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Shanta Rakshit


Shanta Rakshit (c 705-765) Buddhist scholar also known as Shanti Rakshit, was born in Zahor or Sahor, considered to be present-day savar. But according to some scholars, he was born in a royal family in gauda. He is considered a leading Buddhist scholar of the vajrayani tradition. Scholars believe that he was born during the reign of gopala, the founder of the Pala dynasty, and he died during the reign of the second Pala king, dharmapala. He wrote, according to Tibetan accounts, eleven books, which include Asta Tathagata Stotra (Eight prayer songs), Vajradhara Sangit Bhagavata Stotra Tika (Annotations to the songs of Vajrayani), Tattvasanggraha Karika (Explanations on philosophy), Hevajra Udbhava Kurkulah Pavcha Mahopadesha (Five commandments of hevajra philosophy), Tathasiddhi Nama Prakarana (Naming), Bibhanga Pavjika (almanac), Madhyamaka Alangkara Karika (intermediate rhetorics), Bhadanyaya Bhitti (Foundation of Bhada logic), Danda Hastalekha (palm-reading) etc. In the 31 chapters of Tattvasamgraha Karika, he refuted the logic put forth in the upanisad and other such religious treatises and established the impersonalism of buddhism. His books were translated into Tibetan.

Shanta Rakshit earned his place among the teachers at Nalanda through his intellect, erudition and sincerity. He visited Tibet at the invitation of the Buddhist king Khring Saung Lade Batsan and initiated a Lama community and introduced some with Buddhist practises with the help of Padmasambhara. This is why the Tibetans called him Acharya Bodhisattva. He was the principal of the newly established Basm Ya Vihara in the capital of Lasa and preached Buddhism there till his death.  [Bhikkhu Sunithananda]