Blue Annals (deb-ther sngon-po)

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

This page relates ‘Gotshangpa together with his great sons’ 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 17a - Gotshangpa together with his great sons

[Full title: Gotshangpa together with his great sons; rgod tshang pa bu chen dang bcas pa’i skabs; Chandra 593; Chengdu 796; Roerich 680.]


The Dharmasvāmin rgod tshang pa mgon po rdo rje: he was born in the year Earth Female Hen (sa mo bya, 1189 A.D.), which follows the year of the death of gLing ras, at lu chung gi khra of lho brag, as son of chu chal mon gras and mother zug mo dpal rgyan. As his two elder brothers had died in their childhood, he was entrusted to the care of the ācārya zug ston, who used to protect children by his prayers (gso ba'i slob dpon). He was given the name of mgon po dpal.


In his childhood, because of his handsome appearance, he attracted others to himself. He had a pleasant voice, and became expert in singing. His mind was of a gentle nature, and in his youth he became the pa shi (<baysi, or "Teacher") of bro pa, and was known as pa shi don grub seng ge.

He heard from the ācārya wa zhwa ("The Fox Hat") the lam rim (of the bka' gdams pas). From the ācārya ston he heard the Mādyamaka system. From the ācārya yu bi ba the Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra, and the Sphuṭārtha ('grel chung) from the ācārya zhang. He was able to master these texts after having listened to them once.

He visited lhasa on three occasions, and expressed the solemn wish to practise religion only.

Meeting with the Teacher

Once in his native place, when people had gathered for a wine ceremony, four singers from gtsang came to the place, and sang as follows:

"The Dharmasvāmin rgya ras of the monastery of ra lung possesses the glory of the present and future existences. We, two friends, should we go to his place? From the bottom of our hearts we shall strive towards religion."

When rgod tshang pa heard that song, and the Dharmasvāmin’s name, a strong feeling of reverence was born in him. He asked his father’s permission, which was granted. Taking with him some merchandise, he journeyed to ra lung in the company Of the Dharmasvāmin’s disciple named zug sgom.

He met the Dharmasvāmin when the latter was preaching to an assembly. On ordination, he received the name of mgon po rdo rje. Whenever he met the Dharmasvāmin, the latter smiled at him and seemed attracted towards him. He then bestowed on him the initiation of the offering ceremony (gtor dbang). For twenty two days he practised according to Dharmasvāmin’s instructions. Rgod tshang pa gradually removed some handicaps (in his meditation).

Education and Meditation

He then heard numerous expositions, such as the skyabs 'gro sems bskyed, the sems bskyed chen mo (the cittotpāda ceremony), the rnal 'byor bzhi (seva, sādhana, upasādhana, mahāsādhana), the lhan cig skyes sbyor (name of a book of the 'bri khung pa sect), thabs lam gyi khrid (a guide on the upāya mārga), Ro snyoms kyi dmigs pa mang po (meditations on the notion of "equal flavour"/ro snyoms/), the rabs bdun, the chig chag (name of a system belonging to the Mahāmudra Cycle), the gsang spyod (a book on secret night practices, such as meditations at cemeteries, etc.), the minor and major methods of rites, etc., the Cycle of Samāya, such as the rtsa Itung bcu bzhi pa (the chief fourteen vows of Vajrayāna). He also heard the sādhanas of the thirteen goddesses of the Vajravārahī mandala, and that of the two headed Vajravārahī.

After that he proceeded to 'brug and practised meditation during three months, taking as his object of meditation his Teacher (bla sgrub). He also listened to many religious sermons, etc. He used to gather fuel for the monastic congregation and attend on his Teacher, even sweeping the ashes from the latter’s fire place, and signs of the removal of defilement appeared in him.

He then asked leave to proceed to 'bri khung, and obtained introductions into the Doctrine (chos 'brel) from every good teacher in the northern country of dbu ru.

He first attended a class at 'bri khung, then when 'bri khung pa was preaching a secret doctrine, he asked him:

"Have you completed the Guide (of this book)?" rgod tshang pa replied: “I have completed.”

"Well then, stay here!" said the Dharmasvāmin, and bestowed on him instructions in the hidden doctrine.

He developed a (deep) veneration towards the Dharmasvāmin. Having come to rwa sgreng, after he had met stag lung pa, mtshal pa, and others, he felt a particular veneration towards the Dharmasvāmin ras pa, and went to see him. Soon after that, the Dharmasvāmin (passed away the Dharmasvāmin rgya ras). Next year, a large religious assembly was held, at which 270 ācāryas and 4800 monks gathered.

