The Great Seating Ceremony

The Great Seating Ceremony

7th Arya Kshema Day Three 
8 March 2023

༅། །ཕྱི་ལོ་ ༢༠༢༣ ཟླ་ ༣ ཚེས་ ༨ བོད་ཟླ་ ༡ ཚེས་ ༡༦ ཉིན། འཕགས་ཡུལ་གནས་མཆོག་ཝ་རཱ་ཎ་སི། བཛྲ་བིདྱ་གཙུག་ལག་སློབ་གཉེར་ཁང་དུ། འཕགས་མ་བདེ་བྱེད་མའི་དཔྱིད་ཆོས་ཐེངས་བདུན་པའི་ཉིན་གསུམ་པ། སྒར་པ་ལོ་གསར་གྱི་བཞུགས་གྲལ་ཆེན་མོ།

The third day of the 7th Arya Kshema Spring Dharma Gathering for Nuns was dedicated to two rituals which form part of the traditions of Tsurphu Losar. In the morning, everyone participated in the Great Seating Ceremony, which is also known as the Row ceremony because, traditionally, all members of the Karmapa’s labrang, rinpoches, khenpos, monks and lay staff would be seated in front of the Karmapa, in rows according to rank to enjoy a Losar feast together. 

Although this year’s Tibetan Losar has finished, the Karmapa wished that the nuns should have the opportunity to celebrate this tradition, albeit a little later than usual. The Karmapa’s presence was symbolised by his embroidered cloak placed on the throne, and the altar below the throne was piled high with traditional Losar offerings. 

Drupon Dechen Rinpoche and Trulku Damchoe Rinpoche presided. The guests included monastic and lay members of Tsurphu Labrang, the nuns and their teachers, and students and teachers from Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche’s Vajra Vidya Institute. The Tilokpur vajra master led as a choir of umdzes recited the traditional liturgy for the occasion which comprises “The Hand Offering of Vajravarahi”, a few songs including the famous “Three Men of Kham”, and dedication prayers.

In addition to these prayers, the Great Seating Ceremony included a feast of plentiful Tibetan butter tea, celebratory sweet rice, a compote made of dried fruits and nuts, and gifts of fruit, biscuits, sweets, and kapsey —the fried biscuits which are key to Tibetan Losar celebrations—offered to all the guests as a take-away treat. 
Finally, everyone lined up to offer white katags to the thrones of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Karmapa and Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche.

2023.03.08: The Great Seating Ceremony
Ritual for the Dharma Protector Sangharāma

Ritual for the Dharma Protector Sangharāma

7th Arya Kshema Day Three 
8 March 2023

༄༅། །ཕྱི་ལོ་ ༢༠༢༣ ཟླ་ ༣ ཚེས་ ༨ བོད་ཟླ་ ༡ ཚེས་ ༡༦ ཉིན། འཕགས་ཡུལ་གནས་མཆོག་ཝ་རཱ་ཎ་སི། བཛྲ་བིདྱ་གཙུག་ལག་སློབ་གཉེར་ཁང་དུ། འཕགས་མ་བདེ་བྱེད་མའི་དཔྱིད་ཆོས་ཐེངས་བདུན་པའི་ཉིན་གསུམ་པ། སངྒྷ་རཱ་མའི་གསོལ་མཆོད་ཚོགས་པའི་བརྙན་སྤྱན་འབུལ་ཞུས་ཡོད།

On the third day, in the late afternoon, a group of nuns recited the ritual for the protector deity Sangharāma, a special dharma protector associated with Tsurphu monastery in Tibet. Because Sangharāma is a mundane protector, the ritual cannot be performed in the shrine hall and so was performed outside on the veranda, as was also the custom at Tsurphu monastery. The official umdzes from four of the nunneries and the ritual masters from Tilokpur combined to offer the puja. Two members of Tsurphu Labrang, Karma Sonam Gyaltsen the office manager and Karma Gyurme the quartermaster were there to represent Tsurphu.

