golden dorje

The Legend of the Great Stupa

golden dorje


1973, softback, 128 pages
Dharma Publishing
Berkeley, CA
Illustrations by Glen Eddy
translated into Italian.

Legend of the Great Stupa

The Legend of the Great Stupa of Boudhanath
The Life Story of the Lotus Born Guru

Translation and Commentary by Keith Dowman

The Legend of the Great Stupa of Boudhanath (mChod rten chen po bya rung kha shor gyi lo rgyus thos pas grol ba) is a Padmasambhava treasure text, revealed by Lhatsun Ngonmo, then hidden again to be rediscovered by Ngakchang Sakya Zangpo in the 16th century. Introduction and translation by Keith Dowman.

The Life Story of the Lotus Born Guru (Zab po skor bdun las O rgyen rnam thar dpag bsam ljong shing) is a Padmasambhava treasure text revealed by Orgyen Chogyur Lingpa in the 19th century. Translated by Keith Dowman and Taklung Tsetul Pema Wangyel. Introduction and commentary by Keith Dowman.

This work includes two short treasure texts (terma) of Tibet’s Great Guru Padmasambhava revealed by his tulku emanations. Both relate to the mythic life of Padmasambhava. The first, The Legend of the Great Stupa of Boudhanath (Kathmandu, Nepal) describes how by building the Great Stupa the protagonists of the first dissemination of Buddhism in Tibet, Padmasambhava in particular, gained the merit that allowed them the rebirths to build Samye Chokhor, Tibet’s first monastery. (See also Boudhanath: The Great Stupa). The second text is a short life of Padmasambhava dwelling in detail on the tradition of the Eight Buddha Deities (Yidams), the Drupa Kapje.

The Legend of the Great Stupa is a piece of classical Tibetan prose translated in literal mode and is required reading at several American colleges.


Contents of The Legend of the Great Stupa

[Click on Highlighted Chapter Heading for Excerpt]

Book Excerpts

The Portents of the Ruin of the Great Stupa in the Middle of the Kaliyuga

Chapter Four of
The Lgend of The Great Stupa

Again King Trison Detsen spoke to the Lotus Born Guru, "Great Guru, in the kaliyuga, the age of decadence and corruption, when the Voice of Buddha is a mere echo, will this Great Stupa, this Wish Fulfilling Gem, be destroyed or damaged? Will it decay? And if it is neglected or damaged what will be the portent of its ruin? What vice will corrupt this area of the transitory world? When the signs and omens are seen, what must be done?"

   Guru Rinpoche replied, "Listen, Great King. The real perfection of this Great Stupa is indestructible, inviolate and incorruptible: it is inseparable from the Body of Infinite Simplicity of all the Buddhas. But the phenomenal fabric of the Great Stupa is perishable, a transitory form in a changing world, and it can be damaged by the four elements. The damage will be repaired by the incarnations of the Lords of the Three Families - Manjusri, Avalokitesvara, and Vajrapani - and the Wrathful Bhrikutis and Tara Devi.

   "As the kaliyuga progresses towards the final conflagration, life expectancy of man decreases and the weight of darkness becomes more intense, but there remain restraints on the downward path when the Voice of Buddha is heard and the Path of Dharma followed. Towards the end of the era, when man's lifespan has been reduced from sixty to fifty years and there has been no respite in man's increasing egoism, these conditions will prevail, portending ruin to the Great Stupa: householders fill the monasteries and there is fighting before the altar; the temples are used as slaughterhouses; the ascetics of the caves return to the cultivated valleys and the yogins become traders; thieves own the wealth and cattle; monks become householders, while priests and spiritual leaders turn to robbery, brigandage and thievery. Disorder becomes chaos, which generates panic raging like wildfire. Corrupt and selfish men become leaders, while abbots turned army officers lead their monks as soldiers; and nuns put their own bastards to death. Sons see their estates and inheritances stolen from them. Mean and vulgar demagogues become local bosses. Young girls instruct the young in schools. The belch of the Bon Magician resounds in the yogin's hermitage and the wealth of the sanctuaries is looted; the scriptures of the Tathagatas, the images of the Buddhas, the sacred icons, the scroll paintings and the stupas will be desecrated, stolen and bartered at the market price, their true worth forgotten; the temples become dung-smeared cow sheds and stables.

