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Commemorating the Anniversaries of Milarepa and Marpa on Chӧtrul Duchen

Commemorating the Anniversaries of Milarepa and Marpa on Chӧtrul Duchen

Tergar Monastery Shrine Hall Veranda,
24 February 2024

༄༅། ། བོད་རབ་རྒྱན་ཤིང་འབྲུག་བོད་ཟླ་ ༡ ཚེས་ ༡༤ཉིན། གངས་ཅན་གྲུབ་པའི་གཙུག་རྒྱན་རྣལ་འབྱོར་ཡོངས་ཀྱི་དབང་ཕྱུག་ཆེན་པོ་རྗེ་བཙུན་མི་ལ་རས་པ་མཆོག་ལོངས་སྤྱོད་རྫོགས་སྐུར་བཞེངས་པའི་ཉིན་མོ་དང་། ཚེས་ ༡༥ ཉིན་སྐྱེས་མཆོག་སྒྲ་བསྒྱུར་གྱི་རྒྱལ་པོ་མངའ་བདག་མར་པ་ལོ་ཙཱ་བ་ཆོས་ཀྱི་བློ་གྲོས་མཆོག་ལོངས་སྤྱོད་རྫོགས་སྐུར་བཞེངས་པའི་ཉིན་མོ་སྟེ། འཕགས་ཡུལ་གནས་མཆོག་རྡོ་རྗེ་གདན། གཏེར་སྒར་རིག་འཛིན་མཁའ་སྤྱོད་དར་རྒྱས་གླིང་གཙུག་ལག་ཁང་གི་མདུན་དུ། འཕགས་མ་བདེ་བྱེད་མའི་དཔྱིད་ཆོས་ཐེངས་བརྒྱད་པའི་འདུས་མང་ནས་མངའ་བདག་མར་པ་ལོ་ཙཱ་བ་དང་རྣལ་འབྱོར་གྱི་དབང་ཕྱུག་མི་ལ་རས་པའི་སྐུ་
བརྙན་དྲུང་དུ་མཆོད་པ་དང་མར་མེ་ཚར་དུ་དངར་བ་འབུལ་བཤམས་དང་འབྲེལ། ཕྱི་དྲོ་ཕྱག་ཚོད་བདུན་པའི་ཐོག་ཏུ།
དུས་གསུམ་རྒྱལ་ཀུན་ཕྲིན་ལས་ཀྱི་རང་གཟུགས། དཔལ་༧རྒྱལ་བའི་དབང་པོ་༧ཀརྨ་པ་སྐུ་ཕྲེང་བཅུ་བདུན་པ་ཆེན་པོ་མཆོག་གི་ཞལ་སྔ་ནས་ཀྱིས་དྲྭ་བརྙན་ཐད་གཏོང་དུ་དབུ་བཞུགས་མཛད་དེ། འཕགས་པ་བདེ་བྱེད་མའི་དཔྱིད་ཆོས་ཐེངས་བརྒྱད་པའི་འདུས་ཚོགས་ཀྱི་དབུ་བཞུགས་སྐྱབས་རྗེ་སྒྲུབ་དཔོན་བདེ་ཆེན་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་མཆོག་གཙོ་བོར་གྱུར་པའི་བཙུན་དགོན་བཤད་གྲྭ་ཁག་གི་མཁན་པོ་སློབ་དཔོན་རྣམ་པ་དང་བཙུན་མའི་འདུས་དམངས་དང་། གཉུག་མར་གནས་པའི་གཏེར་སྒར་འདུས་པ་དང་། བདེ་བྱེད་མའི་གོ་སྒྲིག་པ་མཚུར་ཕུ་བླ་བྲང་གི་ལས་སྣེ་རྣམ་པ་དང་། གཞན་ཡང་བཀའ་བརྒྱུད་སྨོན་ལམ་གྱི་ལས་སྣེ་དང་། གློ་བུར་ལྷགས་པའི་དད་འདུས་བརྒྱ་ཕྲག་དུ་མ་ནས་མི་ལའི་བླ་སྒྲུབ་ཀྱི་འདས་མཆོད་ཀྱི་ཚོགས་འཁོར་་གཟབ་རྒྱས་བསྐོར་ཏོ། །


23rd February 2024 was the anniversary of Jetsun Milarepa’s parinirvana and the following day –24th February–was the anniversary of Marpa his teacher’s parinirvana.

