Eighteen tantras of Mahayoga
The eighteen tantras of Mahayoga (མ་ཧཱ་ཡོ་གའི་རྒྱུད་སྡེ་བཅོ་བརྒྱད་, Wyl. ma hA yo ga'i rgyud sde bco brgyad) were divided by the great Indian master Kukkuraja. They are also known as the eighteen great tantrapitaka (ཏནྟྲ་ཆེན་པོ་སྡེ་བཅོ་བརྒྱད་, Wyl. tantra chen po sde bco brgyad).
Khenpo Namdrol says:
- The eighteen tantras of Mahayoga can be correlated to the five-fold set of the enlightened body, speech, mind, noble qualities and activity of the Buddha. Each category is sub-divided into three, and correlated to the enlightened body, speech and mind, so that for the enlightened body, for example, there is a triad of the enlightened body of the enlightened body, the enlightened body of the enlightened speech, and the enlightened body of the enlightened mind. This same pattern is reproduced in the other four categories: speech, mind, noble qualities and activity. The resulting fifteen categories correspond to the first fifteen tantras, while the remaining three tantras are termed ‘general tantras’, which are also divided up to correspond with the triad of the enlightened body, speech and mind.
The tantra that synthesizes the meaning of all of them is the principal Tantra of the Web of Magical Illusion (aka Guhyagarbha Tantra).
- (1) Secret Essence Tantra (Skt. Guhyagarbha Tantra; Wyl. rdo rje sems dpa' sgyu 'phrul drwa ba rtsa ba'i rgyud gsang ba'i snying po)
Five major tantras (which are the roots of the eighteen):
- (2) Enlightened body: Union with Buddha (Skt. buddhasamāyoga; Wyl. sangs rgyas mnyam sbyor)
- (3) Enlightened speech: Secret Vital Essence of the Moon (Skt. śrīcandraguhyatilakanāmamahātantrarāja; Wyl. zla gsang thig le)
- (4) Enlightened mind: Gathering of Secrets (Skt. guhyasamāja; Wyl. gsang ba 'dus pa)
- (5) Enlightened qualities: Glorious Supreme Beginning (Skt. śrīparamādya; Wyl. dpal mchog dang po)
- (6) Enlightened activity: Garland of Activity (Skt. karmamāla; Wyl. kar ma ma le)
Five tantras of sadhana:
- (7) Yamantaka (Tib. Shinjé), enlightened body, in his black and red forms: Manifestation of Compassion (Wyl. snying rje rol pa'i rgyud)
- (8) Hayagriva (Tib. Tamdrin), enlightened speech: Manifestation of the Hayagriva Tantra (Wyl. rta mchog rol pa'i rgyud)
- (9) Vishuddhaheruka (Tib. Yangdak Heruka), enlightened mind: Manifestation of the Heruka Tantra (Wyl. heruka rol pa'i rgyud)
- (10) Amritakundali (Tib. Düdtsi Yönten), enlightened qualities: Manifestation of Amrita Tantra (Wyl. bdud rtsi rol pa'i rgyud)
- (11) Vajrakila, enlightened activity: Tantra of the Twelve Kilayas (Wyl. phur ba bcu gnyis kyi rgyud)
Five branch classes of tantra of activity:
- (12) Arrangement Like a Mountain (Wyl. ri bo brtsegs pa)
- (13) Magnificient Wisdom Lightning (Wyl. ye shes rngam glog)
- (14) Arrangement of the Three Samayas (Wyl. dam tshig bkhod pa)
- (15) Single-Pointed Samadhi (Wyl. ting 'dzin rtse gcig)
- (16) Rampant Elephant Tantra (Wyl. glang chen rab 'bog)
Two tantras of accomplishment or Two Later Tantras (Wyl. rgyud byi ma) :
- (17) Vairochana's Magical Manifestation Matrix (Wyl. rnam snang sgyu 'phrul drwa ba), which serves as a branch for engaging with mandala practice
- (18) Lasso of the Arya's Method Entitled "A Garland of Lotuses" (Wyl. 'phags pa thabs kyi zhags pa padmo'i phreng ba'i don bsdus pa), which serves as a concise branch for the accomplishment of siddhi during sadhana practice
- Source: Dudjom Rinpoche's History of the Nyingma School.
- Khenpo Namdrol, Vajrakilaya (Dharmakosha, 1997 or Snow Lion: 1999), pages 8-9.
- English translation of the titles and information is based on the Essence of Clear Light (2010), Light of Bairotsana Translation Group, pages 383-384. This information itself is taken from Patrul Rinpoche's Garland of Scriptural Transmissions of the Aural Lineage.
- Tulku Thondup (1996), page 360 lists this one as first, but the Essence of Clear Light (2010), Light of Bairotsana Translation Group, pages 383-384, lists this one as last.