Atisha's Arival in Nepal


By Hubert Decleer.


Till recently, the most quoted source on the life of the towering Bengali Master Dipamkara Shrijnana Atisha (982-1054) used to be the Alaka Chattopadhyaya compilation [1967 (1981)], itself, next to the Georges Roerich [and Gedun chophel (1949) 1976] translation of the Blue Annals, mainly based on the Indian Pandits in the Land of Snow ;of Sarat Chandra Das [(1893) 1965], For the Atisha section in the latter work, Helmut Eimer (1974: 32-36) has painstakingly traced the unnamed sources rather eclectically used by Das the near-contemporary sacred biographies of Atisha known as the Universally Known and The Itinerary, and the much later Kalpa-drum wishing Tree (dpag bsam ljon bzang) by sumpa Khenpo (1702-1774). He thereby also demonstrated once and for all that a number of chronological anomalies-- not entirely absent for the Tibetan sources themselves--resulted from  Das' freely mixing the information for this sources, now reflecting the one, then the other, often conflating them in mid-sentence. More immediately in relation to Atisha's one year stay in Nepal (in 1041/2) ,it was necessary to return tot he original sources the subject selected passages to a 'Micro--pohilological study".


A previous publication on Atisha's Journey to Tibet dealt foremost with the antecedents to that journey, as retold in one long Flashback by jaya-shila Naghtso Lotsawa, the messenger of the king of Western Tibet, to Lord Atisha, within the confine of Vikramashila's monastic university. This discourse took place in the presence of another Tibetan student and long term resident at Vikramashila: Virya-simha of the Gya clan, responsible for instructing Nagtso in the only possible strategy to ceremoniously in vite the great Master to Tibet. The article stopped at the point of Nagtso promising Abboty Ratnakara-shanti to accompany the "Outstanding One" (the Master's honorific Sanskrit title 'Atisha') back to India after a maximum stay in Tibet of three years. As we now know, political circumstances prevented him from keeping that promise, with Atisha personally assuming the responsibility for what, otherwise, would have amounted to a breach in samaya.


A subsequent essay covered the last leg of Atisha's journey to Nepal and most of his activities within the Kathmandu Valley proper: the foundation of Tam Bahil in what is now the quarter of Kathmandu town known as Thamel, and of the Five Stupas' Foundation at Panch-mani on the north western edge of the Valley.


Much of this detailed information was based on the Itinerary (of Atisha's Travels, authored) by Dromton (*Jinakara, 1005-1064), which presents itself as a short sacred biography in its own right, presumably (judging by the title) as a corrective, as far as the stages of the Master's journeying are concerned, to what was to become the standard biography (The Universally Known); eventually it was added to the later as a long postscript, within the grand collection of the Kadampa Precepts. The Itinerary ahs no table of contents, and is divided into two sections:


I.                    The chapter that elaborates on the invitation [BROM1: 237-256], i.e. the years-long preliminaries; it includes a cursory account of Nagtso's renewed journey through Nepal, en route to India.


II.                 Atisha's actual journey [BROM1: 256-297].


Part I. Master Atisha's arrival in Nepal


Within the Dromtyon Itinerary, the Nepal section includes the following episodes:


(1)    After leaving as o far unidentified Mirta Vihra somewhere between Buddhagaya and the Nepalese Therai, there is and encounter with "eighteen naked ascetics, followers of Kapila-putra" [241-242].


(2)    Just previous to his arriaval at the Kathmandu Valley proper, Lord Atisha is approached by a young, pretty arrogant nomad boy, carrier of an invitation ,letter from one King Kushala-mati from a country by name Next, at one border place just before Master and disciples reached the Nepal Valley proper, one young nomad, carrying something wrapped up in a small bag, caught up with them, the Jowo addressed him: 


"Your, with out any provisions, where have you been going like this?"


The boy replied:

"I have here something of great value for taming the animal (-like) fools of Tibet, something that appears to have established itself in Li country. But it would seem that (you,) The All-Knowing himself, is not all that clearminded!"


"Overgreedy kid! It is not at all so that my knowledge is unclear, In that rough bag of yours resides that sole hope for any happiness in Li country! All the hapiness if the king of Li has been breaking down, At present;, the king of Li Knows neither bliss nor happiness. It will be matter of rejoicing if he has to bende killed already by an evil (neighboring)_ king. So then, What message is it, sent by the king of Li and conveyed by the kid?"


From a slit in the bag, the boy took out a letter written on a leaf of the tala tree and delivered it into Atiha's hands.


Difficult explain are the contents of the long letter  in question [262-264], which deals with the history and travels of one precious Manjushri-vajra ico , made out of numerous jewels and supposedly produced by Avalokiteshvarsa "in order to tame that border lands. The Manjushri-Vajra icon is furthermore stated to have spoken to King Kushala-mati, recommeding the services of this nomad boy, also" and emanation to tame the border lands, created by a Avalokiteshvara", and specifying the special treatment to be bestowed and the manifold offerings to be made to this miraculous child. Thsy include [264]:


The Hundred Springs (Chu mig rgya phrag= Mu,ktinath), together with its bathing pools and flocks of a birds with melodious song-offer him these, which gives us a clue as to which "li country" (Li yul) is meant, It is obviously not far away Khotan on the Silk Road, the standard "Li country" of most Tibetan sources. As this kingdom of Li is in every likelihood adjacent to or even includes The Hundred Springs within its territory, the most likely candidate is to be looked for in this region. We may, accordingly, associate it with one of the small kingdoms of Lower Lo, say Serib (bSe-rib) or there abouts, although, for the period here under consideration, little can be ascertained about any specific ephemeral principality of the region, beyond the general notion that.


