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More than 14,000 devotees from across the country are receiving oral transmission (jaglung) and empowerment of Nyingma Gyubum since January 16 in Gelephu, Sarpang
More than 14,000 devotees from across the country are receiving oral transmission (jaglung) and empowerment of Nyingma Gyubum since January 16 in Gelephu, Sarpang

Oral transmission of Nyingma Gyubum underway in Gelephu

More than 14,000 trulkus, lams, monks, nuns, lay-monks and devotees from across the country are receiving oral transmission (jaglung) and empowerment of Nyingma Gyubum from His Eminence Drupwang Sangay Nyenpa Rinpoche in Gelephu, Sarpang.

His Eminence Drupwang Sangay Nyenpa Rinpoche
His Eminence Drupwang Sangay Nyenpa Rinpoche

Nyingma Gyubum or the Collected Tantras of the Nyingma School is a canonical collection of esoteric tantric texts, which are mostly left out of the bipartite Himalayan Buddhist canon of Kagyurand Tengyur. It contains esoteric teachings believed to have been delivered by the Buddha in this world or in a celestial realm.

Claimed to be authentic translations created during the Early Propagation of Buddhism into Tibet of the Indic texts, which are now mostly lost, Nyingma Gyubumhas a revered canonical status in Bhutan’s religious tradition, according to Dr Karma Phuntsho (PhD) of Loden Foundation.

One of the organisers in Gelephu, Lam Nima said many religious practitioners are not aware of Nyingma Gyubum although it is one of the important tantras of Nyingma lineage. “That is why we organised such teachings in Gelephu to propagate and flourish Nyingma tantras,” Lam Nima said.

There are 35 volumes of Nyingma Gyubum and Rinpoche is administering two volumes of oral transmission every day since January 16 along with wanglung and blessings.

His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche conducted the first oral transmission of Nyingma Gyubum at Satsham Choeten in 1977. His Eminence Sangay Nyenpa Rinpoche received the empowerment when he was 13.

This is the second time His Eminence is administering oral transmission of Nyingma Gyubum in Bhutan. The last one was conducted in Tharpaling Goenpa, Bumthang in 2017.

Another organiser Yonten Jamtsho said the Terton Ratna Lingpa (1403-1471) was compiling the Nyingma Gyubum’s first evocation and Jigme Lingpa (1729-1798) built upon this compilation. It was believed to have published with the impetus of Getse Mahapandita (1761–1829), one o f Jigme Lingpa’s disciples.

Dr Karma Phuntsho, however, said that the compilation of the core texts of Nyingma Gyubum may have begun as early as the 11th century but it was in the 13th century that a proper Nyingma Gyubumwas published as funerary rites for Nyangral Nyima Ozer (1124-92). Since then, scholars estimate a couple hundred versions of the Nyingma Gyubum, including the woodblock prints of Derge, have been produced in Himalayas but most of theses versions were lost.

Today, only five versions of Nyingma Gyubumare known to exist outside the country.  In Bhutan, there are five versions including two in Gangtoe, one in Tshamdrak, one in Drametse, which was originally produced in Tsakaling, Mongar and one in Dongkarla, which was produced in Khaling. The sixth manuscript of Nyingma Gyubumin Pagar temple was destroyed by fire in 2012.

Dr Karma Phuntsho stated that the tantras in Nyingma Gyubumare said to have been left out of Kagyurdue to their questionable status as translations of authentic Indian originals. Some Tibetan scholars rejected many of the Nyingmatantras as apocryphal writings composed in Tibet. “This most likely led to the compilation of the Nyingma Gyubumas a separate canonical collection,” Dr Karma Phuntsho said.

Nevertheless, the question of Indic origin of the Nyingmatantras and the relationship between Nyingma Gyubumand Kagyuris a complex issue. Despite criticism from some scholars, most masters from Nyingma and also other traditions accepted the importance of Nyingmatantras and included them in some of the Kagyureditions.

“We can also find some tantras shared by both collections. Thus, although Nyingma Gyubumhas never fully been incorporated into the standard Kagyurset, it has been passed down as a parallel canon of tantras, which supplemented and sometimes also overlapped with Kagyur,” Dr Karma Phuntsho said.

Nyingma Gyubumis made up of esoteric tantric texts belonging to the system of teachings known as the Unsurpassable Vehicle or Inner Tantra in Vajrayana Buddhism.

The texts within the Nyingma Gyubumare organised according to the three tantric doxographical systems of Mahāyoga, Anuyoga and Atiyoga, and they enshrine the highest philosophies and practices of Vajrayāna Buddhism as espoused by the Nyingmatradition.

Some trulkus and monks from Nepal, Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Sikkim and Himachal Pradesh, India are also receiving the oral transmission, which will conclude on February 7.

The three-week oral transmission was preceded by two-weeks empowerment of the Kunzang Lamai Zhal Lung: The Words of My Perfect Teacher, composed by Patrul Rinpoche from the teachings of his Root Lama.

His Eminence Sangay Nyenpa Rinpoche was born in 1964 near Paro Taktsang and was recognised as the 10th Sangay Nyenpa Rinpoche by the 16th Karmapa His Holiness Rangjung Rigpe Dorje.

His first reincarnation was Sangay Nyempa, Tashi Paljor who was a disciple of the 7th Karmapa Choedak Gyatsho and the teacher of the 8th Karmapa Mikyo Dorje.

Rinpoche studied philosophy, tantrayana, sutrayana, liturgy and meditation for eighteen years at the Nalanda Institute in Rumtek under the spiritual guidance of the 12th Karmapa and obtained the title of Acharya. He is also a student of His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

Among many dharma projects that Rinpoche initiated, he has restored his traditional seat in Kham, Tibet and founded a Bechen Shedra in Pharping Kathmandu, Nepal.

Rinzin Wangchuk  | Gelephu

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