Tantric Practices and Their Performers, 0-3

[despite the title Buddhism ..., the contents are largely Bon in derivation, as stated on, e.g., pp. 112 & 120 & 153]











Burial Grounds of ... ‘Holy’ Beings

Heather Stoddard



Morality and Consort Practices

Sarah Jacoby



Treasure Revealers

Antonio Terrone



‘Community Rituals’ in Bhutan

Franc,oise Pommaret



Ala and Nakpa Traditions

Nicolas Sihle’



‘Spirit Media’ in A-mdo

Danzang Cairang



Praedictors of sPrul-sku Rebirth

Marcia Colkowski




0. (pp. 1-7) Sarah Jacoby & Antonio Terrone : "Introduction".

p. 3-7 historical development of doctrine & practice

p. 3

"Stoddard explores multiple theories for how and why sky burial replaced earlier burial practices associated with the ancient Spu rgyal Empire ... . These theories include Zoroastrian influence, ... and the influence of gcod and zhi byed practices in the second half of the 11th century associated with the reaching of Pha Dam pa sangs rgyas and Ma cig lab sgron. Stoddard’s subtle analysis ... suggests that Tibetan sky burial is a remnant of the eastward spread of Zoroastrian-influenced Sassanian and Sogdian practices."


"a religious encampment (chos sgar) ... in early twentieth century Mgo log was a mobile group of both celibate and non-celibate religious practitioners that often formed around a charismatic Treasure revealer. Jacoby suggests ... the many dialogues ... in ... prolific auto/biographical writings ... as resources ... for a social history of the religious

p. 4

encampments ... and the role of Treasures and their revealers in broader ... nomadic society."


"Terrone argues that in today’s eastern Tibet, religious encampments (chos sgar) and mountain hermitages (ri khrod) especially associated with the Rnying ma school of Tibetan Buddhism have become emblematic of the growing role played by Treasure revealers as educators ... in the current revitalization of Buddhism in Tibet. ... Central to these non-monastic religious communities’ success has been the century-old phenomenon of the Treasure revealers’ charismatic leadership based on visionary expertise, the evocative energy of miracles, and Treasure excavations".

p. 5

"Pommaret’s article examines ... ‘local community ritual’ in Bhutan. These are annual multi-day rituals ... pleasing local gods. ... the Bhutanese define these rituals as Bon."


"Sihle’ continues this ... by exploring a particular class of ritual specialist called the ala, or lha bon, in ... Snye mo, a small rural area in Central Tibet. ...

p. 6

Whereas the ala are always Bon and are associated with ... fertility rituals as well as local place gods, the sngags pa ... are particularly associated with ... warding off hail."


"A form of social and religious authority particularly important ... is that of ‘spirit mediums’, or lha pa. Considered the mouthpiece of the gods, spirit mediums ... are essential elements".

p. 7

"Calkowski outlines ... signs of legitimation that a given child is a sprul sku including ... rainbows, unusual thunderstorms, unusual ... crop growth, and significant dreams or visions experienced by those living in close proximity to the sprul sku."


1. (pp. 9-36) Heather Stoddard : "Eat it up or Throw it to the Dogs : Burial Grounds of ... ‘Holy’ Beings in Tibet".

pp. 16-17 Parthian custom of stripping flesh from the bones of a human corpse

p. 16

"Franz Grenet ... reveals striking links between Zoroastrian death rituals, especially among Sassanids and Sogdians, and Tibetan sky burial practice." [reference :- Grenet 1984, cap. 9, pp. 225sq] ... " ‘stripping of flesh from the bones’ ... from around the beginning of the 1st century CE ... occurred first of all in Parthia-Margiane ... . ...

{This (stripping flesh from the bones of a human corpse) is likewise done to the corpses of Hawai>ian royalty : "It was Hawaiian custom to strip the flesh from the bones of fallen leaders" (HRH, p. 48).}

{"Royalty were often baked in a pit over hot stones. Their flesh was removed" ("PAL").}

p. 17

By the 3rd-4th centuries the custom had spread to Khorezm before expanding ... amongst the Sassanians and a little later on the Sogdians. ... among the latter ... during the 5th-6th centuries."

Grenet 1984 = Franz Grenet : Les practiques fune’raires dans l’Asie central se’dentaire. Paris : CNRS.

