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The Early Education of Milarepa Martin, Dan, 1953- 1982

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Dan Martin
In Tibetan historical literature, conflicting accounts are often placed side
by side with no attempt to harmonize them. At best, the author will cast a
vote for the one he believes to have greater authority. This has advantages
and disadvantages for the modern interpreter, who often can do little
better. The problem is how to make a way through the differing traditions
to come to a probable conclusion. The particular problem I set out to tackle
is the historical identity of the pre-Marpa teachers of Milarepa. Most of
them will remain unknown outside the Milarepa corpus and, as it turns
out, only in two cases has it been possible to reach any kind of solution.
The pursuit leads through the border areas of Ancient (Rnying-ma) and
Reintroduced (Gsar-ma) Buddhism; of Buddhism (Chos) and Bon. While
we are tracking our phantom snail-trail through some of the darker
swamps of Tibetan history, it may be possible to stop from time to time to
examine some interesting sidelights, points of departure for other unexplored countries. If quicksands and snakepits abound, the more intrepid
investigators will be all the more eager to get on with it.
Milarepa was aged thirty-eight when he met his guru Marpa.1 According
to his own words, he had "about ten Lamas" before then.2 The first was
undoubtedly his reading teacher Klu-brgyad-pa.3 He appears to have been
an ordinary village priest. His name signifies that he specialized in the
propitiation of the Eight Great Naga.4 Milarepa's own grandfather was an
exorcist versed in the rites of the Eight Great Naga, and it was an exorcistic
exploit of his great-grandfather that explains the family name Mila.5 Padma
Dkar-po is the only source which gives us a more informative account of
Klu-brgyad-pa under the name Lo-tsa-ba Glan-chung or Glan-lo.6 He tells
us that Milarepa received from him, in addition to reading and writing,
instruction in Vajrapani according to the usage of Karmavajra.7 Many
years later, Milarepa would hand on these same teachings to his own
disciple Rechungpa.8 About Glan-chung, I can only say that Glan is a well
known clan (gdung-rus) and Rechungpa is said to have had a teacher called
*I bear a heavy burden of debts to Dr. Michael L. Walter, Tibetan Language Cataloguer at Indiana University Library, who helped with sources and offered several
comments resulting in substantial revisions in my final draft; and especially to Prof.
T. J. Norbu, who had immeasurable patience with my arguments and with me. Both
of them will disagree with much that is said in this paper.
Glan-chung Dar-ma-tshul-khrims.' Whoever this person may have been,
Milarepa was soon to leave him for much more dangerous studies.
The story of Milarepa's involvement with black magic is well known. In
short, Milarepa's immediate family was deprived of its inheritance and mistreated by his aunt and uncle. His mother persuaded him to seek vengeance
through the black arts. So, Milarepa left his home in Lower Gung-thang
(near the northern border of central Nepal) for the faraway valley of
Yarlung and a hamlet called Skyor-po, where he met a teacher of the
Gnyags clan named G.yung-ston Khro-rgyal.10 Khro-rgyal wasn't at all
eager to teach real coercive magic (mthu or drag-sngags) but he was impressed by Milarepa's devotion. Milarepa finally said to him, "I'm not just
a cute kid (gces-phrug) learning magic for a pastime. If I go back home
without learning magic, my aging mother will kill herself!" After verifying
Milarepa's story, Khro-rgyal said, "I have a magical method and coercive
spell called the Red and Black Faced Za (Gza'-gdong-dmar-nag). However,
I gave it to Doctor (Lha-rje) Snubs-chung of Phu-lung in Snubs. In return,
he gave me a recipe for hailmaking. We have an agreement that if anyone
comes to me for coercive magic, I am to refer them to him."11 Later,
Milarepa was to return to Khro-rgyal; but it is the second magic teacher
who shows the greatest potential for historical investigation. To begin
with, I will restrict myself to what can be learned about him in the Milarepa
corpus, the Blue Annals and the Chos-'byung of Padma Dkar-po.
Available biographies of Milarepa give different forms for the name of
the magic teacher. In the Blue Annals, he is called Doctor Hum-chung.12 By
Padma Dkar-po he is called Doctor Ye-shes-gzungs of Gtsang-rong.13 Most
often, he is called Doctor Gnubs-chung,14 but frequently he is said to be
Gnubs Khu-lung-pa or even Gnubs Khu-lung-pa Yon-tan-rgya-mtsho.15 He
is a well known figure in Nyingma history. In order to reach a more positive identification of this teacher, however, it will be necessary to resort to
a study of lineages. Gnubs Khu-lung-pa belonged to an important lineage
for the oral tradition (bka'-ma) of the Nyingma which transmitted the
Guhyagarbha™ and other teachings. The following reconstruction of
information supplied by Padma Dkar-po (p. 387) and the Blue Annals (pp.
108-109) will be important for this discussion, since it supplies a rough
chronology and many of the persons involved will reappear later on. [See
Figure 1.]
While Padma Dkar-po and the Blue Annals differ on the lineages passing
through the two sons of Gnubs Khu-lung-pa, both agree that the magic
teacher was a spiritual (and, in other sources, physical) descendent of
Gnubs Khu-lung-pa. [See Figure 2.]
How can these conflicting reports on the identity of the magic teacher be
reconciled? Only by forming the hypothesis that the Doctor Gnubs-chung
of the biographies was someone other than Gnubs Khu-lung-pa. First of all,
most members of the Guhyagarbha transmission are occasionally given the
Snyags Jnanakumara
-Sog-po Dpal-gyi-ye-shes
Gnubs-chen Sangs-rgyas-ye-shes (d. 962?)
Gnubs Khu-lung-pa	
(two sons) 1
Gnubs Ye-shes-
Gnubs Padma-
(four 'sons')
1) Pa-gor Blong-chen-'phags
(= Spa-gro Blon-rje-'phags)
2) Ngan Yon-tan-mchog
3) Gru (= Sru) Legs-pa'i-sgron-ma
4) So Ye-shes-dbang-phyug—i
Ngab-mi( = Ngab-
 Myang Shes-rab-mchog
( = 'Bre-ston Khro-chung)
Myang Ye-shes-'byung-gnas
Zur-po-che Shakya-'byung-gnas (@ 984-1045?)17
Zur-chung Shes-rab-grags-pa
( = Lha-rje Zur-chung) (1014-1074)
Figure 1—Guhyagarbha Lineage
Blue Annals (p. 109)
Chos-'byung (p. 389.5)
Gnubs Khu-lung-pa
Gnubs Ye-shes-rgya-mtsho
Doctor Hum-chung
Gnubs Padma-dbang-rgyal
Doctor Ye-shes-gzungs
Figure 2
title of Doctor (Lha-rje).18 This doesn't help narrow our choices. That he is
called Gnubs-cfiwng only lends credence to the idea that it really was Gnubs
Khu-lung-pa since he was the most important successor of Gnubs-chen
and, generally speaking, the lesser' master of a tradition follows on the
heels of the 'greater'.1' If it is true that Gnubs-chen Sangs-rgyas-ye-shes
died in 962 A. D., it is improbable that his disciple could have been a contemporary of Milarepa (1040-1123). Also, if the Blue Annals is correct
when it says that Milarepa was age thirty-eight at the time of his first
meeting with Marpa, then the date of the magic teacher's death could not
be before 1078 A. D.