After the time of the Tun-huang annals, the next period referred to in other document begins in the 11th century, (....) a period of political consolidation within each region. the general name for west Tibet was now Ngari (mNga'ris); both Se-rid and Lo were included within its eastern-most limits. During this and the following century none of the principalities in the west seem to have been dominant for long. Alliances must have constantly shifted to accomodate the rise of new power and the decline of the old. The times were rife with wars and skirmishes; old royal lines came to an end and new noble houses asserted themselves in their place.


This appears totally in line with the threats against the survival of Li kingdom and king, as observed by Atisha's supernatural perception and expressed in his reply to the nomad boy messenger. Kushala-matyi's letter further specifies the distance between the outskirts of the Kathmandu Valley and the kingdom of Li as "an eight days' journey" which, for a swift messenger, sounds feasible.


What do we make of all this? It is hard to view the entire strategem other that as a hoax thought up by a petty Himalayan ruler in trouble who hopes to save his skin by the presence, at his court, of as prestigious a ghuest as Atisha. He goes about it using every trick in the book:


(1)    by conjuring up a Golden Legend of his own, about a miraculous statue of antediluvian ancestry whose predestined owner he turned out to be; a honor he now wants to share with the Indian scholar-saint. And

(2)    by evoking a miraculously bort Avalokiteshvera emanation, not unlike Padma Sambhava we may say, in the shape of a trickster nomad-boy who doubles up as a messenger,

(3)    whose rightful inheritance is one of the sacred spots on earth (The Hundred Springs) known from scriptural evidence as secure as the Hevajra Tantra, which the Vikramashila scholar was bound to be acquainted with.


Yet seen i the larger perspective of The Itinerary and of Master Atisha's sub sequent crucial role for the Buddhism of Tibet, the purpose of the entire episode (and of its final sequence further on in the account, when the nomad boy reappears at Swayambhu) clearly it to lure Master Atisha into NW Nepal/ Li yul rather that to Tibet. This is in an obvious parallel to Maheshvara's intervention during Atish'a s Journey to the Golden Islands, where the purpose of the interference is equally an injunction to drop his main purpose; not just his study in sumatara, but, by anticipation, his teaching in Tibet as well.


Atisha does not change his mind about the object o his journey, though, meanwhile, he makes this {"Bodhisattva king of the country of li the foremost object o his compassion.


(4)    Unfortunately the de3scription of Kathmandu Valley stops short at this single phrase:


Of gazing at 'All trees' (Swayambhu), the Jowo could never have enough; and having seen this and other wonderful places he was most p leased. 


A pilgrimage to Swayambhu had been the original official pretext for the journey in the first place-till Vikramashila's Abbot Ratnakara-shanti proposed joining the Master on that trip and, on urgently being discouraged from doing so ('because of his age') suddenly saw through the game.


It is all the more strange that the other sources too, including both chief biographies of the Master, remain utterly mute on Kathmandu Valley's existing sacred places. Except for one further Swayambhu reference together with a cursory a allusion to the White and Red Machendra-nathas in Sacred Biography the Extensive (rNam thar orgyas pa). The opportunity is a discussion on author Dromton's three foremost disciples [Geshe piotwa (1031-1105), Geshe chen-negawa (1038-1103) and jJGe4she Puchungwa Sr. alias Zhonnu Gyaltsen (1031-1106),] known collectively as " the three holy brothers", who are compared to (1) the sixteen Sthviras/Arhats, (2) the Lords of the Three Classes (of beings): Avalokiteshvara, Manjushri and Vajrapani and (3) to the latter's respective emanations as sacred i cons: the White Machendra-nath of Kathmandu, the Red Machendra-nath of patan and the Arysa Wati Sangpo of Kyirong. Following is the passage in question [NAGI: 105b-106a]


Also, when 'the Teacher' Geshe Dromton--whose depth of though, compassion and knowledge was vast like the ocean--was establishing the Jowo's excellent tradition (of the Pure precepts) in Reting during his residence there, his heart sons the three precious brothers arrived. According to Dromton's own words, these three holy brothers were the miraculous emanations of the sixteen Sthaviras as wellas the emanationkla forms of the Lords of the Three Classes of beings. As for the source for this statement, [It is not strictly of Kadampa origin, but stems from elsewhere. It runs as follows: ]


Circumambulation at Sacred 'All Trees' (= Swayambhu) in Nepal is performed at twilight and tat dawn, and people avoid doing so during the three periods of the night. Once, amidst the crowd of non human beings performing their circumambulation at midnight, one yogin who had achieved realization in the Vajra Varahi practice circumambulated (the hill) when he heard their song, similar to the sound of a flute.


Previously, long long ago,

there was one beyond compare in wish and intent:

Lord Atisha

Beyond compare in realization, indeed,

was Lord Atisha.

