Gaden 2006

2 May 2009 - 12:24pm Comments Off

This is where our Guru, His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche comes from. And this is where you will witness the timeless traditions of the Buddha Dharma being taught and practised.

In Gaden, they value and revere their Gurus the most; close second is their Buddhist texts because it is through their Gurus that the teachings and understanding of these teachings can take place. Most importantly, this is how the precious teachings can be passed from one generation to the next, to form that sacred unbroken lineage which can traced all the way to the original immortal beloved Guru: BUDDHA.

Gaden Monastery in South India

In April 2006, Rinpoche took 62 of us to Gaden, India. We arrived at the break of dawn amid the soft mesmerising chants of monks attending a puja dedicated especially to us. We were told that they did not have to participate at all, and attendance was purely voluntary.

H.E. Tsem Rinpoche receives a grand welcome from the monastery

3000 monks fill the Lachi and the courtyard beyond

When we walked into the main prayer hall of Gaden Lachi, we were greeted by over 3000 monks chanting away, deeply engaged in the puja. This was their gift or offering to us, and to welcome back their much loved Dharma brother, our Rinpoche, after more than 12 years of absence.

Enter the pilgrims, all 62 of them!

Throughout the puja, Rinpoche took the time to explain in detail what the puja meant and the significance of it. We were later treated to a hearty breakfast of Tibetan butter tea and Tibetan bread, specially prepared for us from the monastery’s kitchen.

Rinpoche gives an explanation of the proceedings

After digesting our breakfast, we all readied to make our own offering to the monks in return. The offerings comprised of 3000 Manjushri statues, robes and money to gift to each monk. Everyone, including little monks as young as five years old, received the very same offerings.

The pilgrims offerings 3000 sets of robes...

... and 3000 Manjushri statues to the Sangha of Gaden!

Making offerings to H.E. Kensur Konchok Tsering Rinpoche

Making offerings to the Sangha

Rinpoche explained that the offering of Manjushri statues was especially rewarding because Manjushri is the Buddha of Wisdom. The recipients will be blessed by Manjushri and gain realisations in their academic pursuits, while the givers will receive multitude of merits in return.

The younger monks wait patiently in the courtyard just outside the main prayer hall...

... until it is their turn to receive the offerings from the Kechara pilgrims

At last the offerings are completed....

After we had completed making our offerings, we left the main prayer hall to begin our official tour of the monastery, so fortunate were we to have our Guru as our immaculate tour guide.

... and the monks return to their quarters

We began with the visit to Rinpoche’s root Guru’s residence, H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche. The current Zong Rinpoche is the young reincarnation of the late Guru who had personally taught Rinpoche. We made extensive offerings to His Holiness and our Guru took the opportunity to update his Guru on the developments of Kechara. Zong Rinpoche commended Rinpoche for all the wonderful work that he has been doing and urged him to continue teaching the Dharma.

H.E. Tsem Rinpoche and his root guru, H.H Kyabje Zong Rinpoche

Explaining about Kechara's work in Malaysia

Then Rinpoche led us to a little shack just outside of Zong Rinpoche’s house. Located next to a cowshed, this shanty-like abode was where Rinpoche had lived for several years before coming to Malaysia. Rinpoche remarked that he had been extremely happy living in that shed, because he could truly engage in his Dharma practice. Rinpoche said that above all, he valued being within walking distance of the many great Masters in Gaden.

Rinpoche's old room in Zong Ladrang

From there, we made more visits to many Living Buddhas in Gaden. They are known as such because the Dharma comes alive from the teachings, and teachings can only take place with a Guru. Without the Guru, a student’s understanding of the Dharma may be lacking or worse, be misunderstood and misinterpreted. So, an audience with a Guru, or a Living Buddha is most priceless indeed.

Making offerings to H.E. Ken Rinpoche, the Abbot of Gaden Sharts

A meeting of two great minds - H.E. Tsem Rinpoche and H.E. Sharpa Choeje Rinpoche

Rinpoche made sure that we had the golden opportunity to have an audience with not just one, but several Living Buddhas that day. From the current Abbot of Gaden, to the former Abbot of Gaden, we even went to neighbouring Drepung Monastery to pay our respects to another venerable Lama, Gen Wangchen. In between, we had the good fortune to make various offerings to the many sacred statues all over Gaden.

In the Setrapkhang - the Protector House

Making offerings is a most blessed practice for any aspiring Dharma student, to collect merits and to create an affinity to what we are making an offering towards. So, for example, if we were making an offering to Lama Tsongkhapa, we are making an aspiration to become just like him or to cultivate the many great qualities that he possessed during his lifetime. We would be collecting huge amount of merits to enable our Dharma practice to be expedited, or deepened.

Tsongkhapa and two disciples

As the sun began to set on the horizon, we made our way back to Gaden from Drepung Monastery. We had one final stop to make before going back to our hotel, and that was to have a private audience with the holy Geshe Yeshe. Rinpoche explained that when a monk holds his vows with commitment, he will exhibit clear, visible signs of his attainments. In the case of Geshe Yeshe, he exudes a faint fragrant scent around him because he has kept his vows very well.

After a short Dharma discourse that Rinpoche gave in Geshe Yeshe’s residence, we bid farewell to Gaden, and left with mementos of our very own consecrated Manjushri statues, numerous photographs and most of all, the immeasurable blessings and learning gained.

At the end of the day, it is not the majestic walls and golden rooftops that make Gaden Monastery so special. It is the sacred works that those walls protect and proliferate. These divine teachings are passed down from one generation to another, through each Living Buddha. And when students commit themselves to the true learning of the Dharma from their Gurus, they will also, in time, become a Living Buddha themselves.

Happy young faces

New robes!

This is what perpetuates the essential thread of a divine unbroken lineage. This is perhaps why Gaden can be re-established in India even after its destruction in Tibet. Its spirit will never dim or fade, however the world chooses the change with time. In this respect, Gaden can be truly anywhere in the world. In this respect, Gaden can never be destroyed.

A grand puja was held in the monastery before the pilgrims returned home

Our journey to Gaden was documented and you can obtain a copy of the DVD from any of the Kechara Paradise outlets or the Kechara e-shop to witness what our journey was all about. Better yet, make your own journey to Gaden with Kechara Discovery, and gain an experience of a lifetime.

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