Sie sind auf Seite 1von 9

26.02.2011 http://www.thlib.org/encyclopedias/literary/canons/ngb/#wiki=/access/wiki/site/6 a0a05fe-de5e-40f7-80f2-1ccfa2ab7d8e/history%20of%20ngb.

html History and Nature of The Collected Tantras of the Ancients Author: David Germano (University of Virginia), March 25, 2002. Tibetan Buddhism is a culture of the Text, or accurately, a cult/ure of plural t exts in translation. The cult of texts in Tibet is reflected not only in the mas sive canons of translated texts and equally massive collections of indigenous li terature, but also in the Tibetan adaptation of the Buddhist textual cult of tex ts as sacred objects, texts as amulets, texts as magical agents and so on. Howev er, this culture of texts was quite different from its Indian precedents in at l east one way, namely the focus on translations. Since Buddhism had its inception in India, but was translated in a very self-conscious process from quite distin ct languages into the Tibetan language, translation was a high profile phenomena in Tibetan Buddhism from its start right into the present. Buddhism had two maj or inceptions in Tibet, and both were driven by a massive influx of foreign text s being translated into Tibetan: the former in the eighth and ninth centuries ca me to be called the earlier transmission and the latter in the tenth through fourt eenth centuries came to be called the later transmission. By the fourteenth century, this massive amount of translated Buddhist scripture was collected and redacted into two huge collections, each totaling over one hun dred volumes apiece. These scriptures constituted important items of worship in and of themselves, as well as constituting the fount of indigenous Tibetan Buddh ist literature. The first collection contained only texts attributed to various transcendental authors that is, Buddhas and was titled The Translations of the B uddhas Own Precepts (Kangyur, bka gyur). The second collection contained only texts attributed to Indian masters, who were merely human, and was titled The Transla tions of the Treatises (Tengyur, bstan gyur) of miscellaneous authorship. The cri teria for inclusion in the canon was basically that that the text in question wa s a direct translation of an original Indic manuscript. Proponents of these cano ns thus put them forward as the embodiment of the great cultural process by whic h Tibetans took the full range of Buddhist scripture and rendered it carefully a nd precisely into their own language, thereby achieving the impressive feat of t ransplanting Indian Buddhist thought, narrative and rituals in the high plains o f Tibet. However, there is another side to the grand cultural narrative, and it is reveal ed in precisely the texts claiming to be translations which were excluded from t his great bipartite canon. There were groups of Tibetan Buddhists claiming to de scend from the earlier transmission who has massive amounts of supposed translat ions from Indic sources dating to that period, but which had been rejected by th e later transmission editors of the canons. These texts were mostly tantric in cha racter, that is, they dated from the final period of Indian Buddhism marked by e laborate ritual and yogic systems that were highly visual in orientation, strong ly antinomian rhetoric, and an emphasis on the human body. In response to this e xclusion, these Buddhists edited their own canon of this ancient tantric literat ure supposedly in translation, which they entitled The Collected Tantras of the Ancients (Nyingma Gybum, rnying ma rgyud bum; abbr. NGB). This canon has to date b een little studied or understood by contemporary scholars. Like its more famous counterparts, it exists in a variety of editions which are generally similar, bu t often diverge considerably in content and organization. In trying to understand this canon, it is essential to understand the history of its formation and compilation, as well as the nature of the texts it includes. We can begin with questions: what texts are included, and not included within Th e Collected Tantras of the Ancient? Functionally speaking, what type of canon is

it? What was the motivation and agenda of the original editors? How are the ind ividual texts organized and grouped within it? What is the relationship between the different editions of this canon?

