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You are here : Home > Reading Room > Guhyagarbha Tantra : An Introduction [Part 6]
Guhyagarbha Tantra : An Introduction [Part 6]
This article is the final part of a six part series which brings you Gyurme Dorje's extensive and remarkable introuduction to the Guhyagarbha Tantra, the flagship tantra of the Nyingma School of the Tibetan Buddhism.

The compositions of Lochen Dharmaârï set in motion a new phase of commentarial writings on the Guhyagarbha Tantra, initially at Mindroling and later in Kham. Among his immediate students, the venerable Orgyan Chodrak (b. 1676) composed three short treatises which are still extant. These include his Introductiory Tract on the Ornament of the Intention of the Lord of Secrets in form of a Memorandum on the Earlier Chapters, entitled Precious Garland of my Teacher's Esoteric Instructions (dPal gsang bdag dgongs rgyan gyi spyi don yan gyi bshad pa'i zin bris bla ma'i man ngag rin chen 'phreng ba, NK Vol. 76), which was composed in 1730, along with a synospsis (bsdus don) and chapter analysis (sa bcad). Other works authored by him include the Resolution of Doubts Concerning Difficult Points in the Guhyagarbha (gSang snying dka' gnas dogs gcod lung rigs rdo rje'i rol rtsed, NK. Vol. 78), and another introductory tract (gSang snying spyi don gtan la 'bebs pa'i thal gyur rig pa'i sgo byed, NK Vol. 78).

Among the lineage holders of Terdak Lingpa who maintained the family line of transmission at Mindroling, Trichen II Pema Gyurme Gyatso (1686-1717) composed important empowerment rituals for the Guhyagarbha-- the dBang gi cho ga dkyil 'khor rgya mtshor 'jug pa (NK, Vol. 13) in respect of the maôçala of the peaceful deities, and the corresponding dBang chog khrag 'thung rdo rje'i gad rgyangs (NK. Vol. 14) in respect of the wrathful deities. He also authored an introductory tract on the Guhyagarbha entitled gSang snying spyi don mthing ba don rtogs (NK. Vol. 77). Then, in the late 18th century, his descendent Trichen VI Pema Wangyal composed the Ritual Sequence: Procedures for Explaining the Tantra (rGyud kyi 'chad thabs cho ga'i rim pa, NK Vol. 13). Later holders of the Mindroling lineage who were not members of the Nyo family included Gyurme Pen-de Odzer (aka. Jampal Dewei Nyima), who, around 1924, composed a commentary on the Guhyagarbha entitled Key Which Opens the Hundred Doors of Profound Meaning (Zab don sgo brgya 'byed pa'i lde'u mig, NK 79).
Rigdzin Jigme Lingpa (1730-1798) whose important role in cataloguing and dissmentating the Collected Tantras we have already noted, also composed means for attainments in relation to the Guhyagarbha Tantra- the sGyu 'phrul zhi ba'i sgrub thabs rnam grol zhing rta (NK Vol. 17), in respect of the peaceful deities, and the sGrub thabs khrag 'thung mngon rdzogs (NK. Vol., 17) in respect of the wrathful deities. After him, the focal point of Nyingma activity in Tibet shifted markedly to the east, where the Kham traditions of the Zur lineage had also been maintained independently since the 12th and 13th centuries.
The earliest transmission of the Guhyagarbha Tantra in East Tibet appears to have occurred during the great translator Vairocana's period of exile from the Tibetan heartlands in the late 8th century. There, he translated Süryaprabhäsiæha's Extensive Commentary on the Secret Nucleus (àrïguhyagarbhatattvaviniâcayavyäkhyänaåïkä, P. 4719, NK Vol. 64) at the Jamchen temple of Odu, and gave instructions upon it. However it was not until the 12th century that Katokpa Dampa Deshek definitively established Zur Drophukpa's legacy in Kham.