To commemorate these two occasions, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa composed two new praises, the first for Jetsun Milarepa which he released on 23rd February, and the second for Marpa Lotsawa, which was released on 24th February. Then, in the evening of  24th February, the nuns, their khenpos and teachers at the Arya Kshema Spring Gathering in Bodhgaya joined together  with  staff from Tsurphu Labrang, the sponsors of the Arya Kshema, staff from Kagyu Monlam, and monks from Tergar to offer the Milarepa Guru Yoga.  

The 24th of February was highly auspicious because it was Chӧtrul Duchen, the Festival of Miracles, which falls on the Full Moon day of the Month of Miracles, the first month in the Tibetan lunar calendar. Traditionally, the first fifteen days of the Tibetan year celebrate the fifteen days during which the Buddha displayed miracles for his disciples to increase their devotion, and this celebration culminates on the fifteenth day. It is one of the four great festivals of Tibetan Buddhism.

Although the ritual used was a Milarepa Guru Yoga, thangkas of both Marpa and Milarepa were displayed above the shrine in order to focus the commemoration on both. The ritual was held outside to capture the full beauty and magical atmosphere of the occasion. Myriad strings of lights hanging from the walls of the monastery alongside hundreds of butter lamps placed on the steps of the shrine hall lit up the night.

On site, Drupon Dechen Rinpoche led the ritual, but the Gyalwang Karmapa presided over the internet, and the event was webcast worldwide.

2024.02.24 Commemorating the Anniversaries of Milarepa and Marpa on Chӧtrul Duchen
Debate Competition Enters Elimination Stage

Debate Competition Enters Elimination Stage

Tergar Shrine Hall

23, 24, 25 February 2024

༄༅། ། བོད་རབ་རྒྱན་ཤིང་འབྲུག་བོད་ཟླ་ ༡ ཚེས་ ༡༥ དང་། སྤྱི་ལོ་༢༠༢༤ཟླ་ ༢ ཚེས་ ༢༤ ཉིན། གནས་མཆོག་རྡོ་རྗེ་གདན། གཏེར་སྒར་རིག་འཛིན་མཁའ་སྤྱོད་དར་རྒྱས་གླིང་གཙུག་ལག་ཁང་དུ། ཕྱི་དྲོ་འཕགས་མ་བདེ་བྱེད་མའི་དཔྱིད་ཆོས་ཐེངས་བརྒྱད་པའི་རྩོད་དཔང་མཁན་པོ་རྣམ་པ་དབུ་བཞུགས་མཛད་དེ། བཙུན་མའི་བཤད་གྲྭ་ཁག་དབར་ལ་བསྡུས་རྟགས་བློ་གསུམ་ལ་ཉིན་ཤས་ཀྱི་རིང་ལུང་རིགས་བརྒལ་བརྟག་བགྱིས་པའི་
གྲུབ་དོན་སྐར་གྲངས་གཞིར་བཟུང་སྟེ། རྟགས་རིགས་རྟིང་འགྲན་གྱི་རྩོད་གཞུང་ཐག་གཅོད་གཏན་འབེབས་མཛད།

༄༅། ། བོད་རབ་རྒྱན་ཤིང་འབྲུག་བོད་ཟླ་ ༡ ཚེས་ ༡༦ དང་། སྤྱི་ལོ་༢༠༢༤ཟླ་ ༢ ཚེས་ ༢༥ ཉིན གཏེར་སྒར་རིག་འཛིན་མཁའ་སྤྱོད་དར་རྒྱས་གླིང་གཙུག་ལག་ཁང་དུ།
བློ་རིགས་རྟིང་འགྲན་གྱི་རྩོད་གཞུང་ཐག་གཅོད་གཏན་འབེབས་མཛད།

The debate competition between groups of nuns drawn from the different shedras which began on 29th January, the second day of the Arya Kshema Spring Gathering, has now entered the final stages when teams are eliminated.

