Songs and Poems Series

Literary Genres › Songs and Poems

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Shabkar Tsokdruk Rangdrol

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A selection of spiritual songs (mgur; glu) or poems:



Written for a disciple who was about to travel from Sikkim to Tibet, this brief song encapsulates the message of the intermediate and final turnings of the Wheel of Dharma and explains how to practise the indivisibility of emptiness and compassion.

Verses of pithy advice for the Sakya khenpo Jamyang Losal Zangpo (1919–1993).

Jamyang Khyentse says he composed this candid song of self-counsel during the first month of a Snake year as he felt by turns joyous and sorrowful.

In response to a question from his spiritual consort, Khandro Tsering Chödrön, Jamyang Khyentse explains the essence of the path in just a few lines. (Khandro's question is in the form of an acrostic poem, the opening syllables of its four lines being the first four syllables of the Tibetan alphabet).

A short song of advice on the theme of the 'Three Greats', i.e., Great Middle Way (Madhyamaka), Great Seal (Mahāmudrā) and Great Perfection (Dzogpachenpo).

This short song, consisting of eight requests to a disciple, offers essential advice on view, meditation and conduct.

Khenchen Jigme Phuntsok sang this dohā spontaneously in 1996 at a time when various outer, inner and secret obstacles had been overcome. It stresses the importance of meditating on Dzogchen, cultivating bodhicitta, maintaining ethical discipline, and having a positive basic character.

A poem warning monk-scholars of the risk of pursuing the path of intellectual study alone at the expense of the kind of deeper practice that brings genuine attainment.

Said to have been composed some time around 1909 or 1910, this poem expresses the author's appreciation for the Sakya teachings and is intended as an encouragement to fellow disciples (of Loter Wangpo) to pursue their study and practice.

In this oft-cited vajra song, Longchen Rabjam employs a series of metaphors to encourage practitioners to renounce ordinary concerns and cultivate the practice of Dzogchen meditation.

Longchenpa describes this text as a letter sent from his mind to itself, and, as befits such a personal message, it is heartfelt and candid. The core of the message is simple enough: to leave behind the busyness of saṃsāra and set out instead for the peace and tranquility of the forest, where "meditation naturally grows" and "one can find the bliss of inner peace." Yet while Longchenpa makes this point uncompromisingly, his language, particularly in describing the kind of wild woodland sanctuary he recommends, is often beautifully evocative and poetic.

This vajra song employs a series of metaphors—the rising sun, brilliant moon, a total eclipse, and the wish-fulfilling jewel atop a banner of victory—to explain the benefits of advanced realization.

In this inventive song a debate between Waking and Dreaming, about which one is real, is adjudicated by Profound Wisdom (prajñā).

This song of amazement originates in a vision that Sera Khandro had while staying in retreat at Nyimalung in Amdo at the age of twenty-nine. The text is her response to the spirits and demons who appeared to her, asking what she was doing.

This famous song summarizes four forms of mindfulness, which Mañjuśrī taught to Tsongkhapa: 1) mindfulness of the guru; 2) mindfulness of bodhicitta; 3) mindfulness of the body as a divine body; and 4) mindfulness of the view of emptiness.

In 2006, Khenpo Akhyuk (1927–2011) told Tsultrim Wangmo to record for posterity her experiences of other realms as a delok, or revenant. The following year, a team of women joined her to help record her stories. In the course of their work, as their faith in Tsultrim Wangmo grew, they requested teachings from her. She told them that she did not know how to give formal teachings but offered this song of advice instead.





Shortly after Khenchen Jigme Phuntsok's passing in 2004, His Holiness the Dalai Lama wrote this prayer "so that the enlightened intentions of this great being may be fulfilled completely and to help dispel the anguish of his disciples."

A spontaneous song in which Jamyang Khyentse mourns the passing of Tertön Sogyal Lerab Lingpa (1856–1926) and calls upon him to continue his work through a further incarnation.

Composed in 1934, this brief devotional song recalls the kindness of Katok Situ Chökyi Gyatso (kaḥ thog si tu chos kyi rgya mtsho, 1880–1925), Jamyang Khyentse's root guru.

A brief song to invoke Jamyang Khyentse's inspiration and blessings as a means to accomplish view, meditation and conduct.

A brief song of devotion calling upon both Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö.

Composed in 1949, this song of lament is addressed to Jamyang Khyentse's principal guru, Jamyang Loter Wangpo (1847–1914). The song expresses the author's grief and sadness at his own misfortune for having failed to encounter his master in visions or dreams.

Jamyang Khyentse wrote this lamenting prayer in early 1944 as soon as he heard that his teacher, Khenpo Kunzang Palden, had died just a few days earlier in late December 1943.

A devotional invocation of the great Sakya patriarch Kunga Nyingpo (1092–1158) with a request for his blessings and assistance on the path.

A brief song of prayer to invoke the guru's inspiration and blessings as a means to progress along the path, composed at the behest of Jamyang Chöpel.

This song of devotion, composed on the master's anniversary in 1950, emphasizes the ultimate nature of Longchen Rabjam, according to which he does not exist externally but in the nature of one's own mind.

A devotional song addressed to Jamyang Khyentse himself which the master composed at Drakmar Keutsang in Chimpu for his student Parkö Chöpel, a carver of woodblocks for printing.

Jamyang Khyentse composed this poetic, devotional invocation of the great Dzogchen master Longchen Rabjam (1308–1364) in 1934.

Jamyang Khyentse composed these verses in November 1925 upon learning of the passing of his teacher Katok Situ Chökyi Gyatso (1880–1925). The text makes it clear that Katok Situ's death occurred in the ninth month of the Wood Ox year.

