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History of the Jowo Rinpoche

The Jowo Rinpoche statue, Tibet’s most revered religious icon, was made in India by Vishakarma (an emanation of the Buddha himself) during Buddha Shakyamuni’s lifetime.
At the time of the Buddha (circa 563 BCE to 483 BCE), there were only two statues of this type.
The other one is still at Bodhgaya.

At some point before the 7th century, China gave India the special gift of Que Chen: a very rare and expensive fabric, the beginning or end of which cannot be found, made by female deities called Dakinis. India gave China the Jowo Rinpoche statue in return.

In the 7th century, Gar Ton Zen, the minister of Tibetan Dharma king Songsten Gampo,
asked the king’s new wife, Chinese princess Wencheng, to bring the Jowo to Tibet:
“If your father asks you what you want, please reply that you definitely want the statue.”

During the 14th century, Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Geluk lineage of Tibetan Buddhism,
offered the Sambogakaya ornaments to the previously Nirmanakaya statue, transforming it into a Sambogakaya Buddha. [The Nirmanakaya form is depicted wearing regular Dharma robes. The Sambogakaya form is always shown wearing various ornaments: short and long necklaces; earrings; wrist, ankle, and arm bands; and crown.]

The Jowo Rinpoche statue is not only beautiful on the outside, but is also special because it contains the blessings of the Buddhas. In Tibet, everyone knows the Jowo Rinpoche, and many amazing stories have been told. Tibetans pray to see the statue before they die, because it is known that its energy will transform them and help at the time of death. They have that much faith in Jowo Rinpoche. Devotion transforms the statue from an ordinary object into a real Buddha. For Tibetans, it is easy to get blessings because they believe that what they are seeing is very precious, a real Buddha. In Tibet, when people are sick or die, the person’s relatives offer gold to the statue. The gold is directly applied to the face and body as an offering to the Buddha. Ser yek tdak means “Golden Letters”. A sick or dead person’s name is written in gold on red paper and is then burned in front of the statue in a butter lamp.

There is no need to meditate or recite mantra—just seeing the statue will change the person’s energy to positive. This is called “liberation through seeing”. The result depends on one’s mind: that is your motivation, devotion, and compassion. The U.S. Jowo Rinpoche will have the same ability to transform as the original. It is truly an “emanation”.