Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Brief history and description on Zhungdra Ya Gi Leg Pai Dingri.

              ཡ་གི་ལེགས་པའི་ལྡིང་རི་ནང། །ལྷ་འདྲེ་ཆགས་པའི་ལྡིང་རི་ནང་།
              སྐར་སངས་གསེར་གྱི་བཟང་བུམ་ནང་། །ཡི་དམ་མཁའ་འགྲོ་ཕེབས་ཟེར་ཕེབས།
              མཚན་ལྡན་བླ་མའི་མཇལ་ཁ་ནང་། །བྱིན་རླབས་གསུང་སྐད་ཡོད་ཟེར་ཡོད།
གླུ་གཞས་ལུ་ བོད་སྒྲ། གཞུང་སྒྲ་དང་ རིག་གསར་ ཟེར་གསུམ་ཡོད་ས་ལས་ གོང་ལུ་ཡོད་པའི་གླུ་ཚིག་འདི་ གཞུང་སྒྲ་ཨིན་མས། གཞུང་སྒྲ་འདི་ དབང་འདུས་རྫོང་ཁག་གི་མངའ་འོག་ལུ་ཡོད་པའི་ གཡུས་སྒང་སྟེང་ཟེར་སར་ལུ་ སྒང་སྟེང་ལྷ་ཁང་འདི་ བཞེངས་པའི་སྐབས་ལུ་ སྒང་སྟེང་སྤྲུལ་སྐུ་ སྐུ་འཕྲེང་གཉིས་པ་ བསྟན་འཛིན་ལེགས་པའི་དོན་གྲུབ་ཀྱིས་བརྩམས་གནང་ནུག།
སྒང་སྟེང་ལྷ་ཁང་གི་ གདན་ས་འགོ་དང་པ་ གྲུབ་ཐོབ་རྣམ་རྒྱལ་ལྷུན་གྲུབ་ཀྱིས་བཅག་གནང་པའི་ཤུལ་ལུ་ སྒང་སྟེང་སྤྲུལ་སྐུ་ སྐུ་འཕྲེང་གཉིས་པ་ བསྟན་འཛིན་ལེགས་པའི་དོན་གྲུབ་ཀྱིས་ གདན་ས་བཅག་གནང་ནུག། དེ་སྒང་ སྤྲུལ་སྐུ་གིས་ སྒང་སྟེང་ལྷ་ཁང་འདི་ རྒྱ་བསྐྱེད་གནང་པའི་སྐབས་སུ་ ལྷ་ཁང་གི་ལྡིང་རི་འདི་ ཡར་ག་དེམ་ཅིག་བསྐྱལ་རུང་བསྐྱལ་མ་ཚུགས་པས་ དེ་ལས་ སྤྲུལ་སྐུ་བསྟན་འཛིན་ལེགས་པའི་དོན་གྲུབ་ཀྱིས་ མངོན་ཤེས་གཟིགས་ཅིག་ཟེར་ཨིན་མས། དེ་སྐབས་ ཤར་གྱི་གཡུས་ཁ་ལུ་ ཤར་སྲུན་བདུདམོ་ཟེར་མི་གཅིག་ཡོད་མི་ བདུདམོ་འདི་གིས་ ལྡིང་རི་གུར་འཛེག་ཏེ་སྡོད་ཡོདཔ་སྤྲུལ་སྐུ་གིས་ངོ་ཤེས་གཟིགས་ནུག།
དེ་ལས་སྤྲུ་སྐུ་གིས་ ཡ་གི་ལེགས་པའི་ལྡིང་རི་ནང་།། ལྷ་འདྲེ་ཆགས་པའི་ལྡིང་རི་ནང་།། ཟེར་མི་ གླུ་ཚིག་འདི་བརྩམས་ཏེ་ གཡུས་ཁར་ལས་ བུམོ་གཟུགས་ཤིང་དང་ངོ་རིས་ཡོད་པའི་ཁར་ རྣམ་འགྱུར་མཛེས་ཏོག་ཏོ་ཡོད་མི་བུམོ་ལྔ་བསྟོན་ཏེ་ ལེའུ་དང་བཅས་པ་འབད་ གླུ་གར་འཁྲབ་བཅུག་ནུག། འདི་གི་སྐབས་བདུདམོ་འདི་ བུམོ་ཚུ་གིས་གར་འཁྲབ་སར་ལུ་བལྟ་སྟེ་ སེམས་གཡེང་སོངམ་ལས་ ལྷ་ཁང་གི་ལྡིང་རི་འདི་ ཤོ་་་ཅིག ཤོ་་་ཅིག་ཟེར་སླབ་སྟེ་ ཡར་ལུ་བསྐྱལ་ཚུགས་ཅིག་ཟེར་ཨིན་མས།   རྒྱུ་མཚན་འདི་འབདཝ་ལས་རྟེན་ གཞུང་སྒྲ་ ཡ་གི་ལེགས་པའི་ལྡིང་རི་ནང་།། ཟེར་མི་འདི་ དེ་སྒང་ལས་དར་ཁྱབ་འབྱུང་ནུག།
ད་རེས་ནང་པ་ གཞུང་སྒྲ་ ཡ་གི་ལེགས་པའི་ལྡིང་རི་ནང་།། ཟེར་མི་འདི་ ཡོངས་གྲགས་འབད་འཐེན་སྲོལ་མིན་འདུག། དེ་འབདཝ་ལས་ ད་རེས་སློབ་ཕྲུག་རང་གིས་ འདི་ཁག་ཆེཝ་ཨིནམ་ཤེས་ཏེ་ ཀྲོང་གསར་ལས་ཨིན་མི་ ཨམ་གླེ་མོ་ཟེར་མི་དང་ཅིག་ཁར་ འབྲལ་བ་ཐབས་ཐོག་ལས་ ཞིབ་འཚོལ་འབད་འབདཝ་ཨིན་ལགས། གོང་གི་གཞུང་སྒྲ་འདི་ ཨམ་གླེ་མོ་གིས་གཡུས་ཁར་ལུ་ཧེ་མ་ལས་ ཕམ་རྒན་ཤོས་ཚུ་གིས་ འཐེན་སྲོལ་ཡོདཔ་མ་ཚད་ སྤྱི་ལོ་༢༠༡༤་ལུ་ ཨམ་གླེ་མོ་གིས་ རྒྱལ་གཞུང་འཆམ་དང་ཟློས་གར་ལྟེ་བ་ནང་ལུ་ཡང་ སློབ་སྟོན་འབད་དེ་ཡོདཔ་ཨིན་མས།    