At the end of the assembly, he journeyed to lho brag mkhar chu, gangs ti se (Kailāsa), Kāśmīra, Jālandhara (the Lower Kaṅgrā Valley), and other places, and chiefly practised meditation. From mkhar chu onwards, he exhibited many signs of spiritual achievement.

Stories of rgod tshang pa’s Travels

In particular, he met several yoginis at Jālandhara who had gathered for a Tantric feast (gaṇacakra). When he forcibly entered the house (in which they had gathered), the yoginī presiding over the feast told him: "Let this yogin come!"

He enjoyed the feast, and great was the blessing[1] . This yoginī resembled 'gro ba bzang mo who in later times used to stay with rgod tshang pa.

When robbers, thinking that they might get gold from him, held him up, he concentrated his mind, placing his Teacher’s image on his head, and thus no harm whatsoever happened to him.

After that he again returned to Tibet. While he was crossing the dpal mo dpal thang, he ran short of provisions, and felt weak.

He came across a bon po and asked him

"O incarnation of gshen rab mi bo! Have you anything to eat?"

The bon po replied:

"You, Buddhist men[2] , often do such things and practise penance out of time!"

He gave him some barley flour and some pieces of intestines. Rgod tshang pa chewed them, and continued his journey.

Later, he used to relate this story, adding:

"This present of a bon po was greater than a hundred offerings of the present time."

Meditation at ra lung

He then proceeded to ra lung and met dbon ras dar ma seng ge who said to him,

"Meditate at phom lha khab. Your mind concentration will increase,"

He accordingly proceeded towards phom lha khab and for three years practised the guru sādhana (bla ma sgrub pa) in a hut.

During that time a thought occurred to him:

"This Teacher of mine; the Dharmasvāmin ras pa, seems to be a Bodhisattva of the tenth bhūmi."

Immediately thereupon he reproved himself, saying:

"O you, wicked one, who dared recognize your Teacher, who had introduced your own mind to Buddhahood, as a Bodhisattva of the tenth stage (bhūmi)!"

From then on, he did not differentiate his Teacher from the notion of Buddhahood.

When he had spent three years at that place, the water of the lake rose and overflowed his hut, but he did not move, though the water had covered the lower part of his body. His food consisted of drinking water only.

One day he found the dead body of a stag on the shore of the lake, and went to fetch it. Having loaded it on a rkyang (wild ass) he brought it to his hut. On one occasion he saw a shower of serpents falling down from the sky. As a result of it, he almost fell ill with leprosy, but soon recovered.

Meditation at tsa ri

He then proceeded into the presence of dbon ras and took up the final monastic ordination. After that he proceeded to tsa ri, and spent there three years. When lie was circumambulating the gyu mtsho lake and making offerings to the lake, the dakini seng ge gdong can (Lion faced, Siṃhamukhī) offered him a ladle full of gold, but he offered it to the lake.

He attended on all those who were staying at tsa ri, and became known by the nickname of the "Yellow donkey of the Eastern and Western rocky valleys" (rdza khrod). Frequently he used to carry barley flour for those who were staying in retirement, until his back became covered with pus. He used to say that his mind was satisfied with this work.

One night he had a dream that all his intestines had fallen out, and that his belly had become empty.

While he was pondering as to whether the organs would again re-enter his body, a white man said to him:

"This time they will not return into your body" (the dream signified the removal of all defilements).

After this his mind concentration greatly increased.

Teaching at la stod

He again returned to ra lung, and met the Dharmasyamin dbon, who said to him:

“You have improved your meditation! Now you should become my assistant teacher."

But he asked to be allowed to go to la stod. The Dharmasvāmin did not give him permission to do so, and his friends also told him that he was not to go there. Then he, thinking to himself "I shall see whether my Teacher is a saint (siddha), or not" (meaning whether he possesses prescience, or not), privately offered the Teacher many mandalas, and again made the request.

After that he asked him personally, and the Dharmasvāmin then told him:

"Well, go now! If you can spread your Teacher’s doctrine in a heathen country, great would be the benefit!"

He then proceeded to la stod, and at bya rog tshang he met father [3] sgrub pa zhig po. "Is he not Samantabhadra [4] himself?" thought he, and faith was born in him. Sgrub pa zhig po bestowed on him the hidden precepts with their minutiae (zhib tshags).

Mediation at khyung dkar and other places

After that he spent three years at khyung dkar, and his mind concentration increased. He became afflicted by a disease caused by lice (shig nad), and was about to die. His attendant went to beg for some food, but also fell ill at bya rog tshang (and did not come back).

Rgod tshang pa thought:

"Now he must have given me up and would not return."

So he prepared to go himself, and then all of a sudden the disease caused by lice left him. He then went to bya rog tshang, and brought back his attendant.

