His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa, Ugyen Trinley Dorje
Aspiration for the World
Over the expanse of the treasured earth in this wide world,May benefit for beings appear like infinite moons’ reflections,Whose refreshing presence brings lasting welfare and happinessTo open a lovely array of night-blooming lilies, signs of peace and joy.Descending from a canopy of white clouds, the gathering of two accumulations,
May these true words, like pearled drops of light or pouring rain,
Falling in a lovely park where fortunate disciples are free of bias,
Open the flowers of friendship so that well-being and joy blossom forth.
These words of aspiration, sprung from a sincere intention, were written down by Ugyen Trinley, the one who bears the noble name of the Karmapa, while he was escaping from Tibet. One night in the illusory appearance of a dream, on a lake bathed in clear moonlight and rippled with blooming lotus flowers serving as a seat for three Brahmins who appeared wearing pure white silk and playing a drum, guitar, flute and other instruments. Created in pleasing and lyric tones, their melodious song came to my ears, and so I composed this aspiration prayer with a one-pointed mind, filled with an intense and sincere intention to benefit all the people of Tibet. Within a beautiful and auspicious chain of mountains, this land of Tibet, may the sun rays of the supreme aspiration for awakening swiftly appear.
The Prayers by His Holiness the Karmapa were translatedunder the guidance of Venerable Khenchen Thrangu Rinpocheby Michele Martin.
History of Tibet – A Few Chapters (Part 3)
Dedicated to the long life, good health, and beneficent activities ofHis Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa, Ugyen Trinley Dorje,His Eminence Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, Lodro Choyi Nyima,Venerable Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche,His Eminence Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche,who never tire of teaching and helping whenever called,and all those who simply care, each in his and her own way.
Contents:Zhalu GompaShelkar in Gyantse & KumbumThe Potala PalaceChagpori – The Medical College in LhasaYardok Yum Tso – The Sacred LakeConclusion
(Zhalu Gompa in Central Tibet was founded by Jetsun Sherab Jungnay in approx. 1040 A.D. The monastery was remodelled and extended in the 14th century by Kungzang Drakpa Gyaltsen with funds provided by the Mongol Emperor Oljadu. The site proved auspicious because it was located on a trade-route lying between Nepal and Shigatse and on the edge of nomad lands with sufficient supplies of butter and wool.)
Sarat Chandra Das described the first period of recorded Tibetan history as “the Period of Translations, which may also be entitled the Classical Period, for the sanctity of the religious message conferred a corresponding reputation and tradition of excellence upon the form in which it was conveyed. This period begins in the second half of the seventh century A.D.”1 Chandra Das continued so reliably, “The Classical Period may be divided into three stages. The first or the earliest stage terminated with the downfall of the first historical monarchy when King Langdarma fell by the hand of an assassin. The second stage commenced with the introduction of the system of chronology, called the Vrihaspati cycle of 60 years, in Tibet by an Indian Buddhist called Chandra Nath2 and Chila Pandit of Tibet in 1025 A.D. This was the age of Milaraspa and Atisa, whose illustrious disciple, Brom-ton Gyalwai Jungne laid the foundation of the first Buddhist Hierarchy in Tibet and established the great monastery of Rwadeng, with a library of Sanskrit works.” Chandra Das quoted Jaschke, author of a first Tibetan-English dictionary, “The second period corresponds with this stage, when ‘Tibetan authors began to indulge in composition of their own and wrote on historical and legendary subjects.’ (…) The third stage began with the conquest of Tibet by the Tartar Conqueror, Chingis Khan, in 1205 A.D., when Pandit S’akya S’ri of Kashmir had returned to Tibet after witnessing the plunder and destruction of the great Buddhist monasteries of Odantapuri and Vikrama S’ila in Magadha, and the conquest of Bengal and Bihar by the Mohammedans under Baktyar Ghilji in 1203 A.D.3 In this last stage flourished the grand hierarchy of Sakya, which obtained supreme influence over Tibet and the country, which was then divided into 13 provinces, called Thikor Chusum, as a gift from the immediate successors of Chingis Khan. Among the most noted writers of the time were Sakya Pandit Kungah Gyaltshan, Dogon Phag-pa, the spiritual tutor of Emperor Khubli Khan, and Shongton Lotsawa.”4
(The courtyard of Zhalu Gompa)
As the first stage of the classical period ended, the second stage arose and the main task of the new wave of Buddhist scholars was the compilation of the Tibetan Canon. Monastic orders were rebuilt and grew in size and influence, producing generations of translators and men of literature, skilled in their own tradition as well as expert in logic, poetry, and philosophical treatises. One of the main figures of the 11th century was Pandita Atisha, also known as either Dipamkara Shrijnana or Jowo Jey (982-1054) from Vikramasila in India,5 who spent the last 12 years of his life teaching in Tibet. He emphasized the Middle Way Madhyamaka philosophy and a restoration of pure monastic conduct. His teachings gave rise to the Kadampa School. ‘Brom-ston6 became Atisha’s main spiritual heir. ‘Brom-ston had three main disciples who spread his instructions. The teachings Atisha presented eventually divided into two streams. One was integrated into the Kagyu Tradition (that was founded by Gampopa, born approx. 1070 and died 1153), through Pawo Tsulak Trengwa (1440-1503), who received the transmission from Sakya Pandita. The other was integrated into the New Kadampa School, which came to be known as Gelug through the reforms of Tsongkhapa (1357-1419). The „Zalupa School was founded by Buron7 based upon Sakya and Kadam teachings.”8
The destruction of the great Buddhist centres in India approximately 1203 left the Tibetans to work over the vast quantities of texts that they had translated and accumulated in the course of five centuries of hard work during the first and second stages of the classical period. When it came to ordering their accumulated Buddhist scriptures during the third stage, they performed the complicated task with extraordinary skill. The great scholar and encyclopaedic writer Buton (Bu-ston) is associated with this work, although much preliminary work had already been accomplished on systematizing the texts that have become known as the Zhalu Manuscript, which became the forerunner of the 108 volumes of the bKa’-‘gyur, the “Translation of the Buddha’s Words.” Buton seems to have been almost entirely responsible for arranging the second and larger section, entitled the bsTan-‘gyur, “Translation of the Treatises,” which consists of 200 volumes that include all the available translations of commentaries and discourses by Indian and Tibetan Buddhist scholars and saints. Many lamas were interested in helping. When the work was finished, the Kagyupa lamas as well as those from Reting ordered copies.9 The master copies were kept at Narthang, where a printed edition was made in the traditional manner from carved wooden blocks in the 18th century.10 Buton’s contribution was immense. He wrote on “Perfection of Wisdom” literature and tantric texts, with special reference to the Kalachakra; he also wrote a history of Buddhism in India and Tibet. It should be noted that main sources for the life of Shantideva are the historians Buton as well as Taranatha.11 Snellgrove and Richardson wrote, “Bu-ston had already ensured that the Tibetan versions of all texts included in the newly compiled canon were carefully checked, and where necessary new translations made. This great compilation really marks the end of the labours of whole generations of Tibetan translators, and we cannot mention them for the last time without paying tribute once more to their patience and skill.”12
(Buddha Shakyamuni and Tara statues as well as 11th and 14th century murals in the Lhakhang)
Buton “(…) supervised the execution of 499 tantric mandalas, a few can still be seen in two chapels of Zhalu. In 1305 Bu-ston advised King Kungzang Drakpa Gyaltsen to extend the monastery, and Zhalu was decorated by Tibetan and Nepalese artists who had been trained in the Mongol imperial workshops under the famous Newari master, Arniko (1245-1306). Due to Bu-ston’s activity, the monastery became one of the most important centres of study in Tibet.”13
As mentioned, “A small order was started by the disciples of Bu-ston called Zhva-lu-pa, after the monastery of Zhva-lu, where he had spent most of his life and died.”14 In Chronology of Buddhism,15 Matthieu Ricard made two entries under the section “Zhalu”: Zhalu Lotsawa Chokyong Zangpo (1441-1527/38) and Zhalu Ribu Tulku Losel Tenkyong (1804-?).
