Blue Annals (deb-ther sngon-po)

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

This page relates ‘Later Lineages (vi): The three sons of dpyan snga dpal chen’ 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 8 - Later Lineages (vi): The three sons of dpyan snga dpal chen

The first (was) spyan snga kun rgyal (who lived for) 35 years, between the year Earth-Serpent (sa sbrul 1269 A.D.) and the year Water-Hare (chu yos 1303 A.D.). The second (son) yon tan rgyal mtshan (lived for) 54 years, between the Iron-Horse (lcags rta 1270 A.D.) and the year Water-Hog (chu phag 1323 A.D.). The youngest son drin can pa (lived for) 63 years, between the year Water-Bird (chu bya 1273 A.D.) and the year Wood-Hog (shing phag 1335 A.D.). ‘tshal pa’s son the great ascetic (bya bral chen po) kun dga' rgyal mtshan (lived for) 76 years, between the year Earth-Hog (sa phag 1299 A.D.) and the year Wood-Tiger (shing stag 1374 A.D.). Drin can pa’s eldest son—the hermit (ri khrod pa) ye shes bzang po (lived for) 42 years, between the year Iron-Mouse (Icags byi 1300 A.D.) and the year Iron-Serpent (Icags sbrul 1341 A.D.). The youngest gtsug rgyan yid bzhin nor bu kun dga’ lhun grub (lived for) 72 years, between the year Water-Ox (chu glang 1313 A.D.) and the year Wood-Mouse (shing byi 1384 A.D.). His eldest son mkhas btsun don grub rgyal mtshan (lived for) 42 years, and was born in the year of the Ox (glang lo 1337 A.D.).

The youngest son rin po che chos rgyal ba:

He was born at rtse sgang in the year Iron-Male-Dragon (lcags pho 'brug 1340 A.D.). From childhood he was characterized by brighter faculties than others. He recollected the work he had performed (in his former lives), and manifested a great power of mind. Without paying attention to difficulties, he became one possessed of all (branches) of knowledge. From the age of 8, he mastered without difficulty (religious) dances, rites (phrin sgrub), astrology (Indian tradition), and other branches of (knowledge). From the age of 9, he mastered by heart the Guhyagarbha-Tantra (gsang snying) and the Cycle of (Vajra)kīla.[1] He also learned by heart the (above) Tantra, its subdivisions (sa gzhung), its commentary and summary (khog dbub), together with notes (mchan) on it and verbal commentaries (gsung sgros).

At the age of 12, he became abbot. He used to preach without interval throughout the summer and winter semestres (dbyar chos and dgun chos). He studied assiduously with his father the initiations, expositions and precepts of the three Lineages of the zhi byed system, the "Early", the "Later" and the "Intermediate", together with their permissions (lung). He also studied extensively the "Old" and "New" Tantras, and preached from memory the large texts.

When a bride was brought (to him) after consultation between all (his relatives), he felt afflicted, and in company with three disciples, four in all, fled away, having heard of the fame of skyes mchog rin po che. He met skyes mchog pa, who was residing at rgya brag, and an extraordinary faith was born in him as soon as he had seen the Teacher’s face. "From where did you come?" inquired skyes mchog pa. He replied: "From the hermitage of gra". "O! You are the nephew of zhig po rin po che", saying so he joined the palms of his hands before his chest. "Take from this house whatever you need", said the Teacher. He felt very pleased.

He then listened to (the exposition) of the meditation of the Lineage of the Meaning, and attended lectures (tshogs chos). After two or three months he was asked to return, and came back. Then he obtained from his father all the secret precepts in the manner of a vase filled to the brim. From the "Great Hermit" (bya bral chen po) he obtained the phyag bzhes (method) of ‘khrul zhig pa, the Cycle of doctrines of the dags po bka’ brgyud, the initiation into the Vajramālā, and other texts, which were not found at rthe sgang. He also obtained from the guru a mo gha pa numerous initiations of the "New" Tantras and many permissions (lung) from gtsang pa lung mang po, beginning with those of the bka’ 'gyur. Then at the age of 18, he proceeded to sman cig and propitiated phyag rdor bde khros.

After that he worshipped many tutelary deities of the "New"and "Old" Tantras. He practised the method of rma which belonged to the "Intermediate Lineage" (of the zhi byed), and an understanding of the Mahāmudrā was produced in him. After that, for two years he performed the propitiation of the lam lnga ("the Five Paths"), and observed many extraordinary signs. Then for one year he practised the meditation of the "Three Paths" (lam gsum, belongs to the zhi byed).

About that time, when meditating at Dawn, he had a vision of the Guru of the Lineage (rten rgyas bskyed) on whose images he had concentrated assiduously. His faith then increased in power, and as soon as he had prayed earnestly, many doors of mystic trance were opened (before him). For six months he practised the sādhana of dbang gcig ma, and saw in a dream his body transformed into a luminous form, and then absorbed into the heart of the Teacher. He practised occasionally the (method) of the "Early" Lineage, as well as the method of so.

Thus he hoisted the banner of meditative ascetics. The Sun of yogic insight shone inside him, and the darkness of Ignorance vanished. Then the fetters of the differentiation into subject and object (gzung ‘dzin) fell off, and his power of love and commiseration increased. He developed the faculty of faith (dad pa’i dbang po) in all the devotees (his disciples). He thus took his place among his predecessors (in the Lineage).

Even the daily labours of this great man, could not be grasped by mind. At Dawn he used to begin (with the recitation) of the Refuge formula (skyabs 'gro) and the Cittotpāda (sems bskyed), and meditated on the "Five Paths" (lam lnga) till day break. Then he recited the mantras of rtshe sgrub (the mantra of Amitābha), the rnam 'joms (the mantra of Vajradhara), the sme brtsegs (Kuṇḍalī;the first insures longevity, the second—removes defilements, the third—purifies the body). After that he used to arrange offerings (mchod pa), recite praise, prayers, offer confession (rgyun bshags), and offer a gtor ma made of white butter (dkar gtor), etc. After finishing his morning tea, he recited the Prajñāpāramitā (mdo sgrub) and prepared many kinds of gtor ma offerings. Then he recited the prayer of the Lineage called dus gsum ma, and retired for his morning meditation.

After finishing his mid day meal, he recited the na rak dong sprugs (name of a rnying ma rite, well known in Sikkim)," and the dhāraṇī of gza' yum (Rāhula and his śakti). After that he retired for the evening meditation. In the evening he recited 21 times the stotra of the Tārā. At dusk he performed a hundred prostrations, the Seven branches (yan lag bdun pa), made a general confession (spyi bshags), and made offerings to the Religious Protector. After it got dark, he recited the nam mkha’ sgo 'byed (name of a gcod ceremony), and offered gtor mas to skyed dbungs (name of a deity). He also constantly meditated during the day according to the method of skam and the spyod yul (gcod). Such were his usual daily labours.

In the above manner he practised exclusively meditation, and observed many extraordinary signs. One night, when he was performing the skongs brgya rtsa (a hundred offerings), he saw in a dream that much puss and blood had come out from his body, and that his flesh became emaciated. Then he saw his flesh detached from the bones which assumed a greyish colour. During his propitiation of bde khros, (he saw) himself sitting on (the summit) of Mount Meru (ri bo mchog rab), then he got a vision of the three thousand worlds, and his body grew very large. During his initiation into the Cycle of the Venerable one (rje btsun maVajravārahī), he saw the Teacher as the Venerable one.

During his propitiation of (Vajra)kīla, a red light of the size of an offering lamp, emanating from the magic dagger, was observed for many days. In a dream (he saw) himself holding with his hand (two) opposite mountain peaks, and beating them like cymbals (cha lang). During his propitiation of tshe bdag (a form of Yamāntaka), he saw in a dream that he drank out all (the water) of the gtsang po. During the offering of the 14th at bsam gtan gling, legs ldan nag po (Kṛṣṇa) came down from the roof of the house and appeared in front of him. All saw him (Kṛṣṇa) descending. At the time of an eclipse of the Moon, when he was performing an offering rite to bde khros, and had finished the rite to the Mundane deities, and was about to begin the rite to the Supermundane deities, his body became luminous, fire lit up, and stood out clearly for a considerable time. After finishing the rite, he expressed his satisfaction. When he was asked about this he said that at the time of the manifestation of (the deity) in front of him, the tutelary deity was seen clearly, entering the fire.

He was able to offer the homa offering to the (god), in the manner of a man giving it to another. Later there appeared ḍākinīs and Religious Protectors, and partook of their shares. Bde khros and (Vajra)kīla had been the tutelary deities of the previous teachers (of the Lineage). During the initiation rites, these two were the greatest in manifesting their blessing. During the initiations a sick man had his disease cured. They also restored the power of speech to dumb ones. During the performangce of medicinal rites, the quantity of medicines increased and numerous were the signs of blessing. He used to perform his usual work in the manner of previous teachers (of the Lineage). He spent all his property (in payment) as soon as received for the memorial services ('das mchod) for previous teachers (of the Lineage), erected images, distributed provisions to the poor, and presented offering lamps in the Upper and the Lower Chapels.

Five years after rin po che gtsug rgyan pa’s death, he bestowed the initiation and the exposition of the "Five Paths" (lam lnga) on a small number of disciples, who included the latter’s son, the bla ma 'od zer, and others. Then he preached every summer and winter the initiations and the expositions of the Three Lineages of the zhi byed system, the "Early'', the "Later", and the "Intermediate." The benefit for living beings increased. His fame spread over the surface of the Earth. Many kalyāṇa-mitras became his disciples, and the most excellent among them was skyes mchog rin chen bzang po. He himself admitted that he was an incarnation of Indrabhūti. He had also numerous disciples, such as the bla ma grags don pa, gtsang pa blo bzangs pa, rtogs ldan grags lhun pa, and others. At the age of 70, from the autumn of the year Earth-Female-Ox, (sa mo glang 1409 A.D.) his health became impaired. They applied themselves with diligence to rites, etc.

One day he gave instructions to each of his sons, pointing out to them their respective monasteries and works.

"You, shes rab bzang po, should look after these books in the book case. You shouldn't abandon the hermitage of sman gcig and should foster the interest of living beings according to your abilities."

Having imparted instructions as above, he passed away into the Pure Sphere (dag pa'i dbyings). He had seven sons: byang chub bzang po, dar ma rin chen, 'od zer rgyal mtshan, the sgrub pa po (sādhaka) 'jam dbyangs, byang chub dpal ldan, kun dga’ bshes gnyen, the Dharmasvāmin rin po che shes rab bzang po.

The Dharmasvāmin shes rab bzang po was born in the year Fire-Male-Tiger (me pho stag 1386 A.D.). In childhood he obtained the complete precepts from his father. He also knew the rituals. At the age of 24, he bestowed the exposition (of precepts) on sgo mo rin po che, ye shes dpal ba and others, and became a Teacher. After that he constantly laboured for the welfare of others at both lho brag and gra. He was endowed with the understanding of the Mahāmudrā, and was strict in the observance of the pure moral code of a monk.

From this Master of the Lineage of Teaching, we (‘gos lo) obtained the Three Lineages of the zhi byed system, the "Early", the Later", and the "Intermediate". Rin po che byang bzangs pa’s son the bla ma kun dga’ rdo rje was born in the year Wood-Male-Horse (shing pho rta 1414 A.D.). In his childhood he studied extensively with his father the method of Māyā (sgyu 'phrul) of the "benign" (zhi ba) and "wrathful" (khro bo) aspects, the Cycle of Vajrakīla, and other systems. He also heard much from his father and the rin po che shes rab bzang po the complete Cycle of the zhi byed system. Even now this (Teacher) is still alive, benefitting numerous disciples.

The eldest son of the three sons born to smra ba'i seng ge, known as the "All Knowing" (thams cad mkhyen pa), had been a paṇḍita in the south of India, named Lokyatrinātha. By the power of his learning in both the Tantras and Sūtras, he was able to overcome others in philosophical disputes. He had about six excellent disciples. He was reborn as the great sa skya pa kun dga’ snying po. After that he became a paṇḍita named Prajñāmatiśrī in Jālandhara, endowed with some miraculous powers.

With the help of his miraculous powers he visited the country of Oḍḍīyāna. There he visited the Svayambhū caitya (rang byung gi mchod rten). On the four sides of this caitya, four great paṇḍitas in turn bestowed on him the initiation of the vase,[2] and the other degrees of initiations. At that time he was blessed by the Tathāgatas who filled the entire Sky. He was bathed by Locanā (spyan ma, name of a devī) and other deities. He was worshipped by gzugs rdo rje ma[3] and other goddesses. After that he proceeded to various cemeteries, such as the Padmakūṭa cemetery (pad ma brtsegs) and others, to perform Tantric rites. Due to the shortness of the time spent by him in meditation, these Tantric rites endangered his life, and he passed away at the age of 49. From there he came here, such is his story told by himself.

