His Holiness Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje presided over the 2003 Pal Nyammay Kagyupay Sangha Monlam Chenmo (the Great Monlam Aspiration of the Glorious Unequaled Kagyu Sangha) in Bodhgaya, the place of Buddha Shakyamuni's enlightenment. This annual international gathering of eminent teachers and ordained and lay sangha of the Karma Kagyu lineage took place from December 30, 2003 through January 7, 2004.
The Monlam included the daily recitation of the extensive Monlam Choga and the King of Noble Aspiration Prayers. Each day concluded with the Mahakala sadhana.
During the Monlam, His Holiness Karmapa offered an ongoing teaching on Je Gampopa's Jewel Ornament of Liberation, and presented a special teaching of Gampopa's classic text in the evenings to the non-Tibetan sangha, which was translated into English.
On January 1, the Karmapa, Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche, Bokar Rinpoche, and Kalu Rinpoche took time to visit the nearby Maitreya Project where, along with Lama Zopa Rinpoche, they performed a ceremony honoring Buddha Maitreya. On January 6, His Holiness performed a purification for the deceased and bestowed the White Tara Empowerment, after which he gave an extensive teaching on the practice and visualization of White Tara.
Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche joined the Karmapa and the Monlam sangha on the final day, January 7, for a Vajrasattva tsok. Also that day, shedra monks, who participated in the annual Kagyu Gonchos (religious debate competition) in December, demonstrated their debating skills before His Holiness and all those assembled at the Monlam.
En route to Bodhgaya, His Holiness stopped in Delhi, where he offered teachings to a delegation of dharma students from Taiwan on December 26. The Karmapa traveled to Bodhgaya on December 27, and returned to Delhi to participate in the Global Peace Day on January 4, 2004, an event sponsored by the All India Religious Leaders Association. His Holiness returned to Bodhgaya on January 5 to preside over the final days of the Kagyu Monlam.
Following the Monlam, he returned to his temporary residence at Gyuto Ramoche Tantric University near Dharamsala, where he resumed his study of English in addition to his ongoing studies, and continued to hold public weekend audiences.
His Holiness Karmapa celebrated Losar, the Tibetan New Year, and the arrival of the Year of the Wood Monkey on February 21 at Gyuto. He presided over a morning puja at 6:00 a.m., and at 7:00 a.m. in the Main Assembly Hall, 300 Gyuto monks made an elaborate long-life mandala offering to His Holiness. The Karmapa led the traditional end-of-year Mahakala puja from February 17-19.
During the first two days of Losar, hundreds of devotees from throughout India and the Himalayan region flocked to Gyuto Ramoche Tantric University for an audience with His Holiness, and on February 23, he held an audience for a delegation of Korean buddhists.
His Holiness Karmapa joined His Holiness the Dalai Lama for a special Losar lunch at the Dalai Lama's residence in Dharamsala on February 23.
At the invitation of the Tibet Study Group, His Holiness Karmapa travelled to Delhi in late February, where he gave a public talk at the India International Centre on February 27 on "Love and Compassion: the Mantra of Avalokiteshvara, Om Mani Padme Hum." On February 28, he offered a Rechungpa Lineage Long-Life Empowerment outdoors at Buddha Jayanti Park. His Holiness was joined in Delhi by Bokar Rinpoche.
At Tso Pema with His Holiness the Dalai Lama
From Delhi, His Holiness Karmapa and Bokar Rinpoche joined His Holiness the Dalai Lama on March 1 at Tso Pema in Rewalsar, Himachal Pradesh, where the Dalai Lama offered teachings and an empowerment on Guru Rinpoche day, the auspicious tenth day of the first month. This ceremony takes place at Tso Pema on the tenth day of the first month in the monkey year (every twelve years). An estimated 40,000 people attended the ceremonies.
While in Tso Pema, the Karmapa also spent time visiting Dzigar Monastery, and practiced in the auspicious Guru Rinpoche cave near the lake.
Every day from March 7-22, His Holiness Karmapa attended His Holiness the Dalai Lama's annual teachings in Dharamasala. This year's teachings were on Patrul Rinpoche's Words of My Perfect Teacher, as well as the songs of Milarepa. At the same time, His Holiness Karmapa continued his personal studies with Bokar Rinpoche at Gyuto Ramoche Tantric University. From March 7-18, these sessions were held in the mornings to accommodate the Karmapa's attendance at the Dalai Lama's talks.
His Holiness Karmapa joined His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Kyabje Ling Rinpoche on March 23 as guests at the opening day of the tenth annual Shoton (Great Yogurt Festival) at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) in Dharamsala. The crowd of nearly 2,000 who gathered for the opening ceremonies were all served fresh yoghurt in the Tibetan tradition, and enjoyed performances of lhamo (traditional Tibetan opera). Eight lhamo troupes from throughout India and Nepal presented brief performances during the opening day, and performed over the ten days of the festival under a giant canopy in the TIPA courtyard. His Holiness Karmapa is an admirer and supporter of lhamo and has attended the Shoton for the past two years.
His Holiness Karmapa attended three days of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Chakrasamvara Initiation from March 25-27. The Dalai Lama offered the complete empowerment, reading transmission, and practice instructions of this highest yoga tantra over the course of ten days in Dharamsala, at the request of the Loseling Tulku Association.
Later that month, His Holiness Karmapa was a guest at the Tsechu chams at Tashi Jong, Khamtrul Rinpoche's Drukpa Kagyu monastery in Bir, Himachal Pradesh, on March 30 and 31 (Guru Rinpoche day).
From Bir, His Holiness traveled from April 1-6 to Paonta Sahib in Himachal Pradesh, and Mussoorie, Rajpur, Clement Town, and other Tibetan settlements around Dehra Dun in Uttaranchal. During this trip, the Karmapa visited Tibetan Homes Foundation Schools, Tibetan Children's Village Schools, and a home for the elderly. He gave teachings on loving-kindness and compassion, offered the Amitayus Long-Life Empowerment, and attended a variety of cultural programs performed on his behalf by students and members of these Tibetan refugee communities.
On his way from Paonta Sahib to Mussoorie, groups of Tibetans gathered along the side of the road to catch a glimpse of His Holiness as he passed in his car. Some constructed decorative archways over the road through which he would pass. During his time in Mussoorie, the Karmapa received personal visits by many eminent Rinpoches who traveled from their monasteries in the region to pay their respects.
While in Rajpur, the Karmapa paid a special visit to His Holiness the Sakya Trizin at the Sakya Centre, the main seat-in-exile of the Sakya lineage. There, Sakya Trizin made a mandala offering to His Holiness Karmapa and hosted a tea reception for the Karmapa and his entourage., The Karmapa next travelled to Clement Town, where he paid a brief visit to Minling Trichen Rinpoche, head of the Nyingma sect, at Mindroling Gompa. At Mindroling, the Karmapa visited and consecrated the Buddha and Lhabab chortens.
His Holiness Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje concluded a week-long intensive retreat at the private residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama on April 17.
His Holiness Karmapa's nineteenth birthday was celebrated June 26 on a grand scale at Gyuto Ramoche Tantric University. (In the Tibetan tradition this would be counted as his twentieth birthday.) Well over 5,000 devoted followers and distinguished guests attended the day-long festivities.
The morning began auspiciously with a brief rain shower, and by 9:00 a.m. the sky was clear and the pleasant weather continued through the day. Six hundred guests filled the Main Shrine Room at Gyuto, including His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche; chief guest Lobsang Nyima, Minister of Home Affairs of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile; numerous officials and dignitaries of the Central Tibetan Administration; and administrators and directors of the many Tibetan schools in the area.
In the morning, His Eminence Situ Rinpoche, Thupten Tulku Rinpoche of Gyuto Monastery, and Lobsang Nyima offered mandalas to His Holiness Karmapa. Additional mandalas were offered by the Tsurphu ladrang and Kagyu groups from Taiwan and Malaysia. Speeches and a cake-cutting ceremony were also part of the day's activities.