Katokpa Dampa Deshek, also known as Sherab Senge (1122-1192), was a maternal cousin of Phakmodrupa and a native of Puburgang near Lithang, in Kham. He studied the Guhyagarbha Tantra, and other mainstream transmissions of the Nyingma teachings under Dzamton Drowei Gonpo, a student of Zur Drophukpa, and according to the Great Fifth Dalai Lama's Record of Teachings Received (lNga pa chen po'i gsan yig) he actually met met Drophukpa in person. The teachings which he received directly from Drophukpa, which were not contained in the aforementioned transmitted precepts of Chimphu, are known as the Aural lineage of Drophukpa (sGros snyan brgyud, NK. Vols. 65-66). He also authored a Trilogy on the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities of the Magical Net combined with Vajrakïla (sGyu 'phrul zhi khro phur gsum, NK Vol. 15), and a Synopsis of Viläsavajra's Clarification of the Commitments entitled Clear Mirror (Dam tshig gsal bkra'i bsdud don gsal byed me long, NK. Vol. 89). In 1159, Dampa Deshek returned to Kham and founded the monastery of Dorjeden at Katok, a hilltop ridge that appered to be shaped like the Tibetan letter KA. There, to students from Amdo, Tshawarong, Mustang, and Mon, he expounded the Great Perfection and the Guhyagarbha, including its major and minor Indian and Tibetan commentaries and texts, in accordance with the Zur tradition. In this way, he laid the foundation for the teaching of the secret mantras in the east.
The lineage which he founded at Katok was maintained by his students in the following succession: Tsangtonpa Dorje Gyeltsan (1137-1226), Jampabum (b. 1179), Chenga Mangpuwa Sonam Bumpa (1222-1281), Uwo Yeshe Bum (1242-1327), Jangchub Bumpa (1284-1347), Sonam Zangpo (1295-1357), Kunga Bumpa (1332-1381), Wangchuk Pelwa (1332-1384), Lodro Bumpa (1342-1406), Lodro Senge (1371-1431), Jangchub Lodro, Jangchub Senge (1377-1439), and Jangchub Gyeltsan, from whom the transmissionm descended to Khedrub Yeshe Gyeltsan (b. 1395). Among them, Tsangtonpa also composed a Commentary on Viläsavajra's Clarification of the Commitments entitled Lamp for the Eye of Yoga (Dam tshig gsal bkra'i 'grel pa rnal 'byor mig gi sgron ma, NK. Vol. 89).
The last mentioned, Khedrub Yeshe Gyeltshan (b. 1395) from Puburgang, revitalised the exegetical transmision of the Guhyagarbha Tantra and its commentaries in Kham. His voluminous compositions included a Commentary on the Sequence of the Path of Meditation according to the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities entitled Clarifying Lamp (Zhi khro'i bsgom khog lam rim gsal sgron, NK. Vol. 16), a Commentary, Outline and Synopsis of the Secret Nucleus (gSang ba'i snying po la 'grel pa / sa bcad / bsdus don), a Commentary and Annotations on the Sequence of the Path of the Magical Net entitled Pearl Garland (sGyu 'phrul lam rim gyi 'grel pa mu tig phreng ba, NK Vol. 84), a Commentary on the Clarification of Commitments entitled the Clear Mirror (Dam tshig gsal bkra la 'grel pa gsal ba'i me long, NK Vol. 89), the Text on the Means for Assuming the Mudräs of the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities (Zhi khro'i phyag rgya bcings thabs kyi yi ge), the Commentary on Katokpa Dampa Deshek's General Exposition of the Vehicles (Dam pa rin po che'i theg pa spyi bcing gi 'grel pa, NK Vol. 58); and the Detailed Exposition of the Feast-offering Ceremony (Tshogs kyi 'khor lo'i rnam bshad).

His Successors
Among Khedrub Yeshe Gyeltsan's students, Namka Gyeltsan from Pelbar, the first in the line of abbatial assistants (drung rabs) at Katok, also composed commentaries on the Guhyagarbha and on Buddhaguhya's Innermost Point of the Magical Net (Man ngag sgyu 'phrul thugs tig 'grel bshad rin chen sgron ma, NK Vol. 87). Foremost of his students, in turn, was Khedrub Namka Pelwa from Drodok in Puburgang, who composed a commentary on the Guhyagarbha Tantra, entitled gSang snying ti ka dngul dkar me long, which was highly regarded in Kham, alongside those of Rongzompa, Longchenpa and Yungtonpa. Also of note are his still extant Commentary on the Sequence of the Path of the Magical Net entitled Precious Clear Water (sGyu 'phrul man ngag lam rim 'grel bshad rin po che'i chu dvangs, NK Vol. 85), and his Annotations on the sPar khab Commentary entitled Solar Rays (sPar khab kyi mchan 'grel nyi ma'i 'od zer, NK Vol. 63).

