The descent
of the Tibetan people
from a monkey and
a rock-ogress

THE SUBLIME Avalokiteshvara, having conferred layperson's vows upon a magical monkey, dispatched him to meditate in the snowy realm of Tibet. There, beside a black rock, while he was devotedly contemplating loving-kindness, compassion, enlightenment-thought and the profound Dharma of emptiness, a rock-ogress, suffering on account of her karma, approached him, and before she departed, made manifold indications of her carnal desire for him. Later, disguised as a woman, the ogress said to the monkey, 'Let us be married!' But the monkey replied, 'As I am a disciple of the sublime Avalokiteshvara, it would contravene my vows to become your husband'. 'If you reject me, I will kill myself!' exclaimed the rock-ogress as she threw herself at the monkey's feet. On rising, she addressed these words to him:

Alas! Great Monkey King!
Think of me a little and hear my plea.
By the power of my karma, I was born among the race of ogres.
As my lust grows, I have become enamoured of you.
Driven by my desire, I have come to make this request.
If you will not marry me
I will take a rock-ogre husband.
Every day we will slay ten thousand living beings,
And every night we will devour a thousand creatures.
I will bear countless ogre-children
And this snowy realm will be filled with ogre-cities.
Every living creature will become an ogre's prey.
By comparison, is it not better to think of me
And show your compassion?

As these plaintive words caused her tears to flow, the Bodhisattva-monkey thought to himself, 'It would contravene my vows to marry this ogress, but if I do not, it will prove to be an even greater misdeed!' With these thoughts, he appeared in an instant before the Sublime One on Mt. Potala and made this supplication:

Alas! Compassionate Protector of Beings:
I have protected my vows as I would my life.
An ogress from the race of devils, smitten by lust,
Poured forth her varied laments,
And while encircling me, came to rob me of my vows.
What can I do to protect them?
Oh! Compassionate Protector of Loving-Kindness, consider my plea.

After the monkey had spoken, Avalokiteshvara responded, 'Marry the rock-ogress!' and voices of the reverend Bhrikuti and the reverend Tara resounded from the sky: 'Excellent indeed!' The Sublime One then blessed the marriage of the monkey and the rock-ogress in order that this snowy land of Tibet might possess three qualities: that at some future time, the teachings of the Buddha might spread, flourish and endure; that spiritual friends might arise in unbroken succession; and that precious treasures might be discovered, so that benefits, happiness, virtue and goodness might increase in all ten directions.

The monkey and the rock-ogress, being united as husband and wife, bore six monkey-children of differing dispositions, one reborn from each of the six classes of beings. The monkey-child reborn from among the denizens of the hell realms had a stern countenance and could withstand great hardships. The child from the realm of the hungry ghosts had loathsome features and an insatiable appetite. The one reborn from the animal realm was stupid and vulgar. The monkey-child from the human realm was endowed with increasing wisdom and sensitivity. The one from the realm of the demigods was aggressive and jealous, and the monkey-child from the realm of the gods was patient and virtuous.

The Bodhisattva-monkey led his six children to the Forest of Assembled Birds, which abounded in fruit, and they dwelled there for three years. At the end of that time, the monkey-king returned and saw that by virtue of his karma, his children had increased to five hundred in number. As they had devoured all the fruit and had nothing else to eat, and although neither mother nor father could succour them, they cried, 'Father, what can we eat? Mother, what can we eat?' The monkey-children threw up their hands, piteous and impoverished. The Bodhisattva-monkey then thought to himself, 'This cannot be the result of my own defilements. These monkey-children have become so numerous because I followed the instructions of the Sublime One'. Thinking this, he appeared in a trice upon Mt. Potala and supplicated Avalokiteshvara with these words:

Alas! Not realising that married life was a prison;
Not knowing that I had been deceived by a she-devil;
I am mired in the Samsaric mud of offspring.
Not recognising that sensual desires are poisonous leaves,
My compassion turned to lust, and I was deceived.
Bound by carnal urges, I am oppressed by a mountain of suffering.
Having swallowed the poison of defilements
I am afflicted by the epidemic of adverse karma.
Accumulated woes torment me:
Alack! Alas! Compassionate Protector of Loving-Kindness,
How can I succour my children?
I am in this predicament at the Sublime One's behest.
We now resemble a city of hungry ghosts;
In the next life we will no doubt be reborn in the hell realms!
I therefore beseech you to protect us with your compassion.

As the monkey besought him thus, the Sublime One replied, 'I shall protect your progeny'. Avalokiteshvara then arose and took from a crevice on Mt. Sumeru barley, wheat, peas, buckwheat and rice, and cast them upon the earth. The place where they fell then became filled with crops that required no cultivation. The Bodhisattva-monkey led his monkey-children thither and showed them the food. Tradition holds that the monkey then said 'Zotang - Eat!', and the place became known as Zotang Gongpori. Once they had sated themselves upon these crops, the monkey-childrens' hair and tails grew shorter, they learned to speak and they became human. They ate the crops that required no cultivation and began to wear garments fashioned from leaves.

Thus the inhabitants of this snowy land of Tibet, being the descendants of a monkey-father and rock-ogress mother, form two lineages. As to the monkey-father's lineage, they are those who are patient, faithful, compassionate, diligent, those who delight in virtue and those who are eloquent. These are of the father's lineage. As to the rock-ogress mother's lineage, they are those who are lusty, angry, mercenary, profit-seeking, greedy, competitive, garrulous, strong, courageous, active, restless, scatterbrained, daring, those whose minds suffer from an excess of the five poisons of greed, hatred, ignorance, jealousy and pride, those who enjoy hearing about the faults of others and those who are tempestuous. These are of the mother's lineage.

At that time, the mountains of Tibet were clad in forests, and every valley was filled with water. Having dug ditches and channels, all the water was drained away, the plains became fields and many cities were built. It is said that shortly thereafter, Nyatri Tsenpo arrived to become king of Tibet, and the distinction between sovereign and subject arose.

This chapter,
concerning the descent
of the Tibetan race from a monkey
and a rock-ogress,
is the seventh.

From The Clear Mirror: a traditional account of Tibet's Golden Age, Sakyapa Sonam Gyaltsen's 'Clear Mirror on Royal Genealogy', translated from the Tibetan by McComas Taylor and Lama Choedak Yuthok. Published by Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca New York (1996)


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