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Drametse Lhakhang

Drametse, the peak with no enemy has a monastery resting on the shoulder of steep slope, and is eighteen Kilometers ride from the junction of Monggar-Trashigang highway. The sixteenth century monastery houses the relic stupa (Kudung) of Jetsun Ratna Dharma alias Ani Chorten Zangmo who is to the date acknowledged as the essence of hundred thousand sky-walkers. She was also known by the name ‘Ache Rinchen’ in the writings of Terton Padma Lingpa. The Ruby Rosary; activities of three incarnation lines of Padma Lingpa, which was published in the year 2011 reads that Ani Chorten Zangmo was born to Dungsey Tenzin Choegyal, the son of Gyalsey Sangdak, and so unquestionably was the great granddaughter of Terton Padma Lingpa. The famed hagiographical works of 3rd Pema Lingpa, Kunkhyen Tsultim Dorje, and the wooden block entreaty of Ani Chorten Zangmo also support the claim. 

She was married to Yeshe Gyalpo from Sumthrang Choeje but having been sick and tired of the cyclic existence, she renounced her family whom she thought were the obstacle to the enlightenment. The other version says that she fled from Bumthang to escape the repeated marriage proposal from the son of Chhokhor Deb (chieftain) Kunthhub. Her brother Chung Kunga Nyingpo and a small number of attendants escorted her during the escape to eastern region of Bhutan. On reaching at Aja-Nye the shell trumpet when blown gave a trifling sound and thereafter the place was named as ‘Dungkhar Choeling’.  The caravan of aforesaid travelers then reached at Brahmitse, the peak which shelters the tribal community of Tawang. In line to the predestination, it was at Brahmitse, the present-day hermitage at Drupchhu where the shell trumpet produced melodious sound. The place from then on became to be known as ‘Drametse’, which literally means the peak with no enemy; a state of total freedom of distraction to pursue dharma.

After a decade and three years of mediation at Drupchu Goenpa, Ani Chorten Zangmo and Chung Kunga Nyingpo established Thechog Namdrol Ugyen Choeling Lhakhang at Drametse in 1511 AD. The oral history says that during the groundwork of the Lhakhang, Ani Chorten Zangmo through her wisdom eye saw a human size caterpillar under a big stone. After eons of suffering under such hell and due to ripening of good Karma, Ani Chorten Zangmo liberated the worm by conducting bonfire ritual. The Lhakhang having been consecrated became the place of worship where thousand petals of Peling tradition blossomed. During the late 16th century, Chung Kunga Nyingpo’s son Tenzin Jurmey Dorje and grandson Kencho Tenzin extended it into three storey monastery representing three bodies of a Buddha; Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya. The upmost floor has the chapel of Pekar, the chief spirit all the Gyalpo class, and in a different chamber has the five sisters of long life. The middle floor has shrine of Palden Lhamo, Tsuimar, Hayagriva, Zhabdrung, and a room of Sutra & Tantra. The ground floor has Guru Rinpoche’s statue and snow lion throne of His Holiness Lhalung Sungtrul Rinpoche, the 11th Padma Lingpa.

The riches of the monastery include relic stupa (Kudung) of Ani Chorten Zangmo, horn of a horse, the crystal bottle with water said to calculate apocalypse, golden vajra, sacred oyster, Astadasahasrika-prajnaparamita (Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines) inscribed with golden ink,  and skull (kapala) of Dakini with self-arisen syllables ‘Om Ah Hung’, etc. History of the Dakini kapala dates back to the eighth century. The queen mother had her last breath during the labour but the child was found alive when about to cremate. She was raised by the monkeys, and even developed webbed hands and feet indicating the enlightened characteristic. She was known by the name Sakya Devi and was Guru Rinpoche’s first consort from Nepal. After having received the secret and sacred initiations from Guru Rinpoche at Pharping, she remained as yogini until her nirvana. Her Kapala (skull) was at that time concealed as a treasure at Samye only to be unearthed by Terton Padma Lingpa. This treasure Kapala was later received by Ani Chorten Zangmo as a share of birthright from Tamzhing Choeje and was carried to Drametse during her escape.  

