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Nepalese Princess Bhrikuti and Jokhang Temple of Lhasa1

Nepalese Princess Bhrikuti and Jokhang Temple of Lhasa1

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Published by Milan Shakya
Thearticle describes how Jokhang Temple of Lhasa was created with the initiative of Princess Bhrikuti in the seventh century.
Thearticle describes how Jokhang Temple of Lhasa was created with the initiative of Princess Bhrikuti in the seventh century.

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Published by: Milan Shakya on Jun 24, 2010
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 Nepalese Princess Bhrikuti and Jokhang Temple of Lhasa byMin Bahadur shakyaDirector  Nagarjuna Institute
Jokhang Temple
Jokhang Monastery
(gTsug lag khang), is locatedon Barkhor Square in Lhasa.
Jokhang Temple
in Lhasa is the holiest site in Tibetan Buddhism,attracting crowds of prostrating Tibetan pilgrims and curious foreign tourists every year. It hosts theannual Great Prayer Festival, as well as all ceremonies of initiation for the Dalai Lama and PanchenLamas.
It was founded in the seventh century C.E. by King Srong btsan sgam-po in order to house theimage of Aksobhya Buddha offered to him by his Nepalese consort Bhrikuti Devi.It wasconstructed solely of mud, stone and timber.At present the main section of the temple is threestoreys high. It occupies an area of 12,850 square yards and is situated in the heart of the city.The Jokhang was originally designed by Nepalese craftsmen on behalf of Princess Bhrikuti Devi.It was built on the site of a Milky lake that had previously been filled in with earth and stones bya sacred goat.Thesacred goat is still an object of veneration of the Tibetan people.A goldenrepresentation of the sacred goat is still housed inside the Jokhang Temple today.It is one themost popular tourist attraction in Lhasa. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and aspiritual centre of Lhasa.The Aksobhya Buddha, brought by Princess Bhrikuti, has been transferred to the Ramochetemple ( small Jokhang, as it used to be called by Tibetans and local Nepalese people, who weretraders and have had shops in the Bar-kor area for generations). It is said that Princess Kongjomoved Jovo Shakyamuni from the Ramoche Temple to the Jokhang temple. It is unclear exactlywhy the changeover of the two images took place. It is said that, after the death of King Srong btsan sgam po, it was transferred to 'Phrul Nang temple in Lhasa, from where it was stolen and buried in the sand. It was rediscovered during the period of Trisong Deu tsan through her  paranormal abilities of divination, but it was subsequently moved to sKyid-grong in Mang yul onthe borders of Nepal by the order of the malevolent Ma Zhang, the Bon minister.After peace wasrestored under the auspices of the Great Guru Padma sambhava, the statue was restored to'Phrulnang temple. Under the reign of perverse Langdarma, the statue underwent a second burial, but was once again returned to 'Phrulnang temple during the period of restoration which occurredcheifly in the eleventh century.
Concerning the image of Aksobhya Buddha brought by Princess BhrikutiDevi, the abbot of Ramoche temple told me, during my field visit to Lhasa( December 16-22, 1990), that it was crumbled into two halves during thecultural revolution and was thrown elsewhere. The upper half has beenrecently returned to Ramoche temple ( 1985-1986) from Beijing andinstalled in the main altar, together with the lower half which was newly-made claywork.
II.Legendary Origin of Jokhang Temple:
How 'Phrul Nang was built in seventh century Lhasa is interesting to note inthe following account of rGyal rabs gsal ba'I Melong. Although theaccount is also described in Mani Kabum, we prefer the version of rGyalrabs. The narrative runs thus:
Previously we came to know that Princess Bhrikuti was overjoyed because the king had promised to help her in building temples.When she was instructed to build the temple in theMilky lake, she was at first disappointed.But through the miraculous power of the king, she sawan auspicious omen.When she looked at the Milky lake, she saw many different colourful lightsforming a nine-storeyed stupa-like temple.After that she couragiously determined to build tetemple on the lake.The following day the king, the queen, the ministers and public came over again with the sandalwood image of the Buddha in a very large cermonial procession.After thatthey made four earthen mountains on the four sides of the lake and performed a rite in front of the lake.The Nepalese queen was praying to the invaluable malachite bowl, and it supplied plenty of food and drinks.After that, they started to fill up the lake, and gradually they were ableto make four pieces of land in that land.They piled four huge stones on each of the four sides of the lake, and the king prayed to theimage of the nine storeyed stupa by walking on the stones.they cut sixteen huge juniper trees, placed the ends into the four huge stones and the heads against the stupa, which had appearedafter the prayer of the king Srong btsan sgam po. Upon that they piled up many leaves from thetrees.the wood in the lake would never rot, because it had been blessed by the demigods. It had been touched by mystic liquids which were received by the miraculous priest Akaramatishilawho had been sent to the nether world by King Srong btsan sgampo.then they laid thick slabs and bricks on them and tied them with melted bronze.Thereafter they made the ground even.thewhole lake was covered completely in the year Earth Male Dog .That was when King Srong btsan sgampo was twenty three years old.After that the templeconstruction was started in the year of pof the earth Female Pig. All the people were overjoyedwhen they could see the foundation walls, but again those were dismantled by the gods and evil
spirits, and the Nepalese queen was sad.She then again approached the king and reported theincident and said: " I can never complete the construction of the temple in my life time withthese frequent obstacles." The king consoled her by saying: " Don't worry, I have a tutelary deitywhom I can consult". After he prayed to to his tutelary deity Avalokiteshvara, there occurred asound from the space which was an invisible body saying," All the obstacles can be stopped if you make one statue of the eleven –faced Avalokiteshvara".The king asked his Nepalese artist, who had come along with Princess Bhrikuti Devi, whether hecould make the same or not.the Nepalese artist said: yes, I can make it." he asked the king to provide the snake's heart sandal, Harichandan, Ghoroshi, branches of a bodhi tree, sands of the Nairanjan river and earth from eight different important solitary places.After receiving all those,he made a huge hard mud with the milk of a brown cow and a white goat.After the huge mudwas carried to the king, he put it on the headboard, then he prayed to his tutelary deity, askedwhich form of Avalokiteshvara should be made. By that time the king thought that the best formshould be the one with eleven faces.At that time the king saw a beam of light which vanishedinto the huge mude.Thereby the king thought that the statue would be as wonderful as a beam of light.theking put the huge mud on the precious throne that night. Thereafter, the mud itself  became a statue of eleven faced Avalokiteshvara at midnight, without needing to be made by his Nepalese artist.The next morning when the king saw the image he was extremely pleased to seeit and he told his artist, " what a quick and amazing work you did? He told him to set the snake'sheart sandalwood inside the image. Nepalese artist said," I did not make this statue myself, it is self-produced." Thestatue wasshaking itself as soon as the artist mentioned the incident.for that reason, Amitabha's face was alittle crooked due to the strong movement.Thepiece of snake's heart sandalwood, two pieces of Bodhi tree and other important materials were put into different parts of the eleven faced self-grown image of Avalokiteshvara and everyone worshipped it with huge offerings.After that the Nepalese Artist made the statues of Avalokiteshvara, Bhrikuti, Arya Tara, Marici,Sarasvati, Hayagriva and many others.Then the king miraculously transformed his body into 108 temple guards and 108 carpenters. Noone knew who they were except the Nepalese queen Bhrikuti devi, who used to bring some foodthere.One day she had to send her maid while she was praying her tutelary deity, but the maidcould not recognize the king among those carpenters, so she thought that thee no king amongstthe carpenters.She saw the 108 lions who wre working as carpenters.when she was sneakingthrough the slightly opened door, she thought, these must be miraculously animated beings of our king.She came back to the queen and handed back the food.After that the queen went to see theking.the maid also followed the queen and she sneaked through the door.After that she laughedand the king missed his direction with his small axe, hitting the nose of the lion.This caused allthe lion's noses to be cut off.The first floor of the temple was completed in 12 days due to themiraculous power of King Srong btsan sgampo.

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