Emperor Ashoka the Great

Aug 16, 2016 | Views: 6,107
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Emperor Ashoka the Great

Emperor Ashoka the Great

Dear readers,

I am thrilled to have been given this opportunity to write about Emperor Ashoka the Great. During his early reign, he was a fierce ruler and yet he was able to change his way in later life and became a compassionate ruler. This is inspiring in itself because change can be a difficult thing to do, especially when you are habituated to do and think in a certain way. For this reason, I admire his resolve and courage to stop the cycle of war and violence.

Although India is no longer a Buddhist country, the results of Emperor Ashoka’s considerable effort and dedication in spreading the Dharma to neighboring countries can still be felt. I hope you will find this article exciting and informative on the life, works and accomplishments of this great ruler. Enjoy and be inspired by Emperor Ashoka!

Sincerely,
P. Prashant

 


 

ASHOKA THE GREAT

Emperor Ashoka, also known as ‘Ashoka the Great’, was the third ruler of the Mauryan Empire, and many consider him to be one of the greatest rulers in Indian history. H.G. Wells, a 20th century English writer, called him the ‘Greatest of Kings.’

During Emperor Ashoka’s reign, India had a relatively well-managed government system. The reign of Emperor Ashoka is considered to be one of the most glorious periods in Indian history. During the first part of his reign, he worked systematically to consolidate and expand his empire. He ruled over the entire Indian subcontinent, except for the southernmost parts (i.e., Tamil Nadu and Kerala). During the later part of his reign, he is largely credited and admired for spreading the message of Buddhism and peace in many parts of the world. Although Buddhism faded in India after his death, it continued to flourish and spread in other parts of the world, primarily in East and Southeast Asia.

Emperor Bindusara Maurya

Emperor Bindusara Maurya

Emperor Ashoka remained ambitious and fearsome until the annexation of Kalinga, a feudal republic located on the coast of the present day Indian state of Odisha and northern parts of Andhra Pradesh. The war to occupy Kalinga was considered the bloodiest and most lethal that Emperor Ashoka had ever waged. The massive loss of lives and damage left him shattered and regretful, which ultimately caused him to transform from a fierce and vengeful ruler to a peaceful and benevolent emperor. He is said to have constructed approximately 84,000 stupas and pillars across his empire during his lifetime. The most significant of these are the Ashoka Pillars that contain the image of the Lion Capital of Ashoka, which is now regarded as India’s national emblem, and the Ashoka Chakras, inscribed on many of his stone inscriptions.

 

ASHOKA’S FAMILY AND CHILDHOOD

Our knowledge about the history of his reign is based on inscriptions engraved on rocks and pillars, many of which still can be seen today. However, these inscriptions do not provide much information about his early life. For this we have to depend solely on Buddhist texts like the Divyavadana and Ceylonese chronicles like Avadana, Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa to obtain the information regarding his early life.

Ashoka (304 – 232 BCE) was born in the town of Pataliputra and was given the name Devanampriya Priyadarshi Samrat Ashoka. He was born to the second emperor of the Mauryan Dynasty, Emperor Bindusara and his relatively lower ranking wife, Shubhadrangi also known as Maharani Dharma, as stated in the Avadana text. By the virtue of his parenting, he was the grandson of the Founder of the Mauryan Dynasty, Chandragupta Maurya. According to the Ashokavadana, an Indian text in Sanskrit that describes the birth and reign of the Emperor Ashoka, Shubhadrangi was the daughter of a Brahmin from the city of Champa. The legend says that through palace intrigue she was initially kept away from Emperor Bindusara. However, she eventually gained access to him and was able to bear him a son. It is from her exclamation “I am now without sorrow” that Ashoka got his name which means “painless, without sorrow” in the ancient Sanskrit language.

Emperor Chandragupta Maurya

Emperor Chandragupta Maurya

Ashoka’s father, Emperor Bindusara (b. 320 – 273 BCE), was the son of Emperor Chandragupta Maurya and one of his wives, Durdhara. She died giving birth to Bindusara. When she was pregnant, she ate with her husband, the emperor. Durdhara was not informed that the food eaten by Emperor Chandragupta always had a controlled amount of poison to build up his immunity towards being poisoned. The poison was added to the food by his Chief Minister, Chanakya, as a precautionary measure to protect Emperor Chandragupta because he had many enemies, and many attempts were made to poison him. Therefore, when Durdhara ate the same food as the emperor, she did not have the immune system to neutralise the poison and her body reacted negatively. Before she took her last breath, Chanakya who had mastered Ayurveda knowledge and skills, removed Bindusara from his mother’s womb by performing a cesarean section. Durdhara died after giving birth to Bindusara.

A depiction of Chanakya.

Chanakya, the famous minister of both Emperor Chandragupta and Bindusara’s courts

Emperor Chandragupta Maurya left his son, Bindusara, a large and extensive empire. Bindusara was enthroned in 298 BCE. Chanakya was the most famous minister under Chandragupta’s rule, and he continued to be one of the principal ministers during Emperor Bindusara’s reign. Chanakya further extended the Mauryan Empire during the reign of Emperor Bindusara Maurya. The Empire is said to have extended from the east to the west and can be explained by the fact that it stretched from the eastern sea in Bengal to the western sea in Saurashtra.

Like his father, Emperor Bindusara Maurya also maintained good diplomatic relations with the Greek rulers and his step grandfather Selecus Nicator, a former general of Alexander the Great. He also shared cordial relations with his step uncle, the Syrian King, and the Egyptian rulers. Scholars from Egypt and Syria lived in his palace as ambassadors. Emperor Bindusara was passionate about culture and philosophy. He is believed to have been tolerant of all religious sects and saints of various religions visited his court. Ashoka might have learnt from the very men who graced his father’s court.

Ashoka had several elder siblings, all of whom were his half-brothers from the other wives of Emperor Bindusara, who had 16 wives and approximately 101 sons. The name of his eldest son is said to have been Susima and the name of the youngest son was Tishya.

Selecus Nicator

Selecus Nicator

Having been born into a royal family, Emperor Ashoka received extensive royal military training, and he was believed to be the most intelligent among the many sons of his father. He was intellectual, energetic, fearless, strong, fought well and possessed great military skills. He also excelled in hunting, which was evident from his ability to kill a lion with only a wooden rod. It was because of these attributes that Ashoka is said to have been the favorite of his grandfather, Emperor Chandragupta. According to legend, Ashoka recovered Chandragupta’s sword after he cast it away prior to embarking on the life of a Jain ascetic.

 

ASHOKA’S LIFE BEFORE ENTHRONEMENT

The depiction of Emperor Ashoka during his younger days.

A depiction of Emperor Ashoka during his younger days

Ashoka grew to become an extraordinary warrior and a shrewd statesman. He commanded several regiments of the Mauryan army. His growing popularity across the Mauryan Empire made his elder brothers feel insecure about their chances of becoming the next king. In a feeble attempt to end Ashoka’s life in war, or to destroy his reputation through failure, Prince Susima, the eldest son and crown prince to the throne, asked their father Emperor Bindusara to assign Ashoka on a mission to quell an uprising in the city of Taxila in the Northwestern province of Sindh. Ironically, Susima was actually the governor of this city. Susima and his officials did not govern Taxila well, and this caused civil unrest.

The ruin of Taxila.

The ruin of Taxila

Because Susima’s mother was a princess, Susima was King Bindusara’s favorite son. By comparison, Ashoka’s mother was a commoner by birth and King Bindusara is said to have not liked Ashoka very much initially. Perhaps it was because of this reason that Bindusara accepted Susima’s suggestion and commanded Ashoka to quell the uprising in Taxila. Ashoka, being the fearless war general that he was, complied with his father’s request. Upon hearing the news that Ashoka and his army were coming, the militias surprisingly welcomed him and almost immediately ended the uprising without a fight.

Ashoka’s success made Emperor Bindusara’s many sons wary of his intentions of succeeding the throne, and once again Susima suggested to Emperor Bindusara to send Ashoka away. This time he was sent into exile in Kalinga. During his stay there, he fell in love with a fisherwoman named Karuvaki who, according to inscriptions that were found recently, became Ashoka’s second or third wife.

Maharani Devi: First Queen of Ashoka the Great

Maharani Devi: First Queen of Ashoka the Great

After Ashoka was exiled for two years, a violent uprising broke out in Ujjain. King Bindusara sent Ashoka and his generals to quell the uprising there. Although Ashoka was injured during battle, his generals managed to complete the task successfully. After his injury, Ashoka was treated by Buddhist monks (bhikshus) and nuns (bhikshunis) in hiding to prevent those loyal to Susima from harming him. This is where he first learnt of Buddha’s teachings. He had a personal nurse, Devi, who was a merchant’s daughter from the famous Shakya clan. Her full name was Mahadevi Shakya Kumari and she was born in Vidisa. Ashoka grew fond of Devi and married her.

Emperor Bindusara disliked the fact that Ashoka married a Buddhist and thus forbade Ashoka to stay in Pataliputra. He sent him back to Ujjain with the title of Provincial Governor. Emperor Bindusara’s dislike of Ashoka’s marriage was most likely due to Buddhism’s rejection of the caste system. This rejection was considered to be socially dangerous, with the potential to destabilise the status quo and therefore seen as a threat to the monarchy. Buddhism also denied the authority and roles of the Brahmins, which are the highest class of Hindu society. As a result, Buddhists were seen as undermining India’s social system.

 

EMPEROR ASHOKA’S FAMILY & PRIVATE LIFE

When Emperor Ashoka was 20 years old, one of his wives, Maharani Devi gave birth to twins, a son named Mahendra and a daughter named Sanghamitta. Later, both Mahendra and Sanghamitta contributed and played a great role in the spread of Buddhism after their father sent them to preach Buddhism outside India.

Emperor Ashoka had several wives although the exact number is unclear. There are references to at least three empresses in the chronicles and Buddhist texts like the Mahavamsa and Divyavadana. Emperor Ashoka’s Chief Empress for most of his reign was Empress Asandhimittra who passed away four years before King Ashoka’s own passing. Upon the passing of Empress Asandhimittra, Tissarakkha was given the position of Chief Empress. It is said that this empress had a very great influence on Ashoka.

The second empress of Ashoka was Karuvaki, the mother of Trivara as mentioned in the Empress’s edict. Another Empress referred to in the Divyavadana as his third wife was Padmavati who was the mother of the crown prince Kunala, also known as Dharma-vivardhana. The Chinese Buddhist monk, Faxian, who travelled from China to India by foot on a mission to acquire Buddhist texts, also mentioned Dharma-vivardhana, who was the Viceroy of Gandhara, to be the son of Emperor Ashoka. From Rajatarangini, a historical chronicle, we can find references to the other sons of Emperor Ashoka, Jalauka and Tivara, who were the sons of Empress Karuvaki. From the information given, it is reasonable to believe that although Emperor Ashoka was a Buddhist, he had a number of empresses and concubines.

There is little information available concerning Emperor Ashoka’s private life and habits. From Rock Edict 6, we have an indirect reference as to how he would spend his time when he was not attending to official business. When a certain Dr Bhandarkar, an Indian scholar, was analysing the information found in Rock Edict 6, he noted that in Emperor Ashoka’s moments of leisure, when he was not asleep, he could be found at his capital either regaling the dining hall or engaging with his wives and concubines. Emperor Ashoka also enjoyed riding his horse or simply passing time in the orchard. From one of his edicts it is known that he even controlled the slaughter of animals by only permitting two peacocks and one deer to be killed for his royal meals. This gives us an idea of the kind of food that gratified his royal palate.

As an Emperor, before his conversion into Buddhism, Ashoka seemed to have done what the rulers of ancient India would do. He entertained his subjects by continuing the tradition of Samajas. The Samajas consisted of entertaining people with a banquet feast with meat dishes. Other Samajas consisted of dancing, music and wrestling, which were performed in an amphitheatre. Hunting was also a big part of the entertainment. According to Nilkanta Sastri, an Indian historian who wrote on South Indian history, these Samajas were unquestionably a diplomatic method of keeping the people pleased and satisfied. However, such Samajas were all stopped after Ashoka embraced Buddhism.

 

RISE TO POWER

According to the Mahavamsa, Ashoka was in Ujjain when he heard the news concerning his father’s ill health and he hurried towards the capital city of Pataliputra. There he killed 99 of his brothers, except the youngest, Tishya in order to become the new emperor. According to one legend, Ashoka was portrayed as a person with a bad temper and wicked nature. He was said to have built “Ashoka’s Hell”, an elaborate torture chamber disguised as a beautiful palace, which earned him the name of Chanda Ashoka (meaning Ashoka the Fierce).

Depiction of Ashoka’s Hell.

Ashoka’s Hell

Historically, there was a four-year gap between Emperor Bindusara’s death in 273 BCE and Emperor Ashoka’s coronation in 269 BCE. This leads historians to believe that Emperor Bindusara’s death led to a power struggle amongst his sons. According to the Divyavadana, Emperor Bindusara wanted his son Susima to succeed him but Ashoka was supported by his father’s ministers, who found Susima to be arrogant and disrespectful towards them. Ashoka managed to rise to the throne with the support of Emperor Bindusara’s ministers, headed by his Chief Minister Radhagupta (also known as Khallataka).

