The categories and meaning of the hundred syllable Heruka Vajrasattva mantra: according to Tāranātha and Bamda Gelek Gyatso

In two of the main texts on the Kālacakra practices within the Jonang Dro Kālacakra  tradition (A Hundred Blazing Lights by Tāranātha and the Chariot that Transports to the Four Kāyas by Bamda Gelek Gyatso) the categories and meaning of the hundred syllable (yig brgya) mantra is explained in detail. My translations of these are excerpted and published for the first time online here, from my two translations of both texts (one of which is now published by the LTWA)[i].

The categories of ‘the hundred syllable mantra’

First, Tāranātha gives an explanation of the category termed the ‘hundred syllable’ mantra and the two main categories of the Vajrasattva one hundred syllable practice, peaceful and wrathful. The wrathful Heruka Vajrasattva mantra is the one practised in the preliminaries of the Dro Kālacakra tradition and the mantra is slightly different with the name ‘heruka’ replacing ’sattva’ in the peaceful form of the mantra. Here are both mantras below: 


The peaceful form of Vajrasattva comes in solitary form, and in union with consort (see below):

Solitary Vajrasattva, from
Vajrasattva in union with consort by Carmen Mensink (Fine Art America)

















Mantra: om vajrasattva (5) samayam (8)anupālaya (13) vajrasattva (17) tvenopatiṣṭha (22) | dṛḍho me bhava (27) | sutoṣyo me bhava (33) | supoṣyo me bhava (39) | anurakto me bhava (46) | sarva siddhiṃ (50) me prayaccha (54) | sarvakarmasu (59) ca me (61)cittam śreyaḥ kuru hūṃ (68) |ha ha ha ha hoḥ (73) bhagavan (76) sarva (78) tathāgata (82) vajra (84)mā me muñca (88) | vajrī bhava (92) mahāsamaya (97) sattva āḥ (100) ||

Wrathful Heruka Vajrasattva

The wrathful Heruka mantra practised in the Kalacakra preliminaries is white in colour, in union with consort and naked, without lower garments.

Contemporary image of Heruka Vajrasattva from the Jonang tradition, reproduced from the website.

The Heruka Vajrasattva mantra is: Oṃ śrī vajraheruka samayamanupālaya vajraherukatvenopatiṣṭha, dṛḍho me bhava sutoṣyo me bhava anurakto me bhava supoṣyo me bhava sarvasiddhiṃ me prayaccha sarvakarmasu ca me cittaṃ śreyaḥ kuru hūṃ ha ha ha ha hoḥ bhagavan vajra heruka mā me muñca herukabhava mahā samaya sattva āḥ hūṃ phet

The Hundred Syllable mantra

The Hundred Syllable peaceful Vajrasattva mantra in Tibetan Script, starting from Om at the bottom.

In the common preliminaries section of A Hundred Blazing Lights, Tāranātha explains that:

Generally, in terms of the hundred syllable mantra for purifying obscurations, there are two completely different types: 1) the hundred syllables of the Tathāgatas and 2) the hundred syllables of Vajrasattva.  The first, comes from the Tantra of the Arrangement of the Three Samayas[ii]. In terms of the second, there are innumerable types of supramundane deities in the classes of tantra whose individual names can be used in the one hundred syllable mantra. So even though some [of the mantras] do not have an exact fixed number of one hundred syllables, they are called ‘One Hundred Syllables’ since they are of the same class of mantra. They are different [in terms of syllables] due to the names of the deities being longer or shorter[iii].  In terms of those [hundred syllable mantras] that have not [had the name] changed or added, there are two main categories: the hundred syllables of peaceful Vajrasattva and the hundred syllables of wrathful Heruka Vajrasattva.

In terms of the first [peaceful Vajrasattva], these days, this is the most well-known hundred syllable mantra of Vajrasattva. Also, in the Yoga Tantras and that which is accordant with them, [Vajrasattva] is meditated on as a Sovereign of the Bodhisattvas, as one single hero. In the tradition of Secret Mantra [the highest tantra], one meditates on the innately arisen (lhan gcig) Tathagata, face-to-face in union with consort as two. The mantra is the same.

