Two commentarial traditions

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The Second and Third Turning teachings were explicated by two traditions of commentary (Tib. འགྲེལ་ལུགས་གཉིས་, drel luk nyi, Wyl. grel lugs gnyis):

  • The first, known as the tradition of Profound View, was inspired by the bodhisattva Manjushri, and was transmitted through Nagarjuna. Nagarjuna's works laid the foundation for the Madhyamika School.
  • The second, known as the tradition of Vast Conduct, originated with the bodhisattva Maitreya, who will be the next buddha after Shakyamuni. Maitreya transmitted the root teachings to Asanga, who transcribed them as the Five Treatises of Maitreya. Together with Asanga's own commentaries, these texts became the basis for the system known as Yogachara or Chittamatra. A third master, Dignaga, developed the tools of logic and epistemology, protecting the teachings against misunderstanding and misinterpretations by Buddhists and non-Buddhists. These three masters each had an outstanding commentator: Aryadeva, disciple of Nagarjuna; Vasubandhu, brother and disciple of Asanga; and Dharmakirti, holder of Dignaga's teachings. Together these six masters are known as the Six Ornaments.

When Nagarjuna and Asanga are honoured separately as the Two Charioteers or the Two Supreme Ones, the Vinaya masters Gunaprabha and Shakyaprabha are included in the Six Ornaments.[1]


  1. Ways of Enlightenment, Dharma Publishing, pages 31-32

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