Bajracharya transmission in XIth century Chobhar:
Bharo 'Maimed Hand's main disciple
Vajra-kirti, the translator from Rwa
Of Patan-born Bharo 'Maimed Hand', especially remembered as the founder of the Adi-nath vihara complex on Chobhar hill, a short sacred biography was recently published in English translation. A much more detailed, also more 'filmic', account of this Newar Master's activities occurs in the scared biography of his foremost Tibetan disciple Vajra-kirti, the yogin-translator from Rwa; a massive (three hundred pages) opus ascribed to the latter's spiritual grandson Jnana-simha, also from Rwa: The Melodious Drumsound All Pervading. Since Master Vajra-kirti himself was born in 1016, this would make the work one of the earliest full-length sacred biographies known in Tibetan literature; moreover, one composed within living memory of the subject. Unfortunately there exist some doubts about this claim. Certain passages seem an all too likely effort to 'get even' with other Buddhist Masters of that period. In the first place with none other than Marpa the Translator; also with the Nyingma Master Langlab, early expert in the Vajra-Kila tradition, and others. A seventeenth century dating is perhaps the more likely one, if not for the entire composition-quoted by various early authors, Taranatha among them, in 1631-at least for a thorough 'rewriting'. It does not help that the first printed edition of the work is from as late as 1905: in a manuscript transmission, uncontrolled alternations are all the more easy. Nor is authenticity served by the fact that the Life refers to certain contemporaries by titles known to have been introduced only much later in Tibetan society.
In the present case, with regard to the Bajracharya transmission from Bharo 'Maimed Hand' to Vajra-kirti from Rwa, the historicity of the authorship matters less, since the other known accounts of Vajrakirti's life corroborate this part of the story, at least in rough outline. Following are some selected extracts from The Drumsound, about Vajra-kirti, the Translator from Rwa, receiving the Vajrayana transmission from Bharo 'Maimed Hand', the Patan/Chobhar Bajracharya.
The life of Vajra-kirti: first journey to Nepal
Being also extremely outspoken and obstinate, others, even stronger than him, could not stop him from insulting them. If he disliked them, he would use harsh words even to great chiefs and grab a stick to beat them up; and because of so many instances of such behavior, his father (in line with his own family tradition of lay yoginis) had him stay in meditational retreat. From his twelfth till his fourteenth year, he practiced the divine approximation of Heruka the Immaculate. At that time, physical and mental disturbances (bhuta) manifested themselves. Whereas there were numerous signs of his having purified his faults and obscurations, a direct vision of the deity's face did not occur. "It must be that I have no karmic connection with this deity," he said. Then one night, as he was asleep, four girls appeared, their light blue bodies anointed with sesame oil, naked beneath their bone ornaments, and they gave forth this song:
EMA! Fortunate son of excellent descent, risen now from your purifications as one with merit endowed,
possessing faith and perseverance, insight too.
don't you stay here any longer, leave for the Valley of Nepal.
There it is that your Guru resides,
Dipamkara-shri, 'Lightbearer-Splendor' by name:
Request from him the profound instructions,
do achieved transmigrator's aim's son of excellent descent!
and with these words they rose into the sky and were gone- thus he dreamed. As he woke up, an excellent meditative stabilization, never experienced before, arose in his mindstream, and fighting to hold back his tears, a strong faith and resolve were born in him. He offered many strong aspirations for soon to meet with his Guru. The next morning he announced to his parents:
"I'm leaving for the Nepal Valley down south, in search of Dharma," but his father and mother replied:
"Dharma we have alright in Tibet; what need is there to travel down south to Nepal?"
" I received a prophecy command!"
" Prophecy, prophecy, what prophecy? This is just a pretext for not managing to stay in retreat!" they said.
Again a year had gone by when at midnight, those girls of before, this time accompanied by a numerous entourage, actually manifested themselves at the door of his straw hut (where he stayed, back in retreat):
We have been your Protectors since many lifetimes. Like we told you in the previous prophecy command, quickly leave for Nepal now. There is Master Bharo, the one who is to bestow upon you the supreme siddhi feat (of Buddhahood)," they told him, then amidst a rustling sound they dispersed and disappeared. Again he approached his parents; and this time his father said:
"This (boy) is different from our other (sons). As this is definitely a prophecy command from the Sky-walking Dakinis, we better let him go." So he made an end to his retreat, then made offering to the main sacred images of the area of his retreat place. He also presented some excellent donations to all the monks and lay yogins, together with a prayer request for no obstacles to arise against his going south to Nepal. His parents offered him ten ounces of gold, each of his four brothers offered him a further one tenth of an ounce, and his neighbors and countrymen also each sponsored him with a little gold, so that the total amount came to about twenty-nine ounces. He looked for a travel companion, but finding none, the (young) lama set out all by himself.
(d, 11-13= P,9-11)
Kathmandu Valley and Patan, anno 1030
There were narrow paths on the ledge of vertiginous precipices, difficult to cross; there were large rivers absolutely terrifying; there were dense forests full of wild animals, and high mountains, not to mention the constant fear of robbers and bandits. All of these, stage by stage, he crossed, till finally he was able to pay homage to the place by name of Yerang, " The Primordial" (i. e. Patan), source of the scared transmission, in Nepal. This valley is shaped like a lotus in bloom, with auspicious trees delightful to behold, and it produces wheat of different kinds. Rivers flow down with waters that possess 'the eight qualities', there is sweetly perfumed water whirling down in bathing tanks, and there are fine gardens with life-restoring medicinal herbs. In green valleys covered with flowers, many herds of horses, elephants and bulls leisurely wander about, without fear. Numerous are the places full of wonder where The Teacher set in motion the wheel of dharma and where he set foot; also residences of a Panditas and Mahasiddhas, as well as cremation grounds where the Heroes and Dakinis gather, so that this Nepal Valley is like an equivalent of the awe-inspiring Khechari continent of the Dakinis.
The orchards with all kinds of fruit trees and the forests of santal, akaru and other trees that surround the Valley are thick with cuckoos, parrots, swallows and all kinds of other tiny birds whose 'melodious speech' resounds all around. In the center of such a setting there is the large city of Patan, with four main streets and surrounded by a wall that has four main gates. Within there live some five hundred thousand household, all very much alike, without distinction between big and small. The valley has seen years of abundant harvests and the place is teeming with numerous animals and people. The royal palace together with the official buildings adjacent to it comprises some five hundred different rooms with endless ornaments of most wonderful intricate designs, inset with crystal, jade and ivory. Along the public squares, in the traders houses embellished with marvelous (woodcarved) designs, there is a display of many goods imported from the various regions of the land. The townspeople are opulent, enjoy all they need, without harming or causing damage to one another; and they express themselves in many ways with a sense of humor and playfulness, and love games. Many girls play the violin and the bamboo flute and engage in song and dance. In every direction there are innumerable sacred images and monuments dedicated to the Body, Speech and Mind aspects of the Rare and Precious Ones. To these they present an uninterrupted flow of offerings; in this and other ways, people treat them with the respect. Wherever one goes, one discovers another enchanting area; whoever one befriends, it is a joy to the mind" such is the over-all experience.
(D, 13-14=P, 11-13)
First meeting with Guru Bharo at Chobhar
So Vajra-kirti came walking down from the northern end of this city and he came across a quarter of town inhabited by a large number of weavers from whom he inquired:
" I was told there is a great Siddha living around here, Guru Bharo by name. Where does he live?" and they told him:
"On the upper slopes of this valley, in a monastery known as Patan's Sun Throne, the Suryasana Vihara, there he stays."
By asking everyone (along the road) about this place he continued; then, just as he had reached the other side of the Valley's rim, on a spot from where the monastery came into view, a large number of Newar yogins and religious attendants of Guru Bharo came to welcome him. At this point, in Vajra-kirti's mind, there occurred the thought: "since I am not acquainted with anyone of them, this welcoming party, what does it mean?" and he inquired:
" You people, who are you mistaking me for?"
