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Where is Guru Rinpoche's Bhutan? -- Part 6

August 23, 2010

Wonphu Taktshang
PERSPECTIVES
Kuensel Online (Bhutan)
August 22, 2010

I ended my last article on the note that Jomo
Tshogyal left Paro Taktshang for Wonphu Taktshang
in Tibet. Tshogyal and five of her companions
that included Monmo Tashi Chidren went there to meet Guru.

In a prescient talk admiring the qualities of
Tshogyal and Dewamo, Guru emphasized the lack of
gender difference in Vajrayana attainments. Guru
went on to foretell the future rebirths of all
six of them, as different members, into the same
family in a place called Dakyul Labchey. Tshogyal
then reported the various enlightening
experiences she had, particularly those in Paro
Taktshang, due to Guru’s guidance. She described
that her body became divine because the notion of
thigle disappeared (thig le snang ba gten nas
nub) and that she achieved the three kinds of
meditative concentrations (sgyuma, rdor rje, dpa’
bo). She mentioned her vision of Amitayus at Paro
Taktshang due to her practice of Secret
Mantrayana. At this, Guru, placing his hands on
her head, pronounced that the moment has arrived
for her to practice yoga of Amitayus sadhanas,
pointing out that what occurred in Paro was a
sign for her to do so. Guru thus opened to her
the mandala of Amitayus and instructed her to
find another partner to felicitate her longevity.

As for Monmo Tashi Chidren, who possessed the
qualities of a wisdom dakini, Guru asked her to
be the ritual partner (gzungma) for Vajrakila in
order to disseminate its pith instructions.
Unless that was done, Guru said that Vajrayana
would not flourish for too long in Tibet (KMT
2005: 119-122). Accordingly, Tshogyal made
offerings of gold, turquoise and Tashi Chidren,
and asked Guru to let not only Tashi Chidren but
herself also learn and practice Vajrakila (bdags
kyang rdor rje phur pa’i gdams pa).

After a moment of thought, Guru pronounced that
any training within Vajrayana must be preceded by
Vajrakila to ease out impediments, and that
Vajrakila was indeed her deity. However, he said
that for both Vajrakila and Amitayus practices,
it was prerequisite for her to have a
practice-partner (sgrub pa’i grogs). As foretold,
a 14-year old youth from U, who was later renamed
as Lhalung Pelgyi Singye, became her practice-partner.

There were other disciples participating in that
Vajrakila sadhana, such as Lhalung Pelgyi Singye,
Namkhai Nyingpo, Ma Rinchen Chog, Dorji Dudjom,
Dewamo (renamed at this occasion as Pelgi
Chodney), Acharya Saleh (renamed on this occasion
as Karma Dondup), Acharya Pelyang (renamed on
this occasion as Karma Tharjed), and Mon boy
Saleh (named on this occasion as Jampa Pelzang).

Tshogyal’s biography mentions that during the
seven days of practice by the three Guru-Yab-Yum,
Tshogyal was the main consort (rtsa ba’i gzungs
ma) and Tashi Chidren was the consort at the
conclusion of the practice (sgrol ba’i gzungs ma
) (KMT 2005; 122). The subtle description in
Vajrayana phraselogy suggests that ritual union
elements were involved. Williams gives a clear
summary of the tantric union practice and its
origins. Ritual union was a part of Mahayoga
tantras such as Hevajra Tantra (He Vajra) (Williams 2000: 232-240).

Dorji Droloed Yab-Yum and Phurba Thingnag Dorji

After praticing for seven days at Wonphu
Taktshang, Guru, Tshogyal, and Tashi Chidren
revealed or opened the mandala of 42 Etrams of
Jitotama Vajrakila and of 78 kilas. Exhaustive
signs and symbols were witnessed. Guru manifested
in the form of Dorji Droloed: Yeshey Tshogyal,
the tantric union partner, manifested as dakini
Ekatsati, and Tashi Chidren manifested as the
Tigress on which Dorji Droloed and Ekatsati rode.
Ekatsati is the protector of tantric practices
and manifestation of Samanthabadri (Kuntu Zangmo
Yum). While Tshogyal and Guru achieved meditative
concentration of tantric union, Tashi Chidren
turned into a tigress. The text alludes to the
purpose of such manifestations as control of spirits of Tibet and Kham.

During this Vajrakila sadhana, the countless
images of the three fierce Guru-Yab-Yum (Dorji
Droloed but complete with Ekatsati, in contrast
to Dorji Droloed on Tigress) appeared (khro bo
rngams pa’i sku’i cha byad las rang ‘dra grangs med pa spro zhing).

There is particular mention about the wrathful
blue-black Vajrakila that reached Paro Taktshang
in order to quell all eight classes of lha ma sin
(lha ma srin sde brgyad) of Mon, Nepal and India
and other lands in the south. Similarly, a
brown-black Vajrakila reached the border of two
Kham Taktshangs to quell the lha ma sin of Jang, China and Hor.

