When I tell people I’m studying the ongoing influence of gender on modern Himalayan life as King Geser, I’m greeted with some standard answers: “What?”, “Who?” And the saddest, “why”?
They ask why an American would spend his or her time and effort studying a nearly 1,000-year-old epic about a king who may or may not have historically existed.
My answer often goes back to the fact that the story of King Geser is actually unique among Himalayan and Inner Asian cultural phenomena. Without its far-reaching impact, I doubt King Gesar would have had any impact on the lives of Himalayan youth in the 21st century. Yet it certainly does.
The epic of King Geser of Ling is estimated to be around 900 years old and the longest epic poem in the world, with many accounts placing it at around 40,000,000 words. This actual word count is complicated by the fact that the epic recognizes reincarnations of characters and may expand on this, as well. Spa and recitation inspired by charans who received the epic in a dream or vision.
The epic tells the story of King Geser, his rise from poverty to power, and his conquests for honour, religion and wealth, all set against the early struggles of Buddhism in Tibet. Although Western scholars have not made much effort to prove the historical existence of King Geser, there are contemporary records that corroborate many of the events described.
As well as being the story of a historical figure, Geser’s epic is an all-encompassing theology. Gesar is believed to be an incarnation of Guru Rinpoche, other figures in the epic are also seen as emanations: the beautiful queen Sengjam Drukmo as Tara, the wild Uncle Trothung as Red Hayagriva, and so forth. Thus, not only are his activities considered as dharma activities, but it is also acceptable to worship him. yidms Too.
Tana Monastery, in Kham in the outlying areas of Nangchen in Qinghai Province, has maintained a spiritual connection with Gesar from the beginning. As he says, it was his lama Emi Jangchub Drenkol, the spiritual advisor to King Gesar and the original lama of the Kingdom of Ling. Thus, he has received his teachings from this lineage. The Tana Monastery not only preserves the lineage, but also many artifacts including the swords and bows of the heroes, the linga, and the white felt hat of King Gesar. A short but treacherous walk from the central monastery is the stupa of the great Kagyu master Phagmodrupa, as well as the relics of the 30 great heroes of Ling.
Xu Mipham Gyatso, otherwise known as Mipham the Great, was discovered Spa Which is inextricably linked in this tradition. These include a guru yoga practice and lingdro dechen rolmo, a cham or sacred thunderbolt dance. Unique to these practices, however, is their emphasis on folktales. Lingdro Dechen Rolmo can be performed by monks, but is largely performed by laymen and women alike.
King Geser himself was a married man and king. While he devoted his life to the practice, he also maintained his rule of his people and life as a family man. Perhaps that is why the Gesar epic resonates with so many young people in eastern Tibet. With the difficult choice between monastic education or secular education, many people living in the Himalayas are torn between the desire to believe in and practice Buddhism and the need to function in the day-to-day world.
Often, we hear this sentiment: “I will try to make merit in this life so that I can be a practitioner in my next life.” Geser makes no such distinction. He is a businessman and a husband, a Vajrayana master and a king. His decisions are informed by Buddhist teachings, and even when he is in battle and forced to kill, he tries to avoid harm as much as possible and performs . Fova To set free the lost. While he may raid stores of sacred potions, he also distributes them to those in the kingdom who were his enemies. When he destroys the demons, he saves them and sends them to the Buddha Realms.
This multidimensional nature is reflected in the epic itself. It can be viewed as a story, a cultural text on ethics, or when viewed from a Dzogchen perspective, as a complete set of teachings and practices in narrative form.
In modern Himalayan life, especially in eastern Tibet, the expression of Geser has been equally multifaceted. In Xining, one of the most popular Tibetan restaurants is Ling Gesar Restaurant, which presents a 20-minute-long version of the epic every evening. Upon arrival in Yushu, a colossal statue of Geser overlooks the city. The second largest building, at the intersection of Gesar Street and Drukmo Lane, is the Gesar Palace Hotel, which not only houses guest rooms and banquet halls, but also has an entire top floor dedicated to Tana as a branch temple. It provides access by paved roads to the Geser Gonkhang (guardian temple) Tana, albeit on a smaller scale, with lamas presiding over requisite rituals, providing prayer, counsel and information.
Hip-hop stars and pop singers chill with their lyrics Lu Symptoms Disease, Lu thalalamo Thalalen As if they can enter the geyser area at any moment. A huge white image of Drukmo, Khata and Chang, waiting for the jockeys in hand, looks out over the plains of Golok and nearby a giant recreation of Gesar’s palace is being built on a site that Khenchen Jigme Phuntsok A sight shows the ruins in which they were found. ,
With China’s successful petition to have the geyser recognized as part of UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2009, there has been renewed interest in the geyser. It is not uncommon for awards to be given to officially recognized bards, with many invited to sing on national television and during important events. There is even talk of a museum for Geser’s artifacts.
For some, the epic of Geser of Ling is a tale that not only glorifies a vibrant culture but is also a model of discipline and morality laced with good humour. The desire to participate in the ongoing Kingdom of Ling turns many people into voluntary citizens. Long ago of a dynasty.
When I came to Bhutan to present research on King Gesar at the 4th Annual Vajrayana Conference organized by the Center for Bhutan Studies, I was thrilled to be in a place where people had heard of King Gesar. Not only that, but I was with a king in the Vajrayana kingdom who bears his own name of Geser (Khesar in English-Dzongkha transliteration) and from what I have heard and seen, epitomizes Geser’s model of a strong and benevolent monarchy Is.
Returning to the original question: “Why would I study Gesar?” Perhaps the better question is why aren’t more people. Given that we are living in a rapidly changing world where compassion is valued less than money, where age old traditions are traded for changing trends, where spiritual cultivation is devalued and cultural identity is lost. is suppressed, the Epic of Geser shows us that no such concessions are necessary. And for Himalayan people in particular, engagement with this epic story can be seen as a model for cultural pride, and for environmental protection as well as spiritual and moral guidance.
Therefore, it is my hope that international and Himalayan scholars, practitioners and alike will work together in the future to continue researching a king who, despite nearly 1,000 years of change and upheaval, has, nevertheless, persevered remains relevant.
Amalia H Rubin