Shenten Dargye Ling

Yungdrung Bön

Pantheon

First of all: we distinct two kinds of being

  • the enlightened beings beyond samsara
  • the natural beings and deities still in the cycle of existence as lha (Tibetan word for "god"), tsen, dre, lu.

1. Regarding to the bonpo deities

A. peaceful ones
B. wrathful ones

A. THE PEACEFUL DEITIES

KUNTUZANGPO

kutuzangpoKuntu Zangpo is better understood as the Primordial Buddha from which Lord Shenrab was emanated and took a human body for the benefit of all sentient beings. He is also referred to in Sanskrit by the name "Samantabhadra." The name Kuntu Zangpo means "that which is most excellent and present in all places." Thus our ancient texts refer to Kuntu Zangpo as being "Self-Awareness", "True Self" and "Source of the Self".

In the introduction to an English translation of selections from the Bonpo Book of the Dead, John Myrdhin Reynolds says, "The Homage, with which the Tibetan text opens, Kuntu bzang-po rang-rig gsal-bar ston la phyag 'tshal-lo, invokes the Primordial Buddha Kuntu Zangpo (...Skt. Samantabhadra) as being the Self-Awareness (rang-rig) which clearly reveals itself (gsal-ba 'iston) at the heart or core of every single individual sentient being.

This Self-Awareness clearly reveals and shows itself in the guise of the ordinary everyday conscious life of the individual. Consciousness or awareness in it self testifies to the presence of Kuntu Zangpo, the Primordial Buddha. For that reason, the very name Kuntu Zangpo itself points to the meaning: that which is most excellent (bzang-po) is present every where (kuntu) in every sentient being. This presence is what makes a sentient being (sems-can) sentient. This indicates the presence in sentient beings of an intrinsic Awareness (rig-pa). One that is in itself beyond time and space, but which engages itself in the ifinitudes of time and space."

With reference to the Dharmakaya, the same designation of Kuntu Zangpo is employed for the Primordial Buddha in the scriptures of both the Old Schools, the Nyingmapa and the Bonpo. Although Kuntu Zangpo represents the Primordial Buddha who has been enlightened from the very beginning (ye sangs-rgyas), nevertheless, He is equally present in the heart and at the core of every single sentient being as the Base (gzhi) or the Primordial State of the individual.

As the Dharmakaya, He is without boundaries, without limitations, without definitions, without any divisions, like the infinite sky itself. He is totally all-pervading and all-encompassing (khyab bdal chen-po). Because He is totally devoid of and in no way limited by any conceptions or discursive thoughts whatsoever, inconographically he is represented as a nude Buddha figure, lacking any ornaments or adornments, sitting in meditation position in the center of the infinitude of space. He is shown in meditation position or samadhi-mudra because He represents the state of pure contemplation that is beyond the workings of the mind and its conceptual limitations...He sits upon an immaculate lotus blossom because He embodies a total primordial purity.

Kuntu Zangpo is the essence of enlightenment or the Bodhichitta (byang-chub sems) who has been wholly present from the very beginning as purity and perfection, but who has gone unrecognized by ordinary deluded sentient beings, still caught up in Samsara, due to the arising of adventitious obscurations that conceal and cloud the presence of the primordial enlightenment which is Kuntu Zanpgo."

THE FOUR SUGATAS

Within the Bon tradition, there are Four Principal Sugatas (Buddha Deities), referred to as the Four Peaceful Deities:

  1. Sangpo Bumtri, the Creator Deity
  2. Sherab Chamma, the mother of all Buddhas, or Satrig Ersang, her ZZ name: she embodies the perfection of wisdom.
  3. Shenlha Okar, the God of Compassion, a Sambhogakaya emanation of Sangpo Bumtri's love in the world working within Lord Tonpa Shenrab.
  4. Shenrab Miwoche, (Lord Buddha Tonpa), the Nirmanakaya Buddha andWorld Teacher.

 

B. WRATHFUL DEITIES

Their task is to fight against ignorance and the enemies of the teaching.

