The original Tibetan text from which the present translation is prepared is sTon pa yang dag rdzogs pa'I sangs rgyas rgyal ba gshen rab mi bo'I mdzad pa bcu gnyis kyi rim pa, or mDzad chen bcu gnyis kyi rnam bshad mdor bsdus, a brief like story of Tonpa Shenrab based on the traditionally known format, the 'twelve deeds'. It was composed in the 1960s by Menri Lpoon Sangye Tenzin (d. 1977) and was published by The Tibetan Bonpo Foundation in Delhi in 1965. In 1988, the Council for Tibetan Education of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in collaboration with Jadur Sonam Sangpo, the then Bon representative for the Assembly of Tibetan People's Deputies, published this in book form with illustrations, to facilitate the reading material on Bon for Tibetan school-children. It is this later edition on which the present translation is based.
According to the Bon tradition, Tonpa Shenrab was not only the founder of the Bon religion, but also the first Buddha to appear in this 'age of degeneration' The Stages of A-Khrid Meditation (Kaliyuga) to save living beings from sufferings. He was believed to have been born 16,016 years ago (B.C.) in the land called Olmo Loongring ('Ol mo lung ring), in the innermost part of the Zhang Zhung kingdom then called Tagzing (sTag gzigs) and lived 81 Shen years, during which he visited Tibet (i.e. Kongpo) once, and taught the people there the basics of Bon practices called 'causal Bon'.
His detailed life story is available in three versions: long, of medium length and short. They are among the class of scriptures which are considered his own 'words' (mDo). Therefore, their ultimate source is being traced back to Tonpa Shenrab himself. The long version, 'Dus pa rin po che'I rgyud dri ma med pa gzi brjid rab tu 'bar ba'I mdo (also called Dri med gzi brjid or simply gZi brjid), has 61 chapters in 12 volumes. It belongs to the class of scriptures called 'transmission by hearing' (snyan brgyud) and was mystically transmitted to Trulku Lodhen Nyingpo (b. 1360 A.D.) by Tangchen Mutsa Gyermed, a siddha of the 8th century A.D. Extracts from chapters 7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15 and 16 of this version have been edited and translated into English by D.L. Snellgrove.
The middle length version, 'Dus pa rin po che'I rgyud gzer mig (also called mDo gzer mig or gZer mig), has 18 chapters in two volumes. It belongs to a class of scriptures called 'rediscovered treasure' (gter ma) and was rediscovered from Trithang Durtrod (Khri thang dur khrod) in Samye by Drangje Tsunpa Sermig. The first seven chapters and part of the eighth of this version have been translated into English by A.H. Francke. The short version, Dus gsum sangs rgyas byung khungs kyi mdo', more popularly known as mDo 'dus, has 24 chapters in one volume. It belongs to the same class as gZer mig and was rediscovered (in 961 A.D.) in the red stupa (mChod rten dmar po) in Samye by two Indian sadhus (A-tsa-ra mi gnyis). The present translation first appeared in Tibet Journal (Vol. XVII, No. 2, 1992). Certain parts of the translation needed correction and retranslation which I did after consulting the original Tibetan text. I wish to thank Vyvyan Cayley, a volunteer editor at LTWA, for proofreading the translation.
Back of the Book
According to the Bon tradition of Tibet, Tonpa Shenrab was not only the founder of the bon religion but also the first Buddha to appear in this 'degenerate age' (Kaliyuga), with the express purpose of relieving the sufferings of all sentient beings. In the Twelve Deeds, told according to the traditional format, we can read about the major events of Tonpa Shenrab's life, including his compassionate and miraculous deeds and his entrance into mahaparinirvana.
Item Code: IDK337 Author: Sangye Tandar, Edited by Richard Guard Cover: Paperback Edition: 2003 Publisher: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives ISBN: 8185102961 Size: 8.5" X 5.5" Pages: 36 (14 B/W Figure Illustrations)