Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Gyeltshen (Victory Banner) and Prayer to Gyaltsen Tsemö Pung Gyen

The Gyeltshen is an element in traditional Bhutanese architecture that represents the  “Victory Banner” a symbol of Buddha Shakyamuni’s use of the four immeasurable, and fearless resolve, that led him to victory over the forces of Mara (or negative influences; the five aggregates of personality, emotional defilements, death, desire and temptation).

The victory banner was adopted by early Buddhism as an emblem of the Buddha's enlightenment, heralding the triumph of knowledge over ignorance.

It is said to have been placed on the summit of Mt. Meru by Buddha himself, symbolizing his victory over the entire universe. Again, Mount Meru here is believed to be the central axis supporting the world.

The flag of victory also denotes Buddha's triumph over Mara, who personifies hindrances on the path to spiritual realization. Specifically, there are said to be four types of Maras, each one representing an individual hurdle on the path to spiritual progress. These are:

1.     Mara of Emotional Defilement

2.     Mara of Passion

3.     Mara of the Fear of Death

4.     Mara of Pride and Lust

It was only after conquering these four negative traits that Buddha could proclaim victory over ignorance, and achieve nirvana.

Cylindrical victory banners made of beaten copper are traditionally placed at the four corners of monastery and temple roofs. These signify the Buddha's victorious dharma radiating to the four directions and also his triumph over the four Maras mentioned above.

The Gyeltshen was thus only placed over roofs of religious buildings, palaces and residences of high Buddhist Masters as a mark of sacred blessings.

The Gyeltshen is constructed out of brass or copper which is often plated in gold with carvings of sacred iconography and prayers. The Gyeltshen is usually placed directly over all types of roof including Jabzhi roof and Jamthok roof. Unlike the Sertog roof, the roof for Gyeltshen is not decorated with Chuza Chulo or Chunju Patra.

The Gyeltshen is often also placed over the very tall prayer flag poles known as Lhadar.

In this case the Gyeltshen is made out of simple elements such as local cloth which is wrapped in a simple woven bamboo container basket.

༄༅། །རྒྱལ་མཚན་རྩེ་མོའི་དཔུང་རྒྱན་གྱི་གསོལ་འདེབས་བཞུགས།

Prayer to Gyaltsen Tsemö Pung Gyen1

by Mipham Rinpoche

ཨོཾ། གུ་རུ་ཡི་དམ་རྒྱལ་མཚན་རྩེ་མོའི་ཏོག 

om, guru yidam gyaltsen tsemö tok

O! We take refuge in the gurus, the yidams, and in you, Gyaltsen Tsemö Pung Gyen,


pung gyen lhatsok khyé la kyab su chi

Along with all your retinue!


dakchak nying né solwa tabpé tü

By the power of this fervent prayer of ours,


güpa kün lé nyurdu kyab tu sol

Quickly protect us from all failure and misfortune!

ཨོཾ་ཧཱུྂ་སྭཱ་ཧཱ། དཔུང་རྒྱན་ལྷ་ཚོགས་ཁྱེད་ཀྱི་རྫུ་འཕྲུལ་མཐུས། 

om hung soha | pung gyen lhatsok khyé kyi dzutrul tü

O svāhā! O Pung Gyen, and your retinue:


dak dang gyujor yöndak khor ché la

With the force of your magical display, for us, our benefactors, and all those around us


milam ngen dang sam ngen jor tsub dok

Avert all bad dreams, and those who have ill thoughts or do us harm!


jekha purkha tabtsö truklong dok

Avert spells and curses, dispute and conflict!


sok lü wangtang lungta güpa dok

Avert all weakening in our life force, body, wangtang and windhorse!


mi la natsa chuk la gökha dok

Avert all illness in men and women, all loss of our resources!


tsé dang sönam pal dang drakpa sok

Grant us long life, merit, glory and renown, and


nyintsen küntu delek dzé du sol

Make peace and happiness reign, throughout both day and night!


By the one called Mipham.

1.     Gyaltsen Tsemö Pung Gyen, whose name translates roughly as 'Ornament on the Top of the Victory Banner', is a female deity whose dhāraī is particularly treasured as a method for enhancing windhorse. The Buddha said that in a previous life he had heard her dhāraī, and from that moment on never again did he experience fear or defeat.


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