Lord of the Teachings: Shenchen Luga

Shenchen Luga from a mural at the Yungdrung Kundrak Ling Bon Monastery in Sikkim. Kindly photographed for Nine Ways by Sherab Ongdak.

In a palace that has many open doors to the profound treasure of teachings,

Is the Holy Lord of the teachings, Shenchen Luga, and similar others.

I pray to those who have clearly opened the door to Bön,

Grant your blessing that the four joys of wisdom blaze!

From the Tsa Lung Soldep, the Prayer of the Channels and Winds written by Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen and translated from the original Tibetan by Raven Cypress Wood.

Shenchen Luga was born in the Western year 996, the year of the Fire Monkey, in the Dringtsam region of Tsang, Tibet.  He was born into the Mu-Shen clan, the same family lineage of Lord Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché.  His father was of the ‘Ga’ clan and his mother was a Bönpo.  He was the eldest of three brothers and considered an emantion of the great yogi Tongyung Tüchen.  The scriptural terma, or hidden treasures, that he discovered marked a great revival of the Yungdrung Bön after its persecutions and subsequent hiding of texts and sacred objects.  Although there were tertons, or treasure revealers, both before and after Shenchen Luga, none came close to having the impact upon the religious tradition of Yungdrung Bön.  He is the foremost among all tertons and was well known during his lifetime.

In 1014 while he was on retreat, his father died.  By the time Shenchen Luga was eighteen years old, he was quite athletic and was stronger than almost anyone.  Because of this, he would compete in games of strength.  One day, he was carrying a load of twenty bricks up a wooden ladder.  Having reached the eleventh step near to the top, he fell.  Although his back was set after the accident, from that time on he walked bent over from the waist.  Because of this, he was henceforth called “Shengur, the bent Shen.”

The following year, 1014, at the age of nineteen, he requested teachings from Lama Ponse Razhak.  He engaged in spiritual practice and had many auspicious dreams and visions of having attained the power and benefit of these practices.  In 1016, he wed Nagaza Paldrön.

In 1017, the frequency of his visions increased.  One day he was experiencing many sparkling lights filling the sky and lights of the five colors dissolving into him.  Then, four women came from the sky each riding a different animal.  One woman was riding a dragon, one was riding a garuda, one was riding a lion and the other was riding a tiger.  These four khandro presented Shenchen Luga with a crystal phurba that, among other characteristics, contained nine notches representing the Nine Ways of Bön.  They instructed him to keep his revelations secret for twelve years.  Soon afterwards, he found boxes of Yungdrung Bön texts hidden in rocks marked with two yungdrungs.  In the process of trying to remove them, the boxes disappeared.  That evening, the treasure guardians appeared to him and told him that he could not take the terma without first making offerings and then to sit and make copies of the texts.  There are conflicting reports about the number of boxes that were found but all reports agree that some of the boxes were left undisturbed.

Tertön Shenchen Luga managed to keep his discoveries secret for eleven years.  Among his terma was the External Mother Tantra, which has since been lost and no known copies remain.  He had many disciples who returned to their home villages and began religious centers overseen by their family lineages.  One of these disciples was Drujé Yungdrung Lama.  He was the grandson of Druchen Namkha Yungdrung, the founder of the renowned Yeru Wensaka Yungdrung Bön monastery.  Another disciple was Wangden Zhu Ye Lekpo who served the tertön as an attendant for many years.  He was entrusted with the terma teachings related to dzogchen.

The tertön died at the age of forty after being poisoned by a Buddhist monk by the name of Lotön Dorjé Wangchuk.  It is said that he had received a prophecy concerning the person that poisoned him but he did not understand the meaning of the prophecy until it was too late.  As he passed away, there was an earthquake and strange lights could be seen in the sky.  Some sources associate his early death with not fulfilling the request to keep the terma secret for a full twelve years.  According to an historical text written by the 23rd Menri Trizen Nyima Tenzin Rinpoche, Shenchen Luga’s murderer died of a heart ailment three days after poisoning him.

*A Partial List of Texts discovered by Shenchen Luga:

  • Sipé Dzö Phuk Le’u Chu Dun chen gyi Dak Nyi, The Innermost Treasury of Existence, the Essence in Seventeen Chapters
  • Namdak Pema Long Yang kyi Gyü Zhung, The Tantra of the Vast Expanse of the Completely Pure Lotus
  • Ten Sum Rabné Kor Sum kyi Ka Zhung, Three Cycles of Consecration of the Three Supports
  • Par Chin gyi Bum Kham Chen, also known as, Tong Trak Gyapa, The Hundred Thousand Perfection of Wisdom, the Great Realms, also known as, The Hundred Thousand Verses
  • Kham Dring Tong Trak Nyishu Tsa Ngapa Lek Bam Druk, Medium Length Realms in Twenty-five Thousand Verses in Six Volumes
  • Tsa Bum Dumbu Nyipa Sholoka Tong Drak Gyepa, The Second Part of the One Hundred Thousand Verses
  • Zhiwa Trinle kyi Dön du Yungdrung Yong Dzok, The Perfect and Complete Everlasting Meaning of  Peaceful Enlightened Activity
  • Kün Kyop Jamma Chenmo Gyü Le’u Chu Sumpa, The Thirteenth Chapter of the Tantra of the All Protective Great Mother Jamma
  • Jamma Tsawé Drup pa Nam, The Root Practice Text of Jamma
  • Sigyal gyi Gyü Paga Longchen gyi Le’u, The Great Expanse of the Womb, A Tantra of the Queen of Existence
  • Jang Sem Gap pé Gyü Le’u Gupa, The Ninth Chapter of the Tantra of the Hidden Mind of Enlightenment
  • Mélong Gu Kor, [Supplemental to the previous text:] Cycle of the Nine Mirrors
  • Dzogchen Yangtsé Longchen gyi Kor Ma Bu Gu Cham, The Cycle of the Great Expanse, the Pinnacle which is the Great Perfection, the Full Length Mother and Son
  • Lishu Choze Dzepé Dzogchen Drakpa Kor Sum gyi Drel, The Activities of Lishu and Choza, A Commentary of the Drakpa Korsum
  • Jang Sem Gap pé Drel Khepa Mi Zhi, Commentary on the Hidden Mind of Enlightenment by the Four Human Scholars
  • Dzogpa Chenpo Yungdrung Yong Dzog Kor Le’u Dün, The Cycle of the Completely Pure, Everlasting Great Completion in Seven Chapters

*This list is taken from the forthcoming Yungdrung Bön Encyclopedia written by the very esteemed scholar, head professor at Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India, and revered spiritual master, His Eminence Menri Lopon Thrinley Nyima Rinpoche of the famous Yungdrung Bön Yangtön lineage.

Posted on April 23, 2017, in Tibetan Lamas, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Thank you for enriching the recitation of tsa lung soldep with Schenchen Luga’s life story. This has so much more depth than my internet research of all those mentioned in tsa lung soldep. Please share my appreciation with Sherab Ongdak for the photograph.

  2. Hi thannks for posting this

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