Translated by Dr. Mark Tatz


Ten Verses on Reality (Tatva dasaka) survives only in Tibetan translation, where it is a chief source of the Mahamudra system of the Bka'-brgyud school of Marpa, the Translator. The author is the eleventh century mahasiddha Maitripa (Maitrinatha) of Vikramasila, called in the colophon by his initiation name Advayavajra. A commentary to it by Sahajavajra also survives in Tibetan. Here an edited text of the Ten Verses is presented, and an English translation, interpreted according to the Commentary The text itself (2c) states that, the translation must be regarded as tentative. The text is a manual of instruction in the path to awakening. Primarily, it describes the nature of reality from the ultimate point of view In addition, it makes reference to the spiritual practice, Yoga, by which that view is attained, and describes the state of the yogi who has attained it. The first of these three concerns may be described as late Mahayana philosophy, that latter two as tantric practice. These Latter two are not presented in detail; hence the text is not esoteric. Nor is the teaching complete, however, without the guru's oral instructions. Late Mahayan philosophy is a blend of the Madhyamika and Yhogacara, or "mind only" (cittamatra) schools. The key to combining them is their classification as different levels of the description of reality, Apparently, in this text the quasi substantialized "mind only" view to be ultimately superseded by the Madhyamika insight into the emptiness (single taste, non-duality, transparency etc.) of all entities, including mind itself. In terms of spiritual practice, the key note of this school is "integration", referring to the integration of Madhyamika with Yogacara, means with wisdom, calm with insight etc. When the goal has been attained the yogi transcends all preconceptions, acting not with austerities but with "craziness" free from all restrictions. The Tibetan translation of the Ten Verses is here edited from two manuscripts plus the version embedded in the commentary of Sahajavajra. The first ms. (labelled M) is found in a Gcers-btus, "compendium of choice words" of the Bka'-brgyud school, in a section of nine Mahamudra works. The second (labelled T) is found in the Bstan-'gyur section of the sacred canon (Peking edition Rgyud-"grel Mi 122b. 7-123a.8 Sde-dge Wi 112p. 7-113a.6).


The colophons of both ascribe the translation to Tshul-khrims-rgyal ba, who rewrote the previous translation of Gurupani (Bla-ma phyag-na) and Jnanakara-mtshur in accord with the commentary Neverthless, the two ms. desagree on many points. M is 'generally closer to the commentary The comm. (rgyud-grel Mi 176a,2,1951.3) was translated by pandit kalyavarma (=Kalyanavarma?) and Jnanakara-mtshur studying with the updhyaya Vajra-pandita.


Here the translators curse those who denigrate their translation of the Ten Verses and produce their own A note to M mentions that the Ten Verses is the Chief text of Marpa's Mahamudra philosophy and it appears that a number of splinter groups corrected the translation in accord with a guru's teachings. In the edition presented here, M and T have been compared with the verses given in comm. Besides citing the Verses, comm. cities lines and phrases in glossing them in prose; variants in these latter citation have not always been noted. 


A translation and study of text and commentary is forthcoming.


Tem Verses of Reality (Tattva-dasaka) by Advayavajra 


Salutations to Manjusri in princely form!


1.         I bow in salutation to suchness, which is

            Freedom from attachment to existence and non-existence,

            In which there is non-pollutedness

            The essential nature of awakening discovered.


2.         Suchness, to postulate cognition,

            In neither with aspects not without

            Unadorned by the words of a guru,

            There is only the mean or the middle.


3.                   This substance becomes awakening,

The essential nature of freedom from attachment:

Error develops from attachment;

Error is defined as unsubstantiated.


4.                   What is reality? The essential nature of entities.

An entity is that which is whithout substance,

And the absence of substance is an entity,

Because it is the essential nature of causality,


5.                   So phenomena have a single taste,

Unhindered and unfixed:

with concentration such as this

They are all transparent.


6.                   And concentration such as this

Comes about with mind engaged;

Hence being aware of its basis,

Let it be continually created.


7.                   Devoid of cognized and cognizable

The world itself defined as nondual;

Even the conceit of freedom from duality

Is there fore defined as transparent.


8.                   Comprehending reality in that way

Filled just as it is

The eye of the yogin will grow;

He will move as a complete lion,


9.                   With this reversal of worldly phenomena,

He relies on the austerity of craziness,

Doing everything without objectification:

He is adorned with his own waves of inspiration.


10.               This unpolluted that has been taught,

Which is described as nonduality,

Is freedom from balance and imbalance;

It is the Knowledge of rich intellects. 


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