Guru Rinpoche’s far-reaching impact

… will be further explored at a conference in Paro being held to mark the saint’s birth anniversary today

Anniversary: The birth anniversary of Guru Rinpoche today will be observed by all Buddhists in the region who revere the great saint Padmasambhava (Lotus born).

One of the events being held to mark the day is the South Asian Conference and Celebration of the birth anniversary of Padmasambhava that began yesterday in Paro. The two-day conference involves participants from India and Nepal.

In the Tibetan calendar, today is the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche.

Guru Rinpoche, according to experts at the conference was instrumental in strengthening, propagating and establishing the foundations of Tibetan Buddhism, which is vajrayana Buddhism.

The President for Centre of Bhutan Studies and GNH Research, Dasho Karma Ura said Guru Rinpoche left a lasting impact in the region, spreading cultural and spiritual values.

However for Bhutan, Guru Rinpoche’s influence is so profound that he in fact brought legal principles to the country when he first came to Bhutan at the invitation of the king of Bumthang, Sindhu Raja, to settle a conflict with another king, Nauche, during the eighth century.

Guru Rinpoche, according to the former chief justice Sonam Tobgye, in the process of negotiating a conflict between the two kings left behind a legal principle of mediation, which is a part of the legal system in the country.

Invoking the Constitutional principle, he said the separation of secular and temporal laws were derived through Guru Rinpoche’s teachings transmitted in Tibet during the Tibetan king Trisong Detsen’s era.

“Buddhism is an enlightened law… not restricted by geography, race and culture,” said the former chief justice. He quoted Buddha as saying: “Law is correcting those who had gone wrong.”

Guru Rinpoche’s biography (Pema Kathang), he said, also classifies different types of laws, particularly the need for a mother law (Constitution) and other by-laws.

“We are invaded by militancy of rules and regulations that whenever things go wrong we make laws,” the former chief justice said, adding that doing so would only create problems. This is why, he said, Buddha espoused rationale for laws.

Citing Buddha’s teachings, he said: “The Law is that which leads to welfare and salvation, it forms conduct and character.”

The former Chief Justice said that it was Guru Rinpoche who espoused the rule of law, even those that many legal scholars are wrestling with today.

“But laws of Guru have not received attention including in Bhutan, though we quote sometimes here and there. But it has not touched the heart and soul,” he said. “It is now time to break that incubation and disseminate the wisdom of the past.”

It was Guru Rinpoche who advised his followers to educate every child and acquire writing and reading skills, he also pointed out.

The very fact that Bhutan invited Guru Rinpoche to its land, he said, demonstrated that the country had good communication and knowledge of saints outside the country. “It demonstrates peace, law and order in the country.”

It was also highlighted that it was Guru Rinpoche who gave the country a unique calligraphy by bringing Denma Tsamang in the country, who introduced Bhutanese writing (joyig). “He not only gave the country a national identity but also inspired generations to read and write,” he said.

When people in many parts of the world lived in caves, the former chief justice said Bhutan, India and Nepal had a concept of architectural models and engineering values. It was recorded through Jambay Lhakhang that existed since 649AD or earlier.

The lotus born saint, experts pointed out had spread the message of social nuisance and health hazards arising from tobacco thousands of years ago, which has been today validated. Tobacco, was not known to many other countries then.

“His medical knowledge was profound,” said the former chief justice.

Even Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel’s visit to Bhutan was prophesied by Guru Rinpoche, introducing the doctrine of legitimacy. A recent case, he said is Guru Rinpoche’s prophesy of the Wangchuck Dynasty.

Guru Rinpoche, Dasho Karma Ura said was the biggest exporter of rich Indian classical culture

A biography by Ugyen Lingpa, he said, stands as evidence of Guru Rinpoche’s journey towards Pakistan, Tajikistan, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, and many other parts of India including Kashmir.

The Lam Neten (chief abbot) of the district monastic body in Paro, Sonam Tenzin said holy places of Guru Rinpoche are manifested as body, speech, mind, wisdom and activities.

He said that Omba Nye in Tashiyangtse is the epithet of body, Aja Nye in Mongar for speech, Hungrel in Paro for mind, Baeyul Kengpajong for wisdom and Singye Dzong for activities.

The discussion in the afternoon saw professors and scholars from the Mahabodi Society of India trying to prove that Guru Rinpoche was indeed born in Odisha or Orrisa.

Uddiyana, a scholar said, is in Odisha and not the Swat valley in Pakistan. There is archeological and historical evidence proving this, it was pointed out.

Following an archeologist from the Italian archeological mission to Pakistan, (Dr) Luca M Olivieri presenting evidence of Guru Rinpoche and tantric buddhism’s existence in the Swat valley, participants were left confused.

However, he did not mention that Uddiyana, the birthplace of Guru is in Swat. “I am an archeologist and I leave it to the Buddhist scholars to ascertain this,” he said.

“Tibetans and Bhutanese should move away from the convention destination of Uddiyana,” said (Dr) Sourendra Kumar Mohapatra, trustee of Maha Bodhi Society of India, said.

Meanwhile, participants will light a thousand butter lamps before the Guru Throngdrel in Paro Dzong today. This would be followed by mask dances and Guru Dragmar offering feast.

The conference will resume after these events.

Tshering Dorji | Paro

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