Tibetan and Himalayan Library - THL

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Takten Hermitage (Takten RitröRtags bstan ri khrod)
by José Ignacio Cabezón
April 27, 2006

Location and Layout

Takten Hermitage (Takten RitröRtags bstan ri khrod).

The words rtags bstan mean “revealed sign.”1 According to one source,2 when the famous GelukpaDge lugs pa lamabla ma, Pabongkha Dechen NyingpoPha bong kha bde chen snying po (1878-1941), was looking for a retreat place in the hills north of SeraSe ra, he arrived at this site and had a vision in which a crow spoke to him. This was the “sign” that “revealed” to him that this was the spot where he should remain in retreat.

The hermitage (ritröri khrod) is located northeast of SeraSe ra and just east of Trashi Chöling Hermitage (Trashi ChölingBkra shis chos gling ri khrod). It takes about fifty minutes to walk from TaktenRtags bstan to SeraSe ra, but only about fifteen minutes to reach Trashi ChölingBkra shis chos gling. TaktenRtags bstan is the third hermitage at which pilgrims stop during the “Sixth-Month Fourth-Day” (Drukpa TsezhiDrug pa tshe bzhi) pilgrimage. (To see images of this pilgrimage taken in 2002, please click here.)

The hermitage for the most part consists of caves. Façades (and sometimes rooms) have been added in front of the cave entrances. There are a few separate buildings that have not been constructed onto the face of the cliff, however. Self-arisen images (rangjönrang byon) are ubiquitous throughout the site. One of the most important is the self-arisen image of one of the eyes of Cakrasaṃvara (DemchokBde mchog),3 and indeed TaktenRtags bstan in general is renowned as a site with a strong connection to this deity. There is also a famous spring whose waters are said to have magical, curative properties. The spring is connected with the deity Naro KachömaNa ro mkha’ spyod ma.

The eye of Cakrasaṃvara in one of TaktenRtags bstan’s caves.

[1] In fact the words can be spelled two other ways in Tibetan, and each spelling has a different meaning. When spelled rtags brtan, the words mean “stable or trustworthy sign.” When spelled rtag brtan, they mean “permanent and stable.” Ser smad spom ra dge bshes ye shes dbang phyug, Ser smad thos bsam nor gling grwa tshang gi chos ’byung lo rgyus nor bu’i phreng ba [A History of the Sermé Tösam Norling College: A Garland of Jewels] (Bylakuppe: Sermey Printing Press, 1984), 39, prefers the “revealed sign” (rtags bstan) etymology. Dungkar Lozang TrinléDung dkar blo bzang ’phrin las, Dungkar Tsikdzö ChenmoDung dkar tshig mdzod chen mo [The Great Dungkar Dictionary] (Krung go’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang, 2002), 985, prefers the “permanent and stable” (rtag brtan) etymology.
[2] Ye shes dbang phyug, Sermé LogyüSer smad lo rgyus [A History of Sera Mé], 39.
Takten Hermitage , by José Ignacio Cabezón

Table of Contents

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