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Entering dead bodies and the miraculous power of the Kings: The landmark of Karma Pakshi’s reincarnation in Tibet

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Entering dead bodies and the miraculous power of the Kings: The landmark of Karma Pakshi’s reincarnation in Tibet Part II

Daniel Berounský, Charles University in Prague


summary: The contribution continues in its second part discussing the circumstances surrounding the recognition of the 3rd Karmapa Rangjung Dorje as being identical with his predecessor Karma Pakshi. The ritual of “entering residence” (grong ’jug), which was narrated to be used by

Karma Pakshi during his death, is a particular focus here. It is argued that such a ritual enabling corpses to reanimate firstly expresses the goals of the older Indian understanding of yoga. Secondly, its appearance in the story seems to explain the reason for the newborn child’s remembrance of his past life. Translations of the accounts of the story from the “Red Annals” (Deb ther dmar po) and “Feast of Scholars” (Mkhas pa’i dga’ ston) chronicles are appended.


7. “Entering residence” (grong ’jug) ritual and reincarnation


The story of the dramatic process of reincarnation of Karma Pakshi, as described in the concluding chapter 6 of Part I, has its climax in the meeting of the newborn child with the master Urgyenpa, who recognized him as the new birth of the same person, i.e. Karma Pakshi. He then gave him the “secret name” (gsang mtshan) of Karma Pakshi: Rangjung Dorje, as if such an act would stress the identity of Karma Pakshi and Rangjung Dorje. The recognition of him was based on the fact that he remembered circumstances from his previous life and those from the process of reincarnation in the “intermediate state” (bar do/ bar ma do). When he described how he entered the womb of his mother in the fourth month of the development of the foetus and gave details of his dwelling there, the crowd exclaimed that besides Buddha Śākyamuni in India and he in Tibet, such a birth unpolluted by a womb had never occurred. These features might be connected with the beginning of the narration. When the story of the passing away of Karma Pakshi starts, it is said that he travelled to the abodes of gods. He returned then back to his bodily remains

and perhaps surprisingly decided to use ritual enabling corpses to be reanimated, the “entering residence” ritual (grong ’jug). One could hesitate as to whether the inclusion of such a ritual in the story should only serve the purpose of dramatizing events through the usage of a mythological motif. It creates a thrilling drama, indeed, but it seems that this might not clash with the fact that the narration attempts to explain the circumstances of his reappearance at the same time. Seen in a wider context, Karma Pakshi predicted his reappearance as sprul sku to the master Urgyenpa and others, so it is in the logic of the whole story that he himself chooses this ritual as a means at hand to become a “miraculously manifested body”, i.e. sprul sku. It is thus worthwhile to take the role of the ritual more seriously, to take a pause here and have a better look at the ritual of “entering residence”. Such a ritual of animating corpses might seem to be weird at first glance. But mention of it is not so rare in the Indian subcontinent and could even be regarded as a fairly standard element in Indian narratives concerning yogīs up to modern times.

In his recent book Sinister yogīs, David G. White turned his attention to this strange art of animating corpses in India. He mentions a number of better and less known stories from the Indian sources where the reanimating of a corpse or exchange of bodies with the help of such a ritual plays a significant role in the narration. These include the so-called Vikrama Cycle, stories where the plot in a number of particular narrations about King Vikrama varies, but where each variant narrates a story in which the exchange of bodies plays a crucial role.1 Other stories on reanimating corpses listed by White appear in the so-called Vetāla stories (Vetālapañcaviṃśati),2 and

1) To illustrate, one of the versions from the Vikrama Cycle (Persian Senguehassen Battisi) speaks about King Vikrama, renowned for his ability to enter other bodies and certain yogī who induces him to show such ability and to reanimate the dead body of a parrot. This being done, the yogī takes his chance and settles inside the empty body of King Vikrama and thus becomes king. The king in the parrot body uses a similar trick after number of episodes. He instructs the maiden, whom the yogī in the appearance of the king desires to marry. Following instructions, she ties to her bed a sick fawn. This disturbs the yogi-king in his intended love play with her and in anger he kills the sick fawn. The maiden then resolutely insists that he bring the fawn back to life, otherwise he will be turned down by her forever. He reanimates the fawn and the real king in the body of the parrot takes his opportunity to return to his original body. Cf. White 2009, pp. 7–9.

2) Here the story of an old Śaivist yogī who could not help himself when seeing the young body of a 16– year-old Brahmin cremated nearby. He thus gained a body of a youth (23rd Vetāla story from the Kathāsaritsāgara, cf. Somadeva 1981, pp. 331–3). figure also in stories related to the Indian King Candragupta, Emperor Akbar, Gorakhnāth’s master Matsyendranāth, and also a number of them concern the famous philosopher Śaṅkara, among others (cf. White 2009, pp. 1–37).3

From the examples only briefly mentioned here it would seem that such ritual appeared in epic narratives as an illustration of the peculiar magical ability of yogīs. But what David G. White attempts to demonstrate in his book is that although most sources mentioning such ritual are narrations with many dramatic twists, there are still good reasons to consider the ritual to be related to the old understanding of the word yoga. It might appear much less odd and weird when some parts of the texts dealing with this rather strange ritual are seriously taken into account. An example would be those speaking about the ability to penetrate another body as the main aim of the yoga itself. In the light of this, the etymology of the word yoga as “yoking“ comes forth, leaving behind the idea of yoga as preoccupied mostly with the positions of the body, dealing with the subtle body consisting of winds (prāṇa), cakras and nādīs, etc., as probably later. Yoga as “yoking” works well with the oldest ideas of a man “yoked” to the sun for securing his good destiny in the afterlife, as attested in Ṛgveda, or to the idea of a warrior “yoked” to his chariot. An interpretation consistent with this might be that one is “yoked” in order to overcome the limitations of this life and this body (White 2009, p. 59 ff.). There is an extract cited by White, in which the ability to inhabit another body is taken to be a characteristic of a person, who became yogī. This is a strong argument for considering such a seemingly weird art of animating corpses to be in fact at the heart of what yoga was once about.

One could assume that such an understanding of these rituals was also passed on to Tibet. The ritual is known in Tibetan as grong ’jug, and is mentioned on several occasions in the Tibetan literature. For pointing out most of them, one is indebted to Dan Martin who had already turned his attention to the hitherto unknown cases of it on his internet blog “Tibeto-Logic”, and thus with his substantial help one might list the following known instances:

3) There are certainly many more cases of usage of the ritual in India. According to Jana Pomklová, who studies Nātha yogīs, such ritual figures among their practices, but it seems that the instructions concerning the ritual are solely the domain of oral transmission (personal communication). It is also mentioned in connection with the foundation myth of Lakulīśa within the Paśupata yogīs, who is said to use a similar ritual for animating the corpse of Brahmin, see White 1996, 236, 474 – n. 98.

I. The interesting reference from Buton’s History of Buddhism concerns the Indian pundit Thala Ringwa (Phra la ring ba, Skt. Sūkṣmadīrgha /?/).4 This Indian pundit is described as being invited to Tibet, but his guide suddenly died in Nepal. He did not know Tibetan and he is then referred to in the text by the single sentence: “Pundit Thala Ringwa performed the ‘entering residence’ ritual upon Rongba Choezang and then spontaneous knowledge of many teachings appeared in Rongba.”5 Here, the famous scholar of Old Sect, known also under the name Rongzom Choezang (Rong zom chos bzang, born in the middle of the 11th Century) is meant (Bu ston 1988, p. 202).

