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The Bodhisattvacharyāvatāra or Bodhicaryāvatāra, sometimes translated into English as A Guide to the Bodhisattva's[1] Way of Life, is a famous Mahāyāna Buddhist text written c. 700 AD in Sanskrit verse by Shantideva (Śāntideva), a Buddhist monk at Nālandā Monastic University in India.


It has ten chapters dedicated to the development of bodhicitta (the mind of enlightenment) through the practice of the six perfections (Skt. Pāramitās). The text begins with a chapter describing the benefits of the wish to reach enlightenment. The sixth chapter on the Pāramitā of patience (Skt. Kṣānti, kshanti) is considered by many Buddhists to be the pinnacle of writing on this subject and is the source of numerous quotations attributed to Śāntideva. Tibetan scholars consider the ninth "Wisdom" chapter to be one of the most succinct expositions of the Madhyamaka view. The tenth chapter is used as one of the most popular Mahāyāna prayers.

Chapter summary[edit]

  1. The benefits of bodhicitta (the wish to reach full enlightenment for others)
  2. Purifying bad deeds
  3. Adopting the spirit of enlightenment
  4. Using conscientiousness
  5. Guarding awareness
  6. The practice of patience
  7. The practice of joyous effort
  8. The practice of meditative concentration
  9. The perfection of wisdom
  10. Dedication

Exegetical discourse and commentary[edit]

Many Tibetan scholars, such as Ju Mipham, have written commentaries on this text.


Commentaries & Studies in English[edit]

  • Brassard, Francis (2000), The Concept of Bodhicitta in Santideva's Bodhicaryavatara, History of religions, State University of New York (SUNY) Press, ISBN 0-7914-4575-5 
  • Dalai Lama, XIV; Padmakara Translation Group (1994), A Flash Lightning in the Dark of Night: Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life (1st ed.), Shambhala, ISBN 0-87773-971-4 
  • Dalai Lama, XIV; Geshe Thupten Jinpa (trans & ed) (2004), Practicing Wisdom: The Perfection of Shantideva's Bodhisattva Way, Wisdom Publications,U.S, ISBN 0-86171-182-3 
  • Pema Chödrön (2005), No Time to Lose: A Timely Guide to the Way of the Bodhisattva, commentary on Shantideva's Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life, Boston: Shambhala, ISBN 1-59030-135-8 
  • Geshe Yeshe Topden (2005), The Way of Awakening: A Commentary on Shantideva's Bodhicharyavatara, Wisdom Publications,U.S, ISBN 0-86171-494-6 
  • Gyatso, Kelsang (1980), Meaningful to Behold: View, meditation and action in Mahayana Buddhism : an oral commentary to Shantideva's A guide to the Bodhisattva's way of life, Wisdom Publications, ISBN 0-86171-003-7 
  • Khenchen Kunzang Pelden; Padmakara Translation Group (2008), The Nectar of Manjushri's Speech: A Detailed Commentary on Shantideva's Way of the Bodhisattva, Shambhala, ISBN 1-59030-439-X 
  • Khenchen Kunzang Pelden; Minyak Kunzang Sonam; Padmakara Translation Group, Wisdom: Two Buddhist Commentaries on the Ninth Chapter of Shantideva's Bodhicharyravatara 
  • Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche; Holmes, Ken (trans); Doctor, Thomas (trans) (2001), A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life of Shantideva, Kathmandu: Namo Buddha Seminar, ASIN: B000UO76C6 
  • Williams, Paul (1997), Altruism and Reality: Studies in the Philosophy of the Bodhicaryavatara, Routledge Curzon Critical Studies in Buddhism, Routledge Curzon, ISBN 0-7007-1031-0 
  • Williams, Paul (1997), The Reflexive Nature of Awareness (Rang Rig): Tibetan Madhyamaka Defence, Routledge Curzon Critical Studies in Buddhism (1st ed.), Routledge Curzon, ISBN 0-7007-1030-2 


  1. ^ Gyelsay Togmay Sangpo. "The 37 Practices of Bodhisattvas". Ven. Thubten Chodron. Retrieved 26 June 2014. 

External links[edit]