Khobilgan

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Khobilgan (variously spelled as hobilgan, hobilghan, hobilhan, hubilhan, hubilgan, hubilkhan, khubilgan, or khubilkhan) is a Mongolian term related to the idea in Tibet of high lamas being the "reincarnations" of different Buddhas and other spiritual personalities.

H. P. Blavatsky used the term Khobilgan to refer to the higher and initiated Lamas of Tibet,[1] who can be seen as incarnations of a Buddha-like spirit.[2]

Divine Reincarnations

In a glossary compiled by John R. Krueger, the term Khobilgan is defined as follows:

khubilgan (Mo. qubilgan) a transformation, i.e., someone who has changed his shape from a previously reincarnated Buddhist saint into his present form.”[3]

Tibetan Buddhists believe that the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and even Dhyāni-Buddhas reincarnate in some of their high Lamas. H. P. Blavatsky, however, interpreted this teaching in a more abstract way. She wrote:

The Taley-Lamas of Tibet claim to be [reincarnations] of Buddha. The latter, by the way, are loosely called Shaberons and Hubilgans (both in various degrees reincarnations, not of Buddha, the MAN, but of his Buddha-like divine spirit).[4]

Drawing from E. R. Huc,[5] Mme. Blavatsky described the "reincarnations" of the "buddha-like spirit" at the time in Tibet as follows:

These five “Hubilgans” are distributed in the following order:

(1) Taley-Lama, of Lhasa, the incarnation of the “Spiritual passive wisdom,”—which proceeds from Gautama or Siddhartha Buddha, or Fo.
(2) Ban-dhe-chan Rim-po-che, at Tashi Lhünpo. He is “the active earthly wisdom.”
(3) Sa-Dcha-Fo, or the “Mouthpiece of Buddha,” otherwise the “word” at Ssamboo.
(4) Guison-Tamba—the “Precursor” (of Budda) at the Grand Kuren.

(5) Tchang-Zya-Fo-Lang, in the Altai mountains. He is called the “Successor” (of Buddha).[6]

Shaberon

A related term is that of Shaberon, a term connected to the Tibetan zhabs-drung (shabrong, also spelled as zabdrung or shabdrung). According to Mme. Blavatsky, Shaberons are one degree lower than the Khobilgans.[7] This is supported by a quote from a famous book by the Russian Mongolianist Pozdneev:[8]

What concerns the young hubilgans [= Tib. sprul-sku] they do not bear any titles in their first, second and even third reincarnation; moreover, they are rarely even called the "hubilgans", but more often they are known by the name 'shabron' which really means 'a young hubilgan'.

Similarly, Wesley Needham, a more modern scholar, wrote:

Shaberon is the Mongol title of a Hubilgan not officially confirmed, or whose previous incarnations were not known or recorded.[9]

In Bhutan the title Shabdrung refers to Ngawang Namgyal (1594–1651), the founder of the Bhutanese state, or one of his successive reincarnations.

Chutuktu

Another related term is that of chutuktu[10] (also spelled as Hutuktu, Huthugtu, Houtouktou, or hothogthu). This is a Mongolian term used by Tibetans to refer to a "divine" incarnation.[11] Mme. Blavatsky defines it as:

Chutuktu (Tib.). An incarnation of Buddha or of some Bodhisattva, as believed in Tibet, where there are generally five manifesting and two secret Chutuktus among the high Lamas.[12]

Other related terms

H. P. Blavatsky also related this concept with that of Bodhisattvas and Nirmanakayas:

The five chief Bodhisattvas, or Hubilgans of Tibet, each of whom is the bodily temple of the spirit of one of the five Buddhas.[13]
Thus a Nirmânakâya is not, as popularly believed, the body “in which a Buddha or a Bodhisattva appears on earth”, but verily one, who whether a Chutuktu or a Khubilkhan, an adept or a yogi during life, has since become a member of that invisible Host which ever protects and watches over Humanity within Karmic limits.[14]

Notes

  1. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XIII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1982), 330.
  2. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. III (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1995), 179.
  3. Aleksei M. Pozdneyev Religion and Ritual in Society: Lamaist Buddhism in Late 19th-Century Mongolia (Bloomington: The Mongolia Society, Inc., 1978), 680.
  4. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. III (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1995), 179.
  5. "These living Buddhas compose the numerous class of the Chaberons, of whom we have before spoken. The most celebrated are the Tale Lama, at Lha-Ssa; the Bandchan Remboutchi, at Djachi-Loumbo; the Guison-Tamba, at Grand-Kouren; the Tchang-Kia-Fo, at Pekin; and the Sa-Dcha-Fo, in the county of the Ssamba, at the foot of the Himalaya mountains." Evariste Régis Huc, Recollections of a journey through Tartary, Thibet, and China, during the years 1844, 1845, and 1846 vol. 2 (1852), 213. Reference provided by David Reigle.
  6. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. III (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1995), 185.
  7. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. III (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1995), 185.
  8. Sketches of the Life of Buddhist Monasteries and Clergy in Mongolia (1887 Russian edition), 249.
  9. Wesley Needham, Dilowa Gegen Hutukhtu (Tibet Society Bulletin, vol. 7, 1974), 36, note 3.
  10. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Theosophical Glossary (Krotona, CA: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973), 85.
  11. In a personal communication, David Reigle stated he has a book in Tibetan whose author is called a "ho thog thu" (written in Tibetan characters). This shows that Tibetans used the Mongolian title hutukhtu.
  12. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Theosophical Glossary (Krotona, CA: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973), 85.
  13. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. III (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1995), 183.
  14. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Theosophical Glossary (Krotona, CA: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973), 231.