BAR-DO THOS-GROL (properly Bar-do Thos- grol chen-mo [bardo thödżöl ćhenmo]—Tibetan The great liberation by listening in [a state of] bar-do)—an anonymous work of Tibetan thought known by the title The Tibetan Book of the Dead.
According to tradition, this work belongs to a group of texts of Padmasambhava (730–780) that were hidden by him as occult doctrines (gterma) for the use of future generations and were found by the yogi Kar-ma g Ling-pe (136–1386), the fifty-fourth Great Discoverer, on the mountain lHa-bran gar-byed-pa’dra, in the provine of Dvags-po (eastern Tibet) along with several other esoteric texts. The book was translated many times into western languages (the first English translation was that of W. Y. Evans-Wentz, 1927), and twice into Polish (W. Czapnik, Kr 1978; I. Kania, Kr 1991).
The work is dedicated entirely to a teaching to be imparted to the dying person about the middle states (bar-do) in the process of dying and new births. Dying is divided into three phases connected with the doctrine of the three bodies of Buddha (trikaya). The process of death is presented as a gradual dissolution of the five aggregates (skhandas) that compose man’s personality in the four elements and space. During the bar-do of death (four days), connected with dharmakaya, one’s own consciousness appears as a dazzling light. In the fourteen-day bar-do of Highest Reality (dharmata), connected with sambhogakaya, consciousness appears as a multi-colored mandala in which aspects of one’s own personality are received as gentle and irascible deities projected on to the scene of a desert (Ŷunyata). During the bar-do of becoming (28 days, nirmanakaya), the consciousness experiences its earlier deeds (karma) and prepares to enter into a body in one of the six spheres of rebirths.
By listening to the directions near the dead body, the deceased is supposed to recognize the essence of his own consciousness (pudgala) in one of three stages, and thereby attain liberation (nirvana).
Tybetańska Księga Umarłych [Tibetan book of the dead], Kr 1991; Rogyal, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, San Francisco 1992; J. Tokarska-Bakir, Wyzwolenie przez zmysły: tybetańskie koncepcje soteriologiczne [Liberation by the senses: Tibetan soteriological conceptions], Wr 1997; Życie po życiu w Tybecie [Life after life in Tibet], Kr 1997.
Maciej St. Zięba