Before proceeding deeper, we should reflect briefly on the nature of a canon. A canon is often a compilation of heterogeneous materials belonging to different a uthorial hands and different temporal periods. In addition, religious canons oft en involve texts attributed to divine voices or inspiration rather than the actu al person who actually produced the text. In a Buddhist context, these divine vo ices are the various Buddhas inhabiting the cosmos. In addition, texts are often attributed to much earlier saints in order to gain legitimacy. In a Buddhist co ntext, reincarnation raises additional problems, since people might claim to be now revealing texts they authored in previous lifetimes, or received from famous saints in previous lifetimes. This results in complicated questions of authorsh ip. Religious canons, and in particular Buddhist canons, can thus be quite compl icated in terms of identifying the author. Modern notions of authorship are just not adequate with their assumptions of a single author producing a stably defined t ext with his/her name stamped on it. Instead we must identify a entire set of fi gures in some contexts including divine author, original redactor, concealer, revealer and so forth, each of whom may have had a hand in the actual shape of the receiv ed text. We must also be sensitive to how reincarnation or notions of inspiration can blur historical differences between figures involved in this process. We are thus dealing with this problem by not simply documenting the author, but document ing every single author involved in this process utilizing traditional nomenclat ure. Thus what we find on the underside of the Tibetan translation project, and its c anonizing counterparts, is a very diverse range of phenomena such as Indians pro ducing texts in Tibet on the behalf of Tibetans, Tibetans writing with visionary inspiration from Buddhas, Tibetans writing with claims of past life reincarnati onal copyrights, and so forth. The Collected Tantras of the Ancients in particul ar constitutes a hybrid canon of genuine translations, and visionary translation s, otherwise known in the West as apocrypha. Such a canon raises interesting que stions of the nature of translation, authorship, readership, and editing. It may be useful to speak of visionary translation, visionary authorship, visionary re adership, and visionary editing within the broader context of a visionary canon marked by visions, reincarnations of past saints, and emanations/incarnations of past, present and future Buddhas. In this way we can bibliographically and inte rpretatively acknowledge the traditions own self-understanding and self-represent ation, but also make useful distinctions with more conventional notions of trans lation, authorship, readership and editing that were as familiar to Tibetans as they were to Westerners. With these considerations in mind, we will proceed to survey relevant issues con cerning The Collected Tantras of the Ancients in relation to the mainstream twof old canon of translated Buddhist scriptures in Tibet. This survey will have two parts: Background and Editions. I. Background It is necessary to understand background concerning (i) canons in Tibet, (ii) do xographical category of texts, (ii) the different types of texts in relationship to original authorship, (iii) category of Buddha-voiced texts, (iv) and the dif ferent types of texts in relationship to public transmission. 1. Canons There are many canons of scriptural literature in Tibetan Buddhism, but the most n ormative reflects various editions of a twofold canon known as Kangyur (bka gyur) and Tengyur (bstan gyur). These were attempts to collect together all the valid tra nslations into Tibetan of authentic Indian Buddhist literature of all types. Thus the canon was defined as containing translations of mostly originally Indic text

s. The creation of these canons really got underway in the fourteenth century, b ut there were important precursors in proto-canonical formations. Issues of validity and authenticity were dominant concerns at least rhetorically of the editors in deciding what individual texts to include and exclude from the co llection. They were aiming to be comprehensive, but only if the texts in questio ns were considered to be translations of works by valid Indian authors, or Buddh a-authored texts revealed in India. Mostly importantly, the editors belonged to the new (sarma, nyinggsar ma) schools of Tibetan Buddhism, and they attacked the ol d (nyingma, rnying ma) school in particular as circulating many spurious translat ions. They excluded these from the canon by claiming that either they were writt en by non-Tibetans who were not proper Buddhist figures, or they were actually n ot translations at all, but rather indigenous Tibetan compositions. The massive amounts of literature belonging to the Bon school of Tibetan religion werent even c onsidered at all for inclusion, because they were considered to be non-Buddhist. The Bon in response during the same time period (fourteenth century) or only sho rtly afterwards the early history of their proto-canonical formations is still u nclear formed their own closely parallel two-tracked canon with similar names. T he Nyingma however, also in instead appeared to accept the Kangyur and Tengyur a s such. Instead, they produced a supplementary canon of texts they felt had been improperly excluded of their own traditions: The Collected Tantras of the Ancie nts. This was thus partially in response to the consolidation of the Kangyur and Tengyur, though it was also done on the basis of earlier independent redactions of these types of materials. 