Thang Tong Gyalpo or Tibetan mahasiddha Thangtong Gyalpo is a very important figure in understanding Tibetan culture and he is most talk about person during your travel to Tibet. especially if you are visiting Tibet in the month of September for Tibetan yogurt festival during which there is an intense Tibetan opera show in Norbulingka.
Thang Tong Gyalpo was an important Shangpa Kagyu master, a famous Civil engineer, Tibetan Medicinal Doctor and Artist. That’s why you will see his statue almost everywhere in Tibet, including Restaurant, hotels, temple and during the Tibetan Opera shows. We Tibetan also bring his statues to our new house before bringing in any other household item. We believe, his statue can protect our family from harmful evil spirits,
Different name of Tibetan Mahasiddha Thangtong Gyalpo
He has a lot of different names and the most popular Thang-tong Gyalpo which means the king of empty plain, his other names are; the madman of the empty valley, Paljor Sherap. He was born in the 14th century in Renchen Ding between Lhatse and Ngamring prefecture.
Manifestations of Thang tong gyalpo
He is believed to the manifestation of Avalokitesvara and Hayagriva (Tamdrin). During his childhood. he performed miraculous and he is a very quick learner.
As he grew older he was sent to the border town of Kyirong to do Business along with others from his village. but instead of during doing business he gave away all the goods to poor people and made offering the holy statue of lokesvara in Kyirong. On his return, parent forces him to get marry as a punishment and to make their responsible family men. Yet he refuses and expresses his desire to practice Buddha Dharma and renounce the worldly life.
He received the lay practitioners wow from the nearby monastery and later received full monkhood ordination from his main teacher. later he ends up learning teachings from 500 different teachers.
At the same time, he received prophecies for Avalokitesvara and Tara to built Iron chain bridges and ferries all over Tibet to solve the problems travelers faces for crossing the rivers. which is how he starts Tibetan opera show to raise funding for the projects. he uses help from seven girls to perform Tibetan opera. he uses the same opportunity to tell the stories about great sagas, use this medium to preach people about the teaching of Dharma.
During his time, he traveled extensively in central Tibet, Bhutan, Ladakh and Nepal, where he built lots of iron chain bridge and stupas. whenever there is a problem like the epidemic, war, drought, and starvation, people would invite him to their village to solve the problems. Out of his compassion, he would solve all of their problems by performing spiritual healing. he would also use his invitation an opportunity to preach buddha dharma.
In his medical part manifestation, he would heal the epidemic. His famous work in the Tibetan medicine is medicine called Drup-top Rilkar, which literally means white pill of yogic. Which is still a very famous and wildly use by many Doctors across the Tibetan world.
here some link to read more about the Thang tong gyalpo
- PDF file on Gyalpo by the Centre for Bhutan Studies
- About thang tong Gyalpo in himalayanart.org
- About Thang Tong Gyalpo in Tsadra.org
Here are some other information you might be interest in reading
- Tara, Tibetan’s fairy godmother
- Top 100 Basic Tibetan Phrases to know in Tibet
- Top 100 Travel Guidelines, The conclusive Tibet travel Guide
- Essence of Buddha Dharma
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