In terms of the hundred syllables of Heruka, the mantra is mostly the same as before. It has not been added to [in terms of the name].  It was clearly taught in Glorious Tantra of Unexcelled Utterance. At this time, in other traditions of Vajrasattva, there has originated[a form of the deity], which is boasted as being in the tradition of Kālacakra, which is blue with three faces and six hands. This is nothing but a self-fabrication alone. Why is that? Even though that deity is taught in the Kālacakra  Tantra, it did not state it has a purpose in terms of purifying negativities and obscurations.  Also, the mantra [of that deity] is not one hundred syllables.  The hundred syllables here purifies negativities, repairs degenerated and broken [vows and commitments] and for supplicating the deity.  But not all mantras of Vajrasattva are like that. Meditating on the deity like that, one recites the one hundred syllable mantra.  By meditating on that deity [form of Vajrasattva] and reciting the hundred syllable mantra, they are merely thinking that all Vajrasattvas are the same type. For example, it is not suitable to meditate on the three-faced, six-armed deity  Vairochana of the Net of Illusion (Guhyagarbha Tantra) while reciting the mantra of Durga that originates in the Tantra that Purifies From the Lower Realms (sngags ngan song sbyong rgyud).  Some previous lamas of the Dro tradition had the male consort as peaceful, white Vajrasttva embracing a red, female consort and reciting the peaceful hundred syllable mantra. Generally, it is not that this is not good, however, in the guidance instructions of the omniscient Buddha of the three times, Dolpopa on upwards, the Heruka Vajrasattva is generally done as it is considered to be very good and from an excellent source.’’

Image of Vajrasattva with 3 heads and 6 arms from Tibet (1800 – 1899), Kagyu and Karma (Kagyu). See
Drawing from Eastern Tibet of Vajrasattva with three heads and six arms, Sakya, Rubin Museum of Art. See:





Vajrasattva with red consort as Tāranātha states is practised by some Dro Kalackara lamas.

Then, Tāranātha gives more specific instructions on the visualisations and contemplations to be done during the practice itself (not reproduced here) and ends by saying:

Lord Atisha taught that: The subtle faults and downfalls of the secret mantra are continually arising. For example, if you are in a place that is full of dust and you place a mandala plate outside, it will immediately become full of dust, like that. So then, surely the path will not arise in one’s mental continnum? [Atisha’s reply]: Since the Secret Mantra has many skilful means and there is huge amount of subtle downfalls and faults, one method can purify them in an instant: meditating on Vajrasattva and the recitation of the hundred syllables. He explained that it is a profound and extensive [purification]. If one is diligent [in the practise] then all of the subtle and medium faults and downfalls can be completely purified at their root. As for the huge downfalls, they won’t increase and will be suppressed, and gradually they will be purified.

Previously in Tibet, there were many oral instructions on the hundred syllables of Secret Mantra practitioners. However, their students were few in number, so it did not become generally widespread. However, due to this teaching by Jowo [Atisha], a lot of clamour and interest arose in all the new[iv] and old Tantric practitioners to do this practice, it is said.’’

2) The Meaning of the Hundred Syllable Mantra by Bamda Gelek Gyatso

In ‘The Chariot that Transports to the Four Kayas’, Bamda Gelek Gyamtso gives an extended explanation of the meaning of the wrathful Vajra Heruka one hundred syllable mantra. My translation of that section is reproduced in full here below (see TOMLIN 2019: pp 65-69):

Since there are very few who meditate on Vajrasattva who understand the meaning of the mantra, there are not a great number who recite it with a mind that understands its meaning.  Generally, it is not absolutely necessary to meditate on it [the mantra] when the nectar is descending. However, it is better to recite the mantra together with a mind that understands the meaning and also with a mind of regret for one’s negative actions and downfalls together with a mind that promises not to repeat them. Tāranātha explained this about reciting the mantra in his Supplementary Commentary on Meaningful to Behold.

