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The Tibetan Dragons

     Of course you can meet dragons in the Himalaya mountainrange, too. They have similar if not equal meaning to the people there as in China. Strawling through Tibet you can find dragons everywhere. Tibet and the Himalaya are both part of the region where the chinese dragon can be met. However in the southern ranges of the Himalaya the myths of the dragon and of the nagas of india are mixing. Both were being mixed in the tibetan mythologic carpet under the term Klu. All different religious schools and traditions of ancient Zhangzhung and later Tibet know dragons and included them in their corpus. One highly important scripture of the Bon is named the scripture of hundred thousand dragons (Klu). It is divided into three parts: the colorful dragons, the black dragons and the white dragons. The tibetan dragon is also named Druk ('brug), Drug or Zhug as variant spellings of the same. Bhutan, the kingdom at the southern border of the Himalaya is being called Druk Yul - the land of the peaceful dragon (or: the thunderdragon land). The population consists of the Drukpa. Bhutan is the souternmost region where the tibetan buddhist sect of the Drukpa Kagyudpa ('brug pa bka' brgyud pa) can be found. Naturally the temples of this sect are being called dragontemples.

    The Drukpa Lineage is one of the eight minor Dagpo Kagyu Traditions (Dvags-po bKa-brgyud brgyud-chung brgyad) deriving from disciples of Pagmodrupa (Phag-mo gru-pa rDo-rje rgyal-po) The history of the name of this Lineage goes back to the first Gyalwang Drukpa Tsangpa Gyare. After his yidam,Chakrasamvara and guru Lingchen Repa (gLing Ras-pa Pad-ma rdo-rje) gave him the order to establish a second monastic seminary he went to the holy site, where he was up to build this gompa in 1206. As he arrived nine dragons roared up in the sky with a loud clap of thunder and white flowers rained down. To signify this auspicious sign he named the monastery drukpa gompa and the Lineage was also named after this incident: drukpa - The Line of the Dragon. The previously unknown site became known under the name Namdruk Sewa Jangchub Ling genannt: where the Dragons flew up the sky. During the lifetime of the fourth Gyalwang Drukpa Kunkhyen Pema Karpo the main seat of the Drukpa Lineage was moved to Druk Sangag Choeling (gSang-sngags chos-gling dGon-pa) in the Jar Province of Tibet. After the invasion of the PRC Namdruk was totally destroyed. Today only a few monks are living there under difficult circumstances. Today the Drukpa Lineage is very active in the Internet, too. You can visit them at the Gyalwang Drukpa - authorized by the twelfth Gyalwang Drukpa.

     Archaeological evidences date the dragon in the himalayan regions back at least to the Tang Dynasty in China. Li Yuanding travelled during the reign of the Tang to the ancient kingdom in Himalaya and wrote and account that he saw dragon images in the tent of the king. The stone plates at the grave of Chido Songtsan shows dragons, too. Also in the old kingdom of Guge there can be found dragon images. In Lhasa, a city in the territory of ancient Zhangzhung is the monastery Jo'khang or Tsuglagk'ang where the image of Shakyamuni Buddha can be found. In front of it there are two pillars with dragons. During the Tang Tibet came in touch with the chinese feng shui and some traces of it can still be found. So at Lhasa there is the green dragon in the South. Within the Gesa Epos the dragon is also located in the South. Of course you can find dragons in this heroic epos. They symbolize heroic attributes like nobility, strength, fortitude. "In the blue sky there is a jade dragon. He lives in Purple Cloud City. He roars to show his might, and he throws a thunderbolt like an arrowhead. In one blow he destroys the eagle's nest, and in another he smashes the Red Rock Peak." reads one line from it. It reminds on the heavenly palace of chinese dragons.

    Some samples of draconic geography in the Himalaya: In the province Sichuan a river has its fountain within a mountain cave, whethin it there are two white stones which look like two white dragons. This river is being called Zhugqu - Dragonriver in Gansu. The chinese name of it is bailong which is White Dragon (River) in english. In the county Lintan of the same province there are two lakes named after dragons: the Ama Zhugco - lake of the mother dragon and Zhugmoco - the dragon's daughters lake. At these locations there still are rituals being held to honor Zhug which is a female one there.

    You can find Druk in one corner of tibetan Prayer Flags to represent the element wood along with the horse (in the middle), the snow lion, the tiger and the khyung (Garuda). In tibetan these flags are named rLung rta - translated wind-horse or simply luck. Raising them on auspicious days increase the rLung rta of the person. The term rLung however is obviously akin to the chinese lung which translates as dragon among other meanings. Another very important meaning of this word is vital-force.

     Druks are living in the clouds and were later associated with gZa. The Druk is different to the Nagas of India and is being called for protection against enemies. It always has five claws. The crocodile is much more brought into play when the Druks are being displayed. Although there still is being a clear difference between the crocodile and the dragon. The Druk is the vehicle of some protective deities and Guardians of the Teachings in Tibet. The first of the Thang-yig (or brtan ma bcu gnyis: Tenma Chu-nyi) Dhag-nyi Chenmo Dorje Kundragma (bdag nyid chen mo rdo rje kun grags ma) for example. She was born in Tsangtoe (gtsang stod) and it is said that she would reside in Gungthang, Namtso (gnam mtsho), Chugma (phyug mo) and so on. She is of dark blue complexion and holds in her right hand a crocodile banner (chu srin gyi rgyal mtshan) and a small mirror (me long). Another female guardian deity of the scriptures and teachings of the kagyu is Tekar Drosangma (gtad dkar ’theng po). Among other things she gives material wealth. The Guardian Deity of the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Rinpoche is dPal ldan lha mo. She is one of the most powerful Guardians of Tibet and she notes the sins of mankind on wood. She is accompanied by some horrible goddesses which ride on a khyung and a dragon.

     One of the older deities of Bon is Za (gZa) who is manifesting himself in hailstorms, lightnings and energy. He has 18 faces and six arms - many deities of Tibet share this feature of multiface and multilimbs. He rides a dragon and he causes numbness, epilepsy and madness when he is offended by blockades of normal flows of energy. Za patronizes magicians and his thanka can be seen in many monasteries. The shamans of the Tamang in Nepal have the dragon as an important ally: with the dragon they can actually travel to the lower world and the upper worlds (akash). The dragon helps them to extract illness, too. Rätsch in his book "Schamanismus und Tantra in Nepal" shows a nice thangka on page 82 which illustrates profoundly the shamanic journey.

     Another kind of tibetan spirits are the Klu which are more feared then the Druk. The myths of the Klu have mixed with the cult of the Naga in India and it is quite difficult to sort them out. The Klu are the tibetan version of the chinese water dragons and they live in fountains, rivers and seas. You can encounter them on certain special locations, too. The Klu hetched from six eggs at the dawn of creation. The king of them - Klu chen rgyal po - lives in an under water palace just like the dragonkings in china. It is to be noticed that he is being called in the more darker kind of rites to end up the lifes of the enemies quick. The female form of the Klu is Klu mo and the queen is named Yum klu mo yak. She is not one of the nice and peaceful breed and her garment are snakes. When she rides out she has a bag full of diseases with her. Another much more friendly Klu mo wears a garment of cloudy silk and feathers and she patronizes jung girls and women. The legendary kings of ancient Tibet before To ri long bstan had daughters of the gods and the Klu as wives. So the wive of king Gesar is named Sengjam Zhugmo, the daughter of the dragon. It is said that she was born in the thunder of a dragon. Today many women in Tibet bear the name Zhugmo. To angry one Klu can have the consequences of really bad weathers like hailstorms. Klu are regularly held responsible for illness and disease. There are certain rites to react on these more sinister deeds of them and the famous crosses of ropes play an importand part in these rites.

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