(Golden Stupa in the Zhalu Lhakhang)
Shelkar Fortress in Gyantse &Kumbum, the Stupa of 100,000 Buddhas
There is one thing that my supreme Guru, His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa, told me, which I remember very clearly – and all the time I try to keep this in mind and be mindful of it. He said, “When you go around and teach people, let them know that they are the shrine of the Buddha. The Buddha’s shrine is within them. Let them know that.”
-- His Eminence Jamgon Tai Situpa Rinpoche the Twelfth
Little is known about the early history of a settlement at Gyantse. The site lies south of the Tsangpo and Nyang Chu Rivers and is situated near Shigatse, which was the second largest settlement and an ancient rival for political supremacy in Tibet during the middle ages.
In the 13th century, “Chogyal Phag-pa, the high lama of the great Sakya monastery, became the religious instructor of the Mongol emperor, Kublai Khan. Chogyal Phag-pa became the ruler of all three provinces of Tibet. He was able to assume political power over the whole of Tibet because he received the support of Kublai Khan. Above all, China came under Mongol domination between 1280-1368. For the 96 years following the accession to power of Chogyal Phag-pa, Tibet was ruled by a succession of twenty ministers of Sakya and from 1349-1497 by a succession of nine lamas of the Phagmo Drupa lineage. Then there was a return to secular rule. For four generations, the Rinpung kings ruled Tibet from 1498-1565, and from 1566-1641 Tibet was ruled by three Tsangpa kings.” 
A short chronology of history from 1207-1578 on the Tibetan Plateau according to Snellgrove and Richardson:
1207 Tibetan chiefs submit to Genghis Khan.
1249 Sa-skya Pandit is appointed Tibetan Viceroy by the Mongols.
1253 Phag-pa succeeds Sa-skya Pandit.
1260 Kublai Khan as Emperor of China gives title of Ti-Sri to ‘Phag-pa.
1358 Byang-chub rGyal-mtshan of Phag-ma-gru (1303-1364) takes over power from Sa-skya.
1368 Fall of Yuan dynasty frees Tibet from dependence on China.
1391 First Dalai Lama, dGe-‘dun-grub-pa, born.
1409 First dGe-lugs-pa monastery, dGa-‘dan, founded.
1481 Princes of Rin-spruns take over power from Phag-mo-gru.
1565 Karma Tshe-brtan of gTsang takes over power from Rin-sprungs.
1578 bSod-rnams rGya-mtsho (Third Dalai Lama) given title by Mongol leader.”2
Gyantse emerged as the capital of a lineage of princes from northeast Tibet who claimed to be descendants of the legendary Tibetan hero, King Gesar of Ling. Who was Gesar? He was a ruler of the legendary Kingdom of Ling that is supposed to be situated near the border between Tibet and Sichuan, presumably near sDe-dge, “joyous realm,” at the confluence of two rivers.
The Epic of Gesar of Ling has become a treasury of Asian literary culture and exists in hundreds of volumes. Verses are still chanted and sung in the different languages that are spoken in Central Asia. The epic tells the story of “an enlightened warrior named Gesar, who was a Buddhist deity named Good News, living peaceably in a Buddhist heaven. The Tibetan tantric sorcerer, Padmasambhava, and the bodhisattva of compassion, Avaloiteshvara, attempt to involve him in worldly affairs. These events are reported in the extremely metaphysical first volume of the epic, the Lha gLing or The Divine Land of Ling.”3
In the site of Simhanada, it is said, “Born in 1414 as Rabten Kungzang of Gyantse, the Tai Situpa ruled a vast area according to Buddhist law. In his lifetime, he founded the Great Stupa of 100,000 Buddhas at Gyantse. Octagonal shaped, the Stupa contains astounding frescoes and images inside. It stands as one of Tibet’s most renowned works of art. King Rabten Kungzang also began the Gyantse Horse Race Festival, which is now one of the most important Tibetan folk events of the year.”4 He was an enlightened ruler and urged his people to lead a good life and to venerate practitioners of all religions. He had perceived the horizon around Gyantse as good omens: In the east the horizon resembled a drooping bough of a fruit tree, to the south there seemed to be a lion about to leap into the air, in the west a white silk scarf seemed to float in the sky, and to the north the land had the shape of herdsmen tending their livestock. The yellow wheat fields in the valley appeared as an oblong golden container, a sign of great fortune.
In Lineage of the Tai Situpas, Chokyi Gyaltsen (1377-1448) is known as “the First Situ Tulku. He was born in the region of Karma Gon, became a disciple of Deshin Shegpa, the Fifth Karmapa, and from him he received the empowerments and teachings of the Mahamudra in the complete form. He perfected the teachings and travelled to China with the Karmapa. The Ming Emperor, Yung Lo, conferred the honorific title ‘Kenting Naya Tang Nyontse Geshetse Tai Situpa,’ shortened ‘Kuang Ting Tai Situ’ (which means ‘far reaching, unshakable, great master, holder of the command’) on him and gave him a crystal seal and other gifts. He spent most of his life meditating in caves and was a great lama.
“The Second Tai Situpa (1450-1497), Tashi Namgyal, was born in the iron-horse year, into a royal family of Tibet. He was recognized by the Sixth Gyalwa Karmapa. The Karmapa enthroned him and bestowed to the Tai Situpa the entire lineage. The Sixth Karmapa also gave Karma Gon Monastery to be under the complete guidance of the Second Tai Situpa. Karma Gon became famous for its collection of Sanskrit texts, artwork and scholarship. He became a tutor to the Seventh Gyalwa Karmapa. He also visited many parts of Tibet, giving teachings and empowerments. Tai Situpa was highly venerated by the Chinese Emperors and many auspicious signs of accomplishment appeared when he passed away.”5
Gyantse was known as Nyangpai Sershong Ringmo, nyang referring to “the upper part of the Nyangchu River,” ser-shong meaning “the golden basin,” and ring-mo “long.” Upon completion of the fortress on Dzong Hill, King Paljor, the Third Tai Situpa, praised it as “the immeasurable palace of the immortal world” and therefore it was fit to be called Gyalkartse, gyal meaning “king, victorious,” kar “white,” and tse “peak,” pronounced Gyantse. It is also known as Shelkar Gyantse, shel-kar meaning “white crystal,” because Dzong Hill resembled a crystal rock. King Paljor Tsangpo (1426-1476) took up residence at the fortress on Dzong Hill (dzong meaning “fortress”) and consecrated the Great Stupa of Kumbum in 1474.
“Tashi Paljor, the Third Tai Situpa (1498-1541) was born in the earth-horse year to a family which descended from the kings of Tibet. He was recognized and enthroned by the Seventh Gyalwa Karmapa. From the Karmapa, he received the complete lineage transmissions. He formally resumed the responsibilities of the lineage of Tai Situpas at Karma Gon monastery. The Seventh Karmapa Choedrak Gyatso declared that he and Situ Tashi Paljor were inseparable.
“As Ngawang Jigten Wangchuk, the Tai Situpa was a virtuous Buddhist prince. He was the youngest son of the Rinpung King of Tibet, in the 16th century. The prince was also a renowned poet and master of lyrical works.”6 Yet, there was turmoil in Tibet.
“In 1548, the aristocrat Singzhag Tsheten Dorje was appointed governor of Tsang province by the ruler of Central Tibet, a Rinpung lord. Shinzhag supported the Karma Kagyu Order and took up residence in Samdrubtse castle (also called Shigatse), near the Gelug monastery Trashilungpo. Soon after, he rebelled against the Rinpung lords and proclaimed himself King of Tsang. Together with his nine sons he gradually expanded his kingdom and established control over U and Tsang, Central Tibet’s two main provinces.
