitions that arise and cease with the arising and ceasing of cognized impermanent phenomena.

A transmigratory mind, which observes conventional reality, is momentary because to that mind phenomena appear to arise, remain, and cease in separate, consecutive moments. Such a mind does not perceive the unity, or simultaneity, of the moment of the phenomena's arising, remaining, and ceasing. 16

Thus, as the mind perceives conventional reality, it discriminates the moments as one and many, and consequently, it discriminates all other phenomena as separate from one another, since they appear to arise and cease in their own separate times. This discriminatory, dualistic manner of perceiving the conventional world as a multiplicity of temporal phenomena is seen as the most prominent characteristic of provisional scientific knowledge.

The Vimalaprabhā asserts that this provisional scientific knowledge is inconsequential scientific knowledge to which the human mind is strongly attached. 17

The Kālacakra tradition affirms that that which is scientific knowledge (vidyā) in terms of conventional reality is ignorance (avidyā) with regard to the ultimate nature of phenomena. 18

Ignorance is a habitual propensity of saṃsāra, and it is knowledge accompanied by attachment that often manifests in scientific inquiry as an expectation.

Since attachment gives rise to aversion and aversion is of the nature of delusion, provisional scientific knowledge of conventional reality is fundamentally a mental affliction, which subjectively creates all the worlds in every single moment and perceives the world in a biased manner.

In contrast, knowledge of ultimate reality, or as-it-is-ness, is viewed as ultimate and imperishable scientific knowledge, because it is not affected by the habitual propensities of saṃsāra.


It is a nonconceptual, unmediated knowledge, in which the distinction between the perceiver and the perceived no longer appears.

Therefore, this type of scientific knowledge (vidyā) is said to be devoid of an object (analambinī). 19 It is nonperceptual knowledge, because it is not acquired through the sensefaculties or any conventional means of scientific investigation, nor is it acquired even by means of meditation.


It is free of momentariness, for it does not discriminate moments as one or many. In this way, it dwells in the absence of origination and cessation. Just as saṃsāra is the measure of one's own mind, so too is ultimate reality the measure of one's own mind.

Thus, ultimate scientific knowledge is nothing other than self-knowledge, knowledge of the extent of one's own mind.

However, even though provisional scientific knowledge of the world is regarded as ultimately incorrect, it is seen as indispensable for gaining eventual knowledge of ultimate reality, which is omniscience, for it facilitates one's understanding of impermanence and emptiness and thereby indirectly brings about the eradication of one's afflictive and cognitive obscurations.

Thus, provisional scientific knowledge is seen as an integral part of ultimate scientific knowledge.

A careful study of the Kālacakra literature reveals that the scope of science in tantric Buddhism includes not only a wide range of natural sciences but cognitive sciences as well.


Those diverse branches of Buddhist science present systematized knowledge of the nature and composition of the natural world and humans' place and interactions in that world.

Adequate knowledge of the Buddhist scientific disciplines and its practical application in an integrated form on the tantric Buddhist path are viewed as highly relevant for one's spiritual maturation and liberation.

For that reason, it is thought that the Kālacakratantra practitioner should acquire and cultivate such knowledge and its practical applications for the sake of liberation and for the sake of temporary wellbeing as well.

Thus, within the Kālacakra system, all the aspects of the natural world become legitimate fields of Buddhists' scientific investigation, and knowledge of the various scientific fields becomes a significant component of the Buddhist Dharma as the body of verifiable truths. 20

The Kālacakra literature also demonstrates the ways in which the natural sciences become integrated with cognitive and social sciences on that Buddhist tantric path.


Disciplines classified in the modern world as history, philosophy, fine arts, and psychology are presented in the Kālacakra literature alongside astronomy, cosmology, physics, medicine, biology, pharmaceutics, and alchemy and are jointly utilized in the varied modes of Kālacakratantra practice.

The integration of different sciences on this Buddhist tantric path is facilitated by the earlier mentioned tantric view of the nonduality of the individual and the individual's environment.

That particular view implies that all psycho-physiological processes of the individual correspond to the physical and socio-historical processes occurring in the individual's environment.

For example, the passage of days, seasons, and years corresponds to the passage of prāṇas in the human body; and the individual's spiritual battle with one's own mental afflictions has its external aspect in the religious war of Kalkī with the king of Barbarians in the land of Mecca, and so forth. 21


Thus, one may say that in this tantric system, the themes addressed in the Buddhist natural sciences are analogous to the themes of modern science.

In all of the above-mentioned disciplines of Buddhist tantric science, the verification of the Buddhist scientific truths appears to be based on the following four means: sensory perceptions, mental perceptions, extrasensory perceptions, and inference.

Since earliest times, extrasensory perceptions have been regarded in the Buddhist tradition as a valid means of scientific verification.

In its last two chapters, the Kālacakratantra presents rational psychological and physiological conditions for bringing about extrasensory perceptions.


The verification of Buddhist scientific truths concerning the relative nature of the world, as expressed in natural causal laws, is based on all the aforementioned means of verification.

Correspondingly, knowledge of relative scientific truths is viewed in this tantric system as perceptual and conceptual and as provisional knowledge of the world as it appears to the dualistic, biased mind.

The verification of absolute scientific truth regarding the ultimate nature of the world, as expressed in emptiness, is presented as a form of nondualistic contemplative perception.

Knowledge of absolute truth, however, is described as the nonconceptual (avikalpita), unmediated knowledge of all things, in which the distinction between the perceiver and the perceived no longer appears. 22

An important, common feature of the aforementioned disciplines of Buddhist tantric science is their individual syncretism that permeates the theories and modes of their practical application.

The syncretistic nature of Buddhist tantric science, as evidenced in the Kālacakratantra, stems from the Buddhist tantric view of the commonality of the Buddhists' and heterodox groups' (tīrthika) teachings concerning conventionally existent phenomena.


The Kālacakratantra contends that there is no distinction between the Buddhists and heterodox groups with regard to the manner in which conventional reality appears.

That view of the commonality of the Buddhists' and heterodox groups' approaches to conventional reality justifies the Buddhist tantric incorporation of specific ideas from other Indian religious and scientific systems and resulted in the syncretism of Buddhist tantric science.

By amalgamating the ideas characteristic of non-Buddhist systems into its own theoretical framework, the Kālacakra tradition attempts to accomplish two objectives: to facilitate its modeling of conventional reality and to convert heterodox groups.

In this way, the Buddhist tantric proselytizing efforts significantly contributed to the complex nature of most of the Buddhist tantric scientific disciplines.

However, the syncretism of Buddhist tantric medicine appears less related to those efforts, for it stems chiefly from the distinctive Buddhist tantric emphasis on the favorable effects of physical health on one's spiritual development.

The Kālacakra tradition gives great importance to the preservation of one's health on the grounds that the achievements of supernormal abilities and liberation are contingent upon proper bodily functioning. Since its earliest stages, the Buddhist tradition has been concerned with medical knowledge and its practical application as supplementary systems of Buddhist learning and religious practice.

The favorable effects of physical health on one's spiritual development are already indicated in the earliest Buddhist Pāli literature. As recorded in the Majjhimanikāya, 23

Buddha Śākyamuni himself saw health as the individual's finest possession and pointed out the difficulty of reaching enlightenment with an impaired body.

For that reason, understanding of the human body and knowledge of maintaining and restoring health have been given soteriological significance in all of Indian Buddhism.

However, it is within the context of tantric Buddhism that the preservation of one's health becomes of paramount importance.

The Kālacakratantra gives the following reason for that: Firstly, a mantrī should preserve the entire body of the Jina for the sake of siddhis. In the absence of the body, neither any siddhi nor supreme bliss is attained in this life. 24


Consequently, in the Kālacakra tradition as in other related tantric traditions, Buddhist medicine has been regarded as a major facet of Buddhist Dharma.


The earliest records of Buddhist theoretical and practical approaches to medicine are already found in the Pāli Tipiṭaka.

Those records reveal that the early Buddhists' understanding of human anatomy and physiology was generally in accord with that of classical Ārveda, whose basic contents were already formed and well known throughout the Indian subcontinent.

The early Buddhist materia medica was also similar to that of the ạyurveda.

Nevertheless, early Buddhist records frequently present the knowledge of illnesses and medicinal substances in a less systematic manner and on a more popular level than in the later Ārvedic texts and later Buddhist medical treatises.

Also, the ạyurvedic concept of the prāṇa as a support of life is only mentioned in the Buddhist Pāli Canon and not yet developed and medically utilized as it is in the Kālacakratantra.


By the time of Mahāyāna Buddhism in India, a rational system of classical Ārvedic medicine was in general use among Buddhists, and it strongly influenced the scientific framework of later Buddhist medicine. 25


Several medical treatises— such as Yogaśataka, 26 Jīvasūtra, Avabheṣajakalpa, Āryājanāmavaṭikā, and Āryamūlakoṣamahauṣadhāvalī 27 —which the Buddhist tradition ascribes to an author by the name of Nāgārjuna, contain systematized knowledge of selected collections of medicinal formulas, discussions of physiological aspects of diseases, and medical treatments that accord with ạyurveda.

The disciplines of alchemy and magic developed alongside the traditional and empirico-rational system of Buddhist medicine.

According to a tradition no later than the seventh century ce, those disciplines were already in practice by the time of Nāgārjuna, the alchemist, whose name is mentioned by the Chinese pilgrim Hsüan-tsang.