The story tells how Sangharāma was originally a famous Chinese general called Guan Gong. He was renowned for his loyalty, courage, and integrity, but during his lifetime his actions led to the deaths of many people so when he died he was doomed to become a ghost, wandering on Jade Spring Mountain, near Beijing. However, after he had received dharma teachings and taken refuge vows, he transformed into a dharma protector and was given the name Sangharāma. To this day, statues of him can be seen in Chinese monasteries—a red-faced deity on one side of the shrine.

The connection between Sangharāma and the Karmapa lineage began when the emperor Yung Lo of the Ming Dynasty invited the Fifth Karmapa Deshin Shekpa to China. After hearing the Karmapa’s teachings the emperor became a devoted student.
Sangharāma also heard these teachings and witnessed the miraculous signs that accompanied them, so when the Karmapa returned to Tsurphu, Sangharāma decided to follow him. When they arrived back at Tsurphu, Sangharāma needed a place to live, and the Karmapa offered him one of the mountains behind Tsurphu Monastery. This mountain became known as “the mountain of the Chinese deity,” and Sangharāma became one of the protectors of Tsurphu Monastery. Sometime later, the Karmapas began the tradition of offering a practice for the Sangharāma protector on the second day of Losar each year. 
When the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, fled Tibet in 1959, the Sangharāma text was lost and the continuity of the practice was broken. 

In order to restore this practice, the 17th Karmapa compiled a new Sangharāma ritual composed partly in Tibetan and partly in Chinese.  

2023.03.08: Ritual for the Dharma Protector Sangharāma
7th Arya Kshema: Mahayana Sojong at the Dhamek Stupa

7th Arya Kshema: Mahayana Sojong at the Dhamek Stupa

Mahayana Sojong at the Dhamek Stupa:
7th Arya Kshema Day One 

6 March 2023

དེ་རིང་ནི་༧སྐྱབས་རྗེ་ཡོངས་འཛིན་མཁན་ཆེན་ཁྲ་འགུ་རིན་པོ་ཆེའི་གདན་ས། འཕགས་ཡུལ་གནས་མཆོག་ཝ་རཱ་ཎ་སི། བཛྲ་བིདྱ་གཙུག་ལག་སློབ་གཉེར་ཁང་དུ། འཕགས་མ་བདེ་བྱེད་མའི་དཔྱིད་ཆོས་ཐེངས་བདུན་པའི་ཉིན་དང་པོའི་སྔ་དྲོ། སྐྱབས་རྗེ་སྒྲུབ་དཔོན་བདེ་ཆེན་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་དབུ་བཞུགས་མཛད་དེ། རྒྱ་བལ་འབྲུག་གསུམ་ནས་ད་ལན་ཆེད་དུ་འདུས་པའི་བཙུན་མ་རྣམས་ལ་དྲང་སྲོང་ལྷུང་བ་རི་དྭགས་ནགས་ཀྱི་ཚལ་མཆོད་རྟེན་རིན་པོ་ཆེའི་དྲུང་དུ་ཐེག་ཆེན་གསོ་སྦྱོང་མཛད་བཞིན་པ་དགེའོ། ། ༢༠༢༣/༠༣/༠༦

The 7th Arya Kshema Spring Dharma Gathering is being held at Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche’s monastery, the Vajra Vidya Institute, in Sarnath, near Varanasi.
Drupon Dechen Rinpoche will preside over the month-long dharma gathering.
The Arya Kshema is organised by the nunneries in rotation, and this year the responsibility falls to Tilokpur Nunnery, Karma Drubgyu Thargay Ling. Tsurphu Labrang is sponsoring the event.

On the first morning, before breakfast, teachers and students from the participating nunneries and shedras made their way to the grounds of the Dhamek Stupa, a short distance from the Vajra Vidya Institute. There they received the Mahayana Sojong vows from Drupon Dechen Rinpoche in preparation for the Ritual for Women’s and Especially Nuns’ Dharma to Flourish which they offered that morning.

2023.03.06: Mahayana Sojong at the Dhamek Stupa