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Kālachakra (Sanskrit: कालचक्र, IAST: Kālacakra; Telugu: కాలచక్ర Kannada: ಕಾಲಚಕ್ರ; Tibetan: དུས་ཀྱི་འཁོར་ལོ།, Wylie: dus-kyi 'khor-lo; Mongolian: Цогт Цагийн Хүрдэн Tsogt Tsagiin Hurden; Chinese: 時輪) is a Sanskrit term used in Tantric Buddhism that literally means "time-wheel" or "time-cycles". The spelling Kālacakra is also used.
The word Kālachakra is usually used to refer to a very complex teaching and practice in Tibetan Buddhism. Although the teaching is very advanced, esoteric, and difficult to comprehend, there is a tradition of offering it to large public audiences.
- 1 Kālachakra tradition
- 2 Text of the Kālachakra Tantra
- 3 History and origin
- 4 Practice
- 5 Kalachakra 2014 in Leh, Ladakh
- 6 Ven
- 7 Controversy
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 Sources
- 11 External links
Kālachakra refers both to a Tantric deity (Tib. yidam) of Vajrayana Buddhism and to the philosophies and meditation practices contained within the Kālachakra Tantra and its many commentaries. The Kālachakra Tantra is more properly called the Kālachakra Laghutantra, and is said to be an abridged form of an original text, the Kālachakra Mūlatantra which is no longer extant. Some Buddhist masters assert that Kālachakra is the most advanced form of Vajrayana practice; it certainly is one of the most complex systems within tantric Buddhism.
The Kālachakra tradition revolves around the concept of time (kāla) and cycles (chakra): from the cycles of the planets, to the cycles of human breathing, it teaches the practice of working with the most subtle energies within one's body on the path to enlightenment.
The Kālachakra deity represents a Buddha and thus omniscience. Since Kālachakra is time and everything is under the influence of time, Kālachakra knows all. Whereas Kālachakri or Kālichakra, his spiritual consort and complement, is aware of everything that is timeless, untimebound or out of the realm of time. In Yab-yum, they are temporality and atemporality conjoined. Similarly, the wheel is without beginning or end.
The Kālachakra system is not related to the ancient Vedic tradition[disambiguation needed] in India which existed long before Buddhism appeared. The Kālachakra refers to many different traditions, for example the Hindu; Saivite, Samkya, Vaishnava, the Vedas, Upanisads and Puranas traditions, but also Jainism. For example, the Kālachakra mandala includes deities which are equally accepted by Hindus, Jainas and Buddhists .
The Kālachakra deity resides in the center of the Mandala in his palace consisting of four Mandalas, one within the other: the Mandalas of body, speech, and mind, and in the very center, wisdom and great bliss . The Kālachakra sand Mandala is dedicated to both individual and world peace and physical balance. The Dalai Lama explains: “It is a way of planting a seed, and the seed will have karmic effect. One doesn’t need to be present at the Kālachakra ceremony in order to receive its benefits.”
Text of the Kālachakra Tantra
The Kālachakra Tantra is divided into five chapters.
The first two chapters are considered the "ground Kālachakra." The first chapter deals with what is called the "outer Kālachakra"—the physical world– and in particular the calculation system for the Kālachakra calendar, the birth and death of universes, our solar system and the workings of the elements.
The second chapter deals with the "inner Kālachakra," and concerns processes of human gestation and birth, the classification of the functions within the human body and experience, and the vajra-kaya; the expression of human physical existence in terms of channels, winds, drops and so forth. Human experience is by some described in terms of four mind states: waking, dream, deep sleep, and a fourth state which is available through the energies of sexual orgasm. The potentials (drops) which give rise to these states are described, together with the processes that flow from them.
Path and fruition
The last three chapters describe the "other" or "alternative Kālachakra," and deal with the path and fruition. The third chapter deals with the preparation for the meditation practices of the system: the initiations of Kālachakra. The fourth chapter explains the actual meditation practices themselves, both the meditation on the mandala and its deities in the generation stage practices, and the perfection or completion stage practices of the Six Yogas. The fifth and final chapter describes the state of enlightenment (Relijin) that results from the practice.
