Pujas (prayer sessions / offerings) have a lot of significance…
It is not just a prayer that we make when we need help with something or want to ask for something. They can have very deep meaning and can really bring so many different types of benefits to ourselves and people around us.
I have written an article before about what it means to do pujas. I explained how it can literally help people and why it is an important part of our practice for developing compassion and care for others. There is a lot of meaning behind all the rituals, recitations, altar offerings and set-up. You can read it here.
About 3 years ago, two of my friends from Gaden Shartse Monastery, Ven. Kating Rinpoche and Gen Lobsang Yeshe, came to KL to teach some of my students how to do some of the pujas that are done often in the monasteries. The monks taught my students how to do the pujas exactly the way that the Sangha in monasteries have been doing them for hundreds of years.
Together with my students, the monks spent many weeks transliterating the prayers from Tibetan to English phonetics (my students don’t speak Tibetan and Gen-la does not speak English! Kating Rinpoche helped to translate between them.)
After the pujas were transliterated into English, the monks taught them how to make the traditional tormas (ritual cakes which represent food offerings), and all the recitation and rituals for each puja. Some of them were very complex and involved a lot of elaborate set-up but the monks patiently taught our Kechara members how to do everything, so they would be able to do the pujas on their own in the future, when the monks were not around.
After the monks returned to Gaden, the puja group practised each puja a minimum of six times each on their own, including making the tormas and setting up the altar, as they had been taught. After they had fully mastered the pujas themselves, they taught it to other people in Kechara House, so that it can be available for people who need pujas done for whatever situation they are facing. Since then, two of the pujas they learnt have become a part of the weekly pujas in Kechara House – Drolchok (Tara) and Menlha (Medicine Buddha). How wonderful that we can now offer these blessed pujas to Malaysians and people around the region. These pujas, which have been done for hundreds of years in the monasteries by the Sangha are very powerful methods for us to overcome difficulties, create huge amounts of merit and invite protection, good health and long life.
Below there are some short explanations of the different pujas that the hardworking puja group have learnt from the monks.
If you wish to sponsor any of these pujas or have them done in dedication of your loved ones, please contact [email protected]
Yes in Kechara House we can do authentic blessed pujas for the public now after much training. The pujas are from the 600 year old Gaden Monastery.
Kechara House Puja Team
A regular get-together to do pujas.
After receiving training, KH members will be performing these pujas exactly the way they are done in the monasteries.
Part of the training includes learning how to make all the tormas (food offerings) and altar set-up, which is different for each puja.
Students learning how to mix the torma dough, which includes ground oats, sugar, honey, milk, melted butter and yoghurt (all representing white substances).
Part of the training includes learning how to make all the tormas (food offerings) and altar set-up, which is different for each puja.
This is an incense offering prayer which is very good for removing obstacles, especially during urgent situations when we don’t have much time to do a long ritual. It is also very good if we do recite this prayer and offering sang (incense) just before we embark on a big new project, activity, event or travel. It can help us to clear immediate obstacles to our endeavours.
Offering incense is also a very powerful way to create the cause / karma to be able to hold our vows and live in very ethical, pure ways.
For this prayer, you offer a special mixture which includes oats, honey, sugar, some yoghurt, beans and a lot of incense, as much as possible. It is usually, offered outside the building as it can become quite smokey; then you recite the prayer. At the same time, the ritual includes hanging prayer flags outside the home, in dedication of the sponsor.
Mixing the special oat mixture together with the incense.
Burning the incense outside the premises.
Hanging up auspicious prayer flags.
This is a Tara puja – a very beautiful prayer that includes many verses of offering and the famous Praises to the 21 Taras, which are recited many times throughout the puja. Tara is known to be very swift for answering our requests and wishes. She is very helpful especially for making Dharma wishes come true and helping Dharma work and practice to grow. It is very good to engage in Drolchok practice if we wish for success, harmony and smoothness in whatever we are doing.
Kechara House now does Drolchok pujas every Sunday evening at 5pm.
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Menlha (Medicine Buddha)
There are eight sets of offerings made to each of the eight Medicine Buddhas. The set-up is very simple, so you can even do this puja at home on your own.
The Medicine Buddha puja is now done in Kechara House every Wednesday at 8pm and has become one of the most popular pujas. It’s a very profound and beautiful practice for healing of all levels – physical healing (when we wish to pray for someone who is ill), emotional and mental healing. It is especially a very powerful way to help people who are suffering from sicknesses and even for families or friends of people who are sick. It’s also very good for people in the healing profession (e.g. doctors, nurses, therapists, counselors, masseurs, energy healers etc) to do Medicine Buddha’s practice to make their healing work more efficacious and effective.
