Thursday, February 13, 2014

Lha Descending, Sprul.sku & dMu Thag


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"….the celestial gods of the Clear Light (`od gsal lha) descended from heaven to earth in order to take up incarnation as human beings and ensoul the physical bodies which had been prepared for them…."

"The phrase for “heavenly rope” in Tibetan is dmu-thag-smu-thag. The word dmu appears relatively late in Tibetan literature. Dmu is written as mu in Dunhuang literature, and etymological comparisons between various Tibeto-Burmese languages strongly suggests that mu- in Tibetan refers to “the heavenly god.” As for the word dmu-thag, I believe it to be closely connected to the Tibetan word for “rainbow” (vjav). A rainbow could well be understood by early societies as a rope connecting heaven to earth, a rope sent down by the heavenly gods. Literally, dmu-thag means “the heavenly gods’ rope.” According to Tibetan literature, when the Tibetan king btsan- po died he looked like a rope under the “rainbow,” and he went up to the heavens along the dmu-thag. It seems, then, that there is an intimate relationship between dmu-thag and vjav. In Pelliot’s Tibetan text no. 126.2 (“The Formation of Dmu-thag”), we read that “from the lights in the sky and fog over the sea came the white curdle of the Bon religion. It is stretched by the wind, woven into threads, and wound round a tree. It is known as Dmu- thag or g.yang thag (“fortune rope”).” This text clearly identifies dmu- thag with the rainbow."….The Mythology of Tibetan Mountain Gods: An Overview by Xie Joshing

Nomenclature and etymology….."The word སྤྲུལ or 'sprul' (Modern Lhasa Tibetan [ʈʉl]) was originally a verb in Old Tibetan literature and was used to describe the བཙན་པོ་ btsanpo ('emperor'/天子) taking a human form on earth. So the 'sprul' idea of taking a corporeal form is a local religious idea alien to Indian Buddhism and other forms of Buddhism (e.g. Theravadin or Zen). Over time, indigenous religious ideas became assimilated by the new Buddhism; e.g. 'sprul' became part of a compound noun, སྤྲུལ་སྐུ་'sprul.sku' ("incarnation body" or 'tülku', and 'btsan', the term for the imperial ruler of the Tibetan Empire, became a kind of mountain deity)…."…..

"Olmo Lungring or Shambhala, this imperishable sacred land, which is the spiritual center of the world, existed on earth from the very beginning of the human race. It was the place where the celestial gods of the Clear Light (`od gsal lha) descended from heaven to earth in order to take up incarnation as human beings and ensoul the physical bodies which had been prepared for them. Since that time of the beginning, Olmo Lungring has been the sanctuary of wisdom and the receptacle of the highest mystical teachings being brought down from above. All of the inhabitants of that land have entered upon the path to enlightenment, and for this reason it is said to be the land of the Vidyadharas beyond the Himalayas, spoken of in the Puranas and other ancient books of India. This mysterious land at the center has been known by various different names in different ancient traditions throughout the world."....

"….the lhasang, or smoke purification offering. This is definitely a non-Buddhist ceremony, but it is performed by Buddhists and Bönpos alike, simply because everybody in Tibet believes in the war gods that are invoked by a lhasang and asked to descend down the column of juniper smoke."….

"Sanskrit was introduced on the earth, by the eternal Sages of Sanatan Dharm along with the Divine scriptures such as the Vedas, the Upnishads and the Puranas. A famous verse in Sage Panini’s Ashtadhyayi tells that the Panini grammar that is in use now is directly Graced by Shiva…."Once, at the end of His Divine ecstatic dance induced by the enthralling effects of Krishn love, God Shiv played on His damru (the mini hand-drum which God Shiv holds in His hand). Fourteen very distinct sounds came out of it. Sage Panini conceived them in his Divine mind and on the basis of those Divine sounds, reestablished the science of Sanskrit grammar which already eternally existed….Since the start of human civilization on the earth, people and the Sages both spoke pure Sanskrit language. The historical records indicate that three public programs of the recitation of the Bhagwatam and the discourses on Krishn leelas had happened in Sanskrit language in 3072 BC, 2872 BC and 2842 BC in which Saints and the devotees participated. Later on when the population increased, the prakrit form of speech with partly mispronounced words (called apbhranshas) was developed in the less educated society and became popular."…

"Tulku….sprul sku….. literally: 'apparitional body.'…..Emanation body, Nirmanakaya, dimension of apparitional being, form body, manifesting body, manifestative expression of the form body, incarnate lama. Nirmanakaya, nirmanakaya. …. (embodied, apparitional, significant) being, (emanation, manifested) body, incarnate, concrete patterns, embodied buddhahood, lama, living buddha, (magical, material) dimension, emanation, authentic existence, bearers of meaning, founding strata of concrete embodiments; See also: skyes pa sprul sku, bzo pa sprul sku, mchog gi sprul sku, manifesting body, manifestative expression of the form-body, manifestation body, manifest dimension of awakening, body of emanation."….