At present, dense darkness of ignorance is all pervading.


so it went, and further:


Those constituting Atisha's descendants is the group of the Sacred Brothers Three. As for the group of these Sacred Brothers Three, one of them is truly indistinguishable from Arya Jamali (White Machendranth of Jana Bahal) who has his residence in the direction of Nepal down south.


One of them for sure is indistinguishable from Arya Wati (of Kyirong) who has his residence in the land of the Nepal Valley. One of them indeed is indistinguishable from Arya Ugang (Red Machendranath of Patan) who ahd his residence in Mang-yul (Southern Tibet),


thus he heard them say. As there is no difference whatsoever between these sacred representations and the actual Lords of the Three Classes, these (three Geshe brothers too,) accordingly, are the emanations of these Bodhisattvas.


Strange, to say the le3ast, is to see this set of the Three sacred Brother images associate site the three Bodhisattvas- a tradition not encounterted in amy of the later sources. When these Brother icons became four (With the addition of the Arya Lokeshvara, presently in the Phagpa Lha-Khang of Lhasa's Potala palace), they were next associated. instead, wit6hthe four enlightened activities (of pacifying and the rest).


(5)    There follows a grand reception at Sawayambhu offered by the delegates from western Tibet: Atisha is offered tea, a beverage never tasted before, because still unknown in india at the time ['BROMI: 265-266]: 24


All the porters' loads and yak loads they deposited here; and around the porters' loads they built a wall. It was also here that the Monk-ruler's (Hla-tsun, from Western Tibet) messengers arrived. with seven men leading (the delegation).


In Tibetan style they built an enormous hearth for (boiling) tea, with seats arranged in neat rows, with porcelain cups and other vessels cleaned and with numerous tea servers in happy mood serving the food, 'eager in humility'.


Young Newar girls offered homage with song and dance. (....)


Nest Jowo Atisha took upon his seat on a high throne that had been put up in the shade of a tala tree. To the Jowo's right were seated the rows of Tibetans, headed by Virya-simha. To his left were seated the Indians in rows, including Virya-candra. At the head of the central rows the throne seat of Maharaja Bhumi- samgha had been put up. when all the rows (of participants) had finally taken their seats, the person offering sweet tea, with his head bowing done to the Jowo, also presented a bowl (Katora) fulled with white sugar. Next the chief representative of Ngari, supma by name, (placed before him) a porcelain cup with dragon design, one without the slightest flaw or chip and resting upon a large stand made of five ounces of gold; and he fille dthe cup tot he brim with boiling hot tea, He approached the Master with teh following prayer and verses for good fortune and happiness.


Present within this precious (cup with its) dragon design and its (golden stand) worth five ounces,


(is) this delight of the tongue, that which clears the mind, and which for travel, (conveys) speed;


visualizing it as the quintessential juice of the Wishing Tree,


to you, Guru, I present it as an offering. [266]


In reply the Jowo spoke:

"To me, even the flowers now show generosity."


Thereupon the group of six main delegates presented the Jowo with a white horse name of Flashing-by wind Cleaver. For this rider it was steady like a horse-drawn chariot; speeding it up, it became like the wind. It was a wonder to look at. Similar to the horse Golden Goose, onto its forehead were tied a piece of turquoise and piece of gold, as well as nets and half-nets of pearls. Its halter and head ornament too were beautified with many precious stones, with figures such as elephants, buffaloes, the horse supreme, and so forth. Its tail and its mane were entirely interwoven with five colored silks. The horse' s saddle and saddle carpet were rich in ornaments and soft: and included a soft saddle cover. The halter was made of a roll of white sild, which was handed over to the Jowo: each of the remaining five delegates handed over one (strand of) the sild string( of that halter). At that time the Jowo spoke: 


"All this is most auspicious, like the meeting of this container and its contents. But tell me, what is this drink?"


The yogin-Translator replied:

"It is called tea (cha), and in Tibet it is drunk by those who are ordained. The tree itself cannot be eaten, but once it is boiled one drinks the juice. It has many excellent qualities.

Again the Jowo said:

"This is definitely produced from the excellent qualities of the monks of Tibet. It is most excellent!"

Later that day, a palace(-tent) was set up, place from where to offer homage to the Rare and Precious Ones and a vast offering and homage ceremony was performed.  


(6)    The nomad boy of before makes one more Appearance, causing a minor scandal by placing a filthy goatskin bag of his--apparently the same one that contained (or again contains?) King Kushala-mati's royal invitation letter--on top of the sacred representations of the precious three (within the above mentioned 'palace tent') When people start to object, he places it higher up, out of every one's reach: all the while pronouncing supposedly didactic, half enigmatic verses, akin to the proverb-like  lines in the narrations (drung) of early bon, but that here remain devoid of any commentary. It starts off from the filthy bag" and related nomad wisdom , but as the where it leads to, if anywhere, is anybody's guess [267]:


Whether on endless journeys or not journeying at all, I have with me my tsampa bag. 36

The heart essence among those in others' service it is.

Whoever else may have no use for it, tome it is indispensable.

I am a person of no importance wearing no mask.


I am a hand that's neither crooked not shaky.

I am an arrow and bow that don't hit anything.

Amidst large assemblies, I am a tool, a weapon.

Right here I am quite someone!


