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Ashvaghosha (Skt. Aśvaghoṣa; Tib. རྟ་དབྱངས་, Tayang, Wyl. rta dbyangs) (b. ca. first century) — originally a Hindu master, known as Durdharṣakāla, Bhavideva (bha bi lha), or Mātṛceta[1], he became a Buddhist after being defeated in debate by Aryadeva[2] at Nalanda University.

He went on to compose many texts in beautiful Sanskrit verse, including the Buddhacharita, the most famous work on the life of Buddha. He also authored the important Fifty Stanzas on Following a Teacher.[3]

Writings Found in the Tengyur

  • The Hundred and Fifty Verse Praise, Toh 1147
  • Verses in Praise of the Gaṇḍī, Toh 1149
  • A Running Commentary on the Great Charnel Grounds Section of Fierce Activities from the Glorious Mahākāla Tantra, Toh 1753
  • Concise Presentation of Root Transgressions of the Vajra Vehicle, Toh 2478
  • Gross Transgressions, Toh 2479
  • A Praise of the Five Deities of Mahākāruṇika of Maṇidvīpa, Toh 2730
  • Fifty Verses on Guru Devotion, Toh 3721
  • A Heap of Lotus-like Words on the Cultivation of Conventional Bodhicitta, Toh 3911
  • A Lamp of Jewel-like Words on the Cultivation of Ultimate Bodhicitta, Toh 3912
  • The Epic Poem called “The Deeds of the Buddha” (Buddhacharita), Toh 4156
  • Advice on the Eight Inopportune States, Toh 4167
  • Alleviating Sorrow, Toh 4177
  • A Teaching on the Path of the Ten Non-Virtues, Toh 4178
  • A Very Condensed Dedication, Toh 4390


སའམ་འོན་ཏེ་མཐོ་རིས་ན། །

སྐྱེས་ནས་ལ་ལ་མ་ཤི་བ། །
འགའ་ཞིག་ཁྱོད་ཀྱིས་མཐོང་བའམ། །

ཐོས་སམ་འོན་ཏེ་ཐེ་ཚོམ་ཟ། །

Have you ever, on earth or in the heavens,
Seen a being who was born but will not die?
Have you ever heard that this had happened?
Or even had suspicions that it might?

Aśvaghoṣa, Letter of Consolation

དྲང་སྲོང་ཆེན་པོ་ལྔ་མངོན་ཤེས། །

མཁའ་ལ་རྒྱང་རིང་འགྲོ་བ་ཡང་། །
གང་ན་འཆི་མེད་སྤྱོད་ཡུལ་བའི། །


Great rishis with the five superknowledges,
Can fly far and wide through the sky,
Yet they will never reach a place
Where they might live and never die.

Aśvaghoṣa, Letter of Consolation

Further Reading

  • Lobsang N. Tsonawa, Indian Buddhist Pandits from The Jewel Garland of Buddhist History (Dharamsala: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, 1985).
  • Lama Chimpa, Alaka Chattopadhyaya and Debiprasad Chatterji, Taranatha's History of Buddhism in India (Delhi : Motilal Banarsidass, 1990), pages 124-126 & 131-136.


  1. Some sources state that Mātṛceta was in fact a disciple of Ashvagosha.
  2. This is according to Taranatha's History of Buddhism in India. According to other sources, he was defeated by Pārśva.
  3. Scholars generally think the Ashvaghosha who wrote the Fifty Stanzas on Following a Teacher is a different master to the famous author of Buddhacarita.

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