Tropu Lotsawa (1172-1236): translator and builder of religious institutions in 13th Century Tibet.
At the head of each sub-sect were individuals of social and religious accomplishment who led diverse and dynamic religious communities that acted out social and political functions. These individuals and their communities became an animating force of thirteenth century Tibet, creating new schools of Buddhism through teacher-disciple lineages, teachings, and tutelary deity devotions validated by family and clan pedigree. (3) One paradigmatic individual exemplifying this was Tropu Lotsawa Jampapel (1172-1236 CE), an early progenitor of the Tropu Kagyupa sub-sect and prolific translator of Buddhist scripture. (4) As the abbatial throne-holder of Tropu monastery, Tropu Lotsawa Jampapel personified the ability of Buddhism to concentrate religious and social authority. Tropu Lotsawa was a translator of Buddhist scripture, holder of lineages, host to three important Indian Buddhist teachers and the creator of religious monuments that marked sacred space and demonstrated wealth. The authority deposited in him and religious exemplars like him, was an extension of the power of Buddhism itself. By the thirteenth century Buddhism and social prosperity had forged an inseparable link in Tibet. As Ronald Davidson writes, "Empire building had become an extension of Buddhism's 'magical' effect ..." (5) This magical effect dates back to the beginnings of the Tibetan Empire where conceptions of divine kingship existed. (6) Tropu Lotsawa's life is an example not of a divine king but a wealthy scion of Tibetan nobility, a builder of a socio-religious institution who led a life dedicated to religious goals. The following essay will examine the life of Tropu Lotsawa with a focus on how he participated in the building of social-religious institutions, an intertwining of the sacred, authority and governance. Along the way to unraveling the life of Tropu Lotsawa, particular attention will be given to the religious community at Tropu, the religious individuals and their Buddhist practices and monuments, and the lineages formed by and through Tropu Lotsawa himself with three great Buddhist masters.
A basic definition of an institution, and a starting point for how Buddhist subsects functioned as one, is a governing body that creates normative boundaries for behavior, resources (i.e. land, economic currency, manpower etc.) and focuses these toward certain social, and in the models of thirteenth century Tibet, religious, ends. (7)
The Buddhist monastery by the time of Tropu Lotsawa's life exhibited all of these capacities. Behavior was regulated through boundaries of orthodoxy, prescribed behaviors that helped tame behavior and created a system that encouraged certain behaviors and practices while discouraging others. Monasteries were often a center of interactions and formed an integral part of communities, their economics and commerce. (8) Buddhism itself was frequently involved in inter-regional economics and spread from India along trade routes by merchants. It was not only the interactions of the affluent, the merchants and traders that would have interacted at the monastery, but also the locals of each community. As Yamamoto notes, farmers and nomads would do seasonal festivals and exchanges at monasteries. (9) The social, economic and religious well being of a community was intertwined with the functionality of a monastery, which was under the auspices of select individuals. (10) These monasteries continued to grow and gained the patronage of wealthy donors. (11) As a result the monasteries accrued land and wealth. (12) The abbots and leaders of various Buddhist sub-sects, the throne holders of these monasteries, were at the center of this growth, acting out religious functions as shapers of tradition and practice and secular functions through governance and economic control. Monasteries administered power not only in the religious realm but exerted authority in secular affairs evidenced by the creation of different positions for different social faces and functions. (13) These new offices collected taxes, controlled armies and exerted symbolic and physical force over territory.
By the thirteenth century, royalty-based rule in Tibet had been displaced by the authority of Buddhist monks in what formed a religio-political system where religious leaders served the dual role of temporal and spiritual leader. (14) The clan system persisted in many ways, however morphed to form the basis of the different lineages and sub-sects of Tibetan Buddhism. (15) An inverse formulation of this relationship is equally true. It was not necessarily monks rising to power but those in power seeing a life of religion, even one regulated by the vows of a monk, as not restricted or contradictory to a life of land ownership and political authority. This idea of familial lines, belonging to certain clans, was a source of validation even in the religious world. (16)
This system of hereditary self-justification was a process at work in Tropu Lotsawa's life. Although little is known about his parents, he was from a young age given to his uncles for education and to later serve as the heir to the monastic throne at Tropu monastery. (17) According to the Lho rong chos 'byung, Tropu Lotsawa was born to Jophen, his father, and mother, Segmo Salje. (18) According to the Lho rong chos 'byung at the age of ten, he took novice vows from Gyaltsa and Kunden Repa. At the age of nineteen Gyaltsa, mentioned as the abbot of Tropu monastery, along with a certain Tsang kar, and his other uncle Kunden Repa gave him full ordination. It was these same two that gave him a name that would stay with him his whole life, Jampapel. He continued to study under these two, receiving from them various precepts. Prior to his travel to India, at the age of twenty-four he performed the funeral ceremony for Gyaltsa, showing the special place he held under his uncle. (19)
His two uncles, Kunden Repa and Gyaltsa had achieved some degree of religious notoriety but their clan affiliation continued to be an epitaph explicating their social prominence. (20) They were part of a precious lineage, the Nubs clan. (21) Following the fragmentation of 842 CE, various local lords who managed estates formed hereditary clans named after the geographical area of their land holdings. These clans traced their lineage back to a common ancestor often making marital alliances with neighboring clans. The Nubs clan was an example of one of these lines, which would create an important link between Gyaltsa, and a consanguine link to Tropu Lotsawa's, a yoke with a hereditary line of historic prominence in Tibet. Van der Kuijp calls Tropu Lotsawa "a scion of Tibetan Landed nobility." (22) The lineage of Tropu Lotsawa from a noble family would further be enhanced by his forging of a link to three prominent Indian masters, a building of a lineage that would assure his place as a member of Tibet's religious aristocracy.
While its Buddhist activities have lived on in the histories of Tibet, the place of Tropu did not come into existence with the building of a monastery. Located near Puntsok, west of Shigatse, little is known about the types of daily economic activity and social life of Tropu. One brief discussion of the later Sakya period's division of Tibet into various administrative districts called Tri kor does shed a little light on how such areas functioned in secular matters and later came to be administrated. (23) When the Mongols arrived in Tibet around 1247 CE, it was Sakya Pandita who was appointed by the Mongol Godan to govern Tibet. Following the political ascendancy of Sakya Pandita, different parts of Tibet were divided-most likely for purposes of taxation and governance. In a further sub-division from each Tri kor were two groups of Tong kor, or "communities of 1,000." (24) The place Tropu was considered a Tong kor subdivision of Chumik. According to Roberto Vitali, a Tong kor was a "monastic community of one thousand, with which secular functions were evidently associated." (25)
By the time of the Sakya rule, only slightly after the death of Tropu Lotsawa in 1236 CE, Tropu monastery and its community of monks was large enough to participate in the activities of Tibet as a functioning socio-religious institution.
Despite the secular functions mentioned by Vitali, the community of Tropu was founded on and perpetuated through religious practice and activities. The religious history of Tropu monastery started with the maternal uncle of Tropu Lotsawa, Gyaltsa (1118- 1195 CE). Gyaltsa's teachers were a mix of Kargyupa and Nyingma.26 Gyaltsa mastered many teachings, Mahamudra, the Chod system from a student of Machik Labdron, Lam skor and more. Gyaltsa's main teacher was Phagmo Drupa. Previous to his full time entrance into the religious world, Gyaltsa had worked with traders and batterers as a merchant. (27) It was the networking of his life as a trader that brought him into contact with influential figures, the most so for Gyaltsa being Phagmo Drupa. The wealth accumulated by Gyaltsa's exploits in trade allowed him to become a patron to the community of Phagmo Drupa. Landowners such as Gyaltsa, who purchased plots of land for religious training and practice, were wealthy nobleman who often came from long lines of hereditary wealth. The life of Gyaltsa as a trader turned monk, is indicative of a larger trend of the period. His resources were invested in religious ends, first as a patron of the Phagmo Drupa community and then as a purchaser of land for religion practice. The first monastic community at Tropu included about twenty monks who focused on mind concentration. (28) At the age of fifty-four, just prior to his purchase of the land at Tropu, Gyaltsa took full ordination. (29)
What began as small group of monks at Tropu monastery flourished into a thriving, eclectic and dynamic community. Another important presence in the early stages of religious practice at Tropu monastery and also impactful in the life of Tropu Lotsawa was Kunden Repa (1148-1217 CE). A brief biography found in the bka'brgyudchos 'byung nor bu'i phreng ba describes some events of Kunden Repa's life. (30) He is called the younger sibling of Gyaltsa and was born in 1148 CE. According to this text Kunden Repa cultivated the urge to take up a life of religious devotion after hearing the biography of Milarepa read aloud. He then made a vow to live his life as a replication of Milarepa's. The rest of his life and exact teachings he was responsible for are sparse. Like his brother Gyaltsa, he seemed to have had a strong relationship with Phagmo Drupa, his primary teacher. He became a mahasiddha while learning under Phagmo Drupa and even oversaw the construction of the monastery that held the monastic seat of Phagmo Drupa. There are also brief mentions of miracles associated with Kunden Repa. One tells of a famine that struck Tropu monastery. Using his hand-staff he made food appear at the threshold of the monastery at Tropu, making the famine subside. Alongside Gyaltsa he ordained the young Tropu Lotsawa. At the age of seventy, in the year 1217, he died.
