Monday, June 21, 2010

The Lion's Roar

He reduced the three worlds,
he subjugated the three domains,

and received the name of Sange Dradog.

The manifestation for the Fifth Month is named Sengé Dradog, the Lion's Roar, one of two wrathful manifestations among the eight, this one appeared in India. Sengé Dradog is the first of the emanations to actively confront non-buddhist doctrines and practices. He appears in a wrathful form like Vajrapani, the Lord of Secrets empowered by the Buddha to be the teacher and protector of the mantrayana teachings. Padma originally received the name Sengé Dradog while residing in Lotus Pile, a large charnel ground in Oddiyana, in the center of which is a self-manifesting, luminous stupa, where Padma taught for five years. Then, in the cemetery Piled-up Black Clouds, Vajrapani himself, who was like a segment of rainbow, taught Padma the inner tantras, including the Guhyagarbha.

When Padma was practicing in Chilly Grove, a group of buddhist scholars at Nalanda were worried about an upcoming debate. While confident in philosophical matters, they were nervous when it came to demonstrating siddhi or magical power as they were facing highly developed competetitors. Protocol of the day demanded the defeated must wholeheartedly embrace their opponents' tradition. As the scholars discussed this, a black dakini appeared in the sky. Aware of their plight, she announced that her brother would be able to help. When asked who her brother was, she replied, Padmavajra and went on to explain that he could he summoned by reciting the Seven Line Prayer, which she taught them. So from the rooftops of Nalanda the pandits chanted the prayer with great devotion. Guru Rinpoche immediately appeared and agreed to help them.

This situation evokes a familiar theme; the need to complement transcendent wisdom with a wide spectrum of compassionate means to carry this awareness into the world for the benefit of beings. Buddha's two heart-disciples, Maudgalyayana and Sariputra, were boyhood friends before they joined the sangha. The latter was considered Buddha's wisest disciple while the former was highly adept in siddhi or magical attainment. The same binary theme appears a thousand years later in the story of Khenpo Santiraksita's first mission to Tibet. As subtle and insightful as the Khenpo was, ordinary Tibetans were not moved by his scholarly presentation of the Buddhadharma. To remedy this, he suggested the king invite Guru Padmasambhava, renowned for his 'marvelous attainments' and miraculous powers.

The buddhists easily won the dialectics phase of the debate. In response, the tirthika magicians tried to intimidate them, causing strong winds to blow while thunder rumbled and crashed for a week. They were obnoxious in their inability to accept defeat. In a moment of externalizing his anger at them, Padma summoned Singhamukha, the Lion-faced Dakini, who instantly granted full accomplishment and mantras to defeat all challengers. This was a form of Lekyi Wangmo, the Dakini of Deeds who had initiated Padma along with eight other vidyadharas in Chilly Grove. Awakening the knowledge he had originally explored through this connection, he transformed into Sengé Dradog, wrathful in a dark blue body he wears a garland of freshly severed heads, a tiger-skin skirt with a pot belly and a shawl made from the pelt of a white lion. Employing the subjugation mudra with his left hand, the terrifying apparitions and subtle obstructions disappear. Overwhelmed by the ferocity of his lion-like energy, the tirthikas left the area. Nalanda would remain a buddhist university for centuries to come.

According to Dudjom Rinpoche,
Once, when five hundred extremist teachers began to dispute the teaching at Vajrasana, the master defeated them in a contest of debate and occult power. When they cursed him, he warded off their spells by using the wrathful mantra which has been given to him by the dakini Marajita[1]. He brought down a mighty thunderbolt which "liberated" those teachers and set fire to their city. When he initiated the remainder of them into the Buddha's teaching and raised aloft the victory banner of the doctrine, he became known as Simhanada (Lion's Roar).
On another occasion, he appeared in Orissa at the site of a famous lingam. Every day people would slaughter and burn many animals there in ritual sacrifices. Sengé Dradok arrived and pointed his mudra at this lingam until it cracked and burst. People took that as a sign and animal sacrifices were discontinued in that area. In this same wrathful form he took up residence in Nepal at the charnel ground Many Mounds Self-Formed where he turned the Wheel of Dharma for five years while subjugating dakinis and the eight classes of gnomes.

Did Padma really fry those teachers and set fire to their city? The thunderbolt wielded by Vajrapani is the flash of Primordial Awareness which reveals the true nature of things. This terrifies the hounds of complacency and the hens of mediocre aspiration. The Lion's Roar is the thunderous reverberation of blessing energy and extraordinary activity as the vajra encounters the city of conventional conception and ignites the spiritual process. We should all be so fortunate.


[1] Mārajitā - Subduer of Mara, a dakini who gave Padmasambhava empowerments in Chilly Grove

No comments: