The Great Festival of the Tenth Day, known as Tse-chu (tshes-bcu) occurs on the tenth day of each Tibetan lunar month, that is to say, five days before the full moon. Each of these tenth-day festivals during the year commemorates one of the twelve great deeds of Guru Padmasambhava. Like the victorious sun proceeding through the twelve constellations of the zodiac, these festivals during the course of the year mark the key moments of the triumphal career of the Precious Guru when He vanquished the forces of darkness and obscuration and illuminated our world with the adamantine light of liberation.
These twelve glorious deeds are as follows:
- His miraculous birth inside a lotus bud in the middle of the lake Dhanakosa in the country of Uddiyana.
- Invited to the palace of King Indrabodhi, He was installed as the crown prince and later married the princess Bhasadhara.
- Renouncing His kingdom, He practiced austerities and yoga in the cremation ground of Sitavana.
- Taking novice ordination from the venerable monk Ananda, He became exceedingly learned in both the Sutras and the Tantras.
- Since He took up with His consort, the princess Mandarava, the King of Zahor tried to burn Him alive, whereupon He transformed the funeral pyre into a lake.
- When the evil ministers of the country of Uddiyana tried to burn the Guru and His consort alive, the Divine Couple reappeared miraculously on top of the stem of a lotus plant.
- When certain non-Buddhists were causing harm to the Buddhist Doctrine in South India, He ground their religious idols into dust.
- When the non-Buddhists of Tamradvipa threw Him into he river Ganges thinking to drown Him He performed a vajra dance in the sky and reversed the flow of the river.
- Having been given poison by certain non-Buddhists, He transformed this into amrita or ambrosia within the vessel of His own body.
- Taking the form of Vajrakilaya (Dorje Phurpa), He subdued and bound with oaths the gods and demons of Nepal and Tibet.
- Arriving in Central Tibet, He subdued the hostile antagonistic spirits and erected at Samye the first Buddhist monastery in that country.
- Manifesting His wrathful form, Dorje Drolo, in the country of Bhutan, He converted the local spirits into treasure guardians and concealed the Termas or Hidden Treasures throughout the Himalayas.
In the Nyingmapa system, Guru Padmasambhava is considered to be a direct emanation into our world of the Primordial Buddha Samantabhadra Mahavajradhara (kun-tu bzang-po rdo-rje 'chang chen-po). In this context, Amitabha represents the Dharmakaya aspect of the Buddha, Avalokitesvara the Sambogakaya aspect, and Padmasambhava the Nirmanakaya aspect. In the Padma bka'i-thang and elsewhere it is said that a ray of red light emanated out of the heart center of Buddha Amitabha and entered into a bud on top of a lotus plant which miraculously appeared on an island in the middle of the Dhanakosa lake. Within this bud was discovered a beautiful eight-year child who proceeded to teach the Dharma to all the surrounding Dakinis. All this occurred in accordance with the prophecy of the Lord Sakyamuni Buddha who said that eight years after His own entrance into Final Nirvana there would appear one greater than Himself who would teach the secret Mantra doctrine of the Tantras. This was Padmasambhava, "the Lotus-born Guru."
He is known as the Mahaguru because He fully embodies within Himself the Three Jewels and the Three Roots. Before departing from Tibet for the land of Chamara to the southwest of India in order to subdue the fierce cannibalistic Rakshasas, He promised to come to all those who have faith in Him and call upon His name on the tenth day of each month.
We are beholden to His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche for this short text elucidating the benefits of observing this Tenth Day Festival of the Precious Guru.
Here is contained in brief the Benefits of Observing the Great Festival of the Tenth Day.
May we obtain refuge in all our future rebirths in the Uddiyana Vajradhara who removes all difficulties; the mere recollection of Him brings about the bestowing of many desires, siddhis, and blessings, just as does a wish-granting gem, a wish-granting tree, and a precious wish-granting vessel.
According to the Pad-dong Tsek-pa, that root Tantra which embodies the Mind of the Guru, the Guru Himself proclaimed:
"I am He who is known as the Self-originated Lotus.
And who emanated from the heart center of the Buddha Amitabha.
I am Arya Avalokitesvara who is the light ray of Speech.
I am the brother of all the Dakinis and the King of the Viras.
I am the spiritual activity of all the Buddhas of the three times.
I am He who, possessing great strength of compassion,
Appears as the Nirmanakaya of the incomparable Samantabhadra Mahavajradhara.
I am the great wave of spiritual activity which converts everyone,
Filling the minds of all sentient beings with hope."
With the voice of the fearless lion which is itself Secret Adamantine Speech, He reveals His face. From His divine form which embodies all the Buddhas in their infinity, He emanates and then re-absorbs again into Himself all the Mandalas of the Gurus, Devas, and Dakinis. Particularly to His disciples in the snow land of Tibet, He has shown even greater kindness than the actual Buddha Himself by His coming personally to that country, where He is universally known as Padmasambhava or Pema-jungne, the Vajra Guru. For anyone who beholds His deeds, the understanding of a disciple will grow within him. As for the several occasions on which He displayed the great deeds of His marvelous career, they came precisely on the Tenth Day of the waxing moon during the twelve months of the year.
