Blue Annals (deb-ther sngon-po)

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

This page relates ‘Gtsang pa ye shes rdo rje (Gling ras pa’s disciple)’ 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 15b - Gtsang pa ye shes rdo rje (Gling ras pa’s disciple)

Birth and Childhood

His disciple the Dharmasvāmin gtsang pa ye shes rdo rje[1] : his native place was a district of khu le in Upper myang at the foot of ha 'o gangs. He was born in the year Iron Female Serpent (lcags mo sbrul, 1161 A.D.), as the youngest son of the seven sons of father rgya zur po tsha ba and mother mang gza' dar skyid. Because of their many sons, his father did not care for him, and his mother entrusted him to a bon po, who gave him the name of gyung drung dpal.

At the age of eight, his mother died. At the age of twelve, his elder brother skal ldan took him to gtsang rong, and he learnt the alphabet with slob gnyer[2] mkhar ba. At the age of 13, he spent three years at the residence of the ācārya rta thang pa, and obtained (from him) the exposition of the Abhidharma (mngon pa), the Yoga (Tantra), the zhi byed system, and other texts.


At the age of fifteen, he came to the residence of the ācārya mkhar lung pa and attended on him for eight years, and heard from him the exposition of the doctrine of the "Great Achievement" (rdzogs chen), Logic (tshad ma), etc. He suffered formerly from an illness which was cured without his going into seclusion. From the ācārya 'khor re ba he obtained the rdzogs chen rigs rdzogs.

From the ācārya btsang tsha he heard the Māyā Cycle (sgyu 'phrul) and the thugs rje chen po gter ma (the Hidden Doctrine of the Great Merciful One). From so dar ma seng ge he heard the Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra (spyod 'jug). From lha rje kun rgyal, of khu lung he heard the (Mañjuśrī) nāmasaṅgīti. From the ācārya 'dul 'dzin (Vinayadhara) he heard the thugs rje chen po according to the method of Atīśa[3] . At the age of 22, his father invited the ācārya mkhar lung pa. Then the Dharmasvāmin himself was installed as a scholar, and taught the Doctrine. He took up his residence at the hermitage of la mda 'bar bzang.

Meeting the Guru

After this, he met the Venerable gling when the latter was residing at Ra lungg, presented him a full measure of salt and held a long conversation with him.

He used to say:

"My karmic link (las 'brel) with him seems to have been awakened at that time."


After that he proceeded towards sna phu, and obtained precepts. After the lapse of seven days, he was able to wear the single cotton garment (of a bka' brgyud pa ascetic). Then for a long time he fell ill with small-pox ('brum pa). On his recovery, he offered his Teacher a mare (called) "The Queen of Beasts" (byol song gi rgyal mo). He also offered him some tea and brown sugar.

His Teacher was then engaged in the building of a chapel. Monks who (in order to escape from the building work) intended going to various places or enter seclusion, were fined one golden zho each. He also presented one golden zho to his Teacher (as a fine) and asked leave to retire to copy (books).

The Teacher said: "Go to gle'u chung and practise it!"

He thought that should the Teacher be displeased, it would harm precepts. "O me!" thought he and cried.

He then placed a plate full of brown sugar in front of the Teacher and said: "I have committed a fault!" and confessed.

The Teacher said: "A! Only one who understands the Doctrine, acts like this!" and was pleased.

Then for five months he worked (on the building of the chapel), and a remarkable mind concentration was born in him. After the chapel had been completed, he finished (the copying) of one leaf in four days (and thus completed the copying of the book), and secured the entire precepts. He held a religious discussion with one named dar rdor, and the latter was unable to defeat him. He thus obtained the fame of a wise man.

The Teacher said to him: "Ask me a religious question!"

He replied:

"This couldn't be done! How could I expose the contradiction existing in the Teacher’s Mind? It won't do!"

The Teacher then said to him:

"Did I not give you permission (to do so)?"

