No one can deny that the Ngor Mandala Collection is one of the most authoritative Tibetan mandala collections.
My father Prof. Raghu Vira, was interested in the reproduction of this unique series of Ngor Mandalas. Phende Rinpoche got another set of the Ngor Mandalas for him. They were not very clear for reproduction. Moreover, their colour reproduction was ruled out by the prohibitive cost and the lack of state-of the-art technology in India at that time. So line drawings of the initial mandalas was done from this set. The remaining mandalas were drawn from another set procured by Phende Rinpoche. The correlation of the sets will have to be worked out by future research. The sets used for the line drawings were photographed in colour and are being reproduced in this volume. I am obliged to Prof. Musashi Tachikawa for the reproduction. They are important to comprehend the evolution of the Tibetan tradition of depicting the mandalas of all the Tantras as the central point of a sgo man 'many-door structure with several chapels. They are a continuation of the sata-dvara or temenos with a 'hundred doors'. The term sata dvara occurs in Panini 4.1.123. The Gyantse Kumbum is an outstanding example of this type of meditational architecture. It can be studied in the detailed descriptions by Franco Ricca and Erberto Lo Bue, The Great Stupa of Gyantse (London) where they have indicated the scriptures followed in each chapel. Such sgo-man or kumbum were spread over Tibet, and some of them have survived the political holocaust in a ruined state. The depiction of all the sutras goes back to the early centuries, e.g. at the Ming-oi at Kizil. Ming-oi means 'myriads of images. They are the means of dhyana to transmute the world of senses into realms of subtle forms, and finally to the formless realm of the Absolute Sublime.
1 still remember the day when I had the chance to look at the Ngor Collection closely, I was struck by the fineness expressed in those mandalas. The size of each mandala is 38.5 cm x 38.5 cm. Hundreds of deities were depicted in a small limited space. Through a magnifying glass I could find the face of each deity slightly smiling. In 1983 the Ngor Collection was reprinted by Kodansha, Tokyo. At that occasion I had a chance to help the late bSod nams rgya mtsho in editing the book together with my colleagues.
About ten years later I could have an occasion to see another set of Ngor Mandala Collection. When I visited the Institute of Dr. Lokesh Chandra, Delhi, on behalf of the National Museum of Ethnology in the summer of 1996, he gave me a set of negative color films. Having returned to Japan, I found that the set of films included the mandala pictures of a Ngor Mandala Collection, which was obviously a version different from the collection reproduced by Kodansha. When I met Mr. Bidur Dangol, the Director of Vajra Publications.
Kathmandu, in 2004, I mentioned about the film set given by Dr. Lokesh Chandra. Then, Mr. B. Dangol strongly suggested to reprint the Ngor Mandala Collection. Here I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Dr. Lokesh Chandra who not only gave me the film set of a Ngor Mandala Collection but also wrote a foreword for this book.
It was most likely that, parallel with the compilation of a great number of texts, the Ngor Monastery was also collecting iconographic materials such as mandala pictures. Probably shortly after the compilation of texts was completed, Tibetan artists began to draw mandala pictures according to the description given in those texts. The catalogue to the rGyud sde kun btus, however, does not offer a list of those who painted the mandalas of the Ngor Mandala Collection.
In 1967 Lokesh Chandra reprinted a set of line-drawings of the Ngor
Mandala Collection which blonged to the collection of Raghu Vira, Father of
Lokesh Chandra, in the Sata-Pitaka Series. In 1983 the late bSod nams rgya
mtsho, a former Abbot of Ngor monastery, published an enlarged version of one
hundred and thirty-nine mandalas of the Ngor Collection, which were drawn on
the bassis of the rGyud sde kun btus. In 1989, the Centre for East Asian Cultural Studies (CEACS) published a second, more compact reproduction of the Ngor Collection as Volume 2 in its Bibliotheca Codicum Asiaticorum Series In the CEACS edition only eight mandalas are printed in color, the other mandalas are printed black-and-white. Several years later CEACS published listings of the deities of the Ngor Mandalas, where the Tibetan names of deities appearing in each mandala have been given her with a simple chart of each mandala."
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Language & Literature (443)
Sacred Sites (102)
Tantric Buddhism (87)
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