He was reborn in the year Fire-Male-Mouse (me pho byi ba 1216 A.D.). When he was nine months old, his mother took him to the place where te ne had been cremated at ri khrod, and he recollected fully all the circumstances of the cremation. At the age of 7, he mastered reading and grammar, after a single explanation by the Teacher. He also learned from gnyags ston rnal 'byor 'bum grammatical treatises,[4] such as the rig bklag and others.

After having studied for seven days, he was able to read with ease the printed script. Later he was able to distinguish between the styles of scripts, paintings and images of India, China, Oḍḍīyāna, and other countries. At the age of eight, he was able to perform the rite of the bka’ brgyad (name of a rnying ma ritual). He offered to his parents the food that remained after the Tantric feast[5] accompanying the rite, and pleased them. At the age of ten, he joined his father in propitiating (their) tutelary deity, and a mystic trance, during which he did not distinguish between day and night, was born in him.

Thus this (Teacher), who was endowed with the nature of a Bodhisattva (rigs Idan) and had obtained a mass of merits as his birth right, attended, in general, on more than 16 teachers, and especially secured from rgya, the "All Knowing", the light of the boundless scriptures. From lhag ru ba he obtained an excellent discriminative understanding. From a great Indian paṇḍita he obtained the foundation of the true meaning (yid ches don gyi gnas). From ji ri pa he obtained the rite of the "external" and "inner" maṇḍalas (phyi nang dkyib 'khor; the nang dkyib 'khor belong to the Anuttara-Tantra; the "External" to the other Tantric systems).

From ldum ra ba he learned the (habit) of earnest study which purified the symbolical and individual streams (dpe rgyud). From ‘bri khung pa he learned the manner of labouring for the welfare of others. From ri khrod pa he obtained the "heat" of blessing by which he was able to subdue demons. From bang rim pa he obtained the vital power (gnad kyi mtshan) of hidden precepts. From the kulapati (rigs bdag—his father) he himself obtained the understanding of the theory.

Because he was able to master a subject by merely reading about it, or merely hearing about it, he became known as "All Knowing". His real name was bsod nams dpal. He also composed numerous śāstras on the "Old" (rnying ma) and "New" Tantras, and on many other branches of knowledge. From Idum ra ba he obtained especially the sayings of the scholar tre bo mgon po and became an expert in the system of tre bo. Through meditation, he obtained many realizations in the Tantras. He passed away at the age of 62 in the year Fire-Female-Ox (me mo glang 1277 A.D.).

The eldest of the three sons of the "All Knowing" (was) kun dga’ bzang po:

The Dharmasvāmin rgod tshang pa, the Great, having passed away in the year Earth-Male-Horse (sa pho rta 1258 A.D.), was reborn in the same Horse year (rta lo 1258 A.D.) at snye mdo as son of snye mdo ba, the "All Knowing", who was then aged 43. Till the age of six, the child used to repeat frequently: "I am rgod tshang pa!" He also used to say that he had been mid Ia. He pretended that he could not speak till he was three. From the age of four he mastered reading and writing. From the age of seven, he used to preach to the retinue. Till the age of 12, he obtained from his father many sādhanas and Tantras of the rnying ma school, mastered them, and preached them to others. He also taught ritual.

At the age of 12, he gathered disciples from different parts, and erected a religious seat. His father entrusted to him all the books and taught him Sūtras, Tantras, Āgamas, and Logic (Pramāṇa). At the age of 13, he taught the Śri-Guhyasamāja Tantra, and his father was pleased with the manner of his preaching. At the age of 14 and 15, he stayed in seclusion and had a clear vision of Vajrakīla. He manifested some miraculous powers. Together with shangs pa tshul she he listened to numerous teachings of the Guhyagarbha and to those of the Three Lineages of the zhi byed system, the "Early", the "Later", and the "Intermediate". From shangs tshul himself he obtained several Sūtras, such as the Samādhirāja Sūtra[6] and others. From mang yul (ding ri) came the ācārya nam mkha’ ye shes to visit his father, and to be initiated into the great initiation of. The Māyā (sgyu 'phrul) and others. The son assisted in the rite as karma-ācārya.