The first groups to compete in the elimination stage were those studying Collected Topics (Dudra), followed by those studying Types of Evidence (Tagrig), and finally those studying Mind and Awareness (Lorig).

Khenpo David Karma Choephel announced the scores and results at each stage, with condolences for those who had failed to reach the finals.

The final for Collected Topics takes place on 26th February, for Types of Evidence on 27th February, and for Mind and Awareness on 28th February. Finally, on the 29th February there will be the special ‘all night’ debate. Traditionally this debate did last all night, but nowadays it ends before midnight.

2024.02.23 Debate Competition Enters Elimination Stage
Nuns Offer Five-Deity Green Tara and Tseringma

Nuns Offer Five-Deity Green Tara and Tseringma

Tergar Shrine Hall
17 – 18 February 2024

On the 17th February, the nuns and their teachers began two days of ritual in Tergar Shrine Hall.

In the morning session the nuns offered the Five-Deity Green Tara of the Acacia Forest sadhana, compiled by the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa to revive an ancient Karma Kamtsang ritual which originated with the first Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa. The extensive practice was first performed at the Special Kagyu Monlam in February 2023.The nuns offered the shorter sadhana practice.
[For more details of this ritual cf http://new.kagyumonlam.org/index.php/en/component/content/article/five-deity-green-tara-of-the-acacia-forest?catid=9&Itemid=111]

The afternoon session was devoted to the practice of Tseringma.  At the 3rd Arya Kshema in January 2016, the Gyalwang Karmapa expressed the wish that the nuns should offer this ritual every year in future, so they have. The Five Tseringma  [in English the Five Long-Life Sisters] are protectors of all the Kagyu lineages. Tashi Tseringma is the principal deity of this group, who are also known as the Tashi Tsering Chenga.

Their special relationship with the Kagyu lineage dates back to the time of Milarepa. According to the tradition, the five sisters originally lived in the mountains on the Nepalese-Tibetan border. They were spirits tamed by Guru Padmasambhava who ordered them to protect the Buddhist teachings. They tried to distract Milarepa from his meditation in order to test him but failed. They then received teachings from him. As this forged their link with the Kagyu, they became protectors of the Kagyu teachings. Milarepa declared, “In the human realm, my teachings are held by the Teacher from Central Tibet (Gampopa). In the non-human realm, they are held by Tseringma.” The practice was considered very important and was one of the annual rituals at Tsurphu Monastery in Tibet.

2024.02.17 Nuns Offer Five-Deity Green Tara and Tseringma
Ritual Offering to the Tsurphu Protector Sangharāma

Ritual Offering to the Tsurphu Protector Sangharāma

Tergar Shrine Hall
11 February 2024

At 4.00pm on the second day of Losar, a group of thirty nuns from Palmo Drubdey Chӧkyi Dingkhang, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso’s nunnery in Bhutan, gathered on the veranda outside Tergar Shrine Hall to sing the ritual for the protector Sangharāma. The Secretary of Tsurphu Labrang Office, Karma Gyaltsen Sonam, also took part, while other representatives from Tsurphu Labrang watched.

The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa has worked steadily to preserve and revive Karma Kamtsang rituals. This was one of the Losar practices at Tsurphu Monastery, the seat of the Karmapas in Tibet. However, when the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, escaped from Tibet in 1959, the original text of this ritual was lost and the continuity of the practice was broken. The 17th Karmapa compiled a new ritual to replace the one that had been lost. His Holiness also composed all the melodies for the ritual as well as the accompaniment with cymbals, bells and drum.

An elaborate form of this ritual, in Tibetan and Chinese, was performed at the. Kagyu Monlam in March 2017.  [https://kagyumonlam.org/index.php/en/component/content/article/the-sangharama-ritual?catid=20&highlight=WyJzYW5naGFyYW1hIl0=&Itemid=111]

Sangharāma was originally a famous Chinese general called Guan Yu or Guan Gong. He had admirable qualities such as courage and integrity, but as a general he caused much death and suffering. Consequently, when he died, he became a ghost, haunting Jade Spring Mountain, near modern-day Beijing. However, after he had been converted to Buddhism, he changed into a dharma protector, and was given the new name Sangharāma.

