Kumbum Monastery called Ta'er Temple, is a Tibetan gompa in Huangzhong County, Qinghai, China. It was founded in 1583 in a narrow valley close to the village of Lusar in the historical Tibetan region of Amdo, its superior monastery is Drepung Monastery to the west of Lhasa. It is ranked in importance as second only to Lhasa. Alexandra David-Néel, the famous Belgian-French explorer who spent more than two years studying and translating Tibetan books at the monastery, said of it:he configuration of the surrounding mountain ranges arrested the passage of the clouds, forced them to turn around the rocky summit which supported the gompa forming a sea of white mist, with its waves beating silently against the cells of the monks, wreathing the wooded slopes and creating a thousand fanciful landscapes as they rolled by. Terrible hailstorms would break over the monastery, said the country folk, to the malignity of the demons who sought to disturb the peace of the saintly monks. We were taken first to the great kitchen where priests were brewing Tibetan tea in great copper cauldrons ten feet in diameter, beautifully chased with the Buddhist symbols.
The stoves were the usual mud affairs and the fuel nothing but straw, which younger lamas continually fed to the fire." Je Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, was born in nearby Tsongkha in 1357. According to one tradition, Tsongkhapa's father took the afterbirth and buried it where the monastery is now and soon a sandalwood tree grew on the spot. Another version has it that the tree grew up where drops of blood from Tsongkhapa's umbilical cord had fallen on the ground. In any case this tree became known as the "Tree of Great Merit." The leaves and the bark of this tree were reputed to bear impressions of the Buddha's face and various mystic syllables and its blossoms were said to give off a peculiarly pleasing scent. The four-storied golden-roofed temple built around the tree where Tsongkhapa is said to have been born is called "Golden Tree" and is considered the holiest place at Kumbum. On the porch of the Golden Temple, pilgrims prostrate themselves one hundred times and the boards are worn into grooves where their feet and hands touch....
We were taken into one great temple capable of seating twenty-five hundred priests. The great pillars were covered with brilliantly woven rugs, skins of animals, the bright "pulo" cloth of the Tibetans, it was a mass of brilliant, garish colors and to my mind would have been wonderful in a more subdued light." This is the origin of Little Tower Temple. Two Catholic missionaries, Évariste Régis Huc and Joseph Gabet who arrived here in the 1840s when the tree was still living were prepared to dismiss "The Tree of Great Merit" as just another fanciful legend. We were filled with an absolute consternation of astonishment," Huc noted in his famous book Travels in Tartary, "at finding that, in point of fact, there were upon each of the leaves well-formed Tibetan characters... Our first impression was a suspicion of fraud on the part of the lamas. Section of this tree are now preserved in a stupa in the Great Golden Temple; the "Golden Tiled Temple" is revered throughout Mongolia. It is a small building with a roof of pure gold plate.
Inside, it is full of wonderful relics, great banners of silk brocade called "katas", wonderful lamps of gold and silver, thousands of small vessels burning butter, a colossal figure of Tsong Kapa, said to be made of gold. All is in semi-darkness which adds to the mystical effect, the gleam from the butter lamps threw into relief some beautifully wrought temple vessels, or the queer blank face of some saintly Buddha image." In the 1360s Tsongkhapa's mother, with the help of locals, had a small temple with a stupa built on the site of his birthplace. In 1560 the meditator Tsöndrü Gyeltsen built a small monastery there called Gonpalung for intensive meditation practice. At first, it soon expanded to hold fifteen. In 1576, Altan Khan of the Tümed Mongols invited the future 3rd Dalai Lama, Sönam Gyatso to bring Buddhism to Mongolia. After Altan Khan adopted Buddhism, he gave Sönam Gyatso the title Dalai Lama: Dalai is the Mongolian translation of the name Gyatso "ocean." On his way to meet Altan Khan near Qinghai Lake, the 3rd Dalai Lama stopped at the isolated retreat by the holy tree marking the spot where Tsongkhapa had been born.
