Five royal sutras

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Five royal sutras (Tib. རྒྱལ་པོ་མདོ་ལྔ།, Wyl. rgyal po mdo lnga) are one of two sets of profound, relatively short, and pithy works traditionally said to have been translated on Padmasambhava’s recommendation and used for daily practice by the eighth century Tibetan king Trisong Detsen. Their use is said to have contributed, along with other practices, to the king’s life being prolonged by thirteen years beyond the limit predicted by astrological reckoning. These accounts together with the list of the sutras are found in the biographies of Guru Padmasambhava, e.g. in the 18th chapter of the Zanglingma and 70th chapter of the Pema Kathang. The other set is the ten royal sutras in which these are included.

  1. The King of Aspiration Prayers which is in chapter 44 of the Avatamsaka Sutra, for aspiration, and described as vast.
  2. Vajra Conqueror for cleansing and purification.
  3. Heart Sutra for the view, and described as profound.
  4. Sutra on Wisdom at the Hour of Death for meditation and described as of definitive meaning.
  5. The Confession of Downfalls, which is part of Ascertaining the Vinaya: Upali’s Questions, for purification of karmic obscurations.

There are several different accounts of the significance of the Five Royal Sutras. One holds that each concisely summarize one of the five great sutra collections (Wyl. ’bum sde lnga). According to another explanation, each is simply “royal” or sovereign in its category.[1]


  1. See “bsdu sgrigs gsal bshad,” in Khomthar Jamlö 2014, vol. 1, pp. 2–4.

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