After Ani Chorten Zangmo passed away into small rainbow body, her son (from the marriage with Yeshe Gyalpo at early age) Dhungsey Choewang Dargay started ‘Drametse Choeje’ which blessed with the birth of two successive incarnations of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel; Zhabdrung Jigme Norbu (1831-1861) and Zhabdrung Jigme Chogyal (1862-1904). Prior to the two incarnations, Zhabdrung Jigme Drakpa (1791-1830) was also said to be born at Drametse but his lineage from Drametse Choeje is yet to be known. The Choeje however was ended with Choeje Tenzin as the last heir.

The monastery is also renowned for the origin of twenty one chaptered drum dance of Drametse (Drametse Ngacham), one of the UNESCO’s ‘Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible World Heritage of Humanity’. The orchestra of this mask dance is made of sixteen dancers wearing different masks of real and mythical animals; snow lion, garuda, dragon, yak, leopard, goat, snake, raven, horse, owl, stag, pig, dog, bear, tiger, and ox. In one of the visions of Chung Kunga Nyingpo, the drum dance was initially performed by celestial beings to welcome him at ‘Copper-Coloured Palace’ of Guru Rinpoche. Chung Kunga Nyingpo passed down the choreography of this drum dance at Drametse and in so doing gave it the name ‘Drametse Ngacham’.

There are countless riches, colours, and legends at Drametse which if put on paper would take days and months, so why not stopover at Drametse and walk around to experience its richness? The 5th, 6th and 10th lunar months are the Grade ‘A’ holiday time for you will be able to witness Trelda Tshechu (honouring ceremony of Guru Rinpoche’s Birthday), Tordok (The burning of evil effigy for good harvest and wellbeing of the community), and Kangso Chhenmo (bonfire rituals during the festival eve)  respectively. 


Rahula and the Meeting of Nine Evils

Fig: Rahula (PC: Tibetan Spirit)
Many aeons ago (longer than the age taken to wear a mountain by brushing with eagle’s wing), Drangsong (Rishi) Zamita and his consort Trulmo Poding had a son named Lalar Chuzhi who took monastic vows and dogged an ascetic life in the woods of Shing Laksha until Prajna Kulu, the maid of King Ratna Siddha caught a glimpse of him. The son of great sage was at that time invited in the palace as the royal priest by the king. From then on Prajna Kulu became the fourth crowned head as recognition from the king. But the green-eyed ministers falsely accused Lalar Chuzhi of having affair with Queen Prajna Kulu, and the king had him burned alive in the mountain of sandalwoods. Before he had his last breathe, he cursed to hit back the king and ministers in seven days by reawakening as a monster. He also made an aspiration statement that the four queens shall labor under his order to tame the wrongdoers during the degenerating Kalpa. Seeing the insanity of the king, the four queens could not stop throwing themselves into the pyre of sandalwoods.

In accordance to ‘The Unprecedented Explanation of a Mere Portion of the Liberation Stories of the Ocean of Oath-Bound Dharma Protectors’, the collected works of the 5th Lelung Zhepai Dorje’s (1697-1740), Lalar Chuzhi was reborn at the base of gigantic Mt Sumeru as a horrifying son called Khyab’jug Chenpo (Rahula) to Sinpo (male cannibal earth spirit) Raksha Lokgi Trengwa and Lumo (serpent spirit) Belgo Trakmikma. He was born with nine heads, nine hearts, four arms, a frog body with wide open mouth at the belly, and a serpent tail. He was born so giant that when he stands the deepest ocean reach only up to his knees. Due to karmic connection, the four queens of King Ratna Siddha were reborn as sisters of Rahula; Droksin Chusingyi Dongchen (crocodile faced rakshi), Tak-Sinzorwe Dongchen (tiger faced rakshi), Kongsin Ba Langi Dongchen (cow faced rakshi), and Bamsin Drekyi Dongchen (bear faced rakshi). The settling of scores with King Ratna Siddha and ministers by Rahula is not the subject matter of this article; rather it would give weight to Rahula and the origins of Ngyenpa Guzom.

As per Baidurya Karpo, the 17th century astrological writing of 6th Desi Sangye Gyatso (regent of 5th Dalai Lama), Rahula is known by the name Nyima Nagchen. He was born as a union of non-dual mind of Yadud Dorje Lokthreng and Sasin Barma. Nyima Nagchen and his siblings took separate routes during their journey around Mt Sumeru. On 7th day of 11th month, he met his youngest sister Bamsin Drekyi Dongchen (bear faced rakshi) and they had an incestuous relationship without recognizing each other. As a consequence, the four elements (earth, water, fire, and air) of the universe were contaminated and disturbed making the day the most inauspicious one in the lunar datebook. The day was from then on called as ‘Ngyenpa Guzom’ (meeting of nine evils). According to the tradition, the term ‘nine’ signifies the sheer size of inauspiciousness rather than representing the figure itself. 

