Four tenet systems — in the Indian Mahayana Buddhist monasteries, such as Nalanda, monks studied four systems of Buddhist tenets. These systems are:

The Tibetans have followed this custom, but have made further subdivisions within these four systems. For example, within Madhyamaka, they have differentiated Svatantrika Madhyamaka from Prasangika Madhyamaka. Within Svatantrika Madhyamaka, the Gelug school has further classified Indian authors as Yogachara Svatantrika or Sautrantika Svatantrika. The various non-Gelug schools have subdivided Madhyamaka in yet other ways.

Major Authors and Texts

Vaibhashika :*Vasubandhu (400-480) ::*Abhidharmakosha

Sautrantika :*Dignaga (circa 6th century) ::*Compendium of Logic :*Dharmakirti (7th Century) ::*Seven Treatises on Valid Cognition – a detailed commentary on the work of Dignaga

Chittamatra (or Yogachara) :*Asanga ::*Abhidharma-samuccaya

Madhyamaka :*Nagarjuna (circa 150-250) ::*Mulamadhyamaka-karika and other texts

Two Divisions of Madhyamaka<hr> Svatantrika-Madhyamaka is studied in general in the context of far-reaching discriminating awareness (Wyl. phar-phyin, Skt. prajnaparamita, perfection of wisdom), as formulated by Maitreya. :*Maitreya ::*Abhisamayalankara Prasangika-Madhyamaka is studied primarily through the works of Chandrakirti (Zla-ba grags-pa), Aryadeva (‘Phags-pa lha), Shantideva (Zhi-ba lha), and Buddhapalita (Sang-rgyas bskyangs).

:*Chandrakirti ::*Madhyamakavatara – A supplement to Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamaka-karika ::*Prasannapada – A detailed commentary on Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamaka-karika :*Aryadeva ::*Four Hundred Verses :*Shantideva ::*Bodhicharyavatara :*Buddhapalita ::*Mulamadhyamaka-vrtti-buddhapalita – a commentary to Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamaka-karika

Other proponents of this tenet system are: :*Patsab Nyima Drak (1055-1145) – translated Chandrakirti into Tibetan :*Tsongkhapa (1357-1419) – wrote a commentary on the Madhyamakavatara

The Two Divisions of Svatantrika-Madhyamaka<hr> Yogachara-Svatantrika is studied through the works of Shantarakshita and his disciples, Kamalashila and Haribhadra.

:*Shantarakshita ::*Madhyamakalankara ::*Tattvasamgraha :*Kamalashila ::*Stages of Meditation ::*Illumination for the Middle Way (Wyl. dBu-ma snang-ba, Skt. Madhyamaka-aloka) :*Haribhadra ::*Sphutartha – a commentary to Maitreya’s “Ornament of Realizations”

Other proponents of this tenet system are: :*Ngok Loden Sherab (1059-1109) :*Chapa Chökyi Sengé (1109-1169) – composed the first Tibetan summary of of Dharmakirti’s thought. :*Dharmapala :*Mipham Rinpoche ::*Words to Delight My Teacher Manjughosha - a commentary on Shantarakshita’s Madhyamakalankara

Sautrantika-Svatantrika :*Bhavaviveka ::*Madhyamaka-hrdaya ::*Tarkajvala (Wyl. rTog-ge ‘bar-ba), Blaze of Reasoning; an autocommentary on Madhyamaka-hrdaya

Teachings Given to the [[About Rigpa|Rigpa]] Sangha

Further Reading

  • Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, Progressive Stages of Meditation on Emptiness, translated and arranged by Shenpen Hookham (Ithaca NY: Snow Lion Publications 2000).
  • Andy Karr, Contemplating Reality: A Practitioner's Guide to the View in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism (Boston: Shambhala, 2007).
  • For a short, easy-to-understand explanation of the views of the four schools see: Appendix 11. The Four Schools of Buddhist Philosophy, pp.197-200 in The Light of Wisdom Volume 1. Root text by Padmasambhava and commentary by Jamgön Kongtrül the Great. Published by Shambhala Publications ISBN 0-87773-566-2
four_tenet_systems.txt · Last modified: 2022/01/15 15:05 (external edit)

Page Tools