Legend of Mahakala
Ven. Lama Lodru
Buddhist Himalaya: A Journal of Nagarjuna Institute of Exact Methods
Vol. IV NO. I & II (1992)
Copyright 1992 by Nagarjuna Institute of Exact Methods
1.Origin of Mahakala
At one time in the past, the Lord of Great Compassion, the Noble Avalokitesvara, raised the idea of Enlightenment, the Bodhicitta, and then for countless aeons accumulated merit. After passing through the bodhisattva levels, he received the special Great Light empowerment. Then, as he entered the ranks of the Noble Sons of the Buddha, he made this vow:.
"Throughout the samsaric world realms in the limitless space of the ten directions. I will benefit beings. I must liberate all beings from samsara. Not until all beings are established on the level of Buddhahood, not even one left behind in samsara, will I myself enter Buddhahood. Only when all beings without exception have been guided to Buddhahood, will it be well for me to achieve it. Until then I will remain in samsara for the benefit of all beings. And to ensure it, may my body be shattered into a thousand pieces if I should ever break this vow."
From then on, Avalokitesvara resided at the Potala Mountain. Through his limitless emanations, at every moment, he accomplished the ripening and liberating of innumerable sentient beings-it is and extent beyond our means to express. And in this manner he passed uncountable years many, many kalpas.
Then, at one time, he thought it possible that now he had delivered all beings from samsara. With his omniscient vision he looked, and saw that the realms of sentient beings had neither increased nor diminished. Not only had they not decreased in number, but now those sentient beings near him were in the Age of Darkness, and were even more difficult to subdue.
Then saying, "Now, I cannot benefit even one sentient being," Avalokitesvara broke the vow he had previously made, and his body shattered into a thousand pieces.
Then the Guru Lama who by his vow always holds us in his compassion, the Noble world Jprotector, who has conquered and transcended, and because of his immeasurable light is called the Buddha Amitabha, vividly appeared and said:
"son of my family, it is not well that you have thus broken your vow. Now you must replenish your broken vow, and make an even greater resolution to benefit beings."
The shattered body of a thousand pieces, by Amitabha's blessing, was united
into one body with eleven heads and a thousand arms.
Avalokitesvara then thought that his previous great vow could never be exceeded. And yet by it he had been unable to benefit even a few beings. So for seven days he was unable to decide what to do.
Then he thought that by means of a wrathful form he would be able to subdue the degenerate beings of this Age of Darkness, And, Seeing many beings who practiced Dharma and yet were unable to escape from the Bardo realms, he thought that by a wrathful form he could also protect them from the Bardo. And lastly, he thought that the beings in this Dark Age were poor and needy. experiencing only suffering, and that by a wrathful form he could provide them with an antidote to their suffering, so that their needs could be met by their simply making the wish.
With this three-fold activity his vow became even greater than before. From the great of Noble Avalokitesvare emerged a dark blue HUNG letter, which transformed into the Instantaneous Protector of Wisdom. In all the Pure Lands, the ground shook with six kind of earthquakes. The Conquering and Transcending One of Immeasurable Light and all other Tathagatas of the ten directions proclaimed with one voice:
"Son of the family, it is well that you have made this resolution. You shall have the empowerment of all the wisdom dakinis. You shall have the strength of the wrathful Yama. Lord of Death. You shall have the mountain spirits. the yaksas, the devils and the demons as your messengers. You shall embody the great wrathful empowerments of the Body, Speech, Mind, Qualities, and Activity of all the Buddhas throughout the three times.
Ever since then, Mahakala has remained as the Doctrine Protector of all the Buddha fields.
II. Transmission of the Sadhana
Once when the Completely Perfect Buddha was in the village of Rajasthan, a dancer there felt great devotion to him and made vast offerings of songs, music, and prayers. Nearly six hundred years after the Buddha passed into Nirvana, the dancer was reborn a human. he was called the Mahasiddha Savaripa, Lord of the Hermitage.
At one time Savaripa was absorbed in object-less samsdhi in adesolate cemetaru in cool forest. As the morning dawned, he saw in the sky a beating damaru hand-drum. Then the Protector of Wisdom Mahakala appeared in great brilliance and bestowed his heart mantra and may sadhanas upon Mahasiddha Savaripa. shri Savaripa's life, because of his intellect and ascetic conduct, became like that of the sun and moon. He went on reside on the Glorious Mountain of the South. There, additionally, Noble Avalokitesvara, Vajra Yogini, Noble Tare, and other deities each bestowed their sadhanas upon him.
