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Tradition: Dzongpa Main Page (Sakya)

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- Dorje Den Kunga Namgyal
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- Khyenri Style Painting
- Dzongpa Lamdre Lineage Set
- Gongkar Chode Monastery
- Gongkar Chode (India): Paintings
- Dratang Monastery
- Map of U-Tsang
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The principal founder of the Dzongpa Tradition was Lama Dampa Sonam Gyaltsen. In the 15th century the main monastery of the Dzongpa became Gongkar Chode just south-west of Lhasa on the south side of the Tsangpo River. This monastery is especially famous for the artist Khyentse Wangchug and the development of the Khyenri style of painting.

Jeff Watt [updated 3-2018]


"There are three Traditions holding the lineage of Sakya Pandita: the Sakya, the Ngor and the Tshar. From the root of the Sakya Tradition came the three renowned lineages of Bulug, Jonang and Bodong. From all these, a few minor differences in their views of the Sutras and Tantras have emerged from their explanations."

(Excerpt from the Opening of the Dharma, A Brief Explanation of the Essence of the Limitless Vehicles of the Buddha. Written by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro. Translated by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Gyatso, Malaysia, October 1984).

'The Precious Necklace', a Brief History of Gongkar Chode Monastery

by Chodze Delek

His body the exemplar of perfection, of which one can never see enough,
His speech the great drum of the eighty four thousand divisions of the Dharma,
His mind the boundless and fathomless ocean of primordial wisdom,
Homage to Shakyamuni Buddha, guide of all beings!

Master of all fields of learning and omniscient one
The Heruka of great joy personified
Universally triumphant, the glory of all beings
Homage to the noble Lama!

To begin this brief history of Gongkar Chode with the origins: when Jowo-je Palden Atisha passed through the Yorpo area (on the south bank of the Tsangpo river in central Tibet), he stopped at a short distance from the present monastery and made a prostration. When his attendants asked him why he did so, the Lama told them "Look here! In future your Lama will establish a great monastery here". The great pile of white pebbles marking the spot where Jowo-je offered a Mandala at the time of making this prophecy could be seen there up until the 'Cultural Revolution'.

The omniscient one, the great and much renowned Dorje-denpa Kun-ga Namgyal is said to have been an emanation of the Vidhyadhara Srisimha, of Nanam Dorje Dujom, Acarya Nagarjuna and others. He was born into the excellent lineage of Tonmi Sambhota, to father Gyelwa Sherab and mother Palden Demo, in the Water Rat year of the seventh sexagenary cycle (1432), amid many wonderful signs.

The disciple of Lama Dampa Sonam Gyeltsen known as Tekchen Choje (Kunga Tashi) was the chief holder of the Dzongpa tradition (of the Sakya school). His disciple was Draktokpa Sonam Sangpo, and from him Dorje-denpa received full instruction. From Je Jampa-lingpa (Sonam Namgyal) he received higher monastic ordination. From Shalu Yeshe Gyatso he received most of the Tantric rituals, such as Yoga-tantra and so on. These were his three main Guru-s, but he also received a complete range of teachings on Sutra and Tantra from qualified masters of all traditions.

Once when he was reading the text of the Vajradhatu on the roof of his residence in the Gongkar Dzong, some pages were suddenly blown away by the wind, and they landed on the site of the present monastery. At the same time a raven watched over them, and on seeing these signs, it occurred to him that he should found his own monastery on the site, and charge the four-faced Mahakala with it's protection. Dorje-denpa Kun-ga Namgyal founded his monastery at the age of 33 in the Wood Monkey year of the eighth sexagenary cycle (1464). In the initial prognosis, in front of the site was, quite amazingly, the heap of stones offered in worship at the time of Jowo-je's prophecy; in the north-west, in the manner of a water offering in front of the site was a gently, constantly flowing stream; to the north was a peculiar cave, residence of the Nagaraj Ananda; the rear mountain resembled a Garuda alighting with wings outstretched, so that the monastery rested in the lap of a Garuda; on it's flank was a rocky hill known as 'Drak-tsen', residence of the Tsen (local spirit) Yawa Kyabdun, resembling rising flames; to the south-east, on the rock face of a hillock known as 'Powo Ta-go' was a naturally formed letter 'Ah', representing the essence of the Prajnaparamita teaching; and to the south-west was a hillock known as 'Tachok-puk' resembling a Mandala offering. Moreover, the site of the monastery was on exceptionally dry ground, signifying aspiration for the release of the beings of the triple world from the swamp of Samsara. Thus, on the strength of these perfect geomantic properties, following the pacification and ritual preparation of the ground through extensive and elaborate performance of the Vajrakilaya rite, the great monastery of Gongkar Dorje-den was founded.

