Jampa Gompa

Thubchen Gompa

Luri Gompa



JAMPA GOMPA   Page 2  back to page 1

Due to the lack of historical records and other literature, it is extremely difficult to identify with any certainty the mandalas of Jampa. As mentioned above, Jampa is unique, strikingly unusual, with two floors painted entirely with mandalas. It seems clear to us that they are not simply a set of unconnected, essentially random mandalas. It is unlikely that Ngorchen Kunga Zangpo would have conceived such a monumental design without a thematic, unifying plan. Rather, this great series of mandalas appears programmatic, embodying a specific teaching.

We thought at first, particularly in light of Lama Ngawang Jorden's conversation with several lamas in Nepal, that the Jampa mandalas might be identified as the teaching known as the Vajravali, but this could not be confirmed by His Holiness Sakya Trizin, head of the Sakya school. After further review, Lama Jorden considers, however, that they almost certainly belong to the Yogatantra, the third of the four classes of Tantra. A list of fifty-four Lo (Jampa) mandalas identified by name appears in the Lo Ko Sanskritic Sampada by Prayag Raj Sharma and Jagman Gurung, most of which appear in the Collection of Ngor Mandalas of Tibet, in the section concerned with Yogatantra mandalas. The great Ngorchen was especially known for propagating the teachings and practices of Yogatantra. Keith Dowman and Roberto Vitali have offered nearly congruent identifications for some of the Jampa mandalas (see Appendix A: Jampa Mandalas, and also Bibliography), diverging in only a few instances, and evidently based on interpretation of the inscriptions below the mandalas. To that extent, it is safe to say that these mandalas were related to teachings, including the Vajradhatu, that were given by Ngorchen Kunga Zangpo during his three visits to Mustang.

The Four Classes of Tantra

The Tibetan Buddhist Canon (the Kanjur) incorporates a great number and variety of tantras whose origins were accepted as authentic. These were categorized into four main groups:
Action Tantra (Kriya Tantras)
Performance Tantra (Charya Tantra)
Yoga Tantra (Yoga Tantra)
Supreme Yoga Tantra (Anuttarayoga Tantra).

These categories are often explained on the premise that persons differ according to their abilities and predilections. The different classes of tantras offer various approaches to the spiritual path, as is appropriate for different types of persons. All, it is explained, are directed toward the same goal: the attainment of non-duality or Buddhahood, yet the "lower" classes of tantra require several lifetimes, while the "highest" aims to achieve the goal in one lifetime.

The Kriya Tantra group is considered suitable for those whose disposition is more physically active than intellectual. Its practices focus on ritual acts, such as making liturgical offerings, circumambulation, prostrations, recitations and the chanting of ritual formulas or mantras, and other such "active" practices by which one can acquire merit and obtain blessing.

The Charya Tantra is considered appropriate for those with a more intellectual disposition, who can participate in a balance of both physical activities (external yoga) as well as meditation (interior yoga). Yet it is not considered significantly different from Kriya Tantra.

For those of yet higher intellect, with the preference and ability to undertake concentrated meditation, the Yoga Tantra is taught. This tantra involves visualization of the deity, leading to visualization of the self as the deity.

Lastly, the Anuttarayoga Tantra is for those of superior or the most disciplined intellect, requiring the greatest control of mind. These two "higher" tantras are a more intensive path toward transformation, as the practitioner seeks identification with a chosen divinity--achieving, in effect, the yogic transformation or union of the self with the deity.

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