April 6-10 • 8:30-noon & 2-6:30pm • Atsara Puja

Atsara puja from the terma of Terchen Barway Dorje. The puja time may vary slightly from day to day.

[From an explanation offered by Lama Tashi Topgyal. Translated by Lama Yeshe Gyamtso. Transcribed by Byron Coulter. Copyright 2009 Lama Tashi Topgyal, and Peter O’Hearn. All rights reserved.]

Question: When Bardor Tulku Rinpoche gave the Atsara empowerment, we were told that if we wanted to do the practice, we should read the card that was distributed at the empowerment. Could you give more details about doing the practice?

Lama Tashi Topgyal: In the case of the protector Atsara, less important than your knowing the details and so on about what to visualize is the fact that a very personal relationship was created between each of the people who received that empowerment and this deity.

In a previous life Atsara was the custodian of Nalanda Monastery, and as a result he is a protector of both Nalanda and Vajrasana, or Bodh Gaya. In that life he was the Raven-Headed Protector who is an emanation of the Four-Armed Mahakala who is an emanation of the heruka Chakrasamvara, and he became a very close friend of the maha-pandit Naropa. When Naropa was reborn in Tibet as Terchen Barway Dorje and traveled to the part of Tibet where Atsara had taken up habitation, they met one another and resumed their friendship. They actually became really very, very close and intimate friends in spite of the fact that one of them was reincarnated as a human being and the other was nonhuman. Atsara remains a very devoted friend of Barway Dorje, and so he’s equally friendly with the present incarnation. The ceremony of empowerment [which was offered by Bardor Tulku Rinpoche at Kunzang Palchen Ling in April 2009] essentially was what is called entrustment. What Rinpoche did that day was to introduce his students to Atsara and to ceremonially mix your samaya and Atsara’s samaya, which was the culmination of the ritual. In doing so, basically what he did was say to Atsara, “From now on, as long as these people make some kind of offering, or whatever, to you, they’re in your care. You have to look after them.” I don’t think that there’s anything not covered by that. It’s not so much like imagining a deity or doing a meditation practice. It’s very, very personal. It’s a being that has taken on personal responsibility for your well-being.