Exquisite Melody of the Auspicious Tamboura

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English | བོད་ཡིག

Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa

Thangka Depicting the Revelation

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Exquisite Melody of the Auspicious Tamboura

A Depiction of the Profound Treasure Revelations at Chimé Karmo Taktsang Rockface and Yumtso Lake with Brief Captions

by Chokgyur Lingpa

Homage to Guru Rinpoche, embodiment of the Three Roots!

As the moon waned during the ninth month of the Fire Tiger year (1866) and the ḍākinīs gathered on the wholesome twenty-fifth day, we—the descendent of Padma Orgyen Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa and the Gentle Protector Guru, Pema Ösel Dongak Lingpa[1]—were receiving prophecies and having extraordinary visions of the gurus and ḍākinīs. This happened while we were on the way to the cave of Sengé Samdrub Ke’utsang (Fulfillment of the Lion’s Wishes) at Chimé Karmo Taktsang (Deathless White Tigress Lair).

This extraordinary sacred site is a source of auspiciousness for the Tibetan lands. We arrived there at noon and performed smoke (sang) and feast (tsok) offerings at the centre of the site. Then, we entered the cave of Samdrub Ke’utsang and performed further rituals, such as offering another feast.

The next morning, on the twenty-sixth (November 3rd), we went to the mountaintop of this holy place to get the lay of the land. We successfully performed hundreds of feast and fulfillment offerings, as well as oblation (torma) and libation (serkyem) to the Three Roots, in order to benefit the Tibetan lands in ways both general and specific.

On the morning of the twenty-seventh day (November 4th), we entered Guru Rinpoche’s Secret Cave (Orgyen Sangpuk). There, we looked for signs of a hidden treasure and chipped away at the seal, bit by bit. We used hot coals to melt the rock sealants. Without much difficulty, we revealed a representative statue (kutsab) of Guru Rinpoche,[2] a clay casket, and ritual implements, all within a single afternoon, visible to everyone assembled.[3]

On the previous day, the twenty-sixth (November 3rd), we had waited with anticipation at the door of Yeshé Tsogyal’s Secret Cave (Tsogyal Sangpuk), but, due to just a few unfavorable conditions, it had vanished from sight. After sunrise on the twenty-eighth day (November 5th), we cut down a juniper tree and made a ladder.[4] At the place where the cave entrance had previously been spotted, we dug two finger widths into the rock until we saw the outline of the cave’s door cut anew. We struggled to excavate the cave using hand tools, which were too weak, so we left diggers there and came back later in the afternoon.

On the following day, the twenty-ninth (November 6th), once we arrived at the residence of the treasurer Sönam Tobgyel, we bestowed the treasure empowerment upon the King of Dergé and his ministers. We performed the wrathful enactment, including the obstacle-clearing rituals of Dorjé Drolö and Jampal Parol Goljom for the king’s wellbeing.[5] On the thirtieth (November 7th), we fulfilled the wishes of the benefactors. On the first day of the tenth month (November 8th), we bestowed the White Tārā long-life empowerment upon the King of Dergé and his brother and performed smoke and mountain cleansing rituals for the benefit of the whole region.

Then, on the second (November 9th), I[6] returned with a few disciples to Tsogyal Sangpuk. We continued digging into the treasure seal and performed many smoke, feast and fulfillment offerings. On the fourth (November 11th), the King of Dergé arrived, and the Gentle Protector Guru also joined us on the sixth (November 12th). From the seventh onwards (November 14th), my disciples and I performed feast, fulfilment, and smoke offerings as a group.

As we broke through the many treasure seals, one by one, miraculous things emerged, such as a plaster of molten gold and earth of many different colors. On the morning of the ninth (November 16th), I sensed that the treasure was near, and we stopped digging. Later that night, we made a bit of an uproar in order to bring forth the treasure—we sang songs, danced, and melodiously intoned prayers, continuously.

The earth was shaking as we all made our way—myself, my disciples, the King of Dergé, his retinue and ministers—up to the meditation cave. We made a feast offering and sang melodious prayers, loudly and without stopping. Then, as dawn broke on the tenth day of the tenth month (November 17th), we discovered a sign of the treasure near the entrance to the cave. We dug, and without much difficulty, I uncovered the hand implement of Rigdzin Dorjé Drakpo Tsal, a meteorite vajra, within the rock. It had pierced through solid rock as if it were mud. To inspire everyone’s confidence, I left it only partly exposed, and had everyone come see it right away.[7] Then, when the sun was up, I revealed the profound treasures concealed both inside and outside the cave, and bestowed the treasure empowerment upon the King of Dergé, his ministers, and a crowd of three hundred people.[8]

Urged on once again by several visions I’d had at different times, I went with my disciples to the shores of Lake Sengö Yumtso on the eleventh (November 18th). The moment we arrived, I had a good feeling. My awareness (rigpa) was pristine, and I felt at ease. The sky filled with an effusion of rainbows within the fresh summer clouds.

There was a dilapidated hut, made of slate, which had been home to determined and inspired meditators in the past. There, we arranged offerings and oblations, and offered a feast. As we performed the feast offering, together with fervent prayer, I was suddenly inspired and made my way to the centre of the frozen lake. As I struck a large hole in the ice, rainbow light appeared in my eyes and I clearly saw the location of the profound treasure. The Gentle Protector Guru, who likewise had an extraordinary vision, convinced the royal nāgas guarding the treasure to hold true to their oaths.