Around the same time, Horpo Shakya Dorje, the first in the later line of illustrious monastic preceptors (mkhan rabs) at Katok, following Khedrub Yeshe Gyeltsan, composed his Clear Mirror Elucidating Difficulties in the Array of the Path of the Magical Net (sGyu 'phrul lam rnam bkod kyi 'bru dka'i don dkrol gsal byed me long, NK Vol. 86) and its synopsis (sGyu 'phrul gces bsdud man ngag lam rim don 'byed, NK. Vol. 86).
In this way, a distinct lineage of the "distant lineage" of the mdo sgyu sems gsum, including the Guhyagarbha Tantra, was propagated in Kham from the 13th to the 16th, centuries, during that period between the flourishing of Ugpalung and the rise of the modern Nyingma monasteries, such as Mindroling and Dorje Drak.

Following the unification of Tibet under the rule of the Fifth Dalai Lama at the conclusion of the civil war in 1641, Nyingmapa monasteries benefitted substantially on account of the new ruler's personal and family affiliations, both in central and eastern Tibet. This was the period when Mindroling, Pelyul and Dzogchen were all founded, and during which Katok was revitalised.

Expansion of Katok
The rebuilding at Katok was initiated through the efforts of the great treasure finders Rigdzin Dudul Dorje (1615-1672) and Longsel Nyingpo (1625-1692). The latter's closest son, Sonam Detsen (1675-1724), who is also revered as the incarnation of both Tsangtonpa and Rigdzin Dudul Dorje, received the Central Tibetan lineage of the Nyingma teachings from Terdak Lingpa at Mindroling, and so he revitalised the exegetical traditions at Katok. Since then his five successive incarnations, beginning with Dri-me Zhingkyong Gonpo Pel Chokyi Dorje (b. 1724) have continued to hold the seniormost position in the spiritual hierarchy of Katok.
Over the centuries that followed, Katok and its many branches have produced outstanding learned and accomplished masters who penned their own commentaries on the traditional corpus of texts. Earliest among them were the learned peripatetic scholar Rigdzin Tshewang Norbu (1698-1755) and Getse Paôçita Gyurme Tshewang Chodrub (b. 1761). The latter was renowned throughout Eastern Tibet for his learning and eclecticism. He received teachings from Rigdzin Jigme Lingpa in Lhokha and was subsequenbtly commissioned to edit the Derge xylographic edition of the Collected Tantras of the Nyingmapa. In 1797, as this monumental task neared completion, he composed his celebrated catalogue to the collection, entitled Discourse Resembling A Divine Drum (bDe bar gshegs pa'i sde snod rdo rje theg pa snga 'gyur rgyud 'bum rin po che'i rtogs pa brjod pa lha'i rnga bo che lta bu'i gtam). Among his other works is the Ornament of the Enlightened Intention of the Second Buddha; an Extensive Commentary on the Sequence of the Path of the Inner Secret Mantras (gSangs sngags nang gi lam rim rgya cher 'grel pa sangs rgyas gnyis pa'i dgongs rgyan, NMKMG. Vol. 35), and the Introductory Tract on the Guhyagarbha Tantra entitled Ocean of Eloquence (gSang snying spyi don legs bshad rol mtsho, NK Vol. 77). One of his successors, the third Getse Paôçita incarnation Gyurme Tenpa Namgyel (b. 1886), also composed a Memorandum on the Axioms of the Guhyagarbha Tantra (gSang snying gtan tshigs kyi zin bris, NK Vol. 78).

