Archive for the ‘stupa’ Category

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This morning His Holiness Gyalwang Karmapa visited the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, the very spot where Buddha Shakyamuni attained supreme enlightenment. His Holiness first entered the main shrine room and made prostrations to the great golden Buddha. After traditional offerings and prayers His Holiness accepted the invitation by Khenpo Tsoki Dorje, the abbot of Ngawang Thubten Choling Monastery in Bodhgaya, and joined the annual Monlam conducted by the Bhutanese monastery. He was greeted by a ceremonial procession of monks His Holiness and sat under the bodhi tree leading the prayers for an hour. As word of His Holiness’s visit to the temple spread quickly in Bodhgaya, more and more devotes joined the assembly. Traditional Bhutanese rice and tea was offered to the gathering and Khenpo’la expressed his gratitude to His Holiness. Thereafter His Holiness left the temple grounds followed by many smiling faces.

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What an inconceivable blessing to witness the presence of this wonderful master at this most holy site.

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His Holiness Karmapa accepted a last minute invitation from the President of the International Buddhist Council of India to give his support to a World Peace Prayer ceremony at the bodhi tree on New Year’s Day, specifically to honour those who had died in the recent Mumbhai massacres.

His Holiness and Mingyur Rinpoche sat on cushions in the front row with the Venerable Bhantiji from the Burmese Vihar on the other side. Representatives of the different faiths in India – Jain, Sikh, Hindu, Moslem- and Mr Dorje of the Bodh Gaya Management Committee – were all present.

candle for world peace

The ceremony began with one minute silence for those ‘who are no longer with us on the planet’. In a graceful movement HH Karmapa lit a tall orange candle to spread the light for world peace. ‘Saddhu, saddhu, saddhu’, murmurred the monks.

Theravadin monks chanted the refuge in Pali, an evocative refrain that we hear around the temple morning and evening. His Holiness was then requested to lead the prayers in the Mahayana tradition and suddenly there were the deep sonorous sounds that come from the Himalayas and make your whole body vibrate.

Peace Day Prayer

The Hindu representative chanted ‘Om Shanti’. A sister dressed in white from the Brahma Kumari Society offered a prayer and then a Christian lady clad in a light orange scarf and skirt added her prayers. ‘Amen’ she concluded, and it suddenly reminded me of another country in a completely different world. The President of the Jain Society wearing a business suit added his comments. The Muslim Khan offered an important quote: ‘Saving one person is saving humanity. Killing one person is killing humanity. Therefore the Muslim faith rejects all killing.’

‘The secret of success, concluded the President, ‘is to connect our lives with the divine. If we all do this we can create a world of peace and harmony.’ He read an excerpt from the great Santideva’s poem on the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life.

May I be a protector for those without one, a guide for travellers, and a boat, a bridge, a ship for those who wish to cross over.
May I be a lamp for those who seek light, a bed for those who seek rest…
Just as earth and other elements are useful in various ways to innumerable sentient beings dwelling throughout infinite space,
So may I be in various ways a source of life for the sentient beings present throughout space until they are all liberated.

Norma Levine

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Nearly 60 high school students from Dharamsala’s TCV (“Tibetan Children’s Village”) school arrived for the Monlam to serve as guards, gatekeepers, and generally to assist security. The Kagyu Monlam Dharmapalas, as they were called, recently sent His Holiness the Gwalwang Karmapa letters of gratitude.

Dharmapala’s with Tsultrim

Thank you His Holiness the 17th Karmapa
Today , we the students and Teachers of T.C.V. Suja School, would like to stand in front of you with folded hands to say thank you so much for giving us such a wonderful chance to work as a Dharmapala. Even though that work is quite tough to us as we are only students with zero experience, it’s our pleasure to work under your blessing. By doing this work, we gained a lot of experience dealing with different people and we got this golden opportunity to visit holy places. We lack words to express your kindness. Our best wishes are always with you. Tashi Delek today and forever. Finally, we wish you a prosperous and a very HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Dharmapala on Duty 1 Dharmapala on duty 2

Thank you His Holiness the 17th Karmapa
Thank you… even though I don’t know how to say thank you since the mere concept of my thanks can never stand for your ocean-like gratitude, yet the very word “THANK YOU” is naturally flowing out from the depth of my heart like a tide of the ocean as my conscience reflects upon your matchless kindness towards us. Therefore, let me extend my heartfelt gratitude towards you through the notion or form of “thank you”.
It is more or less something incredible and like a dream comes true that we the orphans dwelling in a remote boarding school got such a once in a lifetime opportunity to attend the breathtaking, peaceful and meaningful gathering of Kagyu Molam Chenmo honoured by Your Holiness. During the 18 day long assembling, every sight of every day was a new thing to learn and the experiences are worthy to keep in mind as a memory.
We hardly felt how the days passed by but we have learned a lot. It was extremely wonderful to serve His Holiness and it bestowed us with the real tranquility and relaxation that is a blessing in this hectic 21st century life. Moreover, the delightful trip you arranged for us to nearby holy places like Nalanda made us feel as if we were visiting paradise without dying!!! For me, these sacred sites are more wonderful than the seven wonders. In every temple we chanted prayers for a perfect happiness for all in general and your long life, in particular. I believe that our wish or Dharmapalas’ request could come true soon. We are deeply indebted and grateful for all the things, all the blessings, all the beautiful presents, all the opportunities you provided us. Therefore, on behalf of all the Dharmapalas, I would like to raise up my voice and say THANK YOU VERY MUCH from the very depth of my heart. Thank you…. thank you. Thank you.
Yours Faithfully,
Dharmapalas of the 25th Anniversary of Kagyu Monlam

