24th Feb –Vajra Vidhya Institute, Sarnath.
On the 14th day of the Tibetan calendar, the Gyalwang Karmapa presided over a day of activities commemorating the founding luminaries of the Kagyu lineage. Organized by the Kagyu Relief and Protection Committee from the Central University of Tibetan Studies as well as the Vajra Vidya Institute, the day was an opportunity to venerate the realized masters who together form the great wellspring of the whispered lineage.
This year marks the 1000th birth anniversary of the glorious Marpa Lotsawa, the great translator who made the arduous journey to India four times in order to receive the sacred instructions and thereby plant the seeds of the practice lineage within Tibet. At the same time, today marks the commemoration of the Mahaparinirvana of Marpa himself and his heart-son Milarepa, the exalted yogi-saint whose remarkable life has inspired countless practitioners for generations. With this combination of lineage milestones, it was a particularly auspicious moment to conduct a day of lineage commemorations in the presence of the Gyalwang Karmapa.
The day’s activities began by invoking the blessings of the lineage with a procession of the sacred statues of Marpa, Milarepa, and Gampopa, who together comprise the ‘Mar Mi Dag Sum’, or the three great Tibetan founding forefathers of the Kagyu lineage. Devotees lined the pathway leading to the gompa, many bearing sweet incense and white khatas to welcome the procession. The statues were escorted on one slow circumambulation of the gompa, led by Tulkus and Khenpos from Vajra Vidya Institute, with the rest of the sangha and lay devotees falling into procession behind.
The statues were then led into the gompa and installed on a dais to the left of the Gyalwang Karmapa’s throne, overlooking the assembly. At around 8.30am the Gyalwang Karmpa arrived in the gompa to preside as Dorje Lopon or Vajra Master over an extensive puja. Lasting for 3 hours, the elaborate prayers included praises to Marpa Lotsawa, the sadhana of the Guru Yoga of Milarepa, as well as recitations of some of Milarepa’s Gur (famous songs of realization), written spontaneously during his lifetime of intense meditation practice and retreat. At the end of the puja a grand Ganachakra feast offering was made.
Later in the afternoon the Gyalwang Karmapa was Guest of Honor at a tea party organized by the Kagyu Relief and Protection Committee and the Vajra Vidya Institute. Inside a large white marquee on the front lawns of Vajra Vidya, tea and cake were offered to the sangha and lay devotees. Special guests at the tea party included Dr Pema Dorje, Visiting Professor at the Central University of Tibetan Studies as well as personal physician to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in addition to many other Professors and faculty members from the University.
Afterwards, in the shrineroom above the Vajra Vidya gompa, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche personally offered the Gyalwang Karmapa the sacred long-life blessing nectar, which was continuously consecrated throughout the previous 4 days of the Long Life Tsedrup puja, endowing them with especially potent blessings dedicated to the long life of the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa.
At the end of the day of lineage commemoration activities, the Gyalwang Karmapa continued his Spring Teaching series, delivering the fourth day teaching.