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Blue stripe on monastics robes

Posted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 7:38 am
by Fortyeightvows
Who knows why there is a blue stripe on the sleeves of monastic shirts?
Bonus points if you provide a source!!

Re: Blue stripe on monastics robes

Posted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 7:43 am
by Fortyeightvows
particualry I would like to confirm something I have heard about it being as a nod to chinese monks.
please someone help with a source.... :reading:

Re: Blue stripe on monastics robes

Posted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 8:35 am
by Bristollad
The blue trim is not mentioned in the Scripture. It is reported to have come about by the following legend: The ordination of the Gelong, fully ordained Sangha nearly came to extinction in the 9th century. King Lagdarm assassinated his younger brother, who was king previously and who had developed Buddhism. Langdarma tried to wipe out Buddhism during his long reign and almost succeeded. According to the Buddha’s rules of discipline, the Vinaya, five monks are needed to give ordination to someone. But only three fully ordained monks escaped to Amdo. So, Master Rabsel in India revived the lineage by inviting two Chinese monks who were fully ordained. At that time, the Chinese monks always wore some blue garments. To show gratefulness to the Chinese, the monks added a blue cord trim onto the Dhonka. Then the lineage flourished. The blue stitch is like the sky color, indicating that the heart should be like this; then you will progress.
IMI website: http://imisangha.org/documents/1_History_Robes.pdf (the IMI is FPMT's monastic group) The information is said to come from Ven. Geshe Dawa, Abbot of Thechen Choeling Monastery and Ven. Geshe Lhundrup Sopa, founder of Deer Park Buddhist Centre in Oregon, Wisconsin

That was the story I was told but as for a tibetan written source :shrug:
Probably as important is that this is an explanation commonly told to tibetan monks and nuns whether or not it's the true origin. Also, there is a line of blue stiches across the back and front of the donka, as well as the blue trim on the shoulders.

Ven. Thubten Chodron references the same story in this article Multi-tradition ordination (short version), http://thubtenchodron.org/2007/07/chine ... t-lineage/ in support of establishing Tibetan Bhikshuni ordination with the aid of Chinese nuns from the Dharmagupta vinaya lineage; the shortened version of her short article is "it's been done before for the monks, why not for the nuns."

Re: Blue stripe on monastics robes

Posted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 9:41 am
by Tsongkhapafan
The blue strip on the sleeves of the donkar symbolises Secret Mantra or Tantra.

Re: Blue stripe on monastics robes

Posted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:54 am
by Bristollad
Tsongkhapafan wrote:The blue strip on the sleeves of the donkar symbolises Secret Mantra or Tantra.
Not heard this explanation before. Where did you hear it? And why a blue trim and the line of blue stitches?

Re: Blue stripe on monastics robes

Posted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:46 pm
by crazy-man
for example, Padmasambhava is wearing the dark blue gown of a mantra practitioner
http://www.lotsawahouse.org/tibetan-mas ... r-the-path

Re: Blue stripe on monastics robes

Posted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 6:20 pm
by Fortyeightvows
Bristollad wrote:
The blue trim is not mentioned in the Scripture. It is reported to have come about by the following legend: The ordination of the Gelong, fully ordained Sangha nearly came to extinction in the 9th century. King Lagdarm assassinated his younger brother, who was king previously and who had developed Buddhism. Langdarma tried to wipe out Buddhism during his long reign and almost succeeded. According to the Buddha’s rules of discipline, the Vinaya, five monks are needed to give ordination to someone. But only three fully ordained monks escaped to Amdo. So, Master Rabsel in India revived the lineage by inviting two Chinese monks who were fully ordained. At that time, the Chinese monks always wore some blue garments. To show gratefulness to the Chinese, the monks added a blue cord trim onto the Dhonka. Then the lineage flourished. The blue stitch is like the sky color, indicating that the heart should be like this; then you will progress.
IMI website: http://imisangha.org/documents/1_History_Robes.pdf (the IMI is FPMT's monastic group) The information is said to come from Ven. Geshe Dawa, Abbot of Thechen Choeling Monastery and Ven. Geshe Lhundrup Sopa, founder of Deer Park Buddhist Centre in Oregon, Wisconsin

That was the story I was told but as for a tibetan written source :shrug:
Probably as important is that this is an explanation commonly told to tibetan monks and nuns whether or not it's the true origin. Also, there is a line of blue stiches across the back and front of the donka, as well as the blue trim on the shoulders.

Ven. Thubten Chodron references the same story in this article Multi-tradition ordination (short version), http://thubtenchodron.org/2007/07/chine ... t-lineage/ in support of establishing Tibetan Bhikshuni ordination with the aid of Chinese nuns from the Dharmagupta vinaya lineage; the shortened version of her short article is "it's been done before for the monks, why not for the nuns."
Thank you very much‼

Re: Blue stripe on monastics robes

Posted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 8:32 pm
by Tsongkhapafan
Bristollad wrote:
Tsongkhapafan wrote:The blue strip on the sleeves of the donkar symbolises Secret Mantra or Tantra.
Not heard this explanation before. Where did you hear it? And why a blue trim and the line of blue stitches?
It's been passed down to me through my tradition. I'm not sure about the blue stitches.

Re: Blue stripe on monastics robes

Posted: Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:33 pm
by Bristollad
crazy-man wrote:for example, Padmasambhava is wearing the dark blue gown of a mantra practitioner
http://www.lotsawahouse.org/tibetan-mas ... r-the-path
Okay, he's wearing a blue gown (not a very clear image actually) but why does it say "of a mantra practitioner". Is dark blue a colour associated specifically with tantra? If so why?

Re: Blue stripe on monastics robes

Posted: Fri Jan 13, 2017 3:11 pm
by Karinos
if I remember correctly blue stripe is a symbol of great Samye debate in presence of King Trisong Detsen where Padmasambhava with Shantarakshita defeat most venerated Bon scholars and Tibet officially adopted Buddhism.

Re: Blue stripe on monastics robes

Posted: Fri Jan 13, 2017 5:26 pm
by Fortyeightvows
Karinos wrote:if I remember correctly blue stripe is a symbol of great Samye debate in presence of King Trisong Detsen where Padmasambhava with Shantarakshita defeat most venerated Bon scholars and Tibet officially adopted Buddhism.
I don't think so.

Anyways it seems like the story that I was looking for is so far the only one that has any sources.

Re: Blue stripe on monastics robes

Posted: Sat Jan 14, 2017 2:11 am
by Palzang Jangchub
Karinos wrote:if I remember correctly blue stripe is a symbol of great Samye debate in presence of King Trisong Detsen where Padmasambhava with Shantarakshita defeat most venerated Bon scholars and Tibet officially adopted Buddhism.
The supposed actors at the Samye Debate were the Indian Tantric camp, represented by Shantarakshita's pupil Kamalashila, and the Chinese Chan camp, represented by Hashang Moheyan. It was about which form of Buddhism would be predominantly practiced in Tibet, not whether it would be Bön or Buddhadharma.

However, as we all know, history is written by the victors. Chan sources say Moheyan won and was kicked out anyway. The aristocratic families in power most likely decided that Tantra was less threatening to their status than Chan, according to Sam van Schaik. Other historians like Bryan Cuevas, however, question whether the Samye Debate even actually occurred.

It all seems to be based on a single source called the Testament of Ba, which supported the stance of the Ba clan that they were supporters of the Dharma even though they were involved in the overthrowing of King Relpachen and installing the much maligned Langdarma. In other words, it's propaganda and represents their opposition to the Dro clan, who were their chief competitors for ministerial offices and supporters of Chan.

