Date: Earth Dog year, 6th day of the 11th month, Sunday (1898)
Lines: 23
Script: ’khyug ma tshug

A guidebook (for pilgrims: gnas shad [bshad]) to the supports of body, speech and mind located at the great holy place of Khra rum dkar po (Pra dun rtse) in Tibet.


1. gnas chen kra rduṃ dkar po’i bsku gsung thugs stan gi gnas shad | dpon sa pad ma bkra shis gsung nas ’dri pa’i

2. gnas yig bzhug s+ho | m lha mgo ’dzul snang rtam ’gring dpa’ po gcigs sta | de nas yar ’dzags nas | g.yasu (g.yas su)

3. bka’ chen gyi dung/drung du | ’jam spa khyil thang 1 | rgyal pa rigs kyi yuṃ lnga | steng seṃs dpa’ 4 | ’og seṃs ma bzhi | {2S}

4. dun du joo (jo bo) bcuigs (bcu gcigs) bngos {1S}| de yi mdong du mchod pa’i lha mo rgyad | de yi bka’ dong bcigs la gu ru padma sa ’dul dgleng

5. tshul du bzhugs pa | yang sgo 1 g.yasu (g.yas su) shar phogs rgyol (rgyal po) yul ’khor srung | lho phyogs rgyol (rgyal po) phags dkyes po | gling bsing tshan phyags da

6. dpal lha mo’i mda’ dar | bsaṃ g.yas sprin ’khang | yang sgo’i bsteng du thub dbang bdang/gang brten 1 | de nas sgo nang g.yasu (g.yas su)

7. sa ldags la {1S} khro snogs (sna tshogs) rtaṃ ’dring gsung sbyon 1 | steng kheb kha sbyang rje’un (rje btsun) tung shags gi lha gsuṃ bc[u] so 5 lnga ’og la nyis mi sras

8. chen brgyad | de’i dong du skye rong jo ’o ’di bzang po | bug bstod du rnam nang dkar po snaṃs par snang mdzad bzhal bzhi pa |

9. g.yas su ’od dpag med 1 | rdor seṃs 1 | yang g.yasu (g.yas su) rdoeng (rdo rje chang?) 1 | gu ru tsho skyes rdo rje 1 | gying/gyigs la mchod pa’i lha mo dngar logs ri la yod

10. pa la | da rta bsku ru sbyon pa 1 | skur thong du | srgyas (sangs rgyas) sman lha 1 | yang dang dong du guru pad ma bsaṃ spa 1 | de’i dbus su | thub ba gsung sbyon |

11. sbyang dkra dun sang rgyas ’od srung tso byas srgyas (sangs rgyas) rab mdun rab dun gyis dbu skra mdun zung ’jug yod pa bzhug yod |

12. g.yasu (g.yas su) ’jaṃ pa dang | g.yon du ’jaṃ ma 1 | bka’ spa la 1 | gya sa dkoon (dkong jo) gyi bzhang ba’i jo bcu gcig bzhal 1 | khar sa dpa’

13. ni 1 | ’jam dbyang 1 | sgrol ma dkar gsung sbyon 1 | rgya dkar pha daṃ pa srgyas (sangs rgyas) | nor lha rnaṃs thos sras | byang chub rtung shags lha gsuṃ cu

14. so lnga | phyags dor gsung sbyon 1 | yang sgo nang sgo nas | mar thon nas | nub phyogs rgyol (rgyal po) spyan migs bzang | sbyang phyogs rgyol (rgyal po) rnaṃs

15. thos bsras | sa nang nas gnod byin sgang pa bzang po 1 | nor lha dzaṃ lha | tshong dpon nor bu bzang po 1 | bka’bl (bka’ la?)