The Rasaratnākara and the Kakṣaputa 28 have been traditionally attributed to Nāgārjuna, as his writings on alchemy and magic respectively.

The Mahāyāna Buddhist tradition considered Ārvedic medicine, alchemy, and magic as separate but complementary branches of knowledge. It resorted to alchemical preparations, recitation of mantras, and drawing of maṇḍalas as supplementary methods of healing.

However, Buddhist tantric medical treatises and the Kālacakratantra literature integrate classical Ārvedic medicine, alchemy, and magic even more strongly into a unique and comprehensive system of Buddhist tantric medicine.

The broad scope of the tantric medical system, evidenced in the Kālacakra literary corpus, also encompasses knowledge of preparing incenses and perfumes used for worshipping Buddhas and Bodhisattvas during healing rites.

The Vimalaprabhā indicates that the Kālacakratantra's instructions on preparing incenses and perfumes are based on information contained in specialized treatises on the preparation of perfumes and incenses (gandha-śāstra). 29

Thus, the manuals on preparing perfumes and incenses form a significant supplementary branch of Buddhist tantric medical literature.

As in the earlier Buddhist medical systems, so too in Buddhist tantric medicine, one may find distinctions between magico-religious treatments and rational therapeutics based on induction from observation.

In Buddhist tantric medicine, the determination of a medical treatment is contingent upon determining the nature of a disease. Illnesses induced by malevolent spirits (bhūta), also known as nonhuman diseases, and snakebites are commonly treated by means of religious healing rites and mantras. 30

Mantras are also implemented as the protective, or preventive, methods of counteracting the evil intentions of nonhuman entities. 31

Likewise, carrying a precious stone of the color red, which belongs to the class of the substances that predominantly arise from the fire-element, is believed to prevent evil spirits from entering one's body, whereas gems that belong to the class of substances that are related to the space-element are said to ward off the cast of an evil eye. 32

The Kālacakratantra mentions diverse types of evils spirits and malicious Siddhas who are to be appeased by building specific maṇḍalas outside a village, or under a tree, in a cemetery, in a temple, or at the confluence of rivers, with offerings of delicacies, incenses, perfumes, flowers, candles, praises, and mantras. 33

The yakṣas, grahas, rākṣasas, piśācas, śākinīs, evil nāgas, who delight in human blood, ḍākinīs, rūpikās, vampire-ghouls feeding in cemeteries (kumbhāṇḍa), protectors of fields (kṣetrapāla), gaṇapatis, pretas, goblins, the lords of ḍākinīs who are accompanied by epilepsy, and malicious Siddhas are all considered to be powerful entities that may cause both illnesses

and great well-being. Therefore, worshiping them is seen as beneficial for the patient's safe recovery.


However, the Kālacakratantra warns against the pacification of malevolent spirits when the symptoms of irrevocable death appear, which cannot be warded off by gods, men, or nāgas. 34

It gives two reasons for this caution. 35

The first is that religious healing rites are ineffective in such a case, and the second reason is that this situation may create temptation for the tantric yogī to perform the rites simply for the sake of his own material gain, while knowing that they will be of no benefit to the patient. Tantric healing rites also entail the drawing of yantras, the initiation of a patient in a maṇḍala, and ablutions.

For example, a yantra consisting of thirty-four numbers placed within its respective sections should be shown to a pregnant woman when her womb stiffens at the time of childbirth. 36

Children afflicted by grahas are bathed with the five ambrosias (amṛta): water, milk, sour milk, ghee, honey, molasses, and fragrant water, that are contained within seven unbaked vessels. 37

At times, certain herbal medications, empowered by mantras, are administered to those possessed by malevolent spirits in order to alleviate the symptoms of afflictions.

For instance, in the case of a pregnant woman's sharp uterine pains caused by malevolent entities, the pregnant woman is to be given pounded kustha, us´īra, 38 kaseru grass, tagara, 39 blue water-lilly (keśara), and a filament of a lotus with cold water, all of which are consecrated by mantras and vajras. 40

Thus, the boundaries between magico-religious and empirico-rational treatments become far less noticeable in Buddhist tantric medicine than in its precedents. In the tantric rites of healing the afflictions caused by nonhuman entities, the magico-religious and empiricio-rational approaches clearly concur.

The empirico-rational approach involves diagnosing a disease based upon the observation of its symptoms and the occasions for their occurrence; it establishes the causes of affliction and determines the treatment according to those causes.

For example, unpleasant symptoms such as bodily convulsions, sharp pains in the eyes, a yellowish color of the face, arms, and legs, a distinctively yellow color of the urine, fever, vomiting, emaciation, and fainting are described as the symptoms characteristic of a children's disease that are caused by the possession by cruel spirits; and this can be treated by a ritual oblation of the child in the maṇḍala. 41


In this way, the empirico-rational approach essentially underlies the magico-religious healing rites.


Furthermore, the treatments of other ailments provoked by the disequilibrium of the three humors— wind (vāta), bile (pitta), and phlegm (kapha)—external actions, poor hygiene, inadequate diet, and other similar factors predominantly follow an empirico-rational approach.

Thus, the application of slightly warmed akṣobhya in the mouth is administered in the case of an infection of the mouth; anointing of the neck with karkoṭī 42 lāṇgalī, 43 and indrī 44 is applied in the case of the inflammation of the glands of the neck, and so on. 45

Nevertheless, meditation, visualization of tantric deities, and the recitation of mantras, which are the common healing factors in magico-religious healing rituals, often accompany the administering of medicaments in empirico-rational therapeutics.

For example, in the case of the malignant boils in the throat, one abiding in samādhi annihilates strong pains in the following way: while practicing prāṇāyāma, one visualizes in the heart-cakra Viśvamātā appearing as the stainless moon, with her hands in the wish-granting posture and holding a lotus, sitting on a lotus-seat in the vajra posture, and having one face and two arms. 46

Tantric medicinal mantras mentioned in the Kālacakratantra can be classified Viśvamātā, eliminate, eliminate vajra-like sharp and stingent pains, bring on my forbearance, bring on svāhā, ” 47 and consecratory mantras such as “oṃ āḥ huṃ take away, take away pains in the womb of such and such person svāhā. ” 48 In many instances, one mantra can perform more than one function.

Thus, in treatments of malignant diseases that are accompanied by fever and pain in the joints, the mantraoṃ phre vajra” is said to simultaneously empower medicinal herbal ingredients and to protect the patient's bodily cakras. 49

The recitation of protective and supplicatory mantras that induce a physiological change by directly influencing the patient's prāṇas may be regarded as an empirico-rational treatment.

The Kālacakra tradition's definition of prāṇa as the principal deity of a mantra 50 and its view of the individual's vajras, or capacities, of body, speech, mind, and gnosis as the source (yoni) of mantras 51 indicate a close and reciprocal influence between the mantras and the individual's mind and body.

In light of this view, one may infer that in the context of Buddhist tantric medicine, the recitation of mantras is utilized as a medical treatment of both the mind 52 and the body.

Although the Vimalaprabhā acknowledges that the power of mantras, medicinal herbs, gems, and other potent substances arises due to the transformation of the mind of the individual who empowers them, it emphasizes that neither mantras nor the empowered substances have limitless powers, since they are not empowered by the mind of the supreme, imperishable gnosis of the Buddha, but by the limited mind of the tantric yogī. 53

As its rational methods of cure, Buddhist tantric medicine utilizes the techniques of haṭha-yoga, particularly, the practices of prāṇāyāma and different yogic postures (āsana).

For instance, in the Kālacakratantra, the vajra posture (vajrāsana) 54 is recommended for the elimination of backache, the head-stand posture (śīrṣāsana) for the cure of a disease induced by a disorder of phlegm, the vase technique (kumbhaka) of prāṇāyāma is recommended for the alleviation of abdominal ailments, leprosy, and similar diseases.

In the case of leprosy, 55 the patient is advised to practice the kumbhaka for a period of six months, during which he should not emit semen during sexual intercourse. The Kālacakratantra 56 also cautions that one should practice prāṇāyāma only until heat in the heart or pain in the head occurs.

If one continues to practice the prāṇāyāma after those symptoms occur, the prāṇa congeals in the navel-cakra, or if unrestrained, it causes death by violently splitting the uṣṇīṣa leaving the body.


Sometimes, especially in the cases of the malignant diseases, prāṇāyāma is recommended as an alternative therapy to the application of medicaments.

It is chiefly recommended to experienced Buddhist tantric yogīs who are capable of developing profound meditative concentration (samādhi) and who do not always have access to appropriate medication.


Thus, to yogīs suffering from a malignant disease of the throat which is accompanied by fever, pains in the joints of the arms and legs, and headache, the following practice of prāṇāyāma is recommended: having entered a windowless house, the yogī should let his arms hang down toward the feet, as far as

the thighs, and he should practice the kumbhaka for as long as he does not fall on the ground and for as long as his fever does not diminish. 57


The most prevalent empirico-rational therapeutics of Buddhist tantric medicine encountered in the Kālacakra literature are dietary therapy, hydrotherapy, massage, and treatments carried out by means of nasal inhalation and oral consumption of drugs, fumigation, and anointing.

For example, everything bitter, combined with three myrobalans (kaṭuka), 58 is said to obliterate disorders of phlegm, so goat's milk, combined with the three myrobalans, is recommended to those suffering from phlegm-disorders.

Since sweet and astringent substances are believed to eliminate bile-disorders, buffalo-cow's milk is administered to those suffering from such an ailment.