At the highest level, Medicine Buddha’s practice “heals” us of the greatest “illness” of the 3 poisons – ignorance, attachment and hatred. This is what keeps us in samsara, so being cured of these poisons is very, very important for us to gain realisations and attainments, and get closer to Enlightenment.
This is a puja done towards Namgyalma, one of the three most well-known long-life deities (the other two are White Tara and Amitayus). Namgyalma’s practice, in general, is very powerful for bestowing long life or extending one’s life, healing illnesses and protecting us from negative interferences / spirit disturbances.
It is said that reciting her long mantra three times over an animal is powerful enough to prevent them from taking rebirth in lower states. There are many beautiful stories related to how Namgyalma’s practice has saved beings from being reborn as animals or in suffering states.
This puja that the monks taught Kecharians is helping to clear for obstacles, especially in relation to health and illnesses. The tormas which are made as well as the ritual are structured towards removing obstacles and then inviting in good health, abundance and all good things. A part of the ritual includes long-life pills (“tseri”) which are made together with all the tormas and long-life nectar (“dutsi”) – during the puja, there are times when participants will all eat some of the tseri and drink a few drops of the dutsi. This is also passed out to everyone as a blessing for long-life after the puja.
This puja is related to the Heart Sutra, one of the most central and important sutras of the Buddhist cannon. It is often prescribed during divinations to clear negative spirit disturbances; people who are afflicted by spirit disturbances are also sometimes advised to recite the Heart Sutra as it is also very helpful to the spirits who come looking for help.
For this puja, we have to make tormas for the spirits (called “lus”) that are offered to the spirits during the ritual. There is also what we call a “sponsor lu” which is a torma made into the shape of a person, in the likeness of the sponsor. The sponsor lu is dressed in beautiful cloths, including a piece of the sponsor’s own clothing and a photo of the sponsor, and adorned with materials like iron, copper, silver and gold (or representations of these items).
During the ritual, we invite the spirits to come and we draw their attention towards the sponsor lu, telling them how beautiful and wealthy this version of the sponsor is. The representations of gold, silver, copper etc that we placed on the lu symbolise his wealth, that he has many extensive resources. The sponsor lu, together with all the lu offerings are then taken out of the room; the spirits and obstacles then follow this version of the sponsor instead, freeing the actual real sponsor of any further disturbance.
In the middle of the puja, before tormas are taken out, there is also a very long recitation of the Heart Sutra – 9 times for each spirit lu that is placed on the altar. This amounts to 252 recitations of the Heart Sutra, which generates a tremendous amount of merit for the sponsor, puja participants and even the spirits.
During the Gyabshi ritual, we make prayers to and request Buddha Shakyamuni to “talk” to and bless the spirits before we send them away.
Gyabshi means “400 offerings” which refers to the offerings that are made to the 400 obstacles during the ritual – we offer up 100 stupas, 100 candles and 200 lu tormas throughout the puja.
Gyabshi is is normally only for very severe cases, where obstacles cannot be removed by other means. In this case, obstacles can mean spirit disturbances, very severe illnesses or even obstacles which could pose a danger to our lives such as very difficult financial or legal cases, physical threats etc
During the puja, we invoke the blessings and protection of Yamantaka, Setrap and Buddha Shakyamuni, to assist in removing the obstacles. Then, there are many, many offerings made throughout the puja to generate merit for the sponsor and also to appease the spirits or obstacle- maker.
The set-up is similar to Sheningdundok – there are also “lu” tormas made as offerings to the spirits and a “sponsor lu” made in the likeness of the sponsor. The spirits / obstacle-makers are invited to the place and we give them many offerings; we also instruct them to sit in front of Buddha to receive blessings and teachings from him. All the lu tormas and sponsor lu are then invited out of the building. This symbolises that the obstacle follows the tormas out and is no longer attached to the sponsor.
Or view the video on the server at: http://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/pujaVideoSetupKH.flv
The Dharma Protector, Lord Setrap who is the wrathful emanation of Amitabha Buddha, is an enlightened being manifesting as a worldly protector to help us directly and quickly. Sworn to protect the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni, Lord Setrap has been the Dharma Protector of Gaden Shartse Monastery for the past 600 years.
