This myth has both vampyric and
demonic themes which is why it is found in both sections. Its
vampyric nature does not become clear until the bottom where some of the
additional versions are described.
The Children of the Monkey & the Ogress
Tibetan anthropogonic myths are a
distinctive fusion of Buddhist & pre-Buddhis elements. In their
themes, they are less varied than cosmogonic myths. Most
widespread among them are those which deal with the genealogy of the
Tibetan people, who are viewed as the descendants of a monkey and a
female demon designated as brag-srin-mo, an "ogress of the
cliff." There are numerous versions of this myth; Laufer (1901:
27, n. 11) gives the complete bibliography of the earliest references to
them by Western authors. See also Kuznetsov (1966: xviii).
One of the oldest versions dates from the twelfth century (see Macdonald
1971: 202-5); another version is found in the "Clear Mirror of the Royal
Dynasties" (rGyal-rabs gsal-ba'i me-long), which dates from the
fourteenth century. The text of this is reproduced in Kuznetsov,
1966: 42-45, and was translated by Wenzel (1893). Here is a
summary of the account as found in the "Clear Mirror of the Royal
A monkey gifted with magical powers
vows to become an upasada int he presence of the Bodhisattva
Avalokitesvara, who thereupon sends him to meditate in Tibet, the land
of snows. While he meditates there on compassion and rejoices in
the Void, a demoness passes by. Driven by the acts of her past
existences, she exhibits various signs of passionate desire.
Taking the form of a woman, she begs the monkey to marry her, and when
she threatens to die on the spot, he permits her to sleep beside him.
But she continues to implore him to marry her, and threatens that if he
does not, she will unite with a demon, kill innumerable living beings,
and give birth to a race of demons which will devour all of the
creatures who live in the Land of Snows. torn between compassion
and his vow of chastity, the monkey transports himself magically at
lightning speed to the top of Mount Potala, to the south, and presents
his dilemma to Avalokitesvara. Avalokitesvara orders him to marry
the demoness, and from the heavens the goddesses Bhrkutī
and Tārā give their assent, while Avalokitesvara prophesies that in the
future the doctine of the Buddha will be preached in the Land of Snows.
Six little monkeys are
born shortly thereafter to the monkey & the ogress, each of them reborn
from one of the six states of transmigration (gods, titans, men,
animals, tormented spirits, and beings who live in the hells). The
father leads his offspring into a forest and leaves them there.
When he returns three years later, their number has multiplied to five
hundred. As the fruits of the forest do not provide them with
enough food, the beg their father to give them something to eat.
Not knowing what to do, he goes again at lightning speed to
Avalokitesvara and complains bitterly: he has allowed himself to
be seduced by a woman and is certainly doomed to rebirth in hell.
Avalokitesvara, however, climbs Mount Meru at the center of the earth,
extracts the five kinds of grain from its interior, and scatters these
over the surface of the earth so that the whole land is covered with
cereal grains. The monkey leads his offspring there, and when they
have eaten the grain, their fur and tails become shorter. They
learn to speak, make clothing out of bark, and gradually build homes and
cover the plains with planted fields. It is from them that the
Tibetan people are descended.
Another version of this myth (found in the Mani bka-'bum)
states that the six children "because they had a monkey for a
father, their bodies were covered with fur, and their faces were red.
Because they had an ogress (demoness) of the cliffs for a mother, they
were without tails and craved raw meat and blood."
In the "Book of the Words of the Ministers"
yet another version appears. In this version only one child was born - a
son. He stood upright and had "a red, flat face, and no tail. He
ate red meat and drank warm blood" (Snellbrove 1957: 124-26).
Another Tibetan text, "Scroll of the Words of the
King" from the 14th century tells a tale of a time before the first
king when demons ruled Tibet. "First a black demon held sway, and
the land was known as the land of devils....As a result sprites called
nyen-po and tsen-po appeared. Next a devil and an ogress held sway, and
the country was called the land of the two divine ogres. As a result,
red-faced flesh eating creatures appeared."
Complied by Yves Bonnefoy. University of Chicago Press. ©1993.