Inventory of Jarung Khashor Stūpa

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Tulku Rigdzin Pema

Boudha, Kathmandu

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Instilling Confidence and Trust

An Inventory of the Sacred Contents of the Jarung Khashor Stūpa[1]

by Tulku Rigdzin Pema

Here is the story of the restoration of the marvelous support for the Enlightened Mind—
A jewelled sun of wondrous compassion, through which the perfect Buddha lovingly cares for wandering beings,
And which sheds the light of much-needed benefit and happiness
Upon sentient beings and the Buddha’s teachings.

In the past, once the great and glorious Heruka had wrathfully subdued Rudra, in the eight charnel grounds of the eight great lands of this world—home to the eight Mamos—the eight great stūpas, sources of siddhis, were erected. Furthermore, in eight great places of the noble land of India, eight stūpas were erected to commemorate the eight great deeds of the perfect Buddha Śākyamuni; in Uḍḍiyāna, Viśvakarma, the king of craftsmen, constructed the Glorious Unreachable Ḍākinī Stūpa; and King Aśoka erected ten million stūpas. Thus, there are innumerable stūpas in this world.

What follows is a short presentation of the instructions found in the sūtras and tantras on the construction of stūpas that contain relics as their heart:

The Guhyasamāja states:[2]

Stūpas are said to be the palaces
Where all the buddhas reside.

A Mantrayāna tantra states:

Any aspiration made before stūpas containing relics
Shall be accomplished—thus has the Tathāgata praised them.

The Sūtra of the Pure Stainless Light states:[3]

In the past, in Kapila, the Blessed One said to the great brahmin Kapilacandra: “Great brahmin, leave now. On the way to Kapila, at the junction of three roads, you will find an old stūpa containing relics. Restore it and fill it with this secret mantra written on paper. Then make offerings to it and recite this secret mantra seven times. Doing so will prolong and lengthen your life. Also, after your death, you will be reborn in the higher realms and enjoy great wealth. And, in time, you will become a sacred object of veneration.[4]

The Sūtra of The Marvelous Dharma Discourse states:[5]

Ānanda, in this trichiliocosm, if a devoted son or a daughter of noble family were to construct a stūpa of the parinirvāṇa of the tathāgata, the arhat, the fully awakened Buddha, the size of a myrobalan fruit, and if the were to insert a needle-sized life-tree within it, cover it with a juniper-leaf-sized umbrella, insert a statue the size of a grain of barley, and introduce a relic the size of a mustard seed into this stūpa, then he or she would accumulate far more merit than is accrued through offering objects made of the seven precious materials to stream-enterers[6], to those who will return once, and to the Sangha of bhikṣus residing in the four directions.

These scriptures extensively explain how the process of filling inanimate statues and stūpas is similar to the way consciousness enters an animate body. First, the five types of relics,[7] the maṇḍalas, the life-trees and so on are inserted and installed within the statue or stūpa. Second, a vajra-master who has the ten qualifying characteristics[8] invites the wisdom-deities.

This process can be verified both by sources of authority and reasoning. While all these practical instructions are hidden and scattered in the tantras, later on they were expounded by teachers possessing the eye of Dharma,[9] such as the glorious protector Nāgārjuna, the great paṇḍita Vimalamitra, the great paṇḍita Śāntarakṣita, and Ācārya Jetari. These oral instructions were then transmitted uninterruptedly, like a chain of golden mountains, until they reached our own noble and glorious teachers. Relying upon the kindness of those who have maintained until today the practical instructions that clearly present the unmistaken tradition of these tantras, we have always performed the recitation of the Two Stainless Tantras,[10] as much as required, before starting to construct more than a hundred stūpas containing the maṇḍalas of the Two Stainless Tantras all over the world.

In Nepal, at the sacred site of the Lhundrup Tsek (‘Spontaneous Mound’) charnel ground, the Jarung Kashor Stūpa, the bestower of supreme and ordinary siddhis, suffered serious damage as a result of the 7.9-magnitude earthquake at 12pm on 25 April, 2015. As the restoration of the ancient stupa began, many of its relics—the life-tree and the rolled dhāraṇīs—were found rotten and severely damaged. In an effort to restore it to its initial state and to improve what was still in a good state, both I, Tulku Rigdzin Pema, and Sengdrak Tulku Ngawang Tengyal, closely followed the practical instructions on how to fill stūpas with blessed objects.

The Life-Tree

On the 22nd day of the ninth month of the Tibetan year of the Wood Sheep (22 November, 2015), the juncture of the planets was auspicious. This day marked the occasion when, after spending the summer retreat in the Heaven of the Thirty-Three and repaying the kindness of his mother, the blessed Lord of Sages descended from the heavens to the town of Sāṃkāśya. Thus we chose to insert the life-tree on the morning of this very special day.

Following this, we gradually inserted the five types of relics:
On top of the life-tree, made from medicinal agarwood, we placed the ‘All-Victorious Stūpa’.[11] In this stūpa’s vase,[12] we inserted a wish-fulfilling jewel containing the precious relics of the Ngagyur tradition, one relic of the Buddha Kāśyapa, and a few pieces of the bones of Buddha Śākyamuni. On each side of the top of the life-tree, we placed the syllables of the five buddha families. At the five places we set syllables in the Lañja script[13] of the enlightened body, speech, mind, qualities and activities, all made in copper and covered with gold. On the remaining space of the life-tree, we inscribed in gold the essence, quintessence, secret mantras, vidyā-, and dhāraṇī-mantras of the peaceful and wrathful yidam deities. On the three centers of the life-tree we placed: the body relic pill that develops magnificence, the samaya substance ‘Essence of the Sun’; the speech relic pill that develops melodious speech, the samaya substance ‘Moon Nectar”; the mind relic pill that develops great bliss, the samaya substance ‘Bindu of the Four Joys’; the ‘Liberation by Sight Cakra’; and the ‘Cakra of a Stable Life-Tree’. Finally, the hundred mantras and dhāraṇīs of Mindroling were all fastened to the life-tree. It was then covered with plastic and precious copper to make it waterproof before it was inserted into the stūpa.

1. Dharmakāya Relics

For the main dharmakāya relics, a large number of blessed tsatsas[14] had already been placed in the stūpa.

2. Dharma Relics

We placed the five great dhāraṇīs,[15] the hundred mantras and dhāraṇīs compiled by the omniscient Mipham Rinpoche, including those of Dharmakāya Amitābha, Buddha Śākyamuni, Buddha Amitāyus, Guru Padmasambhava, Guru Drakpo, Guru Dorje Drolö, Kīla-Vajrakumāra, Vajravidāraṇa, Vajrapāṇi, Mañjuśrī, the vowels and consonants, and ‘The Essence of Interdependent Origination’. All these mantras were carved on more than two thousand leaves of precious copper using mechanical printing technologies and placed in forty-five copper caskets.

3. Bodily Relics

Authentic pieces of the bones of our Teacher, the fully awakened conqueror of the Śākyas, and relic pills made of the bones of Buddha Śākyamuni were placed inside the stūpa.

4. Mustard Seed Sized Relics

Relic pills from the multiplication of the relics of the fully awakened buddha Śākyamuni, a set of the ‘Difficult to Obtain in the Universe’ relic pills containing the four kinds of relic pills gathered by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, three authentic relics of the Buddha, relics of the ‘Seven Heroic Buddhas’ extracted as terma-treasures from the Kuchok Dechen Cave, and one relic of the Great Tertön Pema Lingpa were placed inside the stūpa.

5. Cloth Relics

An authentic piece of the clothing of the Mahāguru Padmasambhava and a piece of the clothing of the Great Abbot Śāntarakṣita were placed inside the stūpa.

Body Representations

A bronze statue of Samantabhadra from Eastern India, a bronze statue of the Great Vajradhara from Western India, a statue of Guru Tsokyé Dorjé made from red zikhyim[16] that Kyabjé Trulshik Rinpoche used as the support of his practice, seven statues of Samantabhadra of extremely high quality in copper gilded with gold, fifteen statues of the five buddha families, forty-nine statues of Vajrasattva, forty-five statues of Buddha Amitāyus, seventy-five statues of Buddha Amitābha, thirty-one statues of the Medicine Buddha, three statues of Buddha Akṣobhya, sixty-seven statues of Buddha Śākyamuni, 237 statues of Guru Padmasambhava, four statues of the Great Abbot Śāntarakṣita, four statues of Trisong Detsen, the Guru and his two consorts, fifty-one statues of Ārya Avalokiteśvara, thirty-seven statues of Mañjuśrī, sixty statues of Vajrapāṇi, thirty-seven statues of Venerable Tārā, 105 statues of the Twenty-One Tārās, seventeen statues of White Tārā, five statues of Uṣṇīṣavijayā, three statues of Orgyen Khandro Norlha, and statues of the Eight Manifestations of Guru Rinpoche—all were placed inside the stūpa. All of these statues are either eight or twelve inches tall. One thousand statues of Guru Dewachenpo made from medicinal clay and one thousand sets of the three Long-Life Deities were also placed inside the stūpa.