The phrase "as it is outside, so it is within the body" is often found in the Kālachakra tantra to emphasize the similarities and correspondence between human beings and the cosmos; this concept is the basis for Kālachakra astrology, but also for more profound connections and interdependence as taught in the Kālachakra literature.
In Tibet, the Kālachakra astrological system is one of the main building blocks in the composition of Tibetan astrological calendars. The astrology in the Kālachakra is not unlike the Western system, in that it employs complicated astronomical calculations to determine, for example, the exact location of the planets.
History and origin
Original Teaching in India and Later Teachings in Kingdom of Shambhala
According to the Kālachakra Tantra, Suchandra (Tibetan Dawa Sangpo), dharmaraja of Shambhala, requested that the Buddha teach him how to practice the dharma without renouncing worldly responsibilities.
In response to his request, the Buddha taught the first Kālachakra root tantra in Dhanyakataka (Palden Drepung in Tibetan, near present day Amaravati), a small town in Andhra Pradesh in southeastern India, supposedly bilocating (appearing in two places at once) at the same time as he was also delivering the Prajñāpāramitā sutras at Vulture Peak Mountain in Bihar. Along with King Suchandra, ninety-six minor kings and emissaries from Shambhala were also said to have received the teachings. The Kālachakra thus passed directly to Shambhala, where it was held exclusively for hundreds of years. Later Shambhalian kings, Manjushrikirti and Pundarika, are said to have condensed and simplified the teachings into the "Śri Kālachakra" or "Laghutantra" and its main commentary the "Vimalaprabha", which remain extant today as the heart of the Kālachakra literature. Fragments of the original tantra have survived, the most significant fragment "Sekkodesha" has been commented upon the Maha Siddha Naropa.
Manjushrí Kírti (Tib. Rigdan Jampel Dakpa) is said to have been born in 159 BCE and ruled over Shambhala which had 300,510 followers of the Mlechha (Yavana or "western") religion living in it, some of whom worshiped the sun. He is said to have expelled all the heretics from his dominions but later, after hearing their petitions, allowed them to return. For their benefit, and the benefit of all living beings, he explained the Kālachakra teachings. In 59 BCE he abdicated his throne to his son, Puṇdaŕika, and died soon afterwards, entering the Sambhoga-káya of Buddhahood.
In another version of the story, after much discussion and controversy in which King Manjushtikirti called for all citizens to engage in the Kālachakra teachings, the Mlechha factions decided to leave the kingdom. They set out, but over days became lost in the wilderness, upset and demoralized. Through magic, Manjushrikirti made them fall asleep. He sent troops to gather them up and bring them back to the Kingdom. When they awoke, Manjushrikirti's minister was there, suggesting that they ask the King for the teachings. They suddenly felt much better and happy to be back home. They asked for the teachings and the kingdom stayed together. Eventually, all the inhabitants gained enlightenment through Kālachakra practice.
There are currently two main traditions of Kālachakra, the Ra lineage (Tib. Rva-lugs) and the Dro lineage (Tib.'Bro-lugs). Although there were many translations of the Kālachakra texts from Sanskrit into Tibetan, the Ra and Dro translations are considered to be the most reliable (more about the two lineages below). The two lineages offer slightly differing accounts of how the Kālachakra teachings returned to India from Shambhala.
In both traditions, the Kālachakra and its related commentaries (sometimes referred to as the Bodhisattvas Corpus) were returned to India in 966CE by an Indian pandit. In the Ra tradition this figure is known as Chilupa, and in the Dro tradition as Kālachakrapada the Greater. Scholars such as Helmut Hoffman have suggested they are the same person. The first masters of the tradition disguised themselves with pseudonyms, so the Indian oral traditions recorded by the Tibetans contain a mass of contradictions.
Chilupa/Kālachakrapada is said to have set out to receive the Kālachakra teachings in Shambhala, along the journey to which he encountered the Kulika (Shambhala) king Durjaya manifesting as Manjushri, who conferred the Kālachakra initiation on him, based on his pure motivation.
