Author Topic: The Origin of the Yellow Hat  (Read 22434 times)

Big Uncle

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The Origin of the Yellow Hat
« on: October 01, 2010, 03:13:07 PM »
The Origin of the Yellow Hat
Worn by Monks in the Gelug Tradition


Alexander Berzin, 1991

Under King Langdarma (Glang-dar-ma), there was a severe repression of Buddhism. This occurred, according to some sources, between 836 and 842. According to other sources, it was from 901 to 907. All monks were either killed or forced to disrobe, except for three: Mar Shakya (dMar Sha-kya), Yo Gejung (g.Yo dGe-‘byung), and Tsang Rabsel (gTsang Rab-gsal). The three escaped by passing through western Tibet and accepting temporary asylum in the Qarakhanid Turk territory of Kashgar, in East Turkistan (Xinjiang). They continued through the Tibetan cultural regions further to the east, at Dunhuang (Tunhuang) and Gansu (Kansu), which, being far from Lhasa, were spared the persecution.

According to some Mongol sources, they passed through Kyrgyz-ruled Mongolia and eventually hid on the eastern shores of Lake Baikal in Siberia. There, they gave initiations and teachings to Hortsa Mergen, grandson of the Mongol King Borti Chiney, the fifth generation ancestor of Chinggis Khan. According to other sources, they were given asylum in the Tangut Buddhist Kingdom of Mi-nyag (Mi-nyag), which spanned the region from northern Amdo to Inner Mongolia. Yet other sources identify more precisely the area in this region where they initially settled as having been part of the Tsongka (Tsong-kha) Kingdom at this time. The cave monastery Martsang (dMar-gtsang) in northern Amdo was later built at the cave where they supposedly stayed.

After several years, the three Tibetan monks moved to the southeastern Tibetan province of Kham (Khams, mDo-smad), where they stayed at Dentigshel retreat (Dan-tig-shel-gyi yang-dgon). A local herdsman wished to become a monk. They gave him the novice vows and novice name Gewa-rabsel (dGe-ba rab-gsal), but could not give him full monk’s vows since five monks are required to give full ordination.

At that time, the monk Lhalung Pelgyi-dorjey (Lha-lung dPal-gyi rdo-rje), the assassin of King Langdarma, had fled to nearby Longtang (Klong-thang). He was asked to help with ordinations, but explained that he could no longer qualify for this role. He promised, however, to help locate other monks. He found two Chinese monks, Ki-bang and Gyi-ban, and sent them to complete the count. In this way, with Tsang Rabsel as abbot, the former herdsman received the full monk’s vows and the full ordination name Gongpa-rabsel (dGongs-pa rab-gsal) in the presence of these five. In later times, people added the title Lachen (Bla-chen, Great Superior One), before his name.

Some youths from the Central Tibetan provinces of U (dBus) and Tsang (gTsang) heard of the monks in Kham. Lumey Tsultrim-sherab (Klu-mes Tshul-khrims shes-rab) led a party of ten seeking full ordination. This was either 53 or 70 years after Langdarma’s persecution. They requested Tsang Rabsel to be the abbot, but he declined due to old age. They then asked Gongpa-rabsel, but he explained that he had only been a full monk for five years and was not yet qualified. Ten years minimum was the requirement according to the texts. Nevertheless, Tsang Rabsel gave special permission for him to serve as abbot and the group of ten took the full monk’s vows.

Lumey stayed on for one year studying the vinaya rules of monastic discipline, while the other nine returned to Central Tibet. Before Lumey departed, Gongpa-rabsel had him dye his Bon hat yellow. He told him to wear it as a remembrance of his studies and practice. Lumey returned to Central Tibet and founded several temples there. The later propagation of the Buddhist teachings, and particularly of the monk’s vows, traces from him.