2. Doxographical category In general, both Indian and Tibetan Buddhism tended to classify both Buddha-auth ored and human-authored texts as belonging to particular doctrinal-praxis system s. These systems were then often ranked in a vertical nested hierarchy of lower an d higher systems of thought and practice. Particularly important is how Buddha-voi ced texts are generally divided into two types known as stras (mdo) and tantras (rgyu d), and the corresponding exegetical material is divided similarly. While histor ically these two classifications blur into each other, in broad terms, they are marked by quite distinct literary qualities, thematic contents, and systems of p ractice. When we turn to the Kangyur and Tengyur, we find that these canons are structure d by grouping together sets of texts under a variety of rubrics. These rubrics a re of different types. They include categories of literature devoted to a partic ular theme such as stras on monastic discipline (vinaya) groups of historically i nterlinked texts that constitute something like an anthology (avatasaka stra), and groups of texts constituting a specific school of thought (yogcra). In both canon s, tantras (rgyud) are set forth as a category in and of themselves, and apart fro m the stras. The former are clearly ranked as higher to the latter. Thus the groupi ngs of texts is doxographical, literary and otherwise in nature. The Collected Tantras of the Ancients only contains tantras and tantric exegetic al literature. It contains no stras or non-tantric exegetical literature. It thus appears the original editors of The Collected Tantras of the Ancients were conc erned to provide a canonical home to their own distinctive tantric literature wh ich had been excluded from the Kangyur and Tengyur. They had no quarrel with the canonical status of the materials in the latter canon, but felt that The Collec ted Tantras of the Ancients traditions represented the highest of Buddhist traditi ons in addition rather than in place of the materials found in the Kangyur and T engyur. The reasons are clear for why stras and stra-related literature was not an issue relates to temporal issues (see below). For one, it appears that apocryph a in Tibet was generally tantric in character. The Collected Tantras of the Ancients texts also are organized into distinct grou

ps within the canon. The overarching organization is tripartite, and is based up on three distinct tantric systems: Atiyoga, Anuyoga and Mahyoga. However, the int ernal organizations of each of these three are based on various types of conside rations, including the doxographical. An example of doxographical classification s are the subdivisions of Atiyoga such as Citi (sPyi ti), a literary classificat ion is the Mayjla group within Mahyoga, and also within Mahyoga, the 8 divisions of the Eight Proclamation Deities (bka brgyad) offers an instance of classifying texts based on the deities they are centered on. An important sub-issue in this context is the nature of these doxographical grou pings. At times these groupings are natural classifications that identify a grou p of texts which explicitly self-refer to themselves as belonging to the rubric in question. They also refer to common themes, vocabulary, cite each other, and so forth. However, some groupings appear to be later and higher artificial class ifications that obscure as much as they reveal. In these cases, the texts often seem to have no sense of belonging to such a rubric, or with each other. In addi tion, the individual texts often seem highly diverse, from quite distinct tempor al periods, authorial hands, and so forth. It is not unlikely that the canonical schemes themselves were important factors in the retroactive creation of tradit ions for these texts. Indeed the creation of canons itself creates the impetus t o clearly delineate between texts as belonging, or not belonging within particul ar rubrics of classification. Whereas before texts could just exist as a tantra or just Atiyoga, it now became necessary for each text to be identified as belonging to a particular subclass, an artificial necessity that led to contrived classif ications producing an artificial unity without strong historical basis. 3. Authorship In terms of authorship, we can discriminate between three principles of differen ces that were important to editors of these canons in Tibet: the being, temporal ity and ethnicity of the author in question. i. The being of an author signifies the strong difference between a text authored by a Buddha, and a text authored by ahistorical human. A Buddha could be the histor ical Shakyamuni Buddha located in our own immediate past, or it could be a Buddha from a far distant time or world. Their texts are always presented as transcrip ts with narrative frames of orally delivered lectures. However, human authors ar e usual actual people located in our geograpical and temporal contexts. Their te xts are usually presented as originally written texts. Thus we have divine oral texts, and human graphic texts. The functional difference is that the Buddha-aut hored texts are considered to have absolute authority, while the human-authored texts are considered theoretically to have lesser authority. Finally, the oral d ivine texts often are also partially, or fully, spoken by similar divine, mythic f igures such as Bodhisattvas, Dakinis, Gods, Goddesses, and so forth. Thus the standard twofold canons of Tibetan translations of Indian Buddhist lite rature are defined as containing translations of mostly originally Indic texts. Texts are divided up into the two canons on the basis of the being of the authors: the Buddha-authored texts are redacted as the Kangyur and the human-authored te xts are redacted as the Tengyur. On the point, The Collected Tantras of the Ancients is often thought to correspo nd to the Kangyur indeed, its very title refers to it being a collection of tantr as (rgyud), which by definition are Buddha-authored. However, in fact The Collect ed Tantras of the Ancients includes Buddha-authored and human-authored texts, an d thus is more like a blend of Kangyur and Tengyur. However, it is clear the ori ginal editors were not trying to be comprehensive in terms of including all rnyi ng rgyud and exegetical material. Thus important questions pertain as to issues of selectivity exercised by editors in including some texts and excluding other texts in The Collected Tantras of the Ancients.

