“Gods and Asuras with their crowns
bow down at your lotus feet.
To the one who liberates the destitute
Mother Tārā I prostrate and praise!
–excerpt from the new long ritual for the five-deity Tārā
“The previous Bokar Rinpoche, wherever he went he always brought the statue of Tarā with him. When I met him, it seemed like in every shrine room there was a Tarā statue, there were peaceful, enriching and magnetising Tarās but it didn’t seem like there were any wrathful ones!”
Today, 5th February 2023, on the full moon, and final day of the Special Kagyu Monlam 2023 the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, gave a short introduction to, and led a full ritual online (in Tibetan script only) of a new five-deity Tārā ritual he composed and arranged, based on the text by 1st Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa as passed down from Nāgārjuna (see video here).
I have written about the five-deity Tārā (and translated a short daily practice from the Indian root text of Master Nāgārjuna, preserved in the Collected Works of 1st Karmapa) here, and also done the same for the five-deity Hayagrīva here, which was also recently transmitted and led by the 17th Karmapa for the Kagyu Winter Debate (January 2022) teaching.
The stunning new ritual compiled by the 17th Karmapa, is a much longer one than the daily self-visualisation, but the visualisation of the five goddesses and implements is the same, but in slightly different locations relative to the central green Tārā. The Karmapa explained how finding such rituals that have all three levels of the visualisation, the four-fold mandala offering to Tārā and the thousand-fold offering are extremely rare indeed. The Karmapa mentioned in the future he would also compose a short, daily practice for it. I have transcribed the brief introduction that the 17th Karmapa gave here below.
Interestingly the text also contains an extensive repetition of a prostration and praises to Tārā, which involved the monastics prostrating as they chanted it (reproduced in the quote above). I recognised the words as being the same as that used in the Daily White Tārā practice of the 1st Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye.
This is then followed by a transcript of the Karmapa’s Special Address at the end of the Monlam, in which he speaks about the previous Bokar Rinpoche’s love for Tārā and her statues (albeit not the wrathful ones), Khenpo Donyo Lodro’s relation with the former Bokar Rinpoche, and the importance of his continuing to be a guide with affection and love, for the current Bokar Rinpoche, something the Karmapa revealed that he never had when he was a child and teenager. The Karmapa expressed how he was surrounded by people who only gave him orders, but no-one who really had love, affection and guidance for him. The brief speech finished with a discussion of his deep wish to return to India but also some of the difficulties of his own personal situation regarding coming there again, as well as his hopes to also go to Nepal and Bhutan.
May it be of benefit and may we all achieve the state of the five-deity Tārā mandala! May the 17th Karmapa have a long-life, free of obstacles and the Karma Kamtsang teaching and lineage holders flourish!
Music? Tārā Prayer by 17th Karmapa and You are so Beautiful by Joe Cocker. For the Marme Monlam, You Light Up My Life by Leann Rimes.
Written and offered by Adele Tomlin, 5th February 2023.
FIVE-DEITY TĀRĀ TEACHING BY 17th KARMAPA
“Today, we are doing the five deity tara Practice. The five deities of Tārā, if we do a brief introduction to this practice, it was passed from Nagarjuna down to ama Bero (Vairocana from Tibet and to Dusum Khyenpa. He had five sets of five-deity practices, the five-deity Cakrasaṁvara, five-deity Hayagriva, five-deity Vajravarāhi, five-deity Hevajra and five-deity Tārā. A few days ago, in the Kagyu Guncho we did the five-deity Hayagrīva which was possibly practised up to the time of the 10th Karmapa. Since then, this is the first time it has been practised with a large group of sangha together.
In particular, in the Karma Kamtsang we have a tradition of practising the five-deity Cakrasaṁvara and Varāhi, those two are still with us, the but the practices of five-deity Tārā, five-deity Hevajra and five-deity Hayagriva, are almost totally lost. It is difficult to even hear the words mentioned of them. As I explained the other day, when the lamas from other lineages ask Karma Kamtsang monks who the five deities of Dusum Khyenpa, they are they are unable to answer. This is the situation we are in, so this is a time when those five sets of five-deity practices have declined.
So, today we have the five-deity Tārā. I was very busy with this. We have the winter teachings, and the Life and Liberation of Atisha, and after that some other work. So, was very busy. We will recite all the ritual, however I did not really get time to interpret and write notes and comments for the ritual. However, the whole text we will recite today is basically fine. We will recite it once. Perhaps, in the future, we will also recite this ritual during the spring teachings with the nuns. In that way, we can do the full practice of it. At that point, I will give the transmission of it then. Today, we will do it just to make a connection with it.
The five-deity Tārā we are doing today is not a separate practice but is in the Knowing One Liberates All by 9th Karmapa and there is also a short practice on it by Pawo Tsuglag Trengwa. There are a few very concise texts from the Indian tradition that are in the Collected Works of Dusum Khyenpa. However, I thought for this we could make a complete ritual.
We are not only doing the ritual but also doing the four mandala practice of Tārā based on the oral instructions of the Kadampa, which are primarily on how to recite the 21 Homages of Tārā, which I have included in this ritual. On top of that, I have also included the thousand-fold offerings. So there is the full practice and the thousand-fold offerings. Such practices like that are rare, there are maybe a few in the Gelug tradition. However, those that have both the four mandalas and the thousand fold offerings are extremely rare.
Normally, when doing the usual practice then it is not necessary to do all that. If you are only doing the daily practice you can do just the self-visualisation practice. So, later I will write a short daily practice to do that. However, if you would like to do one a bit longer, then there is the four mandala offering. In the Kamtsang lineage, we primarily do the four mandala offering by the Khatog Rigzin Tsewang. In the future, when we do the four mandala practice of Tārā it is good to also do this five-deity practice of Tārā. In the future, if you sometimes want to do the thousand-fold offering, you can add that. So, there are three levels of the practice, and today we will do it with all the three levels.”
As the Chinese translator was unable to attend, the Karmapa gave the same address in Chinese.
END OF MONLAM ADDRESS BY 17TH Karmapa
The Karmapa first thanked everyone who had done the excellent preparations and that everyone said that people had Bokar Shedra had worked very hard and that all the expenses were paid by the Bokar Monastery Labrang. Then he went on to say:
“Today, we had the practice of the five deity Tara, the previous Bokar Rinpoche, wherever he went he always brought the statue of Tara statue with him. When I met him, it seemed like in every shrine room there was a Tara statue, there were peaceful, enriching, magnetising but I don’t think there were any wrathful ones! Khenpo Donyo Lodro also has as his deity, his main source of hope is also Tara. During the Kagyu Guncho we had the practice of the five deity Hayagriva and when I mentioned this to Khenpo Donyo he said it would be good to do the five deity Tara practice and suggested that, we spoke about it. So, during the Kagyu Guncho, even though I was very busy and could not complete the whole ritual in writing, the fact we did this elaborate and lengthy Tara practice is a very good connection to make with it.”
The Karmapa then went on to talk about the relationship between Bokar Rinpoche and Khenpo Donyo Lodro Rinpoche:
“Bokar Yangsi Rinpoche is quite young and Khenpo Lodro Donyo Rinpoche has reached the age of 80. During his birthday celebrations, I told him he should make the determination to live another ten to twenty years to support the teachings and the Kagyu and the activities of the current Bokar Rinpoche.
Khenpo Donyo Lodro Rinpoche was always with the former Bokar Rinpoche, they were very close, and this is a very good example for all to see. All the people at the monasteries would say that they were both inseparable. This was praised highly. Many Geshes I know told me about this and praised it highly. So, Khenpo had a very strong connection with the previous Bokar Rinpoche. So, if Khenpo Lodro can give guidance to the young Bokar Rinpoche, that would be good. Like a teacher, a refuge and so on.
When I was young, I didn’t have anyone like that. I had people around me who were more like a boss, they told me what to do and gave me orders but no one who really treated me well or gave me guidance on the path, I did not really have anyone like that. So now that Bokar Rinpoche is very young, it is good if someone has affection and love for him and gives him guidance as opposed to saying you should do this and that, who only gives orders. Rather someone who has love and affection from the depths of their heart. There is no one can do that better than Khenpo Donyo. So if he can live another ten or twenty years, that is good.”
The Karmapa ended with some personal information about his wish to return to India, but also in the future, Nepal and Bhutan:
“So, we will have the Spring teachings for the nuns. We did not have an actual Kagyu Monlam, and the reason for that is many people gather from all over the world for that, so this year I expressed my view that we should put it off for a year. However, I think that next year we will be able to have our Monlam in Bodh Gaya. So it has been a few years that we have not been able to have a Monlam.
