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Pehar rgyalpo.jpg

Nyingma Protector

Pehar was originally a Nyingma protector, but was adopted into Gelugpa practice.

Important Guardian who manifests through a spirit medium to advise the Dalai Lama and his government.

Many eons ago, the dharma protector, Pehar, was a royal prince of the Ashuras called Damaraja.

At the time of his birth, another boy was also born -- to one of the king's ministers.

The two became fast friends and were ordained as monks together by the abbot called Dawe (moonlight.)

Damaraja's religious name was Dawe Shinu and his friend's was Tunten Nagpo.

Dawe Shinu became a scholar, who enjoyed teaching Dharma. His friend enjoyed meditating.

One day Dawe Shinu went to visit a Hindu Temple where he met a beautiful girl named Zitan Metog Ke. Overwhelmed by physical attraction, they fell into each other's arms and ended up making love in the temple for 7 days and nights.

Dawe Shinu had broken his vows of celibacy.

His friend came and tried to stop them, but he could do nothing.

Dawe Shinu got so angry at the intervention that he turned into a lion and threatened to kill his friend.

If it had not been for Vajrapani, who protected Tunten Nagpo with his vajra, he would have done so.

Years late, when Dawe Shinu died, he was reborn in hell.

There, he was known as Butcher's Horse, and his life was full of suffering.

In his next existence, he was reborn as a human being who was very poor and homeless.

One day, as he was wandering he ran into his former friend but they had no liking for each other.

Then Dawe Shinu was born to King Muche Tsampo and his wife, Queen Lhamo Tongon. that time, he was named Vajra Kuhe Samati.

His former friend, Tunten Nagpo, was a hermit who meditated in cave and for some reason, Vajra Kuhe Samati was moved to turn himself into a rat just to try and disturb him.

Once again Vajrapani intervened to protect Tunten Nagpo.

The fourth existence of Dawe Shinu was as the third son of Dudje Tsempo, king of the local demons.

His name this time was Mudu Tankhar.

(His father also had four other children.)

Pehar is a reincarnation of that demon, Mudu Tankhar.

He is described as having three faces, six arms and riding a lion.

He is known as a Tinley Gyalpo, or Action King.

When Padmasambhava and Tibetan ruler, Trison Deutsen, built Samye Monastery, Guru Rinpoche invited Pehar from his realm called Petahor to be the protector.

He gave him a wife, Mentsun Karmo, as well as another consort.

They were installed in the quarters called Peharchok that was established especially for them in the northern side of Samye.

This Pehar temple is known as the Turquoise Palace.

Pehar, as a dharmapala, embodies the activities of the Five Buddhas.

He also has five aspects of Pehar:

The Mind aspect of King Pehar (Tuk ki Gyalpo) is brown with one face and two arms.

His right hand holds a red spear, his left, a double-edged sword and a lasso.

He wears a bear skin shawl and a black turban and is seated on an elephant amidst fire.

The Body aspect of Pehar (Kui Gyalpo) is dark blue, with one face and two arms.

His right hand holds a vajra and his left, a single cymbal.

He wears a round golden cymbal-shaped hat (tipshu) and rides a black bear.

The Knowledge aspect (Yonten kyi Gyalpo) is black, with one face and two arms.

His right hand holds an axe, his left a demon's lasso.

He wears a tiger skin shawl and a black snakeskin and rides a dragon.

The Speech aspect (Sung gi Gyalpo) is dark brown, with one face and two arms.

His right hand holds a staff, his left a sandalwood club.

He wears a black robe and rides an iron wolf.

The Activity aspect (Thinley gyi Gyalpo) is navy blue with three faces and six arms.

His first right hand holds a hook, the second an arrow, and the third, a sword.

His first left hand holds a razor-sharp knife, the second a bow, the third a staff.

He wears his tipshu, a white shawl and leopard-skin skirt, and rides a snow lion.

~ edited from Lama Kunga Rinpoche's teaching (02/1999) as recorded by Jeff Watt.

Pehar remained at Samye for 7 centuries.

How Pehar Came to Nechung

The text on the back of Wisdom Publications calendar for 1996, which has a depiction of Pehar in the Gelugpa context, states that this "state oracle Tibet," is one of the five Gyepo kunga, or Gyepo spirits.

They are:

name color mount king of
Indra dark blue elephant mind (thuk)
Monbuputra black white lioness body ku)
Shingjachen black black horse virtue (yonten)
Kyechikpu red black mule speech (sung)
Pehar white white lion activity (tinley)

He bears a different name according to his function.

Pehar was Uigur in origin -- the yidam of the Hor tribal people.

We have seen above how he was established at Samye as its guardian.

Then, during the reign of the Fifth Dalai Lama (1617-1682) he moved to Nechung near Drepung Monastery.

However, tradition holds that he had long before promised to be a student of Tsong Khapa (1357-1419) and that he was a disciple of the abbot of Drepung a good 200 years before the reign of the "Great Fifth."

Pehar became the "state oracle of Tibet" in the following way:

Once, a casket drifting down the Kyichu River reached the neighbourhood of Drepung monastery.

As it floated by, one of the four abbots spied it, and had the realization that Pehar was imprisoned in it.

He ordered a priest to retrieve the casket and take it up to the monastery.

While the man was carrying the heavy container, his curiosity overwhelmed him and he set it down and opened it.

Out fluttered a white dove which flew to perch in a birch tree, but then it vanished from sight.

Nechung Monastery was constructed (1416) around the tree.

From that time on, Pehar began to manifest through the speech of one of the lamas at Nechung.

The man whose body Pehar possessed was appointed the State Oracle.


Pehar (Tib. པེ་ཧར, Wyl. pe har), the leader of the gyalpo, is the spirit channeled by the Nechung Oracle.

Further Reading

  • Dan Martin, "The Star King and the Four Children of Pehar: Popular Religious Movements of 11th- to 12th-Century Tibet", Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hung. XLIX: 1-2 (1996)
  • Lin Shen-Yu: “Pehar: A Historical Survey” in Revue d’Etudes Tibétaines 19, 2010 Available online here

External Links



Representation of Pehar Gyalpo at Nechung Gompa, in Tibet

According to Tibetan Buddhist myth, Gyalpo Pehar (Tibetan: རྒྱལ་པོ་དཔེ་ཧར, Wylie: rgyal po dpe har [also spelt: pe kar & dpe dkar]) is a spirit belonging to the gyalpo class.

When Padmasambhava arrived in Tibet in the eighth century, he subdued all gyalpo spirits and put them under control of Gyalpo Pehar, who promised not to harm any sentient beings and was made the chief guardian spirit of the Samye Temple built at that time.

Some Tibetans believe that the protector of Samye sometimes enters the body of a medium (called the "Dharma Lord of Samye") and acts as an oracle.



  1. Shabkar Tsogdruk Rangdrol; Matthieu Ricard (trans); Constance Wilkinson, Michal Abrams (eds) (1994). The life of Shabkar. SUNY Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-1835-2. p. 272

External links


Wikipedia:Gyalpo Pehar

Pehar or Pekar. Important Guardian who manifests through a spirit medium to advise the Dalai Lama and his government.