Entries Tagged as narrative

Maitreya & Manjushri in Dialogue

May 20, 2011 ·

The subject of these paintings is a dialogue between Maitreya and Manjushri following a Mahayana Buddhist narrative. Probably the most famous depiction of this narrative is found in Dratang Monastery, Tibet, painted in the 11th century. Although damaged both by time and human events the beauty of the Dratang murals is immediately evident. There are minor difference in the various depictions and the iconography of the figures, but the story remains the same.

Tags: narrative · iconography

Off Topics: Poisoned or Murdered

April 22, 2011 ·

Poisoned or Murdered is a quick reference to keep track of all of those people and stories that have a strong aspect of tragedy, murder and death. In Tantric Buddhism a 'morally justified' killing is called a 'liberation.' Many of the stories listed are controversial even to this day. Some have become very confused over time such as the murder of King Ligmincha. The Bonpo actually believe it was King Trisong Detsen that committed the deed but the actual annexation of Zhangzhung took place in Songtsen Gampo's reign - not Trisongdetsen.

Histories also diverge and the narrative of one tradition gets woven into the narrative of another such as the death of Dharmadode, the son of Marpa Lotsawa. According to the Kagyu Tradition generally it is said that Marpa Chokyi Lodro did not have the proper merit to found a family lineage of Dharma practice as predicted by the siddha Naropa. The tradition of Rwa Lotsawa narrates how Rwa Dorje Drag and Dharmadode entered into a Tantric competition each claiming that their own practice, Vajrabhairava versus Hevajra, was more powerful than the other. In effect they dueled to the death - the death of Dharmadode - despite Milarepa being at his side at the moment of passing.

Each one of these stories, of which there are probably dozens more, is interesting, historically thought provoking, and pushes at the edges of what is acceptable and what is not. They have everything that a good Buddhist narrative should have, a dose of truth, a lot of hagiography, whimsy and - most importantly - open to interpretation.

Shakyamuni Buddha is found in this list because he supposedly passed away from eating bad or poisoned pork? The significance of this is that some later stories adopted this same scenario and used it as a particular element in a Buddhist genre of death narrative - a kind of nobility through poisoning.

Tags: narrative