He requested Tsöndrü Gyeltsen to construct a larger monastery at this site and appointed him as the head lama. The monastery was built in 1583 and a fence was erected around the "Tree of Great Merit". An annual Monlam Prayer Festival was inaugurated, like the one held in Lhasa; the new monastery was called Kumbum Jampa Ling. "Kumbum" means "100,000 enlightening bodies of the Buddha". It is named after the 100,000 images of Siṃhanāda which appear on the leaves of the holy sandalwood tree. "Jampa ling" means "Maitreya Cloister." This refers to the Maitreya temple built by Tsöndrü Gyeltsen to the right of the precious tree. The first Throne Holder of Kumbum was Düldzin Özer Gyatso. In 1603, the 4th Dalai Lama stopped at Kumbum on his way from his native Mongolia to Ü-Tsang. At that time, he proclaimed the need for a study division to be built and for Düldzin Özer Gyatso to be appointed as the head of the entire monastery. At Kumbum's Monlam of 1612, Düldzin Özer Gyatso first ascended to the throne of abbot and opened a debate college (Wylie: dpal ldan bshad grub gling g
'Drepung Monastery, located at the foot of Mount Gephel, is one of the "great three" Gelug university gompas of Tibet. The other two are Sera Monastery. Drepung is the largest of all Tibetan monasteries and is located on the Gambo Utse mountain, five kilometers from the western suburb of Lhasa. Freddie Spencer Chapman reported, after his 1936-37 trip to Tibet, that Drepung was at that time the largest monastery in the world, housed 7,700 monks, "but sometimes as many as 10,000 monks."Since the 1950s, Drepung Monastery, along with its peers Ganden and Sera, have lost much of their independence and spiritual credibility in the eyes of Tibetans since they operate under the close watch of the Chinese security services. All three were reestablished in exile in the 1950s in Karnataka state in south India. Drepung and Ganden are in Mundgod and Sera is in Bylakuppe. Drepung Monastery was founded in 1416 by Jamyang Choge Tashi Palden, one of Tsongkhapa's main disciples, it was named after the sacred abode in South India of Shridhanyakataka.
Drepung was the principal seat of the Gelugpa school and it retained the premier place amongst the four great Gelugpa monasteries. The Ganden Phodrang in Drepung was the residence of the Dalai Lamas until the Great Fifth Dalai Lama constructed the Potala. Drepung was known for the high standards of its academic study, was called the Nalanda of Tibet, a reference to the great Buddhist monastic university of India. Old records show that there were two centres of power in Drepung: the so-called lower chamber associated with the Dalai Lamas-to-be, the upper chamber associated with the descendants of Sonam Drakpa, an illustrious teacher who died in 1554; the estate of the Dalai Lamas at Drepung Monastery, called Ganden Phodrang, had been constructed in 1518 by Gendun Gyatso Palzangpo, retrospectively named and counted as 2nd Dalai Lama. The name of the Tibetan government established by the 5th Dalai Lama came from the name of this estate. Penchen Sönam Drakpa in 1535 succeeded Gendün Gyatso on the Throne of Drepung, both of them being major figures in the history of the Geluk tradition.
By the time Sönam Drakpa was appointed to the Throne of Drepung, he was a famous Geluk master. He had occupied the Throne of Ganden and was considered the most prolific and important Geluk thinker of his time, his successor was none other than Sönam Gyatso, the lama who would receive the official title of the Third Dalai Lama. Before his death in 1554, Sönam Drakpa established his own estate, the Upper Chamber, named because of its location at the top of Drepung, just below the Ngakpa debating courtyard "Ngagpa Dratshang". Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center attributes the following Name variants to Penchen Sönam Drakpa: "bsod nams grags pa, paN chen bsod nams grags pa, khri 15 bsod nams grags pa, rtses thang paN chen bsod nams grags pa, gzims khang gong ma 01 bsod nams grags pa, this last one referring to the Seat of the Upper Chamber established in 1554. According to TBRC his successors referring to the estate of the Zimkhang Gongma were Sonam Yeshe Wangpo, Sonam Gelek Palzang and Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen - connected to the famous story of Dorje Shugden..
It seems to be accepted that Dragpa Gyaltsen was the fourth holder of the gzims khang gong ma incarnation line. According to Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center gzims khang gong ma 04 grags pa rgyal mtshan has been his "primaryTitle". Since the search for his reincarnation has been banned, he has been the last one. Chapman reported that in the late 1930s Drepung was divided into four colleges, each housing monks from a different locality: "one being favoured by Khampas, another by Mongolians, so on." Each college was presided over by an abbot, appointed by the late 13th Dalai Lama. Drepung is now divided into what are known as the seven great colleges: Gomang, Deyang, Gyelwa or Tosamling and Ngagpa, it can be a somewhat useful analogy to think of Drepung as a university along the lines of Oxford or the Sorbonne in the Middle Ages, the various colleges having different emphases, teaching lineages, or traditional geographical affiliations. According to local sources, today the population at the monastery in Lhasa is about 300 monks, due to population capping enforced by the Chinese government.
