Tonpa Shenrab Miwo

Tonpa Shenrab (Shenrab Miwo)

The founder of Bon religion is the Lord Shenrab Miwo.

In past ages there were three brothers, Dagpa, Selba, and Shepa, who studied the Bon doctrines in the heaven named Sridpa Yesang, under the Bon Sage Bumtri. When their studies were completed, they visited the God of Compassion Shenlha Okar and asked him how they could help the living beings submerged in the misery and sorrow of suffering. He advised them to act as guides to mankind in three successive ages of the world. To follow his advice the eldest brother, Dagpa completed his work in the past world age. The second brother, Selba took the name Shenrab and became the teacher and guide of the present world age. The youngest brother, Shepa will come to teach in the next world-age.

Tonpa Shenrab (Shenrab Miwo)

The Lord Shenrab was born in the Barpo Sogye Palace to the south of Mount Youngdong. He was born a prince, married while young, and had children. At the age of 31 he renounced the world and lived in austerity, teaching the doctrine. During his whole life his efforts to propagate the Bon religion were obstructed by the demon Khyabpa Lagring. This demon fought to destroy or impede the work of Tonpa Shenrab until he was eventually converted and became a disciple. Once, pursuing the demon to regain his stolen horses, Tonpa Shenrab arrived in Tibet. It was his only visit to Tibet. There he imparted some instructions concerning the performance of rituals but, on the whole, found the land unprepared to receive fuller teachings. Before leaving Tibet he prophesied that all his teachings would flourish in Tibet when the time was ripe. Tonpa Shenrab departed this life at the age of 82. Admittedly 82 years in Olmo Lungring correspond to some 8200 years of human time.

Tonpa Shenrab (Shenrab Miwo)

There are three written accounts of Tonpa Shenrab. The earliest (tenth century) and shortest in known as Dondu (mdo`-`dus) Epitome of Aphorism. The second (eleventh century) in two volumes is called Zermik (gZer-mig) Piercing Eye. The third and largest is in twelve volumes known shortly as Zhiji (gZhi-brjid) The Glorious. It belongs to the category of scriptures known as “spiritual transmission” (bsNyan-rgyud). It is believed to have been dictated to Loden Nyingpo who lived in the fourteenth century.

Source: Ligmincha Institute

Excerpted from a publication by Triten Norbutse and Yungdrung Bon Monastic Center.

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