Dorje Shugden – Serkym Offering

Resource: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/dorje-shugden-teaching-videos.html#teach12

I’m Pastor Han Nee, a Kechara House Pastor and a student of Tsem Rinpoche since 2005. I conduct Dharma and Lamrim classes on Sundays in Kechara House. My responsibilities also include taking care of the spiritual wellbeing of the Penang study group and the Kechara Paradise Viva Home puja and study group. Today I will explain a very important part of the practice of the Dharma Protector, Dorje Shugden, the serkym offering.

The golden drink offering or serkym is central to a Dharma Protector’s practice. In Tibetan, ‘ser’ means golden and ‘kym’ means beverage. The word ‘ser’ meaning golden, shows the preciousness of the serkym offering. The serkym offering is an extended offering to request for swift assistance, especially in times of dire need. Although some Yidams or Buddha deities have serkym offerings, it remains largely unique to the Dharma Protector practice. So powerful is this practice that it is strongly recommended that we do it as a part of our daily sadhanna. Traditionally the serkym offering is done at night. However in practice we can do it at any time and whenever the need arises.

What do you need when you are making a serkym or golden drink offering? Firstly you need a 2 tiered vessel. This 2 tiered vessel can be made of any material such as gold, silver, copper or brass. The more precious the offering material, the more highly propitious it is to create a lot of merits and to establish the closest affinity with the Protector. However if you lack a traditional set, you can use a wine glass inside a glass bowl. The traditional serkym vessel is made up of a taller central vessel and a lower bowl. The central vessel is placed inside the lower bowl. When not in use, this taller vessel is turned upside down and placed in the lower bowl. We do not turn it over and leave it empty. We don’t offer an empty vessel because it is inauspicious. Besides the 2 tiered vessel, you need a jug or pot to store the serkym or liquid at the start of the serkym prayer and offering.

The next thing you need to do is to prepare a serkym or beverage. What do you offer as serkym? Tea is traditionally offered as serkym because in ancient times it was considered a precious beverage and a valuable commodity that the Tibetans imported from China. It is precious because it is rare and difficult to find, especially in Tibet. So here you offer the best and that is tea. The golden colour of tea does reflect the meaning of serkym. Tea has an exquisite taste and is usually offered to the lamas and Yidams too. When tea is offered, it is traditionally offered piping hot as a direct request to the Dharma Protector for the swiftest assistance. Heat being symbolic of rapidity. Besides tea, beer or alcohol can also be used because of the tantric meaning behind such substances. Beer or alcohol represents tantric attainments and is offered to the Dharma Protector as a direct request to overcome all obstacles that obstructs spiritual attainments and to bring about beneficial conditions swiftly. Other suitable beverages that can be offered as serkym include milk, which symbolises spiritual nourishment, as well as various types of non-traditional fizzy drinks such as cola. In fact any beverage can be used except water.

What else do you need to get ready? If you wish to ring the bell, you may get the Vajra and bell as well. Also get ready an incense for purifying the serkym. Now how do we offer the serkym?

There are 3 methods. In the first method, which is the traditional method, the beverage is poured a little at a time at each of the stanzas of the serkym offering prayer from the first to the ninth stanza. At the ninth stanza, all the remaining beverage is poured. In the second method, the beverage is poured fully into the 2 tiered vessel earlier before the sadhanna and serkym prayer and placed as an offering on the altar. The third method is a non-traditional method. Here we make an offering of a can or bottle of fizzy drinks such as cola. We visualise it as a serkym offering to the Dharma Protector, Dorje Shugden.

Here is how we carry out the first method. Place the serkym set and pot of beverage as well as the Vajra and bell and the rosary on a tray or a prayer table. Consecrate the serkym in the pot with the recitation of the mantra, ‘Om Ah Hum’ 3 times. While purifying with an incense. Before starting the serkym recitation, turn the tall vessel over and pour a little liquid into it at the top so that it is not empty. Recite, ‘Om Ah Hum’ 3 times as we pour. And now we being the serkym prayer and offering. First pick up the bell together with the Vajra. The bell is held in the left hand, the Vajra is held in the right hand. The offering jug is also held in the right hand. If the jug is too heavy, you may place it down between stanzas. Then being the serkym recitation.

