Tibetan Buddhist Canon: the Dragon Kangyur and its Amazing Merits and Beauty of Buddha’s Teaching
Sacred texts are vital in the propagation of all religions in the world, and they can either be transmitted orally or in written form, depending on the era and location. In Western world religions, such as Christianity and Islam, they have the Holy Bible and the Holy Koran respectively. Due to the nature of
their respective religions, they are authoritative and well known to all believers, and their holy scriptures are given a status above all other books1. Buddhism also places much emphasis on the sacred words of its founder, Siddharta Gautama, and the "sacredness depended originally on their utterance by the
Buddha" Nowadays, we have three Primary Buddhist Canons in extant: the Pali canon representing the Theravada or Southeast Asian Buddhism, the Chinese canons representing the Mahayana or Chinese Buddhism (or East Asian Buddhism), and the Tibetan canons representing the Vajrayana or Tibetan Buddhism. 4
Founded 2500 years ago in India around the 5th or 4th century BCE, Buddha's teachings were called dharma that would help people end suffering and reach enlightenment. When Buddha passed away, his disciples gathered at the first sangriti at Rajagriha and orally recited his dharma into collections of Sutras
(which literally meant a string or thread3). The rules he laid down for Buddhist monks were collected and standardized into Vinaya. Around the 2nd and 1st centuries BCE, philosophical elaborations of Buddha's teachings known as Abhidharma were written down. Together, Sutra Vinaya and Abhidharma are known as the Tripitaka (or three baskets) of Buddha's teachings, and the format of the tripitaka are accepted by all schools of Buddhism.
Common Era there were already multiple canons in existence5. In the 3rd century BCE Emperor Asoka (304-232BCE) helped spread Buddhism throughout India, and there were approximately 18-20 schools of Buddhism during his time, due to the different understanding and interpretation of the sutras and precepts. Other
reasons for the many different schools were perhaps due to the lack of communication from people in different parts of India, and also because the sutras were translated to different languages for different audiences6. Of all the various Mainstream Buddhism schools, only the Pali Canon of the Theravadin school has survived until today, and only those that were considered Buddhavacana (word of the Buddha) were included as part of the canon7. In the first century BCE, the Pali canon along with its commentaries, were written down in Sri Lanka8.
In the first centuries of the new millennium, Buddhism began to spread beyond India, to Central Asia, China and Southeast Asia9 *. With the advent of Mahayana (or Bodhisattvayana), a new wave of thought in Buddhism emerged, and the ideal was to strive for liberation for all living beings instead
8 Skilling, Peter, 2009, p 61, "Redaction, recitation, and writing: Transmission of the Buddha's teaching in India in the early period] In Buddhist Manuscript Cultures, edited by Stephen Berkwitz. London: Routledge.
of focusing on entering Nirvana for oneself10. Soon, followers of Mahayana produced "enormous number of new texts claiming the status of buddhavacana11." Sutras of Mahayana began to emerge and spread, and new commentaries and treatises (sastra) were written12. Hundreds of new treatises were inspired and
written about Mahayanan practices and trainings13. The new texts were met with incredulity and hostility from the established schools of Buddhism, but they counteracted that they taught nothing that contradicted the dharma; instead, the teachings in the Mahayana sutras were the higher teachings to the more
elementary discourses of earlier schools14 The Mahayana texts were given authenticity by merely adding "sutra" to their titles, and adding the preamble of "Thus I have heard.15" Mahayana Sutras include the Mahasamnipata and Ratnakuta, and other mega scriptures include the Avatamsaka and different versions of
14 Lancaster, Lewis, 1979, pp 217-218, "Buddhist Literature: Its Canons, Scribes, and Editors.,, In The Critical Study of Sacred Texts, edited by Wendy OTlaherty. Berkeley: Graduate Theological Union.
Canon. The translation of scriptures to Chinese lasted approximately 1000 years, beginning in 67 CE in the Eastern Han Dynasty until 1279 CE of the end of the Northern Sung Dynasty18. Along with the tripitaka format common in Indian canons, the Chinese also included many Mahayana sutras and tantras, along
with commentaries and treatises, texts written in China, biographies of eminent monks and nuns, and lexicographical works19. Because the Chinese canon was more inclusive in terms of sutras, including both Hinayana and Mahayana sutras along with other Chinese Buddhism texts, its volume became much larger than that of the Pali Canon.
Starting in the middle of the first millennium (5-6 century CE), a new movement called Vajrayana or Tantric Buddhism took charge in Indian Buddhism, and a new form of texts called tantras emerged. With its focus on rituals, it stretched the doctrine so that sexual desire and sexual unification were used to
attain liberation20. Vajrayana focuses on rituals, visualization, and symbols in order to effect rapid transformation to the state of buddhahood, and many tantrists even claim that "it is the only way to become a Buddha.21" Some claim that Vajrayana is an extension of Mahayana thoughts, while others believe that it is a new path that seeks to gain
17 Lancaster, Lewis, 1979, pp 217-218, "Buddhist Literature: Its Canons, Scribes, and Editors.^^ In The Critical Study of Sacred Texts, edited by Wendy OTlaherty. Berkeley: Graduate Theological Union.