Group photo

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Following is a special message by the CEO of Kagyu Monlam, Lama Karma Chodrak:

This year, the Kagyu Monlam Organization is sponsoring special long life prayers and offerings for His Holiness Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje. The long-life puja will begin on December 13, 2007 at Tergar Monastery and will conclude on the morning of December 19th with Body, Speech, Mind, Qualities, Activities and Traditional Offerings presented to His Holiness underneath the Bodhi Tree. The ceremonies will be conducted and presided over by Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, Gyaltsab Rinpoche, Thrangu Rinpoche, Tenga Rinpoche, Mingyur Rinpoche, and others.


Please join us in offering prayers and aspirations for the long life and excellent health of the Gyalwang Karmapa!

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Umze Ozer Rabten

(Photo: Monlam’s Chant Master, Umze Ozer Rabten also known as “Umze Bai Karma.”)

Umze Ozer Rabten has been leading the Kagyu Monlam prayers at the Stupa for several years now. Click on the video link to watch an interview with Umze Bai Karma.)

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Lama Chokyi tori colour

(Photo: Architect Lama Chokyi with the Shinto design.)


(Photo: One of the four wooden pillars.)

A new design is planned for the main gate of the Mahabodhi Stupa. For years, the Kagyu Monlam Chenmo used a simple bamboo gate with auspicious symbols and banners, but this year, His Holiness chose the elegance and simplicity of the Japanese Shinto gate design. Thus far, only one of the four wooden pillars is nearly constructed.

Lama Chokyi Gyatso, previously an architectural engineer from Taiwan and who currently resides in Bokar Ngedon Choekorling Monastery in Mirik, designed the gate for approval by His Holiness.  Speaking in fluent Tibetan, Lama Chokyi is sought after as much for his engineering skills as for his humble presence.

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 Dorje Wangyal

 (Photo: Dorje Wangyal returning from yet another trip to Gaya.)

For months leading up to the Great Kagyu Monlam, Dorje Wangyal, a Monlam veteran employee, had been actively gathering supplies, contacting food vendors, picking up deliveries, carrying shipments, coordinating with the 40 cooks he supervises and so on.  With so much responsibility, it would seem that he rarely has time for a break, but surprisingly enough, he takes breaks while working.  He is spotted among his staff folding napkins, carrying boxes of shipments, and serving food.  Truly a hands-on worker, Dorje is a protean man who sees broadly and is concerned with the big and the small.

Hammering vats Weaving teapot handles

(Photos: Hammering food vats, weaving teapot handles.)

The Dining Team employs a large group of staff.  Nearly 150 workers prepare meals for over 4,000 monastics, hundreds of Lamas and Rinpoches and the international pilgrims.  There are also the daily tea and bread offerings at the Stupa for which the staff has to prepare, ensuring that there are enough teapots and bread baskets in advance.  Many from the dining team arrived early in Bodhgaya to prepare materials and supplies and also to help feed the many staff already on hand.

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Teaching at Tergar

(Photo: Karmapa teaches to Karma Guncho monks at Tergar.)

Offering mandala 1 Offering mandala

(Photos: Karma Guncho Khenpos offering mandala to His Holiness)

In his first teaching to the the Karma Guncho monks at Tergar, His Holiness taught Gampopa’s text on the Precious Garland. After the teaching, His Holiness took a quick break (watching pilgrims and gazing across at the view of the Mahabodhi Stupa from the rooftop) before giving a public blessing. While monlam is still a little less than a month away, several hundred pilgrims came to Tergar for a chance to offer khatas and to receive his blessing. Perhaps because he has some spare time left before the rush of monlam, this is quite possibly the best opportunity to receive blessings and make offerings. For those presently in Bodhgaya, public audience is given every other day at 3pm beginning November 20th.

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Watch videos on right.

Heading inside Hotel Mahayana

(Photo: His Holiness with Lamas from Zongkar Choede Monastery to inaugurate the 8th century Tibetan artifacts.)

Kora around the Bodhi Tree

(Photo: Circumambulating the Bodhi tree with Mahabodhi Temple management Monk in Charge.)

Making offerings

(Photo: His Holiness makes offerings inside the Main Stupa.)

Photos by permission from the Tsurphu Labrang and Kagyu Monlam photographers.

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The golden pinnacle of the Stupa, which had been undergoing renovation for a few years now, is finally complete. This photo was taken on November 5, 2007.

tea break At the office Cook Cooks
(Photos from left to right: torma group, Lama at the office, torma cook and his assistants)

Monlam preparations for the 25th anniversary have been under way for nearly a year now and these preparations are quickly gathering momentum. Small groups of staff and volunteers from various departments have begun to arrive in Bodhgaya for the International Kagyu Monlam Chenmo. Beginning December 17 and ending December 27, this year marks the Silver Jubilee.

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