According to several inscriptions, which were erected long after his coronation, Emperor Ashoka referred to his ‘brothers and sisters’ and other relatives for whose welfare he was most concerned. Inscriptional evidence also indirectly suggests that some of his brothers served as his viceroys in important places such as Taxila, Tosali, Ujjayini and Suvaranagiri and what is more, they were addressed as the Kumaras and Aryaputras. According to the Mahavamsa, Ashoka even appointed his youngest brother Tishya as the Uparaja or the Deputy King. Therefore, the Buddhist legends about his cruelty and the killing of his 99 brothers do not seem to possess much historical substance.

 

The Reign of King Ashoka

Ashoka pursued a policy of expansion for the Mauryan Empire, following the ideal of his predecessors. Eight years after ascending the throne, Emperor Ashoka significantly expanded his empire. It grew from the present-day boundaries of Bangladesh and the Indian state of Assam in the east side, to the present-day territories of Afghanistan and Iran in the west. The empire also grew from the Palmir Knots in the north to the most peninsular part of Southern India. This would be recorded as the greatest geographical expansion of the Mauryan Empire.

The Conquests of Chandragupta, Bindusara and Ashoka.

The Conquests of Emperors Chandragupta, Bindusara and Ashoka. Click on image to enlarge.

Despite the mighty size of this Empire which was built by three successive generations of the Mauryan Emperors (i.e., Chandragupta, Bindusara and Ashoka), it did not include a prominent kingdom which was adjacent to the epicentre of the Mauryan Empire (i.e., Magadha or Kalinga). For eight years after the coronation, Emperor Ashoka ruled his empire with an iron fist. He was perceived to be a strong ruler and lived the usual life of a great emperor with pomp, splendour and pleasure. He did not fight external wars, even though he had the power for aggression. He also had no threat or fear of invasion from the Greek kings with whom he had good diplomatic relations dating back to the time of his father.

During the first 12 years of his reign, Emperor Ashoka was occupied with internal administrative work. His position only grew stronger after his coronation. At the time when Emperor Ashoka enjoyed absolute imperial authority, he gained confidence and decided make a move to annex Kalinga. At that time, Emperor Ashoka commanded the largest army of his time consisting of 600,000 infantry, 30,000 cavalry and 9,000 war elephants.

In 265 BCE, Emperor Ashoka waged war against Kalinga, a state that prided itself on its sovereignty and democracy. This war lasted two years between 265 BCE and 263 BCE, and is famously known as the Conquest of Kalinga. The cause and pretext of the war is uncertain but it was most likely purely territorial. Kalinga occupied a strategic position controlling the routes to South India by land and sea. However, there is speculation that his brothers fled to Kalinga and were granted refugee status, which angered Emperor Ashoka greatly. With the advice, support and urging of his ministers, he waged war on Kalinga to take revenge for their treacherous act.

Emperor Ashoka asked Kalinga’s royalty to submit to the Mauryan Empire’s supremacy but they defied him. Emperor Ashoka went on to send one of his generals to force them to submit, but instead his general and his forces were outsmarted and defeated by Kalinga’s leader who was a brilliant and skilled tactician. Emperor Ashoka was shocked and perhaps humiliated by this defeat. In his anger, he launched the greatest invasion ever recorded in Indian history at that time. Kalinga managed to put up a fight, but they were ultimately defeated by Emperor Ashoka’s massive army. The entire kingdom of Kalinga was destroyed and resulted in approximately 100,000 casualties on the Kalinga side, and 10,000 casualties on the Mauryan side. Although this war caused incredible human suffering, it was also Emperor Ashoka’s final war.

 

CONVERSION TO BUDDHISM

The Battle of Kalingga.

The Battle of Kalingga

In his Rock Edict 13, Emperor Ashoka referred to the Conquest of Kalinga and the resulting great loss of lives. The Rock Edict reads, “One hundred and fifty thousand persons were captured, one hundred thousand were killed and many times that number perished.” The destructive nature of the Kalinga war created an emotional shock in Emperor Ashoka. He regretted the fact that he was responsible for so much suffering of fellow human beings. Upon seeing firsthand the damage this war has caused, Emperor Ashoka was deeply regretful and he cried out the famous sentence, “What have I done?”

While Ashoka was this penitent mood, he met the Buddhist monk Upagupta who taught him the Dharma and the teachings touched his heart. He converted to Buddhism and embraced their concept of non-violence, vowing to serve all human beings. This change of heart that Emperor Ashoka experienced was eventually reflected in his internal and foreign policies.

Emperor Ashoka’s decision to abandon the policy of war made it possible for some states in the south to maintain their independence. He then went on to pursue a policy of friendship towards all nations of the time. He used his position as Emperor to spread the relatively new teachings of Buddhism as far as Ancient Rome and Alexandria, Egypt.

Around 260 BCE, Emperor Ashoka declared Buddhism to be the state religion and started the Vibhajyavada School of Buddhism. Vibhajya means ‘dividing or analysing’ and Vada means ‘doctrine or meaning’.

The Vibhajyavadins, meaning “those who make distinctions”, were the followers of Buddhist Schools founded by Emperor Ashoka. They have a strong presence in South India where they called themselves Theravadans. They rejected the claims of Sarvastivada, an earlier school of Buddhism, that all Dharmas exist in the past, present and future. Instead the Vibhajyavadins made a distinction between Dharmas that exist and Dharmas that do not exist. Their standpoints were formulated by Moggaliputtatissa, a Buddhist monk and one of Ashoka’s spiritual teachers. It is also listed in a Buddhist scripture known as Kathavatthu, one of the seven books in the Theravada Abhidhamma Pitaka, which is a branch of Buddhism that uses the teachings of the Pali Canon, also known as the most complete of the early Buddhist canons.

 

ANOTHER VERSION OF EMPEROR ASHOKA’S CONVERSION TO BUDDHISM

Another account of Emperor Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism is recorded in the Ashokavadana. The text does not refer to the Battle of Kalinga and appears to be more mythical than the previous historical reference. It does, however, contain interesting details about Emperor Ashoka’s practice of Buddhism.

In this text, a Buddhist monk named Samudra appears at what he thought was a palace in Emperor Ashoka’s capital but in reality, it was a new building dedicated to the ‘art of execution’. The young monk, Samudra who was begging for alms became a potential victim of the palace’s guardian, Chandagirika who was to kill whoever stepped through the door. Chandagirika liked to torture and kill, and had already callously dispatched his own parents. Chandagirika agreed to a seven-day delay when the monk Samudra, who feared death, begged him for mercy.

Meanwhile, another youth and one of the women of the royal household caused some offence to Chandagirika, who immediately ordered their execution. He then had their bodies crushed with pestles in an iron mortar before Samudra. While witnessing this horrible execution, Samudra suddenly realised the truth of the Buddha’s teaching of impermanence and became an arhat (liberated being).

The next morning, the time of his execution arrived but Samudra was calm and not afraid. He said to Chandagirika, “True, my night of ignorance has cleared and the sun of my good fortune is at its height. You may do as you wish, my friend.” The executioner was quite unmoved and threw Samudra into a cauldron of water mixed with blood. However, as hard as Chandagirika tried to light a fire underneath the cauldron, it would not light. Looking into the cauldron, he was amazed to see Samudra calmly sitting in the lotus position. He immediately went to find Emperor Ashoka to show him this miracle, together with hundreds of his subjects. Samudra realised that the time had ripened for Emperor Ashoka to receive Buddhist teachings, which the text explains:

Miraculously, Samudra floated up in the air and stunned Ashoka.
For from half his body water poured down;
from the other half fire blazed forth;
Raining and flaming, he shone in the sky.
Ashoka folded his hands and asked to be initiated into the mysteries of the Dharma.

After the event, Emperor Ashoka converted to Buddhism and became a lay-devotee (upasaka). Samudra informed Ashoka that Buddha Shakyamuni had predicted that the Emperor would build 84,000 stupas to contain his bodily relics. He was supposed to fulfil this prophecy but instead, the Emperor had built a Palace of Execution. Emperor Ashoka then begged for forgiveness and took the three refuge vows by which one becomes a Buddhist (Refuge in the Three Jewels – the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha). He also pledged to build stupas to house the Buddha’s sacred relics. Then the monk Samudra vanished.

As Emperor Ashoka was about to leave himself, his executioner challenged him that his boon had not been granted, and that he still had the right to execute the first person who had entered the Palace. Surprised that his servant apparently intended to execute his master, Emperor Ashoka responded that since Chandagirika had in fact entered before him, he was the one who should die. Chandagirika was duly executed and the palace of horrors (described as hell in the text) was destroyed.

The text continues with the story of how Emperor Ashoka recovered the relics from eight stupas that were built previously, and constructed the new stupas as he had promised. On one occasion, in order to earn some merit, he traveled throughout his realm incognito as a mendicant and experienced the lifestyle of a monk. The phrase yam me samghe upeti, which translates as “going to the Sangha”, has led some scholars to claim that Emperor Ashoka was a full-time mendicant but it probably implies that he visited and spent time listening to the monks. It is said that Emperor Ashoka venerated monks and he donated generously to the Sangha.

Both versions of the story regarding Emperor Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism record that he had a change of heart that involved the repudiation of slaughter, and the development of a commitment to peace and the precepts of Buddhism.

Diodotus I

Diodotus I

Some historians have interpreted Emperor Ashoka’s transformation to be a ruse, and accuse him of being afraid of more war. However, among his neighboring kingdoms including the Seleucid Empire and the Greco-Bactrian kingdom established by Diodotus I, none could match the military strength of the Mauryan Empire. Ashoka reigned during the same period as both Antiochus I Soter and his successor, Antiochus II Theos, of the Seleucid dynasty as well as Diodotus I and his son Diodotus II of the Greco-Bactrian kingdom. His inscriptions and edicts state that he was familiar with the Hellenic world and some of them were even written in Greek, but he was never in awe of this part of the world. His edicts, which talk of his friendly relations, include the names of both Antiochus of the Seleucid Empire and Ptolemy III of Egypt. The Mauryan Empire had been famous since the time Emperor Chandragupta Maurya defeated Selecus Nicator, the founder of the Seleucid Dynasty. Another indication of the relationship between the Mauryan Empire and Greece can be found in the works of Greek historians who wrote about the Empire’s history. As a result of Alexander the Great’s imperial and cultural projects, the Indian and the Hellenic world were now linked.

Emperor Ashoka undoubtedly deserves the credit for making the first serious attempt to develop governmental policies that were based on Buddhist teachings, effectively putting into practice the Buddha’s own advice on kingship and governance that were contained in the Dasa Raja Dharma (Buddhist principles for leaders to abide by), including the following ten precepts :

  • To be liberal and avoid selfishness
  • To be a person of high moral character
  • To be prepared to sacrifice one’s own pleasure for the well-being of one’s subjects
  • To be honest and maintain absolute integrity
  • To be kind and gentle
  • To set an example by leading a simple life for the subjects to emulate
  • To be free from hatred of any kind
  • To exercise non-violent means
  • To practice patience
  • To respect public opinion to promote peace and harmony

Emperor Ashoka published 14 edicts as the basis on his new policies. These are:

  1. No living being was to be slaughtered or sacrificed
  2. Humans and animals were to be provided medical care throughout his territory
  3. Every five years the monks would tour the empire to teach the Dharma
  4. Everyone should respect their parents, priests and monks
  5. Prisoners must be treated humanely
  6. Concerns regarding the welfare of his people must be reported to him at all times no matter where he was or what he was doing
  7. Since all religions desire self-control and purity of heart, everyone is welcome
  8. He preferred to give to monks, Brahmins and to the needy than to receive gifts from others
  9. Reverence for the Dharma and a proper attitude towards teachers is better than marriage or other worldly celebrations
  10. Glory and fame meant nothing if his people did not respect the Dharma
  11. Giving the Dharma to others is the best gift anyone could have
  12. Whoever praises his own religion due to excessive devotion, and condemns others with the thought ‘Let me glorify my own religion’ only harms his own religion. Therefore, contact (between religions) was encouraged
  13. Conquering through the Dharma was superior to conquering by force but if conquest by force was to be carried out, it should be done so with forbearance and light punishment
  14. He had his edicts written so that people might act accordingly

Emperor Ashoka replaced conquest by force with what he called “conquest by righteousness” (dhammavijaya). He was possibly the first emperor to renounce violence, yet he remained an influential and powerful ruler during his reign.

 

THE SPREADING OF BUDDHISM

Emperor Ashoka sent a branch of Bodhi Tree to Ceylon via his daughter, Sanghamitta.

Emperor Ashoka sent a branch of Bodhi Tree to Ceylon via his daughter, Sanghamitta

Emperor Ashoka is mainly remembered in the ancient texts as the patron of Buddhism. His son, Venerable Mahendra, and daughter, Sanghamitta, a nun whose name means ‘friend of the Sangha’, were also proponents of this cause. They established Buddhism in Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka) and took copies of the Pali Canon of Buddhist scripture (the Tipitaka) with them, which was rectified by the 3rd Buddhist Council presided over by their father. Emperor Ashoka built thousands of stupas and Viharas (monasteries / temples) for Buddhist followers. Some of his missionary monks may even have been Greek. One of Emperor Ashoka’s stupas, the Sanchi Stupa, is famous worldwide.

