Zutul Phuk

1999, Kim Malville

 

     The Zutul Phuk (also spelled Zutrul Phuk) monastery is located on the right bank of the Zhong Chu river.  Some of the most venerated objects within the monastery are some stone relics with rangjung footprints on them that are said to belong to Gotshangpa, Karmapa, and Milarepa.  There is also a trident carved out of stone called Mile Changkha from perhaps the 11th century that is said to have belonged to Milarepa.  Though part of it was damaged during the Cultural Revolution, the stone trident is considered to be a rediscovered treasure that contributes to the strength of Buddhism in the area.  

    The cave at Zutulphuk is a special site, known for being the place where Milarepa and Naro Bönchung had one of their legendary contests.   According to the story, it was agreed that they would have a shelter building contest.  Milarepa would build the roof, and Naro Bönchung would be responsible for the walls.  Milarepa amazed Bönchung by building his roof and making it float in the air without any walls.  Bönchung quit the competition, so Milarepa went ahead and finished the project by adding walls to his roof and making the cave.  After that test, the two had another final contest to see who could be the possessor of Mt. Kailash.  The contest was a race to see who could reach the summit first.   Naro Bönchung started out early in the morning, riding his drum up to the top.  Just as he neared the summit, Milarepa, who was relaxing at the bottom without any worries, jumped on a ray of light and rode it to the summit instantaneously.  Bönchung was so amazed and overwhelmed at the feat that fell backwards down the mountain on his drum, creating the large gash in the side of the mountain that we can see today.  As a result, Milarepa won Mt. Kailash, but Naro Bönchung was given the small mountain of Bönri to the east as a consolation prize.  

zutulpuk6.jpg (65552 bytes) 1987, Bradley Rowe / Stone Routes        zutulpuk5.jpg (49251 bytes)  1935, Guiseppe Tucci

Milarepa's Rock                                                          Milarepa's Miracle Cave    

          In the Zutul Phuk cave, the most important object is a Milarepa statue made of a precious metal li which was supposedly created by the sage himself before he died.  Next to it is the Jangchub chorten, which also belonged to Milarepa.  There is a round protuberance near the altar which Milarepa said had the power to bless and protect.  In the ceiling are handprints and a head print where Milarepa was said to have pushed the roof up, but he accidentally raised the roof too high.  So he had to go outside the stone and stomp on it to push it back down, and left a footprint. 

zutulpuk3.jpg (34284 bytes)  1989, Russell Johnson

zutulpuk4.jpg (96498 bytes)  1985, Hugh Swift        

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