Several centuries later, monastic discipline had once more declined in Tibet. Tsongkhapa (rJe Tsong-kha-pa Blo-bzang grags-pa) (1357-1419) started a reform that developed into the New Kadam (bKa’-gdams gsar-pa) or Gelug (dGe-lugs) Tradition. He told his monk disciples to wear yellow hats. He explained that this would be an auspicious sign for them to be able to bring back pure ethical discipline to the monasteries of Tibet, just as Lumey had done in earlier times.** In this way, the Gelug tradition also became known as the Yellow Hat Tradition.

The red hat worn in the other, earlier Tibetan Buddhist traditions follows the custom of the red hat worn by pandits (learned masters) at the Indian Buddhist Monastery of Nalanda.

** I heard through oral sources from a monk that Lama Tsongkhapa was actually advised by Vajrayogini herself for exactly the aforementioned reasons.

hope rainbow

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Re: The Origin of the Yellow Hat
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2010, 03:50:57 PM »
I did not know that the yellow hat had appeared before the times of Lama Tsongkhapa. Let alone that the meaning of the yellow hat was already one of "a remembrance of his studies and practice" and "an auspicious sign for the monks to be able to bring back pure ethical discipline to the monasteries of Tibet".

Can I assume also that Lumey also followed the advice from Vajrayogini on the matter of the new yellow color for the techers hats?

Thank you Mr. Berzin, thank you Big Uncle for sharing knowledge with us.

kurava

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Re: The Origin of the Yellow Hat
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2010, 04:21:44 AM »
 "He found two Chinese monks, Ki-bang and Gyi-ban, and sent them to complete the count. In this way, with Tsang Rabsel as abbot, the former herdsman received the full monk’s vows and the full ordination name Gongpa-rabsel (dGongs-pa rab-gsal) in the presence of these five."

A sangha friend once told me that in memory of the two Chinese monks' help in fulfilling the herdsman's wish to receive the ordination vows and thereby propagate the sangha tradition , the sleeves of the Tibetan monk's robe are sewn with a thin strip of blue piping ( color of the Chinese monk's robe).
« Last Edit: October 03, 2010, 04:40:25 AM by kurava »

Big Uncle

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Re: The Origin of the Yellow Hat
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2010, 05:01:23 PM »
"Atisha remains an important figure in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition for several reasons. First, he refined, systematized, and compiled an innovative and thorough approach to bodhichitta known as "mind training" (Tib. lojong), in such texts as A Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, and established the primacy of bodhichitta to the Mahayana tradition in Tibet. In this sense, Atisha not only dictated a scholarly model for bodhichitta but acted as a living human example.
Second, after King Langdarma's intolerant reign, the monastic Buddhist tradition of Tibet had been nearly wiped out. Atisha's closest disciple, Dromtönpa, is considered the founder of the Kadam school, which later evolved into the Gelug, one of the four main school of Tibetan Buddhism. Although monasticism and the lojong teachings were of greatest centrality to the Kadam/Gelug, they were incorporated into the other three schools—the Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya--as well.
Finally, Atisha mobilised his influence in India towards the goal of reforming the impurities and redirecting the development of Buddhism there, in the native country of the Shakayumi Buddha. For these reasons and more, Atisha remains a central figure in the history and religious study of Buddhism."

Atisha is another important figure in reviving the monastic tradition of TIbet after the dark ages of King Lang Dharma.

beggar

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Re: The Origin of the Yellow Hat
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2010, 03:05:20 PM »
I have also heard that Vajrayogini had appeared to Tsongkhapa in a vision and advised him to change the colour of the pandit's hat to yellow. Prior to this, the pandits' hats were red, signifying a time of control and subjugation, to quell and calm down difficult minds and turn them towards the way of the Dharma.

By the time Tsongkhapa began teaching, most minds had been tamed and were practising Dharma, and this now became a time of growth and expansion of the teachings. This was marked by the change in color of the hat, to yellow, signifying growth.

WisdomBeing

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Re: The Origin of the Yellow Hat
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2010, 05:47:41 AM »
I did not know that the yellow hat had appeared before the times of Lama Tsongkhapa. Let alone that the meaning of the yellow hat was already one of "a remembrance of his studies and practice" and "an auspicious sign for the monks to be able to bring back pure ethical discipline to the monasteries of Tibet".


