Blue Annals (deb-ther sngon-po)

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

This page relates ‘Sonam Gyatso (vi): Spiritual realization’ 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 29 - Sonam Gyatso (vi): Spiritual realization

The sixth (chapter): the acquisition of beatitude obtained by the power of blessing (of the Buddha)-by this I mean the manifestation of the manner of acquiring an excellent realization.

This holy man having attaincd the degree of a fully-enlightened Mahāsattva abiding in the higher stage,[1] manifested the miracle of rebirth as desired by him. From his childhood he turned towards the 'direct' meaning (nīta-artha) of the Doctrine, and because of this, he was able to listen to many kinds of expositions (of the Doctrine) by holy men, showed great diligence, and manifested many kinds of perfection. He obtained the "Six Doctrines" (of Nā-ro-pa) from the Lord 'gos, the mahā-upādhyāya kun rgyal ba and 'tshur phu ‘jam dbyangs go śrī. He practised their (precepts) and an incontrovertible understanding of the Mahāmudrā state was born in him.

On being initiated into the maṇḍala of Śrī-Dākārṇavamahāyoginītantrarāja,[2] he became possessed by a deity and experienced an intense beatitude. When he obtained at brag nag (%) the initiation rite of the Yoga-Tantra from the Lord rin chen rgyal mtshan pa, he got a pure vision, which made him understand the World and all living beings (bcud) to represent the great maṇḍala of the three dpal (dpal mchog dang po), rtse (rdo rje rtse mo), and dbyings (rdo rje dbyings).[3] (%)

Later when he was performing the initiation of the seven maṇḍalas of rngog (%) for the benefit of his Holiness dpal chos kyi grags pa, the holder of the Red Crown of Śrī kar ma pa (dpal kar ma pa zhwa dmar cod pan 'dzin pa),(%) he had a vision of all the seven maṇḍalas of rngog (%) surrounded by a rainbow. When he came to the sacred place of tsa ri tra, the local deity[4] appeared in his proper form, and performed work (on his behalf). He perceived the peculiarities of this sacred place as corresponding to the real forms of ḍākinīs and vīras (dpa' bo) according to the three phyi nang gzhan.[5]

When he was performing twice the rite of preparing nectar pills (bdud ril bu) in a skull cup endowed with proper marks, the scent of the medicine enveloped his entire dwelling. The nectar was seen to flow endlessly from a jar of wine (shings bu). He discovered the sign of Vajra-garuḍa (rdo rje nam mkha' lding) at lho brag rnkhar chu. (%) At gro bo lung (%) he met the saint[6] mar pa who gave him his blessing.

He then sang the following song:

In the spiritual palace of North Śambhala,
He was dwelling amidst five hundred queens.
Now he has come into my presence!
Do you see him? Is there (another) fortunate one?

He sang numerous psalms on his attainment of mental concentration at the above places, as well as at sham bu, rgyal po'i khab, chu bar, 'tshel min, bsam gtan gling, and other localities, and these psalms were received by all with amazement in respect of their words and meaning.

He transformed himself into ’gos lo tsā ba gzhon nu zhabs, 'gron mgon phag mo gru pa, and dpal che mthog,[7] and preached the Doctrine presiding over an assembly of ḍākinīs. However, he pretended that he had performed in a dream. He said that he had seen smoke coming out between the eye brows of 'gos gzhon nu'i zhabs which then spread in the sky, and when (29a) he had looked at it attentively, he saw numberless forms of the śūnya-rūpa.[8]

Later, when he was listening to the recitation of the gnas brtan gyi smon lam chen mo by dpal byams pa gling pa, the Great, he saw the Buddha surrounded by, arhats as well as the scenery described in the poem.[9] The yakṣa (gnod sbyin) rdo rje bdud 'dul1446 laboured on his behalf in his real form. The Dharmar[10] āja li byin ha ra presented him with the seal of the Master of the Doctrine.

He had a clear vision of the inside of the great stūpa of byams pa gling filled with a thousand Buddhas of the Bhadrakalpa similar to a heap of grain. The Venerable Mañjughoṣa stretching out his right golden hand, placed it on his head and blessed him. Dpal byams pa gling pa, the great, having descended from the Tuṣita heaven, preached to him many doctrines in the symbolical language (dgongs skad).[11]

On many occasions he met the great paṇḍita (Vanaratna), who (appeared to him) in the form of a paṇḍita, a yogin, and a god. After the departure of the great paṇḍita to Tuṣita, he instructed him in a vision to proceed to the Lake of tsa ri. (tsa ri gyu mtsho), preached the Doctrine to him, appointed him his chief disciple, and gave him the śrīvatsa emblem of (his) heart.