"Phya thag…. ཕྱ་ཐག ….Cha = Phya….the dmu cord that, according to Tibetan legend, is said to connect heaven and earth……phya-cord (see dmu-thag)…..དམུ་ཐག……dmu thag……A luminous cord that connected the early Tibetan kings with the heavenly realms, where their ancestors, the class of deities called dmu lived. When the king died (or in some accounts when his son turned thirteen), he would ascend to the heavens via the cord. The dmu thag also plays a role in some Tibetan marriage ceremonies, in which the man wears a dmu thag attached to his head, while the woman wears a cord called a dbyangs thag."……..

"དམུ།…..dmu……..A class of deities who are considered to be the ancestors of man, and particularly ancestors of the Tibetan kings. In these functions, they are much like the ancetral phywa deities, to whom they are related. In some accounts of the origins of the Tibetan kings, the first king, gnya' khri btsan po is born in the land of the dmu, and descends to earth using a cord (dmu thag) or ladder (dmu skas); the king uses these to ascend back up to heaven as soon as he has a son who reaches the age of thirteen."….…..

དམུ་སྐས། ….. dmu skas/.…..Mu ladder. Similar to dmu thag.

….. “Heavenly Lustre.” This curious phrase is a translation of the Tibetan dmu zhag, a term that occurs a number of times in Mipham’s writings, but is absent from most dictionaries. I say “most” because although it is not found in popular lexicons, it does appear in Erik Haarh’s The Zhang-zhung Language (p. 37), where he says it is the equivalent of mkha’ lding, and offers the translation, “the sky-soaring one, Garuda.”….. (brda dkrol gser gyi me long) by Btsan lha ngag dbang tshul khrims (which we have had occasion to mention on this blog before), tells us (pp. 658–659) that dmu zhag is another term for g.yang (which we have translated as “spirit of abundance”) or bcud, meaning something like “vital essence” or “nutrition.”….. “heavenly lustre”? When asked about the term, Alak Zenkar Rinpoche, explained that it ultimately refers to the earliest rulers of Tibet, who, so the histories tell us, descended from, and ascended to, heaven by means of a ‘celestial cord’ (dmu thag). These divine (or semi-divine) beings, it is said, were endowed with a special, healthy-looking oil (zhag), grease or film on their skin, giving them a healthy glow or lustre. This would seem to support the spelling zhag over the alternative form zhags which is sometimes encountered."…..

"The Origin, Development, and Etymology of the Heavenly Rope…..ancient Tibetans connected the mountain gods to the more abstract conceptual class of heavenly gods, believing the peaks to be sites for passage from this world to the heavens above, sites where a rope (or step) was connected directly to heaven. Myths about this heavenly rope (dmu-thag in Tibetan) were especially prevalent among the various ethnic groups that lived near the mountains themselves….The mountain gods sometimes rise to the status of heavenly gods, and the heavenly gods sometimes descend to become mountain gods. Vod-de-gung-rgyal, for example, is a patriarchal god ranked among the so-called “nine creator-gods.” However, judging from the word vod-de-gung-rgyal, this mountain god is also a heavenly god, for in Tibetan, gung means “heaven,” and gung-rgyal signifies “heavenly king.”…After developing the conception of the heavenly gods through this kind of worship, ancient Tibetans postulated a tie between the two sets of gods. Hence the myth of the heavenly rope..".The Mythology of Tibetan Mountain Gods: An Overview by Xie Jisheng….

"In 1988 a conference was convened at the request of the Dalai Lama at which approximately 350 tulkus and Abbots attended from all five Tibetan spiritual traditions - Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyu, Gelug, and Bon…..Chongtul Rinpoche, a tulku of the Bon lineage, who was raised and educated at Menri Monastery by H. H. Menri Trizin "…..

"The Chinese word for tulku is huófó (活佛), which literally means "living Buddha" and is sometimes used to mean tulku, although this is rare outside of Chinese sources. However, according to the Dalai Lama, "this is wrong. Tibetan Buddhism recognises no such thing." Also, in interviews that he has given, the Dalai Lama has frequently dismissed the notion of 'living Buddha', referring to it as "nonsense"….. His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Japan…..Website of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, June 20th 2010.

