That Damn Gag
Jan 04, 1999 09:51 PM
by Darren Porter
>From Intiations and Initiates in Tibet , Alexandra David Neel p21-22 :
"Amongst the guardians of mystic traditions it is fitting to mention the
line of the Kahyudpas, the sect of the "lineal transmission of orders or
Its spiritual ancestors are two Hindus, Tilopa of Bengal and Narota of
Kasmir, both of whom lived about the tenth century.
It is uncertain who taught Tilopa the 'dam ngag' which was subsequently
imported into Tibet by a disciple of Narota, the Lama Marpa. Instead of a
probable narrative we have nothing but a legend which is largely symbolical
(see 'With Mystics and Magicians in Tibet p167).
In addition to his fantastic initiation by a Dakini, the Tibetans believe
that he was instructed by the mythical Dordje Chang, or even that he was an
emanation of this latter. The same thing is said of the Lama Marpa who, as
we have just stated, introduced the teachings of Narota into Tibet.
In his turn, Marpa communicated this dam ngag to the famous ascetic, the
poet Milarespa (11th century) who imparted it to his disciple Tagpo Lhadje
Later on the line divided into six sects and sub-sects, the two most
important of which are the Karma Kahgyud and the Dugpa Kahgyud. The former,
whose name is generally abridged to that of Karmapas, constitute one of the
most important sects of the "Red Caps". Theot chief abode, the residence of
one of the spiritual descendants of Tilopa, is at Tolung Tsurpug, in the
mountains, to the west of Lhasa.
As regards the Dugpa Kahgyuds, some authors have utterly mistaken their
character by looking upon the term as indictaing a sorceror who practises a
terrible form of black magic.
Dug (written hbrug) signifies Thunder. the Dugpa sect, comprising those of
the Centre and the South, dates from the twelth century. It was founded by
a disciple of Tagpo Lhadje, the Lama Chodje Tsangpa Gyarespa, sometimes
called Tulku Pasgam Wangpo.
Tradition states that when this latter began to build the monastery of
Ralung, a violent storm suddenly arose. looking upon this incident as an
omen, the Lama gave the name of "Thunder" to the new monastery. the monks
who took up their quarters there, and subsequently all belonging to the
same sect, were called "Those of the Thunder" (dugpas).
The monks of the Dug-Ralung became famous for their learning. They preached
theit doctrine in Bhutan and there set up monasteries. This caused the
district to be called Dug yul (The Land of Thunder), the name still given
to it by its inhabitants and the Tibetans.
Thus we see that Dugpa applies alike to the natives of bhutan and to the
followers of one of the sub-sects of the Kahgyudpas. This is not a sect of
"Black Magicians" whose doctrine is "dugpism", as I have heard it called
by certain foreigners. Indeed, the three principal Lamaist sects now
existing: the Gelugspas ("yellow caps"), the Kahgyudpas (including the
Dugpas), and the Sakyapas (the two latter being "red caps" - all have one
common spiritual ancestor in the Hindu Philosopher Atisha"
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