In any case, while the debate has become important for the Tibetan narrative, regardless of historicity, Schaik's research of the Dunhuang manuscripts indicates that Chan teachers were in Tibet much later than that narrative suggests. Centuries later. He wrote a while book on it called Tibetan Zen.

https://earlytibet.com/2010/03/31/tibetan-chan-iv/

http://www.lionsroar.com/forgotten-enco ... betan-zen/

Re: Blue stripe on monastics robes

Posted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 10:00 am
by crazy-man
Bristollad wrote:
crazy-man wrote:for example, Padmasambhava is wearing the dark blue gown of a mantra practitioner
http://www.lotsawahouse.org/tibetan-mas ... r-the-path
Okay, he's wearing a blue gown (not a very clear image actually) but why does it say "of a mantra practitioner". Is dark blue a colour associated specifically with tantra? If so why?
yes, blue, dark blue or sometimes black is the colour of a mantra practitionier in buddhism. Maybe there is a connection to the buddhist school of Mahīśāsaka, because the Mahīśāsaka always wore blue robes.
Also, although only tangentially related to the Mahīśāsaka, I am reminded of one interesting point: according to a few sources in Chinese, the Mahīśāsaka wore blue robes. In the later Nikāyasaṅgraha, there are some strange passages about monks with blue robes who distort the Triple Gem into prostitutes, liquor, and love. It's hard to know what to make of such statements, but at least two possibilities pop out in my mind. [1] The first is that maybe blue-robed Mahīśāsakas in Sri Lanka were demonized by their opponents at the Mahavihara, and there was still some distant memory of "bad monks" in blue robes. [2] The second is that maybe they were Mahīśāsakas who had turned to tantric practices and who actually were engaged in all sorts of shocking taboos as part of these practices.
https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/sh ... ese/2755/4

http://www.vesakday.mcu.ac.th/vesak50/b ... ptures.pdf

Early buddhist monk with blue stripe on robes
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File ... Monks.jpeg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kasaya_(clothing)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mah%C4%AB%C5%9B%C4%81saka

Buddha teaches about Robes (Cīvara)
https://suttacentral.net/en/pi-tv-kd8
https://suttacentral.net/define/c%C4%ABvara

Re: Blue stripe on monastics robes

Posted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 10:44 am
by Bristollad
crazy-man wrote:
Bristollad wrote:
crazy-man wrote:for example, Padmasambhava is wearing the dark blue gown of a mantra practitioner
http://www.lotsawahouse.org/tibetan-mas ... r-the-path
Okay, he's wearing a blue gown (not a very clear image actually) but why does it say "of a mantra practitioner". Is dark blue a colour associated specifically with tantra? If so why?
yes, blue, dark blue or sometimes black is the colour of a mantra practitionier in buddhism. Maybe there is a connection to the buddhist school of Mahīśāsaka, because the Mahīśāsaka always wore blue robes.
Also, although only tangentially related to the Mahīśāsaka, I am reminded of one interesting point: according to a few sources in Chinese, the Mahīśāsaka wore blue robes. In the later Nikāyasaṅgraha, there are some strange passages about monks with blue robes who distort the Triple Gem into prostitutes, liquor, and love. It's hard to know what to make of such statements, but at least two possibilities pop out in my mind. [1] The first is that maybe blue-robed Mahīśāsakas in Sri Lanka were demonized by their opponents at the Mahavihara, and there was still some distant memory of "bad monks" in blue robes. [2] The second is that maybe they were Mahīśāsakas who had turned to tantric practices and who actually were engaged in all sorts of shocking taboos as part of these practices.
https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/sh ... ese/2755/4

http://www.vesakday.mcu.ac.th/vesak50/b ... ptures.pdf

Early buddhist monk with blue stripe on robes
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File ... Monks.jpeg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kasaya_(clothing)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mah%C4%AB%C5%9B%C4%81saka

Buddha teaches about Robes (Cīvara)
https://suttacentral.net/en/pi-tv-kd8
https://suttacentral.net/define/c%C4%ABvara
Yes, I'm aware of all that - but why is blue associated with tantra? I've been taught that the red of our robes is associated with bodhicitta, saffron with discipline (which is why monks from Sera often wear yellow/orange undergarments i.e. on the outside practise bodhicitta, on the inside abide in discipline), so why blue?

Re: Blue stripe on monastics robes

Posted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 3:17 pm
by Grigoris
Loppon Ogyan Tanzin Rinpoche (Dudjom Linpga lineage holder) has advised us that we should wear the white shantab and that, as "Ngakpa", an upper garment in white, red or dark blue is permissible (and the striped zen, of course).

