Serving Holy Monks

13 May 2009 - 2:33am 1 Comment

Serving Holy Monks

An appeal

by Tsem Rinpoche

This write-up is about sponsoring monks of Gaden Shartse Shabten-khang. ‘Shabten’ means puja, and ‘khang’ means house, so Shabten-khang means ‘Puja House’. We have 23 settlements throughout India , in certain settlements Gaden Shartse Monastery has puja houses, some of which have been donated to them, and some rented. And the purpose is that monks are sent to these puja houses on a yearly basis and rotated in order to do puja for the lay community. The lay community all over has extreme needs for different types of puja to be done in their houses, and for them to actually travel all over India for that purpose is not possible, so they set up beautiful puja houses and the monks are chosen by the Sangha to go up there to do puja, and these monks are very good at pujas. So they stay in the puja house for 1, 2 or 3 years depending on the monastery.

This particular puja house that we are talking about is in Dharamsala, the Dharamsala Shabten-khang. It houses 25 monks and the weather there is very harsh, cold and extreme. They go for puja every single day, and the puja will last 10-12 hours including preparation, making of tormas and cleaning up afterwards. The monks that are being invited there ask for nothing, except the patrons that have the honor to invite the monks to do puja offer them free meal, and at the end of puja they usually give some money offering to the monks. When the monks return to the Shabten-khang, all the money are offered up to the manager, the manager takes account and sends the money back to main monastery of Gaden Shartse towards the food of the whole monastic system. So it involves a lot of work, it is very hard, and the monks that work in Shabten-khang are extremely selfless. They don?t have any money or sponsorship, they go for puja and all the money received go to Gaden Monastery, it is really a great benefit to the main monastery in the south.

So I would like to start a program for the Gaden Shartse Shabten-khang in Dharamsala. The program is this, for the 25 monks there, for a start I would like to offer each of them 100 rupees per month for their personal expenditure. Actually they require 500 rupees each for the 25 monks but I cannot afford that right now, so I am going to start with 100 rupees (about RM10) per monk per month, so that would be RM250 per month.

And every month I would also like to offer each of these monks one bar of soap to wash their bodies, detergent for their clothes, toothpaste. And also for the winter season I would like to offer them every year a brand new sweater or coat, because it is very very cold and freezing in north India . In fact it is so cold that the water pipe freezes and sometimes there will be no water for a few days in Dharamsala. I know this because I have stayed in the Shabten-khang myself. In addition I would also like to offer them two pairs of thick woolen strong socks of the correct color, that is either yellow, brown or maroon.

And I would also like to offer them a beautiful umbrella each, a foldable, convenient nice umbrella to give each of the monks, because precipitation there including rain, hail and snow is quite often. So it would be 25 umbrellas to the monks every single year there. The existing monks may need a new one, and the new monks that come will have an umbrella too.

And also once a month for a start, I would like to offer these monks one pure vegetarian meal. The manager or changtzo who is in-charge will go out and get supplies and buy very very good food, eggs, dairy products etc. and feed the monks one good meal once a month.

And the last thing is, there is a type of vitamin in India under the brand of Glaxo (price to be confirmed), I would like the changtzo of the Shabten-khang to buy 25 bottles (30 tablets inside) of such vitamins every month for the 25 monks, one bottle for each monk. The reason is that the monks? diet and nutrition are not very complete. And a lot of the monks suffer from all types of skin diseases and problems, scalp and skin diseases that arise from lack of nutrition which I have seen myself, and these problems are easily taken care of by vitamins.

The cost of all these will come out from the monks fund that people have generously donated and which I have saved up.

Gaden Shartse Shabten-khang has 25 monks and Gaden Jangtze also has a Shabten-khang up there in Dharamsala, and I would also like to offer the exact same things to Gaden Jangtze. I have not promised anything to Gaden Jangtze Shabten-khang yet because I would like to start of with Gaden Shartse Shabten-khang first for 1-2 months and make sure that everything is running well, and if it runs smoothly and if we can afford it and it is upkept, then we will start with Gaden Jangtze. That means we are taking care of 50 monks in north India by providing them essentials, so that they may efficiently do their puja to raise funds for the main mother monastery in south India which we have all visited.

So those of you who very much like to support the holy monks, to contribute and make donations to holy monks towards their soaps, detergents, toothpastes, and their monthly 100 rupees expenditure, coats and sweaters, umbrellas, vitamins, vegetarian meals, please make your donation directly through Paul Yap (6012-364 9797 or email him at or Liaison Jenny at our accountant, and he will keep track of all these. And the money will be sent to the main monastery in south India and all these things we bought to north India . The money that is collected through the puja in north India is collected every one or two months, and the monks will go to south India carrying the money personally and offer to the main monastery. Thus for example in August if they are to send down 10,000 rupees, instead of sending down these 10,000 rupees we send down our 5000 rupees to Gaden Shartse in south India, and they call up there to send their 5000 rupees, and the remaining 5000 rupees they use for supplies. So we save them the hassles of carrying things down, and also the money goes directly to the monastery.

These monks did not request me for these sponsorships. I saw the needs and would like to help. In the future I will send more people to north India to see this place.

Gaden Tsem Rinpoche

P/S: Right now there is a lot of old monks up there in Dharamsala and it is very very cold, so they have asked me to install a water heater in order for them to take warm bath. If you touch your body to the water, it will freeze you to your bone. And for older monks of above 50 years old and have arthritis, they suffer. I stayed in Dharamsala before for teachings for about a month, and I did not wash because it was too cold, and the water basically becomes ice. I had rashes inside of my thighs that were bleeding and pus was coming out from not washing. I went to the doctors and they checked it, no medicine, I bought one bottle of Dettol, mix it with water and wash it, within a few days it was gone, all because I did not take a bath. So when they tell me that they need a water heater for north India which is freezing, I had experienced that. I was young and a nobody at that time 15 years ago, so imagine for the monks with arthritis. We live in heaven and paradise in Malaysia . Right now they asked me to put one water heater, and I asked Venerable Kating Rinpoche to find out the price for me. If it is affordable I would put two.

One Response to Serving Holy Monks

  1. What Tsem Rinpoche sai d about the monks in Gaden Monastery is very very true. I am not surprised that when Rinpoche wants to start a fund to help the 25 puja monks he wont have much problem. During the time when he was staying in India he has already started doing this type of project. And he did it for the monks in both Shartse and Jangtse and his houseold monks also. From what I remember he arrange sponsorship from people in Malaysia to sponsor each monk at Rm40 per month and he will send a picture of the monk to the respective sponsors. I am glad Rinpoche is starting this project again. I rejoice very much.