Camel's milk is administered to those suffering from a disorder of wind, because camel's milk, combined with rock salt (saindhava), becomes an alkaline fluid (ksārāmbu) that removes wind-disorders.

Nasal inhalation of the akṣobhya plant or nasal inhalation of water in the morning is prescribed as a cure for a headache. 59

In the case of boils, pustules, and similar skin disorders, fumigation with ghee and seasalt wrapped in a cloth and anointing with the sap of arka 60 are suggested as an effective therapy. 61

In the case of infections of the ear and eye, the application of warm urine in the ear and of cold urine in the eye is recommended. In the case of sunstroke, the oral ingestion of a decoction containing an equal portion of dhātrī, coriander, and powder of tamarind leaves for three nights is suggested as an effective cure.

The curative efficacy of the specific tastes that characterize diverse nutritional, herbal, and mineral ingredients of medicinal preparations is thought to stem from the elements that give rise to the diverse tastes. 62

Therefore, consuming the appropriate preparations, one supplements the lack of the particular elements in the body that directly caused a disorder of one of three humors.

The aforementioned types of empirico-rational treatments best illustrate the classical Ārvedic and early Buddhist medical heritage in Buddhist tantric medicine.

The Kālacakratantra's materia medica is also similar to that of Ārveda and early Buddhist medicine.

In addition to herbal and other remedial substances that are wellknown from Ārveda and earlier Buddhist medical treatises, the Kālacakratantra mentions medicinal substances that are not specified in Ārvedic texts or in earlier Buddhist medical works.

It is possible, however, that those medicinal substances are known in Ārvedic and earlier Buddhist writings by different names, since the Kālacakratantra occasionally designates the medicinal herbs by terms that seem to be regional folk names—such as “lion's urine” (simhamūtra), “son's hair” (putrakes´a) 63 — instead of by their generally accepted names.


Indian tantric Buddhists, concerned with the preservation of the body, expanded the already existent science of rejuvenation and longevity and structured it as an additional branch of Buddhist tantric medicine.

Since Buddhist monastic schools of the eleventh-century India attracted scholars from other countries such as China, Persia, and so forth, one may suspect that tantric Buddhist methods of rejuvenation were influenced to some degree by Taoist and other methods for the prolongation of life.

Tantric Buddhists composed various tantric works that deal exclusively with diverse methods of rejuvenation and prolongation of life, which involve the arts of extracting rejuvenating essences and knowledge of performing rituals for longevity. 64

In its exposition of Buddhist tantric medicine, the Kālacakratantra indicates the following individual methods of rejuvenation: meditation (dhyāna) that involves bringing the prāṇas into the central nāḍī (madhyamā), practices of prānāyāma, ingestion of the five combined ambrosias (amṛta), 65 ingestion of life-giving essences extracted from herbs and foods, and ingestion of elixirs produced by means of complex alchemical processes.

For example, the kumbhaka, accompanied by the retention of regenerative fluids in sexual union, mentioned earlier with regard to the elimination of leprosy, is also seen as having a rejuvenating power.

It is said that if practiced for two years, it eradicates old age and its symptoms. Also, the nasal inhalation of uterine blood and the honey of black bees (keśarājikā), accompanied with meditation, is suggested as a six-month therapy for rejuvenation.

The Kālacakratantra also discusses intricate procedures for preparing tonics, elixirs, and gold, which are also called external elixirs (bāhya-rasāyana) and are regarded by Buddhist tantric tradition as nutrients that induce the attainment of a divine body (divya-deha) that is free of wrinkles and gray hair.

Thus, with respect to Buddhist tantric therapeutics, one may draw the following conclusions. Buddhist tantric therapeutics establishes four aims, namely, to prevent and cure disease, to secure longevity, and to bring forth liberation.

The first three goals are of a temporal nature.

They are not mere ends in themselves but ancillary to the actualization of the ultimate goal, which is enlightenment.

In order to actualize its goals, Buddhist tantric therapeutics utilize the syncretized knowledge and practices of tantric yoga, haṭha-yoga, Ārveda, folk medicine, religious esoteric rites of healing and exorcism, the science of distillation, and alchemy into its distinctive Buddhist tantric medical theory and practice.

Thus, the immediate objective of the syncretism of the Buddhist tantric medicine is to utilize all available medical knowledge and to provide all possible means of cure and disease-prevention in order to facilitate one's liberation.


However, the syncretism of the Buddhist tantric medicine should not be understood as a reconciliation of disparate views and practices but rather as their synthesis.

The Kālacakratantra does not attempt to reinterpret diverse medical theories and practices; it pragmatically juxtaposes them.

The Kālacakratantra's medical therapeutics rest on several theoretical grounds that are characteristic of Buddhist tantric medicine as a whole.

The primary theoretical basis of Kālacakratantra medicine is tantric Buddhist soteriology that focuses on the intimate relationship among the mind, body, and liberation.

On that foundation rests the Kālacakratantra's principal medical theory of the predominant effects of prāṇas on one's mental, physical, and spiritual condition.

To that theory the Kālacakratantra adds the theoretical framework of the secular system of Ārvedic medicine, operating on the presumption that good health is maintained by the equilibrium of the three humors—wind, phlegm, and bile.

The fourth element of this theoretical context is the principles of haṭha-yoga, which are based on the view of a causal relationship among bodily postures, breathing exercises, and mental and physical health.

Finally, the last theoretical basis of Buddhist tantric medical therapeutics is the premises of folk medicine and occult beliefs concerning bewitchment and spirit possession, according to which, spirits can possess and thereby influence an individual's mental and physical states.

Likewise, the theoretical syncretism of Kālacakratantra medicine yields a wide variety of medical treatments.

Among the aforementioned medical treatments, the tantric yogic practices of manipulating the prāṇas and retaining regenerative fluids are believed to most directly affect the accomplishment of medical and soteriological ends. Thus, according to the Kālacakratantra, the yogic methods of actualizing supernormal powers (siddhi) are a part of the Buddhist tantric medical theory and practice. The tantric yogic practices of manipulating the flows of the prāṇas and retaining regenerative fluids during sexual intercourse have a dual purpose: spiritual and medical.

When practiced by yogīs endowed with good health, the tantric yogic practices induce spiritual powers and liberation.

To those facing premature death, that is, death prior to the age of one hundred, and to those suffering from various diseases—such as abdominal ailments, 66 asthma, cough, eye-diseases, poisoning, dysuria, and leprosy—they serve as preventive and curative therapeutics.

For example, when the signs of untimely death occur, the following yogic practices are sequentially performed.

The first is the obstruction of the prāṇas in the left and right nāḍīs; the next phase entails bringing the prāṇas into the central channel nāḍī and making them circulate there for a day; the third phase involves filling one's arms, legs, and fingers with prāṇas;

and the final phase involves visualizing the Buddhas' six female consorts with their hands in the protection-mudrā and standing within one's own six cakras.

In the case of the abdominal and other diseases mentioned previously, one is advised to contract the wind of apāna from below the navel and the wind of prāṇa from above.

In this way, those two winds colide and cause a strong digestive fire to arise and spread throughout the entire body.

It is said that after a month of practicing this yoga, one averts maladies of the liver, spleen, hemorrhoids, asthma, headache, cough, and so on. 67 Lastly, the syncretism of the Kālacakratantra's medical theory reduced the boundaries between magico-religious and empirico-rational therapeutics.

The concurrence of magico-religious and empirico-rational treatments in individual cases was invariably used for two purposes: simultaneously to alleviate the symptoms of the disease and to eliminate the cause of the disease.


These multiple aims and means of cure in Kālacakratantra medicine required the incorporation of different sciences as additional branches of medicine.

For example, the earlier mentioned science of preparing perfumes and incenses, the science of extracting elixirs from foods and herbs, the science of alchemy, etc. became supplementary fields of medical study. In this way, the syncretism of the Buddhist tantric medical theory and practice broadened the scope of Indian Buddhist medicine as a whole, and it extended the Buddhist tantric framework of theory and practice.


The Cosmic Body

The Cosmos, the Individual, and the Cosmos as the Individual

The Kālacakratantra's cosmology is structured on several theoretical models. In its interpretation of the conventional nature of the cosmos, the Kālacakratantra combines to some degree the Vaibhāṣika atomic theory, the Sāṃkhya model of the twenty-five principles of the puruṣa and prakṛti, and Jaina and Purāṇic cosmographies with its own measurements of the cosmos (loka-dhātu) 1 and its own theories of the cosmos's nature and relation to the individual.

The Kālacakra tradition intentionall y uses this form of syncretism in order to provide a useful theoretical model of the Buddhist tantric view of the cosmos that will accord with its interpretation of the individual and with its model of practice.

As already indicated in chapter 3 on syncretism, the Kālacakra tradition itself justifies this syncretism in terms of its proselytizing efforts 2 and in terms of the multiplicity and relativity of conventional realities. According to this tantric tradition, knowledge of the constitution of the cosmos and of the manner in which the cosmos originates and dissolves is pertinent to one's spiritual maturation.

The Vimalaprabhā explicitly states that in order to fully comprehend the three Vehicles, one must first know the origination and dissolution of the cosmos as taught by the Vaibhāṣikas, who assert the true existence of the individual (pudgala) and of the cosmos, which consists of an agglomeration of atoms. 3

While supporting the Madhyamaka view of phenomenal and personal identitylessness, the Kālacakra tradition affirms the conventional existence of the cosmos and the individual and acknowledges the validity and usefulness of the Vaibhāṣikas' atomic th eory of the evolution and disintegration of the cosmos.