“The new government wanted to revive the institutions of the imperial period and to bring peace and prosperity to the country through a five-point policy, the so-called ‘Five Great Actions,’ supported by various religious orders including the Sakya, the Jonang and the great Karmapa hierarchy. As the legitimate representative of authority, Shingzhag also maintained good relations with the Gelug abbots of Trashilungpo, though the latter remained suspicious of the new dynasty’s intentions.
“In 1577-78 the conversion to Buddhism of Altan Khan (…) and his subjects by Sonam Gyatso (…), the Abbot of Drepung Monastery (who received the title Dalai Lama from the Khan and was later recognized as the Third Dalai Lama) was a spectacular success for the Gelug Order. The secular government of Samdrubtse, however, viewed the event as a politico-religious alliance between the Gelug and a foreign power.”7 Attention shifted to Lhasa.
(The stone towers – choe-ten in Tibetan, stupa in Sanskrit - are symbols of Buddhism and were originally built to house relics of Buddha Shakyamuni. Many stupas contain holy texts. Much of the construction of the Great Stupa in Gyantse was completed after King Chokyi Gyaltsen had died; Gyalwa Kunga Paljor consecrated it. Kumbum is 35 meters high, has 9 stories and a total of 108 niches that contain 100,000 images of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Siddhas in the form of statues and paintings. The iconography in the Kumbum is a progressive ascension from lesser to ever higher orders of Tantras, from the lower to the highest floor.)
(Buddha Vairocana in the Kumbum)
(Assembly Hall of Palkhor Tsuglhakhang, built 1418-1452 by the Second Prince of Gyantse. -- Kumbum , the “Vase of 100,000 Buddhas,” to the right of the Lhakhang, was founded by King Rabten Kungzang, Tai Situpa.)
The Potala Palace
Aspiration for the Dalai Lama
Inspiring festivals of merit in the Land of Snow,
You are the Supreme One holding a pure white lotus.
With the beauty of all good qualities, a treasure for eyes to behold,
May your life be long, steadfast as a diamond vajra.
-- His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa, Ugyen Trinley Dorje
The previous chapters on the history of Buddhism in Tibet described how the Buddhadharma came to Tibet through King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century and became established during the time of King Trisong Detsen, who invited Guru Rinpoche, Padmasambhava, and Bodhisattva Shantarakshita to bring the Dharma to Tibet in the 8th century.
Sarat Chandra Das described the third stage of the Classical Period in Tibet, “It began with the conquest of Tibet by the Tartar Conqueror, Chingis Khan, in 1205 A.D., when Pandit S’akya S’ri of Kashmir had returned to Tibet after witnessing the plunder and destruction of the great Buddhist monasteries of Odantapuri and Vikrama S’ila in Magadha, and the conquest of Bengal and Bihar by the Mohammedans under Baktyar Ghilji in 1203 A.D. In this last stage flourished the grand hierarchy of Sakya, which obtained supreme influence over Tibet and the country, which was then divided into 13 provinces, called Thikor Chusum, as a gift from the immediate successors of Chingis Khan. Among the most noted writers of the time were Sakya Pandit Kungah Gyaltshan, Dogon Phag-pa, the spiritual tutor of Emperor Khubli Khan, and Shongton Lotsawa. With the opening of the 15th century Buton-Rinchen Dub introduced a new era in the literature of Tibet, and Buddhism received fresh impulse under the rule of the Phagmodu chiefs, when Tibetan scholars took largely to the study of Chinese literature under the auspices of the Ming Emperors of China. During this period, called the age of da.nying (old orthography), the great indigenous literature of Tibet arose. A host of learned Lotsawas and scholars (…) flourished. This was the age of the Gelug-pa, or the Yellow Cap School of Buddhism, founded by Tsongkapa with Gahdan as its head-quarters.”1
Buddhism in Tibet gradually developed into four main lineages through the blessings of the great translators and masters in both India and Tibet. The lineages are referred to as brgyud in Tibetan, which means “continuum,” i.e., the unbroken transmission of a body of teachings and practices handed down personally from a teacher to a student over generations. The Nyingma (the “old”) Lineage is rooted in the period of the 7th and 8th centuries and therefore derives from an earlier spread of Buddhism, whereas the Sarma (the “new”) Lineages were founded later, from the late 10th century and onwards. The three main lineages that evolved from the Sarma also trace their origin to Buddha Shakyamuni while specifically connected to different founders in India. They are Kagyu, Sakya, and Gelug.
Traditions can be named according to temporal classifications, such as “old” or “new,” but most are named after the major founders and monasteries that refer to geographical locations, e.g., Sakya (Sa skya meaning “grey earth”). In the case of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism, Nyingma (Mying ma) was described as “the old lineage.” Kagyu (bKa’ brgyud) is a generic description and means “precept transmission,” and Gelug (dGe lugs) means “virtuous tradition.” The Kadam School (bKa’ gdams meaning “instructional precepts”) was established by the prominent disciple of the great Indian master Atisha (982-1054), Dromton (‘Brom ston) when he founded Reting (Rva-sgreng) Monastery in approximately 1057, which is situated in the Rong Chu Valley in Central Tibet. The Kadam Tradition was the direct source of inspiration for the development of the Gelug Tradition, which was founded by Je Tsongkapa (1357-1419).2
“Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye (1813-1899) spoke of eight major esoteric traditions in Tibet:
- The earlier translation ancients (snga brgyur mying ma),- the precepts and instructions (bka’ gdams pa),- the path, together with its fruit (lam ‘dras)- the transmitted precepts of Marpa (mar pa bka’ brgyud)- the transmitted precepts of Shang Valley (shangs pa bka’ brgyud)- the traditions of peace-making and cutting (zhi byed, gcod)- the adamantine yoga (rdo rje nyal ‘byor) of the Kalachakra Tantra, and- the propitiation and actualisation of the three adamantine states (rdo rje gsum gyu bsnyen sgrub) associated with the Kalachakra Tantra.”3
(Tsongkapa and two disciples on a shrine in Drepung Monastery)
In 1409 Tsongkapa (rJe Tsong-kha-pa Blo-bzang grags-pa) founded the first Gelug monastery, dGa’-ldan near Lhasa. In the website of the His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa, Ugyen Trinley Dorje, it is stated that one of Tsongkapa’s main disciples, “Gyaltsap Dharma Rinchen succeeded the throne in Ganden and this tradition of throne-holder continues to this day.”4 dGe’-dun grub-pa (also one of Tsongkapa’s main disciples and known as the First Dalai Lama) died in 1474 and dGe’dun rGya-mtsho (1475-1542) then became successor. After his death, bSod-nams rGya-mtsho, the Third Dalai Lama (1543-1588, Abbot of Drepung Monastery5) was given the title “Dalai Lama” by the Mongol ruler Altan Khan, leader of the Tumed Mongols who converted to Buddhism in 1577. Both events in the Mongolian court were crucial for the future of Tibet. Dalai (taa-la’i) means “ocean” in Mongolian and Lama (bla-ma) is the Tibetan term for “teacher.” The title is best translated as “Ocean of Wisdom.” After the great-grandson of Altan Khan, Yon-tan rGya-mtsho was recognized as the Fourth, Mongol intervention increased drastically and turmoil and strife in Tibet seemed to rule the day.
