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Homage to The Jamgon Kongtruls

30th December – Bodhgaya.

At 7:30 in the morning a procession of monks in golden ceremonial hats set out from Tergar Monastery to the Monlam Pavilion carrying a plain wooden palanquin with a precious statue of Pema Gyalpo, one of the eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche. The statue is a terma treasure revealed by the 15th Karmapa, Khakyab Dorje, the father of the second Jamgon Kongtrul. Four men in brocade costumes, two in white and two in dark blue, held the palanquin. They marched slowly with regal pomp while the horns announced the arrival of the sacred image contained within a bejewelled reliquary. When it arrived at the tiered stage, the Karmapa walked down the steps with a ceremonial scarf to greet the precious image. With exquisite care he placed it just below the golden Buddha at the top of the stage. This moment of heartfelt devotion captures the relationship between the Karmapas and the Jamgon Kongtrul lineage: father and son, guru and disciple from lifetime to lifetime.

The stage was set under the Read the rest of this article

Commemoration of The Jamgön Kongtrul Lineage

29th December – Bodhgaya.

Day One: Offerings and the dance
December 29th began the first of two days of ceremonies commemorating the Jamgön Kongtrul lineage of tulkus and making an auspicious connection with his fourth incarnation, Lodrö Chökyi Nyima Tenpey Drönme (Intelligent One, Sun of the Dharma, Lamp of the Teachings). Commemorations reflect the custom of remembering the deeds of the Buddha, and by extension our lamas, usually on the anniversary of their parinirvana or sometimes their birth. The year 2012 marked the twentieth anniversary of the passing of the Third Jamgön Kongtrul; in three days, it would be 2013, the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of the First Jamgön Kongtrul, Lodrö Thaye (1813-1899). These two events made it a perfect time for a festive occasion to also honor the present incarnation, who is now seventeen years old and studying at his monastery’s Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies in Lava, near Kalimpong in northern India.

During the previous night of the Read the rest of this article

The 30th Kagyu Monlam Chenmo Day Eight

28th December – Bodhgaya.

Early morning, Tergar Monastery
4.45 am. From the Garchen a steady stream of spectral figures emerges on to the road. The monks and nuns are making their way to the Mahabodhi stupa, two kilometres away, for a special full-moon-day Vinaya sojong, scheduled to begin at 5.00 am. Laypeople are usually not allowed to be at this bi-monthly ritual of purification of downfalls and restoration of vows and precepts which only monks and nuns attend.

Mahayana Sojong at the Mahabodhi Stupa
The Gyalwang Karmapa gave the Mahayana Sojong vows, followed by a short talk on the importance of aspirations and dedications.

A short teaching by the Gyalwang Karmapa
During the previous seven days of the Monlam, the assembly has employed body, speech and mind to make aspirations for the benefit of all sentient beings and the Dharma. Now is the time to gather together the merit generated and dedicate it for all sentient beings that Read the rest of this article

The 30th Kagyu Monlam Chenmo Day Seven

27th December – Bodhgaya.

Mahayana Sojong at the Mahabodhi Stupa
The Mahayana Sojong vows were given by Kyabje Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche.

Foggy vista
For those watching the webcast, please note the picture is not out of focus! This is the fog that we’re encountering because of sudden wintry conditions across northern India. Fog at this time of year is not unusual. It often disrupts transport across northern India. However, this year it is much colder than usual and many of the poverty-stricken people across Bihar and other northern states are suffering immensely.

Sessions Two and Three: The Akshobhya Ritual Cycle
Gyalwang Karmapa arrived shortly before 9.00 am and greeted the rinpoches, lamas and khenpos already seated below the bodhi tree. Session Two began with the Short Vajradhara Lineage Prayer and then proceeded to the first part of today’s main focus, the Akshobhya Ritual and fire puja. Read more

The 30th Kagyu Monlam Chenmo Day Six

26th December – Bodhgaya.

Once more some of the teams who support the Monlam had to work late into the night and arrive at the stupa early in the morning so that the site was prepared. By the time the Gyalwang Karmapa arrived before daybreak, new altars and torma had been set out, all the equipment for audio and webcasting had been transferred, and the sangha were sitting in their newly allotted places.

The area under the Bodhi tree was festooned with fresh garlands of yellow and gold marigolds. Fairy lights lit up the banks around the outer kora—the route which pilgrims circumambulate—and a signboard proclaimed “The 30th Kagyu Monlam Chenmo. Sarva Mangalam”.

As soon as he arrived, Gyalwang Karmapa went to the shrine room and offered prayers in front of the precious Buddha statue. He then went to the Monlam site under the bodhi tree and conferred the Mahayana Sojong vows. Returning to the shrine room, he offered a set of golden silk robes, [Each day during the Monlam, a new set of silk Read the rest of this article