II. A story of the 11th Century Indian master named Nirūtapa or Nirūpa is recorded in the chronicle Blue Annals.6 It describes how before he travelled to Tibet, he entered the dead body of a Tibetan youth named Korchung (Skor chung). In his body he then passed to Tibet and spent some 20 years there, translating and spreading tantric teachings.

III. Early instances of Padampa (Pha/Pa dam pa sangs rgyas, b. in 11th century) and Tene (Ten ne, died 1217) performing the ritual are mentioned again by Dan Martin.7 In this case the masters are reported as demonstrating the ability to reanimate corpses in the presence of their disciples, perhaps in a kind of display of their attainment, but very few details of it are available in the story.


IV. A case of the usage of “entering residence” ritual is mentioned in relation to the story of the 11th century Bonpo master Yangton (Yang ston) and his search for a master.8 It is contained only in late sources and appears also in

4) It was Dan Martin, who directed attention towards it in “Tibeto-Logic”: A Few More Early Incidents of Drongjug, http://tibeto-logic.blogspot.com/2007/05/two-more-early-incidentsof-drongjug.html (accessed in October 2011).

5) Tibetan text: paṇḍi ta phra la ring bas rong pa chos bzang la grong ‘jug byas pas rong pas chos mang po rdol shes su byung ba yin no.

6) See Roerich 1996, p. 853–5. Again, Dan Martin comments on this story in his blog “Transmigration and Occupation”, http://tibeto-logic.blogspot.com/2007/03/transmigration-andoccupation.html (October 2011).

7) Dan Martin, “Tibeto Logic”, “Two More Early Incidents of Drongjug”, http://tibeto-logic. blogspot.com/2007/05/two-more-early-incidents-of-drongjug.html (October 2011).

8) For pointing out the story I am indebted to geshe Nyima Woser Choekhortshang. oral tradition. The story says that he searched for the master Rongom Togme Zhigpo (Rong sgom rtog med zhig po) for many years and when he eventually met his master, he was old himself, but the master was still rather young. Since the teaching was allowed to be passed to only one disciple, for the sake of its survival they mutually exchanged bodies with the help of the ritual and he was then taught the teaching of Aural transmission of Zhangzhung (Shar rdza bkra shis rgyal mtshan 2000, pp. 49–50).9 V.

One well-known story is that of Marpa’s son Dharma Dode (Dar ma mdo sde) as preserved in Marpa’s hagiography written by Tsangnyon Heruka (Gtsang smyon he ru ka, 1452–1507). Dharma Dode was dying after an accident when falling from a horse. Using the ritual he reanimated the dead body of a pigeon (no suitable human body was available). He is then instructed by his father Marpa to travel as a pigeon to India, where he reanimates the body of a thirteen-year-old Brahmin boy just before burning his corpse on the funeral pyre.10

VI. Another blog of Dan Martin continues with the rather late case of the 3rd Tongkhor master from Amdo region; Gyalwa Gyatsho (Stong ’khor Rgyal ba rgya mtsho, 1588–1639); who is reported as using the ritual “entering residence” to transfer himself into the corpse of some 20-year old boy interestingly called “Chinese kid” (rgya phrug), who was then recognized as 4th Tongkhor Dogyud Gyatsho (Mdo rgyud rgya mtsho, died 1683).11 VII. The Tibetan text translated into English as “The Prince who became a Cuckoo” (in the original: Bya mgrin sngon zla ba’i rtogs brjod). This lengthy story

9) Charles Ramble gives a different account of the same story from the oral tradition, saying that the Rongom Togme Zhigpo settled with the help of the ritual into the body of Yangton and left behind his own old body (in this case dead) (cf. Ramble 1983, p. 278).

10) This story has long been known in the West and its knowledge might already create some Western counterparts of it, as referred to in Dan Martin’s blog. For a rather accessible version of it see Marpa’s biography (Trungpa 1982), but for a commentary and probably the most complete bibliography, including references to its possible Western adaptations, see:

“Tibeto-Logic”, “Literary Sources for ‘The Transmigration’?”, http://tibeto-logic.blogspot. com/2007/02/literary-sources-for-transmigration.html (accessed in October 2011).

11) For the main part of the episode translated see Dan Martin‘s, “Tibeto-Logic”, “China Kid’s Drongjug”, http://tibeto-logic.blogspot.com/2007/08/china-kids-drongjug.html (October 2011). For the original text see ’Jigs med bsam grub 2005, pp. 190–191.

authored by a Gelugpa master from the 18th century could be considered as a variant of the story of King Vikrama mentioned above. It proves that such narrations, frequent in India, were known to Tibetans (see Lhag pa tshe ring 1980, Wangyal 1982).

Although not much attention is paid to the details of such stories here, in general it could be said that they seem to continue the pattern established already in India. In most of the narrations the performance of such a ritual is a sign of the religious attainment of the relevant person who appeared in some unusual situation (I., II., IV., V.). Interestingly enough, two of these narrations mention an Indian master who through such a ritual acquired a body of a Tibetan (I., II.). Another narration works the other way round and describes how a Tibetan gained through the ritual the body of an Indian boy (V.). The frequent role of the ritual in connecting India and Tibet is remarkable and could be taken here as marking the transmission of Indian secret knowledge to Tibet. Another story speaks evidently about display of the attainments (III.), and might mark the appropriation of the ritual in Tibet. Rather strange is the story on reincarnation through the ritual, the case of the Tongkhor master (VI.). It is much later than the case of Karma Pakshi, but still is evidence that the ritual could be a means for the reappearance of a master within the lineage of sprul skus. The last-mentioned narrative (VII.) is clearly inspired by an Indian story from the narrations concerning King Vikrama and proves knowledge of this in Tibet.

Turning attention towards the name of the ritual, one wonders why such a ritual became called “entering residence” in Tibet. There is a variety of names for it given in the Indian sources, of which the most frequent are pa ra kāyapraveśa (“entering other body”), paraśarīrapraveśa (“entering other dead body”) or parapurapraveśa (“entering other town” or “entering the town of an enemy”).12 A rather late 14th century Tibetan text by Tsongkhapa explains the name of the ritual. It in fact says that in the case of the Tibetan name the Sanskrit word parapurapraveśa was translated and abbreviated:13 To the faculty of eye and other sense faculties the word “habitation” (grong)14 is applied, while to the support of sense faculties (i.e. body) the word ‘fortified residence’ (grong khyer, i.e. town)

12) For the last translation see Monier-Williams 1851, p. 587. For references to the Indian names for the ritual see White 2009, p.12; Smith 2006, pp. 321, 580.

13) Tsong kha pa 1999, p. 274: mig sogs kyi dbang po la grong dang/ dbang po’i rten la grong khyer gyi sgras bstan pa ni phar phyin nas ’byung la/ gang zag gzhan shi ba’i lus ma nymas pa la’ang grong khyer gyi sgra ’jug pas rnam shes der ’jug pa la grong ’jug ces gsung so/.