Here he instituted the particular ritual, instruction and accomplishment programme of the later Dzongpa tradition passed down by Tekchen Chogyel, also known as the Gongkar tradition, the empowerments, transmissions and instructions for the ritual performance of some forty Mandala-s drawn from the four classes of Tantra, the vast and profound practises in their entirety, and having established this renowned and exemplary model of the teachings, he became a powerful upholder of the Sakya tradition in u province. In the Fire Dog year, at the age of 35, he visited Sakya. As a master of the Sakya teachings, he was welcomed with a procession, music, auspicious banners and the like, and accorded no end of respect. His invocation of the Dharmapala-s was beyond imagining. His writings were extensive. His deeds of spiritual power being very many, his reputation was greatly spread. His tradition of instruction and accomplishment has continued over more than five hundred years since the monastery was founded.

The Tsukla-khang (main temple) was in the form of the Vajradhatu Mandala, with extensions in the four directions representing the stepped portals (of the deity's palace), and various enclosures representing the lotus petal, Vajra fence and fire mountain perimeters. The central sanctum has four pillars, and at it's centre was a great Buddha statue whose exceptional contents include the skull of Panchen Gayadhara. In it's retinue are statues of the two chief disciples, the eight Bodhisattva-s, Brahma and Indra, and two fierce guardians. Before the Buddha are also statues of his father Suddhodhana and mother Mayadevi on either side. On the storey above the sanctum was the eight pillar Vajradhatu chapel, containing mural paintings and statues of the deities in the same aspect, pose, colour and form as they appear in the Mandala, like seeing it for real. Above that was the sixteen pillar Lama Lha-khang chapel, with the storey-tall gold reliquary of the great Dorje-denpa in the centre studded with precious jewels beyond description, the dome window adorned with lattice garlands of turquoise, coral and pearl. Above that was a gold ornament known as 'turquoise splendour' one handspan in height, of circular form, studded with turquoise three layers deep(?) In front of the reliquary were eight Tathagata Stupa-s in red sandalwood decorated with cold gold. Encircling it were statues of the Lamdre lineage masters with Vajradhara at the centre, made of special earth (Bye ma A drong) and filled with sacred contents. They remained immaculate throughout the four seasons, a marvelous blessing rare to behold in this world. They are accompanied by many exceptionally blessed statues in precious alloy, gilt copper and bronze, chiefly the bronze likeness of Atisha, likeness of Dorje-denpa and old Kadam-style Stupa-s, mural paintings of the masters and deity cycles of all traditions, and many old Tangka-s (scroll paintings). The images have several pearl-decorated covers of various sizes, and there are precious objects of all shapes and sizes too numerous to name. Above that was the Mandala chamber with 32 pillars(?). This entire structure was of miraculous design.

The great assembly hall had 49 pillars (usually counted as 64). On the walls were many old paintings, mainly of the sixteen Arhat-s interspersed with the 'hundred deeds' of the Buddha from the Avadana-kalpalata. To the left of the entrance to the sanctum were paintings of the 'three white-clad masters' (of the Sakya school), and to the right, the 'three red-clad masters'.

Inside, on the outer facing walls were paintings of the 'twelve deeds', and on the inner facing walls, one thousand Amitabha-s. The four main statues in the hall were the likeness of the omniscient Dorje-denpa known as the 'tiger cushion', made by Khyentse Chenmo during the master's lifetime and indistinguishable from him. Then there was another likeness made of gilt copper, which is the one in the restored hall at present, a lifesize Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) with a group of five statuettes at it's heart centre, and a Sakyamuni statue called 'multiplier of the monastic community' (Sanghavardana).

On a clockwise circuit of the main hall, the first chapel on the north wall was a storage room. The second was a Kan-gyur Lha-khang containing a Sakyamuni statue and a set of the canonical scriptures (bKa' 'gyur). The third was the 'northern protector chapel' devoted to the twelve deity cycle of Panjara-mahakala. The fourth was used to store offering materials and utensils. On the south wall, the first door led to a closed stairway to the middle floor. The second was the Bhairava chapel (or 'Ngak-khang'), in which the main statues were the thirteen deity Bhairava cycle, Vajrakumara, the Kilaya deity trio (dKar bdud phur gsum) and blood-drinking Visuddha. Third was an assembly room. Fourth was the 'tea door' (leading to a kitchen). Within the main entrance portico were storey-tall statues of the four guardian kings, and in the outer portico were two wrathful guardians, and wall paintings of Manjusri, Jambhala, the 'wheel of existence', mount Meru and the four continents, the disciplinary code composed by the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, the original disciplinary code composed by Dorje-denpa, and now a list of the eminent sponsors who supported the restoration of the monastery in the 1980s.

In the 'Lima Lha-khang' (chapel of the bronzes) above this chapel on the middle floor was a bronze likeness statue of the great Dorje-denpa, eighty or so old statues made of precious alloy, several Stupa-s of various styles, and books including the Lamdre teachings and collected works of the Sakya masters. In the 'secret' protector chapel on it's north side, at the head of the seating row was a lifesize statue of Dorje-denpa in gilt bronze. The main statues in the inner chapel were four-faced Mahakala and the twelve-deity Panjara-mahakala cycle. In the outer protector chapel were a statue called 'Mahakala of the chains', a few gilt statues including one Tara, and a wonderful Guru Padmasambhava made with residual metal from the casting of the Hevajra statue.

On the north side of the middle floor was the Hevajra chapel with mural paintings of the Tantric deity cycles, and a central lifesize statue of Hevajra cast in copper and gilded, with a retinue of eight goddesses, all inlaid with jewels, so beautiful that one could never tire of beholding them. Even those with no previous disposition for religion might change their minds and develop strong faith simply by beholding this statue. On it's northeast side was a three-dimensional model of the Hevajra Mandala, and on it's west side was a superbly made octagonal shrine cabinet with three tiers containing fine precious metal statues of Samvara, Kalacakra and Hevajra. On the east side were likeness statues of the Dorje-denpa incarnations and their
silver reliquary Stupa-s.

In the Lamdre Lha-khang on the south wall of the middle floor, the main statue was an incomparable gilt copper Manjusri, simply to behold which was to gain the clarity of complete learning. It was surrounded by statues of the Lamdre lineage masters, and on one side was a gilt bronze Maitreya adorned with turquoises including the head-ornament of Dorje-denpa's mother Palden Demo (in whose memory it was made). There was also a gong which was an unearthed treasure.

In the chapel of the sixteen Arhat-s above that were statues of the Buddha and Arhat-s as well as the Upasika Dharmatala and four guardian kings, and a complete set of the Kan-gyur scriptures which were regularly recited. In the central chamber of the great sitting room on it's west side were a Sakyamuni statue in precious alloy and a likeness statue of the founder's father Gyalwa Sherab, a complete set of statues of the Lamdre lineage masters and sixteen Arhat-s. In the south annex was another series of the Buddha and sixteen Arhat-s.

In the Draktok Lha-khang (devoted to the founder's teacher) were likeness statues of the five elders of the Sakya school, including a special statue of Drakpa Gyeltsen and his ritual Kila, and a likeness of Draktokpa Sonam Sangpo which spoke. In the north annex were masks of the three Dakini protectresses of the Sakya tradition, scroll paintings of Samvara, Guhyasamaja and Bhairava, a few Kadampa-style Stupa-s, a Vajrakumara scroll painting and a likeness statue of Lama Dampa Sonam Gyeltsen. Most of the above mentioned statues, murals and scroll paintings were executed at the wish of the great Dorje-denpa by the master artist Gongkar Khyentse Chenpo, the originator of the Tibetan painting style known as 'Khyenri'.

