དེ་ནས་གྲོ་ཐང་གི་ཡོན་བདག ། རྗེ་བཙུན་གྱི་ཞལ་ལྟར་བྱུང་བ་རྣམས་ན་རེ། གནས་འདི་ལ་ཡོན་ཏན་ཅི་གདའ་ཞུ་བའི་ལན་དུ་མགུར་འདི་གསུངས་སོ།། 

Then, the patrons from Drotang received an audience with the Jetsun[1] and inquired, “What are the merits of this sacred place?” In response, he sang this meditative song:

བླ་མ་རྗེ་ལ་གསོལ་བ་འདེབས། །

la ma jé la sölwa dep

Precious Lord Guru, to you I supplicate!

གནས་འདིའི་ཡོན་ཏན་ཤེས་མི་ཤེས། །  གནས་འདིའི་ཡོན་ཏན་མི་ཤེས་ན། ། 

né di yön ten shé mi shé:   né di yön ten mi shé na

Do you know the merits of this sacred place?

If you do not know this hallowed place’s merits,

དབེན་གནས་རྐྱང་ཕན་ནམ་མཁའི་རྫོང་། ། ནམ་མཁའི་རྫོང་གི་ཕོ་བྲང་ན། །

wen né kyang pen nam khé dzong:   nam khé dzong gi po drang na

this is the hermitage of Kyangpen Namkhé Dzong.

At the palace of Namkhé Dzong,

སྟེང་ན་ལྷོ་སྤྲིན་སྨུག་པོ་འཐིབས། །  འོག་ན་གཙང་ཆབ་སྔོན་མོ་འབབ། ། 

teng na lho trin muk po tip:  ok na tsang chap ngön mo bap

above amass dark, warm southern clouds

while below clean blue waters flow.

རྒྱབ་ན་བྲག་དམར་ནམ་མཁའི་དབྱིངས། ། མདུན་ན་སྤང་པོ་མེ་ཏོག་བཀྲ། ། 

gyap na drak mar nam khé ying:   dün na pang po mé tok tra

Behind red rocks lie beneath the vast expanse of sky;

in front the meadows are awash with flowers.

 

ཟུར་ན་གཅན་གཟན་ངར་སྐད་འདོན། །  ལོགས་ལ་བྱ་རྒྱལ་རྒོད་པོ་ལྡིང་། །

zur na chen zen ngar ké dön:   lok la ja gyel gö po ding

On one side, wild beasts recite their roars,

while on the other, vultures, king of birds, soar.

མཁའ་ལ་སྦྲང་ཆར་ཟིམ་བུ་འབབ། ། རྒྱུན་དུ་བུང་བས་གླུ་དབྱངས་ལེན། །

kha la drang char zim bu bap:   gyün du bungwé lu yang len:   

A fine, gentle rain falls from the sky.

Continuously bees buzz their melodious songs.

ཤཱ་རྐྱང་མ་བུ་རྩེ་བྲོ་བརྡུང་། ། སྤྲ་དང་སྤྲེའུ་ཡང་རྩལ་སྦྱོང་། །

sha kyang ma bu tsé dro dung:   dra dang dreu yang tsel jong:   

Wild kyangs,[2] mares and foals, dance and frolic, 

and monkeys, big and small, act as acrobats.

ལྕོ་ག་མ་བུ་འགྱུར་སྐད་མང་། ། ལྷ་བྱ་གོང་མོ་གླུ་དབྱངས་ལེན། །

cho ga ma bu gyur ké mang:   lha ja gong mo lu yang len

Mother larks and chicks warble a profusion of songs

with divine mountain birds singing back in kind.

རྫ་ཆབ་བསིལ་མས་སྙན་པ་བརྗོད། ། དུས་ཀྱི་སྐད་རིགས་ཉམས་ཀྱི་གྲོགས། །

dza chap sil mé nyen pa jö:   dü kyi ké rik nyam kyi drok

The cool mountain stream musically murmurs.

Such language of the seasons is an aid to meditation!

