Blue Annals (deb-ther sngon-po)

by George N. Roerich | 1949 | 382,646 words | ISBN-10: 8120804716 | ISBN-13: 9788120804715

This page relates ‘First incarnation series (viii): de bzhin gshegs pa (Karmapa V)’ of the Blue Annals (deb-ther sngon-po)—An important historical book from the 15th century dealing with Tibetan Buddhism and details the spiritual doctrine and lineages of religious teachers in Tibet. This chapter belongs to Book 8 (The famous Dakpo Kagyü (traditions)).

Chapter 6 - First incarnation series (viii): de bzhin gshegs pa (Karmapa V)

His Holiness' reincarnation the Dharmasvāmin de bzhin gshegs pa (Tathāgata) was born in the year Wood-Male-Mouse (shing pho byi ba 1384 A.D.) to father guru rin chen a Tantric, and mother lha mo skyi at this e la myang, a part of myang po. When the child was in the mother’s womb, people overheard him reciting the "Six Letters" formula and the Indian script. His mother saw in her dreams extraordinary signs, such as the coming of kar ma pa’s court to that region, showers of flowers, a railing of rainbows, fragrance, etc.

Gods on being interrogated, proclaimed to all beings that they had ascertained that the Precious Dharmasvāmin was reincarnating in this region. Two months after his birth, on meeting the mahā-paṇḍita mgo blon pa, the child showed delight. At the age of one, he was taken to gsag mo'i stengs and to ga sgrog gi stengs. At the age of two, the (hierarch’s) camp was moved there, and then accompanied by his retinue, he proceeded to sne bo. Numberless were his sayings pregnant with fore knowledge and numerous his miracles. On the bank of the main river of sne bo his foot prints were clearly impressed on a boulder when he stepped on it.

At the age of four, while staying at stag rtsa with the Dharmasvāmin mkha' spyod pa, he heard the initiation rite of the Vajramāla (rdo rje phreng ba), the "Six Doctrines" of nA ro (nA ro chos drug), the Cycle of Mahāmudrā (phyag chen), the Ṣadaṅga yoga (of the Kālacakra, sbyor drug). At the age of seven, in the year of the Horse (rta lo 1390 A.D.), he received ordination at rtse lha sgang in the presence of the mahā-upādhyāya bsod nams bzang po and the ācārya mahāupadhāyāya yon blo ba, and was given the name of chos dpal bzang po. At the age of 18, in the year of the Serpent (sbrul lo 1401 A.D.), he proceeded towards Lower khams. 'od zer nam mkha', the great official (dpon chen) of kong gyo, presented him with large offerings.

When in the country of kong gyo there was danger of war, they asked for his advice, and having announced his command to the people, war was averted. After that he proceeded to the country of gling (near Jyekundo). He also, visited kar ma, ri bo che and other places, and preached the Doctrine (revolved the Wheel of the Law). Again he journeyed to kong po. At the age of 20, in the year of the Horse (rta lo 1402 A.D.), he took up final monastic ordination at rtse lha sgang in the presence of the mahā-upādhyāya bsod bzang po and the mahā-upādhyāya yon blo ba, and of about eighty priests. When he was instructing a certain person, the man did not observe the rules of concentration (dge sbyor) and fell asleep.

The Dharmasvāmin then proceeded with the help of his supernatural powers to the roof of the man’s house and showed him his head and the upper part of his body. Then when the man came towards him, he repeatedly smiled at him. The man became frightened, and since that time observed diligently all rules of meditation, and became an excellent śramaṇa. He performed wonderful works, such as receiving offerings and preaching, and thus leading people on the path of virtue, showing his face and making people observe the Law. At that time the messengers with the invitation from the Emperor arrived in dbus. He gradually proceeded towards the famous kingdom of dbus.[1] He visited lha sa and 'tshur phu, and then received the Emperor’s command through an Imperial envoy (gser yig pa). He slowly journeyed towards khams, maintaining the interest of others on his way to the Imperial Court. During that time the country of China was filled with light, over his mansion a rainbow pillar was (seen) standing, inside a cloud Buddhas and Bodhisattvas appeared clearly, devaputras and devaputrīs were seen making offerings from the sky, etc.

Many similar wonderful signs were seen. The great Emperor and his retinue were filled with perfect faith and were established on the Path of Purity. The Emperor gave him the name of Tathāgata. He had numerous visions of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, tutelary deities and guardians of the Doctrine. He also bestowed on others numerous sādhanas for propitiating them.

In general, it is stated that he had manifested 108 wonderful and excellent deeds, and established his disciples on the Path of Purity. The Emperor presented him with about 700 measures of silver objects alone. He returned to Tibet and established living beings on the Path of Purity. On his first and last visit to dbus, he established on the Path of Enlightenment many living beings, including a large crowd of great kalyāṇa-mitras, hermits, students (thos bsam pa), Tantrics and others, as well as many big and small officials, including the dbang grags pa rgyal mtshan and others, and ordinary people, by giving them presents, by preaching to them, by showing his face and by touching them with his hand. In general, he pretended to have obtained Sūtras, Tantras and numerous hidden precepts and initiations, etc., from the mahā-upādhyāya bsod nams bzang po, the ācārya gu'i gung pa, the Dharmasvāmin mkha' spyod dbang po, the mahā-upādhyāya rgyal mtshan dpal, the mahā-upādhyāya yon blo ba, the bka' bzhi pa rin chen dpal and rgya sangs rgyas dbang phyug.

