A Praise to Yolmo Gangra

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sbas yul yol mo’i gnas bstod ka gsum bcu bzhugs so/

Chatral Sangye Dorje Rinpoche’s alphabetic praise to Yolmo,[1] the sacred residence of the hidden land of Yolmo/Helambu, meditation retreat of the siddhas Rwalo, Milarepa and Götsangpa, birthplace and site of many hidden treasures of Rigdzin Gökyi Demthru Chen [2]

Ka, Kha, Ga, Nga

Like a pillar hoisted in the sky, you, steep Mount Jomo, Noble Lady; not abiding in one colour; but at all times changing with the seasons; entirely surrounded by snowy peaks that are like powdered camphor; we, holders of the transmission of Padma, praise you as our dwelling place!

Ca, Cha, Ja , Nya

Free here, from the changing weather of endless chatter, thorns to one’s samadhi; with for friends, the homeless deer that have but few emotional afflictions; those training in Dharma here, are presented with tea and chang as a homage; yet not allowed fish or pork, or other faulty foods such as go unconfessed.

Ta, Tha, Da, Na

The Tathagata Vajra, the stainless Lakeborn One; pondered about the end of times and by the power of his own blessings; at present, conditions favourable for practice spontaneously come together. Once preoccupied with sickness and joy, with death and happiness, I now rejoice in this hidden dwelling.

Pa, Pha, Ba, Ma

White like the evening star, the snowy surface of the three upper slopes; nothing but rocky crags and wooded valleys, defying all orientation; similar to Baling-tormas arranged in rows, is the layout of the frightening heights [where]; an unseen spectacle, this new banquet takes place in a most excellent way.

Tsa, Tsha, Dza, Wa

Like the heights of Tsari-Tra,[3] it is indestructible, even by the final wars; though with regular temperatures such as rise up from the Nepal-Tibet border regions; it is not the sphere of activity of the ill-behaved, or for those with wrong views; and at a residence like this, amidst a forest [full] of foxes and wolves, of what concern could be the wild border people?

Zha, Za, ‘a, Ya

Having dropped my stiff hat, I feel compassion for what is like a monkeys optical illusion; and, as an enemy of the hunter desirous for food, I chase away [from him] the herds of deer; near to his straw hut in our own valley. Who brought you here? This one? Any brute, by our own thoughts of compassion, is rendered powerless.

Ra, La, Sha, Sa

Rwalo,[4] Mila,[5] Götsang,[6] these three and other Tibetans; not just a few, but siddhas numerous, both of the new and the old schools; all closely adhered to the hardship of feeding on mushrooms and nettle soup. Along the grounds and the path of renunciation, may you perceive perfection through the hollow avadhuti.

Ha, A

This melodious song of praise to the sacred spot of Chemalug im Halam;[7] from the Joyful Valley of Mother Jomo Yangri, I release.

These wondrous words were uttered by Chadral.


[1] Each line starts out with another letter of the Tibetan alphabet, beginning with the first [Ka] and ending with the last [A], so there are thirty lines altogether.

[2] rig 'dzin rgod kyi ldem phru can – the Vulture-feathered Vidydhara, alias dngos grub rgyal mtshan [1337-1408]. The great treasure revealer of the byang gter tradition who was born in yol mo [also occasionally spelled g.yol mo]. Among his termas are the rdzogs chen teachings of ka dag rang byung rang shar and the better known dgongs pa zang thal. When he was 12 years old three vulture feathers grew on his head, and five more when he was 24. He passed away at the age of 71 amidst miraculous signs.

[3] Also known as dpal gyi tsa ri tra, tsa ri dgangs and dag pa shel ri; one of the three most important mountains of Tibet. The other two being dgangs dkar ti se or Mount Kailash and la phyi dgangs. While Mount Kailash is certainly the most famous of the three, it is interesting to note that the 4th rgyal dbang ‘brug pa, head of the ‘brug pa bka’ brgyud, the famous ‘brug chen pad ma dkar po [1527-1592], in his guide [gnas yig] to this sacred site, regards tsa ri as the most important of them. These three mountains are listed among the gnas chen nyi shu rtsa bzhi, the "24 sacred places of the world" and are often called the "three holy mountains of Tibet". All three mountains are associated with the body- speech- and mind aspects of Chakrasamvara and Vajravarahi. tsa ri is also the seat of, among others, the protective deity zhing skyong kun dga’ gzhon nu. The greater part of tsa ri is situated in present-day Arunchal Pradesh, a federal state of India bordering on Tibet. For more information on tsa ri, see the pad ma dkar po gsung ‘bum, gnas chen tsa ri tra'i ngo mtshar snang ba pad dkar legs bshad, Vol. 4, pp. 207-274 and Toni Huber: The Cult Of Pure Crystal Mountain, Oxford University Press, 1999.

[4] rwa lo tsa ba rdo rje 'grags, alias mthu stobs dbang phyug rje btsun rwa lo tsA ba.

[5] rje btsun mi la ras pa, alias mi la bzhad pa'i rdo rje [1040-1123], one of the founding fathers of the bka’ brgyud pa traditions, disciple of mar pa lo tsA ba chos kyi blo gros [1012-1097], master of ras chung rdo rje grags pa [1084-1161] and sgam po pa bsod nams rin chen [1079-1153].

[6] rgod tshang ras pa sna tshogs rang grol [1482-1559], one of the foremost disciples of gtsang smyon he ru ka [1452-1507] and author of his biography - not to be confused with the much earlier rgod tshang pa mgon po rdo rje [1189-1258], an early Drugpa Kagyü master, disciple of 'gro mgon gtsang pa rgya ras [1161-1211], and teacher of yang dgon chos kyi rgyal po [1213-1287]. The 6th zhwa dmar gar dbang chos kyi dbang phyug [1584-1630], in his gnas yig to yol mo, identifies him clearly. Having been gtsang smyon’s disciple, who was famous for frequenting many of the former practice places of rje btsun mi la ras pa (he did lengthy retreats in la phyi where he compiled rje btsun mi la ras pa’s biography and collected songs, around the year 1488), rgod tshang ras pa would have been doing likewise.

[7] A play on the local name for the region: Helambu. The name is indicative of the staple foods of Yolmo/Helambu. He, in the local language, means potatoes and Lambu means radish.