གནས་འདིའི་ཡོན་ཏན་བསམ་མི་ཁྱབ། ། ཉམས་དགའ་གླུ་རུ་བླངས་པ་ཡིན། །

né di yön ten sam mi khyap:   nyam ga lu ru lang pa yin

I sang this joyful song and offered advice describing

the merits of this sacred place, which are utterly inconceivable.

གདམས་ངག་ཁ་རུ་བཏོན་པ་ཡིན། ། འདིར་ཚོགས་ཡོན་བདག་ཕོ་མོ་རྣམས། །

dam ngak kha ru tön pa yin:   dir tsok yön dak po mo nam

All you assembled here, patrons, ladies and gentlemen,

please follow in my footsteps and behave as I have—

མི་ང་ཕྱིར་འབྲོངས་ལ་ང་བཞིན་མཛོད། ། ལས་སྡིག་པ་སྤོངས་ལ་དགེ་བ་སྒྲུབས།།  ཅེས་གསུངས་པས། །

mi nga chir drong la nga zhin dzö:   lé dik pa pong la gewa drup

abandon all misdeeds and accomplish virtue!

[1] An honourific Tibetan term meaning “Venerable Lord,” reserved exclusively for great masters. Milarepa is among the most ubiquitous holders of the term in Tibetan literature.

[2] The kyang (Equus kiang) is a species of wild donkey native to the Tibetan plateau and is one source of inspiration for the mythical unicorn.

This meditative or spiritual song (mgur) was composed by Milarepa (1040–1123), Tibet’s most famous yogi and poet. Tibetan literature contains a vast corpus of such spiritual songs, particularly Milarepa’s own Kagyü school, which traces the practice of singing spontaneous songs of spiritual experience back to the Indian mahasiddhas. Known as Dohā in medieval India, this art form was held in common by both Vajrayana Buddhists and practitioners of Hindu tantra and generally centred on the heightened inner experiences brought about through spiritual practice. 

 

What is perhaps most striking about this particular song, and a departure from the conventions of the genre of mgur, is its emphasis on the natural beauty of Kyangpen Namkhé Dzong. Tibetan descriptions of sacred places (gnas) almost always focus on the miraculous deeds performed on location by great Buddhist masters, who thus imbue the space with blessings and sacred energy. Milarepa, on the other hand, sings entirely about the special qualities of the natural world. With an almost Wordsworthian rhapsody, Mila attributes nature itself, rather than past Buddhist masters, as the wellspring of blessings in Kyangpen Namkhé Dzong. It is the sight of the meadow awash with flowers beneath the vast expanse of sky and the sounds of frolicking wild animals beside the flowing mountain stream that makes the place so favourable for meditative retreat, not the accomplishments of past sages. When, in the final lines of the poem, he exhorts his audience to abandon misdeeds and accomplish virtue, his tone is one of heartfelt invitation rather than didacticism. It is almost as if he is saying, “The world is too much with us”; be done with worldly toil and come meditate with me beside this stream! 

Photo credit: Himalayan Art Resources

NOTES

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Mi la ras pa. Edited by Gtsang smyon he ru ka rus pa'i rgyan can. [n.d.]. Rkyang phan nam mkha' rdzong gi skor. In Mi la ras pa'i mgur 'bum, 65–66. [s.l.]: [s.n.]. BDRC W1KG1252

COLOPHON

None

A Song on the Merits of Kyangpen Namkhé Dzong

Abstract

This meditative or spiritual song was composed by Milarepa (1040–1123), Tibet’s most famous yogi and poet. With an almost Wordsworthian rhapsody, Mila describes the inconceivable qualities of Kyangpen Namkhé Dzong and explains why it is so favourable for meditative retreat. Strikingly, he identifies the natural world itself, rather than past Buddhist masters, as the wellspring of blessings for this holy place. 

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AUTHOR

TRADITION

Marpa Kagyü

INCARNATION LINE

None

HISTORICAL PERIOD

11th Century

12th Century

TRANSLATOR

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A Song on the Merits of Kyangpen Namkhé Dzong

A Song on the Merits of Kyangpen Namkhé Dzong

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