Bardo Prayers

About Bardo Prayers

In response to many requests made by students over the years, with the guidance of Phakchok Rinpoche, Samye Institute has now launched this opportunity to request prayers and practices for the deceased. We at Samye extend our deepest sympathy during this difficult period and keep you and your loved ones in our thoughts and prayers. Samye offers several options to request traditional Bardo prayers for the passing of a family member, loved one, or friend. These should be requested after the person has died.

During the 49-day (or 7-week) period, the end of every week is very important. On these days, one should accumulate butter lamp offerings and dedicate the merit to benefit the loved one for their journey through the bardos, for their purification of bad karma, and for helping them accumulate merit toward a good rebirth. Furthermore, it is very beneficial to have certain pujas done for the deceased during this challenging transition.

Samye offers three 49-day options for the deceased, which we have labeled as the concise, the standard, and the elaborate option. The difference between the three is in terms of the number of monks involved, the list of prayers and practices (or pujas) that will be done, and the amount of tsok and butter lamps offered. Below you can see the schedule for the three options, and then further below you can read a short description of each type of puja. In order to submit your request, please click on one of the three options, and you will be taken to a form where you can share the name of the deceased, a photo, and then make your offering.

Concise

For the concise option, at the end of every week, for seven weeks, the following will be done for the deceased by a group of four monks:

At the end of the 1st week – Korwa Dongtruk and 21 butter lamps offering
End of the 2nd week – Korwa Dongtruk and 21 butter lamps offering
End of the 3rd week – Korwa Dongtruk and 21 butter lamps offering
End of the 4th week – Amitabha puja and 21 butter lamps offering
End of the 5th week – Amitabha puja and 21 butter lamps offering
End of the 6th week – Amitabha puja and 21 butter lamps offering
The 49th day, the end of the 7th week – Amitabha puja and 21 butter lamps offering

Standard

For the standard option, at the end of every week, for seven weeks, the following will be done for the deceased by a gathering of monks:

At the end of the 1st week – Korwa Dongtruk and 100 butter lamps offering
End of the 2nd week – Korwa Dongtruk and 100 butter lamps offering
End of the 3rd week – Amitabha puja and 100 butter lamps offering
End of the 4th week – Amitabha puja and 100 butter lamps offering
End of the 5th week – Kunzang Tuktik and 100 butter lamps offering
End of the 6th week – Sangtik Dorsem and 100 butter lamps offering
On the 49th day, at the end of the 7th week – Ngensong Dongtruk and 100 butter lamps offering

Elaborate

For the elaborate option, every day, there will be a Sur offering (or burnt offering to satisfy spirits and bardo beings) and a reading of A Liberation Upon Hearing done for the deceased. And, at the end of every week, for seven weeks, the following will be done for the deceased by a gathering of monks:

At the end of the 1st week – Ngensong Dongtruk and 100 butter lamps offering
End of the 2nd week – Korwa Dongtruk and 100 butter lamps offering
End of the 3rd week – Amitabha puja and 100 butter lamps offering
End of the 4th week – Kunzang Tuktik and 100 butter lamps offering
End of the 5th week – Sangtik Dorsem and 100 butter lamps offering
End of the 6th week – Ngensong Dongtruk and 100 butter lamps offering
The 49th day, the end of the 7th week – Kunzang Tuktik and 100 butter lamps offering

One-Time Prayer

Lastly, Samye also offers a one-time prayer request option. You may request an Amitabha puja and 100 butter lamps offering to be performed by a group of monks for the deceased loved one. This would ideally be done during the first week after the person’s passing.

About the Pujas

Korwa Dongtruk (Dredger of Samsara) is a manifestation of Avalokiteshvara, or Quan Yin Pusa in Chinese. This is the main heart practice of Guru Rinpoche. This puja is for emptying the depths of samsara and for purification and accumulation, and for guiding the bardo beings to have a smooth transition.

Korwa Dongtruk.

Amitabha Buddha is very well known among Mahayana and Vajrayana practitioners as the Buddha who made the aspiration to manifest the pure realm of Sukhavati, the pure land of great bliss, for beings to take rebirth. Doing this puja on behalf of the deceased purifies negative karmas, accumulates merit, and connects them with Amitabha to help the deceased to be reborn in Amitabha’s pure land.

Amitabha.

The Kunzang Tuktik is the heart essence of Samantabhadra, and belongs to the Dzogchen teachings and includes offerings to the 100 deities to benefit and liberate the bardo beings.

Sangtik Dorsem is a Vajrasattva practice that includes all the Buddhas of the five families. Vajrasattva is a well-known Buddha of purification of all the deep karmic seeds, obscurations, and negative emotions.

Sangtik Dorsem.

Ngensong Dongtruk (Dredger of the Lower Realms’ Depths) is taught by Mahaguru Padmasambhava within the cycle of Tukdrup Barché Künsel. It includes many of the great buddhas and bodhisattvas in one mandala such as Amitabha Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha, Medicine Buddha, Buddha Vairocana, and Akshobhya Buddha. All five of these great Buddhas together with four great bodhisattvas are invited into one mandala to do practices on behalf of the deceased. Purification practices are done, and elaborate offerings are made to help the deceased to accumulate merit to be reborn in the pure land.

Ngensong Dongtruk.

Light Offerings

As directed by Phakchok Rinpoche, monks and nuns at the Asura Cave will light 1,000 butter lamps every day for the remainder of the Tibetan calendar year. The Asura Cave is a truly special sacred site where Guru Rinpoche manifested the realization of Mahamudra. Among many benefits for beings, lighting butter lamps enhances the clarity of one’s meditation. Together with offering butter lamps, remember to make aspirations. You can find concise and elaborate versions of lamp aspiration prayers featured on Lhasey Lotsawa.

Suggested Reading

Dudjom Rinpoche, The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, trans. and ed. by Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1991), vol. 1, pages 468–474.

Ngawang Zangpo, Guru Rinpoche: His Life and Times, Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2002.

Nyoshul Khenpo, A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage, trans. Richard Barron (Junction City: Padma Publishing, 2005), pages 41–48.

Padmasambhava, Legend of the Great Stupa, Berkeley: Dharma Publishing, 1973

Padmasambhava & Jamgön Kongtrul, The Light of Wisdom, trans. by Erik Pema Kunsang (Boudhanath: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1986-1999), pages 43-47 & Appendix 5.

Taranatha, The Life of Padmasambhava, Shang Shung Edizioni, 2005

Tulku Thondup, Masters of Meditation and Miracles, Shambhala, 1996.

Yeshe Tsogyal, Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava, translated by Kenneth Douglas and Gwendolyn Bays (Emeryville: Dharma Publishing, 1978, republished 2008).

Yeshe Tsogyal, Lotus Born: The Life Story of Padmasambhava, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2004.

‘The Life of Guru Padmasambhava’ in A Great Treasure of Blessings, The Tertön Sogyal Trust, 2004.