Re: Blue stripe on monastics robes

Posted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 8:51 pm
by DGA
Grigoris wrote:Loppon Ogyan Tanzin Rinpoche (Dudjom Linpga lineage holder) has advised us that we should wear the white shantab and that, as "Ngakpa", an upper garment in white, red or dark blue is permissible (and the striped zen, of course).
is this a full-time commitment--all shantab all the time--or is this manner of dress limited to practice time or...?

Re: Blue stripe on monastics robes

Posted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 9:25 pm
by Grigoris
DGA wrote:
Grigoris wrote:Loppon Ogyan Tanzin Rinpoche (Dudjom Linpga lineage holder) has advised us that we should wear the white shantab and that, as "Ngakpa", an upper garment in white, red or dark blue is permissible (and the striped zen, of course).
is this a full-time commitment--all shantab all the time--or is this manner of dress limited to practice time or...?
Rinpoche has no problem for his western students limiting it to practice time, though I am sure he would be ecstatic to see us wearing them all the time.

Re: Blue stripe on monastics robes

Posted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 9:50 pm
by Palzang Jangchub
Bristollad wrote:Yes, I'm aware of all that - but why is blue associated with tantra? I've been taught that the red of our robes is associated with bodhicitta, saffron with discipline (which is why monks from Sera often wear yellow/orange undergarments i.e. on the outside practise bodhicitta, on the inside abide in discipline), so why blue?
Isn't blue often used to symbolize the Dharmakaya, primordial wisdom-awareness, and the sky-like/space-like nature of mind? Samantabhadra and Vajradhara are good examples of this.

Also, shouldn't discipline be considered outer conduct (Shravakayana), and bodhicitta inner conduct (Bodhisattvayana)? That would make tantric garb beneath both those layers a symbol of the secret or innermost conduct (Vajrayana).

Guess it depends on what exactly you're referring to with the word "discipline."

Re: Blue stripe on monastics robes

Posted: Tue Jan 17, 2017 11:24 am
by Bristollad
Karma Jinpa wrote:
Bristollad wrote:Yes, I'm aware of all that - but why is blue associated with tantra? I've been taught that the red of our robes is associated with bodhicitta, saffron with discipline (which is why monks from Sera often wear yellow/orange undergarments i.e. on the outside practise bodhicitta, on the inside abide in discipline), so why blue?
Isn't blue often used to symbolize the Dharmakaya, primordial wisdom-awareness, and the sky-like/space-like nature of mind? Samantabhadra and Vajradhara are good examples of this.

Also, shouldn't discipline be considered outer conduct (Shravakayana), and bodhicitta inner conduct (Bodhisattvayana)? That would make tantric garb beneath both those layers a symbol of the secret or innermost conduct (Vajrayana).

Guess it depends on what exactly you're referring to with the word "discipline."
I'm referring to monastic vows. The way I take it is that outwardly, towards others, be guided by bodhicitta and the bodhisattva vows, for oneself as a monastic, be guided by vinaya, keep the discipline close. For instance, one Geshe I know does not normally eat after the midday meal (this is in keeping with vinaya) however, if he is invited to a meal in the evening by a student, he accepts happily (this is in keeping with bodhisattva vows). He does not turn around and say "Thank you but I can't join you for a meal in the evening because it is against the rules." Of course, older students (who understand) if possible ask him to join them for lunch when they wish to offer a meal.

Outer conduct - hearer, inner conduct - bodhisattva, secretly - tantrika is very familiar advice on how to practise as well. For me, these two explanations or interpretations are not contradictory :smile:

Re: Blue stripe on monastics robes

Posted: Tue Jan 17, 2017 3:21 pm
by Malcolm
Bristollad wrote:For instance, one Geshe I know does not normally eat after the midday meal (this is in keeping with vinaya)
In general, the instruction not to eat after noon really has nothing to do with discipline. It has to do with health. At midday our metabolic heat is strongest because the sun is high in the sky. When we eat in the evening, it is harder for us to digest meals.

The Buddha was a wise person and observed that those who ate large meals in the evening suffered from digestive problems.

If you look at the west, millions and millions of people are on Prilosec and so on. The reason is very simple. They eat the wrong combinations of food in the wrong amounts at the wrong times.