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Nine Yanas

Nine Yanas (Tib. ཐེག་པ་དགུ་, Wyl. theg pa dgu) or nine successive vehicles (Tib. ཐེག་པ་རིམ་པ་དགུ་, Wyl. theg pa rim pa dgu) — within the Nyingma tradition, the full spectrum of spiritual paths is divided into nine yanas, a system of practice bringing together all the approaches of the Buddha’s teaching into a single comprehensive path to enlightenment.

The Nine Yanas



the three outer yanas leading from the origin,

i.e. the three yanas related to the outer vehicle of leading from the origin [of suffering] and the three pitakas of characteristics

the three yanas of vedic asceticism,

i.e. the three yanas related to the inner vehicle of Vedic asceticism and the three outer classes of tantra

the three yanas of powerful transformative methods,

i.e. the three yanas related to the secret vehicle of powerful transformative methods and the three inner classes of tantra



The vajrayana is not a separate vehicle from mahayana, but actually belongs within mahayana as a distinctive vehicle of skilful means.

path of renunciation

path of purification

path of transformation

path of self-liberation

Wyl. rang grol lam.

1. the shravaka yana

2. the pratyekabuddha yana རང་རྒྱལ་གྱི་ཐེག་པ་

3. the bodhisattva yana བྱང་ཆུབ་སེམས་དཔའི་ཐེག་པ་

4. the yana of kriya tantra བྱ་རྒྱུད་ཀྱི་ཐེག་པ་

5. the yana of charya tantra སྤྱོད་རྒྱུད་ཀྱི་ཐེག་པ་

6. the yana of yoga tantra རྣལ་འབྱོར་རྒྱུད་ཀྱི་ཐེག་པ་

7. the yana of mahayoga རྣལ་འབྱོར་ཆེན་པོའི་ཐེག་པ་

8. the yana of anuyoga རྗེས་སུ་རྣལ་འབྱོར་གྱི་ཐེག་པ་

9. the yana of atiyoga ཤིན་ཏུ་རྣལ་འབྱོར་གྱི་ཐེག་པ་


The nine yanas are referred to in the Kulayaraja Tantra (Kunje Gyalpo) and in the General Sutra of the Gathering of All Intentions (Düpa Do), which is the central scripture of Anuyoga.

Subdivision According to the Three Kayas

Based on Jokyab Rinpoche, in Padmasambhava & Jamgön Kongtrul, The Light of Wisdom, Vol. 1 (Hong Kong: Rangjung Yeshe, 1999), page 247-8.

Notes & References
Further Reading
  • Chögyam Trungpa, The Lion's Roar: An Introduction to Tantra, The Collected Works of Chögyam Trungpa, Volume Four (Boston & London: Shambhala, 2003).
  • Dzogchen Ponlop, Wild Awakening (Boston & London: Shambhala, 2003), 'Part 3: The Dzogchen Journey'.
  • Ron Garry, Wisdom Nectar: Dudjom Rinpoche's Heart Advice (Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2005), 'Appendix 1: An Explanation of the Nine Vehicles'.
  • Jamgön Kongtrul, The Treasury of Knowledge, Book Six, Part Four: Systems of Buddhist Tantra, translated by Elio Guarisco and Ingrid McLeod (Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2005), pages 306-347.
  • Thinley Norbu, The Small Golden Key (Shambhala Publications, 1999), ‘5. The Differences Between the Buddha's Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana Teachings'.
    • Masters of Meditation and Miracles, edited by Harold Talbott (Boston: Shambhala, 1999), pages 16-20.
    • The Dzogchen Innermost Essence Preliminary Practice, LTWA, 1982, 'Part Three, The Nine Yanas'.
nine_yanas.txt · Last modified: 2018/02/26 18:12 (external edit)