In real life also, the skull cup which he used in making offerings to his Teacher, acquired the colour of pearl, and out of it appeared a clearly visible image of the great paṇḍita (Vanaratna). The inside and outside of the great stūpa of byams pa gling appeared to his vision of wisdom as a pure sphere.

Because of all this he sang the following song:

The Dharmakāya, free of thought construction, the bodhicitta,
this sacred form endowed with the thirty-seven, marks of Enlightenment,[12]
appearing as a great stūpa, displaying 84,000 gates of religion.
Even in the smallest particle of which, there (were found) countless paradises!
Do you see them? Is there a fortunate one?
It appears clearly to the eyes of myself, the yogin!

He perceived the complete ten signs (rtags bcu) of meditation after hearing the recitation of the guide to the "Six Practices" (sbyor drug) by the mahā-upādhyāya kun rgyal ba. He experienced a feeling of beatitude in his body and a wonderful sensation of a change came over him.

Of the several different visions (seen by him) before the dkar ru image of dam pa at ding ri, one (was) the vision of a manifestation which appeared to be the real form of the image. The reflection of the image which he saw in the mirror was a form similar to the image of bal thul ma,[13] with a small Mahābodhi stūpa on the crown of its head. He saw emanating from the space between the eyebrows of this form innumerable signs of siddhi, and a tilaka mark inside which appeared innumerable forms of the śūnya-rūpa. In this manner he obtained numberless visions of the śūnya-rūpa. We find in his lifestory the frequent statement that he had seen innumerable forms of the śūnya-rūpa. This means that he had seen by his eye of wisdom the Holy Sphere of Wisdom in which all gods of the utpannakrama and sampannakrama degrees, Buddhas and Holy Bodhisattvas, equal to atoms in numbers, appeared within each atom.

At zangs phu (%) of South ro bo lung he was encouraged by a prophecy that he was destined to attain spiritual realization in Nepāl, and obtain the mystic trance, such as the svādīṣṭa (rang byin rlabs), and he proceeded to Nepāl. The Lord of Miraculous Powers (siddheśvara) Vanaratna having manifested the innate wisdom of initiation into the maṇḍala of Saṃvara,(%) which is the essence of the undifferentiated "Outer", "Inner and "Secret” aspects, as well as the union of the thirteen deities (of the Saṃvara Cycle), he became'a Bodhisattva Mahāsattva, dwelling on the highest stage, and realizing the samādhi-aṅga, which was called the prabhāsvara of the fourth stage[14] of the Pañcakrama of the Guhyasamāja.

The events which took place between his installation as Cakravartin of the Siddhas and his attainment of the state of beatitude of the excellent stage[15] were described in his songs:

In the year of Bhānutāra (nyi sgrol byed, zhing spre—1464 A.D.)
in the month of Visakha, in the southern region,
in the house of tam mra of gro bo'i klungs, (%)
when it was filled by feasting ḍākinīs,, (I was told that) the
prophecy by the nirmāṇa-kāya (Vanaratna) which said that
’at the time of the ripening of wild rice,
your wish will bear fruit', would be made manifest.
This is the first encouragement (received by him).
Then in the year of Pārthiva (sa skyon, shing bya 1465 A.D.),
in the month of Citra (nag pa),[16]
in the virāga-pakṣa,[17]
on the day of Kulika (rigs ldan),
at ku la sam bu, when Caṇḍikā had glorified (me) by her blessing,
a crow’s dropping fell on my head and she said:
'O son! You who wish to meet your father,
will meet danger and obstacles'.
While I was terrified (hearing) this prophecy,
there appeared (again) the form of a red Garuḍa,
and gathered clouds (chu 'dzin) from the Four Quarters,
and caused a shower of rain to fall which inundated the
entire countryside.
After that the black form of Garuḍa was manifested,
and transformed itself into a Mahākāla, and said:
‘This secret omen indicates that your worldly work will be
handicapped by ill-fame.
You should cultivate a desire towards Buddhahood Only.'
This was the second encouragement (received by him).
In the same year of Pārthiva (sa skyong 146 A.D.),
in the month chu stod[18]
in the śukla-pakṣa,[19] in the middle rgyal ba[20]
In the southern `Island of Jewels'[21]
The grandfather, the black faced ri dags dgra (sa ba ri),
And, my father, a monk in appearance[22]
together bestowed, their blessing.
In a wooden house, surrounded by wooden boards,
Mother mig mangs[23] (%) looked after me!
This was secretly revealed to me by one of my own disciples.
It had the sign of a strict secret, and it was said,
'It was improper to reveal it in an assembly'.
This was the third encouragement towards Buddhahood.
Then, the son, wishing to return to his native country,[24]
Arranged to go there disguised as a merchant.
In the year Wood-Hen (shing bya, Pārthiva, sa skyong, 1465 A.D.),
in the month of Aśvinī[25]
In the dark half of the lunar month,[26] in the third Jaya,[27]
In the region of the North, called ngam rim (in gtsang),
Near the Palace of the Kālacakra (image),
On an auspicious date (indicated) in the prophecy of the gods.
(I had a vision) of twenty-four deer-eyed (ri dwags mig) damsels,
Naked,[28] moving through the Sky,[29]
Who had come from definite places,[30]
All of them were enjoyed by Heruka.
This is a great symbol of the hidden which indicates the
Innate Wisdom of those who are able to control the nadis.[31]

The above was the fourth encouragement, difficult to obtain. Afterwards I gradually reached the "Abode of Saints" (siddhas), chu bar, which has the shape of the sacred letter "e".[32]

In the month of Kulika-kārttika[33] , in the third dga' ba[34] of the
dark half of the month (kṛṣṇa-pakṣa), the father (Vanaratna),
wearing a religious robe of golden colour, and the mother, adorned with rich ornaments,
greeted me, and I felt overwhelmed by joy.
I, the son, wearing the upper garment[35] of golden colour,
uttered a prophecy to the parents,[36]
and called their names, saying: "O Vairocanavajra!" and "O Vajra-Tara!"
This is the wonder of wonders, a secret symbol (which indicates),
that I was not to be differentiated from them!
This was the fifth encouragement towards atttaining Enlightenment[37] .
Then, travelling leisurely, in the 11th month, in the dark
half of the month (kṛṣṇa-pakṣa), on the 23rd day,[38] in the abode Calakoṭa, in the mountains (31a) called nyi ma mkhar,
In the house of kuṇḍala, aflame with Inner Heat (gtum mo),[39]
my father (Vanaratna) properly embraced by a nun and indulging in secret enjoyment,
told me and my friend Dīpam,
that we could now practise the śikṣa-caryā.
We entered it and beheld a boundless pure Sky.
We offered the prayer of Prabhāsvara,
and we attained the realization of the Self.[40]
Then my Illusory body,[41] consumed by shining flames,
I threw it away as, a snake its skin.
Then I heard a natural voice saying:
'There is still a little (left) of the gross body.'
This was a true sign of prophecy, supreme in excellence; This was the sixth encouragement. A!
Then on the full moon day of the 12th month,
The father (Vanaratna) initiated my body, speech and mind,
as well as wisdom, into the maṇḍala (sdom pa) of the
'thirteen deities of the grandfather.[42]
Again, on my return, I satisfied (my) ordinary disciples with the same initiation.
Before Dawn, as if in a clear mystic trance, I saw, with my own eyes, the following vision:
In a good house, a high seat was placed before my father (Vanaratna),
who said: 'This mat is for you to sit on!' Then, on my head,
he placed his right hand endowed with marks,
and initiated me into the mantra of Samvara.[43]
The secret of this symbol is most vast, and its meaning great.
It was the encouragement towards the Hidden.
It is the Seven, by which the Mind, consisting of different moods (cha shas can),
is transformed into the state of non-differentiation.
I was wandering amidst the illusory play of the gnas bdun like a child[44]
But my father (Vanaratna) explained to me its meaning,
and encouraged me in the realization of the Meaning."

Having said so, let those, who were fortunate, who had obtained the power of the virtue of Faith, who possessed the eye of the Doctrine and that of wisdom, which had become a source of knowledge (pramāṇa), examine it in order to grasp its meaning.

After that he proceeded to the Svayambhūnāthacaitya,[45] and while holding an assembly at the Śāntapurī vihāra, he met the yogeśvara sha ba ri, who gave him his blessing.

He sang many wonderful songs:

Blessed by the grand-father sha ba ri, and by the grace of my blessed father (Vanaratna), the image of the outer enjoyment melted into the vessel (Mind).[46] Thus the essence of the inner skandhas and dhātus developed into nectar.

May you gods, vīras and ḍākinīs be pleased with it!

There he pleased the great paṇḍita (Vanaratna) with the three kinds of Joys.[47] He obtained the entire secret treasury of the Hidden precepts in the manner of a vase filled to the brim, such as the Sadaṅga-yoga, which had been personally imparted by sha ba ri to the great paṇḍita (Vanaratna), the precepts of Padma Amitāyus[48] (%) imparted by the vidyādhara Padma, and other texts. He experienced the Wisdom peculiar to the essence of initiation (the fourth initiation).

