Blue Annals (deb-ther sngon-po)

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

This page relates ‘first lineage (brgyud pa dang po’i skabs)’ 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 12 (Peace-Making Lineages).

Chapter 1 - The first lineage (brgyud pa dang po’i skabs)

[Chandra 770; Chengdu 1015;Roerich 867.]

The Early, Later and Intermediate (snga phyi bar gsum) Lineages of zhi byed (zhi byed brgyud pa snga phyi bar gsum gyi skabs).

The story (tshul) of the Lineage of the Holy Doctrine, called sdug bsngal zhi byed. Why was it called "sdug bsngal zhi byed?"Most of the secret precepts and instructions which reached Tibet, helped to protect disciples from sinful actions and purified the defilements of their Minds. This Doctrine brings a speedy alleviation of the sufferings of those who, by the influence of their former lives, are afflicted in body, tormented by diseases, poverty stricken, tormented by devils, and enables them to practise Yoga—for this reason it was called sdug bsngal zhi byed or the "Alleviator of Sufferings". It was also so named after the "Mantra which alleviates all sufferings" uttered by the Buddha (sdug bsngal thams cad rab tu zhi bar byed pa'i sngags).[1]

The Master of this Doctrine: dam pa sangs rgyas. He was a great master of spiritual realization (siddheśvara), and endowed with countless perfections. Out of the Four Attractions (bsdu ba'i dngos po bzhi), mentioned in the Scriptures as methods of leading disciples by a Teacher (sbyin pa, sngan pa, don dpyod and don 'thun), the don dpyod was the method of preaching by which a teacher guided his disciples on the Path. The fourth "Attraction" (don 'thun pa) meant that the teacher himself followed the Path, shown to the disciple. Thus dam pa (sangs rgyas), when guiding disciples, used to lead them in three stages: (1) ordained with the help of the three vows, (2) the Path of penance, and (3) results beneficial to others. Therefore it is necessary to state the manner in which dam pa had himself passed through these stages.

Now the native country of dam pa:

He was born as a son of a father named brtson 'grus go cha,[2] who belonged to the caste of jewel merchants (nor bu rin po che'i len pa'i rigs can), and mother named Ba-ra-sa-ha, who belonged to the caste of incense makers, and was expert in the offerings to the Jewel,[3] in a place where dwelt numerous devotees, in a district called khron pa'i gling[4] [5] in the province of Carasiṃha in the country of Be-ba-la in southern India. He was born with all his teeth out.

When he was taken for examination to a brāhmaṇa astrologer, the latter made the following prophecy:

"This boy may become either a paṇḍita, or a yogin. In any case he will be endowed with excellent faculties, such as prescience. Being a 'seven born' (skye ba bdun pa), he will be free from sins, and will be by nature attracted to virtuous deeds."

In his childhood he mastered all the sciences, such as the science of Grammar and other branches of knowledge. This was a perfection (developed) through his extraordinary nature1625. Later he was ordained by the upādhyāya Kṣemadeva (dge ba'i Iha), and became learned in the Vinaya of the Holy Doctrine, and excellent (in the observance) of the Pratimokṣa vows. An extraordinary Mental Creative Effort towards Enlightenment was produced in him by his guru gser gling pa (Dharmakīrti), and his observance of vows became similar to a great surging wave. He obtained initiations into maṇḍalas from numerous teachers. He possessed the perfect vows and precepts of a Vidyādhara[6] . This was the perfection of his personality (rten), observing the three vows (rten sdom pa gsum), i.e. The manner in which dam pa passed through the first stage. After that he obtained the profound precepts from 54 siddhas, males and females.

His eleven Teachers in the field of Sūtras and Grammar were: klu grub (Nāgārjuna), Prajñabhadra (shes rab bzang po), Guṇaprabha (yon tan 'od), Dharmakīrti (chos grags), Ākarasiddhi, Śaṅkara, Jñānāgarbha (ye shes snying po), Asaṅga (thogs med), Āryadeva, Śāntideva (zhi ba lha), and the guru gser gling pa (Dharmakīrti).

