Blue Annals (deb-ther sngon-po)

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

This page relates ‘Staglungpa (x): nam mkha' dpal bzang po’ 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 13 - Staglungpa (x): nam mkha' dpal bzang po

[Full title: Staglungpa (viii) together with his disciples (stag lung pa slob ma dang bcas pa’i skabs)—nam mkha' dpal bzang po (disciple of Ratnākara)]

Birth and Childhood

The Dharmasvāmin nam mkha' dpal bzang po was born in dar yul of phan yul in the year Water Female Hen (chu mo bya 1333 A.D.) as son of the alms-giver ye shes rin chen and phyug mo dpal le. From the age of five, whenever he saw the sufferings of other people, a great commiseration used to be produced in him and he shed tears. In his youth, he always felt himself as a hungry beggar, and his mother gave him the name of "beggar" (sbrang po). He was also called yon tan rgya mtsho, kun dag' bo and nam mkha' rin chen. "By the influence of my former deeds, (my) names are numerous," said he.

At the age of 7, he was ordained in the year Earth Female Hare (sa mo yos 1339 A. D.) by the upādhyāya bla ma nam legs pa and the ācārya don yod pa, and was given the name of nam mkha' rgyal mtshan dpal bzang po. At the age of 8, the faculty of prescience was born in him. At the age of 10, he studied the notes and commentary on the Hevajra Tantra and other texts. Signs peculiar to the Sadaṅga (yoga) were observed in him without practising meditation. At the age of 11, he felt a boundless commiseration and sadness. He perceived the meaning of Profound Nature (gnas lugs zab mo) basing himself on profound scriptures. The feeling of the uncertainty of death[1] was born (in him). He recollected his former existences in India, in gtsang and other places. Later, when plunged in meditation, he was able to perceive the future (existences also). He used to say that during two nights he had a vision of listening to the preaching of the Doctrine by the Lord Avalokiteśvara. He had countless similar visions, but in most cases he did not relate them. He made the solemn wish to spend 18 years in this place.

He said:

"In general, my life span was to be 34 years, but through the blessing of the profound precepts, it became uncertain."

Youth and Visions

At the age of 18, he heard from chos rje bla ma and lo chen byang rtse the Kālacakra, the Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra, the Munimatālaṃkāra[2] , the Jātakas (skyes rabs) and other texts. He was able to know them by heart after one recital only, and was able to recite them.

He used to say:

"I had most probably studied much the Kālacakra in my previous existences. In this life also I have done well![3] . Though I did not take pains in grasping its hidden meaning[4] , I knew it. At first I thought that this was a heretical doctrine, but now there is no one else with a stronger interest (in the Kālacakra), than me!"

On one occasion, he said that he had a vision that his body was illumined by a light emanating from a jewel in the arm ornament of sangs rgyas don yod (Amoghasiddhi) who was holding in his hand an almsbowl (pātra) made of the vaidūrya stone, and filled with amṛta, and a steady mystical trance was produced (in him).

He also said:

"In my former existence, I had practised meditation in gtsang for a long time. The quick development of meditation in this life was most probably due to it."

The above means that he admitted that he had been Dharmeśvara, the son of the mahāsiddha yu mo[5] . While he was meditating on the Sadaṅga (yoga), he saw in a dream that he was drinking a cup full off milk, but could not drink it all.

He said:

"After meditating one year more, I shall realize Buddhahood."

In general, he followed on six teachers: lo chen byang rtse, don yod rgyal mtshan, thogs med pa, chos rje bla ma dam pa[6] , the Dharmasvāmin Ratnākara and others.


After that, at the age of 27, he took up the final monastic ordination in Lhasa in the presence, of jo stan mkhan chen bkra shis tshul pa, the karma ācārya tshul bla ba, and the ācārya ston rgyal. Until the age of 29, he preached the Kālacakra and the Hevajra Tantra, the (Bodhisattva) caryāvatāra, the Munimatālaṃkāra, the Jātakas and the "Path and Fruit" doctrine (lam 'bras), without interruption, in the summer and winter semesters.

When he was 29, Ratnākara passed away. He performed the funeral rites, and erected a large image (of the deceased), as well as a Vijaya caitya[7] . He occupied the abbot’s chair. For 15 years he maintained classes (for monks), and composed numerous treatises, such as the sbyor drug gi khrid yig ṅo sprod (Introduction to the Guide Book on Sadaṅga), a rtsis yig[8] and other texts. He also looked well after numerous disciples with the help of secret precepts. He also intended to preach extensively the Kālacakra, but did not quite succeed in it. He spent most of his time in seclusion. On six or seven occasions he journeyed as far as sog chu. He occupied the chair till the age of 43, and the monastery prospered. The monastic congregation greatly increased in numbers. After that he invited to the chair the Precious bkra shis dpal brtsegs pa. He spent four years at se gle, and practised the utpannakrama degree on Saṃvara and on the Red Yamāntaka (gshed dmar). He also practised the sampannakrama according to the method of the Sadaṅga (sbyor drug).[9]


Before that at the age of 39, he said that a great accident was due to happen to him at the age of 47 or 48. He passed away at the age of 47, in the year Earth Female Sheep (sa mo lug 1379 A.D.). In the following Ape year (spre'u lo 1380 A.D.) a caitya and a large image (of him) were erected. Thus this holy person has been a great man who had practised meditation in his many former existences, and was distinct from others.

He used to say:

"Formerly in Āryavarta we were mentally inclined towards wrong views, but after having seen the Doctrine of the Kālacakra, I was able to practise the Sadaṅga yoga in the Land of Snows."

He said:

"When I was five, my former recollections became awakened. When I was seven, I entered religion. At nine, I understood the Mantrayāna. At 16, I truly understood the Prajñāpāramitā and the Vajrayāna. Now, I understand that there does not exist a difference of taste in the meanings of the three vehicles (yanas)."

Footnotes and references:


'chi ba mi rtag pa rnams bcos ma min pa.


Thub pa'i dgongs rgyan, Tg. dbu ma, No. 3903.


The text has "...dka' mo byung" which is evidently a misprint for "dga' mo byung".


i.e. its sampannakrama, nīita artha or nges don in the sūtra class has the meaning of "direct" meaning, whereas in tantric literature it signifies "sublime or hidden meaning".


The founder of the Jo nang pa sect.


Opinion: Including Wiley directly in the text like this is inconsiderate of readers who do not know Tibetan. It makes the text almost unreadable. On the other hand, those who know Tibetan should have the Wiley readily accessible in parenthases directly following an English or phonetic rendering since those who know Tibetan are the primary readers of the Blue Annals (Baker).


In the style of one of the eight great caityas, which had been erected at Śrāvastï where the Buddha had defeated the heretical teachers.


Astronomy according to the Kālacakra.


Roerich is completely inconsistent with the listing of texts and names—sometimes in English, sometimes Sanskrit and sometimes Tibetan.

Sometimes a mix. Please fix. (Baker)

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