Friday, February 28, 2014

Protection Cords, Medicine Strands, Sacred Girdles & Meditation Belts


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“The meditation belt is called a gom-tag, and the stick is called a gom-ten (support) or gom-shing (stick). There are gom-tags of at least four different lengths and also different kinds of gom-ten. These are used in various combinations to facilitate a series of highly specific meditation postures which co-ordinate body posture with the functioning of the rTsa-rLung system (spatial nerves and spatial winds)'….......From a teaching on the Longchen Nyingtik Guru Yoga, given by Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche in Dordogne, France in August 1984, at the request of Sogyal Rinpoche and the Rigpa Sangha

“Vairochana accepted Yudra Nyingpo as a disciple. Yudra Nyingpo was eventually responsible for helping Vimalamitra to translate the later texts of sem-dé into Tibetan, whilst also working towards helping his teacher return to Tibet from exile. At this time Vairochana gave Pag Mipham Gönpo oral instruction on the Dzogchen long-dé series. Pag Mipham Gönpo (the Invincible Geriatric) was a physically frail man of eighty-five when he started to practise, so the meditation belt and a stick which were part of the transmission proved very useful. A lot of people imagine that Vairochana gave him the meditation belt and a stick to prop up his chin and hold him in position because of his age, but this is not accurate. The belt and stick are an essential aspect of long-dé practice, and are used by practitioners of all ages.”….......From a teaching on the Longchen Nyingtik Guru Yoga, given by Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche in Dordogne, France in August 1984, at the request of Sogyal Rinpoche and the Rigpa Sangha

“A-yé Khandro is shown in the posture of one of a number of Dzogchen long-dé practices. These postures are strikingly different from normal postures for meditation such as lotus posture. The purpose of the posture is to influence the rTsa rLung. Many of the postures employ belts and support sticks (gom shing – ‘shing’ can be translated as tree, branch, crutch, or stick), Here a gomtag (meditation strap) is being used. The red, white and blue of the gomtag reflect the symbolic colours of the solar, lunar and central channels.”…

“A young repa (ras pa) or yogic practitioner associated with the Drikung Kagyud order just wearing a white undied cotten cloth. His name is Thinle Dorje and spent 3 years in strict solitary retreat at Lapchi, Southern Tibet. He is in the pose of Milarepa with the right hand near the ear, i.e. pressing a subtle energy point at the side of the neck. Besides the cotton cloth he wears a red meditation belt or gomthag.”

“Ralzhig Pema Legden is wearing a meditation-strap (gom-tag). This is one of a set of practice supports that properly belong to Dzogchen rLong-de, where they are used in relation to pressure-points so as to give rise to subtle psycho-physical experience. However, the gom-tag also has its benefits in Sem-dé as soon as one graduates to practising with the eyes open. Inside the strap the back is relaxed, naturally straight, and inclined, so that the gaze is slightly elevated….Ralzhig Pema Legden says: ‘In a pocket of my gom-tag I keep a nine-prong tok chak vajra, miraculously formed by the action of lightning on a deposit of metal in the ground, in some place of powerful practice in the Himalayas. Ngak’chang Rinpoche suggested I keep it in the gom-tag ‘to strengthen the meditation’. Stabilising the Four Naljors (naljor-zhi), the meditation series of Dzogchen Sem-dé, calls for extensive sitting practice, especially in retreat conditions. Most….people therefore who engage in Trek-chod, the three Dé of Dzogchen, may need to rotate between two or three different meditation postures during an hour’s session…..The methods of men-ngag-dé are extremely simple and direct. They could easily be misunderstood. The four chög-zhag are a skeletal frame clothed by many sem’dzin – the methods of men-ngag-dé. These methods are secret, not because they are dangerous – but because the power of transmission would be jeopardised if they were given to people who could not comprehend them.”….…(See: Aro “controversy” F.A.Q……

One argument in favor of a possible Persian origin for the fotowwa (fotowwa…fotūwa) brotherhoods) consists of the initiation ritual surrounding the admission of new members, which always includes the binding on (šadd) of a belt, twisted thrice around the waist of a new initiate to represent the three stages of religious knowledge and practice known as šariʿat, ṭariqat, and ḥaqiqat (Taeschner, 1979, p. 495; Massignon, “Shadd”). The šadd bears a clear resemblance to the kustig, the belt with which a Zoroastrian male is girded on reaching the age of fifteen as a sign of maturity. It, too, is twisted around the waist three times, to signify the three cardinal principles of “Good Speech, Good Thoughts and Good Acts” (Dhabhar, ed., chap. 46). It should, however, be noted that there is a difference between the two practices, the former denoting initiation and the latter being a rite of passage, and that the Zoroastrian kustīg is meant to demarcate the noble from the ignoble parts of the body, an element lacking in the šadd of the fotowwa. It is also noteworthy that Salmān Fārsi (Ar. Fāresi) is generally regarded as having been entrusted with the šadd of the Prophet’s Companions (Massignon, 1963, tr. Unvala, p. 20), which might further support the thesis of an exclusively Persian origin for fotowwa. As pointed out above, however, fotowwa had not taken on institutional form in the time of the Prophet, apart from which many roles have been posthumously attributed to Salmān Fārsi in the complete absence of historical evidence.”.. Javanmardi, also known as futuwwah, see Ibn al-Husayn al-Sulami, 1991. The Way of Sufi Chivalry, Inner Traditions, Rochester.

Sacred Kushti (Thread) and Sudreh (Shirt)…..Navjote ceremony - The priest guides the child in the tying of the Kushti….The ceremony is traditionally the first time a Zoroastrian wears the sedreh undershirt and kushti belt, which they then continue to wear for the rest of their life. ….Kushti (also: Kusti, Koshti) is the sacred girdle worn by Zoroastrians around their waists. Along with the Sedreh, the Kushti is part of the ritual dress of the Zoroastrians.....The Kushti is worn wound three times around the waist. It is tied twice in a double knot in the front and back, the ends of the Kushti hanging on the back. The Kushti is made of 72 fine, white and woollen threads, which represent the 72 chapters of the Yasna, the primary liturgical collection of texts of the Avesta.....The ritual of untying and tying the Kushti is performed several times a day and is called Nirang-i Kushti. During this ritual, the individual must remain standing in one spot, and may not speak to anyone. If the individual speaks, the ritual must be recommenced.

“The Izze-kloth or Medicine cord is a sacred cord worn by Apache medicine men that is believed to confer strength and special powers of healing to the wearer. The izze-kloth is usually made from strands of animal hide and its length punctuated with beads and shells. Often, an izze-kloth has four strands, each dyed a different color (usually, yellow, blue, white and black)….The izze-kloth holds great sacred symbolism and people regarded as unbelievers in the cord are almost never permitted to view, touch or discuss it….Nineteenth-century ethnological reports on Native American beliefs often commented on the difficulty in understanding the purpose and use of the izze-kloth because "the Apache look upon these cords as so sacred that strangers are not allowed to see them, much less handle them or talk about them."

“Upanayana is the initiation ritual by which initiates are invested with a sacred thread, to symbolize the transference of spiritual knowledge…..In Hinduism, a Yajñopavītam (Sanskrit: यज्ञोपवीतम्, yajñopavītam) is a thin consecrated cord, composed of distinct cotton strands, worn to symbolize the permission given to him to do Sandhyavandanam and Gayatri Mantra. The sacred Yajñopavītam is known by many names (varying by region and community), such as Bratabandha, Janivaara, Jandhyam, Poita, Pūņūl பூணூல், Janeu, Lagun, Yajnopavita, Yagyopavit, Yonya and Zunnar. The other Sanskrit term for it is Avyanga…... The construction of this cord is no doubt simple, but it must be borne in mind that the Yajñopavītam when formed is of no use unless blessed by Brahmans and consecrated by the recitation of Vedic texts ..."”… Sir Monier Monier-Williams, Brāhmanism and Hindūism,hinduism, hinduism or, Religious thought and life in India: as based on the Veda and other sacred books of the Hindūs, J. Murray, 1891, "..

“At a recent talk by the Dalai Lama, I received a red cord tied around my neck. I also learned that in Tibetan Buddhism, one offers a white scarf to a lama, who then places it around your neck. What is the significance of these objects, and how should they be used?…. The red string is called a "protection and blessing cord." Traditionally, a lama ties a knot in the cord, then prays over it and blows the power of his mantra into it. Then he places it around one's neck as a blessing. When I first asked my own lama, the Venerable Kalu Rinpoche, about this, in 1973, he told me the cord is symbolic of remaining within the protection of his compassionate embrace even after departing from his physical presence. Other lamas have told me they take the protection cords off only to have dental work or surgery, and then put them on again afterward, as the strong protection field might impede the medical procedure.”…

“The commentaries explain that this wind rolls itself up (they use a character with the radical “silk“ [liao] meaning “to wrap up with a strap") and, by so tuming …”…..Taoist Meditation: The Mao-shan Tradition of Great Purity………Isabelle Robinet - 1993

M. Boyce, “The Absorption of the Fravašis into Zoroastrianism,” Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungarium 48, 1995


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sanskrit to Persian Translators of Central Asia


Journal Éveillé is an Informal Exploration of the Natural Mind in the Arts of Language and Poetics....

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The Fifth Book of Tantra….The Anvár-i Suhailí….was translated into Middle Persian in 570 AD and into Arabic in 750 AD….