Aside from the well-respected teachers Gyaltsa and Kunden Repa, there were also other religious practices at Tropu. In the same vein of famous women teachers such as Machik Labdron was Machik Rema, a student of Mitrayogin. (31) During Mitrayogin's eighteen-month stay at Tropu monastery, sometime around 1197 CE, she learned from Mitrayogin the lineage of the "Cutting the Flow of Samsara." (32) She was a direct disciple of Kunden Repa and was described as, "A great yogini who clearly did realize the way things are, emptiness." (33)
She is chronicled to have great powers such as clairvoyance. (34) She raised Chegom Dzongpa Sherab Dorje, another figure who had great success from his start at Tropu. (35) According to the Chos rje khrophu Machik Rema died when Tropu Lotsawa was fifty-one years old, which would make the approximate year of her death 1223 CE. (36) According to one source, referring to her as the consort of Tropu, she died when she was sixty-eight years old. (37)
Tropu Lotsawa was an inheritor of this rich history and built on it in substantial ways, responsible for in his own way changing the course of Buddhism in Tibet. One product of the resurgence of Tibetan culture, in what has been called the Tibetan Renaissance, was the rise of Buddhist translators to a new height as rejuvenators of religion, bringers of political prosperity and agents of power. (38) The translators formed what Davidson calls a new Tibetan aristocracy. (39) As the agents of transformation, an alchemist of sorts of Buddhist doctrine, they were in essence a concrete actualization bringing Buddhism from India to Tibet. This gave the translators a unique position as the mediators of important teachings and allowed them to be in possession of some of the most important texts in Tibetan Buddhism. This process of standardizing certain practices and texts as authenticated by these translators allowed Buddhism in Tibet to shape the behavior of its adherents and to build institutions, a pivotal role in organizing Tibet politically and socially.
Tropu Lotsawa walked a path worn and well traveled by translators before him. (40) Sometime after turning nineteen, he began to cultivate an intense desire to become a translator of Buddhist scriptures. This was prompted from his personal interactions with a relatively unknown translator, Kar Lotsawa. Not much is known about Kar Lotsawa other than his abilities in Sanskrit and possibly a different Indian vernacular. According to Tropu Lotsawa's autobiography Kar Lotsawa stayed at Tropu monastery learning from Gyaltsa, Tropu Lotsawa's uncle, and meanwhile telling Tropu Lotsawa stories from India. Most likely these fantastic tales of exotic travels would have incited his desire to travel to India. A conversation recorded by Tropu Lotsawa between Kar Lotsawa and Gyaltsa tells of Kar Lotsawa mentioning Tropu Lotsawa's coming from a noble family, it would make sense for the young man to travel to India to learn how to be a translator. For nonspecific reasons, Gyaltsa is unenthusiastic about the prospect and says that Tropu Lotsawa is needed to stay at the monastery and teach religion otherwise he could go. It may have been the tumultuous situation of India causing Gyaltsa's reticence, as will be discussed in a later section. Tropu Lotsawa bided his time until he was able to travel to India and sought out a local Sanskritist. Accompanied by three personal attendants, he studied with Zhang Lotsawa in Tibet. However, the situation in northern India made it impossible for him to get further than the Kathmandu Valley. (41)
While learning under Zhang Lotsawa, Tropu Lotsawa's curriculum was rigorous, inicluding Smrtijnanakirti's Vacanamukhdyudhopama, the Sabddvatara, the Vyd-karandlamkdra and the Amarakosa amongst others. Tropu Lotsawa was involved in the later transmission and handing down of these texts and more amongst the literati of Tibet during his life. According to van der Kuijp, the very important Amarakosa text was first mentioned in Tibetan literature in an autobiography of Tropu Lotsawa, signaling him as one of the first Tibetan translators to work with the text. (42) As will be discussed, aside from hereditary and teacher lines, facilitating verifiable teachings was an important process of centering power in the monastery. (43)
The Blue Annals recounts a bout of sickness battled by Tropu Lotsawa while in India marked by a severe fever. (44) The young Tibetan survived the illness but this illustrates sacrifices in becoming a translator were great. The roads between India and Tibet at this time were often unsafe, prone to robberies and bandits. Furthermore, traveling into the very situation from which great Buddhist masters such as Sakyasribhadra were fleeing would have made his safety no guarantee. Yet, most likely fueled on by the travel tales of Kar Lotsawa, the magnificent epics of those before him like Marpa, the risk was seen as a worthy one. Tropu Lotsawa, a member of Tibetan hereditary nobility had a strong desire to above all else become a religious exemplar, a translator of the dharma. This is a task he would spend his entire life trying to fulfill. Through his passing of important and valid teachings, both directly from India, as well as those he translated in Tibet during his time as the translator of Sakyasribhadra and others, he was an agent of transformation.
The examples of Gyaltsa, Kunden Repa, Tropu Lotsawa and Machik Rema were individuals of great religious accomplishment that were active at the community of Tropu. This is only part of the story, however. These mainstays at Tropu monastery discussed above were supplemented and further validated by the presence of three visiting Indian Panditas. These individuals played a pivotal role in the creation of lineages. One way that Tibetan monasteries functioned as a cogent institution with a shared institutional heritage rather than a series of unrelated individuals was through the creation of lineages. On a basic level lineage formation creates distinction, belonging to one teacher or clan rather than another. A lineage holder exists "... not only as a person who holds the main teachings (secret precepts and the like) from a particular teacher, but one who also passed them on in a significant for posterity." (45) Thus it is relational and transactional, a molder of relationships and representative of communal continuity, a link of the present to the past. This idea of lineage tracing has a special place in the Tibetan understanding of history. Yamamoto quoting David Jackson says:
The fastidious care paid by generation after generation of Tibetans to recording actual lineages ... is, as far as I can judge, special within the Asian Buddhist cultural realm. Though rooted in Indian concepts of the guru lineage, these Tibetan expressions of lineage have few close parallels known to me elsewhere in the world. (46)
Group identification to some degree depends on its pedigree fully, without it an identity incomplete and lacking validation. (47) An inextricably important part of the formation of the lineage process was the ability to trace one's religious understanding back to authenticated teachers. Individuals who became authenticated were able to facilitate authenticity to others and their communities, which had real economic and authority implications. Tropu Lotsawa forged the greatest link in the process of authentication through his invitation and hosting of three great Indian masters to Tibet: Sakyasribhadra, Buddhasri and Mitrayogin. Each of these masters, as will be discussed individually, had a special impact on Buddhism in Tibet. They established teachings, were active fundraisers, and left behind equally powerful tangible and non-tangible legacies. They were themselves mobile institutions, transplanting authentic Buddhism from its nascent home, an India under attack, and sowing new seeds in Tibet. The Indian masters that fled to Tibet at the invitation of Tropu Lotsawa would be amongst the last of their kind to make the trip to Tibet, which was indicative of the perilous future of Indian Buddhism and situated Tibet firmly as a new center of Buddhism for the future.