14) It is apparent that not the place of residence is ment in this context by the expression grong, but rather the mode of dwelling. is applied. Concerning this, in Prajñāpāramitās the dead and undamaged body of another person is mentioned as a ‘fortified residence’ and thus when consciousness enters it, this is called “entering the [fortified] residence.”

In this citation, Tsongkhapa understands the expression grong as abbreviated from grong khyer, i.e. or “walled/fortified residence/s”. It represents the support of dwelling or habitation (i.e. body) and the mode of dwelling (grong) is understood as sense faculties of the body.15

This explanation fits indeed the last of the Indian variants parapurapraveśa. But one cannot be sure about the beginnings of the tradition when it was called grong ’jug. As will be seen in the next extract, the dead body is linked to an “empty house” there as well and might thus support another understanding of the syllable grong in the sense of “dwelling” or “house.” The translation here as “entering residence” is just provisional and reflects uncertainty about the original intention of naming it so in Tibetan. Though being rather late and perhaps retrospective, the explanation of Tsongkhapa at the same time makes sense. To proceed further, one should turn one’s attention towards the existing explanations of the ritual itself. It must be noted that most of the dealings with the ritual are not very detailed in Tibetan texts. Here, two brief texts ascribed to Marpa Lotsāwa will be introduced. It is not very surprising that Marpa is believed to be author of the text which reveals at least some details of the ritual. The ritual had a particular connection with Kagyupa masters in Tibet and one of its clear appearances in Tibet is within the so-called “Six yogas of Nāropa” (Nā ro chos drug).

To give a better understanding of the practice in question, verses of vajrasong ascribed to 11th century master Marpa Lotsāwa, a disciple of Nāropa himself, and his allusions to this ritual follow in translation (Mar pa lo tsā ba 2000, p. 408):16

The one’s own body came to the limit of time,

Another excellent body is with proper qualities,

In between is the seed of letter [of mantra] with horse of wind,

15) Although the expression grong khyer is commonly translated as “town”, the meaning is clearly “fortified residences” (cf. entry khyer, explained as khyim dang ra ba in Zhang Yisun 1993, p. 268; for Sanskrit pur cf. Monier-Williams 1851, p. 635: “a rampart, wall, stronghold, fortress, castle, city, town…, the body (considered as the stronghold of puruṣa)…”.

16) Tibetan text reads: rang lus dus kyi tshad phebs la// gzhan lus mtshan ldan dam pa’i lus// bar na yig ’bru rlung gi rta// rten ’brel rlung gi ’khor lo yis// rang lus khang stong bzhin du bor// gzhan lus sprul sku’i ngo bo can// ming yang grong ’jug gi gdams ngag zer// rlung las su rung ngam lo tsā ba//..


By the coincidence of the wheel of wind,

One’s own body is left as an empty house,

Another body has the nature of a “miraculously manifested body” (sprul sku), This is also called the instruction of “entering the residence” (grong ’jug), Are you capable of wind-activities, translator?

It is indeed interesting that Marpa mentions explicitly “tulku” as a result of the ritual of “entering residence” in his vajra-song. But there is even a predecessor among the Indian tantras (called Gdan bzhi in Tibetan translation) mentioning a similar ritual (not calling it explicitly grong ’jug in the text) and its result as vikurvāṇa (Tib. rnam par sprul), i.e. “miraculously transformed [[[body]]]”.17

Another text ascribed to Marpa is not a poetic rendering, but rather an open practical instruction on the practice of the ritual. Bearing the simple title “Instructions on ‘entering residence’” (Grong ’jug man ngag) it is rather short, but explicit and as such deserves to be translated here. The text contains glosses written with smaller letters and these would appear in the notes to the translation (Mar pa lo tsā ba 1984, Mar pa lo tsā ba, 2005): I bow to the noble masters!

Firstly,18 all phenomena without distinction change into the reality of illusion and then one should get use to them as such. At such a time one should practise alone in the solitary place. There, the ritual of preliminary practices should be done accordingly. A seamless skull-cup19 five fingers wide or, alternatively, slab of stone about the size of palm of the hand, should be smeared with black paint and in its centre the white syllablehūṃ” should be written. It is placed on the top of maṇḍala.20 One’s own mind is collected in the [[[Wikipedia:syllable|syllable]]] “hūṃ” at the place of the heart. As only the breath comes out, the consciousness gathered in “hūṃ” accompanies the wind (i.e. breath), proceeds out, and gradually reaches the [[[Wikipedia:syllable|syllable]]] “hūṃ” [written on] the skull-cup or slab of stone and consciousness is thus transmitted there. The wind (i.e. breath) is held as long as possible and the clinging to oneself is being abandoned, everything is attached to the “hūṃ” and kept there again and again. By means of this, later the skull-cup is heated up and even moves. When such progress comes, the signs of mastering it are that one’s own mind is [of such a state that] it is present there, but went away [at the same time] and one’s own body does not appear

clearly. The rise of [such] perceiving of oneself is double: The perceiving of oneself as oneself and perceiving oneself as the other one.

17) This appears in the tantra called Śrīcaturpīṭhamahāyoginītantrarājanāma which is mentioned sometimes as one of the sources of the ritual (Rnal ‘byor ma’i rgyal po chen po dpal gdan bzhi pa zhes bya ba, Derge Kangyur 84, fols. 181–231). On the fol. 227 there appear sentences: … de kho na nyid mnyam par bsgom// mnyam bzhag dngos po bsgoms nas ni// ’grub gyur ’dir ni the tshom med// de nas phyi rol lus la ni// sgrub pa po yi rnam par sprul// pha rol sems dang rjes mthun par// mkhas pa yi ni shes par bya//…


18) Glossed: “It is said that the practice of dreams is needed.”

19) Glossed: “For the food.”

20) Glossed: “Pukarila flowers should be evenly spread on it.”

As for the perceiving oneself as the other one: In front of oneself various living beings appear as being oneself.

As for the perceiving oneself as oneself. One’s own mind is felt as dwelling separately21 from the body. If becoming conscious of it, such an experience arises.

If more than two or three days have not passed from the death of a man with favourable signs whose corpse has not become putrid and does not have any particular wound, one should wash [oneself] particularly with sandal, camphor, musk and fine incense. Having been anointed by five-fold nectar (i.e. excrement, urine, blood, semen and brains) one should dress in fine cloth and particular ornaments should be nicely attached. One enters [the state of] one’s own tutelary deity. Dwelling on the maṇḍala sprinkled by nectar with incense, one tightly closes “doors” (i.e. bodily orifices) and minds the clear [[[Wikipedia:syllable|syllable]]] “hūṃ” at the heart of the corpse. The awareness

gathered in the “hūṃ” of one’s own place of heart is led into the “hūṃ” of the corpse. Awareness sticks to the “hūṃ” of the corpse. The “hūṃ” of the corpse arises in clarity and one’s ownhūṃ” is not clear and happens to be waning. Then with applying much effort the corpse becomes warmed up, starts to move and appears to be another one.

This is double: perception of oneself as the other one and perception of the other one as the other one. To the first:22 It is the awareness that one’s own mind has settled into the corpse. To the second: Following the application of one’s own effort of awareness it leaves for the corpse. When [corpse] has already risen up, it is still aware of being projected by someone else.23

21) Glossed: “As mind-hero (Skt. sattva).”

