Stunning Pilgrimage to Bodhgaya

Jul 30, 2017 | Views: 4,940
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If there were only one place in this world where all Buddhists must go on pilgrimage, it has got to be Bodhgaya. Every year thousands of Buddhist pilgrims make their way to Bodhgaya to circumambulate, recite mantras and prayers, engaging in retreats, meditation and rituals. This is the most important sacred spot for Buddhists from all over the world. This is the very spot where Prince Siddhartha Gautama became the perfect awakened Buddha by attaining full enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree 2600 years ago. It is also the place where all the past, present, and future Buddhas will appear again.

It is said that Buddha himself advised his students to go on pilgrimage to four holy sites after his passing. These are the places where he was born, achieved enlightenment, turned the wheel of dharma, and passed into parinirvana. In fact, these places will be the exact same locations where future Buddhas will return to take rebirth, attain enlightenment, teach and enter parinirvana again.

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Imagine the great Buddha Shakyamuni spends his days and nights on these locations, meditating, gaining visions and attainments, conquering Mara, and achieving supreme liberation from samsara. The Buddha did all this for the sake of all sentient being, to seek the truth and to find a way out of suffering and of cyclic existence of death and rebirth. Therefore, Bodhgaya is highly charged with Buddha’s potent wisdom and compassionate energy that can plant seeds of enlightenment in all who come to visit.

“Sacred power places are imbued with the blessed energy of the many enlightened Beings that have resided, practised and benefited countless other beings there.”

~ H.E. Tsem Rinpoche

By visiting holy places like Bodhgaya, we make a very deep and profound connection to the outer Buddha, and this creates the cause for us to realise the Buddhanature within. The merits we collect from going on pilgrimage will no doubt strengthen our spiritual practice not just for this life, but for our future lives as well. It can also open up karmic imprints which will encourage our spiritual growth. People often feel recharged or energised after going on pilgrimages.

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The significance of going on pilgrimage to the four holy sites as advised by Lord Buddha

1. When we visit the Buddha’s birthplace:

We create the karma to have control of our rebirth; create causes to be born in pleasant places where we will have the right conditions and opportunities to practise Dharma.

2. When we visit the place where Buddha attained Enlightenment:

Seeds are planted in our mindstreams for us to also gain Enlightenment; we go towards the path of Enlightenment in all future lifetimes; even if we fail to attain Enlightenment within Buddha Shakyamuni’s age, we create the causes to be among the foremost disciples of Maitreya, the future Buddha, when he manifests.

3. When we visit the place where Buddha first taught Dharma:

We create the karma for…

  • the Dharma to really go into our mind and we are able to transform when we receive the teachings
  • being able to sponsor, propagate and put our energy towards the growth of Dharma
  • being able to speak and share Dharma to others, to transform their lives

4. When we visit the place Buddha passed away:

We create the cause to increase our life to be able to engage in spiritual practice and gain enlightenment; we will not die ordinary deaths with fear, anxiety, and we create causes to have control over our death and rebirth.

 

What To Do

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Just by taking time off, planning and making arrangements to go on a pilgrimage to a holy place such as Bodhgaya, one purifies tremendous amount of negative karma as well as accumulate tremendous amount of merits. This is due to the blessings of Buddha Shakyamuni as well as your motivation to go there.

The moment you arrive in Bodhgaya you should generate a good motivation with these words by H.E. Tsem Rinpoche, “this is the place Lord Buddha gained enlightenment, this is the place where Buddha became attained, this is the place where Buddha reach his final journey and from that very spot, under the sacred tree where he became enlightened, he changed all our lives. We are all here, doing Dharma, learning, talking, discussing is because the Buddha gained full enlightenment.”

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Outside the Mahabodhi Stupa, there are many street vendors selling fruits, flowers, incense, and robes for the Buddha in three different sizes. You can purchase these to bring into the temple to make offerings to the sacred Buddha image inside.

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As you enter the great Mahabodhi Temple ground, you should be mindful to refrain from talking too loudly, not to idle chatter or gossip. It is a time to watch your body, speech and mind. You will notice many pilgrims there are monks and nuns from all over the world and everyone is practising awareness and some are even observing a silent retreat. Immediately try to find a quiet place to sit and engage in your prayers. You can chant or recite the preliminary prayers, and do a meditation on Buddha Shakyamuni’s life, contemplating on how he renounced the trappings of a worldly life as a prince, his great deeds thereafter and how he achieved full enlightenment. You can also recite one round of Migtsema mantras as it contains the blessings of all three great Buddhas, Manjushri, Chenrezig and Vajrapani – that embodies the energies of wisdom, great compassion and skilful means of Lama Tsongkhapa. Naturally, you can also chant any mantra you are comfortable and familiar with. Then at the end of your prayers, it is very auspicious and important to dedicate the merits generated with the recitation of the King of Prayers as advised by H.E. Tsem Rinpoche.

