mDo sde brgyad bcu khungs, alternatively referred to as rNal ’byor chen po bsgom pa’i don, is arguably the oldest Tibetan sūtra anthology extant. It was compiled by sPug Ye shes dbyangs probably towards the end of the eighth century A.D. As it predates the compilation of any Kanjur, many of its citations preserve older versions of the texts cited.
In answer to 88 structuring questions it assembles 441 citations from 80 authoritative texts, predominantly Mahāyānasūtra, that might serve as a debate manual. With its scholastic background in the so-called “Debate of bSam yas,” mDo sde brgyad bcu khungs represents the system of mahāyoga (rnal ’byor chen po) which is associated with the traditions of sudden or simultaneous enlightenment (cig car ba), Chinese Chan and Tibetan rDzogs chen.
In its main part, the publication presents an edition of mDo sde brgyad bcu khungs based on a manuscript from Gondhla, Himachal Pradesh, India, compared with three fragments from Tabo, Himachal Pradesh, and one from Dunhuang. In addition to a short description of the five manuscripts used, the introduction deals with historical and textual problems, including the question of sources and related texts. The Sūtrasamuccaya ascribed to Nāgārjuna, Cig car ’jug pa rnam par mi rtog pa’i bsgom don attributed to Vimalamitra, and the anonymous dMyigs su myed pa tshul gcig pa’i gzhung are discussed in some detail. The volume is concluded by a translation of the 88 structuring questions and an index of the Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Chinese titles of the texts cited, together with notes on selected texts.