Consequently, it holds that within the context of the Kālacakra system, one investigates the conventional nature of the cosmos by way of the Vaibhāṣika doctrine and gains a thorough knowledge of the three Vehicles, thereby enhancing one's understanding of the entire Buddhist Dharma.

Resorting to the Vaibhāṣika atomic theory, the Kālacakratantra asserts that all inanimate phenomena that constitute the cosmos originate from atomic particles that evade sensory perception—namely, the atoms of the earth, water, fire, wind, and space elements, which are pervaded by the sphere of reality (dharma-dhātu). 4

Likewise in the case of the individual, the atomic particles of earth, water, fire, wind, and space that form the father's seminal fluid and the mother's uterine blood eventually become the body of the individual. 5

Thus, the inanimate phenomena in the individual's body and environment share the same atomic structure and originate in a similar fashion by means of the agglomeration of atomic particles, which takes place due to the efficacy of time.

This is one way in which the Kālacakra tradition attempts to demonstrate that the individual and the individual's natural environment are identical not only with regard to their ultimate nature, but also with regard to their conventionally established atomic structure and their manner of origination and destruction.


The Origination and Dissolution of the Cosmos and the Individual

According to the Kālacakratantra, 6 cyclic existence consists of the immeasurable Buddha-fields (buddha-kṣetra), which have limitless qualities, and of the five elements.

It is characterized by their origination, duration, and destruction.

This entire cosmos is said to arise and dissolve because sentient beings are experiencing the results of their wholesome and unwholesome actions.

The collective karma of sentient beings produces karmic winds, which mold and dissolve the cosmos by amassing and disintegrating the atomic particles that constitute the cosmos.

Thus, the external karmic winds (karmavāta) accord with the characteristic qualities of sentient beings' consciousness (vijñāna-dharma).

The karmic wind that produces the cosmos of a Buddha-field is considered to be of a dual nature, because it produces two types of cosmos: inanimate and animate.

Like the heavenly constellations (nakṣatra), the inanimate cosmos of a Buddha-field is stationary; whereas the animate cosmos is in motion, just as the circle of astrological houses (rāśi-cakra) moves in space.

At the time of the dissolution of the inanimate cosmos, the bodies of all humans and other living beings composed of atoms also disintegrate. In this way, the destiny of the inanimate cosmos, which is due to the actions of sentient beings, is also the destiny of the sentient beings who inhabit that cosmos.

The limitless karmic winds generate the numerous world-systems of the Buddhafields just as the karmic winds of the prāṇas, which invariably accompany a transmigratory consciousness, generate the body of a sentient being.

Just as the internal karmic winds of living beings induce bodily growth, the external karmic winds cause the growth of inanimate things. 7

There are three types of external karmic winds: the holding (samdhārana), churning (manthāna), and shaping (saṃsthāna) wind.


The supporting wind holds together the atoms of the earth and the other elements in the same way that a rain-wind holds together the atoms of rain-water. Following that, the churning wind churns the atoms to their very core until the elements become solidified.

Just as salt crystallizes due to its exposure to the sun, the elements solidify due to such churning. The churning wind makes the elements absorb each other into the agglomorate in which the atomic particles of one element become a predominant substance, while the atomic


particles of other elements become secondary substances.

As in a human body so too in the cosmos, with regard to solidity, the atoms of the earth become primary and the other atoms secondary. Likewise, the water, fire, and wind elements become primary in terms of fluidity, heat, and motility, respectively. In the case of space, however, all other atomic particles that are devoid of their own properties become primary. 8

Once the agglomeration of the atomic particles of the elements takes place, the great shaping wind moves through the entire Buddha-field in the form of the ten winds. 9

These ten karmic winds that fashion the inanimate cosmos also shape the body of the individual, in which they circulate and carry the habitual propensities of the individual's karma.

Therefore, one can say that for this tantric tradition, all karma of sentient beings is stored in the atomic particles of the karmic winds.

The Kālacakratantra itself asserts that “one's own karma is contained in the guṇas of prakṛti, ” 10 which is conventionally established as physical.

It also indicates that the ten karmic winds, which fashion the inanimate environment and the body of the individual, themselves arise from the five elements.

The three winds of āpāna arise from the gnosis-element, and the three winds of prāṇa arise from the space-element.

Samāna arises from the wind, udāna arises from the fire, vyāna arises from the water, and nāga arises from the earth.

These four—kūrma, kṛkara, devadatta, and dhanamja—arise respectively from the wind, fire, water, and earth. 11

In the final analysis, this suggests that the karma of sentient beings, which manifests in the form of atomic substances, is of a physical nature.

In this regard, the Kālacakratantra's view of karma conforms to the Jaina theory of karma as subtle clusters of matter that constitute a karmic body.

In the Kālacakra tradition, however, this view of karma does not preclude the traditional Buddhist view of all actions as being ultimately mental.

Even when the Kālacakra tradition acknowledges that one's own transmigratory mind (saṃsāra-citta) is a conventionally established agent of all actions and a fundamental cause of the origination and destruction of the entire cosmos, it specifies that the five elements are the material components of the transmigratory mind.

It does so pointing to the fact that the agent who is devoid of material substances neither acts nor creates anything. 12

Thus, one may infer that karma is material, because the transmigratory mind that generates it is itself material.

Likewise, all cyclic existence, which manifests due to sentient beings' karma, is material because the karma that creates it is itself material.

I surmise that this causal relationship among the material nature of the transmigratory mind, karma, and the environment that one perceives is implied in the Kālacakratantra's assertion that the cosmos that one perceives is a mere manifestation of one's own mind.

According to this tantric tradition, a Buddha-field always comes into existence accompanied by a world-system, just as the origination of the individual's body is always accompanied by the seventytwo thousand nāḍīs. 13

At the time of the origination of the cosmos, very subtle particles (aṇu), which are imperceptible to the sensefaculties, are said to be present in the form of atomic particles (paramāṇu).

These atomic particles are of the five types: wind, fire, water, earth, and space.

Under the influence of time, the wind-element originates first among these atomic particles.

This origination begins with the atomic particles of wind adhering

to each other. Then, owing to their adherence, a subtle fluttering motion takes place, and this we call “wind. ”

After that, the atoms of fire begin to adhere to one another, and lightning, accompanied by wind, comes forth as fire.

Following this, the atoms of water adhere to one other, and rain, accompanied by the wind and fire, comes into existence as water.

Lastly, the atomic particles of the earth-element appear, and a rainbow called “earth” arises in space.

The atoms of space pervade all of the abovementioned elements.

Upon the formation of the five elements, the seven continents, mountains, and oceans start to arise from the five elements due to the conjunction of the supporting, churning, and shaping winds. 14


The seven mountains and the seven continents arise from the earth-element, which is solidity.

The seven oceans arise from the waterelement, which is fluidity.

The fire of the sun, lightning, and domestic fire originate from the fire-element, which is heat.

The wind-element is motility, and the spaceelement is the domain that allows for movement and growth.

This is the manner in which the entire cosmos arises from the atomic particles of the five elements in order for sentient beings to experience the results of their actions.

At the time of the dissolution of the cosmos, the fire that burns the cosmos to ashes (kālāgni), kindled by the winds of karma, melts the atomic agglomerates of the entire cosmos.

Its function is comparable to the fire of gnosis (jñãnãgni), or the fire of sexual desire (kāmāgni), which incinerates the material nature of the transmigratory body and consciousness during the completion-stage of Kālacakratantra practice.

It is also worth noting that both fires—kālāgni and kāmāgni—are identified in this tantric tradition as two types of deities, namely, Kālāgni and Caṇḍālī. 15

Their respective locations in the cosmos and the body of the individual are also comparable, since both dwell in the lower regions of the cosmic and individual bodies, where they can become aroused or ignited. Kālāgni dwells in the underworld, and Caṇḍālī abides in the navel of the human body. Caṇḍālī flames due to the constriction of the winds of prāṇa, and it is therefore called “the fire of prāṇāyāma. ” 16

Similarly, kālāgni inflames when the karmic winds of the prāṇas of the cosmic body are extinguished.

The time of the incineration of the cosmos is characterized not only by the destruction of the cosmos but also by its origination.

At the time of the disintegration of the cosmos, the atomic particles of the earth-element do not perish; they remain due to their cohesion with the atomic particles of the water and other elements.

When the cosmos dissolves, a karmic wind draws out the atoms of the earth from their agglomerates, separating the individual atoms from the mass of earth atoms and hurling them into the mass of the water atoms.


Following this, it draws them out of the water-element and hurls them into the fire-element.

Then it draws them out of the fire-element and hurls them into the wind-element. Lastly, it draws them out of the atomic particles of the wind-element and spreads them one by one into space.

Upon the destruction of the inanimate cosmos, living beings go to another Buddhafield and to another cosmos, which are produced by their karmic winds, in order to experience the further results of their actions.

The manner in which the inanimate cosmos originates and dissolves corresponds to the manner in which a human being comes into existence and dies.

As in the inanimate world, the human body, due to the power of the ten karmic winds, arises from the agglomerations of atomic particles of the earth, water, fire, wind, and space elements.

At the time of conception, the father's semen and mother's uterine blood, which are made of the five elements, are “devoured” by the consciousness which, accompanied by subtle prāṇas, enters the mother's womb.

When conception takes place due to the power of time, the semen and uterine blood within the womb slowly develop into the body of the individual.


This occurs due to the spreading of prāṇas.


