In fact, the traditional occupations of Vajracharyas are quite diverse: some are priests, some are Ayurvedic Vaidyas (doctors), some are writers/creators/readers of “jāta:” (zodiac predictions or readings), some are tantric gurus, some are traditional healers (jhārphuke), some are classical charyā dance and music experts (Late Kanchha Buddha guruju and Late Sapta Muni guruju of Nepal Academy, among others), some are Phaubhā “painters and teachers” (Paubha painting is called Thanka in Tibetan) and all of them are Bāhā caretakers who must take care of one’s own Bāhā Kwāpā-Dya (shrine) and āgan-chhen(deity house) and perform rituals and cleaning twice a day. One may ask “when did the traditional occupations of Vajracharyas become diverse?” My guess is, because Vajracharyas were and (supposedly) are the household monks, they have family obligations as well as cultural obligations, which may have become impossible for them to take care of and to maintain the priestly duties along with other obligations with the meagre offerings of money and food (so-called “occupation as a priest”) by their clients, thus may have compelled to undertake various occupations at a later stage. Apart from the aforementioned lists, Vajracharyas are Pujāri of various temples in Kathmandu Valley. One such example is, out of six lineage clans of Makhan Baha Sangha, Vajra clan is responsible to perform Pujāri duty of Kal Bhairav and Shobha Bhagavati, Manand clan is Pujāri of Palanchok Bhagavati, and Vilas clan is responsible as priests and for meditating in Shantipu at Swoyambhu (by the way, Vilas clan happens to be my father’s clan). Although the priests of Shantipu are Vajracharyas of Vilas clan, the daily caretakers are Buddhacharyas of Swoyambhu. However, Buddhacharyas are not allowed to go inside the cave of Shantipu. The priest who has the right to go inside the cave to perform rituals and meditation is the eldest Vajracharya (Thayepa or Chakreswor) of Vilas clan of Makhan Baha. Being a Thayepa of Vilas clan and having Dekha (Diksha) does not qualify the person to become the priest of Shantipu. To qualify, he must be a perfect Vajracharya with complete knowledge of Vajrayana, including tantric practice and priestly rituals. If the Thayepa does not qualify to enter Shantipu as its priest, his successor Nwako of Vilas clan will enter. If the Nwako does not qualify for the duty of Shantipu, the Swako (younger than the Nwako) will take on the duty, and so on.

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July 14th, 2015

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