It is Lord Setrap’s task to clear our immediate obstacles and create conducive conditions for us to practise the Dharma. Thus in response to sincere prayers requesting his assistance, Setrap is well known for swiftly destroying outer (physical) obstacles and clearing inner (mental) obstacles for our spiritual progress.
With rich gold skin, Dzambala is renowned as the Buddha of Wealth. In the short term, he can help us overcome financial problems and bring material wealth.
Ultimately, Dzambala’s practice brings us spiritual wealth and helps us to overcome inner emotional poverty. Emotional poverty refers to afflictions such as our miserliness, greed and the inability to share.
Dzambala’s practice helps us dispel miserliness and develop generosity which is the real karmic cause for wealth. When we develop such generosity, all our material and emotional difficulties melt away and abundance will naturally fall upon us.
Thus when we propitiate Dzambala in a puja, he will help to invoke powerful wealth energy on many levels – material, emotional and spiritual.
Also known as White Umbrella or Sitātapatrā, Dukkar is regarded as a female counterpart to Avalokiteśvara, the bodhisattva of compassion. Like him, Dukkar manifests in many elaborate forms: having a thousand faces, arms and legs, or simply as a feminine deity of great beauty. Her speciality is the removal of obstacles related to legal cases, black magic, diseases and disturbances from 60 classes of spirits.
Dukkar puja is very effective for purifying the karma of being wrongly accused in arguments or legal cases, healing and strengthening the body against physical harm. She is also particularly efficacious in providing protection against spells, black magic and harmful supernatural forces. On a worldly level, Dukkar is very healing and helps to strengthen the body against physical problems – it is said that prayer to her fortifies our body so strongly that spirits literally cannot invade.
Manjushri (Jamphel Tsenchoe)
In the monasteries, Jampel Tsenchoe, or recitation of the 108 names of Manjushri, is a praise of Manjushri as the embodiment of all knowledge. This prayer is recited daily by young monks to sharpen their learning, memory, intellectual ability and prowess to prepare them for debate.
Invoking the energies of Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom, bestows upon us great clarity and the ability to study well. Manjushri helps to remove our temporary obstacles to learning so that we can gain great knowledge which will benefit ourselves and others.
This puja is extremely beneficial for students who are studying and preparing for examinations or for anyone seeking to gain higher wisdom.
Chokchu Munsel or The Sutra of the Great Vehicle called “The Exalted Dispeller of Darkness of the Ten Directions” can be recited to clear obstacles for people travelling for leisure, work or business, pilgrimages and students going abroad to study.
Leaving nothing to chance, have us perform the Chokchu Munsel on your behalf and leave with peace of mind.
Of the 10 Refuge Vows, four are focused on cutting negative habituation’s related to speech. It is because words have power and can turn into physical obstacles. For example, people who practise black magic can create physical obstacles such as accidents, death, poisoning and sickness for others. Similarly, if people gossip about us enough, we can become sick, have accidents or encounter unpleasant incidents.
Recitation of Dorje Denmo is done specifically to cut the power of such words. It does not stop malicious speech but it can stop the effects of such talk. This is an effective defensive mechanism but ultimately it is more beneficial to find a permanent solution to this harm by decreasing or removing the cause of it in the first place. As the Buddha taught, cause resembles the result.
Lama Chopa Tsok Puja and recitation of the Lamrim (Stages of the Path to Enlightenment written by Lama Tsongkhapa) can be performed to accumulate merits for the deceased to take a good rebirth and help surviving relatives of the deceased to overcome their grief.
Ideally, it should be done within 49 days of the passing away of the deceased. This can be performed at the centre and need not be performed in situ as the purpose is the accumulation of merit to be dedicated to the deceased and this can be done from anywhere.
Soongdrup & Rabnye
Soongdrup is somewhat similar to Trusol, but its main aim is to consecrate statues instead of an environment.
Rabnye Puja is done to purify holy items like mantras as well as thumbdrives, photos etc that is to be placed into a statue. Before consecrating items into a statue, the items have to be purified and blessed thus the purpose of Rabnye is to do this.
Trusol is a sacred bathing the Buddhas ritual and consecration. In reality, Buddhas do not need to be bathed, but practitioners (and patrons) cleanse their own negativities, sicknesses and obstacles through this ritual.
This holy practice has been passed down to His Eminence from the great Abbot Emiritus of Gaden Shartse Monastery, His Eminence Kensur Jetsun Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche on 26th October 1991.
