Tibetan Renaissance Seminar > Participants > Ben Deitle > Term Dictionary Analysis - skor

Term Dictionary Analysis - སྐོར་

by Ben Deitle


It seems that the word “skor” usually refers to “teachings” in a general sense. The word is used with text titles (do ha); doxographical categories (Mahamudra); names of deities, or perhaps their rituals or their practice texts (Saṃvara, Vajravārahī, sgrol ma dkar mo'i tshe sgrub); and with the names of practices in general (gcod). It almost seems as if you can attach “skor” to anything that can be taught. Looking at the use of a similar word—the verb “bskor”—may shed some light on how we are to approach “skor.” The verb can be used in the sense of giving a teaching. When someone is said to turn the wheel of the dharma, the are actually giving a teaching. In this sense, it seems that a “cycle” could be anything that can be turned or taught. It also has the sense of there being a completeness to the particular teaching, it stands on its own and represents a complete set of knowledge on a particular subject. In that sense, it makes sense that something which is a "skor” would naturally include texts, oral instructions, and initiation into practice, all of which would be necessary for it to be a complete teaching, something which holds within its circumference all the knowledge needed for that teaching. These teachings also sometimes come in threes. Why cycles of three and not other numbers? Is there something auspicious about a trilogy that a quintilogy just does not have?

Sometimes, the term skor is applied strictly to textual material, as when a set of specific texts is labeled by ’Gos lo tsa ba the “Cycle of Lesser Texts” (R: 857). On other occasions the term takes the meaning of a “system,” “method,” or “school.” From the Blue Annals we find: “The Cycle of Asu (a su) became known as the “Lower” school (smad lugs) of the Mahāmudrā” (R: 865). Later on he appears to use the term in a similar fashion: “He made a thorough study of the Guhya¬samāja according to the method of Nāgārjuna” (R: 994). In this passage, Roerich is translating ’phags skor as “method of Nāgārjuna” (for Tibetan see, C: 1156). Also, in a passage that Roerich translates as “During the early period the lineage of the doctrine originated with Nirūpa,” (R: 843) the Tibetan text reads: “snga ma skor ni rU ba las brgyud pa rnams” (C: 986). I don’t know how exactly to interpret this instance of skor. Is it being used here to mean “concerning” or “regarding” those earlier transmissions. Or could it mean something like “the early system,” which would be similar to the instance of ’phags skor above.

Examples Blue Annals chapters 11 and 13

Cycle of Teachings:

He especially mastered the Cycle of Dohā (i.e. snying po skor, Saraha’s Dohā). (R: 843)

Later when (Atīśa) was staying at bsam yas he went for a few days to mchims phu, and taught there the Dohā, the Cycle of the grub snying, and the method of following the Samantabhadracarya to ’brom ston. (R: 844)

After him the Lord mar pa was the “earlier” (who translated the Mahāmudra Cycle). (R: 844)

He then heard numerous precepts (upadeśas), such as the a ma na si class , the Dohā and other texts, the Cycle of Mahāmudrā, the system of Maitrī-pa, the precepts of Hevajra, and the precepts of rasāyana . (R: 845)

He made a long stay at rgyal of ’phan yul, and prepared translations of the Dohā and other works. Since the three Cycles of the Dohā represented his (doctrine), the statement that the “King” and “Queen” Dohā were composed, by a su, appears to be untrue. (R: 846)

After that he obtained from her the complete cycle of the utpannakrama degree of the system of the Black Bhairava (gshin rje gshed nag po), etc. (R: 851)

After that he journeyed down (the country), and at gra thang, having concealed himself in the residence of the kalyāṇa-mitra gra pa mngon shes, he preached at night the Saṃvara Cycle according to the methods of lU yi pa and Dīpaṅkara, as well as the two methods of nA ro pa. (R: 852)

After that he studied the entire grub snying Cycle, and felt proud at his ability to understand it. (R: 852)

He bestowed on them the following doctrines: the basic text of the grub snying (Cycle of Dohā) to¬gether with addenda… (R: 856)

He preached extensively the Cycle of Mahāmudrā. (R: 859)

Here he preached his own doctrine, such as the Cycle of Vajravārahī, the Dohā, and the Mahāmudrā, to an assembly of 10,000 monks. (R: 860)