22) Glossed: “It is said that such a meditation practice, when awareness enters the dead body of a youth and is exchanged [in such a way that] life is made to continue is the instruction of Buta (Sampuṭa?). It is also said that master Marpa entered with his awareness the corpse of a pigeon and was able to fly some cubits [long].”

23) Tibetan text reads (glosses are marked by bold letters): bla ma dam pa rnams la phyag ’tshal lo// dang por rmi lam sbyong dgos gsung chos thams cad sgyu ma dang khyad med pa’i don la brlab cing de la goms par byas te// de’i dus su bsgrub pa’i gnas dben par bdag nyid cig bu bya dgos te// de yang sngon ’gro’i cho ga ’di ltar bya’o// thod pa bsrubs med pa bzan la sor lnga pa’am/ yang na g.yam leb lag pa’i thil tsam la/ rtsi nag po byugs te/ dbus su hūṃ dkar po bris la/ maṇḍal gyi thog du me tog pu ka ri la sogs pa bcal dkram bzhags la/ rang gi sems thams

cad snying kha’i hūṃ la bsdus la/ dbugs phyir ’gro tsam na/ shes pa hūṃ la bsdus pa de yang/ rlung dang ’grogs nas phyir song pas thod pa’am g.yam leb kyis song pas/ der shes pa gtad de/ yun ring du rlung thub tshad du gzung zhing/ rang la zhen pa spang zhing thams cad pa’i hūṃ la chags par yang dang yang du bzung pas/ phyis thod pa dro ba’am ’gul zhing ’phar ba byung nas sems yod kyang de na yod par song zhing rang gi lus kyi snang ba de mi gsal bar ’dug na zin rtags yin te/ rang snang skye ba’i/ de la gnyis te/ rang snang gi rang snang dang/ rang snang gi gzhan snang ngo/ de la rang snang gi gzhan snang ni/ rang gi mdun du srog chags sna tshogs rang la snang zang zing pa pa’o// rang snang gi rang snang ni/ rang gi sems de rang gi lus las tha dad par sems dpa’ la ’dug par mong /myong/ pa’o// de ltar shes shing myong pa byung na/ de nas mi mtshan dang ldan pa shi nas gzhag /zhag/ gnyis gsum las ma lon pa’o// ro rul sungs su ma song pa’i rma’i bye brag med pa blangs de/ khrus kyi khyad par tsan dan dang/ ga bur dang glang rtsi dang/ spos bzang pos khrus byas te/ bdud rtsi lngas byugs e tsam chil chil ba la/ gos bzang pos ber ram re gnyis g.yogs la/ rgyan cha’i bye brag mdzes ??chu la sogs par rtags la/ rang gi yi dam ’jug par byas la/ de yang maṇḍal bzang po spos dang bdud rtsi me tog bcal dkram pa’i steng du bzhag la/ sgo dam du bcad la/ ro’i snying khar hūṃ gsal bar bsam ste/ rang gi snying khar hūṃ la bsdus pa’i shes pa de ro’i hūṃ la btsud pas/ ro’i hūṃ

There are only a few treatises giving openly such detailed information on the ritual as the one translated here and ascribed to Marpa himself. There exists a number of texts on “Six Yogas of Nāropaincluding the of the Third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje (Rang byung rdo rje 1996a), but strikingly, the explanations lack details when they deal with “entering residence” ritual and do not go far beyond what was said in the song of Marpa translated above. The next rather detailed explanation, following the one ascribed to Marpa, is the text by Tsongkhapa (1359–1409, Tsong kha pa 1999). The text has already been translated, albeit in rather simplified way, into English (Mullin 2005).


Tsongkhapa received the teaching from Sakyapa masters. He says in the text that the tradition was transferred orally and implies that in the text he reveals such an oral tradition. It might be assumed that for some reason there was reluctance to put instructions on this particular ritual into letters before him. When describing the ritual, Tsongkhapa states that the ritual should be performed only by an experienced practitioner and that it is connected with other rituals of the “Six Yogas”, namely the so-called yoga of “inner heat” (gtum mo). One should initially practice it in a solitary place with a skull-cup and imagining oneself as a tutelary deity within the black maṇḍala. One concentrates on the syllablehūṃ” in one’s heart and with breathing exclusively from the right nostril, the syllable comes out to the cup. One retains the breath and through exhaling the syllable returns to the body. After sufficient practice one should train with a fresh corpse of a human being or some suitable animal. In this case the syllable carried by the wind enters the corpse by the left nostril. Again, only after a given amount of practice is it possible to carry it out effectively and the result is reanimation of the corpse. These instructions mentioned above could be taken as proof that such ritual was taken seriously by the masters practising it. It was definitely not the only mythological element in the narrations. It is connected with other rituals, but still its relative simplicity stands out and thus allows questions about its being of ancient origin from the time when ideas about the “subtle body” were under development.

la shes pa chags nas/ ro’i hūṃ gsal bar snang zhing/ rang gi hūṃ de mi gsal bar ’dug pa’i ny- ams byung nas/ de nas nan tan cher byas te/ ro de drod byung pa dang ’gul bar gyur te/ gzhan snang ngo/ de yang gnyis te/ gzhan snang gi rang snang dang/ gzhan snang gi gzhan snang ngo/ de la de ltar gzhon nu’i ro la shes pa bcug nas lus rje zhing bsgom pa de skye ba rgyud nas bu ta’i man ngag yin gsung bla ma mar pas kyang pho ron gyi ro la shes pa bcug nas khru re tsam du ’phur nus gsung dang po ni rang gi sems ro la zhugs par shes pa’o// gnyis pa ni rang gi shes pa de nan tan du byas te/ ro la btsud pas/ ro de lang langs te gzhan gyis kyang ’phos bar shes pa’o/ grongjung man ngag go// //rdzogs so//. But within such instructions there might be another proof that Karma Pakshi’s choice of this ritual makes perfectly sense within his story of reincarnation, even if the notes of Marpa on producing “tulku” through it are left aside. The main difference between the case of recognition of Rangjung Dorje as Karma Pakshi and previous cases of “tulkus” lies in the detailed process based on his remembrance of the past. And according to the instructions on the “entering residence” ritual by Tsongkhapa, one’s memory recalls all events of previous life. And this remembrance of the past differentiates it from an ordinary death or from the case of “consciousness transferencerituals (’pho ba) (Tsong kha pa 1999, 276–7; for translation see Mullin 2005, p. 218). This remembrance of the past is already mentioned in Indian texts as a specific feature of this ritual (cf. Kathāsaritsāgara 8.2. ; Somadeva 1981, p. 436; White 2009, p. 30). There are certainly blank places left for better understanding of how this

“entering residence” ritual influenced the emergence of lineages of masters based on their recognition as “miraculously manifested bodies”. The story of Karma Pakshi does not stop with the “entering residence” ritual, but continues with his “empowerment” in the maṇḍala and settling into the womb of his mother in the fourth month after conception, this being evidently connected with the Samvara tantra. Certainly, a number of various practices provide a background to the whole story; background is not only provided by the “entering residence” ritual. The question remains open as to whether there is some ritual which enabled Karma Pakshi to enter the womb of his mother after conception.


