The Legend of the Great Stupa

The Legend of the Great Stupa

Translation and commentary by Keith

Illustrations by Glen Eddy

© 1973 Tibetan
Nyingma Meditation Center

2425 Hillside Ave., Berkeley, CA 94704

Publishing (Press)

Padma Sambhava: The Lotus Born Guru

The Legend of the Great Stupa of Boudhanath, a Padmasambhava
treasure text revealed by Lhatsun Ngonmo, hidden again to be rediscovered
by Ngakchang Sakya Zangpo in the 16th century, introduction and translation
by Keith Dowman; and The Life Story of the Lotus Born Guru a Padmasambhava
treasure text revealed by Orgyen Chogyur Lingpa in the 19th century, translated
by Keith Dowman and Taklung Tsetul Pema Wangyel, with introduction and
commentery by Keith Dowman; illustrated with line drawings by Glen Eddy;
published by Dharma Publishing, Berkeley, 1973; softback, 128 pages. Translated
into Italian.

‘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
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 the Highlighted Chapter Heading for Excerpt]

Part One


The Legend of the Great Stupa

Part Two


The Life Story of the Lotus
Born Guru



The Fourth Chapter of The Legend of the Great Stupa:

The Portents of the Ruin of the Great Stupa in

the Middle of the Kaliyuga

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

   “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

   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 Third Chapter of the Self-Liberating Life Story
of the Lotus Born Guru of Orgyen Which is a Wish Fulfilling Tree: The Preservation
of the Doctrine in India and the Decoration of the Provinces with Dharma

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

    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.

information and order from:
| * | barnes
and noble
| * | powells

| * | others

earlier edition

information and order from:
| * | barnes
and noble
| * | powells

| * | others


Yeshey Tsogyal