In the year 2008, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche taught a small group of 5 students this ritual, which was passed down through and practised in Gaden Shartse Monastery, initially for the purpose of blessing the land for the future Kechara World Peace Centre.
This ritual is commonly done to bless Buddha images, temples, homes, offices or new places. The water from Trusol can also be used for cleansing the chakras.
When it is a new place, there is no positive or negative energy. Therefore, before it starts collecting negative energy, we bless the place with positive energy first.
We are not Buddha or Enlighten Beings, we do not have the power to bless, but having the right motivation and compassion when we do the rituals, coupled with the Buddha’s blessings, the puja becomes a powerful blessing ritual.
It is Rinpoche’s wish that the lineage can be held by and passed down to local practitioners. The first group of students has since performed various blessings and consecrations, and now is ready to train up the second batch of Trusol-ers in Kechara.
Trusol is a safe and gentle ritual for non-initiatives to learn. Ritual is actually an inappropriate word to encapsulate the true meaning of trusol. In Tibetan, they call it “shabden” (not sure if spelling is correct).
Shabden means literally to stablize, to make firm, potent and to be blessed. So, when we do a trusol shabden, it stablizes the life of the person we are praying for, or the house, the environment, and even ourselves. It blesses the people and will even prolong their lives.
In Tibetan Buddhism, there are different pujas to counter specific problems. For example, a Manjushri Shabden or puja is best for countering stupidity or ignorance. Manjushri is the Buddha of Wisdom. To counter anger, we can perform a Chenrezig or Avalokiteshvara shabden or puja. Avalokiteshvara is the Buddha of Compassion.
Hence, to bless a new room, office, building, temple, we perform a Trusol Shabden or Puja. It is to bless the environment or place with positive and good energy, and to block the negative energy.
When we do a Trusol puja, we are infusing the walls, ceilings and floors of the rooms in a building with positive energy.
The water is the main essence in this puja. Here, water is symbolic for washing all the impurities and negativities away and to prepare the place or object to be blessed for something much better.
The mirror is another important substance in this puja. The mirror represents our mind. It reflects the outside as well as inside – what is within our mind and what we see on the outside.
In Buddhism, our mind is endless, as Shantideva said, “There are no limits to our minds.”
All that is needed is consistent training of the mind for it to become a mind of good memory, a mind of clarity and etc. With constant training, the mind becomes better and wider – limitless.
Therefore, we cheat ourselves when we counter Buddha’s teachings when we keep saying that we do not have good memory and our mind is inferior. We will also end up cheating everyone else around us with such a limited thinking. Hence, we should cast limitations on our minds when its capabilities are boundless.
There is the outer Buddha and there is the inner Buddha – our inner potential. The first step of transforming our mind is to surrender all our harmful actions of body, speech and mind. When our harmful habits and actions stop, then real transformation takes place. We stop limiting ourselves.
So, the mirror is symbolic representation of our mind. In Trusol, we flash the mirror around the environment, and everything will be ‘captured’ or reflected in the mirror. Everything is in the mirror.
We invite the Buddhas by taking refuge with the vajra and bell. We request of the Buddhas, “Out of great compassion, please come forth.”
When we ring the bell, it is like a huge Enlightened welcoming party for the Buddhas. Then we dissolve the Buddhas into the mirror and wash the Buddha, the Dharma and Sangha.
The Buddhas do not need to be cleansed but our negativities and bad karma need to be purified badly. So, this washing or bathing sequence in the puja represents the cleansing of everything that is impure and negative in us.
Whatever we offer up to the Buddhas, we make the best offerings that we can afford. It is not the Buddhas who need them, but we need them. Hence, by offering the very best we can afford to the Buddhas, we create the causes for us to receive in return. This applies to when we make food offerings, water offerings, etc.
And the merits we collected from doing this wonderful puja, we dedicate it back to the purpose or the cause of the puja.
So, after washing the mirror, we flash it back around the environment, putting everything back in place.
When we have more concentration, the puja becomes more effective and more beneficial.
This is exactly how they do it in Gaden Monastery and they perform the Trusol with about 300 monks together.
All these help us to do our Trusol puja well, because we are blessing something for someone, making it meaningful and beautiful for someone.
By the power of our motivation and combined with the Buddhas’ Blessings, it is very powerful, beneficial and effective.
This Trusol puja was taught by the great Lama Tsongkhapa. So, it is authentic and real.
Therefore, it is our honour to be able to learn this here and now. To be chosen to be trained is a great priviledge.
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