He also made many prophecies, saying:

"In the Past and Future that has happened and this will happen."

Those to whom he preached the Doctrine and whom he established in Salvation are numberless. Among them the chief ones are: gu shrI (gu shrI <kuo-shih) sangs rgyas rin chen, gu shrI blo gros rgyal mtshan, gu shrI rin chen dpal, gu shrI don grub 'od zer, gu shrI chos kyi rgyal mtshan, gu shrI shAkya bzang po, bka' bzhi pa.[2] rin chen bzang po, the incarnated bla ma chos dpal ye shes, dom pa bya bral pa, rma se rtogs ldan and others.

After that, he gradually journeyed to the Potala of lha sa. On many occasions he said about that place that the concentrated trance would be on the increase, and that soon after, great benefit for living beings would arise in that place. When he was afflicted by serious disease, his disciples held a ceremony for the prolongation of life (brtan bzhugs).

He said:

"Following an omen I have projected my wish to a certain place in the vicinity of kar ma in Lower khams. You will address your prayers in the direction of that place and I shall protect you."

To his head servant (gzims dpon) he said:

"Do not scatter books and images! An owner will be coming!"

At the age of 32, in the year Wood-Female-Sheep (shing mo lug 1415 A.D.), he passed away. At the time of the cremation, rainbows, haloes, and flower showers were observed. An image of Avalokiteśvara, and images of Saṃvara and Hevajra in the yuga-naddha attitude, were recovered (from the ashes). Numerous śatīras were left behind.

In general, the incarnations of this Lineage have laboured greatly for the benefit of numerous disciples, but the Dharmasvāmin de bzhin gshegs pa was the only one who had a siddha as disciple who had benefitted others, especially, one named rma se rtogs ldan born in a mi nyag family. He stayed in his native country till the death of his parents. He diligently studied precepts, followed his Teacher, and practised meditation. When the Dharmasvāmin de bzhin gshegs pa accompanied by his retinue visited that country (mi nyag), he was filled with great faith and met (the hierarch). His wealth being very considerable, he made large offerings, and became intimate through presents with big and small officials of the hierarch’s camp.

When the hierarch’s camp was pitched in Tibet, he came to welcome (the hierarch) in lha sa. He at first prided himself of being an intimate friend, but when he presented himself, and asked to be admitted into the presence (of the hieratch), the official bkra shis ‘byung gnas drove him away. While he was making obeisance before the door of the hierarch’s tent, his long hair (spread on the ground) was trodden (by the official). When the Precious Dharmasvāmin had gone to 'tshur phu, he was admitted into the presence. Since at that time he was a priest wearing long hair, he took up ordination in the presence of dge 'dun sgang pa.

admitted into the presence. Since at that time he was a priest wearing long hair, he took up ordination in the presence of dge 'dun sgang pa. The Dharmasvāmin de bzhin gshegs pa was pleased with him, and he was permitted to go into the presence (of the hierarch) whenever he wished. The Dharmasvāmin also bestowed on him oral precepts which he did not bestow on others. Even to day (these are known) as the "Oral Precepts of zur mangs pa”, and are of great benefit to others.

After that, he proceeded towards khams, and visited cham la kha owned by a family from mi nyag, and there protected the interest of others. Wishing to found a monastery there, he intended taking some land from (his) relatives, but they did not agree to give it up.

One day, he, having taken a pair of oxen and a plough, ploughed a furrow round the plot of land on which (he intended) building the monastery, and said:

"Inside of this (furrow), I am the master and shall build a monastery."

Others were unable to resist it. Had the ploughman been a disciple of his, he would have been killed by the relatives. There he founded (the monastery) of zur mang. He protected disciples and gathered (round himself) numerous priests.

There were two classes of priests, those staying in the monastery and those staying in hermitages. Among them were the “Eight excellent ascetics" known as the “Three Powerful Men" (‘ja' mo mi gsum). The three possessed an excellent mystic trance and the unique faculty of labouring for the benefit of others. Of them, kun rgyal, Senior and Junior, founded the monastery of ldan stod. Bsod yes pa worked as the assistant preacher of zur mang and had numerous disciples. Chu gsol ‘od zer bzang po founded the monastery of chu gsol on the shady side (sribs) of Lower ldan. Khu dro rtogs ldan also took charge of a monastery. The remaining two did not labour extensively for the benefit of others, but spent their time in meditation only. His nephew (snag dbon) looked after the abbot’s chair, he was also distinguished by a lofty mystic trance and was an expert in the upāya-mārga. His name was rin po che ba. Among the disciples of de bzhin gsegs pa, rma se was the greatest in work.

Footnotes and references:


nyi ma 'dbus kyi rgyal khams, the word nyi ma or Sun is often used in connection with the names of places in the sense of famous or glorious. For ex. nyi ma lha sa, or "Famous lha sa", nyi ma ngo log, "the glorious ngo logs,"or go logs, nomad tribes in N.E. Tibet


in ancient times the title of bka' bzhi pa was given to a monk who had mastered the texts belonging to four of the five classes: 'dul ba, mdzod, phar phyin, dbu ma and tshad ma. tsong kha pa has been a bka' bzhi pa

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