The Significance of Yoga Tantra and the Compendium of Principles (tattvasamgraha Tantra) within Tantric Buddhism in India and Tibet

Weinberger, Steven Neal, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Germano, David, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Groner, Paul, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
McDonald, Bill, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of Virginia
Hodge, Stephen

The Compendium of Principles of All Tath›gatas (Sarva-tath›gata-tattva-sa˙graha) is arguably the single most important development of Indian Buddhist tantra. In this text we find the coalescence of a variety of tantric elements organized around two new and seminal narratives-⁄›kyamuni's enlightenment recast in tantric terms and Vajrap›˚i's subjugation of MaheŸvara-that for the first time self-consciously announce tantra as a new and distinct form of Buddhism. In declaring tantra's independence, these narratives present a clearly defined soteriological goal, a new paradigm for this liberative path in which ritual is central, and innovations such as deity yoga (self-generation as an enlightened figure), consecration rites, and practices involving violence and sex. These reflect both developments within Buddhism and external pressures, including violence and the exercise of power predominant in early medieval Indian socio-political forms as well as a decline in patronage of Buddhist institutions. The Compendium of Principles marks the emergence of mature Indian Buddhist tantra at the end of the seventh century, and it immediately spawned a body of literary progeny that has played a central and enduring role in the development of tantric Buddhism in India, Tibet, China, and Japan. Consolidated over time into traditions known in some Indian circles as Yoga Tantra, they spread as widely as ⁄rı Lanka, Southeast Asia, Khotan, Mongolia, and Sumatra. The Compendium of Principles and its constellation of texts form the first Buddhist tantric corpus, as many texts amplify practices and doctrines of the Compendium of Principles. The continued growth and development of these traditions resulted in Abstract b subsequent phases of tantra later classified as Mah›yoga. While these tantras, which include the Secret Assembly (Guhyasam›ja), Yoga of the Equality of All Buddhas (Sarvabuddhasamayoga), and Secret Nucleus (Guhyagarbha), exhibit strong nonmonastic influence, the roots of their characteristic practices focusing on violence and sex reach back to the Compendium of Principles. In Tibet, the Compendium of Principles and texts classified as Yoga Tantra played a central role in the transmission and development of Buddhism from the eighth through eleventh centuries, and continued to exert influence even after the introduction of new tantric developments.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Buddhism, tantra
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