His eleven gurus who taught him the Tantras belonging to the "Father" class (pha rgyud gyo ba rlung), and the yogic exercishes of breathing were: Vāgīśvara (ngag gi dbang phyug), Buddhagupta, Go-dha-rī, Karmavajra, dza ba ri pa (Javari), Jñānapāda (ye shes zhabs), klu byang (Nāgabodhi), Ānangda, Kṛṣṇapāda (Kṛṣṇa-pa), Vasudharin, and Padmavajra.

His eleven gurus who taught him the Tantras belonging to the "Mother" class (ma rgyud), and the experience of Beautitude (bde ba nyams) were: Anaṅgavajra saroruha (mtsho skyes rdo rje), Indrabhūti, Ḍombhī-pa, Vajraghaṇta (rdo rje dril bu pa), Tillipa, Kṛṣṇapāda (nag po'i zhabs), Līlāvajra (sgeg pa rdo rje), Lū-yi-pa,  Vi-rū-pa, Ānangdagarbha (kun dga' snying po), and Ku-ku-ri-pa.

His eleven gurus who taught him the symbol of the Mahāmudrā were: Saraha, Caryā-pa, Gu-ṇa-ri, Koṭali (tog tse pa), Ko-śa-pa, Śa-ba-ri-pa, Maitrī-pa, Sāgarasiddhi, ravigupta (nyi ma sbas pa), Ākarasiddhi, and Ratnavajra.

His ten gurus who introduced him to his own Mind were (rig pa ngo sprod pa): Śabari (ri khrod ma), dri med ma (Vimalā), Padmapādā (pad mo zhabs), Ku-mu-ḍā, Sukhākarā (bde ba'i ‘byung gnas), Gaṅgabhadrī (Gaṅga bzang mo), tsi to ma (Cintā), Lakṣmī, (Vṛkṣa) parṇī (shing lo ma), and Sukhasiddhī.

Having obtained from the above all the Sūtras (phyi mtshan nyid) of the "Outer" Doctrine and all the hidden precepts of the "Father" and "Mother" classes of the "Inner" Doctrine, he practised meditation. He recited the name of his Teacher at seng ge rdzong, and an impartial understanding shone in him. For six years he practised meditation at Eastern seng ge rdzong, for 15 years at Vajrāsana, for four years at the Svayambhū-caitya (rang byung mchod rten), for five years at the Mount Ku-ru-ku-Ila, for five years on the banks of the Ganges, for five years in the jungles of Eastern India, for five years at the cemeteries of southern India, for seven years at the cemetery of Śītavana (bsil ba'i tshal), again for three years at Vajrāsana, and for ten years in the country of Ābhīra (mngon par dga' ba’s yul).

He had innumerable visions of tutelary deities, such as the twelve tutelary deities: Mañjughoṣa, Avalokiteśvara, Vajradhara (rdo rje ‘dzin), Tārā Khasarpaṇa (a form of Avalokiteśvara represented as Śiva), Yamantaka, rang byung rgyal mo (name of Ekajaṭī), sarva-nīvaraṇa viśkambhī (rgrib sel), 'od zer can (Marīci), Samantabhadra (kun bzang), Vārahī, and Acala. Further, Vairocana (rnam par snang mdzad), Hayagrīva (rta mgrin), Saṃvara, Hevajra, and other deities. He had also visions of innumerable mantradharas, such as the 36 gurus belonging to the Heavenly abode of ḍākinīs (khecara, mkha’ spyod) and others.