All of them spoke in turn:
"There is no question of us mistaking you for someone else. This morning, our Guru told us: "Today, a person with good karma will arrive here, having come all the way from Tibet. All of you, go out to welcome him,' and you have arrived indeed. Now please come up, this way."
Next, from one rocky edge they started climbing. High above a white boulder that looked like a sleeping elephant, there was a narrow green valley, most inspiring, where all kinds of flowers bloomed and where one river with many riverlets was flowing down. Birdsong was all-pervading and the area was surrounded with dense forests. In the center of one pure, isolated clearing stood the Guru's thatched house. And he met the Guru, presented him with the seven silken scarves he had brought with him as a respectful offering. The Guru spoke:
" I would've been delighted if you would've come last year. How come you didn't arrive before?"
" The right circumstances didn't come about. Please allow me now to request from you the profound instructions," thus he asked. The Guru spoke:
" Alright then, let's get started! For the initiation fee, whatever you possess, offer it!"
He offered [some of] the ounces of gold previously acquired, but the Guru again spoke: "I you have anything more, offer it!"
Vajra-kirit took off his clothes and offered these too, only to hear the a Guru repeat:
" Offer something more!"
"Body, speech and mind I offer, " he spoke in supplication and the Guru was pleased with him: 'The faith of Tibet (It is a well-known fact) is strong, knows no turning back."
He then continued, "For the performance of the empowerment, prepare a Circle of the Multitudes (gana-chakra) ritual banquet, " and he rendered back 'the golds'.
For a value of three ounces of gold, Vajra-kirti arranged a ritual gana-chakra feast, and seven ounces he presented as the initiation fee while formally requesting the instructions. He was granted the empowerment of the Indestructible Boar Lady, Shri Vakra-Varahi, together with the (Root) Tantra, the means of realization (sadhana), the activities and the gana-chakra-all of these he received in their entirety. From many other Newari panditas and realization yogins he received a large number of teachings on the Dharma.
(D, 14-16=P, 13-15)
Encounter with a Tirthika sorcerer
Next, he went to make circumambulations at Sacred All Trees (swayambhu) and on the side of the Path encountered one Tirthika, Purna the Black by name, who addressed him:
" You come and be my disciple!"
to which Vajra-kirti replied:
"Who are you? And what kind of Dharma do you know?"
" I' m the Tirthankara Purna The Black. And I am a Master in the Four Vedas' and the rest'(i. e. the sciences derived from these)."
Rwa felt an instant revulsion:
" There's no way I'll alright from a horse to ride a donkey. I have entered the Buddha's teachings and I won't enter the gate of the Outsiders' dharma. The other one got angry:
" You are a thickheaded adamant fool! As to which Dharma, 'Outer' or 'Inner' is correct, let's debate it and we'll find out!"
Thereupon they entered into debate and Vajra-kirti came out victorious. But the other one persisted:
"You may be highly learned with words. Just watch out seven days from now!" and with these words he turned around and went away. Vajra-kirti remained at Sacred All trees to which he offered prostration and circumambulations. The Tirthika then started to practice the casting of magical dagger arrows, so that five days later all manner of strange things, supernatural inferences started to happen to Vajra-kirti. By means of the Varahi technique he performed the Bouncing Back on them. Yet though he shook them off, they kept on recurring like before. Seriously annoyed, he had this though, "All these unpleasant things keep on happening to me. The Great Guru is bound to possess some means to Drive them Back. I should go and request it from him," and with this thought he went up to Chobhar. The Guru spoke:
"Son, isn't there some fierce god or angry spirit (pishacha) you have offended? Hasn't some evil Tirthika mantra been cast on you? Haven't you broken any of your sacred pledges towards Guru or dharma? Last night I dreamed that a golden chaitya turned upside down. I dreamed that sun and moon fell down upon an open plain. And now, this morning you arrive an evil omen." So Vajra-kirti told him how the dispute with the Tirthika had come about and the Guru spoke again:
"This is no good, no good at all! This Purna The Black is the most powerful from among three hundred Tirthikas. Many Dharma practitioners from both India and Nepal have been eliminated by him. In order to Throw Back this magic power of hid, you need a profound instruction; nothing else will work. I do have this one set of profound Throwing Back instructions centered on Ushnisha-Vajra, Lady Total Victory of the Head crest. I'll pass them on to you."
