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Gutor Day Two: Incinerating the Hostile


22 February, 2017 – Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya
Almost overnight the Kagyu Monlam Pavilion had transitioned from a cool, elegant space appropriate for sutric-based prayers for world peace into a fiery, dramatic hall dedicated to the wrathful practices of those fierce deities who protect the dharma, and in particular the lineage of the Gyalwang Karmapa. The first day of the Great Encampment Mahakala Main Puja began at 4 am today. And although the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa did not personally attend, esteemed rinpoches, khenpos, monks, and nuns, led by His Eminence Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche, impressed lay devotees with their powerful melodious chanting accompanied by cymbals, horns, drums, and occasional bouts of eerie, rhythmically-timed guttural utterances.

The text being used this year for the main puja is the longest ritual of Mahakala Bernakchan in the Karma Read the rest of this article

Gutor Day One: Protector Practices to Prepare for the Blossoming of the New Year


21 February, 2017 – Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya

For over three hundred years, from the time of the Fourth to Tenth Karmapa, the Karmapas traveled extensively in what was known as the Great Encampment. This allowed them to reach disciples all over Tibet with great flexibility and spontaneity. From the time of the Seventh Karmapa (1454-1506), the Kagyu Monlam Chenmo as well took place wherever the Karmapa happened to be on the date for the event. Following in this tradition, the Monlam Pavilion in Bodh Gaya is a flexible, open space that transforms into whatever is needed at the time.

Its latest reincarnation is as a protector shrine or gönkhang, which can be found at most Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, though they are often off limits to the uninitiated. The Pavilion has been magnificently arranged for the rituals of Gutor—six days of extensive Read the rest of this article

“What I Give Away is Mine”: the Gyalwang Karmapa’s Advice as the 34th Kagyu Monlam Ends


19 February, 2017 – Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya

The last afternoon of the 34th Kagyu Mönlam started slightly earlier than usual with a Medicine Buddha tsok practice according to the Concise Ritual of Offering to the Seven Tathagatas, compiled by the 6th Sharmapa. Tsok, in the form of small bags of fruit, was distributed to each and every participant, sangha and lay followers alike, and money offerings traditionally known in Tibet as ‘kunki’ were also given to the sangha.

At the end of the afternoon break, His Holiness Karmapa came onto the stage and the session on the Appreciation of the Sponsors opened with the procession for the mandala offering, led by the sponsors who then sat on the stage for the blessings that would follow. Appreciation of the Sponsors is an opportunity to share and dedicate virtue, and His Holiness spoke Read the rest of this article

Celebrating the Life of the Eighth Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche: A Ritual of Offerings to the Gurus


19 February, 2017 – Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya
The extensive Ritual of Offerings to the Gurus, always performed on the last day of the Kagyu Monlam Chenmo, was composed in 2005 by His Holiness the 17th Karmapa. It is a compilation drawn from many famous Buddhist texts. The puja often serves as a memorial to a particular Lama who has passed away, and this year a large portrait photograph of the Eighth Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche was placed centrally below the shrine.

The stage had been rearranged following the Sixteen Arhat and Alms Procession the previous day. Four of the victory banners from that procession remained on the top tier of the stage, and the others were arrayed in the wings. Below them, three tiers of heavily laden offering tables stood to left and right of the pagoda shrine containing the infant Buddha. The bottom tier was replete with Read the rest of this article