Sanchi Stupa

Sanchi Stupa

Emperor Ashoka pursued a policy of ahimsa (non-violence). He passed laws against hunting animals and branding, effectively ending unnecessary animal slaughter and mutilation. Even though he promoted the concept of vegetarianism, he permitted limited hunting for consumption purposes as a testament to his tolerance for the beliefs of others. He showed mercy to prisoners by allowing them one day of freedom per year. Universities were built to allow everyone, both men and women, to have access to education. He built water transit and irrigation systems to support agriculture and trade. His subjects were treated as equals, regardless of their caste, political views or religion. His neighbouring kingdoms, which he could have easily conquered, were made into allies.

Emperor Ashoka is credited for constructing veterinary hospitals and renovating major roads throughout India. After his transformation, Emperor Ashoka came to be known as Dhammashoka meaning ‘Ashoka, the follower of Dharma’ in Sanskrit. Emperor Ashoka adopted the main principles of the Dharma. These principles suggested a general ethic of behavior to which no religious or social group could object. Indeed, from his 12th edict, Ashoka appears to have pioneered not only inter-religious dialogue but also the concept that all religions share common values which are virtuous.

Mahendra before leaving for Ceylon.

Mahendra before leaving for Ceylon

Besides spreading Buddhist values throughout his own land, Emperor Ashoka also sent missionaries to other countries. According to one of his rock edicts, he sent envoys to various Mediterranean countries such as Syria, Egypt and Macedonia, which were ruled by the Greeks at that time. However, no record exists of the results that these envoys brought.

On the other hand, Ceylon was very receptive to the mission led by Mahendra. Sri Lanka was converted and regarded as the place of the subsequent spread of the Buddhadharma. The Buddhist chronicles kept in Sri Lanka, like the Mahavamsa and Dipavamsa, provide us with information about Ashoka’s life. However with these texts it is less certain where history ends and legend beings, compared to the various edicts. The chronicles tell us that Ashoka sent his son Mahendra and his daughter Sanghamitta to the court of King Tissa of Ceylon. Soon the king and his court were converted to Buddhism and from that time onward, for the last 23 centuries up until the modern day, Buddhism has been practised in Ceylon (today’s Sri Lanka).

Therefore, although Emperor Ashoka’s envoys may have had little effect in the Mediterranean, they found an audience in countries that surround India, including Nepal and Burma, and Buddhism gradually spread to these countries. This was aided by written teachings of the Buddha and his disciples, which were recorded down by the 4th Buddhist Council in Ceylon. From there, Theravada Buddhism spread to Thailand, Cambodia and other countries in Southeast Asia.

Venerable Sanghamitta

Venerable Sanghamitta, who was Ashoka’s daughter

The role that Emperor Ashoka played in spreading Buddhism can not be underestimated. Nuns in Sri Lanka today trace their lineage right back to Emperor Ashoka’s daughter Sanghamitta, and to the retinue of nuns who traveled to Sri Lanka with her. Although the order later became absent for 1000 years in Sri Lanka, it was preserved in Korea and Japan and re-introduced to Sri Lanka within the last century. Sri Lanka thus remains one of the most important Buddhist countries today and is a centre of Buddhist scholarship. If Emperor Ashoka had not put effort to spreading Buddhism beyond India, it might not have survived as it was largely disappearing from India (until its re-emergence in the modern era) with the exception of the area of East Bengal bordering on Burma. Instead, Buddhism spread to China, Japan and beyond. Origen Adamantius, a Greek Christian theologian who spent half of his career in Alexandria, referred to Buddhist missionaries who even visited England. Buddhism on the whole may not have reached China until the 1st CE, but there are stories of one of Emperor Ashoka’s missionaries visiting China. The revival of interest in Buddhism in India has also been attributed to Emperor Ashoka, since the discovery of his edicts helped to stimulate interest.

Buddhist chronicles state that in 250 BCE, Emperor Ashoka personally convened the 3rd Buddhist Council in Pataliputra with two objectives in mind. First, he was responding to reports of heretical views and dissension among the monks in Pataliputra. Emperor Ashoka is said to have interviewed each monk personally and dismissed monks who held beliefs contrary to the Buddha’s teachings, in particular to a belief in an eternal, unchanging self.

Secondly, Emperor Ashoka used this opportunity to appoint knowledgable monks to journey to other lands as emissaries to teach the Dharma. This part of the story is confirmed by the edicts. Buddhist monks like Madhyamik Sthavira were sent to modern-day Kashmir and Afghanistan. Maharaskshit Sthavira was sent to Syria, Persia / Iran, Egypt, Greece, Italy and Turkey. Massim Sthavira travelled to Nepal, Bhutan, China and Mongolia, and Sohn Uttar Sthavira journeyed to modern-day Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand (which was then known as Survarnabhumi) and Vietnam. Mahadharmarakshita Sthavira travelled to Maharashtra and Maharakshita Sthavira and Yavandharmarakshita Sthavira went to South India.

Not all of these missions were successful. For example, Buddhism did not take root in Thailand or Burma until a few more centuries after the 3rd Council was convened. However, the missions to Greece and Egypt may have had some interesting effects. Scholars have long noted some blending of Hellenic and Buddhist thought that began about that time. There is also some archaeological evidence of Buddhists living in Alexandria.

 

SYMBOLS AND ARCHITECTURE

The Ashoka Chakra, ‘the Wheel of Righteousness’. Click on image to enlarge.

The Ashoka Chakra, ‘the Wheel of Righteousness’. Click on image to enlarge.

The Ashoka Chakra (the wheel of Ashoka) is a depiction of the Dharmachakra (the Wheel of Dharma). The wheel has 24 spokes which represent the 12 Laws of Dependent Origination and the 12 Laws of Dependent Termination. The Ashoka Chakra has been widely inscribed on many relics of the Mauryan Emperor, most prominent among which is The Lion Capital of Sarnath and The Ashoka Pillar. The most visible use of the Ashoka Chakra today is at the centre of the National Flag of the Republic of India (adopted on 22th July 1947), where it is rendered as navy-blue in color on a white background. This replaces Chakra symbol (spinning wheel) of the pre-independence versions of the flag. The Ashoka Chakra can also been seen on the base of the Lion Capital of Emperor Ashoka which has been adopted as the National Emblem of India.

The Ashoka Chakra was created by Emperor Ashoka during his reign. Chakra is a Sanskrit word which also means ‘cycle’ or ‘self-repeating process’. The process it signifies is the cycle of time – how the world changes with time.

A few days before India became independent in August 1947, the specially formed Constituent Assembly decided that the flag of India must be acceptable to all parties and communities. A flag with three colours, saffron, white and green with the Ashoka Chakra was selected.

Pillars of Ashoka (Ashokstambha).

Pillars of Ashoka (Ashokstambha)

The pillars of Ashoka are a series of columns erected by Ashoka during his reign. Their locations are dispersed throughout the northern Indian subcontinent. Originally, there must have been many Ashokan pillars although only 10 with inscriptions survive to this day. Averaging between 40 and 50-ft in height, and weighing up to 50 tons each, all the pillars were excavated in Chunar, just south of Varanasi and transported, sometimes hundreds of miles, to the place where they were erected. The first Ashokan Pillar was found in the 16th Century by Thomas Coryat among the ruins of ancient Delhi. The wheel represents the cycle of time and Buddhist law, while the swastika stands for the cosmic dance around a fixed centre and acted as guardian against evil.

Lion Capital of Ashoka (Ashokmudra).

Lion Capital of Ashoka (Ashokmudra)

The Lion Capital of Ashoka is a sculpture of four lions standing back to back. It was originally placed on top of the Ashokan Pillar in Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh, India. The pillar, sometimes called the Ashoka Column is still in its original location, but the Lion Capital is now placed in the Sarnath Museum. This Lion Capital was adopted as the National Emblem of India. The Sarnath Pillar contained one of the Edicts of Emperor Ashoka, an inscription against division within the Buddhist community, which reads “No one shall cause division in the order of monks”.

The Capital contains the image of four lions (Indian / Asiatic Lions), standing back to back, mounted on an abacus, with a frieze carrying sculptures in high relief of an elephant, a galloping horse, a bull, and a lion, separated by intervening spoked chariot-wheels over a bell-shaped lotus. Carved out of a single block of polished sandstone, the capital was believed to be crowned by a Dharmachakra.

The four animals in the Sarnath capital are believed to symbolise different stages of Buddha Shakyamuni’s life:

  • The elephant represents the Buddha’s birth in reference to the dream of Queen Maya of a white elephant entering her womb
  • The bull represents desire during the life of the Buddha as a prince
  • The horse represents Buddha’s departure from palatial life
  • The lion represents the accomplishment of Buddha

In addition to religious interpretations, there are some non-religious interpretations regarding these symbols. According to these, the four lions symbolise Emperor Ashoka’s rule over the four directions, the wheels as symbols of his enlightened rule (Chakravartin) and the four animals as symbols of the four adjoining territories of India.

 

STRUCTURES CREDITED TO ASHOKA

Mahabodhi Temple, built on the site of a previously built temple by Emperor Ashoka (c. 250 BCE) to mark the spot of Buddha Shakyamuni’s enlightenment was restored by the British and Indian governments. The British restoration was executed under guidance from Weligama Sri Sumangala.

Mahabodhi Temple

Mahabodhi Temple

Other structures built by Ashoka include:

  • Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh, India
  • Dhamek Stupa, Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh, India
  • Barabar Caves, Bihar, India
  • Nalanda Mahavihara, (some portions like Sariputta Stupa), Bihar, India
  • Taxila University, (some portions like Dharmarajika Stupa and Kunala Stupa), Taxila, Pakistan
  • Bhir Mound, (reconstructed), Taxila, Pakistan
  • Bharhut stupa, Madhya Pradesh, India
  • Deorkothar Stupa, Madhya Pradesh, India
  • Butkara Stupa, Swat, Pakistan
  • Sannati Stupa, Karnataka, India: The only known sculptural depiction of Emperor Ashoka
  • Mir Rukun Stupa Nawabshah, Pakistan

 

DEATH AND LEGACY

Emperor Ashoka reigned for an estimated 40 years and after his death, the Mauryan Dynasty lasted for just 50 more years. Emperor Ashoka had many wives and children but except for a few, many of them remain obscure in history. He had entrusted to Mahendra and Sanghamitta the task of spreading Buddhism in Ceylon, making them famous across the world.

The reign of Emperor Ashoka could easily have disappeared into obscurity as the ages passed by, if he had not left behind a record of his edicts. The testimony of this wise emperor are embodied magnificently in sculpted pillars and boulders with a variety of teachings intricately etched into the stone. What Emperor Ashoka left behind was the first written language in India since the ancient city of Harappa. Rather than Sanskrit, the language used for the inscriptions was the current spoken form of Prakrit.

In addition to his legacy as the first Buddhist emperor and one of the pioneers of an alternative approach to governance, Emperor Ashoka was an efficient administrator. His empire was divided into five provinces, with major cities at Taxila, Ujjain, Tosali, Suvarnagiri and Patilaputra. A Kumara (prince) governed each province. These were sub-divided into groups of several villages. Each village was headed by a Gramika. At the centre, Ministers of State (Mantris) dealt with judiciary matters and taxation. Emperor Ashoka issued Sasanasad (ordinances), and listened to people’s concerns and consulted not only his ministers but common people as well. He was very concerned that fair justice was carried out and during his rule, he made the system much more open than it had been before. Death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment and were open to appeal. He wrote:

“I even go this far, to grant a three-day stay for those in prison who have been tried and sentenced to death. During this time their relatives can make appeals to have the prisoners’ lives spared. If there is none to appeal on their behalf, the prisoners can give gifts in order to make merit for the next world, or observe fasts.” (Pillar Edict 4)

Public funds were spent on major projects, including agriculture to feed the poor, to dig wells, and also to plant trees so that people could benefit from the shade they gave in the hottest conditions. Art and culture flourished (both show signs of Greek and Persian influence) and both were conscripted to help the spread of Buddhism. He also provided free medical care for people and animals.

The Chinese scholar Faxian traveled to India in search of great Buddhist books of discipline between 399 – 414 CE. Whilst in India, he reported seeing works of art, rock caves, palaces and exemplary buildings from Emperor Ashoka’s period. From this he concluded that there must have been a very sophisticated civil service. A characteristic of Mauryan art was the mirror-like finish to the pillars, which has survived centuries of exposure to wind and sun.

Emperor Ashoka combined personal and state ethics and tried to bridge the divides in his multi-cultural empire. He wrote, “You are true to your own belief is you accord kindly treatments to adherents of other faiths. You ham you own religion by harassing followers of other creeds” (Emperor Ashoka, Rock Edict 3).

He believed that his code of reverence and compassion was based on universal values. His 14-point code was aimed for both inner morality and outer action in harmony. He turned away from kingship based on power, compulsion and self-interest, and dared to believe that he could construct a different kind of kingdom based on causing no one harm. It has been suggested that no greater or better kingdom has yet been known amongst men. In Kalinga Rock Edict One, he instructed his judicial officers, warning them that they would not be promoted unless they furthered his desire:

“All men are my children. What I desire for my own children, and I desire their welfare and happiness both in this world and the next, that I desire for all men. You do not understand to what extent I desire this, and if some of you do understand, you do not understand the full extent of my desire.”

Emperor Ashoka’s policy of non-violence was also revived during the independence struggle against the British, by the nationalist leader and Hindu philosopher Mahatma Gandhi. In addition, when India finally gained independence from the British Empire in 1947, it symbolically adopted Emperor Ashoka’s emblem for its own, placing the Dharmachakra that crowned his many columns on the flag of the newly independent state of India.