Among the ordinary siddhis, he obtained the eye medicine (añjana, mig sman), applying which one could see treasures underground, the medicine which enabled one to cover the distance of 100 yojanas daily (rkang mgyogs), magic pills (ril bu, gulikā), the faculty of passing through earth (sa 'og), the power of employing a yakṣī as one’s servant (gnod ‘byin mo), a tongue of a vetāla (ro langs) transformed into a dagger (ral gri) which enables one to fly through space, moving through sky (mkha’ spyod, Khecara). In respect of the Sublime Realization (mchog gi dngos grub) he obtained the darśana-mārga or the Path of Illumination (mthong lam) and the knowledge of the Mahāmudrā (Mahāmudrā-jñana).

(His) results which were beneficial to others: he performed Tantric rites in all the localities of the 24 countries, etc. Famed as one possessed of spiritual realization, he was known by different names.

Now the manner of his labours for the benefit of others in Tibet: in all he visited Tibet on five occasions. The first (visit): He journeyed to tsa ri via 'brin thang and requested the goddess Rematī (to grant) him the power of covering great distances (rkang mgyogs).

Having penetrated as far as skong yul and sum yul, there was no district in the three regions of smad (Lower) khams, which he did not tread with his feet. Though at that time there was no receptacle which he could fill with his teaching, he prophesied that in future times in these localities the Doctrine would spread.

The second (visit): having left Kāśmīra, he proceeded towards mnga’ ris and bestowed several precepts on zhang zhung gling kha pa and on the bon po khra tshar 'brug bla.

The third (visit): When he was coming from Nepal, having befriended some merchants, he met rmang ra ser po of yar klungs. The latter accompanied him, and in gtsang he bestowed many hidden precepts of gcod on skyo bsod nams bla ma and rmang ra ser po.

The fourth (visit): Having reached sha 'ug stag sgo, he stayed at gnyal. He purified the moral defilements of his mother. Later having gone to dbus, he laboured for the benefit of rma, so and others.

The fifth (visit): He proceeded to China and spent 12 years there. Then again he returned to ding ri.

Once kun dga asked him about the number of disciples initiated by dam pa in Tibet and who had scattered throughout the country, saying:

"How many disciples have you had in Tibet to whom you have given precepts?"

Dam pa replied:

"Are you able to count the stars in Heaven above the plain of ding ri?"

(He said so,) because the sky over ding ri is wide and it is difficult to count the stars on it. These disciples had scattered, and therefore were unable to continue the Lineage. It is difficult for people to know about them. Thus, because he possessed innumerable disciples, he must have had also numerous hidden precepts. (His) famous Lineages are the "Early", the "Intermediate" and the "Later."

Now the first Lineage:

The doctrine (of this Lineage) was represented by the sādhana of Yamāntaka and the three Cycles of zhi byed sgrol ma which were preached by dam pa to the Kashmirian Jñanaguhya. They were taught by dam pa and Jñanaguhya to ong po lo tsA ba. The latter taught them to lo btsun chung and bla chung 'od zer.

Now lo btsun chung: he proceeded to India to practise meditation and did not return. Bla chung 'od zer taught (the doctrine) to 'chus pa dar brtson. The latter to 'chus pa brtson seng. The latter (taught it) to rog she srab 'od. Again the Kashmirian Jñanaguhya taught it to spu hrangs lo chung. The latter to dmar ston chos rgyal. The latter to the kalyāṇa-mitṭa yol mo. The latter to gshen ston nam mkha’. The. latter to kyi tshan zhig po. The latter to rog shes rab 'od. The system of on po lo tsA ba had no sādhanas.

The Chapter about the first Lineage.

Footnotes and references:


Skt. Bhagavatīprajñāpāramitā-hṛdaya, mdo mangs, vol. I, sher snying, fol. 375. Lalou, "Catalogue du Fonds Tibétain de la Bibliothèque Nationale", p. 40, No. 101. (R)


Skt. Vīryavarman (R).


Skt. ratna (R).


Skt. Kūpadvīpa (R).


Skt. gotra (R).


a Tantric vow (R).

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