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After you are done with the prayers, then you may take your bowl of offerings and proceed inside the main Temple shrine. Make three prostrations and offer up your offerings to Lord Buddha. You may pass the robes to the monks who are there to assist. They will help you put the robes on the beautiful Buddha image. While you are making your offerings it would be good to think “whatever that is said in the King of Prayers may it all come true”, and offer up whatever is mentioned in the King of Prayers to Lord Buddha. When we think in this way and offer everything as mentioned in the King of Prayers, it is very complete and we do not have to worry that we may have missed something important. When we make aspirational prayers and invoke upon the Buddha’s blessings in such a holy place, we are creating a direct cause for us to achieve the same state of compassion and enlightened qualities as the Buddha himself.

H.E. Tsem Rinpoche offering robes to the Golden Buddha Shakyamuni image during a pilgrimage to Bodhgaya

H.E. Tsem Rinpoche offering robes to the golden Buddha Shakyamuni image in the sacred Mahabodhi Temple during a pilgrimage to Bodhgaya. Click to enlarge.

H.E. Tsem Rinpoche on the left and the monk caretaker of the temple helping Tsem Rinpoche place robes on to the Golden Buddha Shakyamuni image. Click to enlarge.

H.E. Tsem Rinpoche on the left and the temple caretaker monk on the right, helping Tsem Rinpoche place robes on to the golden Buddha Shakyamuni image. Click to enlarge.

A monk helping pilgrims to put on robes that was offered to Lord Buddha

A monk helping pilgrims to put on robes that was offered to Lord Buddha

After making your offerings, pause for a moment, gaze upon the beautiful majestic Lord Buddha, look at his beautiful face radiating at you and think how fortunate you are to be here in the very spot where Buddha gained enlightenment. Many pilgrims say that they can feel Buddha’s great compassion and some would even weep because the energy there is so potent and pure. After you are done, you can proceed outside and engage in as many circumambulations as possible while reciting mantras. Be aware of others and do not bump into people, especially the monks who are engaged in walking meditation. All around the temple complex, you will see many pilgrims engaging in many different practices from prostrating, chanting, mandala offerings to engaging in various rituals. It is a remarkable sight to rejoice, as every single person is there engaging in some form of Dharma practice.

Pilgrims engaging in one of the four preliminaries - prostration retreat

Pilgrims engaging in one of the four preliminaries – prostration retreat

Here is a very good short video to watch before heading to Bodhgaya by H.E. Tsem Rinpoche:

In 2004, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche giving refuge to a group of pilgrims from Malaysia, in front of the Mahabodhi Stupa

In 2004, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche giving refuge to a group of pilgrims from Malaysia, in front of the Mahabodhi Stupa

In 2004, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche giving refuge to a group of pilgrims from Malaysia, in front of the Mahabodhi Stupa

Other practices we can engage in when visiting Bodhgaya would be the four preliminary practices, especially Vajrasattva mantra recitation, prostrations and mandala offering. You can even do Vajrasattva and prostration together. It is extremely powerful to do these virtuous practices in such a holy place where the Buddha’s blessing is the strongest.

On the south side of the Temple complex, you will find butter lamp houses where you can light hundreds of butter lamps and dedicate it to your loved ones

On the south side of the Temple complex, you will find butter lamp houses where you can light hundreds of butter lamps and dedicate it to your loved ones

 

Map Of Bodhgaya. Click on image to enlarge.

Map Of Bodhgaya. Click on image to enlarge.

Location and Population

Bodhgaya is located in north India, in the state of Bihar, about 10 kilometres south of the city of Gaya. It is situated west of the Phalgu River (or Falgu River, also known as Niranjana River), a stream of the Ganges River. Based on India’s 2011 census, the population of Bodhgaya is 38,439.

 

Climate

Bihar lies near the junction of the Gangetic Plain and the Chota Nagpur plateau. In general, Bodhgaya is considered to be an area with warm and temperate climate, with an average temperature of about 26.5 °C with an annual rainfall of about 1017 mm.

In the summer months of April to mid-June, temperatures can be as high as 35-40°C.
Monsoon season is from June to September. During the months of October to November and February to March, you can expect pleasant weather conditions and this is probably the best time to visit. The winter months are from December to January is mildly cold with temperatures as low as 5 to 10 °C.