However, the secret tantra of ‘Zago Nyimatro’ (Ferocious Planet called Wrathful Sun) has not the same story to tell. Shinje Dope Gyelpo (Yama, the lord of desire) and Sinmo (female cannibal earth spirit) Lokcham Barma had a son called Zago Nyima (Rahula). He lived at the side of Yugandhara (Nyashingzin, one of the seven golden mountains surrounding Mt. Sumeru) and Goddess Remati (Queen of desire realm) to the northeast of Mt Sumeru. They were both drunk of lust for love and agreed to meet in the north of Mt Sumeru. But, Goddess Remati conspired to send Yakshi (Nature spirit) called Phaknadong (pig snout), the daughter of Phakpa Dza (planet of pig) in disguise. At the time of departure, Phaknadong revealed her true ugly face and Zago Nyima was angry for the by mistake sexual intercourse. He called the assembly of eight classes of gods and demons (Mara, Mamo, Naga, Ging, Rahula, Tsen, Raksha, and Yaksha) for aiding him to put an end to the Goddess Remati. The malicious spirits meet every twelve months on the same time i.e. on 7th day of 11th month, and destroy the harvests and life force of the all God's creatures, and the day of such get-together is known as Ngyenpa Guzom (Meeting of nine evils).

In this day and age, no such harm may befall during Ngyenpa Guzom for the reason that Rahula was converted to an oath bound dharma protector after having been subdued by Heruka and Maha Guru. Nevertheless, the day was inauspicious one from the time when the elements of the universe were disturbed. However, the say that no good action shall bear fruit of merits is a myth; any conducts shall be rewarded based on its drive. The day may only barricade the practice not the result, it only cautions the initiation of significant assignments. For example, if one begins meditation on the said day, he or she may go through the troubles like ill health or laziness, and cannot fruitfully reach to closing stage of meditation. On the other hand, he or she will be deposited with good merits for the meditation done on the very same day. So, one is advised not to make important decisions of our life which have long term impact like start of husbandry, marriage, construction of house, beginning of meditation, inaugural ceremonies and other celebrations. The actions of bigheartedness, praying, saving lives, etc. can still be practiced during Ngyenpa Guzom. You are requested to break the myth and continue the thirty seven ways of Bodhisattva on Ngyenpa Guzom.


The Secret & Sacred Lives of Orygen Pema Lingpa

In the dark age of past, Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of compassion, at the feet of the Buddha Amitabha made an enlightened pledge to liberate all the beings of lower realms. The lord of compassion wept the minute he thought that it was not possible for him to free all beings from the deep of misery. Due to prayer of the lord, his two teardrops incarnated as the two daughters of King Indra. One of the daughters called Goddess Apurna on one occasion stole some blossoms, and as a price for disrespecting the law of the heaven of the Thirty-Three, she was reborn as a poultry woman named Jadzima in the region of Maguta of Nepal.

Jadzima and her four sons, helped by an elephant and a donkey began to construct Boudhanath stupa in the 5th century. After consecration of the stupa, the sons of the deceased Jadzima made prayers of aspiration for the benefit of the beings. The firstborn son, prayed to be reborn as a patron of Buddha's doctrine, the next eldest aspired to be reborn as a sage who will ordain the monks, the third aspired to be reborn from the pistil of a lotus to safeguard the doctrine, and the youngest aspired to be reborn as a minister who will arrange the dharma goings-on of the crowned head. During the event, an insect stung the firstborn son's neck and was killed by accident. He then and there prayed for the dead insect to be reborn as his heir practicing Dharma.

In the 8th century, as per the aspiration prayers, the eldest son of Jadzima was reborn as King Trisong Deutsen to the northern snow land of red faced barbarians, the second as the abbot Zhi-ba-tsho of Nalanda Mahavihara, the third as Guru Padmakara of Oddiyana, and the youngest as the minister, Ba Trisher. The insect that had been killed was reborn as Princess Lacham Pemasel (clear lotus), the daughter of King Trisong Deutsen and Jomo Changchub Drolma. The princess was trained in the lore of Buddha by Guru Padmasambhava at the age of five. However, she died prematurely at age of eight due to karmic effect of murdering the son of a junior queen during one of her previous life as the queen of King Bhimakutra of Makuta kingdom. The Maha-Guru drew a red syllable ‘NRI’ on her heart, and miraculously summoned her consciousness back into her bodyOn her last legs, the Guru entrusted lineage of the Great Perfection known as ‘The Heart-Drops of the Sky farers’ (Khandro Nyingthig) and foretold that she would reveal 108 hidden termas (treasure-texts) in her one of the next lives.