But his contribution towards Buddhism itself is perhaps the most substantial one of all. In India, Emperor Ashoka essentially turned Buddhism from a tradition into an official state ideology. It was due to his support that Buddhism transformed from being a local Indian cult into a world religion, which today has an estimated 470 million followers according to the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs. It was through his deeds and action that Buddhism spread outside of India and began its long transformation to becoming one of the world’s greatest religions. Indeed the world owes Emperor Ashoka for his contribution in making Buddhism into what it is today.

 

THE FATE OF THE MAURYAN EMPIRE AND INDIA POST ASHOKA

The Brahman priests who had been sidelined by Emperor Ashoka’s Buddhist policies, encouraged civil war by working to undermine his policies. Emperor Ashoka’s time had been one of unification, bringing small kingdoms together, but sadly, it was followed by a time of fragmentation.

In the year 185 CE, about 50 years after Ashoka’s death, the last Mauryan ruler, Brihadratha, was brutally murdered by the commander of the Mauryan army, Pusyamitra Sunga, while he was taking the Guard of Honor of his forces. Pusyamitra Sunga then founded the Sunga Dynasty (185 – 78 CE) and ruled just a small part of the Mauryan Empire. The empire’s decline is mainly attributable to the weak leadership that succeeded Ashoka’s rule. Several other factors also contributed to the decline of the Mauryan Empire, including the downsizing of the military, who lost their jobs under Emperor Ashoka’s policy of non-violence and were subsequently unable to offer adequate defence. The large administration required strong leadership and when this was not forthcoming, provinces tended to assert independence from the central government.

It would not be until some 2000 years later, under Akbar the Great and his great-grandson Aurangzeb, that a large portion of the Indian subcontinent would again be united under a single ruler.

 

BUDDHISM TODAY

Buddhism has approximately 470 million followers across the globe. It represents a major component of the spiritual heritage of East and Southeast Asia. The two main branches of Buddhism are Mahayana and Theravada. Mahayana Buddhism is practiced by around 185 million people and is the dominant form of Buddhism in China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Vietnam. Theravada Buddhism has about 125 million followers and is dominant in Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Sri Lanka and Burma. Another significant strand of Buddhism related to the Mahayana is Tibetan Buddhism, which is practiced by 20 million people largely in Tibet, Bhutan, Mongolia, and surrounding areas in India, China and Russia. Buddhism is a growing spiritual influence in the West, and many new religious movements are affiliated with Buddhism, especially in Japan and Korea.
Sources:

  • http://nationalviews.com/samrat-bindusara-wives-sons-facts-history
  • https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashoka
  • https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bindusara
  • https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subhadrangi
  • https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susima
  • https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashokavadana
  • https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalinga_War
  • https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origen
  • https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faxian
  • http://www.ancient.eu/Ashoka/
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  • http://buddhism.about.com/od/theemperorashoka/
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  • http://www.importantindia.com/9480/short-biography-of-ashoka-the-great/
  • https://www.quora.com/Did-King-Ashoka-killed-his-brothers-How-many-brothers-he-had
  • http://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/ashoka-6226.php
  • http://www.iloveindia.com/history/ancient-india/maurya-dynasty/ashoka.html
  • https://www.cs.colostate.edu/~malaiya/ashoka.html
  • https://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/essays/demographics-of-buddhism

 

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27 Responses to Emperor Ashoka the Great

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  1. freon on Nov 30, 2016 at 12:14 am

    Normally to rulers who dare to let go of violence and rule with compassion is very rare. Emperor Ashoka has ruled his kingdom by using Dharma concept. By reading the article, I can even feel the harmony and peace that this Emperor has gave for his subjects. He is great, to me because he dare to practice compassion and equanimity in his reign.
    Emperor Ashoka has treated the animals well. He promoted vegetarian, less hunting and he had medical care for animal at his time ! To me, this is the first Emperor that has medicine to treat the animal.
    For prisoner, Emperor Ashoka will give chances to the prisoner to collect merit, for the prisoner future life!

    His children have also play an important role in spreading the dharma. By reading this article, only I knew that the Nun System was established by his daughter name Sanghamitta

    It is so lucky to have a leader like Emperor Ashoka who apply dharma in his leadership. If the world have many leaders that apply more spiritual knowledge into their countries, there would not be war, but, more peace, harmony in this world.

  2. Wan Wai Meng on Nov 28, 2016 at 1:29 am

    We do owe King Ashoka for all the work he had done to bring Buddhism to the world, without his work buddhism could have just remained in India and might have become extinguished in the land of its birth if it was not spread to other parts of the world.

    His story also draws parellels to the story of Kang Xi, who grew up in political intrigue, but managed to overcome people who wanted to harm his claim to the throne, despite being young age. Both of them were very capable administrators and rulers, it is right they are remembered for their works in bringing the dharma to many during their lifetime.

  3. Sock Wan on Oct 1, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    Similarly to Tang or Qing Dynasty, when the ruler adopt Buddhist practice, the development of the country, sentiments of the citizen seemed to be at its best. Buddhist philosophy believes everything on earth, in the universe are interdependent, interrelated, we must respect each other in order to create harmony and balance in our community. When we start to hurt each other, taking revenge, full of anger, we lose the balance, we lose the harmony, there will be no peace.

    King Ashoka also demonstrated to us as long as we are regretful and remorse for the wrongs we have done, we would be able to make it up. We cannot turn back the time to make our wrongs right, but we can do the right things to make up the wrongs we have done.

  4. shelly tai on Oct 1, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    This is really a inspiring post to read , from a vicious ruler to a very compassionate ruler that benefits many sentient beings, what more important is the Dharma that preserved by him up till today.

  5. Albert on Sep 29, 2016 at 9:05 am

    This is a really classic story to read, King Ashoka, someone who kill his brothers, kill thousands of people and never need to consider twice, in order to get what he want, he will never hesitate to kill, but for someone who is so cruel and cold can change 180 degree because of Dharma, he listen to it, applied and totally change the whole situation, peace was created and many people’s life was spare from it.

    Because of King Ashoka’s implementation of Buddhism in India, it get to spread to around the world and benefited people till today’s world. This story of King Ashoka also told us that no matter what we have done previously, it is not permanent, it doesn’t mean we are forever a bad person, as long as we willing to change and amend what is wrong, we can still be a better person and work to the benefit of others, this seems to be hard, but it is possible.

    Thank you Prashant for sharing such inspiring story with us.

  6. Pastor Chia on Sep 29, 2016 at 8:41 am

    Is interesting reading King Ashoka life story and know how he from the warrior king using buddhism to rule his country. Despite through the war by killing thousand and thousand people. King Asoka after met buddhism regret he action had done by killing so many people through the war.Building thousand and thousand stupa is powerful way of purification from his negative karma. The most important how King Asoka implemented buddhist teaching to rule his empire become peace and harmony instate or using violent way cause many harm and suffering. king Ashoka contribution to promote buddhism benefited many people study dharma over century even he had pass away thousand over year until now.

  7. Julia Tan on Sep 29, 2016 at 1:06 am

    The King is always the most powerful and influential one. Hence the fortune of the people strongly depend on how the King rule his country. Being the emperor of India, with so much of power, he had killed many due to greed and anger. Fortunately, he realised his downfall and regret greatly, hence he transformed himself to become a Dharma king and rule the country base on Buddha’s teaching ever after. He reminded me of the Emperor of China Kangxi whom brought tremendous benefit to the people of China.

    One with power can destroy everything. One with power also can unite and benefits all.

  8. Mingwen on Sep 29, 2016 at 12:49 am

    “One hundred and fifty thousand persons were captured, one hundred thousand were killed and many times that number perished.” The destructive nature of the Kalinga war created an emotional shock in Emperor Ashoka. He regretted the fact that he was responsible for so much suffering of fellow human beings. Upon seeing firsthand the damage this war has caused, Emperor Ashoka was deeply regretful and he cried out the famous sentence, “What have I done?”

    A Chinese’s well known quote, “放下屠刀, 立地成佛” which means Slaughter would stop killing and motivated to become a Buddha.

    It’s okay and we have always tend to make wrong moves throughout our lives and regret later. What’s really matter is we do learn a lesson and transform into a version of ourselves after every mistake we did.

  9. Pastor Antoinette on Sep 29, 2016 at 12:06 am

    King Ashoka the Great’s story shows again how someone extremely brutal, selfish and cruel like this warrier can turn around and become someone who spreads Dharma to innumerable amount of people.

    During his reign Buddhism spread so much and it become an official state ideology, the beginning of a world religion. King Ashoka’s legacy is indeed amazing. He helped his people in an extraordinary way we providing free medical care for his people and even for animals. His government helped to feed the poor through farming, digged wells and even planted trees to provide shade.

    Thank you for this amazing historic account.

  10. June Kang on Sep 28, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    读阿育王的故事,我很敬佩他把佛法用在治理国家,阿育王在位37年间,不仅统一全印度,他广泛宣传佛教教义和宗教道德, 他大力宣扬佛教慈悲思想,禁止杀。

    阿育王为了驱除了外道,举行第三次结集,由王与七十二高龄的目犍连子帝须亲临主持,整理了经典,并编撰了“论事”。

    阿育王宣传佛教的最得力的方式是广建佛塔,然而阿育王对佛教的贡献远远不止于此,他的奉行正法,也可说是佛陀遗教的一种实践。重要的是阿育王所做的种种佛教事业是促进了佛教在社会各阶层中的广泛传播,也为佛教走向世界打开了通道。更重要的是,印度在阿育王的统治下是空前的繁荣,这证明了佛法也可以用来“治国平天下”。

  11. nicholas on Sep 28, 2016 at 11:37 pm

    Ashoka indeed contributed in a wide spread of Buddhism in many parts of the world. The effect after the war had made him realised and the turn around of him improve the situation alot. He even attempt to develop governmental policies that based on Buddhist teaching which this is a direct governance to his people. With his enthusiasm which also followed by his childrens that had made a great established Buddhism in other country which we can see it today.

    What I admire about Ashoka is he can govern his empire under non-violance policy and follow through the Buddhism precept. His contribution in Buddhism even spread beyond by sending knowledgable monk to teach in other country. Ashoka indeed had left a great marked in spreading Buddhism from India.

  12. Eric kksiow on Sep 28, 2016 at 10:46 pm

    The emperor Ashoka is considered to be one of India’s greatest monarchs, he is widely remembered as a Buddhist ruler, and it was his contributions to Buddhism and morality that made him such a renowned figure in Indian history.

    Thank You
    Eric kksiow

  13. Khoo Hou Haw on Sep 28, 2016 at 10:39 pm

    It is very inspiring that such a influencial person like Ashoka was convinced by the teaching of Buddha and converted into a Buddhist. With his governmental policies that were based on Buddhist teachings, the people and even animals under the reign of his empire had benefitted greatly because of him following the non-violent way of Buddhisim. Another great person, Mahatma Ghandi who followed his way of non-violent again brought peace to the people of India. Imagine how much benefits can sentient being receive if everyone practise dharma.

  14. Li Kheng on Sep 28, 2016 at 10:24 pm

    Wow, Ashoka is truly a great conqueror. He first conquered land to gain power, wealth and status but later he conquered his own mind. That is the greatest of his conquest. From a King who could instigate and fuel the disastrous Kalinga war that killed and harmed hundreds of thousands, King Ashoka was able to regret and take actions to heal the suffering he caused and ultimately benefit lives beyond his own lifetime.

    This is a reflection of the power of pure Dharma. It is so accurate and irrefutably true that even the mind of a feared and “indestructible” king like ashoka could be transformed.

    king Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism continue to benefit mankind in modern history as it is through his contribution that buddhism continue to spread into societies in the day and age across oceans in various continents.

    Thank you for sharing such an ancient legacy. The efforts of compiling facts and data of such a historical figure is certainly no easy feat!

  15. Pastor Henry Ooi on Sep 28, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    One man, that’s all it takes to create history. But a special man, with passion, vision, determination, wisdom, effort, love, compassion. Similar to the Buddha and other great men in history, Emperor Ashoka left a legacy. And what a legacy. If not for him, Buddhism might have taken a much longer time to reach other lands outside of India. Today, 470 million Buddhists are grateful to this great Indian Emperor for his great compassion.

  16. pammie yap on Sep 28, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    Very good and detailed write up on King Ashoka. There were so many ‘dramatic’ events in his life! All the killings and torturing was really scary to read about. But the best part is how he went through all the dramas that eventually led him to Buddhism. And from there, he practiced and did the best he can spreading Buddhism beyond India and also got his children to do the same which resulted in Buddhism surviving in a few countries and practiced widely.
    This shows that no matter how cruel someone can be, with the correct teachings and guidance, Buddhism can help and change our mind for better as what we can see here with King Ashoka.

  17. Moh Mei on Sep 28, 2016 at 10:03 pm

    Pastor Henry pointed out during our discussion, history is usually created by one person. It is true though, we often remember that one great leader, that one famous actor, that one genius scientist, that one Lama, etc. History seldom remember the whole nation, the community, the company, the team or the crew.

    No doubt Ashoka was a great king. As a king one holds the power to do great many things but somethings the same position can also become a restriction. It is rare for a person of such stature as king to change religion or beliefs. Leaders have been known to perish from power when they attempt to do so.

    Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism and his commitment in dharma after left a permanent impact in history.

  18. Jace Chong on Sep 28, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    Thanks Rinpoche, P.Prashant and the blog team for the extensive information about Ashoka.

    I first heard about Ashoka was in Bodhgaya near Maha Bodhi Stupa, there is an Ashoka Pillar there and I got to know about the story of Ashoka through the tour guide when he is explaining about the pillar.

    I still remember clearly that he said Ashoka was in the great war of Kalinga, Ashoka and his troops killed hundred thousands of people. After the was, Ashoka was very thirsty, he asked his soldier to bring him some water to drink. The soldier brought him a cup of blood and Ashoka asked why. The soldier said there was no water he can find, even the river has became blood river because there were so many people died. The Kalinga war was a great turning point for Ashoka to realize “What have I done.”

    I admire his ruling policy adapting Buddhism and make Buddhist teachings very practical to everyone. However it didn’t last long. Nonetheless, the life story of Ashoka reflects that no matter how much bad deeds one did, there’s chance for him/her to turn around, to connect to our true self, to practice kindness, compassion and wisdom from the Buddha.

    Thank you.

  19. Bradley Kassian on Aug 28, 2016 at 1:09 am

    I really think people haven’t considered how crucial this individual is in preserving and increasing the Dharma far and wide. It is from people like him that Buddha Dharma really took hold across India & the rest of Asia in various countries, and although he did send scholars and monks westward the impact there was much less but there are records that some monks made it to Alexandria in Egypt. I personally believe some Buddhist teachings heavily influenced early Christianity since the teachings did make it to Israel and the surrounding areas. Ashoka the Great was a prolific builder, and supporter of Buddhism. Ajatashatru the King of Magadha had a great impact in the preservation of the teachings for future generations but it was Emperor Ashoka who helped spread them. His immense influence can still be felt across Asia and now the world.

  20. Sheila on Aug 26, 2016 at 2:17 am

    A very informative and entertaining read. We know too well Ashoka was the greatest Indian ruler, but I had no idea about the extent of his contributions to spread Buddhism all over the world.
    I especially enjoyed reading about how he interpreted Buddhism as a method of governance.
    Looking forward to another thought provoking read.

  21. Paul Yap on Aug 25, 2016 at 11:22 pm

    King Ashoka has transformed from a cruel, fierce ruler to a kind, compassionate and generous Buddhist practitioner. Over time, he has build many Buddhist temples and holy sites, he also rules his country with Buddhist principles. Its amazing when one’s who guided properly, the mind could change for better, thus benefited millions of peoples for the better.

  22. Pastor KH Ng on Aug 25, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    Emperor Ashoka the Great is widely credited to be the person most responsible for spreading Buddhism outside of India, especially the Therevadan tradition via Ceylon. Without the him, Buddhism would not be what it is today.

    In my mind Emperor Ashoka was a Chakravartin King or Universal Emperor consistent with what are described in the Buddhist texts. He showed us what is wrong; killing, violence, self pleasure; and what is right; compassion, love and tolerance; even while being a King; and normally a king will “need” to act in contrary to those benevolent values in order to rule. This is the outstanding different of Emperor Ashoka and other great rulers in history and he is unique in this way with the exception of Emperor Kangxi of Qing China.

  23. Stella Cheang on Aug 24, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    It is an exhilarating read about King Ashoka. The Kalinga War is quite widely known, and from here in this article, we are brought to face with the brutality of King Ashoka before he became a true devotee of Buddhism. The virtuous deeds through King Ashoka’s proliferation of Buddha Dharma actually stayed longer and deeper in the heart of many compared to his callous history. Two thousand over years after his passing, many Buddhism artifacts like the Pillars of Ashoka and Lion Capital of Ashoka are still being revered as the symbol of an integral and inseparable part of history of India. Thank you P. Prashant for this interesting article.

  24. Fong on Aug 24, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    Ashoka was indeed a very great ruler. From being a vengeful, violent warrior ruler to a compassionate and tolerant ruler. The list of his accomplishment is longer than my arm.

    Though he had a change of heart that involved the repudiation of slaughter, and the development of a commitment to peace and the precepts of Buddhism, he did not force anyone to complete change to fit into his new believes.

    What struck me most is that he sent his children out to other parts of the world to spread Buddhism. If not for that, Buddhism might have declined in India with the Mauryan empire.

    Thank you, for a very informative and interesting read.

  25. Pastor David Lai on Aug 23, 2016 at 12:48 am

    Wow! What a good article. It left a lingering feeling of awe and nostalgia after reading it. I like how the article was written based on very believable hypothesis that was derived from excavated stone carved edicts.

    I love the story, the legend and the origin of Ashoka and the dramatic transformation from a war-mongering to a peace-loving emperor. There were plenty of details within the story that pulled Ashoka off from the history books into a seamless story. It is pretty obvious that from Ashokan’s reign that Buddhism gradually became mainstream all over.

  26. Joy on Aug 19, 2016 at 1:19 am

    This is a truly interesting account on King Ashoka. Thank you P. Prashant for this wonderful detailed historical write up. Every Buddhist ought to know this story of the fist Buddhist King who ruled his Kingdom with Dharma! Being the first emperor to renounce violence, replacing conquest by force with what he called “conquest by righteousness”. But what truly struck me the most was that He was not all that goody goody and holy.

    Before He became a Buddhist, he was known to be a fierce, shrewd, power hungry King. He slaughtered hundreds of thousands of people, and his last battle known as Battle of Kalinga, and it is from this blood shed war, did it dawn on to him the intense suffering he caused, which made him transform himself due to much regret. This is a story of a great King which can resonate with many of us who are still stuck in our bad habits. It is inspiring because it shows that if we are truly sincere and feel regret and remorse for what we have done, and seek refuge and apply the Dharma, we are able to achieve great things. It is because of King Ashoka’s deeds and action that Buddhism managed to spread outside of India, and the rest is history! We owe much to King Ashoka for the spread of Buddhism and I am amazed how much he did after that. Now I know the signiicance of the Mahaboddhi Temple and the person who built it! Thank you!

  27. Sofi on Aug 18, 2016 at 10:41 pm

    Thank you P. Prashant for such an interesting article. I had heard of this great Emperor but mostly with reference to the bloodbath of Kalinga war. I had also gone on pilgrimage to where some of Ashoka’s pillars and stupas still stand. However this article really brought to life the history of Mauryan Empire and Emperor Ashoka. He certainly stands out as a well loved Emperor with his caring governance towards his people, even prisoners on death sentence. He proofed that governance with accordance to Buddhist tenets need not be weak. In fact it is the opposite as citizens were happy with his fair rule and neighbours based on diplomatic friendliness are content with status quo. Emperor Ashoka had ruled his people with firmness but wisely and with plenty of care.

    With this in mind, I wish that the Dalai Lama and CTA will emulate the policies of Emperor Ashoka in their governance and religious edict. Acceptance of another’s religious practise was norm and Emperor Ashoka was respectfully considerate, right down to their food intake. The Dalai Lama and CTA should respect the Protector Dorje Shugden practitioners and accord them the respect as those of other religions. When will they wake up to proclaim “What have I done” and lift the illogical ban on Dorje Shugden?

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Blog Chat

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Everyone has a different perspective, so this section is for you.

Tsem Rinpoche


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  • Stella Cheang
    Thursday, Mar 30. 2017 12:34 AM
    Wonderful good news to learn about this first of its kind progressive campaign to help the stray animals in Malaysia by the Sultan and Permaisuri of Selangor. While stray animals can be a nuisance to the public at large but bear in mind, the strays do not have a choice, and we have a role to play. Neutering strays is a humane and compassionate ways of resolving the program of stray animals in the long run because it largely reduces the numbers of strays on the streets. Neutering and proving proper shelters to strays can prevent thousands of animals from being born, only to suffer and struggle to survive on the streets, be abused by cruel or neglectful people, or be euthanized inhumanely. I have read somewhere that says spaying and neutering makes a big difference: Just one unaltered female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 puppies in only six years. In seven years, one female cat and her offspring can produce an incredible 370,000 kittens!

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/current-affairs/stray-free-selangor.html
  • Stella Cheang
    Thursday, Mar 30. 2017 12:15 AM
    Humans and animals, as well as other sentient beings within the six realms of samsara, are subjected to the law of cyclic of existence. Karma or generally known as the law of cause and effect will determine where we take our next rebirth. It is extremely rare for sentient beings to take the form of a human body and in perfect condition. Hence we must not let this precious lifetime go to waste by indulging in silly actions and harmful ways. If we are born in the animals realms or lower, there is close to zero way for us to collect merits and get out of that realm.

    From the stories above, I find the story about Dalawong most unusual because he seemed to be able to determine the destination of his next rebirth after he was being killed as a snake. After he had taken rebirth in human form, he continued to remember the incident in his past life. Amazing!

    Thank you, Rinpoche, for sharing these researches with us.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/science-mysteries/do-animals-reincarnate-back-as-humans.html
  • Tsem Rinpoche
    Wednesday, Mar 29. 2017 09:42 PM
    If we are kind, we lose less of ourselves-Tsem Rinpoche
  • Lin Mun
    Wednesday, Mar 29. 2017 03:50 PM
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing this article about tsa tsa. Didn’t know there are many steps and holy materials used in making a tsa tsa. In addition, the maker of tsa tsa would need to do prayer in the morning depending of what tsa tsa they are making on the day, for example, the maker will do Dorje Shugden practise before making Dorje Shugden tsa tsa.

    Only by knowing the process, we will appreciate the items more. Tsa tsa is a precious item.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/kechara-13-depts/tsa-tsas-are-nice.html
  • Pastor Shin Tan
    Wednesday, Mar 29. 2017 09:28 AM
    Dalawong: A Child Recalls a Past Life as a Cobra in Thailand

    This case was actually researched by the late Francis Story, a British citizen who was fascinated with Buddhism and spent many years in Asia. He was also very interested in the topic of reincarnation and assisted Dr. Stevenson in investigating a number of very important reincarnation cases in Burma and Sri Lanka. Francis interviewed the subject of this case, a Thai boy named Dalowong, along with his father, mother and sister. He also had access to a pamphlet that was previously published regarding the case, which was also summarized in an article in the Bangkok Times.

    Dalawong actually claimed two past animal incarnations. He recalled a past lifetime as a deer, which he said was killed by a hunter. Subsequently, he stated he was reincarnated as a snake, more specifically, as a cobra.

    As the snake, Dalawong remembered that he was in a cave when two dogs entered and attacked him. A ferocious struggle ensued between the cobra and the dogs. The owner of the dogs then entered the cave and killed the snake. Apparently, the snake was able to bite the human invader on the shoulder, prior to succumbing to death.

    The human took the cobra’s body back home, where the snake was cooked for a meal. This man shared the snake meat with an acquaintance, who would become Dalawong’s father in the near future. The man who killed the cobra had the name Mr. Hiew.

    Read more here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/science-mysteries/do-animals-reincarnate-back-as-humans.html
  • Alice Tay
    Tuesday, Mar 28. 2017 08:40 PM
    谢谢Paul Yap 为我们介绍马来西亚彭亨州文东必定参观的地方之一~克切拉禅修林。就如照片显示,克切拉禅修林的确是一个环境清幽、山明水秀以及令人有宁静舒适的感觉。

    如果有机会到马来西亚游玩,千万不要错过由Paul Yap介绍克切拉禅修林里的几个优美与神圣的地方,包括:
    1. 金泽”财王”
    2. 金刚瑜伽母佛塔
    3. 绿度母石雕像
    4. 药师佛山
    5. 梦幻文殊菩萨
    6. 詹仁波切的货柜屋
    7. 文殊山
    8. 智慧堂(释迦摩尼佛像和多杰雄登像)

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/kechara-13-depts/go-bentong.html
  • Alice Tay
    Tuesday, Mar 28. 2017 08:09 PM
    The sculpture of Kuan Yin in Macau is simple but elegant. Most importantly, this big Kuan Yin in Macau is built to bring peace, harmony and prosperity to the people.

    I remember Rinpoche mentioned before a big Buddha statue will have positive impact on the environment and plant the Buddha’s seeds in all sentient beings that not only humans but also including animals and many others. Therefore, the bigger Buddha statue the more beneficial to all sentient beings where they can see and be blessed by this big Buddha statue from far.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/art-architecture/kuan-yin-of-macau-city.html
  • Lin Mun
    Tuesday, Mar 28. 2017 03:29 PM
    Krishnan’s effort and hard work in contributing to the society is very inspiring. He is willing to let go of his high paying job to Switzerland and staying back in India to operate a soup kitchen for homeless. On top of that he is willing to accept the hardship of financial restraint every month in maintaining his service for the people living in the street. I hope his good work will bring more awareness and sponsors for him especially when CNN showed the video of his work and awarded him with top 10 CNN heroes.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/inspiration-worthy-words/chef-turned-hero.html
  • Pastor Shin Tan
    Monday, Mar 27. 2017 06:42 PM
    According to the Buddhist teachings, we all have a unique blend of karma that determines where we are born, the circumstances of our birth and the quality of our life. Naturally, this is due to the actions that we performed in previous lives. Karma also dictates our characteristics and traits that determine how we act throughout our lives, which in turn leads to certain outcomes in this life and a determination of where we will take rebirth in the future.