The growing fetus consumes food comprised of six flavors—bitter, sour, salty, pungent, sweet, and astringent—and these six flavors originate from the six elements, sixth being gnosis. Consequently, the body of a fetus becomes a gross physical body, composed of the agglomerates of the atomic particles.

The elements of the father's semen give rise to the marrow, bones, nāḍīs, and sinews of the fetus; and the elements of the mother's uterine blood give rise to the skin, blood, and flesh of the fetus.

Thus, all the elements and psycho-physical aggregates that constitute the human being come into existence due to the union of the atomic agglomerates of the father's semen and mother's uterine blood.

The five elements of the father's semen and mother's uterine blood facilitate the growth of the fetus, just as they facilitate the growth of a plant's seed in the natural environment.

The earth-element supports the semen that has entered the womb, just as it holds a seed in the ground; and the water-element makes it sprout from there. The fire-element makes it blossom and digest the six flavors that arise from the six elements.

The wind-element stimulates its growth, and the space-element provides the room for growth.

The earth-element causes the body to become dense, and it gives rise to the bones and nails.

The waterelement causes moisture in the body, giving rise to the seven kinds of bodily fluids.

The fire-element induces the maturation of the fetus and gives rise to blood.

The ten principal winds of prāṇas expand its skin, and the space-element becomes the bodily apertures.

On the basis of these similarities in atomic nature of the inanimate world and the body of the individual, the Kālacakra tradition identifies the seven mountains, continents, and oceans with the elements of solidity, softness, and fluidity in the body of the individual.

Tables 5. 1.a—c illustrate the correspondences among the seven mountains, continents, and oceans and the specific constituents of the human body.

After the moment of conception, the semen and uterine blood grow in the womb for a month. Following this, the ten subtle nāḍīs arise within the heart of the fetus.

Likewise, within the navel, there arise the sixty-four nāḍīs that carry the daṇḍas in the body and the twelve subtle nāḍīs that carry the twelve internal solar mansions. Due to the prāṇas' power of spreading, all the nāḍīs in the navel gradually expand into 60- the regions of the arms, legs, and face. After the second month, there are some indications of arms, legs, and a face. At the end of the third month, the arms, legs, neck, and the whole head are clearly developed.


The five fingers of each hand and the five toes of each foot arise respectively from the five elements. 17

During the fourth month, subtle nāḍīs spread into the hands, feet, face, and neck, and during the fifth month, three hundred and sixty bones and joints begin to develop within the flesh.

At the completion of the sixth month, the fetus is endowed with flesh and blood, and it begins to experience pleasure and pain. At the completion of the seventh month, the bodily hair, eyebrows, bodily apertures, and remaining nāḍīs come into existence.

At the end of the eighth month, the joints, bones, marrow, tongue, urine, and feces are fully developed.

The complete body is said to consist of 20.5 million constituents, for there are that many modifications of the five elements of the father's semen and the mother's uterine blood.

During the ninth month, the fetus experiences pain as if it were being baked in a potter's oven.

At the completion of the ninth month, one is born, being squeezed by the womb and experiencing pain as if one were being crushed by an anvil and a hammer.

Thus, propelled by the habitual propensities of one's own karma, which are carried by the ten internal winds of prāṇas, a human being enters the world that is likewise brought into existence by his own karma, which, again, is carried by the ten external winds of prāṇas.

Thus, the cosmos and the individual share a common material nature and common causes of origination and destruction.

They also originate in similar ways, with their respective components arising in the same sequence.

Table 5.2 illustrates the correspondences between the origination of the specific bodily parts and the various parts of the cosmos.

18 A classification of the different components of the human and cosmic bodies into the sequentially arising sets of the four, five, six, four, five, and three, as presented in table 5.2, is used in this tantric tradition as a model for practicing a sādhana on the sequence (krama) of the arising of the five tantric families (kula) within a larger bodily or cosmic family.

Just as a sequence of the origination of the diverse parts of the cosmos corresponds to that of the individual, so too does the sequence of the dissolution of the cosmos accord with that of the individual.

In the process of the dissolution of the cosmos, the karmic winds that support the elements sequentially withdraw from the agglomerates of the five elements in the five cosmic discs that make up the cosmos. Similarly, in the process of dying, the winds of prāṇas sequentially cease carrying the elements of earth, water, fire, wind, and space within the respective cakras of the navel, heart, throat, lalāṭa, and uṣṇīṣa. 19

According to the Kālacakra tradition, one's own body, which was produced by one's own karma from the material particles of the father's semen, also dissolves due to the emission of one's own semen. At a human's death, semen, which consists of the five elements, flowing out of the dead body initiates the disintegration of the body. Several passages on this topic in the Kālacakra literature suggest that semen leaves the body at the time of death due to the power of the individual's habitual propensities of seminal emission in sexual bliss. The habitual propensities (cittavāsanā) of the mind of the human being, who consumes the food of the six flavors that originate from the five elements, themselves consist of the five elements. Therefore, semen, which leaves the body during the experience of sexual bliss and at death, is composed of the five elements.

At the time of death, the habitual propensities of the mind, together with semen, upon leaving the dead body, make up the body of the habitual propensities (vāsanā-śarīra) of the mind. Even though this body of the habitual propensities of the mind is made of fine atomic particles, it is similar to a dream body (svapna-śarīra), in the sense that it is devoid of perceptible agglomerations of atoms. The body of the habitual propensities of karma does not cease at death. Due to this remaining body of habitual propensities, a transmigratory consciousness acquires a new gross body consisting of atoms. As a transmigratory consciousness forsakes the habitual propensities of the former gross body, the habitual propensities of the new gross body arise in the mind. Consequently, the adventitious psycho-physical aggregates (āgantuka-skandha) arise from the empty (śūnya) psycho-physical aggregates of the habitual propensities of the mind (citta-vāsanā-skandha). Likewise, the empty psycho-physical aggregates of the habitual propensities of the mind arise from the adventitious psycho-physical aggregates. The atomic particles of the former, dead body do not go to another world, for after leaving the earlier psycho-physical aggregates, a transmigratory consciousness acquires different atomic particles. 20

This process of rebirth is said to be the same for other sentient beings of the three realms of cyclic existence. The only difference is in the number of the elements that constitute the bodies of the diverse classes of gods. Instead of having five elements, the bodies and semen of the gods in the desire-realm, form-realm, and formless realm consist of four, three, and one element, respectively. This is because gods consume food that consists of five, four, or one flavor. For example, the bodies and semen of the gods inhabiting the six types of desire-realm consist of the agglomerations of the elements of water, fire, wind, and space. The bodies of these gods are devoid of the earth-element and are therefore characterized by lightness. Likewise, their mental habitual propensities are devoid of smell as the sense-object that arises from the earth-element.

The bodies and semen of the sixteen types of gods dwelling in the form-realm consist of the agglomerations of the atoms of fire, wind, and space; and their mental habitual propensities are endowed with taste, touch, and sound as their sense-objects. The bodies and semen of the gods inhabiting the formless realm consist of the space-element alone, and their mental habitual propensities have only sound as their sense-object. 21 Thus, the bodies, mental habitual propensities, and experiences of different sentient beings are closely related to the nature of the elements contained in the semen with which they undergo birth and death. According to this tantric system, a habitual propensity of transmigratory existence cannot arise from a single attribute of the elements but only from an assembly

of attributes. In the case of all sentient beings dwelling in the three realms, during sexual bliss and at death, semen—the elements of which may be the five, four, three, or one in number—leaves the body under the influence of the habitual propensities. In this way, seminal emission is instrumental in both the birth and death of sentient beings. For the Kālacakra tradition, the cycle of birth and death does not take place in any other way. Thus, one may say that for this tantric tradition, the entire cosmos, with all of its inhabitants, manifests and dissolves due to the power of the moment of seminal emission.


Since the entire cosmos comes into existence due to the efficacy of the habitual propensities of sentient beings' minds, one may regard it as a cosmic replica of sentient beings' bodies. Thus, the configuration and measurements of the cosmos are seen in this tantric system as analogous and correlative to the structure and measurements of the individual's body. Likewise, since the cosmos arises and dissolves as a manifestation of the individual's mind, the Kālacakratantra considers the cosmos as being fundamentally nondual from the individual. Due to their common material nature, the cosmos and the individual are viewed as mutually pervasive, even in terms of their conventional existence; and due to their fundamental nonduality, the cosmos and the individual inevitably influence each other. In terms of conventional reality, the cosmos and the body of the individual are nondual in the sense that they share a common nature (prakṛti) consisting of the twenty-four principles (tattva), which are the objects of the individual's (puruṣa) experience.

The eight constituents of the primary nature (prakṛti) of the individual— namely, the five elements, the mind (manas), intellect (buddhi), and self-grasping (ahaṃkāra)—are the microcosmic correlates of the primary nature of the individual's environment. Likewise, the sixteen modifications (vikṛti) of the primary nature of the individual—specifically, the five sense-faculties, the five sense-objects in the body, the five faculties of action, and the sexual organ —evolve from the primary nature of the individual in the same way that the five planets, five external sense objects, and six flavors evolve from the primary nature of the cosmos. Table 5.3 illustrates the exact correspondences between the individual and the cosmos in terms of their primary nature and its modifications. In terms of ultimate reality, the cosmos and the individual are also of the same nature, the nature of gnosis (jñāna), which manifests in the form of emptiness (śūnyatā-bimba).