Here’s an explanation of how the offering is poured. The serkym is offered by pouring the beverage into the taller vessel to the point where the liquid overflows down into the lower bowl. In Buddhism, the overflowing liquid is highly auspicious because it represents an abundant flow of merits, virtues, material resources and conditions that are conducive for one’s Dharma practice. The beverage is poured a little at a time at each of the stanzas of the serkym offering prayer from the first to the ninth stanza. The beverage is poured as we begin the 3rd line of each stanza. When we recite,

Through offering you

This ambrosial drink

Which bestows bliss…

Until the end of the stanza. At the ninth stanza, serkym is poured all the way from the first line to the fourth or last line. We stop pouring when the lower vessel is almost full but in no danger of spilling over. If we ringing the bell, ring it through the 3rd and 4th lines of each stanza from the first to the ninth stanza. At the ninth stanza we ring from the 1st to the last line. Visualisation is very important in the serkym offering. The serkym visualised to be not just the beverage being offered but all the desirable things in the world that pleases the 5 senses. The serkym is transformed into divine nectar which multiplies and expands to fill an entire ocean which is offered to the Protector and entourage as well as to the other special beings mentioned in the whole serkym prayer. Whatever you are requesting or whatever you want to achieve is visualised as being fulfilled with the assistance of the Protector. This serkym prayer can be recite in English, Chinese or Tibetan. However it is recommended that the 3rd stanza be recited in Tibetan. It is the stanza of offering to the Dharma Protector, Dorje Shugden. We also recite the stanza to Setrap and the stanza to Kache Marpo in Tibetan. We recite the main or 3rd stanza at least 7 times, the stanza to Kache Marpo 3 times, the stanza to Setrap 7 times, however if there is no time the stanza to Setrap can be omitted.

Here is a brief explanation of the serkym liturgy or prayer. Each stanza describes an offering of the serkym to a particular being or a class of beings that play a defined role in our spiritual practice. I will recite each stanza and give the explanation afterwards.

Stanza 1.

HUM!

O Gurus who rain down accumulations

Of excellence fulfilling our own

And others’ purposes,

And Yidams who bestow all ordinary and

Supreme attainments,

Through offering you this ambrosial drink

Which bestows bliss,

May you, having partaken, swiftly and

Spontaneously accomplish our wishes!

The 1st stanza is an offering to the Root Lama whose blessings and teachings guide us along the path of developing compassion and wisdom, the 2 main qualities of a Buddha. Serkym is also offered to the Yidam that has been received as a practice from our lama. Examples of Yidams include Lama Tsongkhapa, Manjushri, Vajrayogini or Yamantaka. Through the Yidam’s sadhanna practice, we can achieve ordinary attainments such as health, wealth, clairvoyance and so forth and extraordinary attainments such as wisdom and compassion.

Stanza 2.

O all hosts of heroes and dakinis of the

Three places,

And ocean of powerful, oath-bound

Dharma Protectors,

Through offering you this ambrosial drink

Which bestows bliss,

May you, having partaken, swiftly and

Spontaneously accomplish our wishes!

The offering of serkym continues by making offerings to dakas and dakinis, the celestial holy beings that play a significant role in higher tantric practices. This is to rouse them to come to our aid, especially to make our practice successful.

Stanza 3. This is the main stanza.

KYE PAR JIG TEN LE DE

TEN SUNG CHOG

TU TOB NYEN NYUR

DORJE SHUGDEN LA

DE TER DUTSIY TUNG

WA DI BUL GYI

ZHE NE SAM DON NYUR

DU HLUN DRUB TZO (7x)

Then comes this main stanza which is the offering of serkym to Dorje Shugden. This stanza is usually repeated a number of times depending on the urgency of the request. The minimum is 7 times. If time permits, it is recited 21 times or 108 times or even more. When time is short, the practitioner may also just recite stanza instead of reciting the whole serkym prayer. In this instance, the serkym is usually offered 21 times. Offering more serkym to Dorje Shugden is not to quench his divine thirst but to generate merit and affinity with the Protector so that the practitioner will be able to receive his assistance and blessings.

Stanza 4.

O five families who

Unobstructedly bestow

Infinite activities of peace, increase, power and wrath,

Through offering you this ambrosial drink

Which bestows bliss,

May you, having partaken, swiftly and

Spontaneously accomplish our wishes!

The 4th stanza is an offering to the 4 other forms of Dorje Shugden. They are,

  1. Shize, the pacifying aspect.
  2. Gyenze, the increasing aspect.
  3. Wangse, the control aspect.
  4. Trakze, the wrathful aspect.

All 5, including the main form which is known as Dultzin Dorje Shugden, in stanza 3, are collectively referred to as the 5 families of Dorje Shugden. These represent the enlightened activities that Dorje Shugden performs to benefit the practitioner.

Stanza 5.

O nine beautiful consorts,

Eight guiding monks,

And tend fierce, attendant young

Guardians, and so on,

Through offering you this ambrosial drink

Which bestows bliss,

May you, having partaken, swiftly and

Spontaneously accomplish our wishes!

In the 5th stanza, serkym is offered to the rest of Dorje Shugden’s entourage, 9 Mothers, 8 Guiding Monks and 10 Youthful and Wrathful assistants. The 9 Mothers aid our tantric practice, the 8 Guiding Monks assist in the holding of the Vinaya vows and commitments and the 10 Youthful and Wrathful assistants help with the clearing of obstacles. All of these are to create suitable conditions for our Dharma practice.

Stanza 6. This stanza can be omitted depending on our time.

HRI

KYE PAR GYEL WAY

TEN PA SUNG WAY TSO

SE YI TRAB CHEN

KOR DANG CHE NAM LA

DO GU TSANG WAY

SER KYEM CHO PA DI

BUL LO SUNG KYOB

YEL WA ME PAR TZO (7x)

Stanza 6 is an offering to the Dharma Protector Setrap who has a special connection with Dorje Shugden and who resides within the same mandala or divine abode on the middle level above Dorje Shugden.

Stanza 7.

KA KOR NYEN PO DAM

NYAM SOG GI SHE

SHINTU TRO TUM

KACHE MARPO LA

DE TER DUTSIY TUNG

WA DI BUL GYI

ZHE NE SAM DON NYUR

DU HLUN DRUB TZO (3x)

Stanza 8.

Vow-breakers heart-blood

Purified like gold

This drink of fully

Boiling serkym

I offer to Namka Bardzin

And entourage

Accepting, accomplish the

Yogi’s intended purpose!

The stanzas 7 and 8 are an offering to Kache Marpo, the main minister, and Namkar Barzin, a chief attendant. Kache Marpo is a powerful Dharma Protector in his own right. The two are in fact the main assistants to Dorje Shugden. They assist practitioners with broken samaya to mend their samaya or born with their guru.

Stanza 9 is the last stanza where serkym is poured all the way and where the bell is rung all the way.

As well as the inconceivable

Emanations and their emanations,

Attendant deities and demons who

Shake the three thousand worlds,

Through offering you this ambrosial drink

Which bestows bliss,

May you, having partaken, swiftly and

Spontaneously accomplish our wishes!

In stanza 9 serkym is offered to millions of worldly spirits and various beings that surround Dorje Shugden and assist him according to their capacities.

Stanza 10.

Thus, by the force of this

Offering and exhortation,

May you grant your activity

Throughout the six time periods

And, without wavering,

Always protect me

And care for me like a

Father for his son!

Stanza 11.

And you hosts of wrathful

Attendants, as well,

Remember your sworn oaths

Of promise to Lord Dultzin

And accomplish swiftly now,

Without distraction, whatever activities

I have requested!

The second last stanza is to request Dorje Shugden to extend skilful assistance to the practitioner and to protect and care for them without a break. The last stanza is to remind the entourage of Dorje Shugden, to uphold their vows and commitments that they had sworn before Dorje Shugden, to perform all actions as requested.

After the sadhanna is completed, what do we do with the serkym? We can clear the serkym by pouring away in a clean wash basin. We then clean and wipe dry the vessels but we can also place the serkym on the altar and clear it at the end of the day.

In conclusion it is strongly recommended that the serkym offering be performed as part of a daily practice, together with the invocation, praise, kawang and mantras to Dorje Shugden to create a strong affinity with him. However it can also be done on its own in times of dire need or emergencies. Serkym is one the most powerful ways to create a special bond of merits for Dorje Shugden to come to assistance at all times especially in times of great need. The serkym offering as narrated above is the same practice that has been done in the monasteries over the ages due to its proven efficacy. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, Tsem Rinpoche’s guru, performed the serkym offering every night without fail before he slept. This great realised master saw clearly the tremendous benefits of the serkym offering to Dorje Shugden. Many of us who have done daily serkym offerings to Dorje Shugden have benefitted tremendously from Dorje Shugden’s swift assistance. There are many testimonies to support this. That is why we

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