Three outer tantras

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The three outer tantras is a classification of tantras common to both the Nyingma and Sarma schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The three classes of outer tantras are:

These three classes repesent:

Kriya tantra

Kriya tantra is a classification of tantras within Tibetan Buddhism. The kriya tantras, or ‘action’ tantras, are so-called because they are concerned mainly with external conduct, the practices of ritual purification and cleanliness and so on.

The Kriya trantras are identified within the following contexts:

  • the first of the three outer tantras within both the nine yanas classification of the Nyingma school, and the four-tantric-yanas classification scheme of the Sarma schools.
  • the fourth yana within the nine yana classification.

Charya tantra

Charya tantra is also known as Upayogatantra or Ubhayatantra (ཨུ་པའི་རྒྱུད་, u pa'i rgyud). The vehicle of charya or ‘conduct’ tantra is so-called because it places an equal emphasis on the outer actions of body and speech and the inner cultivation of samadhi. It is also called the ‘tantra of both’ (Skt. ubhaya tantra) because its view conforms with that of yoga tantra, while its conduct is similar to that of kriya tantra.

Yoga tantra

The vehicle of yoga trantra is so-called because it emphasizes the inner yogic meditation upon reality, combining skillful means and wisdom.

See also


  1. Ray, Reginald (2002). Indestructible Truth : the Living Spirituality of Tibetan Buddhism. Boulder: Shambhala. ISBN 1-57062-910-2. 

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