As I was looking at the preface of the twenty-sixth volume of the Rin-
chen Gter-mdzod, I noticed with some excitement a work called the Fiery
Razor of Magical Redeflection (Yang-bzlog Me'i Spu-gri)20 by none other
than our Doctor Gnubs-chung. The text is all magical 'shop talk' but it is
prefaced by a story (lo-rgyus) which I would like to paraphrase. The story
begins with a lineage: 1) Gtsug-lag-dpal-dge, 2) Padmasambhava,
3) Vasudhara, a Nepalese, and 4) Gnubs-chen Sangs-rgyas-ye-shes.
Gnubs-chen hid the text in the upper temple of Mkho-mthing in Lho-brag.
Later, Doctor Gnubs-chung took it from its place of concealment.
Suddenly, the story shifts to first person narration by one Mtshur-ston Rin-
chen-rdo-rje. He describes a magical process by which he sent a curse. The
curse was deflected back on him by a man of Dolpo called Mes-ston. At a
loss for a means to retaliate, he was referred to Doctor Gnubs-chung of
Gtsang-rong who granted him the complete precepts of Magical Redeflection. Together with his elder sons Mtshur-ston 'Jam-dpal, age eighteen, and
Mtshur-ston Dbang-nge, age fifteen, he performed the incantations. Mes-
ston coughed up blood and died.
This story is valuable because it not only connects the magic teacher of
Milarepa with an obviously black magic story outside the Milarepa corpus,
it also implicates Mtshur-ston Dbang-nge, one of the four chief disciples of
Marpa about whom little is known.21
This discovery led me to investigate the Yamantaka lineages of different
cycles with positive results. In a lengthy collection of texts connected with
the Fiery Razor of Magical Redeflection is a lineage prayer which names
Doctor Gnubs-chung as a successor of the Terton Rgya Zhang-khrom.22
This Zhang-khrom can be placed in the eleventh century. He was born in
Gtsang-rong in a place called Dum-bu-lung. He was considered a reem-
bodiment of Gnubs-chen, whose Yamantaka cycles he recovered from
Phung-po Ri-bo-che,23 Samye, etc. Kong-sprul has this to say about
This great Terton appears to have come before Jetsun Milarepa by
about one generation. Among his descendents came many who
achieved the coercive spells. To this day, they continue in the area of
There is a reference to him in the words of the father of Guru Chos-dbang.
Referring to the dubious ethical worth of previous Tertons, he says,
Rgya Zhang-khrom destroyed the welfare of beings because he had
propagated evil spells.25
It was from Zhang-khrom that Doctor Gnubs-chung first received the
Fz'ery Razor.26 Later, he found an identical test at Mkho-mthing in Lho-
brag.27 Later still, he transmitted it to Mtshur-ston Rin-chen-rdo-rje as
mentioned. In the biographical notice of Kong-sprul we find:
Doctor Gnubs-chung was born in Khu-lung of Gtsang-rong as a son of
Gnubs Ye-shes-rgya-mtsho.28 He was a Mantradhara known for the
very great potency of his coercive spells. He withdrew the cycles of the
Fz'ery Razor of Magical Redeflection from concealment in Lho-brag
Mkho-mthing. He gave them to Zhang-khrom and they were gradually transmitted. They remain to this day a tool of the Vajradharas who
protect the Ancient Doctrine. Relying chiefly on these cycles, 'Bri-
gung Chos-kyi-grags-pa," under the personal guidance of Yamantaka, spread the teaching which is known as the Redeflection of the
'Bri School. I received the complete transmission of this school.30
By piecing together the preceding evidence, we can be fairly sure that the
Gnubs-chung of the Nyingma belonged to the eleventh century, somewhat
older than Milarepa. Also, in the introduction to a version of the story
paraphrased above, the Fz'ery Razor and the Red and Black Faced Za seem
to be given as alternative names for the same teaching.31 Another source
lists the Red and Black Faced Za as an "extremely secret" auxiliary to the
Fz'ery Razor.32
This conclusion, however, is not final. All the Nyingma sources utilized
to this point have been connected with the 'rediscovered' (gter-ma) tradition. Another picture emerges from the 'oral tradition' of the Nyingma, the
bka'-ma. In a short work called the Story of the Lamas Who Transmitted
the Red Yamantaka,33 which I tentatively take to belong to the fifteenth
century,34 we find a lineage for the magic teacher which matches perfectly
the one given by Padma Dkar-po above. The teaching passed from father
to son in the following manner: 1) Gnubs Khu-lung-pa, 2) Padma-dbang-
rgyal, 3) 'Jam-dpal, and 4) Ye-shes-gzungs. Upon reaching the latter, the
author tells us,
This is the person also known as Doctor Gnubs-chung under whom
Milarepa studied the coercive spells. When Milarepa reached age
twenty-nine, Rma-ban Chos-'bar35 was twenty-five. Since Rma-ban
was a 'heart disciple' of Ye-shes-gzungs, the chronology agrees.36
Now we know why the author of the Blue Annals and Padma Dkar-po disagree on the lineage for Doctor Gnubs-chung. It seems they were following
traditions already established by the Nyingma. I am still at a loss to har-
monize the two traditions. In any case, most of the conclusions reached so
far are unaffected by this new source.
There are yet other unresolved dilemmas. Why, for example, do the
biographies confuse the sectarian affiliations of the two magic teachers? I
can only say that I think the distinction between Buddhist (chos-pa) and
Bonpo in early post-imperial times a dubious one. The most basic determinant of a Buddhist community, the monkhood, had been successfully
abolished. There is little evidence that the Bodhisattva vow, the ethical life-
source of Mahayana Buddhism (including Mahayana Bon!), had
significantly survived Glang-dar-ma. On the contrary, it seems that black
magic was common and some favored a literal interpretation of "liberation
and union" as a license for murder and rape.37 One gang of eighteen
robbers called the Ar-tsho Bande, like the Thuggee of India, roamed about
murdering people with a self-righteous piety.38 The custom of extending the
tongue as a greeting for high officials is said to have originated in those
dark ages when officials formed the chief targets for magical curses. A dark
spot on the tongue was supposed to betray black magicians.39 It is no
wonder that the kings of Western Tibet regarded the reintroduction of
normative Buddhism as an imperative.40 This is the picture as painted by
the Tibetan histories. No doubt there was some real basis behind their
characterization of those times. That Tibet was in a state of disquiet, both
socially and spiritually, is absolutely certain.
I should have already clarified my use of the term 'black magic' since, as
such, it doesn't appear in the Tibetan language, although the expression
'black side' (nag-phyogs) is used to refer to 'divinities' or spirits inimical to
Buddhism. In my own lexicon, 'black magic' refers to the subversion of
what might otherwise be 'spiritual techniques' to the end of harming others.
