The Inner Kalacakratantra: A Buddhist Tantric View of the Individual

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The Inner Kalacakratantra

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The Inner Kalacakratantra A Buddhist Tantric View of the Individual

Vesna A. Wallace



Oxford New York Athens Auckland Bangkok Bogota Buenos Aires Cape Town Chennai Dar es Salaam Delhi Florence Hong Kong Istanbul Karachi Kolkata Kuala Lumpur Madrid Melbourne Mexico City Mumbai Nairobi Pans Shanghai Singapore Taipei Tokyo Toronto Warsaw and associated companies in Berlin


Copyright © 2001 by Vesna A. Wallace Published by Oxford University Press, Inc., 198 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10016 Oxford is a registered trademark of Oxford University Press All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of Oxford University Press. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Wallace, Vesna A. The inner kalacakratantra . a Buddhist tantric view of the individual / Vesna A. Wallace. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index ISBN 0-19-512211-9 i. Tripioaka. S&trapioaka. Tantra. Kalacakratantra—Criticism, interpretation, etc. 2. Man (Buddhism) 3. Body, Human—Religious aspects—Buddhism. 4. Tantric Buddhism—Doctrines. I. Title. BQ2I77-W35 2000 294-3'85—dc2i 00-022893

1 3 5 7 9 8 6 4 2

Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper



he Kalacakratantra and its commentarial literature are a rich textual source for the study of diverse but mutually related fields of South Asian studies in general and of South Asian Buddhism in particular. The works that belong to the Kalacakra literary corpus warrant careful research for several reasons. They express the doctrinal and social theories and the relevant tantric practices that were characteristic of north Indian Buddhism in its final stages. A study of those theories and practices reveals the ways in which the Indian tantric Buddhists from the early eleventh century on interpreted and further developed earlier Buddhist ideas and their practical applications. The Kalacakratantra literature also sheds light on the religious and social conditions of eleventh-century India in general and on the social standing and role of Indian tantric Buddhism of that era in particular. For these reasons, a main focus of this book is on the Kalacakra tradition as an Indian Buddhist tradition. Although the Kalacakra tradition has been a significant component of Tibetan Buddhism to this day and has produced a large body of tantric literature in Tibet, for a number of reasons the intended task of this book is not to provide a detailed analysis of the Indo-Tibetan Kalacakra tradition as a whole. The Kalacakra tradition as a whole includes a plurality of texts and interpretative perspectives, some of which are not in agreement with each other; and it deals with an extensive variety of topics, which deserve separate scholarly analyses. Likewise, the diverse and complex historiographical, textual, and philosophical problems surrounding the Kalacakra literature of both India and Tibet, which should be addressed in great detail, require a collaborative effort of scholars who are willing to undertake such a task. The central topic of this book is the Kdlacakratantra's view of the nature of the individual and one's place in the universe and society. Accordingly, a primary theme of the book is a textual, historical, and philosophical analysis of the second chapter of the Kalacakratantra, called the "Chapter on the Individual" (adhyatma'patala), and its principal commentary, the Vimalaprabhd. However, since the Kalacakra tradition's theory of the human being permeates all the chapters of the Kalacakratantra, the sec-



ond chapter of the Kalacakratantm is intimately related to the other chapters of this tantra. For example, the Kalacakratantra's view of the individual is inseparable from its view of the universe as discussed in the first chapter of the tantra. Likewise, the purpose of the Kalacakratantra's presentation of the individual's psycho-physiology in the "Chapter on the Individual" becomes clear only when examined in light of the tantric yogic practices described in the third, fourth, and fifth chapters. Therefore, in this book the topics of the inner Kdlacakratantra are dealt with in their relationship to the larger context of the Kalacakratantra's theory and practice. In accordance with the Kalacakratantra's theory of nonduality, this book analyzes the Kalacakra tradition's view of the individual in terms of the individual as cosmos, society, gnosis, and the path of spiritual transformation. For this reason, the main chapters of this book are entitled the "Gnostic Body," the "Cosmic Body," the "Social Body," and the "Transformative Body." Santa Barbara, California August 1999

