About the book
Atisa Sri Dipankara-jnana, a great saint-philosopher of the 10th-11th century, almost forgotten in India over the past centuries, had been venerated as an outstanding personality in Asian countries and regions, especially north of the Himalyas for centuries. He is a shining symbol of peace, compassion, humanism, self sacrifice, harmony and amity who devoted his energies for preservation of Dhamma to Odantapuri, Vikarmasila, Sompuri, Nalanda and other universities and monastic complexes. He played a singular role in infusing wisdom and in the resurgence of Buddhism, laying a foundation of pure Buddhism in Tibet.
Indian historians have not documented Atisa’s life and legasy in India, Indonesia or Tibet. The m major source to study him is Tibetan historical chronicles collected over the past 100 years-accounts of the spiritual teacher’s life found in 44 Tibetan texts-biographies, doctrinal works, catalogues and hymns written in his praise.
IGNCA organized an international conference in January 2013 on "Atiga Sri Dipankara-jnana and Cultural Renaissance". Atisa Sri Dipankara-jnana an eminent Indian scholar during the 10th-11thcentury was invited to Tibet to re-establish Buddhism when it was almost wiped out from there. It is due to his enormous efforts that we see today Tibetans spreading it in the world over. Atiga Sri Dipankara-jnana is venerated over the past one thousand years as a shining star in the history of Buddhism because of the sacrifices he made for reviving the faith; his activities in Tibet and the great legacy that he has left behind. Unfortunately his life and legacy remained unsung by the Indian historians or scholars so far. Therefore IGNCA took the initiative of organizing an international conference focusing on the life and teachings of this great scholar which are meant not only for Tibet or for India but for the humanity. I congratulate Dr. Shashibala for convening the conference and editing the proceedings under the overall supervision of Dr Advaitavadini Kaul, HoD, Kalakosa Division of IGNCA.
The readers will find for themselves in the presentations compiled in this proceeding, that the life and the work of Atisa Sri Dipankara-jnana are inspiring and will remain so for generations to come. Let us celebrate his dedication for the wisdom path to establish peace and harmony in the world.
HH the Dalai Lama said about Atisa: In coming to Tibet in the eleventh century, Atisa eliminated all mistakes that had arisen due to misunderstandings concerning the oral teachings of Hinayana, Mahayana as well as Tantrayana. By illuminating the path of how to practice all the teachings of the Buddha without any contradiction, he has been extremely kind, especially to the Tibetans of the Land of the Snow.
Atisa Sri Dipankara-jnana, a great saint-philosopher of the 10th-11th century, almost forgotten in India over the past centuries, had been venerated as an outstanding personality in Asian countries and regions, especially north of the Himalayas for centuries. He is a shining symbol of peace, compassion, humanism, self sacrifice, harmony and amity who devoted his energies for preservation of Dhamma to Odantapuri, Vikramasila, Sompuri,Nalanda and other universities and monastic complexes. He played a singular role in infusing wisdom and in the resurgence of Buddhism, laying a foundation of pure Buddhism in Tibet. His preaching electrified the monks as well as the common people with a new concept of moral purity, self sacrifice, nobility of character, idealism, and revolutionized the social, religious and cultural lives of the people. The people and the Kings of Tibet made sacrifices to invite him to reform and reinvigorate the lax, corrupt and decaying conditions.
Indian historians have not documented Atisa's life and legacy in India, Indonesia or Tibet. The major source to study him is Tibetan historical chronicles collected over the past 100 years - accounts of the spiritual teacher's life found in 44 Tibetan texts - biographies, doctrinal works, catalogues and hymns written in his praise.
This volume contains research papers presented by scholars at an international conference combined with an exhibition and demonstration of divine arts organized by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. According to Prof. Lokesh Chandra, Atisa represents the Indian vision of a Buddhist cosmologies. He visited Suvarriadvipa as a pilgrim to study under Dharmakirti. The invitation to Atisa to Tibet for resurgence of Buddhism has historical dimensions. He talked about the variants of his names given in the colophons of his works in the Peking edition of Tanjur, its meaning and nuances.
Kaie Mochizuki in the keynote address discussed the problems encountered in studying Atisa. There is a controversy even about his name. He talked about the titles of the root text Bodhi-marga-panjika which are the same in Tibetan translations but different in Sanskrit. There are textual doubts in other works also like Garbhasarigraha, Hrdayaniksepa, DasakuSalakarmapatha and Bodhisattva-manyavali.
Christel Pilz who has travelled along the path of Atisa in Tibet five times wrote that Atisa was born with a mission and he was aware of it since his childhood. He had the super-knowledge that one needs to understand his philosophy. He went on to learn Bodhichitta from Dharmakirti, one the most renowned scholars of his time who was an offspring of Sailendras. The philosophy of Bodhichitta was deeply rooted in the minds and the lives of the Javanese people and reflected in Borobudur. She raises a question in her paper whether Atisa had an intention to support Dharmakirti when many villages, monasteries and temples were buried because of a massive eruption of Merapi volcano.
Bhikshu Sumati Sasana advised laying emphasis on practicing Dharma rather than collecting or reading texts and writings, renouncing attraction for life. He quoted Atisa saying- 'Having removed sleepiness, dullness and laziness, I shall always be joyful when engaging in such incredible practices'. He wrote that there are seven gems that adorn the minds of bodhisattvas- faith, instruction, contemplation, wisdom, ethics, modesty and generosity.
Atisa followed the philosophy of Asanga and Vasubandhu. According to Prem Shankar Shrivastava, Atisa was a reformer. His works and upadesa encompass the ideals of universal peace. He laid guidelines for purification of the mind, detaching it from arrogance, violence, distractions, greediness, conflicts etc. He advised avoiding akusala-karmas and to revere good qualities, abandon klesa and avoid profit and fame; and to meditate on prajnaparamita, maitri and karuna to strengthen bodhichitta.
Bandana Mukhopadhyay presented her paper on Tibetan study material kept at the Asiatic Society with special reference to Atisa. Its construction was the realization of a magnificent dream of Sir William Jones. A comparative study of the two great stupas- Gyantse and Borobudur was presented by Garrey Folkes giving details of their symbolism and meaning, style, external decorations, parts, ingredients placed inside a stupa, and form and purpose of building as told by the Buddha himself. Both of them follow the same mandala plan. Borobudur has nine levels and Gyantse five.
Atisa had a close connection with the Pala rulers who had invited him to Vikaramasila. The focus of research by Kaie Mochizuki is on the role played by Sri Dipankara-jnana at Vikaramasila monastery based on the biographical texts and historical literature written in Tibet, as nothing has been found from India. According to him some of his works were written and translated at Vikaramasila. The location of Vikaramasila monastery has been long debated but on the basis of the description found in Tibetan literature and excavations and explorations done at village Antichak in Bhagalpur district in Bihar. it is accepted that King Dharmapala, the founder of Vikaramasila monastery also bore the title Vikaramasiladeva and the large dome at Antichak is its possible site.
Buddhist Art of Tibet depicts not only Buddhas, deities and Mandalas, but also the great masters of the Buddhadharma, such as Sravakas and Arhats, Nlahasiddhas and Panditas as well as the founders and lineage holders of the four great schools in Tibet. They can be portrayed in the form of a sculpture or as the central image of a painting; in the latter case scenes of the master's life or his pure visions are often surrounding the main figure.
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