ii. The temporality of an author relates to the history of how Buddhism was transm itted into Tibet. This transmission is usually talked about as having taken plac e in two phases: the earlier transmission (snga dar) and the later transmission (phy i dar). The earlier transmission was the first transmission of Buddhism into Tib et that began with the patronage of the Tibetan empire (c. 700-c. 842), and then continued more sporadically after the empires collapse (c. 843-c. 1000). The lat er transmission then began with the revival of economics after that collapse (c. 1000) and continued until the influx of Buddhism from other countries and conse quent translation activity began to die down (c. 14th century). The earlier transmission first involved a large scale official sponsored translati on project, but then after the empires collapse continued on in unofficial and de centered processes. It appears during the first phase, that the focus of transla tion was more centered on Buddha-voiced materials than on human-authored exegeti cal material; the focus was also somewhat more on stras rather than tantras. Howe ver, after the collapse of the empire, the focus turned towards tantras. The con tent and orientation of tantric Buddhism seemed far more suited to the decentral ized society that ensued. In addition, in the absence of centralized authority, it appears that a large body of literature was produced in Tibet which at some p oint came to be represented as translations of non-Tibetan originals, but in fac t was not in any conventional sense of the word. It is unclear to what exent the original texts in any given case claimed originally to be translations, or to w hat extent such claims were tacked on via colophons by later editors rather than the original authors. This resulted in the later controversies over some elemen t of the earlier transmissions while much of it was accepted without reservation i nto the Kangyur and Tengyur, much of the tantric component was rejected (fairly or not fairly) on the assumption it original Tibetan literature and hence were n ot authentic. While it appears there was a certain degree of ongoing translation between the mid 9th and mid 10th centuries, there are clear signs of its limits even pertaining to tantric tradition. The dominant tantric traditions emerging in India during that time period are not part of the legacy of these groups, and hence appear not to have been translated until after the tenth century by other Tibetan groups. However, it could be argued that some of these issues relate to the geographical base of some of these traditions in India. In other words, pri or to the emergence of the later transmission and after the breakup of the Tibetan empire, it may have been that extensive travels to India for the purpose of sch olarship were minimal and instead the focus was within Tibet. Thus translations may have stemmed from Indians in Tibet, or border regions, or Tibetans in border regions. It may have been that these regions were not those were the yogini tan tras thrived which were so central to the later trasmission. Finally, after the close of the tenth century, these Tibetan groups no longer ha d any interest in translation per se. The subsequent Buddha-voiced literature and Indian-authored literature these circles produced after the tenth century claime d to be translations from Sanskrit and other languages, but they claimed to have been produced as translations before the tenth century. In other words, they pr oduced new translations, but always claimed they originally dated back to the empi re or shortly thereafter. At times the lack of public circulation was explained via a visionary tradition of concealment and revealment, and at other times it a ppears texts were just introduced into circulation without explanation. It remai ns unclear in many cases whether the visionary claims were original to the texts production, or whether they were added later via colophon by editors. It seems c lear they were aware of and studying new Indic materials after the tenth century , but they were not interested in pursuing this in terms of translations, and inst ead recreated these influences in new traditions put forward as ancient texts. T ibetan groups who adhered to these early transmissions and forsook conventional tra nslation from the late tenth century onwards were thus known as the ancients (rnyin g ma). The later transmission then dates to the close of the tenth century. These figures