In 1617 the Fifth Dalai Lama, Ngag-dbang Blo-bzang rGya-mtsho was born to a Zahor family, who had been banned to the sTag-tse Palace (which is situated in the Yarlung Valley6) since the 14th century. Santen G. Karmay wrote, “Two other Buddhist orders sought to claim the child as one of their Lamas who had also died in 1616. The family resisted. In 1618, Dudul Rabten, the child’s father, had been involved in a plot against the royal government at about the same time the Gelug secretly chose his son as the reincarnation of the Fourth Dalai Lama. (…) As relations between the king in Tsang, supported by the Karmapa hierarchy, and the Gelug in U, supported by the Mongols, were tense, the king ordered the Zahor family to leave their Tagtse castle and live at court in Samdrubtse, but the mother, suspicious of the king’s intentions, returned to her own family at the Nakartse castle in Yardrog. The child’s father, meanwhile, tried to escape to Eastern Tibet but was caught by royal envoys (…) and remained under arrest until his death in 1626, without ever seeing his son again. In 1622 the boy was escorted from Nakartse and brought to the Ganden Palace in Drepung Monastery. He was then enthroned as the Fifth Dalai Lama.”7
Karmay continued, “In 1642 Gushri Khan, leader of the Qushot Mongols, dubbed the Fifth Dalai Lama temporal leader of Tibet.”8 Karma bTsan-skyong and the Bonpo King of Beri (an ally of the King of Tsang) in Kham had been defeated in a civil war by Gushri Khan. The Fifth Dalai Lama was free to rule Tibet under Gelug hierarchy while profiting from the economic and political support he received from Gushri Khan.
For the first time in history an abbot of a monastery became leader of the land and established the present form of Tibetan government, the Gangden Phodrang (dGa’-ldan pho-brang); Gangden is the name of the Dalai Lama’s residence in Drepung. The former treasurer became regent or political advisor of the Fifth Dalai Lama. Gushri Khan became the new government’s defender and “was always ready with his army if the need arose. (...) The Dalai Lama continued addressing him as ‘king’ because he was still the king of the Mongols of Kokonor (and not because he was ‘the king of Tibet’ as has often been claimed). (…) The Gangden Palace in Drepung Monastery no longer befitted the purposes of the new state, as the monastery could not be considered Tibet’s political capital. This was equally true of Gongkar castle, Gushri Khan’s residence. So Konchog Chopel, one of the Fifth Dalai Lama’s spiritual masters, suggested Potala Hill as an ideal site for constructing a palace that could be used as the seat of government as it is situated between the monasteries of Drepung and Sera and the city of Lhasa. Construction of the Potala began in 1645 and the Fifth Dalai Lama and his government moved into the eastern section, the White Palace.”9
Matthieu Ricard noted, “Between 1642 and 1659 many Nyingma monasteries were converted to Gelug.”10 Karmay wrote, “In 1633, he (the Dalai Lama) met Konchog Lhundrup, a master of the Nyingma Order, whose teachings the Gelug had not always approved. This meeting was a turning point in the Dalai Lama’s life.”11 In 1674 a reconciliation between the Tenth Karmapa Choying Dorje and the Dalai Lama took place after the many conflicts between 1612 and 1642. Yet, the Fifth Dalai Lama banished the Jonang School of the Kagyu Tradition from Central Tibet to Amdo and forced some Bonpo monasteries to convert to Gelug.
The Fifth Dalai Lama died in 1682. The regent concealed his death for fifteen years while war with Ladakh as well as neighbouring countries - both near and far - continued.12
(Chenresig, statue in the Jokhang of Lhasa)
All the joy the world contains
Has come from wishing happiness for others.
All the misery the world contains
Has come from wanting pleasure for oneself. -- Shantideva
(The Potala Palace in Lhasa, front and back, is one of the most sacred architectural buildings in the world. It is erected on Marpo Ri, the “Red Mountain.” -- In the 7th century King Songtsen Gampo built a little resort for himself on top of Marpo Ri so that he could meditate in solitude. The meditation cave was probably destroyed when the Chinese invaded Tibet after his death around 650 and Queen Wengchen saw herself forced to hide the sacred Jobo and Akshobhya statues from her rampaging kinsmen. -- Construction of the present building started in 1645 during the reign of the Fifth Dalai Lama. The White Palace was completed in 1653, the Red Palace in 1694, 12 years after the death of the Fifth Dalai Lama in 1682. It is often said that it is named after the holy mountain Potala in southern India, sacred to Shiva Lokeshvara, the Hinduistic “Lord of the World.” -- The Palace has 13 stories, is 170 meters high, 300 meters above the valley floor, has over 1000 rooms, 10,000 altars and 200,000 statues. It served as the winter palace of successive Dalai Lamas and their monastic and secular staff from the time of the Fifth until the Fourteenth, the present Dalai Lama, Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso (Holy Lord, Gentle Glory, Compassionate, Defender of the Faith, Ocean of Wisdom.“)
Chagpori – The Medical College in Lhasa
If with kindly generosity
One merely has the wish to soothe
The aching heads of other beings,
Such merit has no bounds. -- Shantideva
(Chagpori, the “Iron Mountain,” situated in Lhasa and now adorned with a radio antenna as seen from the roof of the Potala Palace, was the site of the first medical college in Tibet. It was founded by the Fifth Dalai Lama according to the wish of his minister, sDe-srid Sang srgyas rGya-mts’o (1653-1705). The Medical College of Chagpori was built in 1696 as a monastic institution. During the period of his position as minister for almost three decades, sDe-srid Sang srgyas rGya-mts’o also had the Potala Palace rebuilt and expanded to its present size, 79 medical thangkas made, and the rGyud bzhi, the “Four Tantas on Medicine,” edited and published.)
In accordance with the teachings presented by Lord Buddha approximately 2,500 years ago, Venerable Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche never tires of repeating,
All living beings born in the world see it as their birthright and duty to experience happiness. But they experience the suffering of ageing, sickness, and death.
In the chapter, “Early Kingdoms on the Tibetan Plateau,” we saw that before the arrival of Buddhism in Tibet the shepherds from the northern wastes of the Eurasian Plateau, who originated either in Central or East Asia, made their way to the fertile land in the south, which was inhabited by clans of farmers. As the shepherds reached westwards into central Nepal about the beginning of the Christian era they became more settled. The chiefs and their families established an aristocracy and displaced the indigenous inhabitants who had an independent state with its own language, literature, and culture. These people continue living in remote areas of Zhang Zhung, Kashmir, Ladakh, Zanskar, and the Himalayan regions of Nepal. They are followers of the Yungdrung religion, also known as Bon, the native religion of Tibet.
It is natural that every society develops means to provide the basic needs of its people. Everyone has to eat, so civilizations develop ways to produce food. Everyone dies, so cultures develop religions enabling them to deal with mourning and death. Everyone wishes to be happy, so cultures develop the fine arts of crafts, poetry, music, and law, just to name a few fields of applied arts. Everyone gets sick, so societies find means to heal those who suffer from physical pain and disease.
The Tibetan art of healing is one of the world’s oldest medical traditions and is based on the science of medicine, sowa rigpa in Tibetan, that Tonpo Sherab is said to have brought to the world. Tonpo Sherab was the founder of the Yungdrung religion and taught medicine to eight sages, one being his son, Kyebu Trishe. The analysis of medical properties of salts, plants, and mineral products derives from this period, while the practice of using animal products to heal the sick declined after the 8th century, when Buddhism became established on the Tibetan Plateau through contact with India and China.
