ZUNG (གཟུངས) – Inner Relic
September 05, 2020
Statues, stupas and other religious structures are common sights in Himalayans. They are gorgeous to look at but without proper zung or inner relics, they have no spiritual values. If the statue is not filled in with the zung, it is believed that malevolent spirits get into the statue and cause harm to people. Therefore, installing zung in these structures is very important. With the installation of zung, the religious structure or statues become a living entity capable of bestowing blessings.
Zung bestow them with spiritual importance and sacredness, hence inserting zung is tantamount to installing a soul in the body. Ideally, zung offering should be done by an ordained monk who does not eat meat, onion, garlic, drink alcohol, smoke or chew tobacco and has taken the vow of celibacy, but such a person is very rare to find in this modern era.
Zung consists of scriptures in the form of mantras or prayers, and precious objects, supported by a sogshing (life wood) in the centre. The sogshing must be a fruit-bearing tree with fragrant leaves such as juniper, cypress or sandalwood. It is cut into four sides tapering towards the tip while its base is kept in vajra shape. The whole sogshing is painted red and mantras are inscribed on the four sides in gold. The size of the sogshing depends on the height of the statue or stupa.
Mantra rolls are an important component in filling the religious objects. Thus, Holy Scriptures or mantras are printed and rolled but each roll is marked to ensure the right order of the scripts for installation, as Bhutanese believe that installing scriptures upside down may cause more harm than good.
Various other important components such as body, speech, and mind relics of great lamas, precious metals and a small statue (terma) are placed around the sogshing, which is then wrapped in silk brocade. After fitting the sogshing, rolls of mantras printed on papers and stuffed with sandalwood powders along with incense are arranged around it. The stuffed items will keep the zung items firmly in their respective positions. When every possible space is completely filled, the base is sealed with a bronze sheet. Finally, a consecration ceremony is performed to make the object fit for worship and refuge.
A drengcha is an insignia of the kudrung (discipline master) in the monk body. Outwardly, it is a sceptre, a whip to punish and discipline monks but inwardly it is capable of warding off defilement. It was introduced by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to discipline the young monks and to help them concentrate on their studies and other duties. Moreover, it was a method to avoid distractions from mundane life styles. It is believed that if a person gets lashings from this scourge, his or her sins or sickness will be purified because of the zung installed in it. Elderly people used to ask for a lashing from the kudrung to get cured from sickness and defilement.
Source: Buddhist Education Foundation