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Vidya (Skt. vidyā; Tib. རིག་པ་, rigpa, Wyl. rig pa) — while it is frequently translated as ‘awareness,’ caution is necessary. The Tibetan word rigpa can indeed mean ‘awareness,’ but the equivalent Sanskrit word vidya cannot. The reason is that the Sanskrit word vidya has a different range of meanings from its Tibetan counterpart rigpa. The Sanskrit word vidya can mean either of four things:

  1. knowledge, field of knowledge or science: For example, as in the title of the famous Vajrakilaya tantra, entitled Vidyottama Tantra (Wyl. rig pa mchog gi rgyud), The Supreme Knowledge Tantra.
  2. spiritual consort
  3. vidya mantra (Skt. vidyā mantra; རིག་སྔགས་, rik ngak, Wyl. rig sngags): a vidya mantra is a female deity mantra that through recitation gives the reciter the ability to change or control phenomena and circumstances. One example is the Senge Dongma mantra.
  4. other meanings: when vidya is found in compounds, such as vidyadhara, it may take on other meanings.

Thus, depending on the context, the Tibetan word rigpa may not mean awareness, but rather carries one of meanings of its Sanskrit counterpart vidya.

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