Then the Teacher said: “Well! You have grown old. I possess hidden precepts which were not given ¬by me to any one else previously. They are called ‘The Cycle of phyag rgya chen po rde’u’ . In it the Method (thabs ), and the Wisdom (shes rab ) are combined, and are used as a Path of Spiritual Training. (R: 862)

mnga’ ris pa told him: “bla ma Vajrapāṇi formerly gave me the ‘Cycle of the Pebbles’ (rde’u skor) in such and such a manner. But why do you, great Teacher, preach in this manner?” bal po replied: “Tibetans prefer this sort of exposition, shallow and detailed. For this reason I have abstained from preaching the rde'u skor. But I shall preach it to you!” (R: 863)

The scholar par pu ba blo gros seng ge obtained from him the Mahāmudrā of the Cycle of the Dohā. (R: 864)

ཐུགས་ཀྱི་ཉིང་ཁུ་ལ་སོགས་ཐུགས་རྗེ་ཆེན་པོའི་སྐོར། གསང་ལྡན་ལ་སོགས་པ་ཡོ་གའི་སྐོར་རྣམས་མཁྱེན། (C: 1146)

He mastered the spyod yul and rdzogs chen, such as the yan bdag (a rngin ma deity, one of the ba' brgyad), the gab pa (gab pa mnon phyun, name of a ruin ma book), and the Cycle of Avalokiteshvara, such as the thugs kyi ngin¬khu, the gsan Idan ('jim dpal gsan ldan, ārya mangjushrīnāma sangītisādhana and other Cycles of Yoga. (R: 987)

ཕྱིས་མ་གཅིག་ལ་མཁའ་འགྲོ་ཉམས་ཀྱི་སྐོར་གསན། (1148)

Later he obtained from ma gcig the Cycle of Meditation of the dàkinis (mkha’ 'gro nyams kyi skor). (R: 989)

ཕྱིས་དོལ་པ་ཟང་ཐལ་མཁས་པར་མཐོང་སྟེ། ད་ཅི་ནས་ཞོ་ཡུལ་དུ་དར་བ་བཙོངས། ད་ཁྱེད་ཀྱི་ཉམས་ང་ལ་གནང་བ་ཞུ་བྱས་ནས་མ་གཅིག་གི་གཅོད་སྐོར་རྣམས་ཚང་བར་ཞུས། (C: 1149)

Then he obtained the complete Cycle of gcod of ma gcaig. (R: 990)

སངས་རྒྱས་རབ་སྟོན་ལ་གཅོད་སྐོར་རྣམས་ཞུས། (C: 1150)

From sangs rgyas rab ston he obtained the Cycles of gcod. (R: 990)

ཕར་ཕྱིན། བདེན་གཉིས། རྨ་སོ་སྐམ་གསུམ་གྱི་ཆོས་སྐོར་ལ་སོགས་མཁས་པར་མཁྱེན། (C: 1152)

He was 993 ordained at gro sa and became learned in the Prajngāpāramitā, the bden gnyis and in the systems of rma, so, and skam. (R: 993)

དབུ་མ་ཚིག་གསལ་བསླབས། དབུ་མ་འཇུག་པ། གསང་སྔགས་འཕགས་སྐོར་རྣམས་གྲིའི་ལུམ་པར་བསླབས། (C: 1155)

He studied the Prasannapadá (dbu ma tshig gsal ), the Mādhyamakāvatāra and the Tantric Cycles by nāgārjuna under gri'i lum pa. (R: 993)

གཅོད་སྐོར་རྣམས་ཚང་བར་ཞུས། (C: 1157)

He obtained the sadangga (yoga) according, to the method of thar lo, the pañcakrama (rim lnga dmar khrid skor), the thugs r’je ca hen po'i dmar khrid , the phyag chen ganggā ma, the blo sbyon (Mind Purification), the gcod yul la'u lag , the gnang thems bka' rgya ma, and other Cycles of gcod. (R: 994)

ཐར་པ་གླིང་བ་ལ་སྒྲོལ་མ་དཀར་མོའི་ཚེ་སྒྲུབ་སྐོར་དང་ཁྲིད་ཆེན་བརྒྱད་སོགས་མང་དུ་ཞུས། (C: 1157)

From thar pa gling pa he obtained the sgrol ma dkar mo'i tshe sgrub (the longevity rite of the White Tārā) and the khrid chen brgyad (dkarcahag tshig gi me-tog). (R: 995)

