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NEW TRANSLATION: ‘Praise to White Tārā: Precious One who Increases Life-Power and Primordial Wisdom’ by the First Dalai Lama, Gendun Drub

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For Tārā day today, am happy to offer this Praise to White Tārā: Precious One who Increases Life-Power and Primordial Wisdom (Rje btsun sgrol ma dkar mo la bstod pa tshe dang ye shes spel bar byed pa rin po che) written by the 1st Dalai Lama, Gendun Drub (1391–1474), contained in his Collected Works [1]. He wrote the text while residing in the Hermitage of Great Awakening at the Thegchen Potrang Palace. The text can be read and freely downloaded below.

The 1st Dalai Lama [2] was posthumously identified as the 1st Dalai Lama after the 3rd Dalai Lama, Sonam Gyatso (1543–1588), was given the title more than 150 years later. The Samding Dorje Phagmo (1422–1455), the highest female incarnation in Tibet, was a contemporary of Gendun Drub. Her teacher, the Bodongpa Panchen Chogley Namgyal was also one of his teachers from whom he received many empowerments and teachings.

There are two Praises to Tārā in the First Dalai Lama’s Collected Works, this one and another to the Khadiravani Forest Tārā (seng ldeng nags kyi sgrol ma la bstod pa mkhas pa’i gtsug rgyan/)[3]. This particular Praise is a supplication to White Tārā, in particular supplicating her to accomplish all the four activities of pacifying, increasing, magnetizing and wrathful subjugation.

A 15th Century edition of the text, has been photographed and preserved here by the University of Leiden, Netherlands (see image below):

The current 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso has bestowed the White Tārā empowerment many times globally, I have received this empowerment from him and from other Tibetan Buddhist masters. He has been reported as advising people to chant the Tārā mantra in relation to Covid as it would be “beneficial for effectively containing the spread of the virus”.

In these times of pandemic, sickness, conflict and demonic influences, may Tārā swiftly protect and bestow all the siddhis, supreme and common! Musical theme? I’m a Believer!

Translated, edited and compiled by Adele Tomlin, 15th August 2021.


[1]There are three editions of the Collected Works available online at TBRC. The text I used is in the Tashi Lhunpo 2011 publication of the Collected Works of the 1st Dalai Lama (pp 490-493). sgrol dkar la bstod pa tshe dang ye shes spel bar byed pa rin po che/.” In gsung ‘bum/_dge ‘dun grub pa. TBRC W24769. 6: 236 – 240. [[[bkra shis lhun po]]?]: bkra shis lhun po gzhung, [199-].

[2] From Treasury of Lives bio: “In 1415, when he was 25, Gendun Drub traveled to U where he met Tsongkhapa Lobzang Drakpa (1357–1419), the founder of the Gelug school to which the Dalai Lama line belongs, and remained at Ganden for roughly 12 years, even though Je Tsongkhapa passed away only four years after their initial meeting. It is said that Tsongkhapa gave Gendun Drub a piece of his own monastic robes upon their meeting, a gesture denoting the close tie and mutual respect the two lamas shared.

For 12 years Gendun Drub and his teacher Sherab Sengge (1383–1445) traveled together, visiting Sakya and Kadam monasteries in Tsang and spreading Tsongkhapa’s Lamrim teachings. Because Gendun Drub taught widely for 50 years, he trained countless abbots of Kadam and Geluk monasteries across Tibet, and even those of some Sakya monasteries. In 1432 Gendun Drub became the abbot of the Sakya monastery Tanak Riku, transforming it into a Geluk monastery. He also built a residence at Jangchen Monastery attracting a large number of students there.

Gendun Drub founded Tashilhunpo in 1447 in Shigatse, Tsang, an outpost of Geluk teachings in a region that was then largely dominated by Sakya and Kagyu monasteries. It is said that the Sakya master Tangtong Gyelpo (1361–1485) attempted to prevent him from establishing the new monastery. Surely, Tangtong Gyelpo’s disapproved of the overwhelming influence that the Geluk school would subsequently have in the region, where Gendun Drub went on to establish three religious colleges.

Gendun Drub was extremely influential in spreading the Geluk tradition throughout Tibet. Indeed, among his extensive commentaries are three on the Vinaya, considered among the most influential in the lineage today.

In 1474, at the age of 84, Gendun Drub passed away at Tashilhunpo Monastery.”

[3] “seng ldeng nags kyi sgrol ma la bstod pa mkhas pa’i gtsug rgyan/.” In gsung ‘bum/_dge ‘dun grub pa. TBRC W24769. 6: 240 – 245. [[[bkra shis lhun po]]?]: bkra shis lhun po gzhung, [199-].