The substance of meaning is no different from 'evil spells' (ngan-sngags,
above). In short, it means making curses and casting spells (mthu gtong-ba,
dmod-pa, thun-brab-pa, etc.). Of course, there are gradations of blackness
according to the seriousness of the magically committed crime. That the
magic practiced by Milarepa and his teachers was black (in this sense) is
indicated by the fact that so many works connected with the Fiery Razor
are classified in the Rin-chen Gter-mdzod under Drag-po Mngon-spyod,
'Coercive Witchcraft'.41 From the title of one of these works, it is possible
to surmise that the objectives of this magical system are fourfold: to
protect, deflect, kill and oppress.42
To bring this discussion even closer to our context, the horrible images
connected with Za, the 'deity' of eclipse, will be seen by most in an entirely
negative light (see note 31). It seems plausible that Za was a native dracon-
ian spirit of the Tibetans later homologized to the Indian Rahu, just as the
Tibetan Klu spirits were homologized to the Naga. What will be more
difficult to explain is the fact that Za, while greatly feared, is mainly made
to fill the positive role of a Protector (Dharmapala).43 This points to an
attitude toward the spiritual life which has countless parallels elsewhere,
but was nowhere so developed as in Tibetan religion. This attitude, which
one could almost call kind of spiritual machismo (vvrya), leads aspirants to
leave the slow grades of ascent to face the crags and sheer cliffs of the
Direct Path (nye-lam) with all its difficulties and dangers.44 In this light, it
should not be any cause for surprise that the most complete sources for the
magical teachings of Rgya Zhang-khrom and Doctor Gnubs-chung, with
their lineages and associated texts, are found in the Records of Received
Teachings of two of Tibet's greatest saints, Gter-bdag-gling-pa (1646-1714
A.D.) and the Great Fifth Dalai Lama (1617-1682).45 What would be a
stumbling block to one person can become the stepping stone of another.
Strength of compassion (Bodhicitta) precludes the usual motivations like
greed, envy, hatred, etc. that lie behind magical curses. Tantricism in
general has a long tradition of turning the vilest of poisons into nectar. The
danger, of course, is that through lack of Bodhicitta and Skillful Means, the
poison may remain poison. Tantricism subverts evil to the cause of good
where conventional wisdom counsels avoidance. The same destructive
magic which proved the downfall of Milarepa could later serve to eclipse
negative forces as, for instance, the negative emotions that drive people to
indulge in the black arts in the first place.
If it seems we've already fallen into the aforementioned swamp of complications, in what follows there is good chance of getting swallowed. But
we will proceed cautiously and return, like Milarepa did, to the hail-
teacher, G.yung-ston Khro-rgyal. In order to reach him, it will be necessary to start with the history of a particular rediscovery of a cache of
Bonpo scriptures and treatises called the Yer-rdzong-ma.46
The story goes that three Buddhists from Gtsang province went to
Samye to look for hidden treasures (gter-ma). While Samye was the most
common site of such rediscoveries, they didn't find anything and headed
back emptyhanded for their homes. On their way, they happened upon a
cache of Bonpo books at a fort in Yer (hence the name Yer-rdzong-ma).
Not being of the Bon persuasion, they gave the books to a Bonpo called, in
some Bonpo sources, Gnyan-ston Lha-'bar47 or Lung-ston 'Od-'bar48 and,
in other Bonpo and one Buddhist source, Gnyags-ston Lha-'bar of 'Bru-
tshang.4' Incidentally, the Buddhist source adds that the three Tertons
came to grief on account of their rediscovery. This was no doubt due to the
ire of the three Bonpo "Treasure Protectors." One got leprosy. One died.
One went insane. By comparing different accounts, the early Yer-rdzong-
ma transmission takes approximately the course shown in Figure 3.
Gnyan-ston Lha-'bar (or 'Od-'bar)
I Gnyan-ston Gzi-brjid —
(hail transmission) (general transmission)
Gyer-ston Khro-gsas  1 Gyer Dbang-grub
(or Byang-grub)
Gyer-ston Nam-mkha'-
Milarepa      Lung-bon Lha-gnyan
Figure 3
The name for the hailteacher, Gyer-ston Khro-gsas, may very well be an
equivalent of G.yung-ston Khro-rgyal. It contains two words from the
Zhang-zhung language, Gyer and Gsas. The first means 'chant' or 'chanter'
(gyer-pa), but it may also mean 'Bonpo teacher' and G.yung-drung Ston-pa
may mean 'Bonpo teacher' as well. The meaning of Gsas50 is vaguely
'royalty' or 'divinity' and both ideas may be expressed by the Tibetan word
Rgyal (as in Rgyal-po or Rgyal-ba).
Biographical information for members of the Yer-rdzong-ma lineage
seems scarce, but we do have a separate biography for Lung-bon Lha-
gnyan.51 From it we learn that his father, Lung-ston 'Od-'bar (!), died when
he was eleven years old. At ages fourteen through sixteen, he studied
Bonpo tantras under a teacher "G.yer-pa." In the following years he got
married and had two sons. At age twenty-seven, he felt an aversion for the
vicious circle and abandoned his family for a life of religion. By putting this
information together with another source,52 we may conclude that he
practiced hailmaking before age twenty-seven and probably while he was
studying under "G.yer-pa" (whom I take to be G.yer-ston Khro-gsas). If
this is so, and if it is true that he learned hailmaking together with
Milarepa,53 then the date given for his birth (1088 A.D.)54 can hardly be
correct. This would place the date of the hailmaking episode in about 1104
A.D., several years after Marpa's death. In the Milarepa biographies, the
hailmaking accomplice is an unnamed "strong servant"55 of the hailmaker.
As more Bonpo sources become available, it may be possible to straighten
all this out.
After the hailmaking episode, Milarepa returned to stay with G.yung-
ston for some time. Later, G.yung-ston and, according to come, Gnubs-
chung, repented of their lives of magical crime and urged Milarepa to
follow the pure Dharma while he was still young. G.yung-ston sent him to
Rong-ston (or 'Bre-ston) Lha-dga', a specialist in the Dzogchen teachings of
the Nyingma (or Bonpo?). Milarepa found him in Upper Nyang at a place
called Ri-snang. His customary place of residence was in Rong. Rong and
Nyang are branches of the river system which includes the trading centre of
Gyantse in Tsang province. The 'Bre family is known to have been centered
in Tsang.56
Rather than going into a long comparison of different stories about the
Dzogchen teacher, I will merely give a close paraphrase of the story as told
by the Third Karmapa Hierarch, Rang-byung-rdo-rje (1284-1339 A.D.),
which has only recently been made available. It should be no surprise that
he has more to say on the subject than the Mad Saint of Tsang (1452-1507
A.D.). The Third Karmapa spearheaded the acceptance of Nying-ma doctrines by the Kargyudpa (he was a kind of Terton himself!) while the Mad
Saint was more interested in reviving the earliest esoteric systems of the
Kargyudpa. The story begins as the Bon hailteacher gives Milarepa a
donkey loaded with food and a bolt of cloth as gifts for the Dzogchen
"There is a Lama in Nyang-stod named Rong-ston Lha-dga'. He is a
Siddha who teaches the Holy Dharma called the Great Perfection.
You must go to him."
So, Milarepa went to meet the Lama. After he had presented the
donkey and its load, he said, "I am a sinful man of La-stod. I ask that
you tie to my heart a teaching."
The Lama Rong-ston replied, "It is good that you have come. I have
unerring precepts called Great Perfection, teachings which purify and
awaken even the greatest of sinners in a forceful way. It is victorious
in the roots, the sprout, the trunk and leaves. Those who learn it in the
morning are purified and awakened in the morning. Those who learn
it in the evening are purified and awakened in the evening.
Part is gold and part is turquoise.
The fowler's net is followed by the slingshot.
