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The Shangpa Lineage and the Wisdom Protector Mahakala

Mahakala is revered as the Wisdom Protector by all of the Tibetan Buddhist schools. Countless aeons ago, it’s said, the Buddha of Compassion, Avalokiteshvara, made a profound vow with the supreme budhicitta, “May I liberate all of the sentient beings that are in suffering in this Saha World, and if ever I tire in this great work, may my body be shattered into a thousand pieces.” Afterwards, Avalokiteshvara assumed limitless manifestations to help and free sentient beings during countless ages. Once he thought that all sentient beings should have been freed of Samsara under his guidance, he looked at the samsara and discovered that the number of sentient beings had not decreased at all. Moreover, their habitual behaviors had become even harder to overcome. Avalokiteshvara thus said, “Now even if there were only one sentient being, I couldn’t benefit him anymore !” As a result of breaking his vow, instantly Avalokiteshvara exploded into a thousand pieces. At this time, his root guru Amitabha appeared and told him, “You’ve broken your vow and now you need to make a greater one to compensate for this. “

With Amitabha’s blessing, Avalokiteshvara recovered as a whole again and from then on had a thousand arms and on each palm of each hand was an eye. “How can I make a grander vow to liberate the sentient beings ?” He kept contemplating this question for days and came up with the idea that in this dark age he could only surrender and save deteriorating sentient beings if he manifested a wrathful appearance. Besides, many sentient beings still couldn’t free themselves from the pain of the bardo of dying even if they practiced Dharma. The manifestation of this wrathful appearance could also protect them from the pain of the bardo of dying. And particularly in this degenerate time, the sentient beings’ lives were difficult and destitute, and the wrathful appearance could act as an antidote to relieve their suffering and help them fulfill all of their virtuous wishes.

These three actions benefiting sentient beings made his vow greater than the previous one, and thus from his heart emerged a “HUM”, the blue and black seed syllable and from the “HUM” Mahakala, the Wisdom Protector Deity immediately emanated. At that time, Amitabha and all buddhas said together, “With such a profound vow you’ll obtain empowerments and blessings from all the Wisdom Dakinis, and you’ll possess the power of death gods. Also, all of the mountain gods and ghosts will become your attendants and protectors and you will have the body, speech, mind, qualities and activities of all the buddhas from the past, present and future.
This was the origin of the Protector Mahakala.

The Six-Armed Mahakala is also the supreme protector specific to Shangpa Kagyu. Although there were many great masters translating Mahakala teachings in Tibet, the only successor to these teacchings was Khyungpo Naljor, the founder of Shangpa Kagyu. Khyungpo Naljor arrived in Nepal when he was 52 years old, and traveled between Tibet, Nepal and India constantly for 50 years, studying Dharma with 150 masters and perfecting their teachings. When he was ready to return to Tibet, he offered all the rest of his wealth to Bapa Naljor (Bapa Naljor Drachen Dzinpa) and prayed to him, “ Tibet is a place of poverty, please grant us some teachings to improve it and to increase our merit of wealth. “ Bapa Naljor thus told him the story of Mahakala and said, “Mahakala is the compassionate Deheitian, the more you rely on him, the more your virtuous wishes can come true ; the more you think of him, the more your obstacles can be eliminated. If you pray to him with devotion, even if you can’t accomplish his teachings, he’ll still manifest in front of you.” And “Even if you can only realize the relative truth of Mahakala, you’ll gain virtuous results beyond your expectation. This protector deity is like a wish fulfilling jewel.” And Bapa Naljor gave Khyungpo Naljor a complete and perfect explanation of Mahakala teachings. After Khyungpo Naljor went back to Tibet, he passed the empowerment, transmission and expositions of Mahakala teachings on to several of his main disciples. Until now, H.E. the 2nd Kalu Rinpoche is still the holder of this complete and unbroken golden lineage.

H.E. the 1st Kalu Rinpoche had a very profound connection with the Six-armed Mahakala. When he took over the most important seat of Tsadra Rinchen Drak, he had a strong desire to renovate and enlarge the area in order to offer more rooms for more retreat practitioners. Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, H.E. the 11th Tai Situ Rinpoche and Lama Norbu Tundra had had similar plans before, however, due to the gigantic rocks and other obstacles, the task of renovation had been difficult to put into practice and had to be postponed continuously. As a result, H.E. the 1st Kalu Rinpoche bravely requested H.E. the 11th Tai Situ Rinpoche to allow him to carry out this project, and the only thing Tai Situ Rinpoche had to do was to offer some financial assistence. Although Tai Situ Rinpoche expressed considerations and doubts about the difficulties the construction work would face, the 1st Kalu Rinpoche insisted he could achieve the goal. With Kalu Rinpoche’s perseverance, finally, Tai Situ Rinpoche and his consultants agreed to provide financial help for the construction and asked Kalu Rinpoche to take responsibility for it.

After the construction kicked off, the workers started complaining about the impossibility of the task. Strangely people soon discovered the arrival of some mysterious supporters. There were giant foot prints left on the ground, and looked like four people had come to the place but no one had ever seen them in person. Only Kalu Rinpoche recognized these foot prints because he had dreamed of four tall strong men with all types of tools and building materials, coming to him. He asked them where they were from, they said they came from ”a place where wishes are fulfilled” and volunteered to help him with the knowledge that the task in progress was very demanding. When being asked about their names, they introduced themselves as Kshetrapala, Dzinamitra, Takkiraja and Trakshe, and the names were exactly the four attendants of the Six-armed Mahakala, the principle Protector of Shangpa Lineage.

H.E. the 2nd Kalu Rinpoche has decided to build a Six-armed Mahakala statue of his own height during the period of the Puja he was holding in La Boulaye, his main center in Europe in December, 2015. He is going to chair its ground-breaking ceremony in March, 2016, and plans to complete construction by the upcoming Mahakala Puja in August.

If you’d like to participate in the Mahakala Puja this August, please register at:accueil.temple@orange.fr


PALDENSHANGPA LA BOULAYE - château de Plaige - 71320 LA BOULAYE - FRANCE Tél. : 03 85 79 62 53 | Fax : 03 85 79 62 56
Le secrétariat est ouvert tous les jours de 9 h à 12 h et de 14 h à 17 h en semaine et 18 h 00 le weekend
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