From Rigpa Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Kamalashila (Skt. Kamalaśīla; Tib. པདྨའི་ངང་ཚུལ་, Pemé Ngang Tsul; Wyl. pad+ma'i ngang tshul) (c. 740-795) — this Indian master and professor of Nalanda University was the main disciple of the great abbot Shantarakshita. He famously defeated a Chinese master of the Hashang school (whose personal name is sometimes given as Mahayana Hashang) in the great debate at Samyé, which took place around 792 AD, thereby ensuring that the Tibetans followed the Indian tradition of Madhyamika which had flourished at the great Nalanda Monastery. He died in Tibet in around 795.[1]

Principal Writings

His most famous compositions are the three texts entitled Stages of Meditation (Skt. Bhāvanākrama), on which H.H. the Dalai Lama has taught several times.

His other works include:

  • Two commentaries on the Svatantrika Madhyamika writings of his master, Shantarakshita:
    • Commentary on the Difficult Points of the Compendium of Reality (Skt. Tattvasaṃgraha-pañjikā), and
    • Commentary on the Difficult Points of the Ornament of the Middle Way (Skt. Madhyamakālaṅkārapañjikā; Tib. དབུ་མའི་རྒྱན་གྱི་དཀའ་འགྲེལ་, Wyl. dbu ma'i rgyan gyi dka' 'grel)
  • A writing on logic: Nyayabindu (Skt. Nyāyabindu)
  • Commentaries on the Prajñaparamita, such as the Commenatary on the Diamond Sutra
  • Light of the Middle Way (Skt. Madhyamakāloka; Tib. དབུ་མ་གསང་བ་, Wyl. dbu ma snang ba)
  • Tantric writings, such as the Mahamudropadesha Vajraguhyagiti and the Dakinivajraguhyagitanama


  1. Seyfort Ruegg, Literature, p. 94

Further Reading

  • Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Essential Practice, translated by Jules B. Levinson (Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2002)
  • David Seyfort Ruegg, The Literature of the Madhyamaka School of Philosophy in India (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1981), pages 93-99