Sarvabuddhasamayoga

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Sarvabuddhasamayoga (Skt. Sarvabuddhasamāyoga; Tib. སངས་རྒྱས་ཐམས་ཅད་དང་མཉམ་པར་སྦྱོར་བ་, sangye tamché dang nyampar jorwa, Wyl. sangs rgyas thams cad dang mnyam par sbyor ba), The Union with all the Buddhas is categorized as one of the Eighteen tantras of Mahayoga within the Nyingma tradition. Peter Szántó and Arlo Griffiths prepared an excellent overview of the Sarvabuddhasamayoga. Accordingly, their introduction states:

The Sarvabuddhasamāyogaḍākinījālaśaṃvara (henceforth Śaṃvara) is a significant transitional scripture between what later came to be viewed as the yogatantra and the yoginītantra (or yoganiruttara) classes; in modern scholarship, it is sometimes referred to as the “proto-yoginītantra”. Along with the Guhyasamājatantra, it bridges the gap between the type of esoteric Buddhism that by and large still operates within the realm of ritual purity and that of transgressive, antinomian esoteric revelation. The Śaṃvara was instrumental in introducing significant Śaiva elements into Buddhism, including the practice of enacting the pantheon in communal worship, the imagery of the cremation ground, and the almost fully versified compositional style as opposed to mixed verse and prose. The text already existed in some form in the early 8th century.[1]

Translation of the Sarvabuddhasamayoga

Except for the root tantra, one sadhana by Anandagarbha, the Vajrajvalodaya-sadhanopayika (Skt. Vajrajvālodayā-sādhanopayikā) and two sadhanas found in the Sadhanamala (Skt. Sādhanamālā), none of the Sarvabuddhasamayoga literature still exists in Sanskrit. The Sarvabuddhasamayoga was not translated into Chinese.[2] A version of the root tantra is preserved in both the Nyingma Gyübum as well as the Derge Kangyur (D 366). The Nyingma Gübum version was translated by Vajrahasa (Skt. Vajrahāsa) and Ma Rinchen Chok. Herrmann-Pfandt states that the Derge Kangyur version was translated by Lha Rinpoche.[3] The Kangyur version of the Sarvabuddhasamayoga appears to be based on the Nyingma Gübum version, because of a) striking similarity and b) several sections seem to be simply copied from the Nyingma Gübum version. The supplementary scripture, the Sarvakalpasamuccaya (D 367) was only translated later during the second dissemination.[4]

Most of the Sarvabuddhasamayoga literature, that is 15 (D 366, 1659, 1664-69, 1670-72, 1674-78) out of 22 (D 366-37, 1659-79) texts preserved in the Kangyur and Tengyur, were translated during the first dissemination. However, none of them is listed in either of the three early translation catalogues, the Lhankarma (Tib. Lhan kar ma), Phang Tangma (Tib. ‘Phang thang ma) and Chimphu Ma (Tib. Mchims phu ma).

The reason being, according to Herrmann-Pfandt, that the “well known ordinance of 814”, by the Tibetan king Senaleg (Tib. Sad na legs) forbid the translation of Tantras without official permission.[5] On the ground that, several tantras, mainly those belonging to the yoganiruttara tantra ("Anuttarayoga Tantra")[6] or mahayoga class, were advocating “wrong tantric practices”, such as drinking alcohol or sexual yoga practices, they were rejected by the king. Thus they were not included in the official translation list and as a result their vocabulary was not included in the Mahavyutpatti.[7]

The reason that they were nevertheless translated may have been that they were either translated before the ordinance of 814 or despite of the ordinance. This shows that “although the Lhan kar ma is an important source, for historical reasons it fails to show the full range of Tantric texts then already present in Tibet.”[8] Butön decided on the inclusion and exclusion of texts of the Kangyur and Tengyur based on whether the texts were present a) in any of the three earlier translation catalogues, b) whether a Sanskrit original was at hand and c) whether they were translated by scholars of the second dissemination. Since the Sarvabuddhasamayoga literature did not fulfill a), however was included by Butön into the Kangyur and Tengyur it must have fulfilled either b) or c).[9]

Notes

  1. Peter-Daniel Szántó & Arlo Griffiths, "Sarvabuddhasamāyogaḍākinījālaśaṃvara", In Brill Encyclopedia of Buddhism, Vol. I Literature and Languages, (Leiden: Brill, 2015), 370.
  2. Herrmann-Pfandt, Adelheid, “The Lhan kar ma as a Source for the History of Tantric Buddhism,” in Eimer Helmut, Germano David (eds.), The Many Canons of Tibetan Buddhism, (PIATS 2000): 146.
  3. Ibid., 142. However, it lacks a translator’s colophon and there is no other source that confirms his claim.
  4. Herrmann-Pfandt, Adelheid, “The Lhan kar ma as a Source for the History of Tantric Buddhism,” in Eimer Helmut, Germano David (eds.), The Many Canons of Tibetan Buddhism, (PIATS 2000): 142.
  5. Ibid., 143.
  6. Jakob Dalton states: “For the past century, the standard Sanskrit reconstruction for the Tibetan Rnal ‘byor bla na med pa has been *Anuttarayoga. This is a time-honoured mistake that needs to be abandoned. An inspection of the available Sanskrit manuscripts reveals that the Tibetan more often translates Yoganiruttara.” Dalton, Jakob. “A Crisis of Doxography: How Tibetans Organized Tantra during the 8th-12th Centuries.” In: Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies; 28.1 (2005): 115-181.
  7. Herrmann-Pfandt, Adelheid, “The Lhan kar ma as a Source for the History of Tantric Buddhism,” in Eimer Helmut, Germano David (eds.), The Many Canons of Tibetan Buddhism, (PIATS 2000): 143.
  8. Ibid., 129.
  9. Ibid., 144.

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Further Reading

  • Dalton, Jakob. “A Crisis of Doxography: How Tibetans Organized Tantra during the 8th-12th Centuries.” In Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies; 28.1 (2005): 115-181.
  • Herrmann-Pfandt, Adelheid. “The Lhan kar ma as a Source for the History of Tantric Buddhism.” In Eimer Helmut, Germano David (eds.). The Many Canons of Tibetan Buddhism. PIATS 2000: Tibetan Studies: Proceedings of the Ninth Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Leiden: Brill 2000: 129 – 151.
  • Szántó Peter-Daniel & Griffiths Arlo, "Sarvabuddhasamāyogaḍākinījālaśaṃvara." In Brill Encyclopedia of Buddhism, Vol. I Literature and Languages. Leiden: Brill, 2015: 367-372.
  • Szántó Peter-Daniel. A Sanskrit Manuscript of the Sarvabuddhasamāyogaḍākinījālaśaṃvara: Handout for Manuscripta Buddhica Workshop 3 (Procida 2013)