Newar Buddhism

From Encyclopedia of Buddhism
(Redirected from Nine Dharmas)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This article is a copy of a Wikipedia article. See latest Wikipedia version here.
WP to EOB clone icon 2022.png
Dīpankara Buddha (Bahi-dyah) on display during Gunla.
The bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, 16th century CE.
A Vajracharya priest

Newar Buddhism is the form of Vajrayana practiced by the Newar people of the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal.[1][2] It has developed unique socio-religious elements, which include a non-monastic Buddhist society based on the Newar caste system and patrilineality. The ritual priests (guruju), vajracharya (who perform rituals for others) and shakya (who perform rituals mostly for their own families) form the non-celibate religious sangha while other Buddhist Newar castes like the Urāy act as patrons. Uray also patronise Tibetan Vajrayanin, Theravadin, and even Japanese clerics.[3]

Although there was a vibrant regional tradition of Buddhism in the Kathmandu Valley during the first millennium, the transformation into a distinctive cultural and linguistic form of Buddhism appears to have taken place in the fifteenth century, at about the same time that similar regional forms of Indic Buddhism such as those of Kashmir and Indonesia were on the wane. As a result, Newar Buddhism seems to preserve some aspects of Indian Buddhism that were not preserved in schools of Buddhism elsewhere.

Nine texts

In Newar Buddhism, a group of nine Sanskrit Mahayana sutras, called the "nine books" (navagrantha) or the "nine dharmas" (navadharma), are revered as special objects of devotion.[4] The nine texts are:[5][6][7]

  1. Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra
  2. Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra
  3. Suvarṇaprabhāsa Sūtra
  4. Samādhirāja Sūtra
  5. Gandavyūha Sūtra
  6. Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra
  7. Daśabhūmika Sūtra
  8. Lalitavistara Sūtra
  9. Tathāgataguhyaka Sūtra (actually replaced by the Guhyasamaja since the tradition lost the Tathāgataguhyaka Sūtra)

Artistic tradition

Newar Buddhism is characterized by its extensive and detailed rituals, a rich artistic tradition of Buddhist monuments and artwork like the Chaitya (stupa), Baha and Bahi monastic courtyards, statues, Paubha scroll paintings and Mandala sand paintings, and by being a storehouse of ancient Sanskrit Buddhist texts, many of which are now only extant in Nepal.[8]

According to the authors of Rebuilding Buddhism: The Theravada Movement in Twentieth-Century Nepal: "Today traditional Newar Buddhism is unquestionably in retreat before Theravada Buddhism."[9] Chachā (Charyā) ritual song and dance and Gunlā Bājan music are other artistic traditions of Newar Buddhism.[10] Although Newar Buddhism was traditionally bound to the Kathmandu Valley and its environs, there is at least one new Newar Buddhist temple in Portland, Oregon.[11]

Outdoor festivals

Seto Machindranath Jatra at the Temple of Annapurna

A number of major street celebrations are held periodically involving processions, displays of Buddha images and services in the three cities of the Kathmandu Valley and in other parts of Nepal.

The main events are Samyak (almsgiving and display of Buddha images), Gunla (holy month marked by musical processions and display of Buddha images), Jana Baha Dyah Jatra (chariot procession in Kathmandu), Bunga Dyah Jatra (chariot processions in Lalitpur, Dolakha and Nala), and Bajrayogini Jatra (processions in Sankhu and Pharping).

Newar Buddhism News

Newar Buddhism is largely practiced within the community, however news about Newar Buddhist functions and festivals is reported in Nepali by Kathmandu based Bodhi TV.[12]


  1. Locke, John K. (2008). "Unique Features of Newar Buddhism". Nagarjuna Institute of Exact Methods. Archived from the original on 2012-03-24. Retrieved 2 June 2011. 
  2. Novak, Charles M. (1992). "A Portrait of Buddhism in Licchavi Nepal". Buddhist Himalaya: A Journal of Nagarjuna Institute of Exact Methods. Nagarjuna Institute of Exact Methods. 4 (1, 2). Retrieved 20 March 2014. 
  3. Yoshizaki, Kazumi (2006). "The Kathmandu Valley as a Water Pot: Abstracts of Research Papers on Newar Buddhism in Nepal". Kumamoto: Kurokami Library. Archived from the original on 2013-10-04. Retrieved 2 June 2011. 
  4. Robert E. Buswell Jr., Donald S. Lopez Jr., The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (Princeton: 2014), s.v. Navadharma
  5. Ratnakaji Bajracharya (1993), Traditions of Newar Buddhist Culture. "Newa Buddhist Culture Preservation seminar".
  6. Shakya, Miroj. The Digital Sanskrit Buddhist Canon Project: Problems and Possibilities in "Veidlinger, Daniel (2019) Digital Humanities and Buddhism: An Introduction. Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG."
  7. 84000.png Roberts, Peter Alan (2022), The King of Samādhis Sūtra , 84000 Reading Room, Introduction
  8. Gutschow, Niels (November 2011). Architecture of the Newars: A History of Building Typologies and Details in Nepal. Chicago: Serindia Publications. p. 707. ISBN 978-1-932476-54-5. 
  9. LeVine, Sarah; Gellner, David N. (2005). Rebuilding Buddhism: The Theravada Movement in Twentieth-Century Nepal. Harvard University Press. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-674-01908-9. 
  10. Widdess, Richard. "Caryā and Cacā: Change and Continuity in Newar Buddhist Ritual Song". Asian Music. University of Texas Press. 35 (2): 7–41. JSTOR 4098444. 
  11. Founding Ceremonies for Nritya Mandal Vihara Archived July 1, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. बोधी संवाददाता काठमाडौं

Further reading

  • Tuladhar-Douglas, Will (2006). Remaking Buddhism for Medieval Nepal: The Fifteenth-century Reformation of Newar Buddhism. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-35919-1. 
  • Tuladhar-Douglas, William (2002). "Newar Buddhism". Religions of the World. 

External links