byang chub sems rmad du byung ba
The Marvelous Primordial State
Tibetan title: byang chub sems rmad du byung ba
Sanskrit title: bodhicittasopashika
Status: translation in progress.
The Marvelous Primordial state is a very important Dzogchen tantra of the Semde series. The style and the tantra’s way of treatment of the subjects, random and at times highly cryptic with almost no use of Buddhist technical terminology, suggests that this could as well be the oldest of all the extant Dzogchen Tantras.
It is found in different versions as translated by different masters in the various editions of the tantras of the Nyingma. Eight different versions of this tantra are being consulted in the process of translation:
• three versions found in the mtshams brag edition of the Nyingma tantras, the first translated by Vimalamitra and Jnanakumara, the second by Shri Singha and Vairochana, the third bearing no name of the translators;
• one version of the Vairo edition of the Nyingma tantras, translated by Shri Singha and Vairochana;
• three versions from the mkhyen brtse editions of the Nyingma tantras, the first translated by Sri Singha and Vairochana, the second by Vimalamitra and Jnanakumara and, the third bearing no names of the translators;
• one form the Derge edition of the Nyingma tantras, translated by Shri Singha and Vairochana.
This tantra is written mostly in prose, comprises forty chapters of various length, including an introductory chapter explaining the setting for the teaching of the tantra. The subjects of the various chapters vary, including the primordial state, the fundamental nature of everything, liberation; Body Voice and Mind; conduct, the secret mandala of bliss, meditation, the path, the view, accomplishment without seeking, pledges, amendment, lights, samsara, five Buddha families, the purity of everything, nirvana, the motive, the disciples of this teaching and, the instructions. However, no matter how many subjects are dealt with, these are always explained as one’s own primordial state and what is emphasized is that there is not a single thing which is not one’s own primordial state.
The suggestion to translate this tantra came from Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, and the appearance of its translation in a western language will certainly be an unprecedented event connecting us with one of the most authentic and very ancient sources of the Dzogchen teaching. It will furthermore set the guidelines for future translation of this kind of literature which for the most is still unexplored.