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Maitreya-pecha1.png Buddha Nature & The Mahāyānottaratantra Śāstra
theg pa chen po rgyud bla ma'i bstan bcos

Treatise on the Sublime Continuum or the Ratnagotravibhaga

༄།བྱམས་པ་མགོན་པོ།། ༄།འཕགས་པ་ཐོགས་མེད་།།


5 works of Maitreya
The Ornament of Clear Realization
Skt. Abhisamayālaṃkāra
Tib. མངོན་རྟོགས་པའི་རྒྱན་
Wyl. mngon par rtogs pa'i rgyan
The Ornament of the Mahayana Sutras
Skt. Māhayānasūtrālaṃkāra
Tib. ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ་སྡེ་རྒྱན་
Wyl. theg pa chen po'i mdo sde rgyan
Distinguishing the Middle from the Extremes
Skt. Madhyāntavibhāga
Tib. དབུས་དང་མཐའ་རྣམ་པར་འབྱེད་པ་
Wyl. dbus dang mtha' rnam par 'byed pa
Distinguishing Dharma and Dharmata
Skt. Dharma-dharmatā-vibhāga
Tib. ཆོས་དང་ཆོས་ཉིད་
Wyl. chos dang chos nyid rnam par 'byed pa
The Sublime Continuum
Skt. Uttaratantra Śāstra
Tib. རྒྱུད་བླ་མ་
Wyl. rgyud bla ma

The teaching that all sentient beings have Buddha-nature (tathāgatagarbha) was first proclaimed in the Tathāgatagarbhasūtra. Developed in a series of Mahāyāna sūtras, such as the Śrīmālādevīsūtra and Anūnatvāpūrṇatvanirdeśasūtra, it was then systematized in the Ratnagotravibhāga, alias Mahāyānottaratantraśāstra.[1]

The Gyü Lama

The Gyü Lama (རྒྱུད་བླ་མ་), also called the Mahāyānottaratantra Śāstra (ཐེག་ཆེན་རྒྱུད་བླ་མའི་བསྟན་བཅོས་), the Ratnagotravibhāga (RGV), or simply the Uttaratantra, is one of the most important texts of the Yogācāra tradition that expounds the tathāgatagarbha (buddha nature) theory, the idea that all sentient beings possess the nature of a buddha.[2] The Tibetan Buddhist tradition holds the Ratnagotravibhāga to be one of the Five Treatises that Maitreya taught to Asaṅga (4th century?). According to Klaus-Dieter Mathes, the Ratnagotravibhāga was largely ignored until the eleventh century when Indian scholars and adepts attempted to bring the tantric teachings in line with mainstream Mahāyāna.[3] The Ratnagotravibhāga and buddha nature theory provided the necessary doctrinal support for this kind of work, paving the road for its entry and subsequent importance within the Tibetan Buddhist dialogue.

As a whole, the Ratnagotravibhāga consists of three parts: (1) basic verses, (2) commentarial verses and (3) prose commentary, the third being the vyākhyā, the commentary attributed to Asaṅga.[4] Issues with regards to authorship arise when comparing the Sanskrit, Chinese and Tibetan texts, as the only extant Sanskrit version[5] attributes no author, and the only Chinese version, translated by Ratnamati sometime after 508[6], attribues the entire text to Sāramati.[7] (You can see various interpretations of the RGV authorship here.)

The only extant Tibetan version of the Ratnagotravibhāga was translated by rNgog Blo-ldan-shes-rab (1059–1109) and Sajjana (late 11th cent.),[8] though according to gZhon-nu-dpal there were a total of six translations made, the first by Atiśa (982–1054) and Nag-tsho Tshul-khrims-rgyal-ba (1011–1064).[9] rNgog Blo-ldan-shes-rab wrote the first commentary on the RGV[10] officially bringing it into Tibetan discourse at the end of the 11th century, from which point, the various Tibetan interpretations of the buddha nature theory take off. Mathes points to the main issue in the various interpretations as being whether the teaching that all beings are buddhas is provisional or definitive in meaning.[11] Over the next nine centuries, 45 commentaries were written on the Ratnagotravibhāga alone[12], and the text was referenced in "different ways to doctrinally support disputed traditions, such as the zhentong (gzhan stong) ("empty of other") of the Jonangpas (Jo nang pa) or sūtra-based mahāmudrā."[13] The text also serves as an important basis for both the Dzogchen tradition of Longchenpa and the Mahamudra tradition of the Kagyüpas.[14]

The emphasis of this site is to provide information on the resources available in the study of the Ratnagotravibhāga and all of its interpretations within the Tibetan Buddhist milieu. The information presented here is far from complete and will continue to develop as new scholarship arises. We welcome any feedback, and if you see any omissions or errors, please let us know via email.