“The Panchatantra (IAST: Pañcatantra, Sanskrit: पञ्चतन्त्र, 'Five Principles or Techniques') is an ancient Indian inter-related collection of animal fables in verse and prose, in a frame story format. The original Sanskrit work, which some scholars believe was composed in the 3rd century BCE, is attributed to Vishnu Sharma. It is based on older oral traditions, including "animal fables that are as old as we are able to imagine". It is "certainly the most frequently translated literary product of India", and these stories are among the most widely known in the world….. It was translated into Middle Persian in 570 CE by Borzūya. This became the basis for a Syriac translation as Kalilag and Damnag and a translation into Arabic in 750 CE by Persian scholar Abdullah Ibn al-Muqaffa as Kalīlah wa Dimnah (Arabic: كليلة ودمنة‎). ……A New Persian version from the 12th century became known as Kalīleh o Demneh (Persian: کلیله و دمنه‎) and this was the basis of Kashefi's 15th century Anvār-e Soheylī.. (Persian: انوار سهیلی‎, 'The Lights of Canopus'). The book in different form is also known as The Fables of Bidpai (or Pilpai, in various European languages) or The Morall Philosophie of Doni (English, 1570).”

“Borzuya (or Burzōē or Burzōy) was a Persian physician in the late Sassanid era, at the time of Khosrau I. He translated the Indian Panchatantra from Sanskrit into Pahlavi. But both his translation and the original Sanskrit version he worked from are lost. Before their loss, however, his Pahlavi version was translated into Arabic by Ibn al-Muqaffa under the title of Kalila and Dimna or The Fables of Bidpai and became the greatest prose of Classical Arabic. The book contains fables in which animals interact in complex ways to convey teachings to princes in policy.”

“Ibn al-Muqaffa, though a resident of Basra, was originally from the town of Jur (or Gur, Firuzabad, Fars) in the Iranian province of Fars. … Ibn al-Muqaffa was murdered around 756 by the order of the second Abbasid caliph Abu Ja`far al-Mansur reportedly for heresy, in particular for attempting to import Zoroastrian ideas into Islam….. Ibn al-Muqaffa's translation of the Kalīla wa Dimna from Middle Persian "is considered the first masterpiece of Arabic literary prose." "Ibn al-Muqaffa' was a pioneer in the introduction of literary prose narrative to Arabic literature. He paved the way for later innovators such as al-Hamadani and al-Saraqusti, who brought literary fiction to Arabic literature by adapting traditionally accepted modes of oral narrative transmission into literary prose." Ibn al-Muqaffa was also an accomplished scholar of Middle Persian, and was the author of several moral fables.”

“….Kalīla wa Dimna :his translation of a Middle Persian collection of animal fables, mostly of Indian origin, involving two jackals, Kalīla and Demna. The Middle Persian original, now lost but thought have been entitled Karīrak ud Damanak was written by one Borzōē/Borzūya, a Persian physician attached to the Sasanian court in the 6th century. Prefaced by a putative autobiography of Borzūya and an account of his voyage to India, the full work was done into Arabic by Ibn al-Muqaffa', who introduced it with a prologue of his own and may have been responsible for four added stories. From Ebn al-Moqaffaʿ’s Arabic rendering of Borzūya’s work are descended not only all later Arabic versions of Kalīla wa Demna, but also one of two Syriac versions (the other one is pre-Islamic ) and the medieval Greek, Persian (6th/12th century), Hebrew, Latin, and Castilian versions. Though there are many Arabic manuscripts of Kalīla wa Demna, Ibn al-Muqaffa'’s version is not among them, and the oldest dated copy was written almost five centuries after his death. That he aimed at an idiomatic rather than a slavishly literal rendering is generally agreed, and all indications are that he achieved clarity of expression by simplicity of diction and plain syntactical structures. As no medieval Arab critic seems to have impugned his style, it was evidently pleasing and well suited to the taste of his Arab readers.”

“Ibn al-Muqaffa'’s translation of Kalīla wa Demna was not a conscious attempt to start a new literary trend; it was clearly just one of several works of old Sasanian court literature which Ibn al-Muqaffa' introduced to an exclusive readership within court circles, its function being to illustrate what should or should not be done by those aiming at political and social success. Kalīla wa Demna, nonetheless, served as a stimulus to the development of Arabic prose literature and inspired imitators, artists, and poets. A prose Persian translation of the Arabic text was available as early as the 10th century, of which a versified version was made by Rudaki (d.941-42). Both versions are lost except for a few lines of Rūdakī’s poem preserved in other sources. A later prose translation was rendered by Abu’l-Maʿālī Nasr-Allāh Ibn Mohammad Shirazi and dedicated to the Ghaznavid Bahramshah.”

Khwaday-Namag :Ibn al-Muqaffa' is thought to have produced an Arabic adaptation of the late Sasanian Khwaday-Namag, a chronicle of pre-Islamic Persian kings, princes, and warriors. A mixture of legend, myth, and fact, it served as a quasi-national history inspired by a vision of kingship as a well-ordered autocracy with a sacred duty to rule and to regulate its subjects’ conduct within a rigid class system. Interspersed with maxims characteristic of andarz literature, the narrative also offered practical advice on civil and military matters. Ibn al-Muqaffa' is known to have modified certain parts of the original and excluded others, possibly to make it intelligible to his Arab Muslim readers. He is thought to have inserted an account of Mazdak, from which later Perso-Arab historians derived much of their knowledge of the Mazdakite movement. Like its Middle Persian original, Ibn al-Muqaffa'’s Arabic version is not extant. The Oyun al-akhbar and the Ketab al-maʿaref of Ibn Qutayba (d.889) may preserve fragments of it; certainly the Sīar al-ʿAjam, quoted by Ibn Qutayba without ascription, renders the Khwaday-Namag.”

“In 1582 the Mughal emperor Akbar underwrote a Persian translation of the Sanskrit Mahabharata, thus transforming the great Indian epic into a Mughal courtly text. Thec ourt poured many resources into producing the translation, and the resulting text,called the Razmnamah (Book of War)….remained a seminal literary work in Mughal circles for decades. While scholars have long been aware of the Razmnamah and its centrality to Mughal literary culture, few have seriously treated the textual content of this translation.” ……The Mughal Book of War: A Persian Translation of the Sanskrit Mahabharatamore… Audrey Truschke

“Khosrau I (also called Chosroes I and Kasra, known in Persian as Anooshiravan or Anushirvan or Anushirwan, Persian: انوشيروان, a-nushak ravan, meaning the undiminishing soul), also known as Anushirawan the Just (انوشيروان دادگر, Anushiravān-e-dādgar) (501 - 579 AD)…was the successor of his father Kavadh I (488–531) on the Sasanian Persian throne. Khosrau I was the twenty-second Sasanian Emperor (Persian: Shahanshah, Great King) of Persia, and the most famous and celebrated of the Sasanian kings….Under his reign the famous book Panchatantra (Kalilah and Dimnah) was translated….Khosrau I represents the epitome of the philosopher king in the Sasanian Empire…..His reforms and military campaigns marked a renaissance of the Sassanian Empire, which spread philosophic beliefs as well as trade goods from the far east to the far west…’We have not rejected anyone because they belonged to a different religion or people…’….Khosrau made many translations of texts from Greek, Sanskrit, and Syriac into Middle Persian…He received the title of “Plato's Philosopher King” by the Greek refugees that he allowed into his empire because of his great interest in Platonic philosophy. ”….Frye, Richard. “The History of Ancient Iran.”

“John Myrdhin Reynolds (Vajranatha) has pointed out in his book on Dzogchen The Golden Letters, via the Foreword (p 15) by Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, and also through oral communication from Bon Master Lopon Tenzin Namdak, that many old Bon texts, including the Bonpo Mother Tantra, were originally translated from the ancient Persian dialect Pahlavi, (now known as Farsi), and that Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche, traditionally cited as the founder of Bon, is said to have come from Tazig, a Pahlavi-speaking area of Central Asia…..On javanmardi, also known as futuwwah, see Ibn al-Husayn al-Sulami, 1991. The Way of Sufi Chivalry, Inner Traditions, Rochester. This illustration was not chosen at random:…..”…..

“Within the Bon tradition, there are three cycles of Mother Tantras: Outer, Inner, and Secret. For each, there is a root text or texts with a body of exegetical and liturgical works subordinate to the root text. ….

“Indo-Iranian, with languages spoken from India through Pakistan and Afghanistan to Iran and Kurdish areas of Iraq and Turkey…..The Indo-Iranian languages, also known as the Aryan languages, constitute the easternmost extant branch of the Indo-European language family. It is also the largest branch, with more than 1 billion speakers stretching from Europe (Romani) and the Caucasus (Ossetian) eastward to Xinjiang (Sarikoli) and Assam (Assamese) and south to Sri Lanka (Sinhalese)…..The oldest attested Indo-Iranian languages are Vedic Sanskrit (ancient Indo-Aryan), Older and Younger Avestan and Old Persian (ancient Iranian languages). A few words from a fourth language (very closely related to Indo-Aryan///“

“THE ORIGIN OF TIBETAN WRITING……The Tibetan scripts that are in use today came into existence 1,300 years ago when a script known as the Pungyig (spungs yig) of Persia appeared in the country of Zhangzhung, in Ngari. …..

Cosmopolitan Encounters: Sanskrit and Persian at the Mughal Court, by Audrey Truschke…..”… a detailed account of encounters between Sanskrit-Persian scholars, texts and ideas in the Mughal imperial court from the late sixteenth to the mid-seventeenth centuries. She analyzes a wide array of both Sanskrit and Persian texts that reflect on and are produced by cross-cultural interaction”…..

