Vajracharya

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Bajracharyas in ceremonial dress

A Bajracharya or Vajracharya is a Vajrayana Buddhist priest among the Newar communities of Nepal and a Revered Teacher who is highly attained in the Tibetan and Chinese Esoteric Schools. Vajracharya means 'vajra holding priest'. They are also commonly called Guru-ju or Gu-bhaju (a short form for Guru Bhaju) which are Nepali terms related to the Sanskrit term guru, and translate as 'teacher' or 'priest'. The Bajracharya is the highest ranking of the Newar castes that are born Buddhist.[1]

To become a professional Guruju, a person of the bajracharya caste must go through a number of rituals. The bajracharya boy goes through a ritualistic process of initiation known as Bajravishekha,[2] including shaving off the head as the buddha and asking for alms, at a minimum of seven houses a day in different places, in the tradition of monks since the time of Gautama Buddha. A Vajracharya of the Hanmi Esoteric School is chosen because of his or her past life attainments and undergoes an intensive training and transmission with an Enlightened Master and ranks above a Rinpoche.

Sometimes tantric Newar Buddhism and Esoteric Buddhism is referred to as 'Vajracharya Buddhism'.

The writers of Rebuilding Buddhism: The Theravada Movement in Twentieth-century Nepal explore the unusual relationship of the Vajracharyas and their assistant Shakyas with Buddhist monasticism:

Unlike Vajracharyas, Shakya men may not be priests for others, but together with Vajracharya men they are the members of the traditional Newar Buddhist monasteries, known honorifically as vihara and colloquially as baha or bahi. In so far as Shakya and Vajracharya men filled their roles in the monastery, they were monks. In effect, they were married, part-time monks.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hattaway, Paul (2004). Peoples of the Buddhist World: A Christian Prayer Diary. William Carey Library. p. 198. ISBN 0-87808-361-8. 
  2. ^ "A Brief Introduction of Distinctive Features of Nepalese Buddhism". 2002. Retrieved 2008-07-27. 
  3. ^ Sarah LeVine, David N. Gellner (2005). Rebuilding Buddhism: The Theravada Movement in Twentieth-century Nepal. Harvard University Press. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-674-01908-9. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Gellner, David N. (1992). Monk, Householder, and Tantric Priest: Newar Buddhism and its Hierarchy of Ritual (Cambridge Studies in Social and Cultural Anthropology). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-38399-8.