Nevertheless, it seems that his extraordinary ability to remember the past, an ability which became the standard condition for choosing new reincarnations subsequently, was achieved through the “entering residence” ritual in his case, according to the story.


8. Concluding remarks


The paper tried to demonstrate that there were already some masters who were considered to be sprul sku before the end of the 13th century, i.e. prior to the time when, starting with Karma Pakshi, for the first time in the Tibetan

24) Just following Marpa’s text on the “entering residence” ritual translated above, the next text is dedicated to the ritual called “transference and entering residence” (’pho ba dang grong ’jug). The instructions contained in the text are similar to the ’pho ba rituals, but no context of its application is mentioned there. There comes to mind an idea that the rest of the narration on Karma Pakshi has this ritual as background, but this remains uncertain. history the lineage of successive tulkus was established on the basis of a recognition process which provided compelling evidence for the identity of the child with the previous master of the lineage.


Some of the earlier cases of lamas called sprul sku have already been mentioned by Leonard van der Kuijp (van der Kuijp 2005), but his notes on them were restricted to the search for the title sprul sku being used for them. Most of the cases noticed by him come from the surroundings of Kadampa masters. This article intends to point out that the reasons for using title “tulku” for such early masters are connected with some miracle they performed and that through it they thus demonstrated their supernatural abilities. This might be some step in the development of the lineages based on reincarnated masters, but it seems that such “tulkus” were understood merely as individuals possessing “transformation power”.

Further, the cases of two masters, who were outside the focus of van der Kuijp; are mentioned in this contribution. This time both of the masters Yanggonpa and Gotshangpa are from the surroundings of Kagyupa. It is remarkable that the first of them was considered to be sprul sku on the basis of the abilities of the small child. In the second case we know that the master Gotshangpa’s new reincarnation was found, but he did not establish any lineage. There is also no record available about the process of his recognition. But both of these cases might point to the slow development of the idea of sprul sku eventually leading towards the later establishment of lineages of them. Critical Tibetan authors consider the case of Karma Pakshi’s reincarnation to be the first of its kind, where a rather detailed process of recognition was applied. When making a more detailed study of the literature available, one might learn more about the text “Hagiography from the inte rmediate state” (Rnam thar bar do ma), probably not extant anymore, which in considerable detail described the process of reincarnation of Karma Pakshi.


According to the citations of the text left in several chronicles, Karma Pakshi used a ritual making it possible to reanimate corpses for the purpose of reincarnation. The last part of the article then attempts to demonstrate that such a seemingly weird ritual is, firstly, rather in accord with the older ideas about yoga in India and, secondly, it is probable that its role in reincarnation is mentioned in connection with the ability of the newborn Karma Pakshi (i.e. Rangjung Dorje) to remember details from his past life. As such it became a part of the process of his recognition (and later also the recognition of other masters), in which some undeniable evidence was laid bare. The topic of the rise of reincarnation lineages in Tibet has been rather neglected by scholars and here several points are highlighted for a better understanding. Yet it was indeed a rather complex process, which can be seen from different points of view. Here, for example, the historical circumstances of the intrusion of Mongolians into Tibet were not discussed at all, albeit they can be seen as a strong stimulation for the arrival of a new form of ruler in Tibet. Although such a form is new in the case of “tulkus”, it also takes its inspiration from the Tibetan golden past of the Royal period. The innovation created among the Kagyupa masters in the late 13th century met with tremendous success later in Tibet. The next recognition of another “tulku” within the Kagyupa masters took place in the 14th century around 1356, when the second Zhamarpa (Zhwa dmar pa Mkha’ spyod dbang po, 1350– 1405) was recognized as a “new existence” (yang srid) of his predecessor.25

The 15th century gave rise to the most influential lineages of “miraculously manifested bodies” in other sects. This is the time when the lineages of Panchen Lamas26 and Dalai Lamas27 appeared within the “Virtuous sect” (Dge

25) This lineage started with Togden Dagpa Sengge (Zhwa dmar Rtog ldan grags pa seng ge, 1283–1349) and the process of recognition took place with his successor Khajo Wangpo (Mkha’ spyod dbang po, 1350–1405) when he remembered his previous lives and was later recognized by the fourth Karmapa Rolpay Dorje (Rol pa’i rdo rje) probably around 1356 at his age of seven years and given solemnly his red hat. In the “Feast of Scholars” (Dpa’ po gtsug lag phreng ba 2003, pp. 980–2) it is described that at his seventh month of age he pronounced the verses of third Karmapa and then one week later following the master’s three finger-snaps he remembered his previous three lives and spoke in detail about them. This led to a gathering of believers and the arrival of the fourth Karmapa there one week later. Then some miraculous signs appeared. But he was given the red hat only later at the seventh year of age following the ritual initiation of a vase carried out by the Fourth Karmapa Rolpay Dorje. He allegedly remembered also some details from his life as Tashi Dagpa (Bkra shis grags pa, 1200–1282), which gave rise to some confusion, since this master is sometimes considered to be the first Zhamarpa then, but sometimes not.

26) There is a deal of uncertainty concerning the lineage of Panchen Lamas. According to particular tradition, second Panchen Lama Chokyi Langpo (Phyogs kyi glang po, 1439–1504) was recognized as a “new existence” (yang srid) of Khedubje (Mkhas grub rje). But there is no detailed account of the recognition. When he stayed in Ganden monastery with some three thousand monks, he defeated all in debate. As such he was considered to be “new existence” of Khedubje. This lack of some official recognition later gave rise to confusion concerning the succession of Panchen Lamas. According to another tradition, the lineage starts only with Lozang Chokyi Gyaltshen (Blo bzang chos kyi rgyal mtshan, 1570–1662), in whose case the detailed procedure of recognition was used.


27) Concerning the Dalai Lamas as a lineage of reincarnations, the process of recognition was for the first time solemnly undertaken in great gathering of scholars in Tashilhunpo around the year 1485, recognizing Gendun Gyatsho (Dge ’dun rgya mtsho, 1475–1542) to be “new existence” of Gendundub (Dge ’dun grub) on the basis of his remembering a past life and recognizing several persons in Tashilhunpo, see for example ’Jigs med bsam grub 2000, p. 38. See also van der Kuijp 2005.

lugs pa). And the first lineages of reincarnated masters of the “Old sect” (Rnying ma pa) could also be dated to the late 15th century.28 Recognizedtulkus” are present in all the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism; including Bon today. It was probably the surprising intelligibility of this institution within Tibetan (and Mongolian) society that later gave rise to their thousands of lineages, with a large number of them continuing up to the present time.29

The somewhat unconstrained appearance of such thousands of lineages of “tulkus” was at the same time followed by a rather critical attitude concerning many of them on the part of a number of Tibetan authors.30 It led also to a certain hierarchy (in practice more than in theory) among them being developed. It even brought about the phenomenon of “local tulku” which might with a lot of simplification resemble the role of the village priest in Christianity, i.e. a priest, whose power is restricted only to the small local community. Also, not all “repeated existences” (yang srid) are considered necessarily to be “miraculous bodies” (sprul sku) at the same time by some Tibetans, as was taken for granted by P. Williams.31

Yet, the success of the lineages of the “tulkusin Tibet also has its downside. The frequent and at the same time the most serious conflicts within Tibetan society were caused by clashes between several candidates claiming to be the genuine “tulku” of some predecessor (usually representing the interests of some influential groups within society). These are well-known cases even from modern times. Lineages of reincarnated masters remain potentially one of the most serious sources of conflicts between Tibetans.