There are two ways of explaining the recitation of the mantra:

      • the translation of the words of the mantra; and
      • reciting the mantra with a mind that understands the meaning

a)    Translation of the Words of the Hundred Syllable Mantra

First, here is the one hundred syllable mantra of Heruka[v].  Oṃ represents and symbolises the vajra body of the Buddha; śrī means glorious; vajra means thunderbolt[vi]; heruka means ‘the one who drinks blood’. So if one joins them together:  ‘Hey! Glorious Thunderbolt Blood-Drinker;  vajra body of the Buddha.  This is calling out the name to invoke the commitment deity, Vajrasattva.  After inviting and calling out to the commitment deity, what does one request?  Samayamanupālaya: samaya in Tibetan, means commitment pledge which one never forsakes; anupālaya means please protect the samaya.  Since there is a particle one puts after the ya it makes it yam and so the a after samaya becomes samayamanupālaya, which means: never be separated from nor forsake your samaya[vii].

Vajraheruka is as it was explained before.  Tvena means ‘You’; upa tiṣṭha means ‘please remain (or stay) close’; upa means near; tiṣṭha means stay (or remain). The words ‘remain’ and ‘stay’ have similar meanings[viii]. The equivalent term for ḍṛiḍha is ‘support’. The Sanskrit equivalent of the Tibetan particle for ‘as’ makes it ḍṛiḍho, ‘as support’[ix]. Me means ‘I’ is pronounced as but the Sanskrit particle used for ‘to’ here makes it me: ‘to me’.   Bhava is a word-ending that means ‘please do that…’ So that  joined together with driddoh and me becomes ḍṛiḍho mebhava.  Thus, the direct translation of vajra heruka tvenopa tiṣṭha, ḍṛiḍho mebhava is: O Vajraheruka, stay close to me, however you remain, may it be stable. Wherever you stay, may it be with me.’  Which when stated in Tibetan is: ‘O Vajra Heruka, please may you remain close and stable in my mindstream’.   In that [sentence], you means, ‘you who is called Vajraheruka’.  Since Heruka is the one who is doing the remaining in one’s mindstream, in Sanskrit one adds an agentive particle, so te ne in Tibetan if one adds an agentive particle like that it has an opposite meaning, one should understand that the agentive particle is taken away.

The closest translation of su has the meaning good or very. Here the su that is before the tokayo means satisfied or pleased. Then the particle at the end of tokayo [which means satisfied] is replaced and so one gets tokya. So sutokaya means excellently or very satisfied. Additionally, since satisfied has the meaning of being pleased, it can also mean excellently pleased or very pleased. Me means to me and bhava means ‘please be that’[x]. If one joins that altogether it is: ‘Please make me extremely pleased (or extremely satisfied)’[xi].

The closest translation of anu that follows after, and comes before rakto, has the meaning of with passion, this is changed into rakta; me and bhava are the same like before. If they are joined together anurakto me bhava means ‘Please look on me with passion[xii].

As was said before, with the anurakto me bhava, supoṣyo me bhava means: ‘make me extremely vast’.

Sarva means all; siddhi means accomplishments. The particle that is added afterwards makes it siddhiṃMe means on me. The closest translation of pra before yaccha is completely bestow. So sarvasiddhiṃ me prayaccha means: ‘completely bestow on me all accomplishments’.[xiii]

Again sarva means all, karma means actions, ca means endless, me means my; citta means mind.  The particle aṃ that makes it to the mind makes it cittaṃ;  śreyaḥ means virtuous. Kuru[xiv] means make itSarvakarmasu ca me cittaṃ śreyaḥ kuru means: ‘Make my mind and all my actions virtuous.’ In Sanskrit one is not able to say ‘to my mind’.

Hūṃ is the seed mantra of Vajraheruka and symbolizes and represents the five primordial awarenesses in the heart. The four ha-s represent and symbolize the four joys[xv] and five primordial awarenesses. Hoḥ represents purified of dualistic illusory appearances. With all the completely perfect qualities is bhagavān heruka. Bhagavān means the Victorious One; hūṃ ha ha ha ha hoḥ bhagavān vajra heruka. 