In the website of Men-Tsee-Khang it is written that “The historical Buddha taught the medical text Vimalagotra (Tib. Dri-med Rigs, Eng.: Immaculate Lineage) simultaneously with the First Turning of the Wheel of Dharma at Sarnath on the Four Noble Truths. At that time of the teaching on Jagoe Phungpo’i Ri (Vulture’s Peak), the Buddha taught gSo-dpyad ‘bum-pa (One Hundred Thousand Verses of Healing). He also taught gCer-mthong Rig-pa’i rGyud (The Tantra of Bare Vision) to the Avalakiteshvara, Brahma, Shariputra and other Mahayana disciples at Beta Groves. Some believe (that both) are the same text with two different names.“During the Third Turning of the Wheel, the Buddha taught the gSer-‘od dam-pa’i mdo (Supreme Rays Sutra), which contains a chapter entitled ‘Nad-thams cad zhi-bar byed-pa’i rGyud (The Ways of Completely Curing Diseases). Buddha also expounded the Gawo mNgal Jug gi mdoj (Sutra of Gawo Entering the Womb in Konchok Tsekpas). Although ‘Dul-ba lung (Vinaya Shastra) is a teaching on moral discipline, it contains medical teachings also. In it, Gautama Buddha taught the Sangha how to cope with the miscellaneous disorders they faced during their three-month summer retreats. It is one of the three basic observances for monks prescribed by Buddha Shakyamuni.”1
Tara Rokpa in Scotland summarized the early tradition of Tibetan medicine before the 7th century: “There were significant visits from foreign doctors, such as the physicians sent from India by the Buddhist King Ashoka (3rd century BCE) to China through trading caravans. There are various accounts of early regional kings in whose biographies medicine is mentioned. Of note are the 5th century Lha-mtho-ri, who brought two eminent doctors from India to teach diagnostic procedures to Tibetans, and the 6th century hBron-gnyan, whose son was successfully operated upon for cataracts using a couching method with a golden scalpel.”2
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche also cites that Tibet became a politically dominant nation and wrote, “Songtsen Gampo’s two queens can be credited for a great part of his cultural awareness. Bhrikuti (…) brought the traditions of Himalayan Buddhism. Princess Wengchen (…) brought a treasure trove of ancient Chinese wisdom. She travelled across the steppes to her husband with a collection of Chinese classic literature and texts on sacred astrology, geomancy, and medicine.”3 Along with the Jobo Statue, King Songtsen’s Chinese Princess brought “the medical text called sMan-dpyad chen-mo, ‘Great Analytical Treatise on Medicine,’ as dowry. The king invited three great doctors to his court: Ha-wang-hang who translated the Chinese text, Bharadhaja from India, and Galenos from Persia. Each translated a book into Tibetan. The Indian doctor’s texts were called hBu-shag-ma Bu Chhe-chhung (Big and Small Louse Gravel) and sByor-wa Mar-gsar (Preparation of New Butter). The Chinese doctor’s text was called rGya-dpyad Thor-bu Chhe-chhung (Treatise of Great and Small Scattered Chinese Surgery). The Persian doctor’s were called mGo-snon bsDus-pa (Collection of Main Additions) and The Treatment for Cock, Peacock and Parrot. From the discussion of the three doctors they composed a medical text called Mi-hjjigs-pa’i mTs’on-chha (The Weapon of the Fearless One), comprising seven chapters, and presented it to the King.”4
Determined to establish an excellent medical system, King Trisong Detsen (742-798?) invited famous physicians from India, China, Persia, East Turkestan, and Nepal to codify the science of medicine at Samye Monastery. It is said that the personal physician of the king, the Elder Yuthog Yonten Gampo, supervised the conference. He had established the first medical institute, Tanadug at Kongpo Manlung in 763. In the site of Tibet Centre it is noted that Yuthok Yonten Gonpo had synthesized “the essence of various Asian medical systems and wrote the rGyud bzhi.”5 Tara Rokpa wrote that “with the unveiling of the Fourfold Treatise, all stands of wisdom would be drawn together under a great and unifying light benefiting from the rigour of Buddhist logic and the already 1,300-year old psychological and psychiatric knowledge developed through Buddhism’s thorough analysis of mind, body and their interrelation, not to mention its direct investigation of these through meditation. The king had a number of intelligent men trained in the techniques embodied in these translations. Nine of them became most learned and were appointed court physicians. Of particular note was the first gYu.Thog.Tan.Gon.po, probably the most famous Tibetan physician of all.” Tara Rokpa also tells us that Lotsawa “Vairocana mastered the Fourfold Medical Treatise (rGyud bzhi), the extensive presentation of the Indian Buddhist medical system.”6
rGyud bzhi, “The Four Tantras,” consists of 156 chapters and 5,900 verses on medicine. They are:- Sa rtsa rgyud, the “Root Text,”- bShad rgyud, the “Explanatory Tantra,”- Man ngag rgyud, the “Oral Instruction Tantra,” i.e., information on medical treatises with detailed explanations on practice. It is the standard medical work.- Phyi rgyud, the “Outer Tantra,” the last that makes the first three easy to practice.7
King Trisong Detsen had invited Padmasambhava and Shantarakshita from India to build Samye Monastery. Tara Rokpa wrote, “Padmasambhava also wrote a medical text called bDud-rtsi’i sNying-po (Nectar Essence) and other medical works. In Eastern India bStan-pa’i bLo-gros wrote a book on medicine called Dri-med gZi-gyid (Pure Splendour). In Uddiyana the Pandit Jinamitra wrote the dGu-bchu rTsa-gchig (One Root Curing Nineteen Thousand). And during this time many others spread and preserved the teachings of Medicine, also in India. (…) The king sent messengers with gold out to bring doctors from different countries.”8 The list of their accomplishments is so very long and the few titles mentioned here show that the masterly work carried out by sages and translators for hundreds of years would fill an entire library.
It is said that the 13th holder of the lineage of the Elder Yuthok Yonten, the Younger Yuthok Yonten Gonpo (1123-1202), received the whole teachings of the rGyud bzhi at the age of ten and brought the science of medicine into the form known today. He developed the earlier texts and wrote commentaries that were widely taught. The Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute of His Holiness the Dalai Lama wrote that the Younger Yuthok “wrote Serchen (Golden Notes), Zongchen (Wealthy Notes), Cha-lag bcdo-brGyad (Eighteen Supplementary Notes), and Nyingpo Duspa (Condensation of the Essences) and a commentary on its theoretical points called Tongway Melong.”9 He handed the teachings down to hundreds of disciples and is supposed to have simply vanished into the sky while instructing more disciples.
Until the 17th century most physicians learned their profession while in a small group of students who were gathered around teachers inside or outside the monasteries. Institutions therefore became increasingly crucial.
Sangyas Gyatso (1653-1705) was the minister of the Fifth Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobzang Gyatso (1617-1682), and was responsible for so many changes. It is reported that he began his studies at the age of five and learned the Sutras and Tantras from the Dalai Lama when he was eight. He also learned astrology, grammar, and medicine and became an expert in these fields of study. He was appointed regent of the Fifth Dalai Lama and held this position for 26 years. The Potala Palace was rebuilt and expanded under his supervision and 79 thangkas were produced. He had the rGyud bzhi edited and published. Furthermore, sDe-srid Sangyas Gyatso established the most important medical college in 1696 in front of the Potala Palace. The monastic college was named after its location, Chagpori, the “Iron Mountain.”10 Sangyas Gyatso decreed that every district should have a doctor who had graduated from the college, the beginnings of public health care in Tibet. He also wrote books on astrology, Vaidurya Karpo, “White Beryl,” and on medicine, Vaidurya sNgon-po, “Blue Beryl,” which is considered the most popular commentary on the rGyud bzhi.11
Dr. Trogawa Rinpoche (1931-2005) told us, “At the beginning of the 20th century, His Holiness the Thirteen Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso (1876-1933) founded the Mentsekhang Medical University of Lhasa, which offered an intensive education in medicine and astrology, each major and minor supplementing the other. An important field of study for doctors there should have been child rearing, too. His Holiness wanted that the education and knowledge acquired at the University of Lhasa spread throughout Tibet, but the project was stopped after his death in 1933.”12 The first teachers at the Mentsekhang, the Medicine and Astrology University, were trained at Chagpori College, which was the greatest centre of medical learning and practice in Tibet until it was forced to close in 1959. Many of its staff and students were arrested and imprisoned then. Dr. Trogawa Rinpoche, who received his education at the Chagpori Medical College and was able to find a new home in India, founded the Chagpori Medical Institute in Darjeeling in 1992. The Institute has departments in major cities all over the world and is known for its unique tradition of combining medicine and spirituality.