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A Brief History

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Prince Siddhartha Gautama was born in Lumbini, which is now Nepal, on a very auspicious day. He had witnessed what is known as The Four Sights and was very disturbed by the sufferings of mankind. Due to this, Prince Siddhartha decided to find out what was the cause of human suffering. In order to do that, he realises he must renounce palatial life he was born into. Consequently, Prince Siddhartha renounced his palace, his privileged life, his title, affluence and also his family at the age of 29. He renounced all that and became a mendicant in search of the truth. Siddharta wanted to find a way to end the cycle of birth and death. He studied under many teachers, practised penance and self- mortification, going through severe austerities for six years. He only ate one grain of rice a day and as a result became very frail and was just skin and bones. After realising that this practice of severe austerities was leading him nowhere near the truth, and in fact clouding his mind and killing his body, he decided to abandon it. His five ascetic companions who were with Siddharta condemned him for giving up on the practice and left him.

Buddha realised that the extreme practice of severe austerities was not the way to liberation decided to abandon it.

Buddha realised that the extreme practice of severe austerities was not the way to liberation decided to abandon it.

Siddharta then proceeded to the east bank of Niranjana River and there he was offered Kheer (rice-pudding with milk) by a Brahmin’s daughter named Sujata. After having his first meal in a long time, he realised that being too extreme in one’s practice, either self-indulgence or self-mortification is not the right way to liberation. Instead, the middle path is required to achieve enlightenment. He then descended to Bodhgaya, crossing the river to Uruvela and prepared a seat with kusha grass to begin his meditation under a peepal tree, which later became known as the Bodhi Tree. This is how the use of kusha grass came about and is used during Buddhist retreats. It symbolises the Buddha’s meditation seat, where he practised to gain enlightenment. Siddhartha was determined to find the truth and made a strong conviction that he would not leave his seat until he reached his goal and thus, he started his battle against Mara – the embodiment of his ego and delusions.

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Mara tried everything in his power to distract Siddharta but it did not disturb him at all. There were three significant moments in his meditation that is marked by the three watches of the night. During the first watch, Siddharta gained complete vision of all his past lives. During the second watch, he saw how beings die and took rebirth depending on their karma. On the final watch of the night, Mara fearing Siddharta was about to achieve full liberation, unleashed his army of demons in an epic battle. Mara’s demon horde shot flaming arrows toward Siddharta, but through the power of compassion, the arrows turned into flowers. Mara’s final attempt was to claim the seat of enlightenment for himself. He challenged Siddharta, asking who will speak for him, that is when Siddharta touched the earth with his right hand and said, “the earth is my witness”. The earth shook in agreement, and Mara and his army was defeated and they beat a hasty retreat. Siddharta then realised the complete cessation of craving and became the fully awakened Buddha at age 35.

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The word Buddha means the All Knowing One, the All Compassionate One, the One who can show us the Truth to end all suffering. Other common names to call Buddha are Bhagawan, Tathagata, Samyaksam, Sugata, and or Sambuddha. As for Buddha’s seat of enlightenment, it is called Vajrasana or the Diamond Throne. The tree which Buddha sat under is called the Bodhi tree.

After achieving enlightenment, the Buddha spent seven weeks in deep meditation, in seven significant places around the Bodhi tree. He contemplated on how rare it is to achieve this precious human life.

 

About Bodhgaya

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This holy site where Buddha gained enlightenment is now known as Bodhgaya. Buddhist disciples from all around the world would embark on a pilgrimage trip to this sacred place. It is especially popular during the full moon in the month of Vaisakha (between April to May), which is also known as Buddha Purnima or Vesak Day – the celebration of the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and entering into parinirvana.

Throughout history, Bodhgaya has been documented in numerous historical accounts. Two of the most notable accounts are from the Chinese pilgrims, Fa Xian during the 5th century, and Xuan Zang, during the 7th century. Bodhgaya remained the center of Buddhist civilization in India until the Turkish army invaded the area in the 13th century.

It was only until the 18th century that the name Bodhgaya was used, before that is was called Mahabodhi, Uruvela, Sambodhi, or Vajrasana. In the 6th century, the main monastery was called Bodhimanda-vihāra in Pali. Today it is known as the Mahabodhi Temple.

H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche with his guru H.E. Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche at Bodhgaya

H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche with his guru H.E. Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche at Bodhgaya. Click to enlarge.

Below are some of the names, Bodhgaya was called within two hundred years before its current name. The names used are all influenced by the historical events surrounding the Buddha’s enlightenment:

  • Sambodhi: Complete Enlightenment – The name was used during the reign of Emperor Ashoka, 3rd-century B.C.E.
  • Bodhimanda: The area around the Bodhi Tree
  • Vajrasana: The Diamond Throne
  • Mahabodhi: Great Enlightenment – This name can be traced back to as early as the 7th century CE.

