Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sakya Refuge Field Poster - Large Format

Does anybody remember this drawing from back in 1980? It was made for distribution during the Puruwalla Lamdre that began late in 1980 and continued into 1981. There were two sizes made, a smaller size on heavy card stock (legal sized paper in dimension) and then a full sized poster 30 inches in length, twenty-two inches across, printed on thin paper. It is I believe the most detailed Sakya Refuge Field created to date (in modern times). Every figure is inscribed with a Tibetan name inscription and both printings are legible. The composition includes famous contemporary teachers such as Lama Dampa Kangsar Rinpoche, Dzongsar Khyentse Chokyi Lodro and Dezhung Rinpoche. In comparison, the large 15 or 20 foot painted tangka created for the same Lamdre event does not include even half the number of figures as the poster composition, deities or lamas. Two extra unnamed lama figures were even added in case somebody felt an important figure from an obscure lineage was not represented appropriately - basically write in the name yourself. One of the deities below Vajradhara, in an upper tier, is drawn incorrectly. This error will be clarified in due time so that the confusion does not perpetuate.

Upon my return to New York I will work to create a better image of the poster and remove some of the background noise created by scanning. A large format image can then be posted to the Himalayan Art Resources site. After that we can create a duplicate image of the Refuge Field and number all of the figures in the composition (lamas, deities, protectors). Then we can design an English language key for all of the names following the correct lineage chronology. Possibly a colour coding system can be employed where the three distinct Guru Lineages presented in the composition are differentiated. The deities can be treated with a different colour, as with the Thirty-five Confession Buddhas. Along the bottom, in an upward turning arch, the wrathful protectors can have there own distinguishing colour treatment making them stand apart from the other distinct groupings of figures.

Complex and layered compositions such as this are best simplified and decoded using a combination of overlaying names, numbers and colours. (See the example of the yoga postures in a Vajradhara & Eighty-four Mahasiddha painting and also see the Kalachakra and Vajravali Deities).

(Click on the image to get an idea of the detail. Download a 1.2 meg medium sized image. Download a 3.8 meg large sized image).

Refuge Field or Field of Accumulation Paintings:
See Field of Accumulation Outline Page on the HAR site
See Sakya Field of Accumulation Paintings

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lamdre 1975 Group Photograph Missing

In March 2009 when I went to visit Sakya Trizin Rinpoche in Dehradun, and as I was patiently sitting in the waiting room prior to an audience, I noticed that all of the group photos of past Lamdre Teachings, given by Sakya Trizin, were framed and hung on the walls of the rather small room. They were not in any chronological sequence and not all were labeled. It was a guessing game. All that I could be sure about was which Lamdres and in which years that I personally had attended. The 1980 and 2000 group photos were accounted for but there was no sign of a photo for the 1975 Lamdre, the 2nd Lamdre that Rinpoche ever gave, after giving his 1st Lamdre teaching at Sarnath in the late 1960s. Also, there did not appear to be an obvious blank space or gap on any of the walls where a framed photo might have hung. It was a mystery!

Only minutes after that, during my time with Rinpoche I asked him why there was no group photo of the 1975 Lamdre hanging on the wall in the waiting room. He turned to me and said "There is no photo of the Rajpur Lamdre?" He also seemed puzzled. He left the room that we were in to go and look, I followed. Indeed, there was no 1975 group photo on the wall in the waiting room. We looked at other photos and reminisced for a minute or two; it might not have been that long. We left it at that, having more interesting things to talk about, rather than spending time with nostalgia and brief trips down memory lane.

Later however, this waiting room experience got me thinking about where my old photographs from India in the 1970s were. Well, a few days ago and five months later, in Vancouver I found the 1975 Lamdre group photograph and a number of others from the same time period and event. All of course are in black and white as was the standard for India at that time.

So, here it is, the missing photograph, not nearly as refined and elegant as those later Kodak and Fujichrome group photos. But it didn't need to be, remember, it was at this Lamdre where most of the young Sakya Lamas, prominent today, such as Luding Khenpo and Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche received their first Lamdre teachings and empowerments. The first Sakya College students from Mussoorie, the original location, were in attendance. Many of the young monks seated in the foreground of the photo are today the ones in charge of Sakya Monastery in Rajpur, or have gone on to become graduates of Sakya College, or become abbots, or have built, or become leaders in, other monasteries and centers throughout Asia and the rest of the world. It was a Lamdre full of promise, and a Lamdre to remember!