For myself personally, it has been several years that I have been unable to go to India. Five or six years. It is my hope to return to India. It is not that I do not want to come back there at all. I absolutely and definitely want to come there.
I don’t need to mention the reasons I want to come back. You all know. However, for the last 18 years most of the time I spent was in India, during that time there were many events and situations and difficulties that happened. That experience and the imprints of that are still there. So it is not so easy to go back immediately. If I were to go back and experience all the difficulties and not have much freedom, there would not be much point to that. If I went back to as it was before, and spend another decade like that, there would be no point to it. I am in my 30s now, and if I were to spend two more decades there, then I would be an old man and there would be no point to that. So this is something we need to be relaxed about and look at very carefully.
As I said before, the noble land of India and Tibet have had a connection for thousands of years. In particular, in the time that HH 14th Dalai Lama went to India, sixty years ago, we have a very deep connection. There is no need to say this. There is a very deep connection between the Tibetans and India.
Similarly, if we think about Kagyu tradition, we have established many monasteries in India and have many great beings there. So the fact that that is a very important relationship and connection, goes without saying. I consider this really very precious and valuable.
However, as I mentioned before, this is the basic way we need to think, but in terms of how we need to do it and the methods, we need to be skilful about it. If we don’t have the right method, just being skilful about it is not enough. This is important to understand. In the future, when our karma and aspirations come together, I hope to return to India. Also to Nepal or Bhutan. In the past I was unable to go there also to Nepal and Bhutan. My connection is not greater but it is not lesser. I have huge hope that we have this great fortune to do that and be relaxed in your minds and do not worry.
We are having discussions with the Indian government but I cannot just go any time, because I had difficulties before. If I have difficulties again. Then it will be very difficult. It is not something I want to think about, but I have to. For example, I have been unable to visit Nepal. I did cross through it on the way for a few hours. But since then I have never been able to go to Nepal. So I have a great hope in the future that I will be able to go to Nepal. Likewise with Bhutan. During the times of the previous Karmapas such as the 15th and 16th, they had a great connection with the Bhutanese Kings. Even during the time of the 8th Karmapa, Mikyo Dorje, and also the 1st Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa there is an account that he visited the Paro Tagtsang, so there is a connection from that time. So I also have a great hope to visit Bhutan and ask you please to keep this all in mind.”
[For more on the 16th Karmapa’s connection to Bhutan and the Bhutanese Royal Family, see here.]
GREEN TĀRĀ OF THE ACACIA FOREST (Sengdeng Nagki) AND THE FIVE-DEITY TĀRĀ PRACTICE OF FIRST KARMAPA : Overview of the Green Tārā origin and lineage and new translation of Five-Deity Tārā short practice from 1st Karmapa’s ‘Five sets of Five’, and transcribed teachings on Green Tārā by 17th Karmapa
CLEAR REALISATION OF THE FIVE-DEITY HAYAGRĪVA (TAMDRIN) from the ‘Five Sets of Five’ of the First Karmapa: An Introduction and translation of short, daily practice text
LADY WITH THE FLOWER: NOBLE TĀRĀ AND THE GYALWANG KARMAPAS. Overview of Karmapas’ works on Tārā and first translation of Tārā Supplication by 16th Karmapa
ENTERING THE 16TH KARMAPA’S MANDALA: AS TOLD BY HIS TRANSLATOR, ACHI TSEPEL: The 16th Karmapa’s magnetic qualities, Hugh Richardson’s weeping, meeting foreign leaders, gifts of Bumthang valley land and diplomatic passport by the Bhutanese and severe sickness before Rumtek monastery founding ceremony. (41st Parinirvana Anniversary of 16th Karmapa)
BOKAR RINPOCHE PARANIRVANA ANNIVERSARY, THE KALACAKRA RELIC STUPA AND KARMA KAGYU KALACAKRA LINEAGE
Karma Kagyu Kālacakra Masters and the Bokar Rinpoche Kālacakra Stupa
One thought on “17th Gyalwang Karmapa on the five-deity Tārā practice of 1st Karmapa, new ritual text and closing speech for the Special Kagyu Monlam 2023(February 2022)”
P.S. I forgot to mention that the Sengdongma text I have in English is somewhat incomplete, ergo my initial e-mail to you. I found this to be somewhat strange, but I was a newbie to the dharma when I received this wongkur. Daniel