After passing away, she experienced seven pure lives before recognizing as Orygen Pema Lingpa. She was reborn as two successive nuns known as Rikma Sanggye Khyi and Jomo Pema Drolma, a consort of Nyangrel Nyima Ozer (1st of the five Terton kings) and Guru Chowang (2nd the five Terton kings) respectively. In her third rebirth she was Ngakchang Rinchendrakpa, the heartson of Terton Ugyenlingpa. Pema Lendreltsel was 4th  in line to her rebirth who discovered Khandro Nyingthig as per the prophecy of MahaGuru and gave its empowerment to 3rd Karmapa Rangjung Dorje. Longchenpa, the lord of all doctrine knower was the most revered master all the seven. The other two incarnations were short lived; Thokar, a child in Bumthang Tharpaling who was killed at the age of seven with a stone while stealing peas from other’s garden, and an unnamed person who died at the age of twenty five. Orygen Pema Lingpa is therefore referred to as the direct incarnation of the omniscient Longchenpa.  

Orygen Pema Lingpa was born among many miraculous sign in the iron horse year (1450 AD) , on 15th day of tiger month at Tang Chel, Bumthang, to Dondrup Zangpo and Drogmo Pema Drolma. On the tenth day of seventh month, fire monkey year (1476 AD), Guru Rinpoche appeared as a ragged monk and presented a scroll of prophecy which guided him to discover his first treasure text known as ‘The Essence of Secret’ (Klong-gsal gSang-ba yang-bcud) from the Naringdrak during the full moon night. Using the scroll of prophecy as the eyes to the riddle he then transcribed the treasure script into Tibetan letters. During the twenty one days of initiation and empowerment of the treasure to the community of Dechen Pelrithang, he was visited in dreams by Khandro Yeshe Tshogyal to train him on how to perform the rites and dances of the mentioned treasure. The second treasure hunt on the twenty fourth day of the same month from the unchanged place, the Naringdrak, was one of his well-known revelations where he arose from the riverine lake with a Buddha’s statue and a treasure box of joined skulls placed under one arm, and the butter lamp still burning in the other. The lake thereafter was known as Mebartsho.  

He revealed countless treasures of which these are few; ‘Three black teaching’ (nagpo skor gsum) from Tselung Lhakhang in Bumthang, ‘The attainment of Longevity, combining Jewel with the path’ (Tse sgrub norbu lam Khyer) from Kurje Drakmar Dorje Tsekpaidrak, ‘The Unsurpassed Mind’ (dGongs-pa bla-med) and ‘Mahakaruna, the Lamp which Dispels Darkness’ (Thugs-rje chen-po mun-sel sgron-me) from Tang Rimochen, and ‘Hayagriva, the Single Hero’ (rTa-mgrin dpa'-bo gcig-pa) from Sengye Namdzongdrak, and ‘Gathering of Samantabhadra’s Intention’ (Kun Bzang dgongs ‘dus) from Samye Chimphu.

He discovered numerous treasures from Lhodark Mendo Drak Sengye Dongchen; ‘The Lama Jewel Ocean’ (bla ma norbu rgya mtsho), ‘Kīla, the Utterly Secret Vital Razor’ (phur ba yang gsang srog go spu gri), ‘Indestructible Garland of Long-life Instructions’ (tshe khrid rdo rje'i phreng ba), Red Hayagriva that Defeats Arrogance (rta mgrin dmar po dregs pa zil gnon), ‘The Protector Maning’ (mgon po ma ning), and Vajrapāṇi the Tamer of Spirits (phyag rdor dregs pa kun 'dul). Besides treasure texts, Orygen Pema Lingpa also unearthed Paro Kyichu Lhakhang and opened the door to hidden valley of Khampa Lung. At the age of seventy two, in the third day of first lunar month, Iron snake year (1521 AD), the great Orygen Pema Lingpa passed away into a state of peace with miraculous signs.