Arabic Astronomy in Sanskrit: Al-Birjandī on Tadhkira II…. By ʻAbd al-ʻAlī ibn Muḥammad ibn Ḥusayn Birǧandī

The Nyaishes; Or Zoroastrian Litanies, Avestan Text with the Pahlavi, Sanskrit, Persian and Gujarati Versions…. by Maneckji Nusservanji Dhalla

“….workshop on "Encounters Between Early Modern Sanskrit and Persian Cultures" …. focuses on relationships between Sanskrit and Persian scholastic and courtly cultures in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Despite the intense, sustained engagement between Sanskrit and Persian intellectuals during this period, evidence of translation, adaptation, borrowing, influence, and debate is little known outside specialist scholarly circles…..groups of Sanskrit and Persian specialists will work together on specific passages from corresponding texts (including the Mahabharata/Razmnamah, Yogavasistha/Muntakhab-i Jug Basisht, Ratirahasya/Lizzat al-nisa, and Siddhantasarvaraja/Zij-i Shah Jahani). Current and future areas of research include Persian translations at the Mughal court, Arabic, Persian, and Sanskrit astronomy and mathematics, historiographic narratives, Sufi-Hindu dialogues, and animal fables in Sanskrit, Persian, Pahlavi, and Arabic.”….


Northern New Mexico


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tang Dynasty & Central Asian Kingdoms (618-907 AD)


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“The Tang dynasty (618–907 AD) ….was one of China's most prosperous and culturally rich periods. Under the rule of the second Tang emperor, Taizong, the economy flourished and empire experienced an era of stability. Moreover, he was considered an enlightened ruler for his open style of governing…..The Tang dynasty was the largest power in Asia, extending towards Central Asia with its cultural reach playing a key role in the development of Korea and Japan. Numerous envoys and students from foreign countries frequently visited Tang dynasty China. Different ethnic groups that inhabited the periphery of the dynasty allowed for frequent cultural exchanges, making the Tang dynasty the most cosmopolitan and open of all China's dynasties……”

“The 7th century and first half of the 8th century is generally considered the zenith era of the Tang Dynasty. Emperor Tang Xuanzong brought the Middle Kingdom to its golden age while the Silk Road thrived, with sway over Indochina in the south, and to the west Tang China was master of the Pamirs (modern-day Tajikistan) and protector of Kashmir bordering Persia….Some of the kingdoms paying tribute to the Tang Dynasty included Kashmir, Nepal, Khotan, Kucha, Kashgar, Japan, Korea, Champa, and Kingdoms located in Amu Darya and Syr Darya valley.….Emperor Gaozong established several protectorates governed by a Protectorate General or Grand Protectorate General, which extended the Chinese sphere of influence as far as Herat in Western Afghanistan.”

“During the Islamic conquest of Persia (633–656), the son of the last ruler of the Sassanid Empire, Prince Pirooz, fled to Tang China…. According to the Book of Tang, Pirooz was made the head of a Governorate of Persia in what is now Zaranj, Afghanistan. During this conquest of Persia, the Islamic Caliph Uthman Ibn Affan (r. 644–656) sent an embassy to the Tang court at Chang'an….. By the 740s, the Arabs of Khurasan had established a presence in the Ferghana basin and in Sogdiana. At the Battle of Talas in 751, Qarluq mercenaries under the Chinese defected, helping the Arab armies of the Islamic Caliphate to defeat the Tang force under commander Gao Xianzhi. Although the battle itself was not of the greatest significance militarily, this was a pivotal moment in history; it marks the spread of Chinese papermaking into regions west of China as captured Chinese soldiers revealed secrets of Chinese papermaking to the Arabs. These techniques ultimately reached Europe by the 12th century through Arab-controlled Spain. Although they had fought at Talas, on June 11, 758, an Abbasid embassy arrived at Chang'an simultaneously with the Uyghur Turks bearing gifts for the Tang Emperor. From even further west, a tribute embassy came to the court of Taizong in 643 from the Patriarch of Antioch. In 788–9 the Chinese concluded a military alliance with the Uighur Turks who twice defeated the Tibetans, in 789 near the town of Kuch'eng in Jungharia, and in 791 near Ning-hsia on the Yellow River.”

“The construction of the Mogao Caves near Dunhuang is generally taken to have begun sometime in the fourth century CE….Members of the ruling family of Northern Wei and Northern Zhou constructed many caves here, and it flourished in the short-lived Sui Dynasty. By the Tang Dynasty, the number of caves had reached over a thousand.”

“In the Chinese cultural sphere, Persian artistic influence was at its peak under the Tang dynasty (618-906 c.e.), contemporary with the end of the Sasanian period and the first centuries after the Islamic conquest. The reciprocal influence of Chinese art in Persia was apparent in contemporary ceramics and other small arts but cannot be observed in painting before the Il­-khanid period. These mutual influ­ences were transmitted through a variety of media, and, as always when artists of one culture are exposed to works from another, only those aspects that were particularly compatible with local tastes were emulated and adapted….Even the Tang painter Wu Dao-xuan was said to have been influenced by Central Asian cave paintings..”….

“Information on those Sasanians who avoided the submission to the Arabs and lived in Central Asia or at the Tang court can be found in the works of Muslim authors and in Chinese sources. According to Masʿudi, Yazdegerd III (r. 632-51) had two sons, Wahrām and Peroz, and three daughters, Adrag, Šahrbānu, and Mardāwand (Maçoudi, II, p. 241; see also Christensen, p. 508; Amir-Moezzi, pp. 255-56). As Balāḏori recorded, Peroz settled among the Turks of Ṭoḵārestān and even married a noble Turkish woman (Hitti, p. 493).”…

“….750 AD…..Kuo Tzu-i's army helped Tokharestan (Balkh) against Tibetans……Guo Ziyi (Kuo Tzu-i)… (697 – 781),)is reputed to be one of the greatest generals in Chinese history and was revered as the best general in East Asia during his lifetime. During his life, Guo Ziyi was a Nestorian Christian. After his death, he was immortalized in Chinese mythology as the God of Wealth and Happiness.”…..Book of Tang, vol. 120.

“Monument of Alliance Between Tang Dynasty and Tibetan Regime….. ….Chinese and Tibetan forces had many battles during this period….There is some confusion as to whether Central Tibet conquered Zhang Zhung during the reign of Songtsän Gampo or in the reign of Trisong Detsän, (r. 755 until 797 or 804 CE)……During 763 AD, Tibetans lead under the new King Trisong Detsen, who was now more Chinese than Tibetans, was ambitious wanted to become the Chinese Emperor. He send out a force of 200,000 men and succeeded in defeating the Tang capital Chang’an, but only to withdraw about 15 days later. ….In 783 AD Tibetans signed a peace treaty with Tang Dynasty, in which it was agreed it was one country but had two emperors. It was later reaffirmed in 823 AD engraved on a monument in Jokhang. The monument says " The Tang Dynasty and Tibet have two emperors but consult issues as one country…“

“Based on the account of the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang, who visited in AD 644, it seems that in later times Kapisa was part of a kingdom ruled by a Buddhist Kshatriya King holding sway over ten neighboring states, including Lampaka, Nagarahara, Gandhara, and Banu. Hiuen Tsang notes the Shen breed of horses from the area, and also notes the production of many types of cereals and fruits, as well as a scented root called Yu-kin…In 629, Xuanzang reportedly had a dream that convinced him to journey to India. The Tang Dynasty and Eastern Türk Göktürks were waging war at the time; therefore Emperor Taizong of Tang prohibited foreign travel. Xuanzang persuaded some Buddhist guards at the gates of Yumen and slipped out of the empire via Liangzhou (Gansu), and Qinghai province in 629.[4] He subsequently travelled across the Gobi Desert to Kumul (Hami), thence following the Tian Shan westward, arriving in Turpan in 630. Here he met the king of Turpan, a Buddhist who equipped him further for his travels with letters of introduction and valuables to serve as funds..”


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Nestorian Christians and Prester John in Central Asia


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“The Church of the East (Syriac:Ē(d)tāʾ d-Maḏn(ə)ḥāʾ), also known as the Nestorian Church, is a Christian church, part of the Syriac tradition of Eastern Christianity. The church of the Persian Sassanid Empire, it quickly spread widely through Asia. Between the 9th and 14th centuries it was the world's largest Christian church in terms of geographical extent, with dioceses stretching from the Mediterranean to China and India….The church grew rapidly under the Sassanids, and following the Islamic conquest of Persia, it was designated as a protected dhimmi community under Muslim rule. From the 6th century, it expanded greatly, establishing ties with the Saint Thomas Christian community which existed in India, having evangelical success among the Mongol tribes in Central Asia, and China, which was home to a thriving Nestorian community under the Tang Dynasty from the 7th to the 9th century. In the 13th and 14th century the church experienced a final period of expansion under the Mongol Empire, which had influential Nestorian Christians in the Mongol court.”

“Prester John (also Presbyter Johannes) legends told of a Christian patriarch and king said to rule over a Christian nation lost amidst the Muslims and pagans in the Orient…. Prester John was reportedly a descendant of one of the Three Magi, said to be a generous ruler and a virtuous man, presiding over a realm full of riches….in which the Patriarch of the Saint Thomas Christians resided. His kingdom contained such marvels as the Gates of Alexander and the Fountain of Youth, and even bordered the Earthly Paradise. Among his treasures was a mirror through which every province could be seen, the fabled original from which the "speculum literature" of the late Middle Ages and Renaissance was derived, in which the prince's realms were surveyed and his duties laid out…….At first, Prester John was imagined to reside in India; tales of the Nestorian Christians' evangelistic success there and of Thomas the Apostle's subcontinental travels as documented in works like the Acts of Thomas probably provided the first seeds of the legend. After the coming of the Mongols to the Western world, accounts placed the king in Central Asia…. Prester John's kingdom was thus the object of a quest, firing the imaginations of generations of adventurers, but remaining out of reach. He was a symbol to European Christians of the Church's universality, transcending culture and geography to encompass all humanity, in a time when ethnic and inter-religious tension made such a vision seem distant.”