However, the institution has continued its tradition in exile with campuses in South India on land in Karnataka given to the Tibetan community in exile by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The monastery in India today houses over 5,000 celibate monks, with around 3,000 at Drepung Loseling and some 2,000 at Drepung Gomang. Hundreds of new monks are admitted many of them refugees from Tibet; the Ganden-Phodrang-Palace situated at Drepung Monastery was constructed by the 2nd Dalai Lama in 1518 and declared his chief residence/governmental palace until the inauguration of Potala Palace by the 5th Dalai Lama. About 40% of the old monastic town was destroyed after the Chinese arrived in Lhasa in 1951, though luckily the chief buildings including the four colleges, the Tsokchen and the Dalai Lamas' residence were preserved. Drepung monastery was shut down by Chinese authorities on 14 March 2008, after monk-led protests against C
Nāropā was an Indian Buddhist Mahasiddha. He was the disciple of Tilopa and brother; as an Indian Mahasiddha, Naropa's instructions inform Vajrayana his six yogas of Naropa relevant to the completion stage of anuttarayogatantra. Although some accounts relate that Naropa was the personal teacher of Marpa Lotsawa, other accounts suggest that Marpa held Naropa's lineage through intermediary disciples only. According to scholar John Newman, "the Tibetans give Nāro's name as Nā ro pa, Nā ro paṇ chen, Nā ro ta pa, so forth; the manuscript of the Paramarthasaṃgraha preserves a Sanskrit form Naḍapāda. A Sanskrit manuscript edited by Tucci preserves an apparent Prakrit form Nāropā, as well as a semi-Sanskritic Nāropadā." Naropa was a contemporary of Atiśa. Naropa was born in a high status Brahmin family of Bengal. From an early age showed an independent streak, hoping to follow a career of study and meditation. Succumbing to his parents' wishes, he agreed to an arranged marriage with a young Brahmin girl.
After 8 years they both agreed to become ordained. At the age of 28 Naropa entered the famous Buddhist University at Nalanda where he studied both Sutra and Tantra, he gained the reputation of a great scholar and faultless debater, essential at that time as the tradition of debate was such that the loser automatically became a student of the winner. He gained the title "Guardian of the Northern gate", engaged in many debates and taught and won many students. According to his Tibetan namtar, or spiritual biography, one day, while he was studying, a dakini appeared to Naropa and asked if he understood the words of the Dharma, Buddha's teachings, he replied that he did and when she seemed happy with his response, he added that he understood their meaning. At this point the dakini burst into tears, stating that he was a great scholar, but a liar, as the only one who understood the teachings was her brother, Tilopa. On hearing the name "Tilopa", he experienced an intense feeling of devotion, Naropa realised he needed to find the teacher to achieve full realisation.
He set out to find Tilopa. Naropa underwent what is known as the twelve minor hardships in his quest to find his teacher, all the hardships being hidden teachings on his path to enlightenment; when he met Tilopa, he was given the four complete transmission lineages which he began to practice. While studying and meditating with Tilopa, Naropa had to undergo a further twelve major hardships, trainings to overcome all the obstacles on his path, culminating in his full realisation of mahāmudrā. Naropa spent a total of twelve years with Tilopa. At the bank of river bagmati, in the premise of Hindu shrine Pashupatinath Temple, there is the cave where he was initiated by Tilopa and attained Siddhi. In his life Naropa stayed in Phullahari, where he died aged 85. Phullahari or Pullahari was located most in eastern Bihar or Bengal. One of the few reliable historical accounts of him comes from a Tibetan translator named Ngatso Lotsawa, who made an effort to visit Naropa at the monastery of Phullahari while waiting to visit with Atiśa at Vikramashila.
Because I went alone as an insignificant monk to see the Lord Atisha —— and because he tarried for a year in Magadha – I thought I would go see the Lord Naropa, since his reputation was so great. I went east from Magadha for a month, as I had heard that the Lord was staying in the monastery known as Phullahari. Great merit arose from being able to go see him. On the day I arrived, they said. So I went to the spot, a great throne had been erected. I sat right in front of it; the whole crowd started buzzing, "The Lord is coming!" I looked and the Lord was physically quite corpulent, with his white hair bright red, a vermilion turban on. He was being carried by four men, was chewing betel-leaf. I grabbed his feet and thought, "I should listen to his pronoucements!" Stronger and stronger people, pushed me further and further from his feet and I was tossed out of the crowd. So, there I saw the Lord's face, but did not hear his voice. Naropa is remembered for his trust and devotion to his teacher, according to his biography, enabled him to attain enlightenment in one lifetime.
He is remembered as part of the "Golden Garland", meaning he is a lineage holder of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism and was considered an accomplished scholar. A great practitioner, Naropa is best known for having collated the Six Dharmas; these practices help achieve Buddhahood more rapidly. Many subsequent Karmapas have been adept at one or more of these practices, which in Vajrayana tradition are held to have been given by the Buddha and were passed on through an unbroken lineage via Tilopa to Naropa and Milarepa and on to the present day. Naropa is considered one of the ` saints' of Vajrayana. Naropa University in Colorado, USA was named in his honour. Six yogas of Naropa Tilopa Mahasiddha Marpa Kagyu The Life and Teaching of Naropa by Herbert V Gunther. Shambhala Publications 1999 Massachusetts. ISBN 1-56957-110-4 The Life of Marpa the Translator. Tsang Nyon Heruka Translated by the Nalanda Translation Committee. Shambhala Publications 1995 Boston. ISBN 1-57062-087-3 The Life Story of Naropa by Kenpo Chodrak Rinpoche.