During the 20th century the exegesis of the Guhyagarbha Tantra was further developed at Katok by a series of illustrious monastic preceptors who are still within living memory: Katok Situ Chokyi Gyatso (1880-1925), Rigdzin Ngawang Pelzang (1878-1941), Khenpo Jorden (1888-1951), Khenpo Nuden (b. 1907), and the contemporary lineage holder Chadrel Sangye Dorje. Among them, Katok Situ Chokyi Gyatso composed the Supplement on the Ritual Service of the Maôçala of the Wrathful Deities of the Magical Net, entitled Feast of the Awareness Holders (sGyu 'phrul khro bo'i dkyil 'khor du bsnyen pa'i tshul gyi lhan thabs rig 'dzin dga' ston, NK Vol. 17) and the Resolution of Doubts Concerning the Difficulties in Rongzompa's Chapter on the Attainment of the Meditational Deities entitled Beautiful Pearl Garland of Scriptural Authority and Reasoning (sGyu 'phrul dka' gnas snang ba lhar sgrub pa dogs gcod lung rigs mu tig phreng mdzes, NK Vol. 78). Rigdzin Ngawang Pelzang composed a Means for Attainment of the Magical Net entitled Harvest of Blessings (sGyu 'phrul sgrub thabs byin rlabs kyi snye ma, NK Vol. 17).

From the time of the monastery's foundation in 1159 until the incumbency of Katok Situ Chokyi Gyatso there were ninety successive spiritual hierarchs presiding over Katok. Following the restoration of Katok in recent decades, the late Khenpo Jamyang in 1999 published the most extensive d edition of the commentarial teachings of the "distant lineage" (bka' ma) in 120 volumes.
Rigdzin Kunzang Sherab (1636-98) founded the monastery of Namgyel Jangchubling at Pelyul in the Ngu-chu valley in 1665. He and his successors upheld the teaching tradition and treasure-cycles of Ratna Lingpa (1403-79) and Namcho Mingyur Dorje (1645-1667). Later, in the nineteenth century, Gyatrul Pema Dongak Tendzin (1830-1892) was encouraged by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa to institute the annual sgrub chen ceremony associated with the twenty-seven extant maôçalas of the "distant lineage", and he founded the branch-monastery of Dartang Dongak Shedrubling in Golok, which is the largest monastery representing the tradition of Pelyul. It was there that the extant texts constituting the "distant lineage of transmitted precepts" were republished in some twenty volumes by Orgyan Dongak Chokyi Nyima (1854-1906). The collection was subsequently reprinted twice in India by Dudjom Jigdrel Yeshe Dorje (b. 1904), but in length it has now been superceded by the abovementioned 120 volume Katok edition, compiled by Khenpo Jamyang.

Drubwang Padma Rigdzin (1625-1697) travelled to Kham at the behest of the Fifth Dalai Lama, and founded the monastery of Dzogchen Samten Choling at Rudam Kyitram in 1685. The seat was initially maintained by his three senior students, Terchen Nyima Drakpa (1647-1710), the renowned compiler of an authoritative edition of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Ponlob Namka Osel (c. 1650-1726), and Zhechen Rabjam Tenpei Gyaltsen (1650-1704). Later the monastery was expanded by his successive incarnations: Dzogchen Drubwang II Gyurme Thekchok Tendzin (1699-1757), Dzogchen Drubwang III Ngedon Tendzin Zangpo (1759-1792), Dzogchen Drubwang IV Mingyur Namkei Dorje (1793-1870), Dzogchen Drubwang V Thubten Chokyi Dorje (1872-1935), and Dzogchen Drubwang VI Orgyan Jigdrel Jangchub Dorje (c. 1935-1959).

