Rare torma photo taken in Lhasa, 1921 by Rabden Lepcha (?) from the collection of Sir Charles Bell. From the Tibet Album on the Pitt Rivers Museum Website–they have a fascinating stock of old photos taken in Tibet by Rabden Lepcha, Sir Charles Bell, Hugh Richardson, and others, including some photos of torma and torma-related rituals. To view the photo at their website:
Take a brief tour of Bodhgaya, India. This short was filmed in the winter of 2008-09 and the sights depicted include the Mahabodhi Stupa and surrounding park, Mucalinda Lake, the Buddha statue near the Japanese Temple, Shechen Monastery, and the Thai Temple. Photography: Ko Jung-Fa; Music courtesy of Kevin MacLeod.
Here is an excerpt from a talk given by the Gyalwang Karmapa in Bodhgaya in 2009 where he discussed the tormas:
“Also, we have expanded a number of the features of the site where we are holding the twenty-sixth Kagyu Monlam, including the main gates and so forth, and I thought it would be good to briefly point out what the tormas represent. The main decorative tormas are those with images of Marpa, Milarepa, and Gampopa on the right, and on the left, those with images of the forebears of the Nyingma school of the early translations, the glorious Sakya lineage, and the Gelukpa order.
The main principle these tormas illustrate is that when we consider the Tibetan Buddhist teachings, there are basically no lineages that are not mixed with the others. When the three Dharma kings Songsten Gampo, Trisong Deutsen, and Tri Ralpachen first established the Dharma in Tibet, the lineage that emerged at that time became known as the “Nyingma school of secret mantra.” Thus the Nyingma was Tibet’s first Buddhist lineage. Later on, during the reign of King Langdarma, the teachings were wiped out of Tibet, and the later propagation of the teachings began. That is the difference between the Nyingma and Sarma vajrayana schools.
Then the oral lineage of the Kadampa masters was passed down from the glorious Atisha, and the Sakya, Kagyu, and Geluk lineages successively appeared. The stages of the teachings of all of these lineages, along with their basic starting points, are the same. The different individual lineages arose out of different lineages of lamas and instructions, but fundamentally there is not even a single lineage that is not mixed with the others. In sum, all Tibetan lineages have been passed down intermingled with the others—all of them share Dharma connections and connections of samaya….”
“Therefore the presence of images of the root and lineage gurus from all of the Tibetan Buddhist lineages here today means that all Tibetan Buddhist lineages are nothing other than the teachings of the Buddha: They are all the same….”
For the entire teaching see link below:
January 04, 2009, By 17th Gyalwang Karmapa
Translated by Tyler Dewar, Karma Choephel, and Ven. Lhundup Damchö for Monlam English Translation Network.
December 24, 2009, Mahabodhi Temple, Bodhgaya, report by Michele Martin; photos taken by Karma Lekcho and Karma Norbu.
Here are some great photos of His Holiness and Kagyu Rinpoches taken at the Kagyu Monlam Chenmo in 2009, while we were filming there. These photos were taken by cinematographer Ko Jung-Fa.
The large, triangular, red torma (l) and the black “activity aspect of the protector” torma (r) were placed beside each other in the shrine room for the duration of the Mahakala pujas. Once the dances started, they were brought outside separately on consecutive days. The first dance, from a vision of the 5th Karmapa, Deshin Shekpa, involved the red triangular torma. The second day’s dance called The Black Hat Dance, featured the black torma. Each torma was burned in a bonfire at the end of the day’s dance.
Tor literally means to “scatter” or “throw” a small number of things or pieces. The suffix ma means “mother” and implies compassion. A torma is an offering traditionally tossed outside after use in a ritual, both to symbolize impermanence and to develop the practice of generosity. But a torma is not only a ritual offering; it can function in a variety of other ways, for instance, as a physical representation of either the wisdom or activity aspect of a deity.
Filming at Benchen Monastery in Nepal
In February 2010, the Torma film crew met at Benchen Monastery in Swayambhu, Nepal and filmed an interview with Venerable Tenga Rinpoche, the Dorje Lopon (Vajra Master) of the Karma Kagyu Lineage. We also documented monks working on the tormas for the elaborate Mahakala protector rituals and dances held annually before Losar.
Here are some photos of a Mahakala torma that represents the activity aspect of the protector: