The Meditative Tradition (sgom lugs) of the Ratnagotravibhāga. A Mahāmudrā Bridge between Sūtra and Tantra

03.12.2014 17:00 - 18:30

Karl Brunnhölzl | Tsadra Foundation, Seattle

What Tibetans call “the exegetical tradition” (bshad lugs) of the Ratnagotravibhāga is the source of many well-known commentaries, while its “meditative tradition” (sgom lugs) remains largely unexplored. Departing from the famous statement “The text for our Mahāmudrā is the Mahāyānottaratantraśāstra”, attributed to Sgam po pa, I present his Mahāmudrā approach in a non-tantric context and explore its several potential Indian predecessors, particularly Maitrīpa, his students Vajrapāṇi and Sahajavajra, and the Kashmiri intellectual circle around Sajjana and Parahita(bhadra). Tracing the transmissions of the Ratnagotravibhāga from India to Tibet, I show the use of this text as a contemplative tool and basis for Mahāmudrā instructions in Sajjana’s Mahāyānottaratantraśāstropadeśa, an early Tibetan commentary based on Parahita and Sajjana’s instructions, and several later works in the Bka’ gdams, Bka’ brgyud, and Jo nang traditions. In addition, this provides further support that the non-tantric Mahāmudrā approach originated in India and was not limited to the Tibetan Kagyü School.

Dr. Karl Brunnhölzl studied Buddhist philosophy at Marpa Institute For Translators in Kathmandu (1988–1998) and Tibetology and Buddhology at Hamburg University (1988–1990, 2001–2005). Since 1999, he is a translator and teacher at Nitartha Institute and Nalandabodhi. Currently he works as a Tsadra Foundation Fellow in Seattle. Karl received the Tibetan degree of Bka’ rab ’byams pa and was appointed as a Khenpo in the Kagyü and Nyingma Schools (2009). He is the author of several books on Indo-Tibetan Buddhism.

Institut für Südasien-, Tibet- und Buddhismuskunde
Seminarraum 1, Bereich Tibet- und Buddhismuskunde Institut für Südasien-, Tibet- und Buddhismuskunde, AAKH, Spitalgasse 2, Hof 2.7 1090 Wien