He then said to the Teacher:

"Then tell me the characteristic of the state of the Cosmical Body of the Buddha (Dharmakāya)."

The Teacher replied

"It is that which is devoid of origination, destruction, and existence."

The disciple again asked:

"If so, the sky also should be considered as an Absolute (dharmakāya) (but this is wrong)."

The Teacher could not reply, but was pleased (with the question).

Meditation at sna phu

After that he went to carry some provisions to his native place, and bestowed on his father the initiation of Vajravārahī. Then he proceeded towards sna phu, and spent a winter immured, and practised meditation. He acquired the faculty of merging together the "outer" air and "inner" breath, and could pass through a wall without hindrance.

He was victorious in the battle with defiling influences which were signs mentioned (in the sacred books), and reported the matter to his Teacher, who said:

"The Venerable Mid la had also experienced it! It is very wonderful!"

In general, he completed (the study of) all the precepts during the five years he spent at sna phu. After finishing the study of the theory, he used to practise them. He also preached as an assistant preacher, and never absented himself from the assemblies, and the daily work.

From the ācārya rngog pa, father and brother, he heard the Ḍākinī vajrapañjarā[4] , the Hevajra[5] , the Mahāmāya, the Mañjuśrī nāma saṅgīti together with its precepts. He also made one copy of a treatise composed by the Lord sna phu ba (gling ras pa). He also used to correct books copied by his fellow monks, who were poor.

Then he asked leave to proceed to another place to practise meditation, but the Teacher said to him:

"Don't go! Take over my sna phu!"

He also prophesied that he would become the Master of 'brug.

Practicing Skillful Means and the Death of gling ras pa

The Teacher said:

"Now practise the upāya mārga with the assistance of bskal bzang."

He accordingly proceeded to bskal bzang and told her of the Teacher’s command.

Bskal bzang told him:

"I can help you! I had some auspicious dreams about you. Now become a monk, and labour for the welfare of living beings. This Teacher (gling ras pa) of mine was the greatest in yogic insight (rtogs pa) on this side of the river Gaṅgā, but he was unmarried. Are they not many like myself here?"

He then asked leave to practise meditation at mkhar chu of Dol. Permission having been granted, he proceeded towards dol mnar mar ma gser stengs. When he was begging for some barley flour, an old man asked him: "Whose disciple are you?"

And he replied: "I am a disciple of the Venerable gling." "Alas! His!" exclaimed the old man.

He did not believe the words (of the old man), but when he returned to sna phu, (he found that) gling had passed away. He stayed there until he had completed the preparations for the funeral rite. After that, in the summer, having taken with him four men, including lo ro ye mgon and others, he proceeded to ra lung, and there completed their training. After that his fortune increased.

Then having taken with him a young bay horse he presented it to a ma jo mo at sna phu. After completing the consecration of the caitya (of gling ras pa) and the affairs of the monastery, he with several disciples, in all seven men, proceeded towards mkhar chu.

Meditation at lcags phur can and the Discovery of Terma

He spent some time immured at lcags phur can, but was overwhelmed with accidents, gods and demons attacked him, and there was not a single spot on his body which remained painless, etc. He succeeded in subduing all these accidents and (his) understanding became like a spear piercing the sky. He also grasped the importance of the doctrine of Dependent Origination. There also he had a vision of ye shes mgon po.

If he had practised the art of black magic at that time, he could have destroyed all his enemies by the mere shaking of his garment. But apprehending the harming influence to his retinue and worldly property, he did not practise it. Having spent three years at that place, he discovered the Ro snyoms skor drug, hidden there by the Venerable ras chung pa.

Further Education

In the year of Earth Female Bird (sa mo bya, 1184 A.D.) he reached the age of 29. He then proceeded to meet mdo po ras pa, and obtained from him instruction in the "Six Doctrines" (of Nāro). The latter said to him: "You have already practised meditation." He then spent a considerable time at bya skyungs, chu bo ri, and other places.

