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Tantric Traditions in Transmission and Translation$
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David B. Gray and Ryan Richard Overbey

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199763689

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199763689.001.0001

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The Purification of Heruka

The Purification of Heruka

On the Transmission of a Controversial Buddhist Tradition to Tibet

(p.230) 5. The Purification of Heruka
Tantric Traditions in Transmission and Translation

David B. Gray

Oxford University Press

The “Later Transmission” of Buddhism to Tibet began in the late tenth century, when the scholar-monk Rin-chen bZang-po traveled to Kashmir to undertake advanced study with the support of the King of Western Tibet. There he studied with Śraddhākaravarma, a noted Kashmiri Buddhist scholar. One of the works that this duo translated is a short work called “The Purification of Heruka.” It is somewhat anomalous text. From the title one would expect a meditation manual focused on the purification (viśuddhi) process in which one purifies elements of one’s psycho-physical continuum, such as one’s aggregates and elements, with divinities. Instead, the text focuses on Heruka himself, detailing the symbolism of his iconography. This text may have been written to alleviate doubts about the authenticity of the Yoginītantras, which were replete with descriptions of antinomian practices. It likely played a role in facilitating the transmission of these challenging texts to Tibet.

Keywords:   Tibet, translation, Rin-chen bZang-po, Śraddhākaravarma, meditation, antinomianism

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