Map: Middle Asia in the Twelfth Century….Gumilev L.N., Searches for an Imaginary Kingdom: The Legend of the Kingdom of Prester John (Cambridge University Press. 1988)

“In 1271 young Marco Polo traveled across the Asian continent to China in the company of his father and uncle who were Venetian merchants. They journeyed extensively in Asia and for the next 20 years they worked for the Great Khan…..The first reference to Prester John is made quite early in The Travels and it is clear from the outset that he does not correspond with the figure of popular myth. Marco Polo clearly identifies the famous priest-king with an Asian warlord who had ruled over the Tartars as he writes, "(the Tartars) were actually tributary to a great lord who was called in their language Ung Khan, which simply means Great Lord. This was that Prester John, of whose empire all the world speaks."

“Thomas the Apostle, was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, according to the New Testament. He is best known from the account in the Gospel of Saint John, where he questioned Jesus' resurrection when first told of it, followed by his confession of faith as both "My Lord and my God" on seeing and touching Jesus' wounded body…..Traditionally, he is said to have traveled outside the Roman Empire to preach the Gospel, traveling as far as India….. According to tradition, the Apostle reached Muziris, India in 52 AD and baptized several people who are today known as Saint Thomas Christians or Nasranis. After his death, the reputed relics of Saint Thomas the Apostle were enshrined as far as Mesopotamia in the 3rd century, and later moved to various places. In 1258, some of the relics were brought to Abruzzo in Ortona, Italy, where they have been held in the Church of Saint Thomas the Apostle. He is often regarded as the Patron Saint of India, and the name Thomas remains quite popular among Saint Thomas Christians of India.”

“Tibetan Christians…..The best evidence of the involvement of Christian missionaries in early Tibet comes in the letters of Timothy I, who was Patriarch of the Nestorian Church between 780 and 823, overlapping with the reigns of three of Tibet’s great Buddhist emperors, Trisong Detsen, Senaleg and Ralpachen. Timothy I’s letters contain a couple of references to Tibet. In one letter, he lists the lands in which the Trisagion, one of the oldest Christian prayers, is recited. This list includes Tibet. In another letter, Timothy relates that he has recently appointed a metropolitan bishop for the Turks, and is about to do the same for the Tibetans. These references both date to the early 790s, during Trisong Detsen’s reign.”

“Nestorianism is a Christological doctrine advanced by Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople from 428–431. The doctrine, which was informed by Nestorius' studies under Theodore of Mopsuestia at the School of Antioch, emphasizes the disunion between the human and divine natures of Jesus. Nestorius' teachings brought him into conflict with some other prominent church leaders, most notably Cyril of Alexandria, who criticized especially his rejection of the title Theotokos ("Bringer forth of God") for the Virgin Mary. Nestorius and his teachings were eventually condemned as heretical at the First Council of Ephesus in 431 and the Council of Chalcedon in 451, leading to the Nestorian Schism in which churches supporting Nestorius broke with the rest of the Christian Church. Afterward many of Nestorius' supporters relocated to Sassanid Persia, where they affiliated with the local Christian community, known as the Church of the East. Over the next decades the Church of the East became increasingly Nestorian in doctrine, leading it to be known alternately as the Nestorian Church.”

“Missionaries entered Central Asia and had significant success converting local Turkic tribes. Nestorian missionaries were firmly established in China during the early part of the Tang Dynasty (618–907); the Chinese source known as the Nestorian Stele records a mission under a Persian proselyte named Alopen as introducing Nestorian Christianity to China in 635. Following the Muslim conquest of Persia, completed in 644, the Persian Church became a protected dhimmi community under the Rashidun Caliphate. The church and its communities abroad flourished under the Caliphate; by the 10th century it had fifteen metropolitan sees within the Caliphate's territories, and another five elsewhere, including in China and India.”….

Nestorian priests in a procession on Palm Sunday, in a 7th- or 8th-century wall painting from a Nestorian church in Qocho, China

“Nestorianism is a form of dyophysitism, and can be seen as the antithesis to monophysitism, which emerged in reaction to Nestorianism. Where Nestorianism holds that Christ had two loosely-united natures, divine and human, monophysitism holds that he had but a single nature, his human nature being absorbed into his divinity. A brief definition of Nestorian Christology can be given as: "Jesus Christ, who is not identical with the Son but personally united with the Son, who lives in him, is one hypostasis and one nature: human." Both Nestorianism and monophysitism were condemned as heretical at the Council of Chalcedon. Monophysitism survived and developed into the Miaphysitism of the modern Oriental Orthodox churches.”

“Following the exodus to Persia, scholars expanded on the teachings of Nestorius and his mentors, particularly after the relocation of the School of Edessa to the Persian city of Nisibis in 489 (where it became known as the School of Nisibis). Nestorianism never again became prominent in the Roman Empire or later Europe, though the diffusion of the Church of the East in and after the 7th century spread it widely across Asia. But not all churches affiliated with the Church of the East appear to have followed Nestorian Christology; indeed, the modern Assyrian Church of the East, which reveres Nestorius, does not follow all historically Nestorian doctrine….By the end of the fourteenth century, however, the Nestorian and other churches—which at one time had dotted the landscape of all of Central and even parts of East Asia—were all but wiped out. Isolated pockets of Christianity survived only in India.”….Bosch, David J. (1999). Transforming mission. Maryknoll: Orbis Books. p. 204.


Five Elements Astrology


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"Elemental Astrology or Jungtsi, is the oldest field of knowledge originating in Tibet. It mainly uses three Astrology kinds of symbols: the 8 parka or trigrams, the Nine mewa or numbers and the twelve animal signs. The various combinations of these three symbols with the five elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water, is the framework for astrological calculations. The parka are the oldest astrological symbols, while the mewa, the numbers and the animal signs are based on the trigrams….The origin of the trigrams or parka is linked to the ancient culture of the Bön, the pre-Buddhist religion of Tibet. Nowadays, astrological calculations based on the parka are common practice in all the new schools of Tibetan Buddhism……Information concerning the mythological origin of the trigrams as well as the mewa or numbers can only be found in the Bön texts; one does not find similar explanation in the astrological treatises of China or other countries. In fact, when Chinese astrological experts are asked about the origin of the parka or trigrams they do not have a very clear explanation and sometimes refer to a particular race of people called Yi who lived on the border between China and who were originally Tibetans with customs and beliefs closely linked to the Bön culture."…. - Translated by Elio Guarisco… an active member of the Dzogchen Community for which he now coordinates the Ka-ter (Kama and Terma) translation program

"Astrology is one of the traditional arts and sciences of Tibet, where it is known as "the science of calculation," used by monks and lamas in the study of the rhythms and cycles of time, for divination, for choosing auspicious times for rituals and life-cycle events such as marriages and funerals, and as an adjunct to the practice of traditional medicine."…Cornu

Tibetan Astrology originated from historical roots and influences from China and India as well as the Buddhist Kalachakra teachings and the ancient Bön religion of Tibet….

"The two main branches of Tibetan astrology: Nagtsi, or "black astrology," based on the Chinese system, and Kartsi, or "white astrology," derived from Indian astrology …Elemental Astrology - Byung rTsis……The oldest type of Tibetan astrology, Byung-rTsis is also called Nagtsi, which means black calculation. Byung-rTsis has its origin in ancient Tibetan Bön culture and has Chinese influence, with its name coming from the black clothes that were common to the ancient Chinese people. Byung-rTsis is pronounced Jung-Tsi, and in some English texts called Jungtsi……From the ancient 'nameless religion' of Tibet, a system is preserved in current Tibetan astrology which relates to Five Individual Forces (La - vitality, Sok - life potential, Lu - bodily health, Wangthang - personal power, and Lungta - wind horse) or energies within a person. These energies relate to the Chinese animals and elements, for example, the La force of the Horse is Wood etc. This system is unique to Tibet and is important to establish yearly horoscopes….

“ Byung rtsis sngon 'gro gtsug lag sgo 'byed: Elementary Astronomy …..Men-Tsee-Khang…..To promote and practise gSowa-rigpa, the Tibetan system of medicine, astronomy and astrology…..Men-Tsee-Khang (Tibetan:བོད་ཀྱི་སྨན་རྩིས་ཁང་། Wylie: bod kyi sman rtsis khang) formally also known as Tibetan Medical and Astro Institute), is a charitable institution based in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India. The institute was founded by the 13th Dalai Lama.

"BON ORIGINS……The Bon religion was well established in Tibet before the introduction of Buddhism. Over the centuries however, it appears that many Buddhist practices have taken root in Bon and reverse. For someone not too familiar with robes, iconography or rituals it may even be hard to spot the difference…….Astrology is important within the Bon system. Methods are given for divination, warding off negative influences, astrological calculations and medical diagnosis…..The four types of astrological calculation systems according to David Snellgrove are:
The mirror of magical horoscopes
The circle of Parkhas (trigrams) and Mewas (magic squares in 9 colours)
The Wheel of Time (Kalachakra) of the Elements
The Jushak method: calculation of interdependence
A very important Bon deity is called Balchen Geko, who is said to govern time and the three world of existence. In this respect the deity is analogous to Kalachakra in Buddhism.

"Balchen Geko….. the Tibetan deity in charge of time and the three worlds of existence…..A very important Bon deity is called Balchen Geko, who is said to govern time and the three world of existence. In this respect the deity is analogous to Kalachakra in Buddhism....

Balchen Geko, who is has nine heads and t:ighteen arms, …Philippe Cornu-Tibetan Astrology.pdf….

"The five concerns are: Life Energy (Sok), Physical Health (Lu), Finances (Wang Tang), Social Success (Lung Ta), and Mental Confidence (La)….an astrologer examines five aspects of life: Srog - Life force element, Lus - Health element, Wangthang - Empowering element (Finance), Lungtha - Success element (Fortune) and La - Essence of life.