The First Month: On the Tenth Day of the month of the Hare, having renounced His kingdom, He practice austerities, yoga, and liberation in the great cremation ground of Sitavana, "the cool forest." At the time of gathering all the Matrikas and Dakinis under His power, He became known s Guru Santaraksita, "the Guru who is the guardian of peace."
The Second Month: On the Tenth Day of the month of the Dragon, He took Pravajya ordination from the Bhikshu Ananda At the time of demonstrating His attainment of unsurpassed comprehension of all the knowledge and learning contained in the Sutra and Mantra systems as taught by various scholars, He became known as Guru Sakya Senge or Sakyasimha, "the Guru who is the lion of the Sakyas," and as Loden Chogse or Matiman Vararuci, "the Guru possessing Intelligence and Supreme Desire."
The Third Month: On the Tenth Day of the month of the Snake, at the time when the king of Zahor tried to burn Him alive, by His magical powers He transformed the middle of the fire into a lake. Since the people developed faith in Him He established the Dharma in that kingdom. Then, having taken up with His divine consort Mandarava, at the time of displaying his Adamantine Body, He became known as the immortal Pema Jungne or Padmakara, "He who is born of the Lotus."
The Fourth Month: On the Tenth Day of the month of the horse, when certain evil ministers of the land of Uddiyana tried to burn him alive this Divine Couple, by His power He transformed the fire into a lake. Then by his magical powers He caused the radiant and resplendent form of the Divine Couple to appear on top of the stem of a lotus plant, and thus He arranged for the arising of faith in the people. At the time of accomplishing their ripening and liberation, since He was an ocean of Dharma embodying the Word of the Buddha, He became known as Guru Padmavajra, "the Guru with the Lotus and the Vajra."
The Fifth Month: On the Tenth Day of the month of the Sheep, since certain Tirthikas from South India were causing great harm to the Buddhist Doctrine, with His great magical powers He ground the Tirthikas gods together with their guardians into dust. At the time of the waving triumphantly in the sky of the victory banner of the Doctrine of the Buddha, He became knows as Guru Senge Dradog "the Guru who roars like the lion."
The Sixth Month: At sunrise on the Tenth Day of the month of the Monkey, He was born miraculously inside a lotus bud in the middle of lake Dhanakosa. At the time of His turning the wheel of the Dharma for the Dakinis on the island in this lake, He became known as Guru Tso-kye Dorje or Saroruhavajra, "the Guru who is the Lotus-born Vajra."
The Seventh Month: On the Tenth Day of the month of the Bird, the Tirthikas from Tamradvipa threw Him into the river Ganges. But having performed a vajra dance in the sky, by His magical powers He caused the waters of the river to reverse their flow. Having awakened faith in them, at the time of establishing the Doctrine in their kingdom, He became known as Kha-ding Tsal or Khagamana, "He who soars in the sky like the Garuda."
The Eighth Month: On the Tenth Day of the month of the Dog, having been given a poisonous concoction by the Tirthikas, He transformed it into amrita which could do no harm. Thus in the presence of His own radiant and healthy countenance, by His greatly expanded magical powers, He caused faith to arise in them all. At the time of converting the Tirthikas together with their retinues to the Doctrine of the Buddha, He became known as Guru Nyima Odzer or Suryaprabha, "the Guru who is like the rays of the sun."
The Ninth Month: On the Tenth Day of the month of the Pig, having assumed the divine form of Vajrakumara at Yan-le-shod in Nepal, He bound by fierce oaths the gods and demons of the countries of Nepal and Tibet. Having performed the sadhana of Sri Visuddha Heruka, at the time of attaining the Vidyadhara stage of the Supreme Mahamudra, He became known as Guru Dorje Tod-treng Tsal or Vajra Kapalamalika, "the Adamantine Guru with the garland of skulls."
The Tenth Month: On the Tenth Day of the month of the Mouse, He arrived in Central Tibet. Having subdued the hostile gods and demons of Tibet, He erected the great monastery of Cho-khor Pal-gyi Samye, and lit the lamp of the Holy Dharma of the Sutras and the Mantras. At the time of accomplishing the ripening and liberation Guru Padmasambhava, "the Lotus-born Guru."
The Eleventh Month: On the Tenth Day of the month of the Ox (glang-zla), having conjured up His wrathful form at Paro, at Tak-tsang, and elsewhere in Mon-yul (the country of Bhutan). He put under oath all the local deities and treasure guardians. He then concealed in both central and remote places within the Himalayas those Hidden Treasures which are incomprehensible to the mind, consisting of doctrines, jewels, and other holy things. Then at the time of bestowing secret oral instructions and making prophecies regarding the protection of the Hidden Treasures by the deities, He became known as Guru Dorje Dro-lo or Vajrakrodha, "the Guru of Adamantine Wrath."