(Chagpori as seen from the other side of the Tsangpo River, the Potala in view)
The guardian deity of Tibetan medicine is Sangyas Menla, the “Medicine Buddha,” who is symbolically depicted with a bowl of long-life elixir and a myrobalam fruit, which is a potent medicinal plant said to cure all illnesses and diseases.
Yardrok Yum Tso – The Sacred Lake
Yardrok Yum Tso, which lies below the Khamba La pass at 4,900m altitude and is about 100km southwest of Lhasa, is one of the three largest lakes in Tibet. The surface that covers approximately 240km in circumference is deep blue or turquoise. It is ringed in by the mountain range of Kula Kang Ri, which marks the border to the Kingdom of Bhutan. Uninvited visitors have dug tunnels through the mountains for pipelines leading from Yum Tso all the way up to the Tsangpo River so that the hydroelectric pump built along the shore supplies them with electricity. A construction of that sort at the Yum Tso is tantamount to desecration since the lake doesn’t have a constant flow of water into or out of it.
Visitors determined to stay too long on the Tibetan Plateau and make it their home resemble a rampant eagle that flew too high and too far away from its nest and now tears at its prey to still its unremitting hunger, merely creating a clever knot of anti-nature instead. In what mysterious chamber does the eagle think that the knot he is tightening will be untied? Doesn’t the stranger feel the invitation to travel in distances to read precious books on nature and learning instead of ripping at those who cared for their home peacefully and quietly while full of childlike joy for centuries? Doesn’t the visitor to Tibet realize that the world asks to be seen and understood? Before having left his nest somewhere in the vastness of the east and erred, didn’t he learn that seeing well is the basis of every culture? Doesn’t someone who sees with his whole being stroke surfaces gently and gratefully without grabbing for others’ belongings and detaching the deep from the vast, the past from the present, disrupting the future by transgressing fundamental rules? Not a reverent sojourner but a trespasser disturbs wild life and spirits, the nagas that live in Yardrok Yum Tso, just to name those spirits that have not yet been heard.
Yum is the Tibetan term for “mother,” tso the word for “lake.” Yar’ drog means the “upper pasture” and doesn’t refer to a carpet or patch of greenery. Not needing to be familiar with wisdom from the Far East, in her essay about the American poet Edgar Allen Poe, Madame Bonaparte understood the natural integrity of nature and life that the Tibetans pronounced so sincerely when they gave one of their Sacred Lakes its name, Yar ‘drog Yum Tso, “Mother and Pasture.” In 1933 Madame Bonaparte wrote, “It is not because the mountain (pasture) is green or the sea blue that we love it, even if we give these reasons for our attraction; it is because some part of us, of our unconscious memories, finds that it can be reincarnated in the blue sea or in the green mountain. And this part of us (…) is always and everywhere a product of our childhood loves, of these loves which in the very beginning went out only to the one who was our source of shelter, our source of food, who was our mother or our nurse.”1 Gaston Bachelard, the acclaimed modern thinker from France (1884-1962), explained what all people have always had in common, “To sum up, filial love is the first active principle in the projection of images; it is the ability of the imagination to project an inexhaustible force that seizes all images and puts them in the most reliable human perspective: the maternal perspective. (…) To love the infinite universe is to give a material meaning, an objective meaning, to the infinity of the love for a mother.”2 Furthermore, “Instead of saying that a spiritual spirit is a material spirit – or more simply that a spirit is spiritual – we should say that an elemental spirit has become an element. We progress from qualities to a substance. Conversely, when we yield completely to material imagination, the material dreamed in its elemental power will rise to become a spirit, a will.”3 And “For the reverie of water, water becomes the heroine of gentleness and purity. The dreamed-of-matter does not remain objective; we can truly say that it becomes euhemeristic.”4 Since water is the source of vegetation and the symbol for fertility, “It is unthinkable that the god of fresh water and the god of salt water be one and the same. And even before going from the sky to the sea, (the Greek God) Poseidon will go from the sky to the earth and (…) be the god of fresh water. (…) It is Poseidon who causes springs to gush forth. And often the wand with which springs are found operates with male violence.” In his examination of the elements Bachelard reminded his students that “It is readily apparent that the sorcerer’s wand has quite a long history!”5
Venerable Lama Karma Samten Gyatso was requested to placate the spirits, particularly the nagas, in the area around the hydroelectric generators along the shores of Lake Tekapo that he saw were responsible for the electricity crisis in New Zealand in 1993. He said that the natural balance of the basin in that area had been disturbed and that the spirits weren’t happy. He explained that nagas (klu in Tibetan, naga in Sanskrit) are associated with water and invisible to our eyes. He explained that they are highly intelligent and sensitive and that their moods affect changes and the feelings of people. When the natural balance of nature is upset, the nagas can cause climatic disturbances, floods, draughts, or skin diseases. When they are respected and assisted through introverted awareness and gratitude founded upon sincere repose that is joined with extroverted work in conjunction with nature’s life-giving source - which is water flowing from springs and through rivers, lakes, and streams - nagas can increase fertility of crops and promote sumptuous ecological systems.6
Venerable Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche taught that Yid Shin Norbu, the “Wish-Fulfilling Jewel,” exists “in the naga or deva realms and gives the owner whatever he or she wants. He also confirmed that the term is used metaphorically.”7 Isn’t the jewel an echo of the inner forces of energy expended on objects worked with?
In Shambhala - The Sacred Path of the Warrior, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche described the dignity that manifests by simply being confident and content: “Cosmic mirror: ‘The original state likened to a primordial or cosmic mirror.’ ‘By primordial mirror we mean unconditioned.’ ‘This unconditioned state is likened to a mirror (…), willing to reflect anything (…), and it remains as it is’ (…) ’free from bias: kill or cure, hope or fear.’”8
Furthermore, “Cosmic principles: Heaven, Earth and Man: ‘can be seen literally as the sky above, the earth below, and human beings standing or sitting between the two’:Heaven, ‘the realm of the gods, the most sacred space.’Earth, ‘symbolizing practicality and receptivity, the ground that supports andpromotes life.’Man, ‘living in harmony with heaven and earth.’Lha, Nyen and Lu: ‘describe the protocol and decorum of earth itself and show how human beings can weave themselves into the texture of basic reality.’”9
In relation to the element water, Bachelard was inspired to write what everyone already knows and faithfully heeds , “Everything in the Universe is an echo. If the birds, in the opinion of certain dreaming linguists, are the first creators of sound who inspired men, they themselves imitated nature’s voices. Lucretius (a Roman poet and philosopher of the 1st century A.D.), who listened for so long to the voice of Bourgogne and Bresse, discovered ‘the lapping on the shores in the nasal cry of aquatic birds, the frog’s croaking in the brook ouzel, the whistling of the reed in the bullfind, the cry of the tempest in the frigate bird. (…) Thus all the sounds of natural scenes have their echo and their counterpart in living nature.’”10 Yardrok Yum Tso – Sacred Home of birds, fish, and fauna – is drying out in the hands of visitors who are strangers to themselves and the lake is speaking to those able and willing to hear.
A few definitions of the term naga – “Lu” – that pertain to points presented here from The Dictionary of Tibetan Terms offered by Nithartha.org:“klu - Naga. Powerful long-lived serpent-like beings that inhabit bodies of water and often guard great treasure. Nagas belong half to the animal realm and half to the god realm. They generally live in the form of snakes, but many can change into human form.klu - nagas, water-deities, gods of underworld, water spirits, serpent demons, serpents (enemies of khyung), kind of flower, demi-god with human head and serpent body generally living in fountains, rivers, and lakes, snake, (…) semi-divine beings that dominate the underworld and water habitats such as seas, rivers and lakes; if offended they wreak vengeance by provoking infections, diseases and skin ailments.klu khang – naga protector temple, behind Potala in Lhasa, residence of nagas, built by the 6th Dalai Lama.klu skyes – tree.klu gyi rlung – the tortoise energy.klu rgyal rigs – nagas as warrior caste (in ornamental symbolism).”11
In The Flight of the Garuda, Shabkar Lama wrote, “Likewise, regarding water, denizens of hell conceive of it as fire, hungry-ghosts see it as puss and blood, elephants conceive of it as earth, the gods know it to be nectar, shape-shifting gods conceive of it as jewels and a shower of flowers, and nagas conceive of it as their home.” Also, “Other beings conceive of the earth as the fires of hell, wealth, or as the misery of the racially oppressed.”12The houses with the flat roofs were beautiful and rested so well on the ground for centuries. Foreign engravers have been setting a nightmare and will not stop turning quiet villages into monstrous blocks, villages where people once lived a grounded and simple life while they skilfully mastered the challenging heights and harsh living conditions - in harmony with the environment - and benefited the world with a cultural heritage of unequalled grace and dignity.
