Blue Annals (deb-ther sngon-po)

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

This page relates ‘Shes rab rgyal mtshan’ 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 10 (The Kalacakra).

Chapter 16 - Shes rab rgyal mtshan

Kun mkhyen shes rab rgyal mtshan,[1] who had become his disciple: he was born in the family known as ban tshang of dol pa. In his youth he became a disciple of skyi ston 'jam dbyangs pa, uncle and nephew. He studied the Piṭakas, such as the bka' chen bzhi[2] and others, also the Tantras, such as the initiation of Vajramālā (rdo rje phreng ba) and others. He especially studied the exposition of the Kālacakra after the method of rwa by both the uncle and nephew ('jam dbyangs pa). He preached the bka' bzhi[3] at sa skya from his youth. Inspite of the fact that others did not like him doing so, he also added the Bodhicaryāvatāra, and preached it.

He visited the monastic colleges of dbus and gtsang, took part in debates and became known as a good scholar. He studied extensively with many teachers. At jo mo nang he obtained the Commentary on the Tantra (Vimalaprabhā) together with its hidden precepts from mkhas btsun yon tan rgya mtsho. After having practised the precepts, he experienced an incomparable result.

At the age of 35 he occupied the chair. Till his death he used to preach and meditate (bshad sgrub). He erected the sku 'bum mthong grol chen mo. Following his orders, two of his disciples ma ti pan chen and the lo tsā ba blo gros dpal revised (11a) in the year Wood-Male-Dog (shing pho khyi 1334 A.D.) the translation of the Kālacakra. The Great All-Knowing (kun mkhyen chen po, shes rab rgyal mtshan) having taken as basis this translation, composed an abridgement (bsdus don-piṇḍārtha) on the Great Commentary on the Tantra (rgyud 'grel chen mo)[4] and notes.

Further, he composed numerous short treatises (śāstras) on initiations and meditation, on astrology, etc. After the erection of the sku 'bum chen mo, a new kind of meditation was produced in him. He said: It seems to me, that having created Mount Meru,[5] the Ocean gushed forth.[6]

He composed learned treatises on the doctrine of gzhan stong,[7] such as the nges don rgya mtsho, the bsdus don (its Summary), and sa bcad (its analysis), a commentary on the Uttaratantra (rgyud bla ma), the Abhisamayālaṃkāra, a Commentary on the General Doctrine (bstan pa spyi 'grel), the bka' bsdu bzhi pa,[8] and others, which filled dbus and gtsang.[9]

When many scholars, disagreeing, with his theory (grub mtha'), came to discuss the matter with him, their refutations were melted similar to snow when reaching the ocean.

Having installed the lo tsā ba on the abbot’s chair, he proceeded to dbus, took up residence in lha sa and taught the guide-book on the Sadaṅga-yoga. The territory of lha sa became filled with (monks) practising ritualistic dances (nyams skyong ba'i gar).

Later he proceeded to dpal jo mo nang, and at the age of 70 in the year Iron-Female-Ox (rags mo glang 1361 A.D.) proceeded to Sukhāvatī.[10]

His disciples kun spangs chos grags dpal bzang po, phyogs las rnam rgyal, nya dbon kun dga' dpal, and many others were learned men, who practised the Sadaṅga-yoga. They filled all the mountain valleys and lands of dbus and gtsang with adepts (sādhaka) practising the Sadaṅga-yoga. This Meditative Lineage spread greatly in khams also. Even nowadays there appear to exist numerous adepts (sādhakas) observing the rule of the periods of three half-months and three years on the banks of the rma chu.[11]

Footnotes and references:


a famous scholar of the jo nang pa sect, known generally under the name of (R 776) dol po pa. His image is found in the jo khang of lha sa among those of the most famous Teachers of Tibet.


'dul ba, mdzod, phar phyin, dbu ma


'dul ba, phar phyin, mdzod, dbu ma. (Roerich repeats all four again–ZMR (%))


i.e. the Vimalaprabhā.


i.e. the Great caitya


This was a referent to his famous treatise nges don rgya mtsho, (R 777)

"The Ocean of Direct Meaning (nīt-artha)"


Refutation of the rang stong doctrine of Candrakīrti.


The "Fourth Council". In the bka' bsdu bzhi pa he outlined the theory of the existence of a Natural Buddha/ ran bzin sangs rgyas/ in all living beings.


The nges don rgya mtsho and the bka' bsdu bzhi pa are two famous texts of the jo nang pa sect. Monks of the dge lugs pa school are forbidden to keep these books within the precincts of the monastery.


Born in 1292 A.D.


Huang ho. Followers of jo nang pa are still found round lnga ba in South Amdo/ on the borders of Ssu ch'uan/.

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