    Karma, however, is not set in stone. We can change our circumstances through our own efforts – purification of karma and accumulation of merit. Tibetan astrology, based on these Buddhist principles, provides us the methods to ensure success in this life and a good rebirth in the future. Tibetan astrology can also predict what will happen to us in this life and our next rebirth based on the time of our birth.

    Discover your traits according to the Mewa, or Magical Square system of Tibetan astrology below, and find out how to purify your negative karma to improve your life!

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/tibetan-astrology/tibetan-astrology.html
  • Tsem Rinpoche
    Monday, Mar 27. 2017 05:24 PM
    Very interesting:


    Radin explained in his book: “For a Western-trained academic, the mere existence of, say, telepathy would be considered supernormal and thus wildly extraordinary. But for an experienced yogi, it’s just a boringly normal minor siddhi [a Sanskrit term for a meditation attainment, or power]. A skeptical scientist, not having the benefit of thousands of hours of practice in yoga and meditation, would require repeatable, rigorously obtained experimental data showing odds against chance of a gazillion to one. The yogi merely requires his own experience.”


    Very interesting read: http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/2157904-supernormal-abilities-developed-through-meditation-dr-dean-radin-discusses/?sidebar=morein
  • Samfoonheei
    Monday, Mar 27. 2017 01:45 PM
    Its indeed a beautiful place …..away from the city hectic life to visit and could stay over night too.Just to get away from work to relax ,get some fresh air ,do meditation and so forth .At Kechara Forest RetreatI,Bentong is where the largest Dorje Shugden statue in the world situated and we can receive blessing,make offering to the Buddhas as well as enjoy the tranquility of the beautiful gardens.I have recomended my friends and relatives to visit such a beautiful place at Bentong.
    Thank you Paul Yap for sharing.
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/kechara-13-depts/go-bentong.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Monday, Mar 27. 2017 01:15 PM
    Well…all pendants are beautifully designed,hand crafted to match each and every sacred images on it to suit all occasion for the wearer.I can see a lot of hard work for those involed in desgning and making of it.
    All pendants are very unique, modern, timeless and also sacred ,thats all i could describe it.Hope more people will be wearing these beautiful pendants to get connected with the Buddhas.Thank you Rinpoche for sharing and Kechara’s Louise Lee for creating Dharma art in in the form of jewelry
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/kechara-13-depts/timeless-and-sacred.html
  • Tsem Rinpoche
    Monday, Mar 27. 2017 12:41 PM
    This Mahasiddha is Kukkuripa (the dog lover). He loved dogs so much. When he meditated in the cave he had his doggie with him. She had kept him company for years in his cave. They shared bedding, food, water and company. When he gained high attainments, the Dakinis came to take him to Kechara Paradise. He was hesitant to go but the Dakinis insisted and he went with them.

    He arrived at Kechara (Paradise/Buddha abode of Heruka and Vajra Yogini) and enjoyed teachings and feasts up there and they asked him to stay longer if not forever…. But he kept thinking about his doggie left alone in the cave. He felt guilty and missed her. Kukkuripa would use his psychic powers to see his poor doggie alone and hungry waiting for him at the cave while enjoying the attention of the Dakinis and feasts. The cave was dark and had no food. The doggie had to go out and find small tiny scraps of food and was getting skinny. Kukkuripa saw this and it pained him. Worried she was not getting enough food. He use to share the offerings of food he would get from people with her. Doggie and him would delightfully eat the food together. Kukkuripa had no attachments to ‘clean’ or ‘dirty’ in regards to sharing food with his dog. He had overcome this in his meditations. In ancient India, people would not co-habitate with a dog. It was considered unclean and filthy, but Kukkuripa had cast away those notions and loved his dog as she loved him. But he felt guilty to leave her alone while he was ‘enjoying’ himself in Kechara and could not stop thinking about his beloved dirty smelly dog in his cave alone…so he left Kechara Paradise and all it’s ‘delights’ for his doggie. He couldn’t abandon her. The Dakinis implored him to stay, but he was firm to return. The Dakinis said you will give up this paradise here for a mere dog???!! You can advance further in your meditations if you stay in Kechara and then help the dog later they attempted to persuade him. But Kukkuripa would not stay, he was loyal to his little dog as she had kept him company for many years in the lonely dark cave. She was loyal to him and how can he abandon her now. He couldn’t and he wouldn’t listen to the Dakinis. He left to join doggie. He never forget her companionship and loyalty. All the wonderful things in Kechara could not tempt him against his loyal friend the little doggie. He left everything for her.

    So he finally left Kechara to the Dakinis dismay and went back to his cave to be with his dog so she won’t be alone. Doggie was delighted to see her master and wagged her tail so much!! She licked him and he hugged her! She was skinnier for not eating well these few days he noticed. He fed her and hugged her and loved his doggie…He went back to his routine of meditation, receiving food offerings and sharing his food with doggie. They were happy together. One day, when he was scratching her in her favorite place and she licked him so his eyes were closed, when he opened his eyes she had suddenly turned into a Dakini shimmering with lights! The brilliance of the lights lit up the whole cave in front of Kukkuripa!! Kukkuripa was astonished to behold the splendourous lady in front of him! Of course this Dakini must be the Queen Herself he realized, as Vajra Yogini which was Kukkuripa’s main Yidam he had meditated on her for years in the cave. And She said to Kukkuripa, “Well done, you gave up paradise to be with just a dog..it shows you have given up attachements and projections of pleasant and unpleasant, now your Dakini will give you the final paradise (enlightenment)!”

    Kukkuripa attained full enlightenment blessed by Vajra Yogini by releasing the final subtle attachment to the non-existent self! After enlightenment his fame and name grew and many came to see him and he gave teachings to countless and benefitted many before he finally ascended to Kechara the second and final time. He was forever known as Kukkuripa the dog lover.

    I love him so much!!! This is one of my favorite Mahasiddhas along with Badrapa, Shantideva, Ghantapa and a few others. I wanted to share this story with you. I wanted you to know that there are many great true stories like this one about Kukkuripa that are true and can be applied to our lives. To inspire us.

    Tsem Rinpoche
  • Tsem Rinpoche
    Monday, Mar 27. 2017 12:29 PM
    The great and illustrious master Sonam Tsemo at the end of his life was described by an old woman who witnessed Sonam Tsemo depart. Standing on a rock at the holy spring near Sakya area known as Chumik Dzingka, his body ascended gracefully into the sky, still holding his dog. He loved his dog very much. Even today the footprints of Loppon Sonam Tsemo and the dog can be clearly seen in the rock, left for the benefit of living beings as a field from which to accumulate merit. It is a sign of a holy being when they can leave their footprints in stone for future generations to witness and make offerings on that spot to collect merits. This holy site was decorated by the great master Mantradhara Ngawang Kunga Rinchen later on. Other accounts say that he ascended from Gorum Library near Chumik Dzingka spring. A stupa containing his holy relics was erected there. Sonam Tsemo was a powerful practitioner of the Lady Buddha Vajra Yogini and at the end of his short life he ascended with his very body to Kechara paradise. He was 40 years old. Kechara is the sanksrit name of the special abode of Vajra Yogini. Those who practice Vajra Yogini to the highest level can ascend her paradise with their very bodies. Sonam Tsemo the great master of sutra and tantra was seen by an old woman flying off holding his beloved dog to ascend Kechara paradise. No one every found his body and his room was empty.
  • Lin Mun
    Monday, Mar 27. 2017 12:27 PM
    Congratulations to Mitra for his first dharma teaching in Nepali to the expats. So glad that Dorje Shugden practise can reach out to many in various languages and to different people. Mitra has done a good job in introducing Lama Tsongkhapa lineage and guided them on the benefit and iconography of Dorje Shugden.

    May Lama Tsongkhapa lineage and Dorje Shugden practise continue to grow and benefit more people.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/mitra-teaches-bhagwan-dorje-shugden-in-nepali.html

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CREDITS

Concept: Tsem Rinpoche
Technical: Lew Kwan Leng, Justin Ripley, Yong Swee Keong
Design: Justin Ripley, Cynthia Lee
Content: Tsem Rinpoche, Justin Ripley, Pastor Shin Tan, Sarah Yap
Writer: Pastor Loh Seng Piow
Admin: Pastor Loh Seng Piow, Beng Kooi

I must thank my dharma blog team who are great assets to me, Kechara and growth of dharma in this wonderful region. I am honoured and thrilled to work with them. I really am. Maybe I don't say it enough to them, but I am saying it now. I APPRECIATE THESE GUYS VERY MUCH!

Tsem Rinpoche

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The Unknown

The Known and unknown are both feared,
Known is being comfortable and stagnant,
The unknown may be growth and opportunities,
One shall never know if one fears the unknown more than the known.
Who says the unknown would be worse than the known?
But then again, the unknown is sometimes worse than the known. In the end nothing is known unless we endeavour,
So go pursue all the way with the unknown,
because all unknown with familiarity becomes the known.
~Tsem Rinpoche

Photos On The Go

Click on the images to view the bigger version. And scroll down and click on "View All Photos" to view more images.
If we are kind, we lose less of ourselves-Tsem Rinpoche
8 hours ago
If we are kind, we lose less of ourselves-Tsem Rinpoche
My Mumu boy didn\'t want to eat. Eating is not one of his favorite activities throughout his life. So I talked to him to let him know why he needs to eat and keep his strength up when this photo was taken. He was listening intently and after my talk with him, he ate. Tsem Rinpoche
12 hours ago
My Mumu boy didn't want to eat. Eating is not one of his favorite activities throughout his life. So I talked to him to let him know why he needs to eat and keep his strength up when this photo was taken. He was listening intently and after my talk with him, he ate. Tsem Rinpoche
This is so true. Click to enlarge and understand more about unpleasant people.
12 hours ago
This is so true. Click to enlarge and understand more about unpleasant people.
This mahasiddha Kukkuripa is easy to identify as he is accompanied by a small dog whom he loved very much.
3 days ago
This mahasiddha Kukkuripa is easy to identify as he is accompanied by a small dog whom he loved very much.
Mumu taking a rest in the turquoise room. Over the years, I always feel very satisfied when I see him covered with a blanket, safe and sleeping. I always wanted to make sure he was safe from harm, illness and distress. I wanted him to have a happy and loved life. Tsem Rinpoche
3 days ago
Mumu taking a rest in the turquoise room. Over the years, I always feel very satisfied when I see him covered with a blanket, safe and sleeping. I always wanted to make sure he was safe from harm, illness and distress. I wanted him to have a happy and loved life. Tsem Rinpoche
I wrapped my little Mumu boy up in my blanket and propped him up on my bed. He didn\'t move or wiggle and just looked at me. He is one funny entertaining little guy. Tsem Rinpoche
3 days ago
I wrapped my little Mumu boy up in my blanket and propped him up on my bed. He didn't move or wiggle and just looked at me. He is one funny entertaining little guy. Tsem Rinpoche
March 2017-Coaxing my little Mumu boy to eat his meal. He was not well and therefore not hungry. Tsem Rinpoche
3 days ago
March 2017-Coaxing my little Mumu boy to eat his meal. He was not well and therefore not hungry. Tsem Rinpoche
Click on picture to enlarge and see what Milarepa says. Profound.
1 week ago
Click on picture to enlarge and see what Milarepa says. Profound.
We are always trying to get somewhere, try something new, find some friends, get some entertainment and in the end we end up in the same place. Time to really practice Dharma seriously and stop wasting time we don\'t have. ~Tsem Rinpoche
1 week ago
We are always trying to get somewhere, try something new, find some friends, get some entertainment and in the end we end up in the same place. Time to really practice Dharma seriously and stop wasting time we don't have. ~Tsem Rinpoche
March 20, 2017-Mumu is just so adorable with his bright eyes.
1 week ago
March 20, 2017-Mumu is just so adorable with his bright eyes.
More and more people inviting Lord Dorje Shugden home to connect with on their shrines. I am so happy to see this as it will benefit them and their families so much. That is the purpose to be alive which is to benefit others as much as possible. Tsem Rinpoche
1 week ago
More and more people inviting Lord Dorje Shugden home to connect with on their shrines. I am so happy to see this as it will benefit them and their families so much. That is the purpose to be alive which is to benefit others as much as possible. Tsem Rinpoche
His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche is a good sport watching his students do Halloween drag costumes for a charity show. Funny!
2 weeks ago
His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche is a good sport watching his students do Halloween drag costumes for a charity show. Funny!
His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche is a good sport watching his students do Halloween drag costumes for a charity show. Funny!
2 weeks ago
His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche is a good sport watching his students do Halloween drag costumes for a charity show. Funny!
The Japanese are very innovative. Tsem Rinpoche
2 weeks ago
The Japanese are very innovative. Tsem Rinpoche
Read this as it will be interesting
2 weeks ago
Read this as it will be interesting
Recite this before any meal or drinks for blessings of abundance. Tsem Rinpoche
2 weeks ago
Recite this before any meal or drinks for blessings of abundance. Tsem Rinpoche
This sacred statue of Buddha is in Nepal brought originally from Tibet and has spoken on many occasions. Very blessed to see this holy image and keep a picture...bless you always. Tsem Rinpoche
2 weeks ago
This sacred statue of Buddha is in Nepal brought originally from Tibet and has spoken on many occasions. Very blessed to see this holy image and keep a picture...bless you always. Tsem Rinpoche
I love Mumu boy tremendously. We went through so much together for so many years. You are a great being to be with. Tsem Rinpoche
2 weeks ago
I love Mumu boy tremendously. We went through so much together for so many years. You are a great being to be with. Tsem Rinpoche
Dear everyone, I am sharing this beautiful and modern altar to Dorje Shugden in Malaysia. I am glad to see more and more people creating sacred spaces. Tsem Rinpoche
2 weeks ago
Dear everyone, I am sharing this beautiful and modern altar to Dorje Shugden in Malaysia. I am glad to see more and more people creating sacred spaces. Tsem Rinpoche
Lhamo Karmo, a female buddha form visualized above the crown of one\'s head at the time of death, to encourage consciousness to leave the body via the crown aperture. From my book \"The Female Buddhas.\"- Glenn Mullin
3 weeks ago
Lhamo Karmo, a female buddha form visualized above the crown of one's head at the time of death, to encourage consciousness to leave the body via the crown aperture. From my book "The Female Buddhas."- Glenn Mullin
The Tibetan female tulku Dorje Pakmo, from a fresco on the wall of the Dorje Pakmo monastery (Samding) in Tibet, near the Turquoise Lake. In Tibet the Dorje Pakmo was ranked with the Dalai Lama, Panchen Lama and Sakya Trizin as the four highest lamas in the country.-from Glenn Mullin
3 weeks ago
The Tibetan female tulku Dorje Pakmo, from a fresco on the wall of the Dorje Pakmo monastery (Samding) in Tibet, near the Turquoise Lake. In Tibet the Dorje Pakmo was ranked with the Dalai Lama, Panchen Lama and Sakya Trizin as the four highest lamas in the country.-from Glenn Mullin
Dharma boy, Mumu boy and Oser girl checking out the scene..cute
1 month ago
Dharma boy, Mumu boy and Oser girl checking out the scene..cute
My Dharma boy has such a cute expression here. He is a good boy!
1 month ago
My Dharma boy has such a cute expression here. He is a good boy!
February 9,2017-My Mumu boy and Oser girl are just relaxing together..super cute
2 months ago
February 9,2017-My Mumu boy and Oser girl are just relaxing together..super cute
Click on the picture to enlarge and see what Suzy from Hawaii commented on the Dorje Shugden issue after much research. She is very candid and honest. Refreshing. Original is posted here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vl-4lIwxph4
2 months ago
Click on the picture to enlarge and see what Suzy from Hawaii commented on the Dorje Shugden issue after much research. She is very candid and honest. Refreshing. Original is posted here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vl-4lIwxph4
This is a good one to read
2 months ago
This is a good one to read
Mumu is silly and cute and funny
2 months ago
Mumu is silly and cute and funny
Mumu\'s hair is messy and he looks funny
2 months ago
Mumu's hair is messy and he looks funny
I am in the process of creating beautiful Dorje Shugden and Kechara Forest Retreat watches at this time. So we can take precious protector and Kechara Forest Retreat wherever we go and be blessed everytime we see what time it is. 
I am perfecting the designs with a great team and will update when done but these are just some samples that arrived. 
Feast your eyes! 

