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COVID-19 Vaccination For Monks And Nuns of Age Group 18-44 Rolled Out At Namdroling

Namdroling Monastery in India has rolled out the COVID-19 Vaccinations for the monks and nuns of the age group 18-44 on the 30th May 2021. All the eligible monks and nuns in accordance to the directive issued by the Indian government were vaccinated in one day. Vaccination were also given on the same day to the Tibetan residents of the 4th Camp, the 3rd Camp of the Tibetan Settlement and the Gawaitsel Camp on the way to Gurukul. A total number of 1598 doses of vaccine were given out in one single day.

Following the path of His Holiness Penor Rinpoche to maintain solidarity in happiness and sorrow with the local people, the senior members of the Namdroling Monastery Management Committee which include Chogtrul Gyangkhang Rinpoche, Chogtrul Mugsang Kuchen Rinpoche, Khenchen Pema Sherab Rinpoche, Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso Rinpoche, and Khenchen Namdrol Tsering Rinpoche have all agreed to extend the vaccination programme to the estimated 1700 Tibetan people residing in the 17 Tibetan Settlement Camps in Bylakuppe.

Within two days, 3100 shots of the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine were given to the residents of the monastery and the people of two nearby Tibetan Settlements of the age group 18-44. The cost of the entire vaccination programme is sponsored by Chogtrul Mugsang Kuchen Rinpoche and Pathgate Institute.

Living In Retreat At The Paro Valley of Bhutan

Taktsang Monastery

Paro Taktsang (Tigress Lair) is a sacred place situated on the side of a mountain cliff north of Paro in Bhutan. There, Guru Pamasambhava meditated on the Kagye cycle of eight sets of Mahayoga transmission entrusted to him and to the eight vidyadharas of India. This is the place where Guru Pamasambhava manifested as Dorje Drolo riding upon a pregnant tigress in the wrathful form of crazy wisdom binding worldly spirit under oath to protect the terma treasure and serve the propagation of Buddhadharma. Following in his footsteps, many great masters such as Milarepa, Padampa Sangye, Machik Lapdron and Thangtong Gyalpo also went into retreat there. A monastery was later built in 1692 adjacent to the Taktsang Senge Samdup cave, where Guru Pamasambhava meditated and practiced with students including Yeshe Tsogyal before departing Tibet in the early 9th century.

Khenpo Jurme Kunzang Rinpoche (left), Khenpo Sangay Wangdi Rinpoche (middle), and Lama Dondrup Dorje Rinpoche (right) Kunzang Yoedseling Retreat Home

Today, at the Paro valley beneath are many retreat houses. Two of which were established through sponsorship provided by Pathgate Institute. The first one is Kunzang Yoedseling Retreat Home which had its first phase formally opened on the 10th April 2011. Once fully completed, it will have five separate retreat houses sited around a prayer hall in the middle within a walled enclosure. This place is headed by Lama Dondrup Dorje Rinpoche’s Dharma friend Khenpo Jurme Kunzang Rinpoche (former Abbot of the Singapore Palyul Centre).

Khenpo Sangay Wangdi Rinpoche’s retreat house

The second retreat house belongs to another of Lama Dondrup Dorje Rinpoche’s Dharma friends Khenpo Sangay Wangdi Rinpoche (former Principal of Ngagyur Nyingma University at the Namdroling Monastery). This retreat house is built on a plot of land procured through funding from Pathgate Institute in the summer of 2013.

Khenpo Sangay Wangdi Rinpoche in front of his retreat house Khenpo Sangay Wangdi Rinpoche standing in between the lamp offering pagoda (left) and the sang offering stupa (right)

Owing to its remote location and lack of amenities, additional funding was provided to make good of what is needed such as the construction of access road, heating, and other facilities. It is now a functional live-in retreat house for Khenpo Sangay Wangdi Rinpoche.

Omsay Lhundrup Dorji

Khenpo Sangay Wangdi Rinpoche has recently updated Lama Dondrup Dorje Rinpoche with some photographs of his place including one of Lhundrup Dorji, an Omsay (Chant Master) from Namdroling Monastery, who is handicapped by both malfunctioning legs and requires the use of two walking sticks. He is one of the few monks in Bhutan who knows how to perform pujas in the Palyul tradition. To ease the difficulty he faces in transporting himself around in performing puja, a car with automatic gears was procured for him through sponsorship of Pathgate Institute in 2013.

The Origin of Tibetan Buddhism

Samye Monastery

Tibetan Buddhism comprises the four lineages of Nyingmapa, Kagyupa, Sakyapa, and Gelukpa, can trace their unbroken lineage of transmission and enlightened masters right back to the time of Buddha Shakyamuni 2500 years ago, in the 5th century BC.

The 19th century Nyingma Master Jamgön Ju Mipham Gyatso (1846–1912) made the following observation of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism:

“These four schools are the bodhisattva heirs of the victorious Buddhas and represent four exquisite transmissions: the view that transcends all fixations of extremes are the adepts of Nyingmapa, who have mastered the esoteric power of the secret mantra and are the life-force of the teachings that preserve the pith instruction of the tantras and the sādhanas; purposeful in meditative practice are the adepts of Kagyupa, who have mastered the nicety of realisation and are the heart of the teachings that promote devotion to the lineage of their practices; diligent in the elucidation of commentary, the practices of the generation stage and the completion stage are the adepts of the Sakyapa, who are the eyes of the teachings that unify the essence of sutrayana and mantrayana; immaculate monastic conduct are the adepts of the Gelukpa, who have mastered the discourse of sutras and are the body of the teachings that encompass the complete path of learning the scriptures. All four schools come from the same source like children who share the same parents but take birth individually. Whichever lineage you follow, cultivate proper decorum in your interaction with others and apply yourself with devotion and pure view to bring forth the qualities of learning and the accomplishment of practice.”

- Extract of an article from the Pathgate feature Gateway to Tibetan Buddhism. Click here to read

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