mkhyen brtse'i bka' 'bum
The Collected Teachings of the All-Seeing Possessor of the Seven Authoritative Transmissions Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo Kunga Tenpai Gyaltsen Palzangpo, in twenty-five volumes, gathers together Khyentse Wangpo's writings on a remarkably wide variety of topics, across numerous literary genres. Commonly known by its abbreviated title, the Khyentse Kabum, it is an inclusive, though not entirely complete, compilation of the masters literary works that he produced over the course of more than five decades of his life, spanning his mid-teens to shortly before his passing in his early seventies. The earliest version of the Kabum was created under the direction of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö in thirteen volumes and completed in 1919 at Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo's seat at Dzongsar Monastery in eastern Tibet. However these blocks were unfortunately lost during the tragic period of the late 1950's, therefore the thirteen volume edition is currently only available in an incomplete xylograph made from the original wood blocks. The first modern edition was put together in Sikkim at the newly established Khyentse Labrang, which was the childhood residence of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. That edition was essentially a reproduction of a xylographic copy printed at Dzongsar Monastery, albeit divided into twenty-three volumes. It was carved into blocks during the years 1977-1980 and eventually published by Gonpo Tseten in twenty-four volumes. The printing blocks of this edition were entrusted to Dr. Lodrö Phuntsok who returned them to Dzongsar in Tibet, where from 2007 onward they were typed up using Sambhota Tibetan unicode font, thus creating the first computer input edition, which was published at Dzongsar in 2014. The current edition presented here is a re-edited and revised version of the 2014 edition that was completed in 2020, once again, under the direction of Dr. Lodrö Phuntsok.
Famed as one of the primary instigators of the so-called ris med movement that spread through eastern Tibet in the 19th century, Khyentse Wangpo's nonsectarian bona fides are fully and magnificently on display in the Khyentse Kabum. His works touch upon the width and breadth of the Tibetan Buddhist philosophical and religious traditions available in his time, including all of the major Tibetan Buddhist schools as well as Bön. Compositions that not only reveal his lack of bias towards these various aspects of the Tibetan tradition, but also an earnest appreciation for their distinct qualities, unique heritage, and their continued validity. Though the bulk of these works are concerned with Buddhist practices- ritual processes, liturgical arrangements, and advanced spiritual instructions -they also include histories of traditions and institutions, biographies of teachers, and even pilgrimage guidebooks to Tibet's sacred sites. Furthermore, he wrote about seemingly all aspects of the five major and five minor fields of knowledge (rig gnas chen po lnga dang rig gnas chung lnga), with such varied topics as logic, grammar, poetry, medicine, astrology, divination, as well as the specifications for the creation of ritual substances, religious art, amulets, and the construction of stūpas and the like. The collection also includes volumes of his more personal writings, such as letters and correspondences with prominent figures of his day and an abundance of verses written as offerings or upon request, such as entreaties for the longevity of teachers or for the swift return of those that were recently deceased. Here we also get a taste of his role as a teacher, with endless examples of the personal advice and instructions he offered to his students in short pithy missives. Much of this material provides us a glimpse into the inner life of Khyentse Wangpo, with devotional works praising and supplicating the masters of the past and present, as well as an even more intimate layer of access with the inclusion of his numerous vajra songs (rdo rje'i thol glu) that echo from the depths of his spiritual accomplishment, and other compositions presented as expressions of his realization (rtogs pa brjod pa).One of the more fascinating aspects of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo's expansive oeuvre is that it includes works from throughout his life. Therefore, we not only get a sense of Khyentse Wangpo as the consummate scholar or as the infinitely confident treasure revealer, but also as a young man in the prime of his studies, sat among his fellow monks taking notes on what is being taught. It is perhaps this aspect of Khyentse Wangpo as a writer that links these various roles he played over the course of his life together. Unlike many other Tibetan teachers whom, especially in their later years, resorted to dictation to produce texts, Khyentse Wangpo rarely utilized scribes in the production of his personal compositions. Well versed in the literary arts, he was capable of writing in a variety of classical styles of composition. Though most of his works are to some extent utilitarian, he also clearly wrote for pleasure. His numerous poems, songs, praises and prayers attest to this fact. He also seems to have had a deep appreciation for Sanskrit, such that his works often contain flourishes of Sanskrit at the beginnings and ends, most likely to invoke auspiciousness, and he frequently used Sanskrit equivalents of his personal name to sign his compositions. Initially as "young Jigme" (gzhon nu abhA ya), then later as Mañjughoṣa. In fact, he went by many names, which often changed according to subject matter, tradition, levels of formality and so on. For instance, he had a fondness for referring to himself as "the Lake-born Guru's favorite servant" (mtsho skyes bla ma dgyes pa'i 'bangs) in works related to Guru Rinpoche, or as "the Omniscient Guru's favorite servant" (kun mkhyen bla ma dgyes pa'i 'bangs) in works related to Longchenpa, though in his own revelations he typically invoked his authority by using his tertön title, Pema Ösel Dongak Lingpa. Yet, throughout all of these shifting roles his dedication to the craft of the written word seems to have remained a constant preoccupation throughout his life.
In terms of the structure of the Khyentse Kabum, the topical outline (sa bcad) divides the collection into eleven sections. Furthermore, within the volumes texts are subsumed within numbered groups, termed sde tshan. These sde tshan often function as micro-collections within the macro-collections represented by the sa bcad sections. For more on the specifics of this structure, along with a full listing of the eleven sa bcad sections, go to the Structure and Outline of the Khyentse Kabum.
For an overview of the collection via semantic query, see the mkhyen brtse'i bka' 'bum Query Page.
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- 1892 texts cataloged in this collection.