Speech Representations

One set of the Kangyur printed from woodblocks at Dergé Gönchen, one typeset Kangyur, one set of the Tengyur, the collected writings of the conqueror Longchen Rabjam, one set of the Seven Treasuries, one set of the collected writings of Rigdzin Jikmé Lingpa, one set of the Gongdü, one set of the Kathang Dé Nga—all of these were mechanically printed on paper. The Chöying Dzö (Treasury of Dharmadhātu); a set of the Kathang Dé Nga (Epic in Five Chapters); The Self-Appearing Continuum, the Dzogchen instruction manual extracted as a treasure by Pema Lingpa; two copies of the Namchö instruction manual Buddhahood in the Palm of One's Hand—all of these were mechanically printed on leaves of precious copper.[17] These, in addition to an extremely rare manuscript folio written by the Dharma King Songtsen Gampo, a piece of a manuscript written by Vairocana the great translator, and ḍakinī-symbol script on a treasure scroll found by the great tertön Sangyé Lingpa were put into precious caskets and placed inside the stūpa.

Mind Representations

One bronze Kadam Stūpa, twenty-five Kadam Stūpas made of copper gilded with gold, and one crystal stūpa were placed inside the stūpa.

Mind and Quality Representations

Many pairs of vajra and bell were placed inside the stūpa.

Activity Representations

A kīla dagger made of meteoric iron about one span tall, a kīla dagger made of zikhyim about one span tall, a kīla dagger of meteoric iron about a cubit tall, a kīla dagger of red sandalwood about twelve finger-widths, one kīla dagger made of iron from the chains of a bridge built by the mahāsiddha Thangtong Gyalpo, as well as a few high-quality wooden kīla daggers were placed inside the stūpa.

Other Relics

Nineteen copper boxes containing many special representations that were already in the stūpa; the 1002 buddhas of this virtuous era, each measuring about six inches, that were located on the outer part of the decorations of the stupa; fifty statues of Guru Nangsi Zilnön, about 366 copper sheets on which images of Guru Rinpoche and the Guru-Siddhi Mantra[18] were carved using the ancient techniques were inserted. Cakras according to the Lama Gongdü, ‘The United Intent of the Gurus’, and Rinchen Terdzö, ‘The Treasury of Precious Termas’, that are for restoring the communities of the saṅgha, for propagating the Secret Mantrayāna, developing the power of kings, increasing the population, expanding the family lineages of people with noble qualities, extending the lineages of profound teachings, increasing lifespan and wisdom, increasing wealth and possessions, restoring the strength and power of dralhas, appeasing grudges among gods and nāgas, increasing fame and good reputation, restoring the earth’s essence, halting epidemics within countries, pacifying conflicts at different times, and generally increasing the splendor of the elements, the Bangle of Glory, the Cakra of the Life-Force of the Vidhyādharas that increases perfection in the outer and inner worlds. The Cakras of the Lama Kundü, ‘Embodiment of the Gurus’, Yidam Kundü, ‘Embodiment of the Yidam Deities’, and Khandro Kundü, ‘Embodiment of the Ḍākinīs’, the Cakra of the wrathful Acala that protects from earthquakes, the Cakra that Liberates Cities, the Sitātapatrā Cakra, the Cakra of the Venerable Tārā—all of which were printed on sheets of precious copper and placed inside the stūpa.

Thus, on October 17th, 2016, on the 16th day of the 8th month of the Tibetan Fire Monkey Year, the stupa was successfully filled with the relics mentioned above. The Great Guru has said:

In future times, when representations of the body, speech and mind are built,
Their completion and consecration should occur at the same time.

A tantra also states:[19]

The consecration of buddhas and other representations
Should be done according to the rituals.
The consecration ritual should not be meagre.
For this reason, one who desires siddhis
Should put forth all efforts and perform it meticulously.

Following this advice, abbots, tulkus, lamas and monastics of the glorious Sakya tradition performed consecration rituals for five days. Abbots, tulkus, lamas and monastics of the Kagyü tradition, protectors of all beings, performed consecration rituals for five days. Abbots, tulkus, lamas and monastics of the superior Geluk tradition performed consecration rituals for five days. From the Ngagyur Nyingma tradition, many abbots, tulkus and spiritual teachers performed consecration rituals for six days.

