Guru Rinpoche, who is famous for his introduction of the Vajrayana form of Buddhism in the Himalayan countries in eighth century, is highly venerated by the Bhutanese people. Tradition tells of many occasions in different parts of the country when Guru Rinpoche confronted and overcame the evil spirits. Not by destroying or driving them out, but by overwhelming them with his magnificence, through the religious dances, so that they became humble and submissive to his word, took refuge, became the followers of Buddhism bound under oath to protect the religious doctrine. Having thus pacified the spirit world, Guru Rinpoche was free to disseminate Buddhist teachings unhindered. And in so doing, it is said that he hallowed the land entirely that not a place remained untouched by his sacred feet.
He is often revered as the second living Buddha. Festivals attributed to his accomplishments are held on every tenth day of the month and celebrated annually in elaborate cast. Throughout the kingdom of Bhutan, several kinds of religious dances known as ‘cham are portrayed on the days of celebrations. The dance of Guru’s Eight Aspects is highly venerated among these dances.
The thesis deals with the emanations of Guru Rinpoche in the ‘cham performances according to the tradition in Nyima Lung (Nyi ma lung) Monastery based on three months fieldwork June-August 2009. I start with a general introduction. Thereafter, festivals and ritual dances in Nima Lung Monastery in general. However, the major focus is on the Dance of Guru’s Eight Aspects, its significances and unique portrayal in Nyima Lung Monastery. Analysis of ‘cham in general and on Guru’s Eight Aspects in particular are given more emphasis. The character known as Mitshering, explaining the ritual for the audiences seems to be unique for the performance in Nyima Lung. Otherwise, there does not exist any major differences between the way the dance is performed in Nyima Lung and other Buddhist monasteries. Performing the ‘cham is one means for expounding the Buddhist teachings to devout adherents in Buddhism. Depending upon the individual’s comprehension, ‘cham is understood in various ways. Nevertheless, according to the Buddhist doctrine it is believed to have great potentiality in delivering ignorant beings from cyclic existence to enlightenment within one life time.