Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Six Ornaments of the Southern Continent Main Page

Six Ornaments Main Page | Six Ornaments Outline Page

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Six Ornaments Explanation (below)
- Six Ornaments Outline Page
- Six Ornaments Single Composition
- Palpung Two Figure Composition
- Seventeen Scholars of Nalanda
- Confusions
- Others...

The Six Ornaments: Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Asanga, Vasubandu, Dignaga and Dharmakirti.

The Two Excellent Ones: Gunaprabha and Shakyaprabha.

Painting & Block Print Sets:
- Chaofu Collection
- Gold Silk
- Harrer Collection
- Kham Set
- Nyingma Icon Set
- Palpung Composition (Two Figures per Painting)
- Prajnaparamita: Block Print Set
- Tibet Museum Set
- Rubin Museum Set
- Three Hundred Icons Set
- Miscellaneous Sets
- Others...

Sanskrit and Tibetan Names:
Gyan Drug Chog Nyi (rgyan drug mchog g.nyis)
1. Nagarjuna (slob dpon klu sgrub)
2. Aryadeva ('phags pa arya de va)
3. Asanga ('phags pa thogs med)
4. Vasubhandu (slob dpon dbyig g.nyen)
5. Dignaga (slob dpon phyogs glang)
6. Dharmakirti (slob dpon chos grags)
7. Gunaprabha (slob dpon yon tan 'od)
8. Shakyaprabha (slob dpon shakya 'od)

Additional Scholars:
9. Chandrakirti (dpal ldan zla ba grags pa)
10. Shantideva (rgyal sras zhi ba lha)
11. Chandragomin (slob dpon can dra go mi)

The Six Ornaments and Two Excellent Ones of the Southern Continent is the name given to the group of the most important Indian Buddhist scholars of Mahayana Tradition - according to a Tibetan Buddhist assessment. The two foremost are Nagarjuna, founder of the Madyamaka Tradition, and Asanga, founder of the Yogachara tradition. Their two principal students were Aryadeva and Vasubhandu respectively, followed by the two, Dharmakirti and Dignaga. These six constitute the 'six ornaments.' The 'two excellent ones' are Gunaprabha and Shakyaprabha. The 'southern continent' refers to India, or the human continent of Jambudvipa in the Buddhist cosmological system where there are four continents that surround the central mountain (Sumeru) of a small world system.

A modern adaptation and expanded version of the Six Ornaments and Two Excellent Ones is the system of the Seventeen Great Scholars (or Pandits) of Nalanada Monastery which appears to be a more recent grouping of the important Buddhist scholars of India. It has been promoted and referred to extensively by the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. The Seventeen are likely to be based on the important Indian teachers of the Lamrim Lineage of the Gelug Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

Also see the Gangtok, Sikkim, publication of the famous Six Ornaments painting set claimed to be a gift to the first Sikkhim Chogyal from the 10th Karmapa Choying Dorje: rGyan-Drug mChog-gNyis, Namgyal Institute of Tibetology Gangtok, Sikkim, 1962. (Some scholars refute the Sikkimese claim of provenance and say that the set is a copy of a Situ Panchen composition first conceived in the 18th century).

Jeff Watt 5-2003 [updated 5-2017]

(The images below are only a selection from the links above).