Mā me muñca. is a negation word; me means I;  muñca means abandon. So it means: ‘don’t abandon me’. If one asks how will he not abandon me: herukabhava. Heruka means one who ‘is Heruka’; bhava means ‘make it so’. So it means: make me into Heruka!

Then mahā means great; samaya means commitment; sattva means ‘hero’; āḥ means the dharmakāya emptiness; hūṃ represents the non-dual primoridal awareness; phet means the one whose purpose is to liberate. So together, mahā samaya sattva āḥ hūṃ phet means: ‘Great Samaya Hero! Liberate us from all illusory dualistic appearances into the non-dualistic primordial awareness and emptiness-dharmata’[xvi].

Furthermore, śrī means glorious in terms of non-dual primoridal awareness. Vajra heruka means the essence of the vajra body itself or the dharmakāya emptiness. As for Heruka; he means free from the cause, ru means free from accumulation and ka means not abiding anywhere whatsoever.  It is taught like that[xvii].  Together they mean the realisation of emptiness in these three ways: the emptiness of the cause, the result and the nature. This emptiness causes all of the confusion of dualistic appearances to be exhausted and the result is the primordial awareness dharmakāya.  So the meaning of vajra heruka means: ‘the ultimate reality that is the inseparability of primordial awareness and the absolute expanse’. He is called ‘blood drinker’ because the non-dualistic primordial awareness ‘drinks’ the ‘blood’ of the illusory dualistic appearances. That is the meaning of heruka.

Bhagavān (bcom ldan ‘das) literally means the victor endowed with transcendence; who is victorious [bcom] over the four māras[xviii] and is endowed (ldan) with the six excellent possessions[xix]. It is not connected to the name of a great non-Buddhist deity, who is also called Bhagavan[xx]. The lotsāwas [translators] added the word ‘transcendent’ [‘das] as an excellent method for saying ‘having transcended the limits of existence and peace.’

Mahā samaya sattva means great commitment hero. Commitment [samaya] means never forsaking the three doors of the vajras of the Buddha’s body, speech and mind; and unchanging. Hero [sattva] means the one endowed with a mind of objectless compassion that is the essence of the great bliss that resides in the central channel of all illusory appearances[xxi].

b) Recitation of the Mantra with a Mind that Understands the Meaning

Second, is the recitation of the mantra with a mind that understands the meaning[xxii].  After reciting the supplication: ‘Bhagavan, I and all sentient beings……..’ One contemplates, with a mind of regret and remorse, the wish to confess and repair negativities and downfalls.

Oṃ  śrī vajraheruka means ‘O vajra heruka, the vajra body of the Buddha’; it is calling on Vajrasattva by his name.

samayamanupālaya …..‘Honour the samaya with me. With your three doors, of body, speech and mind, do not abandon me; protect me.’

vajraherukatvenopatiṣṭha, dṛḍho me bhava…. ‘O Vajra Heruka, remain stable in my mind, stay close to me’.

sutoṣyo me bhava ….‘Completely satisfy my mindstream with the taste of great, immutable bliss’.

anurakto me bhava ….‘Look on me passionately, with vast, objectless compassion, and never abandon me’.

supoṣyo me bhava ….‘Make my mindstream the extremely vast primordial awareness of bliss-emptiness’.

sarvasiddhiṃ me prayaccha …..‘Bestow on me all the ordinary and supreme accomplishments, without exception’.

sarvakarmasu ca me cittaṃ śreyaḥ kuru …..‘Make my mental intentions virtuous from the outset, and all activities and so on be accomplished and never cut off from Dharma’.

hūṃ ha ha ha ha hoḥ bhagavan vajra heruka…..‘O the one with all the perfectly complete excellent qualities purified of dualistic appearances and the four joys and five primordial awarenesses. O Foe-Destroyer Vajra Heruka!’ One calls on [the deity] by name and proclaims his qualities.

mā me muñca …..‘Don’t abandon me!’

herukabhava……‘Make me Heruka!’

mahā samaya sattva āḥ hūṃ phet ……‘Great samaya hero! Liberate us from all illusory, dualistic appearances into the non-dualistic primordial awareness and emptiness-dharmata’.