Those who are free of the afflictive and cognitive obscurations nondually perceive the world as the form of emptiness in a nondual manner; that is, they perceive the world as an inseparable unity of form and emptiness. On the other hand, ordinary sentient beings, whose perception is influenced by the afflictive and cognitive obscurations, see the world in a dual fashion, as something other than themselves. They see the world as an ordinary place inhabited by ordinary sentient beings. But in reality, the entire cosmos, with Meru in its center, is a cosmic body of the Jina, a cosmic image or reflection (pratimā) of the Buddha, having the nature of form. As such, it is similar to the Nirmānakāya of the Buddha. 22 Therefore, according to this

tantric system, one should attend to this cosmic image of the Buddha, as one attends to the statue of the Buddha, created for the sake of worship. The immediate aim of the Kālacakratantra's exposition of the interrelatedness of the individual and the cosmos is not to directly induce the unmediated experience of their nonduality by eradicating the afflictive and cognitive obscurations, but to facilitate a thorough understanding of conventional reality. In this tantric system, a proper understanding of the structure and functions of conventional reality provides a theoretical basis for the realization of ultimate reality.

I see two main reasons for this. First, conventional reality is the starting point from which a tantric practitioner ventures into tantric practices; and second, a thorough knowledge of the ways in which conventional reality operates facilitates insight into the nature of conventional reality, which is fundamentally not different from ultimate reality. Before one can understand the nonduality of conventional and ultimate realities, one must first understand that a seemingly multiform conventional reality is itself unitary.

This, I surmise, is one of the reasons why the Kālacakratantra's initial two chapters are dedicated to discussions of the ways in which the cosmos and the individual correlate to and pervade each other. “As it is outside so it is within the body” (yathā bāhye tathā dehe) is one of the most frequently used phrases in the Kālacakratantra and its commentarial literature. This maxim underlies the pervading themes of the Kālacakratantra's chapters on the cosmos and the individual. To the phrase “as it is outside so it is in the body, ” the

Ādibuddhatantra adds “as it is in the body so it is elsewhere” (yathā dehe tathā anyatra), meaning, in the kālacakra-maṇḍala. 23 The cosmos, the human body, and the kālacakra-maṇḍala are taught here in terms of conventional truth as three maṇḍalas representing the outer (bāhya), inner (adhyātma), and alternative (anya), or sublimated, aspects of a single reality. Therefore, these three maṇḍalas are said to be the three abodes of the Buddha Kālacakra. Knowledge of how these three conventional aspects of ultimate reality are interrelated is seen as soteriologically significant, for such knowledge provides an indispensable theoretical framework for Kālacakratantra practice, which aims at the unmediated experience of their fundamental unity. It is for this reason that the Kālacakra literature frequently points out the correlations among the arrangements and measurements of the cosmos, the human body, and the kālacakra-maṇḍala.

There is sufficient textual evidence in the Kālacakra literature to indicate that the Kālacakratantra refers to these three aspects of reality as circular maṇḍalas, not because it considers a circular form to be their true form, but merely as a heuristic model for meditative purposes. In showing the parallels among the cosmos, the human body, and the Kālacakra-maṇḍala, the Kālacakra tradition uses various paradigms, which reflect the diverse ways in which this tantric tradition interprets the cosmos as a cosmic body of the individual and of enlightened awareness. All the diverse models of the relations between the cosmos and the individual that the Kālacakra tradition provides have a practical purpose: they serve as devices for furthering one's understanding of the interconnectedness of all phenomena and for training the mind to perceive the world in a nondual fashion. Moreover, they are the contemplative models with which one can diminish the habitual propensities of an ordinary, dualistic mind. The configuration and measurements of the cosmos as described in the Kālacakratantra frequently differ from those given in the Abhidharmakośa.

The Kālacakra tradition departs from the Abhidharmakośa not only with regard to the arrangement and size of the cosmos but also in terms of the units of measurements. 24 Nevertheless, the Kālacakra tradition does not attempt to authenticate its own presentation of the arrangement and measurement of the cosmos over that given in the Abhidharmakośa. The Vimalaprabhā 25 asserts that in terms of the ultimate truth, the cosmos has no spatial dimensions. The conventionally established size of the cosmos appears differently to different sentient beings due to the power of their virtue (puṇya) and sin (pāpa). The cosmos is merely an insubstantial apparition of the mind, like a fivecubits wide cave inhabited by a śrāvaka or a Bodhisattva due to whose powers a universal monarch (cakravartin) and his army can enter the cave without the cave being extended and without the universal monarch's army being contracted. Similarly, the Kālacakratantra 26 itself asserts that for the Buddhas and for knowledgeable people, the dimensions of the cosmos that were taught by the Buddhas are not its true dimensions, since for the Buddha, one cubit can be many cubits due to the power of the Sahajakāya. It also affirms that the Buddha reveals only the dimensions that corresponds to the perceptions of sentient beings, because if he were to say that the dimensions of the cosmos which he taught were in accordance with the inclinations of living beings dwelling in the land of karma (karma-bhūmi), then the gods would call him a nihilist (nāstika). Thus, the Kālacakra tradition implicitly suggests that

both Buddhist accounts of the configuration and size of the cosmos—those of the [[Abhidharmako and the Kālacakratantra—are ultimately invalid. Nevertheless, it considers both accounts to be provisionally valid expressions of the Buddha's skillful means. Justifying the Kālacakratantra's account of the dimensions of the cosmos in terms of skillful means, the Vimalaprabhā cites the following verses from the Paramādibuddhatantra: A falsehood that benefits sentient beings causes an accumulation of merit. A truth that harms others brings Avici and other hells.

Miserly pretas perceive a homely dwelling as a mountain. Evil-doers perceive a home in the form of a needle-pointed mountain. Siddhas who have attained the siddhi of the underworld perceive the solid earth as full of holes everywhere and visit the city of celestial nymphs (apsaras). 27 In a similar manner, the following verse from the abridged Kālacakratantra 28 expresses its view that one's perception of one's own natural environment is relative, for it is conditioned by the degree of one's own virtue and sin. Wish-fulfilling trees, quicksilver, supreme potions, other medicinal herbs, and philosopher's stones, which eliminate all diseases, appeared on the earth along with atoms. However, sentient beings do not see them. They see ordinary grass, trees, water, dust, stones, and copper. Pretas perceive rivers as blazing fires, and men in hell perceive spears and other weapons. In this way the Kālacakra tradition interprets the disparities in the measurements and arrangement of the cosmos within the two Buddhist traditions as evidence of the diversity of sentient beings' perceptions and experiences of the cosmos, which results from their diverse mental dispositions and actions. However, this same interpretative principle is not applied to the divergent measurements of the cosmos given in Hindu Siddhāntas. The Vimalaprabhā denies even the conventional validity of the Hindu view of the cosmos as Brahmā's egg (brahmāṇḍa), ten million leagues (yojana) in size.

In light of its criticism of the Hindu Siddhāntas, the Vimalaprabhā claims that the Kālacakratantra establishes the size of the cosmos using the zodiacal circle (rāśigolā) for the calculation of planets in order to abolish the Hindu measurements of the cosmos for the sake of the spiritual maturation of Buddhist sages. 29 According to the Kālacakratantra, within every single world-system (loka-dhātu) there is one great world system (cakravāla), just as on every single body of a human being there are bodily hairs and skin. The world-system that is of the nature of karma is in the center of a Buddha-field, just as the avadhūti is in the center of the body among all the nāḍīs. The remaining world-systems that are of the nature of enjoyment (bhoga) stand in the same relation to the land of karma (karma-bhūmi) as do the other nāḍīs to the avadhūti. These lands of enjoyment (bhoga-bhūmi) bring pleasure to the senses, as do the nāḍīs in the body. They are filled with jewels, as the nāḍīs are filled with blood. Vajrasattva, the progenitor of the three worlds, dwells in space until the time of expansion of the cosmos. But sentient beings do not witness the arising of the Buddha as long as they lack the accumulations of merit and knowledge. During the time

when sentient beings lack merit and knowledge, Vajrasattva resides in space, abiding in the Dharmakāya; and by means of the Jñānakāya, he perceives the entire Buddha-field as it truly is, free of karma and karmic winds. 30 It is said that Vajrasattva, together with all other Buddhas, abides in a single pure atom (śuddhāṇu), which is not of the nature of an atomic particle (paramāṇu) but of the twelve bodhisattvabhūmis. 31 Thus, while ordinary sentient beings, endowed with afflictive and cognitive obscurations, have atomic particles as their material support, the Buddhas, free of all obscurations, have the twelve bodhisattva-bhūmis as their pure, immaterial support. In other words, that which is perceived as an agglomeration of atomic particles by those with mental obscurations is perceived as pure gnosis by those without obscurations. Even though the Kālacakratantra agrees to some extent with the Abhidharmakośa about the manner in which the cosmos evolves, its description of the configuration and measurements of the cosmos differs significantly from that of the Abhidharmakośa.

