Dance of the Lord of Death and his Consort (Shinje Yab Yum) (same as day one, Dance No. 1)
Dance of the four Stags (Sha Tsam)
Costume : knee-length skirts and masks of antlers
This dance extols the victory of Guru Rimpoche over the Wind God, who was also the lord of the North / West direction.
It tells of a time when the Wind God used his power to bring about suffering and misery in the world. Guru Rimpoche subdued the wind God and restored peace and happiness to the world. As a show of his victory, Guru Rimpoche rode the stag mount of the Wind God.
The stag dance came into existence after the first incarnation of Nam Nying (Namkhe Nyingpo) found the caurved head of the stag. During this dance, the gratitude of pious people is demonstrated as all agitators of the world have been overcome and happiness and peace reigns supreme.
Dance of the Judgement of the Dead (Raksha Mangcham)
This is based on the Bardo Thoedrol (book of the dead), a text hidden by Guru Rimpoche and rediscovered later by Karma Lingpa in the 14th century.
When all beings die, they wander in the Bardo (intermediate state), waiting to be led by the love of the Buddhas into the pure fields where no suffering exists. However, when the Buddhas, who assume both their peaceful and terrifying forms, appear to greet them, those who had no fervent adoration for the Buddhist doctrine in their lifetime, do not recognize the Buddhas and are frightened. They think the Buddhas are enemies and cannot, therefore, be led to paradise. The Buddhas, however, persist through different good deeds until the cycle of rebirth of the beings are complete.
Shinje Chghogyel, Lord of Death, estimates the value of good and bad deeds during the judgement . Also present are the White God and Black demons who live with every being from birth, and all the Shinje’s helpers (Rakshas) who emanate under numerous forms. These are: the ox-headed justice minister; the wild hog-headed helper who maintains account of the black and white deeds; the khyung-headed bird (the khyung is a mythical bird) who holds a small sword which cuts the root of the three poisonous-ignorance, envy, anger-and a big hammer which demolishes the rocky mountains of the sins; the lion-headed helper who holds a lasso which represents love and an iron chain representing compassion; the fierce bear-headed helper who holds the magical noose which ties the means and wisdom together and a saw which cuts selfishness; the serpent-headed helper whose mirror reflects all actions; the monkey headed helper who weighs them on a scale.
The Rakshas separate with equanimity the black from the white actions of all beings, just as in the case of the sinner Nyelwabum and the virtuous Chimdapelkye. The frightening court of justice cannot be avoided by condemned beings, but after enduring certain sufferings, their sins are washed away. Progressively, they are led to the pure fields and paradise. Unfortunately, some beings do not understand that everything is the result of their mind, whether it is pure or impure. The dance shows that if they devote themselves to virtuous actions, the will be immediately to paradise. Regarding the different forms of Shinje’s helpers, those beings who are born into the human world where the doctrine of Buddha has been propagated, recognize them as incarnations of Buddha. They are thus delivered from the frightening Bardo the paradises. The origin of this dance is to be found not only in Sutras and Tantras, but also in the books discovered by Karma Linga.
The dance can be described as more of a play than a dance and lasts approximately two hours. Firstly, there is the long dance of all the Rakshas during the judgement. Then Shinje himself appears, symbolized by a huge puppet which holds a mirror. The White God and the Black Demon enter the courtyard with him. Then the judgement begins. First the Black Demon and the main helpers perform a dance. Then the sinner who is dressed in black and wearing a hat arrives. He is very frightened and tries to escape but is recaptured each time by the helpers. From his basket, a freshly severed cow’s head is taken, implying that the sinner was responsible for killing it. The judge then weighs his actions. Afterwards the White God sings of the merits of the man, followed by the Black Demon who expounds the sins of the man. Finally a black strip of cloth symbolizing the road to hell, is spread and the sinner sentenced there.
This is followed by a general dance after which everyone assumes their former seating positions. Another man arrives. He is clad in white and holds a prayer flag and a ceremonial scarf, indicating his virtues. The same scene as above is re-enacted and at the conclusion a white strip of cloth, symbolizing the road to heaven, is spread out. Fairies elaborately dressed in brocade and bone ornaments come to fetch him. At the last moment, the Black Demon, furious at having lost a being, tries to grasp the virtuous man but the White God protects him.
Dance of the Drums from Dramitse (Dramitse Nga Cham) (Same as Day one, Dance No. 4)
The Great Paro Thongdrol is unfurled early in the morning and a Shugdrel ceremony performed.
The history and significance of the Paro Thongdrol (Thanka)
The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas possess indiscernible virtues which permit them to liberate from sufferings even those who are sent straight to hell.
There, people have only to think, to touch, to taste, to smell, to listen and to see the body supports of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. This is called liberation by mind, by touch, by knowledge, by taste, by smell, be listening and by sight.
The people who know virtuous and unvirtuous deeds, because of their devotion and faith in the support of Body, Speech and Mind of the Buddha, have created the thanka, the mere sight of which liberates. Nowhere in this mundane world can be found a more superior treasure.
In order to help all the sentient beings who are nowadays impure, the Buddhas of the ten directions consulted each other and united their virtues of compassion resulting in the arrival of Ugyen Rimpoche on earth.
During a previous life, he was born to a woman poultry farmer. At that time, while erecting the great chorten of Jarunghashor (Bodhanath in Nepal), Ugyen Rimpoche vowed to have compassion for sentient beings, particularly those of Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim.
This is why our accomplished forefathers made the great thanka which represents Ugyen Rimpoche and his eight manifestations, the sight of which liberates. They also established the code of veneration and offerings to it. Both in this life and the next, it is hoped that those who have a great desire to be delivered from trans-migratory existence develop and protect this excellent ancient custom.
Shugdrel Ceremony (blessing and Offering Ceremony performed by the Monk Body in front of the Thanka). Regardless of the size and importance of any auspicious occasion, the Shugdrel Ceremony is done to show the main achievement of the Glorious Drukpa. For this Shugdrel Ceremony, there are three of five accomplished elements as follows :
An accomplished place
It is here in the Kingdom of Bhutan, the Valley of Medicinal Herbs where the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, Shakya Thubpa (the historical Buddha) Ugyen Rimpoche (the saint who leads people away from the five impurities) and the powerful Drukpa shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, have diffused the Tantras.
An accomplished master
He is Ugyen Pemajyune who incorporates within himself all the Buddhas. His image can be seen on the great Thanka which liberates all from bad reincarnations.
An accomplished retinue
The holy clergy and even the devout people who wear rich clothes and ornaments are in the middle of the assembly like a gathering of celestial stars.
An accomplished time
This is when religious practices continuously flourish, ranging from reciting Mani and Baza Guru up to the practice of the Tantric path.
An accomplished requisite for offerings
All kinds of offerings are combined, good food and fruits, prayer flags, nectar like alcohol, tea and sweet-smelling incense.
Like cheerful minded gods in a small grove of trees, a number of men and gods are seated in rows (literal meaning of Shugdrel) and are making these offerings. This good custom is called the Shugdrel Ceremony.
Dance of the Heroes (Pacham)
Costume : knee-length yellow skirt and golden crown. The dancers hold a small bell (drilbu) and a small drum (Damaru).
The great ‘Treasure-Discover’ Pemalingpa arrived in the presence of Ugyen Rimpoche, at the summit of the Zangtho Pelri, in the middle of a marvelous palace of lotus beams which reflected the wisdom large and deep as the sky, without obstacles. There he saw Ugyen Rimpoche, the Lord who leads the beings of the three worlds, sitting among his assistantsin the centre of a limitless mandala which was made of lines of rainbow beams. In the mandala, the assembly of the sages, of the tutelary deities, of the heroes (Pawos) and the heroines (Kandom Pamo) were dancing in the forms of various emanations of the peaceful and terrifying deities. All sorts of dances were performed and all sorts of harmonious melodies which are the sounds of the religion of the Great Path (Northern branch of Buddhism) were sung. Among this congregation, the assembly of the peaceful heroes and heroines is the most important. They are as numerous as the moving clouds in order to celebrate the deep and large religion and their function is to lead the believers who die into the presence of Ugyen Rimpoche.
Dance of the Ging and Tsholing
Costume : The Tsholing wear long colourful dresses and terrifying masks. The Ging wear orange skirts, terrifying black and orange masks with a flag on top, and hold a big drum and a curved drumstick.
On the occasion of the consecration of the Samye Monastery in Tibet, Guru Rimpoche initiated this dance to show the people of Tibet the Zangtho Pelri, his realm.
The dance depicts the paradise of Ugyen Rimpoche from where all the incarnations of Ugyen Rimpoche, essence of all the Budhas, are sent to the Three Worlds. In the middle of a great palace is seated Ugyen Rimpoche. On his right the holy men are Tibet and India are seated in a row and on his left the learned men (Pandits) from Tibet and India. In all the intermediate zones are the 108 ‘Treasure Discoverers’ (terton) who are his incarnations, and also his twenty five disciples, including the king of Tibet Trisongdetsen.
In the centre of a rainbow, the assembly of tutelary deities (Yidam), heroes (pawos) and fairies (Kandoms), peaceful and terrifying, as if by magic, sing, dance and spread from the clouds three kinds of offerings. It is these offerings that grant both the ordinary and extraordinary realisation.
All the protectors of the religion, male and female, in their fierce form, are guarding the four outer dooars while the four Guardian Kings of the directions command an army of eight classes of spirits. These subdue all the demons who create obstacles to the Doctrine of Buddha. All these wonders have been personally observed by the ‘Treasure Discoverer’ Pemalinga.
Besides, a long time ago in Tibet, in order to introduce Buddhism, King Trisongdetsen built a large monastery in Samye. Ugyen Rimpoche, by showing hi magical powers through incarnations, subdued all the demons who were preventing its construction. Thus he fulfilled a religious commitment to the King.