Recite it again and again with the mind that understands the meaning like that. At the time of the main practises of the completion stage, if one knows [the mantra], reciting it only with a mind that understands the meaning is permissible. If one doesn’t know it, recite [the mantra] while purifying oneself with the nectar descending as before.’’

 Visual summary of the Vajra Heruka hundred syllable mantra

For ease of use, I prepared an edited translation on a visual handout (see below). It can also be downloaded as a .pdf here.:

Chanting of the one hundred  syllable mantra


To end this short article, is a video of HH 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Orgyen Trinley Dorje, reciting the peaceful one hundred syllable mantra, with the Sanskrit pronunciation.

As well as modern-day Kālacakra master, HH Sakya Trizin chanting the Vajra Heruka hundred syllable mantra. May it be of benefit!



[i] I am producing individual e-booklets containing the instructions for each preliminary in the Kalacakra tradition, and this section below will form part of the ‘Vajrasattva: One Hundred Syllable’ booklet.

[ii]Dam-tshig-gsum bkod-kyi rgyud.bKa’., P. 134. A kriya-tantra.The mantra invokes the name of Shakyamuni.

[iii] “Name-mantras” or “adaptable name-mantras,” including all the mantras mentioned here, consist of a basic mantra into which the name of any Buddha, yidam or other enlightened being may be inserted. There is one basic version of the mantra for peaceful, and another for wrathful deities.

[iv] This refers to Kagyu, Jonang, Sakya and Gelug.

[v] Here I have used the Sanskrit mantra with diacritics, and not the Tibetan version. I have based it on the version from the interesting and useful article ‘The Hundred Syllable Vajrasattva Mantra’ by Dharmacārī Jayarava at

[vi] Jayarava states that:

The vajra was the weapon of Indra who, like the Greek Zeus, hurled thunderbolts at his enemies and was sometimes called Vajrapāṇi (thunderbolt wielder). The word (as Pāli vajira) is not unknown in this sense in early Buddhist texts but in Tantra it is very prominent, and by this time also means ‘diamond’, and metaphorically ‘reality’. It’s difficult to translate vajra in a way that conveys what is intended and for that reason it’s often left untranslated.’ I also think it is better to keep the words ‘Vajra Heruka’ here.

[vii] According to Jayarava:

The phrase samayamanupālaya could be either samaya manupālaya or samayam anupālaya. Both are commonly seen and the former is a traditional Tibetan approach, but samayam anupālaya is a natural Sanskrit sentence with samayam (in the accusative case) being the object of the verb anupālaya. Anu + √pāl means ‘preserve’ and anupālaya is the second person singular imperative. Samayam means ‘coming together’ or ‘meeting’ and is used in the sense of ‘coming to an agreement’. As a technical term in Tantric Buddhism it specifically refers to agreements the practitioner takes on when receiving abhiṣeka. These agreements are sometimes referred to as a vow or pledge. To preserve an agreement is to honour it, so vajrasattva samayam anupālaya means: ‘O Vajrasattva honour the agreement’, or ‘preserve the coming together’ – the coming together of Buddha and disciple, or of guru and cela.

[viii] According to Jayarava:

The verb here is upatiṣṭha a passive past-participle from upa + √sthā ‘stood near, was present, approached, supported, worshipped; revealed one’s self or appeared’. So the phrase means ‘manifest as Vajrasattva’.

[ix] According to Jayarava:

First we have ‘be dṛḍhaḥ’ ‘firm, steady, strong’. The sandhi rule is that an ending with aḥ changes to o when followed by bha: so dṛḍhaḥ > dṛḍho. Dṛḍho me bhava means ‘be steadfast for me’

There are a series of phrases with the verb bhava which is the second person singular imperative of √bhū ‘to be’. They also contain the particle me which in this case is the abbreviated form of the 1st person pronoun in the dative ‘for me’. The form then is ‘be X for me’.