According to the Kālacakra tradition, the cosmos measures twelve hundred thousand leagues in circumference and four hundred thousand leagues in diameter. 32 It is composed of the five maṇḍalas, or the five discs (valaya)—namely, the earth, water, fire, wind, and space maṇḍalas—just as the human body is composed of the five elements. These maṇḍalas support one another in the same sequence in which the five elements support one another in the body. 33 Although each of the first four maṇḍalas measures fifty thousand leagues in height, they vary in diameter and circumference. The earthmaṇḍala, measuring one thousand leagues in diameter, or three hundred thousand leagues in circumference, rests on the water-maṇḍala. The water-maṇḍala, measuring two hundred thousand leagues in diameter, or six hundred thousand leagues in circumference, rests on the fire-maṇḍala. The fire-maṇḍala, measuring three hundred thousand leagues in diameter, or nine hundred thousand leagues in circumference, rests on the wind-maṇḍala. The wind-maṇḍala, measuring four hundred thousand leagues in diameter, or twelve hundred thousand leagues in circumference, rests on the sphere of space (ākāśa-dhātu). Thus, space is the support of all the maṇḍalas, just as it is the support of all the elements in the body. The four maṇḍalas that rest in space not only correspond to the maṇḍalas of the four elements in the human body, but they are also the cosmic representations of particular bodily components.

Within different contexts, the Kālacakra tradition draws different correspondences among the four maṇḍalas of the cosmic body and the components of the human body. Here are several illustrations of the ways in which the Kālacakra tradition correlates the four cosmic maṇḍalas with the bodily parts. Table 5.4.a illustrates the identification of the four maṇḍalas with all the bodily parts in terms of their qualitative characteristics. Table 5.4.b demonstrates the correspondences among the four maṇḍalas with the upper parts of the body in terms of their measurements; and table 5.4.c illustrates the identification of the four maṇḍalas with the four bodily cakras, which bear the characteristics of the four elements. From the uppermost maṇḍala downward, each maṇḍala is one hundred thousand leagues smaller in diameter than the one that supports it, and each maṇḍala rests in the center of the one beneath it. In each of the first four maṇḍalas there are two types of underworlds (pātāla), each measuring twentyfive thousand leagues in height.

Thus, there are altogether eight underworlds: seven hells and the city of nāgas. The two underworlds contained in the earth-maṇḍala are the City of nāgas and the Gravel Water hell (śarkārāmbhas), one half of the city of nāgas being inhabited by asuras, and the other by nāgas. 34 The two hells located in the water-maṇḍala are the Sandy Water hell (vālukāmbhas) and the Muddy Water hell (paṅkāmbhas). The two hot hells in the fire-maṇḍala are the Intense Smoke hell (tīvradhūmra) and the Fire hell (agni). Lastly, the two cold hells located in the wind-maṇḍala are the Great Severe hell (mahākharavāta) and the Great Darkness hell (mahāndhakāra). As indicated in chapter 3 on syncretism, the Vimalaprabhā's account of the eight underworlds is remarkably similar to that given in the Jaina classic, the Tattvārthādhigamasūtra, which is traditionally ascribed to Umāsvati, a prolific Jaina author of the second century ce who was equally accepted by both Digambaras and Śvetāmbaras. For example, the corresponding hells enumerated in the Tattvārthādhigamasūtra have the following sequence and names: the Jewel-hued (ratna), Pebble-hued (śarkara), Sand-hued (vāluka), Mud-hued (paṅka), Smoke-hued (dhūma), Darkness-hued (tamas), and the Great darkness-hued (mahā-tamas) hells. 35 There are also certain similarities among the hells mentioned in the Vimalaprabhā and those in the Tattvārthādhigamasūtra with regard to the temperature and sequential increase in the size of hells, but not with regard to their shape and specific measurements. 36

Thus, the Vimalaprabhā's classification of the eight types of underworld and its description of their location clearly differ from those in the Abhidharmakośa. 37 It is interesting that in the Vimalaprabhā's account of the configuration of the underworld there is no mention of the Avici hell, even though the Ādibuddhatantra and the Vimalaprabhā make references to Avici in other contexts. 38 So far, I have not encountered an explanation for this omission in any of the commentarial literature on the Kālacakratantra. The only thing the Vimalaprabhā says about hell in general is that it is “a state of an infernal being (nārakatva), which originates from the habitual propensities of the six elements (ṣaḍ-dhātu-vāsanā), and is like a dream. ” 39 But this intepretative principle can also be applied to the other hells and the rest of the universe. It is possible that the author of the Vimalaprabhā, being aware of other Buddhist classifications of hells, writes of Avīci in terms of the broader Buddhist context.

It is also possible that Avīci and some of the other hells described in the Abhidharmakośa and other earlier Buddhist texts are implicitly included here as subcategories of the various hells. Since neither the Vimalaprabhā nor the Kālacakratantra offers a more detailed description of the contents of the hells and the nature of suffering in them, it is difficult to determine with certainty the extent to which the mentioned hells correspond to and differ from the hells described in the Abhidharmakośa and the Tattvārthādhigamasūtra. It is clear, however, that the Kālacakra tradition finds the Jaina classification of hells to be more applicable to its own schematization of the underworld, consisting of the four elemental maṇḍalas than that of the earlier Buddhist traditions. 40 The names of the hells reveal that each pair of hells is physically characterized by the element of the maṇḍala to which it belongs.

This fundamental fourfold classification of the underworld is obviously designed to conform closely to the Kālacakratantra's fourfold classifications of the elemental maṇḍalas in the body of the individual, the four vajras of the individual, the four states of the mind, the four castes, four vajra-families, and the four bodies of the Buddha. The configuration of the underworld, beginning with the city of the nāgas in the earth-maṇḍala and ending with the Great Darkness hell (mahāndhakāra) in the wind-maṇḍala, is structurally similar to the individual's body at death. In the dying process, the earth-element of the individual's body disintegrates first, followed by the respective elements of water, fire, and wind. 41 See figure 5.1. Thus, the Kālacakra tradition departs from the Abhidharmakośa in terms of both the configuration and the measurement of the cosmos. According to the Abhidharmakośa, the cosmos measures 3,610,350 leagues in circumference and 1,203,450 leagues in diameter. 42

The human world is supported by three instead of four maṇḍalas—the golden earth-maṇḍala, the water-maṇḍala, and the windmaṇḍala that rests in space. The golden earth-maṇḍala, which measures 1,203,450 leagues in diameter and 320,000 leagues in height, rests on the water-maṇḍala, which is, in turn, 1,203,450 leagues in diameter and 800,000 leagues in height. The water-maṇḍala rests on the wind-maṇḍala, which is immeasurable in circumference and 1,600,000 leagues in height. 43 The account of the configuration of the surface of the earth-maṇḍala in the Kālacakra tradition also differs from that of the Abhidharmakośa. According to the Kālacakra tradition, on the surface of the earth-maṇḍala there are seven continents (dvīpa), including Great Jambudvīpa (mahā-jambudvīpa) as the seventh.

Furthermore, there are seven mountains in addition to Mt. Meru, which is in the center of the earth-maṇḍala; and there are seven oceans, with the water-maṇḍala as the seventh. 44 The six continents—Candra, Sītābha, Varaparamakuśa, Kimnara, Krauñca, and Raudra—are the lands of enjoyment (bhoga-bhūmi), 45 while the seventh continent, which is the earth-maṇḍala, or the Great Jambudvīpa, is the land of karma (karma-bhūmi), inhabited by humans and animals. On the surface of Great Jambudvīpa, the six oceans—the oceans of wine, fresh water, milk, curd, butter, and honey— surround the six continents. The seventh, the salt ocean, surrounds Great Jambudvīpa, 46 and from the center of Mt. Meru, the salt ocean measures one hundred thousand leagues in all directions. Seventy-two thousand rivers flow into the oceans, 47 and they correspond to the seventy-two thousand nāḍīs in the body. The seven mountains that surround the seven continents in concentric circles are Nīlābha, Mandara, 48 Niṣadha, 49 Maṇikara, Droṇa, Sīta, and the vajramountain, Vādavāgni, which is situated at the edge of the salt ocean and the earth-maṇḍala and beneath the salt ocean. Mt. Meru is at the very center of Great Jambudvīpa, just as the spine is at the center of the body. It is said to have the shape of a bindu and is dark green in the center, due to the nature of the spacemaṇḍala. Meru's four sides have four different colors.

It is blue in the east, red in the south, yellow in the west, and white in the north due to the nature of the elements of wind, fire, earth, and water. In total, it measures one hundred thousand leagues in height. 50 The height of its head is fifty thousand leagues, and its neck and immovable peak are each twenty-five thousand leagues in height. Its upper width is fifty thousand leagues, and its width on the surface of the earth-maṇḍala is sixteen thousand leagues. Meru is the spine and head of the cosmic body; and as such, it is an external representation of the individual's head and spine, expanding from the buttocks up to the shoulders. Accordingly, its measurements correspond to those of the spine and the head of the human body. Table 5.5 illustrates the metrical correspondences bewteen Mt. Meru and the individual's spine and head, as presented in this tantric system. This measurement of Mt. Meru differs from that described in the Abhidharmakośa, in which the height of Mt. Meru is said to be 1,600,000 leagues. Here again, the Kālacakratantra's measurement of Mt. Meru accords with that given in the Jaina commentarial literature on the Tattvārthādhigamasūtra, in which Mt. Meru is said to be one hundred thousand leagues in height, with one thousand leagues being below the surface of the earth. 51 See figure 5.2.

The circle of astrological houses, together with innumerable stellar constellations, revolves day and night around Mt. Meru's summit. In the eight directions of Mt. Meru there are eight planets, just as around the spine there are the sense-faculties and faculties of action. The sun and Mars are on the right; Ketu and Saturn are in the front; the moon and Mercury are on the left; and Venus and Jupiter are on the back. On the top of Mt. Meru there are five peaks that penetrate the earth. In all directions from Brahmā's abode in the lower region of the center of Mt. Meru, there are eight thousand leagues in width. All around Mt. Meru is a mountain range (cakravāḍa), which measures one thousand leagues in breadth. Outside that mountain range, in the cavities in between the four peaks of Mt. Meru that penetrate the earth, there are the alternating discs of the six continents with their oceans and mountains.

