Highest Yoga Tantra

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Highest Yoga Tantra (Skt. Yoga-niruttara Tantra or Anuttarayoga Tantra (see discussion below); Tib. བླ་ན་མེད་པའི་རྣལ་འབྱོར་གྱི་རྒྱུད་, Wyl. rnal 'byor bla na med pa'i rgyud) is the highest of the four classes of tantra. According to the Sarma tradition, Highest Yoga Tantras are divided into Mother Tantras, Father Tantras and Non-dual Tantras.

In the Nyingma tradition, the Highest Yoga Tantra corresponds to the three inner tantras of Mahayoga, Anuyoga and Atiyoga. Certain Indian commentators, such as Rāmapāla and Ratnākāraśānti, used the term as a synonym for yoginītantra (i.e., the 'Mother Tantras' as known in later Tibetan literature) when outlining a five-fold classification scheme of the tantras. Here the category contrasts with the yoga-tantras, such as the Tattvasaṅgraha, and yogottara-tantras, such as the Guhyasamāja.

On the Term Anuttarayoga

In spite of the popularity of "Anuttarayoga" as a so-called 'back translation' from the Tibetan rnal 'byor bla na med pa into Sanskrit, scholars now prefer the term yoga-niruttara as this is better attested in original Sanskrit sources.[1]

Alternative Translations

  • Unexcelled Yoga Tantra (James Gentry/84.000)


  1. See Alexis Sanderson, "The Śaiva Age" in Genesis and Development of Tantrism, p. 145-7, n. 337, on the different classification systems of tantras in Sanskrit texts. See also Jacob Dalton, "A Crisis of Doxography: How Tibetans Organized Tantra During the 8th-12th Centuries" in Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies vol. 28 No. 1, 2005, p. 152, n. 84, where he calls this "a time-honoured mistake that needs to be abandoned". niruttara (निरुत्तर) means having no superior.

Further Reading

  • Daniel Cozort, Highest Yoga Tantra (Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2005).
  • Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, The World of Tibetan Buddhism (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1995), '19. Advanced Tantric Practice: Highest Yoga Tantra'.