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Ratnavajra was originally a Kashmiri brahmana who became a great Buddhist master. Taranatha relates a story of his patronage according to which he was the son of a brahmana named Haribhadra. The story runs as follows: Once a Kashmiri brahmana appeased Mahesvara. Thus, it was predicted that all his descendents would become renowned scholars. The prophecy came through and amongst this twenty-five descendants the last was Brahmana Haribhadra. This brahmana once entered in a debate with Buddhists having staked his own creed. He was defeated in debate, as a result of which he was converted to Buddhism. Having become a Buddhist, he acquired proficiency in the doctrine. Ratnavajra was son of this converted brahmana.

Ratnavajra was an upasaka (a lay disciple). He studied in Kashmir up to the age of thirty under Gangadhara. He learnt by heart the sutras, the tantras and all the branches of knowledge. After that he went to Vikramasila for further studies. In Vikramasila he received the title of Pandita from the king and became the central pillar of the University. Among his expositions there, noteworthy works include the Tantrayana, the seven treatises on Pramana, the five works of Maitreya, etc. Ratnavajra returned to Kashmir. He converted many tirthikas to the Buddhist faith and established many centres for the study of Vidyasambhara, Sutralankara, Guhyasamaja etc.

From Kashmir, Ratnavajra proceeded to Udyana (Urgyana). It was perhaps here that he converted a Saivaite Kashmiri brahmana, to whom he gave the name Guhyapragna after ordination.

Ratnavajra went to Tho-lin where he assisted in translation of several works and collaborated with the great Tibetan translator Rin-chen-bzan-po. He further visited Central Tibet where he had a chance to supervise the rebuilding of the circular terrace of Bsam-yas, which was burnt in 986 A.D. Ratnavajra supervised five hundred workers including brick-layers, carpenters, goldsmiths, black-smiths and sculptors for three years.

Ratnavajra is believed to have transmitted the Prasannapada and the Madhyamakavatarabhasya to Parahitabhadra. Dam-pa Sans-rgyas (Paramabuddha), a native of South India, was instructed in Mahamudra under him. As a logician Ratnavajra composed the Yuktiprayoga, signifying application of reasoning. Other works of Ratnavarja which deal with the Mantrayana are:

(a) Cycle of Buddhasamyoga:
1. Srisarvabuddhasamyogadakinijalasambaramahatantra-rajanamamandalopayika.

(b) Cycle of Cakrasamvara:
1. Abhisekavidhikrama,
2. Sricakrasamvaramandalamangalagatha,
3. Sricakrasamvaramandaladevaganastotra, and
4. Sri Cakrasamvarastotra

(c) Cycle of Guhyasamaja
1. Aksobhyavajrasadhana

(d) Cycle of Hevajra:
1. Balikarmakrama,
2. Snhevajrastotra, and
3. Sarvapapasuddhanagnipujasamadhi

(e) Cycle of Mahamaya:
1. Mahamayasadhana,
2. Meghalokaganapatisadhana,
3. Srinathacaturmukhastotra,
4. Mantrarajasamayasiddhisadhana,
5. Aryajanbhalastotra, and
6. Sricakrasamvaradvayavlrasadhana.

He also composed Vajravidaraninamadharanimandalagatha-krama-praknya. There exist several other works which are reported to have either been composed or translated by Ratnavajra. (Source: 'Kundan', T. N. Dhar. Saints and Sages of Kashmir. New Delhi: A.P.H. Publishing, 2004, p. 24–26.)