Login

Sign Up

After creating an account, you'll be able to track your payment status, track the confirmation and you can also rate the tour after you finished the tour.
Username*
Password*
Confirm Password*
First Name*
Last Name*
Birth Date*
Email*
Phone*
Country*
* Creating an account means you're okay with our Terms of Service and Privacy Statement.
Please agree to all the terms and conditions before proceeding to the next step

Already a member?

Login
+86 150-8901-2527 Info@Tourtraveltibet.com

Login

Sign Up

After creating an account, you'll be able to track your payment status, track the confirmation and you can also rate the tour after you finished the tour.
Username*
Password*
Confirm Password*
First Name*
Last Name*
Birth Date*
Email*
Phone*
Country*
* Creating an account means you're okay with our Terms of Service and Privacy Statement.
Please agree to all the terms and conditions before proceeding to the next step

Already a member?

Login

The Significance and Origins of Gadong Dharma Protector in Tibetan History

The four guardian deities of the Gelug Sect frequently appear on the title pages of Tibet’s modern history. These oracle gods (སྐུ་ཁོག་ཞུགས་པའི་ལྷ) often have a say in political and religious matters through “divine judgment” under the theocratic political system. It can be challenging to find information about them in descriptions. Therefore, when encountering these gods, it is important to not only appreciate and analyze their artistic images from an iconographic perspective but also give special attention to this field.

From classical narratives, it is evident that the God of Proclamation has undergone development from ancient worship to a visual and operable ritual program. Additionally, the god’s significance is deeply rooted in politics. A prime example is the four oracle gods of the Gelug Sect, whose formation and growth are closely tied to the sect’s fortunes.

By the mid-17th century, the Gelug Sect solidified its political and religious authority in a challenging and turbulent era, thanks to the support of local powers like Lhasa. When examining the gods conferred by the local government, it becomes apparent that most of them originate from the Lhasa Valley. Nechung hails from Drepung Monastery, Lamu Tsangpa or Brahma from Lamu Monastery, Dorje Setrab from Sangpu Monastery, and Gadong from Gadong Temple.

The most virtuous and meritorious king among the five: Gadong

This has led to the incorporation of gods in Tibetan culture and solidifying of theocratic rule. The origins of these gods have been extensively examined, resulting in a group of specialized protector gods.

As one of them, Gadong Dharma Protector (དགའ་གདོང་ཆོས་སྐྱོང་ཆེན་མོ) began to exert spiritual power from the day he was pushed to the altar. In the existing classical records about Gadong Dharma Protector God, it is classified as the companion god of one of the main gods in the five body kings (རྒྱལ་པོ་སྐུ་ལྔ). 

This protector is also known as “Yasha with a wooden bird shape” (གནོད་སྦྱིན་ཤིང་བྱ་ཅན), and some traditional narratives regard it as the main god of Gadong Dharma protector, Baiha, the king of career among the five kings. But in fact, as described in detail in “Gods and Ghosts of Tibet”, the main deity of Gadong Dharma Protector is obviously the king of meritorious virtues among the five kings with a wooden bird shape (ཡོན་ཏན་རྒྱལ་པོ་གནོད་སྦྱིན ་ཤིང་བྱ་ཅན), which is a higher-ranking companion god in the system of kings (རྒྱལ་པོ་རིགས), often with subordinates to show people (such as Naiqiong Dorje Zadan) .

Gadong Temple’s main guardian is the king of merit and virtue, represented by a wooden bird. This deity has its own set of companion gods, and the ministers refer to it as the black-tailed eagle. Further details are not provided due to space constraints.

A ode to Gadong Dharma protector written by the fifth Dalai Lama, the first connection between this god and Tibet.

སློབ་དཔོན་ཆེན་པོ་པདྨ་ཐོད་འཕྲེང་གིས། །

ཕྱག་མཚན་རྡོ་རྗེ་སྤྱི་བོའི་གཙུག་ཏུ་བཀོད། །

བདུད་རྩིའི་གནའ་ཆུ་ལྕེ་ལ་ལེགས་བཞག་ནས། །

དམ་བཏགས་སྲོག་སྙིང་བླངས་ནས་བྲོ་བོར་བ། །

This ode depicts a dreadful Gadong Dharma protector infused with Tantric elements. It also portrays the “swearing by fate” process of Guru Rinpoche and Gadong Dharma’s protector. Swearing by fate refers to a contractual relationship formed between the deity and master upon surrendering a specific god or ghost. This relationship is often based on adhering to tantric vows and holds significant deterrent power in a theological context. The process involves a series of intricate ritual procedures. For instance, the deity’s master places the vajra, symbolizing eternity and stability, on the vower’s head and administers the sacred blessed nectar onto the vower’s tongue, and so forth.

In short, taking an oath by order reflects the unconditional trust between the oath supervisor and the oath taker, and the oath taker often uses this as a basis to establish their own new identity attributes.

Gadong Temple  དབུས་ཀྱི་གདན་ས་ཆེན་མོ་དྲུག་གི་ཡ་གྱལ། དགའ་བ་གདོང་།

Gadong Dharma Protector, a king-line deity, was incorporated into the Dharma Protector system under Guru Rinpoche along with King Baihar. He found a suitable position in the Samye Monastery, where many capable individuals resided, and served as a priest. As the Samye Monastery declined, Gadong Dharma Protector wandered in the Lhasa Valley. Eventually, it became part of the famous “Six Great Temples of U” (དབུས་ཀྱི་གདན་ས་ཆེན་མོ་དྲུག་སྟེ། གསང་བ དེ་གུང་གསུམ་དང་། དགའ་སྐྱོར་ཟུར་གསུམ) known as Central Gadong Temple (དགའ་བ་གདོང), which is also the origin of the name “Gadong”. After the establishment of the Ganden Podrang regime, this deity of the royal background was promoted to the status of Protector God.

gadong protector god
Gadong protector god

There are two manifestations of Gadong Dharma Protector: the main god and the accompanying god. The main god is depicted as a wooden bird-shaped figure, dressed in black with two hands. He wields a battle axe in his right hand and a noose in his left hand. He wears a cloak made of snake and tiger skins, a handkerchief made of rattan branches, and an eagle skin on his hat. He rides a white horse accompanied by a turquoise dragon.

He sends long-tailed monkeys, grey-haired wolves, and mice as messengers. The incarnation image of the main god is similar, but dressed in light blue with a red leather waistcoat and a Sacha hat, representing a royal god. The accompanying god’s image is similar to Nechung Dorji Draten, so it will not be described again here.

Gadong Dharma Protector God Oracle: Kanqiong དགའ་གདོང་ཆོས་སྐྱོང་གི་སྐུ་རྟེན་མཁན་ཆུང་།

According to folklore, Gadong Dharma Protector is renowned for weather forecasting, which led to his appointment by Kashag to the fourth-class oracle position (རྩེ་སྐོར་མཁན་ཆུང). The oracle of Gadong Dharma Protector, like that of Lamu Dharma Protector, is also hereditary and referred to as “དགའ་གདོང་གཟིམ་ཁང”. Additionally, it is believed that the Gadong protector holds great respect for the Nechung protector, often referred to as the “king’s friend” when descending to the gods. Due to the limited availability of classical materials about Gadong Dharma protectors.

About the author

The Tibetan Travel website's creator, hailing from Lhasa, is a cultural enthusiast. They promote responsible tourism, connecting the world to Tibet's beauty and heritage. Awards recognize their contribution.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Proceed Booking