For a long time, I had this wish to write about Yonchab (water offering), which is an integral part of our tradition and also a part and parcel of our daily lives. Living with my grandma, one of my most important task (which I jokingly called ‘chore’ to irritate her) was to do the ‘water offering’ every morning.
Even though water offering was sewn into my daily to-do list, I hardly had any knowledge about it. Last weekend after I shared with one of my colleague about my wish, I was introduced to Geshe Lobsang Tsundue, who is an in-house religious teacher at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives.
Geshe Lobsang was very forthcoming and straight away agreed to share the simplest way to understand the ritual of ‘water offering’. He started with the meaning of Yonchab. The word Yon (ཡོན་) in Yonchab means to repay, a present given to lamas and the master for their religious qualities, service or as alms and Chab (ཆབ་) meaning water.
One of the interesting parts of my conversation with Geshe Lobsang was about the origination of Yonchab. According to Geshe Lobsang, around the 7th and 8th century, overwhelmed with the water offering made to Jowo Jey Palden Atisha in Tibet, he said the Tibetan water offered to him is fulfilling and tasty in itself was like a normal meal. And gradually from there an offering of water became part of our tradition.
The virtue behind the offering made through the water was that water in Tibet was purest in its form and in abundance which was in accordance with the idea that all of our offerings should be given as freely as we would give water.
Geshe Lobsang also shared that the routine of making seven offerings in number has its deeper meaning in the Tantric practice and that one can make any amount of water offering. He also shared that the reason one leaves a barley seed size in between the offering represents one’s composed respect towards the master.
It is intriguing to find that there is so much value, history, and tradition behind the water offering that I made every morning to check off from my to-do list.
Tibetans view on ཡོན་ཆབ་