Tshogyal’s biography thus shows the centrality of
Paro Taktshang in two ways. Firstly, the three
Guru-Yab-Yum (with Tshogyal as Ekatsati) appeared
in Paro Taktshang, as simultaneous projections of
what miraculously happened in Wonphu Taktshang.
This is based on the statement cited above that
countless identical forms of the three
Guru-Yab-Yum appeared at that moment. However, it
is quite clear that the Vajrakila sadhana itself
took place at Wonphu Taktshang, although
Vajrakila sadhana was also practiced at other
sites on other occasions according to other
sources. Secondly, a blue-black Vajrakila (mthing
nag rdo rje) materialized in Paro Taktshang
during this sadhana, as a means of controlling
malevolent beings of the South East Asian region.
The intact blue black Vajrakila is the main relic
empowering the famous site to this day.

I should add that Guru’s transformation into
Dorji Droloed (perhaps without Ekatsati and
Tigress) took place earlier in other places. Pema
Thangyig notes that Padmasambhava received the
name of Dorji Droloed during his five year
retreat in the great cemetery known as Pematsek
(Heap of Lotus) in Odiyana (Si khron mi rigs dpe
skrun khang edition, 2006: 117). This event
happened before Guru came to Bhutan and Tibet.
The other event where Dorji Droloed is mentioned
in Tshogyal’s biography is related to the debate
between outer Bon and Buddhists at Samye in which
Guru is described as a main actor. As Guru’s
mental manifestation (thugs kyi sprul pa rdor rje
gro lod du sprul te), Dorji Droloed worked
adversely on the minds of the Bon debators.

Guru’s last visit to Paro Taktshang

Tshogyal’s biography mentions that Mutri Tsenpo
succeeded Muni Tsenpo who in turn succeeded
Trisong Detsen. All these happened while Guru was
in Tibet. But sometime in the reign of Mutri
Tsenpo, Guru departed for Sinyul. The longest
period Yeshey Tshogyal stayed together with Guru
was in Chimphu for 11 years, when Guru acted as
Mutri Tshenpo’s root lama (KMT 2005: 170). At the
end of their stay, Yeshey Tshogyal became
comparable to Guru in body, speech, thought,
knowledge and actions. Immediately after their
stay in Chimphu, Guru and Tshogyal decided to
visit physically the three Taktshangs, before
they returned to the Samye. The three Taktshangs
they visited in chronological order were Paro
Taktshang, Wonphu Taktshang and Kham Taktshang.
As far as I could make out, this visit by Guru
should be taken as the fourth one, but certainly
the last, to Bhutan. Tshogyal came to Bhutan once
more after this visit. Having returned to Tibet
from their visits to three Taktshangs, Guru left
Tibet from Gungthangla, bid farewell by Mutri
Tsenpo’s entourage. Tshogyal accompanied Guru, by
a form of flight, till Tshashorong at the border
of Nepal and Tibet. There, she received more
teaching for a week. Her encounters with Guru
after that are in the nature of pure vision when
she received many prophecies, instructions and
aural transmissions (lung bstan bslab bya snyan
rgyud mang du zhus so) (see KMT 2005; 187).

Tshogyal’s last visit to Bhutan

Guru had entrusted his legacy of secret
mantrayana or Vajrayana to Tshogyal when he
departed from Tibet. By then, Tshogyal had become
the main bearer or holder of the teaching (bstan
‘dzin) for Vajrakila because of her
accomplishment (sgrub pa) and practice (nyams
len) of this tantric cycle (dkyil ‘khor kun gyi
grtso mor gyur/ ‘on phu stag tsang phur pa grub).

In the later half of her life, after Guru left
Tibet possibly in the reign of Mutri Tsenpo, she
travelled to the 108 main meditation places and
countless subsidiary places of Guru. A large
number of these places were listed by their names
along with the duration of her stay and the
number of ter she deposited in each of these
places (see for details KMT 2005; 196-201).
Scanning her biography, I could count 631 ters
deposited by Tshogyal in 35 major places, most of
them in Tibet. I could identify some places in
Bhutan. One of the places in Bhutan she visited
were Khenpalung where she lived for one and half
year and deposited there 10 ter (gter kha bcu
krag gcig sbas so). She lived for more than a
year in a placed called Mon Budumlung and an
unspecified period again in Nering Singye dzong.
These visits were additional to her previous
stays in Bhutan for an unspecified period in
Sengyi Dzong and seven months in Paro Taktshang,
when she was younger and Guru was still in Tibet.
Thus, it is clear that Tshogyal herself was in
Bhutan at least three times at different points in her long life.

We know about Guru’s activities in Bhutan more
clearly from Tshogyal. Guru told her that
provided there is higher motivation, women can
exceed men in spiritual progress (sems bskyed
ldan na mo lus lhag (KMT 2005:114)). As his
principle adherent, she was the first widely
known liberated Himalayan woman to prove it.
Tshogyal passed away in rainbow body form at Pama
Gang, leaving behind mortal remains of ears,
teeth, nails, head-hairs and body-hairs. Five
days before that, she spoke to us all, through
Monmo Tashi Chidren, a Bhutanese and daughter of
Mon King Hamray, whom Tshogyal met first at Singye Dzong.
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