I fastened my sash and lower robe to the top of a stick, and as I followed Guru Rinpoche’s instructions for revealing the profound treasure, a rain of flowers fell like sleet from a cloudless sky.[9] The bodhisattva nāga kings tossed flowers of gold dust on the shore, which became flecked with gold. At that moment, the profound treasure was easily revealed.[10] As substitutes for the treasure, we offered a collection of fine substances, and returned to the centre of the holy place that evening.

The next day (November 19th), we transcribed several of the treasure scrolls retrieved earlier, and then went back. Thus, without even the slightest obstacle in the form of challenges or problems, we were blessed with auspiciousness from beginning to end.

In order to fulfill the wishes of Situ Choktrül Rinpoche, the lord of refuge who was prophesied by Orgyen Padma, I, Chokgyur Lingpa, descendent of the Guru from Uḍḍiyāna, wrote this honestly as an offering—it is not polluted by even the smallest stain of exaggerating or diminishing how things actually happened. Through the compassion of the magical emanations of the three families—the Abbot, Master, and Dharma King—may auspicious signs of happiness and benefit and perfect circumstances arise for all time in the land of Tibet, from its centre to its frontiers. Sarva maṅgalaṃ!

| Samye Translations (trans. Monica Thunder, ed. Lowell Cook, Peter Woods, Stefan Mang and Libby Hogg), 2023.


Primary Sources

mchog gyur bde chen zhig po gling pa. 'chi med dkar mo stag tshang gi brag dang/ g.yu mtsho gtan 'khyil nas zab gter spyan drangs pa'i bkod pa zhal bya dang bcas pa mdor bsdus bkra shis tam+bu ru'i dbyangs snyan bzhugs so. Transcribed from the back of a thangka preserved at Dzongsar Monastery, as featured in Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thayé 2012, 201–203; and Gardner 2006, 176–177; and on the Himalayan Art Resources website.

dkon mchog ’gyur med. "gter chen mchog gyur bde chen gling pa’i rnam thar bkra shis dbyangs kyi yan lag gsal byed ldeb." In sprul pa’i gter chen o rgyan mchog gyur bde chen zhig po gling pa phrin las ’gro ’dul rtsal gyi zab gter yid bzhin nor bu’i mdzod chen po, Vol. 38. Kathmandu: Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery, 2004.

mkhyen brtse'i dbang po. "gter chen rnam thar las 'phros pa'i dris lan bkra shis dbyangs snyan bskul ba'i dri bzhon." In mkhyen brtse'i bka' 'bum, Vol. 24: 257-298. Khams sde dge rdzong sar dgon: Rdzong sar blo gros phun tshogs, 2020.

Secondary Sources

Doctor, Andreas. Tibetan Treasure Literature: Revelation, Tradition, and Accomplishment in Visionary Buddhism. Ithaca, N.Y.: Snow Lion Publications, 2005.

Gardener, Alexander. “The Twenty-five Great Sites of Khams: Religious Geography, Revelation, and Nonsectarianism in Nineteenth-Century Eastern Tibet.” Doctoral dissertation, University of Michigan 2006.

Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thayé. The Life of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo. Trans. Matthew Akester. Delhi: Shechen Publications, 2012.

Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo. The Breeze That Carries the Auspicious Melody. Trans. Samye Translations, 2023.

Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche. The Life and Teachings of Chokgyur Lingpa. Trans. Tulku Jigmey Khyentse and Erik Pema Kunsang. Kathmandu: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1990.

Samye Translations. 2023. The Great Tertön, Revised Edition. Kathmandu: Samye Translations.

Version: 1.1-20230312

  1. Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo  ↩

  2. Likely a representative statue (kutsab) of Guru Drojé Draktsal.  ↩

  3. According to Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, Chokgyur Lingpa primarily revealed The Essential Sacred Dharma in Five Cycles (Damchö Nyingpo Khor Nga, dam chos snying po skor lnga) featured in Volume 31 of the Chokling Tersar.  ↩

  4. The ladder was needed in order to reach the cave.  ↩

  5. Jampal Parol Goljom ('jam dpal pha rol rgol 'joms), 'Destroyer of External Hindrances,' is a wrathful form of Mañjuśrī.  ↩

  6. Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa.  ↩

  7. For an image of this partly exposed vajra, see Gardner 2006, 178.  ↩

  8. Chokgyur Lingpa revealed The Gradual Path of Wisdom Essence (Lamrim Yeshé Nyingpo, lam rim ye shes snying po). Chokgyur Lingpa revealed associated sādhana, The Secret Practice of Dorjé Draktsal (gsang sgrub rdo rje drag rtsal), from Yegyal Namkha Dzö.  ↩

  9. Chokgyur Lingpa removed his yogic skirt and tied it with his belt to a stick. Using it as a net, Chokgyur Lingpa caught and retrieved the treasure (Orgyen Tobgyal 1990, 15).  ↩

  10. This refers to gold which Chokgyur Lingpa drew forth from the lake. For a detailed account of this revelation, see also Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche 1990, 14–16. Additionally, Jamyang Khyentsé Wangpo retrieved a treasure entitled The Magical Net of the Three Roots (Tsasum Gyütrul Drawa, rtsa gsum sgyu ’phrul drva ba) from the lake, which is found in Volume 3 of his Collected Writings.  ↩

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