The most sa­cred relic at dis­play in Naropa fes­ti­val

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The six bone or­na­ments of Naropa which will be in dis­play dur­ing Naropa event in Hemis, Ladakh is said to be some of the most sig­nif­i­cant Bud­dhist relics in ac­tive use. Naropa is said to have wore the six bone or­na­ments upon the mo­ment of en­light­en­ment and is con­sid­ered his­toric ar­ti­fact of Hi­malayan cul­ture.

Marpa who was known for his trans­lat­ing skills and also stu­dent to Naropa is be­lieved to have re­ceived ex­tra­or­di­nary teach­ings from Ma­hamu­dra and the six yo­gas of Naropa. By per­fectly ac­com­plish­ing these prac­tices, Marpa ob­tained en­light­en­ment. Upon this ac­com­plish­ment, Naropa had de­clared: “The bless­ings of Mas­ter Kr­ish­nacharya breathed life into the lin­eages of eastern re­gions, the Mas­ter Ary­acharya has blessed the lin­eage of the south, and the King In­drab­hodi trans­mit­ted his spir­i­tual in­flu­ence to the western lin­eages. Be­stow the waves of grace to the lin­eages of the north, the lands of snow. You have noth­ing more to do here - re­turn to Ti­bet. I im­part to you the power of my legacy; I ap­point you my re­gent on the roof of the world. The land of snow abounds in po­ten­tial dis­ci­ples, wor­thy ves­sels for my teach­ings.”

Then, Naropa had of­fered Marpa the six bone or­na­ments and proph­e­sized that the six bone or­na­ments would re­main in the lin­eage that sprang from Naropa and would be used as de­vo­tional sup­port.

Marpa is con­sid­ered an im­por­tant Bud­dhist fig­ure spread­ing the teach­ings of Naropa and the six bone or­na­ments con­tinue to of­fer de­vo­tional sup­port. Marpa had en­trusted the six bone or­na­ments of Naropa to the great dis­ci­ple, Ngok­ton Choku Dorje (1036-1102 CE) with the in­struc­tions to safe­guard the six bone or­na­ments un­til the sev­enth gen­er­a­tion when he shall re­turn the six bone or­na­ments to the right­ful mas­ter. The sev­enth Ngok­ton lin­eage holder, Ngok­ton Jangchub (1360-1446 CE) then en­coun­tered the Gyal­wang Drukpa and had an­nounced that the Gyal­wang Drukpa is the in­car­nate of Naropa, the scholar saint and pre­sented the six bone or­na­ments of Naropa.

For close to a thou­sand years, the six bone or­na­ments have been used as a relic of de­vo­tional sup­port. Devo­tees be­lieve that wor­thy seek­ers of truth may ob­tain en­light­en­ment by merely see­ing it and is re­garded as a liv­ing piece of Hi­malayan his­tory. Now, every 12 years, on the roof top of the Hi­malayas, Gyal­wang Drukpa dons the six bone or­na­ments in Ladakh, In­dia at one of the Hi­malayas’ big­gest gath­er­ings, Naropa events. Hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple around the world flock to the month long rit­ual to par­take in one of the old­est, most sa­cred cer­e­monies of the Hi­malayas. For many, they come to pay ho­mage, oth­ers come to re­ceive bless­ings, but to the peo­ple of the re­gion it is a sym­bol of de­vo­tion, com­pas­sion and a re­minder a rich her­itage.

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