"Sang-sol (pronounced as sāŋsöl) or incense offering is an integral part of the propitiation of gods/protective deities among Tibetan people. From the historical perspective, it appears to be a preliminary part in the rite of inviting gods/deities in removal of defilements within the human world. Commentary of Yangtse (of Bon), while narrating the descend of Nyatri Tsanpo from heaven, mentions that a trio of Bon priests were also sent along to clean defilements and great sickness of the human realm by offering sang. This testifies to the fact that the practice of removing impurity by burning incense had been there in Tibetan civilization from the earliest times…..During the reign of King Trisong Deutsan in 8th century AD, there was a wide dissemination of Buddhism, which overshadowed Bon. Nevertheless, the practice of propitiating gods/deities and sang offering that originated from Bon did not disappear with its moderation. On the contrary, Guru Padmasambhava brought under oath major divinities such as Yarlha Shampo and Thanglha Yarzhun and Tenma Chunyi, and appointed them protector deities of Tibet. Furthermore, when building Samye Monastery he commanded four great deity kings to enter into human beings to forecast future events. Bazhed and Kathang among others mention that propitiation gods/deities and sang offering gained further popularity in Tibet henceforth."…..

Soul/Spirit…"The Greek word is derived from a verb "to cool, to blow" and hence refers to the vital breath, the animating principle in humans and other animals, as opposed to σῶμα (soma) meaning "body"……The English word spirit (from Latin spiritus "breath")…..While the origin of the English word soul is obscure, the word almost certainly had its origin in a word which meant 'breath' or 'wind' or 'air', or something like that. The word spirit — generally a synonym for soul — comes from the Latin spiritus, and clearly meant 'breath' originally. Spiritual and respiratory both derive from the same root."….

"Zeus's human disguises have been compared to Plato's use of communicating through alternate characters as a means to express that the "essential philosophical nature is divine rather than human" and "cannot be represented without some element of human "disguise". In the borderlands between religion, myth and literature, Dunn in his study of the concept of incarnation notes that Greek gods appeared disguised as humans in Ovid's legend of Baucis and Philemon."…Dunn, James D. G. (2007). Christology in the Making: An Inquiry Into the Origins of the Doctrine of the Incarnation

"The Land of the Hyperboreans was the land where Apollo's mother Leto was born and the priests of Apollo descended. It was a luminous, colorful and warm island that was very hard to find, because it lied beyond the point where the north wind blows. The people of the island lived in harmony with each other and with nature. They never ate meat, only the fruits of the trees, and were immune to aging and diseases…..Every autumn, Apollo was leaving his home in Delphi to spent his winter at the mythical Land of the Hyperboreans….Up on his a winged chariot, Apollo was traveling above the clouds, slowly leaving behind Greece. During his journey, he could see the dense snow of the mountains from his chariot. But while he was approaching his destination, the snow slowly began to dwindle away. The golden rays of the sun were strong enough to pass through the clouds, illuminating a magical land. Upon arrival, Apollo got off his chariot and stepped on the green, fertile grass. Immediately, festivals started taking place, with birds flying between the trees and singing divine melodies......

"The Sanskrit noun avatāra is derived from the verbal root tṝ "to cross over", joined with the prefix ava "off, away, down". The word doesn't occur in the Vedas, but is recorded in Pāṇini. ….In Hinduism, an avatar /ˈævətɑr/ (Hindustani: [əʋˈt̪aːr], from Sanskrit अवतार avatāra "descent") is a deliberate descent of a deity to Earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being (e.g., Vishnu for Vaishnavites), and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation", but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation…"

Gautama Buddha in Hinduism…."The Buddha in Hinduism is viewed as an avatar of the god Vishnu. Buddha's teachings deny the authority of the Vedas and consequently Buddhism is generally viewed as a nāstika school (heterodox, literally "It is not so") from the perspective of orthodox Hinduism..The Buddha is described in important Hindu scriptures, including almost all the major Puranas. It is considered that not all of them refer to the same person: some of them refer to other persons, and some occurrences of "buddha" simply mean "a person possessing buddhi"; most of them, however, refer specifically to the founder of Buddhism. They portray him with two roles: preaching false views in order to delude demons, and criticizing animal sacrifice."…..

Erik Haarh…..(died 1993) was a 20th-century Danish Tibetologist, most remembered for his pioneering work on the religious ethos of the Tibetan Empire and his contributions to the study of the Zhang Zhung language…..

'od gsal lha'i gdung rabs……lineages of descendants from the gods….Rangjung Yeshe Wiki - Dharma Dictionnary

The Great Perfection (rDzogs Chen): A Philosophical and Meditative Teaching ...By Samten Gyaltsen Karmay

Rolf Stein's Tibetica Antiqua: With Additional Materials…….By R. Rolf Alfred Stein

Haarh, Erik. The Zhang-zhung Language: A Grammar and Dictionary of the Unexplored Language of the Tibetan Bonpos. Universitetsforlaget i Aarhus og Munksgaard. Copenhagen, 1968….The zhang-zhung language : a grammar and dictionary of the unexplored language of the Tibetan Bonpos. Universitetsforlaget i Aarhus og Munksgaard, 1968

The Mythology of Tibetan Mountain Gods: An Overview by Xie Jisheng….

"…the Greek philosopher Xenophanes said: "If horses had gods, they would look like horses!"


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