From the monastery's foundation down to the present there have been twelve successive spiritual hierarchs at Dzogchen, including those incarnations. In particular, during the lifetime of the fourth incarnation, the àrïsiæha College was founded at Dzogchen by Gyel-se Zhenphen Tha-ye (b. 1800), also known as Kuzhab Gemang. At the request of Trichen Sangye Kunga of Mindroling and Patrul Pema Wangyal, he established a compendium of the "distant lineage of transmitted precepts", including the cycle of the Magical Net, in about ten volumes. He also composed an outline of the chapters of the Guhyagarbha Tantra, entitled gSang snying khog dbub sa bcad 'khor 'das bar gyi lo tsa (NK Vol, 78). His incarnate line is known as that of the Kuzhab Gemang, and among them, his immediate successor, Gyakong Khenpo Zhenpen Chokyi Nangwa (1871-1927), also known as Khenpo Zhenga, also wrote commentaries on thirteen major texts, including the Guhyagarbha Tantra. His Annotated Commentary on the Tantra of the Magical Net entitled Nucleus of Sun and Moon (sGyu 'phrul drva ba'i rgyud kyi mchan 'grel nyi zla snying po, NK Vol. 78) is very much a repetition of the interlinear sections of Longchen Rabjampa's Dispelling the Darkness of the Ten Directions (Phyogs bcu mun sel).

During the same period, Khenpo Pema Dorje (fl. 1830-1884) expanded the curriculum at àrïsiæha College, and authored his own ritual practices on the cycle of the Magical Net. These include two means for attainment: the Las byang nyung ngur dril ba (NK Vol. 13) and the Khro bo'i sgrub thabs snying po'i don bsdus (NK Vol. 14), and two burnt offering rites in respect of the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities entitled Zhi ba'i sbyin sreg bsnyen po'i kha skong zla ba'i 'od zer (NK Vol. 13) and Khro bo'i dkyil 'khor la brten pa'i zhi ba sbyin sreg bsnyen po'i kha skong zla ba'i ' od zer (NK Vol. 14).

Later developments
The last of the great six Nyingma monasteries, Zhechen Tenyi Dargyeling, was founded in 1735 by Zhechen II Gyurme Kunzang Namgyel (1713-1769). The complex was developed and expanded by the succession of Rabjam Rinpoches and by great scholars of the calibre of Gyurme Thutob Namgyel (b. 1787) and Zhechen Gyeltsab Gyurme Pema Namgyel (1871-1926). Among them, Gyurme Thutob Namgyel empowered Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820-1892) in the peaceful and wrathful deities of the Magical Net. The latter was directly responsible, along with Jamgon Kongtrul and Chogyur Dechen Lingpa, for the resurgence of Buddhism in nineteenth century Kham. In his youth, he had studied all the existing exegetical traditions of the sütras, treatises and tantras including the Guhyagarbha Tantra over thirteen years, and received all the transmissions of the Kangyur, the Collected Tantras of the Nyingmapa, and the Tengyur.

Jamyang Khyentse Wangppo had countless students who upheld the diverse lineages and schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Among them some of the foremost were Ju Mipham Namgyel (1846-1912), Katok Situ Chokyi Gyatso (1880-1925), Adzom Drukpa (1842-1924), Dodrub III Jigme Tenpei Nyima (1865-1926), Terton Sogyal (1856-1926), and Dzogchen Drubwang V Thubten Chokyi Dorje (1872-1935).
Ju Mipham Namgyel (1846-1912), a native of Junyung in Sershul county, received instruction in this tradition from both Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Paltrul Rinpoche (1808-1887). Renowned for his analyses of Buddhist sütra and tantra-based philosophy, his writings include an important summary of Longchen Rabjampa's Dispelling the Darkness of the Ten Directions (Phyogs bcu mun sel), entitled Nucleus of Inner Radiance (sPyi don 'od gsal snying po, NK Vol. 69), which examines the Guhyagarbha in terms of the ten aspects of mantra. A synopsis of this text is given above, pp. 00-00.

Dodrub III Jigme Tenpei Nyima (1865-1926), son of the great treasure-finder Dudjom Lingpa and upholder of Rigdzin Jigme Lingpa's lineage, also studied under Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and he composed a commentary on the Guhyagarbha Tantra, entitled Key to the Precious Treasury which Concisely Ascertains the Glorious Tantra of the Secret Nucleus (dPal gsang ba'i snying po'i rgyud kyi spyi don nyung ngu'i ngag gis rnam par 'byed pa rin chen mdzod kyi lde mig, NK Vol. 77). This text, which includes an elaborate discussion on the meditative techniques, was written down by Terton Sogyal at Dodrubchen's dictation. In the Guhyagarbha Temple at Dodrubchen Gonpa in Golok, the exegetical tradition of the Guhyagarbha Tantra was regularly taught during winter seminars. The same lineage was also established at Mewa Monastery near Khakok by his student Do Rinpoche Khamsum Zilnon Kyepei Dorje (b. 1890). It was here that Khenpo Sonam Chodrel composed a Synopsis on Difficulties in the Guhyagarbha entitled Oral Transmission of the Spiritual Teacher (gSang snying dka' gnas bsdud don bla ma'i zhal lung, NK Vol. 78).