16. sgrol ma khyil thang 1 | pha mi sgrin len ’jal pa 1 | sman lha der bshegs brgyad | sdem phyogs yumb (yab yum) | rgyal ba rigs gyi

17. yab lnga | bka’ dung la ’phags pa spyen ras bzigs 1 | § yang sgo thon nas khro bo bdu^id (bdud rtsi?) khyil pa 1 | srung ma rab rtan ma 1 |

18. § yang mgon gang gi g.yasu (g.yas su) mgoon (mgon po) bya rog mdong can 1 | mkhro’ (mkha’ ’gro) sde lnga 1 | blaṃ (bla ma) tsha ba {tsha ba} rong gi mdung rten 1 | rdor seṃs 1 |

19. mar man mdzad | {1S} srgyas (sangs rgyas) shākya dthub pa | ’jaṃ spa khyel thang bzhugs | shākya thub spa la | g.yas su sha ri bu | g.yon du

20. mi’u rgal gyis ’bu | rdoe (rdo rje) ’drags po btsal 1 | yees (ye shes) mgoon (mgon po) phyag bzhi spa | gu ru snang srid zil snon bzhugs | dmag zor ma bzhugs | sbyang ngos mchod

21. rten phyag rdor buṃ khang 1 | lho nas byogs (byang phyogs?) rtam gring mchod rten buṃ khang | sdigs shegs mchod rten gsuṃ bzhugs yod | phyi phyogs

22. bsu man khang | bka’ gyur bcas bzhugs yod pas | de la ’khrul spa med pa | sa khyi zla ba bcuig (bcu gcig) tshe drug re za

23. nyi ma la | dkra rduṃ rnaṃs snang dkar po ru | dpon gi gsung bzhin ’dris pa | bkris (bkra shis) shogs |


A site-description of the supports for the body, speech and mind at the great holy place White Tradum. A guide to the place written according to what His Eminence (dpon sa) Padma Trashi said. On entering, there is a Hayagrīva (and…?). Then after climbing up, to the right, in front of a great pillar (bka’ < ka), there are scroll paintings of Maitreya and the consorts of the five Family Buddhas; above are the four sattvas, and below the four sattvis, and in front the eleven[-headed?] lord (Avalokiteśvara?). In front of this are the eight Offering Goddesses. On one pillar is Guru Padma, standing in earth-subduing form. Furthermore, to the right of a certain door are the King of the East, Dhritarashta, and the King of the West, Virūḍhaka. … (gling bsing tshan phyags da?)… the beribboned arrow of Śrīdevi; a house of clouds that surpasses understanding. Above the door is an image of Shākyamuni. Then inside the door, to the right, are earth gods, a variety of wrathful divinities, and a Hayagrīva that speaks. On the ceiling (?) are the thirty-five Confessional Buddhas, and below them the eight great Bodhisattvas. In front of them is the Kyirong Jowo Wati Zangpo (Jo bo wa ti bzang po). In the very interior, on top, are a White Vairocana and a Vairocana with four faces; to the right is an Amitābha and a Vajrasattva; also to the right are a Vajradhāra, a Padmakāra (*Padmavajra). In/on the gying/gyigs (?) is/are the Offering Goddess(es), and on the opposite side is a da rta bsku ru (?). In the skylight (skur thong < gur mthongs) is a Medicine Buddha and facing it is a Padmasambhava. In the middle is a speaking Shākyamuni. In the northern [part of the temple of?] Tradun is the combined hair of the Seven Successive Buddhas, foremost of whom is Dipaṃkara. (12) To the right is Maitreya and to the left a female [form of] Maitreya (sic! ’jam ma < byams ma), a skull-cup, and an Eleven-headed Avalokiteśvara that was sponsored by the Chinese Queen Konjo; an [Avalokiteśvara] Kharsapāṇi, a Mañjuśrī, a White Tārā that speaks, a Pha Dampa Sangye (Pha dam pa Sangs rgyas), from India, the god of wealth Vaiśrāvana, the thirty-five Confessional Buddhas, and a speaking Vajrapāṇi. Then after going down and exiting through the inner door, there are the King of the West Virupaksha, the King of the North Vaiśrāvana, the Yaksha Gangzang (gNod sbyin gang bzang), the God of Wealth Jambhala, and the Merchant Norbu Zangpo (Nor bu bzang po). On a pillar there is a scroll painting of Tārā, and a [divinity for?] the repayment of the kindness of one’s parents; the Eight Sugātas who are Medicine Divinities; Cakrasaṃvara and his consort [Vajravārāhī] in union, and the five Fathers of the Buddha Families; on the side of a pillar there is an Avalokiteśvara. Then, after passing through the door, there is an Amṛtakuṇḍali, and the protector Rabtenma (Rab brtan ma). (18) Again, to the right of (or inside and to the right of?) the protectors’ chapel is Kākamukha, a set of the Five Classes of ḍakiṇīs, a reliquary of Lama Tshawarong, a Vajrasattva, a Dipaṃkara, a Buddha Shākyamuni, and a painted scroll of Maitreya. To the right of the Shākyamuni is a Śāriputra, and to his left a Maudgalyāyana; a Dorje Drakpotsal (rDo rje drag po rtsal), a four-armed Mahākāla (“Wisdom Protector”), the Guru in the form of the Subjugator of the Phenomenal World, and Śrīdevi (dMag zor ma). On the northern side there are three stupas: a Vajrapāṇi repository, and from south to north (?) a Hayagrīva stupa repository and a stupa for the Atonement of Sins. Outside there is a temple with a prayer wheel (man khang < maṇi khang) and a set of the Canon. This was written without error as recounted by the Lord (dpon) [Padma Trashi] on a Sunday, the sixth day of the eleventh month in an Earth Dog year, at the Temple of the White Vairocana in Tradum.

