Oral transmission of Kanjyur at Kuenselphodrang

About 30,000 devotees including monks, nuns, lay practitioners are receiving kanjyur (translated words) loong (oral transmission) from His Holiness the Je Khenpo at Kuenselphodrang in Thimphu.

Kanjyur, considered the most precious and profound teachings, is the translated words of Shakyamuni Buddha. It includes the entire 84,000 different teachings that Shakyamuni gave to his disciples, including those in the naga (Lu) and god realms.

A section of Kanjyur, Prajanaparimitra, was discovered by the scholar Nagarjuna from the naga world.

During the first day of the oral transmission of kanjyur on August 02, around 50,000 devotees thronged to receive the vinaya section of the teachings.

Devotees from Nepal, Ladakh, Darjeeling and Sikkim and abroad are also attending the oral transmission programme that will end in November.

“Just by hearing a line of kanjyur may enable one to recognise the nature of mind,” said Shingkhar Lam Ngodup Dorji, one of the members of kanjyur oral transmission committee.

It is believed that attending the oral transmission would enable accumulation of merit, which is base for generating wisdom and compassion.

This is the fourth time His Holiness is presiding over kanjyur transmission in the country. His Holiness received the oral transmission of kanjyur from His Holiness Dudjom Jigdral Yeshe Dorje.

Origin

It is believed that a year after the passing away of Shakyamuni Buddha, 500 arhats (perfected persons) convened at the first council in Rajgir to understand the Buddha’s teachings and preserve them without diluting their origin.

Shingkhar Lam Ngodup Dorji said that the first council was held basically to ascertain how the arhats could keep the Buddha’s teachings in their mind and live with it. There was no written text, so the arahats memorised the entire teachings.

Ananda, one of the ten principal disciples of Buddha, and Upali, were among the 500 arhats who uttered suttas and vinaya.

Sponsored by Emperor Ashoka, the second council was held in Visali where 700 arhats met to further discuss the preservation of the teachings. The council was organised 110 years after Buddha’s passing or parinirvana.

The council was held to adjudicate on ten points, which amounted to minor infringements of the vinaya, such as handling money and eating after midday.

Shingkhar Lam said that it was only in the third council the teachings were written. That is when the kanjyur came into being.

Sponsored by Kanishka, the council was held in Kashmir where Buddha’s words “Ka” were written in Sanskrit and Pali.

In Tibet, kanjyur was translated since 7th century during the time of King Songtsen Gampo.

“Ka” is word of Buddha and “Jyur” means translation.

Secretary of Kanjyur oral transmission committee, Khenpo Sangye Chhoedak, said that the existence of the 21 sutras of Avalokiteshvara in the 7th century indicates that kanjyur translation had began from that time on. The 21 sutras of Avalokiteshvara is a part of kanjyur.

During the 8th century, scholar from Nyingma tradition such as Berotsana, Kawa Peltsek and Chokro luyi Geltshen were involved in kanjyur translation. In the 11th century, translators from Kagyu lineage, Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo and Marpa Chokyi Lodro contributed greatly in the translation of kanjyur.

According to a source, the first translation of kangyur was undertaken by Tibetan scholar Buston (1200-1364) and the first edition was printed in 1410 in Peking.

Depending on the edition, kangyur comprises 101-120 volumes. The one that His Holiness is reciting currently was printed in Narthang. It has around 103 volumes. Some were printed in Dargye and Lhasa. Depending on the volumes, the page numbers also differ. Some volumes have 70,000 pages.

The kanjyur consists of three major sections of which one is vinaya, a set of disciplines that monks ought to follow. According to vinaya, a fully-ordained monk should practise 250 disciplines.

The sutra consists of transcendent perfection wisdom. One of the sutras of perfection wisdom is Prajnaparamita, which deals with emptiness.

The third major component is Abhidharma, which deals with reasoning, analytical part and cosmology, among others.

The oral transmission is being organised by the lams and trulkus of Nyingma monastic institutes in collaboration with the central monastic body (Zhung Dratshang).

Tenzin Namgyel

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