Mahāyānottaratantraśāstra Root Text, Translations and Commentaries

Maitreya's Root Text: Mahāyānottaratantraśāstra and Asaṅga's Commentary: Mahāyānottaratantraśāstravyākhyā

If you're looking for content that you think was here... check Buddha_Nature_Tests/Text.  ;)

Author: Asaṅga (Thogs med)
Sanskrit Title: Mahāyānottaratantraśāstravyākhyā
Alternate Title: Ratnagotravibhāgavyākhyā
Tibetan Title: Theg pa chen po rgyud bla ma'i bstan bcos rnam par bshad pa
Translated to Tibetan by: Sajjana and Blo ldan shes rab
Tibetan Catalogue: Tôh. no. 4025. Dergé Tanjur, vol. PHI, folios 74v.1-129r.7.
Notes: Commentary on Mahāyānottaratantraśāstra by Maitreya.

Sanskrit Texts

Tibetan Texts

Chinese Texts

  • Ratnamati 勒那摩提 (508 A.D.), 究竟一乘寶性論 (Chinese translation of Rgvbh), in T 1611. Attributed author is Sāramati.

English Translations

French Translation

Other Tibetan Commentaries

For an extensive list of Tibetan Commentaries, see A List of the Commentaries on the Ratnagotravibhāga[16]

Select Tibetan Texts[17]

English Translations

Selected Bibliography & Resources

This is a selected bibliography of academic and related references on the Mahāyānottaratantraśāstra and its commentaries. All book, article and dissertation sources mentioned above as root texts and translations are listed below. The above Tibetan texts, unless part of an academic work, are not listed below.




Web / Electronic Publications


Visual Resource

English visual outline of Arya Maitreya's Mahayana Uttaratantra Shastra and its commentary The Unassailable Lion's Roar by Jamgön Kongtrul Lodro Thaye



  1. Kano, Kazuo, rṄog Blo ldan śes rab's position on the Buddha-nature doctrine and its influence on the early gSaṅ phu tradition. Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 32, no. 1-2 (2009) 2010: 249-283.
  2. Mathes, A Direct Path to the Buddha Within, 2
  3. Ibid.
  4. Kano, RNgog Blo‐ldan‐shes‐rabʹs Summary of the Ratnagotravibhāga: The First Tibetan Commentary on a Crucial Source for the Buddha‐nature Doctrine, 17
  5. critically edited by Johnston in Prasad, H. S., ed. The Uttaratantra of Maitreya. Containing E.H. Johnson's Sanskrit text and E. Obermiller's English translation. Bibliotheca Indo-Buddhica, 79. Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications, 1991.
  6. Kano, RNgog Blo‐ldan‐shes‐rabʹs Summary of the Ratnagotravibhāga, 17
  7. For a detailed discussion regarding the authorship of the verses and prose, see Kano, RNgog Blo‐ldan‐shes‐rabʹs Summary of the Ratnagotravibhāga; Takasaki, A study on the Ratnagotravibhāga (Uttaratantra), being a treatise on the Tathāgatagarbha theory of Mahayana Buddhism
  8. Kano, RNgog Blo‐ldan‐shes‐rabʹs Summary of the Ratnagotravibhāga, 89
  9. Ibid. 90
    (a) Atiśa (982–1054) and Nag-tsho Tshul-khrims-rgyal-ba (1011–1064)
    (b) rNgog Blo-ldan-shes-rab (1059–1109) and Sajjana (late 11th cent.)
    (c) sPa-tshab Nyi-ma-grags (b.1055)
    (d) Mar-pa Do-pa Chos-kyi-dbang-phyug (1042–1136)
    (e) Jo-nang Lo-tsā-ba Blo-gros-dpal (1299–1353 or 1300–1355)
    (f) Yar-klungs Lo-tsā-ba Grags-pa-rgyal-mtshan (1242–1346)
  10. Translated in Kazuo's Ph.D. dissertation, "rNgog Blo‐ldan‐shes‐rabʹs Summary of the Ratnagotravibhāga: The First Tibetan Commentary on a Crucial Source for the Buddha‐nature Doctrine
  11. Mathes, A Direct Path to the Buddha Within, 3
  12. Burchardi, A Provisional List of Tibetan Commentaries on the Ratnagotravibhāga; Kano, RNgog Blo‐ldan‐shes‐rabʹs Summary of the Ratnagotravibhāga (See Appendix G)
  13. Mathes, A Direct Path to the Buddha Within, 3
  14. Ibid., 1
  15. Besides this text, the only other two known Indian “commentaries” on the Uttaratantra are Vairocanarakṣita’s (eleventh century) very brief ahāyānottaratantraṭippaṇī (eight folios) and Sajjana’s (eleventh/twelfth century) Mahāyānottaratantraśāstropadeśa (a summary in thirty-seven verses). Brunnholzl, K. Luminous Heart pg 403 note 24
  16. Kano, K. (2006)
  17. For an extensive list of Tibetan Commentaries, see A List of the Commentaries on the Ratnagotravibhāga