In the Kunsang-tse college on the north side of the main temple, the main images were one of the clay statues of Ka-che Panchen (Sakyasri) made by the potter Takung Nyishar, and a likeness of the college's founder (incorrectly identified as Mangto Ludrup Gyatso), as well as a great many precious metal statues and Stupa-s, including a likeness of Dorje-denpa, and the Buddha-s of the past, present and future. In particular, there was an extraordinary scroll painting of Vaisravana, thread crosses of the protectors, and mural paintings from the time of the college's foundation.

The main objects of worship in the Rinchen-gang college on it's east side (dubiously attributed to Tsarchen Losal Gyatso) were the upper skull of Sakya Pandita bearing a self-formed letter 'Dhi', an exceptional likeness of Sakya Pandita and another likeness of Dorje-denpa. The silver reliquary containing the skull was one of four. There was also an efficacious statue of Lha-mo Dusolma (a form of Palden Lha-mo), and various scriptures, mural paintings and thread crosses.

The main image in the Kun-nang college on the south side of the main temple was Jetsun Drakpa Gyeltsen's skirt. In the sanctum of the assembly hall were statues of Sakyamuni and the two close disciples with a retinue of eight bodhisattva-s and two door guardians. On the right side of the main hall was a complete series of statues of the three Buddha-s and sixteen Arhat-s, and on the left, a likeness of Dorje-denpa and the Lamdre lineage masters. There were also various precious metal statues and Stupa-s.

To the right of the sanctum was a protector chapel devoted to the two principal forms of Mahakala and Palden Lha-mo, where there were also mural paintings and thread crosses.

In the Drepung college on it's west side, founded by Kunkhyen Tsewang Tashi, was an amazingly blessed white sandalwood statue of Avalokitesvara with one thousand eyes and one thousand arms, containing the legendary 'serpent coiled sandalwood' (Tsenden Trulki Nyingpo). On one side of the assembly hall was a carved wooden shrine cabinet of innovative design, rare to see and hard to describe, containing a complete set of gilt copper statues of the sixteen Arhat-s and a variety of precious metal Stupa-s.

There was also a scroll painting of the Ksetrapala protector which swiftly accomplished tasks when propitiated through any of the four classes of ritual, and wall paintings and thread crosses were also to be seen.

At the age of 65, on the 23rd day of the third month of the Fire Dragon year of the eighth sexagenary cycle, Dorje-denpa Kun-ga Namgyal invoked the monastery's protector Caturmukha, and offered an extensive and elaborate performance of his rites, and of the propitiation of the monastery's other protectors. On the 25th day he passed away amid wonderful signs perceived by the fortunate each in accordance with his own Karma. He remained in after-death meditation until the eighth day of the next month, and on the morning of that day his head drooped to the left in a sign that he had passed beyond that state. His precious remains were placed in the rooftop Lama Lha-khang, and throughout the monastery an infinitely vast and elaborate offering service was arranged. From that time until the present, a grand offering service has been performed from the 21st of the third month onward involving the creation of 28 sand Mandala-s and their rituals, and on the 25th day a hundred-fold offering service in the Lama Lha-khang and a thousand-fold offering in the main assembly. Then he was entombed in the golden reliquary, seated facing lord Vajradhara, blazing with supreme blessing and conferring all manner of benefit on all who saw, heard, touched or recalled it.

The monastic community numbered two hundred and sixty, who performed an annual programme of Mandala rituals starting with 28 sand Mandala-s from the Carya, Yoga and Anuttara-yoga Tantra-s, from the 6th to the 15th day of the first lunar month. To name them individually: the condensed deity cycles as explained in the Vajrapanjara section of the Hevajra-tantra, black Hevajra, Hevajra in Dombhi Heruka's tradition, Hevajra in the Tsokye Dorje tradition, Hevajra in the oral instruction tradition, the fifteen goddess cycle of Nairatma, Samvara in Mahasiddha Luipa's tradition, Samvara in Krsnapada's tradition, the five-deity Samvara of Ghantapada, the 37 Varahi form of Samvara, Guhyasamaj-aksobhyavajra, the thirteen deity Bhairava, 49 deity Bhairava, the Vetalaraja form of Bhairava, black Yama, five deity red Yama, thirteen deity red Yama, six faced Yama, Mahamaya, five deity Manjusri, (Rigs gsum rig gtad), (gZa' yum skar yum), nine deity Amitayus, Vidarana in Virupa's tradition, Sarvavid-vairocana, Panjara-tara and Vajra-tara.