But the final outcome is that,


as he spoke they all laughed now, saying: "Ah, it's just the fooling around of a small kid!" and no one took him seriously anymore. 


Notes and References:


1 van der Kuijp, Leonard W. J. 1992: 469


2 See D. H. 1997a.


3. Nsagtswo Lotsawa, the yogin-translator from Black lake' (if Nag tsho), is the one referred to, throughout Alaka Chattopadhyaya & Lama Chimpa (1967) 1981, as " Jaya-shila" after his personal mane Tsul Khrims rgyal ba, "Victorious in Ethics'. In the historical sources he is alternatively referred to as Gund thang jpa ('the one from the kingdom of Gund-thang', in southern Tibet) and as Dul ba 'dzing pa', 'Vinaya-dhara'. Born in 1011.


4. rGya brTson grus seng ge.


5. Cf. the famous passage in the Blue Annals (BA 254-255)


Then Nagtso understood that the Master (Atisha) was intending to proceed to Central Tibet, and grasping the master’s robe, he cried: “I had promised the Sthavira (=Abbot Ratnakara-Shanti of VikramashilaS) to bring you back within three years. I am not brave enough to go to hell! You had better return to India!” The Master said to him: “O Lotsawa! No fault will arise, should one be unable to carry out (the promise),” and her comforted him.


There is some disagreement as to where Atisha and Nagtso first heard about the trouble down south: one source (BRAG1 [41a]) states this Extensive biography (NAG1 [68b-69a]), less convincingly, locates it near Nuwakot. 


AS for the nature of the trouble, both sources mention a battle betw3een three parties, in the former named as an unintelligible as mu ti. whereas the latter has sa man sder, which I prefer to understands not as (even the abbreviation of) three caln names blut as a corruption of “samanta-s,” contenders for the throne of the Nepal Valley. This would indeed be a likely cause for temporarily having stopped all traffic between South Tibet and North India via Nepal.


6. see D. H. 1996


7. At least this would be the most likely Sanskrit equivalent of Dromton’s (Bropm ston) personal name rGyal ba’i ‘byung gnas. For some reason. Chattopadhyaya e. a. never used this sanskritic alternative name for him.


8. Although Dromton’s name figures in bo6th title and colophon, scholars have doubted his authorship of The Itinerary (e.g. Eimer 1974 and 1982: Vitali 1996) on the basis of arguments athatare perhaps not entirely conclusive (D. H. 1996). More about this berlow.


9. Nagtso, as part of his flash back account to Atisha, at one point (BROM1 [250]) tells him:


At that time, you (Atisha) had gone to the Golden Islands and other sacred places and you had not yet returned


Which I take to bea an allusion to another short work in the same Book of the Pure Precepts (bKa’ gdams gleags bam)_, presented as auto biographical, but which I believe to have been co-authored by Dromton, the Jowo’s journ4ey to the Golden Islands, [From] his Sacred Biography (Jo bo gser gling du buyon pa’i rnam thar), vol. KA, 33-47 of the Pha chos section; on which see JD. H. 1995 [in the last line of p. 534, correct the title given as Jo bo gser du byon pa’i rnam thar to .. gser gling du byon pa’i ....]


10 passage translated in D.H. 1996. Here and elsewhere the pejorative “tirthika”, used for the3sse sascreics in the text, is to be understood to mean intolerant fundamentalist, fanatic.


11. dGe ba’i blo gros.


12. “Taming” is the standard expression for ‘bringing to mental training according to buddhist training methods.’


“The Al-Knowing’ must already have been aq standard epithet for Atisha, the notion of \which the nomad boy here ridiculizes (‘What soryt of All-Knowing are you, if you can’t even guess the contents of muy batg?’). It is particularly insulting because.


(1)    Atisha himself helped unmask several peseudo-gurus in Tibet: cf. the case of the yogin Daryiulpa, sup0posedly able to perceive, supernaturally, the course of Atisha’s previous lives, but unable to guess that there was a pea and a little stone hidden in disciple kuto’s mouth [Ngawang Nyima & Lima CHimpa, in Alaka Chattopadhyaya 91967) 1981: 428, after NAGI [85a-85b]] showed himself adverse to praise (cf. Eimer 1982: 41,n. 12, referring to the NAGI [84b-85a]).


One should be careful not to misunderstand this latter passage, because at first sight, it seems to indicate the exace opposite. The setting is Dromton offering Atisha a first version of a Hymn of Praises in biographical form. The Master is not at all plesesd. Not that he thinks it is poorly composed, but because he views it as an understatement: “Does this mean I don’t possess any qualities apart from these?” It is not that he wants to boast about his personal qualities, but hat he considers it necessary to warm Dromton against viewing the Guru as (just slightly above) an ordinary person.


What Dromton there presented appears to have been “ a first version” because the opening verse of the Hymn as quoted in the biography.  


The one to whom these praises are directed ....(Gang zhig la ni bstod pa ni/...)


no longer corresponds to the Song as we now know it. Rather that using this as a basis to doubt the authorship (as suggested by Eimer 1992: 182: “attributed by tradition to Brom ston”), I take it that, after Atisha’s show of displeasure,  Dromton reworked an earlier draft, one that better reflected how Atisha’s excellent qualities were indeed “immeasurable, simply beyond imagination” (NAG1: ibid.). unfortunately I have no access to Eimer’s separate study (1982/1983) on Nagtso’s Hymn in Eighty Verses, where further arguments about his doubts regarding Dromton’s authorship are said to be provided.


