How King Yeshe-O gave up his life to invite Atisha to Tibet

After the Tibetan King Langarma ascended to the throne, he repressed Buddhism and caused a decline in the teachings. His reign dealt a heavy blow to Buddhism and dharma teachings in Tibet for many years to come, even after his death. People were confused about dharma. Sutra and Tantra teachings were as seen as mutually exclusive. Many fake teachers from India moved to Tibet, lured by the prospect of gold. They deceived their students with many evil mantras and other evil acts. It was an era of great confusion.

The Tibetan king Yeshe-O was sadden very much by this degenerate state of affaris and wished very strongly to restore the pure dharma teachings to his people. He sent 21 young men to India to study Sanskrit and to invite a pandit back to Tibet to clarify the confusion.  Only 2 of the young men survived the journey and when they returned, they told King Yeshe-O that only the great scholar Atisha will be able to restore the pure teachings to Tibet.

Upon hearing Atisha’s name, King Yeshe-O generated great faith in his mind and determined that he would invite Atisha back to Tibet. Immediately he dispatched a 2nd party to India to invite Atisha back but the mission was unsuccessful.

King Yeshe-O was not disheartened and decided to lead an expedition himself to collect more gold in order to sent a 3rd party to India. Unfortunately he was captured near the Nepaleses border by a rival King who was against the spread of Buddhism in Tibet.

King Yeshe-O’s newphew, Jangchub-Oe, was informed to either abandon the mission to invite Atisha or raise an amount of gold, equal to the weight of his uncle, in order for King Yeshe-O to be released.

Jangchub-Oe travelled far and wide in Tibet in order to collect gold to pay the ransom. Eventually he took with him much gold to the rival King. However the weight of the gold he brought was only equal to the weight of King Yeshe-O’s body. The amount of gold equal to the weight of his head was still missing.  The rival King refused to budge and insisted that  Jangchub-Oe had to raise the remaining gold before he would release King Yeshe-O.

With a heavy heart, Jangchub-Ow went to visit King Yeshe-O in a dark prison cell enclosed by iron bars.  He explained the situation to his uncle, who was in chains and very frail, and said he would continue to search for the remaining gold.

“Uncle, do not despair. Your current circumstances is due to the ripening of your past actions. I can wage war against this evil king who does not want to see the spread of Buddhism in Tibet. However many people will be killed and I fear they will be reborn in the lower realms. This evil king wants us to give up the mission to invite Atisha but if we do so, we would have abandon the dharma.

He wants your weight in gold but I have only been able to find enough gold equal to your weight less your head.  The evil king will not budge. Now I will go to find more gold. Until I return, please reflect on karma and pray to the Triple Gems. Have courage and create merit!”

King Yeshe-O was very moved by Jangchub-Ow’s words and replied

“My dear nephew, I am pleased that you understand the evils of violence, but now you must forget about me. Instead, use all the gold you have collected to invite to Tibet the great master Atisha.  I am now old and even if I am not killed by this evil king, I would only live for another 10 years. It will shame me if so much gold was given to this evil king just for this!

I have died countless times in previous lives, but not once have I died for the Dharma. Now I am very happy to do so. Take all the gold to Atisha in India and do all you can to invite back to Tibet.

Please tell Atisha that I have given my life for the welfare of my subjects and the Dharma so that he could be brought to Tibet. Although I have not had the fortune to meet him this lifetime, I pray that I will meet him in future lives.”

Jangchub-Oe submitted to his uncle’s command and departed. Atisha was eventually invited to Tibet and managed to clarify the confusion and caused Buddhism to flourish in Tibet once again.

Posted in Tibetan | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment