Posted on June 10th, 2011 | Filed under Featured, Intra-Faith, Philosophy, Social Issues, Theology
Tagged with Chogyam Trungpa, Dharmarajas, Kalacakra Tantra, Kalachakra Tantra, Khenpo Gangshar, occupation, Peace, Rigden Kings, Shambhala, Shambhala International, Tibetan, translation, war
I recently translated the Prayer to Avert War by Khenpo Gangshar Wangpo (gang shar dbang po, 1925-1959). Khenpo Gangshar resided at Shechen and, later, Surmang Monastaries in eastern Tibet. He was also one of the primary teachers of both Thrangu Rinpoche and the controversial Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Trungpa was one of the first Tibetan teachers to settle in America, where he founded Shambhala International. As his organization's name implies, he was also obsessed with the Shambhala mythos, as described in the Kālacakra Tantra. This is interesting because this prayer by his teacher is to the mythical kings of Shambhala.
In this verse, the Dharmarājas are the first seven kings of Shambhala and the Rigden Kings are the last twenty-five. Raudracakra is the very last king of Śambhala—the twenty-fifth Rigden King and the thrity-second overall, whom Chögyam Trungpa claimed would be one of his future incarnations. Mañjughoṣa—more commonly called Mañjuśrī—is the bodhisattva of wisdom, of whom the kings of Shambhala are said to be emanations. I’ve tried to translate as literally as possible while still maintaining the original Tibetan’s metrical quality:
Dharmarājas and Rigden Kings, protectors of wanderers,
Raudracakra, very emanation of Mañjughoṣa,
We pray to you. When foreign armies occupy us, arise!
Pacify foreign armies and this perilous time of war!
Khenpo Gangshar wrote this in response to a prophecy by the Fifth Karmapa, Deshin Shekpa (de bzhin gshegs pa) about enemies invading Tibet. (Invasion and occupation have been a recurring—if unfortunate—theme throughout Tibetan history.) It seems particularly relevant today given the ongoing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya; the increasingly dire prospects for peace between Israel and Palestine; and the ongoing occupation of Tibet, East Turkmenistan, and Inner Mongolia by the People’s Republic of China. There is one final note of irony here, as well: Khenpo Gangshar is thought to have died in a Chinese prison after the PRC's invasion of Tibet.