"Srog - (Sok) the life force element is a person's vitality and source of life in physical form…..The life force element Srog is the same as an animal's own element….

"Wangthang - empowering element…. a person's financial condition depends on the strength of the Wangthang. But primarily Wangthag is personal power, the ability to self-realisation and to achieve goals…..Wangthang is simply the element of the year a person is born in. For instance, if the person is born in a Fire Mouse year, her/his empowering element is Fire….the Wangthang element is the same element that rules the year in Chinese astrology.

"La - essence of life… important for a persons physical wellbeing and vitality. It is closely connected to the life force element, Srog. If La is broken there will be problems in Srog. ….In calculations La is simply the mother of the life force element…..The La moves through the body in a monthly cycle…When the forces become weak, numerous specific practices are prescribed to strengthen the force again, from saving lives of animals to reciting mantras or performing special rituals like exorcism.

"Lus - health element of a body and its strength influences a person's health situation….

"Lungtha - Succes element (Fortune)….Lungtha is the success element and good Lungtha in a yearly horoscope will bring luck. Lungtha is also called a "Wind Horse" and this horse is often pictured in Tibetan prayer flags.

Lo Dak, the Twelve Year Animals, twelve- and sixty-year cycles and the twelve animals and five elements associated with them

Mewa, the Nine Numbers or magical squares, nine magic Mewa square numbers , which are numerological factors used to calculate the auspiciousness of days or years

Parkha, the eight Directions or eight trigrams of the I Ching, eight Parkha trigrams, representing the elements, directions, seasons, and fundamental universal forces

Zoroastrian Calendar

"The references to astrology in Middle Persian Zoroastrian texts are to the horoscope of the world, the zaych-i gehan, cosmology in general and the calendar. The Jamasp Namah also makes references to Jamasp, Zoroaster / Zarathushtra's successor as high priest, being a noted astrologer. The Qissa-e Sanjan, a text that describes the flight of Zoroastrians to India after the Arab invasion of Iran, does make several references to high priests consulting astrological charts to determine the best course of action during the flight of the Zoroastrians - Zoroastrians who came to be known as the Parsees of India…."….

"There is one primary indicator of the Zoroastrian-Iranian (Persian) calendar's role in the early history of the astrological calendars used today in the West: in a region dominated by the use of lunar calendars, the Zoroastrian-Iranian calendar stands apart as a solar calendar that started the year on the vernal equinox, March 21, Nowruz. That tradition is to this day celebrated in all the traditional Iranian-Aryan countries, the Central Asian countries, Iran, Azerbaijan and Kurdistan (parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey). The vernal-solar calendar in entrenched in Zoroastrian literature and Zoroaster / Zarathushtra is reputed to have built and observatory based on the concepts on which the calendar was constructed and which determined the vernal equinox. The Zoroastrian Fasli (Seasonal) calendar based on the ancient precepts in the texts, is one of the most precise calendars in the world….one calendar grid can be used perpetually and when the vernal equinox is determined by an observatory, it is self correcting for the solar calendar's factional days. The other link is through Mithraism which was the religion of Rome just prior to the advent of Christianity. One link between Roman Mithraism and old Iranian Mithraism is the solar calendar and its zodiac….Despite the paucity of surviving texts, there are scattered but sufficient indications that Zoroastrian astrology or perhaps even pre-Zoroastrian Aryan astrology, may be an original discipline and one whose concepts survive in Hindu, Chinese and Western astrology.."….

"The concept of four elements: air, water, earth, and fire, thought to have its origin with the Greek philosopher Empedocles about 440 B.C., held sway for many centu- ries. Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) added to this concept that the FIRE properties of substances are the result of the simultaneous presence of certain fundamental properties…..The origin of the Four Element theory, however, seems to be Persian and not Greek. It was the Persian prophet Zarathustra (600-583 B.C.) whose name was corrupted by Greek writers to Zoroaster about two centuries be- fore Aristotle. This Zoroastrian concept of four elements has a different perspective which makes more sense than the Aristotalian. According to this prophet, air, water, earth, and fire are "sacred" elements…..According to Vuibert, Magism was the reli- gion of the various Scythic tribes which inhabited the mountain range of Armenia, Azerbijan, Kurdistan, and Luristan. Its chief objects of worship were air, water, earth, and fire. It was to these elements, to the actual material things themselves, that adoration was paid. Fire, as the most subtle and ethereal principle, was held in the highest reverence….."…ZOROASTER AND THE THEORY OF FOUR ELEMENTS….Fathi Habashi, Lava! University…..

Elemental Astrology or Jungtsi....

Drung, Deu and Bon: Narrations, Symbolic Languages and the Bon Tradition of Ancient Tibet…by Namkhai Norbu Rimpoche

Tibetan Astrology by Philippe Cornu


Monday, February 24, 2014

Chogyam Trungpa: The Bon Way of Life (Page 2)


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…'basic law'….."The natural law and order of this world is not “for” or “against.” Fundamentally, there is nothing that either threatens us or promotes our point of view. The four seasons occur free from anyone’s demand or vote. Hope and fear cannot alter the seasons. There is day; there is night. There is darkness at night and light during the day, and no one has to turn a switch on and off. There is a natural law and order that allows us to survive and that is basically good, good in that it is there and it works and it is efficient…..We often take for granted this basic law and order in the universe, but we should think twice. We should appreciate what we have. Without it, we would be in a total predicament. If we didn’t have sunlight, we wouldn’t have any vegetation, we wouldn’t have any crops, and we couldn’t cook a meal. So basic goodness is good because it is so basic, so fundamental. It is natural and it works, and therefore it is good, rather than begin good as opposed to bad."….Basic goodness & the genuine heart of sadness – Chögyam Trungpa

….'Bo'……gShen-rab Myi-bo….Yungdrung Bön and the Bө Murgel tradition of Buryatia…..

'Ancient Khotanese scrolls'….."Stein's greatest discovery was made at the Mogao Caves also known as "Caves of the Thousand Buddhas", near Dunhuang in 1907. It was there that he discovered the Diamond Sutra, the world's oldest printed text which has a date (corresponding to AD 868), along with 40,000 other scrolls….After the Tang Dynasty, Khotan formed an alliance with the rulers of Dunhuang."

…."ancient scrolls found in afghanistan"…(???).."Historically speaking, Dzogchen appears to have originated somewhere in Central Asia outside of both India and Tibet as Upadesha (man-ngag), or secret oral instructions, communicated privately from a realized master to a disciple. At least, that is the Tibetan tradition. In the Buddhist tradition, this mysterious region was designated as Uddiyana (Orgyan), which appears to be identifiable as Eastern Afghanistan before the Muslim era."……..Oral Tradition from Zhang-Zhung: An Introduction to the Bonpo Dzogchen Teachings of the Oral Tradition from Zhang-Zhung ~ John Myrdhin Reynolds

Great King of Bon…."The Bon tradition holds that the early kings of Tibet were adherents of Bon who gave their royal patronage to the religion and contributed to its propagation far and wide in the kingdom……The introduction of Buddhism into Tibet is interpreted as a catastrophe that caused the suppression of Bon leading to the ‘setting of the sun of the doctrine’….. "A Beginner’s Guide to the Bon Religion of Tibet by Tsering Dhundup….Tsering Dhundup, teaches English at an International Community School in London, but teaches Tibetan language at the Tibet House Trust at the weekends. He is a Buddhist and hails from the predominantly Bon area of Shar khog in eastern Tibet.

Bellezza, John Vincent. (2010). "gShen-rab Myi-bo, His life and times according to Tibet’s earliest literary sources." Revue d’Etudes Tibétaines Number 19 October 2010, pp. 31–118.

"…Bo refers to the Bo Murgel, who practice in the lands around Lake Baikal, Siberia and Mongolia. Bon refers to the teachings of Buddha Tonpa Shenrab, who came out of Zhang Zhung to Tibet around 18,000 years ago, according to the head teacher of today's Bonpo practioners. The author does prove his point, I believe, that these two cultures have common origins….comparing the ancient Bön religion with the Siberian shamanic tradition of Lake Baikal. …. the author draws on his many years of experience in both Yungdrung Bön and the Bө Murgel tradition of Buryatia to bring this subject to life and help us unlock some hidden aspects of both " ….Bo Bon: Ancient Shamanic Traditions of Siberia and Tibet in Their Relation to the Teachings of a Cen….by Dmitry Ermakov

'Lord of Taksik'….Taksik …stag gzigs…ta zig…sTag gzigs….(Trom Gesar)….."Much has been written on the identification of Trom (khrom or phrom). Geographically, it seems to refer to the Central Asian lands west of Tibet whose inroads into Tibet were via the Silk Route. Culturally, it seems to refer to the Greek or Persian culture that had permeated so far east by the eighth century. It can be no coincidence that the Galenos from Trom named above bore the same name as the celebrated Greek physician who graced the Roman courts in the second century b.c.e. Because of this, Beckwith identifies Trom with Rome. Desi Sangé Gyatso and others equate Trom with Taksik (stag gzigs, ta zig), which is tempting to identify with Tajikistan. However, the Five Chronicles, cited by Jampa Trinlé, disputes the identity of Trom with Taksik, stating that Taksik is in the west and Trom in the north. Trinlé goes on to say that some commentators place Taksik to the west of Xinjiang and north of Afghanistan, and that the Bön tradition speaks of regions called Taksik Trom and Taksik Olmo Lungring…… Pawo Tsuklak Trengwa talks of the “Hor (Mongolians) similar to the barbarian Taksik or Turks.” It may be that there is an overlap between Trom and the ancient land of Shangshung, from whence came the Bön practices. "….Mirror of Beryl: A Historical Introduction to Tibetan Medicine…. by Desi Sangye Gyatso (Author) , Gavin Kilty (Translator)

.."Shen rab was born in Sam bha la (sTag gzigs) in the west in the town called Yans pa can, in the dwelling place of the 33 Gods, the palace called Barpo so brgyad"……(Kvaerne: 220

'Creation of the universe….in contrast to the spirituality of Buddhism'….cultural evolution and psychological evolution….