HRH = Helen Wong & Ann Rayson : Hawaii's Royal History. rev. edn., Bess Pr, 1987. http://books.google.com/books?id=sY8iLDyCltMC&pg=PA48&lpg=PA48&dq=

"PAL" = "Paradise Almost Lost". MUSEUM 2008. http://www.aam-us.org/pubs/mn/nagpra.cfm

pp. 27-28 miraculous relics in remains of cremated human corpses

p. 27

[after cremation of corpse of Pha Dam-pa] "When they began to collect the bones (sku dgung) and the s`arira (ring bsrel) they found all kinds of miraculous ‘supports’ " :


his disciple __

found __

in Pha Dam-pa’s __


Tum-bu sGom-pa

image of Prajn~a-paramita


p. 27-8


image of Bhais.ajya-guru


p. 28


dun (right-turning conch)

urn.a betwixt eyebrows


Rtsa-ba rgya sGom-pa

dpal gyi be>u



HUM & HRI (syllables)



Ma-jo-rgur Chun-ma

HUM (syllables)

each of 4 incisor teeth


Phyar Chun-ma

the consonants

right rib-bones


sTon-pa Chos-sen

the vowels

left rib-bones



vajra & bell

z`abs-sor (toe-bones)

pp. 28-30 the death & funeral of Pha Dam-pa’s spouse Ma-cig Lab-sgron

p. 28

"Her body shone with a blaze of pink light that emanated like sun rays, and then it rose about one cubit into space, from where ... with a thundering voice she spoke syllable PHAT.. Then ... her mind left her body through the brahmanic aperture and in a rainbow disappeared". [quoted from Edou 1996, pp. 169-70]

p. 29

"Earlier on in the same text, Ma cig describes ... her previous death in India ... . She describes ... the relics that appeared ... . These include numerous deities that appeared embossed in the bones one various parts of the body". [reference :- Edou 1996, pp. 160-61]


"However, an illuminated manuscript ..., photographed by the author in 2001 in a dilapidated monastery in Ladakh and datable to approximately the 16th century describes" :

"The mother Ma cig died, and when they built the ‘tomb’ (spur khang), her son Rgyal sras don grub ... circumambulated the ‘tomb’."


to the __

he offered ...

and made a prayer on __




the 4 bodies



7 musk pods

the 5 bodies & the 5 qualities



6 z`o of camphor

[p. 30] the 8 qualities

p. 30


agaru (aloe)

the 6 paramita-s


"the four offerings made during Ma cig’s funeral ... are useful in techniques of embalming or conserving the body."

Edou 1996 = Je’ro^me Edou : Machig Labdro:n and the Foundation of Cho:d. Ithaca (NY) : Snow Lion.

p. 36 bibliography on death



2. (pp. 37-71) Sarah Jacoby : "To Be or Not To Be Caelibate : Morality and Consort Practices".

pp. 42-3 how a would-be nun became, instead, the consort of a revealer of "treasure" (hidden texts)

p. 42

"After begging her mother to let her renounce the world, her mother agreed to ask her father if she was allowed to become a nun. ...

p. 43

After spying a group of travelling pilgrims from the wi[n]dow of her family’s home when she was fifteen, she surreptitiously escaped from her home at night and followed the group of wild-looking pilgrims from Mgo log led by the charismatic Treasure revealer Dri med >od zer, who would soon become the object of her greatest devotion."

p. 48 female consorts assist in decoding the hidden meanings in "treasure" texts

"The scripts in which revelations appear are often special symbolic scripts called d.akini script, illegible to Treasure revealers without the aid of d.akinis to decode them.

{The scripts in which are written texts delivered by the flying-saucer aliens, are likewise often unintelligible without decoding.}

One reason why male Treasure revealers rely on female consorts who are embodiments of d.akinis is to arouse the spontaneously risen bliss (lhan skyes kyi dga> ba) necessary to decode the symbolic Treasure scriptures." [reference to Thondup 1986:107; 130]

Thondup 1986 = Thondup Rinpoche : Hidden Teachings of Tibet. Boston : Wisdom Publ.

pp. 49, 51 d.akini-s refute the possibility that a "treasure"-revealer could be a caelibate monk

p. 49

"non-celibate Treasure revealers" : "D.akinis’ voices regularly to quell their attractions to the celibate life and to urge them towards cultivating consort relationships."

p. 51

"The enraged d.akini chastises Dri med >od zer for thinking that he could practice Secret Mantra as a celibate monk ... . She rules out the possibility that he could have the capacity to reveal Treasures as a celibate monk and blames his idea to do this on the influence of bad people, ... indicating that ... Dri med >od zer needs the power he will derive from consort practices."

p. 67 a dream by the prospective "treasure"-revealeress

"Then, the bigger mendicant having dissolved into the smaller one, ... they disappeared into a red light in the direction of sunset. Then, an old woman came and ... answered, "The small monk was sent to you by your method consort [named] Aka ra. The big monk is called Bswe rgyal. ..." As soon as she said this, I awoke from sleep."