For a (rather ‘flat’) translation of Dromton’s Hymn, see Chattopadhyaya (1967) 1981: 372-376.


13. The statue is given quite a pedigree:

(1)    consecrated by Amitabha Buddha and by the Lords of the Three Classes of beings.


(2)    resident in sukhavati as the personal deity of Amitabha,


(3)   resident in Alakavati for five hundred years as the personal icon of Vajradhara.


(4)   returning to Potala and resident there for five hundred years as the personal deity of Avali8kiteshvara,  


(5)   descending to Mt. Five peak in china and residing there for vive hundred years as Manjushri-vira,


(6)   moving to Uddiyana as the personal deity of King Indrabodhi, then of Queen Laksminkara,


(7)   for five hundred years the meditational deity of Naga-yogini (?), who passed it on


(8)   to saraha, the latter to


(9)   Nagarjuna-hrdaya; and further passing in the hands of


(10)         Chandrakirti, (11) Birwapa,  (12) Maitripa,  till finally,


(13) Via King * Suratna-vardana (dkon mchog mchog phel) of Li country, it lande4d in his (Kushlamati’s) own hands. 


14. Even less is it Nepal as a whole—a famous confusion, especially in discussions related to teh origins of Swayambhu. The most extensive refutation of this Tibetan myth is in chapter 1 of Tragkar Tasao Chokyi Wangchuk’s jewel Mirror. a full translation of which is a under preparation. One could state that, by anticipation, it also refutes the parallel views of John Brough (1947) on the matter.


15 Jackson 1978: 200. This is preceded by one paragraph where, following a lead in Paul Pelliot’s famous article about the project for a Sanskrit translation of Lao Tse’s famous Tao te Iiung, he associates bSe-rib with the Hsi-li of early Chinese sources. b se-rib had been conquered by Tibet, attempted revolt in 705 C. E., its king was captured for e years later and the country “had to resubmit to Tibet” (ibid. 1978: 199).


16 “Next, I, King Of Li, send (you this leter), at eight days’ Journey away; anxious about (your arival),/ I shed tears on account of the uncertainty ( of my situation).” [264]


17 Particularly during that period, when the biographical literature on Guru Rinpoche in its elaborate forms was still for from widespread and in its Indian tradition barely more extensive that that dedicated to any other Siddha. This is quite evident from the Guru Rinpoche biography according to Indian sources by Jo0nanag Taranatha (TAR2).


18. In which context it is not at all excluded that the name “ Li country” too is a made up name for the tiny Himalayan principality, referring as it does to a region well known from sutras such as The Oxhorn Prophecy. One may even wondered –Heavy hypothesizing as this may be –whether the appellation “Li Yul:” to this part of Nepal and, eventually, to all of Nepal (as a pars pro toto) or to the Kathmandu Valley in particular, does not stem from this passage in the “Brom stone lam yig.


19. Vide JD.H. 1995: 537-538: “ Do not [ever] travel to the Land of Snows [Tibet]: / And stop your journey in this Nepalese ship./ Do not go to either Copper Island [ Shri Lanka} or any of the other small islands./ Stop this continuous roming!/...”


This is the text referred to in [Anon.]1995: 46, on Kathmandu Newar sailors.


20. If the interpretation here suggested is correct, the expression “Bodhisattva king:” is merely a way of the Master to temporarily hide his real thoughts. These is of course no doubt about his genuine compassion for a miserable Himalayan-Luxembourg ruler committing the Karmiclly heavy downfall of trying to attract the great Master by an apocryphal scripture of his own invention. The closest we can define the letter is an apseudo-Terma, a fake “Revealed Treasure.


21. Sorces in Eimer, Helmut 1979: I, 314 (po to ba, syan snga ba, phu chung ba chen po).


 22. Tibetan sources in Eimer, Helmut 1979: II, 375-377 (His paragraphs # 433 and # 434). I have however taken the free dom of correcting the rNam thar rgyas pa version with the superior reading there quoted after the bKa” gdams chos byuing rnam thar (Eimer ref. H). For one thing it accords with the facts still observable today regarding the timings for circumambulation at Swaya bhO; Eimer’s translated paraphrase after The Extensive Biography which has it back to front (ibid.: I 301) should be corrected accordingly. Also, although the quoted song plays on the ambivalence of the three Brother Geshes and the 6three brother icons, the last sentence of the text (# 434) refers back to the former, since the purpose of the entire paragraph is to illustrate Dromto’s high opinion of these three “Heart sons”.


As for the identification of the three icons with the ones still existing today (‘Phags pa’Ja” ma li=White Machendranath of Jana Bahal; ‘Phags pa was ti=the icon of Kyirong. Presently in Dharamsasla; and ‘Phags pa dbu gang/ Bu khang=Red Machendranth of Patan, this is standard fare in the later pilgrimage Guide (gnas Yig) literature. Only the locations given are surprising, with the positions of (2) and (3) interchanged in comparison with the more traditional ones indicated in the older sources, such as the Testament Extracted from the holloow Pillar 9bKa’ chems ka khol ma) which Atisha was to discover in Lhasa’s central cathedral; on which see D. H. 1997b (forthcoming), 6.