28) One of the oldest cases of recognition within the “Old sect” concerns the Rigdzin Legden Dudjom (Rig ’dzin legs ldan bdud ’joms, born in the late 15th century as younger brother of Panchen Pema Wangyal, Pad ma dbang rgyal 1487–1542) being recognized as the “new existence” of famous treasure revealer Rigdzin Godemcen (Rig ’dzin rgod ldem can, cf. Bla brang skal bzang, 1997).

29) According to the statistics of the Tibetan Centre of Performing Arts (Krung go bod ljongs cha ’phrin lte gnas) there were around 7500 of reincarnations in whole Tibet before the Cultural Revolution and nowadays around 3000 reincarnations are officially recognized (Bkra shis tshe ring 2008, p. 369).

30) See Bla brang skal bzang 1997 for extracts from the critical texts on reincarnations of 5th Dalai Lama and several Amdowa masters.

31) P. Williams follows the ideas of Samdong Rinpoche (Williams 2004), but it should be said that the masters concerned would hardly give up the claim to be genuine “tulku” themselves.

Also, there is no textual evidence for such discrimination in the past. The contemporary Tibetan author of a book on tulkus sees the terms sprul sku and yang srid as synonyms (Bla brang skal bzang 1997). Of course, sprul sku is a more general term and overlaps with yang srid only in part of its semantic field. Lineages of “tulkus” contain an inherent ambiguity. They represent old Tibetan values characterizing the ruler, which are strongly modified by Buddhist ideas. As such they might be seen as a source of identity for contemporary Tibetans. At the same time the institution of “tulkus” as a magnet attracts the problems and negative side of society as a whole and mirrors them.


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Appendix 1
Deb ther dmar po (Red Annals)
(Tshal pa kun dga’ rdo rje 1993, pp. 94–97)
In the horse-year [[[Karma Pakshi]]] erected the temple of Mahākaruṇā and blessed it through
Gyalwa Gyatsho [[[deity]]] with his retinue. He established a habit concerning the monks [reciting] maṇi and beggars.32 In the horse-year he understood the signs of his “passing beyond mis-

ery” and a prophecy appeared to him about his birth near Gang Zhurmo, [the birthplace] of Mila[[[repa]]]. He narrated his marvellous biography (rnam thar). In the sheep-year, starting from the first month, he became a little sick. From the third month a continuous earthquake lasted for twenty-one days. He pronounced: “As the sun ages in the evening, yet rises the next day, there will appear ‘miraculously manifested body’ of renunciate yogi Rangjung Dorje in accordance with his trained body.” Accompanied by marvellous and miraculous sights he “passed away to bliss” on the third day of the waxing moon, ninth month of the sheep-year. On the ninth day his bodily remains were ‘purified’ (i.e. burnt) and his body fell apart. For two days there appeared many miraculous appearances such as a rain of flowers, rainbow, lights, etc. Innumerable relics of deity bodies and others got stuck to his remains.

Many of the personal disciples of the Lord Karma Pakshi arrived there: Mahāsiddha Urgyenpa, bodhisattva Gyalye, master Nyanray, precious Nenangpa, master Namtshoba and others.33 They received the teaching of Samtendenba Changchub Rinchen34 on the “born body” (sku skye ba); both the past and the future one. When Mahāsiddha [[[Karmapa]]] was passing away, he introduced Urgyen Rinpoche to the residence of Tshurphu [as its head]. Then [the duties of the head] were performed briefly by Nyanray and then by master Nenangpa. Except for Nyanray, the other two are “male descendants” (dbon rgyud) of Karma Pakshi. Then Lord of Dharma Rangjung Dorje arrived. When mahāsiddha Karmapa himself was on the verge of passing away, he said: “Leave my body to remain untouched for seven days.” He ‘transferred his consciousness’ (’pho) through the Brahma aperture, changed into a rainbow-like body and arrived in the country of gods. Gods were presenting him with offerings and when the eighth day was passing, he thought that he should perform “entering residence” ritual in his previous body. When he had just arrived there, the body was “purified” in fire. Seeing the suffering of the disciples in whole Chongnge valley of Tshurphu, he fainted a bit into the state of

compassion. When he regained consciousness, searching for a suitable corpse in order to perform “entering residence” ritual, he found the corpse of a child who had reached the third year

of age and was free from defect at Tolung Phartshang. He “entered residence” of him and his eyes protruding started to stare. Saying “I don’t like it when the dead one has living eyes” his mother pierced his eye with a needle. It spilled onto his face. He thought: “Without an eye I would not be able [to work] for the benefit of beings.” And again he searched for a body. He found none

32) The note in the text speaks about a donation of money and food to them. Tshal pa kun dga’ rdo rje 1993 p. 413, n. 461.

33) Byang sems rgyal ye, Bla ma gnyan ras, Rin po che gnas nang pa, Bla ma gnam mtsho ba.

34) The identity of the person is not clear. There are at least two Kadampa masters with the name Byang chub rin chen. But the possibility that it is the appellation used for Karmapa himself cannot be excluded (it means “Precious Bodhi, One with Meditative Concentration). In the event that the second possibility proves to have been true, it was probably a kind of testament.

except for a worm carried by a pigeon outside the house to the north. Discouraged, he thought that he would proceed to Tuṣita paradise. At the same moment twenty five ḍākiṇīs of the ‘protectors of field’ appeared and begged him to take the human body. He answered: “It is difficult to [work] for benefit of beings in the human world.” Although not comforted he consented. Then they empowered him in the maṇḍala of sixty two deities of Samvara and prayed for his good luck. The prophecy said “Take birth near Gang Zhurmo in Mangyul of Gungthang; at the bottom of upper part of Oma Lungkhen Thang valley in Lungshoe.” He set out on the rainbow path. He arrived at the crystal house; [first] above it and then down into the hard darkness. At that moment the ḍākiṇīs said: “There appeared a bloody wave of passion”. And they escaped. The voice resounded: “To the nine heavenly centers35 there are nine ladders. Not completing climbing one of them, the liberation path of ripening deeds would be difficult!” He fainted. In a while he came to. His physical body was swirling and there appeared weariness. Such narration contains “Hagiography of intermediate state”.

Then, in agreement with the previous prophecy, his body was born on the eighth day of the first month in the male wooden-monkey year. His father had the name Ngagchang Choempel and was a virtuous mantrin of the Old sect. However, when in the life of this humble potter a son was born, many miraculous omens came up. They appeared as an illusion that arose in a dream.

[The son] said many things remembering his rebirth (sku skye ba). With mere seeing he was able to read, write and understand all teachings. He became renowned in all directions. When he was two or three years old, they arrived at the offering festival at Langkhor,36 from the “noble body [of Phadampa]”37 appeared light; absorbed [into his body] and thus blessing entered him. He asked the instructions of [Pha]dampa from his father and took them into his heart. When being asked by learned Serkhangpa, he narrated [details from] his previous life and “Hagiography of the intermediate state”. In front of the Holy [statue of Avalokiteśvara] in Kyirong, a strong “mind of enlightenment” awoke in him.

