by David Reigle

An extensive archive of Sanskrit texts has been assembled over the past thirty-five years in connection with research on the question of the existence of a once universal but now hidden wisdom tradition. In particular, these Sanskrit texts were gathered to one day annotate the so far unknown "Book of Dzyan," a generic title meaning Book of Wisdom (Jnana), used by H. P. Blavatsky for the source of the stanzas translated in her 1888 book, The Secret Doctrine. This ongoing research indicates the likelihood that such a book exists, and therefore that at some point it will become available.

There was always the intention to eventually make these Sanskrit texts widely accessible, and this has now become possible on the web. This archive of the Eastern Tradition Research Institute includes almost all known printed Sanskrit Buddhist texts, many Sanskrit editions of the primary Hindu texts, and the major Sanskrit and Prakrit Jaina texts. The Sanskrit Buddhist texts will be posted first, as being more in demand, since they are harder to find than the Hindu texts.

These are digital image scans of the original editions. They show the text exactly as it was printed, without the inevitable introduction of typographical errors when these texts are input to make electronically searchable files. They also make it possible to find specific references to specific page numbers in specific editions. Most importantly, they make available a full library of Sanskrit texts, many of which are rare and hard to find. As we continue the search for the Book of Dzyan, it is our hope that others will find these online Sanskrit texts to be useful in their own study or research.

Tags: buddhist, hindu, jain, jaina, reigle, sanskrit, text

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On the auspicious occasion of the winter solstice, which this year is in rare combination with a lunar eclipse, we launch the Online Sanskrit Texts Project with an auspicious Buddhist text, which also is very rare. In the early history of Tibet, centuries before the introduction of Buddhism, this text is said to have fallen from the sky and been received by the king. It is the Karanda-vyuha, or more fully, the Avalokitesvara-guna-karanda-vyuha, "The Wondrous Display of the Treasure Chest of the Virtues of Avalokitesvara." Avalokitesvara, the embodiment of compassion, became the patron deity of Tibet, and his mantra, om mani-padme hum, was recited throughout the land. This text is the source of the Avalokitesvara teaching in Tibet, how it all started.

An account of how this Sanskrit sutra came to Tibet is given by the 14th-century Tibetan writer Bu-ston, in his History of Buddhism (translated by E. Obermiller, vol. 2, 1932, p. 184):

"As the 26th of this line there appeared the king Tho-tho-ri-nan-tsen. When the latter attained the age of 16 years and was abiding on the summit of the palace Yam-bu-la-gan, a casket fell from the skies, and when its lid was opened, the Karandavyuhasutra, the 100 Precepts concerning Worship and a golden Caitya were found within. The casket received the name of the 'Mysterious Helper' and was worshipped (by the king). The latter came to live 120 years and came to witness the dawn of the Highest Doctrine; up to that time the kingdom had been ruled by the Bon. In a dream (which this king had) it was prophesied to him that on the 5th generation one would come to know the meaning of these (sacred texts which he had miraculously obtained)."

An alternative account is added to this by the 15th-century Tibetan writer 'Gos lo-tsa-ba gZhon-nu-dpal, in his Blue Annals (translated by George N. Roerich, vol. 1, 1949, p. 38):

"In the reign of Lha-tho-tho-ri-gnan-btsan the Cintamani-dharani (Tsinta-ma-ni'i gzuns) and the sPan-bkon phyag-rgya-ma (Kg. mDo-sde, No. 267) fell from Heaven, and were worshipped. Because of this, the life-span of the king and that of the kingdom increased. This became known as the 'Beginning of the Holy Doctrine.' Nel-pa pandita said: 'Because the Bon-pos adored Heaven, it was said that (these books) had fallen from Heaven.' Instead of this Bon-po tradition, it is said that (these) books had been brought (to Tibet) by the Pandita Buddhiraksita (bLo-sems 'tsho) and the translator (lo-sa-ba) Li-the-ste. Since the (Tibetan) king could not read, and did not understand the meaning (of the books) the pandita and the translator returned. This (account) seems to me to be true."

A book brought to Tibet by a Sanskrit pandit in that early period would no doubt seem like it fell from heaven. It was greatly treasured. When it was translated into Tibetan centuries later, it provided the source material on their beloved Avalokitesvara, the compassionate presence thought to be incarnate in the Dalai Lamas.

In 1872 this Sanskrit text, lost in India for nearly a thousand years, made its way back to India by way of a Nepalese manuscript. It was one of the very first Sanskrit Buddhist texts ever to be published. An edition was prepared from this manuscript by Satyavrata Samasrami, and serialized in the monthly Sanskrit journal, The Hindu Commentator. An offprint of it was published separately in 1873. This edition, in either form, became very rare. In 1961, P. L. Vaidya included this text in his Mahayana-Sutra-Samgraha, part 1, basing his edition entirely on Samasrami's edition. From then until now, Vaidya's edition has been the only edition of this text available. The Sanskrit text is very corrupt, needing corrections and emendations. Vaidya made a number of these in his edition; e.g., sravastyam for sravantyam in the first line. But these were unmarked, so no one knew for sure exactly what readings were in Samasrami's edition before the corrections and emendations were made.

The 1873 offprint edition was listed in M. B. Emeneau's Union List of Printed Indic Texts and Translations in American Libraries as being held only at Library of Congress. But it was missing when I checked for it on more than one visit made there, years apart. I had despaired of finding it in North America, and resigned myself to using Vaidya's edition, when I found The Hindu Commentator on a visit to Yale University Library. The digital image scans provided here are from photocopies I made of this text from this journal at Yale. Our gratitude goes to the Yale University Library for preserving this extremely rare material.


