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Tshigdun Soldeb: The Seven Line Prayer to Guru Rinpoche

WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO: One of the most popular prayers in Bhutan and the Himalayan Buddhist world is the Seven Line Prayer (ཚིག་བདུན་གསོལ་འདེབས་) to Guru Rinpoche, sometimes referred to as the Dorje Tshigdun (རྡོ་རྗེ་ཚིག་བདུན་) or Seven Adamantine Lines. The prayer consists of praise and supplication to Guru Rinpoche in seven lines.

ཧཱུྃཿ ཨོ་རྒྱན་ཡུལ་གྱི་ནུབ་བྱང་མཚམས༔

Hūṃ! In the north-west of Oḍḍiyāna,

པདྨ་གེ་སར་སྡོང་པོ་ལ༔

On the stalk of a lotus stamen,

ཡ་མཚན་མཆོག་གི་དངོས་གྲུབ་བརྙེས༔

Endowed with the marvellous supreme attainment,

པདྨ་འབྱུང་གནས་ཞེས་སུ་གྲགས༔

Renowned as the Lotus Born,

འཁོར་དུ་མཁའ་འགྲོ་མང་པོས་བསྐོར༔

You are surrounded by a retinue of khandros.

ཁྱེད་ཀྱི་རྗེས་སུ་བདག་བསྒྲུབ་ཀྱི༔

I persevere to follow you.

བྱིན་གྱིས་བརླབ་ཕྱིར་གཤེགས་སུ་གསོལ༔

I pray to you: Come, grant me blessings.

གུ་རུ་པདྨ་སིདྡྷི་ཧཱུྂ༔

I shall accomplish the Master Pema, Hūṃ!

Some traditional sources claim that the lines were first chanted by a large gathering of spiritual beings known as ākas (མཁའ་འགྲོ་) and ākinīs (མཁའ་འགྲོ་མ་) as a panegyric invitation to Guru Rinpoche to a feast of offering. Another account has it that when the Buddhists were challenged by some non-Buddhist opponents to a religious contest in Bodh Gaya, Guru Rinpoche was invited by the followers of Buddhism using this prayer in order to lead the Buddhists in the contest and defeat the non-Buddhist opponents. However, the prayer perhaps only became known after being propagated by terton Guru Chowang in Tibet in the thirteenth century. It formed the core of the teachings entitled Secret Gathering of Gurus revealed by Guru Chowang.

Since then, the prayer has spread far and wide in the Himalayas being propagated by numerous lamas, monks, treasure discovers and other religious figures. It emerged as the most sacred, powerful and quintessential supplication to Guru Rinpoche, whose stature in the Himalayan religious world also rose in the last thousand years. Besides becoming the core liturgical component of many rituals of worship focusing on Guru Rinpoche, a popular tool of meditation and visualisation, and one of the most common prayers among followers of Guru Rinpoche, the Seven Line Prayer has also become a subject of philosophical and doctrinal discussions. Mipham Rinpoche (1846-1912), for instance, in his detailed exegesis of the Seven Adamantine Lines, unravels the obvious, hidden, secret and ultimate meanings of the lines according to the different levels of tantric philosophical and practical systems. A contemporary scholar Khenpo Rinzin Dorji interprets the Seven Line Prayers in the context of the views, meditation and conducts of the nine vehicles of the Nyingma school.

Today, the Seven Adamantine Lines is the most quintessential supplication to Guru Rinpoche. In the words of Guru Chowang, one, who chants this prayer fervently is not only protected and blessed by Guru Rinpoche but can achieve stability in meditation, flourish with wisdom, become spiritually seasoned, influential, beneficial to others, and attain all good qualities. It is praised as the great expedience to reach the state of dharmakāya. In the Secret Gathering of Gurus, Guru Rinpoche advises his followers, to fill their body, speech and mind with devotion, have total trust in him whether in happiness or in sorrow and chant this prayer thinking of him as an epitome of all objects of refuge and of hopes and aspirations. Doing so in the year, month and days associated with Guru Rinpoche makes it additionally powerful and meritorious.

Dr Karma Phuntsho is the President of the Loden Foundation, director of Shejun Agency for Bhutan’ Cultural Documentation and author The History of Bhutan.

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