WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO: Tashi Gyepa, literally the eight-fold auspiciousness, consists of verses to bring about auspiciousness by invoking four sets of eight divinities. It is one of the most common prayers said in Bhutan by the followers of both Kagyu and Nyingma traditions. The verses were composed in 1896 by the famous Tibetan philosopher and polymath Mipham Namgyel Gyatsho (1846-1912). Mipham composed thirty-two enormous volumes of texts on a wide range of topics but this prayer is probably the most popular of his compositions.  It is a prayer, which is very widely used in the Himalayan Buddhist world when people start a project or a religious practice.

In the colophon, Mipham claims that if one chants the prayer when one wakes up, it will help one make the whole day productive and fulfilling; if one chants the prayer when one is going to sleep, it will make the sleep virtuous and stimulate good dreams. If one chants before starting a new project, the project will become a success and if one chants while going to war, one would come out of it victorious. Chanting this prayer daily is said to bring happiness, prosperity, peace, and fulfilment of all one’s wishes, to eliminate all obstacles, problems, negativities and to eventually help the person reach enlightenment.

The prayer contains salutations to four sets of divine forces who bestow the blessings of auspiciousness and beneficence. The prayer begins with the verse of homage to the Buddhas, dharma and their followers who abide in the auspicious and naturally pure realms in the ten directions. Then, Mipham presents salutations to the eight Buddhas who are particularly known for blessings of auspiciousness. This part is based on a sūtra in which the historical Buddha, Śākyamuni instructs Tsalrab, a young man of Licchavi clan, to remember and call the names of these Buddhas. The eight Buddhas are Dronme Gyalpo, Tsalten Dhondupgong, Kunla Gongpa Jacher Drakpachen, Jampai Gyenpal, Gewar Drakpa Paldampa, Lhunpo Tarphagpa Tsalrab Drakpai Pal, Semchen Thamche Lagongpa Drakpai Pal and Yidtshim Zepa Tselrab Drakpai Pal.

In the next set, Mipham pays homage to the eight bodhisattvas: Mañjuśrī, Vajrapāni, Avalokiteśvara, Maitreya, Kṣitigarbha, Nivāraṇaviśkambhin, Akaśagarbha and Samantabhadra, who hold in their hands a blue utpal flower, vajra, white lotus, naga plant, jewel, moon, sword and sun respectively.

Mipham then makes salutations to eight female divinities who bring auspiciousness upon merely thinking of them. They are Lāsyā, Mālyā, Gītā, Nirtī, Pūṣpā, Dhupā, Alokā and Gandhā who hold the eight auspicious symbols of supreme parasol, golden fish, wish-fulfilling vase, beautiful lotus, resounding conch shell, marvellous eternal knot, banner of victory and empowering wheel in their hands.

In the next set, Mipham pays homage to the eight protectors of the world including Brahmā, Śiva, Vīṣṇu, Indra and four Lokapālas or Worldly Kings: Dhṛtarāṣṭra, Virūḍhaka, Virūpākṣa and Vaiśravaṇa. Mipham concludes the prayer with a verse calling on these divine forces to help overcome all obstacles and harms, fulfil all noble wishes and help auspiciousness and good marvellous things to prevail.

Tashi Gyepa is considered to be a very powerful prayer and recommended by many great teachers and lamas. When one chants this prayer, one must visualise the sets of deities and make the prayers with great devotion and sincerity with the noble intention to bring success, beneficence and auspiciousness to all sentient beings.

Dr Karma Phuntsho, is the founding director of Loden Foundation and author of The History of Bhutan


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