On this new year's day, 2011, we post our second Sanskrit text, F. Max Muller's 1881 edition of the Vajracchedika or Diamond Sutra. Appropriately, it represents the second "turning of the wheel of the Dharma,"
the traditional way of referring the second promulgation of teachings given by
Gautama Buddha. This is when he taught the "Perfection of Wisdom" texts, or
Prajna-paramita sutras, which marked a new beginning, a new point of departure.
In the first "turning of the wheel of the Dharma," the Buddha had taught the "four noble truths," which conclude with the "eightfold path," and he had taught the twelvefold chain of causation showing "dependent
origination," which is considered to be his core teaching. According to this
promulgation, everything that makes up the universe as we know it, all the
dharmas, are momentary. Everything exists in a chain or series, in which each
momentary point depends on a preceding one, and causes a following one. All
compounded or conditioned things exist only in dependence on other things.
Although being momentary and dependent on causes and conditions, the dharmas or
building blocks of the universe nonetheless have their own distinct reality.
This is called their svabhava, their "inherent nature." It is what makes them
real, and distinguishable from other dharmas.
In the second "turning of the wheel of the Dharma," the Buddha shocked his former students by declaring that all dharmas, all things, lack an inherent nature or svabhava. He now taught that everything is empty of
inherent nature, which in this context comes to mean inherent existence. Thus,
by his new teaching of universal emptiness (sunyata), 
the Buddha undermined the
reality of the world that he had previously taught. While most Mahayana sutras
teach emptiness, and so are part of the second turning, this promulgation is
best known by its Perfection of Wisdom sutras. These range from the very brief
Heart Sutra to the very extensive Perfection of Wisdom Sutra in 100,000 lines.
In between are the brief Diamond Sutra, the medium-length Perfection of
Wisdom Sutra in 8,000 lines, and the extensive ones in 18,000 and 25,000 lines. 
Among the more than twenty Perfection of Wisdom sutras, the Diamond Sutra is unique. The Perfection of Wisdom sutras are defined by their teaching of emptiness (sunyata). Yet, the Diamond Sutra does not even
mention this term. It of course agrees with all the other Perfection of Wisdom
sutras in what it teaches. But in doing so, it never says that anything is empty
(sunya). This could be taken as evidence that it is older than the other
Perfection of Wisdom sutras, possibly even being the original core from which
the others developed. To elaborate its teachings, the terms empty (sunya) and
emptiness (sunyata) would then have been used, so successfully as to become the
defining teaching of these texts. We know that these texts developed, from the
fact that the early Chinese translations of them are lacking things found in the
later Chinese and Tibetan translations, and in the later Sanskrit manuscripts
preserved in Nepal. The Diamond Sutra, too, has undergone change, as shown by
early Sanskrit manuscripts of it found in Eastern Turkestan, in Gilgit, and
recently in Afghanistan.
The fact that the Diamond Sutra is written in prose rather than verse made many of these changes easily possible. By contrast, the verse work on the Perfection of Wisdom, called the Ratna-guna-samcaya-gatha, could not so easily be changed. To modernize its Sanskrit words, e.g., to change paduma to
padma, would change the number of syllables and thus spoil the meter that the
verses were written in. This verse work  preserves many non-standard Sanskrit
forms or archaisms, which since the mid-1900s have been graced by the name
Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit. Because these linguistic features are usually found in
verses or gathas, this dialect may also be called Gatha Sanskrit. Although the
language of the Ratna-guna-samcaya-gatha is thus older than the language of even
the oldest extant manuscript of the Diamond Sutra, it does not necessarily
follow that this verse work is older than the Diamond Sutra. The prose of the
Diamond Sutra was easily upgradable, but not one went so far as to add the term
emptiness (sunyata) to it. The Ratna-guna-samcaya-gatha does speak of
Evidence for the relative antiquity of the Diamond Sutra within the Perfection of Wisdom corpus was provided by Red Pine in his 2001 translation (The Diamond Sutra, pp. 32-33):
". . . Conze and other scholars think that the Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines was the first such scripture to appear and that it was followed by versions of the same basic sutra (same cast, same
events, same teaching, often the same words) in 18,000, 25,000 and 100,000
lines. Conze also thought that after the expansion of the Perfection of Wisdom
in Eight Thousand Lines into its longer versions, it was then contracted into
4,000 and 2,500 lines, and elements of its teaching further edited into 700
lines, 500 lines, and finally into the Diamond Sutra in 300 lines. But one thing
such an interpretation overlooks or fails to explain is that in the Perfection
of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines and in all the sutras based on it, Subhuti
often takes the Buddha's place in teaching the perfection of wisdom, whereas in
the Diamond Sutra he hears this teaching for the first time and for the first
time sets forth on the bodhisattva path. Thus, it makes more sense to view the
Diamond Sutra as preceding these other texts, rather than following them."
The original Sanskrit text of the Diamond Sutra, or more fully, Diamond-Cutter Sutra, the Vajra-cchedika-sutra, was first edited by Max Muller and published in 1881. It was among the first several Sanskrit Buddhist
texts to be published. Muller had learned of the existence of some ancient
Sanskrit texts or manuscripts in Japan. With the help of two Buddhist
priests who had come from Japan to Oxford to learn Sanskrit from him, and their
friends still in Japan, and another gentleman living in Japan, he was able to
obtain copies of some of them, including the Vajra-cchedika. Muller was also
able to obtain a copy of a Tibetan blockprint of it that included the Sanskrit
text. He obtained a third copy of it in the form of a specimen of block-printing
from China. About his edition based on these three sources, he writes (p. 17):
"When there is a difference, the Japanese text generally gives an independent and shorter form, as compared with the text of the Chinese and Tibetan books."
"I have restored the text as well as it could be done, following chiefly the Chinese and Tibetan authorities, though occasionally giving preference to the Japanese text."
The very early text from Japan was written on palm-leaves that were brought from India to China in the mid-first millennium, and then to Japan in the early 600s C.E. It is therefore one of the oldest sources for this
text that we have, of similar age to the partial manuscripts recovered from
Eastern Turkestan, Gilgit, and Afghanistan. These old sources, as Muller noted,
give a shorter and somewhat different text than the later sources. Muller could
not have known this, working in 1881, so he based his edition more on the later
sources from Tibet and China.
Like any pioneering edition, its readings can be improved by more and better manuscripts of even the later sources. But the fact that he was able to use for his edition the early
palm-leaf manuscript from Japan gives his edition lasting value. 
The Diamond Sutra has been extremely popular in China and Japan, especially in the Chan and Zen schools of Buddhism. For this reason, most of the existing English translations of this text were made from one or other of
the several Chinese translations made in the first millennium C.E. It is worth
noting Max Muller's experience with this text and his two Japanese Buddhist
priest students. Muller writes (p. 18):
"Now and then the Chinese translations enabled me to restore the true reading, and I have great pleasure in acknowledging the ready help which I received, while preparing this text, from my two Japanese pupils,
Mr. Bunyiu Nanjio and Mr. Kasawara. . . . The help to be derived from the
Chinese translations, numerous as they are, is less, however, than might have
been expected . . . .
"From what I have seen, I doubt whether even the best Chinese scholars can derive an accurate understanding of the Vagrakkhedika or similar works from the translations even of the best translators, unless they
can first read them in the original Sanskrit. When they had done that, my two
pupils were often able to understand far better what Hiouen-thsang and others
must have wished to express, while they seemed unable, without this, to discover
any definite and translateable meaning in the Chinese versions, even when they
knew them almost by heart."