Rwa thereupon presented the Guru with one ounce of gold, with the request to grant him the instruction on the Ushni, complete in every detail for the practical guidelines. To one side of his resting place, Rwa humg up a scroll painting of Varahi, the Boar Lady. He himself entered a large earthenware pot and closed off the opening above him with a flat stone on which he had drawn the Throwing Back circle (or protection). Continuously reciting the (Ushnisha) mantra, he remained inside. At twilight there arose a howling noise like a tempest and when he looked (through a slit between the pot and its cover) he saw an acacia hardwood kila dagger with a headcrown of red silk attached to it. With a sound like a storm it struck the door and shattered it to splinters. At midnight, again that same noise arose. He looked: a magic dagger hit the painted image and reduced the scroll to dust. At down, noise and flying dagger arrived as before; the dagger hit the capital of the main pillar in the house and pulverized it. Next, as the night came to an end, no harm had come to the young lama. News about this was passed on from one person to another, till finally it also reached the Tirthika's ears. Out of despair, Tirthika Purna The Black committed suicide. Vajra-kirti then had this thought, "There are bound to be many further profound Throwing Back techniques, Generation and Completion stage instructions and implements." and with this thought he approached the Guru with the corresponding request. The Guru spoke:
"There's nothing else. I have given you all the instructions, complete in every detail. Now go and practice them!"
At this point, Rwa, presented the Guru with all the remaining gold and offered prostrations and circumambulations. Then he started his preparations for the return to Tibet. As he arrived at the 'Bazaar of Nepal', it happened that someone behind him repeatedly pulled (his arm to attract attention). He turned around and noticed a girl of extreme beauty, her body entirely covered with gold and turquoise, and she spoke:
"You, without the complete instructions, where are you going like that?"
"I requested the instructions complete in every detail and obtained them. So now I'm thinking of going (back) to Tibet, " he told her.
"How can you cast aside the quintessence and stick to the branches, to that which is secondary?"
"If that's the case, how am I go to about it?" he asked.
" Apart from the one you received , there is a further set of profound instructions. Return and request it," she said and next, like a rainbow that dissolves, she was gone.
So Vajra-Kirti returned once more and when he arrived in the Guru's presence, the latter spoke:
"What? Back again? What's the matter now?"
He gave full account, ending with:
"As there is definitely a further set of profound instructions, please grant them to me."
"Instructions other than the ones you already hold, there are absolutely none! Go and ask my disciples and you'll find out!"
(D, p 16-18=P, 15-18)
Episode at the Chobhar Cave
By now, Vajra-kirti experienced some lack of confidence, and disbelief. He had noticed that) every night, as it grew dark, his Guru would enter a dense forest and go off from there, and this night too, as usual, he went there. This time, however, Vajra-kirti followed him from a distance. In the middle of a grove with birch trees abounding with flowers, there was a cave, a deep one, containing a spring; and into that cave the Guru now entered. Vajra-kirti too came in there and (deep) inside the cave there hung a scroll painting of Shri Vajra-Bhairava, the Lightning Terror, with a set of offerings laid out to in front. Seated there was the Guru in person, his body naked but for the bone ornaments, and engaged in mantra recitation. Right upon seeing this, a tremendous faith was born in Vajra-kirti, 'with trebling tears' (welling up), and joy and sorrow intermingled in him. Innumerable prostrations he offered, presenting his request in these words:
KEY MA! Precious Guru,
Mind emanation of all the Buddhas
of the three times, protector of transmigrators, can't you see me in your compassion?
When I'm practically handing over to the Lord Guru my lungs, heart and stomach, for the Guru, regarding the profound instructions, thus to deceive me, is that correct?
