The premiere volume of Thupten Jinpa's thirty-two-volume Library of Tibetan Classics series, inaugurated to coincide with the Dalai Lama's conferral of the initiation rite of Kalacakra in Toronto in April 2004.
The Kalacakra, or "wheel of time," tantra likely entered Indian Mahayana Buddhism around the tenth century. In expounding the root tantra, the Indian master Pundarika, one of the legendary Kalki kings of the land of Shambhala, wrote his influential Stainless Light. Ornament of Stainless Light is an authoritative Tibetan exposition of this important text, composed in the fifteenth century by Khedrup Norsang Gyatso, tutor to the Second Dalai Lama.
One of the central projects of Kalacakra literature is a detailed correlation between the human body and the external universe. In working out this complex correspondence, the Kalacakra texts present an amazingly detailed theory of cosmology and astronomy, especially about the movements of the various celestial bodies. The Kalacakra tantra is also a highly complex system of Buddhist theory and practice that employs vital bodily energies, deep meditative mental states, and a penetrative focus on subtle points within the body's key energy conduits known as channels. Ornament of Stainless Light addresses all these topics, elaborating on the external universe, the inner world of the individual, the Kalacakra initiation rites, and the tantric stages of generation and completion, all in a highly readable English translation.
Gavin Kilty has been a full-time translator for the Institute of Tibetan Classics since 2001. Before that he lived in Dharamsala, India, for fourteen years, where he spent eight years training in the traditional Geluk monastic curriculum through the medium of class and debate at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics. He has also received commissions to translate for other institutions, such as the Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Teachings, Tibet House Germany, The Gelug International Foundation, and Tsadra Foundation.
"The first published work of the new Library of Tibetan Classics series, initiated and coordinated by renowned translator Geshe Thupten Jinpa, is Ornament of Stainless Light by Khedrup Norsang Gyatso (d. 1513), a commentary on the Kalacakra root text, the Vimalaprabha. His Holiness the Dalai Lama himself selected this text for inclusion in the Library of Tibetan Classics series. Gavin Kilty's translation is scholarly and practical, his lucid introduction demonstrating his excellent grasp of the subject matter. Whether you are a Klacakra practitioner, a student of Tibetan Buddhism, or interested in science from a new angle, this book is worthy of study."
"An excellent introduction to the more advanced forms of Indian-Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism in general. Kilty's translation is accurate and faithful to the original. Being a translation rather than an interpretation, the book presupposes that the reader has a solid foundation in basic Buddhism and the Mahayana, and some acquaintance with the Vajrayana. This book is required reading for advanced students of Indian and Tibetan Buddhism; it belongs in any library seeking thorough coverage of the Buddhist tradition."
– John Newman, New College of Florida
"When the Dalai Lama performed the Kalackra initation for a crowd of 20,000 at Madison Square Garden in 1991, a page was turned in the history of tantra. It was perhaps because of the popularity of this event and the success of others like it that when he was asked to select a text for the inaugural volume of an important new series, the Dalai Lama chose a commentary on the Kalackra tantra. According to series editor Thupten Jinpa, the Library of Tibetan Classics will total thirty volumes and offer a representative sampling of Tibet's vast literary legacy, from Buddhist philosophy to medical and historical works. The inaugural volume, Ornament of Stainless Light, is an important resource for anyone who has attended or will attend one of the many public performances of the Kalachakra initiation around the world."
"A radiant gem drawn from the vast ocean of Tibetan literature on the Kalackra tantra. It provides a clear, comprehensive summary of the basic structure and essential features of this important system of mysticism. Also, Khedrup Norsang Gyatso's interpretations of controversial issues in the Kalackra contribute to our understanding of the evolution of Tibetan theories of mysticism. Gavin Kilty's faithful translation makes this work easily accessible--it is a fitting inaugural volume for The Library of Tibetan Classics."
– John Newman, MacArthur Professor of Asian Religions, New College of Florida
– E. Gene Smith, Founder, Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center