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Tibetan depiction of Shantideva

Shantideva (Sanskrit: Śāntideva; Chinese: 寂天; Tibetan: ཞི་བ་ལྷ།, THL: Zhiwa Lha; Mongolian: Шантидэва гэгээн; Vietnamese: Tịch Thiên) was a 8th-century Indian Buddhist monk and scholar at Nalanda. He was an adherent of the Madhyamaka philosophy of Nagarjuna.


The Zhansi Lun of the East Asian Mādhyamaka identifies two different individuals given the name "Shant inideva": their founder of the Avaivartika Sangha in the 6th century and a later Shantideva who studied at Nalanda in the 8th century and appears to be the source of the Tibetan biographies. Archaeological discoveries support this thesis.[1][2] Two Tibetan sources of the life of Shantideva are the historians Buton Rinchen Drub and Tāranātha. Recent scholarship has brought to light a short Sanskrit life of Shantideva in a 14th-century Nepalese manuscript.[3] An accessible account that follows the Butön closely can be found in Kunzang Pelden, The Nectar of Manjushri's speech.[4]

Shantideva was born in the Saurastra (in modern Gujarat), son of King Kalyanavarman, and he went by the name Śantivarman.[5]

According to Pema Chödrön, "Shantideva was not well liked at Nalanda."[6]

Apparently he was one of those people who didn't show up for anything, never studying or coming to practice sessions. His fellow monks said that his three “realizations” were eating, sleeping, and shitting.[6]

After being goaded into giving a talk to the entire university body, Shantideva delivered The Way of the Bodhisattva.[6]



The Śikṣāsamuccaya (“Training Anthology”) is a prose work in nineteen chapters. It is organized as a commentary on twenty-seven short mnemonic verses known as the Śikṣāsamuccaya Kārikā. It consists primarily of quotations (of varying length) from sūtras, authoritative texts considered to be the word of the Buddha — generally those sūtras associated with Mahāyāna tradition, including the Samadhiraja Sutra.[7]


Shantideva is particularly renowned as the author of the Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra. An English translation is available online, as well as in print in a variety of translations, sometimes glossed as "A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life" or "Entering the Path of Enlightenment."[8] It is a long poem describing the process of enlightenment from the first thought to full buddhahood and is still studied by Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhists today.

An introduction to and commentary on the Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra by the 14th Dalai Lama called A Flash of Lightning in the Dark of Night was printed in 1994. A commentary on the Patience chapter was provided by the Dalai Lama in Healing Anger (1997), and his commentaries on the Wisdom chapter can be found in Practicing Wisdom (2004). Kunzang Pelden has written a commentary based on that given by Patrul Rinpoche, translated by the Padmakara Translation Group. Patrul Rinpoche was a wandering monk of great scholarship, who dedicated his life to the propagation of the Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra.[9]


  1. ^ Rahsid, More Harunur (2012). "Deva Dynasty". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. 
  2. ^ Bodhicaryāvatāra Historical Project Archived March 6, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Pezzali, Amalia (1968), Śāntideva Mystjique buddhiste des VII et VIIIe siècles, Florence: Vallechi Edtore 
  4. ^ Shantideva (1997), The Way of the Bodhisattva, translated by the Padmakara Translation Group, Boston l: Shambala, ISBN 1-57062-253-1 
  5. ^ Kunzang Pelden (2007), The Nectar of Manjushri's Speech. A Detailed Commentary on Shantideva's Way of the Bodhisattva, Shambala Publications, p. 17, ISBN 978-1-59030-439-6 
  6. ^ a b c "Cutting Ties: The Fruits of Solitude". Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. Retrieved October 28, 2015. 
  7. ^ Amod Lele, "Śāntideva", Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy 
  8. ^ Luis O. Gómez (1999). The Way of the Translators: Three Recent Translations of Śāntideva's Bodhicaryāvatāra, Buddhist Literature, Vol. 1, 262-354 PDF
  9. ^ Kunzang Pelden (2007), The Nectar of Manjushri's Speech. A Detailed Commentary on Shantideva's Way of the Bodhisattva, Shambala Publications, ISBN 978-1-59030-439-6 


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