The top left photograph is the full group shot. The close-up is of Sakya Trizin with Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche standing to the left (on the right of Sakya Trizin) and Luding Shabdrung below that to the left (now he is Luding Khenpo). Directly behind is Chiwang Tulku with Zimwog Rinpoche at the lower right and Sherpa Tulku again to the right. In the upper right corner is Gyalse Rinpoche who unfortunately passed away unexpectedly in Australia some years ago.

The lower photo is a detail of me with a very white complexion. Slightly below and to the left is Sangye-la, dressed in lay attire and wearing a turtle-neck sweater. He was the main attendant of Sakya Trizin for as long as anybody can remember. So there you have it, the missing Lamdre group photo of 1975, but where is the group photo from the first Lamdre in Sarnath?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Lotsawa School Website

The Lotsawa School website is highlighting quotes of Sakya Pandita in Tibetan and English translation.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Simhanada Lokeshvara: A Golden Dharma

Simhanada is included as one of the practices in the Thirteen Golden Dharmas of Sakya. It was considered important by the early teachers and kept safe as one of the special practices passed down by Bari Lotsawa Rinchen Drag to Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158).

Originally taught by the Indians Chandragomi and Suvarnadvipa, it entered Tibet in the 11th century with Rinchen Zangpo, Jowo Atisha, Bari Lotsawa and others. The deity form and meditation practices are now found in all traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. A stone sculpture relief of the deity can also be found carved on a rock face in Hangzhou, China, at the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Simhanada Lokeshvara was popularized in Mongolia and China by Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen (1182-1251) when he cured Godan Khan of leprosy using the special healing techniques of Simhanada Lokeshvara.

See the Simhanada Lokeshvara Outline Page on the HAR website.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Magzor Gyalmo, a form of Shri Devi

Magzor Gyalmo, meaning the Queen who Repels Armies, or the Queen who has the power to turn back armies, belongs to the larger class of enlightened protector deities known as Shri Devi, or Palden Lhamo in Tibetan. Magzor Gyalmo is a wrathful emanation of the peaceful goddess Sarasvati, popular in both Hinduism and Buddhism.

See Magzorma Outline Page.

Magzorma is one of the Sakya protectors whose rituals are done on a daily basis in all Sakya and Ngor Monasteries. She is the special protector for the Puntsok Podrang of the Khon Family and also for the Luding Labrang of Ngor Ewam Monastery. A similar two armed form of Shri Devi known as Dorje Rabtenma is the special protector of Shalu Monastery.

In Sakya the most important Shri Devi is Dudsolma with one face and four hands riding a mule. She is the companion of Panjarnata Mahakala and both of these figures are considered offspring of Ekajati (no not the Nyingma one-eyed, one-toothed Ekajati). Coming out of a different narrative tradition, Magzorma is either the younger sister or a servant of Dudsolma.

See the Himalayan Art Resources website for a longer essay on Shri Devi Magzor Gyalmo and a new Magzorma Outline Page.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Updates, Changes & Things of Interest

On the HAR website the Sakya Main Page has been updated with a short passage by Dzongsar Khyentse Chokyi Lodro and a slightly revised version of the SRG Sakya History essay that I did years ago: Sakya History.

A new Ngorchen Kunga Zangpo Outline Page has been added: Ngorchen Outline.

A new Ngor Tradition Outline, which is really at the beginning stages, with a lot more to be added: Ngor Tradition.

A separate page for the Lama Dampa Sonam Gyaltsen Vajravali mandala painting set has been added. Learn more about the Vajravali, its history and art. When Khyabgon Sakya Trizin gives the Kalachakra initiation, such as for the opening ceremonies of the Ani Gompa in Dekyi Ling this past April, then he used the Vajravali version of the initiation. (See one of the best examples and possibly the oldest Vajravali painting known).