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The Seven Siddhi Texts: The Oḍiyāna Mahāmudrā Lineage in its Indic and Tibetan Contexts

  • Author(s): Krug, Adam Charles
  • Advisor(s): Wallace, Vesna A
  • Cabezón, José I
  • et al.
Abstract

This study examines The Seven Siddhi Texts, a short corpus of tantric Buddhist works that the Tibetan tradition identifies as the mahāmudrā transmission from the famed semi-mythical land of Oḍiyāna. Owing to the nature of the corpus itself, this study is best characterized as properly Indo-Tibetan in its scope. The Seven Siddhi Texts are first examined here as independent treatises that reflect the development of Vajrayāna Buddhism in its Indic cultural and historical contexts between the eighth and tenth centuries. They are then approached as a means for examining the formulation of Vajrayāna institutions and their attendant corpora in Nepal. Finally, they provide a case study in the phenomenon of practical canonicity in their employment in mahāmudrā polemical literature in Tibet from the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries.

Part I argues for the adoption of a demonological paradigm in the study of South Asian religions. Using data from The Seven Siddhi Texts in dialogue with the Āyurvedic discipline of demonology (bhūtavidyā), it highlights that Vajrayāna Buddhist traditions maintained a dual apotropaic-soteriological goal in their conception of the practice of yoga. Part II addresses the sociological implications of sect and sectarian identity in The Seven Siddhi Texts. It presents the phenomenon of dissimulative asceticism in Vajrayāna Buddhism as a potential social context for the highly Śaiva-Buddhist hybrid forms of ritual that emerged with the Buddhist yoginītantras. It then addresses the issue of inclusivist and exclusivist expressions of sectarian identity from the authors of The Seven Siddhi Texts. Part III discusses the formulation and transmission of The Seven Siddhi Texts as a corpus of mahāmudrā works in light of the broader phenomenon of practical canonicity in Buddhist traditions. It presents philological evidence that The Seven Siddhi Texts were part of a known mahāmudrā practical canon in Nepal prior to their transmission to Tibet. It then discusses historical data and Tibetan historiography on their transmission to Tibet beginning in the eleventh century. It concludes with a discussion of The Seven Siddhi Texts' incorporation into two Kagyü mahāmudrā practical canons in Tibet at the turn of the sixteenth century, and the role that The Seven Siddhi Texts played in a number of mahāmudrā polemical works composed by the subsequent generation of Kagyü authors.

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