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Many infinite years ago, the teacher, the immaculate Buddha, was pursuing the path of learning. The narrative below tells how he was struck with compassion when he spotted a starving tigress and immediately offered his body to her.

In the distant past, there lived in this world a monarch named Great Charioteer (Shingta Chenpo), who led a little kingdom of about 5,000 subjects. Because of the king’s merit accumulation, all of his subjects were happy and well; rains fell when they needed to, and crops and livestock thrived. The monarch had three sons: the oldest, Great Sound (Dra Chenpo), the middle Great Deity (Lha Chenpo), and the youngest, Great Being (Semchen Chenpo). The two oldest sons, who were skilled in martial arts and exuded confidence, were always willing to assist the king in ruling the realm. The youngest son, Great Being, was exceptionally clever from an early age and blessed with spontaneous love and compassion. He gave freely and abundantly to others as if they were his only children.

When the weather was nice, the king, queen, sons, and ministers left town for a quiet vacation in the countryside. The king and queen rode an elephant, while the sons, ministers, and retinue rode fine horses. After a half-day trip, they came to a densely wooded forest resonant with birdsong, surrounded by a tapestry of flowers of varying colors. The monarch was thrilled with the surroundings and ordered a big campsite to be set up for everyone’s enjoyment. The servants swiftly unpacked everything, pitched tents, and prepared a stone hearth for cooking. Tents soon covered the area, as clouds billowed in the sky above. The servants bustled about, making a variety of meals and serving tea and liquor to all. The young people then began to sing, dance, and play, transforming the campground into a celestial world. The monarch, queen, and ministers watched the show while eating an eighteen-course feast followed by wine and sake.

The three princes, in the prime of their youth, took up their bows and arrows and set out into the forest. As they walked, they spotted a den amid the dark woods. They crept closer to it and discovered a tigress sleeping among her cubs. Great Sound and Great Deity prepared to murder the tigress by placing arrows on their bows, but Great Being intervened, stating that killing was utterly wrong. When he returned to the cave, Great Being noted that the tigress was unable to move since she had recently given birth, and she was also concerned that if she left to hunt for food, another animal would damage her babies. Tormented by hunger, she lay on the ground, unable to raise her head. Great Being was moved to tears by compassion that flowed from the depths of his heart. He questioned his siblings, “What kind of food can save the tigress and her cubs?” They replied, “This type of red Indian tiger consumes the warm flesh and blood of a recent kill. So, if you want to save her and the cubs, you need to acquire fresh meat and blood.”

For a little while, the Great Being reflected: “It is true that warm flesh and blood are required to save the tigress and her pups. But then I’d have to kill another living being, which would imply killing one to save another. “What else could I do?” He pondered for a long time but did not find an answer. Then his brothers stated, “We came here to have a nice time. It is foolish to worry about this tigress and her kids. It is time to return to our parents.” So, they left.

As he accompanied his brethren back to the encampment, Great Being reflected: “For a long time, I have been cycling in samsara, wasting countless lives, sometimes due to excessive desire, sometimes aversion, and sometimes ignorance.” I have rarely had the opportunity to accumulate merit. What use does this body have if not for the Dharma?” Finally, he resolved, “This time, I must be truly generous.”

Before he got very far with his brothers, he told them, “Brothers, you two go ahead. I have something to take care of and will contact you soon.”

He hurried along the trail to the tigress’s den. When he discovered the collapsed tigress, she was weary and unable to speak. Great Living Being extended his hand to touch her face, but she was so weak she couldn’t even show her teeth. So, the prince sharpened a splinter from a nearby tree and sliced his body, allowing the tigress to sip the blood. Soon after, she opened her jaws and stood up. With a roar, she jumped on and devoured the prince.

The two brothers waited for a long time, but the youngest prince did not arrive, so they set out to find him. They were certain he had returned to the tigress’ lair based on what he had said earlier. When they came and peered inside, there was nothing left of their brother save blood, bones, nails, and pieces of clothing. The tigress had eaten him. Great Sound and Great Deity lost consciousness at this sight, and it took a long time for them to recover. The two gathered the parts of their brother’s clothing and, grieving deeply, started for their parents’ tent.

During this time, the queen was taking a nap and had a dream about three doves flying high in the sky. As they flew around, a hawk struck and carried off the smallest one. After waking up in a panic, the queen immediately told the king about her dream. He responded, “Based on your tale, I believe the three birds represent our three boys. The youngest of them, taken away by the hawk, is my most cherished son. I’m certain that something terrible has happened to him.” So, saying, the king immediately dispatched servants to search everywhere for his son.

When the two princes arrived, the monarch said, “Did anything bad happen to my beloved son?” “Do you have any news?” For a time, the two were unable to speak or breathe because they were so heartbroken. Finally, they sighed heavily and informed their parents that the tigress had eaten Great Being. When the queen heard this horrible news, she fainted immediately. The king, too, was overcome with melancholy and plagued by grief. After a long time and with deep sighs, the two princes, the king, and the queen rushed to the location where the youngest prince had died. When they got to the den’s mouth, they saw the tigress’s bones and rivulets of blood. The queen recoiled, sobbing uncontrollably, and took a long time to recover.

Meanwhile, the prince was reborn as Great Courage (Nyingtob Chenpo). He began to ponder, “What did I do to be reborn here in the celestial realm of Tushita?” He carefully surveyed the five realms with his divine eye. Great Courage noticed that his parents and two brothers had gathered around the bone bits he had left behind. They were deeply depressed and wretched. He thought, “My parents are so unhappy that it could endanger their lives. To lift their spirits, I’ll go talk to them. He descended from space to the lofty heavens and delivered words of reassurance to his parents: “I’m the prince, Great Being.” After generously sacrificing my body to the starving tigress, I was reincarnated in the celestial world of Tushita. With tears in their eyes, the king and queen replied, “Son, you who are like our very heart, sacrificing your body to the tigress was most commendable. But who can we tell about our pain in missing you?”

After the great being responded, “Please don’t be unhappy. The end of birth is dissolution, while the end of gathering is separation. Nobody can overcome this because it is the nature of things. It is the same for all. If you do evil, you will end up in the infernal regions; if you do good, you will be reborn in the higher realms. So, pursue virtue with zeal. Make aspiration prayers, and in the future life we shall undoubtedly meet in a divine place.” After a few more sentences, he vanished. The king and queen were a little happier and decided to pursue noble action. They made a little casket covered in seven different types of gems and buried their son’s bones in it, and a stupa was built over the site. Thus, the great being came to be known as Namo Buddha or Takmo Lüjin. The tibetian word, ‘Takmo Lüjin’ directly translates to ‘giving body to tigress.’


After the Great Being generously surrendered his body to the tigress, people found it difficult to go through the region due to their fear of all wild creatures, so they established the practice of repeating “Namo Buddhaya” (“I take refuge in the Buddha”) to relieve their uneasiness. The locals continue to refer to the region as Namo Buddha. As time passed, villages emerged, and cultivated fields spread from the residences.

Ruins claimed to be the palace of King Great Charioteer can be seen about eight kilometers below the stupa in the village of Panauti. Even today, on the fifteenth day of the fourth Tibetan month, the residents of the region set out a gilded bronze figure of the Buddha and congregate for all-day celebrations. A tiny shrine located approximately three kilometers below the stupa is claimed to house the bones of the Prince Great Being’s mother. Inside, there is a stone carving of her. Furthermore, in the forests behind the stupa, a little spring provides blessed water. A fifteen-minute walk from the stupa leads to the site where the prince generously donated his body. Today, two caverns are venerated: one near the monastery and the other on a nearby hill. Since so many centuries have passed, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact location. It is certain, however, that the cave is in this location.

Namo Buddha is regarded as one of Nepal’s most important Buddhist sites. There are three main Buddhist pilgrimage sites: Boudha Stupa, Swayambhunath Stupa, and Namo Buddha.


The atmosphere here is peaceful and pristine with no pollution, and the natural air is refreshing, cold, and healthful. It is also an appropriate location for meditation and practice. You can see the snow-covered Himalayan ranges, which appear so beautiful and pristine.


Charleux, I. (2019). The Cult of Boudhanath Stupa/Jarung Khashar Suvraga in Mongolia: Texts, Images, and Architectural Replicas. Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review, 8(2), 368-425.

Young, T. O. S., & Roös, P. B. (2014). Boudhanath Stupa: Reflections on Living Architecture.

Shakya, M. B. (1997). Boudhanath.

Parajuli, N. B. (2018). Cultural heritage and community engagement: exploring participatory approaches in Nepal.

Saul, H., & Waterton, E. (2017). Heritage and communities of compassion in the aftermath of the great earthquake, Nepal: A photographic reflection. Journal of Community Archaeology & Heritage, 4(3), 142-156.


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