At the time of Tropu Lotsawa's invitation, India was a difficult place for Buddhism. The conflicts in northern India created a "geo-religious shift" in which Tibet became the center of the Buddhist world. (48) From 1197-1199 CE, Muhammad Bhaktiyar Khilji had raided and destroyed the great Buddhist universities ofNalanda, Vikramasila, and Odantpuri. (49) This was not the first time Buddhism in India had been under attack, as it was a continuation of attacks that predecessors such as Mahmud of Ghazni had started. In 997 CE, Mahmud succeeded his father Sabuktigin and led frequent raids on India, making seventeen between the years 100-1027. (50) Many factors led to Buddhism's eventual dissipation from north India but the advancing Muslim forces delivered a final blow, sacking monasteries, burning libraries, and slaughtering monks. (51) Those who were able to escape fled to neighboring countries such as Nepal and Tibet. This diaspora of great Indian Buddhist Panditas fleeing India launched an influx of new teachings to Tibet. These masters left India carrying with them precious texts and relics to avoid the destruction done by the invading an-iconic Muslim armies. This influx of Indian ideas encouraged the existence of a diversity of Buddhist schools and sub-sects. (52)
The most influential of the three figures, both in Tibet as a whole, and to Tropu Lotsawa's efforts in Tibet as an individual, was Sakyasribhadra, the great Kashmiri Pandita. In the transmission of Buddhism to Tibet, Sakyasribhadra can be argued to be one of the most important Indians to visit Tibet, comparable to the great Atisa. (53) In his publication of two works focused on Sakyasribhadra, one eulogy composed by Tropu Lotsawa and the second a commentary by a lesser-known Basod nampal zang po, David Jackson brings to light some significant events in Sakyasribhadra's life. (54) Jackson says during his ten year stay, there were four major contributions that the Kashmiri Pandita made to Tibet. (55) First, he reintroduced a famous Vinaya ordination lineage and with it a fully functioning monastic community. He most notably did this at Sakya through one of his pupils and the great Tibetan scholar, Sakya Pandita. He established at Sakya a full ordination line, the Mulasarvastivada. (56) This spread of an authentic ordination line would be a valuable continuity between generations, tracing back to India itself. Secondly, in conjunction with Sakya Pandita, he revised and translated a new teaching line of the Pramdnavdrttika, the greatest work of Dharmakirti. Third, based on new calculations he revised Buddhist chronology of the historical life of Sakyamuni Buddha. His calculations differed from earlier Tibetan accounts and in fact come much closer to calculations reached by modern scholars. This may not seem significant, but in light of the importance of precise lineages in Buddhism, especially so in Tibet, this helped solidify historically a most important link to India. And finally, working in conjunction with Tropu Lotsawa, he helped raise the necessary resources and funds to construct the great Maitreya statue housed at Tropu monastery. (57)
In the 1204 CE the Kashmiri Pandita, Sakyasribhadra arrived in Tibet. (58) Accompanied by a retinue of learned Indian teachers, he left behind a hostile environment torn by conquest and conflict through a pass at the Chumbi valley, an important route in trans-Himalayan trade and travel. (59) The Kashmiri left behind the lush forests of India for the snowy mountains of Tibet, arriving at Tropu monastery at the invitation of a young Tropu Lotsawa. The Blue Annals recounts Sakyasribhadra's acceptance as a result of being impressed with the young Tibetan's knowledge of Buddhism, "It is wonderful that in Tibet there should exist such speakers on religious subjects!" (60)
Perhaps more convincing than Tropu Lotsawa's religious acumen was the impending threat of invading armies in India. But the young Tibetan would have needed to make an undoubted impression to lure the esteemed Buddhist teacher to make the long trip to Tibet.
In India Sakyasribhadra had enjoyed success, serving as the last abbot of the famed Bihar universities of Nalanda, Vikramsila and Odantapuri, a position held earlier by prominent figures such as Atisa before him. (61) However, by 1204 CE, north India would have no longer been safe for Sakyasribhadra or Buddhism in general. Sakyasribhadra was in a trade market when Tropu Lotsawa encountered him, reaching the market via the Chumbi Valley. It was there that Tropu Lotsawa had extended an invitation for the great Indian Pandita to accompany him back to Tibet. (62) With the great monasteries of Bihar destroyed, the uprooted abbot would have little reason to stay in an area that had become so hostile. The year of his arrival to Tibet (1204 CE) coincides with the final overtaking of the region by Muslim forces making his sojourn to Tibet likely an absconding from danger.
Sakyasribhadra had many students while in Tibet, though Tropu Lotsawa would end up being one of his best known. The Lho rong chos 'byung calls Tropu Lotsawa the one who had become the greatest of Sakyasribhadra's pupils. (63) During the entirety of his ten-year stay in Tibet, Tropu Lotsawa was the personal translator of Uakyauribhadra and the two translated a great number of works together. (64) This relationship even extended past the temporal life of the great Kashmiri Pandita. Remains from his lifeless body were stored in a stupa that Tropu Lotsawa built for this purpose.
While Sakyasribhadra made great contributions to the religious and intellectual life of Tibet, he also accrued and distributed wealth and bestowed religious authority and authenticity. While in Tibet, he ordained many important figures; Sakya Pandita, Jigten Gonpo, whom he named an incarnation of Nagarjuna and Tropu Lotsawa himself. (65) In 1213 CE, the king of Purang in western Tibet, Tagtsa, became a patron of Sakyasribhadra who was on his back to Kashmir.66 During his time in Purang, Sakyasribhadra served as the personal lama to Tagtsa, who was called a Buddhist king. (67)
Gonpode, the ruler of Gung Thang was ordained in 1212 CE by Sakyasribhadra and Tropu Lotsawa. (68) During his ten-year sojourn to Tibet, he traveled extensively receiving offerings and praise throughout. When first arriving in Tibet to the region of Pakri, large crowds of people came to hear the doctrine of the great Kashmiri Pandita as well as make him offerings. (69) Much of this accumulation of wealth, as will be discussed, was used toward the creation of Tropu Lotsawa's Maitreya statue. Before his departure from Tibet he gave to Tropu Lotsawa gold and precious stones on two occasions. (70)
Sakyasribhadra's presence in Tibet had an impact on the religious and political landscape. As a great Indian master, holder of important thrones at famed Buddhist universities in India, he represented a truly authentic living vessel of tradition. While in Tibet he taught, created lineages, had countless students, accumulated wealth and left an indelible mark.
Another great master invited by Tropu Lotsawa was Buddhasri. His impact in Tibet was not as extensive as Sakyasribhadra, but he also was an authentic living vessel of Buddhist doctrine and an important source of authentication for the community of Tropu. Sometime between the years 1200-01 CE Tropu Lotsawa invited Buddhasri to Tibet. (71) At the time Buddhasri was 61 years of age. (72) Buddhasri made his own contributions to the Maitreya statue that would come to stand at Tropu, helping sketch out the measurements and face. (73) His interactions in Tibet with Tropu Lotsawa was not the two's first. It is said that in Nepal while studying with Buddhasri, Tropu Lotsawa first had the inspiration to construct the statue, prompting him to make a cloth painting of Maitreya. (74) After the death of Gyaltsa, Tropu Lotsawa traveled to the Nepal Valley to learn sutras and tantras under Buddhasri. (75)
While it is not said why Buddhasri was in Nepal rather than India at the time, one can imagine that the tumultuous environment of India created for Buddhasri a similarly dangerous environment, the same environment that sent a dispersal of other Indian masters at the close of the twelfth century. Tropu Lotsawa's travels to Nepal would prove fruitful in many ways as he also met Mitrayogin, another great Indian master that he invited to Tibet.
Although Buddhauri's presence in Tibet was much shorter than Sakyasribhadra, his stay was not without impact. James B. Apple in his article on Abhisamayalamkara literature in Tibet contextualizes the late tenth century onward as a period when Indian Buddhist texts were rapidly being assimilated into Tibet. (76) Buddhasri and Tropu Lotsawa completed the last translation of the Abhisamayalamkara commentary included in Buton's canon. (77) All of the authoritative commentaries included in Buton's canon of Buddhist texts were from well-known scholars. (78) According to Apple, the expansive translation projects seen in Tibet during this time such as the Abhisamayalamkara commentaries, created a cultural environment where "... importation of Indian Buddhist knowledge in literature intertwined with a number of economic, social, and political factors to create great prestige, power, and capital for those who could transmit and receive this knowledge." (79) Buddhasri's presence in Tibet contributed to this transmission. After two years in Tibet where Tropu Lotsawa served as his translator, Buddhasri left, probably around the year 1203 CE. (80)
In 1198, when Tropu Lotsawa was twenty-six years old he invited Mitrayogin, a third Buddhist from India to Tibet. (81) Mitrayogin is a shadowy figure, one whose biography is often cloaked in miracle stories. It is known though that he was responsible for many teachings. (82) The Blue Annals contains some information on Mitrayogin's life. He was born in Eastern India, though no date is given. (83)
He soon became renowned for his meditational practices and spent twelve years in extreme meditation at Kharsarpan. (84) Most of the stories relating to his life are in the form of miracles, a testament to his power cultivated through austere religious practice. Through these miracles he was seen as a fierce protector of the dharma. For example, two occasions tell of large armies trying to invade monasteries only to be stopped by an angry Mitrayogin:
During the reign of king Sultan Khan troops from Varanasi, the dust raised by (their marching feet) almost shrouding the sun, attempted to destroy the Doctrine of the Buddha in Magadha. (Mitrayogin) naked shouted (at them) and the Earth shook, and all men, and animals stood motionless. The king begged to be forgiven ... (85)
His life was said to be full of magical feats, a true paradigmatic wild yogin of Indian Buddhism. The meeting of Mitrayogin and Tropu Lotsawa was in Nepal while the Lotsawa was learning under Buddhasri. (86) Tropu Lotsawa heard the feats of Mitrayogin and approached him with gifts hoping that he would visit Tibet. (87) The tale is dramatically recounted; Mitrayogin's uncertain commitment to follow Tropu Lotsawa back to Tibet caused an attempted suicide by the young translator. As Tropu Lotsawa leapt from a building, Mitrayogin caught him. Seeing such dedication from Tropu Lotsawa, Mitrayogin agreed to accompany him back to Tibet. He stayed for eighteen months at Tropu monastery. (88) One important impact Mitrayogin had while at Tropu monastery was his teaching of a famed woman Machik Rema. This particular line of teaching was brought to Tibet by Mitrayogin and known as "The Great Seal for Cutting the Stream of Samsara." (89) According to The Blue Annals, this teaching was passed to Mitrayogin by Sri Saraha, who passed it to Machik Rema. (90)
Although he most likely never saw the completed Maitreya statue at Tropu monastery, he blessed the foundation where the statue would be built. (91)
These three figures, all with unique relationships to Tropu Lotsawa, forged in Tibet an authentic link back to India. It was through Tropu Lotsawa's invitations that the future of Tibetan Buddhism was forever changed. His invitations helped solidify Tibet as the new center of Buddhism. Their approval of different individuals and their choice to bless and be involved in certain projects held very real weight, and manifested itself as a currency of sorts. These lineages formed a temporal consolidation, authoritative links to the past. (92) Much like Tibetan clans that were often built on hereditary heirs inheriting from those before them, the lineage was its own family, spiritual heirs to monastic thrones and all that came with this. According to Yamamoto, "A religious sect without a history, a practitioner without a confirmed lineage, was an illegitimate child, had no spiritual pedigree." (93) Therefore, the lineage, in this case a connection to three masters from India was the forging of a rich link, a pedigree that brought with it wealth, notoriety and authority.
The individuals, both those from India and the Tibetans at Tropu created a thriving religious community. There is some evidence what sorts of practices were being done. Based on the writings of Tropu Lotsawa, as well as the creation of a towering statue, it seems that there was an active following of Buddha of the future, Maitreya (Tib: Byams pa). According to Yamamoto, acts such as the building of religious monuments, which is seen at Tropu monastery, were ways of establishing dominion over a physical area, a marking off of sacred space. (94) Again in an example of thirteenth century Tibet's intertwining of religion and governance, these great monuments were the goal of pilgrims, a focus of religious activities and considered an endeavor worthy of financial investment; they formed religious and political control over geographical areas. Yamamoto describes how charismatic religious heads would bind "space and time into unities of territory and tradition." (95) Thus, by setting an area off as owned by certain sub-sects and certain individuals and their particular brand of religious practice-institutions were being built. These areas and monuments often had trans-national appeal, people hailing from all over Asia to share in the blessing found at these power places. According to Yamamoto various objects of religious material culture were facilitators of continuity, linking generations of a lineage to one another. (96) This is demonstrated in two ways in the life of Tropu Lotsawa: first, his creation of a large Maitreya statue and second, his construction of a large stupa that housed the relics of Sakyasribhadra. By creating a place of power, an individual captured sacred space and sacred experience. The place sought was not anywhere, but somewhere specific, at certain geographical locations designated so and created by exemplary individuals, an unseen boundary with seen implications. As will be shown, both of Tropu Lotsawa's creations served as inspiration for later generations, seeking to emulate this construction in their own creations and seeking Tropu Lotsawa's monuments out for religious experience. These examples show the intertwining of two phenomenons; the ability of sub-sects under particular religious exemplars to accrue wealth, employ and allocate resources toward mammoth religious undertakings and how these monuments were axes of religious experience.
Tropu Lotsawa's construction of an 80-cubit Maitreya statue is perhaps what gained him fame more than any of his other accomplishments. According to Dan Martin, the statue was probably destroyed sometime in the 18th century by invading Dzungar Mongols. (97)
In a testament to its fame, according to Martin, Tropu Lotsawa's statue was an inspiration for a similar one built by the First Dalai Lama. (98) It was while he was in Nepal that Tropu Lotsawa was first inspired to construct the statue, most likely when he was studying under Buddhasri (99) Buddhasri after arriving to Tibet traveled to the famous Phagspa Wati statue in Kyirong where in the presence of it he sketched out the face of the Maitreya statue. (100) The planning of the statue continued on as he traveled to Drikung where he sketched the lotus posture of the statue. (101) It was Sakyasribhadra that blessed the land where the statue would be made, subduing the place through the invocation of Tantric deities. (102) This again demonstrates the link between land and statue consecration and the real implications of it. In Central Asia it was customary to erect large Maitreya statues along trade routes to symbolize that each country was bound over to the millennium of Maitreya. (103) This signifies the marking of actual territory, binding it to Buddhist cosmology, but also individuals who held religious authority that extended to lay communities. Sakyasribhadra's activities continued to embody this link, staying in Tsang for four years in which time he did many blessings for the Maitreya statue and established Tusita heaven, the abode of Maitreya, throughout. (104) This abode is one that Buddhist pilgrims had traveled to in Buddhist literature to seek the authentic teachings that Maitreya represented.
Maitreya as a religious presence in Tibet was not an isolated religious practice but a pan-Tibetan phenomenon. Historically Maitreya is evidenced to have been a part of religious practice since the 7th century when many temples had Maitreya as their central deity, including the first Buddhist temple built in Khadruk. (105) There is also evidence of Guge kings, notably King Trashi Gon constructing a large Maitreya statue, along with numerous stupas and thangkas devoted to the deity. (106)
Various kings of Tibet were supportive of the cult of Maitreya and various bronze images have been found with their names and inscriptions in what is a clear example of kingship aligning itself with the divine. (107) A literary example of Maitreya related practices in Tibet is found in the Scholar's Feast. (108) The text recounts a group of religious practitioners known as "Arhats with hair-knots" engaged in activities surrounding a Maitreya statue. The members of this group were a fusion of lay and monastic practices, going directly from a three months of summer retreat back into married life. These individuals had been elevated to a supreme status by the king and even garnered a pseudo-cult following after them.
The most common epitaph of Maitreya is that he is the Buddha of the Future. In the context of Tropu Lotsawa's own statue, Maitreya is described as the "Buddhist Chariot of the Future." (109) In all cases of Buddhist literature, Maitreya is an object to seek out to gain a religious understanding not found since Sakyamuni. (110) Perhaps the most famous story involving Maitreya is that of Asanga. In a revelatory vision of Maitreya, Asanga was asked, "Now, what is thy desire?" He replied, "I am searching for instructions, how to expound the Mahayanist doctrine." (111) At this, Maitreya whisped Asanga up to Tusita heaven to give him the teachings he desired. The Prophecy of Maitreya talks of a period of idyllic prosperity where lives are long, Buddhist practice thriving, and disease and pain is scarce. (112) After the death of Sakyamuni life will gradually decline until the eventual disappearance of all Buddhist practice. (113) During this period, a monk named Maitreya will be born who will restore proper practice. Maitreya will descend from Tusita heaven where he sits waiting for the opportune time to take his rebirth. Maitreya will be 80 cubits high, teach the dharma for 60,000 years and usher in an area of prosperity. (114) The measurement of 80 cubits has its parallel in Tropu Lotsawa's statue.
The notion of the dharma's decline is important to a discussion of Maitreya as well as in contextualizing the period of Tropu Lotsawa and the pre-eminence of Buddhism as a vessel of social prosperity and political restoration. By linking religious practice to social prosperity, as will be shown in the following short accounts, the religious institutions of the thirteenth century came to be viewed as vessels of social cohesion with authority. Cosmologically Maitreya is often representative of a form of eschatological hope, a restoration following the times of denigration after the death of Sakyamuni. However, this cosmological hope represented by Maitreya also had social and economic impacts on a community. The Maitreya of Tropu Lotsawa attracted financial and material donations from Tibet as well as China, India and Nepal. According to Davidson there emerged during the thirteenth century, "a strong sense that the revival of Tibetan civilization depended in some essential manner on the temples once again being occupied by real monks, not the keepers of the keys who practices when the spirit moved them." (115) In the periods leading up to the thirteenth century there was perceived to be a lost diligence in practice, which resulted in widespread behavioral problems that resulted in non-Buddhist practices. Groups were believed to be practicing some un-tame, wild rituals; sex rituals, corpse reanimations and killings. (116) All of these non-religious practices were seen to spill over into the social well-being of Tibetan society.
Within this framework social and political difficulties are met with renewed conservatism and a clinging to Buddhist doctrine, trying to practice more diligently, or what Jan Nattier calls an "impulse of preservation." (117) An eventual disappearance of practice is anticipated but the age following Sakyamuni is seen as one of gradual, not abrupt decline. This gradual movement is one that can be slowed. In this view of time and decline practitioners are not merely flowing with an inevitable current of denigration. The following brief accounts and historical situation seeks to demonstrate that despite the expected decline of religious practice and subsequent disharmony of society, certain religious practices could combat it. This association also ensures that those who are viewed as being religiously accomplished, the holders of lineages would also have a mirrored power in the realm of politics and social authority.
Tibetan writers often refer as the period following 842 CE as a period of "political fragmentation" or a cosmological epoch of "dharma decline." (118) During this time there existed a perception that religious practice was no longer being done with vigor, before a renewal in practice starting around 950 CE. This has led many to divide Tibetan history into two periods, an earlier and later spread of Buddhism. (119)
An example of this is in the writings of Butbn (1290-1364 CE) who had his beginnings at Tropu monastery. He breaks the history of Buddhism in Tibet into two periods. (120)
The thirteenth century falls under what he calls the "subsequent propagation of the doctrine in Tibet." (121) Butb'n describes the subsequent propagation, a renewal in practice, "Thus, 70 years after the church had ceased to exist in U, and Tsang, it was introduced by the 10 men ..." (122) Buton also gives an account of the decline preceding the renewal. (123) Each of these tales varies slightly in how the dharma will disappear, when the dharma disappears and what the remedies are. In perhaps Buton's most succinct understanding of the dharma's decline he concludes his chapter with a poem:
Now the Doctrine will not abide for long, Human life is unsteady like a torch exposed to the wind, the consequences of former deeds, the passions, and the Lords of Death are full of power, Therefore, be devoted to the Doctrine and secure its treasures! (124)
Buton sees the dharma as deteriorating and eventually disappearing and in light of this situation prays to reborn soon in the presence of Maitreya. (125) He exhorts people to remain true to the doctrine and in the case of error, turn back to the dharma:
This history of Shakya's descent, who is in the power of this age and deprived of true concentration, Buton with the large mouth and resembling a parrot has written down. May he by virtue of this soon come to see the countenance of the Invincible (Maitreya). (126)
Here Maitreya according to Buton is a source of renewed and proper faith thata he hopes to soon be near.
Another account is given by a predecessor of Tropu Lotsawa, the famed Machik Labdron (1055-1149 CE). Machik Labdron would have been known in the Tropu community through her Chbd lineage that was practiced by the famous woman of Tropu monastery, Machik Rema, as well as Tropu Lotsawa's uncle, Gyaltsa. (127) In response to a question posed by a student, she prophesies about the future of the dharma. (128) Both state and religious law will decline. Ultimately, conflict will spread and ethical codes will disappear. Machik Labdron continues:
The people will delight in unwholesome activities, war and conflict. The laws of the state will be crooked, the devils of wrong view will proliferate, the end of the Buddha's doctrine will be at hand, and degeneration will spread. (129)
Although Machik Labdron does not give a specific figure, she does say that there will be a redeemer of sorts, "That bodhisattva will come as a monk in the degenerate age and clarify the Buddha's doctrine." (130)
Aside from the presence of a redeemer figure, one remedy of the declining dharma by Machik Labdron is that it will be her practice, Chod that will act as a restorative force. (131) However bleak Machik Labdron's understanding of the future may seem, there exists a glimmer of hope that practice, here Chod, and even particular figures, can stop this degeneration. However, what is most interesting is that her idea of the decline links civil malaise, war, conflict and disease with the end of the dharma. This again is another demonstration of the inextricable link between social prosperity and religious practice. Therefore as seen in both accounts, for Tibet to prosper the monasteries must as well. The hope placed in religious practice and doctrine was a motivational force of religious figures, a cultural impetus that seems to have existed in Tropu Lotsawa's time and place. This linking of religious practice to social harmony elevated individual vessels of religion to the cultural elite. If those who brought proper religious practice brought with them social, even political harmony, the power entrusted to them would extend outside the monasteries. The possibility of the dharma's decline was not just a tale of Buddhist mythology for Tropu Lotsawa's time but a real-life scenario acting itself out in India and growing closer to Tibet. Tropu Lotsawa himself was unable to make it past Nepal in his travels due to the raging wars in Bihar, monasteries under assault. It is also not unreasonable to think Sakyasribhadra and other Indian Panditas fleeing from India would have brought with them to Tibet tales of what he left behind at Nalanda. A great throne-holder displaced from their throne would have affirmed and reiterated that Buddhism's future in the world was not a certainty. This backdrop of decline, in light of Maitreya as a redeemer figure and the historical climate Sakyasri, helps explain some of the possible motivations behind Tropu Lotsawa's statue and the religious practices surrounding it. The building of a great statue of Maitreya highlights how Buddhist sub-sects during the time viewed its dual responsibility of creating religious and social prosperity.
The construction and completion of Tropu Lotsawa's Maitreya statue demonstrates two forces at work, Maitreya as a vessel of religious doctrine and social harmony and also the social and economic power of Buddhism to foster inner-regional economic activity. It cannot be said with certainty whether Tropu Lotsawa expected Maitreya to come soon, to be reborn when Maitreya did come, or whether his statue expressed a grand aspiration of learning true religious practice. Tropu Lotsawa's intangible aspirations, whatever they were, manifested themselves in a very substantially material way.
An 80-cubit statue, even by modern standards, would have stood towering over visitors, approximately 130 feet tall. This would have required workers and vast amounts of resources. There is nothing written about the individuals that actually worked on the building of the statue, they may have been tenants living in the land of Tropu, or skilled workers hired by Tropu Lotsawa using the funds that his monastery accumulated. It is said that it was painted by hand, a further testament to the manual labor involved. (132) While the details of who the artisans or workers were are unknown, there are many details on who contributed the materials and different parts of the statue. The best example of the large inter-regional effort of the construction of the statue is its so-called thirteen distinctions. (133) The dbus gtsang gnas yig goes into some detail about thirteen different distinctive attributes that made Tropu Lotsawa's Maitreya statue extraordinary. The text discusses various holy places to be sought out by pilgrims throughout Tibet when the guide comes to the "Great 80-Cubit Maitreya Statue at Tropu." (134) The author then goes on in a list form to describe the different distinctions that the statue was endowed with. The so-called thirteen distinctive attributes of the Maitreya statue are not just components that made up the object but a demonstration in how activities with religious aim during the time of Tropu Lotsawa was an invaluable tool in forming regional networks between individuals, their communities and their wealth. There were contributions made from different regions of Tibet. For example, the lower body of the statue was given by Drikung, most likely on behalf of the Drikung pa, Jigten Gbnpo. From central Nepal the tops of the feet and hands were given. (135)
Perhaps two of the most prominent donors are the gifts given from an unnamed emperor of China and Buddhauri. The emperor of China, who is not listed by name, is listed as giving a giant canopy inscribed with a gold seal. (136) According to van der Kuijp, Sakyasribhadra had forged a relationship with a Tangut emperor while still in Tibet, probably the year before he left. (137) Van der Kuijp says this unnamed emperor would have been the Xuanzong Emperor (r. 1193-1206). Sakyasribhadra had also received an invitation to China sometime before he had left for Tibet, posited by van der Kuijp to either be the Guanzong (r. 1190- 95) or Ningzong Emperor (r. 1195- 1225). (138) Whoever the specific emperor, these mentions show the power of Sakyasribhadra to form trans-border relations, in this case on behalf of the community of Tropu. By the time of the construction of Tropu Lotsawa's Maitreya statue, Sakyasribhadra would have been known to the Chinese court, as well as throughout Tibet and India. Sakyasribhadra was in this way a mobile institution, bringing with him from India to Tibet his authenticity. The objects he received during his travels had material value but also showed a regional attitude that the construction of Maitreya, a figure of Buddhist cosmology was a worthy investment.