When all his wishes were fulfilled and he was about to proceed to Tibet, the Teacher told him that the Hidden precepts, which you have heard from me, had all their Lineages, but I (myself), was able to hear all the Doctrine from sha ba ri himself. These Hidden precepts which had originated with me, should be occasionally preached to the fortunate ones who are in search of the Path of the Yuganaddha (zung 'jug). These disciples were perceived by the eye of my mystical trance. In this manner he received the great encouragement to labour for the welfare of others.

Following his Teacher’s prophecy, these (disciples) who were trained and given precepts by the Lord, were able to develop without hindrance the understanding of the Path. Through his prescience he was able to perceive the birth of understanding (in his disciples), by his eye of wisdom he was able to perceive the births and physical traits of individuals, and used to guide them accordingly.

Footnotes and references:


Mahābhūmi, sa chen po


Kg. rgyud 'bum, No. 372


"Sbornik izobzazheniy 300 burkhanov" Bibl. Buddh. V, pp. 26, 77


zhing skyong, kṣetra-pāla


phyi deities presiding over the Sun, Moon and Stars; nang deities presiding over the inner organs of the body, gzhan other deities


the chief divinity of the rying ma pas


One of the ten visionary forms described in the Kālacakra/Sekoddeśaṭīkā, ed. Carclli /Baroda, 1941/, p, 35: dhūma, smoke; maricī, mirage;khaskya, dyota, fire-fly; dīpa, lamp; jvālā, flame; candra, Moon; āditya, Sun; Rāhu, eclipse; bindu, spot.


Sthaviropanimantraṇa by Bhavaskandha, Tg. sprin yig, No. 4199


Vajra Māradama


sandhābhāṣā. Prabodh Chandra Bagchi: "Studies in the Tantras". Calcutta, 1939, p. 27.


The 37 bodhi-pakṣas. See Mhvipt,. 38.44


Name of a famous statue of dam pa


=the eighth bhūmi


mchog gi gnas = Buddhahood


The 3rd month of the Tibetan year


i.e. the kṛṣṇa-pakṣa or the last half of the lunar month


the 6th month of the Tibetan year


the first half of the lunar month


The 8th day of the sixth month; according to the Kālacakra the days of a half-month/lunar/ were divided into five groups of days, namely: rgyal ba dang po, rgyal ba gnyis pa, rgyal ba mtha' ma; dga' ba dang po, dga' ba gnyis pa, dga' ba mtha' ma; rdzogs pa dang po, rdzogs pa gnyis pa, rdzogs pa mtha' ma; (R 818) bzhang po dang po, bzhang po gnyis pa, bzang po mtha' ma; ston pa dang po… 1st day dga' ba tang po. 2nd day bzang po dang po. 3rd day rgyal ba dang po. 4th day ston pa dang po. 5th day rdzogs pa dang po. 6th day dga' ba gnyis pa. 7th day bzang po gnyis pa, etc.).


rin po che'i gling, probably rin chen gling, or Ratnadvīpa, Nepāl?


i.e. Vanaratna


'Many eyed', i.e. Vajravārahī


i.e. from Nepāl to Tibet


dbyug pa 'dzin pa 'holding a staff'; Tha skar the 9th month of the Tibetan year.




rgyal ba, i.e. the 28th day of the month


gos dan, space attired


i.e. ḍākinīs, mkha' 'gro ma


i.e.-the 24 sacred places of the Tantras


i.e. breath-control


i.e. triangular in shape


the 10th month


the 26th day of the month


saṅgha-tsi<saṃghāṭī, one of the three robes of Buddhist monk


i.e. Vanaratna and his retinue


mchog chen, Buddhahood


rgyal ba gnyis pa or dbus ma


This means that the saw the vision in his centre of kanda.






i.e. Saṃvara


lit. "the abode with no letters," name of a mantra of seventeen letters.


rdo rje gnas bdun, i.e. the seven characteristics of the Bodhisattva-gotra= Tathāgata-garbha: the Buddha /sangs rgyas/, Dharma /chos/, Saṅgha /dge 'dun/, bde gshegs snying po /Tathāgata-garbha/, the four are expounded in the (R 821) first chapter of the Anuttara-Tantra, Bodhi /byang chub/, Guṇa /yon tan/, Karma /'phrin las/. The last three are expounded in the last three chapters of the Anuttara-Tantra. See klong rdol bla ma'i gsung 'bum, Book X/Tha/, fol. 5a.


phags pa shing kun in Nepāl


I e. all the images of the Outer World sank into the Mind


chos kyi mnyes pa, zen zing gi mnyes pa, zhabs tog mnyes pa


Padmasambhava in the form of Amitāyus.

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