23. On the Three/ Four/Five Sacred Brother Images, an intensive research work is at present being undertaken by Franz-Karl Ehrhard, sparden off by his initial discovery of a “sacred biography” of the Arya Wati from Kyi8rontg, authored y the earlier mention chokyi Wangchuk, the Inc aranation of Tragkar taso (1775-1837). This ‘biography’ is also the source mentioning their association with the four Activites. Obviously, tish work is bound to add an entirely different dimension to the Machendranath studies by John Locke, adding several centuries to their antiquity and 5to th4eir, in the Tibetan sources. amply documented history.


Regarding the addition of the fourth Sacred Brother, Lhasa’s Arya Lokeshvara, it is of interest that it, too, stylistically belongs to the class of Newar sculpture; moreover, an ivory miniature (14cm. high) copy has been identified in the Newark museum collection,. Cf. Alsop 1989, plate 93 and p. 135:


We have attributed this (Bodhisattva) figure to Nepal, largely because it style seems distinctly Nepale4se, if rather odd. (..) It now appears that the image is of a rare type: that is, a sculpture which is patterned after anther particularly sacred early sculpture, rather that after an iconography ideal. The model in this case is the very holy phagpa Lokeshvarea figure found in the phagpa Ldhakhang shrine of the Potala palace in Lhasa, an image which is revered as the earliest and holest icon of the palace. Because the Newark ivory figure is a copy of the very early Nepalese-style image in the a shrine, it ahs usually been assumed to be of an early date itself. Of course, since it is a copy, we can not be sure of the date, and it could be much later that the twelfth century date the style might suggest.


Rather odd” and rare type” refer, as the author suggests, to a parallel sculptural tradition, outside any identifiable stylistic evolution in the artistic forms: derived from and modelled after “naturally formed” (rangt byung) images, for which the Sacred for Brother icons, in Newar perspective, constitute the Prototypes.


24 S.C. Das [(1893) 1965: 78] retells the episode in abbreviate form (and with its won share of poetic license) without providing his source.


25. Here comes the earlier quoted line, “of gazing at “All Trees (Swayambhu),....


As for the dances by young Newar girls, one cannot fail to be reminded of the solo dances, so common on the lower register of Newar paubha paintings (see for instance pal. 1975: 58-59, plate 43a and b). This element of Newar Buddhist processional music and public pujas had now totally disappeared, even form living memory (no Bajracharya or Shakya informant, when shown such a visual representation, was able to place it within the tradition). Not only is this dance representation a standard a feature of the “dedication” scene in the lower register of Newar scroll paintings: it even was ‘exported’ abroad as party of the Newar painting tradition (and probably as little understood there as it is now here!). We find for instance an exactly identical solos dance scene on the circumambulation wall fresco of Zhalu monastery, in Central Tibet (Vitali 1990: plate 58; Kreijger 1997: 175). 


26. Gya Tsondru Senge, the withness of Nagtso’s account to Atisha of the preliminaries to the invitation while at Vikramashila, At Swamanbhu he is seated at the place of Honor next to the Master because of his promotion to the role of the latter’s chief translation.


27. Monastic name of Atisha’s younger brother, born Sri-garbha.


28. Sa’i sang ga, an Indian king and close student of Atisha who accompanied the latter to tibet. His name in the original Sanskrit or lo9cal Indian dialect is conjectural.


29. “Visualizing it as the quintessential juice of the Wishing Tree” represent delegate sumpa’s mental prayer: the previous verse expresses tea’s normal” qualities, acknowledged by one and all: but in visualization he ‘increases’ its value , as is common during any offering ion the course of a ritual evocation.


If this is the stotra meant by Alaka Chattopadhayaya [(1967) 1981: 329, after Professor Lama Chimpa’s oral Information] when she writes.


[correct: -- at Swayambhu, Nepal]; the poem is popular among the Tibetans and is frequently to be found in the notebooks they carry.


She is wrong: the four verses here quoted are clearly pronounced by the “chiefrepresentative from Ngari, Sumpa by name.  


30. mThong smon rlung gshog. Fo whatevrer it might be worth, I am unable to Provide any Sanskrit restoration of that name. Not that the first part of that name is similar to the one if the elephant that has been the Master’s vehicle up to this poin6t, M thong smon, which in the previous contribution (1996: 42 and n. 31) I translated as “[such as One Would] Wish to see:” (‘Darshana-svasti’?). “Flashing- by’ is a [very free]! translation of the same expression, in the sense that it speed is such that one would wish to see it, but can’t.


31. Ngang pa gser Idan. It is the king’s omniscient horse in the eleventh of the XXI zombie (Vetala) tales: the stoy that might represent one of the earliest versions of the fairy tale of Cinderella. See Macdonald (1967) 1990a: IU, 178- 179 and 1990b: 145. The Tshig Mdzod chen mo (p.1057) also knows of the expression with the meaning of “ a horse with orange colored hair”, with out any further connotation. However, in that case, the “similar to...” No longer makes any sense.


32. WE are reminded of the Central Asian/ steppe style animal design ornaments, as studied by Giuseppe Tucci in his Transhimalaya.