…'nine gods created the world…attune himself to those gods…fulfill whatever is demanded by the cosmic order'

"Shiwa Okar is featured in a work composed by the influential Tibetan Buddhist lama Chögyam Trungpa, particularly a long verse epic composed in Tibet called The Golden Dot: The Epic of the Lha, the Annals of the Kingdom of Shambhala, and in terma he revealed beginning in 1976. The Golden Dot was lost in Trungpa Rinpoche's flight from Tibet in 1959. As Robin Kornman, a Buddhist scholar and student of his, explained:
“ Trungpa Rinpoche began to reconstruct the original text after escaping Tibet, and it is this later work to which we refer. The first chapter describes the creation of the world by nine cosmic gods (shrid pa 'i lha) who appear in the form of native Tibetan deities known as drala (dgra bla), or war gods. These gods represent primal or originary aspects of the phenomenal world. For example, one of these lha stood for all kinds of light. Glancing in many directions, this diety created all of the lights existing in the world, including the sun, the moon, the light of the planets and stars, and the inward luminosity of consciousness itself. Another represented space and the sense of direction ... In Trungpa Rinpoche's epic these were directed by a ninth lha called Shiwa Okar ... a sort of absolute principle behind creation and the nature of reality. After these nine cosmic deities have created the world, [Shiwa Okar] goes to the things they have created and invests each one with an animistic spirit, a drala….."…."The Influence of the Epic of King Gesar of Ling on Chogyam Trungpa" by Robin Kornman. in Recalling Chogyam Trungpa, ed. Midal. Shambhala Publications, 2005. ISBN 1-59030-207-9 pg. 363-364

shrid pa 'i lha…..

"Buddhism is normally thought of as a nontheistic tradition, and this raises the question of how such spirits, gods, and deities are to be understood within the Tibetan Buddhist framework. Certainly in Tibetan life, whether it is a question of the malevolent mamos, the potentially beneficent hearth god, the deities of the god realms, or the dharma protectors or tantric yidams, the nonhuman beings are understood at least on one level as more or less independent, objective entities. They are beings with whom one must be in constant relation, even though they are nonhuman and usually not visible…..At the same time, however, from the point of view of the philosophical and meditative tradition, all such nonhuman beings are ultimately seen as aspects of one’s own mind and not separate from it. But what does this actually mean? Frequently, particularly in the West, this standard Buddhist assertion is taken to indicate that such spirits and deities, taken as external beings by ordinary Tibetans, are not really external at all; that in fact they are mistaken projections of psychological states. This, then, becomes a justification for treating them as nonexistent and provides a rationale for jettisoning them from Western adaptations of the tradition. The problem with this approach is that it reflects a misunderstanding of what is meant by the statement that such entities are aspects of mind and inseparable from mind….. here is the really critical point: it is not only the beings of the unseen world that have this status, but all of the phenomena of duality. In the Tibetan view, ourselves, other people, trees, mountains and clouds—indeed all of the phenomena of the entire so-called internal and external universe—are nothing other than false objectifications and solidifications of nondual awareness."….On the Importance of Relating to Unseen Beings By Reginald A. Ray

Tendrel…..cosmic law…nidana…."The Tibetan word tendrel (rten ‘brel) is an abbreviation of the term ten-ching drelwar jungwa (rten cing ‘brel bar ‘byung ba). It is a translation of the Sanskrit term pratitya-samutpada, which has been variously translated as “dependent arising, dependent co-origination, interdependence, relativity, auspicious coincidence,” and so on. ."….

"pratītyasamūtpada dependent origination, Buddhist principle of phenomena arising in mutual dependence; equivalent to T tendel….tendrel [T rten ’brel] Tibetan translation of pratītyasamūtpada; has additional meanings of karmic connection, omen, sign of positive future event…."…


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Chogyam Trungpa: The Bon Way of Life (Page 1)


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"…Accurate information concerning higher spiritual training in Bon is extremely difficult to obtain….information concerning 'the pure tradition' of their religion…..most of the original Bon texts were eventually destroyed or fell subject to heavy Buddhist editing…."…..

White Bon…."Bonpo believe their culture to have originated in the land of Olmo Lungring (located in a larger country referred to as Tazig)… from Tazik (stag-gzig) or Iranian speaking Central Asia to the northwest. [8] This form of Bon is known also as Yungdrung Bon (g.yung-drung bon), "the Eternal Teaching," a term which could be reconstructed into Sanskrit as "Svastika-dharma," where the swastika or sun-cross is the symbol of the eternal and the indestructable, corresponding in most every respect to the Buddhist term vajra or diamond (rdo-rje)….(….

"An ancient statue with a swastika on it they brought back from Tibet was probably carved from a meteorite that crashed on the Siberia-Mongolia border….According to researchers, the 10-kilogram figure of the "Iron Man" which features a large swastika, a good-luck symbol in Buddhism, most likely fell from space some 15,000 years ago…… it was made in the Bon culture in the 11th century, it is absolutely priceless and absolutely unique worldwide," Elmar Buchner of the University of Stuttgart told the online journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science….a chemical analysis revealed that the statue came from the Chinga meteorite, which crashed in the area of what is now the Russian and Mongolian border."

"The work of Shenrap still exists in Tibet in the form of 400 volumes, but it has undergone heavy Buddhist editing."
Shen = divine,heavenly,ally
Rap = Supreme One
Miwo = Great Man
…Chogyam Trungpa: 220

Svastika in Bon represents an unchanging and indestructible quality…also connotes richness and plenty…it is often used as a symbol of wealth, appearing as a decoration on an individuals Chugle bag, a bag containing objects sacred to the God of Wealth

"Chugla is the Bon God of the wealth.It recompenses thriftiness and punishes Verschwendung (wastefulness) with poverty and all diseases, which accompany with swelling, like e.g. Ulcers. It is the protection God of the buyers and the household, its animals is sheep, Yaks and horses. It rides on a yellow horse or a lion and an identical deceives a golden hat in form of a bloom with four sheets by, as well as over its golden armament. In its rights it carries a multicolor victory banner, into its linking a scroll, from its moutha river of jewels pours."….ön

"Jambhala/Kubera….In his right hand he holds a mongoose that spits out precious gems. Many people question what the association of Jambhala is with the mongoose. Art historians, depending upon folk interpretation, often explain that the mongoose became the main attribute of Jambhala because the serpents are the protectors of subterranean wealth and a mongoose controls them. Buddhist Sanskrit texts, however, refer to a different reason or story for the mongoose's association with wealth. It was said that wealthy people in ancient India carried a purse made of mongoose's hide and that when they gambled they often shook the purse. The mongoose or mongoose's hide then regurgitated gold coins and other precious things from its mouth. This seems to be the reason why in Jambhala's iconography the mongoose is always shown vomiting jewels. The mongoose that Jambhala holds then does not represent the actual creature but acts as a metaphor for his generosity."….

"Yungdrung Sempa: Spiritual Heros…..Svastikasattva…..The Yungdrung Sempa is a vey good companion in all the worlds of Samsara…. These heros never lose (their motivation / vow)….the Bodhisattva / Yungdrung Sempa view that Samsara would be never emptied….

changchub sem [T byang chub sems] Tibetan equivalent to bodhicitta.

changchub sempa [T byang chub sems dpa’] Tibetan equivalent to bodhisattva.

byang chub sems dpa' - Bodhisattva…..Those who are in the Mahayana path are called byang chub sems dpa', or bodhisattva in Sanskrit. If there's a word you see over and over again in Tibetan Buddhist literature, this is it. There are other short forms of this, too, such as byang sems dpa'.

"…..byang chub in Sanskrit is bodhi, ……sems dpa' is spiritual warrior, sattva. The interesting part here is that sems is mind, so it's like someone who is doing a battle against one's own mind, and has conquered it, far more difficult than conquering external enemies….To be very technical, only someone who has developed ultimate compassion, or bodhichitta, is considered a byang chub sems dpa', and is on the Mahayana path…..according to the lower Middle way school, those who have developed bodhichitta, and later experience emptiness directly, they will get the seeds to not only having a realization of no self, and no subject-object differentiation, they also get the realizations of all phenomena lacking any self-existence. This is needed, as the goal is to help all sentient beings, and only an omniscient being could properly do that. "…Jigtenmig - Classical Tibetan Language Blog

"The swastika has an extensive history. It was used at least 5,000 years before Adolf Hitler designed the Nazi flag. The word swastika comes from the Sanskrit svastika, which means “good fortune” or “well-being." The motif (a hooked cross) appears to have first been used in Neolithic Eurasia, perhaps representing the movement of the sun through the sky. To this day it is a sacred symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Odinism. It is a common sight on temples or houses in India or Indonesia. Swastikas also have an ancient history in Europe, appearing on artifacts from pre-Christian European cultures….archeologist Heinrich Schliemann. Schliemann discovered the hooked cross on the site of ancient Troy……"….UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM

" Giuseppe Tucci, David Snellgrove, and other scholars have worked to reconstruct the theology and iconography of early Bon, and have researched the question of Bon's origins, its history, and the extent of its relation to Buddhism. Tucci and other scholars believe that Bon preceded the introduction of Buddhism into Tibet. They identify divination and exorcism as central elements of the indigenous folk religion but also of Bon, and believe that both the folk religion and the more structured Bon contributed to the undeniably shamanistic aspect of Tibetan religious practice and customs. In this view, Bon brought a multiplicity of gods, demons, and spirits of nature into the Tibetan Buddhist pantheon, where they joined the gods absorbed from Indian tantrism. Tucci attributed Bon's formal doctrinal structure to a later borrowing from Buddhism. According to the standard history, Bon vied with Buddhism for dominance during the early centuries after the introduction of the new religion, and during the period between the first and second diffusions. In any case, Buddhism prevailed, but Bon, or some form of it, has survived in parts of Tibet as well as in remote Himalayan areas, such as Dolpo in northwestern Nepal, and there has recently been a Bon revival in the West. …..According to this line of thought, the Bon that has survived was so heavily influenced and infused with later adaptations and borrowings from Buddhism that its original form can no longer be definitively distinguished from what is now the majority religion. Yet Buddhism was also heavily influenced by Bon: both shared traditions of magic and exorcism, and both were influenced by the still potent "folk religion." (Tucci considers that Bon was also influenced by Persian Zoroastrianism and by Shaivism, the cult of Shiva, which reached Tibet from the states on the western edge of the Himalayas.) "…..

