The Bodhicharyavatara,or Way of the Bodhisattva, composed by the eighth-century Indian master Shantideva, has occupied an important place in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition almost from its inception. One of the great classics of Mahayana Buddhism, it describes the path of the bodhisattvas, those who vow to become enlightened in order to help all beings awaken into the state of freedom and fulfillment. It is a guide to cultivating the mind of enlightenment through generating the qualities of love, compassion, generosity, and patience.
Patrul Rinpoche, the celebrated nineteenth-century master and author of The Words of My Perfect Teacher,devoted his whole life to the practice and teachings of the Bodhicharyavatara. Although he never composed an extensive commentary on this great work, it is said that, when traveling all over the east of Tibet, he expounded it more than one hundred times, sometimes in detailed courses lasting many months. Kunzang Pelden spent most of his early life with Patrul Rinpoche and was one of his close disciples. This commentary is a compilation of the extensive notes he took during a six-month teaching given by Patrul Rinpoche at Dzogchen Monastery. It is thanks to Kunzang Pelden's labors that Patrul Rinpoche's teachings on the Bodhicharyavatara have been preserved. It could perhaps be said that The Nectar of Manjushri's Speech is the commentary that Patrul Rinpoche so often presented to students, but never actually wrote.