The connection between Sangharāma and the Karmapas began when the emperor Yung Lo of the Ming Dynasty, wanting to learn more about the Buddhadharma, invited the Fifth Karmapa Deshin Shekpa to China. Sangharāma also heard the Karmapa’s teachings and witnessed various miracles; he was so impressed that he followed Deshin Shekpa back to Tsurphu in Tibet. Once there, he was given a new home on a mountain 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 during the Losar festival.

As Sangharāma is a mundane protector, the ritual cannot be performed in a sacred space so it is performed outside. This was the custom at Tsurphu Monastery, and it continues now at Tergar, where the ritual took place on the veranda in front of the shrine hall. A statue of Sangharama stood on an altar stationed at the main entrance to the shrine hall and the nuns stood to either side, dressed in full ceremonial costume: yellow prayer shawls; white leather and brocade boots; vests with a brocade inlay; and chabshu—the rectangular, brocade pouches which dangle from the waist and are a traditional part of ceremonial dress.In perfect harmony they sang the melodies of the ritual to the steady beat of the Chinese drum, punctuated by the clash of cymbals, and the ringing of a handbell.

In the final section of the puja, multiple Chinese firecrackers exploded abruptly, startling many of the on-lookers. This was for auspiciousness!

2024.02.11 Ritual Offering to the Tsurphu Protector Sangharāma
Wood Dragon Year Begins

Wood Dragon Year Begins

Tergar Shrine Hall and Monlam Pavillion
10 February 2024

At 8am on Losar morning, monks, nuns and laypeople all gathered together in Tergar’s Shrine Hall to bring in the Wood Dragon Year. The celebration began with some general prayers and rousing bodhicitta. Dechen Drupon Rinpoche acted as vajra master for the performance of a long-life offering to the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa.

The ritual used was The Three Roots Combined, in the form of Amitayus, a practice which originated as a terma of the 3rd Karmapa Rangjung Dorje. It was also used by the 8th Karmapa Mikyӧ Dorje whose yidam was Amitayus. These days, it is still the ritual traditionally used for making long-life offerings in the Karma Kamtsang.

After reciting the practice, usually the Lama is invited, but as the Gyalwang Karmapa was unable to be there, his brocade ceremonial cape was brought down from his quarters on the roof of Tergar and placed on the throne to symbolise his presence. Drupon Dechen Rinpoche first offered the mandala to Karmapa’s throne, followed by the eight auspicious substances, the seven articles of kingship, and the eight auspicious symbols.

At the conclusion of the ritual another mandala offering was made.

Following the ritual, sweet tea, Tibetan butter tea and sweet rice were served to all present in celebration. Then, everyone was given the opportunity to go up on the stage and offer katas to Karmapa’s throne. It was also possible to offer a kata to Chamgon Tai Situ Rinpoche’s throne and to Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche’s throne. As people exited the stage, all were given a blessing cord.

Everyone received a copious amount of kabsey—Tibetan fried biscuits which are a Losar treat—combined with fruit, sweets, and other edibles to take home.  As the congregation exited, Losar Tashi Deleks resounded across the shrine hall.

The morning ended with a festive lunch, sponsored by Tsurphu Labrang, which was served to VIP guests, khenpos, nuns, monks, staff and many lay people over in the Monlam Pavillion, which had been specially decorated with potted plants and flowers for the occasion.

This year’s Losar celebration is more subdued, in accordance with the Tibetan custom when there has been a death in the family. In this case, it was the passing of a great lama of the Karma Kamtsang, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, who was appointed as tutor to the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. For many years, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche served the teachings, benefitting many beings worldwide, and his contribution was commemorated during the recent Kagyu Monlam Chenmo

2024.02.10 Wood Dragon Year Begins