Without granting me this quintessential dharma, "All the instructions are complete," you said; due to your speaking such misleading words, in thought I am sad and depressed. These profound oral instructions you should surely grant them to me now; otherwise this body, even was it to die, won't bulge an inch from here!
and with such nonsensical talk he stayed put. The Guru replies:
Generally speaking, this profound path of Secret Mantra as it is called is the very heart within the ocean of precepts;
and while it grants enlightened in this present life,
to a person with but little positive karma, it is a useless tool.
More in particular, this profound path of the Lightning Terror
Possesses techniques and potencies superior to any other Mantra;
Though is it the ultimate in profound dharma, it can't be experienced by a devoid of merit. In order to request precepts as excellent as these, a treasure, a fortune is required with presents of gold, needed too are gana-feasts and torma-foods whereby to please the mother dakinis,
required is selfless service whereby to please to father Guru.
Also necessary as a foundation is an unshakable faith,
needed there is perseverance, for patiently enduring hardships;
if you are able to live up to such standards, I'll grant the instructions;
if not, you've blown every chance of me granting them.
It is not that I'm reluctant to lend out books
in this Dharma resides the life the life essence of the Dakinis.
If I release it to a fool, the precepts will come to an end and your nearest persistence isn't very great, son of excellent descent!
and with these words he became invisible, simply dissolved.
(.....) (D 19-20=P, 18-20)
The Chobhar setting
One of the intriguing features in this account is of course the connection between the Sun Throne vihara and the nearby cave, since, to someone familiar with the terrain, it lends a further aura of veracity to the story line. The Bonn based scholar Pema Tsering, in an early travelogue to Nepal, Tibet and China, has this to say about "the practice place of Rwa Lotsawa":
" It is a meditation cave, by the Tibetan name of "the Asura Rock Cave" and in Nepali known as "Gorak (s) ha-natha-ko Otara", where Vajra-kirti, the Translator from Rwa, in accordance with the teachings of them Nepali yogin Bharo, gained realization in the Vajra-Bhairava. The spot where he gained realization is known as a pilgrimage spot; the cave itself that penetrates very deep into the cliff, can not be visited for safety reasons." To substantiate that claim, he quotes the Drumsound:
" In the biography of [Vajra-kirti,] the Translator from Rwa, it is stated as follows:" As one time, Bodhi-vajra from Langlab, a realized yogin in the Vajra-kirti practice, and Vajra-kirti, the translator from Rwa, entered into a contest [in miraculous powers]. As the latter was defeated, he traveled to Nepal, in accordance with a prophecy from Tara, in order to meet Mater Bharo and to learn new magic abilities from him. After his meeting with Guru Bharo in Patan, he practice these teachings in closed meditation retreat, a the Asura rock cave as well as at Yang-le-sho and realized there the Yamantaka;"
One gains the impression that this must have been a flying, visit. In a previous entry, the author correctly identifies the "Yang-le-sho practice cave" as located at Shesha Narayana, and as the spot where Guru Rinpoche practiced for three years [the Immaculate Heruka and] the Vajra-kila. There was probably no time for the fifteen minute walk to the actual Asura Rock Cave overlooking Pharpahing, which is indeed a well-known pilgrimage spot, locally referred to as the Cave (otar) of Gorakhnath; the stone-cut mandala of his footprints, on an altarlike pedestal in front of the cave, is clearly framed by the emblems associated with him. By contrast, the cave associated with Vajra-kirti and that "penetrates very deep into the cliff" is at a considerable distance from there, and located in the Chobhar gorge. Equally hurried must have been the traveler's leafing through the Drumsound biography of Vajra-kirti, since he associated the cave with the latter's second visit to Nepal, ignoring that a previous encounter with Guru Bharo and already taken place (as in the long extract here translated). In the course of his second stay in Nepal, Vajra-kirti visits and practices at fifteen different locations in Kathmandu Valley (Drumsound, p 55-59), Yang-le-sho and the Asura Cave being just two of them. The cave associated with Bharo's secret practice is definitely the "very deep" one of the Chobhar gorge, but which possesses several other entrances as well. The first, more systematically attempt at a disentanglement of the question seems to be in the modern Tibetan guide by Rinchen Darlo, Music of Amazing Tales, who proposes the following elucidation:
The practice cave of the Siddha Gauraksha, Guru Bharo and the Great Translator from Rwa
At a sport very near to lake Sword (mtshoral gri, = Taudha), to the west of an angular ravine region, there are numerous caves, one of which is known to be the one of Siddha Gauraksha, another one is associated with the disciples of this Maha-siddha, and two further ones are stated to have belonged to the great Guru Bharo and to the great Ra-Lo [vajra-kirti] respectively. Yet, as I did not find any historical data by means of which to attribute a specific [cave]to each of them, I am unable to write about them here. To the rear of these practice caves there are extremely long tunnels through which one may eventually reach the ocean. Within, there aren't any scared images whatsover or other items (associated with the presence of those yogins). According to some, this is definitely the practice cave of Guru Bharopa the Great. Also, on the outside, there is wall support built of baked bricks [like an outer room], behind which there is another tunnel that leads up to the Avalokiteshvara temple located in the town of Chobhar and through where one may descend. As for the famous vihara known as Patan's Sun Throne, it is located in the region of Chobhar, but at present there seems to be no more trace of it, so that it is impossible to visit it. This "Patan's Sun Throne' vihara is the one which the Newars [used to] refer to as the "Suryasan Vihara". Let us now examine this location in the light of recent exploration.
The Chakra-Tirtha and Parahamsa caves
Rinchen Darlo has the location right: the cave group is located on either side of the Chobhar gorge, a little upstream of the Jala-Vinayaka temple with its naturally formed Ganesha image, and of the chain bridge from where the steps leading down to the cave entrance on the right bank are just barely visible. If one approaches that entrance from the main road, along these steps constructed some distance from it, one does indeed, through an arched porchway, reach the remains of the brick built hermitage, next to the cave's entrance. Author Darlo was also slightly more adventurous that the previous and his "safety reasons". The cave system can of course be visited, and numerous experienced 'cavers' of an impressive international variety have done so in the recent past. It should be kept in mind, however, that the Lightning Terror practice came into being (according to the 'Mythological Antecedents' account) as a means of taming terrifying forces; and that, accordingly, master Bharo choose a most terrifying place for that particular practice, 'where to learn how to counter terror'. In this respect, the Chobhar cave complex has not changed mush since the early eleventh century. As can be seen from the most extensive mapping effort to date, by German spelonker Dan Gebauer et al., the Chobhar cave system consists of two different complexes, with most of the "Chakra-Tirtha Gupha" or Chobhar cave proper situated below what can roughly be called there storeys ("horizons") if the "Parahamsa Gupha" cave group with its separate entrance further northwest. The discovery of the interconnecting tunnel between the two classifies the entire system, with its 1,250 meters, as "the second longest cave in Nepal". Gabauer himself, with two decades of caving experience worldwide, admits:
"I spent three days surveying the labyrinth of Chakra-Tirtha Gupha, but I actually lost my way there, the first time in my life, and I pray the last time as well, as I had uncomfortable feeling for quite a while afterwards!"
The story goes that in the early seventies, Drupthop Rinpoche from Swayambhu took some of his younger monks for a quite outing, for which how also foresaw some crawling fun in the caves. One young monk went missing for one and a half day, and was found, in utter panic, after a frantic search, involving a good number of the Chobhar villagers. He was luckier than the man whose skeleton was discovered at the northernmost point of the lower "horizon C"; according to the local people probably a petty criminal who, one some two hundreds years ago, tries there to escape detection and failed to rediscover one of the exists.