The Twelfth Month: On the Tenth Day of the month of the Tiger, having been invited by King Indrabodhi, the King of the country of Uddiyana, He was installed as the crown prince, and received in marriage as His wife the princess Bhasadhara. At the time of His preserving this kingdom in accordance with the Dharma, He became known as Guru Pema Gyalpo or Padmaraja, "the Guru who is the Lotus King."
Similarly, there are specific benefits accruing to us from the observing of the monthly pujas on each of the Tenth Day great festivals in the order given above. For example, those evil spirits which cause diseases will be pacified. Our length of life, virtue, and wealth will increase; and our happiness of mind, quick courage, and brilliance of personality will likewise increase. Both human beings and non-human spirits will be gathered under our power; our dominion and prosperity will increase; and the local deities and guardian spirits will heed us as if they are our servants. The harm and injury caused by the Lord of Death and the eight groups of spirits will be mitigated. Our moral precepts will be completely purified, and our wisdom will radiate into every area. The dangers due to unfavorable planets and stars, unlucky days, enemies, and thieves will no longer threaten us; good fortune and well being will increase everywhere at home and abroad. The mischief due to Sadak earth-spirits, Nagas, and fierce Nyen spirits will likewise no longer threaten us; and the Dharma Protectors and Guardians will accomplish those deeds with which they are charged. The damage caused by hindrances, enemies, and evil spirits will be ameliorated; and we will gather under our power whatever we desire. Diseases which cause the body to waste away will be cleansed; bodily health and happiness of mind for ourselves as well as our friends and relatives will increase; and we will obtain whatever object we contemplate. Unlucky periods among he days, months, and years, as well as ill omens generally, will be mitigated; and we will fully recover whatever dominion and good fortune we may have lost. Evil spirits who cause diseases, such as the Bhutas and the eight groups of spirits, as well as the conditions of untimely death, will likewise be pacified. We shall be freed from the ill effects of contagious magic, the disabling effects of mantras which impair the function of the intellect and which disturb our peace of mind, as well as elemental spirits evoked to harm us by causing disease or calamity. Indeed, our own body will become as strong as diamond. Hypocritical deeds in violation of our precepts, such as a defect or default of the three types of vows, as well as all transgression of the Samaya vows, will be cleansed; and our mind will become pure. Untimely death and other accidental disasters will not arise, and immediately upon passing from this life we shall be reborn in the presence of the Guru Himself in the Realm of Lotus Light, Padmaprabhakshetra. Also, from the practice of reciting the prayers in their proper order particularly at the time of performing puja, we shall become as one who possesses infinite benefits; our accumulated merit shall be inexhaustible.
According to the Lama Sang-du:
"On the Tenth Day of the monkey month of the monkey year
And on all the Tenth Days of the other months,
My manifestations will emanate throughout Jambudvipa in particular,
And I shall bestow siddhis both ordinary and supreme.
As for those who perform the sadhana of the Guru throughout their entire life,
If they persist in this, then at the time of passing from this present life,
They will be absorbed into My own heart center."
According to the Treasure tradition of Ratna Lingpa:
"When each Tenth Day of the month arises,
Those who remember Me, as if carrying a pebble in their pocket as a reminder,
They and I shall indeed be inseparable.
To My sons, My disciples, the king and ministers of Tibet,
On the Tenth Day of each month,
I Myself will appear; this I promise.
I, Padmasambhava, would never deceive others."
According to the Zhal-dam Ser-treng:
"I, Urgyan, particularly on the Tenth Day which is the Great Festival,
Will come to the snowy land of Tibet,
Riding upon the rays of the sun and moon, the rainbow, the mists of rain;
And shall remove all obstacles impeding My devoted disciples.
Upon each I shall bestow the Four Consecrations which they desire.
This is My promise and Padma would never deceive anyone.
If one who is devoted to Me always observes the puja on the Tenth Day,
By virtue of practicing the sadhana according to my instructions,
He will realize the well being of the kingdom."
He confirmed these adamantine verses, which surely speak the truth, many times and not one time only. He would never deceive those disciples appearing in later times who believe in His promise with all their heart. With ever increasing efforts may they spread widely this festival which is always productive of benefits and happiness in one's present life and in all future lives. May this festival of benefit and joy be always observed everywhere, together with the Dharma, in the presence of those who desire liberation. Similarly, may these glad tidings be displayed like beautiful young maidens, attractively bejeweled and graced with well-explained excellent meanings for every word. May the messengers of Padma wander everywhere in every direction.
This text was composed by Jigdral Yeshe Dorje (H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche).
May happiness and good fortune come.
This precious text was translated from the original Tibetan into the English language by Vajranatha (John Myrdhin Reynolds). Done at Santiniketan this Eighth Tibetan Lunar Month in the Year of the Water-Mouse (September 1972). May all sentient beings swiftly attain Enlightenment.