Published in Kagyu Life International No's 3 & 4,1995 San Francisco. The Golden Kagyu Garland, A History of the Kagyu Lineage, adapted by Bruce Tarver. Published in Buddhism Today Is
Deity yoga is a practice of Vajrayana Buddhism involving identification with a chosen deity through visualisations and rituals, the realisation of emptiness. According to the Tibetan scholar Tsongkhapa, deity yoga is what separates Buddhist Tantra practice from the practice of other Buddhist schools. Deity yoga involves the generation stage and the completion stage. In the generation stage, one dissolves the mundane world and visualizes one's chosen deity, its mandala and companion deities, resulting in identification with this divine reality. In the completion stage, one dissolves the visualization of and identification with the yidam in the realization of sunyata or emptiness. Completion stage practices can include subtle body energy practices; the purpose of Deity yoga is to bring the meditator to the realization that the yidam or meditation deity and the practitioner are in essence the same, that they are non-dual. According to John Powers. "Deity yoga is a technique for becoming progressively more familiar with the thoughts and deeds of a buddha, until the state of buddhahood is actualized through repeated practice."According to Gyatrul Rinpoche, the point of this practice is to "understand your buddha nature, the essence of your being" and is "intrinsically present" in all beings.
The fact that the deity is a reflection of qualities inherent in the practitioner is what makes this practice different than mere deluded or wishful thinking. The yidam appears in a mandala and the practitioner visualizes himself or herself and their environment as the yidam and mandala of their Deity Yoga practice; this visualization method undermines a habitual belief that views of reality and self are solid and fixed, enabling the practitioner to purify spiritual obscurations and to practice compassion and wisdom simultaneously: Deity Yoga employs refined techniques of creative imagination and photism in order to self-identify with the divine form and qualities of a particular deity as the union of method or skilful means and wisdom. As His Holiness the Dalai Lama says, "In brief, the body of a Buddha is attained through meditating on it". Representations of the deity, such as a statues, paintings, or mandalas, are employed as an aid to visualization in both the Generation Stage and the Completion Stage of Anuttarayoga Tantra.
The mandalas are symbolic representations of sacred enclosures, sacred architecture that house and contain the uncontainable essence of a yidam. In the book, The World of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama describes a mandala: “This is the celestial mansion, the pure residence of the deity.” In the Vajrayāna Buddhism of Tibet and East Asia, which follow the Nālandā Tradition of India-Tibet-China, there are fifteen major tantric sādhanās, each connected with a specific yidam: All of these are available in Tibetan form, many are available in Chinese, some are still extant in ancient Sanskrit manuscripts. Mandalas are used as an aid in realizing the inner ground: xternal ritual and internal sadhana form an indistinguishable whole, this unity finds its most pregnant expression in the form of the mandala, the sacred enclosure consisting of concentric squares and circles drawn on the ground and representing that adamantine plane of being on which the aspirant to Buddhahood wishes to establish himself.
The unfolding of the tantric ritual depends on the mandala. In Tantric Buddhism, the generation stage is the first phase of Deity yoga, it is associated with the'Father Tantra' class of anuttara-yoga-tantras of the Sarmapa or associated with what is known as Mahayoga Tantras by the Nyingmapa. An example of a'Father Tantra' is the Guhyasamāja Tantra; the generation stage engages creative imagination or visualization as an upaya or skillful means of personal transformation through which the practitioner either visualizes a meditational deity or refuge tree before themselves in front generation, or as themselves in self generation, to engender an alteration to their perception and/or experience of the appearance aspect of reality. One practices oneself in the identification with the meditational Buddha or deity by visualisations, until one can meditate single-pointedly on being the deity. According to Tsongkhapa, throughout the various stages of visualization one is to maintain the cognition of emptiness and "one trains in everything to appear as like illusions".
Reginald Ray writes that during the process of yidam visualization, the deity is to be imaged as not solid or tangible, as "empty yet apparent", with the character of a mirage or a rainbow. In the generation stage of Deity Yoga, the practitioner visualizes the "Four Purities" which define the principal Tantric methodology of Deity Yoga that distinguishes it from the rest of Buddhism: Seeing one's body as the body of the deity Seeing one's environment as the pure land or mandala of the deity Perceiving one's enjoyments as bliss of the deity, free from attachment Performing one's actions only for the benefit of others Front generation is a form of meditative visualization employed in Tantric Buddhism in which the yidam is visualized as being present in the sky facing the practitioner as opposed to the self-identification that occurs in self generation. According to the Vajrayana tradition, this approach is considered less advanced, hence safer for the sadhaka, is engaged more for the ri