Tibetan Buddhist Cannon
Unlike many other religions, Buddhism does not have a single canon of scriptures. This means that sutras venerated by one school of Buddhism may be considered inauthentic in another.
Within Mahayana Buddhism, there are two basic canons, called the "Chinese" and the "Tibetan" canons. In this article we will explain what texts are found in the Tibetan canon, which are the scriptures of Tibetan Buddhism.
The Tibetan canon is divided into two parts, called the Kangyur and the Tengyur. The Kangyur contains texts attributed to a Buddha, either the historical Buddha or another one. The Tengyur texts are commentaries, most written by Indian dharma masters.
Kangyur contains 1,169 texts of 70,000 page
The texts considered to be “Buddha-word” are the records not only of the Buddha’s own discourses, but also of teachings and explanations given by others––often by his close disciples with his approval, or by other enlightened beings. Also included are systematic compilations of the Buddha’s pronouncements on particular topics, e.g. the rules of monastic discipline in the Vinaya texts.
Tengyur contains 4,093 texts or 161,800 pages.
The meaning of “Tengyur” is “the translated treatises”. It is comprised of the Tibetan translations of works written by Indian Buddhist masters, explaining and elaborating on the words of the Buddha.
There are hymns of praise and commentaries on the tantras and sutras in the Kangyur and on the Vinaya. There you also will find the Abhidharma and Jataka Tales. Many treatises are on Yogacara and Madhyamika philosophy. There are books of Tibetan medicine, poems, stories and myths.
There are many versions of the Kangyur and Tengyur, both manuscript and blockprint, that still exist or are known to have existed. These different versions or “editions”, produced over the centuries in different parts of Tibet, though broadly similar in content, vary in the exact list of texts included