Upon returning to India, Chilupa/Kālachakrapada is said to have defeated in debate Nadapada (Tib. Naropa), the abbot of Nalanda University, a great center of Buddhist thought at that time. Chilupa/Kālachakrapada then initiated Nadapada (who became known as Kālachakrapada the Lesser) into the Kālachakra, and the tradition thereafter in India and Tibet stems from these two. Nadapada established the teachings as legitimate in the eyes of the Nalanda community, and initiated into the Kālachakra such masters as Atisha (who, in turn, initiated the Kālachakra master Pindo Acharya (Tib. Pitopa)).
A Tibetan history, the Pag Sam Jon Zang, as well as architectural evidence, indicates that the Ratnagiri mahavihara in Orissa was an important center for the dissemination of the Kālachakratantra in India.
The Kālachakra tradition, along with all Vajrayana Buddhism, vanished from India in the wake of the Muslim invasions, surviving only in Nepal.
Spread to Tibet
The Dro[disambiguation needed] lineage was established in Tibet by a Kashmiri disciple of Nalandapa named Pandita Somanatha, who traveled to Tibet in 1027 (or 1064CE, depending on the calendar used), and his translator Droton Sherab Drak Lotsawa, from which it takes its name. The Ra lineage was brought to Tibet by another Kashmiri disciple of Nadapada named Samantashri, and translated by Ra Choerab Lotsawa (or Ra Dorje Drakpa).
The Ra lineage became particularly important in the Sakya order of Tibetan Buddhism, where it was held by such prominent masters as Sakya Pandita (1182–1251), Drogon Chogyal Pagpa (1235–1280), Budon Rinchendrup (1290–1364), and Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen (1292–1361). The latter two, both of whom also held the Dro lineage, are particularly well known expositors of the Kālachakra in Tibet, the practice of which is said to have greatly informed Dolpopa's exposition of the Shentong view. A strong emphasis on Kālachakra practice and exposition of the Shentong view were the principal distinguishing characteristics of the Jonang school that traces its roots to Dolpopa.
The teaching of the Kālachakra was further advanced by the great Jonang scholar Taranatha (1575–1634). In the 17th century, the government of the 5th Dalai Lama of Tibet outlawed the Jonang school, closing down or forcibly converting most of its monasteries. The writings of Dolpopa, Taranatha, and other prominent Shentong scholars were banned. Ironically, it was also at this time that the Gelug lineage absorbed much of the Jonang Kālachakra tradition.
Today Kālachakra is practiced by all four Tibetan schools of Buddhism, although it appears most prominently in the Gelug lineage. It is the main tantric practice for the Jonang school, which persists to this day with a small number of monasteries in eastern Tibet. Efforts are under way to have the Jonang tradition be recognized officially as a fifth tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.
As in all vajryana practices, the Kālachakra initiations empower the disciple to practice the Kālachakra tantra in the service of attaining Buddhahood. There are two main sets of initiations in Kālachakra, eleven in all. The first of these two sets concerns preparation for the generation stage meditations of Kālachakra. The second concerns preparation for the completion stage meditations known as the Six Yogas of Kālachakra. Attendees who don't intend to carry out the practice are often only given the lower seven initiations.
The Kālachakra sand Mandala is dedicated to both individual and world peace and physical balance. The Dalai Lama explains: "It is a way of planting a seed, and the seed will have karmic effect. One doesn't need to be present at the Kālachakra ceremony in order to receive its benefits."
Kālachakra practice today in the Tibetan Buddhist schools
Buton Rinchen had considerable influence on the later development of the Gelug and Sakya traditions of Kālachakra, and Dolpopa on the development of the Jonang tradition on which the Kagyu, Nyingma, and the Tsarpa branch of the Sakya draw. The Nyingma and Kagyu rely heavily on the extensive, Jonang-influenced Kālachakra commentaries of Ju Mipham and Jamgon Kongtrul the Great, both of whom took a strong interest in the tradition. The Tsarpa branch of the Sakya maintain the practice lineage for the six branch yoga of Kālachakra in the Jonang tradition.
There were many other influences and much cross-fertilization between the different traditions, and indeed the Dalai Lama asserted that it is acceptable for those initiated in one Kālachakra tradition to practice in others.
