One of the Rigden Kings of Shambhala

One of the Rigden Kings of Shambhala

LAST night, I finished translating the Prayer to Avert War by Khenpo Gangshar Wangpo (gang shar dbang po, 1925-1959). Khenpo Gangshar resided at Shechen (zhe chen) and, later, Surman (zur mang) Monastaries, both in eastern Tibet. He was also one of the primary teachers of both Thrangu Rinpoche (khra ‘gu) and the controversial Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche (chos rgyam drung pa), who founded Shambhala International. Interestingly, this is a prayer to the kings of the mystical realm of Śambhala, as described in the Kālacakra Tantra.

In this verse, the Dharmarājas are the first seven kings of Śambhala and the Rigden Kings are the last twenty-five. Raudracakra is the very last king of Śambhala—the twenty-fifth Rigden King and the thrity-second overall. Mañjughoṣa—more commonly called Mañjuśrī—is the bodhisattva of wisdom. I’ve tried to translate as literally as possible while still maintaining the original Tibetan’s metrical quality:

Dharmarājas and Rigden Kings, protectors of wanderers,
Raudracakra, very emanation of Mañjughoṣa,
We pray to you. When foreign armies occupy us, arise!
Pacify foreign armies and this perilous time of war!

Khenpo Gangshar wrote this in response to a prophecy by the Fifth Karmapa, Deshin Shekpa (de bzhin gshegs pa) about enemies invading Tibet. (Invasion and occupation have been a recurring—if unfortunate—theme throughout Tibetan history.) It seems particularly relevant today given the ongoing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya; the increasingly dire prospects for peace between Israel and Palestine; and the ongoing occupation of Tibet, East Turkestan, and Inner Mongolia by the People’s Republic of China. By the virtue of translating and publishing it, may all war and occupation everywhere be totally pacified!