Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Tonpa Shenrab (Founder of Bon) - Nampar Gyalwa

སྟོན་པ་གཤེན་རབ། བོན་ལུགས་སྲོལ་གཏོད་པ། 敦巴辛绕传记(苯教开创人)
(item no. 73127)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Bon
Size 78x62cm (30.71x24.41in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Private
Catalogue # R.E.E. Collection
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Peaceful

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Nampar Gyalwa (Tibetan: rnam par rgyal ba), a form of Tonpa Shenrab, founder of the Bon Religion.

The story of Tonpa Shenrab as Nampar Gyalwa (Tibetan: rnam par rgyal ba) is described in detail in chapter 50 of the Ziji, a twelve volume, 61 chapter biography of Tonpa Shenrab. The essential story concerns a Chinese king named Kongtse Trulkyi Gyalpo who attempted to build a temple on the great ocean west of Olmo Lungring. His intention was to acquire merit for the next life. The king told no one except the spirits and daemons of the ocean. Due to a misunderstanding between the King, his wife and the spirits and demons, the daemons destroyed the half built temple. Deeply upset the King prayed to Tonpa Shenrab who then appeared in the form of Complete Victory (Nampar Gyalwa), blue in colour with an angry expression, one face and two hands. The right hand is held up in the gesture of Complete Victory and the left placed on the knee. Behind Tonpa was a special fierce throne back (Tib.: gyab yol) with a lion at the bottom eating a human figure and a dragon above eating a naga serpent spirit, a sea monster above that, and topped with a Horned Eagle. Tonpa also emanated four wrathful multi-headed deities each standing in the four directions. The daemons were defeated and the temple was completed and named the White-black Shimmering Temple (Tib.: gsas khang dkar nag bkra gsal). The chief of the daemons became the protector and the temple which became a library for the teachings of Tonpa Shenrab.

Jeff Watt 5-2003 [updated 5-2006, 5-2017]

The Bon Religion of Tibet: (list of image plates)

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Bon Deity: Nampar Gyalwa (Tonpa Shenrab) Main Page
Collection of Richard R. & Magdalena Ernst
Collection of Dr. Richard R. Ernst (Bon Paintings)