Te_20  Te_20a



Date: Iron Dragon year (1880? 1940?)
Lines: 8
Script: ’khyug ma tshugs


  1. cag pho grug lo la | ster spa {1S} yul spa dang gan spa la go la zhus nas | chod nas yi zhus nas | chod yi gam ca phul spa la | ’de nas ha la chang ses skyur ses
  2. byed pa’i sa med pa’i gam ca phul spa yin | chang myon nas thung sa med | chang tsos nas thung sa med | ster spa yul spa yi ska sku rim gang byed gos byung na yang khra
  3. to ko long byed sa med | rol spo khor ’dus yul spa tsho sum gos pa’i ’dus so ’ong sa med | chod nas yi thug byi phyin spo yi {phu} pho gan pa’i ’dus nas rtar skyu med |
  4. chos nas yi gos spa byung na gan spa la zhus nas ma na tsos sa med | ’de la gal spa byung na ba snga cu khrim bdag la phul skyu yi | yul spa sri kyab tshi ri
  5. yi rtag | dang | gan spa ga drug tshi ri yi rtag | {chod 2S} chod nas nga | ’ang khrisl yi rtag | bkra shis |
  6. sted spa yul spa yi brong rang bdag yi khyim ’du | chod nas la phyab ka zhus skyu med | rang la gos spa byung na spar | zhan zhus skyu med | ’de la gal spa byung na
  7. chod tshig ’de la gal spa byung na | ba zho gang spo la zhus skyu med | bkra shis |
  8.  {±11S}

Note: a systematic emendation of the orthography in this document would be largely pointless owing to the intractability of the grammar. The selective emendations that follow are intended to help the reader to see how the translation might be justified.

1. lcags pho ’brug lo; yul pa dang rgan pas sgo lha la zhus nas (?) | mchod gnas kyis; “chod yi gam ca” is apparently a conflation of chod tshig and Nep. gaca; chang bzi skyur bzi 2. chang nyos nas; yul pas {ska}/bka’ sku rim 2–3. phrag dog 3. ko long; yul pa tsho gsum bgod pa’i dus su; for remainder of line see translation below 4. ’ba’ lnga bcu khrims 6. mchod gnas la chab ka

Iron Dragon year. The chaplain spoke to the sgo lha at the request of the people and headmen of Te, and this written agreement was accordingly drawn up: this is an agreement to the effect that, henceforth, there should be no drunkenness [on the part of the chaplain]. He may not buy beer to drink, nor may he make beer to drink. If the community of Te needs to perform a [Buddhist] ceremony he should not become jealous and envious [at the sight of people drink- ing beer]. During the [annual] changeover of the constables, when the villages are divided into three sectors, he may not come. The income (pho < phog) from the [temple] of the Great Compassion (thug byi phyin po < thugs rje chen po) should be collected by the headmen (gan pa’i ’dus nas < rgan pas bsdus nas) but should not be given to the chaplain (chod nas yi…rtar skyu med < mchod gnas la…ster rgyu med). (Translation of last sentence tentative.) If the chaplain needs [beer] he may brew it only after asking the headmen. If he should violate this, he shall pay a fine of 50 [rupees] to [whoever is the relevant] legal authority. The villager Srid skyabs tshe ring, the headman dGa’ drug tshe ring, and the chaplain Ngag dbang ’phrin las (?) sign.

The people of Te may not, in their own private houses, serve beer to the chaplain. [It is all right for them to drink] if they so wish, but they may not offer him any. If this is violated… (sentence incomplete). If this agreement is violated a fine of one zho (i.e. 8 rupees) must be paid (lit. must not be paid).

This document seems at first sight to represent an attempt to restore discipline among Te’s monks, since there is nothing to indicate that the mchod gnas is a single individual. Important clues that this is not the case lie in the mention of the sgo lha and the fact that the offending mchod gnas has invoked this divinity. Until recent times there was always one oracle (lha pa or lha ’bab) in Te whom the territorial divinities of the community would periodically possess. These episodes are reported to have been sudden, unforeseen and dramatic. The first in the series of gods to ‘enter’ the medium was the sgo lha, who is believed to reside above the door of Te’s temple, the Thugs rje chen po (so called because it houses an image of Avalokiteśvara. The orthographic form sgo lha is conjectural: on this class of divinity, and the related ’go lha, see Nebesky-Wojkowitz 1959). The attendant of the oracle would immediately light a fire of juniper branches in front of the possessed medium, and put questions to the sgo lha. The first of these questions invariably concerned the identity of the other gods whom the sgo lha, who played something of a gatekeeping role, would summon from the surround- ing hills and mountains. The most important divinity is Jo bo Shar btsan gnyan po (also known as Shar btsan pa and Shar btsan rgyal po), whose shrine stands on a ridge to the east of the settlement, and whose utterances often concerned matters of ritual purity: through the medium he would warn women to keep their distance, and on one occasion physically chastised the attendant for not having washed his hands before performing the daily offering to the gods in the temple. Tepas who worship Shar btsan pa as their principal household god (Tk dimilha) are not permitted to eat beef or even yak meat. It seems likely that the mchod gnas referred to in this document denotes the oracle’s attendant, a layman who also functions as the sacristan of the temple. The only other reference to this community official in the Te archives is in document HMA/Te/Tib/27, l. 11, which mentions that the doors of the temple were locked by the mchod gnas (chos nas). An injunction against his consuming alcohol would be consistent with the seemingly Hindu criteria of purity demanded by Shar btsan pa.