For the Mandala rituals, there are two days of preparation. On the first, for the ritual preparation of the ground, a dance known as the 'sun disk' is performed by 45 dancers. On the second day, after completion of the preparations, the Mandala is assembled. The actual ritual lasts for seven days, with hundred-fold offering services every day, and a thousand-fold offering on the 15th day of the month (full moon). The dance ritual requires the participation of 60 or so monks. In the morning, the giant scroll painting of Sakyamuni was displayed and white silk scarves offered before it, dances such as the great drum dance and the lesser ritual dances were performed more or less as in the 'golden procession offering ceremony' in Lhasa, banners, canopies, streamers and so on are hung, horns and oboes played, and incense offered, filling all directions. Before the great Buddha Tangka a vast and elaborate offering was arranged, including the full variety of auspicious symbols and materials, the seven emblems of royalty, the eight auspicious symbols, and the eight substances. A recitation service including the supplications with the words "May I become the protector of all sentient beings without exception...." was held in the main assembly. At the point where the supplication is made for the Buddha and retinue to manifest their presence, the cover of the great Tangka was drawn, to the accompaniment of horns, oboes, cymbals, drums and other musical instruments, followed by extensive recitation of lustration, consecration, Mandala offering and other prayers. In the afternoon, the peaceful, expansive, magnetising and wrathful fire rituals based on the Hevajra-tantra were performed together with the fire dance of the eight goddess retinue of Hevajra, and in the evening, the feast offerings to the protectors. This was followed by a three day reconsecration ceremony.

On the 10th day of the second lunar month, the 10th day ritual, seven-fold offering and Ganachakra were performed. On the 14th day a day-long hundred-fold offering was held. Then from around the 16th, the monks had to head to Lhasa for the 'golden procession offering' ceremony. This ceremony required the participation of 168 monks. The Sitatapatra thread cross ritual, Tara thread cross ritual and Torma ceremony of the red protector(?) each lasting seven days, were performed for the benefit of the Tibetan religious polity, and a 12-pillar assembly hall in the west courtyard of the Tromsi-khang building in the Lhasa Barkhor, with a one-pillar kitchen, two-pillar storeroom, one-pillar apartment for the senior officiants and two-pillar room for arranging offerings were allocated for the purpose. As soon as the services were complete, the monks had a farewell audience (with the Dalai Lama) and returned by boat downriver to Gongkar.

In the third month was the ten day anniversary ceremony of the founder's death, starting from the 19th, with Mandala rituals and recitation ceremonies similar to the first month. On the 25th day was the ceremony known as 'offering to the divine Lama', with an extensive offering to the Lamdre lineage masters before the golden reliquary in the Lama Lha-khang chapel, recitations including long life prayers for the Dalai Lama, and in particular, a thousand-fold offering and dance ceremony in the main assembly. On the 30th was a supplementary fire ritual and fire dance, when the Mandala-s were dissolved.

On the eighth day of the fourth month there was a great offering service, Guru-puja, offering to the protectors and an offering service for the founder, as above. On the 10th day, tenth day rituals were held for the whole day in each of the four colleges.

Starting from the 11th, the Kalacakra Mandala ritual was performed. The preparation was done on the first day, and from the second day the ritual preparation dances and sand Mandala-s, chiefly the Kalacakra as well as Buddhasamayoga, the Dakinisagara form of Samvara and Catuhpitha Mandala-s, lasting eight days. In that time there were four hundred-fold offering services and one thousand-fold offering, and extensive offerings were arranged according to the services being performed in each of the colleges. From the 21st there was a seven day Tara puja, involving one hundred thousand repetitions of the Tara offering rite,
during which seven-fold and hundred-fold offerings were made daily.

