The Matrix and the Diamont World Mandalas in Shingon Buddhism, by Adrian Snodgrass

Hardcover with DC, 2 vols, 841 pages, bw illustrations, Delhi 1988, first Edition, as new

The Matrix and Diamond World Mandalas in Singon Buddhism surveys and re-interprets the vast work of traditional and modern Japanese scholarship on the twin Mandalas. Adrian Snodgrass of the University of Sydney (Australia) has spent several years of detail the iconography of each and every deity of these two Mandalas as well as to bring out their traditional symbolism that reflects the Tantric thought in its earliest phases. Tantrism or Mantrayana reached China and Japan earlier than it did in Tibet. Hence the great importance of Shingon, as Japanese Matrayana is known, for the history of Tantras and the earlier foundations of this philosophical system that blossomed into the overflow of art in Japan and Tibet, where it flourishes to this day.

The book presents the theories and practices connected with the two Mandalas as followed by the Shingon Sadhakas. It translates and paraphrases materials from three primary and three secondary sources: the Mahavairocana-sutra (Dainichikyo), the Vajra-Sekhara-Sutra (Kongochokyo), Subhakarasimha's (Zemmui's) Dainichikyosho ("Commentary on the Mahavairocana-sutra"), the Mikkyo-daijiten ("A Dictionary of Esoteric Buddhism"), the Bukkyo-daijiten ("A Dictionary of Buddhism") and Toganoo Shoun's Mandara no Kenkyu ("Studies in the Mandala").

The study has four parts:

Part 1. The first locates the two Mandalas in the theoretical and practical setting of esoteric Buddhism. It discusses some of the principal features of Shingon doctrine and ritual; it describes two important rituals as examples of esoteric Buddhist practice; it examines the Homa rituals, the performance of which is the main practice of the sect and recurrently referred to in the literature dealing with the two Mandalas; and it gives a brief description of Buddhist cosmology, necessary for an understanding of the cosmological references in the Mandalas.

Part 2. The second part of the study looks at several general considerations concerning the two Mandalas; their transmission, the meaning of the term Mandala and the relation of the two Mandalas to each other.

Part 3. The third part looks at the meanings of the Matrix Mandala and its several mansions.

Part 4. This analyses the diamond world Mandala and its nine assemblies.

Table of Contents:


I. Prolegomenon: Esoteric Doctrine and Practice:

1. The characteristics of the esoteric doctrine.
2. The esoteric doctrine of non-duality.
3. The three universals and practice.
4. The meditation on the Bodhimanda.
5. The meditation on the body composed of the five forms.
6. The Homa rituals.
7. The Buddhist cosmology.

II. The Two Mandalas:

8. The line of transmission of the two Mandalas.
9. The world Mandala in the Mahavirocana-sutra.
10. The relationship of the two Mandalas.
11. The layout of the two Mandalas.

III. The Matrix Mandala:

12. The laying out of the Matrix Mandala.
13. The Subhakarasimha and Amoghavajra interpretations of the Matrix Mandala.
14. The Genzu Matrix Mandala.
15. The layers of the Mandala and the Buddha bodies.
16. The layers of the Mandala and the stages to awakening.
17. The three sections of the Matrix Mandala.
18. The central Dais Eight-Petal mansion.
19. The five Buddhas and the four Bodhisattvas of the central mansion.
20. The universal knowledge mansion.
21. The mansion of the Mantra holders.
22. The Avalokitesvara mansion.
23. The Vajrapani mansion.
24. The Sakyamuni mansion.
25. The Manjusri mansion.
26. The Sarva-nivarana-viskambhi mansion.
27. The Ksitigarbha mansion.
28. The Akasagarbha mansion.
29. The Susiddhi mansion.
30. The mansion of the external Vajra section.

IV. The Diamond World Mandala:

31. The nine assemblies.
32. Different paintings of the diamond world Mandala.
33. The two revelations of the diamond world Mandala.
34. The layout of the perfected body assembly.
35. The five Buddhas of the perfected body assembly.
36. The attendant Bodhisattvas : the four Paramita Bodhisattvas and the sixteen great Bodhisattvas.
37. The Bodhisattvas of reciprocal offering.
38. The thousand Buddhas of the Bhadrakalpa.
39. The section outside the Vajras.
40. The samaya assembly.
41. The subtle assembly.
42. The offerings assembly.
43. The four seals assembly.
44. The one seal assembly.
45. The naya assembly.
46. The Trailokyavijaya assembly and the Trailokyavijaya samaya assembly.


1. The fifty two Boddhisatta stages.
2. Initiation.
3. The samaya forms of the five Buddhas and the four Bodhisattvas of the central mansion.
4. The seed syllables of the five Buddhas and four Bodhisattvas of the central mansion.
5. The Mudras and Dharanis of the five Buddhas and four Bodhisattvas of the central mansion.
6. The Kaji enjoyment body and the fundamental ground body.

Index to names.
General index.
Index of text cited.

Autor: Adrian Snodgrass
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