He treated him, and then both the Teacher and disciple recovered.

Again he spent one summer at yang dkar, at a place where the foot prints of the Venerable mid la were found, and his mind concentration increased. After that he proceeded towards rgod tshang[5] , and pronounced a strict vow of seclusion.

In a dream he saw himself saying to a woman;

"What is more profitable to stay in seclusion, or to labour for the welfare of others?"

The woman replied:

"If you have entered seclusion, then benefit to others will also arise."

So he entered seclusion.

His friend sgon grags meditated on the upāya mārga, and, with his prescience penetrated the outside and inside spheres, and saw all the demons of the upper and lower quarters having gathered at rgod tshang to listen to the preaching of the Doctrine by rgod tshang pa. Thus his previous thought that his friend (rgod tshang pa) did not labour for the benefit of others, was removed. Then having left rgod tshang, he proceeded towards the mountain valley of las stod, and practised there secret rites (gsang spyod).

Accomplishments and Realizations

This Dharmasvāmin possessed the marks of spiritual realization, and maintained his theory about the Essence of Nature amidst pleasure and grief. When he was afflicted by the disease caused by lice, he did not throw away even a single lice, prevented by his thought of enlightenment (bodhicitta), and all throughout this suffering he interpreted it with the help of the Mahamudra doctrine. The disease was thus quickly healed. Through the practice of rites, he was able to attain whatever he desired.

His thought followed on each other for two moments only, and after the third moment he was able to transform them into a mind concentration according to the Mahānmdrā, and stop the flow of thought construction. No worldly thought disturbed him. He concentrated chiefly on the practice of devotion towards his Teacher without separating himself from the notion of the "Great Seal" (Mahāmudrā).

Every morning, on awakening, he used to think:

"It was good, that I did not die yesterday. To day l shall attain spiritual realization!"

Full of diligence, he was endowed with an unobstructed wisdom penetrating every kind of doctrine. He used to relate that, while he was residing at Śrī ri (near shel dkar in gtsang), he saw a red woman placing a book into his mouth, and that after that there did not exist a single doctrine translated into Tibetan, which he did not understand.

Monasteries founded

In his later life he founded numerous monasteries, such as steng gro, spung dra, byang gling, bde chen steng, bar 'brog rdo rje gling, and others, and from each of these monasteries there originated many thousands of monk adepts (sādhaka).

Places rgod tshang pa lived

This Dharmasvāmin received ordination at the age of nineteen, and spent three years with gtsang pa. At the age of twenty-one, while engaged in meditative practices, he also laboured a little for the benefit of others. Then (he spent) three years at mkhar chu—twenty-five years. Four years at ti se (Kailāsa) and Jālandhara—twenty-nine years. Three years at lha khab—thirty-two years. Three years at tsa ri 37 years. Three years at both khyung dkar and yang dka—thirty-eight years. Seven years at rgod tshang—forty-five years. Thirteen years at steng gro—fifty-eight years. Nine whole years at bde chen stengs and dga' ldan—sixty-seven, years. One year at seng ge gling of spyad and hor thang—sixty-eight years. Two years at rdo rje gling—seventy years.


He said that having passed into Nirvana in the year Earth Male Horse (sa php rta 1258 A.D.), he would be reborn as an upholder of the bka' brgyud pa doctrine, and after that as the Bodhisattva ma chags pad ma'i spyan (Vairāga Padmākṣa)' in the Upper Region (of the ten directions), and would labour for the welfare of others free of thought construction. After that he would attain Buddhahood as the Tathāgata rdul sel (Arajas) in the sphere of rdul dang bral ba (Virajas).

He also told them that after his death, they should not collect dues among his followers, and should not erect images, but that instead they should practise meditation in hermitages, devote their lives to it, and that at least one year should be spent by them in solitude. He had many disciples.

Footnotes and references:


Revá d Ge 'dun Cbos 'phel tells me that in the Lho brag Chos 'byun the story is told in great details. r God tshail pa had entered a temple /mandir/, inside which some twenty women had gathered. The, eldest of these begged him to sit down and gave him some food. G. Tucci: "Travels of Tibetan Pilgrims in the Swat Valley, Calcutta, 1940, p. 90 /Appendix/ (R).


chos in Bon po terminology means Buddhism.


Male followers óf g Cod are often addressed by the word 'father' /pha/ (R).


The Adi Buddha of the shin ma seat (R).


Near Sri ri /near Sel dkar in gtsang/. The text of the vow is given in the Pad dkar chos 'byuit, fol. r8ob: "I swear, I shall meditate till the names of me, the man, of you, the vulture, and that of the rock become one" (R).

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