Edward Conze translated the Diamond Sutra and the Heart Sutra from the original Sanskrit in his book, Buddhist Wisdom Books. Here is his translation of the summary verse found at the end of the Diamond

As stars, a fault of vision, as a lamp,
A mock show, dew drops, or a bubble,
A dream, a lightning flash, or cloud,
So should one view what is conditioned.
It would be fitting for the third text posted here to represent the third "turning of the wheel of the Dharma," or promulgation of teachings given by the Buddha. The specific text in which he is considered to have done this is the Samdhi-nirmocana-sutra. This sutra, however, has not yet been recovered in the original Sanskrit; we have only its Tibetan and Chinese translations. From these, a French translation by Etienne Lamotte was published in 1935. In 1995 two English translations were published, from Tibetan by John Powers, and from Chinese by Thomas Cleary. Another translation from Chinese, by John P. Keenan, was published in 2000. According to Tibetan tradition, as reported by Doboom Tulku, the actual third turning of the wheel of the Dharma is a specific chapter of the Samdhi-nirmocana-sutra, chapter seven (but chapter five in the Chinese translation by Hsuan-tsang/Xuanzang). Here are three paragraphs from the conclusion of this chapter, in John Powers' translation, that summarize the three turnings of the wheel of the Dharma. I have added a few Sanskrit words in double brackets.

"Then the Bodhisattva Paramarthasamudgata said to the Bhagavan [[Buddha]]: 'Initially, in the Varanasi area, in the Deer Park called Sages' Teaching, the Bhagavan taught the aspects of the four truths of the Aryas for those who were genuinely engaged in the [Sravaka] vehicle. The wheel of doctrine you turned at first is wondrous. Similar doctrines had not been promulgated before in the world by gods or humans. However, this wheel of doctrine that the Bhagavan turned is surpassable, provides an opportunity [for refutation], is of interpretable meaning, and serves as a basis for dispute.

"'Then the Bhagavan turned a second wheel of doctrine which is more wondrous still for those who are genuinely engaged in the Great Vehicle, because of the aspect of teaching emptiness [[sunyata]], beginning with the lack of own-being [[svabhava]] of phenomena [[dharmas]], and beginning with their absence of production, absence of cessation, quiescence from the start, and being naturally in a state of nirvana. However, this wheel of doctrine that the Bhagavan turned is surpassable, provides an opportunity [for refutation], is of interpretable meaning, and serves as a basis for dispute.

"'Then the Bhagavan turned a third wheel of doctrine, possessing good differentiations, and exceedingly wondrous, for those genuinely engaged in all vehicles, beginning with the lack of own-being [[svabhava]] of phenomena [[dharmas]], and beginning with their absence of production, absence of cessation, quiescence from the start, and being naturally in a state of nirvana. Moreover, that wheel of doctrine turned by the Bhagavan is unsurpassable, does not provide an opportunity [for refutation], is of definitive meaning, and does not serve as a basis for dispute.'"

The teachings of the third turning found in this and other sutras taught by the historical Gautama Buddha were systematized by the future Buddha Maitreya, at the request of Asanga. Asanga is believed by tradition to have ascended to Tushita heaven, where Maitreya dwells, in order to receive the teachings that he had requested. Besides these teachings that he received, Asanga also wrote works of his own in further explanation of them, and he taught them to his younger brother, Vasubandhu. Vasubandhu, too, wrote explanations of these teachings. The works of these three authors, Maitreya, Asanga, and Vasubandhu, form the basis of the Yogachara, or "yoga practice" school of Buddhism. This is the school following the third turning of the wheel of the Dharma. Tibetan writers usually refer to this as the "mind-only" or Chitta-matra school. However, some Tibetan writers object to this, saying that this school actually teaches "Great Madhyamaka," and not "mind-only." But all agree that it can correctly be called the Yogachara school, so we will do so.

Of the major Yogachara works, the huge Yogachara-bhumi is attributed to Maitreya in Chinese tradition. In Tibetan tradition, five works are attributed to Maitreya, including the Ratna-gotra-vibhaga. The Ratna-gotra-vibhaga is not attributed to Maitreya in Chinese tradition. It is a synthesis of the tathagata-garbha or buddha-nature teachings, taught by Gautama Buddha in a small number of the sutras of the third turning. The other works of Maitreya and Asanga and Vasubandhu do not teach this, but rather give the distinctive Yogachara teachings. The Ratna-gotra-vibhaga with its tathagata-garbha or buddha-nature teachings became the most important of the works of the third turning for those who accept the "Great Madhyamaka" or "Great Middle Way" understanding of these texts. The Ratna-gotra-vibhaga is also called the Uttara-tantra. Its Sanskrit original was discovered in Tibet by Rahula Sankrtyayana on his trips there in the 1930s in search of Sanskrit manuscripts. From the photographs that he took of it, the text was edited for publication by E. H. Johnston. Johnston, living in England, died during World War Two, but his edited text was published in India in 1950. This is here posted as our third text.

In addition to the Ratna-gotra-vibhaga, a book containing two other Sanskrit texts is also posted now. It is Max Muller's edition of the Prajna-paramita-hrdaya-sutra, the "Heart Sutra," and the Usnisa-vijaya-dharani. This book was published in 1884, three years after his edition of the Prajna-paramita-vajraccedika-sutra, the "Diamond Sutra" (posted here earlier). Both of these editions are partially based on ancient manuscript material preserved in Japan. They go together.
The fourth and fifth Sanskrit texts posted here are found edited in a single book by Max Muller. They are the Prajna-paramita-hrdaya-sutra, or "Heart Sutra,"  and the Usnisa-vijaya-dharani. The Heart Sutra is about 50 lines in length, compared with the Diamond Sutra of about 300 lines in length. These are the two most popular Prajna-paramita or "Perfection of Wisdom" sutras. The core teaching of the Perfection of Wisdom texts is emptiness (sunyata), the emptiness of all phenomena (dharmas). Unlike the Diamond Sutra, which does not even mention emptiness, emptiness is the central theme of the Heart Sutra. It says that all dharmas are empty, beginning with the five aggregates (skandhas) that make up a person. It starts this with the famous line, "Form is emptiness, and emptiness is form." Along with his Sanskrit edition, Muller includes a pioneering English translation of the Heart Sutra in this book.

The Usnisa-vijaya-dharani is (or was) a widely used dharani. A dharani is a short text that includes mantras, and that is used like a mantra. That is, it is recited or inscribed for its blessing power, whether for long life, for protection, or for any other such purpose. Since a dharani includes mantras, it is classified with the tantras rather than with the sutras. Like other scholars of his time, Max Muller took a dim view of such texts, as may be seen in his comments on pp. 31-32. In some editions of the Tibetan Kangyur, the dharanis are given in two separate volumes immediately after the tantra section. In other editions, they are simply included in the tantra section. Some stone inscriptions of the Usnisa-vijaya-dharani are still found in China, where this text was especially popular.
OK, the honeymoon is over. Now, down to business. For as the saying goes, "So many texts; so little time." I will now be posting several texts at a time, with comparatively few comments. Sometimes I might post only a list of their titles.

Since we never know what might happen tomorrow, I am choosing to post what I consider to be the most relevant texts first, rather than taking them systematically in alphabetical order. The group of seven files posted today includes four texts:

Bodhisattva-bhumi, by Maitreya or Asanga

Mahayana-sutralamkara, by Maitreya or Asanga (with vyakhya by Vasubandhu)

Madhyanta-vibhaga, by Maitreya or Asanga (with bhasya by Vasubandhu)

Prajna-paramita-hrdaya-sutra (the Heart Sutra)

The Bodhisattva-bhumi is given in three files: The edition by Unrai Wogihara published in two volumes, 1930 and 1936, and the edition by Nalinaksha Dutt published in 1966. Dutt's edition was reprinted as a second edition in 1978, but it is in fact just a reprint of the first edition, as he had died in the interim. Dutt was able to use a better manuscript for his edition than the two manuscripts used by Wogihara. But Wogihara established his text by comparison with the carefully made Tibetan translation. Today, both editions are still necessary.

The Mahayana-sutralamkara is the 1907 edition prepared by Sylvain Levi, the first Yogacara text to be published. It includes Vasubandhu's commentary (vyakhya). Other editions based on this one were prepared by S. Bagchi, 1970, and Dwarika Das Shastri, 1985. Neither of them utilized new manuscripts, many of which have become available since Levi's edition. There is a great need for a new edition utilizing these manuscripts. In 1985, Naoya Funahashi published revised editions of chapters 1-3 and 9-10, based on new manuscripts. This is given here as our fifth file.

The Madhyanta-vibhaga was published in three editions, made independently of each other. The first to be published was by Gadjin Nagao in 1964. The edition by Nathmal Tatia and Anantalal Thakur had actually been set up in type before this, but was not published until 1967. This is the one posted here. They were able to add a list of errata based on comparison with Nagao's edition. Both editions include the commentary (bhasya) by Vasubandhu. The third of these editions was prepared by Ramchandra Pandeya in collaboration with V. V. Gokhale, also before the other two editions were published. But it was not published until 1971. Pandeya, in order to make his edition more useful, added to it Sthiramati's sub-commentary.

The Prajna-paramita-hrdaya-sutra, or Heart Sutra, is now posted in the 1948 edition by Edward Conze. This edition used many more manuscripts than the pioneering 1884 edition by Max Muller, posted here earlier. Conze's edition is found in an article published in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, most of which is in English.
In the next group of eight files, the first continues with the Yogacara-bhumi, a massive text attributed to Maitreya in Chinese tradition, and attributed to his disciple Asanga in Tibetan tradition. In the last group of files, the Bodhisattva-bhumi was posted. This forms the fifteenth chapter of the Yogacara-bhumi, but it also circulated independently. Here posted is the first five chapters of the Yogacara-bhumi, edited from photographs of a manuscript discovered in Tibet by Rahula Sankrtyayana in the late 1930s. This discovery generated much interest, and the publication of the Yogacara-bhumi was eagerly awaited. The task of editing this text for publication was entrusted to the able Vidhushekhara Bhattacharya. After delays and difficulties, the first five chapters were published in 1957. Publication of the remaining chapters dragged on, with innumerable setbacks. These chapters eventually came out piecemeal, edited by various scholars in various publications. The latest of these chapers to be published (chapter 6, edited by Martin Delhey), finally appeared in 2009 in Vienna (Wien). By then, the entire generation of people who had eagerly awaited publication of this text after its discovery had died.