33. The “sakkle carpet” being the one beneath the saddle and the “saddle cover” the one on top of it. We are to understand that the t2wo sections form part of the same ‘piece and are executed in a similar design.


34. This is literally what the text says. Never having seen a tea plantation and only knowing tea as it arrived in Tibet from China, with the dried leaves pressed  together in bricks, Virya-simha seems tot have imagined that tea consisted of the actual ‘tree’.


35. On these “narrations”, see Namkhai Norbu 1995, Section I. chapter I, Drung: the Narrations:


8. no. 6 (Nov.-Dec.), p. 46.


Brag dkar rta so sprul sku Chos Kyi dband phyug



BRAG1 ‘Phags mchog thugs rje chen po rang byund wa ti bzang po’ i rnam par thar pa, transliterated copy of chapters VI and VII after the unpublished ms. of his gSung ‘Bum in Ehrhared (draft 1996)


BRAG2 Bal yul guyi gnas dang rten guyi lo rgyus Nges par brjob pa’ Phrul spong nor bu’ i me long, xerox copy of the ms., form the unpublished Collected Works. [=The Jewel Mirror] 37


‘Brom ston rGyal ba’i ‘Byung gnas (ascribed to)


BROMI JO bo rje’ i rnam tahqr lam yig (=’Brom ston lam yig) in Lokesh Chandra (ed) ,

Biography of Atisha and his Discipole BGrom-ston, Zho [I] edition (2vols.), Delhi: International Acaqdemy of Indian Culture 1982, vol. 1: 33-48 (not indicated as such in Lokesh Chandra’s Preface & contents). [=” the Itinerary”]. this is the edition here followed throughout.


‘BROM 2 ‘’’Brom ston pa rGyal ba’i ‘byung gnas kyis mdzd pa’i Jo bo rje’i rnam tahr lam yig chos kyi ‘byuhng gnas”, in NJo bo rje dpal Idan A ti sha’i rnam thar BKa’ gdams Pha chos 9Derge ed.), Si khrobn: science Publishing House 1994: 229-290.


Brough, John 1947

Legends of Khotan and Nepal”,

Bulletin of the School for Oriental and African Studies, vol. XII, part 1 (1947), pp. 333- 339.


Cabezon, Jose Ignacio & R. R. Jackson (eds.), 1996


Tibetan Literature: Studies in Genre, Essays in Honor of Geshe Lhundup Sopa, Ithaca,  N.Y.: Snow Lion


Chattopadhyaya, Aloka (1967) 1981

Atisha and Tibet, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas.    


mChims tham cad khyen pa (ascribed to) 

YONGS1 Jo bo rin po che dpal ldan A ti sha’i rnam thar rgyas pa yongs grags,


in Lokesh Chandra (ed), Biography of Atisha and his Disciple Brom-ston, Zho[l] edition (2 vols.), Delhi: International Academy of Indian Culture 1982, vol. 1: 49-236


YONGS2 “Jo bo rin po che dpal lkan A ti sha’i rnam thar rgyas pa yongs grags.


in Jo bo rje dpal ldan A ti sha’s rnam thar bKa’ gdams Pha chos (Derge ed.),

Si khron: Science Publishing House 1994: 44-228.


Das, Sarat Chandra (1893) 1965


Indian Pandits in the Land of Snow, Calcutta: Firma K.L. Mukhopadhyay.


Decleer, Hubert 1992


“The Melodious Drumsound all- Pervading. Sacred Biography of Rawa Lotsawad: aboout early Lotsawa rnam thar (sacred biography) and chos ‘byung (transmission history)”, Tibetan Studies, Proceedings of the 5th Seminar of the IATS, Narita 1989, Narita, Tokyo: Naritashan Shinshoji, pp. 13-28.



”The Sacred Biography of Bharo ‘Maimed Hand’,a tenth century Bajracharya from Patan” in Buddha Jayanti Souvenir volume, Patan: Oku Bahal, pp. 95-104.



“Atisha’s Journey to Sumatra”in Lopez, Don, Jr. (ed), pp. 532-540.



“Bajracharya Transmission in XIth century Chobhar”: Bharo Maimed Hand’s main disciple Vajrakirti, the translator from Rwa” in Buddhist Himalaya, vol. VI, no. 1-2

pp. 1-16



Lord Atisha in Nepal: The4 tham Bahil and the Five Stupas’ Foundations according to the ‘Brom ston Itinerary” in Journal of the Nepal Research Centre, vol. X, pp. 27-54.



“Atiswha’s Journey to Tibet”in Lopez, Don, Jr. (ed) 1997.



Review article of Cadezon & Jackson 1996, The Tibet Journal (Forth coming).



Review of Siklos 1996, in the Indo-Iranian Journal (forthcoming).



Review of Vitali 1996, The ;Tibetan Review (forthcoming)



Introduction to the facsimile reproduction of an extremely rare block print of

“A Garland of Wishfulfilling Gems Accomplishing the Wishes and Hopes of Trainees by  ‘the; monk of the “Khon clan, Peljor Hlundruip” (Tashi Tsering, Publisher), Dharamsala (forthcoming).


Donboom Tulku & Glenn H. Mullin 1983


Atisha and Buddhism in Tibet, New Delhi: Tibet House.