Just to add - i do not think that the yellow hat appeared before Tsongkhapa's time. The hat in its shape and form did exist in red as explained by Beggar, but i think it only changed colour to yellow when Tsongkhapa was advised to change it by Vajra Yogini. Hence Tsongkhapa is the founder of the yellow hat tradition.
Kate Walker - a wannabe wisdom Being

triesa

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Re: The Origin of the Yellow Hat
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2010, 05:01:09 PM »
As we are on the topic of the "yellow hat", does anyone know what does the shape of the pointed hat signify? and what does the two flaps on both sides mean?

Yellow color normally represents growth and increase.

DSFriend

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Re: The Origin of the Yellow Hat
« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2010, 07:06:23 PM »
As we are on the topic of the "yellow hat", does anyone know what does the shape of the pointed hat signify? and what does the two flaps on both sides mean?

Yellow color normally represents growth and increase.


YELLOW COLOR
". . . according to Tibetan oral tradition the ceremonial monastic hat in early India had been yellow, the color of the earth, symbol of discipline and the foundation from which all good things are born.  However, this had been changed to red, symbol of fire and victory, after the Hindus began gaining the upper hand over the Buddhists in public debate . . . the hat remained red thereafter.  The tradition carried over in Tibet during both the early and late phases of the spread of the doctrine, but Tsongkhapa felt that the main threat to Buddhism in Tibet was not unsuccessful debate with non-Buddhists, as it had been in classical India; rather, it was the general laziness and lack of discipline of the Tibetan practitioners.  Therefore he changed the color of the hat back to the original yellow, bringing it back to the earth element and the firm foundation required for successful engagement in the higher practices." ~ Glenn H. Mullin. Living in the Face of Death: The Tibetan Tradition.  Ithaca, NY:  Snow Lion, 1998.

POINTED PANDIT HAT
 He wears a golden pointed Pandit's hat. In ancient India, the Pandit's hat can only be worn by accomplished scholars. The colour yellow symbolizes growth of peace, harmony, luck, achievements spiritual/worldly, happiness, wealth and long life. So Lord Tsongkhapa wearing this hat symbolizes he can bestow on you these very sought after qualities. It is pointy at the top, which represents that He has reached the peak in Samsara, which is full enlightenment. Seeing that hat of Tsongkhapa will plant the imprints of Buddhahood in our minds. So seeing a golden yellow hat on Tsongkhapa or our gurus is very auspicious brings luck and portends good omen for the future.
Source: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=147969975293


TWO FLAPS
Symbolizing perfection of wisdom and compassion
« Last Edit: October 15, 2010, 07:12:10 PM by DSFriend »

triesa

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Re: The Origin of the Yellow Hat
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2010, 02:33:42 PM »
Thank you DS Friend for sharing. It is important to know what the yellow hat signifies for our lineage.

Helena

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Re: The Origin of the Yellow Hat
« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2010, 02:46:29 AM »
THANK YOU, DS FRIEND!

Thank you for taking the time and effort to help us to understand better.

This is really why I appreciate and value this website and forum so much. Everyone can learn, ask questions that promotes their understanding and we grow together in our practice.

Even for those who do not practice Buddhism, this website and forum is a great resource center on its own. One can learn so much from here and build one's understanding of Tibetan Buddhism and Dorje Shugden.

Only with good, complete information can others become more aware. Only then, real understanding will arise.

THANK YOU ALL!
Helena

Heartspoon

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Re: The Origin of the Yellow Hat
« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2010, 03:55:01 AM »
"The Life of a Tibetan Monk", autobiography of Geshe Rabten:

"Joyful effort by itself is not enough. We need to hear and contemplate the teachings, and then to meditate.
The hat symbolizes the practice and results of these three activities. The subject to be heard is the teachings of the Buddha, the entire body of which may be classified in twelve groups. To symbolize these, there are twelve stitches sewn in the handle of the hat. These twelve groups are more simply known as the three vessels of teaching. They are represented by the three tassels hanging down from the handle. Thus when one picks up the hat one is reminded of the subjects who are to be learned. When wearing it, the handle is folded inside, and when carrying it, is left outside. The outside is yellow, the inside white and the rest of the lining is blue. The yellow, white and blue colours symbolize wisdom, compassion and power. When seeing them, one recalls three qualities and meditates on them.

