Reviving the tantric teachings of Hevajra

Ngagdra Dorji Choegar institute offers major tantric studies of Vajrayana Buddhism

Religion: The first tantric institute in the country, which will soon be ready with proper classrooms and hostels, is expected to revive the Hevajra tantra, an advance teaching and practice of understanding the nature of mind.

Started in 2007, the institute, Ngagdra Dorji Choegar still being built at Kurizampa, Mongar, has been sending at least 60 monks a year to nine retreat centres to undergo six practices of Naropa. It offers all major tantric studies of Vajrayana Buddhism.

During the six-year course, monks and lay monks learn mandala making, in-depth study in spiritual instructions, visualization practice, contemplation, receive oral transmission, and learn mantra.

One of the main subjects that are taught throughout the course is Hevajra Tantra, a comprehensive study of Buddhist text taught by the tutelary deity, Hevajra. Hevajra is a male deity that holds personified symbol for the Buddhist concept of a supreme being in the state of nonduality.

Statue of Hevajra being built at the institute

Statue of Hevajra being built at the institute

The introduction of this course will help revive the teaching that was on the brink of extinction, said founder of the institute, His Eminence Gyeltshen Trulku.

His Eminence said Hevajra Tantra is an advance teaching and practice of understanding the nature of mind. He added that Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal brought the lineage of Hevajra Tantra that was passed down by the great master, Kunkhyen Pema Karpo in Tibet. The teaching had waned after Zhabdrung.

However, the 69th Je Khenpo, late Gendun Rinchen who requested an oral transmission of the teaching from His Holiness Dilgo Khentse Rinpoche wrote a commentary based on the transmission. Since then the teaching was revived.

His Eminence Gyeltshen Trulku said Hevajra Tantra is one of the oldest texts taught before the time of Sakyamuni Buddha. Buddhist canon (kanjur) explains that Hevejra taught Hevejra Tantra on the tip of Mount Meru after subduing lord Shiva.

It is believed that before the existence of Buddha there was no god on the earth to whom people could take refuge. They approached lord Shiva who was day and night uniting with his consort Parvati.

Having no time to attend to peoples’ request, Shiva gave devotees his representative, Shivalinga. In Hindu faith Shivalinga is worshipped even today.

It is also believed that devotees who had tremendous desire indulged in sex, and those who had high level of hatred slaughtered animals, and offered their blood to Shiva. While people with ignorance kept drinking day and night.

Knowing that people were going on the wrong path, the bodhisattvas sent Hevajra to Mount Meru to subdue Shiva. Hevajra took the form of Sihva so that people would not mistake with their lord.

As a mark of victory Shiva was put beneath the feet of Hevajra deity and it is depicted in the statue today. After subduing Shiva the first teaching Hevajra gave was Hevajra Tantra. Gyeltshen Trulku said after that Hevajra converted eight sites of Shiva into eight major crematoriums and 32 villages into pilgrim sites.

As homage to Hevejra, the institute is building a 21-feet tall statue of the deity. It will be the largest statue in the country. The deity has eight faces with 16 arms. He holds his consort, which in Buddhism is union of wisdom and compassion, the essence of ultimate realization.

His Eminence said tantric study would give a complete set of knowledge and skills that one requires in retreat centres. “Once they graduate from the institute they can straight away start with meditation,” he said.

The courses began with the construction of the institute in 2007. Each year at least 60 monks graduate from the institute and join the retreat centres for three and six year-meditation course. There are around 200 monks.

His Holiness the Je Khenpo on October 30 will consecrate the institute.

Tenzin Namgyel

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