The Role of Rang Rig in the Pramāṇa-Based Gzhan Stong of the Seventh Karma pa

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The Role of Rang Rig in the Pramāṇa-Based Gzhan Stong of the Seventh Karma pa
Citation: Burchardi, Anne. "The Role of Rang Rig in the Pramāṇa-Based Gzhan Stong of the Seventh Karma pa." In Mahāmudrā and the Bka'-brgyud Tradition, edited by Roger R. Jackson and Matthew T. Kapstein, 317-44. 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 present chapter I will discuss how the seventh Karma pa, Chos grags rgya mtsho (1454-1506), connects rang rig,[1] in the sense of tshad ma'i 'bras bu (San: pramāṇaphala),[2] with tathāgatagarbha in his major work, the Rig gzhung rgya mtsho.[3] Si tu Paṇ chen Chos kyi 'byung gnas (1699-1776) has pointed out that "there were several different brands of gzhan stong, among which he adhered most closely to that of the Seventh Lord and Zi lung pa, which was somewhat different than that of Dol po pa."[4] This statement points to the fact that the kind of gzhan stong ("empty-of-other" doctrine) that Si tu Paṇ chen blended with mahāmudrā and spread throughout the Karma Bka' brgyud pa traditions of Khams was derived from the seventh Karma pa.[5]
      The seventh Karma pa also influenced the great Sa skya scholar Shākya mchog Idan's later writings. While the seventh Karma pa is remembered as one of the most outstanding masters of the lineage and the founder of the Karma bka' brgyud bshad grwa at Mtshur phu, Shākya mchog Idan is described as "the most influential advocate of the gzhan stong in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries."[6] Both masters are, in their own ways, still sources of the continued presence of an influential type of modified gzhan stong in the Bka' brgyud tradition,[7] distinct from Dol po pa's position.[8] The seventh Karma pa's Rigs gzhung rgya mtsho was studied at all the bshad grwas of the Karma Bka' brgyud tradition, with special emphasis on the first and the third part of the text,[9] while Shākya mchog ldan's writings have played an important role in the 'Brug pa Bka' rgyud bshad grwa tradition of Bhutan.[10]
  1. Skt. svasaṃvitti, or svasaṃvedanā, and variously translated as "self-cognition," "apperception," and "reflexive awareness."
  2. See Dreyfus and Lindtner 1989 for an important analysis of Dignāga's and Dharmakīrti's presentations of pramāṇa and pramāṇaphala.
  3. The full title is Tshad ma legs par bshad pa thams cad kyi chu bo yongs su 'du ba rigs pa'i gzhung lugs kyi rgya mtsho.
  4. Trans. Stearns 1999: 76. The "Seventh Lord" here is the seventh Karma pa and "Zi lung pa" refers to Shākya mchog ldan (1428-1507). The Tibetan original (from Si tu's Chos kyi 'byung gnas Ta'i si tur 'bod pa karma bstan pa'i nyin byed kyi rang tshul drangs par brjod pa dri bral shel gyi me long, in Autobiography and Diaries of Si tu Paṇ chen: 267) is given in Stearns 1999, p. 214, note 129, as follows: bdag gis ni gzhan stong rang la 'ang bzhed tshul cung zad mi 'dra ba 'ga' re yod pa'i nang nas / dol po'i bzhed pa las thal rang gnyis po 'ang rig [sic!] tshogs kyi dgongs pa rma med du 'dod pa ni khyad par dang / rje bdun pa dang zi lung pa'i bzhad pa dang ches nye ba zhig 'dod pa yin no.
  5. Smith 2000: 250.
  6. Stearns 1999: 60-61.
  7. See Mathes 2004 for a comparison of Shākya mchog Idan and Dol po pa's views. For different kinds of gzhan stong see Burchardi 2007.
  8. See Kapstein 1992 and 2000a for valuable information about Dol po pa and his work. See Stearns 1999 for a history of Dol po pa's life and a translation of his text the Bka' bsdu bzhi pa. See Hopkins 2006 for a translation of his definitive treatise on tathāgatagarbha and gzhan stong, the Ri chos nge don rgya mtsho.
  9. Personal communication from Thrangu Rinpoche, 2007.
  10. See Burchardi 2008.