The Sukhavati-vyuha, "Display of the Land of Happiness," is a sutra that describes the heaven or paradise called Sukhavati. In Tibetan, this word was translated as bde ba can, often romanized as devachan. As may be seen, this does not include the Sanskrit word "deva," but rather includes the Tibetan word "bde ba," pronounced dewa or deva. The final syllable, can, pronounced chan, is the possessive suffix corresponding to the Sanskrit possessive suffix vat, or in feminine gender, vati. Sukhavati, or bde ba can, literally means "possessing happiness." Since it refers to the realm or heaven of Amitabha (the Buddha of "boundless light"), it is usually translated as the land of happiness, or the land of bliss. This sutra exists in two forms, smaller and larger. These texts were first edited in Sanskrit by Max Muller and Bunyiu Nanjio, and published in 1883. This is our second file. In 1931, Unrai Ogiwara (Wogihara) published thirty pages of emendations to this edition. A revised edition of the larger Sukhavati-vyuha, utilizing these emendations, and based on new manuscripts, was prepared by Atsuuji Ashikaga and published in 1965. This is our third file. After that, in 1975, twenty-four more pages of emendations were published by Kotatsu Fujita: twenty-two pages to Ashikaga's edition of the larger Sukhavativyuha, and two pages to Muller's and Nanjio's edition of the smaller Sukhavativyuha. This listing of emendations is our fourth file. Earlier, in 1955, Ashikaga had published a version of the smaller Sukhavativyuha based on a text from Ishiyama Temple. This is our fifth file. The article that this Sanskrit text is published in is in Japanese. Since I cannot read Japanese, I do not know the details about this edition. English translations of this text in its smaller and larger versions were published in 1894 (F. Max Muller, Sacred Books of the East, vol. 49: Buddhist Mahayana Texts), and in 1996 (Luis O. Gomez, The Land of Bliss).

The Abhisamayalamkara is a text by Maitreya, and is the single most widely studied text in Tibet. It is used to study the Prajna-paramita or Perfection of Wisdom teachings. From this large body of teachings, it puts together the teachings on the path to buddhahood. As usual, we begin with the first Sanskrit edition of this text to be published. It was prepared by Th. Stcherbatsky and E. Obermiller, and was published in the USSR in 1929. This is our sixth file. This edition includes the Tibetan translation. Our seventh and eighth files are the large 2-volume edition of the Aloka commentary by Haribhadra on the Abhisamayalamkara and on the Prajnaparamita-sutra in 8,000 lines, which is included in this edition. This edition was prepared by Unrai Wogihara and published in Japan in 1932-1935.
In the Abhidharma, the teachings or Dharma of the Buddha were systematized. The Abhidharma provided the Buddhist worldview, much like modern science provides the worldview prevalent today in the Western world and elsewhere. The standard textbook of Abhidharma that has been studied in the Mahayana Buddhist countries of the East is the classic Abhidharma-kosa by Vasubandhu, written about sixteen centuries ago. In its Chinese translation, it became the standard Abhidharma work studied in China and Japan, and in its Tibetan translation it became the standard Abhidharma work studied in Tibet and Mongolia. But its Sanskrit original was lost, with the disappearance of Buddhism in India. In 1935 its Sanskrit original was re-discovered in a monastery in Tibet by Rahula Sankrtyayana, and was photographed by him.

The Abhidharma-kosa by Vasubandhu is a work in 600 very difficult verses. Vasubandhu wrote his own commentary (bhasya) on it. Another commentary (vyakhya) was written by Yasomitra on both Vasubandhu's verses and his auto-commentary. Yasomitra's text was discovered first, by way of manuscripts from Nepal. So it was published first. Now posted are the following editions, here listed in chronological order:

The Abhidharmakosa-vyakhya by Yasomitra, chap. 1, edited by S. Levi and Th. Stcherbatsky from a partially illegible manuscript, and published in 1918 in Russia under difficult wartime circumstances.

The Abhidharmakosa-vyakhya by Yasomitra, chap. 2 (incomplete), edited by U. Wogihara and Th. Stcherbatsky, and published in 1931 in Russia after many delays. Wogihara was able to use an additional manuscript.

The Abhidharmakosa-vyakhya by Yasomitra, complete in two large volumes, edited by Unrai Wogihara, and published in 1932 and 1936 in Japan. After Wogihara had nearly despaired of ever getting this full text published, a group of supporters in Japan got together and formed The Publishing Association of Abhidharmakosavyakhya and achieved its publication.

The Abhidharmakosa by Vasubandhu, edited by V. V. Gokhale from the photographs taken in Tibet by Rahula Sankrtyayana, and published in 1946 in the Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. At long last, the Sanskrit original of this classic root text was available. This excellent edition remains a standard source for scholarly work with this text.

The Abhidharmakosa-vyakhya by Yasomitra, chaps. 1-3, edited by Narendra Nath Law, and published in the Calcutta Oriental Series in 1949. An important purpose of this publication was to make Yasomitra's sub-commentary available in India. Another volume, containing chap. 4, was published in 1957. A copy of this book is in our archives and will be posted later.

The Abhidharmakosa-bhasya by Vasubandhu, edited by P. Pradhan from the photographs taken in Tibet by Rahula Sankrtyayana, and published in 1967 in the Tibetan Sanskrit Works Series from Patna, India. It took twenty-one long years between the publication of the root text by Gokhale in 1946 and the publication of the author's own commentary thereon, listed here. It sold out quickly, and a second edition was published in the same series in 1975. This second edition included a 174-page English introduction by Aruna Haldar, but no change in the text edition except correcting typographical errors (and introducing new ones). In the meantime, a complete index to the first edition had been prepared by Akira Hirakawa, in comparison with and including the Tibetan and Chinese translations. It was published in Japan in three volumes, 1973-1978. It also included several pages of corrections to the first edition. The pagination of the second edition attempted to match that of the first edition, but the number of lines per page increased, making the line numbers given in Hirakawa's index not quite match. For this reason, we have posted the rare first edition.