On the 6th day of the fifth month was the 'Draktok Puja' or offering service to mark the death anniversary of Dorje-denpa's teacher Draktokpa Sonam Sangpo, an extensive Guru-puja and offering of dedicatory prayers lasting one day. From the seventh day there was a five day performance of the 10th day ceremony in the main assembly, and on the 10th day itself there was a masked dance performance including the 'Tsamcho Trowo' or wrathful deities, blessing bestowal and negativity aversion (stages of the Lama Sangdu ritual), the Gying (spirits), the eight forms of Guru Padma, Daka-s and Dakini-s, the Ngonpa, Hashang, little Hashang, Sinpo and Atsarya-s. For five days starting from the 16th was the long life rites for the Dalai Lama-s, the

Chintamani-tara ritual, and from the 19th to the 28th was a ten day recitation of the Kan-gyur scriptures, in which time monks were generally not given leave, but for exceptional circumstances.

On the 4th day of the sixth month was a one day thousand-fold offering dedicated to Usnisavijaya. On the following three days the Bhaisajyaguru ritual was performed. On the 8th was the four Tara Mandala-s ritual. From the 9th to the 13th was a five day preparation for the great summer debate festival, and on the 14th was a Guru-puja and offering to the protectors. On the 15th was a one day recitation of the Sarvavid-vairocana ritual. On the 22nd, the 25th day offerings (lNga mchod) were held (in advance) in the individual dormitories. Then the seven day 'great summer debate festival' began on the 23rd, in which participants extended their knowledge of various fields of learning through far-reaching debate on the classical scriptures of all schools, such as Pramana, Vinaya and Abhidharma, and in the evenings the Sitatapatra threadcross ritual and offerings to the protectors were performed. On the morning of the 29th, the longevity prayers and essential aversion rituals for the elimination of all kinds of obstacles and threats to the person of His Holiness the Dalai Lama were performed, and the Sitatapatra threadcross casting ritual to counter obstacles and threats to the Gongkar incarnation lineage. On the 30th was a collective
recitation of the Kan-gyur.

On the first day of the seventh month was the one day culmination ceremony of the 'great summer debate festival', when a debate on Pramana and Abhidharma had to be held before the skull and likeness statue of Sakya Pandita in the Rinchen-gang college. In this month, each of the colleges held assemblies for the performance of reconsecration and the 16 Arhat ritual known as 'renewing the teachings' for an indeterminate period. From the 20th until the first day of the eighth month the Mandala rituals of thirteen deities of the Yoga-tantra class were performed, including Vajrasattva, Vajradhatu, (rTse mo), Trailokyavijaya, Sarvavid-vairocana, Mara-bhuta, (gTsug tor dgu pa), the collected variants of the Paramadi-tantra section (dPal mchog), Dharmadhatu, Aksobhya, Vairocana-abhisambodhi, nine-deity Amitayus and five-deity Amoghapasa. On the first day of the ground preparation ritual Mandala is a dance of 26 wrathful deities and daily hundred-fold or thousand-fold offering according to the specific recitations of each Mandala. On the 30th was the ceremony marking the end of the monastic summer retreat.

From the third day of the eighth month there were three days of bathing when the monks were given a holiday. On the 9th and 10th was an elaborate performance of the Hevajra sand Mandala. On the 25th the Ngamcho offerings were held in each college.

On the eighth day of the ninth month there was a tradition of whitewashing the college and domestic buildings. On the 15th the Tara and Sarvavid-vairocana rituals were recited. On the 22nd an extensive 60-fold (Bhairava ritual) was performed in front of the main statue in the Bhairava chapel, when the Vajracarya would put on ritual dance costume and perform the elimination of negative forces.

From the seventh day of the tenth month was a seven day performance of the Aksobhyanatha sand Mandala ritual, and on the 14th there was also a Guru-puja and offering to the protectors. From the 21st there was a seven day performance of the wrathful Visuddha sand Mandala ritual, recitation of which concluded with a rolling clap.

On the eighth day of the eleventh month in a day-long ceremony known as 'Torkyong', the peaceful Torma (offering cake) of Caturmukha was prepared in the 'secret' protector chapel (on the upper floor of the main temple) and an extensive propitiation performed. On the 14th, Guru-puja and offerings to the protectors were performed to mark the death anniversary of Sakya Pandita.

On the 23rd was the 'Torchen' ceremony when offerings were made to the protectors in the morning, and in the afternoon, the wrathful Torma ceremony of Caturmukha, the propitiation of the protector and invocation of his wrathful activity, concluding with the 'All realms of this universe' incantation. On the 25th was the usual monthly celebration of Ngamcho in the individual dormitories.

