Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Songs of the Sixth Dalai Lama

The sixth Dalai Lama Losang Rigdzin Tsangyang Gyatsho (1683-1706), whose name means “The ocean of melodious songs” was a special Dalai Lama.
Born in a renowned Nyingma family and brought up at a late age in the Gelugpa tradition, Tsangyang Gyatsho proved to be an uncomfortable blend of the two traditions. But leaving aside the unfortunate politics that surrouynded his desolate life, Tsangyang Gyatsho brought to holy Lhasa and Shol taverns some of the purest and most beautiful lyrics of all times.

Extraordinary as a lover of wine and women, melodious as a singer of love songs and above all, tragic as a national hero of the status of a Dalai Lama, reduced to become a heroic pawn at the hands of the Qosot Lhazang Khan, Tsangyang Gyatsho became a legend within his short lifetime. Worshipped and loved by the Tibetan people with stainless faith, Tsangyang Gyatsho’s songs became famous in every corner of Tibet reviving once again the fascination of simple folk poetry. (@ K. Dhondup)
Sample these…
Even if meditated upon,
The face of my lama comes not to me,
But again and again comes to me
The smiling face of my beloved.
If I could meditate upon the dharma
As intensely as I muse on my beloved
I would certainly attain enlightenment
Surely in this one lifetime.
The snow pure of the holy Dagpa
The dew drops of the rare Naga-Vajra
Essence of the ambrosia
Fermented into wine by Yeshi Khandro
Incarnated as a wine-maiden
Saves the drinkers from rebirth in the
lower realms,
If the ambrosia wine is drunk with the
right mental attitude.
Accepting the desires of my darling
Will despair
My only chance to bow before the
Yet my retreat into solitary hermitage
Will break my beloved’s tender heart.
If maiden will live forever
The wine will flow evermore.
The tavern is my haven;
With wine I am content.
Pink clouds
Hide frost and hailstorms;
He who is a half-monk
Is a hidden enemy of the dharma.
Over the slippery surface of the frozen
Let not your stallion trot;
Towards the charms of a new-found
Let not your secrets scatter.
Dogs of any kind
Can be tamed with meat and bread;
But the tigress of the tavern, even when
Rises viciously and rebels again.
(Translated by Mr K. Dhondup)

When seemingly enlightened beings can be thus caught in the cyclic existence of the samsara, to think that we lesser mortals could be better sounds naive if not impudent.

(Original text in Tibetan plus more on the life of the Lama Enigma can be found in the “Songs of the Dalai Lama,” published by Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, Dharamsala (ISBN: 81-85102-11-2))

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