Besides the Abhidharma-kosa by Vasubandhu, there is another important Abhidharma text, the Abhidharma-samuccaya by Asanga. it is considered in Tibet to be the higher Abhidharma. A partial manuscript of it having 17 of about 44 or 45 leaves was discovered. This fragmentary manuscript was edited and its text published by V. V. Gokhale in 1947 in the Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (issued in 1949). Based on this fragmentary text, on a Sanskrit manuscript of the bhasya commentary thereon, and on the Tibetan and Chinese translations, Prahlad Pradhan published a complete Sanskrit edition of this text in 1950, in which the missing portions were re-translated into Sanskrit. Both of these editions are here posted.
The Madhyamaka or "Middle Way" is the best known and most widespread form of Mahayana or Northern Buddhism. It was systematized from the Buddhist sutras, specifically the Prajnaparamita or Perfection of Wisdom sutras, by Nagarjuna. Nagarjuna did this, above all, in his classic work, the Mula-madhyamaka-karika. Like any such verse work, it requires a commentary to be properly understood. The most widely studied commentary for the past several centuries (in its Tibetan translation), is the Prasannapada by Chandrakirti. Our next group of posted texts begins with P. L. Vaidya's 1960 edition of Nagarjuna's Mula-madhyamaka-karika with the Prasannapada commentary by Chandrakirti. It is based on the 1903-1913 edition prepared by Louis de la Vallee Poussin, which will be posted later.

While the Mula-madhyamaka-karika stands out far and above any other book by Nagarjuna, he did write other books. According to a tradition that is widespread in Tibet among Gelugpas, he wrote five other books on Madhyamaka in the form of reasoned treatises. Together, these form the six treatises on Madhyamaka by Nagarjuna. The other five are: Yukti-sastika, Vaidalya-prakarana, Sunyata-saptati, Vigraha-vyavartani, and Ratnavali. (Older accounts give the Vyavahara-siddhi instead of the Ratnavali, but this book is lost except for a quotation of six verses from it found in Santaraksita's Madhyamakalamkara.) Of these five, the Vigraha-vyavartini has been recovered in the original Sanskrit, the Ratnavali has been partly recovered, and of the remaining three only quotations have been recovered.

We post the first printed edition of the Vigraha-vyavartani, prepared by K. P. Jayaswal and Rahula Sankrityayana, and published in 1937. It includes Nagarjuna's own svopajna-vrtti commentary thereon. Another edition, based on this one, is included as an appendix in P. L. Vaidya's edition of the Mula-madhyamaka-karika, also posted here. An improved edition of this text was prepared by E. H. Johnston and Arnold Kunst, and published in Melanges chinois et bouddhiques, vol. 9, 1948-51. This edition was reprinted in Kamaleswar Bhattacharya's English translation of this text. Recently, a further improved edition based on a manuscript newly discovered in Tibet was prepared by Yoshiyasu Yonezawa, and published in Journal of Naritasan Institute for Buddhist Studies, no. 31, 2008.

Much of the Ratnavali was recovered in the original Sanskrit and published by Giuseppe Tucci in an article in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1934 and 1936. This is posted here. It includes an English translation. Another edition, based on this one, is included as an appendix in P. L. Vaidya's edition of the Mula-madhyamaka-karika, also posted here. A few more verses have been recovered, and were included in Michael Hahn's 1982 edition of the Ratnavali. The Ratnavali does not really take the form of a reasoned treatise, so some Tibetan teachers do not include it among them, but count only a group of five reasoned treatises.

Besides Nagarjuna's reasoned treatises on Madhyamaka, he wrote a number of hymns or songs. A group of four of these became popular in India, judging from manuscript evidence. Two of these were recovered and published by Giuseppe Tucci in an article in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1932. This is posted here. It includes Tibetan and English translations. These two hymns are the Niraupamya-stava and the Paramartha-stava. The other two hymns of this group of four were later recovered, and published for the first time in Chr. Lindtner's 1982 book, Nagarjuniana. These are the Lokatita-stava and the Acintya-stava.

Nagarjuna's spiritual son was Aryadeva. Aryadeva's most famous book is the Catuhsataka, The Four Hundred (Verses). A partial manuscript of this was discovered and published in 1914, edited by Haraprasad Shastri. It includes portions of Candrakirti's commentary thereon. This is posted here. Based on these fragments, Vidhushekhara Bhattacharya prepared an edition of its chapter 7, retranslating from Tibetan the missing portions. This was published in 1928, and includes an English translation. In 1923, P. L. Vaidya had prepared an edition of its chapters 8-16, retranslating from Tibetan the missing portions. Vidhushekhara Bhattacharya criticized Vaidya's retranslations, and prepared another edition of these same chapters 8-16 with new retranslations of the missing portions. This was published in 1931 as "Part II," but part one, with chapters 1-7, never appeared. This edition includes the Tibetan translation from the Narthang edition of the Tengyur. Vidhushekhara Bhattacharya's two contributions are posted here.
The pramana tradition has always been strong in Buddhism. Pramana used to be translated as logic, but this was seen as inadequate. So today it is more often translated as epistemology. However, since none of my neighbors know what epistemology means, I still often use logic for it instead. Perhaps reasoning, or the science of reasoning, is better to use for it than logic.

The question is: How do we know something? Well, one way is through sense data. Our eyes see an object and tell us its size, its shape, and its color. It is small and round and red. Using our other senses, we can touch it, smell it, and taste it. It is an apple. We can include all sense data under a single term, and refer to this way of knowing something as "perception" (pratyaksa). We know that it is an apple through direct perception. This way of knowing, perception (or direct perception), is the first pramana, or "means of valid knowledge." Pramana can also refer to the "valid cognition" itself, the cognition that rightly knows, "This is an apple."

Another way of knowing something is through inference (anumana). We see smoke in the distance, and through this we can infer that there is fire. This way of knowing, inference, is another pramana or means of valid knowledge. The founding father of the Buddhist pramana tradition, Dignaga, stopped here. There are only two pramanas, two means of valid knowledge, or two kinds of valid cognition. The greatest writer of the Buddhist pramana tradition, Dharmakirti, naturally followed Dignaga in this. But the other Indian religions, Hinduism and Jainism, also had strong traditions of reasoning, whether called pramana or nyaya. They almost always accepted at least a third means of valid knowledge. So did some other Buddhist writers accept a third one.

None of us know through direct perception that there are rocks on the moon. Even through inference, we cannot know this for certain. After all, the moon may in fact be made of green cheese. But now astronauts have been there, and they have walked on the moon, and they have brought back rocks from the moon. So we accept that there are rocks on the moon through trustworthy testimony (aptagama), the trustworthy testimony of the astronauts who were there. This amounts to saying that we accept it on their authority. So a third way of knowing, a third means of valid knowledge, is through the trustworthy testimony of an authority (aptagama).

The various religions of the world usually take their founders and their scriptures as such an authority. The authority of the scriptures is also called verbal authority (sabda). The words of the Buddha as recorded in the Buddhist scriptures are in practice taken as an authority in Buddhism, too. This is despite the fact that this means of valid knowledge was not admitted by the great writers of the Buddhist pramana tradition, Dignaga and Dharmakirti. These primary three pramanas or means of valid knowledge are how the great question of epistemology was answered in India: How do we know something?

After this brief summary of the subject at hand, leaving out additional ways of knowing or means of valid knowledge that Indian traditions have postulated (such as upamana, "comparison," making the four pramanas recognized in the influential Nyaya-sutra of Gotama), we may proceed to list the Buddhist books on pramana now being posted.

We begin with Dharmakirti's Nyaya-bindu and its tika commentary by Dharmottara, the first text on logic or epistemology from the Buddhist tradition to be published. A manuscript of the Nyaya-bindu-tika was discovered among the manuscripts preserved in the Santinatha Jaina temple (at Khambat, then known as Cambay), and began being published in 1889 in the Bibliotheca Indica series from Calcutta. The editor, Peter Peterson, then located a second manuscript, which also included the Nyaya-bindu. So the Nyaya-bindu was printed separately at the end of this edition of the Nyaya-bindu-tika. A new edition of these two texts was published in 1918 in the Bibliotheca Buddhica series from Petrograd (as this city was then called). An incomplete and anonymous tippani sub-commentary on Dharmottara's tika commentary was published in 1909 in the Bibliotheca Buddhica series from Saint Petersbourg (as this city was then called). All of these are here posted.

Another sub-commentary on Dharmottara's tika commentary, the Dharmottara-Pradipa by Durveka Misra, was published in 1955 in the Tibetan Sanskrit Works Series from Patna. This sub-commentary was edited from photographs of a manuscript preserved at a monastery in Tibet. This book also included the Nyaya-bindu and the Nyaya-bindu-tika, for which two new and better manuscripts of the Nyaya-bindu and Nyaya-bindu-tika from another Jaina temple (at Jaisalmer) were used. A revised edition was published in 1971. We have posted the revised 1971 edition rather than the 1955 first edition.

Because of the great difficulty of understanding the Nyaya-bindu, its Tibetan translation had to be utilized. A bi-lingual index, giving the Sanskrit words with their Tibetan equivalents, and also arranged with the Tibetan words first, along with their Sanskrit equivalents, was published in 1917 in the Bibliotheca Indica series from Calcutta. It is an index to just the Nyaya-bindu, published at the end of the 1889 edition of the Nyaya-bindu-tika. Then a similar bi-lingual index to both the Nyaya-bindu and the Nyaya-bindu-tika was published, the Sanskrit to Tibetan in 1927, and the Tibetan to Sanskrit in 1928, in the Bibliotheca Buddhica series from Leningrad (as this city was then called). These indexes are also here posted.

An English translation of the Nyaya-bindu and its tika commentary was prepared by Th. Stcherbatsky and included in his two-volume book titled Buddhist Logic, 1930-1932. It was first published in the Bibliotheca Buddhica series from Leningrad, and was reprinted in the U.S. by Dover Publications. This book includes an appendix (volume 2, pp. 433-437) giving corrections to the Sanskrit texts of the Nyayabindu, Nyayabindutika, and Nyayabindutikatippani published in the Bibliotheca Buddhica series.

We continue with texts from the pramana tradition, the tradition of logic or epistemology, answering the question: How do we know something? By a twist of fate, the Nyaya-bindu by the greatest writer of the Buddhist pramana tradition, Dharmakirti, had been found and published in 1889. But Dharmakirti's magnum opus, the Pramana-varttika, remained lost until the dauntless Rahula Sankrtyayana found it in 1936 on the third of his four trips to Tibet in search of Sanskrit manuscripts. This obviously opened up a whole new phase in studies of the Buddhist pramana tradition.

The Pramana-varttika, as the name "varttika" tells us, is a commentary. It is a commentary on the Pramana-samuccaya, the central work of Dignaga, founding father of the Buddhist pramana tradition. As sometimes happens, the commentary superseded the work it comments on, and became itself the standard work of this tradition.

We now post the editions of the pramana texts prepared by Rahula Sankrtyayana from the manuscripts he found, and published starting in 1935. We also post a later edition of Dharmakirti's Pramana-varttika, including its Tibetan translation, along with two volumes of indexes. Lastly, we post another text by Dharmakirti, the Hetu-bindu, that Sankrtyayana had re-translated from Tibetan back into Sanskrit, along with two commentaries on it, the first of which was discovered in a Jaina temple in India. These texts are:

A partial edition of Prajnakara-gupta's bhasya on the Pramana-varttika, the pratyaksa chapter, verses 330-539, published in 1935.

The complete text of Dharmakirti's Pramana-varttika, all four chapters, published in 1938.

The Pramana-varttika with Manorathanandin's vrtti on all four chapters, published 1938-1940.

The Pramana-varttika with Prajnakara-gupta's bhasya, complete edition, published in 1953. This commentary omits the svarthanumana chapter, since Dharmakirti wrote his own commentary on this chapter. Two editions of Dharmakirti's own commentary on this chapter were prepared independently of each other, and published in 1959 and 1960 respectively. These may be posted in the future.

A new edition of Dharmakirti's Pramana-varttika, edited by Yusho Miyasaka, along with an edition of the Tibetan translation, published in 1972.

A Sanskrit-Tibetan index to the Pramana-varttika, prepared by Yusho Miyasaka, published in 1975.

