Pilgrimage: Bhutanese devotees, by hundreds, are preparing to go to Ladakh, India. For many, it’s a pilgrimage of a lifetime – to get a glimpse of the six bone ornaments of Naropa, known as Naro Gyendruk. The rare ornaments are displayed every twelve years.

Bhutanese young and old are registering with the organisers to plan their trip.

This year is a special year. It is the year of Guru Rinpoche’s birth. The bone ornaments will be displayed from July 19 to 21 at Hemis, Ladakh.

Considered as the most sacred relic, the six bone ornaments, believed to have been offered to Naropa by Dakinis has been passed down to the holders of Drukpa Kagyu tradition.

Naropa is considered as the manifestation of Avalokitesvara (Chenrizig).

Long into the distant past, Naropa, the founder of kagyu school of Buddhism in the Himalayan region gave the six bone ornaments to his heart disciple, Marpa Choekyi Lodroe. As texts about Naropa read: “I bestow the waves of grace to the lineages of the North, the lands of snow. You have nothing more to do here. Return to Tibet. I impart to you the power of my legacy and appoint you my regent on the roof of the world. The land of snow abounds in potential disciples, worthy vessels for my teachings.”

So it is believed that saying this Naropa passed the ornaments to introduce the Kagyu tradition of Buddhism in Tibet, which at that time was called the Land of Snow.

The six bone ornaments consists of a headdress, armband, necklaces, bracelets, ankle and hand wears. Naropa also gave his rosary of rubies and ritual objects to his eminent disciple.

His Eminence Gyalwa Dokhampa said that the Dakinis offered the bone ornaments to Naropa when he attained enlightenment.

Gyalwa Dokhampa said that the ornaments represent six teachings of Naropa, which was introduced by Naropa himself.  The six teachings are called Naro Choedruk (Six practice of Naropa).

According to Gyalwa Dokhampa, Naro Gyendruk also represent six defilements, which are actually the essence of five Buddhas and Vajradhara depicted in the form of defilements. “If we recognise them we will get enlightenment,” said Rinpoche.

Marpa then passed down the six bone ornaments to his heart disciple Ngok Toen Choeku Dorje (1036-1102). Later, it became the position of Ngok Toen Jangchub (1360-1446), who then gave the ornamnets to the second Gyalwang Drukpa Rinpoche, who was one of the reincarnations of Ngok Toen Choeku Dorji.

Since then, the ornaments were passed down to the line of the Gyalwang Drukpas.

On July 19, the twelfth Gyalwang Drukpa Rinpoche will adorn the six bone ornaments and the hat woven with hairs of one hundred thousand Dakinis, which the third Gyalwang Drukpa Jamyang Chokyi Drakpa (1478-1522) received from Dakini Sukhasiddhi.

Gyalwa Dokhampa said the adornment of the bone ornaments on the Fire Male Monkey Year has special significance because this year marks the birth year of Guru Rinpoche.

“Adornment represents arising of people’s devotion that could help them get the blessings and arise the seed of enlightenment…Just by seeing this the seed of enlightenment will be sown in our mind,” said Gyalwa Dokhampa.

Bones of Dakini, bodhisattvas and lams have ability to remove the defilements accumulated in the past lives and to liberate sentient beings from samsara, said Ripoche. “In Vajrayana Buddhism bone represents the naked truth and naked truth in human body is bone.”

Rinpoche said that since Naropa was the manifestation of Avalokitsevara, just by seeing the six bone ornaments could help accumulate compassion and wisdom in individuals.

During the display ceremony of the bone ornaments, Gyalwang Drukpa Rinpoche will preside over the transmission of Chakrasamvara wang. One billion recitations of Mani and Baza Guru and saving the lives of ten thousand goats and sheep will also be organised.

The largest silk thongdrel of Guru Rinpoche in ladakh, which is displayed only once in twelve years, will be unfurled on July 14. The Throngdrel was the initiative of King Singyel Namgyal of Ladakh during the time of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.

The Naro Gyendruk committee will organise free meals and look for the possibility of arranging urgent accommodations for the pilgrims.

Thousands of devotees, including lams, trulkus, monks, nuns and lay practitioners from the Himalayan region are expected to attend the ceremony.

Tenzin Namgyel