One of the most popular prayers in Bhutan and the Himalayan Buddhist world is the Seven Line Prayer (ཚིག་བདུན་གསོལ་འདེབས་) to Guru Rinpoché, sometimes referred to as the Dorjé Tsikdün (རྡོ་རྗེ་ཚིག་བདུན་) or Seven Adamantine Lines. The prayer consists of praise and supplication to Guru Rinpoché in seven lines as follows:
Hūṃ! In the north-west of Oḍḍiyāna,
On the stalk of a lotus stamen,
Endowed with the marvellous supreme attainment,
Renowned as the Lotus Born,
You are surrounded by a retinue of khandros.
I persevere to follow you.
I pray to you: Come, grant me blessings.
I shall accomplish the Master Pema, Hūṃ!
Some traditional sources claim that the lines were first chanted by a large gathering of spiritual beings known as ḍākas (མཁའ་འགྲོ་) and ḍākinīs (མཁའ་འགྲོ་མ་) as a panegyric invitation to Guru Rinpoché to a feast offering. Another account has it that when Buddhists were challenged by some non-Buddhist opponents to a religious contest in Bodh Gaya, Buddhists used this prayer to invite Guru Rinpoché to lead them and defeat the non-Buddhist opponents. However, it seems more likely that the prayer was widely propagated in Tibet by terton Guru Chöwang (1212-1270). It formed the core of the teachings entitled Secret Gathering of Gurus (བླ་མ་གསང་འདུས་) that were revealed by Guru Chöwang.
Since then, the prayer has spread far and wide in the Himalayas, propagated by numerous lamas, monks, treasure discovers, and other religious figures. It has become believed to be a most powerful and quintessential supplication to Guru Rinpoché. In addition to becoming a core liturgical component of many Guru Rinpoché-focused rituals, the verses are a popular tool for meditation and visualization. The Seven Line Prayer has also become a subject of philosophical and doctrinal discussions. For instance, Mipham Rinpoché (1846-1912) unraveled the obvious, hidden, secret and ultimate meanings of the lines according to different levels of tantric philosophical and practical systems in his detailed exegesis of the Seven Adamantine Lines. Contemporary scholar Khenpo Rinzin Dorjé interprets the Seven Line Prayers in the context of the views, meditation and conducts of the nine vehicles of the Nyingma tradition.
Today, the Seven Adamantine Lines is the most quintessential supplication to Guru Rinpoché. To paraphrase the words of Guru Chöwang, one who fervently chants this prayer is not only protected and blessed by Guru Rinpoché but can achieve stability in meditation, flourish with wisdom, become spiritually seasoned, influential, beneficial to others, and attain all good qualities. It is praised as an expedient route for reaching the state of dharmakāya (ཆོས་སྐུ་). In the Secret Gathering of Gurus, Guru Chöwang advises followers of Guru Rinpoché to fill their body, speech, and mind with devotion, have total trust in him whether in happiness or sorrow, and chant this prayer while thinking of him as an epitome of all objects of refuge and of hopes and aspirations. Doing so in the year, month, and days associated with Guru Rinpoché makes the actions additionally powerful and meritorious.
Karma Phuntsho is the Director of Shejun Agency for Bhutan’s Cultural Documentation and Research, the President of the Loden Foundation and the author of The History of Bhutan. The piece was initially published in Bhutan’s national newspaper Kuensel as part of a series called “Why We Do What We Do.”