Composed in 1932, this song of devotion invokes the Dzogchen master Longchen Rabjam (1308–1364) and appeals for his inspiration and blessings as a means to progress along the path.

A spontaneous song of lamentation composed at Tso Pema, India, in 1990 and later transcribed from an audio recording.


This famous vajra song (rdo rje’i glu), named after its initial syllables "ema kiri", appears in the Tantra of the Union of the Sun and Moon (nyi zla kha sbyor). It consists of a series of arranged syllables which a practitioner should intone melodiously. The individual syllables and their arrangement as a mantra are considered particularly sacred since they are said to have been revealed by the primordial buddha Samantabhadra.

This pithy song of realization, composed of eight couplets, is included within the Vima Nyingtik collection of Dzogchen teachings.

A brief song of aspiration to perfect the practice of the Great Perfection and realize the three kāyas that are naturally present within the mind.

This song of experience, composed spontaneously on a ḍākinī day, includes an invocation of Padmasambhava on the ultimate level, as the very nature of one's own rigpa.

A short, three-verse song invoking the nature of the three kāyas as a means to perfect Dzogchen realization.

A spontaneous song or dohā expressing confidence in Dzogchen realization, which Jamyang Khyentse tells us he offered to the guru of his own awareness.

Verses on the ultimate view, meditation and conduct of the Great Perfection.

Verses on Dzogchen, which occurred to Jamyang Khyentse spontaneously while he was at Taktse Podrang (stag rtse pho brang) in Sikkim in 1956.

Spontaneously composed verses on the uniqueness and profundity of the Dzogchen approach, which centres on the recognition of mind's intrinsic awareness.

Jamyang Khyentse spontaneously composed this joyful song, which marvels at Dzogchen's effortless approach to attaining realization, during a visit to the Lönchen Gurkar Cave at Samye Chimphu in 1956.

A simple Dzogchen instruction written in verse.

This short song on the view and meditation of the Great Perfection was composed by Shabkar Tsokdruk Rangdrol (1781–1851) but has recently been misattributed to Khenpo Gangshar Wangpo.

Gangshar Wangpo tells us that he based these verses—which explain how to eliminate obstacles to practice and sustain realization of mind's essential nature—on scripture, the oral instructions of his guru, and his own experience.

A song of realization expressing the futility of ordinary, contrived practice from the perspective of naturally perfect, pure awareness.

A poem expressing Dzogchen insights that arose to the author spontaneously when inebriated one evening in 1968.

Mipham composed this dohā of five four-line verses expressing realization of the supreme yoga towards the end of his life, in 1909.

With a characteristic blend of bluntness and humility, Nyoshul Khenpo explains the importance of mindfulness (smṛti; dran pa) and exhorts his followers to rely upon it at all times.

In this short poem of just five lines, the great Dzogchen master Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche evocatively conveys the healing power of meditation.

This short song of experiential instructions on the Dzogchen view and meditation is rich in imagery and direct in tone. It has recently been misattributed to Khenpo Gangshar Wangpo (1925–1958/9).

Feast Songs

This six-verse song for the gaṇacakra feast, which Gyurme Tenpa Namgyal composed spontaneously at the age of 20, has a Dzogchen theme.

One of several short songs for the gaṇacakra feast that Jamyang Khyentse composed, this one invokes Guru Padmasambhava and Yeshe Tsogyal.

A song of the feast (tshogs glu) composed in 1947 while performing a Rigdzin Düpa tsok together with the king and queen of Lingkar.

Composed in 1940 during a tsok practice of Tukdrup Barche Kunsel together with the King of Ling.

This song for the gaṇacakra feast (tshogs glu) invoking Vajrayoginī and calling upon her to grant the experience of great bliss was composed at the request of Jamgön Jampa Phuntsok.

Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo composed this short aspiration prayer to be recited during the gaṇacakra. The prayer invokes the goal of the gaṇacakra, a sixfold satisfaction (tshim pa drug) of those assembled, i.e., the deities, teacher and vajra-brothers and sisters. Khyentse Wangpo dedicates one verse to each of these six satisfactions and concludes the prayer with an additional seventh verse of dedication.

Sacred song and dance are important elements of the gaṇacakra, and this song by Jigme Lingpa, which is now widely-known and recited, was composed specifically for the gaṇacakra feast. The song concludes with the aspiration that all those gathered together may attain the rainbow body as a result of the feast offering.


This song of homage and invocation—in seven-syllable lines—arose spontaneously "through the blessings of the accomplished vidyādharas" in 1953.

Inspired by the speech of Kunzang Dechen Tsomo (1906–1987), Queen Mother of Sikkim, these verses acknowledge the kindness of past dharma patrons and masters and appeal for nonsectarianism and the flourishing of the teachings.

Two verses that employ the poetic device of anadiplosis, whereby the final word from each line is repeated at the beginning of the line that follows.

Upon being offered a new pen, Jamyang Khyentse used it to compose this four-line verse in praise of Mañjuśrī.

A four-line prayer to Guru Padmasambhava composed with a new pen offered by someone named Chöpel (chos 'phel).

This experiential song (nyams dbyangs) based on 'Parting from the Four Attachments' (zhen pa bzhi bral) was composed in the cave of Rangjung Dorje, where Mañjuśrī is said to have delivered the original teaching to the Sakya patriarch Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092–1158).

In this five-verse song, Longsal Nyingpo describes his accomplishment of path integration, or 'bringing onto the path' (lam khyer), such that all experiences serve as fuel for his practice.

In this short song the famous yogi Shabkar Tsokdruk Rangdrol explains the essence of all practices, from the contemplations of the outer preliminaries to the practices of the inner preliminaries, and the main practices of the generation and perfection stages.








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