CategoriesBuddha and BuddhismMahayana Sutras Bodhicaryavatara, The (Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life)

Bodhicaryavatara, The (Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life)

Product no.: 0-19-283720-6
Shantideva's revered guide crystallized the path of the Bodhisattva and became the undisputed training manual for Mahayana Buddhists.

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Publisher's Synopsis

Written in India in the early eighth century AD, Shantideva's Bodhicaryavatara takes as its subject the profound desire to become a Buddha and save all beings from suffering. The person who enacts such a desire is a Bodhisattva. Shantideva not only sets out what the Bodhisattva must do and become, he also invokes the intense feelings of aspiration which underlie such a commitment, using language which has inspired Buddhists from his time to the present.

Important as a manual of training among Mahayana Buddhists, especially in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the Bodhicaryavatara is still used by modern Buddhist teachers. This new translation from the original language provides detailed annotations explaining allusions and technical references.

The Introductions set Shantideva's work in context, and for the first time explain its structure. This translation is based upon the critical edition of the Sanskrit text prepared by Vallee Poussin, 1904-1914.


"Shantideva's inspirational classic unfortunately added fire to Nagarjuna's seminal pseudepigrapha, The Prajnaparamita (Perfection of Wisdom). The ninth chapter erroneously expounds upon Nagarjuna's fundamental misinterpretation of the Buddha's highest, most ambiguous teachings concerning sunyata (emptiness)."      ~Mandala Books

"Those Buddhists who follow the path to their own personal enlightenment — sometimes called the Hearers (Sravakas) and Solitary Buddhas (pratyekabuddhas) — are termed by the Mahayana followers of an Inferior Vehicle (Hinayana). In the last analysis Shantideva’s concern is to help himself and others pass through (but without ignoring) this conception of the spiritual life towards what he sees as the great integration of insight, wisdom, and compassion which is found in the bodhisattva and eventually flowers in full Buddhahood.

In aiming for Buddhahood the bodhisattva turns away from his or her own personal peace, the nirvana of an arhat. Indeed from a Buddhist point of view time is infinite, and from a Mahayana perspective compassion is so strong that surely there must also be many, infinitely many, Buddhas still present in the infinite cosmos, and many advanced bodhisattvas of great power, all acting for the benefit of others."     ~Introduction


Chapter 7: The Perfection of Vigour

"Patient in this way one should cultivate vigour, because Awakening depends on vigour. For without vigour there is no merit, just as there is no movement without wind. What is vigour? The endeavour to do what is skilful. What is its antithesis called? Sloth, clinging to what is vile, despondency, and self-contempt. Sloth comes from idleness, indulging in pleasures, sleep, the longing to lean on others, and from apathy for the sufferings of cyclic existence.

Scented out by the trappers, the defilements, you have walked into the trap of birth. Do you not realize even now that you have entered the mouth of death? You do not see those of your own herd as they are killed one by one? You even go to sleep like a buffalo at the butcher."


Kate Crosby is Tutor in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Pali at Oxford University. Andrew Skilton a Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford, and a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society. Paul Williams is Codirector of the Centre for Buddhist Studies at the University of Bristol.

Author Shantideva
Translator Crosby, Kate
Cotranslator Skilton, Andrew
Book Type Trade Paperback
Page Count 191 pp.
Publisher Oxford University Press 1998
Series Oxford World's Classics Series
Gold Medal

Gold Medal



  Gold Medal Essential Reading

Browse these categories as well: Mahayana Sutras, Northern Buddhism, Hinduism: Gurus and Advaita Vedanta, Gold Medal Essential Reading

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