Monday, July 3, 2017

The Hemis Festival. The EIght Manifestations of Padmasambhava.


After the sixteen dancers wearing copper gilded masks have chanted the invocation mantra of Padmasambhava, his eight manifestations appear.  The manifestations are the principal forms that Padmasambhava assumed at different points in his life.

The performance begins with a procession of monks and performers that precede the arrival of the eight manifestations and Padmasambhava who is shaded by a large yellow parasol.


What we had assumed were the front row of paid seats was actually the seats that the eight manifestations took.


Following the eight manifestations are sixteen Dakinis and sixteen Rigma Godesses.  The performers below are the sixteen Dakinis.



You can see just how close I was sitting to the performers.








Then come the Four Heroes.  They carry a damaru and bell and praise the enlightened body, speech, mind, and activities of Padmasambhava.



One of the performers was devotionally scattering petals around.



Following the dances, the monks walked along the row of manifestations, passing out money.



Villagers and more monks followed draping white scarves around the necks of the manifestations.















After the Four Heroes, come the Five Heroines.  Wearing the crown of the five Buddhas, they play a small drum and offer praise to the Three Kayas or dimensions of Padmasambhava - Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya which are the essence and pure expressions of mind.  If you can repeat that sentence without having to read the words, I bow to you!














Then it was time for each of the eight manifestations to perform.

First up was Guru Tsokye Dorje (Padma Vajra) who is the main Guru.  His face is semi peaceful yet semi wrathful. This is the manifestation of Padmasambhava when he was born on the 10th lunar day of the 5th month at sunrise, on a lotus flower in the a lake.  He taught the dakinis of the island's lake and so he was given the name Padma Vajra which means Lotus Diamon.  He was also called Tsokye which means *Lake Born*.




Next came Guru Lodan Chod Sred who holds a large damaru in one hand and an incense pot in the other.  This is the form of Padmasambhava after he became a monk on the 10th lunar day of the 2nd month.  He learned all the sutra and tantric scriptures, studying with many learned masters and sages.  When he himself because a great master and scholar, he was bestowed the title of Lodan Chod Sred which means the *Wise Seeker of the Supreme*.






I pretty much missed the next dance when these guys decided to stand right in front of me.  So no photos of Guru Padma Gyalpo.  Grrr.....



By the time I regained full view, I had lost sequence of which guru was performing.  We had been gifted books that provided a play by play of the dances and it included photos of the manifestations.  Although the photo I took of him does not quite match what was in the book, based on the color of his face, his hairstyle along as well what he is carrying in his hands, the next manifestation to appear was Guru Nyima Odzer.   The disk like object he is holding in his right hand represents the sun.


On the 10th day of the 8th  month, Padmasambhava was given poison to swallow by non-Buddhist heretics.  He survived the poisoning and with his spiritual powers he turned the poison into nectar.  The miracle impressed the heretics and they converted to Buddhism.  He was given the name Nyima Odzer which means "Sun Rays".


Then came Guru Shakya Senge whom I did not take a photo of performing.  I think I was reaching overdose on gurus.


Next up was Guru Senge Dradog aka the Roaring Lion.  On the 10th day of the 5th month, when non-Buddhist heretics tried to destroy the Buddha Dharma, the guru brought destruction upon them with his miraculous power.  He became known as Senge Dradog - the Roaring Lion.


The face of the mask is extremely wrathful, dark blue in color.  The manifestation depicts the guru surrounded by his two lion sons.  He wears a lion skin on the upper part of his body and a tiger skin on the lower part.



And then more guys blocking my view.  Seriously?  Nowhere else to stand?  What to do.  Camera down.


Guys gone, camera back up.  I have no idea where I was in the program.


Then Guru Dorje Drolod appeared.


On the 10th day of the 11th month, Padmasambhava reached the realization of Mahamudra which is the essence of the spiritual path in a cave in Nepal.  Later, in Bhutan, he appeared in the form of a wrathful Buddha and subjugated all the spirits of Tibet and Bhutan and controlled them.  He concealed many profound texts and precious materials for the sake of future generations.  It was at this time that he was known as Dorje Drolod. 


Guru Dorje Drolod is a wrathful manifestation that has a dark red face.  He holds a vajra (thunderbolt) in one hand and a phurba (dagger ) in the other.





After Guru Dorje Drolod's dance, the sixteen Dakinis returned to perform another dance.







Then the manifestations depart.




They are followed by the musicians.





This concluded the morning program of sacred dances.  It was now time for an intermission which means lunch!