Bhrikuti: Incarnation of Tara
Bhrikuti Devi, one of the popular figure in Tibet and Nepal. The Nepali Princess Bhrikuti Devi is the first wife of Tibetan King Songtsan Gampo (605 - 650 CE).
Bhrikuti Devi, one of the popular figure in Tibet and Nepal. She is known to Tibetans as Bal-mo-bza’ Khri-btsun, Bhelsa Tritsun, Khri bTsun (Royal Lady). The Nepali Princess Bhrikuti Devi is the first wife of Tibetan King Songtsan Gampo (605 - 650 CE). It is believed that Princess Bhrikuti Devi was as incarnation of Tara (female Bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism ). She was a Nepali princess during the Licchavi Empire in Nepal.
“Then during the reign of bTsan po Khri Srong btsan, after his marriage with Khri btsun, the daughter of the king of Nepal, the temple (gtsug lag khang) of Ra sa [Lhasa] Pe har gling was built. Furthermore, the construction of the forty-two temples of the Ru bzhi was requested and the Brag lha [temple] was built. 'Thon mi gam po ra was sent by royal order [to India] in order to get the Indian doctrine and the model of the alphabet (yi ge'i dpe). . . .” - Bhrikuti Devi is mentioned in this oldest copy of famous traditional history of the dBa’bzhed.
Princess Bhrikuti Devi is traditionally considered as Green Tara by most of the Tibetan Buddhism. She is also known as “Besa”. Green Tara also known as (Syamatara) is considered as the Buddha of enlightened activity. Bhrikuti Devi was married to King Songtsan Gampo in around 623 CE. King Songtsan Gampo was also married to Chinese Princess Wencheng in around 624 CE and Princess Wencheng was also considered as the incarnation of Tara ( White Tara ). According to the Tibetan History of Buddhism, both Princess Bhrikuti and Princess Wencheng were devout Buddhist and their marriage with Tibetan King Songtsan Gampo became the turning point of Tibetan Buddhism. Actually their marriage with Tibetan King was the starting point of Buddhism in Tibet despite of the existence of Bon religion.
There are many rumours about the Princess Bhrikuti Devi and still there is not a certain reference on Bhrikuti. Many Tibetan considered Bhrikuti the daughter of King Amshuvarma (605 - 621 CE), co-ruler and successor of Sivadeva. But there was another statement on Princess Bhrikuti by Acharya Kirti Tulku Lobsang Tenzin. He stated that Bhrikuti Devi was the daughter of King “Angsu Varma” or Amshuvarma and she got married with King Songtsan Gampo in around 632 CE.
According to legends in Tibet, Bhrikuti was related with Udayavarman, who was said to be the son of Sivadeva I and was the king succeeding Sivadeva I. It is believed that Udaya Varman had a son and a girl and they were Prince Narendradeva and Bhrikuti Devi.
But there are other detailed historical accounts on Narendradeva who was the son of Naling Deva, Licchavi king of Nepal. But Narendradeva had to take the refuge in Tibet after King Naling Deva’s brother seize the throne forcibly.
And it is presumed that Princess Bhrikuti got married to Tibetan King when Narendradeva fled to Tibet. So it can be said that this event took place in 623 CE.
Contribution of Bhrikuti in Tibetan Buddhism
In accordance with Tibetan Buddhism, Bhrikuti was a devout Buddhist and had contributed very much in spreading Buddhism in Tibet. Her marriage itself have contributed to the starting point of Buddhism in Tibet. And furthermore, she brought many sacred Buddhist statues of Nepal as a part of a dowry. She even brought some expert Newari craftsmen. And upon her wishes, these expert craftsmen constructed The Red Palace in Lhasa before the time of rebuilt. King Songtsan Gampo and Princess Bhrikuti Devi constructed a great temple which was known “The Tsulag Khang (House of Wisdom)”. Now this temple is popularly known as the “Jokhang Temple (House of Lord)” and is now one of the popular site and heart of Lhasa.