were part of an economic revival in Tibet. They saw two sets of problems with t he earlier transmissions: (i) there were many new texts in India that had not be en translated by the earlier transmission and (ii) many of the older translation s required updating and modification because of inadeqeuacies and/or anachronism s. Its necessary to look carefully at the rhetoric concerning translations durin g the eleventh and twelvth centuries. It appears the later transmission was more focused on exegetical material than Buddha-voiced material, though it also tran slated a large body of new tantras that had emerged in India after the 9th centu ry. It should be noted that it remains unclear as to what extent some prominent later translators may have just been changing translator colophons to old transl atons with only minimal or no alteration. The later transmission seems to have b een spurred by two factors: the economic revival of Tibet, and the perseuction o f Buddhism in India which led to Buddhist teachers being receptive to foreign Ti betans continuing their traditions abroad, as well as even to travelling to the far distant lands of Tibet. Groups who embraced these new translations and thus had their historical inception from the end of the tenth century onwards came ov erall to be known as the new ones (gsar ma). These translations largely died out b y the fourteenth century as the the Muslim invasions largely eradicated Buddhism in India and Central Asia, and thus Tibetans began to turn inwards. It is thus clear why the Kangyur and Tengyur were first redacted in the fourteen th century the translations were coming to a close, Buddhist neighbors were fadi ng out, and Tibetan culture overall was going through a period of systematizatin and consolidation. It was thus a time of taking inventory, sectarian consolidat ion, and the production of canons. It was a time of closure on many levels. Thes e two canons consist of translations of both earlier transmission and later trransm ission periods. The Collected Tantras of the Ancients is thus literally the collected tantras (rgy ud bum) of the ancients (rnying ma). It reflects an attempt to gather together al l tantras and human-authored tantric texts whose revelation or composition dates back to before the eleventh century. Its editors were probably spurred by the e xclusion of these texts from the Kangyurr and Tengyur, but also were continuing earlier efforts to gather together these texts into larger collections for prese rvation, merit-making, and transmission. They were not concerned with stras and st ra-basis exegetical literature because after 842 it was tantric literature that proliferated, and which became a major genre of Tibetan literature output. Thus it was tantric literature that both constituted this class of apocryphal literat ure with dubious claims to represent translations from Indic originals, and whic h constituted the chief concerns of the Nyingma. Thus all the literature which t hese groups saw as higher was tantric in character, and The Collected Tantras of t he Ancients was thus a presentation of their most valued textual traditions. Clearly most of the factors behind what texts were excluded or included in The C ollected Tantras of the Ancients were pragmatic. It was redacted in the fifteent h century in response to exclusion of orthodox canons. The editors thus left out most of the texts which were accepted by the Kangyur and Tengyur, even if they did represent earlier transmission translations of tantric materials. As it happ ened, it was precisely the higher tantric traditions which had been excluded, so t hat The Collected Tantras of the Ancients consisted of the Nyingmas highest tradi tions and excluded the lower tantric traditions. It also seems that the focus of the editors was to collect all tantras authored by Buddhas, but only collect sh orter exegetical materials on those same tantras. They thus left out lengthy hum an-authored materials, and also in general left out directly exegesis of single tantras. It may be that the editors also avoided texts that were already redacte d in other stable literary collections, especially the great collections of treas ures (Terma) by individual treasure-finders (see below). For example, even tantras redacted within treasure cycles are frequently not included within The Collected Tantras of the Ancients. It may thus be that the precise material redacted here is in part a function of the editorial desire for preservation of materials oth

erwise in danger of being lost because of the lack of a broader literary home an d tradition of transmission. In addition, the editors paralled the bKa gyur and T engyur by allowing only non-Tibetan authored texts to be included (see below). What were the principles of authenticity that The Collected Tantras of the Ancie nts editors used to include and exclude texts? This is hard to judge given our l imited information. It may well be that regional considerations of the earlier e ditors played an important role in deciding the validity or importance of partic ular traditions. Further research into earlier editors biographical and other wri tings may shed light on these considerations. Finally, it is important to note note that The Collected Tantras of the Ancients editions overall appear to be pre-sixteenth century traditions. It was thus in general a closed canon based on temporal considerations. In other words, further tantras and Indic-authored exegetical materials continued to be brought to ligh t from the sixteenth century onwards just as before, but they were