The towering clouds are scattered by a whirlwind.
The dark room is lighted with a butterlamp.
The encompassing Gnosis (jnana) produces itself.
The Buddha is encountered within.
This teaching I have leads to liberation by merely hearing it. Those
blessed with sharp faculties have no need to meditate."
Milarepa thought to himself, "While the black magic and hailmaking each took many days of preparation, this teaching is certainly
an easy one, to judge from his examples. I am so lucky to encounter
something like this where meditation isn't even necessary." So, he
asked for Great Perfection teachings and practiced them with determination, not moving at all morning or night. The Lama saw him in
his meditation and became fearful, "One like this who has so much
determination. . .if obstacles arise, there is nothing I can do about it.
But then he does have faith."
One day, with nothing in mind, he summoned him. To one side of
the room the Lama seated himself on a cushion Milarepa had put
down for him. Then, Milarepa seated himself in front. "Look around
inside the skull with the closed mouth and tell me what you see."
Milarepa looked but couldn't see anything.
"We two will have a talk. I have worked for several days now. This
Great Perfection teaching of mine is lofty as the sky. How is it that the
meditative experiences have not taken hold? The several dark
methods for practice may be attractive, but even I myself have no
cause for confidence. I will apply myself to the recitation of the Lady
Angry Brow (Bhrkutf). Still, if you are to gain practical experience in
the Dharma, a Lama with a lineage, blessing and spiritual realization
seems to be essential. This is a teaching for the sinless. Your sins are
frightfully great.
"In the region of Lho-brag is a Lord named Marpa, a disciple of the
Indian Lamas Naropa and Maitripa. His precepts of the Spiritus
(prima), its Channels (nadi), and Thoughtdrop (bindu) put Buddha-
hood in the palm of the hand. These are methods patterned after the
body which purify and awaken the Mind (citta). These are the Six
Doctrines of Naropa, the essence of all Tantras. His special teachings
on 'Mixed Transference' (bsre-'pho) lead to the attainment of the
ordinary and supreme Siddhi. His learning is full of stories of saints
and their songs. His limbs are full of dancing. His mind is filled with
contemplative absorption. The Clear Light constantly appears to him
both in and out of meditation. I also have thought of going to
Near the beginning of the paper, I said there were about ten teachers
before Marpa. So far, there have only been four. Who are the missing
teachers? Some names are supplied in a song of Milarepa to his disciple Zhi-
ba-'od. This is the only reference to these extra teachers found in the
biographies and there are only two new names: Dgyes-ston and
Rngog-mi.58 The same song is quoted in the Blue Annals (p. 432) but the
two names are Ngar-ston and Ngab-mi. Padma Dkar-po also has the song
and gives Sgyer-ston and Ngab-mi.59 A Ngab-mi Byang-chub-rgyal-mtshan
is known from the Guhyagarbha lineage.60 Otherwise I can find no probable identities for them.
Padma Dkar-po gives the most material on the missing teachers, placing
them between the magic teachers and Lha-dga':
"There was a Sgyer-ston Dbang-nge in Rgyang-khar of Upper Myang.
Milarepa asked to go to him for Rdzogs-chen teachings. He went and
received all of his precepts. Sgyer-ston sent him to Khor-re where
there was one learned in the Sgyu-'phrul, Yang-dag and Bdud-rtsi
(Nyingma cycles) named Ngab-mi Byang-chub-rgyal-po. He, in turn,
sent Milarepa to Do in Yar-'brog and to the feet of a Ma-mo expert
named Mar-pa 'Byung-nge. In this way, he studied under nine Lamas.
Then Mar-pa 'Byung-nge entrusted him to 'Dre-ston Lha-dga' of
Gtsang-rong, under whom he studied Rdzogs-chen. He stayed with
each Lama about one or two years, altogether around fifteen years."61
Since I have been unable to come up with any clear-cut identities for any of
these teachers, I won't plague my readers with dubious possibilities.62
If this paper has been inconclusive and debatable on many points, I hope
that it will at least show the continuing vitality of those Lamas who have,
in retrospect, been called Ancient Ones (Nyingma) and Bonpo; teachers of
great spiritual magnitude among whom there were, nevertheless, some
abusers of the powers invested in them. I have focused far too much
attention on the abusers. Above all, I hope that the Milarepa who was a
man among men will cast a slightly sharper image in the minds of those
who love Tibetan literature and history. At least I may have given some
indication of the territory that needs to be traversed on the way to that
As I reflect on the place of Milarepa in the context of Tibetan history, I
begin to see him more and more as an expression, even an ideal embodiment, of the aspirations of the Tibetan people in the time of Buddhism's
rekindling from the fading embers of the post-imperial times when "Tibet
went to pieces"63 (the image of eclipse), a rekindling which culminated in a
blaze of religious and cultural activity. I like to imagine that a part of
Milarepa's great appeal for Tibetans today lies in an unspoken awareness
that his struggle away from the self-serving technology of the black arts to
a spirituality unequivocally white was not a mere personal struggle.
>| .|«p<wR|i«)iGi5f3»i| i
1. Roerich, Blue Annals (p. 433).
2. Padma Dkar-po, Chos-'byung (p. 481.3, ff.); Roerich, Blue Annals (p.
432); Rang-byung-rdo-rje, Mdzod-nag-ma (p. 70.4, ff.).
3. Roerich, Blue Annals (pp. 417, 427); Lhalungpa, Life of Milarepa (p.
4. These Eight N5ga Kings are listed in Das, Dictionary (p. 45). They are
all of Indian origin, the Tibetan names all direct translations of the
Sanskrit. See especially Pott, Yoga and Yantra (p. 91, ff.).
5. Lhalungpa, Life of Milarepa (pp. 13-14). Milarepa's clan, the Khyung
clan, was one of the most significant clans for the Bonpo. See Karmay,
Treasury (p. 13) and Three Sources (p. 430.2).
6. Padma Dkar-po, Chos-'byung (pp. 474.1, 491.4).
7. For this school, see Roerich, Blue Annals (p. 105).
8. Padma Dkar-po, Chos-'byung (p. 500.3).
9. Rwa-lung Dkar-brgyud Gser-'phreng (vol. 1, p. 213.2). Some of his
translations are included in the Kanjur.
10. The Gnyags ( = Snyags) clan is a very ancient and prestigious one connected with the area of Yar-lung (Tucci, Preliminary Report, p. 79). The
title G.yung-ston is problematic. G.yung could be a place or family name.
G.yung-ston could be a contraction of G.yung-drung Ston-pa. Khro-rgyal
is a usual epithet of Yamantaka (and some other wrathful deities of both
Chos and Bon). This fact will gain in significance later on. Khro-rgyal also
appears as the name of some early Bonpo teachers (Snyan-rgyud Nam-
mkha 'Phrul-mdzod, p. 575.5; Karmay, Treasury, pp. 133, 148).