   "When religious duties are forgotten, spirits of darkness previously controlled by ritual power are unloosed, and frenziedly govern the mind of whatever being they possess. Spirits of vindictive power possess monks; spirits of egoistic wickedness possess the mantradhara or magician; spirits of disease possess the Bon Priest; enchanting spirits causing disease possess men; grasping, quarreling spirits possess women; spirits of wantonness possess maidens; spirits of depravity possess nuns; spirits of rebellion and malice possess children; every man, woman and child in the country becomes possessed by uncontrollable forces of darkness. The signs of these times are new and fantastical modes of dressing - traditional styles forgotten; the monks wear fancy robes and the nuns dress up before a mirror. Every man must carry a sword to protect himself and each man guard his food from poison. Abbots and Masters poison their pupils' minds and hearts; the executive and legislature disagree; men become lewd and licentious; women become unchaste; monks ignore their discipline and moral code; and the mantradharas break their covenant. As the frenzy of malicious, selfish, vindictive and ruthless spirits grows, paranoid rumor increases and ornament and clothing fashions change more frequently.

   "Drunkards preach the Path to Liberation; the advice of sycophants is followed; fraudulent teachers give false initiations; guileful impostors claim psychic powers; loquacity and eloquence pass as wisdom. The arrogant elevate profanity; the proletariat rules the kingdom; kings become paupers; the butcher and murderer become leaders of men; unscrupulous self-seekers rise to high position. The Masters of the High Tantras stray like dogs in the streets and their faithless, errant students roam like lions in the jungle. Embodiments of malice and selfishness become revered teachers, while the achievements of tantric adepts are reviled, the guidance of the Secret Guru execrated, the precepts of the Buddha ignored and the advice of yogins and sages unsought. Robes become worn by fools and villains while monks wear foreign dress - even murderers wear the sacred robe. Men resort to maledictory enchantment learning mantra for selfish ends; monks prepare poisonous potions for blackmail, extortion and profit. False doctrines are devised from the Buddhas' Word and the teachers' interpretations become self-vindications. Many treacherous paths, previously uncharted, are followed; many iniquitous practices spread; behavior becomes tolerated which was previously anathema; ideals are established contrary to tradition; and all good customs and habits are rejected and many despicable innovations corrupt. The wealth of the monasteries is plundered and spent upon gluttony by those under vow; following errant paths men become trapped by their own mean actions; the avaricious and spurious protectors of the pure teaching no longer fulfill their functions.

   "The celestial order, disrupted, loosens plague, famine and war to terrorize terrestrial life. The planets run wild, and the stars fall out of their constellations; great burning stars appear bringing unprecedented disaster. Rain no longer falls in season, but out of season the valleys are flooded. Famine, frost and hail govern many unproductive years. Rapacious female demons (Mamo) and the twelve guardian protectresses of the Dharma (Tenma), unpropitiated and enraged, release diseases, horrible epidemics and plagues, which spread like wildfire, striking men and cattle. Earthquakes bring sudden floods, while fire, storm and tornadoes destroy temples, stupas and cities in an instant. At this time the Great Stupa itself falls in ruins. During this pall of darkness the Wheel of Dharma at Vajrasana (Bodh Gaya) ceases to turn; the storm of war rages in Nepal for many years; India is stricken with famine; the Kathmandu Valley is inflicted with plague; earthquakes decimate the people of Upper Ngari in Western Tibet; plague destroys the people of Central Tibet; the Kyi Valley District of Lhasa subsides; the peaks of the High Himalayas in the borderland of Mon fall into the valleys. Three strong forts are built on the Five Peaked Mountain; yogins assemble in the Valley of the Bear's Lair on Mon; two suns rise in Kham to the east; the Chinese Emperor dies suddenly; four armies descend on Central Tibet from the borders; the Muslim Turks conquer India; the Garlok army suppresses the Dharma in Kashmir; the Mongols conquer Tibet; the Jang army enters Kham; the Protectors' Temple, Rasa Trulnang (The Jokhang) in Lhasa is threatened; the famous temple of Samye is desecrated; the stupas of Bhutan tilt and the Wheel of Dharma malfunctions.

   "The great monasteries of the country become deserted and the belch of the Bon Priest resounds in quiet hermitages; the wise and simple leaders of the monasteries have been poisoned so that the lineal explanations and practices are fragmented or lost; the holders of the lineal traditions meet sudden death. Impostors and frauds cheat the people and black spectres haunt the land. The knot in the silken thread binding demonic forces in divine bondage is untied and the cord of faith keeping the human mind harmonious is severed. The king's law is broken and the strength of communal unity lost; the people's traditions are rejected and the sea of contentment dries up; personal morality is forgotten and the cloak of modesty thrown away. Virtue is impotent and humiliated and led by coarse, immodest and fearful rulers. Abbots, teachers and professors become army officers, while the ignorant guide religious aspirants, explain the doctrine and give initiation. Aspirants speak with self-defensive abuse, while butchers and wild elephants lead men. The passes, valleys and narrow paths are terrorized by shameless brigands; fearful, lawless and leaderless, the people fight amongst themselves, each man acting out of self-interest. Tibet becomes corrupt and defiled. These are the conditions prevailing during the middle of the kaliyuga when the duration of man's life is fifty years: these are the portents of the destruction of the Great Stupa.