Having come to 'bri khung, he attended classes. He then wrote a letter as king for a method producing commiseration, and was called into the presence (of the Dharmasvāmin), and told to take up ordination. This did not, however, develop commiseration (in him).

He then proceeded to sgam po and tsa ri via myang po, and spent there one summer. Having come to skyi shod, he founded klong rdol[6] .

Immediately after this, he visited bla ma zhang, offered him his knowledge, and pleased him. He asked the bla ma about a method producing commiseration, and the bla ma told him: "You should receive instruction!" and saying so, he bestowed on him the snying rje blo rdeg ma (name of a system, producing sudden commiseration), and he noticed a great improvement in regard to commiseration.


The Dharmasvāmin said: "At any rate take up ordination!" He then asked bzang pa to act as upādhyāya in the ceremony of the noviciate. Zhang himself acted as his upādhyāya during the ceremony of his final monastic ordination. At the age of 33, he received both the ordinations simultaneously.

Teaching and the Founding of ‘Brug

He then established the exposition of the Doctrine in gtsang, in the Nomad country, and in Tibet, such as pho ma and other places, as far as byang tsha kha (name of a lake). He used to send offerings to his Teacher’s monastery, and thus made the wealth of others to bear fruit, as well as mediate in disputes, and perform many similar works.

After the founding of the monastery of 'brug, about a thousand huts were built round it during one year. After that he again proceeded to other places for the welfare of living beings and secured inexhaustible wealth which he distributed for the sake of the Doctrine only.

In this manner wherever he went, though he had amassed very great wealth, he made his disciples practise three things: first, to free their minds from worldly matters; secondly, to meditate on the sacrifice of their lives; and thirdly, to pay homage to one’s Teacher.

There were about 5000 (disciples) who had grasped the meaning of the Mahāmudrā, and he advised them to spend their lives in meditation at some famous places, such as u rgyan (Oḍḍīyāna), Jālandhara (the Lower Kaṅgrā valley), Kāśmīra, the Vulture Peak (bya rgod phung po'i ri), ri bo rtse lnga of China (wu t'ai shan in Shan hsi), tsa ri, sa 'ug stag mgo near sa skya, ti se (Kailāsa), and others. He thus dispersed his following.

It is said that there was no place within a distance, which could be covered by a vulture in eighteen days, where disciples, belonging to the 'brug pa sub-sect (of the bka' brgyud pas) could not be found. A hermit who belonged to the 'brug pa sect, did not participate in debates and did not discuss the tenets of various sects, and was of a humble conduct.

This Dharmasvāmin was known to have been an incarnation of Nāropa. Most people had recognized this.

Death and Legacy of Disciples

Having completed his earthly work, he passed away at the age of 51 in the early morning of the l0th day of the waning moon (the 25th of the lunar month) of the 3rd summer month of the year Iron Female Sheep (lcags mo lug, 1211 A.D.). On the day of the cremation, a rainbow canopy appeared, and a shower of flowers fell. The 21 joints of his spine turned into twenty one images of Avalokiteśvara, most of which are preserved inside the caitya of ra lung.

He looked after the interest of others, and that of his chief disciples, among whom (were found), the "first two great ones"—spa and rkyang, the "middle two great ones"—rgya and 'bras, and the "last two great ones"—lo and rgod (tshang pa).

Footnotes and references:


gtsang pa rgya ras the founder of 'brug (R).


This means that his "inner heat"/gtum mo or drod/ has been developed (R).


The propitiation of the Great Merciful One /Avalokiteśvara/ (R).


gur brtag, Ārya Ḍākinīvajrapañjarā mahātantrarājakalpa nāma, Kg. rgyud 'bum, No. 419 (R).


Kg. r Gyud, Nos. 417-418 (R).


A monastery in the neighbourhood of lhasa. The famous klong rdol bla ma resided there (R).

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