The benefits of consecration are described in the tantras. One tantra states:

Wherever these representations are found,
Retinues and riches will gather like clouds,
Sons and family lines will greatly increase,
Fame and renown will extend throughout space,
Concentration and samādhi will increase,
And the capacity to greatly benefit beings will be acquired.
One’s conduct will be equal to that of the sugatas.

Creating a link with the construction of such a special representation through any of one’s three doors will bring great benefits. As it is stated in The Sūtra of the Classification of Acts:[20]

The Buddha said to the young brahmin Dāraka: “There are eighteen benefits to constructing a stūpa of the Tathāgata. Those eighteen are as follows: being reborn in a royal family, having a healthy body, being beautiful and pleasant to look at, being stable, being heard in the ten directions, speaking in prose and verse in such a way as to generate great interest, receiving offerings from gods and men, coming into possession of great wealth, swiftly and completely going beyond all suffering. These are the eighteen benefits of constructing stūpas of the Tathāgata.

The Sūtra of The White Lotus of Great Compassion states:[21]

To the north, in the city of Takṣaśilā, there will appear a householder named Jaṭānika. He will make offerings to my body and the śrāvakas and construct a support containing sacred objects.[22] A thousand aeons from now, during the aeon Bhadraṇkara, in a perfectly arrayed world, he will become the buddha Samantāvabhāsa.

Whoever approaches a stūpa of the tathāgatas with devotion and pure perception, makes prostrations and offerings, and circumambulates, will, in the present, have a long life, and, as a patron, will be stable in political rule. Ultimately, he will be relieved of suffering in the unsurpassable buddha-field of Sukhāvatī. This is stated in The Sūtra Requested by Prasenajit:[23]

Offer whatever is desirable or affordable
To a stūpa of the tathāgatas.
Those making appropriate offerings will be free of stains,
They will gain the unsurpassable enlightenment that is beyond all suffering.

It is also said:[24]

Śāriputra, the one endowed with great wisdom,
Asked the following to the Teacher:
“What will be the result
Of circumambulating stūpas?
O great leader of the supreme world,
Please tell me.”
The perfectly enlightened one, the supreme of all,
The Teacher, answered him, saying:
“I will show some of the qualities
Acquired by anyone who circumambulates a stūpa.
By circumambulating a stūpa,
You will become beautiful and pleasant to behold,
You will have a noble complexion and generate joy in all who see you,
You will gain and enjoy a vast quantity of wealth and pleasures.
By circumambulating a stūpa,
You will become a great householder, born of a noble lineage,
You will be rich and have many resources,
You will possess wealth and grain.
By circumambulating a stūpa,
You will obtain the fruits of the Four Noble Truths,
The faculties and the powers,
And the limbs of enlightenment.

As these scriptures indicate, to construct a stūpa with the relics of the tathāgatas in its core and generate respect for it brings about all perfect qualities, both temporary and ultimate. The Omniscient Teacher himself enunciated as much not only once but time and again. Such a sublime support with all the sacred objects it contains, constructed in such an excellent way, combines in a single representation the gathering of everything wondrous in both saṃsāra and nirvāṇa. Thus it shines forth as a much-needed cure, yielding benefit and happiness to the teachings and beings.

This was written by the wild-headed Rigdzin Pema Tenzin Dorjé, who holds the name of a reincarnation of Sang-Ngak Dargyé Ling Monastery in Marshö, Gönjo, on 27 October 2017. May it bring virtue and perfection!

| Translated by Drupchen Dorje, 2019. Edited by Stefan Mang and Peter Woods.

  1. Jarung Khashor is the most commonly used Tibetan name for the famous stūpa of Boudha in Kathmandu, Nepal. Concerning the origin of this name see Ngakchang Shakya Zangpo’s treasure Liberation Upon Hearing: The History of the Great Jarung Kashor Stūpa.  ↩

  2. That is the Supplementary Tantra (Tōh. 443, rgyud phyi ma) to the Guhyasamāja (Tōh. 442, gsang ba ‘dus pa).  ↩

  3. The Incantation of the Pure Stainless Light (Tōh. 510, raśmivimalaviśuddhaprabhādhāraṇī, ‘od zer dri ma med pa rnam par dag pa’i gzungs).  ↩

  4. Reciting mantras will eventually turn a practitioner's ordinary person into a relic and thus an object of veneration.  ↩

  5. The Marvelous Dharma Discourse (Tōh. 319, adbhūtadharmaparyāya, rmad du byung ba'i chos kyi rnam grangs).  ↩

  6. Stream-enterer (śrotāpanna, rgyun zhugs pa) is the first of the four results of the Hīnayāna path. Stream-enterers have attained realization of the sixteen subdivisions (impermanence and so on) of the Four Noble Truths, and they then continue on the path.  ↩

