Special issue. THE ART OF BUDDHISM

108 Masters of Dzogchen Lineage

Thangkas Project


In recent years, the "Tretyakov Gallery" magazine has prepared and published several special issues within the framework of our "On the Crossroads of Cultures" project, a focus initiated and actively promoted by the GRANY Foundation. These issues were dedicated to cultural and artistic contacts between countries and peoples as well as between museums and artists. Such examples have included: "USA-Russia" (two issues), "Italy-Russia", "Norway-Russia" and "Switzerland-Russia". In autumn 2014, another potential "On the Crossroads of Cultures" subject appeared, this time coming from the East: the Buddhist culture and traditions that reach beyond geographic borders.


Various aspects of Buddhist culture have always enjoyed popularity in Russia, including its religious and sacred traditions, folklore, literature, philosophy, medicine and art. Among those who took an interest in Buddhist ideas were quite a few representatives of Russia's intellectual culture - philosophers, writers, artists and theologians. Two such prominent examples suffice: Leo Tolstoy and Nicholas Roerich.


The 108 Masters of the Dzogchen Lineage Thangkas Project is a major initiative that has been the vision and aspiration of Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche for more than 30 years. The aim is to uphold and preserve the highest teachings of Buddhist tradition - Dzogchen lineage - by commissioning the creation of 108 thangkas that depict the main holders of this lineage. Each thangka will depict the main master of the lineage with one or two of their individual yidam deities, two or three of their main teachers, and five or six of their main students. The background environment will be portrayed in accordance with an accurate description of their life events. Each thangka will include a representation of a particular dharma protector. Together these thangkas will tell the history of the lineage and its development, starting with dharmakaya Samantabhadra and passing through sambhogakaya Vajrasattva and then nirmanakaya masters such as Garab Dorje, Shri Singha, Vimalamitra, Padmasambhava, King Trison Deutsen and Yeshe Tsogyal, continuing with Longchenpa, Jigme Lingpa, and the three Jamgons, all the way down to contemporary masters such as Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Dudjom Rinpoche, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, Nyoshel Khen Rinpoche, Drubwang Penor Rinpoche, Dodrupchen Rinpoche, and others.


We hope readers will understand that our publication has neither the capacity nor the authority to speak of Dzogchen, or attempt to give any definition to what is beyond definition. However, with permission, we will quote from the words of some of the great contemporary masters. Naturally, in order to proceed beyond an academic interest and towards practicing and realizing these great Buddhist teachings direct transmission from an authentic master to a disciple is required. The project committee assisting Rinpoche to implement his vision which has provided these excerpts for our publication has asked us to note that any mistakes or misunderstandings found here are theirs.


Literally, lineage is a line. But a line of what? For Tibetan Buddhist tradition lineage is something that is understood. But if we are trying to explain it to a wider audience then we can say that lineage, for example, provides authenticity. To give a further explanation: if you find a painting by some great master, what proves that it is indeed that painting? You know that it came from this family, and then it went from them to another, and then to another. If you have something that authenticates the painting from the time when it was painted until the present, then it has authenticity, and also it has potency. And then, for example, there is a blessing in that. If it is a painting, it is worth something.


The following section, in its entirety, is an extract from Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche's teaching given at Lerab Ling in autumn 2014.




In the centre presides the Primordial Buddha and "owner" of the Dzogchen teachings Samantabhadra, in union with Samantab- hadri. The colour of the sky, Samantabhadra appears seated in the lotus posture, his hands in the samadhi mudra.



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