The mighty Buddhas, pondering for many ages,Have seen that this (bodhicitta), and only this, will saveThe boundless multitudes,And bring them easily to supreme joy.
Those who wish to overcome the sorrows of their lives,And put to flight the pain and sufferings of beings,Those who wish to win such great beatitude,Should never turn their back on bodhicitta. -- Shantideva
Glorious Mipham Rinpoche wrote, “By practicing the Dharmas that have been resolved by hearing and contemplating, we attain patience within the unborn equality of nature. This is the treasure of practice.
“These eight great treasures are attained. How is this done? These treasures of memory, intellect, realization, and grasping are the cause of confidence. The treasure of Dharma and so forth are the fruition of confidence. That is why these eight have the common name of treasures of confidence: From having the treasure of memory and so forth, irreversible confidence arises. From confidence the treasures of protecting the Dharma and so forth arise. Thus confidence is the chief of them, and they are known as the great treasures of confidence.
“Having joined these eight great treasures of confidence to our own powers, every word and meaning becomes the wealth and power of the inseparable, inexhaustible, limitless eight great treasures. Holy persons who do this are supreme children of the Victorious Ones. They are praised as such by the Victorious Ones together with their sons. They will be lords of the three worlds of the nagas below the earth, human beings on the earth, and gods above the earth.”13
May the Doctrine, the only remedy for suffering,The source of every bliss and happiness,Be nurtured and upheld with reverence,And throughout a vast continuance of time, endure! -- Shantideva
(Buddha Maitreya, sacred statue in the Jokhang)
I now pay homage and bow down to the Sage of Illimitable Virtue.Shakyamuni Buddha, seated under an asvattha tree,Conquered the hosts of Mara, the adversaries, and attained the Supreme Bodhi.His countenance is like the full moon, pure and without a scar or a stain.
I now reverently bow down and worship the Most Valiant One.Maitreya, the future Buddha, sitting under a naga tree,Will attain the Great Mind and spontaneously reach Enlightenment.His merit is indestructible and unsurpassable.So I pay homage to the Peerless King of the Excellent Dharma.14 -- Nagarjuna
May virtue increase!
All photos of Tibet taken in 1986 and writtenby Gaby Hollmann (2006)
1 See the chapters “Early Kingdoms on the Tibetan Plateau,” “King Songtsen Gampo,” “The Jokhang in Lhasa,” and “Samye Gompa” here.2 Shantideva ?3 Odantapuri and Vikramashila are both located in the Patna district of Bihar, the ancient Magadha county. They belonged to the six celebrated Buddhist centres of learning in India, founded in the 7th century by the first ruler of the Pala Dynasty upon the model of Nalanda University, which was probably built during the reign of King Kumara Gupta (415-455). The six Buddhist universities of ancient India were Nalanda, Vikramashila, Odantapuri, Somapura (situated in east Pakistan), Jagaddala, and Vallabhi (situated in western India). Odantapuri served as a model for Tibetan Monasteries, especially Samye Gompa. These universities were destroyed along with other major centres of Buddhism in India when Muslims invaded Bihar and unleashed a period of destruction and genocide. The staff and students of the large Indian universities fled and sought safety in Tibet.4 Sarat Chandra Das, pp. vii-viii.5 In his work, History of Indian Buddhism, “Taranatha described the Vikramalashila University as the greatest educational establishment of the time.” The Historic Vikramasila University, in the website: IndiaArchaeology/message/2547, 2006.6 ‘Brom-ston is Brom-ton Gyalwai Jungne in the quotation by Sarat Chandra Das above. He lived from 1008-1064.7 Bu-ston, i.e., Buton, who lived from 1290-1364?8 Website: Colorado.edu/APS/landscapes, 2006. Some Tibetan scholars speak of Zhalu as being Sakya, but Sakya authors rarely do so and Zhalu scholars tend to classify themselves as being a distinct tradition. Compare Encyclopedia of Religions & Sects, in the website: Thdl.org, 2006, p. 4.9 The founding of Reting Monastery in 1056 is associated with Atisha, who is described as “a watershed figure in the revival of Buddhism in Tibet.” Athena Review I,4, in website: Athenapub.com/Tibet, 2006.10 The vast collections of scriptures are named after the place where they were printed and published. The complete Kangyur was first published in Beijing in 1411, the first Tibetan edition was printed at Narthang in 1742 and consists of 98 volumes. The Narthang Tangyur contains more than 3,600 texts with stories, commentaries on the tantras and sutras, discussions on Vinaya and Abhidharma, logic, rhetoric, grammar, literature, biographies, painting, medicine, chemistry, and astrology. The Derge Kangyur was edited by Situ Panchen Chokyi Jungney and was completed in 1744 by Tsultrim Rinchen. The Derge Collection was printed at both the Printing Academy and Palpung Monastery in Derge, West Sichuan, the latter treasured in most monasteries, hermitages, and temples in Tibet and Mongolia. It was because of these collections of Buddhist wisdom that the Mahayana tradition survived through many centuries, from the time that the translations began in the 8th century until now.11 Alias Kunga Nyinpo (1575-1634), Taranatha was a celebrated scholar and member of the Jonangpa School.12 David Snellgrove & Hugh Richardson, p. 170. See Dratshepa Rinchen Namgyal, A Handful of Flowers. A Brief Biography of Buton Rinchen Drub, with a foreword by H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama, translated by Hans van den Bogaert, Library of Tibetan Works & Archives, Paljor Publ., New Delhi, 2004.13 Shalu Association, in the website: Asianart.com/shalu, 2006.14 David Snellgrove & Hugh Richardson, p. 291.15 See the website of RangjungYesheWiki: Rywiki.tsadra.org, 2006, p. 23. Website: Tibet.com/Status/3kings, 2006.2 David Snellgrover & Hugh Richardson, p. 288.3 Robin Kornman, in the website: Uwm.edu, 2006. See The Superhuman Life of Gesar of Ling, by Alexander David-Neel and Lama Yongden, Prajna Press, (?). -- In the “Description of the book, The Superhuman Life of Gesar of Ling,” Shambhala Publications noted that “King Gesar, renowned throughout Tibet and Central Asia, represents the ideal warrior – the principle of all-victorious confidence. As the central force of sanity, the evil forces of the four directions, who turn people’s minds away from the true teachings of Buddhism. These enemies graphically represent the different manifestations of cowardly mind. As Chogyam Trungpa explains in the Foreword: ‘When we talk here about conquering our enemy, it is important to understand that we are not talking about aggression. The genuine warrior does not become resentful or arrogant (…) It is absolutely necessary for the warrior to subjugate his own ambition to conquer at the same time that he is subjugating his other more obvious enemies. Thus the idea of warriorship altogether is that by facing all our enemies fearlessly, with gentleness and intelligence, we can develop ourselves, thereby attaining self-realization.’” -- Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche gave an interview, published in Gentle Voice, March 1999: “(Question:) Could you explain a little about the Gesar of Ling ceremony that took place at the gonpa recently, Rinpoche? (Rinpoche:) I’ve always thought that during this degenerate time we’re tormented by all kinds of suffering. Of course, we always have a lot of different kinds of suffering, different kinds of