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Culture, History, Society, tibetan history

The Birth Story (The Gesar of Ling Epic)

Source: Echoes in 

The ruler, Senglon married Gyaza;
The great hero Gyatsa Shelkar was born;
The Ling people had a grand birth ceremony
And the Chinese ruler offered three weapons.

Here is the account of the birth of Sengchen Norbu Dradul – the ‘Great Lion Gem that Subdues enemies’. In the lineage of the Mukpo Dong of four mothers, Choephen Nagpo had three wives – Serza, Lamza and Changza to whom were born three sons Lhayag Dharkar, Trichang Pagyeh and Dragyal Bumme respectively.

The descendents of these three sons gave rise to the three lineages – the Great lineage, Middle lineage and Lesser lineage of Ling.

Of the Lesser lineage, Dragyal Bumme had a son Thog Lha Bum. Thog Lha Bum had a son Choe Lha Bum. Choe Lha Bum welcomed three wives – Rongza, Gaza and Muza. Rongza gave birth to a son, the Common chieftain – Chipon Rongtsa Tragyen who was an incarnation or the human entity of the ‘Golden coloured Pandit’.

The Chipon’s mind and intelligence was like dawn that has broken; his skilful methods and wisdom like the rising sun and his speech like a row of planted seeds. The integrity of his actions was like a split bamboo. He was a yoke oppressing the high and powerful and a parent to the humble poor below. He was the leader among all the brothers – young and old; the expert among those assembled at a discussion and the commander of bandits that subdued enemies. Though he was included among those of the Lesser lineage he was respected and esteemed as the Common chief or Chipon by all of Ling.

Gaza gave birth to a son Yugyal who went to fight with the Hor and was killed by them.

Muza had a son, Senglon who was an incarnation of the ‘Brahmin Legjin’. He was outwardly gentle like white Chinese silk and inwardly soft like a ball of white butter. He was warm and mild like the sun in spring and always at ease like a knot of silk. Senglon possessed physical majesty like the rising sun; his pleasing voice was like a well-tuned piwang and his mind was powered by the vehicle of clear light. He was a castle fortress that gathers the dralha; a senkhar – temple for deities, where the werma reside and he was born as the laa stone for the oath bound deities.

The Common chieftain – Chipon welcomed Boesa Metok Tso as his wife and she gave birth to four children – an elder son Yuphen Tagyal, a middle son Lenpa Choegyal, a younger son Nangchung Yutak and a daughter Lhamo Yudrol.

Senglon took Gyaza Lhakar Drolma as his wife and in the ‘victorious’ month of the Female ox year gave birth to a son whose countenance was like the moon. His mind was open and vast like the sky and his actions and behaviour were in accord with the Dharma. He was a poisonous nettle to foes and gentle and pure as white Chinese silk towards his relations. He had the courage of a raging tiger and the powerful ruthless skills of the pale Horpa hawk.

Those within his family called him Shellu Nima Rangshar – which meant ‘Small face of the Self-rising Sun’. Those outside his family offered him the name Bumpa Gyatsa Shelkar. When he was born, lamas invoked the deities and performed rituals for his life and fortune. His father and paternal uncles said aspirational prayers for him. His mother and maternal aunts sang songs and danced the dro and so for a period of thirteen days a great birth ceremony and massive celebrations were held.

Then the three governors – the governor of the Great lineage, the deity son Namkha Senge, the governor of the Middle lineage, Lingchen Tharwai Sonam and the governor of the Lesser lineage, Chipon Rongtsa Tragyen each offered a special ceremonial scarf on the neck of the hero Shellu and the Chipon said,

“O great community of pure deity race;
This is the first of the merits accrued within;
It’s an omen of the increase of our power;
It’s the start of auspicious interdependence.
Do not let your ears be distracted by other things
But listen to this song of mine”

and then he chanted in this manner:

Lu ala lamo ala len;
Lu thala lamo thala len.

This day, the stars in the sky are excellent;
On earth, the time and sun are excellent;
At the time of the three excellents assembled,
We offer a birth ceremony to son Gyatsa Shellu.

For the birth ceremony, from the Great lineage:
Ten yellow pata patterns of gold;
An armour of gold with fringes of silk;
A gold helmet with yellow victory banners;
A sword with silk covered hero’s handles on hilt;
On a tawny steed – a gold bird with soaring gait,
Gold saddle, gold bit and gold tail-straps;
All decorated with yellow silk of auspiciousness;
These nine items of gold as ceremony offer;
Keep these in mind, deity race of Ling.