Buddhahood as its final goal22. Thus, around the end of the first millennium, Indian Buddhism was a mixture of Mainstream, Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions, and Tibet has inherited this mixture and developed its own style of Buddhism on top of this basis23. The Tibetan Buddhism Canon consists of the
As of today, there are more than 20 different versions of Kanjurs known, and more continue to be discovered With a basic understanding of the formation of Buddhist canons, its classification, and its formation, the focus of the paper will be on the formation of the Tibetan Kanjur text, its different versionsand its underlying meaning, and finally taking a closer look at the format of the Kangxi Kangyur, also known as龍藏經.
People who have an interest in Tibetan Buddhism will undoubtedly be drawn to the Tibetan Buddhist Canon, primarily the Kanjur, since the "evolving canon is essentially the record of the development of a substantial part of the Tibetan literary, religious and cultural heritage25." It is also an important tool
in understanding the nature of both Indian and Tibetan Buddhism, including exoteric and esoteric philosophy and ritual, ethics, literature, social practice, institutional history, and much else26. Tibetan Buddhism's translation began during the 7th and 8th century CE and ended around the 15th century, with more than 300 translators being involved, resulting in more than 300 volumes in the Tibetan Buddhist canon today27. From the 8th century to the 12th
century, the Tibetan translation process has undergone three revolutions, aimed at getting rid of archaic words, simplifying the spelling of the Tibetan words, and creating a more uniformed standard for written Tibetan28. Though most of the texts were translated from Indic languages, a few texts were translated from non-lndic languages such as Chinese, Mongolian and Uyghur, but their original sources all came from India29.
encyclopedias/literary/canons/about/wiki/tibetan%20canons%20introduction.html [Accessed 25 Dec. 2017].
27多識教授,2015, p 21,〈拆除藏傳佛教與漢語人群中的高牆〉，《藏傳佛典漢譯之重要性與未 來展望會議手冊》，新北：法鼓文理學院。
28多識教授,2015, p 21,〈拆除藏傳佛教與漢語人群中的高牆〉，《藏傳佛典漢譯之重要性與未 來展望會議手冊》，新北：法鼓文理學院。
29 Stanley, Phillip, 2014, p 383, "The Tibetan Buddhist Canon." InTAe Wiley Blackwell Companion to
Four characteristics of the Tibetan Buddhist canon makes it unique30. First, the Tibetan language, its scripts and its grammatical structure gives it an advantage when translating the sutras from Sanskrit by being more faithful to its original language. Second, from 7th century until the 12-13th century, Tibetans have translated many of the sutras, especially when Indian Buddhism was near its demise. Many scriptures were moved from India to Tibet, and as
the exchange increased, many tantric Buddhism scriptures can only be found in the Tibetan canon. Third, since Tibet and India is geographically adjacent to one another, Tibetan Kings have dispatched many Tibetan scholars to India to learn their language, and also to invite prominent Indian high monks to teach them dharma. Fourth, the translation process often involved the collaboration of Indian monks and Tibetan translators, so that the meaning would be preserved during the translation process.
The compiling of Kanjurs was an arduous process. First, the collecting of individual texts or groups of texts that may have been linked prior to being translated. Second, the compiling of similar or related texts into larger mdomangsMOIumes, which still do not have any particular order. Third, finally arranging them systematically into various sections of the Kanjur31. The emergence of the first Kanjur was the product of a long term process that
30周華,2015, pp 78-79,〈藏文大藏經對勘本的對勘特點與學術價值〉，《藏傳佛典漢譯之重要
went on for more than five centuries32. The length of the various Kanjurs comprised between 750 and 1200 texts, depending on the version33. History of Tibetan Buddhism, Translation of Texts, and Formation of Kanjur
The spread of Buddhism in Tibet can be divided into three periods: the sngadar (貿甲 early diffusion), the period of decline, and the spyidar (§甲 later diffusion). The first period spanned 200 years, from 641 till 842, when the Tibetan empire collapsed and King Langdarma was assassinated. Much of the
translation was done in 63 years of this period, spanning from 779 and 842. The intermediate period of decline lasted about 144 years, from 842 to 986, when King Yeshe-0 of the Guge Empire encouraged the adopting of Buddhism and supporting Atisha's disciple, the great translator RinchenZangpo. The bulk of the later translations occurred in the 300 years from 986 until late 13th and early 14th century, when Indian Buddhist texts and translators ceased due to the Muslim conquest of India34
34 Stanley, Phillip, 2014, p 386, "The Tibetan Buddhist Canon." InTAe Wiley Blackwell Companion to
Buddhism was established in Tibet during the reign of SongtsenGampo (605-649) during the 7th century, having encountered Buddhism when he requested political marriage with the Nepalese princess Bhrkuti and the Chinese princess Wencheng, who brought with them cultures of their respective countries and also their common religion, Buddhism35. Under SongtsenGampo's rule, he felt that the Tibetans needed a literary script and a common grammar, so he sent for
the scholar ThonmiSambhota and other students to India to develop a script and codify the language36.Thonmi spent a few years in Kashmir to learn its language, and later fixed the Tibetan alphabet on a new script based on the Indian Gupta alphabet while also codifying Tibetan grammar books based
Sanskrit37. ThonmiSambhota has been credited with inventing the Tibetan written script and also translating the earliest Buddhist sutras into Tibetan38, while SongtsenGampo used the scripts to create the first set of laws to create order in his kingdom39.
