The Pre-Buddhist Religion of Tibet

Tani Jantsang

Paraphrased from a Bonpo - words written phonetically.

"In a place/abyss/vortex of neither body nor reality, a thing/being/entity semi or partially appears. It is suspended between Being and Non-Being - it actually possesses something of both Being and Non-Being. It comes forth on a Ray/Light from a Great Chaos/Disorder/Unknown. It is called Sridpa Yodkyi Dagpo. It means something like a "Created Lord of all Being.

"At this time, there is no cosmos, no space/time, nothing yet. Then things start to appear spontaneously (the cosmos is being emanated).

"Then two bright lights/light-things appear, one is above and one is below and one is white and the other is black. They become the white and black mustard (sic) seed. Then there is a "black man" that looks like a spear and his name is Myalba Nagpo or "Black Hell." He makes all evil, he divides the day and the night, he lets thunder and lightening fall, sends illness, he appoints the hawk for killing birds, the wolf for animals, men for cattle, the otter for fish, demons for men. He creates discord, feuds and war. He is against all that is. If a man builds a house made from the earth, Black Hell angers the Nagas and the Klu gods of the underground who come to curse the builder. Black Hell is the embodiment of Medpa - Non-Being. From this uncreated being/thing emanates a white flower (?), and from out of that comes a luminous egg A man comes out of the egg and is chosen/appointed. He orders the universe and makes Time. Then the Wheels come from the five elements (water, air, fire, earth, and space) and that produces six eggs of six different colors. Then a Queen of the Naga is born from the Void and she arranges all parts of the world and creates the world from her own body.

"Then there is the "white man" surrounded with light, but he gives himself a name, "Lord Who Loves Existence." He gives warmth to the sun, shares the sun and moon (? sic), makes people happy, sets the stars in order and wants to keep them there. He tries to build something from the earth and ends up cursed by the Nagas.

"The Black Han-Dha, the Bonpo Shen (Sorcerer-Priest) of Hpy, Hor and other places is famous for sorcery in the northern lands from Amdo in the East to Tsaidam and even over in Ladakh, the Western border of the (Bon) land. He struggled against the incursions of Buddhism into Tibet. He did not die but ascended to a heavenly tomb through a DMU or five-colored rainbow rope-ladder as did the prehistoric kings of the (Bon) land.

"But both the Black and White are relative and both want life in their own way. The Black wants the destruction of one thing, so that something new can come, change, growth, disappearance and reappearance of new forms, crashing/collision of forms and even stars. Infinity of change, always change and movement. The White protects the innocent who serve the process in a gentle and peaceful way. Both have incarnations.

"The founder of Bon is Shenrap Miwo, "The Man of the Lineage of the Shens." He was born at Olmo Lungring, which is in Zhang-Zhung. This is very near Tasik (Iran). [The Zhang-Zhung of the Bon and the sacredness of the 4 rivers, is the same as the Yazidi Zam Zum.] When the Bon translate from sacred texts in rites; the languages they are translating from are Zhang-Zhung and Drusha. The best known Bon work is the KLU-BUM (Collection of the Nagas).

"There is also a "White Lady of the Sky" Sridpa'i 'Phrulgyi Gyalmo Namsman Karmo who questions the "King of the Sky" Nambyi Gunggyal, in many stories about curses causing illness. Always, the curses come because plowing the earth, diverting rivers or cutting down trees angered the Nagas. The cure is to appeal to the "Child in the Mind" YidkyiI Khye'u Chung who asks Shenrap for help. Always what gets the Nagas angry is plowing up the earth , damming up rivers, or cutting the trees down Man taking possession of the environment caused the curses to come, resulting in illnesses.

"Bon's original text is the ZER-MYIG. The title means "Key for Memory."

"Lower zone spirits are water spirits called KLU. Among the middle zone gods are the GNYAN. There is also the Great Gnyan, a powerful mountain deity also called THANG-LHA. There is a mountain deity in the shape of a white man or white yak bull called Yarlhashampo. (Yar Lha Sham Po).

"The ancient line of Bon Shamans or Shen were named the DMU or MU.

"The God of riches is called IAMBHALA (refer to the mythical city of SHAMBALLA).

"The prince of demons in Bon is Khyabpa Lagrings or just Khyabpa.

"The Bon mantra is OM MATRI MUYE SALE DU."

What I know with some academic notes (referred to):

Hoffman agrees: The entire Black/White notion was added onto the nativistic Bon religion by later Lamaist interpreters and Western translators (mistranslators).

The original Bon religion is purely Shamanistic, involving animal sacrifice, forbidden by many later Buddhists who actually rivaled them for control of the area, not so much for religion. The animal's executioner who tore the heart out was the Black Han-Dha. This was practiced in war on human enemies also, by "fighting Shen." A Shen (in Chinese, Hsien) is a Sorcerer - to the Bon it was a Priest.

Shen Bonpo's were buried in honor with a seat emblazoned with a swastika.

Stein states that Bon exorcisms were still practiced by Lamaist priests in Lhasa - so both Bon and Buddhism rather merged in Tibet. These exorcists are called LHA-PA. Note that Lamaism as a form a Buddhism was the official state religion of Tibet, a Theocracy, for over a thousand years. Lamaism is actually a blend of Buddhism from India and the autochthonous or native Tibetan Bon Shamanism

Academia acknowledges that Bon bears resemblance to the North and Central Asiatic Shamanism and may have once been the same thing, long ago. Bon developed its own character in Western Tibet, known as ZHANG-ZHUNG or SHANG-SHUNG. Bon became more and more identical to Buddhism as centuries passed, and vice versa. They merged.

Hoffman states that Bonpo priests turned their sacred objects sinistrally (to the left) but this may have developed when Lamaism declared the original Bon a heresy.

Hoffmann says that the Bon mantra is ON MA TRI MU YE SA LE DU. This may be a remnant of an extinct language of Zhang-Zhung. Many Bon texts, even during the era of Lamaism, have non-understandable titles. These idioms are called "idioms of the swastika gods."

Tibetan explorer George Roerish, in 1931, claimed to have seen complete sets of the two most important collections, the KANJUR and the TANJUR, in a monastery in Nub-hor totaling 300 volumes. These have never become known or available.

There is a definite combination of the Turanian (Turko-Tatar) and Tibetan in Zhang-Zhung since that is who lived there. That is the Bon sacred city.

Stein says that the oldest available manuscripts are the Tun-huang manuscripts though they date from a post-Buddhist period. At this time, the Bonpos were considered different from the Shen.

Assimilated Bon is identical to Nyingma-pa save for a few names of things. Nyingma-pa is Esoteric Tradition standard doctrine, with some mythic elaborations, Indian style.

See also: Tibetan Civilization, by R. A. Stein which includes a map showing Zhang-Zhung. I have the map, not the book and a few notes that I quoted here.

Needless to say, showing a Bonpo the two page pictorial representation of Cosmogenesis (I rewrote that neat for the Tantra article we sell), he understood it immediately - likewise the article on here "The Darkness Is One" which is not new at all; it was done in song before it was on a website. It's standard stuff. If one wants scholarship, try Professors Helmut Hoffman, or R. A. Stein. I can't vouch for either text, I've got notes, nothing more.

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