pain and anxiety. And one of the most difficult is mental conflict, mental confusion, especially depression, getting down and all that. And sometimes when we feel that very strongly, both individually and in a group, it can actually harm the energy of the place, the energy of the country, the energy of the whole environment. So Guru Rinpoche, out of his great compassion, has created a great many treasure teachings for the sake of degenerate times like this. And one of them is the treasure of Gesar of Ling which has got a lot to do with cheering oneself up, strengthening one’s own way of looking at things, starting the day with joy, basically, starting the day with something uplifting. As guru yoga is very much emphasized in the Vajrayana, I thought that Gesar of Ling, since he’s the manifestation of Guru Rinpoche, would be appropriate. It will not only become the dharmapala or protector practice, but it will also become a guru yoga in another form.” Website: Siddharthasintent.org/gentle/GV11, page 4 of 5. -- See also About Gesar of Ling, in the website: Khandro.net. She wrote, “The Gesar legends vary according to the cultural tradition of the devotee. In the Bon tradition, Gesar is sent by Shenlha Okar. A Mongolian reference links Gesar and Shakyamuni. For some other Buddhists, he is an emissary of the Wisdom Kings of Shambhala, and for many Nyingmapas he is considered an emanation of Padmasambhava.”4 The King of Gyantse – Rabten Kungzang Pal, in the website: Simhananda, 2006. See also Chronology of Buddhism by Matthieu Ricard, p. 18 of 29.5 Website: Sherabling.org, 2006.6 Lineages, in the website: Simhas.org, 2006. -- According to entries of the Rangjung Yeshe Shedra, the Fourth Tai Situpa was Mindruk Chokyi Gocha who lived from 1542-1585, the Fifth was Chokyi Gyaltsen the later who lived from 1586-1654. See Chronology of Buddhism by Matthieu Ricard, pp. 18-19.7 Samten G. Karmay, “The Great Fifth,” in: Newsletter 39, International Institute for Asian Studies, Leiden University, Leiden, Dec. 2005, pages 12-13.1 Sarat Chandra Das, pp. vii-ix.2 See Buddhism in Tibet, in the website of His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa: Kagyuoffice.org, 2006. See also Encyclopedia of Religions, website: Thdl.org, 2006, p. 1.3 Matthew Kapstein, “gdams.ngag: Tibetan Technologies of the Self,” in: Tibetan Literature Studies in Genre. Edited by José I. Cabezón & Roger R. Jackson, Snow Lion, Ithaca, N.Y., 1996, pp. 276-280. Also in: Encyclopedia of Religions, 2006, p. 5 of 6.4 The Gelug School, in the website: Kagyuoffice.org, 2006.5 Drepung Monastery (‘Bras-spungs, which means “The Rice Heap”) was founded in 1415 by Jamyang Choje Tashi Palden (1379-1438), a disciple of Tsongkapa, and is named after the Indian Buddhist Monastery Kalinga. Kalinga was a feudal republic located on the coast of present-day Orissa and is the site of earliest Buddhist stupas and monasteries. The Great War of Kalinga, fought in the 3rd century B.C. between the Mauryans of Emperor Ashoka and the citizens of Kalinga was so savage that the scene changed the mind of Ashoka. He changed his ways, converted to Buddhism, and had sayings of Lord Buddha inscribed on the rocks near all stupas in that area and in India. He has come to be known as a ruthless king who converted to Buddhism and later established a reign of virtue.6 See Buddhism in Tibet, in the website of His Holiness the Karmapa. See also the chapter “Early Kingdoms on the Tibetan Plateau” here.7 Samten G. Karmay, pp. 12-13.8 Who was Gushri Khan? Gushri Khan was of the Qushot tribe of the Dzungars, who had been actively supporting the Gelugs in their own country. In 1636 Gushri Khan attacked the Mongol tribe of Chogtur, an ally of the King of Tsang. Originally from Khalkha, Chogtur’s tribe “had been expelled from Central Mongolia in 1634 and had settled in the Kokonor region in Amdo, northeastern Tibet. In 1637, having defeated Chogtur and his 40,000 men in Kokonor, Gushri Khan settled there and soon became the leader of the region’s Mongols. He and several of his men travelled to Central Tibet that year disguised as pilgrims in order not to raise suspicion of other Mongol factions. He received an audience with the Fifth Dalai Lama who, before the holy image of the Buddha in the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, bestowed on him the name of Tendzin Chogyal, the King of Religion, the Holder of Doctrine, for having defended Gelug interests in the Kokonor region.” (Samten G. Karmay)9 Samten G. Karmay, p. 4.10 Matthieu Ricard, p. 28.11 Samten G. Karmay, p. 4.12 See David Snellgrove & Hugh Richardson, p. 288; see also History of Tibet, in the website: en.wikipedia.org, 2006, p. 5.1 Website of the Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute of His Holiness the Dalai Lama: Men-Tsee-Khang, Jan. 18, 2006, pp. 1-2.2 Traditional Tibetan Medicine, part 1, in the website: Tararokpa.org/history, 2006, pp. 1-2.3 Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, King Songtsen Gampo, in: The Great Patrons of Buddhism Series, part V, Khyentse Foundation Communique, winter 2004-2005. See specifically the chapters, “Buddhism” and “The Three Vehicles,” in the website of His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa: Kagyuoffice.org/Buddhism. See also “Written Tibetan,” “King Songtsen Gampo & the Ramoche Lhakhang,” and “ The Jokhang in Lhasa” for a short account of the 7th century in Tibet.4 Traditional Tibetan Medicine.5 A Brief History of Tibetan Medicine, in the site: TIBETcenter, 2006.6 Traditional Tibetan Medicine, pp. 2-3.7 For a translation of the terms see Nitartha.org online, in: Rangjung Yeshe Dictionary.8 Traditional Tibetan Medicine.9 History of Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute.10 See “The Potala Palace” here.11 See History of Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute.12 Dr. Trogawa Rinpoche, Embryology, in: Thar Lam, August 2002, p. 4.1 Madame Bonaparte, in: Gaston Bachelard, Water and Dreams – An Essay on the Imagination of Matter, translated from French by Edith R. Farrell, 3rd printing, Dallas, 1999, p. 116.2 Bachelard, p. 116.3 Bachelard, p. 144.4 Bachelard, p. 151.5 Bachelard, pp. 154-155.6 See “Ven. Lama Karma Samten Gyatso’s Visit to Lake Tekapo,” an article by John Herrett, in: Karma Kagyu Trust, New Zealand, 1998. See also Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche, The Life of Chokgyur Lingpa, translated by Tulku Jigmey Khyentse & Eric Pema Kunsang, Rangjung Yeshe Publ., Boudhanath, 2000, pp. 10, 15, and 16 for a short account on how Jamgon Kongtrul the Great encountered nagas on a few occasions.7 Venerable Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Transcending Ego: Distinguishing Consciousness from Wisdom, Namo Buddha Publications, Boulder, 2001, p. 108.8 Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Shambala – The Sacred Path of the Warrior, Shambhala Publ., Boulder & London, 1984, p. 100.9 Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, pp. 129-130.10 Bachelard, p. 194.11 Rangjung Yeshe Publications, Tibetan-English Dictionary, online, 2006.12 Shabkar Lama, The Flight of the Garuda. Verse 10: The Mind-Created Universe, translated by Keith Dowman, in the website: dhost.info/atiyoga/dzogchen, 2006.13 Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche, The Commentary on Mipham’s “Sherab Raltri” entitled “The Blazing Lights of the Sun and Moon,” in the site: Home/Dzogchen/Blazing Light, 2006, p. 95.14 Nagarjuna, The Path of Easy Practice. The Ninth Chapter of the Discourse on the Ten Stages, verses 83-87, translated from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki, online: net0726.or.jp, 2006.