Disheartened by Circumstances
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Courtesy of Himalayan Art Resources
Disheartened by Circumstances
An Acrostic Poem
by Longchen Rabjam
Oṃ svasti siddhaṃ!
Those who rely on you gain the treasury of complete liberation;
You are the basis upon which perfect knowledge and freedom arise,
The only true friends who bring virtue and good to all beings—
Supreme saṅgha assembly, kindly lend your ears to a few verses.
Akin to rākṣasa demons roaming through Kaliṅka’s lands,
Bandits in the Land of Snows are they, these Khampa tribes.
Causing mayhem in whichever towns or places they visit—
Did you see them, the swaggerers, so lustful and aggressive?
Excitable and raucous by nature, these crowds of Khampas,
Flying about the ten directions as if forever on the move,
Guzzling tea and alchohol, these slaughterers of animals—
Have you seen them, those who live like fishermen?
Imitating tigers or leopards prowling through palm groves,
Joyfully, they frequent squalid taverns and dens of thieves,
Knocking back lizard concoctions and inflamed by passion—
Look at them, racing about in pursuit of young maidens!
Malodorous as a garden filled with rotten vegetables,
Nauseating with the stench of alcohol, garlic and onions,
Oblivious as cattle as to what is clean and what is not—
Perhaps you’ve seen them, these uncouth Khampa beasts!
Quick to take flight, they are, the very moment conflict arises,
Reminiscent of nocturnal creatures disturbed by warming rays.
Similar to those in the petty kingdom of Jaradangra,
They flee just like foxes—have you not seen them?
Upon their heads are helmets even as they visit innocent places.
Violently, they assault residents just to satisfy their appetites.
"We are without shame," they themselves will happily admit.
eXtraordinary how uncouth these Khampas are! Have you seen them?
Yearning to slaughter goats, sheep, oxen and other beasts, they
Zoom across passes and rivers and through ravines, ransacking villages.
Ah, just look at them, these meat-eating, alcohol-guzzling womanizers!
Have you ever seen such plunderers of the teachings in this world?
Such fatally absurd and egregious ways constitute a form of
Study, contemplation and meditation for our Khampa brethren!
These verses based on the thirty letters of the alphabet I affixed at the crossroads when driven from my residence.
Ngakgi Wangpo of Samye composed this at Sangphu Neuthog. May it be a cause for virtue and excellence to abound!
| Translated (with prosaic licence) by Adam Pearcey, 2022.
dri med 'od zer. "rkyen la khams 'dus ka kha sum cu/" in gsung thor bu/_dri med 'od zer/(sde dge par ma/). 2 vols. Paro, Bhutan: Lama Ngodrup and Sherab Drimey, 1982. Vol. 1: 211–212
Arguillère, Stéphane. Profusion de la vaste sphere: Klong-chen rab-’byams (Tibet, 1308–1364). Sa vie, son œuvre, sa doctrine. Leuven: Peeters Publishers, 2007.
Tsumagari, Shinichi. Meaningful to Behold: A Critical Edition and Annotated Translation of Longchenpa’s Biography. Create Space, 2016.
Van Schaik, Sam. "The Brilliant Scholar and the Scurrilous Letter" Early Tibet, accessed January 12, 2022 https://earlytibet.com/2010/05/25/longchenpa-and-the-scurrilous-letter/
Note that this is a counterpart to another poem called Disheartened by Causes (rgyu la khams 'dus pa me tog gi phreng ldan), which precedes it in the Miscellaneous Writings (gsung thor bu) collection, and the title must be understood in that context. The title is also a play on words, as the term translated here as "disheartened" (khams la 'dus pa) includes the word for Kham (khams). ↩
The term cha’o here is obscure, and the translation is therefore tentative—even more so than with the other lines. ↩
pa nas could also refer to a form of barley. ↩
The Tibetan here contains the ambiguous term za ma, which could mean food or women, hence the translation "appetite", which is similarly ambiguous. ↩