The Heart of the Buddha: Entering the Tibetan Buddhist Path (Shambhala Publications) by Chogyam Trungpa


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Chogyam Trungpa: Dege, Tibet & Mt Pago-punsum


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"My birthplace was a small settlement on a high plateau of north eastern Tibet. Above it, the celebrated mountain Pago-punsum rises perpendicularly to more than eighteen thousand feet, and is often called the 'the pillar of the sky'. It looks like a tall spire; its mighty crest towers under perpetual snows, glittering in the sunshine."….Chogyam Trungpa…Born in Tibet

"….Derge (also Dêgê, Tibetan སྡེ་དགེ་, Wylie: sde dge) is a town in Dêgê County in Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in China's Sichuan province. It was once the center of the Derge Kingdom of Kham or Eastern Tibet…..Derge was formerly the seat of the kings of the kingdom of Derge, whose 1300-year lineage was broken with the death of the last male heir in the 1990s…The town also contains several historic Tibetan monasteries, notably Palpung Monastery, Gongchen Monastery, Kathok Monastery, Palyul Monastery, Shechen Monastery and Dzogchen Monastery….

"I have kept the name Mukpo as my family name, my identity, my pride." ( 94)

"The Hengduan Mountain Range, which mostly runs north to south, extends through much of Garnze prefecture. The Yangtze, Meokong and Salween Rivers all cut deep gorges through this rugged range. The highest mountain in this range, and the highest mountain in Garnze prefecture, is Minya Konka མི་ཉག་གངས་དཀར་རི་བོ་, known in Chinese as Gongga Shan. This glaciated peak rises to 7556 meters. There are many other mountains in the prefecture that rise above 6000 meters, notably Trola Mountain in Dege county, which rises to 6168 meters and Mt. Chenresig in Dabpa county (Daocheng), which rises to 6032 meters."

"Que’er Shan (aka: Chola Mountain), is a prominent mountain in a virtually untouched region of Western Sichuan. This is a mountain covered year round in snow and ice. Chola Mountain is the highest peak in a glaciated range of peaks, many of which are unclimbed…..

Chola Mountain or Trola Mountain、Chola Shan、Que'er Mountain、Que'er Shan (simplified Chinese: 雀儿山; traditional Chinese: 雀兒山; pinyin: Què'ér Shān) is a mountain range in western Sichuan Province,China. Chola or Trola is Tibetan name, which means the big bird's wing. The highst peak share the same name ( Tibetan name : Rongmai Angzha ) is 6,168m. However, others claim, CHOLA is just another name for snow mountain, given by local Tibetans. The Chinese phonetic transliteration for CHOLA uses two characters: Que Er, and written so on official maps. Hence, many foreign guide books use the literal translation of the Chinese Characters: Sparrow. So, mistakenly CHOLA became "Bird Mountain". Another view presented on the origin of "Chola" was given by Sir Richard Temple in the Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society and monthly record of Geography, Volume 3, 1881. Lake Region of Sikkim, on the Frontier of Tibet, by Sir Richard Temple(p. 334). By Royal Geographical Society (Great Britain). According to him, ...Tso is a common termination in Tibetan names, meaning water, and is sometimes pronounced tcho; in fact, Europeans cannot tell whether natives are saying tso or tcho. It mealy means a lake. Nimyetso is Nimye Lake. And I ought to take this opportunity of mentioning that the termination la means a pass, so that Chola, or Cho-la mealy means lake-pass, and Yakla, or Yak-la, is nothing more than the pass of the Yak, the famous Tibetan cow....

Yilhun Lhatso…(aka: ), located at the foot of Chola Mountain (Que’er Shan)……The turquoise glacier lake peacefully lies at the foot of the 6187m Mt. Chola (chin. Que'er Shan) in the county of Derge.

Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (Tibetan: དཀར་མཛེས་བོད་རིགས་རང་སྐྱོང་ཁུལ་; Chinese: 甘孜藏族自治州) — is an autonomous prefecture occupying the western arm of Sichuan province, People's Republic of China. It is sometimes spelled as "Kardze" and Garzin by non-government sources……

"The concentration of Bonpo monasteries and communities in the eastern part of Tibet is attributed to the Buddhist persecution of the religion in Central Tibet during the imperial period."

"….The 2,412km long Sichuan-Tibet Highway starts from Chengdu of Sichuan on the east and ends at Lhasa of Tibet on the west. The road stretches into Lhasa passing Ya’an, Garze and Chamdo. …..Chengdu-> Xiaojin-> Danba-> Daofu-> Luhuo-> Garze-> Manigango-> Dege-> Gyamda-> Chamdo-> Bongda-> Baxoi-> Bomi-> Nyingchi-> Bayi-> Gongbo Gyamda-> Lhasa…….2412km in length with the highest point at Queer Mt. of 4916m…..Derge ……As the cultural center of Tibet, Derge has the famous Dege Printing House. A plenty of spectacular hiking possibilities exist in the backcountry. The origin of Tibetan woodcarving and engraving printing technology, Yinjing temple keeps the most delicate, complete and oldest printing procedures. Temple of Babang, Zongsa and Zuqing are also famous. Natural scenery includes New Luai, Axu Grassland…..

"Resting in a valley on the upper reaches of the Jinsha and Yalong Rivers and bordering Tibet, Dege (Derge) is the westernmost city in Sichuan before a ragged mountain trail heads to the vast Tibetan highland. It remains one of the least-explored regions of China. …..Dege was named after the Dege clan, which means 'land of mercy' in Tibetan. Historically, Dege was one of three ancient centers of Tibetan Buddhism culture, together with Lhasa in Tibet and Xiahe in Gansu. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the influence of the Dege clan covered several counties at the juncture of present-day Sichuan, Tibet and Qinghai. Dege County today sits at the heart of this ancient domain……Dege is of great historic significance as the birthplace of Khampa culture, the hometown of Gesar King and an important stop along the ancient Tea-Horse Caravans Road….."

The town of Gengqing on the reaches of the Sequ River is 500 years old, and is now the county seat of Dege. The 30-kilometer river valley was the original preserve of the Dege clan. Gengqing became a holy site in Tibetan Buddhism because it had a printing house for turning out scriptures."….Dzongsar Monastery…. located in a remote valley of southern Dege. It has a long history of progressive thinking in the Buddhist world. The monastery was founded 1200 years ago, first as a Bon monastery promulgating Tibet's traditional animist faith, later changed to the Nyingma sect, then Kagyu. 500 years ago the valley was wrested from the hands of King Gesar's generals and attached to the then-ascendent Dege Kingdom. In 1959 the most important temples were destroyed during a political movement against Liu Shaoqi, a rare instance of destruction of a Tibetan monastery prior to the Cultural Revolution….

Sichuan (Chinese: 四川; pinyin: About this sound Sìchuān, known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan) ….significant minorities of Tibetans, Yi, Qiang and Naxi reside in the western portion that are impacted by inclement weather and natural disasters, environmentally fragile, and impoverished. Sichuan's capital of Chengdu is home to a large community of Tibetans, with 30,000 permanent Tibetan residents and up to 200,000 Tibetan floating population.

The full moon calendar 1939.....
Thursday, 5 January 1939....
Saturday, 4 February 1939,....
Sunday, 5 March 1939....
Tuesday, 4 April 1939....

"..... the expedition visited Samye, which was surrounded by a three-meter-high, whitewashed wall on top of which were 2,300 small clay chörten. They were impressed by the cleanliness of the monastery, its location making Samye seem to them one of the most beautiful places in Tibet. The main temple had been renovated a few years previously under the direction of the provincial governor, making it among Tibet’s most beautiful and valuable buildings. By their estimate, the population was about 300 to 400 people, including the monks....Not far from Samye they were amazed as they approached the five white chörten of Zunggar.... “These miraculous figures, artfully sculpted out of the cliff, were still intertwined with the original stone.”.....Tibet in 1938–1939: The Ernst Schäfer Expedition to Tibet


Friday, February 21, 2014

Emperor Wu of Han and Legendary Daxia (126 BC)


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Ancient Balkh was not only legendary in Tibet and Greece….The great city was also legendary in Ancient China….Zhang Qian probably witnessed the last period of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom in the 2nd C BC…….

"The name Daxia appears in Chinese from the 3rd century BCE to designate a mythical kingdom to the West, possibly a consequence of the first contacts with the expansion of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, and then is used by the explorer Zhang Qian in 126 BCE to designate Bactria."

"The reports of Zhang Qian were put in writing in Shiji ("Records of the Great Historian") by Sima Qian in the 1st century BCE. They describe an important urban civilization of about one million people, living in walled cities under small city kings or magistrates. Daxia was an affluent country with rich markets, trading in an incredible variety of objects, coming as far as Southern China. By the time Zhang Qian visited Daxia, there were no longer a major king, and the Bactrian were suzerains to the nomadic Yuezhi, who were settled to the north of their territory beyond the Oxus. Overall, Zhang Qian depicted a rather sophisticated but demoralized people who were afraid of war."