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Atsara: A Sacred-Profane Character

The Atsara figure is an integral part of many Bhutanese festivals. Being a primary agent of mirth and merriment, the red face comical character holding a phallus is generally thought of as a clown at the tshechu festivals. The Atsara character, however, is more than just a clown for entertainment. The Atsara combines the spirit of the sacred and profane, wit and wisdom, humour and responsibility. He helps his audience not only to forget their worries and problems with his jokes but also to occasionally drop their normal sense of self-importance, hypocrisy and false propriety through his pranks.
The name, Atsara, is said to have come from the Sanskrit term acārya, which is transcribed inTshuyig as ཨ་ཙརྱ་. Acārya refers to a teacher or scholar and was a title used to refer to the Indian masters. For instance, the three famous Indian acāryas who have shown great kindness to Tibet are said to be 1) Atiśa Dīpaṅkara, the white acārya, Dampa Sangye, the black acārya and Padmasambhava, the variegated acārya. There was also a red acārya from India who came to Tibet in the 11th century and is sadly remembered for his licentious behaviour, which is said to have corrupted Buddhism in the name of tantric practice. It is difficult to say, without any evidence, on which group of personalities Bhutan’s Atsara character is based and how it has evolved. Many traditional scholars claim that Atsara is a parody of Indian mahāsiddhas, some of whom were enlightened mavericks living unconventional lives while being highly realized Buddhist saints. These enlightened saints, who were renegades on the fringes of society, practiced crazy wisdom as did the divine madmen of Tibet such as Drukpa Kunley.
Whether the Atsara figure is a caricatural reminder of unorthodox saints of crazy wisdom or remnants of loose lustful behaviour of some priests who abused tantric Buddhism, it is today one of Bhutan’s unique and exotic cultural institution. With a red face to symbolize burning passion and a large thunderbolt or phallus to signify masculine power and fertility, the Atsara plays a very important role in Bhutan’s major festivals. Curiously, it is also a Bhutanese cultural character, who is dressed in trousers and a jacket with fanciful patches. Unless he is replaced by other comical figures such as the Gathpo, as is the case during some festivals in central Bhutan, the Atsara is the chief clown to entertain the crowd and the master of ceremony to help the festival run smoothly. The Atsara guides the mask dancers if they forget their steps, tie the masks and silk robes if they fall loose, and provide any support the dancers may need once in the public arena. Often, there are more than one Atsara but only a master mask dancer, who is sharp and witty, dexterous and sensitive to the crowd normally qualify to be the lead Atsara. The junior Atsaras in various masks and costumes merely accompany him. The chief Atsara must know the jokes he should crack and the antics he has to play in the course of specific dances and performances. Towards the end of the festival, the Atsaras are also allowed to collect money from the people as tips and offerings, which in some cases are later shared with all dancers and performers.
The Atsara character represents the traditional Bhutanese personality of being open, liberal, jovial and spontaneous. On the festival ground where people come to immerse in sacred enjoyment and forget the woes and worries of everyday life, the Atsara is a reminder for people to drop unnecessary hang-ups and taboos, inhibitions and obsessions and to unleash their free spirit of ease, joy and laughter. His character remotely reflects the liberated spirit of the Buddha, which has transcended the dualistic apprehension of likes and dislikes, pain and pleasure and such other prejudices, biases and fixations. In an age when people are becoming increasingly neurotic, complex, susceptible and stressed, the Atsara is a true teacher to help us let go of our mental and emotional constriction and seek the inner state of openness and ease.
Personal Communication with Dasho Karma Phuntsho. Shejun Director.
Zhungdra: dying voice of the divine


MAIN SOTRY: It was 1968. A group of veteran Bhutanese singers and instrumentalists boarded a plane for the first time. They were to make a gramophone recording upon the command of the Third Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. It was the peak of summer in Calcutta, India. They travelled to the Dum Dum Studio and started recording. Among the group were Aup Dawpey and Aum Thinlem. They made two trips that year, each lasting for about 20 days.