One thousand years later. Lord Matri Gupta or in Tibetan. ("Concealer of his Kindness"), whose se4cret name is "Non-dual Vajra" (Skt. Advaya vajra), was living in Vikramasila, Although he was accomplished in form meditation, and had thereby received power, still he had not comprehended the meaning of awareness. So he prayed to special deities, who told him, "Go to the Glorious Mountains of the South, into the compassionate care of the Lord of the Hermitage." He proceeded to the Glorious Mountain, and from Mahasiddha Savaripa received the limitless deep teachings of Mahamudra. His vision of awareness was like the sky.
Then maitri was instructed to go and spread the deep meaning of the doctrine. He wrote commentaries on the sadhanas of the four deities whose blessings he had received. After twenty-one days of meditation. He accomplished the sadhana of Mahakala. and the dharma-protectors came under his control. Mahakala extracted the essence of great spiritual treasures and, with other presents, gave them to Maitri. His many wishes were accomplished.
Although in Tibet there were many translators of the doctrine of Mahakala, today their lineages do not remain. The only through, deep, and unmixed version of this doctrine is that of the learned Khyungpo Naljor-an unequalled stream of blessings, a glorious, rich, and flourishing activity, pervading all the earth.
The lerned Khyungpo, at age fifty-two, went to Nepal, and then for about fifty human years traveled back and forth from Tibet to Nepal and India. He studied with one hundred and fifty learned teachers in India, and completely accomplished their doctriness. When he was about to return to Tibet, he gave the remainder of his Dharma provisions, including much gold, to Mairi, and said "we have few comforts in Tibet, Please give us a great sign that will bring wealth."
Then Maitri told Khyungpo Naljor the foregoing biography of Mahakala, said "He is also called the Black One of Great Compassion. Also, the Lord of the sandalwood Place. As much as you rely on him, your wishes will all be fulfilled. As much as you think upon him, your obstacles will be carried away. If you pray to him, even though you have not accomplished his meditation, he will show his face to you.
"Achieving only an ordinary accomplishment in his meditation will bring extraordinary results. I am gibing you a protector who is like a wish-fulfilling jewel." he said, and gave the complete instructions on Mahakala.
Later, when Khyungpo returned to Tibet, he gave the empowerment and instructions of this Mahakala lineage to his main disciples, Lopon cho-kyi sherab, Khyenchen Latopa, Gonchok kar. Shang-gon Dhos-seng, Mokchokpa Rinchen Tsundrup, and many other Tibetan disciples.
Today this unbroken lineage is till maintained guy the lamas His Holiness Karmapa Rangjung Rikpae Dorje, and the Venerable All-Knowing Kalu Rinpoche.
III. Symbolism of Mahakala
The Protector's body color is dark blue, symbolic of the changeless Dharmakaya. His three eyes symbolize his clear comprehension of the three times, and the vivid manifestation of the three bodies of Buddha. The crown of five skulls symbolize the five poisons-anger, desire. ignorance, Jealousy, and pride-transformed into five wisdoms. His six arms symbolize the completion to the six perfection-generosity, patience, morality, diligence, meditation, and wisdom. The tigug knife symbolizes the cutting of ego-attachment. The skull bowl filled with blood symbolizes the subjugation of evil ones. The rosary symbolizes his continuous activity for the benefit of beings. The damaru hand-drum symbolizes his power over the dakinis. His trident symbolizes his power over the three spheres-desire, form, and formless. The also symbolizes his action of bending those who break their vows. His two feet symbolize means and wisdom. That his left let is straight and his right leg bent symbolize his accomplishment of benefit to self and others. He tramples on the Binayaka, to symbolize his destruction and dispersal of great obstacles. The sun on which he s5tands symbolizes his illumination of the darkness of ignorance. The lotus seat symbolizes purity undefiled by samsara. The blazing fire symbolize his action to consume neurotic states of mind. The tiger skin he wear symbolizes the purification of desire: the elephant skin. Purification of pride: the snake, purification of anger. All his other ornaments symbolize that he has the complete qualities of the buddha.
(......, at Kagya droden Kunchab felt a need for the life story of the Protector of Wisdom. Not being able to turn his face from their request, poor old Lama Lodru has written this Wishing from the bottom of his heart to benefit beings./ Nice day, nice month./ May virtue increase.)