[xi] According to Jayarava:

Sutoṣyaḥ is a compound of the prefix su- meaning ‘well, good, complete’ and toṣya from √tuṣ ‘satisfaction, contentment, pleasure, joy’.

[xii] According to Jayarava:

Here the Tibetan that is used is chags pa, which means lust and passion. Anuraktaḥ is anu + rakta. Rakta is a past-participle from √rañj and the dictionary gives ‘fond of, attached, pleased’. In his seminar on the mantra Sangharakshita suggests ‘passionate’ and this seems to fit better with √rañj which literally means ‘to glow red, or to redden’. We can translate anurakto me bhava as ‘be passionate for me’, or as Sthiramati suggests ‘love me passionately’.

[xiii] The Tibetan term that is used here is dngos grub which is normally translated as ‘attainment’ or ‘accomplishment’. According to jayarava:

Prayaccha is a verb from the root √iṣ ‘to desire, to wish’ and means ‘to grant’. (√iṣ forms a stem iccha; and pra + iccha > prayaccha – which is also the second person singular imperative). Sarva is a pronoun meaning ‘all, every, universal’ and siddhi is a multivalent term which can mean ‘magical powers, perfection, success, attainment’. So sarvasiddhiṃ me prayaccha must mean ‘grant me every success’ or ‘give me success in all things’. Note that sarvasiddhiṃ is an accusative singular so it can’t mean ‘all the attainments’ (plural).’

[xiv] According to Jayarava:

The next line is somewhat longer and more complex: sarvakarmasu ca me cittaṃ śreyaḥ kuru. Ca is the connector ‘and’, which indicates that we should take this phrase with the previous line. Sarvakarmasu is a locative plural. The locative case is being used to indicate where in time and space the action takes place. Sarva we saw just above and karma means action – so this word means ‘in all actions’. Me here is a genitive ‘my’. Cittaṃ is mind and is in the accusative case, so it is the object of the verb kuru which is the 2.p.s. imp of √kṛ ‘to do, to make’. Śreyah is from śrī which has a wide range of connotations: ‘light, lustre, radiance; prosperity, welfare, good fortune, success, auspiciousness; high rank, royalty’. I think ‘lucid’ would be a good choice in this case. It is the comparative so it means ‘more śrī’. Putting all this together we find that sarvakarmasu ca me cittaṃ śreyaḥ kuru hūṃ means ‘and in all actions make my mind more lucid!’

[xv] The four joys (catvārimuditā;  dga’ ba bzhi) are four increasingly subtle experiences of bliss-emptiness connected with the advanced practices of tsa-lung; they transcend ordinary feelings of joy or pleasure. They are:

  1. joy ( muditā; dga’ ba),
  2. supreme joy ( pramuditā; mchog dga’),
  3. special joy ( viśeṣamuditā; khyad dga’) and
  4. innate joy ( sahajamuditā; lhan skyes kyi dga’ ba).

They are experienced when the white bodhicitta drop, (also called white essence), ascends from the lowest chakra to the navel, heart, throat, and crown chakras.

[xvi] Bamda Gelek states chos nyid (dharmatā) here suggesting that he sees it as interchangeable with the word chos sku (dharmakāya) which he used previously to describe the syllable āḥ.

[xvii] This is found in the Hevajra Tantra. Although in the tantra the Tibetan is different and it states the he is the emptiness of the cause (shrI ni gnyis med ye shes te/_/he ni rgyu sogs stong pa nyid/_/ru ni tshogs dang bral ba nyid/_/ka ni gang du’ang mi gnas pa’o/ – D417 kye’i rdo rje zhes bya ba rgyud kyi rgyal po,  rgyud, nga 1b1-13b5 (vol. 80)).

[xviii] The four demons or maras (bdud bzhi): the demon of the aggregates (phung po’i bdud) which symbolizes our clinging to forms, perceptions, and mental states as ‘real’; the demon of the afflictive emotions (nyon mongs pa’i bdud), which symbolizes our addiction to habitual patterns of negative emotion; the demon of the Lord of Death (‘chi bdag gi bdud), which symbolizes both death itself, which cuts short our precious human birth, and also our fear of change, impermanence, and death; and the demon of the godly son (lha’i bu’i bdud), which symbolizes our craving for pleasure, convenience, and ‘peace’.

[xix] The six excellent possessions (skal ba drug): 1) excellent possession of power and wealth (dbang phyag phun sum tshogs pa); 2) excellent possession of form (gzugs phun sum tshogs pa);  3) excellent possession of glory (dpal phun sum tshogs pa);  4) excellent possession of reputation (grags pa phun sum tshogs pa);  5) excellent possession of wisdom (ye shes phun sum tshogs pa); 6) excellent possesion of enthusiastic perseverance (brtson ‘grus phun sum tshogs pa).

[xx] This is referring particularly to Krishna and other avatars of Vishnu in Vaishnavism, as well as for Shiva in the Shaivism tradition of Hinduism. Bhagavān is synonymous with Ishvara, Devatā, Hari or Prabhu, in some schools of Hinduism.

[xxi] According to Chokyi Nangwa Rinpoche: ”Dualistic appearances are considered to be confusion and their cause is the very subtle wind energies that move in our being.  They are very subtle winds that our minds rise on, these are the source of our dualistic appearances.  These winds however, through the practice, can be brought into the central channel and when they are brought into the central channel the confused appearances of duality are purified.  They disappear.  When that happens then the great bliss of primordial awareness arises which is inseparable from non-referential compassion, and the individual whose mind is so endowed becomes a sempa, or hero.  In summary, it is through the skillful means of the practices of the mantrayana, that these subtle winds, which are the causes of our dualistic appearances, are brought into the central channel, causing dualistic appearances to cease and the primordial awareness of great bliss and non-referential compassion to arise, and such a person is called a sempa, a hero. Vajrasattva is therefore called not only the glorious Heruka, but also the hero of all samayas.”

[xxii] According to some sources, Tibetan translators developed three general methods of translation of the words, translating them directly in their order in the original Sanskrit, translating them backwards in the opposite order, or doing a mixture of the two.  There are treatises on how they used these different methods to produce translations into Tibetan. These are contained in the Two-Volume Lexicon (sgra sbyor bam po gnyis pa) or Madhyavyutpatti (bye brag tu rtogs byed ‘bring po) is a text containing guidelines for translation produced during King Senalek Jingyön (sad na legs mjing yon)’s  reign  (761–815) by several panditas and lotsawas, especially panditas Jinamitra and Danashila, and lotsawa Shyang Yeshé Dé. It is considered a commentary on the Mahavyutpatti. See, for a translation.


Ba’ mda’ thub bstan dge legs rgya mtsho: —dPal dus kyi ’khor lo’i rdzogs rim sbyor ba yan lag drug gi sgom rim grub pa’i lam bzang sku bzhi’i rgyal sar bgrod pa’i shing rta. In: Zab lam rdo rje’i rnal ‘byor gyi chos skor,  1-103, Jonang Well-Being Association India (‘phags yul jo nang ‘gro phan lhan tshogs kyis ‘grem spel byas), 2010.

Tāranātha: rDo rje rnal ’byor gyi ’khrid yig mthong ba don ldan gyi lhan thabs od brgya ’bar ba Jonang Well-Being Association India (phags yul jo nang gro phan lhan tshogs kyis grem spel byas), 323-452, 2010.

Jayavara,Dharmacārī —‘The Hundred Syllable Vajrasattva Mantra’ by  at

Tomlin, Adele — The Chariot that Transports to the Four Kayas by Bamda Gelek Gyatso, Library of Tibetan Works and Archives (2019).


Written and translated by Adele Tomlin, copyright 2019.