Tropu Lotsawa and his community reaped benefits from the statue. Aside from an underlying cosmological sense of religious achievement and merit making, they benefitted in very tangible ways. This is seen in the gifts given by Buddhasri approximately a dozen years after he had left Tibet. (139) Buddhasri made his contribution to the religious community of Tropu monastery, giving 100 umbrellas made of peacock feathers. Other than Buddhasri the text does not give the exact names of individuals but instead often by the region that each contribution came from. This linking of geographical places and regions through this process of building up, both a religious monument and a regional network created real links between the various leaders.
The evidence of such an economic network is a prime example of how the various pockets of authority that made up Tibet's wealthy were engaging in the building of religious institutions that became deposits of wealth and power. Religiously, the statue was a site to be visited by pilgrims, and obviously a project that was known by many at the time as evidenced by the extensive donations toward it. This regional effort created a place where religious visions and experiences were had. Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen sought out the Maitreya statue, staying at it and making offerings to it. (140) It is recounted that at the statue "... he asked for the biography of Tropu Lotsawa to be read, which caused him to weep for a very long time." (141) Thus not only was the statue a place of power, but one that Dolpopa associated with the life and accomplishment of a particular individual.
Another example of a significant material undertaking is the stupa built at Tropu monastery to house relics of Sakyasribhadra. (142)
Although little is known about the actual construction, there are accounts of the details surrounding the construction of similar stupas that may shed a little light on the immense wealth and man-power that would have been required of Tropu Lotsawa's stupa. To revisit Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen, he built a stupa inspired by Tropu Lotsawa's, Cyrus Stearns paints the picture of a vivid and active community working in unison to build the stupa. (143) According to the account, different skilled workers and laborers from all around Tibet came to contribute to the work. The building materials and food necessary to feed the workers was brought from all directions. There was a ramp built on one side of the stupa to allow donkeys to pull earth and stone up to the structure. As people around Tibet heard of the great project they become anxious to contribute; gold, silver, copper, cloth and more appeared from all over. The description of the building seems to paint a work environment that was a Buddhist occupational utopia of sorts, which may be an exaggeration of how willingly everyone would be to spend countless hours hauling large stones. Whatever the case though, the building of such a huge structure would require the cooperation and resources of many.
A description of the stupa built by Tropu Lotsawa is found in the dbus gtsang gnasyig, as well as another source used by Cyrus Stearns. (144) In 1230 CE, when Tropu Lotsawa was fifty-eight years old he began construction of the stupa. (145) The stupa stood three stories, was built of stone and surrounded by a total of sixty temples. The purpose of the stupa was to house some remains and relics of Sakyasribhadra. Two disciples of Sakyasribhadra had brought his remains from Kashmir to be housed in the shrine. Tropu Lotsawa's stupa inspired the great stupa at Jonang, built by Dolpopa. Dolpopa was so inspired by the stupa of Tropu Lotsawa that upon seeing it he prayed that he would someday be able to construct something similar. (146)
These stupas had powerful religious effects on the individuals who encountered them. Dolpopa echoes this as he recounts his intense feelings arose in front of the stupa of Tropu Lotsawa:
I saw Tropu Lotsawa's stupa and made many prayers with the force of intense faith. I saw many quotations in many sutras and tantras [which stated] that the assemblies [of merit and gnosis] are perfected if one constructs huge images and stupas. There is no doubt that anyone who even sees, hears of touches this stupa will be freed, that the seed of liberation will be planted and that vast benefit for others will occur. (147)
The stupa of Tropu Lotsawa was thus indicative of exceptional virtue; a place where sacred space and sacred experience was captured. Both of these great monuments were markers of space, territory and personal achievement. They were the goals of pilgrims and formed inner-regional relationships economically and religiously.
Buddhism had penetrated deeply into thirteenth century Tibetan society and culture. The sub-sects of the period were fully functioning religious institutions with political and social functions. The heads of these orders are what Yamamoto calls "new cultural heroes." (148) These figures embodied multiple roles, individuals of religious accomplishment, owners of land, and members of an extensive economic network. Yamamoto explains that these members as ruling machines, were individuals that unified space, history, the sacred and mundane in an institutional narrative. (149) Tropu Lotsawa, and those like him, is representative of more than one life, but is an encapsulation of historical narratives, institution builders; active forgers of the past, present and future. Born into a line of Tibetan nobility, Tropu Lotsawa was a translator of texts, teacher and lineage holder. He built the modest monastery at Tropu into a thriving community that affected the face of Buddhism in Tibet. The three masters he invited to Tibet helped authenticate and solidify Tibet as a new center of Buddhism, an institution of political power and an instrument of governance. His legacy has lived on in the pages of history books, religious texts and in the detailed descriptions of the monuments he built that loomed over the land, a union of the sacred and temporal.
Appendix I: Tibetan Orthographic Equivalents
(Method as found at: http://thlib.org/reference/transliteration/) Accessed: 4/1/12.
Basod nampal zang po = bsod nams dpal bzang po
Buton = bu ston rin chen grub
butra = sbud bkra
Chod = gcod
Chegom Dzongpa Sherab Dorje = lce sgom pa shes rab rdo rje
Chumik = chu mig
Dbus = U
Drikung = 'bri gung
Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen = dol po pa shes rab rgyal mtshan
Gyaltsa = rgyal tsha rin chen mgon
Gonpode = mgon po lde
Gtsan = tsang
Jigten Gonpo = 'jig rten mgon po rin chen dpal
Kagyupa = bka' brgyud pa
Jopen = Jo phan
Kar Lotsawa = dkar lo tsa ba
Kunden Repa = kun ldan ras pa
Kyirong = skyi rong
Machik Labdron = ma gcig lab sgron
Machik Rema = ma gcig re ma
Minyak = mi nyag
Nubs = gnubs
Phagmo Drupa = phag mo gru pa rdo rje rgyal po
Pakri = phag ri
Phagspa Wati = 'phags pa wa ti
Puntsok = Phun tshogs
Purang = pu hrang
Sakya Pandita = sa skya pan di ta kun dga' rgyal mtshan
Segmo Salje = bsregs mo gsal byed
Shang ge wa = zhang dge ba
Tagtsa = stag tsha
Tong kor = Stong Kor
Trashi Gon = Bkra shis mgon
Tri kor = Khri skor
Tropu Lotsawa = khro phu lo tsa ba byams pa dpal gom-pa
Tropu Sempa Chenpo = khro phu sems dpa' chen po
Tsang khar = Rtsang dkar
Yatse war = ya rtse
Zang ling = zangs gling
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(1.) I would like to express my gratitude to Professor Paul K. Nietupski for suggestions, guidance and help in translating Tibetan texts throughout. Carl Yamamoto, Vision and Violence: Lama Zhang and the Politics of Charisma in Twelfth-Century Tibet (Leiden: Brill, 2012), p.3.
(2.) For a discussion of this see: Rachel M. McCleary and Leonard W J van der Kuijp, "The Formation of the Tibetan State Religion: The Geluk School 1419-1642. Harvard University Working Papers no. 154 (Center for International Development at Harvard university, 2007),
(3.) McCleary & van der Kuijp, p.4.
(4.) The Tropu Kagyupa sub-sect was one of eight sub-sects under Phagmo Drupa Dorje Gyalpo. For brief discussions on this and other sub-sects: Gene E. Smith, Among Tibetan Texts (Sommerville, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2001), pp.40-51. Or see: An-che Li, "The Bkah-Brgyud Sect of Lamaism." Journal of the American Oriental Society. 69.2 (1949): pp.51-59.