35Powers, pp 144-147, Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism. John Powers goes on to explain that perhaps the influence of the two wives of SongtsenGampo were overstated, that perhaps Bhrkuti didn't even exist, Wencheng's influence both culturally and religiously were minimal, and SongtsenGampo died with a Bon burial ceremony.
Buddhist monks Santaraksita and Padmasambhava to Tibet. Padmasambhava helped subdue demons and deities that bothered the land, and along with TrisongDetsen and Santaraksita, built the first monastery in Tibet called Samye (mpsrsp). Along with the completion of Samye, the first seven Tibetan monks received
monastic vows, and translation of the Buddhist texts began with the support of the royal family for the first time40. Translators from China, India and Kashmir were invited, and young Tibetans were sent to India for further training. Eventually, the monks from India and China held different thoughts on the Buddha's teachings, and TrisongDetsen held a debate for them at Samye Monastery where they argued about the specific ways to practice Buddhism and reach
enlightenment. The Chinese were represented by the Zen teacher Moheyan, and the Indian side was represented by Kamalasila, a student of Santaraksita. Finally, after a two yeardebate, TrisongDetsen decided that the Indian side had won, and so their Buddhism teachings became the basis of Tibetan Buddhism. After the debate, TrisongDetsen invited more Buddhist teachers from India and Nepal, and the beginning of the translation of Buddha's words began41.
The Tibetan Kings from then onward: MuneTsenpo (航=^^797-799), Sadnalegs (誓说細®程;叭800-815), and Ralpacan (窟利孙y負口刚815-838), all continued the spread of Buddhism by supporting the translation of Indian sacred Buddhisttexts into Tibetan. The period was known as the early 40Powers, John, 2007, pp 148-149, Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism. Ithica: Snow Lion Publications.
diffusion 住p） of Buddhism in Tibet, with the full support of the imperial court42. The Mahavyutpatti was composed in order to standardize the Sanskrit-Tibetan terminology, and shows the effort in making the Tibetan canon a unified and cohesive text. To unify and standardize the texts, a group of Indian
and Tibetan scholars even went back to the previous translations to revise the old wordings and made new translations based on the new rules set down by the Mahavyutpatti43. The Indians were mainly responsible for checking the doctrinal accuracy of the translations, while the Tibetans made sure they were grammatically correct44. Little of the pre revision literature has been preserved45 *.
As translations were being made and sutras distributed, the volumes of texts grew bigger and bigger, so a system of codification was formed and catalogues were compiled. The three catalogues that first structured and catalogued the growing collections were: the sTon than IDandkar ma （飙 丙）,the bSamsyasmChimsphu ma 何為曲妒）and the :Phan than /77a仲虫唱 刃）比.These catalogues eventually became the backbone of the later Kanjur.
42Tauscher, Helmut, 2015, p 106. "Kanjur," in Brill's Encyclopedia of Buddhism vol. 1: Literature and Languages. Leiden: Brill. 43 Skilling, Peter, 1997, p90. "From bKa' bstanbcos to bKa' "gyur and bsTan 'gyuf^ in Transmission of the Tibetan Canon, Wien: Vferlag der OsterreichischenAkademie der Wissenschaften.
Nowadays, the IDandkar maand 'Phan than ma are known to be extant47, and the translated literature were systematically organized according to their vehicle, philosophical school, class, and length48. In the IDandkar ma, over 700 titles are listed, "testifying to the extraordinary level of the activity" of the first dissemination49. The distinction of Kanjurs and Tanjurs is not yet in place, but there is a general segregation of the Buddha-words (bKa： Sutra, Tantra, Dharani and Vinaya) from commentaries and compositions of later masters (bsTanbcos: Sastra).
Buddhism has prospered under the Tibetan Empire, so much so that SongtsenGampo, TrisongDetsen and Ralpacan were known as the "Three Religious Kings"(爲奄鋼法王祖孫三代)of Tibet, and with their support Buddhism enjoyed its first dissemination amongst the Tibetans50 However, perhaps Ralpachen placed too much emphasis on the spreading of Buddhism, and just as the Chinese had suffered four persecutions of Buddhism, Tibet would face its darkest days in its history.
