Pilgrimage: More than 165 Bhutanese have registered to head to Ladakh in India to get a glimpse of the six bone ornaments of Naropa, also known as Naro Gyendruk.

The bone ornaments will be displayed from September 16 to 18 at Hemis in Ladakh.

The scared relics are displayed this year – the Fire Male Monkey Year – which is the birth year of Guru Rinpoche. The year comes only once in twelve-year cycle.

Among the pilgrims are 35 students of Jigme Namgyel Engineering College, devotees from Trashiyangtse and business people. Lams, trulkus, monks and lay practitioners will also travel to receive the blessings from the relics.

Considered as the most sacred of the relics, the six bone ornaments are believed to have been offered to Naropa by dakinis when he attained enlightenment.

Naropa is considered one of the manifestations of Avalokitesvara (Chenrizig). He was the spiritual master of the great translator, Marpa Lotsawa (1012-1097).

It is believed that Naropa, the founder of Kagyu school of Buddhism in the Himalaya region, gave the six bone ornaments to his heart disciple, Marpa Choekyi Lodroe.

As reads a text about Naropa: “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 appoint you my regent on the roof of the world. The land of snow abounds with potential disciples, worthy vessels for my teachings.”

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

A headdress, armband, necklaces, bracelets, anklet and hand wears make the six bone ornaments. Naropa also gave his rosary made of rubies and ritual objects to his Marpa Choekyi Lodroe.

His Eminence Gyalwa Dokhampa said that the ornaments represent six teachings of Naropa.  The six teachings are also called Naro Choedruk (Six practice of Naropa).

According to Gyalwa Dokhampa, they also represent six defilements, which are the essence of five Buddhas and Vajradhara in the form of defilements. “If we recognise them, we will achieve enlightenment.”

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

Since then, the ornaments have been passed down to the successive Gyalwang Drukpas.

On September 16, the Twelfth Gyalwang Drukpa Rinpoche will don the six bone ornaments and the hat woven out of the hair strands of one hundred thousand Dakinis that the third Gyalwang Drukpa Jamyang Chokyi Drakpa (1478-1522) received from dakini Sukhasiddhi.

The sacred relics will then be displayed to the public. From Ladakh alone, close to one hundred thousand people are expected to gather during display of the relics. There will also be thousands of devotees from Asia Pacific, America and Europe, among others.

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

“It represents arising of people’s devotion that could help them get the blessings and plant the seed of enlightenment. Just by glimpsing at the relics, seed of enlightenment will be sown in our mind,” said Gyalwa Dokhampa.

Bones of the dakini, bodhisattvas and lams have the power to remove the defilements accumulated in a person’s 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 himself, just by receiving the blessings from the six bone ornaments could help one accumulate compassion and wisdom.

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

On September 19, the largest silk Thongdrel (liberation through sight) of Buddha Amitabha will be unfurled in Hemis, India.

Tenzin Namgyel