The Dasakarma Vidhi: Fundamental Knowledge on Traditional Customs of Ten Rites of Passage Amongst the Buddhist Newars

Product Details

Title:The Dasakarma Vidhi: Fundamental Knowledge on Traditional Customs of Ten Rites of Passage Amongst the Buddhist Newars


Author:Pandit Vaidya Asha Kaji

Editor:Michael Allen

Publisher:Mandala Book Point

Publish Year:2010

Edition:First Edition

Cover:Paper Back

Subject:Nepal Anthropology


Remarks:Colour and B&W Illustrations, Appendix.


Size:140 x 215 mm


Price:USD 11.71

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  • The Dasakarma Vidhi (ten rites of passage) are performed in two different ways, namely jnana sambhara and karma sambhara. The former refers to the prerequisites of spiritual knowledge, whereas the latter refers to the prerequisites of action. Even the Buddha is said to have spiritually performed the dasakarma before he attained Buddhahood. It is said amongst the Buddhist Newars of the Kathmandu valley and elsewhere that one cannot achieve enlightenment without performing the dasakarma, either spiritually or ritually. The dasakarma begin with the birth ceremony (jatabhiseka) and end in the ceremonial initiation of the Supreme Seniormost or Head of the Community (cakresvarabhiseka). The system of the dasakarma is so instilled in the life of every Buddhist Newar that the rites have become part and parcel of the life-cycle, thus presenting as inseparable traditional and cultural rites unique among human beings on earth.

    The practices of dasakarma were initially performed by King Pracanda Deva of Gaud (India), who is said to have come to Nepal on a pilgrimage to pay homage to Svayambhu. This king, being highly inspired by the supreme serenity and spiritual tranquility of the Svayambhu jyoti rupa the rays radiating from Svayambhu a made up his mind to renounce his kingship and sought ordination of cudakarmabhiseka (first initiation of entry into the life of homelessness), subsequently followed by acaryabhiseka (initiation into priestly life) bestowed on him by Manjusri. By thus performing the dasakarma vidhi he became the first Vajracarya, who was later known as Santikaracarya, the father of all Vajracaryas in the past and the present.

    The English translation of the Dasakarma Vidhi is thus a complex text that has its origins in Kuladatta's mid-eleventh century work and has subsequently been altered in various ways by numerous other practicing Vajracaryas, including most especially Asha Kaji Pandit himself, and finally rendered in its present form through the work of Nhuchhe Bajracharya, Min Bahadur Shakya, Michael Allen and a number of other scholars.

    The book you hold in your hands is a distillation of Asha Kaji's wisdom as a practising Buddhist priest and simultaneously as a learned pandit with a deep knowledge of his own tradition. Sadly, with modernity many young people in Nepal who wished to study Buddhism held their own elders in contempt because they did not have modern degrees and could not express themselves in English. The time has perhaps come when another generation is not so insecure and is ready, with the help of an English translation, to return to the knowledge and traditions of their grandparents.

    Pandit Vaidya Asha Kaji

    ASHA KAJI VAJRACHARYA Asha Kaji Vajracharya (b. 1908 - d. 1992) was one of twentieth-century Nepal's most respected Buddhist figures. Having cultivated the traditional learning of a pandit, he became renowned in his native Lalitpur as an Ayurvedic doctor, tantric practitioner and raconteur of Buddhist lore. He published over thirty books, many of which were translations or commentaries based on Sanskrit originals, and opened up his own manuscript collection to photography by the Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project. He advised and collaborated with a number of foreign scholars, and became the first Newar master to teach the Buddhist tradition of the Kathmandu Valley outside Asia, touring Japan at his students' request, and bestowing initiation into the cycle of Cakrasamvara upon a non-Newar couple for the first time in the modern era. He is survived by two sons, Saddharmaraj and Mahisvararaj, who are also well-known Buddhist teachers in Lalitpur.
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