Aup Dawpey
Aup Dawpey was 37 and played both limand drangyen(Bhutanese lute). While Aum Thinlem, then just 20, sang her heart out.
The group recorded 15 tracks. Most of the numbers were Zhungdra. The songs recorded at the studio were released on a long-playing vinyl record, which were distributed to Bhutanese royals and officials.
Dasho Drupon, who played drangyen, led the group with Drimpon Sonam Dorji, a respected dance instructor and vocalist. In addition to Drimpon Sonam Dorji, male vocalists included Bumtap Tawla, Nija Kado and Goen Tawchu. Female vocalists included Tshewang Lham, Aum Thinlem, Changzam Dagom and Ani Lham.
The group also included instrumentalists Khetu who played chiwang, Dawpay who played drangyenand flute, Tango Pem Namgay who played drangyen and Gyelwa Karamapas Drapa played flute.
The records slowly disappeared into oblivion until it was rediscovered by the Music of Bhutan Research Centre (MBRC), after more than four decades.
MBRC obtained a copy of the records, identified as 33PIX.1017, from a close attendant of the Third King, Dasho Sangay Tenzin.

The veteran singers presented with the 1968’s Gramophone Recordings

The 1968’s Gramophone Recordings was launched in Thimphu last week, which brought fresh memories to Aup Dawpey and Aum Thinlem. They relived those days, once more, through the songs.
“I felt like I was brought to life from the death when I heard those songs again. I remember every moment and I have nothing but good memories,” Aum Thinlem said.
Aup Dawpay lamented about how Zhungdra has lost its charm over the years.
“Zhungdra was popular when I was growing up. It was sacred and a precious opportunity if one got a chance to perform in front of a crowd,” Aup Dawpay said. “Today, I feel sad that this traditional music is dying out with the older generation.”

Zhungdra is the oldest style of traditional Bhutanese folk music. It is distinguished by the way it is sung using extended vocal tones in complex patterns. Singers and dancers form a long line and hold hands when they sing the song. They move in a slow, synchronised order, following the lyrics of the music. Dancers always face towards lama. Zhungdras were composed by spiritual leaders and contain spiritual messages.
“Zhungdra is considered as a sacred song (jinlab chen gi zhabdra),”.  “True Zhungdra consists of 13 songs, performed only once during the Punakha dromchoe along with the masked dances.”
It was first performed in the 17th century to commemorate the victories over the Tibetans. It was performed as a gesture of appreciation to the protective deities Yeshey Gonpo and Pelden Lhamo.
Zhungdra is performed as a Lui Choepa, an offering of the body and soul, to the protective deities,” he said. “Out of the 13 songs, the shortest Zhungdra is the Drubai Puna Dechen.
However, people fail to identify the real Zhungdra and consider any lengthy song as a Zhungdra. Zhungdra became popular from the time of Second King’s, but it was allowed to be performed only during the Punakha dromchoe. However, during the Third King’s time, the rules were relaxed and Zhungdra was performed during other occasions as well.
If people are interested to learn Zhungdra, there are people who can teach. “But I fear it’s too late. We already lost the opportunity and the time to relive these musical genre, which was so fiercely guarded by our elders.” With changing times, music genre like Zhungdra is lost. Like dzongs, which we can’t replicate today, we can’t grasp or keep a hold on Zhungdra. Zhungdra is an ancient tradition, only to change with changing times. Today, there are only about five real Zhungdra singers left in the country.
With digitalisation, the taste in music is also changing. There are only a few audiences who like to Zhungdra today. Change is inevitable. Zhungdra is dying without a patronage, market, appeal and presence to the present generation.The slow death of Zhungdra is both positive and negative. We can’t play Zhungdra in the streets and bars. It’s a devotional song composed by trulkus and lamas. It has a direct impact on spiritual being.

Learning Zhungdra takes a lot of time because one has to understand the meaning of every word, which many are not able to do so. Lyrics are complicated and words unreadable. Today we are living in a fast-paced world with fast-paced music. Many hardly have time to sit and listen to a slow song such like Zhungdra and understand the lyrics. The true essence of Zhungdra is lost in the midst of oral transmissions. It changes with the change in dance movements, songs and lyrics.
It’s difficult to preserve Zhungdra without proper archival and documentation. Zhungdra is not meant for entertainment purposes and has thus lost its value among the commercially-driven music industry. Today, music is only meant for entertainment purposes and thus Zhungdra has lost its authentic, aesthetical and traditional value.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Why Lama is Important









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