In addition to these holders of the "distant lineage of transmitted precepts" (ring brgyud bka' ma), who disseminated and composed commentaries on the Guhyagarbha in central and eastern Tibet, we must also take note of the various gter ma traditions inspired by the original tantra-text.

Canonical support for the practice of concealing and rediscovering texts in the form of treasure doctrines (gter ma) is found in many sütras and tantras. The rationale is that, whereas the vitality of the distant lineage is inevitably weakened by the vicissitudes of time, the purity of the ancient translations is said to be retained in the "close lineage of treasures" (nye brgyud gter ma), a series of teachings which are revealed or discovered anew in each generation and which have a more immediate impact. Such teachings are classified as earth-treasures (sa gter), treasures of enlightened intention recalled through the direct communication of buddha-mind (dgongs gter), pure visions (dag snang), recollected treasures (rjes dran gyi gter), or rediscovered treasures (yang gter). Among these, the earth treasures are primarily associated with Padsmasambhava who transmitted voluminous teachings on Mahäyoga, Anuyoga and Atiyoga to his consort Yeshe Tsogyal. She is said to have retained these, rearranging them on five kinds of yellow scroll (symbolising the five buddha-families) in the symbolic script of the çäkinïs, and to have ed them in various sealed treasure-chests, to be rediscovered in future generations. Padmasambhava, King Trisong Detsen, Yeshe Tsogyal, as well as Vimalamitra, Vairocana, Nub Sangye Yeshe, Namkei Nyingpo, Nyak Jñänakumära, Nanam Dorje Dudjom, Nyangben Tingdzin Zangpo and others are similarly regarded as concealers of gter ma, while the future rediscoverers are their emanations.

Treasures revealed through enlightened intention and pure vision are somewhat different. The rationale here is that, owing to past aspirations, bodhisattvas continually hear the sound of the doctrine in the elements and in the sounds of wild beasts. Buddhas and bodhisattvas may reveal themselves in visions and teach the doctrine. So it is said in the Äryasarvapuôya-samuccayasamädhisütra (T. 134):

O Vimalatejas! the great bodhisattvas who are desirous of the teachings and who are endowed with perfect aspiration and reverence, will behold the visage of the Transcendent Lord Buddha and hear his doctrine even though they reside in another region of the universe.

This gter ma literature also developed a structural tendency, corresponding to the mdo sgyu sems gsum of the "distant lineage": In general the major discoveries should include texts concerning Guru Padmasambhava, Great Perfection and Mahäkaruôika (bla rdzogs thugs gsum), and the foremost of these should also contain texts concerning the Eight Transmitted Precepts, the Gathering of Intentions, and Vajrakïla (bka' dgongs phur gsum).

Among the treasure-finders (gter ston) there are some whose discoveries include texts associated with the maôçala of the hundred peaceful and wrathful deities, which is that of the Guhyagarbha and the cycle of the Magical Net. The most notable of these will be mentioned now, on the basis of their biographies recorded in Jamgon Kongtrul's nineteenth century compilation, the Lives of the Hundred Treasure-finders; a Beauteous Rosary of Precious Beryl (gTer ston brgya rtsa'i rnam thar rin chen bai çürya'i phreng mdzes).
Orgyan Lingpa (1323-c.1360), having obtained various prophesies and signs, proceeded to the Pema Tsekpa Rock behind Yarlung Sheldrak, where in a cave once frequented by Padmasambhava, there were natural stone images of the peaceful and wrathful deities, guarded by an image of Rähula. From the heads and other body-parts of that image of Rähula, Orgyan Lingpa extracted several cycles of texts, and specifically from the throat he discovered the Gathering of the Transmitted Precepts of the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities (Zhi khro bka' 'dus).
Karma Lingpa (c. 1327-1387) extracted from Mount Gampodar in Dakpo the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities: Natural Liberation through Enlightened Intention (Zhi khro dgongs pa rang grol, RTD. Vol. 4, pp. 1-281), the Great Compassionate One; the Peaceful and Wrathful Lotus Deities (Thugs rje chen po padma zhi khro), and other treasures. He gave the last mentioned to fourteen students, but conferred the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities: Natural Liberation through Enlightened Intention (Zhi khro dgongs pa rang grol) on his son Nyida Choje alone; demanding that for three generations it should be transmitted to only a single person. Then, it was disseminated widely by Gyarawa Namka Chokyi Gyatso, the third generation successor, from which time the lineage of its empowerment, transmission and guidance has continued unbroken. One section of this text, the Great Liberation by Hearing during the Intermediate State (Bar do thos grol chen po), is known in its English translations as the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
The treasurer-finder Sherab Ozer (b. 1518) whose main residence was at Pelri Monastery in Chongye, discovered the Point of Liberation; Peaceful and Wrathful Deities (Grol tig zhi khro, RTD. vols. 4, 11), the practice of which was maintained in the Chongye area through to the era of Rigdzin Jigme Lingpa (1730-1798), who was born in that locale.
Rigdzin Jatson Nyingpo (1585-1656) discovered many treasures, especially in the Kongpo region, including the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities: Nucleus of Definitive Meaning (Zhi khro nges don snying po, JTPD. Vol. 4).
Rigdzin Dudul Dorje (1615-72) whose name has already been mentioned in connection with the revitalising of Katok Monastery, obtained the treasure-cycles of the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities of the Magical Net and of the Eight Transmitted Precepts along with the protectors of these transmitted precepts (sGyu 'phrul zhi khro dang bka brgyad skor bka' srung bcas), which had been extracted from Mount Namchak Barwa in Puwo by the yogin Dungtrengchen.
The prodigious and youthful treasue-finder Namcho Mingyur Dorje (1645-1667), in his remarkably short life discovered twenty-three volumes of treasure-doctrines, including the gNam chos zhi khro (RTD. Vol. 64).
Chogyur Dechen Lingpa (1829-1870) received from Jamgon Kongtrul most of the Nyingma teachings that were prevalent in Kham, including the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities of the Magical Net (sGyu 'phrul zhi khro). He and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo were both endowed with seven successions, which concerned the "distant lineage" of the mdo sgyu sems gsum, the treasures, and pure visions. Among his profound treasures (zab gter), there are some such as the Great Compassionate One: the Magical Net of the Lotus (Thugs rje chen po padma sgyu 'phrul drva ba), discovered from Khandro Bumdzong, and the Magical Net according to the Seven Profound Cycles (Zab bdun sgyu 'phrul), which uphold the terminology and philosophical structures of the "distant lineage".

Jamyang Khyenste Wangpo (1820-92) whose role in the dissemination of all traditions throughout Eastern Tibet in the 19th century, has already been mentioned, was also a prolific discoverer of the treasures. These texts include the Cycle of the Magical Net of the Three Roots (rTsa gsum sgyu 'phrul drva ba'i skor (RTD. Vol. 7) which he extracted from Singu Yutso, above the hermitage of Rongme Karmo Taktsang. Also, in a pure vision, while residing at Dzongsho Deshek Dupa, he visited the Stüpa of àaûkaraküåa where he was empowered and instructed by Padmasambhava's eight emanations into the Eight Transmitted Precepts of Great Attainment (sGrub chen bka' brgyad) and the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities of the Magical Net (sGyu 'phrul zhi khro).
Indigenous Tibetan commentaries on the Guhyagarbha Tantra and its related literature are contained in the Collected Transmitted Precepts of the Nyingmapa (NK Vols. 13-17, 60-89). These texts broadly fall into two categories- those which interpret the root-verses of the Guhyagarbha Tantra in the context of the "distant lineage of transmitted precepts", according to which this tantra is representative of Mahäyoga, and those which interpret it in terms of the resultant vehicle, Atiyoga, the Great Perfection. As Ju Mipham Namgyel says in his Summary Entitled Nucleus of Inner Radiance (sPyi don 'od gsal snying po, NK Vol. 69):