Tsem Rinpoche
2 months ago
I am in the process of creating beautiful Dorje Shugden and Kechara Forest Retreat watches at this time. So we can take precious protector and Kechara Forest Retreat wherever we go and be blessed everytime we see what time it is. I am perfecting the designs with a great team and will update when done but these are just some samples that arrived. Feast your eyes! Tsem Rinpoche
                        Pick the practice, devotion and precepts of Vajra Yogini\'s path over everything and anything in samsara. Samsara has nothing of value and nothing lasting to offer. You are born in suffering, live in suffering, die in suffering and enter bardo and future lives expecting more sufferings. This is not a negative way of looking at things but the truth. If the truth is negative, so it is the truth. Devote oneself to the guru, dharma work, dharma practice and bringing dharma to others compassionately. Choose to practice Vajra Yogini now with the preliminaries. You can start right now: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/inspiration-worthy-words/starting-on-vajra-yogini-now.html  Much care, Tsem Rinpoche
3 months ago
Pick the practice, devotion and precepts of Vajra Yogini's path over everything and anything in samsara. Samsara has nothing of value and nothing lasting to offer. You are born in suffering, live in suffering, die in suffering and enter bardo and future lives expecting more sufferings. This is not a negative way of looking at things but the truth. If the truth is negative, so it is the truth. Devote oneself to the guru, dharma work, dharma practice and bringing dharma to others compassionately. Choose to practice Vajra Yogini now with the preliminaries. You can start right now: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/inspiration-worthy-words/starting-on-vajra-yogini-now.html Much care, Tsem Rinpoche
Message to Tibetans in English
3 months ago
Message to Tibetans in English
Message to the Tibetans
3 months ago
Message to the Tibetans
Left to right: Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche, Sharpa Choeje Jetsun Lobsang Nyima, Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche, Kyabje Lati Rinpoche, 101st Gaden Tripa Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal. Great lamas of Gaden Shartse Monastery
3 months ago
Left to right: Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche, Sharpa Choeje Jetsun Lobsang Nyima, Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche, Kyabje Lati Rinpoche, 101st Gaden Tripa Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal. Great lamas of Gaden Shartse Monastery
A beautiful Indian rendition of Gyenze Dorje Shugden manifesting in wealth form
3 months ago
A beautiful Indian rendition of Gyenze Dorje Shugden manifesting in wealth form
This is my thoughts and determination to share with you. Please open and read. Thank you for your time. Tsem Rinpoche
3 months ago
This is my thoughts and determination to share with you. Please open and read. Thank you for your time. Tsem Rinpoche
Nepalese King Birendra receives His Holiness Panchen Rinpoche in Nepal
4 months ago
Nepalese King Birendra receives His Holiness Panchen Rinpoche in Nepal
Guess what Zava Damdin Rinpoche did in Mongolia recently with 7,800 people??? Very interesting and it is a must read:  http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=116206
4 months ago
Guess what Zava Damdin Rinpoche did in Mongolia recently with 7,800 people??? Very interesting and it is a must read:  http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=116206
This huge Buddha in Korea is magnificent
4 months ago
This huge Buddha in Korea is magnificent
The very first oracle of Dorje Shugden in trance statue. I have commissioned this.
4 months ago
The very first oracle of Dorje Shugden in trance statue. I have commissioned this.
Such a old and ancient thangka painting of Dorje Shugden. He has been around in Tibet practiced for hundreds of years.
4 months ago
Such a old and ancient thangka painting of Dorje Shugden. He has been around in Tibet practiced for hundreds of years.
One of the "Four Exalted Brothers" Avalokiteshvara statues, Phagpa Wati of Kyirong, which is now with H.H. the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala.
4 months ago
One of the "Four Exalted Brothers" Avalokiteshvara statues, Phagpa Wati of Kyirong, which is now with H.H. the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala.
Kyabje Zemey, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche and Kyabje Pabongka Choktrul Rinpoche
4 months ago
Kyabje Zemey, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche and Kyabje Pabongka Choktrul Rinpoche
My Oser girl and Mumu boy are so adorable
4 months ago
My Oser girl and Mumu boy are so adorable
Wow this meditator in his cave in front of a painting of Yamantaka draped with a white khata of respect. He sits among bones to remind him of impermanence and our future. The bones inspire him strongly to let go of all attachments in this life and focus on dharma, meditation and liberation and he is doing so. Very beautiful and inspirational. Tsem Rinpoche
4 months ago
Wow this meditator in his cave in front of a painting of Yamantaka draped with a white khata of respect. He sits among bones to remind him of impermanence and our future. The bones inspire him strongly to let go of all attachments in this life and focus on dharma, meditation and liberation and he is doing so. Very beautiful and inspirational. Tsem Rinpoche
Tenzing Norgay found this in Nepal. Guess what it is?
5 months ago
Tenzing Norgay found this in Nepal. Guess what it is?
Sir Edmund Hillary
5 months ago
Sir Edmund Hillary
Halloween is my favorite holiday. Wild natural plants and flowers are my favorite offering. Buddha\'s teachings on meditation and Yidam practice bring the ultimate results and happiness. ~Tsem Rinpoche
5 months ago
Halloween is my favorite holiday. Wild natural plants and flowers are my favorite offering. Buddha's teachings on meditation and Yidam practice bring the ultimate results and happiness. ~Tsem Rinpoche
Click on "View All Photos" above to view more images

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ASK A PASTOR


Ask the Pastors

A section for you to clarify your Dharma questions with Kechara’s esteemed pastors.

Just post your name and your question below and one of our pastors will provide you with an answer.

Scroll down and click on "View All Questions" to view archived questions.