11. Rang-byung-rdo-rje, Mdzod-nag-ma (p. 17.3 ff.).
12. Roerich, Blue Annals (p. 109).
13. Padma Dkar-po, Chos-'byung (pp. 389.5, 474.5, 476.1).
14. In Bka'-brgyud Gser-'phreng Chen-mo (vol. I, p. 207.2 ff.) he is an
unnamed Bonpo of Rta-nag. In Rgyal-thang-pa, Dkar-brgyud Gser-'phreng
(p. 212.5), he is a Bonpo called Snyegs Khro-rgyal. These are eccentric
sources. He is called Doctor Gnubs-chung in: Bde-mchog Mkha'-'gro
Snyan-brgyud (vol. I, p. 99.1); Roerich, Blue Annals (pp. 428, 429, 432);
Gtsang-smyon, Mz'-/a Mgur-'bum (folio 70r.6). In most cases where he is
called Gnubs-chung, he is said to be in Gtsang-rong and Khu-lung is not
mentioned. Gtsang-rong I take to be the valley of the Rong-chu, a south
tributary of the Brahmaputra in Gtsang province. When a religious designation is given for one or the other of the two magic teachers, it is usually
Bonpo (but see below). In Rang-byung-rdo-rje, Mdzod-nag-ma, they are
often referred to as Ban-bon Gnyis. The Ban is short for bande, which is
derived from vandya, a semi-colloquial Indian term for 'Buddhist monk'.
The Tibetan word degraded in meaning to refer to itinerant Buddhist
laymen and sometimes even seems to be an equivalent of Sngags-pa,
'conjuror'. The bon should be short for Bonpo. Rang-byung-rdo-rje is the
only biographer who clearly identifies the black magic teacher as a
Buddhist and the hailmaking teacher as a Bonpo. See below.
15. Bde-mchog Mkha'-'gro Snyan-brgyud (vol. I, pp. 98.5, 99.1);
Lhalungpa, Life of Milarepa (p. 26); Rang-byung-rdo-rje, Mdzod-nag-ma
(vol. I, p. 17.6).
16. For references to this Old Tantra, see: Ruegg, Life of Bu-ston (p. 68);
Roerich, Blue Annals (pp. 103-4, 107-8, 534, 965); Karmay, Rdzogs-chen
(p. 148).
17. About this Lama and his successor, it is often said, "Zur-po-che established the root of the teaching of the Old Translations during the Later
Spread (phyi-dar). Zur-chung-pa spread the branches." Bdud-'joms Rin-
po-che, Rnying-ma Chos-'byung (p. 304.4). It is also said that there was
only one teacher between Gnubs-chen and Zur-po-che (see the lineage
tree). Zur-po-che is accused of appropriating a Bon teaching called the
Thugs-kyi Me-long (Karmay, Treasury, p. 156). This may refer to a Tantra
by the same name in Rnying-ma Rgyud-'bum (vol. X, pp. 581-609).
18. Including Gnubs Khu-lung-pa. The use of Lha-rje as a title of religious
teachers is also common with the Bonpo.
19. This may explain the confusion in the biographies.
20. In the Rin-chen Gter-mdzod (vol. XXVI, p. 417, ff.). Other almost
identical versions of the story are found in the same volume (p. 518.5) and
in volume LXXXIII (p. 517). I have not even tried to read the
accompanying magical texts.
21. Dbang-nge is short for Dbang-gi-rdo-rje. He is sometimes called Dol-
gyi Mtshur-ston (as in Padma Dkar-po, Chos-'byung, p. 456.1). He was
already proficient in magic when he came to Marpa and, significantly, his
father was a magician. See especially Padma Dkar-po, Chos-'byung (p.
467.4, ff.) and Roerich, Blue Annals (pp. 414-5).
22. 'Jam-dpal Gshin-rje'i Gshed Yang-bzlog... (vol. II, p. 68.5, ff.). His
full name was Dum-pa (after his birthplace) Rgya (the family name) Zhang-
khrom Rdo-rje-'od-'bar.
23. Phung-po Ri-bo-che was on the south bank of the Brahmaputra river
east of Gser-mdog-can. There was a Rnying-ma Monastery there. See:
Padma 'Phrin-las, Bka'-ma Mdo Dbang-gi Bla-ma... (p. 166.2); Roerich,
Blue Annals (p. 150); Ferrari, Mkhyen-brtse's Guide (p. 162); Rin-chen
Gter-mdzod (vol. XXVI, p. 69.4). Kong-sprul lists the Yamantaka cycles
rediscovered by Rgya Zhang-khrom as: 1) 'Jam-dpal Tshe-bdag Nag-po
Lcags-'dra, 2) Lcags-sdig, 3) Kha-thun, 4) Yang-bzlog, 5) 'Char-kha,
6) King-kang, and 7) Khro-chu (Rin-chen Gter-mdzod, vol. I, p. 366.6).
Compare the very valuable English preface of 'Jam-dpal Gshin-rje Gshed
Khro-chu... (vol. I). Zhang-khrom is mentioned in Padma Dkar-po,
Chos-'byung (p. 389.2).
24. Rin-chen Gter-mdzod (vol. I, p. 367.2, ff.).
25. Dargyay, Rise of Esoteric Buddhism (p. 110). The Tibetan text reads:
Rgya Zhang-khrom-gyis ngan-sngags sngon-la spel-bas / 'gro don gya-
rdugs /
26. In the following I base myself on: Rin-chen Gter-mdzod (vol. I, pp. 487
and vol. XXVI, pp. 517-8); 'Jam-dpal Gshin-rje'i Gshed Yang-bzlog...
(vol. Ill, pp. 22-3).
27. There was a Mkho-mthing Lha-khang in Lho-brag (Das, p. 151). It was
an ancient temple built in order to press down the left elbow of a mythic
she-demon (Padma Dkar-po, Chos-'byung, p. 318.1).
28. Note the position of this Gnubs Ye-shes-rgya-mtsho in the Guhyagar-
bha lineage. This statement substantiates the Blue Annals account, but
doesn't exclude that of Padma Dkar-po. See below.
29. ='Bri-gung Rig-'dzin, born in 1595. He was the 21st abbot of 'Bri-gung
and a Terton.
30. Rin-chen Gter-mdzod (vol. I, p. 487.4 ff.).
31. Rin-chen Gter-mdzod (vol. I, p. 487.4 ff.). One may only speculate that
the Yamantaka cycle known as Lcags-sdig (note 23 above) is involved.
Lcags-sdig may be translated 'Iron Scorpion' and it was a huge scorpion
that precipitated the killing of 35 persons attending the wedding party of
Milarepa's cousin (Lhalungpa. p. 26). We learn from the biography of
Gnubs-chen (Padma 'Phrin-las, Bka-ma Mdo Dbang-gi Bla-ma.. ., p.
173.5) that he got a coercive spell ('evil spell' according to Karma Mi-'gyur-
dbang-rgyal, Gter-bton Brgya-rtsa, p. 162.2) called Spu-gri Reg-chod from
the Nepali Vasudhara with the intention of magically killing the emperor
Glang-dar-ma. On his return to Tibet, he found that the deed had been
done. So, having no use for the spell, he hid it. Elsewhere (Bdud-'joms Rin-
po-che, Rnying-ma Chos-'byung, p. 297.2), Gnubs-chen is said to have
displayed his magical powers to Glang-dar-ma by making a black iron
scorpion, big as nine yaks stacked up, appear on his fingertips.