Five YIDAMS: tutelary deities who govern the tantric rituals of Mother Tantra and Father Tantra:

  1. Welse Ngampa with 9 heads and 18 arms
  2. Lhagö Togpa
  3. Trowo Khaging
  4. Welchen Gekhö: God of the Mount Tise in Zhang Zhung with 9 heads, God of the yearly cycle
  5. Phurba: God of the resolved action, Khyung with the power of the Phurba (dagger)

Zhang Zhung Meri: on the Fire Mountain of Meri
Takla Mebar
: Flame Tiger God

 

Sidpai Gyalmo, Apse

2. Protection deities

  1. Sidpai Gyalmo "Queen of the world" riding a mule, one of YesheWalmo's manifestations, with a black face and wearing a crown of 5 bleeding skulls
  2. Palden Lhamo, very ancient protector
  3. Nyipangse: protector of the Dzogchen ZZny teaching, he helps Welchen Gekhö; peaceful face and wearing a white turban; his female partner is Menmo from the Men Goddess family.
  4. Apse: one Tsen God riding a horse and wearing an armor
  5. Midü: a former demon converted to Bön
  6. Zhambhala Gonpo, also called Blue Namse: God of prosperity and luck
  7. Gyalpo Shelthrab
  8. Gyalchen Dragpa Seng: Great King

 

3.

tapihritsa-smTapiritsa

He was a Dzogchen practitioner in the 8th century and received teachings from Tsepung Dawa Gyaltsen (24th master of the Zhang Zhung oral transmission); after nine years of practice, he achieved the rainbow body. In order to transmit the Zhang Zhung nyen Gyud, he manifested as a young boy and met Nangzher Löpo who became his disciple. He gave the permission to write down the Zhang Zhung Nyen Gyud to Nangzher Löpo.

 

Drenpa-Namkha-smDrenpa Namkha

There have been three different emanations of Drenpa Namkha indifferent periods of time. The first one is Tazig Drenpa Namkha, the second one is Zhang Zhung Drenpa Namkha and the third is Tibetan Bökyi Drenpa Namkha. The last one was a great siddha in the 8th century who studied several languages and visited many holy places in Zhang Zhung, India and Drusha. He is the source of the teachings of the Yetri Thasel (one of the four bonpo Dzogchen texts). He generally appears blue in color because the first Drenpa namkha emanated from Kuntu Zangpo in the form of the syllable A of light. Also, he was born miraculously in a blue lotus. In his right hand, he holds a yungdrung which represents the everlasting and unchanging state of his wisdom and teachings. In his left hand, he holds a skull full of nectar (amrita) which represents siddhi.

 

Lishu TagringLishu Tagring

He was a great Drakpa Korsum lineage Dzogchen master born in 1751. He composed a commentary on Dzogchen Drakpa Korsum as well as the extensive teaching cycle called Dzogchen Yongtse Longchen. He visited Olmo Lung Ring and brought many teachings back to Tibet. He is known as having miraculous powers, he was born as a girl and became a boy later in his life.

 

Joza Bonmo

She was born in rTsang-po Dag-shod. She was the consort of Lishu Tagring and achieved the rainbow body after studying the Dzogchen Yetri Thasel (Removing the Extremes from the Primordial Mind).

Nyame Sherab Gyaltsen
Nyame Sherab Gyaltsen

He was a 14th century master born in Eastern Tibet. After meeting with many masters during his youth, he visited Yeru Wensakha monastery near Shigatse and became the 19th Abbot. After the flood destroyed the monastery while he was away, he rebuilt it higher up the mountain, and it became known as the Menri monastery. He restored the old system of monastic discipline, education and practice from Yeru Wensakha. He is known as Gyalwa Nyipa (the second Buddha) and he is celebrated each year on the fifth day of the first month.

 

Mawai SenggeMawai Sengge

He is the wisdom deity of the yungdrung Bön tradition. His light dispels ignorance allowing wisdom to grow in each being and represents the highest manifestation of truth and justice. He is invoked by the monastic community to guide them during debate. He holds a sword in his right hand symbolizing the power obtained through truth and justice to eliminate ignorance and attachment. His left hand is in the mudra of the declaration of the Bön truth and rising from his arm is the lotus flower of purity supporting a holy light. He sits on a dragon throne which demonstrates the enlightened quality of his speech.

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