See ‘Brom ston rGyal ba ‘byung gnas Ehrhard, Franz-Karl


(typescript, 1996) Translation & annotation of BRAG1, chapters VI and VII


Eimer, Helmut [1974]

Berichte uber das Leben des Dipamkarasrijnana. Eine Untersuchung der Quellen, Bonn: Ph.D. Thesis for the Rheinischen Friendricyh-Wilhelms Universitat. 38



rNam ;thar rgyas pa. Materialien zu eigne Biographie des Atisha (Dipamksarasrijnana), Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz (Asiatische Forschungen, Band 67; 2 vols.).



“The Development of the ;Biographical Tradition concerning Atisha (Dipamkarasrijnana)” in the Journal of the Tibet Society, 2.pp. 41-51.39.



“The Hymn of Praise in Eighty Verses”, in Jaggajuyoti (ed.), Atisha[a} Dipankar Millenium Birth Commemoration Volume, Calcutta 1982/83, pp. 1-8.



“The4 Hymn of Praise in Tirty Stanzas. The Bstod pa sum cu Pa”, in Hemendu Bikash Chowdury (ed.), Hundred Years of the Buddha Dharmankur Sabha (The Bengal Buddhist Association), 1892-1992, pp. 182-191.


Jackson, David 1978

“Notes ont eh History of Serib, and Nearby Places int he Upper Kali Gandaki” in Kailash VI , 3(1978), pp. 195-227.


Jamyang Namguyal (alias Gene Smith) 1973


Review of Stein 1972, Kailash, Vol. 1, no. 1. p. 91-99.


Kreijger, Hugo 1997


“Mural Styles at Shalu”, in Singer & Denwood (eds.) 1997: 170-177.


Lopez, Don, Jr. (ed.) 1995


Buddhism in Practice, Princeton: University Press.



Religions of Tibet in Practice, Princeton: University Press.


Meyer, Ferdinand (ed.) 1990

Tibea6t, Civilisation et societe, Paris: Editions de la Fondation Singer- Polignac/ Maison des Sciences de 1’Homme.  


Nag tso Tshul Khrims rgyal ba (ascribed to)


NAG1 Jo bo rje dpal ldan mar me mdzad ye shes kyi rnbam thar rgyas pa, in Lokesh Chandra(ed.), Biography of Atisha and his Disciple Brom-ston, Zho[l] edition (2vols), Delhi: International Academy of Indian Culture 1982, vol. 2, pp. 820-862.


NAG2 Jo bo rje dp0al Ldan mar me mdzad ye shes kyi rnam thar rgyas pa,”

Complete Biography of Atisha, by Nagtso Losawa Tsultim Gyalwa”, Siugra, Varanasi: Buddhist Temple (E. Kalsang ed.) 1970


NAG 3 in Eimer 1978, vol. 1.


Napper, Elisabeth (Translation and annotations)


(forthcoming) Je Tsong kha pa’s Life of Atisha, within the Lam rim chen mo (group translation); draft typescript.


Norbu, Mamkhai 1995

Drug, Deu and Bon,. Narrations, symbolic languages and the Bon tradition in ancient Tibet


Pal, Pratapaditya 1975

Nepal. Where The gods Are Young,New York Asia House Gallery.


Roerich, JGeorges [& Gedun Chophel] (transl.)  (1949) 1976


[Go Lotswa’s ] The Blue Annals, Delhi: Motilala Banarsidas.


Siklos, Bulcsu 1996


The vajrabhairava Tantras. Tibetan and Mongolian versions, English Translation and Annotations, Tring: the Institute of Buddhist studies (Buddhica Britanica, Series Continua VII),


Singer, Jane Casey & Philip Denw2ood (eds.) 1997


Tibetan Art. Towards a definition of style,  London: Laurence King Publishing


Stein, Rold-A. 1972


Vie et Chants de ‘Brug pa kun-legs le Yogin, Paris: G.-P Maisonneuve & Larose. 40


Taranatha, Jo nang

TAR1 rGyud rgyal gShin rje gshed skor gyi chos ‘byung rgyas pa yid ches ngo mtshar, In:  “ The Collected Works of Jo-Nang Rje-btsun Taranatha “, vol. 10, Leh 1984.


TAR2 Slod pon chen poo padma ‘byung gnas kyi rnam par thar pa {“rGya gar lugs”] gsal bar byed pa’i yi ge yid ches gsum ldan, Published as an appendix to Nyang Nyi ma’od zer, Slob dpon padma’i rnam thar Zangs gling ma, Si khron (Shinhua): People’s Publishing 1987: 209-287.


Tragkar Taso Tulku  See Brag dkar rta so.


Tucci, Giuseppe 1973

Transhimalaya, Geneva: Archeological Mundi.


Van der Kuijp, Leonard W.J. 1992

“Dating the two 1De’u Chronicles of Buddhism in India and Tibet” in Asiatische Studien/  Etudes ASiatiques XLVI, 1, p. 468-491.


Vitali, Roberto  1990


Early Temples of Central Tibet, London” Serindia Publications.



The Kingdoms of Pu. Hrang. According to the mnga’ ris rgyal. rabs by mkhan. chen Ngag. dbang grags. pa., Dharmsala: The Cofor the 1000 Years of Tholing Temple Foundation.  

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