(5.) Ronald M. Davidson, Tibetan Renaissance: Tantric Buddhism in the Rebirth of Tibetan Culture (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005), p. 256.
(6.) For a discussion on divine kingship in Tibet see: Matthew Kapstein, The Tibetan Assimilation of Buddhism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), p.17.
(8.) Yamamoto, p.263.
(9.) Yamamoto, p.263.
(10.) This same phenomenon was seen in India, who Tibet so often used as a cultural blueprint. Monasteries had served dual roles, great centers of scholasticism as well as Buddhist strongholds. In India, as in Tibet, monasteries controlled land, collected revenue and were regional forces (Davidson, p. 29). In India the destructions of mammoth institutions such as Nalanda, the demise of monastic land-controlling authorities coincided with Buddhism's disappearance from India.
(11.) For further details of this development see Davidson, pp.61-116.
(12.) Helmut Hoffman, "Early and Medieval Tibet" in The Cambridge History of Early Inner Asia. Ed. Denis Sinor (Cambridge, 1990), p.395.
(13.) Elliot Sperling discusses a position known as a Gompa in the expansion of the community of Drikung founded by a contemporary to Tropu Lotsawa, Jigten Gonpo. See: Elliot Sperling, "Some notes on the Early 'Bri-gung-pa sgom-pa" in Silver on Lapis: Tibetan Literary Culture and History (Bloomington: The Tibet Society, 1987), pp. 33-57. This Gompa was even responsible for controlling armies.
(14.) Davidson, p.3.
(15.) Davidson, p.3.
(18.) tshe dbang rgyal. Lho rong chos 'byung. Lhasa: Bod ljongs bod yig dpe rnying dpe skrun khang, 1994. p.331.
(19.) Lho rong chos 'byung, pp.331-332.
(20.) For example see a brief description of the Kagyupa lineage at Tropu in the bka' brgyud gsung 'bum mkhyen brtse'i dbang po (p.439). In this short description it mentions the two founders of the Tropu Kagyupa sect, Gyaltsa and Kunden Repa, who were parts of the Nubs clan. The text, written sometime in the nineteenth century says that there are no more of the Tropu lineage. It gives a brief mention of the Maitreya statue and says it was hand painted.
(21.) According to Davidson these clans came to form a stable Tibetan Buddhist institution, and they were active participants and owners in this process. For a detailed discussion of this see: Davidson, pp. 80-83. As a hereditary inheritor of the throne at Tropu monastery--Tropu Lotsawa was part of this system.
(22.) Leonard van der Kuijp, "On the Vicissitudes of Subhuticandra's Kamadhenu Commnentary on the Amarakosa in Tibet" Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies. No. 5 (2009): p.5.
(23.) Roberto Vitali, "The History of the Lineages of Gnas Rnying." in Tibet, Past and Present: Proceedings of the Ninth Seminar of the International Association for Tibet (Leiden: Brill, 2002), p.103.
(24.) "Lineage" Vitali, p.102.
(26.) George Roerich, The Blue Annals (Jawahar Nagar, Delhi: Shri Jainendra Press, 1988), p.706.
(27.) Roerich, p.706.
(28.) Roerich, p.707.
(29.) Roerich, p.706.
(30.) The following account can be found in: Bsod nams rgya mtsho, bka'brgyud chos 'byung nor bu'i phreng ba. Publisher and date unknown. pp.85-87. Given the large age gap between Gyaltsa and Kunden Repa there is some debate whether they were related as siblings or whether Gyaltsa was actually the uncle of Kunden Repa.
(31.) Many details about Machik Rema's life, including a chronology are not exactly clear. There are two mentions of women figures at Tropu. According to the Lho rong chos 'byung, the consort of Tropu Lotsawa died at the age of sixty-eight. Lho rong chos 'byung, p. 334. In Chos rje khro phu, it also mentions a woman named Machik who died at the age of 68. The woman died in the year of the fire male bird, which corresponds to roughly 1237 CE. This would make the death a year after Trophu Lotsawa's own in 1236. This was also the same year that Tropu Lotsawa's biological son, Tropu Sempa Chenpo was said to be born, however obviously the figure Machik and Tropu Sempa Chenpo are un-related. Leonard van der Kuijp. "Review: On the lives of Sakyasribhadra (?-?1225)" Journal of the American Oriental Society. 114.4 (1994): p.604). This figure Tropu Sempa Chenpo would succeed Tropu Lotsawa as the abbatial throne holder at Tropu monastery and was one of the very first teachers of Buton, and even recognized Buton as a reincarnated Sakyasribhadra" van der Kuijp, p.604). Who was the mother of this figure is not known, but obviously there was some sort hereditary, male succession happening at Tropu monastery following the death of Tropu Lotsawa. See: khro phu Lotsawa byams pa'i dpal et al. Chos rje khro phu ba'i man ngag brgya rtsa rg-yaspa. C.P.N. Catalogue no. 005767(2): fols. 254b-56a
(32.) Tibetan Title: 'khor-ba-rgyun-gcod
(34.) "Women" Martin, p.69.
(35.) Ibid, p.70.
(36.) "Lives" van der Kuijp, p.614.
(37.) Lho rong chos 'byung, p.335.
(38.) For interesting details on being a translator see: Davidson, pp.123-125.
(39.) Davidson, p.117.
(41.) Roerich, p.1066.
(42.) "Vicissitudes" van der Kuijp, p.3.
(43.) For a list of texts that Tropu Lotsawa translated see: Buton. The History of Buddhism in India and Tibet. Trans. E. Obermiller. (Delhi, India: Sri Satguru Press, 1986.) p.222.
(44.) Roerich, p.1034.
(45.) "Women" Martin, p. 63.
(46.) Yamamoto, p. 6.
(47.) Yamamoto, p.7.
(48.) McCleary & van der Kuijp p. 4.
(49.) A.L. Basham, The Wonder that was India (London: Macmillian Publishers, 1967), pp.73-74.
(50.) There are many sources in agreement on Mahmud's activities in India during this. For one example see: Romila Thapar, Early India: From the Origins to AD 1300 (Los Angeles, California: University of California Press, 2002), pp.425-431. Although there may be historical exaggerations regarding the activities of Mahmud in India, his reign certainly had an effect on the region. He accumulated power and gold, many times through attacks on temples in India, both Buddhist and Hindu. See also: Burton Stein, A History of India (Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing, 1998), pp.135-143. As Thapar notes, by 1204 the presence of Buddhism would have already started to subside, however the Muslim armies were aggressive (p. 488).
(51.) Basham, p. 266.
(53.) David P. Jackson, "The Early History of Lo (Mustang) and Ngari" Contributions to Nepalese Studies 4.1 (1976): p.44.
(54.) David P. Jackson, "Two Biographies of Sakyasribhadra: The Eulogy by Khro phu Lo-tsa-ba and its 'Commentary' by Bsod-Nams-Dpal-Bzang-Po" (Hamburg: Institute for the Culture and History of India and Tibet, 1994), p.1.
(55.) "Two Biographies" Jackson, p. 4.
(56.) "Mustang" Jackson, p.44. It mentions in the Lho rong chos 'byung that Sakyasribhadrashri had played a role in re-instituting the Mulasarvastivada lineage (p.333).
(57.) Uakyauribhadra was also said to be responsible for the introduction of four different traditions of learning: the tradition of exoteric philosophy, oral instructions, the tradition of tantric theory and praxis and the Vinaya tradition ("Lives" van der Kuijp, p.613).
(58.) According to the Lho rong chos 'byung, Sakyasribhadra was 65 years old at his arrival, and Tropu was said to be thirty-three years old (p.333). As Jackson notes, there are two primary dates given for Sakyasribhadra's birth, either 1140 or 1120, with a latter date of some time in the 1140s most probable ("Two Biographies" Jackson, p.18).
(59.) Roerich, p.1068.
(61.) "Two Biographies" Jackson, p. 2.
(62.) Roerich, p.1068.
(63.) Lho rong chos 'byung, p.334.
(64.) Buton, p.222.
(65.) Lho rong chos 'byung, p.334.
(66.) Lho rong chos 'byung, p.334. The source says that in the 6th month of 1213, Sakyasrlbhadrashri became the lama of a ruler named Tagtsha.