  7. The five types of relics (ring bsrel rnam lnga), as later explained by Tulku Rigdzin Pema, are: 1) dharmakāya (chos sku), 2) Dharma (chos), 3) body (sku gdung), 4) clothing (sku bal), and 5) mustard seed sized (yungs ‘bru du lta bu) relics.  ↩

  8. These ten characteristics (de nyid bcu) differ from tantra to tantra. According to The Tantra of the Blazing Jewel (Tōh. Ratnajvālatantra, rin chen 'bar ba'i rgyud) they are: 1) vajra (rdo rje), 2) bell (dril bu), 3) wisdom (ye shes), 4) deity (lha), 5) maṇḍala (dkyil 'khor), 6) fire offering (sbyin sreg), 7) mantra (sngags), 8) coloured powder (rdul tshon), 9) oblation (gtor ma), and 10) bestowing empowerments (dbang bskur).  ↩

  9. That is a teacher who possesses both the knowledge of the Dharma of scripture and realization.  ↩

  10. The Two Stainless Tantras (dri med rnam gnyis) are two kriyā-tantras dealing with the construction of stūpas. They are the already mentioned Incantation of the Pure Stainless Light and the Incantation of Vimaloṣṇīṣa (Tōh. 599, uṣṇīṣaprabhāsasarva-tathāgatahṛdaya-samayavilokitadhāraṇī, gtsug tor dri ma med pa'i gzungs).  ↩

  11. The All Victorious Stūpa (rnam rgyal mchod rten).  ↩

  12. The bulbous part of the stupa.  ↩

  13. Lañja is an ancient sacred script to write Sanskrit, especially dhāraṇīs.  ↩

  14. A tsatsa is a small image of a deity or stūpa made usually from clay in a mold.  ↩

  15. Tibetan scholars group together five classes of dhāraṇīs, which are inserted as relics. Jamgön Kongtrul (1813-1899) explained that one kind of each of these five dhāraṇīs must be inserted in every stūpa together with the Sūtra of the Pure Stainless Light. These are: Uṣṇīṣavijayā, Vimaloṣṇīṣa, Guhyadhātu, Bodhigarbhālaṃkāralakṣa and Pratītyasamutpādahṛdaya (the Essence of Interdependent Origination).  ↩

  16. Zikhyim (zi khyim) is a loan word from Chinese; it is also called “li” in Tibetan. Zikhyim mostly refers to a special alloy that consists of seven or more metals used for casting statues, bells and other precious ritual objects. Depending on the percentage of each metal the colour changes. It can also refer to native copper extracted from the earth. Both the alloy and the native copper are regarded as very precious and thus ritual objects made from Zikhyim are not usually gilded.  ↩

  17. The Treasury of Dharmadhātu (chos dbyings mdzod); a set of the Epic in Five Chapters (bka’ thang sde lnga); the Self-Appearing Continuum, the Dzogchen instruction manual extracted as a treasure by Pema Lingpa (padma gling pa’i gter ma rdzogs chen khri yig rgyud rang shar); and the Namchö instruction manual Buddhahood in the Palm of One's Hand (gnam chos khrid yig sangs rgyas lag ‘chang).  ↩

  18. Also known as the Vajra-Guru Mantra, the mantra of Guru Rinpoche.  ↩

  19. This quotation comes from A Portion of the Practice of the Sovereign Tantra Purifying Evil Destinies (Tōh. 485, sarvadurgati­pariśodhanatejorājasya kalpaikadeśaḥ, ngan song yongs su sbyong ba rgyal po'i brtag pa phyogs gcig pa).  ↩

  20. Classification of Acts (Tōh. 338, karmavibhaṅga, las rnam ‘byed).  ↩

  21. The White Lotus of Great Compassion (Tōh. 111, mahākaruṇāpuṇḍarīkasūtra, snying rje chen po pad+ma dkar po'i mdo).  ↩

  22. This provides a gloss on the Tibetan for stūpa (mchod rten). Literally, a support (rten) for offerings (mchod).  ↩

  23. Also known as Verses on Prasenajit (Tōh. 322, prasenajidgāthā, gsal rgyal gyi tshigs bcad).  ↩

  24. This quotation comes from Verses on Circumambulating Reliquaries (Tōh. 321, caityapradakṣiṇagāthā, mchod rten bskor ba'i tshigs bcad).  ↩

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