Dolpopa’s Annotations on the Vimalaprabhā, Chapters 3-5, Now Published

By David Reigle on September 17, 2015 at 11:33 pm

One of the most famous, and at the same time most elusive, works on Kālacakra is the Tibetan annotations written by the Jonang teacher Dolpopa on the Vimalaprabhā Kālacakra commentary. Although Dolpopa’s collected writings, long thought to be lost, have become available, his annotated edition of the Vimalaprabhā was not among them. Now, three of its five chapters have been published. They are found in volumes 20 and 21 of the Dus ‘khor phyogs bsgrigs chen mo. This is a collection of Kālacakra works in Tibetan, projected to be a 100-volume set, arranged in chronological order. The first 20 volumes of this set, including the earliest works, were published in Lhasa with a date of 2012, although they did not become available until early 2014. At that time I was able to see a list of what texts were included, thanks to Jörg Heimbel (tibetanbookstore.org), but I was not able to obtain this set until now.

Previously, in 2007, a 7-volume collection of Kālacakra commentaries in Tibetan was published, Dus ‘khor ‘grel mchan phyogs bsgrigs. It included annotated editions of the Vimalaprabhā by Bu ston (vols. 2-3), by Phyogs las rnam rgyal (vols. 4-5), and ostensibly by Dol po pa (vols. 6-7). However, Cyrus Stearns in a Jan. 28, 2009 blog post at the Jonang Foundation website, “Dolpopa’s Elusive Kalachakra Annotations” (http://www.jonangfoundation.org/blog/dolpopas-elusive-kalachakra-annotations), wrote that the volumes attributed to Dolpopa are actually a version of Chogle Namgyal’s (Phyogs las rnam rgyal) annotations. He began this post: “Dolpopa’s fabled annotations to the Stainless Light commentary on the Kālachakra Tantra remain elusive.” He concluded it: “The puzzle of whether Dolpopa’s annotations have actually survived will perhaps only be solved when an annotated manuscript of the Stainless Light is located that concludes with Dolpopa’s verses, but does not also contain Choglé Namgyal’s annotations.”

Three-fifths of such a manuscript has now become available. Volume 20 of the Dus ‘khor phyogs bsgrigs chen mo contains chapters 3 and 4 of this manuscript, while volume 19 contains chapters 1 and 2 of the manuscript wrongly attributed to Dolpopa, reproduced from volume 6 of the 7-volume set published in 2007. When volumes 21-40 of the Dus ‘khor phyogs bsgrigs chen mo set were published dated 2014, it could be confirmed that we do indeed have Dolpopa’s annotations on the Vimalaprabhā for these chapters, and not the annotations of his disciple Chogle Namgyal. Volume 21 includes chapter 5 of Dolpopa’s annotated edition of the Vimalaprabhā. We could now see that this chapter and chapters 3 and 4 in volume 20 all came from the same manuscript. This chapter 5 concludes with the verses that Cyrus Stearns had shown were written by Dolpopa, both because of their content and because of being quoted as such by others (see: The Buddha from Dolpo, 1999 ed. p. 22; 2010 ed. pp. 21-22 and notes 75 and 91), but does not contain the concluding annotation that gives a clear first-person statement of Chogle Namgyal’s authorship. Of course, because Chogle Namgyal was Dolpopa’s disciple, many of the annotations will be the same, or nearly the same.

It was the research of Cyrus Stearns, with the crucial help of Dolpopa’s concluding verses that were added to the printed edition of Chogle Namgyal’s annotations, that allowed us to be sure that we actually have the annotations by Dolpopa on three chapters, and I thank him for confirming this in an email reply to me. As for availability of these texts, after receiving the set of volumes 1-20, I thought I would check the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center’s website (tbrc.org) to see if they yet had a list of the contents of volumes 21-40. To my great surprise, they not only had a list of the contents, they had scans of these volumes available, and also scans of volumes 1-20. It may be noted that the scans of volumes 1-20 were made at a lower resolution than the scans of volumes 21-40, so the small print of the annotations will be hard to read in these volumes. All the texts in the Dolpopa and Chogle Namgyal volumes are written in dbu med or cursive script. For Chogle Namgyal’s annotations, we have a nicely printed modern typeset edition in dbu can script in the Jonang Publication Series, vols. 17-20. We may hope that such an edition of Dolpopa’s annotations will soon be published in the Jonang Publication Series.

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