Theg pa chen po rgyud bla ma'i bstan bcos legs par bshad pa

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LibraryCommentariesTheg pa chen po rgyud bla ma'i bstan bcos legs par bshad pa

theg pa chen po rgyud bla ma'i bstan bcos legs par bshad pa
Elegant Explanation of the Treatise of the Ultimate Continuum of the Mahāyāna

An extensive explanatory commentary on the the Ultimate Continuum by one of the major scholastic voices of the Sakya school. As Bernert states, "Refuting, on one hand, the notion that Buddha-nature is synonymous with mere emptiness, and on the other that the mind is inherently endowed with the Buddha qualities, Rongtön argues for an understanding of Buddha-nature that embraces both aspects of the nature of mind: cognizance and emptiness." (Christian Bernert. Perfect or Perfected? Rongtön on Buddha-Nature, 2018.

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Scholarly notes

Rongtön composed exegetical treatises on all five Maitreya texts and, as mentioned above, was particularly renowned for his explanations of the Abhisamayālamkāra, on which he is reported to have authored seven commentaries.1 His commentary on the Ratnagotravibhāga was composed at Sangphu (the date of composition is not given in the colophon).2 In his exposition, he follows Loden Sherab's analytical tradition of bringing the teachings on buddha-nature in line with the Madhyamaka doctrine of emptiness. Another important feature of his commentary, as I will try to show below, is his use of Asaṅga's vyākhyā that he follows verbatim in many places. However, he consistently reinterprets and to greater extent omits all passages and quotations that favour a zhentong interpretation of buddha-nature. This comes without surprise considering his education at the monastery of Sangphu Ne'u Thog, the famous learning centre established in 1073 by Ngog Legpe Sherab (a student of Atīśa and Loden Sherab's paternal uncle). On the other hand, it would have been at odds with the exegetical tradition of the meditation school of Karma Könchog Zhönnu, who taught him the treatises attributed to Maitreya.3 As stated above, the analytical school of Ngog followed by Rongtön and the meditative school of Tsen both go back to Sajjana and are thus complementary according to Shākya Chokden.4 However, the differences in those two approaches added to doctrinal controversies already prevalent during Rongtön's time. This eventually led to the rangtong versus zhentong debate. - Bernert, C. Perfect or Perfected? Rongtön on Buddha-Nature, pp. 24-25.


  1. Cf. Jackson 1988, V.
  2. Kano (2006, 218) notes that Rongtön probably composed this commentary in the 1380s, around the time he was engaged in the study of Ngog's tradition.
  3. Unfortunately no commentary by this master is available today. Mathes notes, however, that his RGV commentary has been supplemented by the notes of Karma Trinlepa (1456-1539), inserted as corrections in the text. This text—also unavailable—is mentioned next to Zhönnu Pel's RGV commentary in Kongtrul's presentation of the meditative school of Tsen. From this, Mathes concludes that looking at Zhönnu Pel's commentary would help understand this tradition since no written commentary has surfaced so far. Cf. Mathes 2008, 33.
  4. Cf. van der Kuijp 1983,43.

Philosophical positions of this text

Sentient beings are endowed with the naturally abiding gotra, but not the dharmakāya.

Text Metadata

Other Titles ~ rgyud bla ma'i bshad pa
Text exists in ~ Tibetan
Literary Genre ~ Commentaries - 'grel pa
Commentary of ~ Ratnagotravibhāga Mahāyānottaratantraśāstra