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FIFTY STANZAS OF GURU DEVOTION

By Aryasura written in the first century B.C.

With an oral commentary by Geshe Ngawang Dhargey

Homage to the Bhagavan Vajrasattva.

Bhagavan is one of the many epithets used for an Enlightened Being, a Buddha. The Tibetan term for it, "Chom-dan-da (bCom-ldan Ďdas)", is etymologies as follows. "Chom" means to overcome. Buddhas have overcome both the obstacles preventing Liberation and those preventing Omniscience. The former include the delusions or moral and mental defilements (klesa), and the ignorance of grasping for true independent existence, as well as the seeds of all of these. The latter refers to the instincts of both these defilements and this ignorance. "Dan" means to possess. Buddhas possess all good qualities, having completed their accumulations of both merit and insight resulting in their Form and Wisdom Bodies respectively. "Da" means to pass beyond. Buddhas have passed beyond samsara, the cycle of uncontrolled rebirth with suffering due to karma and delusions.

The hidden meaning of Vajrasattva, Dor-je sem-pa (rDo-rje sems-dpaí) in Tibetan, can also be discovered from its etymology. "Dor-je" means indestructible diamond-lightening. Here it refers to the diamond-hard wisdom of the non-duality of (1) the mind that has bare perception of Voidness, experienced with a feeling of Great Bliss and (2) the Voidness that is the object of this mind. "Sem-pa" means the one with a heroic mind. It signifies someone who has himself abandoned all delusions, ignorance and their instincts and has the heroic mind that is ready to help others in all possible ways.

Thus Bhagavan Vajrasattva refers to the state of Vajradhara, the form Buddha takes in the tantras. As the way to attain his Enlightened state is through Guru-devotion, Asvaghosa begins his work with this homage.