This Tibetan Buddhist manuscript provides instructions for tantric meditation practice. These practices include visualisation of Buddhist deities and their mandalas, chanting mantras, and forming hand gestures known as mudrā. The three tantric meditation practices (sādhanā) in this manuscript were probably practiced together in a single sitting.
What are the rituals for?
In tantric Buddhist meditation, the practitioner meditates on a specific Buddhist deity with the ultimate aim of achieving enlightenment. Depending on the practitioner’s circumstances, different deities may be selected as the focus of meditation. The three practices here begin with a visualisation practice for purification involving sacred Sanskrit syllables, followed by a practice focussed on the deity Vajrasattva and his mandala, and concluding with a ritual for the wrathful deity Vajrakīlaya.
How do you read the manuscript?
The manuscript is in the loose leaf paper format known as pothi, which developed from Indic palm leaf manuscripts. The Tibetan script, here in a calligraphic form popular in the 10th century, is read from left to right. In between the main lines of text, notes have been added in smaller writing, probably by the same scribe. These give further details about visualisation and other aspects of the practice.
- Article by:
- Sarah Shaw
- Buddhism, Devotional texts
There are many kinds of Buddhist meditations; here Dr Sarah Shaw describes the ‘middle way’ of the Buddha and explores key aspects of Buddhist meditation and chant, such as the use of Buddha-images and visualisation.