A Tibetan-Sanskrit index to the Pramana-varttika, prepared by Yusho Miyasaka, published in 1979.

Dharmakirti's Vada-nyaya with Santaraksita's commentary, edited by Rahula Sankrtyayana, published 1935-1936.

The Hetu-bindu tika by Bhatta Arcata and the Aloka sub-commentary thereon by Durveka Misra, edited by Pandit Sukhlalji Sanghavi and Muni Shri Jinavijayaji, published in 1949. This includes in an appendix Dharmakirti's Hetu-bindu as retranslated into Sanskrit from Tibetan by Rahula Sankrtyayana.

According to tradition, Dharmakirti wrote seven works. The main three are the Nyaya-bindu, the Pramana-viniscaya, and the Pramana-varttika. The supplementary four are the Hetu-bindu, the Sambandha-pariksa, the Vada-nyaya, and the Samtanantara-siddhi. Of the main three, the Nyaya-bindu was published in 1889, marking the beginning of the first phase of studies in the Buddhist pramana tradition. The Pramana-varttika was partially published in 1935, and fully published in 1938, marking the beginning of the second phase of these studies. The first two (of three) chapters of the Pramana-viniscaya was published in 2007. This publication, along with the edition of chapter 1 of Jinendrabuddhi's tika on Dignaga's Pramana-samuccaya, published in 2005, can be said to have begun the third phase of these studies. These latter texts were published through the initiative and indefatigable efforts of Ernst Steinkellner, as the first two texts of the series, Sanskrit Texts from the Tibetan Autonomous Region. This is a cooperative effort between the China Tibetology Research Center and the Austrian Academy of Sciences. We can expect many more important texts in this series.


As a supplementary note, it may be helpful to give English translations for the titles of the seven works of Dharmakirti. Adopting those given by Georges B. J. Dreyfus in his valuable 1997 book, Recognizing Reality: Dharmakirti's Philosophy and Its Tibetan Interpretations, these are as follows. (He does not refer to the Sambandha-pariksa, so the translation of that title was added by me.)

1. Nyaya-bindu, "Drop of Reasoning."
2. Pramana-viniscaya, "Ascertainment of Valid Cognition."
3. Pramana-varttika, "Commentary on Valid Cognition."
4. Hetu-bindu, "Drop of Logical Reason."
5. Sambandha-pariksa, "Examination of Relations."
6. Vada-nyaya, "Science of Debate."
7. Samtanantara-siddhi, "Establishment of Others' Continua."
The Bodhicaryavatara (or more fully, Bodhisattvacaryavatara) by Santideva (or possibly Santadeva) is probably the most widely read and best loved book on the bodhisattva path, the path of compassion or altruistic action for the sake of others. It was first published in Sanskrit in a Russian journal in 1890 (not 1889), edited by I. Mina'ev (or Minayeff). This was followed by an edition of the Panjika commentary thereon, written by Prajnakara-mati, published 1901-1914. This edition of the commentary, edited by Louis de la Vallee Poussin, also included the Bodhicaryavatara. An edition of the Bodhicaryavatara that placed the Sanskrit verses next to their Tibetan translations was published in 1960, edited by Vidhushekhara Bhattacharya. He died before final corrections could be made. The corrections were prepared as an appendix by his pupil, Sujitkumar Mukhopadhyaya, and were published separately in the Indian Historical Quarterly in 1961. Three decades later, Christian Lindtner obtained access to an excellent palm-leaf manuscript of the Bodhicaryavatara from Tibet, based on which he published corrections to the text in 1991.

Santideva also wrote the Siksa-samuccaya, a compendium of Buddhist teaching. This was the first text published in the Bibliotheca Buddhica series from Russia. It was edited by Cecil Bendall and published 1897-1902. In a three-part article published in Le Museon, 1904-1906, U. Wogihara gave a number of corrections to this edition, derived from comparison with Chinese sources.

All of these are the next items posted here.
The Lalita-vistara is the primary canonical source on the life of the Buddha. It covers his life up through his enlightenment and the first discourse he gave afterward. This discourse is known as the dharma-cakra-pravartana, the "turning of the wheel of the Dharma (the teachings)." It is where he teaches the four noble truths: the truth of suffering (duhkha), the truth of the arising of suffering, the truth of the cessation of suffering, and the truth of the path leading to cessation of suffering; that is, the noble eightfold path. This discourse later became known as the first turning of the wheel of the Dharma, since he turned the wheel of the Dharma two more times with two quite different promulgations of teachings. It is given in the 26th of the 27 chapters in this book. A brief summary in English of the contents of this book is given in P. L. Vaidya's Introduction to his 1958 edition, pp. xii-xiii.

The Sanskrit text was first edited by Rajendralala Mitra and published in 1877. At that time only a few Sanskrit Buddhist texts had been published, and much of their language was unfamiliar to Sanskrit pandits in India. This fact and the comparatively poor manuscripts available made this edition not very satisfactory. Some years later S. Lefmann, using better manuscripts, was able to prepare an accurate edition of this text. This was published in 1902, with the variant readings from the six manuscripts he used published in a separate volume in 1908. When P. L. Vaidya prepared an edition of this text as the first volume of the Buddhist Sanskrit Texts series in 1958, he basically followed Lefmann's edition, with some notes and variant readings from Mitra's edition. In a 1994 book published in Japan, Koichi Hokazono published a new and improved edition of chapters 1-14 of this text. We here post the editions of Lefmann (two volumes) and Vaidya.

Other biographical material on the Buddha is found in the Vinaya portion of the Buddhist Tripitaka or canon. The Catus-parisat-sutra covers his life from his enlightenment up to the conversion of two of his main disciples, Upatisya or Sariputra and Kolita or Maudgalyayana. The Maha-parinirvana-sutra found in the Vinaya, as the name shows, describes his death, when he is thought to have achieved the state of great nirvana. These two texts were edited by Ernst Waldschmidt, and will be posted later. The latter text is different from the Mahayana Maha-parinirvana-sutra, a text including much material on the tathagata-garbha teachings.


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