The Dalai Lamas have had specific interest in the Kālachakra practice, particularly the First, Second, Seventh, Eighth, and the current (Fourteenth) Dalai Lamas. The present Dalai Lama has given over thirty Kālachakra initiations all over the world, and is the most prominent Kālachakra lineage holder alive today. Billed as the "Kālachakra for World Peace," they draw tens of thousands of people. Generally, it is unusual for tantric initiations to be given to large public assemblages, but the Kālachakra has always been an exception.
The Dalai Lama, Kalu Rinpoche, and others have stated that the public exposition of this tantra is necessary in the current degenerate age. The initiation may be received simply as a blessing for the majority of those attending, however, many of the more qualified attendees do take the commitments and subsequently engage in the practice.
Kālachakra Initiations given by XIV Dalai Lama
- 1. Norbu Lingka, Lhasa, Tibet, in May 1954
- 2. Norbu Lingka, Lhasa, Tibet, in April 1956
- 3. Dharamsala, India, in March 1970
- 4. Bylakuppe, South India, in May 1971
- 5. Bodh Gaya, India, in January 1974
- 6. Leh, Ladakh, India, in September 1976
- 7. Deer Park Buddhist Center, Madison, Wisconsin, USA, in July 1981
- 8. Dirang, Arunachal Pradesh, India, in April 1983
- 9. Lahaul & Spiti, India, in August 1983
- 10. Rikon, Switzerland, in July 1985
- 11. Bodh Gaya, India, in December 1985
- 12. Zanskar, Ladakh, India, in July 1988
- 13. Los Angeles, USA, in July 1989
- 14. Sarnath, India, in December 1990
- 15. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in July 1991
- 16. New York, USA, in October 1991
- 17. Kalpa, HP, India, in August 1992
- 18. Gangtok, Sikkim, India, in April 1993
- 19. Jispa, HP, India, in August 1994
- 20. Barcelona, Spain, in December 1994
- 22. Mundgod, South India, in January 1995
- 22. Ulanbaator, Mongolia, in August 1995
- 23. Tabo, HP, India, in June 1996
- 24. Sydney, Australia, in September 1996
- 25. Salugara, West Bengal, India, in December 1996.
- 26. Bloomington, Indiana, USA, in August 1999.
- 27. Key Monastery, Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, India, in August 2000.
- 28a. Bodhgaya, Bihar, India, in January 2002 (postponed).
- 28b. Graz, Austria, in October 2002.
- 29. Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India, in January 2003.
- 30. Toronto, Canada, in April 2004.
- 31. Amaravati, Guntur, India in January 2006.
- 32. Washington, DC, USA, in July 2011.
- 33. Bodh Gaya, India, in January 2012.
- 34. Leh Ladakh, India July 2014
Kalachakra in Leh, Ladakh, J&K, India from July 3 to 14: During the first three days of the Kalachakra, from July 3 to 5, the Dalai Lama, along with the monks of Namgyal Monastery and senior lamas, will conduct rituals which prepare and consecrate the venue. These include chanting of prayers, creation of the sand mandala and other rituals. From July 6 to 8, the Dalai Lama will give preliminary teachings. On July 9, the Kalachakra Ritual Dance will be performed by the monks of Namgyal Monastery. The Dalai Lama will confer the Kalachakra Initiation from July 10 to 13. On July 14, a long life empowerment (tsewang) and a ceremony offering prayers for the long life of the Dalai Lama will be performed.
Ven. Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche (1926–2006), the Ninth Khalkha Jetsun Dampa Rinpoche, Ven. Jhado Rinpoche, and late Ven. Gen Lamrimpa (?-2003) are also among the prominent Kālachakra masters of the Gelug school.
The Kālachakra tradition practiced in the Karma and Shangpa Kagyu schools is derived from the Jonang tradition, and was largely systematized by Jamgon Kongtrul the Great, who wrote the text that is now used for empowerment. The Second and The Third Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche (1954–1992) were also prominent Kālachakra lineage holders, with the Jamgon Kontrul III giving the initiation publicly in North America on at least one occasion (Toronto 1990).
