With her intuitive sense of the text, Vesna Wallace, one of the foremost Kālachakra scholars of our time, has eloquently deciphered and rendered the fourth chapter on the Sādhanā from the Kālachakra Tantra into the English language. Along with her previous publication of the second chapter on the Individual in this same series, this chapter on the Sādhanā or practice manual completes two of the Kālachakra Tantra’s five chapters in English. Both of these translations include the root tantra along with its explanatory commentary, the Vimalaprabhā or Stainless Light.
While reading the recently published translation of the Kālachakra Sādhanā, I couldn’t help but think of the scifi film where the hero is on a quest to save a biblical text from mis-interpreters in a post-apocalyptic world. I kept thinking, this is the book that Kālachakra practitioners will want to save.
The Sādhanā chapter of the tantra is the source text from where all subsequent Kālachakra practice materials have emerged. It is the root text that Tibetan masters have edited, re-visioned, and adapted to suit the affinities of practitioners for over a millennia.
The chapter arrangement in the Kālachakra Tantra is:
This sequence corresponds to the esoteric evolutionary unfoldment of a practitioner. From imagining the vast cosmic expanse, to situating oneself as an individual within the expanse, to receiving the tantric initiation and becoming empowered within the Kālachakra maṇḍala, to practicing the sādhanā and actualizing the Kālachakra deity through generation and completion yogas, to piercing reality with gnostic vision.
As Wallace explains in her introduction, this chapter is divided into five subsections: 1) location for practice, protection of the sādhanā, and disclosure of karmic inhibitions; 2) the body in the maṇḍala during generation stage practice; 3) origination and correspondence of deities with the practitioner; 4) the sixfold vajrayoga of the completion stage; 5) diverse ritual sādhanā. In so doing, it encompasses a detailed discussion on the practices of purification, intricacies of deity yoga and the visualizations of the Kālachakra deity and maṇḍala during generation stage practice, the yogas at the stage of completion, and specific tantric rites.
Wallace brings us this masterful translation annotated with essential information and a critical edition of the Mongolian text. Tibetan and Mongolian editions are cited throughout her translation and quotes from Buton Rinchen Drup’s (1290-1364) commentary on the tantra are consistently noted throughout.
After years of waiting for this to be made available, students of Buddhist tantra will now be thankful that the American Institute of Buddhist Studies has published this masterpiece as part of the Treasury of the Buddhist Sciences series. Since key and difficult parts of each of the three remaining chapters of the Kālachakra have been translated, the hope is that these will be compiled and edited with a unifying terminology. That will give us the first complete English language version of the tantra and its commentary.
1.Wallace, Vesna A. The Kalacakra Tantra: The Chapter on Sadhana, Together with the Vimalaprabha Commentary. A Study and Annotated Translation. Treasury of the Buddhist Sciences series. New York: The American Institute of Buddhist Studies, 2010.