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Tibetan depiction of Shantideva

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


  • Biography 1
  • Works 2
    • Śikṣāsamuccaya 2.1
    • Bodhicaryavatara 2.2
  • Footnotes 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


The Zhansi Lun of the East Asian Mādhyamaka identifies two different individuals given the name "Shantideva": the 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. ^ Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh
  2. ^ Bodhicaryāvatāra Historical Project Archived August 17, 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Pezzali, Amalia (1968), Śāntideva Mystique buddhiste des VII et VIIIe siècles, Florence: Vallechi Edtore 
  4. ^ Shantideva (1997), The Way of the Bodhisattva, translated by the Padmakara Translation Group, Boston: Shambala,  
  5. ^ Kunzang Pelden (2007), The Nectar of Manjushri's Speech. A Detailed Commentary on Shantideva's Way of the Bodhisattva, Shambala Publications, p. 17,  
  6. ^ a b c "Cutting Ties: The Fruits of Solitude".  
  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,  


  • Shantideva (1997), The Way of the Bodhisattva, translated by the Padmakara Translation Group, Boston: Shambala,  
  • Shantideva (2002), Guide to the Bodhisattva's way of life : how to enjoy a life of great meaning and altruism, translation from Tibetan into English by Neil Elliot, Ulverston (UK); Glen Spey, N.Y.: Tharpa,  
  • K. Crosby; A. Skilton (1996), The Bodhicaryāvatāra, Oxford: Oxford University Press,  
  • S. Batchelor (1979), A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life, Dharamsala: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives 
  • Kunzang Pelden (2007), The Nectar of Manjushri's Speech. A Detailed Commentary on Shantideva's Way of the Bodhisattva, Shambala Publications,  
  • Śāntideva, Cecil Bendall and W. H. D. Rouse (trans): Śikshā-samuccaya: a compendium of Buddhist doctrine / compiled by Śāntideva chiefly from earlier Mahāyāna Sūtras. London: Murray, 1922 PDF (14.3 MB)
  • L. D. Barnett (trans): "The Path of light rendered for the first time into Engl. from the Bodhicharyāvatāra of Śānti-Deva: a manual of Mahā-yāna Buddhism, New York, Dutton, 1909 PDF (6.4 MB)

External links

  • Śāntideva's Bodhisattva-caryāvatāra English translation; Readable HTML.
  • Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on Shantideva by Amod Lele
  • Talk about Shantideva by Stephen Batchelor
  • Engaging in Bodhisattva Behavior, full unpublished translation of the Bodhicaryavatara by Alexander Berzin
  • Commentary to Bodhicaryavatara by Patrul Rinpoche (in English )
  • Santideva: a bibliography registration needed
  • Works by or about Shantideva at Internet Archive
  • Works by Shantideva at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
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