Tibetan and Himalayan Library - THL

THL Title Text
Garu Nunnery
by José Ignacio Cabezón
Section 4 of 4


[1] My treatment of this hermitage (RitröRi khrod) derives in part from a short history of the nunnery published in a small booklet in Tibet: Ngawang MengyalNgag dbang sman rgyal, Gargön Samten Linggi Logyü Münsel Tongwa DöndenGar dgon bsam gtan gling gi lo rgyus mun sel mthong ba don ldan [A History of Gargön Samten Ling: Clearing Away Darkness, Meaningful to Behold] (Lha sa: ?, 1997) [hereafter GarloGar lo]. I have also consulted Bshes gnyen tshul khrims, Lhasé Gönto Rinchen PunggyenLha sa’i dgon tho rin chen spungs rgyan [A Catalogue of the Monasteries of Lhasa: A Heap of Jewels (Bod ljongs mi dmangs dpe skrun khang, 2001), 30-37 [hereafter Lhasé GöntoLha sa’i dgon tho].
[2] According to GarloGar lo, 27 , before 1959 the nuns had no formal estate lands (chözhichos gzhis) or serfs (misermi ser). They did, however, have at their disposal the products (like butter) produced by a herd of about five-hundred animals that were kept in the northern Tibetan plateau. These dairy products were brought down to the monastery on a yearly basis in the spring by the nomads who were in charge of these flocks.
[3] A reddish powder used for ritual purposes.
[4] Conches are often used as musical instruments in Tibetan rituals. A hole is made at one end of the conch, and when blown through, it emits a sound not unlike that of a trombone.
[5] GarloGar lo, 11 .
[6] GarloGar lo, 12 .
[7] Cakrasaṃvara has three eyes. The other two are located at PabongkhaPha bong kha and TaktenRtags brten hermitages.
[8] The number of pillars used to support the roof of a building was a standard way of measuring the interior size of buildings. The GaruGa ru temple is today an eight-pillar temple, although today it also has a two-pillar rear chapel, which is where the statuary is kept (see GarloGar lo, 33). It appears that before 1959 the temple was not subdivided in this way (into an altar portion and an assembly-hall portion) but was instead one large room with the altar being located in the northern portion where the back chapel exists today. The account of the images in the temple that follows is based on GarloGar lo, chapter 3, 20-24 .
[9] Lhasé GöntoLha sa’i dgon tho, 32 , states that it was a statue of Pa Dampa SanggyéPha dam pa sangs rgyas when he was two years old, and claims that it was this statue that was the chief object of worship of the nunnery.
[10] The text was been reproduced in GarloGar lo, 36-39 . The author of GarloGar lo, 40 , claims that TukenThu’u bkwan (1737-1802) believes that this short text is the basis for the biography of Pa Dampa SanggyéPha dam pa sangs rgyas written by Chökyi SenggéChos kyi seng ge.
[11] Lhasé GöntoLha sa’i dgon tho, 32 , states that the tangkathang kas were of the former lives of TsongkhapaTsong kha pa (1357-1419), and that they came from Amdo Dorjé KumbumA mdo rdo rje sku ’bum.
[12] Lhasé GöntoLha sa’i dgon tho, 32 , mentions only a statue of the Fifth Dalai Lama (Dalai Lama Kutreng NgapaDa lai bla ma sku phreng lnga pa).
[13] Lhasé GöntoLha sa’i dgon tho, 32 , mentions only a statue of the first Drakri RinpochéBrag ri rin po che.
[14] According to Lhasé GöntoLha sa’i dgon tho, 33 , this deity was the chief protector deity of the monastery. This deity is not mentioned in GarloGar lo\.
[15] For a more detailed treatment of the “footprint collection” at GaruGa ru see Lhasé GöntoLha sa’i dgon tho, 36 .
[16] The account that follows is based largely on GarloGar lo, chapter 2, 17-19 , although I have supplemented this with some additional information found in Lhasé GöntoLha sa’i dgon tho\.
[17] Lhasé GöntoLha sa’i dgon tho gives the more precise date of 1113 for the events that are about to be recounted.
[18] Lhasé GöntoLha sa’i dgon tho, 31 , calls this Mo Barha NyakMo barha nyag.
[19] Of course, since history is always written “by the victors” – in this case the GelukpaDge lugs pas – we do not know whether in fact the nuns asked to be incorporated into the GelukDge lugs school or whether they were forced to do so. Whatever the case, it should be noted that PabongkhaPha bong kha is the hermitage closest to GaruGa ru, and that simply from a geographical viewpoint it makes sense to administratively locate the nunnery under the aegis of PabongkhaPha bong kha. Eventually the Drakri lamaBrag ri bla mas moved their base of operations from PabongkhaPha bong kha to Drakri Hermitage (Drakri RitröBrag ri ri khrod), perhaps during the life of Gyatso TayéRgya mtsho mtha’ yas himself.
[20] Lhasé GöntoLha sa’i dgon tho, 31 , states that this took place in 1792.
[21] For the complete ritual cycle of the nunnery, see Lhasé GöntoLha sa’i dgon tho, 33-34 .
Garu Nunnery , by José Ignacio Cabezón

Table of Contents

  1. Location and Layout
  2. History
  3. Glossary
  4. Notes
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