47 Both Skilling (1997) and Harrison (1996) said that IDandkar ma was the only surviving catalogue, but Tauscher (2015)and Stanley (2014) claimed that Than tham ma was alsoexant, so I took the later's view.
Songtsen Kampo who introduced Buddhism to his people, and the last being Langdarma(珮=^]838-842) who would temporarily cease the spreading of dharma. Langdarma suppressed Buddhism because he favored the Bon practices, and during his short reign, he shut down temples and monasteries, forced monks and nuns to abandon their ordained lives, and tried to eradicate Buddhism in Tibet . During the time, all translations projects ceased, monks fled, the codified collections were broken up, and the texts were scattered .
Eventually, he was assassinated by a Buddhist monk called BelgyiDorje, who decided to liberate Langdarma out of compassion because of all the bad karma he was creating53. Even though Langdarma only ruled for a short period of time, Buddhism would suffer for more than 100 years until Yeshe-0 emerged. The Later Diffusion, the end of Buddhism in India, and the First Kanjur
Even though Buddhism had suffered tremendously during the period of decline, most of the texts were hidden in rocks around Lhasa, and the bulk of the early translations were kept intact by lay practitioners54.By this time, much
of the texts of Kanjur had already been translated, and texts began to be transmitted individually. Eventually, shorter texts were gathered into volumes, and many volumes would form into anthologies called mDo man (叭陶many sutras). Up until the early 14th century, monasteries obtained their collection of
texts piecemeal and cumulatively, and thus duplicates or incomplete texts were common55. There was no uniformed principle for classifications, and tantrasin particular were passed down according to their lineages, so in essence every monastery would have their own set of unique, incomplete and unsystematic collection of texts. Those who have the most complete collections were often the great learning centers56.
As the period of translation came to an end due todestruction of great Buddist centers in India (including Nalanda and VikramashilaViharas), and the Indic Sutras in Tibet had gradually been translated, the next major task was to create and compile a Tibetan Canon57.According to Tibetan historical records,
Buston has often been credited with the creation of the Tibetan Buddhist canon; however, even though he made great contributions in editing and cataloguing, the credit should promptly go to bComldan rigs and his disciples at the Narthang Monastery. Scholars refuse to call it the first Kanjur, but rather as the "conceptual prototype for later, large-scale, single project Kanjurs"
instead of being an actual "textual archetype.58" In the beginning of the paper we discussed that there is no such a thing as the definite Buddhist canon, and in a similar fashion, "there is not one Kanjur, there are only Kanjurs59." Kanjurs can be thought as living organisms going under constant renewal, no two are alike, and still imperfectly known60 61.
What prompted the creation of the first Kanjur, or along with the first Tanjur, the first set of Tibetan Buddhist canon? Was it due to the sheer size of the collection of Buddhist texts that was getting out of hand and unable to be used in an efficient manner? Was it to show the scholarship and secular
prowess of the distinct and learned monks that belonged to learning centers? Or was it inspired due to the Chinese having their own edition of sacred texts? Did the Mongolians influence the Tibetans, asked for a Buddhist Canon compiled in Tibetan, as an exchange for protection and support to the Sakya lineage? The answer perhaps was a combination of all the three components together, and with the sponsorship of the Mongolian Yuan Dynasty, a group of monks at NarthangMonastery started the collecting and editing of corpus of texts that eventually became known as the Old NarthangKanjur （g冬目中平 鸭玉）m. The master bComldan rigs 甲罰§） and his two disciples 'Jam
the three types of catalogues mentioned before, and collating and editing all the texts they could gather from different monasteries, including texts from the early and later dissemination periods, and form the first set of Kanjur (or perhaps more precisely, separating the Kanjur and the Tanjur, or the bifurcation of 虫鸭卞and q^q^:)62. The resulting text is
Zhalu 何Q) Monastery got a copy of the Old NarthangKanjur, decided on the best version of every text and removed the duplicates (the Narthang copy, being the first, was a collection of whatever exemplars they could get, much like the modern day Chinese canon) and apocryphas, arranged them in proper order,
and addedone thousand new religious texts64. His work was associated with systematizing the texts that were included in the Kanjur, and also was "almost entirely responsible for the arranging of the second and larger section, entitled the bsTan-'gyur (Tanjur)65." He was also accredited
63Narthang Monastery belongs to the Sakya lineage, and is located near Buston's monastery Zhalu. ZhaluMonastery is also located in the Narthang area, and also belonged to the Sakya lineage, the most powerful school and secular ruling school of Tibet, Sakya lineage enjoyed the support of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty in China, due to the popularity of SakyaPandita and 'Phags-pa.
with compiling the first comprehensive catalogue of the Kanjur and Tanjur66. In essence, he laid the standard for editing the texts, in ensuring that the newly compiled canon was carefully checked, and when needed new translations were made67.
The formation of a Buddhist Canon requires two criterias- one is that the written language can be read by the monks or even layperson, and the other is that the technology supporting the formation of the Buddhist Canon is in place. In Ancient China, especially in Tang Dynasty, the study of written words is exclusive to mostly to the Imperial Palace, Confucian scholars, and Buddhist Monks. The majority of the people were illiterate during Tang Dynasty, according to the Dean of DBS, more than 90% of the layperson were illiterate. In the formation of Mahayana Buddhism, the status of Sutras has been elevated
as a replacement of a physical Buddha, or the worship of relics of the Buddha, and anyone who can read even the Sutra Opening Stanzas will accrue great merits. Those who can expound the Buddha's true teachings, in a way, is a physical manifestation of the Buddha himself. In a similar fashion, the invention
of a written code of communication for the Tibetan people is the first step in the formation of the Tibetan Kanjur. For the technological requirements of the formation of the Kanjur, one is the invention and the popularity of paper, and the other is the printing press technology. Paper in Tibet was given by
the Tang imperial courts, and the xylography technology was passed onto Tibetan around the Yuan Dynasty (sources needed). With the Tibetan scripts invented by Thonmi and the technology of paper and printing press passed on from China, Tibetans finally have all thecriterias ready in place for the printing of their own version of Buddhism
Canon. In the Yuan Dynasty, with the full support of the Imperial Courts, the Sakya School have decided to take on the task of printing its first version of Tibetan Buddhist Canon, and they had the Chinese Buddhist Canon as a great example. They chose not to categorize everything the same way, but they have
divided the Tibetan Canon in Kanjur and Tanjur. There are many versions of the Kanjur in circulation, because the Kanjur is believed to be the words of Buddha himself, while there are far less versions of Tanjurs.
The meaning of Kanjur, according to Helmut Eimer, is the "translation fo the authoritative word68," and in Mandarin it means "the Words of the Buddha (佛說咅0)." Specifically, in this paper and in the general scholastic circles, the word Kanjur is designated those blockprints (xylograph) and manuscripts (hand
copied) editions of "authoritative Buddhist texts which were widely spread in Tibet69." In comparison with other Buddhist Canons, for example the Pali and Chinese Buddhist Canons, the Tibetan Canon is more inclusive, having consist of Vajrayana, Mahayana and Hinayana texts. This is attributed to its latter
formation, and also because they have faithfully kept the structure of the Nalanda lineage, thus they have kept even the Nyingma tantras within the Kanjur (some versions)70. In summary, the Tibetan Buddhist Canon is a snapshot of what the later Mahayana Buddhism in India was about, during the formative years of 700AD until the eventual demise of Buddhism altogether in India around 1200AD. Tibetan Buddhism, though
Buddhist Sutras have been held to a high status ever since the advent of Mahayana thoughts and beliefs, and the worshipping of the Sutras has been extant for thousands of years, and since then Buddhism Sutras have been held to a high status for believers and monastics alike. Buddhist monastics write the
Sutras, disperse its thoughts and spread the Buddhist dharma, while the laymen absorb the teachings of the Buddhist Sutras and further propagate the Buddhist Sutras by paying for its printing. In Chinese Buddhism, there are various Sutras that have been held to a high status, but two of them stand out - The Avatamsaka Sutra (華嚴經)of the Huayan School, and the Lotus Sutra (SaddharmaPundarTkaSutra / 法華經)of the Tiantai School, and of course the
Prajnaparamita Sutras which is condense by XuanZang in the Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra 怡®月丐冷.The Buddha's enlightenment experience was described in the Avatamsaka Sutra, and even though Mahayana Sutras tend to exaggerate the whole process, the teaching itself is still worth studying and learning. The Huayan School was a major school in the Tang and Song Dynasty, having died out later, but the Avatamsaka Sutra has always held a high esteem. The
tathagatagarbha belief is clearly evident, in that everyone is capable of becoming a Buddha. In a similar fashion, the Lotus Sutra (SaddharmaPundarika Sutra) teaches the final years of Buddha's life, and he even assures that many of the Sravakas
and even dragon lady will eventually become a Buddha in future lives. In a similar fashion, as long as you recite the Lotus Sutra, you will accrue great merits, and provide good luck. If you also vow to renounce the ordinary life (發 出離丿4), you will then lead a path of Sravakahood; if you vow the
Bodhisattva like Avalokitesvara; if you vow the Buddha (Vajrayana) path, you will then combine the compassion and wisdom, and lead a result based cultivation lifestyle that guarentees a Buddhahood. Of course, making such a vow
requires explicit rituals and also swearing not to expound the secret esoteric teachings to nonbelievers, or else you risk being punished in hell. Kangyur is a type of Tibetan Buddhism Sutra, and yet it is categorized differently. Every sutra in this category was supposedly to be words spoken by the
Buddha himself, and even the Tantric teachings are believed to be direct translations of Sanskrit Tantric texts. Only the monasteries with a long lineage are able to own a set of authentic and original Kangyur, such as the Sakya Monastery owns a 700 year oldKangyur, and it was believed that owning that
