Sutra on Wisdom at the Hour of Death

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Sutra on Wisdom at the Hour of Death (Skt. Atyaya­jñāna­sūtra; Tib. འདའ་ཀ་ཡེ་ཤེས་ཀྱི་མདོ་, da ka yé shé kyi do, Wyl. 'da' ka ye shes kyi mdo) — in this brief sutra, the Buddha residing in the Akanishtha realm, by the use of similes, explains to bodhisattva mahasattva Akashagarbha the wisdom that should be cultivated by the bodhisattva when about to die.

The Atyayajñana Sutra is included in lists of sutras known as the five royal sutras and ten royal sutras, two sets of profound, relatively short, and pithy works traditionally said to have been translated on Padmasambhava’s recommendation and used for daily practice by king Trisong Detsen.

This sutra is also considered particularly important in several Tibetan Buddhist traditions, including Dzogchen and Mahamudra.


There seems to be no extant Sanskrit text, although it is clear that there was such an original at one time‍.

Tibetan Text

The sutra translation preserved in the Kangyur was most likely made not from the Sanskrit but from an earlier Chinese translation, as the early 9th century Denkarma catalogue explicitly includes the Atyayajñana in a list of sutras translated into Tibetan from Chinese. The putative Chinese version, however, does not seem to have survived and the sutra does not seem to figure in the Chinese canon.

The Tibetan translation can be found in the Derge Kangyur, General Sutra section, Toh 122.

English Translations



  • Shantideva
  • Prajñasamudra


There are six known Tibetan commentaries, four of which were written by seventeenth to nineteenth century Gelugpa scholars, the longest and most detailed being one by the seventh Dalai Lama, Kalzang Gyatso.


Since the mind is the cause for the arising of wisdom,
Do not look for the Buddha elsewhere.

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