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Dakpo Gazeteer Entry

Alison Melnick 2007

General information

NameDakpo (དགས་་པོ། དྭགས་པོ)
Transliteration formdags po/dwags po
PronunciationDak po
Source of informationRoerich, George N. The Blue Annals, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1996 (Reprint), www.tbrc.org (TBRC #G1390)
Spatial LocationSoutheast of Ü (dbus) , Kongpo (kong po), and Lhasa (lha sa)
ProvinceTibet Autonomous Region
Cultural locationCentral Tibet
Location's languageCentral Tibetan
Blue Annals Referencesvi, 155, 181, 185, 187, 189, 278, 292, 296, 305, 365, 453, 498, 516,548, 572, 602, 603, 672, 718, 723, 824, 875, 986, 1018, 1052, 1053, 1087, 1088; dags po krongs kha 657, dags po tshong sde 985, dags po rdzongs kha 874, dags po zhu ru 182 and 184, dags po la bar 546

Historical Summary

The history of the Dakpo region as recounted in the Blue Annals is extremely important for the Kagyu sect. According to Gö Lotsawa, Gampopa was ordained in Dakpo by Shepalingpa (shab pa gling pa), the founder of Shepaling (shab pa gling) Monastery (this is the first monastery mentioned in the Blue Annals in association with Dakpo). The young Gampopa then traveled to Lower Dakpo, where he learned the Cycle of Saṃvara and it’s associated text, the Rinchen Gyendrukma (rin chen rgyan drug ma), from the teacher Maryul Lönden (mar yul blo ldan). According to the Blue Annals, all of this occurred before Gampopa had even heard of Milarepa.

Throughout the Blue Annals, Dakpo is described by way of its many monasteries and famous practitioners who are associated with the region, which will be discussed in further detail below.

Dakpo in the Blue Annals

The region of Dakpo appears many times in the Blue Annals as a central location for practitioners associated with Gampopa and his lineage. It is the birthplace of the Dakpo Kagyu (dags po’i bka’ ’brgyud) branch of the Kagyu sect, and the author makes direct connections between the Dakpo Kagyu and the Pamodrupa (phag mo gru pa) and Drikung Kagyu (’bri khung) lineages. According to Gö Lotsawa, the Dakpo Kagyu was the progenitor of both of these lineages.

Gö Lotsawa explains that the Dakpo Kagyu is a Mahāmudrā-based lineage that employs the Mahāmudrā Anuttara Tantra text (Gö Lotsawa believes this text to have been composed by Maitreya). In his explanation of Mahāmudrā, he puts forth an argument for how Mahāmudrā is in fact closely associated with Prajñāpāramitā (a sūtra). He emphasizes a connection between sūtra and tantra that was, according to him, rejected by Gelukpas of his time (R724). Elsewhere in the book, Gö Lotsawa associates the region with the Guhyasamāja tantra (R365). Throughout Roerich’s translation of Gö Lotsawa’s work, there are strong suggestions that Dakpo is revered as one of the most important regions for practice within the Kagyu tradition. In addition to the systems and practitioners already mentioned above, he also includes a detailed discussion of the Mahāmudrā and its relationship to sūtra-based practices.

Dakpo is most frequently referred to in the Blue Annals as a region encompassing many important locations; some of those mentioned include: Zanglung (zangs lung) Monastery, the Cave of Gar (’gar) (a meditation cave), Shepaling (shab pa gling) Monastery, Dakpo Zhuru Monastery, Rimodo (ri mo mdo), Dromda Monastery (dro mda’), Namoshö Monastery (na mo shod), and Dakpo Lawar (la bar). These places are generally mentioned with little detail beyond their associations with various important practitioners.

Some of the people associated with Dakpo include sakya ’od of sman lung (also known as Mikyö Dorje- sm bskyod rdo rje) and his follower Sangye Longlawapa (sangs rgyas glong la ba pa). Ridongpa Shenrap Gyeltsen (ri gdong pa shes rab rgyal mtshan) is also said to have traveled to Dakpo in order to teach Kurepa (ku rab pa) and many unnamed tantric practitioners. This is specifically important to Gö Lotsawa because as a result of this teaching, the Māyā (sgyu ’phrul) system was practiced continuously in Dakpo, even during his lifetime (R155). For Dzeng (’dzeng) Dharmabodhi, Dakpo (and specifically Dakpo Zhuru Monastery, referred to also as “the monastery of lha zur of zu ru” R 182) was his base of teachings and the place where he initially took precepts from Lama Zedampa (zal gdams pa). Gö Lotsawa dedicates a significant amount of space to the story of Dzeng Dharmabodhi (he has his own chapter). After he became a teacher, a community of practitioners seems to have collected around Dzeng, and miraculous occurrences are connected with Dzeng and his practitioners. Ngorjé Kunga Ö (ngor rje kun dga’ ’od) is believed to have composed and taught expositions on the Guhyasamāja tantra. Many of his followers went to Dakpo (where, we can presume, they continued to pass on his teachings). Also mentioned are Nakgyi Wangchuk (ngag gi dbang phyug) of Dakpo Tsongdé (dags po tshong sde) and Batso Repa (ba tsho ras pa), neither of whom are discussed in much detail.

In terms of practice, Gö Lotsawa thinks very highly of the abilities of the practitioners in the Dakpo region; it is mentioned as the only place where the precepts taught by Dzeng were properly practiced (R181). Gö Lotsawa explains that, as a result, these practitioners were able to plan the time of their deaths, and as they died, rainbows appeared to enter their bodies and they were completely free from pain.

Since it is a region rich in Buddhist practitioners and institutions, the author of the Blue Annals names Dakpo as an important region to visit on pilgrimage. Gö Lotsawa’s portrayal of Dakpo suggests that serious practitioners made a point of stopping in the region to receive teachings any time they were traveling (R278, 516). Dakpo’s monasteries are described as places for Kagyu practice, and are most frequently associated with individual occurrences of practitioners gathering in order to hear teachings and conduct practice. It is noteworthy that the details of which practices are being conducted, and which teachings are being presented, are rarely described in detail throughout the book. Rather, although Dakpo is mentioned at least 34 times throughout the book, the only detailed accounts of associated lineages and practices are the those discussed above. It seems that, once the region’s main lineal and sectarian associations have been explained, Gö Lotsawa then turned his focus to naming the actual holders of the teachings and where, when, and with whom they studied. This implies that, while the teachings are themselves extremely important, the pedigree of transmission is of central importance to a lineage’s history.

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