Great siddha Urgyenpa knew the future of Great Karmapa who entrusted him with the black hat and transmitted the [[[teaching]]] “Introduction to triple [[[Buddha]]] bodies” saying “I will come in the future to take it back”. Given the interconnectedness (rten ’brel) [through such events, the small child] wished to meet great siddha Urgyenpa.

In the evening the thought that he will arrive next day to Putra (Sbu krar) appeared in contemplation of great siddha Urgyenpa. He said: “When the great siddha Karmapa will arrive, the place must be prepared.” The next morning he said: “Great siddha Karmapa will arrive today. Welcome him with music! Look, who is coming!” His attendants looked around and said: “Nobody is coming besides a potter with his wife leading their son.” “So it is… Call them to meet inside.” The cushions for sitting were evenly arranged to the right and left sides of the great siddha [[[Urgyenpa]]]. As in general great siddha [Urgyenpa’s] abundance of merit and strength of body was immeasurable, he settled into the meditative concentration of Lord of Secret [[[Vajrapāṇi]]] and through his subduing gaze immediately overwhelmed them. Father and mother prostrated themselves but the small child did not. Devoid of any fright he untangled the rope from some wrapped package in front of the shrine. Great siddha [[[Urgyenpa]]] laughed and said: “The small child is a smart one; this is an omen that he will become very renowned.”

35) The text says “gung” which might be interpreted as “centre of heaven”, yet see the translation from the “Feast of scholars” which gives khung, i.e. “hole” or in the context of gnam khung it is “skylight”.

36) Tib. Glang ’khor spyi mchod is a name of festival held in Ding ri of La stod (p. 414).

37) According to the notes it was a statue of Pha dam pa (p. 414).

When [the child] sat on the cushion, the question came: “Who are you?”

And he said: “I am ‘Karmapa, the widely renowned name’. Although in my mind the qualities of Dharma are fully perfected, the body of four elements is still not. Until that time I ask you to protect me.”

“So it is…, many pure visions appeared to me”, said [[[Urgyenpa]]]. And then with great respect and pleasant feelings he protected him as his own eye-ball. He bestowed the vows of a lay practitioner (dge bsnyen) on him and [teachings on] “generation of aspiration and application” (smon ’jug gi thugs bskyed). Being granted empowerment and instructions, [the newborn] realized the knowledge of all teachings through meditation; [enormous] as water in the ocean up to its non-agitated surface. Then, composing, he pronounced many religious songs. At the age of seven years he was ordained by scholar Kunden Sherab. He was given the name Rangjung Dorje, it being the secret name in his previous life

(…) He then sent for that mother who threw soil into his eye at Phartshang and gave her dzomo.38 He asked her: “What have you inserted into my eye?” She said: “It was not the needle, I threw soil”…


Appendix 2


Mkhas pa’i dga’ ston (Feast of scholars) (Dpa’ bo gtsug lag phreng ba 2003, pp. 923–928;

Dpa’ bo gtsug lag phreng ba 1980, II. vol., fol. 35b-38a)

According to the instructions given by Precious [[[Karmapa]]], siddha Urgyenpa arrived in various places such as the glacier of Shampo, Lake Nyeltsho, etc. At that time he saw Precious Karmapa with a black hat riding [mounted on an animal] and arriving in the eastern part of sky. Tears appeared in his eyes. He asked him to stay, but he answered that now he had to go on and soon they will meet each other. Then he saw him departing. It was like an appearance in a bad dream when the Precious Karmapa said that he would not stay.

[[[Urgyenpa]]] made a large offering. And so this sole leader in the time of degeneration, the omniscient Rangjung Dorje, settled in the womb of his mother Jomo Yangdren from the father Tonpa Choempel, as was earlier predicted. This happened in the upper part of Mangyul, in Tsiphu of Gungthang Oma Lungkhen Thang. When it happened, the days and nights of his mother were passing with formerly unknown bliss and she lived in an ocean of pure visions. Then the father and mother came close to the great Dingri Langkhor. They stayed in the mother’s sisters’ household there. In the male year of wooden monkey, first month and the eighth day afternoon, mother bore him without any harm on the roof of the house. Immediately after that he squatted, rubbed his face with his hands, looked at the moon and said: “It is the eighth day of the month”. The aunt could not stand it and said that it could not happen and that it is impossible to speak immediately after birth. The parents told her how this happened and then they travelled further to another place. Having known about the foolish nature of sentient beings in the time of degeneration, he did not speak about it afterwards or manifest his abilities wherever they arrived.


38) A female hybrid of yak and cow.


One month before [their meeting] siddha Urgyenpa was staying in Nyemo Tsabalung, when an unexpected great resplendence of blessing came to him. It [was predicted to him that] when the luminous Karmapa arrived as the sun, he would provide him with a black hat. Given the splendour of blessing, the others looked as if they would lose consciousness and siddha [[[Urgyenpa]]] himself shed tears as if [amounting to] the stream of a river: “Unchanging body of Rangjung Dorje! You entirely pure lord Vajradhara! Sit upon the cushion, you stainless dharma-body!” Such and other prayers he offered when he saw the swiftly arriving “miraculously manifested body”.

It is well known that [he appeared to others] in order to get them used to patience and love enduring for an ocean of aeons and also in order to [exhibit] their incongruence with two accumulations [of merit and wisdom]. Thus whoever saw that boy opened his eyes wide in wonder and thought: “Is it possible not to be a dream?” And then they worshipped him presenting him with various offerings.

Once he acted as if he exhibited equanimity. When he was three years old, he said: “Make something like a black hat from felt.” Then he put on his head the small black hat, sat down on top of a stone throne and to many children he preached [the teaching of] “Introduction to three [[[Buddha]]] bodies”. Those present there say that they cannot forget that scene. And the verses which he pronounced at that time are famous: “All these various playful appearances,

Are illusions and mirage for eyes as rainbow is,

We ourselves should realize the truth that appearances are empty, If you do not realize it, then kids, compassion be upon you!” He first displayed his supernatural knowledge when his mother suffered from tearing some of her silks. He said: “If you need some silks similar to these, I have many of them in the big wooden box in Tshurphu and I can give them to you.” When in his father greedy thought arose concerning the flock of sheep, he said: “I have flock of horses in Dokham and it is even much numerous than this. I can give them to you.”

[Then he said:] “I ask for divination ascertaining what my mind is; that I am Precious Karmapa”. He remembered the things offered to him in the past as well as instructions [and they] shed tears and touched his feet [with their heads]. Since then his father and mother and [later] also great siddha [[[Urgyenpa]]] really worshipped him and revered him, but they did not speak about it and it was not known to the others.

