Harunaga Isaacson Isaacson at UNI-HAMBURG.DE
Sat Oct 28 19:48:07 UTC 2000

Stephen Hodge wrote:

> Ven Tantra wrote:
> > Among the Indian Buddhist schools, Tantra generally
> > goes by the name of Vajrayaana, the "diamond-" or
> > "thunderbolt-vehicle."
> But does it ?   Admittedly I am more familiar with early Buddhist
> tantras -- those preceeding the anutarrayoga category -- but the term
> "vajrayaana" does not seem to be that common in Indic text connected
> to the tantras.  I note that it is used in the
> Sarva-tathaagata-tattva-sa.mgraha.

The term vajrayaana is very common indeed in Indian Buddhist tantric
literature. As Stephen Hodge mentions, it is used in the
Sarvatathaagatatattvasa.mgraha. There are hundreds, probably thousands,
other occurrences.

> Your suggestion that "vajra" is
> linked to "li`nga" may reflect later associations but these must be
> derivative since the STTS does not have any sexual rituals or imagery.
> The STTS must precede the Guhya-samaaja-tantra which seems to be the
> first Buddhist tantric text to use sexual imagery.

It is true that the STTS must precede the Guhyasamaajatantra. But that
STTS does not have any sexual rituals/imagery is, I would say,

> Historically what
> seems to be used to indicate the "tantric path" was initially (late
> 7th to mid 8th century CE) "mantra-naya" (in contrast to
> "paaramitaa-naya".   This then changes a little later to
> "mantra-yaana" (or "guhya-mantra-yaana) which continues to be the
> generally preferred term.

Mantrayaana is indeed found in Indian texts preserved in Sanskrit. But
is much less common a term than vajrayaana. And I don't think I know of
single occurrence of guhyamantrayaana (note that Tibetan gsang sngags
theg pa is found to translate simply mantrayaana in those cases known to
me where the Sanskrit original can be checked; apart from this comound).
I'd be interested to learn of one, if Stephen Hodge has indeed come
the term in a text preserved in Sanskrit. I have seen the word
guhyamantranaya, but this seems to be very rare.
Mantranaya, which as Stephen Hodge says is an early term, contrasting
paaramitaanaya, continues also to be used, by the way, all the way up to
1200 (and probably later, in material written in Nepal).

Harunaga Isaacson

Institut für Kultur und Geschichte Indiens und Tibets
Universität Hamburg

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