The 'frightening' aspect of the cave is in its' intensive structure' ("boyaux") meaning that at every few meters, side tunnels are visible right and left, above and below, and that. after reaching a dead end and turning around, it is nearly impossible to remember, at the nest 'crossroads', which one of the dozens of identical looking tunnel entrances one just came from. Seldom is the tunnel height more than one meter, and often crawling has to be alternative with sliding in a horizontal position. One might state that, perhaps, no great supernatural feat was required when, after his dialogue with Vajra-kirti, Master Bharo "became invisible, just dissolved." The other features directly relevant to the account of Mater Bharo and Vajra-kirti are the following:
a. "containing a spring"
This could be a reference to any one of several locations, either the lowest entrance some 4 meters above the river, [where] a small spring emerges, or the lowest part of the cave, formed by a minute active stream, where small fish live, and which emerges four and a half meters above the river or even one of the several small pools where fresh water is captures [and which show traces that they] have been artificially enlarged. In fact, the cave complex derives its name from the first one of these, since a "Tirtha" is a scared bathing spot, at the confluence of two rivers. The Chakra-Tirtha belongs to a secondary set, of relatively minor importance by comparison with the main VIII or XII 'Great of Maha-Tirthas. One the other hand, it could be one of the small pools that would qualify as the "practice water" usually mentioned in relation with a meditation cave.
b. "in the middle of a grove with birch trees, there was a cave"
There is no way of knowing where there was, once upon a time, a grove of bitch trees, with the cave entrance used by Master Bharo. A number of former entrances to Chakra-Tirtha Gupha have become "collapsed sinkholes", "oval tubes approximately one meter in diameter, but which become, after 5-10 meters, filled with devris, "whereas other such sinkholes originated when a cave roof collapsed. As for the "historical" cave entrance, the first and foremost candidate would be Chakra-Tirtha Gupha's 'entrance 3', located closest to the Kathmandu-Dakshinkali road and, hence, also to the Chobhar Sun Throne Vihara. As far as spelunking goes, it was first described in 1976 by an Aystralia team, who found a ready excuse not to explore this underground route: our first impulse of promptly entering it was slightly modified by the discovery of several heaps of excrement. More hardy and appropriately equipped against this rather uncommon speleological hindrance, Dan Gebauer mapped this connection to the large complex too and especially its access route to one of the very few lager rooms, also containing a sculpted lingam:
"Having climbed down through the upper "entrance 3", follow the passage marked with a dashed line to the top of the chimney. Climb down, reverse your direction and follow the passages marked with a dotted line. The sign marks the lingam in the "room". I remember some rather crude structures which could be interpreted as altars. In one (other?) room there are several 'natural' lingams, stalagmites covered with sindhura powder by devout visitors. More important, however, and crucial for the credibility of the account, is the mentioned "chimney":
'The presence of artificial spatial enlargements in various cave parts of the Chakra-Tirtha Gupha is the most amazing features. These spatial enlargements are definitely the result of human intervention, as are the occasional remains of altars, built up from stones. Two steep corridor stretches reveal a staircase [i. e. a vertical chimney, with hand and footholds carved into the wall]. The steps of this staircase are covered with a crust of flowstone, about 15 mm thick. This means that the steps are at least four to five hundred years old, and possibly well over a thousand years."
Like in a serialized novel. The reader is may be tempted to ask: but what happened next? Did Vajra-kirti meet Guru Bharo 'Maimed Hand' once more? Or was the rejection final? Obviously, there were further meetings, to be dealt with in a next issue, that will include some new data material on Patan's Sun Throne Vihara on Chobhar Hill as well. The Drumsound may then be a rewritten scenario with some stylistic 'creative elaboration' in the dialogues and the plot. Older sources confirm the historicity of the main outline of the Life of Vajra-kirti in his relation with Guru Bharo. Apart from the detailed reconstruction with the occasional embellishment or "exaggerated expression of greatness", the account is especially truthful in the style of Buddhism then practices in the Nepal Valley. What mattered when evaluating the worth of a potential candidate for the Vajrayana transmission was definitely not his ethnic origins, let alone his vihara affiliation. "Son of excellent descent" invariably meant 'gotra' in the sense of intrinsically 'belonging to a Buddha family", as explained by Gampopa in chapter I of his Jewel Ornament of Liberation:
"In the sentient beings there are factors which allocate them to certain families.
This means that they live in [=belong to] the five of Buddha-families. As Gampopa makes clear in the following paragraphs, this is not any Tibetan sort of innovation, but base on the standards Mahayana Sutras and on way of stating that Newar custom knows better.
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