The Collection of 'Indian Mahāmudrā Works' (Tib. phyag chen rgya gzhung) Compiled by the Seventh Karma pa Chos grags rgya mtsho

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The Collection of ‘Indian Mahāmudrā Works’ (Tib. phyag chen rgya gzhung) Compiled by the Seventh Karma pa Chos grags rgya mtsho
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Citation: Mathes, Klaus-Dieter. "The Collection of 'Indian Mahāmudrā Works' (Tib. phyag chen rgya gzhung) Compiled by the Seventh Karma pa Chos grags rgya mtsho." In Mahāmudrā and the Bka'-brgyud Tradition, edited by Roger R. Jackson and Matthew T. Kapstein, 89–127. Proceedings of the Eleventh Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Konigswinter 2006. Andiast, Switzerland: International Institute for Tibetan and Buddhist Studies, 2011.

Article Summary

In the thirteenth century certain aspects of the Bka’ brgyud teachings on mahāmudrā became highly controversial, such as the assertion of the possibility of a sudden liberating realisation or of a beginner’s attaining mahāmudrā even without tantric empowerment. Such teachings were propagated by Sgam po pa (1079–1153), but criticised by Sa skya Paṇḍita (1182–1251), who maintained that there is no conventional expression for mahāmudrā in the pāramitā tradition and that the wisdom of mahāmudrā can only be a wisdom that has arisen from empowerment. ’Gos Lo tsā ba Gzhon nu dpal (1392–1481) defended Sgam po pa’s notion of mahāmudrā, however, by pointing out its Indian origins in the persons of Jñānakīrti (tenth/eleventh century)[1] and Maitrīpa (ca. 1007–ca. 1085), together with the latter’s disciple Sahajavajra (eleventh century).[2] The works of these masters belong to a genre of literature that was eventually called "Indian mahāmudrā works" (phyag chen rgya gzhung). (Mathes, introduction, 89–90)

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  1. Jñānakīrti’s Tattvāvatāra was translated into Tibetan by Rin chen bzang po (958–1055).
  2. Mathes 2006: 205–206.