The Mirror of the Two Laws

Parts 1 and 2Part 3Part 4(1)Part 4(2)

The source of this transliteration and translation is the handwritten compilation known as the Tibetan Legal Materials, currently held at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives at Dharamsala. This is the earliest known version of this text. It must date from at least the mid seventeenth-century, given the dates of the other texts included in the compilation.

Modern printed editions differ in small, and generally similar, ways from the text presented here. Many of the differences appear to be transcription errors.

In its colophon, the text describes itself as the Khrims gnyis lta ba’i me long, the Mirror of the Two Laws, but the author(s) and the date and context of its creation are not given. Pejorative references to Mongol laws, in the section on killing, indicate that the text was written after the end of the Mongols’ domination of Tibet in 1368. The clophon also refers to edicts by the Phakmodru (Phag mo ’gru) leader, Jangchub Gyaltsen (Ta’i si tu Byang chub rgyal mtshan), indicating that it was written by or for someone of this lineage, although not Jangchub Gyaltsen, himself, who died in 1364. For further analysis of the text, see:

Pirie, Fernanda. 2018. The making of Tibetan law: the Khrims gnyis lta ba’i me long. In J. Bischoff, P. Maurer, and C. Ramble (eds), On a Day of a Month of a Fire Bird Year. Lumbini: International Research Institute. (2018).


Khrims gnyis lta ba’i me long. Reproduced in Tibetan Legal Materials. 1985. Dharamsala: The Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, pp. 3–38. [BDRC: W23704]

__. Bod kyi snga rabs khrims srol yig cha bdams bsgrigs. 1989. Lhasa: Bod ljongs mi dmangs dpe skrun khang, 46–81. [Reprinted in 2011, 49–86].

––. sNga rabs bod kyi srid khrims. 2004. bSod nams tshe ring (ed.) Beijing: Mi rigs, dpe skrun khang. [Reprinted in 2010, 130–63].

––. sNga rabs bod kyi srid khrims gsal ba’i me long. 2014. bSod nams tshe ring (ed.) Beijing: Mi rigs, dpe skrun khang, 190–226.


Goldstein, Melvyn. 2001. New Tibetan-English Dictionary of Modern Tibetan. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Jäschke, H. 1881. A Tibetan-English Dictionary. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Rangjung Yeshe Wiki, Dharma Dictionary:

Tibetan and Himalayan Library, Tibetan Dictionary Project:

The translation

This, very preliminary, translation has been prepared by Fernanda Pirie and Charles Manson. The transcription follows the manuscript copy known as Tibetan Legal Materials. Alternative readings are indicated in brackets. Occasionally these are suggested by later editions of the text.

The translators received invaluable advice from Professor Dieter Schuh, who devoted several days to the patient examination of the more difficult parts of the text. The late Tsering Gonkatsang, of Oxford University was also generous with his advice on knotty grammatical problems. Yannick Laurent spent many hours on the transliteration. The translators are grateful to all three. Errors remain their own.

A great many uncertainties remain about the translation, which should be regarded as a first draft, rather than a definitive version. The translators hope that it will, nevertheless, be useful to other scholars and would welcome comments and corrections.