Domtsün Dampa The Domtsün Dampa (སྡོམ་བརྩོན་དམ་པ་) or Ngangtsho Raldi (ངང་མཚོ་རལ་གྲི་) is a common artistic creation found in the monasteries in Bhutan and the Himalayas. It is called Domtsün Dampa after the first phrase of the composition on which the art is based and Ngangtso Raldi or Swan-Lake Sword after the main elements of the art. It is written on temple walls, mostly near the entrances. The Nyingma tradition, which is associated with the content of this artwork, has in recent times also used it as the school’s emblem. The art work is composed mainly of a large lotus plant growing out of clear blue lake. In the middle of the lotus flower is a flaming sword standing vertically. To the right of the sword is a two-headed swan and to the left a two-headed parrot. The blooming lotus or padma flower is said to represent Padmasambhava, the main master to whom the credit of introduction of Buddhism to the Himalayas is given. It also symbolizes purity, just like the lotus is without stain although it grows in mud and dirty water. The sword which has a beautifully carved handle and which rises upward with flames burning around its sharp edge is generally used as the symbol of the wisdom of Mañjuśrī in Bhutanese and Himalayan Buddhist art. However, in this particular emblem, it represents Trisong Detsen, the 37th Yarlung Emperor of Tibet, who invited Padmasambhava to Tibet and patronized the establishment of the Buddhist system in Tibet. As Trisong Detsen was the main disciple of Padmasambhava, in order to indicate how the former spiritually emerged out the latter’s blessings, the sword is shown as rising out of the lotus. The swan with two heads to the right of the sword represents Śāntarakśita, the Bengali abbot who introduced Buddhist monasticism in Tibet, and his chief disciple, Kamalaśila. As they possess the same spiritual heights and thoughts, they are shown with one body but as they taught separately at different times, the swan has two heads. The parrot with two heads represents the famous translators Kawa Peltsek and Chogro Luigyaltsen. As these translators workded with two languages, the parrot is depicted with two heads. In some versions of Dömtson Dampa, a religious scripture is also included on the lotus below the sword. This art composition was originally said to have been created in Samyé monastery by the Sakyapa scholar Künga Gyaltsen, popularly known as Sakya Paṇḍita, as way of token of homage and praise to the great masters who were behind the main programmes of the first diffusion of Buddhist teachings in Tibet in the 8th century. He is said to have also composed the following verses alongside the art work: སྡོམ་བརྩོན་དམ་པ་དཔལ་ལྡན་ཞི་བ་འཚོ། ། བརྟུལ་ཞུགས་གྲུབ་པ་པདྨ་འབྱུང་གནས་དཔལ། ། བློ་གསལ་དབང་པོ་པདྨའི་ངང་ཚུལ་སོགས། ། སྙིགས་མའི་དུས་ཀྱི་རྒྱལ་བ་གཉིས་པ་ཡིན།། Śāntarakśita, the noble one with discipline and diligence, Excellent Padmasambhava, who is an accomplished saint, The lord of scholars, Kamalaśīla and others Are the second Buddha of the degenerate times. བདེ་བར་གཤེགས་པའི་རིང་ལུགས་བླ་ན་མེད། ། ཞུ་ཆེན་སྒྱུར་བྱེད་མཆན་བུའི་གནས་འདུག་པའི། །  སྐད་གཉིས་སྨྲ་བ་བློ་གྲོས་གསལ་ལྡན་པ། ། དེ་དག་བདག་ཅག་རྣམས་ཀྱི་མིག་ཏུ་གྱུར།། The brilliant translators, who spoke two languages, Held the titles of master editor, translator and assistant And translated the incomparable teachings of the Buddha, Are like the eyes for us. མི་ཡི་དབང་པོ་ཆོས་བཞིན་ས་སྐྱོང་བ། །རྣམ་དཔྱོད་བློ་ཅན་དེས་པས་འགྲོ་བ་འདུལ། ། དཔའ་མཛངས་བློན་པོའི་ཚོགས་ཀྱིས་ཡོངས་བསྐོར་ཏེ། །སྐྱེ་དགུ་འདི་དག་བུ་བཞིན་ལེགས་པར་བསྐྱངས། ། The lord, who ruled the land in accordance with dharma, Who was intelligent, skilful, noble in taming beings, Surrounded by valiant and wise ministers, Held his people dear like his child. བདག་ཀྱང་སྔོན་སྦྱངས་ལས་ཀྱིས་འཕེན་པ་ཡིས། ། སྙིགས་མའི་དུས་སུ་གངས་རིའི་ཁྲོད་འདིར་སྐྱེས།། འོན་ཀྱང་ཚེ་རབས་སྔོན་མའི་བསོད་ནམས་མཐུས། ། ཤེས་བྱ་ཕལ་ཆེར་འབད་པ་ཆུང་ངུས་ཤེས། ། Through the force of my karma accumulated previously I have been born in Tibet in these degenerate times. However, through the power of merits from previous lifetimes, I learnt most sciences with little effort. རྩོད་དུས་འདི་ན་མཁས་པར་ཁས་འཆེ་ཞིང་། ། ལན་བརྒྱར་འཆད་དང་ཉན་ལ་མངོན་བརྩོན་པ། ། དེ་དག་གིས་ཀྱང་ཤེས་བྱའི་གནས་རྣམས་ལ།  ། རྣམ་པར་དཔྱད་ན་ཕྱོགས་རེའི་མིག་ཅན་ཡིན། ། In this age of dispute, even those who claim to be learned And engage in exposition and listening a hundred times, If one examines, in all areas of knowledge, They only possess a partial vision.   འཕགས་པ་འཇམ་དཔལ་གྱི་ཕྱག་མཚན་གྱི་རིས་མོ་འདི་གཙུག་ལག་ཁང་ལ་ཕན་པའི་རྟེནའབྲེལ་ཞིག་ཡོད་པས།  དཔལ་ལྡན་ས་པཎ་བྲིས་པ་ཡིན།  ཅུང་ཟད་རི་མོ་མི་མཛེས་ཀྱང་། མཚན་མོར་བྲིས་པ་དང་། པིར་ལ་སོགས་མ་འཛོམས་པས་ལན། འོན་ཀྱང་བཀྲ་ཤིས་པའི་རྟེན་འབྲེལ་ཞིག་ཡོད། As the art of the sword, which is the hand implement of noble Mañjuśrī, has the auspicious power to benefit the temple, this was created by the excellent Sakya Paṇḍita. Although the art is not very beautiful as it was created at night without the necessary tools such as brushes, it has the auspicious omen. According to above account found in the writings of Sakya Paṇḍita, the original version of this art composition was created on the right side of the middle circle in Samyé temple complex. Ever since, many copies and versions were created in other places as it is believed to bring auspiciousness and it denotes the three great figures of Khenlop Chösum (མཁན་སློབ་ཆོས་གསུམ་) and other great masters of the Earlier Diffusion of Buddhism in Tibet. In Bhutan, this art is commonly found on temple walls and many Nyingma lamas also use a version or derivative of it as their logo.   Karma Phuntsho is a social thinker and worker, the President of the Loden Foundation and the author of many books and articles including The History of Bhutan. 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