By Michael Aris
A suite of essays on Bhutan.
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Additional resources for Bhutan (Central Asian Studies)
If we accept her as the prototype for the Tibetan demoness then the latter's character becomes more apparent for she is not just a common demoness but, more pertinently, the female version of the male srin-po, the red-faced demons who so often represent the old Tibet (gdong-dmar srin-po bod-kyi yul); lying on her back she is the ancient yet virgin territory waiting to be subjugated and civilized. In the bShad-mdzod the female tortoise is, in this particular context, the special emanation of Maiijusrl but no doubt possesses some of the qualities of her cosmological counterpart who is female 'because all beings are born of the female', is lying on her back 'to support beings by means of compassion', has her head to the south 'because the pure land of Jambudvipa lies to the south', eats essences 'to teach patience to beings' and (normally) lives in the ocean 'so that beings will foregather there' (ff.
The 'inner and outer retinue' of the king see him as refusing to build Khri-btsun's temple until he has built temples elsewhere to suppress the malignant spirits. 32 The entire plan of these temples is illustrated in Figure I and matches Stein's conception of the scheme which he seems to accept without reserva- (according to the Ma-(li bka'-'bum. ff. 137a & 199b) sPa-gro sKyer-chu Byang Tshang-pa: Rlung-gnon L foot 1 I Mon: Bum-thang L h'od IHo-brag: Kho-mthing MTHA' - 'DUL I-~--------'----------------------------~~~-- I N?
207a) explains how India is subdued by religion, China by astrology, Zhang-zhung by Bon, Khrom Ge-ser(sic) by war and sTag-zigs (sic) by wealth. Tibet, surrounded by these countries, is a notable omission from the list and it would be tempt- 20 FIRST BUDDHIST TEMPLES -ing to suggest that the story of the demoness lying on her back and being subdued by temples is an attempt to fill the gap. 36 Historical Background to the Scheme Is there any truth at all in the colourful story narrated above, so revealing of the Tibetan capacity for historical hindsight?