These incarnations are manifested in the Ging and Tsholing Dance: the inner dance called the Ging Dance is performed by the assembly of heroes (Pawos), tutelary deities (Yidams) and fairies (Hansoms) as well as the various terrifying deities. The outer dance called Tsholing Dance, is performed by the protectors of the religion with their retinue of eight classes of spirits. This dance, which brings blessings, is performed in order to remove all obstacles to the Doctrine as well as to bring happiness to all sentient beings. When the Ging and Tsholing performed this miraculous and agitated dance, they discourage the external demons and demonstrate clearly their magical powers by which they can overcome the demons.
This dance is clearly a dance of purification before the arrival of Guru Rimpoche. People whistle to chase away the bad spirits and Ging hit everyone on the head with their drumsticks to chase away impurity from the body.
The Tsholing, after having destroyed the evil spirits symbolized by an effigy in a black box, are chased away by the Ging who stay alone and perform a dance of victory by beating their drums.
Dance of the Eight Manifestations of Guru Rimpoche (Guru Tshen Gye)
The eight different forms that Guru Rimpoche assumed in order to convert different kinds of beings into Buddhism are represented in this dance.
Ugyen Rimpoche is the second Buddha and the incarnations of Avalokiteshvara (Thugje Chenpo), Lord of Compassion. When he was born the son of a poultry farmer, he vowed to guide all beings of the world, particularly those of Sikkim, Bhutan and Tibet. That was why he came to these regions. When Buddha was about to enter Nirvana, he prophesized to his disciples: ‘Don’t be sad, I will be coming from the West’. Thus he reappeared as Ugyen Rimpoche.
When the 100,000 fairies of wisdom were begging the Buddhas of the 10 directions to send somebody to guide all being, this was discussed at length and then all the virtues of their body, speech and mind were summed up in Ugyen Rimpoche. He came in order to guide he beings who live in the age of impurity.
His activities are beyond description, However, here is how he helped the beings of this continent through his eight manifestations :
He was born from a blue lotus on the lake of Danakosha in Oddhyana and was invited to become the son of King Indrabhuti. Then he was called Guru Tshokye Dorji, ‘Diamond Thunderbolt’ born from a lake’.
He renounced his kingdom and went to receive teachings from the Master Prabhati in the Maratika cave in Nepal. Then he was called Guru Shakya Senge., ‘The Lion of the Shakya clan’.
After listening to all the teachings of the Vajrayana, ‘The Diamond Path’ and after mastering the sciences of all Indian Pandits, he obtained full realization and was able to see all the gods and tutelary deities (yidam). The he was called Guru Loden Chogsey, ‘Guru’ who wants to acquire supreme knowledge.
After the marriage with the daughter of the King of Zahor, he was condemned to be burnt by the King. Through his magical powers, he turned the pyre into a lake and converted the kingdom to Buddhism. The he was called Guru Padmasambhava, the one ‘born from a lotus’.
· When he returned to Oddhyana, the evil chiefs there wanted to burn him. But the fire would not consume his body. So the chiefs offered him the kingdom and its subjects. Then he was called Guru Pema Gyelpo, the ‘Lotus King’.
When he was preaching to the fairies (Khandoms) in the eight cremation grounds, he caught the ‘life force’ of the evil deities and turned them into protectors of the doctrine. Then he was called Nyma Yeoser, the ‘Sunbeam’.
As five hundred heretic Masters were trying to destroy the Doctrine of Buddha, he vanquished them all through the power of his words. He brought down the thunderbolt which burned them. He was then called Senge Dradrok, ‘the one who speaks with a lion voice’.
When he was at Senge Dzong in Kurtoe and at Taktsang in Paro, he was in the form of Dorje Dragpo, the ‘Terrifying Thunderbolt’. He subdued all the evil spirits who hindered Buddhism and blessed them as guardians of the Doctrine. He was then called Guru Dorji Drolo, the ‘thunderbolt’.
The fairy who is standing on the right of Guru Rimpoche is Mandarava, the lady of wisdom. Ugyen Rimpoche made her his own emanation for the benefit of the beings to be converted in the Kingdom of Zahor.
The fairy who is standing at his left is Yeshy Tshogyel. She represents the goddess of knowledge, mother of all the Buddhas. She helped to establish Buddhism in Tibet for the benefit of all beings.
27. Dance of the Sixteen Fairies (Rigma Chudrug)
The sixteen fairies (Rigma Dhudrug) are sixteen emanations of the same person. They are Goddesses of offerings who are divided into four categories. Each category is again divided into four, totaling 16.
The dance brings total happiness for the people who believe in the manifestations of Ugyen Rimpoche. It is a celebration of the changeless faith in the glorious deeds of Ugyen Rimpoche’s mind, speech and body.
Chhoshey : Religious Songs (same as Day one, No. 6)