no longer red acted within The Collected Tantras of the Ancients. There is no theoretical just ification for this division, but rather it seems it was simply the historical co ntingencies of the redaction of canons in the fourteenth century that led to thi s definitive closure taking place the next century. It may also be that Ratna gl ing pas fifteenth century editorial activities were particularly important for re asons as yet unclear. For example, it may be that he was particularly successful in disseminating his edition, or his efforts at collection were particularly ex tensive, or finally that he was particularly successful at establishing an insti tutional basis for ongoing support, dissemination and transmission of his editio n of The Collected Tantras of the Ancients. It may also be that the explosing of Nyingma treasure literature from the fourteenth century onwards made it untenable to think of creating a single canon to contain all of them, such that The Colle cted Tantras of the Ancients was considered closed. Finally, it should be noted that it may be that ongoing redactions of The Collec ted Tantras of the Ancients certainly from earlier periods, but perhaps also aft er the sixteenth century most likely included local materials not found in other editions. Our current possession of only a few editions makes this question dif ficult to appraise. But clearly the collection of texts was an ongoing important activitiy in the redaction of each edition, as evidenced by the supplementary v olumes added to the Deg and Kyidrong editions from texts only located after the i nitial redaction of the edition. iii. The ethnicity of authors concerns whether the author is Tibetan, or whether t he text in question is a Tibetan translation of a text originally authored by an Indian. With the rise of the later dissemination, the consequent emphasis on tr anslation of Indic texts and lineages, and the creation of the Kangyur/Tengyur a canon which not simply translated, but which included translation as a central aspect of its sanctity the non-Tibetan character of texts authorship came to be v iewed as a hallmark of authenticity. This appears to have been an important fact or in the rise of the treasure cult and the Nyingmas tendency to produce its new li terature in the authorial voices of eighth and ninth century Indians, rather tha n in their own Tibetan voices. 4. Transmission Regardless of whether the text in question was Buddha-authored or human-authored , Nyingma authors classify texts as continuously transmitted precepts (bka ma, Kama) or treasures (gter ma, Terma) The basic principle of distinction concerned the way i n which the texts in question claim to have been transmitted in Tibet following their supposed translation into Tibetan from their original source language. One category of texts claims to have been concealed for a period of time following translation, such that their circulation was at some point interrupted via conce alment and then later re-revealed (Terma); the other category claims to be texts that were transmitted without intervening concealment and re-revelation (Kama).

One important qualification must be introduced immediately, namely that the iss ue of concealment and continuity applies only to Tibet, not India. In other word s, if a text was continuously transmitted in Tibet from the point it was transla ted into Tibetan, it is classified as Kama; if it was instead translated and the n concealed in Tibet, it is Terma. Thus a Kama text may very well have been conc ealed and re-revealed in India, but this is only pertinent for its classificatio n to the degree that it transpires on Tibetan soil. A simplistic assumption by s ome is that in terms of Nyingma tantras and Indic tantric literature, Kama repre sent genuine translations of Indic originals and Terma represents spurious Tibet an compositions only claiming to be translations. This is clearly inadequate on both fronts: the Kama texts claiming to be translations are at times clearly ori ginal Tibetan compositions and the Terma claiming to be translations are at time s genuine translations or adaptations of genuine translations. The situation is somewhat more complex than this. Firstly, presumably some texts that claim, or are claimed to be, Kama, in fact have be apocryphal and hence on ly first emerged long after the date from which it was supposed to be continuous ly transmitted. It may also be that in some cases texts that were originally put forward as Terma as documented by colophons or associated documents were later re-cast as Kama. Conversely, it may be that the classification of some texts as Terma may indeed be retroactive re-casting of texts which were not originally id entified as such. It seems likely that many of these texts were initially circul ated as anonymous texts, both in terms of their authorship and their transmissio n. This greatly complicates issues. When combined with the multiple figures invo lved in a Terma text author, concealer, revealer and so on the situation becomes quite problematic. The closed and early nature of The Collected Tantras of the Ancients has often l ed to people assuming it is Kama, which is what distinguishes it from the other great Terma collections. But this is clearly erroneous, since The Collected Tant ras of the Ancients is a complex combination of Kama and Terma texts. I believe its early editors were attempting to gather together all Kama versions of the re levant traditions tantras and exegetical material, but only a preponderance of Te rma versions and exegetical material. Finally, it should be noted that the term Kama in Nyingma literature is an ambig uous one. On the hand it can signify all literature transmitted without break in Tibet Buddha-voiced or human-authored, Indic or Tibetan, Sarma or Nyingma. But functionally, at a certain point it began to be used to refer to a particular re daction of largely Tibetan authored Nyingma literature pertaining to Atiyoga, An uyoga and Mahyoga tantric traditions. While this was initially a relatively limit ed collection, in the latter half of the twentieth century it has been markedly expanded until has become something like a true complement to The Collected Tant ras of the Ancients for Tibetan-authored literature on these three tantric tradi tions. Yet, like The Collected Tantras of the Ancients, it also is not comprehen sive in any sense, and its editors seem to be guided by the same pragmatic consi derations that the original The Collected Tantras of the Ancients editors were: preservation of rare and fragile literature, and convenient packaging of scatter ed sources for its continuing transmission. II. Editions When we turn to the history of particular editions of The Collected Tantras of t he Ancients and their contents and organization, we are seriously hampered by th e limited number of editions we now have access to and the lack of documentation of now lost editions. There have been three brief surveys of these issues: one by Dan Martin, and two by Franz-Karl Ehrhard. In short, there were early redacti ons about which we know almost nothing. It may be that The Collected Tantras of Vairocana (Bai roi rgyud bum) represents one such early redaction; it may also be that the tantras of the ancients (rnying rgyud) sections included in some versions of the Kangyur and Tengyur also reflect some version of earlier redactions. Cle arly Ratna Lingpa (Rat na gling pa, 1403-1478) was of fundamental importance wit

h his edition of The Collected Tantras of the Ancients. However, we know little about the contents and organization of these editions un til the late 18th century editorial work by Jikme Lingpa (Jigs med gling pa) for the Pema ling (Pad ma od gling) manuscript edition, and its transformation a few d ecades later into the Deg (sDe dge) woodblock print edition by Katok Gets (KaH tho g dge rtse). Apparently this was the first woodblock print of The Collected Tant ras of the Ancients ever to be produced, and with the prestige and dissemination power of the Deg publishing house behind it, it naturally became the dominant ed ition of The Collected Tantras of the Ancients. Prior to this, all editions had been manuscript in form, and hence unique copies. This also entailed that all di ssemination of the edition entailed a complete recopying of the entire canon by hand, which naturally limited the extent of its dissemination. We possess catalo gues (dkar chag) by Jikme Lingpa and Kathok Getse respectively for these two eig hteenth century editions, and so the internal organization and its rationale is clearly documented (the two editions are quite similar). The Deg edition is preci sely organized by its editors into a series of categories and subcategories. How ever, we do not know how this organizational scheme relates to earlier editions, especially the editorial work of Ratna Lingpa. Thus we cannot evaluate how inno vative, or traditional, this scheme may be. The Tingkye (gTing skyes) and Kyidrong (sKyid grong) editions are very close to the Deg in organizational schemes, and seem likely to derive from Deg in this rega rds. However, even if that was true, it could be the actual texts are not derive d from Deg, but rather only their organization into groups. It could also be that the organization derives from pre-Deg editions which is influencing all three ed itions separately. The Tshamdrak (mTshams brag) edition is unique in that its se quencing and grouping of texts is quite different from Deg, and apparently reflec ts independent Bhutanese editorial traditions. In summary, The Collected Tantras of the Ancients is a pre-sixteenth century com pilation of translated materials from three distinct tantric traditions excluded from the mainstream Tibetan canon of Indian Buddhist translations. Its dating i s clouded by the fact that while it is clearly a canon of materials that attaine d public circulation prior to the fifteenth century, its visionary and conventio nal editors claim that all its texts are pre-ninth century in origination, even if public circulation quite later.