The chief Kālachakra lineage holder for the Kagyu lineage was H.E. Kalu Rinpoche (1905–1990), who gave the initiation several times in Tibet, India, Europe and North America (e.g., New York 1982). Upon his death, this mantle was assumed by his heart son the Ven. Bokar Rinpoche (1940–2004), who in turn passed it on to Ven. Khenpo Lodro Donyo Rinpoche. Bokar Monastery, of which Donyo Rinpoche is now the head, features a Kālachakra stupa and is a prominent retreat center for Kālachakra practice in the Kagyu lineage. Ven. Tenga Rinpoche is also a prominent Kagyu holder of the Kālachakra; he gave the initiation in Grabnik, Poland in August, 2005. Ven. Lopon Tsechu Rinpoche performed Kālachakra initiations and build Kālachakra stupa in Karma Guen buddhist center in southern Spain. Another prominent Kālachakra master is H.E. the Second Beru Khyentse . Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, while not a noted Kālachakra master, became increasingly involved later in his life with what he termed Shambhala teachings, derived in part from the Kālachakra tradition, in particular, the mind terma which he received from the Kalki.
Sakya Trizin, the present head of the Sakya lineage, has given the Kālachakra initiation many times and is a recognized master of the practice.
The Sakya master H.E. Chogye Trichen Rinpoche is one of the main holders of the Kālachakra teachings. Chogye Rinpoche is the head of the Tsharpa School, one of the three main schools of the Sakya tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.
One of the previous Chogye Trichen Rinpoches, Khyenrab Choje (1436–97), beheld the sustained vision of the female tantric deity Vajrayogini at Drak Yewa in central Tibet, and received extensive teachings and initiations directly from her. Two forms of Vajrayogini appeared out of the face of the rocks at Drak Yewa, one red in color and the other white, and they bestowed the Kālachakra initiation on Khyenrab Choje. When he asked if there was any proof of this, his attendant showed the master the kusha grass that Khyenrab Choje brought back with him from the initiation. It was unlike any kusha grass found in this world, with rainbow lights sparkling up and down the length of the dried blades of grass. This direct lineage from Vajrayogini is the 'shortest', the most recent and direct, lineage of the Kālachakra empowerment and teachings that exists in this world. In addition to being known as the emanation of Manjushri, Khyenrab Choje had previously been born as many of the Rigden kings of Shambhala as well as numerous Buddhist masters of India. These are some indications of his unique relationship to the Kālachakra tradition.
Chogye Trichen Rinpoche is the holder of six different Kālachakra initiations, four of which, the Bulug, Jonang, Maitri-gyatsha, and Domjung, are contained within the Gyude Kuntu, the Collection of Tantras compiled by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and his disciple Loter Wangpo. Rinpoche has offered all six of these empowerments to Sakya Trizin, the head of the Sakya School of Tibetan Buddhism. Rinpoche has given the Kālachakra initiation in Tibet, Mustang, Kathmandu, Malaysia, the United States, Taiwan, and Spain, and is widely regarded as a definitive authority on Kālachakra. In 1988 he traveled to the United States, giving the initiation and complete instructions in the practice of the six-branch Vajrayoga of Kālachakra according to the Jonangpa tradition in Boston. Chogye Rinpoche has completed extensive retreat in the practice of Kālachakra, particularly of the six-branch yoga (sadangayoga) in the tradition of the Jonangpa school according to Jetsun Taranatha. In this way, Chogye Rinpoche has carried on the tradition of his predecessor Khyenrab Choje, the incarnation of the Shambhala kings who received the Kālachakra initiation from Vajrayogini herself. When Chogye Rinpoche was young, one of his teachers dreamed that Rinpoche was the son of the King of Shambhala, the pure land that upholds the tradition of Kālachakra. (See biography of Chogye Trichen Rinpoche in "Parting from the Four Attachments", Snow Lion Publications, 2003.)
Once deemed heretical by the 5th Dalai Lama and even thought to be extinct, the Jonang tradition has in fact survived and is now officially recognized by the Tibetan Government in exile as a fifth school of Tibetan Buddhism. Jonang is particularly important in that it has preserved the Kālachakra practice lineage, especially of the completion stage practices. In fact, the Kālachakra is the main tantric practice in the Jonang tradition. Khenpo Kunga Sherab Rinpoche is one contemporary Jonangpa master of Kālachakra.