  • March 28, 2017 09:11
    Lia asked: If the ushnisha is actually supposed to be a bump, then do we change the visualization of the top knot and replace it with a bump covered in hair or do we keep the ushnisha as the thangkas show?
    No reply yet
  • March 27, 2017 04:19
    Dongho asked: I have been reading on the tunes of certain sects and would like to ask on this. From what I've read, there are certain tunes to each sect and school of certain chants. Exactly where can I find the sheet music for these percussion and horns with the chants, such as to the one for invoking Kache Marpo or Dorje Shugden? Would it be possible to use school instruments for this?
    pastor answered: Dear Dongho, Thank you for your question, it is good to see you back and asking more questions. Yes you are right, there are differences in the tunes and chants between the lineages. The differences can vary significantly between the traditions, for example the Gelugpa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism is known for its extremely deep throat singing which is very powerful and is characterised by a low, booming voice, in contrast to the other traditions. Even within a particular tradition, there can be slight variations as to the manner in which the chants and tunes are performed. For example those monasteries are which are affiliated with Gyume will have one way of throat singing, where those affiliated with Gyuto will have another. As far as I am aware there is no professional sheet music for the rituals, most probably because the music is actually an integral part of the ritual itself. Therefore the music, tunes, and chants are all taught at the same time the ritual and prayers are. The tunes, and use of the instruments all have specific meanings, because they are considered to be offerings to the deities in the form of sound. The monasteries would not have copies of sheet music either, because sheet music is western practice. The use of ritual music within Tibetan Buddhism is more of one based on memory. In the Kechara organisation, the puja team was trained in such ritual instruments at the same time they learnt the particular ritual from monks from the monastery, such as the puja of Dorje Shugden. From what I saw of the training, the musical tunes, and use of instruments was not written down but taught experientially at the same time as the chanting. I have not come across any other instruments being used in pujas apart from the traditional ritual instruments, because even the instruments themselves have a specific meaning. That is not say that school instruments cannot be used. This is because, as long as the offering is sincere, the Buddhas and enlightened deities will accept it, and in turn you will generate great amounts of merit. Offerings should be made to the best of our ability, therefore if you do not have access to the ritual instruments, or do not know how to play them, but you know how to play other instruments, and use these instruments as offerings to the Buddhas during pujas, the amount of merit you generate will be the same. This is because you are sincere with your offering. I hope this helps. Thank you.
  • March 26, 2017 02:14
    Kunga asked: Does the Gelug have Begtse a protector? If so, could you please provide a sadhana for him here?
    pastor answered: Dear Kunga, Yes the Dharma protector Begtse exists within the Gelug tradition. He is also known as Chamsing. Begtse’s practice stems from India and was introduced to Tibet and therefore Tibetan Buddhism by the translator Nyen Lotsawa. Marpa Lotsawa also practiced Begtse, and so the practice exists in the Kagyu traditions. This practice was eventually transmitted to Sachen Kunga Nyingpo, the first of the five patriarchs of the Sakya tradition, who were the founding fathers of that tradition. Over time the practice of Begtse was incorporated into the Gelug tradition, founded by Lama Tsongkhapa, and was notably practiced by the 1st and 2nd Dalai Lamas. Over time the practice gained popularity within the lineage, especially when it spread to Mongolia. There the practice became an important one within the lineage as upheld there. Begtse is also affectionately known as the Dharma protector of Mongolia, because his practice is so popular there. If I am not mistaken, there is an oracle of Begtse in Mongolia as well. There is a mistaken account that the practice originated around the time of the 3rd Dalai Lama, with the subjugation of a Mongolian war god, but Begtse was definitely practiced before that time in the Gelug, Kagyu and Sakya traditions. While the practice of Begtse is very effective, I have not come across the practice of Begtse in my personal practice, therefore I do not have access to the Begtse sadhana to provide to you. Instead Begtse is propitiated in prayers that incorporate many other Dharma protectors, and Begtse is also considered one of the nine protectors of the Hayagriva (Tamdrin) cycle of tantric teachings. Therefore Begtse is included in the Dharma protector sections of the Hayagriva tantras. Surrounding Begtse are his sister, Sing Ma, and his main minister, Le Khan Mar Po. His inner retinue comprises of eight butchers who wield copper swords in their right hands and skull-cups full of blood in their left hands. They are portrayed as naked and are very ugly. His outer retinue comprises a further twenty-one butchers, who hold copper swords in their right hands, and this time, the entrails of butchered enemies. They wear the skins humans and oxen as clothes, with ornaments made from human bone. While this may seem violent, Begtse is actually a very powerful and beneficial protector, who helps practitioners clear their obstacles and create conducive conditions for their spiritual evolution. I hope this helps. Thank you.
  • March 24, 2017 20:12
    Azair asked: Venerable Rinpoche, I am doing a study in Kalachakra Tantra and I've heard from most of the lama's too that if you practice the Kalachakra Tantra, you'll be able to take control of your next rebirth. Ofcourse, it has been said that we will get our rebirth according to our Karma and desires but whether those dreams will get fulfilled will depend upon the actions that we take in this life. Thus, practicing the Kalachakra(till the end) after initiation will give you the opportunity to take rebirth anywhere you desire regardless of your Karma. My question is that, is there some truth in this statement.? Does this statement hold true for other tantra practices, such as Vajrayogini Tantra, Ghuyasamaja Tantra, Heruka Tantra, etc. I would really really like to know. Thankyou in anticipation, regards, Azair
    pastor answered: Dear Azair, Thank you for your question. Yes there is truth to this statement, both from a scriptural perspective and also by example, as the great masters have shown us. This is a unique feature of all Anuttarayoga Tantras or Highest Yoga Tantras, which Kalachakra, Vajrayogini, Guhyasama and Heruka are all examples of. This category of tantric practice can actually lead a practitioner to full enlightenment in this very lifetime. Even if enlightenment is not reached, very high levels of attainment can be reached nonetheless. This includes the ability to take control over your next rebirth. This is primarily engaged in so that the practitioner is born in an environment where they can eventually pick up their practice and further their spiritual path to enlightenment, or in order to be born in a place where they can benefit sentient beings the most, as part of the spiritual journey over many lifetimes. One of the reasons such an ability is very necessary on the spiritual path, is that usual death and rebirth occurs at the mercy of ones karma, specifically what is known as the ‘throwing karma’ or the karma that dictates what sort of rebirth a person is going to take. This opens up at the time of ordinary death, which most people have no control over. During the death process, many of our disturbing emotions will arise. Whichever of these is the strongest at the point of death triggers open a latent karmic potential, which becomes the ‘throwing karma’ and dictates where we are going to take rebirth and if that life will generally be full of suffering or not. Within Anuttarayoga Tantra, one of the key points of practice is to prepare for one’s death. This is done by simulating the dying process during one’s meditations, so that one becomes familiar with it. At the most pivotal part of this process, one practices achieving either the rainbow body or great bliss (in the case of the father tantras); or clear light (in the case of mother tantras). The tantras themselves are not defined in terms of the gender of the central deity, but by the method used to gain enlightenment. This is either the rainbow body/great bliss (classified as male, therefore labelled ‘father’) or clear light (classified as female, therefore labelled ‘mother’). Non-dual tantras such as the Kalachakra tantra can employ either of the two methods, a mixture of both, or alternate methods. In the case of superior practitioners, due to the power of their practice, they can achieve either of these two methods in their current body. Since they have familiarised themselves with the dying process, and a particular method of practice, they can also achieve enlightenment during their physical death. The great Lama Tsongkhapa is said to have achieved enlightenment at the moment of physical death, using the second of these. For other practitioners, they may not be able to achieve this either in their meditations while they are alive, or during the death process. However because they have familiarised themselves with the dying process, they remain in complete concentration at the time of death, not allowing any disturbing emotions to arise. Due to this level of concentration, meditation and awareness during the dying process, they are able to control where they next take rebirth. This is evident in the tantric scriptures themselves, and the life stories of many masters, who can state exactly where, when and to whom they will take their next rebirth, as they are in full control of the dying and rebirth process. There is a type of meditation called ‘thukdam’ which has been translated into ‘death meditation’. This is a final meditation some masters choose to engage in. During this meditation, the master themselves consciously begin the physical dying process themselves, engage in the meditation of dissolving the winds into the heart centre and remain in the most pivotal part of the death process, the mind of clear light of death. During this point they engage in meditations, either the methods of the father or mother tantras as mentioned previously, and or consciously choose where they are to next take rebirth. They can remain in this death meditation for long periods of time, days at an end, in which their consciousness has not yet left their body, although for all intents and purposes they are dead according to medical science, e.g. they have no heartbeat. At the end of their meditation, a drop of blood will be emitted from their nostril, and their head will slump over a little. Masters who engage in this meditation usually sit in full meditation posture, and their body remain supple and soft even though they have passed away from a medical point of view. I hope this brief explanation helps. Thank you.
  • March 23, 2017 23:01
    Brad asked: What is the significance of offering the Seven precious emblems of royalty to the Buddhas and enlightened Dharma Protectors? What are we symbolically offering up?
    pastor answered: Dear Brad, Thank you for your question. The ‘saptaratna’ or seven precious emblems represent on the one hand the ultimate state of temporal power, and on the other hand the ultimate spiritual attainments that we can achieve. By offering these to the Buddhas, we are actually creating the causes to achieve what they represent. Therefore it is good to know the meaning of each, so we can understand what we are creating the causes for by offering them up: Please see below for an explanation of the seven royal emblems: 1. The Precious Wheel: a thousand spoked wheel, representing the universal power of the Buddhas, as well as the teachings of the thousand Buddhas of our aeon. It is represented by the Dharmachakra, symbolising the ‘turning of the wheel’ or teaching of the Noble Eightfold Path. It is a symbol of a universal emperor’s spiritual and temporal power. It is also represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is perfect mindfulness, especially that of our own mind, thoughts, delusions and afflictions. 2. The Precious Jewel: an eight sided wish-granting gem, which fulfils all the needs of a universal emperor. This jewel has eight special qualities: it illuminates the night sky for hundreds of leagues; it is cooling when the temperature is hot and warming when the temperature is cold; it makes manifest whatever the holder wants; when thirsty it causes a fresh-water spring to appear; it has the ability to control the nagas, and other supernatural beings, as well as preventing natural disasters such as storms, floods, etc.; it gives off multi-coloured lighted which heals the various mental and emotional afflictions; it cures all illnesses; and it ensures that one dies a natural death, not an untimely one. It is a symbol of a universal emperor’s spiritual and temporal power. It is also represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is perfect mindfulness, or perfect discrimination, so one knows what to abandon and what to keep in the mindstream during the spiritual journey to enlightenment. 3. The Precious Queen: the most beautiful and virtuous of all women. She is described as a goddess who is the epitome of someone: with devotion; without jealousy; who is the embodiment of fertility; who works for the welfare of all beings; who possess feminine wisdom; speaks the truth; not attract to sensual pleasures or material possessions; and does not have false views. She is adored by all. She also represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is perfect effort. This is necessary to keep meditating until one gains spiritual attainments. 4. The Precious Minister: who has sharp intelligence, patience, and the ability to give wise counsel to the emperor. He is so attuned to the emperor that even before the emperor has spoken, the minister is already carrying out his command. He only wishes to support the Dharma, help sentient beings, and is an excellent strategist. He also represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is perfect joy. This is also akin to the attainment of the first bodhisattva level, because you have come to an understanding of your own mind, which is like pouring ice-cold water into boiling water. The water stops boiling, as does the thoughts, projections, and delusions in the mind. He represents the path of the bodhisattva. 5. The Precious Elephant: who has the strength of a thousand normal elephants. He is white, with the perfect features that an elephant could have. He is majestic, graceful, and gentle, but in battle is fearsome, fearless and unyielding. He communicates with the emperor through a telepathic link. He represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is perfect adaptability. This is important, as one needs to be able to adapt to the various mental afflictions as they arise, and suitably counter them. 6. The Precious Horse: who has all the marks of a celestial horse. Known as wind-horse, he is able to travel extremely fast, and can circumambulate the entire universe three time in just a single day. He is never fearful or startled, never makes a sound when galloping, and has extremely soft hairs on his body. He represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is single-pointed concentration. This is important because without this form of concentration, once cannot engage in the analytical meditations that lead to an understanding of emptiness, and therefore enlightenment. 7. The Precious General: who has mastered the arts of war and always wins in battle. He wears battle armour and holds many different weapons. He tries to avoid battle, but when necessary fights, and never gives up until he has won. He is fearless, and courageous in carrying out the emperors commands and ensures the emperors army carries out their duties. He represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is perfect equanimity. This is because he overcomes all warfare, which is akin to the battle between things were are attached to and things we have an aversion for in our minds. In short, what you are offering up is the highest of all temporal treasures and abilities, as well as the entire path of the Dharma. Doing so creates the causes for you to receive all of this on your spiritual journey towards enlightenment. I hope this helps. Thank you.
View All Questions

CHAT PICTURES

Pastor Yek Yee assisted by Puja Team blessed and conducted a puja during an outcall house blessing. Lucy Yap
yesterday
Pastor Yek Yee assisted by Puja Team blessed and conducted a puja during an outcall house blessing. Lucy Yap
Butterlamp offering to Lama Tsongkhapa in Kechara Forest Retreat
yesterday
Butterlamp offering to Lama Tsongkhapa in Kechara Forest Retreat
Kechara Sunday Dharma School teachers and volunteers outing session. Stella,
3 days ago
Kechara Sunday Dharma School teachers and volunteers outing session. Stella,
Dorje Shugden the powerful World Peace Protector taking full trance in an oracle.
3 days ago
Dorje Shugden the powerful World Peace Protector taking full trance in an oracle.
Visitors have the opportunity to pay respect to this holy statue, in Kechara Forest Retreat, Wisdom Hall!
3 days ago
Visitors have the opportunity to pay respect to this holy statue, in Kechara Forest Retreat, Wisdom Hall!
Group photo of Kechara Sunday Dharma School teachers and trainer after the Teachers Training program in 2016. Stella, KSDS
4 days ago
Group photo of Kechara Sunday Dharma School teachers and trainer after the Teachers Training program in 2016. Stella, KSDS
Kechara Sunday Dharma School teachers attended the weekly Blogchat Dharma sharing session every Monday. Stella, KSDS
4 days ago
Kechara Sunday Dharma School teachers attended the weekly Blogchat Dharma sharing session every Monday. Stella, KSDS
Kechara Sunday Dharma School students and parents made a day trip to Kechara forest Retreat during school holidays. What a good way to spend a weekend. Stella, KSDS
4 days ago
Kechara Sunday Dharma School students and parents made a day trip to Kechara forest Retreat during school holidays. What a good way to spend a weekend. Stella, KSDS
Kechara Sunday Dharma School students, Kayene and her brother Karlson made a day trip to visit Kechara Forest Retreat with their parents. Stella, KSDS
4 days ago
Kechara Sunday Dharma School students, Kayene and her brother Karlson made a day trip to visit Kechara Forest Retreat with their parents. Stella, KSDS
Lovely visitors in Kechara Forest Retreat, Wisdom Hall
4 days ago
Lovely visitors in Kechara Forest Retreat, Wisdom Hall
Prostration is a practice to show reverence to the Three Jewels. Let the children have this practice at their young age, Alice Tay, KSDS
4 days ago
Prostration is a practice to show reverence to the Three Jewels. Let the children have this practice at their young age, Alice Tay, KSDS
Teacher Stella together with WOAH Camp young participants to check the broken egg. Alice Tay, KSDS
4 days ago
Teacher Stella together with WOAH Camp young participants to check the broken egg. Alice Tay, KSDS
Great to see Dian and Wen Xin tried to do breath meditation slowly. Alice Tay, KSDS
4 days ago
Great to see Dian and Wen Xin tried to do breath meditation slowly. Alice Tay, KSDS
Happy faces of Teacher Irene together with KSDS's youngest age group. Alice Tay, KSDS
4 days ago
Happy faces of Teacher Irene together with KSDS's youngest age group. Alice Tay, KSDS
Most of the KSDS students like drawing and discuss about their drawing. Alice Tay, KSDS
4 days ago
Most of the KSDS students like drawing and discuss about their drawing. Alice Tay, KSDS
The yearly gotong royong event on Malaysia Day. Great day to contribute back to the society. Lin Mun KSDS
4 days ago
The yearly gotong royong event on Malaysia Day. Great day to contribute back to the society. Lin Mun KSDS
KSDS students, parents and teachers participated in food packaging for Kechara Soup Kitchen. Lin Mun KSDS
4 days ago
KSDS students, parents and teachers participated in food packaging for Kechara Soup Kitchen. Lin Mun KSDS
The team is setting up the tent and games for the Halloween party. Lin Mun KSDS
4 days ago
The team is setting up the tent and games for the Halloween party. Lin Mun KSDS
Students of SRJK (C) enjoyed themselves so much during Halloween 2016. Lin Mun KSDS
4 days ago
Students of SRJK (C) enjoyed themselves so much during Halloween 2016. Lin Mun KSDS
Khai Te is very talented in drawing. Look at the van. It has a Kechara logo. Lin Mun KSDS
4 days ago
Khai Te is very talented in drawing. Look at the van. It has a Kechara logo. Lin Mun KSDS
Students listening to Teacher Grace attentively during WOAH camp 2016. Lin Mun KSDS
4 days ago
Students listening to Teacher Grace attentively during WOAH camp 2016. Lin Mun KSDS
Happy visitor invited Dorje Shugden back home.
7 days ago
Happy visitor invited Dorje Shugden back home.
1 week ago
Join our Meditate in Nature Programme 2017! Here are the Dates:
1 week ago
Join our Meditate in Nature Programme 2017! Here are the Dates:
When we love others without projections, we truly LOVE. ~ Tsem Rinpoche . YEO KWAI GIN ( KKSG )
1 week ago
When we love others without projections, we truly LOVE. ~ Tsem Rinpoche . YEO KWAI GIN ( KKSG )
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Dorje Shugden
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