Each of the six continents, oceans, and mountains measures roughly 889 leagues in diameter, 52 thus measuring sixteen thousand leagues altogether. Outside all of this, in the eight directions of Mt. Meru, Great Jambudvīpa measures twentyfive thousand leagues. Outside Great Jambudvīpa is a disc of salty water, which measures fifty thousand leagues in all directions from the outer limit of Great Jambudvīpa to the end of the water-maṇḍala. In every direction from Brahmā's place in Meru to the outer limit of the wind-maṇḍala, there are two hundred thousand leagues. 53 In this way, the entire breadth of the cosmos extends up to four hundred thousand leagues in diameter, its size corresponding to the size of the human body measuring four cubits (hasta). However, when one includes the space-maṇḍala in the breadth of the cosmos, then the

body of the cosmos measure five hundred thousand leagues from the top of Mt. Meru up to the end of space. With the reasoning that the cosmos pervades the body of the individual, the human body is said to measure five cubits up to the tips of the hair on the head. This type of arrangement of Great Jambudvīpa is not found in the Abhidharmakośa. The numbers and the concentric layout of the seven continents and seven oceans correspond to those mentioned in the Purāṇas, 54 as do the shape and measurement of Great Jambudvīpa. 55 Although the Kālacakra tradition accepts to a large extent the Purāṇic representation of the configuration of the cosmos, it criticizes the Purāṇic account of the origination of the cosmos.

With regard to the shapes and sizes of Great Jambudvīpa and the salt ocean, the Kālacakra tradition's account corresponds to that of the Jaina cosmology. According to the Tattvārthādhigamasūtra, Ch. 3, v. 9, and its earlier mentioned commentarial literature, Great Jambudvīpa has the shape of a ring with a diameter of one hundred thousand leagues, and it is surrounded by the salt ocean, which is twice as wide as Jambudvīpa. 56 Although the Kālacakratantra's account of the configuration of Great Jambudvīpa seems to be based on that of the Purāṇas, it includes to some degree the model of the four continents found in the Abhidharmakośa and other Buddhist texts. 57 The four continents that are mentioned in the Abhidharmakośa and other earlier Buddhist literature are incorporated into this larger picture of the cosmos as the four islands that are located in the four directions of Great Jambudvīpa. Their arrangement in relation to Mt. Meru as depicted in the Kālacakra literature corresponds to that in the Abhidharmakośa, but the measurements and shapes of the islands in most cases differ. According to the Kālacakra tradition, there are four islands on Great Jambudvīpa.

Each of the four islands is of the nature of one of the four elements—wind, fire, water, and earth. The nature of each of the mentioned elements influences the shapes and colors of the islands. 58 Thus, in the eastern side of Great Jambudvīpa, in front of Mt. Meru, there is the dark blue Pūrvavideha, which is semicircular in form, due to the nature of the wind-maṇḍala. It measures seven thousand leagues. On the south of Great Jambudvīpa, to the right of Mt. Meru, there is Small Jambudvīpa, which is red and triangular in shape, due to the nature of the fire-element. It measures eight thousand leagues. 59 On the north of Great Jambudvīpa, to the left of Mt. Meru, there is the white Uttarakuru, which is circular in shape, due to the nature of the water-maṇḍala. It measures nine thousand leagues. On the west of Great Jambudvīpa, facing the back of Mt. Meru, there is the golden island Godaniya, which is yellow and quadrangular in shape, due to the nature of the earth-element. It measures ten thousand leagues. 60 See figure 5.3.

The formation of the four islands in relation to Mt. Meru and the characteristics of their colors and shapes correspond to the four sides of the individual's body, each of which is characterized by the elemental nature of one of the four bodily maṇḍalas. Table 5.6 demonstrates the way in which the Kālacakra tradition correlates the four islands of Great Jambudvīpa with the four sides of the individual's body. The colors of the four islands correspond to the colors of the four sides of Mt. Meru. Likewise, their colors and formations on Great Jambudvīpa correspond to the four faces of the Buddha Kālacakra in the kālacakra-maṇḍala. The four faces of Kālacakra symbolize the four aspects in which enlightened awareness manifests itself. Thus, the four islands of Great Jambudvīpa and the corresponding sides of the human body are the geographical and anatomical representations of the four aspects of the Buddha's mind. When these phenomenal aspects of the Buddha's mind become purified, they manifest as the four bodies of the Buddha. Great Jambudvīpa looks like a twelve-spoked wheel, for it is divided into twelve sections (khaṇḍa). Each of the sections measures twenty-five thousand leagues.

In the center of the section belonging to the Small Jambudvīpa there is the mountain Kāilāśa, surrounded by snow mountains. Together with the surrounding snow mountains, Kāilāśa occupies one-third of that section. Outside that range there are twelve countries and districts in the twelve subsections of Small Jambudvīpa. 61 In each section of Great Jambudvīpa there is one universal monarch (cakravartin), who turns the Wheel of Dharma in his section. Thus, the twelve sections of Great Jambudvīpa have twelve universal monarchs, who are likened to twelve suns that dispel the darkness of ignorance by introducing the Buddhist Dharma. They are twelve in number in the same sense that one can speak of “twelve suns” due to the classification of the twelve solar mansions.

Thus, Great Jambudvīpa, together with its twelve sections, is an earthly reflection of the circle of solar mansions and of the twelve-spoked wheel of cyclic existence. Every eighteen hundred human years, the universal monarch enters one section of the earth-maṇḍala, 62 moving progressively from one section to another, from the front to the back of Meru. He establishes his Dharma in each section that has entered the kali-yuga and thereby introduces the kṛta-yuga. Thus, the kali-yuga is always in front of him, and the tretā-yuga is behind him. 63 This belief that at different times, the universal monarch, visiting and teaching Dharma in the twelve sections of Great Jambudvīpa, sanctifies each of the sections with his presence, is one of reasons that the Kālacakra tradition identifies the twelve sections of the Great Jambudvīpa as the twelve groups of cosmic pilgrimage sites— namely, pīṭhas, upapīṭhas, kṣetras, upakṣetras, chandohas, upachandohas, melāpakas, upamelāpakas, veśmas (pīlavas), upaveśmas (upapīlavas), śmaśānas, upaśmaśānas.

Each of the twelve groups of sacred pilgrimage sites comprises a specific number of sites. The Kālacakra tradition classifies and subdivides the twelve classes of pilgrimage sites in various ways in order to demonstrate the multiple models of interpreting the correspondences between the cosmic body and the human body. One of the Kālacakratantra's goals in outlining the correspondences and identities among the pilgrimage sites and the bodily components of the individual is to demonstrate the pointlessness of visiting the pilgrimage sites, for they are already present within one's own body. Visits to the external pilgrimage sites lead neither to spiritual awakening nor to mundane siddhis.

The Vimalaprabhā asserts that the pilgrimage sites such as Jalāndhara and others are mentioned only for the benefit of foolish people (bāla) who wander about the country. 64 This same statement also appears in Nāropā's Vajrapādasārasaṃgraha, XVII, 3b 2. 65

In both cases, it suggests that foolish people, who lack understanding of nonduality, do not see that the places of pilgrimage are omnipresent.


The entire cosmos is a [[pilgrimage site[[, as is the individual.


The Vimalaprabhā states that according to the Paramādibuddhatantra, due to the pervasiveness of the earth-element, the external pilgrimage sites are present also in


Tibet, China, and other countries. According to the abridged Kālacakratantra, they are also present in every city. 66 In this way, the Kālacakra tradition rejects the inherent sacredness of one place or one human being over another.


It suggests that all regions of the world and all human bodies are equally sacred.

This view of the human body as containing within itself all the pilgrimage sites is not unique to the Kālacakra tradition.

It is also found in other anuttara-yoga-tantras and in the literature of the Sahajayāna.

For example, the well-known Sahajīya poet, Sarahapāda, affirms in his Dohākoṣa that he has not seen another place of pilgrimage as blissful as his own body. 67

With regard to the individual, the Kālacakra literature identifies the twelve categories of pilgrimage sites with the twelve characteristics of transmigratory existence and enlightened existence.

In terms of conventional reality, the Kālacakra tradition identifies the twelve categories of pilgrimage sites with the twelve links of dependent origination and the twelve signs of the zodiac—starting with spiritual ignorance (avidyā) arising in Capricorn and ending with old age and death (jarā-maraṇa) arising in Sagittarius.

In terms of ultimate reality, the Kālacakratantra sees the twelve categories of pilgrimage sites as the symbolic representations of both the twelve bodhisattva-bhūmis—which impede the arising of the twelve links of dependent origination and the twelve zodiacs—which are the temporal basis of the twelve links of dependent origination.


This identification of the twelve categories of pilgrimage sites with the twelve bodhisattva-bhūmis is equally characteristic of other anuttara-yoga-tantras—specifically, the Cakrasaṃvara and the Hevajra tantras.

However, the Kālacakra literature gives a more explicit explanation of this type of identification.

The Kālacakra tradition identifies the twelve types of pilgrimage sites with the twelve bodhisattva-bhūmis on the ground that throughout the three times, the elements of the Buddha's purified psycho-physical aggregates and sense-bases assume the form of deities.

These deities then arrive at and leave from these pilgrimage sites, and due to the