Outside, in front of the main temple, 5,000 to 6,000 devoted followers gathered and enjoyed a series of performances staged for His Holiness. These included the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts; a troupe from the Tibetan Children's Village School in Suja; members of several Tibetan associations including the Markham, Tew Khampa, Dradyap, Dege, Bokar, and the Tashijong Tibetan Youth Associations; and solo musicians Tenzin Choegyal, Sithar, and Yangchen. The full day of activities concluded at 5:00 p.m.
The 400 resident Gyuto monks greatly assisted with the production of the day's activities including setting up the shrine room, and preparing and serving food to the guests.
The Tsechu chams
His Holiness Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje presided over the Tsechu chams (ritual lama dances of Guru Rinpoche) on June 27 at Pema Awam Choegar Gyurmeling Monastery in Bir. On June 28, His Holiness Karmapa joined His Holiness the Dalai Lama at his main temple in nearby Dharamsala, where they attended the opening Tsechu ceremony conducted by Nechung Dorje Drayang Ling Monastery. Kalon Tripa Samdhong Rinpoche also attended.
Future Kagyu Monlams
A meeting to present plans for future Kagyu Monlams was convened by His Holiness Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje on July 28 and 29 at Gyuto Ramoche Tantric University. Representatives from Tilokpor Nunnery and eighteen Karma Kagyu monasteries from India, Nepal, and Sikkim gathered to hear His Holiness outline new codes of discipline that will be followed at the annual Pal Nyammay Kagyupay Sangha Monlam Chenmo (the Great Monlam Aspiration of the Glorious Unequaled Kagyu Sangha) in Bodhgaya, India. Those holding gelong vows (monks and nuns) will wear a more consistent and traditional set of robes, and will eat only one meal a day at noontime from their traditional begging bowls. His Holiness Karmapa also announced that he will compose a new prayer to be included in the daily Monlam liturgy. Finally, members of other Kagyu schools, such as the Drikung and Drukpa Kagyu, will be invited to participate.
The tradition of the Kagyu Monlam was initiated by the Seventh Karmapa Chodrak Gyatso (1454-1506) in Tibet and was revitalized in exile in 1983 by Kalu Rinpoche at Bodhgaya.
Tenga Rinpoche was in residence at Gyuto during July and August and continued to teach His Holiness Karmapa many of the tantric rituals of the Karma Kagyu lineage. On August 10, the twenty-fifth day of the lunar month, Tenga Rinpoche joined His Holiness Karmapa in performing the monthly Dorje Phagmo (Vajravarahi) puja as can be seen in the photo gallery.
All were saddened by the death of Venerable Bokar Rinpoche on August 17 in India. Bokar Rinpoche was the spiritual heir of the last Kalu Rinpoche and holder of the Shangpa Kagyu lineage, and has been training and transmitting that lineage to the current Kalu Rinpoche. Bokar Rinpoche served as a teacher to His Holiness Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, and was a driving force behind the organization of the annual Kagyu Monlam in Bodhgaya.
His Holiness Karmapa was joined by Tenga Rinpoche and members of the sangha in residence at Gyuto Ramoche Tantric University in performing special prayers for Bokar Rinpoche on August 18. At the conclusion of that practice His Holiness composed an aspiration prayer for the rebirth of Bokar Rinpoche.
His Holiness Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje traveled to the monastery of Bokar Rinpoche, Bokar Ngedhon Choekhor Ling in Mirik, West Bengal, India, to preside over the funeral and concluding pujas for Bokar Rinpoche from October 4-6. 15,000 devotees from throughout Sikkim (including all the monks from Dharma Chakra Centre and members of the Rumtek lay community), Nepal, Bhutan, and Northern India traveled to Mirik to receive blessings from His Holiness.
During his time in Mirik, His Holiness Karmapa visited the local Sambhota Tibetan School and spoke to the student body. On the afternoon of October 5, he delivered an address to the huge crowd of disciples who had gathered, and later offered the empowerment of Chenrezig to the entire assembly.
His Eminence Gyaltsab Rinpoche, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, Kalu Rinpoche, and others had been at the monastery in Mirik since shortly after Bokar Rinpoche's death, along with monks from Dharma Chakra Centre and Gyaltsab Rinpoche's monastery at Ralang. They participated in the day long prayer ceremonies that took place during each of the 49 days following Bokar Rinpoche's death on August 17.