As for the Red and Black Faced Za, Gza' means 'planet' and, in a more
specific sense, Rahu. The colors red and black are often associated with
Yamantaka and his attendants. One finds the expressions Gshin-rje-gshed
Dmar-nag and King-kang Dmar-nag quite frequently. I cannot explain the
Gru-gu Dmar-nag teaching granted to Gnubs Khu-lung-pa (Padma Dkar-
po, Chos-'byung, p. 388.3) except to say that Gru-gu (which is a frequent
spelling for Dru-gu, "Turk"), is a 'thread-ball' (Nebesky, Oracles and
Demons, pp. 18, 270) and black and red threads are said to have some
magical application (Jaeschke, Tibetan-English Dictionary, p. 422).
It seems possible that the following explanation of the name as given by
Professor Norbu is the right one. The Gza' stands for Rahu. The Gdong-
dmar here stands for Gdong-dmar-ma. The Nag stands for Nag-mo
(=Kali). For these, see the index to Nebesky, Oracles and Demons. None
of the three seem especially connected with Yamantaka cycles (which
Nebesky mostly ignores). The Gza'-gdong-dmar-nag is mentioned as a
Phur-pa cycle in Sog-bzlog-pa, Collected Writings (vol. I, pp. 134.3,
144.6). It may be significant that a form of Gza' appears as a messenger of
Yama in a grimoire attributed to Gnubs-chen (Zla-gsang Be'u-bum, p. 231).
It is a Bonpo source which gives what could be an explanation of the name.
In a long list of the rediscoveries of Zhang-khrom (here called Dum Rgya
Zhang-phram), most of them known from Buddhist sources (note 23), are
these three teachings: 1) the Magical Shovel which Tears Things Down
from the Top, 2) the Crowbar which Demolishes from the Foundation,
3) the Eight Precepts for Directing the Planetary (ecliptic) Hook (? Gza'
Gdang Gtad Man-ngag Brgyad). Experienced readers of Tibetan will have
no trouble condensing the last-mentioned name to Gza'-gdang Man-ngag.
If we remember that we are dealing with the literary outcroppings of an
oral tradition, it is not difficult to relate this to Gza'-gdong-dmar-nag. See
also Ngag-dbang-blo-bzang-rgya-mtsho, Thob-yig (vol. Ill, pp. 81-2).
Those interested in pursuing the subject of Rahu as a protective deity
should begin with his 'biography' in the Bstan-srung Rgya-mtsho'i Rnam-
thar of Bzhad-pa'i Rdo-rje (p. 340.2, ff.) and the index to Nebesky, Oracles
and Demons. In general, Rahu is a causer of eclipses (nyi zla gza' 'dzin) and
eclipses have definite connotations, in world literature, of "all hell breaking
loose." The connection with epilepsy (in a loose sense) is interesting.
Epilepsy may be expressed in Tibetan as the 'shadow of Rahu' (gza grib),
the 'Rahu disease' (gza nad), 'increased blood in the brain disease' (klad
khrag rgyas nad), or 'sky/space derangement' (gnam skyon). European
parallels are not hard to find and the connection of eclipses with changes in
the political order, pestilences, possession, seizures and black magic goes as
far back as recorded history, no doubt further.
Finally, an astronomical textbook provides what is certainly the most concrete and defensible explanation. It is a well-known fact that the moon's
path alternates north and south of the ecliptic in what appears to be a wavy
line. When the moon approaches the ecliptic from the south, it is called the
Ascending or North Node and when it approaches from the north, it is
called the Descending or South Node. Western tradition also calls these
respectively the Head and Tail of the Dragon. In Indian astronomy, the
Head and Tail are called Rahu and Ketu. In a Tibetan astronomy book
(Mkhyen-rab Nor-bu, Rtsis Gzhi'i Man-ngag Rigs-ldan Snying-thing, p.
43.2) the Tail (Mjug) is said to be light red coloured. The Head (Gdong) is
dark red (dmar nag). Therefore, rather than Red and Black Faced Za, we
should translate Dark Red Head of Eclipse. The association of colors with
the various types and degrees of eclipses is very thoroughly explained by
Petri, Colours of Lunar Eclipses According to Indian Tradition. It is interesting that he derives the name Rahu from the verbal root rabh, 'to grasp or
sieze'. This would explain why the Tibetans translated both Rahu and the
word for planet (graha, 'siezing, grasping') by the same word gza'. Tibetans
often use names like Gza'-chen or Gza'-rgod when they want to refer
unambiguously to Rahu.
32. Gter-bdag-gling-pa, Gsan-yig (p. 257.1).
33. "Gshin-rje Dmar-po'i Bla-ma Brgyud-pa'i Lo-rgyus," by Rngog Bsod-
nams-shes-rab, found in Bka'-ma (vol. VI, pp. 3-19). This text has much
material on the early members of the Guhyagarbha lineage not found else-
where. For a similar Yamantaka lineage, see Bka'-ma (vol. V, p. 509.4,
34. I base this on the following: 1) The author puts twelve generations
between himself and Ye-shes-gzungs. 2) The author's teacher is called Kun-
dga'-bkra-shis. The only person I find by this name is the teacher of a Stag-
lung abbot (who lived 1359-1424—Blue Annals, p. 641) who visited China
in 1413 (Dhongthog, Important Events, p. 124).
35. This person (b. 1044) is also known as Rma Lo-ts3-ba Dge-ba'i Blo-
gros. See Blue Annals (pp. 219-20, 405, 857); Padma Dkar-po,
Chos-'byung (p. 419.2).
36. Bka'-ma (vol. VI, p. 13.5).
37. Tibetans trace the intellectual background for this perverse tantricism
to two Indians who appeared in Tibet during the interval following the suppression of Buddhism by Glang-dar-ma. They were called the Red Acarya
(A-tsa-ra Dmar-po) and the Blue-skirt Pundit (Pandi-ta Sham-thabs Sngon-
po-can). In order to gain money and honor in the villages, they spread a
vulgarized version of 'liberation and union' (sbyor sgrol) and many
Tibetans followed them. It was a revulsion against these Tibetan followers
that prompted the Later Spread of Buddhism. See Bdud-'joms Rin-po-che,
Rnying-ma Chos-'byung (p. 771.1, ff.); Sog-bzlog-pa, Collected Works
(vol. I, p. 463.4, ff.).
It is evident that what most early Nyingma (and Bonpo) teachers intended
by the term sbyor-sgrol was something akin to 'pho-ba: joining with the
spirit of a deceased being in order to liberate it from an unfortunate karmic
destiny. Nebesky, Oracles and Demons (p. 492) makes a connection between the Red Acarya and Marpa which I have not been able to substantiate.
38. For the Ar-tsho Bande, see: Roerich, Blue Annals (pp. 696-697); Padma
Dkar-po, Chos-'byung (p. 348.5); Zla-ba-seng-ge, Grub-chen O-rgyan-pa'i
Rnam-thar (p. 7.3, ff.); Stein, Tibetan Civilization (pp. 71, 152).
39. See, for example, the stories in Bdud-'joms Rin-po-che, Rnying-ma
Chos-'byung (p. 168.3 ff.) where the Blue-skirt Pundit is connected with a
Phur-ba cycle. The following quote is from the same section (p. 169.3, ff.):
"The Geshe Rwa Lo-tsa-ba waxed great in wealth and influence. The
many great Lamas and officials (bla dpon) of Tibet had no choice but
to bow to him. It was known that those who wouldn't would be liberated' by the coercive spells of Yamantaka.
