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Brief description of the Thousand Armed Avalokiteśvara Thongdrol.
The Tibetan term 'thong' means 'seeing', and 'drol' meaning 'liberation'. Thus the term Thongdrol is referred here as an attainment of liberation of oneself and other from the Samsara, through or by merely seeing the great painting displayed.
The Thongdrol displayed here for public viewing is the Thongdrol of Arya Avalokiteśvara, with thousand arms and thousand eyes, in compassionate form representing the compassionate mind of all the Buddhas. This Thondrol approximately measures twenty seven feet high and forty five feet in width. The thongdrol was first initiated and financially supported by HE Lopen Tshechu Rinpoche, as an 'object of Veneration, keeping in mind that it will bring immense peace n merit for oneself and others in the universe. The initial work in making of this great Thongdrol began in 2002, by the renowned Thongdrol master Lopen Mani, in Bhutan under the strict guidance of HE Lopen Tshechu Rinpoche. After it's completion in Bhutan, in 2003, it was brought here and stored here at Sangye Choling Gonpa.
A general brief history of the Thousand Armed Avalokiteśvara:
In ultimate reality Avalokiteśvara represents the essence of the compassionate mind of all the Buddhas, from where the rupa kaya of Avalokiteśvara is formed, thus Arya Avalokiteśvara is not an ordinary deity.
In the past, Avalokiteśvara made a pledge in front of Buddha Amitabha, promising that he will never attain enlightenment, until and unless all sentient beings attain enlightenment and work for their benefit. Moreover he also promised that ' May his head explode into hundred pieces' if he ever desired enlightenment for himself. At that moment, Buddha Amitabha spoke, encouraging him by saying' that all the Buddhas of the three times attained enlightenment due to such promises' and moreover said that he would come to help Avalokiteśvara in benefiting all the sentient beings. Avalokiteśvara then radiated six colorful rays from his body covering the six realms of God, Demi God, human, hell, hungry ghost and animal realms, and worked tirelessly benefiting all the sentient beings for a long time. One day, Avalokiteśvara looked down from the top of Mt. Meru through his wisdom eyes to check whether he has freed all the beings or not from the samsara and realized that it was still full of sentient beings. Seeing that the samsara was full of sentient beings, he then tried many different methods and used his wisdom to free the beings and later found the same results. Avalokiteśvara was discouraged after his third attempt, having found the same result, even after working tirelessly all these years, he thought he would better attain enlightenment for himself, breaking his promise to free and benefit all sentient beings. Instantly his head exploded in to hundred pieces and was in great pain and cried aloud saying ' Lama Amitabha, I haven't done anything to benefit myself, yet I am suffering while I am working for the benefit of sentient beings only'. At that moment, Buddha Amitabha appeared in front of Avalokiteśvara, blessed the fragments of Avalokiteśvara's head which has exploded into hundred pieces and transformed into eleven faces. Signifying that the samsara has no beginning and end, he transformed all other faces into a peaceful one, except one in black, in order to tame those that cannot be overpowered by peace. Buddha Amitabha then ordered Avalokiteśvara that 'since there is no beginning and end to samsara, Avalokiteśvara should work for the benefit of all sentient beings until the samsara is empty'. Avalokiteśvara then requested and prayed hat if he was to work for the benefit of all sentient beings until the samsara is empty, then may he be blessed with thousand arms representing the thousand universal monarchs and thousand eyes representing the thousand Buddhas through which he can benefit of all sentient beings with various methods. His prayers were answered instantly, henceforth transformed himself into Avalokiteśvara with one thousand arms and eyes.
Thus keeping in mind the very reason, if one makes prostration, make offering, offer prayer with great devotion and respect to the Thondrol of Avalokiteśvara, it is without doubt that one will be bestowed upon with freedom, peace, love and prosperity in this life and attain the ultimate peace in the future lives.
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