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A Compendium of the Mahayana


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The first complete English translation of Asa?ga's Mahayanasa?graha, the most important and comprehensive Indian Yogacara text, and all its available Indian commentaries.

About the Author

ASANGA (fourth century C.E.) is recognized as a preeminent luminary of the Buddhist mahayana tradition and one of its greatest philosophical innovators. He is credited with having authored the main texts of the Yogacara canon, which exerted an immense influence not only in the Indian subcontinent but also throughout most of Central and East Asia. KARL BRUNNH LZL was trained as a physician and presently works as a Tibetan translator and Buddhist teacher. He studied Tibetology, Buddhology, and Sanskrit at Hamburg University and Tibetan language and Buddhist philosophy and practice at the Marpa Institute for Translators in Kathmandu. Currently he works as a translator and interpreter for Nalandabodhi and the Nitartha Institute. He is the author and translator of over 10 volumes on Buddhist philosophy.


"I am delighted that Karl Brunnhoelzl's new translation of Asanga's Mahayanasamgraha and its Indian and Tibetan commentaries is being published. An important text in the Sanskrit Yogacara tradition, the Mahayanasamgraha and several of its commentaries were translated into Tibetan. However, it never gained as prominent a position in the Tibetan tradition as it had held in Sanskrit or in the Chinese Buddhist tradition. For this reason, this translation, which contains resources from the Indian, Tibetan, and Chinese traditions, is especially helpful. The inclusion of Chinese materials is particularly valuable as it was in China that the text spread most widely and had the greatest influence. I am delighted that it is now available for students to study and contemplate in English." -Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, author of Luminous Clarity

"Mitra Karl Brunnhoelzl has devoted many years to the study and practice of a broad spectrum of Buddhist topics and practices. Additionally, Karl has studied extensively under my teacher, the renowned yogi-scholar Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, making him duly qualified to offer this groundbreaking study on the topic of Yogacara. This complete translation of Asanga's Mahayanasamgraha, the first of its kind in the English language, along with a number of its commentaries translated for the first time into any modern language, will be of genuine benefit for practitioners and scholars alike. I am grateful to Karl for this monumental undertaking." -Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, author of Rebel Buddha

"It is difficult to overestimate the contribution of this massive work to the study of Indian Yogacara Buddhism. Karl Brunnhoelzl not only provides reliable translations of the Mahayanasamgraha and its major commentaries, a long-standing desideratum in the field, he also offers twenty substantive appendices that illuminate difficult issues in Yogacara theory, such as the alayavijnana and its seeds (bija), the concept of mere cognizance (vijnaptimatra), and evolving treatments of the Three Natures. Even more important is the sustained argument, based on this thorough study of the relevant textual sources, that classical Yogacara did not postulate mind or consciousness as a truly existing entity, but rather used its critical analyzes of cognitive construction to explain how delusion arises and is then remedied on the path to awakening. This study thus provides a historically contextualized interpretation of Yogacara that challenges the largely ahistorical doxographical models-the 'received tradition' accepted in India, Tibet, and most Western circles-that have long characterized Yogacara as a form of metaphysical idealism. This work could hardly be more timely. We must applaud Karl Brunnhoelzl for once again offering students of mahayana Buddhist thought a treasure trove of crucial texts, cogent interpretations, and focused appendices." -William S. Waldron, Professor of Religion, Middlebury College

"Brunnhoelzl's A Compendium of the Mahayana is a remarkable achievement. More than a splendid translation of the Mahayanasamgraha along with its commentaries and numerous related texts, these volumes serve as a detailed and comprehensive primer on mahayana theory and practice, especially as viewed by Yogacara, one of the two Indian mahayana schools. It is clearly written so that it is accessible to serious novices and practitioners, and rich in details that will satisfy and instruct scholars. The Mahayanasamgraha has been influential in India, East Asia, and Tibet, and now its treasures along with the contexts that help unlock its depths are available in an English edition that will remain the standard work for many years to come." -Dan Lusthaus, Research Associate, Harvard University

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