"Then Dum-pa Rgya Zhang-khrom uncovered a clay milk cannister
full of Yamantaka cycles. After removing about half of the Tshe-bdag
Sdig-pa Snying-'dzings, he went to Rwa Lo-tsa-ba to extend his own
Yamantaka cycles and made up Indian originals and translations
[NOTE: a "statement of Guru Chos-dbang" according to Rin-chen-
dpal-bzang-po, Chos-'byung Bstan-pa'i Sgron-me, p. 147.5]. Likewise, from the many treasure caches of Bum-thang, he uncovered
profound precepts of Jambhala, Guhyapati; as well as coercive magic,
hailmaking and maledictions (mthu ser gtad gsum).
"Many came to swift ends through the Yamantaka cycles of the New
Translations. Thirteen bodhisattvas including Dar-ma-mdo-sde, the
son of Marpa; thirteen who were, like himself, translators, including
Gnyan Lo-tsa-ba were 'liberated' by his (Rwa Lo-tsa-ba's) skill in
One comment: This Gnyan Lo-ts5-ba accompanied Rwa Lo-tsa-ba to India
and took part in the religious council of 1076 A.D. His full name was
Gnyan Lo-tsa-ba Dar-ma-grags (Ferrari, p. 105). The father of Rechungpa,
who died when the latter was in his eighth year (circa 1092 A.D.) was
coincidentally (?) named Gnyan Dar-ma-grags (Padma Dkar-po,
Chos-'byung, pp. 499-500).
40. For 'black tongues', see also Shakabpa, Tibet (p. 53). I want to mollify
this 'too black' interpretation of the Tibetan dark ages a little. It was a
'dark' age precisely because we are pretty much in the dark about its
historical and especially religious developments. My own impressions will
sound heretical to many, both Tibetologists and Tibetan, but my
contention (which finds some support in Snellgrove, Nine Ways, pp. 15-16)
is that Indian ideas had already been adapted in Western Tibet from
Shaivite and Buddhist peoples further to the West before the official introduction of Buddhism in the seventh century. These currents coalesced,
over the course of time, with Bon which is itself a selfconsciously foreign
religion from the West with a marked tendency (like Chos) for syncretism
and/or assimilation. Upon the collapse of the Tibetan Empire, the newly
and rather superficially (in numbers) introduced Buddhism became
indistinguishable in the minds of ordinary believers from the already
buddhistic Bon. Mutual and, for the most part, unconscious assimilation
resulted in the amazing doctrinal similarities of the later Bon and Nyingma
schools. The word 'plagiarism' should be avoided like the plague in this
context. It unjustly undermines the spiritual integrity of the religious
peoples concerned. // some so-far unidentified Bonpo appropriated the
Prajnaparamita literature, it was probably because of similar tendencies
already in Bon. I am personally very happy if he did. Hopefully the other
religions of the world will follow suit. Bon and Chos both mean Dharma
and therefore 'Buddhism'. It is time to stop identifying Bon with the
'primitive animism' of Tibet and face the facts. Almost every criticism
against Bon could equally be levelled against Chos. There are, as yet, no
final answers to these questions.
41. Drag-po Mngon-spyod (Rin-chen Gter-mdzod, vols. LXXXIII &
LXXXIV). Mngon-spyod means 'cruel or violent action' (according to
Tibetan-Tibetan dictionaries) but may stand for the Sanskrit word it translates, abhicara, which definitely refers to the use of spells for evil purposes
and therefore black magic or witchcraft.
42. Rin-chen Gter-mdzod (vol XXXIII, p. 479, etc.). The ethical, philosophical and even legal dilemmas involved in magical violence require treat-
ment by a specialist in magical criminology. Crimes both magical and mundane were punishable under the Tibetan legal system, and Buddhist teachings, emphasizing motivation, would hardly condone any such acts
performed out of selfishness or attachment. So much is clear. The causes
and motives of physical violence and crime are no different than the causes
and motives of magical crime and violence. Only the medium of action
differentiates them, and, according to Buddhist ideas, the weight of the resulting karma.
43. Consult Combe, A Tibetan on Tibet (pp. 107, 151-3). Iconographic
representations of Gza' may be found in Chandra, Tibetan-Sanskrit Dictionary (p. 1079); Beyer, Cult of Tara (p. 51); Pott, Art of Tibet (pp.
234-235, plate 28, lower left hand corner); Olschak, Mystic Art (p. 104).
For a primitive (or degenerated?) vision of Gza', see Rock, Naga Cult (vol.
I, p. 88). I hope that someone more qualified for cross cultural studies will
investigate what I believe is a connection between the Tibetan iconography
of Rahu and ancient Middle Eastern conceptions. The Indian representations (as in the Navagraha) bear little resemblance to their Tibetan counterparts.
I base what follows entirely on material found in Hartner, The Pseudo-
planetary Nodes of the Moon's Orbit in Hindu and Islamic Iconographies.
In Persian, Jawzahr stood for both the Head and the Tail of the eclipse.
Could this be the source of the Tibetan word Gza'? Probably not. Later on,
al-Jawzahr was used for the Head and the word al-Nawbahr was used for
the Tail. The word al-Nawbahr means 'ninth part' and is frequently used in
astronomical texts for the nine parts of a zodiacal sign. Could this explain
why Gza' has nine heads? On a twelfth century bridge over the Tigris there
are reliefs of the planets together with the constellations in which they have
their 'exaltation' (place of maximum astrological influence). The 'planet'
with its exaltation in Sagittarius is called al-Jawzahr and Sagittarius is
pictured as a centaur with a bow and arrow. Could this explain why Gza'
has a bow and arrow? A picture dated 1200 B.C. shows Sagittarius as a
winged centaur archer with a scorpion tail. A scorpion is often pictured
with Sagittarius (Scorpio z's the neighboring zodiacal sign). Could this
explain the 'scorpion connection'? Sagittarius sometimes has a head at the
end of his tail which stands for the 'head' of the eclipse. Does this explain
the Makara banner, which is, after all, a head on a stick? Thus every aspect
of the iconography of Gza' has a possible explanation with the exception of
the raven's head. I am sure that this too will find its reason.
After all I've said, I should like to add contradiction to confusion and say
that Gza' does have one truly positive aspect. According to Mkhyen-rab-
nor-bu (Rtsis-kyi Man-ngag, p. 44), the external Gza' swallows the sun and
moon while the internal Gza' is the Central Vein (rtsa dbu-ma) which
swallows the solar and lunar veins (ro-ma and rkyang-ma). The swallowing in this context refers to the overcoming of conventional dualities, the
unio  mystica.   Gampopa,  when  he  was practising meditation  under
Milarepa, had a vision of the sun and moon swallowed by Rahu. This was
the deciding sign of his spiritual achievement and he soon left Milarepa to
meditate in solitude (Roerich, Blue Annals, p. 456). The recent 'Univer-
salist' (ris-med) saint Rtogs-ldan Shakya-shrl (d. 1919) had the same vision.
See Kah-thog Si-tu, Grub-dbang Shakya-shri'i Rnam-thar Me-tog Phreng-
ba (pp. 204.6-205.1) where it is stated that this vision accompanied the entrance of the solar and lunar veins into the Central Vein. See also Wayman,
77ze Buddhist Tantras (p. 151, ff.). The ninth chapter of the Vaidurya
Dkar-po has similar statements and also retells the traditional Indian story
of how Rahu stole the nectar of the gods.
