The Dorjéling Armoury in the Potala According to the Fifth Dalai Lama’s gsung ’bum
Although the government established through the alliance of the Gélukpa (Dge lugs pa) and the Khoshud in 1642 took its appellation from the Ganden Palace (Dga’ ldan pho brang/Ganden Phodrang) at Drepung (’Bras spung), the symbolic seat of power of this government was the Potala, at the same time fortress, administrative centre, earthly copy of the celestial palace of Avalokiteśvara, and official residence of the Fifth Dalai Lama. Less known, however, is that the Potala also came to symbolise military readiness. It acquired this new martial function in 1667, when an armoury, called Dorjéling (Rdo rje gling), was set up at the base of the White Palace. The Fifth Dalai Lama memorialised its establishment with a poetic text, which is included in volume nineteen (ma) of his collected works. This paper examines this text, which provides information both on the contents of the armoury and on the logic employed to justify the creation of spaces dedicated to military preparedness within a palace that was fast becoming one of the most revered sites in the Tibetan sphere.