Tibetan Renaissance Seminar > Weekly Calendar of Activities> Week 6


Kathmandu (ye rang) is the capital of Nepal. It is situated in the Kathmandu valley along with Pātan and Bhaktapur. Although Pātan was the “traditional Buddhist metropolis in the Kathmandu valley” and is represented as a Buddhist Pure Land in Tibetan literature, Kathmandu was an important place in the Renaissance period and shares many of its features. Of particular importance is the fact that all three locations sit at the confluence of several trader routes that were used by the Tibetan translators traveling to and from India As Davidson points out, the smaller monasteries and regional temples found in places such as Kathmandu were a source of many of the esoteric teachings Tibetan translators were bringing back to Tibet (Davidson, 126-133). It is of further historical importance for the Renaissance period because Atiśa stayed near Kathmandu for a year on his way to Tibet (accompanied by Gya-lo and Nagtso) and founded Stham Vihāra on the model of Vikramaśila (Davidson, 109).

Kathmandu itself does not appear prominently in the Blue Annals, as it is mentioned only six times. However, it is always associated with important teachings or teachers, and with esoteric teachings in almost every case. For example, it first appears in a description of the second of the “four wonderful spectacles” that came to Lhajé Daben Özer (lha rje zla ba'i 'od zer, 1123-1182), who was known as an incarnation of Dharmapa, in a vision. The Blue Annals describes the vision: “When a Hevajra yogin was performing Tantric rites at ye rang (Kathmandu), he saw sixteen girls adorned with ornaments made of bones, riding on an elephant, and the yogin adorned with bone ornaments sitting on a mat made of the skin of a Kṛṣṇasāra antelope” (Roerich, 231). As another example of the importance of Kathmandu in relation to esoteric teachings, after finding and translating a text on the rite of the maṇḍala Krryāsamuccaya, it was necessary to find someone from whom initiation and permission (lung) to read it could be obtained. Because there was no one in Tibet who could do this, phags pa gzhon nu blo gros and six of his disciples had to travel to Kathmandu where they obtained the initiation and permission to read the text from the paṇḍita Mahabodhi (Roerich 1045-1046).


The Blue Annals

Davidson, Tibetan Renaissance