A Compendium of the Mahayana: Asanga’s Mahayanasamgraha and Its Indian and Tibetan Commentaries

For those so inclined, this massive volume is well worth considering:


The Mahāyānasamgraha, published here with its Indian and Tibetan commentaries in three volumes, presents virtually everything anybody might want to know about the Yogācāra School of mahāyāna Buddhism. It discusses in detail the nature and operation of the eight kinds of consciousness, the often-misunderstood notion of “mind only” (cittamātra), dependent origination, the cultivation of the path and its fruition in terms of the four wisdoms, and the three bodies (kāyas) of a buddha.

Volume 1 presents the translation of the Mahāyānasamgraha along with a commentary by Vasubandhu. The introduction gives an overview of the text and its Indian and Tibetan commentaries, and explains in detail two crucial elements of the Yogācāra view: the ālaya-consciousness and the afflicted mind (klistamanas).

Volume 2 presents translations of the commentary by Asvabhāva and an anonymous Indian commentary on the first chapter of the text. These translations are supplemented in the endnotes by excerpts from Tibetan commentaries and related passages in other Indian and Chinese Yogācāra works.

Volume 3 includes appendices with excerpts from other Indian and Chinese Yogācāra texts and supplementary materials on major Yogācāra topics in the Mahāyānasamgraha.

A Compendium of the Mahayana includes Volumes 1, 2, and 3 in a slip cover.

A Compendium of the Mahayana with Slip Cover

News & Reviews

“I am delighted that Karl Brunnhölzl’s new translation of Asanga’s Mahāyānasamgraha and its Indian and Tibetan commentaries is being published. An important text in the Sanskrit Yogācāra tradition, the Mahāyānasamgraha and several of its commentaries were translated into Tibetan. However, it never gained as prominent a position in the Tibetan tradition as it had held in Sanskrit or in the Chinese Buddhist tradition. For this reason, this translation, which contains resources from the Indian, Tibetan, and Chinese traditions, is especially helpful. The inclusion of Chinese materials is particularly valuable as it was in China that the text spread most widely and had the greatest influence. I am delighted that it is now available for students to study and contemplate in English.” —Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, author of Luminous Clarity

“Mitra Karl Brunnhölzl has devoted many years to the study and practice of a broad spectrum of Buddhist topics and practices. Additionally, Karl has studied extensively under my teacher, the renowned yogi-scholar Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, making him duly qualified to offer this groundbreaking study on the topic of Yogācāra. This complete translation of Asanga’s Mahāyānasamgraha, the first of its kind in the English language, along with a number of its commentaries translated for the first time into any modern language, will be of genuine benefit for practitioners and scholars alike. I am grateful to Karl for this monumental undertaking.” —Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, author of Rebel Buddha

“It is difficult to overestimate the contribution of this massive work to the study of Indian Yogācāra Buddhism. Karl Brunnhölzl not only provides reliable translations of the Mahāyānasamgraha and its major commentaries, a long-standing desideratum in the field, he also offers twenty substantive appendices that illuminate difficult issues in Yogācāra theory, such as the ālayavijñāna and its seeds (bīja), the concept of mere cognizance (vijñaptimātra), and evolving treatments of the Three Natures. Even more important is the sustained argument, based on this thorough study of the relevant textual sources, that classical Yogācāra did not postulate mind or consciousness as a truly existing entity, but rather used its critical analyzes of cognitive construction to explain how delusion arises and is then remedied on the path to awakening. This study thus provides a historically contextualized interpretation of Yogācāra that challenges the largely ahistorical doxographical models—the ‘received tradition’ accepted in India, Tibet, and most Western circles—that have long characterized Yogācāra as a form of metaphysical idealism. This work could hardly be more timely. We must applaud Karl Brunnhölzl for once again offering students of mahāyāna Buddhist thought a treasure trove of crucial texts, cogent interpretations, and focused appendices.” —William S. Waldron, Professor of Religion, Middlebury College

“Brunnhölzl’s A Compendium of the Mahāyāna is a remarkable achievement. More than a splendid translation of the Mahāyānasamgraha along with its commentaries and numerous related texts, these volumes serve as a detailed and comprehensive primer on mahāyāna theory and practice, especially as viewed by Yogācāra, one of the two Indian mahāyāna schools. It is clearly written so that it is accessible to serious novices and practitioners, and rich in details that will satisfy and instruct scholars. The Mahāyānasamgraha has been influential in India, East Asia, and Tibet, and now its treasures along with the contexts that help unlock its depths are available in an English edition that will remain the standard work for many years to come.” —Dan Lusthaus, Research Associate, Harvard University

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