The Tibetan Origins of the Great Perfection: A study of the works of the Indo-Chinese Buddhist master Śrī Siṃha

Principle investigator (PI): Dr Georgios T. Halkias
Start date: 2024 Jan
Fund source: GRF Fund

From the 8th century onwards various Buddhist traditions were introduced to Tibet that drew from a complex mosaic of thriving Mahāyāna cultures in neighbouring China, India, Nepal, and Central Asia. Among the many outstanding developments that emerged from Buddhism's transmission in Tibet is a heterogenous collection of spiritual precepts and practices known as the Great Perfection (Dzogchen). This Buddhist tradition, also known as Atiyoga (highest yoga), is the only non-dual contemplative system to develop exclusively in Tibet. Its adherents consider it to be the highest expression of Buddhist philosophical thought that reached its most elaborate articulation in the Seminal Heart literature of the 14th century. Despite a few critical and significant studies of the movement’s early history, there is no consensus among scholars as to its origins, chronology, and formative phases.This research project will significantly enrich our understanding of Śrī Siṃha’s role in the lineage-based transmission of the Great Perfection to Tibet and his relationship with other early Great Perfection figures and texts. Furthermore, it will yield an interpretive framework for critically evaluating the early development of the Great Perfection’s fundamental tenets, and for ascertaining their diachronic effect on the philosophical, literary, and visionary traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.