[Read a brief summary of
His Holiness' activities while in Mirik.]
Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and other distinguished visitors
International award-winning actor and director Shekhar Kapur visited His Holiness Karmapa in early September to seek advice and blessings for a new film Kapur is developing inspired by the life and teachings of the Buddha. Accompanying Kapur was Dr. B.K. Modi, one of India's leading high tech business leaders who has played a prominent role in several Indian Buddhist organizations.
A delegation of the All Party Indian Parliamentary Forum for Tibet, a group composed of members from both houses of the Indian parliament, paid a special visit to His Holiness Karmapa at Gyuto on September 14. The Tsurphu ladrang hosted a lunch in honor of the distinguished guests.
Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and over twenty members of the Shambhala sangha received a long-planned audience with His Holiness Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje at Gyuto Ramoche Tantric University on September 15. Sakyong Rinpoche is the son of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and the spiritual director of the Shambhala network of international meditation and retreat centers. During their visit, His Holiness gave the group the reading transmission for the Four-Session Guru Yoga by the Eighth Karmapa, Mikyo Dorje. Sakyong Rinpoche joined His Holiness Karmapa for a private lunch in his residence while the Tsurphu ladrang hosted a lunch for Shambhala International president Richard Reoch and the members of his group.
His Holiness Karmapa was invited by the Tibetan Children's Village School in Gopalpur, Himachal Pradesh to be the guest-of-honor at their sixth annual Sports Day and prize distribution on October 9.
He joined His Holiness the Dalai Lama in celebrating the forty-fourth anniversary of the Tibetan Children's Village School in Dharamsala on October 24. The events at the largest exile school for Tibetan children included cultural performances, yoga demonstrations, the Inter-TCV Athletics Meet, and a performance of lhamo, Tibetan opera, by the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts.
His Holiness Karmapa left Gyuto Ramoche Tantric University on November 14 to visit Thrangu Rinpoche's Vajra Vidya Institute in Sarnath, and arrived there on November 17 to preside over the annual Kagyu Gonchos (religious debate competition). This year's competition of 300 top debating students from the five major Karma Kagyu monastic colleges (including Karma Shri Nalanda Institute) in India and Nepal began on November 14 and concluded on December 13. In addition to presiding over the vigorous daily debating sessions, His Holiness also offered teachings on riglam, buddhist dialectics.
Shortly after arriving in Sarnath, His Holiness visited the nearby Central Institute for Higher Tibetan Studies where he offered blessings to a gathering of 700.
In addition to his duties at the Karma Gonchos, the Karmapa held audiences with disciples and visitors each day from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.
His Holiness Karmapa traveled from Sarnath to Bodhgaya on December 18 to preside over the entire twenty-second annual Pal Nyammay Kagyupay Sangha Monlam Chenmo (the Great Monlam Aspiration of the Glorious Unequalled Kagyu Sangha) from December 19 to 26. A younger generation was at the forefront this year, with Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche and Kalu Rinpoche joining His Holiness at the head of the assembly of over 3,000 monks and nuns, and hundreds of Tibetan and foreign lay disciples.
New, more formal codes of discipline directed by His Holiness in July were implemented. For example, all ordained sangha had their heads freshly shaved, wore full monastic robes, and ate a single meal each day. Sojong and Bodhisattva Vows were taken each morning before sunrise.
His Holiness also made changes to the selection of some of the liturgies to make the Monlam more inclusive of other Kagyu traditions, and composed a new prayer for the occasion. Revised prayer books were printed and used this year.
His Holiness continued with last year's teaching in Tibetan to the full Monlam assembly on Je Gampopa's Jewel Ornament of Liberation. He also taught on the Seven Points of Mind Training to foreign students in the evenings in the main hall at Shechen Monastery.
Following the Kagyu Monlam, His Holiness Karmapa stayed in Bodhgaya for several days and assembled a gathering of all the heads of the myriad temples in Bodhgaya to join each other for tea and share prayers in their respective traditions and languages for the benefit of the victims of the earth quake and tsunami in South Asia. His Holiness left Bodhgaya on January 1, 2005 for Delhi.