བླ་མ་རྟོགས་ལྡན་པ་ལ་རི་ཆོས་སྐོར་བསྙེན་སྒྲུབ་དང་ཐབས་ལམ་གྱི་སྐོར་མང་དུ་ཞུས། (C: 1158)

From the bla ma rtogs ldan pa he obtained the ri chos skor (belonging to the “Hermit” doctrine of yang dgon pa, the sevasādhana, and the Cycle of the upāya mārga. (R: 996)

As an explicit cycle of texts: The above were known as the “Cycle of Lesser Texts.” (R: 857)


དེ་ནས་རྦ་སྒོམ་ལ་གདམས་ངག་སྐོར་གསུམ་པོ་ཞུས། (C: 1165)

After that he obtained from rba sgom the “Three Cycles of Precepts”. (gdams ngag skor gsum ). (R: 1003)

ཕྱིས་སྐོར་གསུམ་གྱིི་གདམས་པ་ཞུས་ནས་ཉམས་སུ་བླངས་པས་གསུང་དེ་བདེན་པར་གོ་སྟེ། (C: 1168)

Later, after he had obtained the precepts of the Three Cycles of kha rag (kha rag skor gsum), and had practiced them, he realized that (kha rag pa's) first words were true. (R: 1004)

ཁ་རག་སྐོར་གསུམ་དུ་ཡང་1169གྲགས་ནས་ཤིན་ཏུ་དར་བར་གྱུར་ཏོ། (C: 1168) They were also known by the name of the “Three Cycles of kha rag” (kha rag skor gsum). They spread widely. (R: 1005)


The Cycle of a su became known as the “Lower” school (smad ¬lugs) of the Mahāmudrā. (R: 865)

བླ་མ་ཇོ་སྟན་པའི་སར་རབ་ཏུ་བྱུང་ནས་གསང་འདུས་འཕགས་སྐོར། ནཱ་རོ་འགྲེལ་ཆེན། དབུ་མ་ཚིག་འཇུག་སྟོང་གསུམ། དོ་ཧ་སྐོར་གསུམ། སྤྱོད་འཇུག་རྣམས་མཁས་པར་བསླབས། (C: 1156)

He made a thorough study of the Guhyasamāja according to the method of Nāgārjuna, the Great Commentary ('grel chen) by Nā ro pa the Prasannapadā, the Mādhyamakāvatāra, the Sūnyatāsaptatikārikā nāma (ston ñid bdun-bcu¬pa ), the three Cycles of the Doha, and the Bodhicaryāvatāra (spyod ‘jug). (R: 994)

snga ma skor ni rU ba las brgyud pa rnams (C: 986)

During the early period the lineage of the doctrine originated with Nirūpa. (R: 843)

  • Would this be an example of skor meaning “regarding” or “concerning”?

སྤྱིར་གཅོད་ཀྱི་སྐོར་འདི་རྣམས་ཤིན་ཏུ་ཁྱབ་ཆེ་ལ། (C: 1162)

In general the gcod system spread widely. (R: 999)

Religious Assembly:

ལོ་བཅོ་ལྔ་ལོན་ནས་གཤེགས་སུན་མཛད་དེ་ཡབ་མེས་ཀྱི་གདན་ས་གཟུང༌། བཅུ་དྲུག་པ་ལ་ལྷོ་རྒྱུད་དུ་ཆོས་སྐོར་མཛད་པས་མཁས་པར་གྲགས། (C: 1147)

At the age of sixteen, he held a religious assembly at lho rgyud, and became famous as a learned man. (R: 988)

To go around/circle:

དམར་རོ་མཚོ་ནག ཡར་ལྷ་ཤམྦུ་ལ་སོགས་པའི་གཉན་ཁྲོད་སྐོར་ཞིང་གཅོད་མཛད། (C: 1158)

He made a round of localities infested with dangers, such as the “Black Lake” (mtsho nag) of dmar ro, yar lha sham bu, etc., and practiced gcod. (R: 995)

Related words:


དེ་ནས་ཤིང་མོ་ལུག་གི་ལོ་ལ་འོན་གྱི་བཀྲ་ཤིས་དོ་ཁར་ཕེབས་ནས་སྔགས་མཚན་ཉིད་ཀྱི་ཆོས་ཀྱི་འཁོར་ལོ་མང་དུ་བསྐོར། “…He many times turned the wheel of the Dharma of the Mantra/Tantra and Logic.” (C: 1155)