Once a feeling of being hungry and thirsty came to his father and he said: “We will go to the village which you can see over there.” When they arrived there, his parents had good times in laughter and pleasures. His father was very happy and being drunk from chang [he said] that Precious Karmapa has arrived. Then the rumour spread to the every market place and [[[people]]] presented him offerings large as a mountain. Everybody was asking for Dharma and blessing. And particularly Serkhangpa, master-bodhisattva of all spiritual friends of Lato, arrived there and presiding there he asked [[[Karmapa]]] detailed questions. Thus the “Hagiography of the Intermediate State” was spoken and he wrote it down in letters and so he bowed to the feet [of Karmapa].

Then once during the sacrificial offering at Langkhor, visions of many miraculous white relics appeared to him and rays of light were absorbed into him. Then he listened to various traditions of Zhije from his father. He sat down on the crystal throne with an ornate back and while radiating beams of light he flew into the sky like a bird and saw all gods and people bowing to him. To ordinary sight he appeared to be behaving in the usual manner of children, but he was trained in all Buddha-fields and worked for the sake of many hidden disciples.

When he visited the [statue of Avalokiteśvara called] Noble Wati of Kyirong,39 he actually saw Avalokiteśvara and was blessed by him. When he was five years old, he desired to meet Mahāsiddha Urgyenpa and he gradually approached him. To Urgyenpa a report in the sphere of clear light about the arrival of Karmapa came saying: “Be aware of it”. Mahāsiddha [[[Urgyenpa]]] got up very early and said that in the night he dreamt about his meeting with Precious Karmapa. He did circumambulation in the upper part of his residence. [Diviner] Mophug Neten came to meet him. It was said of him that in “divination hollow”40 it [appeared] that last night [he dreamt] the Karmapa, who is a child

of male and female yogīs. “Looking at it, he will come here today to accompany you”, he said.

“Well, being it so, blow a conch-shell now to gather the great crowd for welcoming him. Prepare a cushion in the high place to be above me. If he is Karmapa, he will sit there lacking any fear,” he said. When the crowd was invited and arrived there, in order to test him Mahāsiddha [[[Urgyenpa]]] performed meditation of Lord of Secret [[[Vajrapāṇi]]], but did not subdue him. [[[Karmapa]]] did not pay respect to Mahāsiddha and untied some wrapped package with his hand. Mahāsiddha [[[Urgyenpa]]] said: “He is a smart small boy, he will become very renowned.”

He went straight to the big throne and sat on it. They asked him: “Who are you?” He stretched his arm towards the sky and said: “I am Karmapa, the widely renowned name!”

[[[Urgyenpa]] then] asked him: “Say how we met in the past.” And he answered: “I came into your presence, Urgyenpa, the noble lord of Lato, you related stories from eastern and western India, you gave an account of the arrangement of Vajrāsana, you gave explanations of the noble Dharma you knew, etc.” [Then he again] asked him: “Do you remember what you gave me?” And he answered: “You have my black hat and a scripture.” Then [[[Urgyenpa]]] said: “It is true.” And he offered them back. When he put on the hat, it gave rise to great laughter. He descended from the throne and said: “In the past I was the master, but now I ask you to protect me.”

[[[Urgyenpa]]] said: “If you were my master, you can read.” He came [to him] and said: “Read aloud!” A scripture was given to him and some [text of the scripture] arose in him without hindrance, some abbreviated words were not clear, sometimes he read connecting the words in various [incorrect] ways. [[[Urgyenpa]]] said laughing: “I have never seen reading with such corrupted taste.”

Then he asked his age: “My master passed away on the third day of the ninth month in the year of sheep. You were born on the eighth day of the first month in the year of monkey. There are no more than five months in between. You cannot be the reborn body of my master.” He answered: “I settled my consciousness into the body, which had been already developing for four months after its conception.”

39) According to the legend, in the 7th century a sandal tree in Nepal fell apart into four pieces, from which four statues were made. One of them was that of Avalokiteśvara called Wati,

which was in Kyirong (cf. Dung dkar blo bzang ’phrin las 2002, p. 1361 /’phags pa mched bzhi/). 40) The meaning is uncertain. The name of the person Mophug Neten means “Divinationhollow/cave/, old monk”. A similar person appears in the biography of Gotshangpa (Rnal ’byor pa sangs rgyas dar po 1993, p. 165); he is called there Sras mo phug pa. It is not clear whether it is female (sras mo) or diviner (sras Mo phug pa), but it is again in the context of divination (thus confirming the second possibility) or a vision through which he is believed to be “tulku” of Avalokiteśvara. [Again he was] asked: “Arriving to the family in front of Gang Zhurmo in the past, did you hear repeated chanting [of scriptures]?”

“As concerns this, earlier at the age of four months, it was the ‘period of source-vajra holder’41 when I partly settled into the ‘basis of all’42 from the ‘five manifestations of awakening’.43 Later, my consciousness of ‘basis of all’ fully settled there and I actually realized the state of sahaja. For this the ḍākinīs of field protectors encouraged me with their songs and thus the ‘resultant-vajra holder’44 of triple [[[bodhi]]]sattvas45 has completely arisen.” He was asked: “What else do you remember?” And he spoke about the ways [he performed]

“entering residence” ritual at Phar Tshang. He said: “See if this is true or false. Do not consider it superficially, come to certainty. In the womb I saw the outside places without obstruction. My mother [[[thought]]] that the baby would be a daughter since it did not stay still for a moment. To the father it was said in the dream that it will be a boy.” So saying, his father and mother were

called to face the gathering and [when confirming it] all started to believe.

They said: “Except for Śākyamuni in India and you in Tibet, other such [[[births]]] unpolluted by the womb never happened!” And they praised him greatly. “The secret name of my master was Rangjung Dorje, and the same [[[name]]] I am giving you,” said [[[Urgyenpa]]] and thus he gave him the name Rangjung Dorje. He bestowed vows of a lay practitioner on him.

41) It mostly refers to the “generation stage” of deity yoga and is connected with producing the “blissful body” through visualization, the body which resides in maṇḍala.

42) Tib. kun gzhi. In Kagyupa lineages the term has a specific connotation. It is taken as a source of both saṃsāra and nirvāṇa and its nature must be realized by the practitioner. This point was controversial for Gelugpa masters (Dung dkar blo bzang ’phrin las, 2002). Citing the contemporary general explanation of Kagyupa teachings: “…The ‘basis of all’ is a support for the method of path of liberation, the root of creation of the arrangement of the vessel of the world of three [outer] spheres and for binding all the branches of [inner] winds to their non-agitation” (…khams gsum snod bcud kyi bkod pa byed pa’i bzo bo rtsa ba dang yan lag gi rlung g.yo med du ’ching ba ni thabs grol lam kun gyi gzhi rten yin pas..), 'Phrin las rgyal mtshan et al. 2000, p. 435.

43) Tib. mngon byang lnga (abbrev. from mngon par rdzogs par byang chub lnga). Five manifestations of awakening during the “generation stage” of tantra. We should simply understand that the use of this tantric concept wants to say that Karmapa was awakened at the time of the entering the womb.

44) Tib. bras bu rdo rjedzin pa.This term appears in the context of the visualization process corresponding to producing a “miraculous body” (sprul sku) during the “generation stage”.

45) Tib. sems dpagsum. It is not clear whether this means analogy of “triple buddha bodies” or not. It might refer to a triad of bodhisattvas: Avalokiteśvara, Mañjuśrī and Vajrapāṇi (cf. van der Kuijp 2005).




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