Prophesies on Holy War
The Kālachakra Tantra has occasionally been a source of controversy in the west because the text contains passages which may be interpreted as demonizing Islam. This is principally because it contains the prophecy of a holy war between Buddhists and so-called "barbarians" (Skt. mleccha). One passage of the Kālachakra (Śri Kālachakra I. 161) reads, "The Chakravartin shall come out at the end of the age, from the city the gods fashioned on Mount Kailasa. He shall smite the barbarians in battle with his own four-division army, on the entire surface of the earth."
This prophecy could also be understood to refer in part to the Islamic incursions into central Asia and India which deliberately destroyed the Buddhist religion in those regions. The prophecy includes detailed descriptions of the future invaders as well as suggested (non-violent) ways for the Buddhist teachings to survive these onslaughts.
Though the Kālachakra prophesies a future religious war, this appears in conflict with the vows of Mahayana and Theravada Buddhist teachings that prohibit violence. According to Alexander Berzin, the Kālachakra is not advocating violence against people but rather against inner mental and emotional aggression that results in intolerance, hatred, violence and war. Fifteenth century Gelug commentor Kaydrubjey interprets "holy war" symbolically, teaching that it mainly refers to the inner battle of the religious practitioner against inner demonic and barbarian tendencies. This is the solution to violence, since according to the Kālachakra the outer conditions depend on the inner condition of the mindstreams of beings. Viewed that way, the prophesied war takes place in the mind and emotions. It depicts the transformation of the archaic mentality of violence in the name of religion and ideology into sublime moral power, insight and spiritual wisdom.
One interpretation of Buddhist teachings that portray military conflict - such as elements of the Kālachakra Tantra and the Gesar Epic - is that they may be taught for the sake of those who possess a karmic tendency towards militancy, for the purpose of taming their minds.[who?] The passages of the Kālachakra that address religious warfare can be viewed as teachings to turn away from any religious justification of war and violence, and to embrace the precepts of love and compassion.
The controversial passages about the holy war, which most probably had been incorporated into the Kālachakra tradition during the time of massive advances of Islam into northern India when Buddhism had been on retreat, were later in modern time hijacked and used by several adventurous schemers both on the Left and on the Right to justify their political agendas. These questionable activities as well as the abovementioned passages from old Kālachakra texts about the holy war and the ritual use of sexuality, prompted Victor and Victoria Trimondi, two German writers and philosophers, to launch a radical critique of the entire Kālachakra tradition. In contrast, Alexander Berzin, another prominent student of Tibetan Buddhism, seeks to provide a balanced and nuanced account of the same tradition.
Tantric iconography including sharp weapons, shields, and corpses similarly appears in conflict with those tenets of non-violence but instead represent the transmutation of aggression into a method for overcoming illusion and ego. Both Kālachakra and his dharmapala protector Vajravega hold a sword and shield in their paired second right and left hands. This is an expression of the Buddha's triumph over the attack of Mara and his protection of all sentient beings. Symbolism researcher Robert Beer writes the following about tantric iconography of weapons and mentions the charnel ground:
Many of these weapons and implements have their origins in the wrathful arena of the battlefield and the funereal realm of the charnel grounds. As primal images of destruction, slaughter, sacrifice, and necromancy these weapons were wrested from the hands of the evil and turned - as symbols - against the ultimate root of evil, the self-cherishing conceptual identity that gives rise to the five poisons of ignorance, desire, hatred, pride, and jealousy. In the hands of siddhas, dakinis, wrathful and semi-wrathful yidam deities, protective deities or dharmapalas these implements became pure symbols, weapons of transformation, and an expression of the deities' wrathful compassion which mercilessly destroys the manifold illusions of the inflated human ego.
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- The term "wheel" evoked herewith is a principal polyvalent sign, teaching tool, organising metaphor and iconographic device within Indian religions. Some Dharmic "wheel" cognates: Dharmachakra, Sudarshana Chakra and Samsara.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kalachakra.|
- Kalachakra For World Peace Graz 2002
- Toronto 2004
- Extensive Kālachakra section within the Archives of Alexander Berzin
- International Kalachakra Network
- The Kālachakra Initiation, Amaravati
- The Jonang Foundation
- Critical Forum Kalachakra