44. A common proverb is, "The poison that nourishes the peacock brings
ruin to all others."3 Also, Tilopa's statements (loosely), "What is medicine
to the gradualist is the instantanealist's poison. The medicine of the instan-
tanealist becomes poison to the gradualist."b Note: Nye-lam (Short Path)
may be expressed as Myur-lam (Quick Path). These ideas are not meant to
rationalize libertinism or willfulness. In fact, it is my own belief that they
are a direct development of the 'ascetic theology' of monastic traditions
where pride is the ultimate component of the sinful nature. I refer readers
to the fifth century Latin father St. Gregory, his comments on compunctio
in particular. There are no easy answers.
45. Gter-bdag-gling-pa, Gsan-yig (pp. 246-69); Ngag-dbang-blo-bzang-
rgya-mtsho, Thob-yig (vol. Ill, pp. 1-98).
46. Sources for Yer-rdzong-ma: Three Sources (pp. 316.2, 366.3, 382.1);
Karmay, Treasury (pp. 152-3); Dpal-ldan-tshul-khrims, G.yung-drung
Bon-gyi Bstan-'byung (vol. II, pp. 181-3); Sources (p. 746.6).
47. Dpal-ldan-tshul-khrims, G.yung-drung Bon-gyi Bstan-'byung (vol. II,
p. 182).
48. Karmay, Treasury (p. 152). I disagree with Karmay's translation on
only one point. Other sources make it clear that Lung-ston 'Od-'bar and
Gnyan-ston Gzi-brjid are two different persons. It is interesting that
Karmay's text provides a name for the hailmaking text behind Milarepa's
practice. It is there called Thog Smad Dgu 'Grol (p. 153, n. 1). The Fifth
Dalai Lama names one of the scrolls of the Gnubs Family Heirlooms
(Gnubs-kyi Gong-khug), the Thundering Snowstorm (Thog-gi Bu-yug) as
the Hail Teaching transmitted to Milarepa. This would make it one of the
rediscoveries of Rgya Zhang-khrom. See Ngag-dbang-blo-bzang-rgya-
mtsho, Thoty-yig (vol. Ill, p. 83.5, ff.).
49. Gnyag-|ton Lha-'baf-in. Three Sources (p. 366.3) and Sources (p.
746.6). Note that the hailteacher of the Milarepa corpus is almost always a
member of the Gnyags clan-. For the Buddhist source, see Khetsun Sangpo,
Biographical Dictionary (vol. Ill, pp. 311-2).
As a side note, it is interesting that at least one of the rediscoveries at Yer-
rdzong was transmitted in Buddhist circles and reached one named 'Dar-
phyar Ru-pa Rin-chen-bzang-po whose ritual dagger Was preserved until
modern times at Sera Monastery. Most of the cycles^connected with 'Dar-
phyar deal with Gza' and Rahu (Ra-hu, see Three Sources, p. 382). My re-
searches lead me toward the conclusion that the cycle of teachings thus
transmitted is a rare example of an ultimately Bonpo teaching which was
appropriated, finally, by the Gelukpa. My defence is beyond the bounds of
a footnote and is certainly beyong the bounds of certainty.
50. The Bonpo preserve this word in compounds like Dpon-gsas and Gsas-
mkhar. Gsas-mkhar is the 'divine palace' of the Bonpo, a functional
equivalent of the mandala used by other Buddhists (Sangs-rgyas-pa). It will
not be by chance that the final tower built by Milarepa in the famous story,
which remains standing today, was called Sras- (or Gsas-)mkhar Dgu-thog.
The tower building episode has been plausibly explained as a political move
by Marpa (Stein, p. 150), but the name and the appearance of the tower
lead me to wonder if it weren't associated with similar towers used as
'observatories' by weathermakers (as well as for defense). This suspicion
puts the motives of Marpa under a slightly different light. This is no more
than a suggestion. The Mad Saint and others explain the word Sras-mkhar
as meaning 'Fort of the Son' because Marpa wanted it built for his son Dar-
ma-mdo-sde. But the homonym Gsas-mkhar occurs frequently, and it will
be no accident that the tower has nine stories (dgu-thog). The name qf the
tower bears a suspicious similarity to the name of the hailmaking teaching
(note 48). No definite conclusions can be drawn from this, but Tibetanists
will agree that, if my intuitions are correct, Marpa had a very cutting sense
of humor.
51. Sources (pp. 276-86).
52. Karmay, Treasury (p. 113).
53. Karmay, Treasury (p. 152).
54. Karmay, Treasury (p. 152, n. 4).
55. Lhalungpa, Life of Milarepa (p. 26); Rang-byung-rdo-rje, Mdzod-nag-
ma (vol. I, p. 18.3). For 'Bangs Stob-chen see Mdzod-nag-ma (vol. I, pp.
24.1, 25.3).
56. See Tucci, Preliminary Report (p. 80).
57. The story of Lha-dga' is found in Rang-byung-rdo-rje, Mdzod-nag-ma
(vol. I, p. 30.4, ff.). At first I thought that the Mdzod-nag-ma version of
the story was unique. However, some of the same narrative elements are
present in the work of Kun-dga'-rin-chen (1475-1527), Miscellaneous Writings (pp. 44, ff.) and also in the Milarepa biography by the Second Red Hat
Karmapa (1350-1405).
58. Gtsang-smyon, Mi-la Mgur-'bum (folio 70r.4, ff.).
59. Padma Dkar-po, Chos-'byung (p. 481.3).
60. See above for his position in the Guhyagarbha lineage. He was a disciple of Khug-pa Lha-btsas. See Roerich, Blue Annals (pp. 109, 364-5, 432).
For the Dgyer clan see Blue Annals (p. 890).
61. Padma Dkar-po, Chos-'byung (p. 478.3).
62. Except in a footnote. The Sgyer-ston Dbang-ge could be the Gyer
Dbang-grub of the Yer-rdzong-ma transmission, and therefore a Bonpo
Rdzogs-chen teacher (see his position in the lineage tree above).
The Mar-pa 'Byung-nge could be Mar-pa Do-pa Chos-kyi-dbang-phyug.
This Mar-pa from Do (in the Yamdok area) was at the head of a specific
Cakrasamvara lineage and a disciple of the famous Nyingma Lama Rong-
zom-pa. Since he was born when Marpa (the teacher of Milarepa) was 31
and lived to the age of 95, he must have lived circa 1012-1106 A.D. Their
identity cannot be definitely established on the basis of their common
family name, era and locale, but I find no contrary evidence. See Padma
Dkar-po, Chos-'byung (pp. 408.6, ff., 457.1); Roerich, Blue Annals (pp.
383, ff., etc.).
63. Karmay, Treasury (p. 104).
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Hartner, Willy, "The Pseudoplanetary Nodes of the Moon's Orbit in Hindu
and Islamic Iconographies," Ars Islamica, University of Michigan, Ann
Arbor, 1938, vol. V.
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Ltd., London, 1972 (reprint).
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Karma Mi-'gyur-dbang-rgyal, Gter-bton Brgya-rtsa'i Mtshan Sdom
Gsol-'debs: Chos-rgyal Bkra-shis-stobs-rgyal-gyi Mdzad-pa'i 'Grel-pa
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