They also stand for Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara and Vajrapani who emboy the Buddha's wisdom, compassion and power. By relying on these three divine beings, we receive a special power to develop their three virtues. The thousands of threads streaming out from the top of the hat represent the full development of wisdom, compassion and power - the attainment of Buddhahood. they also serve to remind us of the thousand buddhas of this fortunate aeon. Because these are symbols of the ultimate refuge to which we entrust ourselves, they are worn on the highest part of the body - the top of the head. When the monk has the proper motivation and understanding of the significance of his garments, thy constantly remind him, and act as his teachers."

Heartspoon

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Re: The Origin of the Yellow Hat
« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2010, 04:16:44 AM »
"The Life of a Tibetan Monk", autobiography of Geshe Rabten:

"As with the yellow colour of the cloak-lining, one not knowing the meaning of the yellow hat probably thinks that it refers to the Gelug Tradition. But this is wrong. It is not only a misunderstanding by Westerners, but even by some Tibetans who think of this tradition whenever they see the colour yellow. This is a great mistake arising from ignorance; yet many people still hold to it and teach it to others. To explain the true meaning in terms of an example, take the earth, the foundation of all animate and inanimate things in the world. The earth element is symbolized by the colour yellow, and morality by the earth as well as this colour. Just as the earth is the foundation of all animate and inanimate things, so is morality the basis of all knowledge, from learning the alphabet to the final attainment of enlightenment. Thus, wearing the yellow hat is an ancient tradition of the masters of ethics, who recognized morality as being the root of all virtues.

This custom existed during the time of Lama Lachen Gongpa Rabsal, who was the greatest of all masters of ethics. After the Tibetan King Langdharma annihilated all signs of Buddhadharma in central Tibet, this Lama fled from the cave where he had been meditating and escaped to the extreme eastern region of Tibet.  Here there were many monks, and he received the full monastic ordination. He then became a great master of ethics by making a broad and profound study of the scriptures. Eventually ten men from central Tibet came to him; and he gave them the full ordination and instructions on on ethics. As they were about to return to central Tibet, he  gave his yellow hat to his chief disciple, Lume, as a sign that he should widely propagate this teaching and practice. This was of course long before the term Gelugpa was known. The great Indian master of ethics Shakyaprabha states:

"In this (world) just as the root of a tree
Is vital for its growth and sustenance,
So is ethics the foundation
And the root of all the sublime Dharma."


It should be clear now that the meaning of the yellow hat is not the Gelug Tradition."

Dondrup Shugden

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Re: The Origin of the Yellow Hat
« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2015, 04:48:20 PM »
Interesting that the Gelug yellow hat did not arise from Je Tsongkapa but another monk of earlier era.  Not that the colour of the Hat is an issue with me, but really informative to know more of our lineage.

A good read into History.  Enjoy

Solomon Lang

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Re: The Origin of the Yellow Hat
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2020, 09:21:43 AM »
There is another version as to the origins of the yellow pandit's hat.

According to Glenn Mullin in the translator's preamble to the book "From the Heart of Chenrezig: The Dalai Lamas on Tantra", edited by Glenn H. Mullin, "The reality, however, is that the yellow hat was introduced by the Zhalu master Buton Rinchen Drubpa almost a century before Tsongkhapa's use of it. Tsongkhapa therefore used it as a signal that he was primarily endorsing Buton's lineages."
Solomon's Judgement: 2 women came to resolve a quarrel over which was d true mother of a baby. When Solomon suggested they should divide d child in two with a sword, one said she would rather give up d child than see it killed. Solomon then declared d woman who showed compassion 2b the true mother.