Kamalaśīla's "Stages of Meditative Cultivation" (Bhāvanākrama): The path to liberation

  • Time: 8-9 May 2018
  • Venue: Institut für Kultur- und Geistesgeschichte Asiens
  • Organisation: Birgit Kellner


The three eponymous treatises by the Indian scholastic philosopher Kamalaśīla (ca. 740-795 CE) entitled "Stages of Meditative Cultivation" can justifiedly be called "classics" of Mahāyāna Buddhist literature. They are linked with the debate of Bsam yas, a historically momentous confrontation between Indo-Tibetan and Sino-Tibetan currents of Buddhism in late 8th century imperial Tibet. As magisterial expositions of a complete Mahāyāna Buddhist path, combined with polemical refutations of opponents' views, the Bhāvanākramas evidently respond to a problem-situation that called for a clarification with support by philosophical argument and scriptural authority. The Bhāvanākramas were held in high esteem especially in those Tibetan traditions that emphasized and elaborated a gradual path to liberation, and came to play a significant role in recent endeavours to promote Buddhism in the West.

This workshop continues from an earlier one held at the IKGA in 2017, and will be devoted to concentrated reading and discussion of the Sanskrit text in comparison with the canonical Tibetan translation and further related materials. The focus will be on the final portion of Bhāvanākrama I on the basis of Francesco Sferra's new edition of the Sanskrit text (from section 3.9 to the end). This part of BhK I is concerned with the bodhisattva's state after the attainment of non-conceptual gnosis (nirvikalpajñāna), and with the overall structure of the path as divided into ten levels (bhūmi).

The workshop is connected with Professor Sferra's stay at the University of Vienna in the framework of the ERASMUS programme. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Department of South Asian, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies of the university that facilitated the organization of the workshop. During his stay, Professor Sferra will also hold a public lecture at the university on Friday, May 11th, 3pm. (Details will be given at http://stb.univie.ac.at/news-events/).


  • Francesco Sferra (Università degli Studi di Napoli L'Orientale)
  • Birgit Kellner (IKGA)
  • Serena Saccone (IKGA)
  • Yasutaka Muroya (IKGA)
  • Pei-Lin Chiou (IKGA)

Sessions are planned for the following times:

  • Tuesday, May 8th: 09:00-10:30, 14:00-15:30, 16:00-17:30.
  • Wednesday, May 9th: 09:30-11:00, 11:30-13:00. From 14:00 to 18:00 the workshop will be continued at the Department for South Asian, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies, as announced in this PDF.

The workshop is open to external participants. Please register in advance with Pei-Lin Chiou (Pei-Lin.Chiou(at)oeaw.ac.at) to facilitate our planning, and to obtain access to materials.