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Śāntarakṣita

Śāntarakṣita (Skt.; Tib., Zhi.ba.tsho; c.705–88 CE). Indian philosopher and chief exponent of the Vijñavāda-Mādhyamaka synthesis, who played a significant role in the ‘first diffusion’ (snga.dar) of Buddhism in Tibet (see TIBETAN RELIGION). A central feature of Śāntarakṣita's system is his doctrine that the mind's capability of self-awareness (Skt., svasaṃvedana) is the primary differentiation to be made between the mind and the objects of its awareness, which are said to be ‘inert’ (jaḍa).

Śāntarakṣita first visited Tibet in 763 CE and a second time in 775, staying until his death. It was he who, according to Padma.kaʾi.thang.yig (The Clear Decree of Padma; a 15th-cent. terma), advised King Trisong Detsen (Khri.srong.lde.brtsan) to invite Padmasambhāva to Tibet on the basis of the latter's supernatural powers, because of magical opposition to Buddhist teaching from the native Bön religion. Śāntarakṣita's major works are Madhyamakālaṅkāra (Ornament of the Middle Way) with his own commentary, and Tattvasaṃgraha (Compendium of Reality), an assessment of the Indian schools.

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