7th Arya Kshema Day Three
8 March 2023
༄༅། །ཕྱི་ལོ་ ༢༠༢༣ ཟླ་ ༣ ཚེས་ ༨ བོད་ཟླ་ ༡ ཚེས་ ༡༦ ཉིན། འཕགས་ཡུལ་གནས་མཆོག་ཝ་རཱ་ཎ་སི། བཛྲ་བིདྱ་གཙུག་ལག་སློབ་གཉེར་ཁང་དུ། འཕགས་མ་བདེ་བྱེད་མའི་དཔྱིད་ཆོས་ཐེངས་བདུན་པའི་ཉིན་གསུམ་པ། སངྒྷ་རཱ་མའི་གསོལ་མཆོད་ཚོགས་པའི་བརྙན་སྤྱན་འབུལ་ཞུས་ཡོད།
On the third day, in the late afternoon, a group of nuns recited the ritual for the protector deity Sangharāma, a special dharma protector associated with Tsurphu monastery in Tibet. Because Sangharāma is a mundane protector, the ritual cannot be performed in the shrine hall and so was performed outside on the veranda, as was also the custom at Tsurphu monastery. The official umdzes from four of the nunneries and the ritual masters from Tilokpur combined to offer the puja. Two members of Tsurphu Labrang, Karma Sonam Gyaltsen the office manager and Karma Gyurme the quartermaster were there to represent Tsurphu.
The story tells how Sangharāma was originally a famous Chinese general called Guan Gong. He was renowned for his loyalty, courage, and integrity, but during his lifetime his actions led to the deaths of many people so when he died he was doomed to become a ghost, wandering on Jade Spring Mountain, near Beijing. However, after he had received dharma teachings and taken refuge vows, he transformed into a dharma protector and was given the name Sangharāma. To this day, statues of him can be seen in Chinese monasteries—a red-faced deity on one side of the shrine.
The connection between Sangharāma and the Karmapa lineage began when the emperor Yung Lo of the Ming Dynasty invited the Fifth Karmapa Deshin Shekpa to China. After hearing the Karmapa’s teachings the emperor became a devoted student.
Sangharāma also heard these teachings and witnessed the miraculous signs that accompanied them, so when the Karmapa returned to Tsurphu, Sangharāma decided to follow him. When they arrived back at Tsurphu, Sangharāma needed a place to live, and the Karmapa offered him one of the mountains behind Tsurphu Monastery. This mountain became known as “the mountain of the Chinese deity,” and Sangharāma became one of the protectors of Tsurphu Monastery. Sometime later, the Karmapas began the tradition of offering a practice for the Sangharāma protector on the second day of Losar each year.
When the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, fled Tibet in 1959, the Sangharāma text was lost and the continuity of the practice was broken.
In order to restore this practice, the 17th Karmapa compiled a new Sangharāma ritual composed partly in Tibetan and partly in Chinese.