Zhang Qian taking leave from emperor Han Wudi, for his expedition to Central Asia from 138 to 126 BCE, Mogao Caves mural, 618 - 712.

"Following these reports, the Chinese emperor Wudi was informed of the level of sophistication of the urban civilizations of Ferghana, Bactria and Parthia, and became interested in developing commercial relationships with them: "Thus the emperor learned of Dayuan, Daxia, Anxi, and the others, all states rich in unusual products whose people cultivated the land and made their living in much the same way as the Chinese. All these states, he was told, were militarily weak and prized Han goods and wealth." Shiji 123.…..These contacts immediately led to the dispatch of multiple embassies from the Chinese, initiating the development of the Silk Road."

"Dayuan (Ta-yuan; Chinese: 大宛; pinyin: Dàyuān; Wade–Giles: Ta-yuan; literally "Great Yuan") was a country in Ferghana valley in Central Asia, described in the Chinese historical works of Records of the Grand Historian and the Book of Han. It is mentioned in the accounts of the famous Chinese explorer Zhang Qian in 130 BCE and the numerous embassies that followed him into Central Asia. The country of Dayuan is generally accepted as relating to the Ferghana Valley…..These Chinese accounts describe the Dayuan as urbanized dwellers with Caucasian features, living in walled cities and having "customs identical to those of the Greco-Bactrians", a Hellenistic kingdom that was ruling Bactria at that time in today’s northern Afghanistan. The Dayuan are also described as manufacturers and great lovers of wine.[1] The Dayuan were probably the descendants of the Greek colonists that were settled by Alexander the Great in Ferghana in 329 BCE, and prospered within the Hellenistic realm of the Seleucids and Greco-Bactrians, until they were isolated by the migrations of the Yuezhi around 160 BCE. "…..Watson, Burton(1993). Records of the Grand Historian by Sima Qian. Translated by Burton Watson. Han Dynasty II (Revised Edition), pp. 244-245. Columbia University Press

"Zhang Qian (Chang Chien; pinyin : Zhāng Qiān; simplified Chinese: 张骞; traditional Chinese: 張騫) was an imperial envoy to the world outside of China in the 2nd century BCE, during the time of the Han Dynasty. He was the first official diplomat to bring back reliable information about Central Asia to the Chinese imperial court, then under Emperor Wu of Han, and played an important pioneering role in the Chinese colonization and conquest of the region now known as Xinjiang. Today Zhang Qian's travels are associated with the major route of transcontinental trade, the Silk Road. In essence, his missions opened up to China the many kingdoms and products of a part of the world then unknown to the Chinese. Zhang Qian's accounts of his explorations of Central Asia are detailed in the Early Han historical chronicles, Records of the Grand Historian or Shiji, compiled by Sima Qian in the 1st century BCE . Today Zhang Qian is considered a national hero and revered for the key role he played in opening China to the world of commercial trade."

"Daxia (Bactria)……Zhang Qian probably witnessed the last period of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, as it was being subjugated by the nomadic Yuezhi. Only small powerless chiefs remained, who were apparently vassals to the Yuezhi horde. Their civilization was urban, almost identical to the civilizations of Anxi and Dayuan, and the population was numerous. "Daxia is situated over 2,000 li (1,000 kilometers) southwest of Dayuan (Ferghana), south of the Gui (Oxus) river. Its people cultivate the land, and have cities and houses. Their customs are like those of Dayuan. It has no great ruler but only a number of petty chiefs ruling the various cities. The people are poor in the use of arms and afraid of battle, but they are clever at commerce. After the Great Yuezhi moved west and attacked and conquered Daxia, the entire country came under their sway. The population of the country is large, numbering some 1,000,000 or more persons. The capital is Lanshi (Bactra) where all sorts of goods are bought and sold." (Shiji, 123, Zhang Qian quote, translation Burton Watson).

"The reports of Zhang Qian's travels are quoted extensively in the 1st century BCE Chinese historic chronicles "Records of the Great Historian" (Shiji) by Sima Qian. Zhang Qian visited directly the kingdom of Dayuan in Ferghana, the territories of the Yuezhi in Transoxiana, the Bactrian country of Daxia with its remnants of Greco-Bactrian rule, and Kangju (康居). He also made reports on neighbouring countries that he did not visit, such as Anxi (Arsacid territories), Tiaozhi (Mesopotamia?), Shendu (Pakistan) and the Wusun."

"The Kushan Empire (Bactrian: κυϸανο; Sanskrit: कुषाण राजवंश Kuṣāṇ Rājavaṃśa; BHS: Guṣāṇa-vaṃśa; Parthian: Kušan-xšaθr) was an empire in South Asia originally formed in the early 1st century CE under Kujula Kadphises in the territories of ancient Bactria around the Oxus River (Amu Darya), and later based near Kabul, Afghanistan. The Kushans spread from the Kabul River Valley to defeat other Central Asian tribes that had previously conquered parts of the northern central Iranian Plateau once ruled by the Parthians, and reached their peak under the Buddhist emperor Kanishka (127–151), whose realm stretched from Turfan in the Tarim Basin to Pataliputra on the Gangetic Plain."…..The Dynastic Arts of the Kushans by John M. Rosenfield

CHANG-CHIEN…..c.172 - 114 BC……"Chang-Ch'ien (or Zhang Qian) was dispatched by the emperor Wu-ti to establish relations with a Central Asian tribal group that spoke an Indo-European language……Almost 1400 years before Marco Polo Chang-Chien travelled as far west as Samarkand and Usbekistan. On a second trip he visited Bactria and Sogidiana in Parthia……His travel report stimulated Chinese trade relations along the silk-road with the West, and led to the introduction into China of a superior breed of horses and new plants, such as grapes and alfafa."

Daxia or Ta-hsia ….. "the name given in antiquity by the Chinese to the territory of Bactria..….An ancient country of southwest Asia. It was an eastern province of the Persian Empire before its conquest by the Greeks in 328 b.c. The kingdom was destroyed c. 130 b.c. by nomadic tribes……an ancient country of SW Asia, between the Hindu Kush mountains and the Oxus River: forms the present Balkh region in N Afghanistan."

"Ta-hsia and the Problem Concerning the Advent of Nomadic Peoples in Greek Bactria by B. N. Mukherjee….East and West…Vol. 19, No. 3/4 (September-December 1969), pp. 395-400

Daxia, Ta-Hsia, or Ta-Hia (Chinese: 大夏; Pinyin: Dàxià) is the name given in antiquity by the Han Chinese to the territory of Bactria……."The name Daxia appears in Chinese from the 3rd century BCE to designate a mythical kingdom to the West, possibly a consequence of the first contacts with the expansion of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, and then is used by the explorer Zhang Qian in 126 BCE to designate Bactria……In the chapter VIII of the Guanzi, Xiao Kuang, it is written: "In the west [Duke Huan]... having passed through the valleys of the Taihang and Bier, took captive the chief of the Da Xia. Further to the west, he subjugated the Xi Yu of Liusha, and for the first time the Rong People of Qin were obedient."

"Emperor Wu of Han, also translated Han Wudi, (simplified Chinese: 汉武帝; traditional Chinese: 漢武帝; pinyin: Hàn Wǔdì; Wade–Giles: Han Wu-ti, 156 – 87 BC), born Liu Che (劉徹), was the seventh emperor of the Han Dynasty of China, ruling from 141 to 87 BC…….Emperor Wu successfully repelled the nomadic Xiongnu from systematically raiding northern China and dispatched his envoy Zhang Qian in 139 BC to seek an alliance with the Yuezhi of modern Uzbekistan. This resulted in further missions to Central Asia. Although historical records do not describe him to be aware of Buddhism, emphasizing rather his interest in shamanism, nevertheless cultural exchanges occurred as a consequence of these embassies, and there are suggestions that these included his reception of Buddhist statues from central Asia, as depicted in the Mogao Caves murals."

"Chengdu is also known for its handicrafts. From the Warring States (770 BC-476 BC) to the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), lacquer wares enjoyed a high popularity abroad. Hometown of the famous Shu brocade, Chengdu has been an important city for brocade weaving and the silk culture in China. In the Han Dynasty (220 BC- AD 206) and the Jin Dynasty (265-420), the colored silk from Sichuan was extremely popular in China. For a long period of time between the Six Kingdms and the Tang Dynasty (618-907), most of the silks exported to the Middle Asia were made in Chengdu. In 1909, the Shu colored silk won the first prize in the Southeast Asian Fair. In the Han Dynasty, the hemp cloth was the first-grade cloth, finding a ready market in countries as far as Afghanistan (known then as Daxia)."

"More than 2,000 years ago, people in the southwest of China had traded between Chengdu, China with India. The trade route, about 2,000 kilometers (1,243 miles) long, well-known for its silk trade, was dubbed the 'Southern Silk Road' by historians. Similar to the Silk Road, the Southern Silk Road contributed much to the cultural change between China and the West. Zhang Qian, an important explorer in the Han Dynasty, opened up the historically important Silk Road during the reign of Han Emperor Wudi (141BC–87BC). When he set out on his first journey to the Western Regions, he found bamboo staffs of Qiongshan (Yingjing County of Sichuan Province) and delaines of Sichuan Province in Daxia (Balkh) in 128 BC. Merchants told him that these goods were bought from Juandu (now India); therefore, Zhang Qian guessed that there was a trade road between Sichuan Province and India."

The Records of the Grand Historian. Han Dynasty II (Revised Edition), p. 236, by Sima Qian. Translated by Burton Watson. Columbia University Book. 1993