Following this, the Middle lineage of Ling made a birth offering of a set of nine items of white conch and then the Lesser lineage of Ling offered a set of nine items made of blue turquoise. They then offered many excellent aspirational prayers.

After this Gyatsa Shelkar’s physical form increased like the waxing moon and when he had grown fully to his complete potential Gyami Chen of China invited the three nephews as guests.

The three princes – Prince Nyitri Karchen of Jang Sadam, Prince Lhabu Legpa of Aachen Horpa and Prince Gyatsa Shelkar of Bumpa Dong were each offered a horse, a sword and armour as principal gifts and a hundred items each of gold, silver, silk and tea and many other articles that were unique and could not be found in the possession of other people.

At the presentation he said to them, “O three nephews who will fulfil all wishes, do not be distracted by pleasant predictions but listen to this song. Do not forget the goals but keep this in mind. The perfect speech has three words.”

After these words, he chanted this song to the tune of the ‘Sweet voice of the cuckoo’:

Ala is the way of chanting songs;
Thala is the way of summoning speech;

If you do not recognise this site,
It’s the miraculous palace of the Lord of China;
Such great breadth that can cover the sky;
Such mass, a foundation for all-supporting earth;
Of these I am the legal owner of China.

Give ear to what I have to say:
Three steeds – Phoenix, Peacock and Water bird
Are the horse fortunes of China in the east;
To my three nephews I offer them as riding steeds.

One, a fine wall of white conch armour;
Two, a blue turquoise armour capable of a thousand;
Three, a black metal armour that blocks thunderbolts;
Created by divine miracles and not human hands;
Castles of life-force, not penetrated by grey blades;
To the three heroes – Shellu, Nyitri and Lhabum
To banish physical harm, I gift the citadel of life-forces.

From the auspicious throne entrance of eastern China
Three shang-shang birds were on metal dust bred;
The one that threw up the metal dust,
At the time of the break of dawn
Was forged by the sinpo smith;
Was called the sword ‘Guzi – Dawn of the sky’;
Was beaten like boiling cast iron;
Was pounded like boiling tempered metal;
Was hammered like flashing lightning;
Radiant designs, like ripples of water are present;
If grasped attackers are by charisma overpowered;
If waved about, mountains of rock are razed to dust;
To you – Nyitri Karchen of Jang, I offer.

And then the metal dust that travelled downwards;
Was by the smith of powerful Yamshuh
Forged in the black darkness of the west;
It’s called the sword ‘Azi – Burning poisonous manes’;
Its back is like the break of dawn;
Its edge is like overcast darkness;
Its patterns are like collected lakes;
Its temper is like sinpos when angry;
Its pliable metal is like applying knots;
Waved about it hungers to execute foes;
To you Lhabu Legpa of Hor, I offer.

Of the metal that remained within;
At the rising of the great star of dawn,
Was forged by the theurang smith;
Its hot cast iron was in a cauldron beaten;
Its tempering fluid was the blood of sinpos;
Its back so fine, that it attracts the dralha;
The dralha’s radiant complexion is clearly present;
Its black blade attracts the Lord of death;
The executioner’s poison fumes surround it;
Radiant designs like ripples of water are present;
When slashed across the middle of rivers,
It’s called ‘Wind sword that directs rivers upwards’;
When present in the land of China below,
It’s called the sword ‘Muzi – the dry miracle’
Let it be your paternal sword, Gyatsa of Bumpa Ling.

The sections of gold, silver and silk
And the various other items like tea,
A hundred each for festive joy proffer;
It’s a celebration of nephew and uncle meeting.

When holding political power over Ling,
Oppress the napes of the powerful
And protect and support the humble poor;
In actions be honest like a split bamboo;
Mind and intellect should be like dawn that’s broken;
Skilful methods and wisdom like the shining sun;
All equal before the law and protecting without bias;
Avoid partiality to one’s loved ones
And never reflect on the size of gifts.

May you three brothers live long lives;
Bring out your swords together, from their scabbards
And tie your steeds together to their troughs.
Keep these words in your minds, you three brothers.

After these words had been spoken, in a state of immeasurable joyousness, the three princes, their ministers and retinue, their horses and mules etc. went away happily, each on his own way to his own country.

to continue …


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