The Rje btsun Bla ma Mahaguru Padma 'Byung gnas La Gsol ba 'Debs pa Byin rlabs Bdud rtsi'i Char rgyun Zhes Bya ba Bzhugs so translated here as simply the Pluvial Nectar of Blessings was written as a prayer by His Holiness Ngag dbang Blo bzang Rgya mtsho, the Great Fifth Dalai, Lama. The prayer is a supplication to Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava written in thirty-four quatrain verses including a colophon. The verses use a mixture of Buddhist terminology combined with Tibetan historical references to create what is a virtual petition for the welfare of the Tibetan nation during the seventeenth century. Padmasambhava was a great champion in the cultivation of the Buddhist Dharma in the land of snows and this text gives a tropology of both the surra and tantra formats utilized by the Lotus Born Guru and the Great Fifth Dalai Lama (1617-1682) to convey these teachings. The translator has provided a lengthy commentary to clarify the more esoteric and historical references or the intended (aehipraya, dgongs pa) theme or idea.
The role ofPadmasambhava in the establishment and subsequent flourishing of the Buddhadharma in Tibet is clear. Although the Nalanda scholar Shantarakshita was the first significant teacher invited to Tibet, he was soon joined by Padmasambhava, who vanquished all the negative forces and gave important teachings to the King and his ministers. Together they established Samye, the first monastery in Tibet, and ordained the first Tibetan Buddhist monks.
Later, when the Fifth Dalai Lama became involved in temporal affairs as leader of the country he received great inspiration and sup- port from his close connection with Padmasambhava. His autobiography makes clear that he had a connection to Padmasambhava from his childhood. His father was a fervent Nyingma practitioner and when he was young the Fifth Dalai Lama too took an interest in the Nyingma tradition. During the course of his traditional training, when he was deeply engaged in his Gelugpa studies, this interest seems to have waned somewhat. However, once he had become responsible for the welfare of Tiber his enthusiasm for the Nyingma tradition revived.
What sets Padmasambhava apart from other Buddhist masters is his explicit concern for the Tibetan nation. The writings of Arisha or Je Tsongkhapa show that they were primarily concerned with the attainment of Buddhahood. Lopon Rinpoche's writings, on the other hand, perhaps due to the influence of King Trisong Deutsen, also reveal a great concern for the Tibetan nation. This was a sentiment particularly shared by the great Fifth Dalai Lama.
This became vividly clear to me after coming into exile in India. In the early days, when I wanted to find certain prayers addressed to Guru Padmasambhava, I was unable to locate the appropriate texts. Then later on I found the prayer text to Guru Padmasambhava by the Fifth Dalai Lama himself where he stated: "I wrote this text for the benefit of Tibetan nation, but for certain reasons it could not be put into effect." What he meant was that he had written the prayer with the intention that it would be performed allover Tibet, but due to certain circum- stances, it could not be done. Then he expressed a wish that it might still benefit the Tibetan people in the future. I felt sad to read how the Fifth Dalai Lama had composed a prayer for the general good of Tibet, but nobody had cared to follow it up. It seemed ironic that once we had lost our country and were living as refugees that we had an opportunity to re-establish this tradition and to fulfil his wish.
Given the great contribution that both made to the welfare ofTi- bet and the flourishing of the Buddhadharma, I welcome the oppor- tune appearance of this English translation of the Supplication to the Noble Lama Mahaguru Padmasambhava by the Fifth Dalai Lama. I congratulate the translator and invite readers to join me in hoping that as a result of the incessant flow of blessings invoked by this work all sentient beings, and especially the people of the Land of Snows, will experience great peace and happiness.
The institution of the Dalai (M. Ta le) Lama (bla ma) as the temporal and spiritual leader of Tibet emerged during the sectarian and political struggles which had devastated the Tibetan nation for over a century. During its imperial period Tibet was torn between the native Bon tradition and the emergence of Buddhism from India. Later, sectarian struggles between the newly instituted Dge lugs pa school and the older Rnying ma pa and Bka' brgyud pa schools engulfed not only Tibet but the Manchus of China and the diverse tribes of Mongolia. From this struggle arose the solid institution of the dga' ldan pho brant, a law code dating to approximately 1650 consisting of twelve sections which placed the Dalai Lama of the Dge lugs pa sect in control of the entire country. This compilation was written by a local governor under the guidance of the fifth Dalai Lama's regent, Bsod nams chos 'phel, and the Qosot Mongolian benefactor Gushri Khan (Bstan 'dzin chosrgyal) and superceded the earlier law codes of the empire period, the sne'u gdong law codes of Byang chub rgyal mtshan, founder of the Phagmo gru dynasty in 1354, and the modern Gtsang law codes drafted during the reign of the fourth Gtsang king, Karma bstan skyong dbang po (r, 1623-42). The Gtsang law codes served as a template for the dga' ldan pho brang, the latter being revised in 1679 with more sections by Sangs rgyas rgya mtsho, the later regent of the fifth Dalai Lama' who relied strongly on the earlier sne'u gdong law codes as the prevalent organ of administrative justice", The sne'u gdong law codes represented the administrative changes affected by Byang chub rgyal mtsan of the Phaggru clan who overwhelmed the Sa skya rulers of Tibet whose dynasty developed in the thirteenth century with 'Gro mgon chos rgyal 'phag pa (1235-80), a monk, becoming the spiritual mentor of the Mongolian king Khubilai Khan (1219-94) who was also to eventually become the emperor of China",
Despite the political antagonisms of the modern period, Blo bzang rgya mtsho, the Great Fifth Dalai Lama (1617-82) felt no schism in the Buddhist doctrine. His works show that he was steeped in the Rnying ma pa Tantras, despite the ascendancy of his own Dge lugs pa sect. Interestingly however, during his reign, over a hundred copies of the Them sprangs ma edition of the Bka' gyurwere made. This edition does not contain the Rnying rgyud, despite the Great Fifth's interest in this area. This omission may be due to the fact that a copy of the. Them sprangs ma edition was given to the Mongols in 1671 who were staunch patrons of the Dga' ldan pas. However, the Great Fifth did commission an edition of the Rnying ma'i rgyud 'bum in forty-four volumes which was preserved in the Potala Palace. Indeed, it was the fifth Dalai Lama who instituted the high office of Pan chen Rin po che as an incarnation of both the Buddha Amitabha (Od dpag med) and Rje Tsong kha pa's disciple, Mkhas grub rje5. This title was bestowed on the first (in retro- spect, fourth) Pan chen Rin po che, Blo bzang chos kyi rgyal mtshan (1567-1662), as abbot ofBkra shis Ihun po monastery due to the discovery of certain hidden texts, or gter ma, a tradition usually associated with the Rnying ma pas. Chos kyi rgyal rntshan's lack of sectarianism, like that of Blo bzang rgya mtsho, can be found in his verses:
This verse clearly echoes the similarly non-sectarian sentiments of Dge 'dun rgya mtsho, the second Dalai Lama, who preceded Chos kyirgyal mtshan as abbot of Bkra shis Ihun po, and wrote the following verse to express the essenrial sameness of the great masters Padrnasam- bhava (the major patron of the Rnying ma pas), Atisha (the Bka' gdarns pa founder), and Rje Tsong ka pa (founder of the Dga' ldan or Dge lugs sect) :
His admiration for the Rnying ma pa tradition, led the Great Fifth to assist the small Smin grol gling Rnying ma pa monastery to become a great center of learning. He was a great scholar whose literary skills included a commentary on the Abhidharmakosha, works on rhetoric, astrology, monastic discipline, a guide to the Jo khang, and a history of Tibet which attempted to reconcile discrepancies of tradition. In ad- dressing such discrepancies, the fifth Dalai Lama sought to reject those ceremonies, such as the gsur offerings, which could not be traced to Buddhist canonical writings", Similarly, he encouraged the study of Sanskrit and invited Indian teachers to Tibet8• In addition, as a secular ruler, the Great Fifth was also able to raise an army of 3000 men" and commissioned the building of the Perala Palace in Lhasa. The rogation here translated clearly illustrates the enormous range of the fifth Dalai Lama's knowledge as well as his ability to unite the Old and New Translation Schools.
Over many years I have had numerous discussions with both Ti- betans and Tiberanisrs which have influenced the reflections gathered in the commentary I have written to this text. I am particularly grateful in this regard to Geshe Lozang Jamspal, director of the New York Tibetan Translators Guild, who was my Tibetan language professor many years ago while I was a graduate student at Columbia University. Geshe Jamspal has remained a close friend and guide over many years and he has provided me with numerous Tibetan texts which required translation and which were of special interest to me. Without the insights provided by Geshe Jamspal and other members of his guild this present work would not have come to fruition. I am also thankful to the Ven. Thubten Ngodrub, the Ne- chung Oracle, who provided tremendous perspectives on the non-sectarian qualities of the two prayers by the Chos kyi rgyal mtshan and Dge 'dun rgya mtsho listed above. Despite modern historians' under- standable attempts to depict seventeenth century Tibet as a sectarian war zone, the teachings of the Buddha always prevailed and doctrinal discord was always outweighed by the strength of the Dharma which was shared by the Tibetan nation as a whole. The other crucial influences on my commentary to this text resulted largely from the many people who read, either partially or completely, the work at various stages of its development. These people include Jampa Gyaltso, formerly of the Norbulingka Academy in Dharamsala, Yen. T ulku Dorje Dhenpa, and his teacher Yen. Tenpa Gyatso, both ofGonkar Chode Monastery in Dehra Dun, Ngagpa Karma Lhundup ofZilnon Kagye Ling in Dharamsala. In New York, Tsering Lama, Dr. Choeying Phuntsok, Kathleen Kernell, and Geshe Lobsang Tsetan. In addition, I must give a special thanks to Professor James Russell of Harvard University who first sparked my interest in Tibetan culture many years ago and who has granted me on numerous occasions access to his personal library. I must also pay a debt of gratitude to the two thangka painting brothers, Yen. Lobsang Palden and Yen. Lobsang Thubtop, of Sera Je Monastery, who kindly provided the illustrations for this work while they were in New York. I am also indebted to my friend, the Canadian thangka painter, Jampa Thabkey, for the painting of Guru Rinpoche which adorns the cover of this work. I mention only a few of those whose counsel and encouragement most contributed to these pages and I offer apologies to those friends and teachers who remain unnamed but who, none the less, were patient with me as I attempted to provide the English speaking world with a translation and some reflections on this great prayer.
Your email address will not be published *
Send as free online greeting card
Email a Friend