Shangmo Dorje Putri – The Bamo of Sakya
Most lineages within Tibetan Buddhism have practices surrounding Dharma protectors both enlightened and unenlightened and who manifest their activities in order to alleviate obstacles facing practitioners and to create conducive conditions for their spiritual progress. The holy Sakya lineage is no different. The most important protectors of the lineage include Panjaranata Mahakala (a special protector of the Hevajra Tantras), Citipati (a special protector of the Vajrayogini Tantras), and Chaturmukha Mahakala (a special protector of the Guhyasamaja Tantras). There are many other general protectors that are also practiced such as Palden Lhamo, Ekajati, and Chamsing. Besides these, Dorje Shugden Tanag, Setrap and Tsui Marpo (Kache Marpo) are propitiated as the Three Kings also known as the Gyalpo Sum.
Another set of powerful Dharma protectors practiced by the Sakya tradition are the Bamo Sum, or the Three Blazing Female Spirits. Their names are Mamo Rikye, Namka Drolma and Shangmo Dorje Putri. All three are unenlightened beings, who were oath-bound to serve as protectors and are unique to the Sakya tradition. They belong to a class of beings known as Bamo. Usually translated as ‘witches’, these beings are known to be very powerful spirits who are portrayed as being ablaze with occult powers. The practice of the Bamo is unique to the Sakya tradition, and the Bamo Sum are commonly known among many other lesser Bamo spirits.
Shangmo Dorji Putri is from the village of Shang, in Tsang Province of Tibet and was subjugated by Sakya Gongma Rinpoche, a Sakya throneholder, who belonged to the noble Khon family. The practice of the Bamo Sum is usually restricted to only high teachers and lineage holders due to their intense and unruly nature. Even though oath-bound they are very difficult to control and can cause illness and even madness to those who are weak hearted or unsteady with their practice.
Shangmo Dorje Putri is red in colour, which also led her to be called the ‘Red Witch of Shang.’ In her left hand she is portrayed as carrying a length of intestines, and in her right hand, which is upraised, she carries a heart. She wears a large flower ornament on her forehead, as do Mamo Rikye and Namka Drolma. This flower ornament is known as a distinguishing feature of the Bamo Sum’s iconography.
This thangka was commissioned by a family who had requested blessings and protection from Jetsun Pema Trinle (1874-1950 CE), due to a number of obstacles they were facing. On the reverse of the thangka, there is a long inscription together with Jetsun Pema Trinle’s seal and signature. She was actually one of Tibet’s highest female teachers during the 19th Century who was the daughter of the 37th Sakya Trizin, Kunga Nyingpo Sampel Norbu (1850–1899 CE) and master of the Vajrayogini tantras. As such, she was fully qualified and authorised to request Shangmo Dorje Purti to assist in alleviating the family’s obstacles. In fact the Khon family have a special relationship to the Bamo Sum, with the male members usually responsible for controlling them. The inscription exhorts Shangmo Dorje Putri to remember her agreement with the Khon family and honour her original oaths, by assisting the family. She is also commanded not to harm the family, but remove the obstacles from their lives instead. This act shows that Jetsun Pema Trinle was a powerful and highly realised practitioner, who had the attainments to control the fearsome and difficult Bamo.
In the Lhakang Chenmo, the main seat of the Sakya tradition, located in Sakya, Tibet, there is chapel in the north-west corner tower dedicated to the Bamo Sum called the Bamo Lhakhang. This tower contains many holy images of the Sakya throne holders together with many little protector chapels, the main of which is dedicated to the Bamo Sum.
Shangmo Dorje Putri also has a small connection to the Gelup lineage as well, through Kyabje Domo Geshe Rinpoche (1866-1936 CE), as Rinpoche was also from the Shang area. Shangmo Dorje Putri followed Domo Geshe Rinpoche to his Dungkar Monastery. There, Domo Geshe Rinpoche, bound her again. This time she made the oath of protecting the monastery. When Domo Geshe Rinpoche travelled to India on pilgrimage, he setup another monastery known as Gaden Tharpa Choling Monastery in Kalimpong. It was there that the storekeeper of the monastery asked Shangmo Dorje Putri to protect the ration store room of the monastery. She remained there protecting the store room until the monastery was renovated. After that she moved to the Mani Lhakang in the monastery where a special shrine was dedicated to her.
Although an independent Dharma protector, Shangmo Dorje Putri is under the control of the enlightened Dharma protector Kache Marpo and considered to be part of his entourage. In turn Kache Marpo is within the entourage of the Dharma protector Dorje Shugden. She is also known to take trance in trained oracles who can take trance of Dorje Shugden, Setrap and Kache Marpo.
Below is a Kangsol prayer text to Shangmo Dorje Putri. This is for information purposes only. Please do not engage in the practice unless authorised to do so by a high lama who can explain the practice to you. This is because Shangmo Dorje Putri is an unenlightened Bamo spirit, who can cause great harm to those who are not qualified enough or authorised to interact with her.
Shangmo Dorje Putri Kangsol composed by His Holiness 40th Sakya Trizin Ngawang Thutop Wangchuk, hand written by Cheme Tsering.
For more information:
- The Sakya Lineage & Dorje Shugden
- 700 Meet a Buddha
- The 14th Dalai Lama’s Prayer to Dorje Shugden
- Who is Kache Marpo?
- Inviting Lord Setrap to One’s Abode
- Articles on Dorje Shugden
- Articles on Vajrayogini
- His Holiness Zong Rinpoche’s Commentary on Guhyasamaja
- Palden Lhamo Self-Healing by Kyabje Gangchen Rinpoche
- The Puja of Following an Enlightened Being’s Advice
- Buddha Statue’s Iconography
- Invocation to Namkar Barzin
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