On the eighth day of the twelfth month the four Tara Mandala ritual was performed, and on the 10th was the tenth day assembly and the ritual dance of the Gying. For seven days starting from the 13th was the preparation for the end of year Mahakala Torma.

This involved the construction of a great threadcross of Panjara-mahakala in the form of a three storey palace, with bow-and-arrow shaped axis. The base of the structure was laid out in eight petalled lotus design with coloured sand, then mount Meru and the four continents, the seven seas, the four continents and four islands in spherical arrangement. The accompanying threadcross palaces of Caturmukha and Sridevi have two storeys with eight-petal lotus base, mount Meru and so on, and smaller bow-and-arrow poles and matching 'male and female' printed decorations. There are plenty of other offering materials to be arranged in accordance with the recitations, such as battle helmets, weapons, wild animal skins, blue-black silk banners and so on, which are beyond description. During this time there were three assembly sessions, in the morning session before dawn the extensive Tara ritual was performed, in the afternoon, offerings to the protectors, and in the evening the threadcross ritual known as 'awesome Vajra sparks'. At dusk on the 14th there was a scary ritual dance of the protector Putra in the Panjara-mahakala style. From the 20th, the Vajrakilaya Mandala ritual of the upper class of enlightenment-oriented deities in (Karma style?) was begun. (Also) on the 20th the basic dance of the Kilaya site preparation ritual was performed, with 28 'Yogi' dancers, seven in each direction from the central deity. After the ground ritual was completed, the Vajracarya leading the dance performed the Mandala generation ritual called 'sky swirl in pure space emanating from the letter Eh', and then an extensive dance to bless the site. On the 21st, the sand Mandala of the 'inner essence of Kilaya' is constructed in the morning, and the 'blazing ten-point wheel' in the afternoon, and these are enclosed with a border of Kilaya daggers. On the morning of the 22nd, the Kilaya offering Torma-s are made, and then the monastery flag poles are erected. In the evening, a dance ritual known as 'Gur-gar' was performed on the site of the flagpoles to stabilise and suppress adverse forces. From the 23rd when the Kilaya ritual itself begins, a dance ritual for the elimination of negative forces was held every evening. On the evening of the 27th, the Vajracarya performed a dance known as 'Sa-tama'. On the 28th there was a libation ceremony for Vajrakilaya known as 'the preparatory', the dance of the lower class of elimination-oriented deities was performed, and the mask dance of the deity 'Humdze Dra-chin' called 'Pakpa'. At midday, a seven-man dance devised by the Great Fifth Dalai Lama with lion dancers and one lion drummer was also performed.

On the 29th, the same programme as the previous day is held in the morning, and in the afternoon, the dance of the twelve-deity Panjara-mahakala cycle involving Yaksha and Yakshi, Putra, Bhatra, Singmo and four guardian goddesses, as well as eight women and eight men dancers, eight staff-wielding Arhat-s, eight black hat Mantrika-s, four drummers, four Hashang-s, four (Dzubkyiwa), two skeletons, and seven (Dzariwa). At evening tea time, the great year-end Mahakala Torma was carried out in a great procession with drums, cymbals and horns, and the Vajracarya's obstacle-destroying dance and dance of the black Gying were performed. The Torma casting ceremony was attended by 112 monks dressed in finery. After the final invocations they returned, and in the main courtyard, facing east (towards the monastery) performed the two libation offerings for invoking the protectors, and an extensive Mahakala investiture. On the last day of the month there was a Vajrakilaya dance ritual and supplementary fire ritual, and the Mandala was dissolved.

On the morning of the first day of the new year, it was the tradition for the monastery officials in order of rank, accompanied by three attendants and seven (Dzariwa) to join the lay officials of the Dzong in a formal congregation before the statue of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama in the assembly hall of the Konyer Dra-tsang (the palace monastery of Gongkar Dzong). At the monastery, a ceremony was held in the Labrang shrine room at the moment when the sun shone on the mountain tops, and in the assembly hall when the sun shone on the monastery itself. Once they were over, the remaining rituals of the Kilaya Torma ritual were completed in the courtyard, and participants returned inside with a splendid and extensive Kilaya dance performance.

Translated by Mathew Akester (c).