28th May-3rd June

Acharya Shantarakshita's “Madhyamakalankara"

Study retreat with Khenpo Sonam Tsewang


28th May-3rd June

Study retreat with Khenpo Sonam Tsewang on Acharya Shantarakshita's “Madhyamakalankara" 

based upon Ju Mipham's commentary

The Madhyamakālaṃkāra is an 8th-century Buddhist text held to have been originally composed in Sanskrit by Śāntarakṣita (725–788) but extant in Tibetan. The Tibetan text was translated from the Sanskrit by Surendrabodhi. 


Śāntarakṣita's synthesis of Madhyamaka, Yogacara, and Pramana was expounded in his text Madhyamākalaṃkāra. Within the Yogacara in that text he also included the Sautrāntika and "consciousness-only" Yogacara views specifically when referring to "conventional truth", one of the two truths doctrine. His view is therefore categorised as "Yogacara-Svatantrika-Madhyamaka" by later Tibetans, but he did not refer to himself that way.

In his synthesis text, readers are advised to adopt Madhyamaka view and approach from Nagarjuna and Aryadeva when analysing for ultimacy and to adopt the mind-only views of the Yogacarans Asanga and Vasubandhu when considering conventional truth. He also incorporates the logic approach of valid cognition and the Sautantrika views of Dignāga and Dharmakirti.

Śāntarakṣita is also known for his text Tattvasamgraha (Compendium on Reality), which is a more encyclopaedic treatment of the major philosophic views of the time and survived in translation in both Tibet and China. A Sanskrit version of this work was discovered in 1873 by Dr. G. Bühler in the Jain temple of Pārśva at Jaisalmer. This version contains also the commentary by Śāntarakṣita's pupil Kamalaśīla.

In the short verse text of the Madhyamakālaṃkāra, Śāntarakṣita details his two truths philosophical synthesis of the conventional truth of Yogacara with the ultimate truth of the Madhyamaka with the assistance of Buddhist logic, with a protracted discussion of the argument of "neither one nor many" (gcig du 'bral ba'i gtan tshigs).


Khenpo Sonam Tsewang is a khenpo (equivalent of Professor of Buddhism) at Ngagyur Nyingma Institute, the advanced center of philosophical study at Namdroling Monastery, Bylakkuppe. He finished his graduation in Buddhism from Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Varanasi and also from Ngagyur Nyingma Institute, Namdroling. He has translated for His Holiness Penor Rinpoche and Khenchen Pema Sherab Rinpoche on many occasions. He published published English translations of books such as “How to Follow a Spiritual Master”, "The All Pervading Melodious Sound of Thunder : the Outer Liberation Story of Terton Migyur Dorje" and “Drops of Nectar”. He was enthroned as a Khenpo (equivalent of Professor of Philosophy) at Namdroling Monastery in 2010 by His Holiness Karma Kuchen Rinpoche. Khenpo Sonam travels extensively with his root Guru, Khenchen Pema Sherab Rinpoche, for international teaching tours. In the process, he is also receiving close personal guidance and spiritual instructions from Khen Rinpoche.