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The Practice of the Bonpo Deity Walchen Gekhod, also known as Zhang-Zhung Meri - Four Classes of Bönpo Tantras
Article Index
The Practice of the Bonpo Deity Walchen Gekhod, also known as Zhang-Zhung Meri
Four Classes of Bönpo Tantras
Gekhöd and Meri
Iconography of Zhang-zhung Meri
Iconography of Zhang-zhung Meri 2
The Mantra Recitation for Meri
The Texts for Zhang-zhung Meri
Outline of the Sadhana Text
The Practice of Sadhana
All Pages


Four Classes of Bönpo Tantras

Within the Bönpo tradition, there are four classes of Tantras. The two lower or Outer Tantras (phyi rgyud), namely, Kriya Tantra (bya-ba’i rgyud) and Charya Tantra (spyod-pa’i rgyud), are more ritualistic in their emphasis, with mandalas, invocations, elaborate puja offerings, and so on. The higher or Inner Tantra (nang rgyud) also consist of two classes of Tantras. The first, Yeshen Tantra (ye-gshen rgyud) emphasizes the meditation practice of sadhana, the process of transformation, usually entailing the practice visualizing oneself as a wrathful deity. The second, Yeshen Chenpo Tantra (ye-gshen chen-po’i rgyud), mainly focuses on Guru Sadhanas for Siddhas such as Dränpa Namkha, Lishu Tag-ring, and Tsewang Rigdzin, as well as the Dakini Kalpa Zangmo.  [4]

In terms of Yeshen Tantra, the Bönpos possess collections of  Father Tantras (pha rgyud) and Mother Tantras (ma rgyud). Among the wrathful deities belonging to this Father Tantra class, there are found five principal meditation deities known as the Saykhar Chog-nga (gsas-mkhar mchog lnga), “the five supreme ones of the divine citadel.” A divine citadel (gsas-mkhar), or castle, is actually a celestial palace, corresponding to the idea of the mandala (dkyil-'khor). A mandala is in fact a three-dimensional architectonic structure, whereas the mandala depicted on a scroll painting, or thangka, is two-dimensional, and more or less represents the floor plan of the mandala palace. The term gsas (pronounced “say”) is an old word having the same meaning as lha or “god.” These five principal deities are as follows:

1. Walse Ngampa (dbal-gsas rngam-pa),

2. Lhagöd Thogpa (lha-rgod thog-pa),

3. Trowo Tsochok Khagying ( khro-bo gtso-mchog mkha'-' gying),

4. Walchen Gekhöd (dbal-chen ge-khod), and

5. Walphur Nagpo ( dbal-phur nag-po), or simply Phurpa.

They respectively represent the enlightened functions of the Body, Speech, Mind, Quality, and Activity. Zhang-zhung Meri is regarded as a special form of Walchen Gekhöd, who embodies the Quality Aspect of the enlightened awareness of the Buddha..

However, nowadays, Gekhöd-Meri is not a popular meditation deity practice among contemporary Bönpos. The Bönpos mostly practice Walse (dbal-gsas), with whom many magical practices are associated, and also the Zhitro (zhi-khro), “the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities practice,” of whom Trowo Tsochok (khro-bo gtso-mchog) is the principal deity according to the Bönpo Book of the Dead cycle. The rites of Phurpa is also quite popular as a Yidam practice. [5]