Pra dun rtse temple is well known as the westernmost of the temples attributed to Srong btsan sgam po. Classified as one of the temples for “the subjugation of the marches” (mtha’ ’dul), it is located in Drongba County of the Tibet Autonomous Region, some 80 km north of the Nepalese border as the crow flies. The orthography of the name given in the document, kra rdum, is consistent with its local pronunciation, Tradum or Trarum. The name denotes both the temple and the nearby town of Drongba. Tradum was a common destination for people of Mustang for purposes of both trade and pilgrimage, and until very recently represented the northernmost point in Tibet where traders from Mustang were allowed to travel without special permission. After its destruction during the Cultural Revolution the temple was rebuilt in the late 1990s. To the best of my knowledge there is no written description of the temple prior to this time, and the present document, cursory though it is, may be a valuable record of what was destroyed. Equally, some of the uncertainties in the text—not least the precise locations of the murals described—might be resolved by an in situ comparison of the text with whatever artwork may have survived. For example, it is not at all clear what the writer means by “the female form of Maitreya” (’jam ma < byams ma): Byams ma usually denotes a Bonpo divinity whose name is “the feminine form of Champa (Byams pa), the Buddhist bodhisattva Maitreya, with whom she otherwise does not seem to share any attributes” (Kvaerne 1995: 28).

During a visit to the temple in 1999, while restoration work was under way, I was told that the structure had survived thanks to the efforts of the head of the township (shang drang < Ch. xiangzhang), since the building had been used variously as a school and as an army base. The murals, however, did not survive, and during my visit the walls were in the process of being redecorated by a painter from Tsedong, near Shigatse. Work had begun in 1993 thanks to a government allocation of 40,000 RMB. The money was used to repaint the temple and to purchase a copy of the Canon, since the original set (mentioned in the present document) had been destroyed during the Cultural Revolution together with the entire library. (The library appears to have been substantial: the task of burning the books is said to have required a full week.)

The author of the document does not give his name. However, the distinctive handwriting is unmistakably the same as that in HMA/LTshognam/Tib/11, where the scribe identifies himself as sgrub pa Tshering Dorje (Tshe ring rdo rje). That document is a contract for a loan made to a nobleman by Lama Ösal Dorje. Ösal Dorje and Tshering Dorje were probably close acquaintances, and the document may well have been a gift from the latter to his friend in Tshognam following a pilgrimage to Tradum. The identity of the writer’s guide, Padma Trashi, is not known. The title he is given in line 1 appears to be dpon sa, and in line 23 simply dpon. The former, if the reading is correct, would suggest that he was a religious hierarch rather than a knowledgeable member of the local gentry.

In the literature of the phyi dar, Tradum is generally considered to be the temple that pins down the right (or sometimes left) knee of the supine demoness that is Tibet (for a summary of the sources, see for example Aris 1979: 24-31). However, there are at least two other local narratives that still have some currency. One is that the temple pins down the front (mdun) of the forehead (dpral) of the demoness (hence Tradun < dpral mdun); the other (Tradun < skra bdun) is that the building sits on seven (bdun) of her hairs (skra). Line 11 of the document is apparently a reference to a variant of the latter version, insofar as the etymology of the toponym is provided by a belief that the temple treasury houses the combined hair of the Seven Successive Buddhas.