Tibetan Buddhist Canon

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The Tibetan Buddhist Canon refers to the core texts of Tibetan Buddhism. The canon is divided into two branches:

  • Kangyur (Wylie: bka'-'gyur) or "translated words", contains sutras and tantras, which are considered "the word of the Buddha" in the Tibetan tradition.
  • Tengyur (Wylie: bstan-'gyur) or "translated treatises", contains works written by Indian Buddhist masters that explain and elaborate on the words of the Buddha.

The Tibetan Buddhist Canon consists primarily of works that were translated from Indian languages (mainly Sanksrit) into Tibetan between the 7th and 14th centuries (during the later stages of Indian Buddhism). The canon also includes works that were translated from Chinese and Central Asian languages.[1]

This canon is one of the three major Buddhist Canons, the other two being the Chinese Buddhist Canon, and the Pali Canon.[2]

Contents

Kangyur

Tibetan texts in traditional "pecha" format

The Kangyur contains sutras and tantras, which are considered "the word of the Buddha" in the Tibetan tradition.

Generally, the main categories of the Kangyur are:[3][4]

  • Vinaya (dealing mainly with monastic discipline)
  • Sutras
  • Tantras
    • Tantra (a collection of 468 tantras, mainly from the "later translation period")
    • Nyingma Tantra (seventeen tantras from the "early translation period")
    • Kalachakra (tantras belonging to the “Wheel of Time” class)
  • Dharani (short texts based on formulae for recitation)

Tengyur

Young monks printing scriptures. Sera Monastery, Tibet. 1993

The Tengyur contains works written by Indian Buddhist masters that explain and elaborate on the words of the Buddha.

Generally, the main categories of the Tengyur are:[3]

  • Praises
  • Tantra (Vajrayana treatises)
  • Prajñaparamita (treatises on the “transcendent perfection of wisdom”)
  • Madhyamaka (treatises based on Nagarjuna’s “middle way” philosophy)
  • Sutra-commentary (general treatises on sutra topics)
  • Cittamatra (treatises related to the “mind-only” views or to some of Asanga’s works)
  • Abhidharma (summaries and systematic compilations of doctrine)
  • Vinaya (treatises dealing mainly with monastic discipline)
  • Jataka (the stories of the Buddha’s previous lives as a bodhisattva)
  • Epistles
  • Logic
  • Language
  • Medicine
  • Crafts
  • Mundane Treatises

Avaliable texts

Online libraries of Tibetan texts

The following websites contain online libraries of the complete texts of the Kangyur and Tengyur (the Tibetan Canon):

Translations into English

Most of the texts of the Kangyur and Tengyur (the Tibetan Canon) have not been translated into English. A large-scale effort is currenlty underway by the 84000 Translation Group to systematically translate all of the works from this canon. Their website contains a list of all the sections and titles from the canon, their current translation status, and the translated texts where available.

The Lotsawa House website contains translations of (mostly smaller) texts into English and other languages (available for free download):

There are also many small translation groups and individual translators currently active in translating texts from the Tibetan language into English.

Other significant collections

Other important collections of texts that are not included in the Tibetan Kangyur or Tengyur are:

  • Nyingma Gyubum (a collection of Nyingma tantras)
  • Sangbum - a collection of about 5000 commentaries by Tibetan scholars[5]
  • Other commentaries by Tibetan scholars (not included in the Sangbum)
  • Tibetan manuscripts from the Dunhuang collection[6]

See also

Notes


Sources

  • Tenzin Gyatso; Thubten Chodron (2014), Buddhism: One Teacher, Many Traditions, Wisdom Publications 

External links

General reference:

English language translations (free downloads):

Tibetan language texts:


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