The Dance of the Guru's Eight Aspects
- The Tradition of 'chams - Ritual Dance.
- The Guru mTshan brgyad 'chams
- The Guru mTshan brgyad 'chams at Rewalsar
- The Tenth Day 'Chams
- The Black Hat (Zhva nag) and Ging 'Chams
- The Eight Aspects Dance
- The Guru mTshan brgyad 'chams: Conclusion
- Bibliography - Tibetan Works
Rewalsar, a village near Mandi, is a pilgrimage site for Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs.3 For Tibetans, it is associated with Guru Padma,4 the eighth century VajrayAna master famed for his role in the establishment of Buddhism in Tibet and recognised as a "second Buddha". For the rNying-ma-pa, he is not only a key historical figure in the transmission of the "Ancient Tantras" which they follow, but he represents the inner Root Guru: he is equated with the enlightened principle which unfolds realisation within, and innumerable Guru Yoga practices focus on him. The Buddhist story concerning Rewalsar5 comes from the "miraculous birth" accounts of Guru Padma,6 and it is appropriate that the main annual ritual dance at the Rewalsar rNying-ma-pa monastery is that of his eight "names" (mtshan) or aspects.
Since the 1960s when the monastery became one of H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche's (bDud-'joms Rin-po-che) centres in India, all the religious practices performed there were from Dudjom Rinpoche's works or compilations. There are7 two major annual sessions of intensive practice. In the summer, there is a period of one and a half months during which the monks are virtually in retreat, performing long recitation of the monks' precepts with confession and purification of transgressions. In contrast, the winter session, during the first Tibetan month, coincides with the main pilgrimage season, and both pilgrims and locally settled Tibetans join the monks in the temple. The ritual practices of Guru Padma (the bDud- 'joms Bla-sgrub) or of Avalokitezvara are performed on alternate years, but in both cases the session culminates on the tenth day of the first month with the Dance of the Guru's Eight Aspects (the Guru mTshan brgyad 'chams).
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