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rgyud bla ma'i tshig don rnam par 'grel pa

One of only two extant Sanskrit commentaries to the Uttaratantra, the other being the pith instruction composed by Sajjana. However, this work seems to have not been translated into Tibetan and thus it had little, if any, influence on the development of the Tibetan exegesis of the Uttaratantra.

Scholarly notes

Only two works are by now known to us as Indian commentaries on the RGV/RGVV. One is by Sajjana and the other is the Mahāyānottaratantraṭippaṇī (abbr. Ṭippaṇī) composed by Vairocanarakṣita (11/12th cent.). Vairocanarakṣita composed six commentarial works relating Yogācāra texts, which were reported by Gokhale. According to Gustav Roth, Gokhale tried to edit these works, but in the end, he did not publish it.

      Nakamura (1985) published an edition of the Ṭippaṇī (fols. 9v2–14v7), but leaves the remaining portion (fol. 15r1–17r5) unedited. A full transcription of the work (fols. 9v2–17r5) was done by Jagdishwar Pandey, which is, however, not published. Considering to some shared errors by Nakamura and Pandey, Nakamura followed Pandey's transcription. Unfortunately, both edition and transcription contain a number of mistakes, which can be corrected based on the readings in the original palm-leaf manuscript (I provide a list of “Correction to Nakamura's edition of the Ṭippaṇī” below).

- Kano, Kazuo. ″Rngog Blo-ldan Shes-rab’s Summary of the Ratnagotravibhāga: The First Tibetan Commentary on a Crucial Source for the Buddha-Nature Doctrine.″ 2006, p. 536.

Description from When the Clouds Part

The Sanskrit manuscript of this brief commentary[1] (VT) in nine folios is among the texts photographed by Rāhula Sāṃkṛtyāyana and later by Giuseppe Tucci at Ngor EVAṂ Monastery in Tibet.[2] It is written in the so-called Māgadhī of the Pāla period and is datable between the eleventh and thirteen centuries. However, its authorship is not clear because there were two paṇḍitas by the name Vairocanarakṣita.

      The first Vairocanarakṣita is an eleventh-century contemporary of Atiśa from Vikramaśīla who authored the Śikṣākusumāñjalī (a commentary on Śāntideva’s Śikṣāsamuccaya), a Bodhisattvacaryāvatārapañjikā, and a Śiṣyalekhaṭippaṇī. Given the sūtra-based nature of the Uttaratantra and the scholarly style of VT, this Vairocanarakṣita may seem a more likely candidate as VT’s author, but this is not conclusive.

      The second Vairocanarakṣita is a twelfth-century tantric master from Somapurī in Dakṣiṇa Kośala (present-day western Orissa), who stayed in Nepal for some time between 1101 and1106 and in Tibet in the 1140s and 1150s. It is known that Vairocanarakṣita/-rakṣa was another name of Vairocanavajra, and the biographies under each name show several common features, in particular the birth place, the same time of flourishing, certain practices, the prominent role in the transmission and translation of the dohās, and the same students. Therefore, we must be looking at the same figure. When Vairocanarakṣita stayed at Nālandā, he received many pith instructions from a yogin named Surapāla, which included Maitrīpa’s cycle on mental nonengagement, many dohās, Mahāmudrā, and the Hevajratantra. Later, he also studied prajñāpāramitā, Madhyamaka, and various tantras with Paṇḍita Guṇarakṣita from Vikramaśīla. He received Śāntideva’s texts and many sādhanas from Dhanarakṣita and also learned from Jayākara and the paṇḍitas Śarana, Sudhanagupta, and Abhayākaragupta. He traveled widely in India, went to China, and visited Tibet five times. He was a main figure in the dohā tradition and also became a teacher of the Nepalese Asu Kyemé Dorje,[3] the First Karmapa, Lama Shang Dsöndrü Tragpa, and Tropu Lotsāwa Jampa Bal.

      In the Tengyur, besides the above sūtric works authored by the first Vairocanarakṣita, we find the name Vairocanakṣita as the author of a sādhana and a maṇḍala ritual for Vajrabhairava, as well as the translator of Saraha’s Dohākośanāmamahāmudrōpadeśa, Āryaśūra’s Pāramitāsamāsa, Viśeṣamitra’s Vinayasaṃgraha, and several sādhanas. The name Vairocanavajra is given as the translator of Saraha’s Kakhasya Dohā and its autocommentary, the Dohākośas of Kṛṣṇa and Tilopa, Maitrīpa’s Dohakoṣapañjikā, the Śrīvirūpapadacaturaśīti, as well as a number of sādhanas and other tantric texts.

Vairocanarakṣita’s brief commentary VT does not present his own philosophical view or any general discussions but simply glosses selected words or phrases from the Uttaratantra and RGVV by offering synonyms and sometimes analyzing the grammatical structure of certain words and phrases. This commentary is no doubt very helpful for understanding the Uttaratantra and RGVV and is also useful in establishing the correct reading of the Sanskrit manuscript of RGVV. However, it obviously had no noticeable impact on the Tibetan exegetical tradition of the Uttaratantra. (pp. 300-301)

  1. The information on VT and its two possible authors is based on BA (844–47), Dpa’ bo gtsug lag phreng ba (2003, 1:513), Tshal pa kun dga’ rdo rje (1981, 127), Martin (1992, 254–55 and 304), Kano (2006, 56–57 and 519–21), and TBRC,
  2. A set of photo prints of this manuscript is preserved at the University of Göttingen, Germany, under the shelf-mark Xc14/34a and another set at the University of Rome. I have used the critical edition of the text in Kano 2006, 534–57.
  3. Tib. A su skye med rdo rje.

Text Metadata

Text exists in ~ Sanskrit