Precious Garland

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Precious Garland (Skt. Ratnāvalī or Ratnamāla; T. rin chen phreng ba, རིན་ཆེན་ཕྲེང་བ་; C. baoxingwang zheng lun) — a commentary written by Nagarjuna and belonging to his Collection of Advice.

In the Precious Garland, Nagarjuna offers advice for personal happiness and for creating social policies that reflect Buddhist ideals.

The advice for personal happiness is concerned first with improving our condition over the course of lifetimes and then with release from all kinds of suffering, culminating in Buddhahood. Nagarjuna describes the cause and effect sequences for the development of happiness within ordinary life, as well as the practices that lead us to enlightenment--the practices for developing wisdom, or the realization of emptiness, and compassion. He also describes the qualities of the buddhas.

In his advice on social and governmental policy, Nagarjuna emphasizes education and compassionate care for all living beings, and states his opposition to the death penalty, and appeals for charity for the homeless. Calling for the appointment of government figures who do not seek profit or fame, he advises that a selfish motivation will lead to misfortune.


Tibetan language

The text has five chapters:

  1. མངོན་པར་མཐོ་བ་དང་ངེས་པར་ལེགས་པ་, mngon par mtho ba dang nges par legs pa (higher rebirth and definite goodness)
  2. སྤེལ་མ་, spel ma (interwoven, intertwined)
  3. བྱང་ཆུབ་ཀྱི་ཚོགས་བསྡུས་པ་, byang chub kyi tshogs bsdus pa (collections for enlightenment/awakening)
  4. རྒྱལ་པོའི་ཚུལ་, rgyal po'i tshul (royal manner/way)
  5. བྱང་ཆུབ་སེམས་དཔའི་སྤྱོད་པ་, byang chub sems dpa'i spyod pa (conduct of a bodhisattva)

English language

The following English language outline is from Thubten Chodron:[1]

I. Higher Rebirth and Highest Good

  • Starting on the Path to Happiness and Liberation
  • The Advantages of Ethical Living and a Fortunate Life
  • The Path to Liberation and Full Awakening
  • Refuting Inherent Existence and Establishing Emptiness

II. An Interwoven Explanation of the Causes and Effects of Higher Rebirth and Highest Good

  • Delving into the Profound
  • Taming Attachment and Understanding the Qualities of Buddhahood

III. The Collections for Awakening

  • Joyfully Taking Up the Boundless Work of a Bodhisattva
  • Advice for Gathering Merit and Gaining Wisdom
  • The Fruits of Merit and Wisdom

IV. Royal Policy: Instructions on the Practices of a Monarch

  • Practical Advice for Leaders
  • Spiritual Wisdom for Powerful People

V. Practices of a Bodhisattva

  • Abandoning Afflictions and Cultivating Goodness
  • Excellent Qualities of the Ten Bodhisattva Grounds
  • The Magnificent Qualities of a Buddha
  • Closing Words of Advice

Tibetan text



  • Ajitamitra, Extensive Commentary on the Ratnāvalī (Skt. Ratnāvaliṭīka; Tib. རིན་པོ་ཆེའི་ཕྲེང་བ་རྒྱ་ཆེར་བཤད་པ་, Wyl. rin po che'i phreng ba rgya cher bshad pa)


  • Lala Sönam Chödrup, དབུ་མ་རྒྱལ་པོ་ལ་གཏམ་བྱ་བ་རིན་པོ་ཆེའི་ཕྲེང་བ་ལུང་གི་གསལ་བྱེད་, dbu ma rgyal po la gtam bya ba rin po che'i phreng ba lung gi gsal byed


  • Khensur Jampa Tegchok (2017), Thubten Chodron (editor), Practical Ethics and Profound Emptiness: A Commentary on Nagarjuna’s Precious Garland, Wisdom Publications



  • Khensur Jampa Tegchok (2017), Thubten Chodron (editor), Practical Ethics and Profound Emptiness: A Commentary on Nagarjuna’s Precious Garland, Wisdom Publications
  • The Precious Necklace, Chapter 3, by the Padmakara Translation Group. Published on the occasion of the teachings by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Nantes, 15—20 August 2008. (not currently available)
  • Nagarjuna's Precious Garland, translated by Jeffrey Hopkins, Snow Lion Publications, 2007
  • The Precious Garland: An Epistle to a King, translated by John Dunne and Sara McClintock, Wisdom Publications, 1997
  • The Precious Garland of Nagarjuna Online version of the Precious Garland in English, translated by Prof. Vidyakaraprabha and Bel-dzek (
  • Ratnāvalī (University of Oslo, Bibliotheca Polyglotta) - multi-lingual edition presenting each verse in Sanskrit, along side Chinese, Tibetan and English translations.

Further reading

  • Leonard van der Kuijp, 'Notes on the Transmission of Nagarjuna's Ratnavali in Tibet', in The Tibet Journal, Summer 1985, vol. X, No.2,4
  • Michael Hanh, 'On a Numerical Problem in Nāgārjuna's Ratnāvalī', in Indological and Buddhist Studies: Volume in Honour of Professor J.W. de Jong on his Sixtieth Birthday, Canberra: Faculty of Asian Studies, 1982, 161-185



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