The exegetical techniques through which this tantra has been studied comprise two great traditional paths, namely the exegetical method which is extensive and common, and the expository method which is profound and uncommon. The former refers to the wondrous tradition of the transmitted precepts of the glorious Zur family who were kings among all the holders of gnostic mantras, and is explained in accordance with Mahäyoga's own textual tradition. The second refers to the unsurpassed tradition of the two lions of speech- Rongzom Paôçita Chokyi Zangpo and Longchen Rabjampa. Because this tantra is classified as the Ati (highest) subdivision of Mahäyoga, it is essentially identical to the Mahä subdivision of Atiyoga, among the three classes of the Great Perfection. For in the secret Great Perfection there are three categories of teaching, namely: that which reveals the maôçala in which the generation and perfection stages [of meditation] are indivisible, and mind and pristine cognition naturally manifest; that which reveals the true nature of mind to be the natural expression of primordial buddhahood, without regard for the generation or perfection stages; and that which reveals pristine cognition in its essence, manifesting naturally as buddhahood. Among them, this exposition accords with the first.

And he continues:

While these two exegetical methods are of a single savour in that their intentions are directed towards the conclusive essential meaning, in the context of this work, the exegesis accords with the latter tradition, possessing the essentials of profound esoteric instruction.

These two exegetical traditions do not therefore uphold contradictory dogmas but they do indicate a subtle difference of emphasis.

In the words of Lochen Dharmaârï:

Mahäyoga realises all things to be the miracle of mind's true nature (sems nyid) in which appearance and emptiness are indivisible, Anuyoga realises all things to be the expressive power of mind's true nature, in which the expanse [of reality] and pristine cognition are indivisible; and Atiyoga realises all things to be manifest naturally as mind's true nature, the naturally present pristine cognition, which is present atemporally, without creation or cessation.

And Zurchungpa Sherab Drak:

Mahäyoga appears as the miracle of awareness. Anuyoga appears as the expressive power of intrinsic awareness. Atiyoga is awareness, naturally manifest.

There is no doubt that the basic techniques of Mahäyoga, stressing the nature of the ground and the gradual visualisations of the generation stage, are present in the Guhyagarbha Tantra, but the text equally demonstrates the integration of both the generation and perfection stages of meditation and the self-manifesting nature of mind and pristine cognition, which are associated with Atiyoga. Indeed, the text comprises the generation and perfection stages, as well as the seeds of Great Perfection, indicating that there is no fundamental contradiction between these exegetical approaches.

The first method is exemplified by those treatises derived from the "distant lineage", including the Indian commentaries by Viläsavajra, and Buddhaguhya, as well as the Tibetan commentaries by Yungton Dorjepel, Tanak Drolmawa Samdrub Dorje, Namka Rinchen, Menlungpa Mikyo Dorje, Lochen Dharmaârï, Pema Gyurme Gyatso, Katok Getse Gyurme Tsewang Chodrub, Dodrub III Jigme Tenpei Nyima, and Gyurme Pen-de Ozer. The second is exemplified by the commentaries of Süryaprabhäsiæha, Padmasambhava, Rongzompa, Longchen Rabjampa, Ju Mipham Namgyel and Zhenpen Chokyi Nangwa. The treatises composed by all these authors on the Guhyagarbha have already been noted.

In the course of the textual annotations, the reader's attention will be drawn to specific points which differentiate these two approaches, the first tending towards reductionism and classification with emphasis on the structural basis of Mahäyoga, the second elaborating the essential, often covert meanings. While the edition and translation of the Guhyagarbha Tantra contained in this volume largely follows the interpretation of Longchen Rabjampa's commentary Dispelling the Darkness of the Ten Directions (Phyogs bcu mun sel), the variant readings of the extant manuscript and xylograph editions raise further difficulties, which I have sought to resolve by consulting the vajrapäda established by Lochen Dharmaârï in his definitive Ornament of the Intention of the Lord of Secrets (gSang bdag dgongs rgyan).

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