   "These signs and sufferings shall awaken the mind of a man sickened by the human condition. Favoured in his actions and governed by sympathy and compassion towards suffering beings, he shall dedicate himself to the restoration of the Great Stupa. He shall aspire to the highest human achievement and fulfil his wish to re-establish perfection."

   After Guru Rinpoche had spoken, Trison Detsen and his attendants were stunned and disheartened. Then recovering his senses, Padma Khungtsen, the spiritual leader of Gos, arose and prostrated himself one hundred times before Guru Rinpoche and then addressed him. "Great Guru, let me be reborn to restore the Great Stupa when it is in ruins during the decadence and corruption of the kaliyuga, when man's life is short."

   Guru Rinpoche granted this prayer. King Trison Detsen asked to be reborn as an assistant to restore the Great Stupa and his attendants prayed that they too should be born to assist in the restoration.



The Preservation of the Doctrine in India
and the Decoration of the Provinces with Dharma

Chapter Three of
The Self-Liberating Life Story of the Lotus Born Guru of Orgyen

I, Padma, accomplished my meditation in the Eight Great Cemeteries and Charnel Grounds of India and other sacred places. After I had controlled the power of evil by detachment, my practice culminated in the revelation of auspicious signs of achievement.

    When fear of the Black Tirthikas arose in Vajrasana, India's most holy place, I, Padma, vanquished their contentiousness with my magical power. The five hundred scholars of Vajrasana requested me to become their master and teacher and the Buddhas' Doctrine was preserved there for one hundred years while the great scholar Vimalamitra remained as my representative.

    Then, I, Padma, journeyed to Zahor. Misunderstood by the King of Zahor, I was to be burnt alive, but upon unleashing my magical power, I transformed the fire which was to consume me into a lake which was called Rewalsar [tso pad ma]. The country of Zahor became studded with yogins and the Buddhas' Doctrine remained there for two hundred years.

    From Zahor, I traveled to the Cave of Maratika in Nepal to practice the Sadhana of Eternal Life. Amitayus [tse dpag med] came to me in a vision and presented me with the one hundred and eight ritual texts which vouchsafe immortality.

    I came to the Pure Land of the Akanistha heaven [hod min stug po bkod pa] and to the Pure Lands of the Five Buddha Families. I requested Tantra from the Sugatas and conferred with the Buddhas of Incarnate Compassion who taught me that my own mind was the only Buddha to discover.

    In the highest cave of meditation in Yangleysho, I began the process of becoming aware of the Sublime Heruka Reality of Mind [dpal chen yang dag he ru ka] in order to obtain the relative powers of affection and ultimate compassion of the Mahamudra, but the suffering of the people of India and Nepal became such an obstacle to the consummation of my meditation that I begged my Gurus to bestow upon me the means of allaying the peoples' sorrow. The text of the Purba Vitotama, which one man could barely carry, was sent to me. Immediately after it came to Nepal, the obstacles to my Sadhana's progress were removed and I attained the relative and ultimate compassion of the Mahamudra.

    When I, Padma, was meditating on the mountain of Yah, conflict with the Tirthikas arose in Vajrasana and the five-hundred scholars were advised by the Dakinis to ask me to return. The Indian King Suryasingha sent some disciples to me with a message and, returning to Vajrasana, I subjected the Tirthikas.

    Then, I, Padma, went with the Eight Vidyadharas [slob dpon brgyad] to the cemetery called Cool Garden [bsil bai tsal] and we meditated. At midnight on the seventh day of concentration, a Great Stupa radiating bliss was spontaneously generated. Meditating upon the Stupa, we saw it blaze and sparkle with light. The Dakini Senge Dongma personally bestowed upon me a treasure chest and the initial instructions upon the Unity of the Sugatas [bde gshegs hdus pa]. Each of the Eight Vidyadharas received precepts and empowerment according to requirement. Hence the Buddhadharma was preserved in Vajrasana for ages.

Sarva Mangalam!
May all beings be happy!