His Holiness Karmapa performs a Naga vase offering
Nagas are a class of serpent-like beings who live in the ocean and other bodies of water such as rivers, lakes and so on. There are many different classes of nagas, some of them very powerful. Nagas can greatly affect the areas in which they reside, as well as their inhabitants. If humans respect the environment and their actions are positive, the nagas will be pleased and will look after the area well. However, if we pollute or otherwise disturb the environment in which they live we harm them, and they become angry and upset. As a result, they can cause all kinds of sicknesses and bring about natural disasters such as earthquakes, typhoons, tsunamis, floods and drought.
In view of the inevitable conflict between human activity and the nagas’ need for a peaceful and undisturbed environment, Buddha taught many methods for pacifying the nagas and repairing the harm inflicted on them. One such method is the offering of naga vases, which will appease them and restore good relations with them.
When the nagas are happy and at peace they can and will accomplish great benefit for beings on a worldly level, such as increasing wealth and prosperity, healing sickness, freedom from natural disasters, rich harvests, peace and so on.
Like so many other regions in Asia, Taiwan too has been subject to a series of natural disasters in recent years – most of all a number of devastating typhoons – and among several other causes, such as global warming and the ensuing climate change, the nagas’ displeasure may have been a contributing factor.
On the morning of May 9, 2012, the puja for the consecration of the naga vases was performed at Harbor Sports Complex in Taichung. The naga vases were filled with precious substances such as the five metals (gold, silver, iron, copper, zinc), precious stones, dharma pills, medicinal herbs, sang powder, and mantras, and blessed by performing the appropriate sadhana, in the presence of His Holiness Karmapa.
In the afternoon, two boats, loaded with several thousands of these vases, went out to sea, and His Holiness offered the vases to the nagas by tossing them into the sea, while he and the assembled sangha recited the six-syllable mantra of Chenresig (Sanskrit: Avalokiteshvara), the Buddha aspect representing enlightened compassion.