Kangyur has helped the temple remain steadfast during Buddhism persecution during theCultural Revolution. In essence, Kangyur is widely believed to have magical protective powers, and those who even have a glimpse of it will accrue merits and become lucky. Those who are able to read them just once will accrue merits beyond imagination, more than any Sravaka will ever be (at least according to the Diamond Sutra), and those who understand the Right Way and expound the dharma are viewed with high
esteem. In China particularly, the Yuan Dynasty and Qing Dynasty Emperors have widely been Tibetan Buddhists, and they have made a close connection with Tibetan high lamas, first for its esoteric teachings, and second as a convenient way of controlling Tibet and its people through the close connection with
During the later dissemination period, the Tibetan Buddhism formed many schools, but four in particular stood out above all others - Nyingma, Kagyur, Sakya, and Gelug. The first two are believed to be more practice oriented, while the later two are more scholarly based. Another saying is that Nyingma and
Kagyur belong to the sudden school, tracing its roots back to Chinese or Indian traditions (Nyingma has been rumored to have been influenced by the Debate of Samye, while Kagyur has traced its roots back to Marpa and Tilopa of Indian roots). Sakya and Gelug belong to the gradual school, base their teachings
on scholarly books translated from Nalanda to Tibetan, and the Gelug Geshes have to spend 20 or more years debating, in order to become an accredited preacher of the Dharma. The Sakya has been said to be the direct descendants of Sakyamuni Buddha himself, but it is not provable.
The Tibetan Monastic Class follow a different set of vinayas than Chinese Monks or Southeastern Monks altogether, in that they follow the Mulasarvastivadatradition, and they base their core belief in the Madhyamaka school invented by Nagarjuna. They believe that Buddhism teachings is like diamond (Dorje华)that penetrates all your worries and doubts, and such
teachings can only be practiced and perfected through years of debating and contemplating for yourselves. If Buddha's teaching does not make sense, you can abandon it, because Buddha cannot help you live your lives. However, once you make a vow to be a Tibetan Buddhist, there is no turning back or chickening
out, because there will be repercussions. In a Chinese book, it makes a comparison of practicing Vajrayana Path as walking on a rope between two hills, and if you just lose your focus, you will drop down to the bottom and die without a burial place. Vajrayana, with its focus on becoming enlightened like the Buddha, is not for the weak minded people.
The Qing Dynasty of the Old Imperial China was the Last Dynasty in a series of Dynasties in China, and it reached its glorious days with the advent of Emperors of Kangxi, Yongzheng, and Qianlong. The most glorious days of the Qing Dynasty also marked the apex of power of the Imperial Chinese Empire, even though it was closed to the outside world, China has always remained a headstrong and proud country in its entirety. The Qing Dynasty was ruled by a minority of 女真族of the Jing Tribe in the North Eastern part of China, and along with the Yuan Dynasty, has helped the spread of Tibetan Buddhism in Mainland China. The minority tribes ruling China were very religious, and they were more acceptable of the esoteric practices of Tibetan Buddhism, even though the Han people and Emperors usually abhor the practices of
In 1669, the Qing Dynasty was in turmoil, with Empero「丿【|頁治 having passed away at a young age (another saying was that he became a monk after his beloved empress passed away). The Empire was controlled by the powerful minister of 鳌拜 and many of the founding officials who helped win the war against
the Ming Dynasty remnants. The Grandmother of Emperor Kangxi, Empress Dowager Bumbutai (XiaoZhuang)孝莊太后，who was in fact a Mongolian Princess who became the wife of the founding father of the Qing Dynasty 皇太極，decided to produce a The Tibetan Dragon Sutra (藏文龍藏經)with the help of his grandson, the young and inexperienced Emperor Kangxi (康甲©皇帝)，to use the help of religion to pray to
Buddha for a more prosperous future for the Qing Dynasty and his beloved grandson. The Empress Dowager XiaoZhuangused her affiliation with the Mongolian tribes for financial support, and invited eminent monks from Tibet, with only one wish 一 for a better tomorrow for his Grandson and the future of Qing
Dynasty71.The whole process took around 2 years, and as a result, the glorious and magnificent version of the Tibetan Dragon Sutra was produced, and in one way or another, perhaps Buddha was behind the most glorious days for the Qing Empire and the Chinese People. Religion and Politics are often intertwined,
and even though in China there is never a combination of state and church (monastics), the Emperor was often viewed as an incarnation of a Mahaboddhissatva (if he happened to be a great emperor and also a Buddhist at heart). The Chinese Empire has given Tibetan Monks power beyond their wildest dreams when they
bestowed them as the ruler of Tibet, and in return, the Emperor ensured that Tibetans would also pray for a better tomorrow for both the Emperor himself and China as a whole. China and Tibet, since the Mongolian Yuan Dynasty, has been linked through the interaction of high monks and ruling class. The Yuan
and Qing Dynasties, have in particular, supported the high lamas and monks of the Tibetan soil, help print Tibetan Sutras, and even build Tibetan Temples in China, for example the Lama Temple of Beijing was the Imperial Palace of the Late Emperor Yongzheng.
When Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan after losing his battle against Mao and Communist China in 1949, he brought with him tons of golds from all over China, which ensured that Taiwan would have the “pot of Gold” that would ensure its economic miracles during the 1970-2000 era, known as the Economic Miracle of
Taiwan （台灣經濟奇蹟）.His decision to bring all the treasures he could from the Imperial China also helped preserve the precious Chinese lineage that was almost completely wiped out during China's Cultural Revolution in 1960 and 1970s. He brought with him ships of treasures that fill up the National Palace Museum, which ranks 10th in the World amongst museums worldwide72, he also brought a rare version of Kangyur created by the Imperial Qing Empress Dowager XiaoZhuang. The 72http://edition.cnn.com/travel/gallery/world-top-20-museums-2015/mdex.html?gallcry=9
This time around, the Tibetan Dragon Canon did not protect China, but somehow with the preservation of Chinese Culture and Chinese Thoughts, the Tibetan Dragon Canon has helped Taiwan stay adrift against all odds. With China always eying Taiwan, religion has flourished in Taiwan, and Taiwan perhaps holds
the most complete heritage of Chinese Buddhism, with eminent monks fleeing the Communist Red China right after the end of World War II and the war against Japan. Taiwan was the Pure Land of Buddhism, and even though it spoke another dialect of Taiwanese, still provided the breeding soil of many eminentmonks, including Master XinYun, Master ShengYan, Master ZhengYan and thousands of monks who were without a homeland, without a temple, and without a place to even
sleep and eat. Taiwan during the rule of Chiang Kai-shek, was a country under Marshall Law, and with the support of American troops and US Dollars flooding the churches, was in fact a Christian Country. If you went to church, you get free milk powder, and everything branded American was thought to be superior
than Chinese and Japanese. Locked within the mountains of treasures, were the Tibetan Dragon Canon, buried deep within the mounts of treasures mostly from the Song Dynasty onwards. If Chiang Kai-shek could tear down the whole Imperial Palace of Beijing and bring them to Taiwan, he sure would've done so, but he only had limited space and there was his nemesis Mao right on his tails.
Around 50 years later, Taiwan and China has resumed contact, and was enjoying its warmest and coziest times in the past half century. The National Palace Museum decided to reprint the Tibetan Dragon Canon to celebrate the 100thBirthday of the Republic of China. There was a collaboration between the National Palace Museum of Taipei and Beijing, because one of the 108 books were damaged, and so
Taipei NPM called Beijing NPM for help. Emperor Qianlong always looked up to his grandfather Kangxi with great respect, and everything he did was a mirror image of what his grandfather did, therefore Taipei NPM called Beijing NPM for the damaged 91th volume in the Qianlong Tibetan Kanjur74. Luckily for us readers and scholars, the cross strait honeymoon began when President Ma became Taiwan's President in 2008, and therefore the Tibetan Dragon Canon was made in print despite one book being damaged.
There are many names given to the Tibetan Dragon Canon, and I would say it can be also known as the Taiwan Kangxi Kangyur, or in a more official way "the Imperial Household Gold Ink Tibetan Dragon Canon Manuscript of Qing Court75，）. The Canon only consists of a Kangyur section （spelling of Kanjur and Kangyur depends on the source, but means the same thing of 耳叩VQ护［）,and holds 1,057 scriptures in Tibetan translation, which is believed to be leachings
from rotting and decay. The ink on the paper is pure gold and written on both sides of the paper, and the Lamas had to eat pure vegetarian during the two years, and they had to do ceremonies before, during and after the complete two years of Kanjur manuscript writing process. The Kanjur is wrapped in an exquisite way that is beyond words, but can be seen below with the photo of the actually Kanjur.
74馮明珠， 《殊勝因緣》， ,P&
75馮明珠， 《殊勝因緣》， ,P19
76馮明珠， 《殊勝因緣》， ,P&
The Kanjur was completed in 1669 （康熙八年）and finally left the Forbidden City in 1933 to avoid being damaged by the Japanese, and finally found its home in Taiwanese soil and is viewed as the Jewel amongst all Jewels within the National Palace Museum's collection. Nowadays, it sits silently in the Southern
Branch of National Palace Museum in JiaYi, and its replicas can be bought with a mere NT $1,880,000. Within the FoGuang University's Library, we hold a copy of it, sitting silently on the second floor. The 50,000 leaves of priceless treasures can be viewed in person by scholars and layperson, monks and nuns, if they could just understand the beautiful language of Tibetan. The Tibetan language was invented based on Sanskrit and Indian scripts, so a more faithful translation could be achieved through the language that Dalai Lama and millions of Tibetan refuges spoke. Nowadays, it is an endangered language
that few people know, since China has in essence obliterated all teachings of Tibetan language and the performance of Tibetan Buddhist rituals without the watch of Chinese officials. Many Tibetans nowadays do not know their native tongue, and perhaps within a generation or two, the Tibetan Kanjurs will only
be able to collect dusts in libraries and be shown as an artifact to curious tourists.
