Sgrub Thabs

Tibetan Dictionaries > Blue Annals Terminology > Terms ka-kha-ga-nga > sgrub thabs

druptap (sgrub thabs) སྒྲུབ་ཐབས་

by Christopher Bell



Druptap (Skt. sādhana), "means of achievement," refers to a specific series of ritual steps to be followed in order to succeed in a ritual performance. The word also refers to liturgical manuals. These manuals are prolific in Tibetan ritual practice because they explicitly provide the instructions for attaining the goal of a ritual exercise. For Bentor (1996), the druptap represents the means by which the tantric practitioner—through the use of visualizations, mudras, and mantras—dissolves the constructed, relative reality during a ritual program and arrives at an exalted state of reality full of the visual wonders detailed in the texts. It is in this exalted state that ultimate reality manifests out of emptiness to be approached by the practitioner. Thus, the druptap is the means by which this middle ground of the exalted realm is created between the constructed world and ultimate truth in order for the practitioner to commune with that truth in an embodied form for the purpose of ritual endeavor. The Bod rgya tshig mdzod chen mo defines it broadly as "a means to perform an undertaking," and more specifically as "a ritual for achieving the divine" (ལས་དོན་བྱེད་ཚུལ། ལྷ་སྒྲུབ་པའི་ཆོ་ག Dbyi sun 1998, p.616).

Analysis of Pattern of Usage in The Blue Annals

This term's pattern of usage is simply suggested by its definition, referring to ritual manuals like Nairātmāsādhana (bdag med ma'i sgrub thabs) and Samantabhadranāmasādhana (bskyed pa'i rim pa'i sgrub thabs kun tu bzang po). There are numerous instances in The Blue Annals when such texts of ritual practice are either enacted or, more importantly, obtained by religious practitioners from various masters. The word appears several times in The Blue Annals, with the below sampling being indicative of its most common usages.

Citations in The Blue Annals

Roerich 1996, pp.143, 228, 323, 370, 377, 385, 527, 764, 845, 940, 1035, 1036, 1039, 1048, 1054.


Bentor, Yael. 1996. Consecration of Images and Stūpas in Indo-Tibetan Tantric Buddhism. Leiden: E. J. Brill
Dbyi sun. [1993] 1998. Bod rgya tshig mdzod chen mo. Beijing: Mi rigs dpe skrun khang.
Roerich, George N., trans. [1949] 1996. The Blue Annals. Parts I and II. Reprint, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.