(68.) See: Roberto Vitali, The Kingdoms of Gu.ge. Pu.hrang: According to mNga'.ris rgyal.rabs by Gu.ge mkhan.chen Ngag.dbang grags.pa (New Dehli: Indraprastha Press, 1996). However, as Vitali notes, leaders did not renounce world involvement due to their vows (p.377). These figures continued to produce heirs to their throne and engaged in war. Following his ordination by Sakyasribhadra and Tropu Lotsawa, Gonpode even fought in the first Yatse war (p.473). Tropu Lotsawa may have been known to the ruler prior to this encounter. According to the Lho rong chos 'byung, Tropu Lotsawa had stayed at Gung thang, most likely when he was student under Buddhasri (p.332). This may have forged a very early link between the translator and Nepal, one that would later be demonstrated by their contributions to his 80-cubit Maitreya statue.
(69.) "Two Biographies" Jackson, p.13.
(70.) "Two Biographies" Jackson, P. 16.
(71.) Lho rong chos 'byung, p.334. See also the Chos rje Khro phu in "Vicissitudes" van der Kuijp, p.614.
(72.) Lho rong chos 'byung, p.334.
(73.) Lho rong chos 'byung, p.334.
(74.) Dan Martin, "Tropu Lotsawa Jampa Pel" Treasury of Lives. http://www.treasuryoflives.org/biographies/view/Tropu-Lotsawa-JampaPel/6405 Accessed: April 7, 2012.
(75.) Roerich, p.709.
(76.) James B Apple. "Contributions to the Development and Classification of Abhisamayalamkara Literature in Tibet from the Ninth to Fourteenth Centuries." Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, no. 5 (December 2009): p.12.
(77.) Ibid, p.19.
(78.) Apple, p.20.
(79.) Apple, p.12.
(80.) Lho rong chos 'byung, p.334.
(81.) Lho rong chos 'byung, p.332.
(82.) See Roerich, pp.1042-1043 for examples.
(84.) Roerich, p.1030.
(85.) Ibid, p.1031.
(86.) Ibid, p.1033.
(87.) Ibid, p.1034 for following account.
(88.) Lho rong chos 'byung, p. 333.
(89.) Tib. Title: "phyag rgya chen po 'khor ba rgyun Chod" Cyrus Stearns, Hermit of Go Cliffs: Timeless Instructions from a Tibetan Mystic (Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2000), p.181.
(91.) Roerich, p.1034.
(92.) Yamamoto, p. 264.
(93.) Yamamoto, p. 264.
(94.) Yamamoto, p. 261
(95.) Yamamoto, p. 3.
(96.) Ibid, p.10.
(98.) "Treasury of Lives" Martin.
(99.) The Blue Annals specifically says that it was while learning under Buddhasri (Roerich, p. 1065). The Lho rong chos 'byung says that it was while he was at Gser khang at Gong thang in Bal yul (Nepal) that it was revealed to him that he would build the Maitreya statue.
(100.) Lho rong chos 'byung, p.333.
(101.) Lho rong chos 'byung, p.333.
(102.) Ibid, p. 334. See also, "Two Biographies" Jackson, p.15.
(103.) Paul Williams. Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations (New York: Routledge, 1989), p.230.
(104.) Lho rong chos 'byung, p.334.
(105.) Andre Alexander and Sam Van Schaik. "The Stone Maitreya of Leh: The Rediscovery and Recovery of an Early Tibetan Monument" Journal of Royal Asiatic Society. Series 3.21.4. (2011): p. 434.
(107.) "Leh" p. 438.
(108.) Dpa' bo Gtsug lag phreng ba, Chos 'byung mkhas pa'i dga' ston (Beijing: Mi rigs dpe skrung khang, 1986), pp. 430.18- 431.2. (Often known simply as the Scholar's Feast).
(109.) Lho rong chos 'byung, p.334
(110.) Buton, p.180. Tropu has a well-known association with the cult of Maitreya, perhaps most so because of his statue. There also exists a liturgy written by Tropu to Maitreya: gnubs lo tsa ba byams pa'i dpal (Khro phu Lotsawa), "'Phags pa byams mgon gyi bstod pa" in zhal 'don gces btus(Rumtek: Dhorphen Publication, 2009), pp.95-100.
(111.) Buton, p.139.
(112.) Cozzens, p.239.
(113.) Cozzens, p. 238.
(114.) Ibid, p. 240.
(115.) Davidson, p.86. Davidson and others break Tibetan history into different periods. There was the first spread of Buddhism prior to 842 CE, a dark age of no practice following 842 CE, and then a renewal of practice starting around 950 CE.
(116.) For a discussion on these sorts of practices see: Davidson, pp.77-79. Also, for an in-depth discussion on the roles of such practices in the history of Tibet see: Jacob Dalton, The Taming of the Demons: Violence and Liberation in Tibetan Buddhism (New Haven: Yale university Press, 2011).
(117.) Jan Nattier's discusses the dharma in detail in her book: Jan Nattier Once Upon a Future Time: Studies in a Buddhist Prophecy of Decline (Virginia: Asian Humanities Press, 1991). She puts the cause of decline in two broad categories: either from within the community or from a foreign, non-Buddhist force. Or more exactly whether the demise was an inevitable process due to outside forces or one that was precipitated by erroneous practice, and thus could be prevented (p.119). Word of the assault on Bihar in northern India and the growing Mongol powers would have made this idea of invasion a real possibility to Tibet in the thirteenth century.
(118.) Davidson, p. 61.
(119.) Davidson, p. 61.
(121.) Buton. The History of Buddhism in India and Tibet. Trans. E. Obermiller (Delhi, India: Sri Satguru,Press, 1986), p. 201.
(122.) Buton, p. 211.
(123.) Buton, pp. 171-179.
(124.) Buton, p. 180.
(125.) Buton, p. 180.
(126.) Buton p. 180.
(127.) For information on Machik Rema, see: Dan Martin, "The Woman Illusion? Research into the Lives of Spiritually Accomplished Women Leaders of the 11th and 12th Centuries" in Women in Tibet. Eds. Janet Gyatso and Hanna Havenik (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005). For more information on Gyaltsa, see Roerich, p. 706. Gyaltsa was said to have learned directly from the son of Machik Labdron.
(128.) For the following account see: Sarah Harding, Machik's Complete Explanation: Clarifying the Meaning of Chod (New York: Snow Lion Publication, 2003), pp. 252-254.
(129.) Harding, p.260.
(131.) Harding, p.280.
(132.) bka' brgyud. gsung 'bum mkhyen brtse'i dbang po, p.439.
(133.) The details about the statue, the 13 distinctive attributes of the statue can be found in: Chos kyi rgya mtsho, kah thog si tu'i dbus gtsang gnas yig (Khreng tu'i: si khron mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 2001), pp. 444- 446.
(134.) For this list see: kah thog si tu'i dbus gtsang gnas yig, pp. 444-445.
(136.) This idea of a canopy over Maitreya's head is consistent with a Buddhist myth about him. According to Roerich, a particular figure was sent to Tu cita heaven to encounter Maitreya. There flowers were showered over the head of Maitreya, and "transformed themselves into a wonderful canopy over the head of Maitreya." (Roerich, p. 98).
(137.) "Lives" van der Kuijp, p.613.
(138.) "Lives" van der Kuijp, p.613.
(139.) Although no direct mention is made of whether he had a relationship with Sakyasribhadrashri, it is reasonable to think that Buddhasri would have known of the great Kashmiri teacher.
(140.) Cyrus Stearns, The Buddha from Dolpo: A Study of the Life and Thought of the Tibetan Master Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen (New York: State University of New York Press, 1999), p.35. Dolpopa lived from 1291-1361 CE.
(141.) Dolpo, Stearns, p.36
(142.) For more information on the role of stupas in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism as centers infused with power related to relics see: Yael Bentor, "On the Indian Origins of the Tibetan Practice of Depositing Relics and Dharanis in Stupas and images" Journal of the American Oriental Society. 115.2 (1995): pp. 248-261.
(143.) Dolpo, Stearns, pp. 20-21. See also dbus gtsang gnas yig, p. 446.
(144.) Dolpo, Stearns, p.182. See also dbus gtsang gnas yig, pp.445-446.
(145.) For the following information see: Dolpo, Stearns, p.182.
(146.) Dolpo, Stearns, p.16.
(147.) Dolpo, Stearns, p.20.
(148.) Yamamoto, p.256.
(149.) Yamamoto, p.275.
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|Publication:||The Tibet Journal|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2012|
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