There are usually four classification of Kanjur lineages commonly recognized in the Tibetan Kanjur scholarship - Them spangs ma version (身讯囹匚列国‘)，Tshal pa version ㈣p), collated (also known as contaminated version) of mixed version, and independent version. Tshal pa version (also known as Western version) has been closely related to the Chinese imperial courts, with the earliest extant version done during the Ming Dynasty under the Emperor YongLe
(明朝永乐皇帝)，and these are mostly found in manuscript form (hand written by high lamas with bamboo pen). Them spangs ma version (commonly known as the Eastern version) has been more commonly found in high temples in Tibetan, and are mostly found in xylograph form (block print). The collated version is one
that considers both versions and made their own customized version, and the independent versions are found sporatically in remote monasteries. The different versions of Kanjur is a reflection of different thoughts within Tibetan Buddhism schools and its influence and support by rich patrons, including
rich Tibetan Laypersons and Chinese Emperors. The Tibetan Dragon Canon belongs to the Tshal pa lineage, and since it was supported by the Chinese Qing Empire, the sutras were selected closely by the imperial court of
with great respect will undoubtedly receive great merits, happiness and joy. Personally, after listening to a speech of the Tibetan Dragon Sutra, we have accidentally bumped into President Ma in the National Palace Museum, which was to me personally an incredible experience.
秘密部 Tantra Section (24 Volumes)
般若部 Prajnaparamita Section (24 Volumes)
寶積部 Ratnakuta Section (6 Volumes)
9喝W細 華嚴咅B Avatamsaka Section (6 Volumes)
丄科器鋼列J 諸經部 Miscellaneous Sutra Section (32 Vol)
乜‘弋門J 戒律部 Vinaya Section (16 Volumes)
In every volume of the original Tibetan Dragon Canon, there are front planks and back planks covered with a protective cloth. On the front plank are three lines of sacred texts (Sanskrit, Tibetan transliteration, and Tibetan translation respectively), along with two Buddhist mi nature pictures beside the
sacred texts. The sacred texts say "pay homage to the three jewels,” the first step in being a Buddhist, which shows the importance of treating these texts with care and as a representation of the Buddha himself. On the back plank, there are five more miniatures, giving every volume 7 miniatures and a total of 756 pictorial representations of exquisite Buddhist arts and protective deities78. The 756 miniatures fall under 5 categories -
There are 1,057 sutras and tantras in the Tibetan Dragon Canon, and this is the result of a thousand years of continuous translation, edition, and codification of Buddhist texts. The Dragon Canon is made possible by the Holy Lama 直貢澈贊法王 and his disciple 尊貴的仁钦多傑 Rinpoche. The value of Tibetan Buddhist Canon cannot be evaluated with words and converted into financial numbers, but should be a treasure that everyone should read, study,
translate, and most importantly follow by heart. Buddha didn't want his teachings to be locked away in the bookshelves collecting dusts, and therefore the studying of Tibetan language is vital in understanding his words. In my opinion, just by touching the Tibetan Dragon Canon brings me joy beyond words, and
sometimes my poor Tibetan frustrates me. What was Buddha's real teachings? How may I understand them completely? Most importantly, how can I use them to improve my level of happiness and joy and better the world in general?
The Tibetan Dragon Canon should be viewed on par with the Mona Lisa portrait in the Louvre Museum in France, and thus the studying of the words in particular is important, and hopefully with a more focused mind with one semester of Tibetan translation under my belt, I will be able to use my broken Chinese and even worst Tibetan language proficiency to translate Chapter 5 of the Vimalakirti Sutra. Thanks to both Professor Lin and Professor Huang, my Chinese and American classmates in helping me compose this very poorly written final paper on the Tibetan Dragon Canon, the Kanxi Kangyur.
4. Peter Skilling, 1997, "From bKa' bstanbcos to bKa' 'gyur and bsTan 'gyur," in Transmission of the Tibetan Canon, Papers Presented at a Panel of the 7th Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Gray 1995, ed. by Helmut Eimer, Wien: Verlag der OsterreichischenAkademie der Wissenschaften, pp. 87-111.
7. 馮明珠、盧雪燕。《殊勝因緣：內府泥金寫本藏文龍藏經探索》。台北：國立 故宮博物院，2015年。