Materials for studying the thought of the Tibetan Buddhist scholar rGya dmar ba Byang chub grags (12th c.)

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Research on rGya dmar ba is conducted at the IKGA in the framework of an overarching project on scholastic traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. It builds on previous research that was initiated in the framework of the project "Early bKaʾ gdams pa Scholasticism" generously supported by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF, P 23422-G15, 2012-2017).

The aim of this page is to make available ongoing results and to provide links to useful digital resources.

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rGya dmar ba Byang chub grags lived between the end of the 11th and the 12th century (his floruit can be situated around 1095–1135) and was active in sTod lung. (See van der Kuijp 19831: 60, Akahane 20102: 78 and Sørensen and Hazod 20073: 420, n. 25)

He is known as a student of Khyung Rin chen grags and Gangs pa She’u Blo gros byang chub, who were both students of rNgog Blo ldan shes rab (1059–1109), and as the principal teacher in Madhyamaka and epistemology of Phya pa Chos kyi seng ge (1109-1169). (See van der Kuijp 19784: 355 and Seyfort Ruegg 20005: 36 and n. 63)


Three Madhyamaka works by rGya dmar ba have now appeared in the bKa’ gdams gsung ’bum collection:

  • A treatise on Madhyamaka (dBu ma de kho na nyid)
  • A commentary on the Bodhicaryāvatāra of Śāntideva (ca.7th–8th c.) (Byang chub ti ka)
  • A commentary on the Satyadvayavibhaṅga of Jñānagarbha (8th c.) (bDen gnyis ti ka)

dBu ma de kho na nyid

A 31-folio single manuscript of the dBu ma de kho na nyid was published in the bKa' gdams gsung 'bum (bKa’ gdams gsung ʼbum phyogs bsgrigs thengs gnyis pa, dPal brtsegs bod yig dpe rnying zhib ʼjug khang (ed.), Chengdu, 2008), vol. 31, pp. 7-67.

  • Link to a scan of the manuscript as it appears in the bKa' gdams gsung 'bum on the website of the Buddhist Digital Resource Center (, (Vol. 31)

The results of the ongoing study of this work by Pascale Hugon and Kevin Vose, including the critical edition and translation of this work, are accessible on the webpage The dBu ma de kho na nyid of rGya dmar ba Byang chub grags (12th c.).

Byang chub ti ka

bKaʾ gdams gsung ʾbum, vol. 6, 11–174.

The title on the first folio reads Byang chub sems dpaʾi spyod pa la ʾjug paʾi ṭi ka.

In the colophon the text is referred to as Byang chub sems paʾi [sic] spyod pa la ʾjug paʾi tshig dang don gsal bar bshad pa.

bDen gnyis ti ka

bKaʾ gdams gsung ʾbum, vol. 19, 247–316.

Incomplete manuscript.

As discussed in Akahane 2010,2 this work is a commentary on Jñānagarbha’s Satyadvayavibhaṅga, including many references to Śāntarakṣita’s Satyadvayavibhaṅgapañjikā.

In the closing verse the text is referred to as bDen gnyis rnam bshad ti ka dag dang bcas. This text would thus correspond to the work of rGya dmar ba referred to by A khu chin under the title dBu ma bden gnyis kyi ṭikka (Tho yig, No. 11347).

1 Van der Kuijp, Leonard. 1983. Contributions to the Development of Tibetan Buddhist Epistemology. Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner.

2 Akahane, Ritsu. 2010. “Three Tibetan Commentaries on dBu ma bden gnyis” (in Japanese). Report of the Japanese Association for Tibetan Studies 56: 77–85.

3 Sørensen, Per K. and Hazod, Guntram in cooperation with Gyalbo, Tsering. 2007. Rulers on the Celestial Plain: Ecclesiastic and Secular Hegemony in Medieval Tibet. A Study of Tshal Gung-thang. Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

4 Van der Kuijp, Leonard. 1978. “Phya-pa Chos-kyi-seng-ge’s Impact on Tibetan Epistemological Theory.” Journal of Indian Philosophy 5: 355–369.

5 Seyfort Ruegg, David. 2000. Studies in Indian and Tibetan Madhyamaka thought, Part 1 -Three Studies in the History of Indian and Tibetan Madhyamaka Philosophy. Wien: Arbeitskreis für Tibetische und Buddhistische Studien, Universität Wien (Wiener Studien zur Tibetologie und Buddhismuskunde 50).

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