The History of the Tagmo Lüjin Stupa
Taken from the Sutra of the Wise and the Foolish

One of the unsurpassably supreme sacred sites known as the Three Stupas in Nepal is Tagmo Lüjin (lit. "the place where the future Buddha sacrificed his body to a tigress"). It is the very sacred place where our teacher, the perfect and supreme Buddha-at that time still on the path of learning-offered his own body without regret to a tigress suffering from great hunger. What follows is a history of this supreme and distinguished sacred site, whose location is unmistaken based on the clear identification given in the Sutra Requested by the Tigress and so forth.

A long time ago, innumerable aeons in the past, there was a king in this world with the name of Great Vehicle. He ruled over nearly five thousand vassals and had three sons, the eldest of whom was called Great Sound, the middle, Great Deity and the youngest, Great Sentient Being. From childhood the youngest son was of a loving and compassionate nature. To everyone he was like a beloved son. One time, the king went outside for a walk together with his ministers, his queen and his sons. Then, while they rested a little while, the three sons strolled in the woods. They saw a tigress who had given birth to cubs and was so exhausted by days of hunger and thirst that she was on the verge of eating her young. The youngest prince said to his two elder brothers, "This weak and meager tigress is at the edge of death, and suffering so that she would even desire to eat her own offspring." When the younger brother asked his two elder brothers: "What does the tigress eat?" the two elder brothers replied, "She eats freshly killed meat and drinks blood." Then he said: "Who has such strength that they would not to fail to save her life by giving her these things?" The two brothers replied: "Nobody as it is extremely difficult."

The younger brother thought: "For a long time I have been wandering in samsara wasting innumerable bodies and lives. I have given up my body sometimes to desire, sometimes to anger and sometimes to ignorance. What is the use of this body which for the sake of Dharma has not even once engaged in merit?" Once he had made up his mind in this way, the three had not walked very long together on their way back, when he said to his two elder brothers, "You two brothers go on ahead. I have something to do and shall come later." Returning back along the path, he swiftly returned to the lair of the tigress and lay down in front of her, but the tigress could not bite and eat. Thereupon, the prince took a sharp branch and made blood flow from his body and let the tigress lick it. She then opened her mouth and completely devoured the flesh of his body.

His two brothers waited for a long time and still their younger brother had not come back, so they returned to look for him. Considering the way he had talked, they thought that he had most certainly fed the tigress [with his body]. When they got there and looked, they saw that he had been eaten by the tigress who was lying in his flesh and blood, and they fell to the ground in a faint. Regaining consciousness after a while, they cried and fainted again.

At that moment the queen dreamed that three pigeons had been flying and playing, and that a falcon had caught the youngest. She woke up immediately and terrified, told the king, "I have been told that a pigeon is the soul of a son. I dreamed that a falcon caught the youngest of three pigeons, so something unfortunate has certainly befallen the most beloved of my sons." Immediately he ordered a thorough search and not much later, the two elder brothers returned. The queen asked them, "Is there not something wrong with the most beloved of my sons? What is it?" The two brothers´ speech faltered and for a long while they could not even exhale and remained speechless. When they finally breathed out, they reported, "He was eaten by a tiger." When the queen heard this she fainted, falling to the ground. A long while elapsed and when she regained consciousness, the two sons, the queen and the entire entourage proceeded swiftly to the place where the prince had expired. They saw nothing but bones and blood as the tigress had completely consumed the flesh of the prince. The queen held her head and the king, holding her in his arms, wept and cried. He, too, fainted and it took a long time till he regained consciousness.

Having died in this place, the Prince Mahasattva was reborn in the Tushita realm of gods. He wondered, "Through what positive action was I born here?" and started to search with his divine eye through all five realms. In a forest, he saw the bones he had left behind, which were surrounded by his parents who, out of their great love for their son, were weighed down by great grief. He thought, "When my parents are so sad, obstacles will be created for their body and life. I shall go and reassure them."

He descended from heaven and reassured his parents with many pleasant words from the heavens above. The parents looked up into the sky and said: "Deva, tell us who you are!" The god said: "I was your son Mahasattva." Having fed the tigress with my body, I was born in the Tushita realm of gods. Great King, know this! Whatever has come into existence will meet with destruction in the end. When there is arising, there is certainly destruction. If they engage in negative actions, sentient beings will fall into hell. If they engage in virtuous ones, they will take rebirth in the higher realms. Arising and destruction effects everything. Why then are you experiencing an ocean of suffering just because of me? Strive for virtue!"

His parents said, "Out of great compassion you gave your body to the tigress. If you have love and compassion for everyone, extend it also to us! When we think of you, your death causes us such distress, just as if our flesh were being cut, so should not you, great Compassionate One, refrain from acting towards us like that?" Again the god placated and encouraged his parents with many pleasant words. Being a little comforted, they made a casket of seven precious jewels, put his bones inside and buried it. Above they erected a stupa.


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