Classics and Religious Studies


Date of this Version



Published in Sources of Tibetan Tradition, edited by Kurtis R. Schaeffer, Matthew T. Kapstein, and Gray Tuttle (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013), pp 373-380.


Copyright © 2013 Columbia University Press.


Serdok Paṇchen Shakya Chokden (1428–1507) stands out as one of the most remarkable thinkers of Tibet. The enormous body of his collected works is notable for the diversity and originality of the writings it contains, and for their exceptional rigor. One of the few Tibetan intellectuals affiliated with both the Sakyapa and Kagyiipa orders, which were often doctrinal and political rivals (see chapters 7 and n), he was also among the sharpest critics of Jé Tsongkhapa (chapter 16), the founder of the Gelukpa order that would come to dominate Tibet under the Dalai Lamas. For this reason Shakya Chokden’s works were eventually banned by the Central Tibetan government. They are known to us today primarily thanks to a beautifully produced eighteenth-century manuscript from Bhutan, where the Central Tibetan ban did not extend and the religious leadership was congenial to the blend of Sakyapa and Kagyüpa perspectives that lent Shakya Chokden’s texts much of their unique flavor.