Inauguration Ceremony of the Maha Bodhi Stupa
Tserkarmo Monastery, Tingmosgang, Ladakh
On the 25th of July, hundreds of monks and nuns gathered at Tsekarmo Monastery in Ladakh. The senior monks of the Drikung Kagyu lineage constructed a sand mandala while performing Chakrasamvara puja in the new temple while the sangha also performed Achi Choskyi Dolma practice in the old temple. Many other monks and nuns chanted the Buddhist canon, which includes hundreds of written volumes, and performed other necessary rites which were requested by devotees.
On the 1st of August 2011, His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche was greeted by thousands of disciples upon his arrival to Tserkarmo Monastery. People from around the world lined the roads of the Himalayan village of Tingmosgang, offering flowers and incense to the 37th throne holder of the Drikung Kagyu lineage as he reached the new monastery complex and stupa. As his car winded up the road towards the top of the valley, people of all ages and cultures bowed with respect to His Holiness, who is the manifestation of compassionate activity. Without a moment’s rest, His Holiness immediately began the necessary prayers and rituals in the main temple, and hundreds of monks and laity came to pay their respects. This was to be the commencement of a week-long series of events headed by Chetsng Rinpoche to inaugurate the new stupa, which represents the Buddha’s enlightened mind and is one of biggest built in Ladakh.
The Tserkarmo Maha Bodhi Stupa project committee, headed by four senior Drikung monks from Tingmosgang–– Lama Samten, Khenpo Rangdol, Drupon Sangey and Khenpo Tamphel–– realized after eight years of preparation their vision of building a stupa for the sake of all beings. Through their efforts and His Holiness Chetsang Rinpoche’s enlightened presence, the lineage of Drikung Kagyu was able to manifest the Buddha’s Dharma at Tserkarmo through promoting peace, harmony, wisdom and compassion. This was exemplified through auspicious signs such as extraordinary rainbows in the clear sky, which appeared everyday during the festivities.
The entire community of Tingmosgang came together, and working with Indians, Bhutanese, and Nepalis, and with the financial support of disciples from around the world, they made the construction and subsequent ceremonies of the monastery possible. Among those in attendance were followers from foreign countries such as Germany, Estonia, England, USA, Sweden, Russia, and Singapore. In all, there were around 10,000 people who attended the program, including local Ladakhi and Tibetan devotees and throughout these festivities, the monastery provided meals for the disciples.
The new complex and stupa adjoins the old temple, which dates back over six hundred years, and is just below a famous retreat cave which is one of 3,525 prophesized by Lord Jigten Sumgon, the founder of the Drikung Kagyu lineage. Surrounded by the high mountains of Ladakh, with a deep blue sky overhead, this location, with its history, peaceful culture and stunning environment, is an ideal location for one to practice the Buddha’s teachings. Recognizing this potential, the monks of Tserkarmo built this stupa and temple as a foundation for future activities, such as providing retreat, a place for study and contemplation, translation projects, schools and so forth. It is also meant to remind those who visit the stupa of their own enlightened potential. These wishes of the monks were fulfilled almost immediately upon its completion with the attendance and teachings of two great Buddhist masters –– His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche and His Eminence Chosji Togden Rinpoche.
His Holiness Chetsang Rinpoche and Togden Rinpoche together began the official consecration of the stupa on the second day of the ceremonies, and on the 3rd of August, thousands again arrived at Tserkarmo to celebrate a tri-fold auspicious event. Not only was this the day of the official consecration of the Maha Bodhi Stupa, but it was also His Holiness’ 66th birthday as well as the anniversary of Buddha Shakyamuni’s first turning of the Wheel of Dharma. On this day, a rainbow appeared directly above the Drikung symbol HUNG which was etched into the mountainside. This occasion included many speeches, prayers, and well wishes given by members of the sangha and officials from the Ladakhi government in honour of His Holiness Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche and the Maha Bodhi Stupa. The foreign students then sang to His Holiness “Happy Birthday” both in English, Vietnamese and German, which was followed by a cake cutting ceremony. There were also cultural events such as traditional Ladakhi dancing and singing.
On the 4th of August, His Holiness bestowed teachings on the Four Dharmas of Gampopa, and throughout the duration of the talk, a perfect circular rainbow surrounded the sun, inspiring the disciples to consider carefully his instructions. On the 5th of August, His Holiness Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche graciously bestowed the empowerment for Fivefold Mahamudra, teachings particularly emphasized within the Drikung lineage. That afternoon Togden Rinpoche gave teachings on the tantric practice of Phowa, and His Holiness provided the empowerment the next day which was followed by a Long-Life empowerment. That evening, thousands of disciples participated in a candlelight march, praying for those who had died in the Ladakh floods exactly one year before. The 7th of August was the final day of the festivities, and the foreign disciples participated with His Holiness in Guru Yoga offerings to Lord Jigten Sumgon and His Holiness gave a speech on how to lead meaningful of life. The ceremonies concluded with a picnic, during which the sangha was able to eat and meet with Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche. Afterwards, it began to rain, which is a sign of an auspicious occasion.
Throughout the events which took place at Tserkarmo, disciples from around the world came together, working in harmony, to worship and help make these festivities a success. Monks, laity, men, women and children circumambulated the stupa, offered prayers and made wishes, and felt blessed to be in the presence of great masters of the tradition. This experience showed those in attendance the power of the Buddha, his teachings, and the religious community, and this is only the beginning for Tserkarmo.
On August 1st–7th 2011, disciples of the Drikung Kagyu lineage gathered at Tserkarmo Monastery in Tingmosgang, Ladakh, to participate with His Holiness Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche in the inauguration ceremonies of the Great Maha Bodhi Stupa. May these events help to liberate all sentient beings from suffering and to awaken the mind of Bodhicitta.