At the age of 16, ba ri ba admitted him to be an incarnation, and dbon po chos kyi gzi brjid was sent to offer him numerous presents. After that spyil dkar ba himself having come, they taught each other numerous doctrines. From his father he received the initiation into the Kālacakra. At the age of 17, he met ‘tshal gser khang pa on the way to ‘bri khung, and obtained (from him) many doctrines. He then went to worship the image of Śakyamuni (jo bo) in lha sa, and after that journeyed to ‘bri khung, and took up ordination.

At the age of 18, he listened to numerous expositions by his father at snye mdo. His yogic insight broadened. He accepted his father as his matchless first Teacher (mūla-guru, rtsa ba’i bla ma). His 19th year he spent in a similar manner. In the year Fire-Mouse (me byi 1276 A.D.) the troops of the prince (rgyal bu) a rog che (Aruyci) arrived.

In the year Fire-Ox (me glang 1277 A.D.) his father went to mkhar chu. He was invited by the Dharmasvāmin ba ri ba, and proceeded to la stod (near ding ri). During the year his father died at mkhar chu. On his return from gtsang, he performed pompous funeral rites. In the year Iron-Serpent (lcags sbrul 1281 A.D.) he met the siddha seng ge grags at snye mdo, who imparted precepts to him. At the age of 25, in the year Water-Horse (chu rta 1282 A.D.) he met u rgyan pa. At chu lug, gYam bzangs and 'dod mkhar he heard twice the Mahāsiddha (grub chen pa, u rgyan pa) reciting the commentary on the Kālacakra-Tantra (the Vimalaprabhā).

At the age of 36, in the year Water-Serpent (chu sbrul 1293 A.D.) he obtained from bcom ral (bcom ldan rig ral) the basic text of sha ba ri,[7] and other texts. In the year Earth-Dog (sa khyi 1298 A.D.) he invited the lo tsA ba grags pa rgyal mtshan (the yar klungs lo tsA ba) and obtained from him the Hevajra, the na ro 'grel chen,[8] the Commentary on the Sekoddeśa,[9] the Upadeśa-mañjarī (man ngag snye ma),[10] the ka la pa,[11] and many other Indian and Tibetan grammatical works.

Later he obtained the Acala-Tantra[12] and the bya ba btus pa,[13] When he was 43, in the year Iron-Male-Mouse (lcags pho byi ba 1300 A.D.) ba ri ba passed away. He passed into the Sphere of Great Peace (zhi ba chen po'i dbyings), the Dharma-kāya, in the year Fire-Dragon (me 'brug 1316 A.D.) at the age of 59.

The middle son kun dga’ mgon po (lived) for 56 years, between the year Wood-Ox (shing glang 1265 A,D.) and the year Iron Ape (lcags spre 1320 A.D.).

The youngest son kun mkhyen kun dga’ don grub (lived) for 61 years, between the year Earth Dragon (sa 'brug 1268 A.D.) and the year Earth-Dragon (sa 'brug 1328 A.D.).

Footnotes and references:


Kg.rgyud 'bum, No. 832, (R).


Skt. kalaśa-abhiṣeka, (R).


Skt. Rūpavajrī, (R).


Skt. śāstras, (R).


Skt. gaṇacakra, (R).


Kg. mdo, No. 127, (R).


Skt. Mahāmudrā-vajragīti-nāma, Tg.rgyud, No. 2287, (R).


Skt. Vajrapā-dasārasaṃgrahapañjikā, Tg. rgyud, No. 1196, (R).


Skt. Paramārthasaṃgraha-nāma-Sekoddeśa-ṭīkā, Tg. rgyud, No. 1351, (R).


Skt. Śrisaṃpuṭatantrarājaṭīkāmnāyamañjarī-nāma, Tg. rgyud, No. 1198, (R).


Skt. Kalāpa-sūtra, Tg. sgra mdo, No, 4282, (R).


Kg. rgyud 'bum, No. 432, (R).


Skt. Kriyāsaṃgraha, Tg. rgyud, No. 2531, (R).

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