Sonam Choden discusses Lo tsā ba Rin chen bzang po's composition of his "General Presentation of the Tantric Systems" and its authoritative sources
While numerous Indian works translated by Lo-chen Rin-chen-bzang-po (958–1055) have been transmitted through the Tibetan Buddhist Canon and are thus easily available, works composed (or believed to have been composed) by him have been rarely accessible. Recently, however a work titled rGyud sde spy’i rnam par gzhag pa ’thad ldan lung gi rgyan gyis spras pa (hence forth: rGyud sde spyi rnam) attributed to Lo-chen Rin-chen-bzang-po has surfaced. The title may be rendered into English as “A General Presentation of the Tantric [Systems/Doctrines] Adorned by the Ornaments of Tenable Authoritative Sources.” Indeed, the work is “adorned” with numerous authoritative scriptures.
Rin-chen-bzang-po, not only cites many canonical sources in support of his exposition, but he also present them as a backup against presumed refutations to it. Moreover, he also relies on canonical sources in order to present the opponents’ position. Sometimes, he cites the same verse as an additional source for two different arguments without providing any further explanation. It is intriguing not only to learn how the translator had composed his ‘Presentation of Tantric Systems’ based on his vast knowledge of numerous tantras, but also to witness the authority he provides to those sources to support both his own and the opponents’ position.
This talk proposes to discuss how Rin-chen-bzang-po had deployed authoritative sources in support of his composition of the rGyud sde spyi rnam. And the affinity between his authoritative sources in the rGyud sde spyi rnam and the Canonical Sources. Since this work seems to be the earliest among the Tibetan works belonging to this genre, it also bears an important role as an early textual witness. Hence, this talk also aims to explore whether subsequent Tibetan scholars provide any authority to Rin-chen-bzang-po as they compose their own rGyud sde spyi rnam.