3. (pp. 73-109) Antonio Terrone : "Treasure Revealers and their Role in Religious Revival in Contemporary Eastern Tibet".

p. 89 different sorts of Treasures discovered by celibate and by celibate revealers

p. 89

"One difference ... between celibate and non- celibate Treasure revealers is that to some extent


material treasures (sa gter) seem to be retrieved in larger numbers by those gter ston ... who live as celibate monks ... .

Mind Treasures (dgongs gter) and long cycles of Treasure teachings (gter skor), instead, seemed to be mainly revealed by ... non-monastic teachers".

p. 89, fn. 32

"revelation as mind Treasures usually are the prerogative of those gter stons with a consort who supports them in their practices ... . ... a consort for the treasure discoverer ... is ... crucial ... in helping the gter ston’s ... actual discovery of the gter ma." {If so, the wife would appear to be the actual composer[ess] of the revealed text, whose authorship must be socially praetended to be by a male!}

pp. 93, 96 disclosures of treasures by Grub dbang lun rtogs rgyal mtshan

p. 93

"Grub dbang lung rtogs rgyal mtshan started his career as a Treasure revealer in 1981 after ... the deity Ekajat[.]i (Sngags srung ma) appeared to him in the form of a woman from A mdo covered with jewels and told him that he had to follow her as the time had come for him to unlock a [Treasure] site (gnas sgo >byed pa) at Khe me long rdo rje not far from Ya chen. ... Grub dbang lung rtogs rgyal mtshan thus opened his first Treasure door (gter sgo) in Khe me long rdo rje ... . The event was accompanied by ... the appearance of syllables in space and a large image of the bodhisattva Avalokites`vara (Thugs rje chen po), who announced to him that he would open the Treasure doors of the other eighteen sacred places."

p. 96

"Grub dbang lung rtogs rgyal mtshan is believed to have performed ... the revelation of Treasure chests (gter sgrom), various Treasure statuettes ..., spontaneously arisen scripts (rang byung gi yi ge) on various rocks and caves were he has meditated".

pp. 100-103 contemporary Treasure-revealers

p. 100

"Bde chen >od gsal rdo rje ... experienced regular visions and dreams that linked him to king Ge sar. In particular, he had many visions of Ge sar’s assistant and personal physician Kun dga> nyi ma since Bde chen >od gsal rdo rje was recognized to be his personal reincarnation ... . ... With nearly four hundred Treasure scriptures (gter chos) and pure visions (dag snang) collected in twelve volumes, Bde chen >od gsal rdo rje is one of the most prolific revealers along with such figures as Rig >dzin nyi ma and Nam sprul >jigs med phun tshogs who live in Snyan lung near Gser rta."

p. 101

"Mthu ldan rdo rje in >Jig >dril ... is a Treasure revealer ... . The Treasure revealer Lha rgyal rin po che, who currently lives in Padma county ..., is well-known".

p. 102

Bde chen >od gsal rdo rje : :Among his revelations are also some scriptures on the practice of channels, winds, and seminal nuclei (rtsa rlung thigle) relevant to rdzogs rim training as well as materials on the snying thig doctrine. Bde chen >od gsal rdo rje’s collection of revelations also features multiple Treasure objects (gter rdzas) including Treasure caskets (gter sgrom), ritual daggers (phur pa), various statues (sku >dra and

p. 103

sku tshab), and yellow scrolls (shog gser). ...

Vowed to preserve the significance of the religious site, Bde chen >od gsal rdo rje would often leave a ‘replacement Treasure’ or ‘substitute Treasure’ (gter tshab) in the crack from where the original gter ma was extracted."

Raven Crest

p. 76, fn. 5 "my current doctoral dissertation at Leiden University ... titled ... The Raven Crest." [completed Feb. 2010]

weblinks indicated in Antonio Terrone : The Raven Crest, p. 147, fn. 359 :-




Antonio Terrone : "Doctoral Dissertation Propositions".

"Flying over Tibet in a vulture’s body and then reading words from a mirror are the best ways to perform divination in Eastern Tibet."

(https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/bitstream/1887/14644/7/Propositions.pdf #13)


BRILL’S TIBETAN STUDIES LIBRARY, Vol. 10/12 = Sarah Jacoby & Antonio Terrone : Buddhism beyond the Monastery : Tantric Practices and Their Performers in Tibet and the Himalayas. Leiden, 2009.