Tibetan Traditional Opera
Tibetan Traditional Opera can be traced back to 14th Century the great Tibetan Yogi Drubtub Tangtong Gyalpo. Also known as Drubtub (Maha Siddha) Chaksampa, meaning Yogi who built Iron chain bridges. It was said that he built around 108 bridges in all around Tibet. These numbers include both Iron and Wooden bridges.
Drubtub Tangtong Gyalpo: Drubtub meaning great Yogi ( Maha Siddha in Sanskrit) Tangtong meaning vast land, and Gyalpo meaning King. He was born around 150km from Shigatse at Namring town, on the way route to Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar.
The reason he built bridges was connected with the personal experience of him while traveling in Tibet. Since Tibet is the home of the mountains and they were so many rivers, most of the rivers were quite huge and making it difficult for local Tibetans to cross the river to reach other places for business or pilgrim and returning home.
He himself has personal experience of having this difficulty of not finding the boat on time or rivers becoming huge in summer so a great compassion has arisen with him when he thought about the situation for local Tibetans.
He started doing research about how to make the bridges and found that he will need lots of Iron materials to build the bridges and buying the Iron materials needs lots of economical support so he started using his wisdom of finding a way to earn some financial support to build the Iron bridges.
One of the best ways he has found was the Tibetan traditional opera dance, which can benefit the local Tibetans for spiritual entertainment and also can benefit to build the bridges so he started the Tibetan traditional opera with seven sisters from Yarlung valley at East Southern Tibet.
There are eight different stories of Tibetan traditional opera dance.
1. Pema Woebar
2. Nangsa Woebum
3. Drimay Kunden
4. Choegyal Norsang
5. Sukyi Nyima
6. Donyo Dhondup
7. Gyalsa Palsa
8. Drowa Sangmo
These are the different types of stories from the previous life's of Buddha to the young Tibetan Yogini and King Srongtsen Gonpo's time. These are the biographies of Buddha's and Bodhisattvas so while playing the opera, Drubtub Tangtong Gyalpo also teaches Buddha Dharma to the local Tibetans via an opera show.
It is official that Drubtub Tangtong Gyalpo is the founder of Tibetan traditional opera dance and he himself worked in building the bridges, because of the heat, his face can be seen red. Some say the color is related to Buddha of Longevity Tsepakmay, also can be seen as a red color face.
Nowadays Tibetans remember Drubtub Tangtong Gyalpo via building a small statue of him in every new house as a blessing to wash away the obstacles and bringing the fortune.
Drubtub Tangtong Gyalpo has incarnated the first Samding Dorje Phakmo. I have read the short Biography and found that the first Samding Dorje Phakmo, also known as Vajra Yogini was a princess and after becoming the first Dorje Phakmo, she has never lied down in bed. Even in the night, she used to stay in a meditation position. Her diligence is the reason behind her accomplishment.
The kindness of Drubtub Tangtong Gyalpo is beyond the sky. At that time they were so many great Yogis in Tibet including Je Tsang Nyon ( Crazy master from Tsang ) Je U Nyon ( Crazy master from U ) Je Drukpa Kunley, and Je Tsongkhapa and many other great Maha Siddha's. 14th Century is a great century to remember these great Maha Siddha's.
Nowadays we can witness the Tibetan Traditional Opera in the Lhukang on the backside of Potala Palace almost every morning. In the Shoton festival during August, there will be Tibetan Traditional Opera for a week with a picnic in Norbulingka Palace.
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