V. A. W.



owe a great debt of gratitude to the Fetzer Institute, and especially to the former director of the research program there, Professor Arthur Zajonc, for its generous financial support, which enabled me to continue the research and writing that I initially started during my graduate studies at the University of California in Berkeley. My former professors and distinguished scholars in the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies and in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literature at the University of California, Berkeley, prepared me for this work and facilitated my initial research and writing of this book. I am very grateful to Ms. Cynthia Reed, editor at Oxford University Press, who believed in me and in this project long before it was finished. I also wish to express my appreciation to the editors at Oxford University Press, especially to Mr. Robert Milks and Mr. Theodore Calderara, for their meticulous work and graciousness. I am also greatly indebted to Mr. Calvin Smith for his patience and endurance in the painstaking task of proofreading the manuscript and correcting the awkward expressions to which I as a nonnative English speaker am prone. I thank him for all the hours that he spent in making and adjusting the graphics in the book. My sincere gratitude also goes to Mr. Brian Bailey for his professional help in creating the graphics for chapter 7 on the "Cosmic Body" and to Mr. David Reigle for his generosity in providing me with copies of the Sanskrit manuscripts. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to my husband, Alan Wallace, for reading the manuscript and offering his useful comments, for supporting me in my work, and bringing light to the darkness of my ruminations. Finally, I wish to thank my daughter, Sarah, for her enduring love that inspires all my worthy endeavors.

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The Broader Theoretical Framework of the Kalacakratantra


A History of the sod-anga-jioga of the Kalacakratantra and Its Relation to Other Religious Traditions of India 25


The Nature of Syncretism in the Kalacakratantra


The Concept of Science in the Kalacakra Tradition


The Cosmic Body



The Social Body



The Gnostic Body


The Transformative Body Conclusion Notes


Bibliography Index




143 182

31 43


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The Inner Kalacakratantra

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nr-ihe Kalacakratantra is an early eleventh-century esoteric treatise belonging to the 1 class of unexcelled yoga-tantras (anuttara-yoga'tantra). To the best of our knowledge, it was the last anuttara-yoga-tantra to appear in India. According to the Kalacakra tradition, the extant version of the Kdlacakratantra is an abridged version of the larger original tantra, called the Paramadibuddha, that was taught by the Buddha Sakyamuni to Sucandra, the king of Sambhala and an emanation of Vajrapani, in the Dhanyakataka stupa, a notable center of Mahayana in the vicinity of the present-day village of AmaravatI in Andhra Pradesh. Upon receiving instruction on the Paramadibuddhatantra and returning to Sambhala, King Sucandra wrote it down and propagated it throughout his kingdom. His six successors continued to maintain the inherited tradition, and the eighth king of Sambhala, ManjusrT Yasas, composed the abridged version of the Paramadibuddhatantra, which is handed down to us as the Sovereign Abridged Kdlacakratantra (Laghukdlacakratantrardja). It is traditionally taught that it is composed of 1,030 verses written in the sradghara meter.1 However, various Sanskrit manuscripts and editions of the Laghukdlacakratantra contain a somewhat larger number of verses, ranging from i ,037 to 1,047 verses. The term an "abridged tantra" (laghu-tantra) has a specific meaning in Indian Buddhist tantric tradition. Its traditional interpretation is given in Nadapada's (Naropa) Sekoddesatikd, which states that in every yoga, yogim, and other types of tantras, the concise, general explanations (uddesa) and specific explanations (nirdesa) make up a tantric discourse (tantra-samgift'), and that discourse, which is an exposition (uddesana) there, is an entire abridged tantra.2 The tradition tells us that ManjusrT Yasas's successor Pundarika, who was an emanation of Avalokitesvara, composed a large commentary on the Kdlacakratantra, called the Stainless Light (Vimalaprabhd), which became the most authoritative commentary on the Kdlacakratantra and served as the basis for all subsequent commentarial literature of that literary corpus. The place of the Vimalaprabhd in the Kalacakra literary corpus is of great importance, for in many instances, without the Vimalaprabhd, it would be practically impossible to understand not only the broader 3


The Inner Kalacakratantra

implications of the Kalacakratantra's cryptic verses and often grammatically corrupt sentences but their basic meanings. It has been said that the Kalacakrat...

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