It was not until the temple was excavated and restored in 1861, was the name Buddha-Gaya or Bodhgaya known to the world.

 

About Mahabodhi Temple

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The great Mahabodhi Temple or Mahabodhi Mahavihara, which is commonly known as the Bodhgaya Temple or the Great Stupa. The Mahabodhi Temple represents India’s greatest architectural achievement of that period. The Diamond Throne shrine was built over a red sand stone that marks the Buddha’s Seat of Enlightenment (Vajrasana), the site where the original Bodhi tree was, which is considered the Navel of the Earth as revealed by the Venerable Ashvaghosa in his written work entitled Buddhacarita.

The Mahabodhi Buddha statue is actually made from black stone and layers of gold has been offered on to his body by H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama

The Mahabodhi Buddha statue is actually made from black stone and layers of gold has been offered on to his body by H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama

The Mahabodhi Temple’s main gate was built facing the eastern direction, where the Buddha was facing when meditated under the Bodhi Tree. The measurement of Mahabodhi Temple’s base is 48 square feet. From the base to the top, it is shaped like a stupa or pyramid, and crowned with a miniature stupa and a chhatravali (crowning parasol), which sits on a platform. There are four smaller pyramid-like structures stupa is located at four corners of the main structure, which is said to represent The Four Noble Truths and the 4 Brahma Viharas (Four Buddhist Virtues). The larger structure represents The Noble Eightfold Path. You will also see many Buddha images carved all around its exterior. The total height of the Mahabodhi Temple is 180 feet.

Inside the temple houses a beautiful 11 feet tall golden image of the seated Buddha Shakyamuni, in the ‘earth-touching’ (Sanskrit: Bhumisparsha) mudra. The statue is actually made of a black stone, and later His Holiness the Dalai Lama offered layers of gold on it. This ancient Buddha image is said to be the closest likeness to the actual Buddha.

According to legend, the Mahabodhi Temple was built by the great King Ashoka to commemorate the spot where Buddha gained enlightenment

According to legend, the Mahabodhi Temple was built by the great King Ashoka to commemorate the spot where Buddha gained enlightenment.

Amazingly, four of the originally sculpted stone railings surrounding the temple, dating from the Sunga period (184–72 BC), have survived amid replicas. Several original sections of the gate are now housed within the archaeological museum.

According to legend, the Mahabodhi Temple was built by the great King Ashoka to commemorate and to mark the spot where Buddha gained enlightenment before the current temple was built. King Ashoka visited Bodhgaya about 280 years after the Buddha’s enlightenment. It is said that King Ashoka spent one week at Bodhgaya, just gazing at the Bodhi Tree. In addition, it is also reported that he made several pilgrimages to Bodhgaya. Hence, it was concluded that King Ashoka was the one who built the Mahabodhi Temple. The temple would be one of the 84,000 monuments that King Ashoka had built in the 3rd century B.C. But the temple construction would only be completed in the 7th century during the reign of the Gupta Kings. Over the course of its history, it has been restored several times. The Burmese King, Mindon-Min also contributed a lot to the restoration of the temple in 1874.

In 1883, a thorough scientific restoration and renovation of the temple was done under the supervision of the British Archaeologist, Sir A. Cunningham and J.D.M. Beglar, together with an Indian Archaeologist, Dr Rajendra Lal Mitra. In 1956, during the 2,500th anniversary of the Buddha’s birth, the Government of India engaged in a massive renovation work on the temple and the premise was enlarged.

Another side of the great Mahabodhi Temple ground with many miniature stupas

Another side of the great Mahabodhi Temple ground with many miniature stupas

The holy Mahabodhi Temple is under the protection, management and care of the state government of Bihar ever since India gained its independence. In 2002, the Mahabodhi Temple was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its “outstanding universal importance as it is one of the most revered and sanctified places in the world”.

Pilgrims all over the world, Buddhist as well as Hindus would come to Bodhgaya to engage in various spiritual practices and receive blessings

Pilgrims all over the world, Buddhist as well as Hindus would come to Bodhgaya to engage in various spiritual practices and receive blessings.

Pilgrims from around the world from all walks of life would come to worship and circumambulate around the temple in a devotional clockwise direction. The sea of yellow and maroon robes of the sangha of the various traditions could be seen as well as Tibetan monks performing rituals such as mandala offerings. All around the temple grounds, you will also see many pilgrims engaging in prostrations on their prayer board.

If you wish to be in complete solitude, the Meditation Park is a perfect spot

If you wish to be in complete solitude, the Meditation Park is a perfect spot

For those who prefer solitude, the recently developed Meditation Park is an ideal spot. Located in the south-east of the temple, it offers facilities such as meditation huts and discussion courts. There are also two huge prayer bells and two water fountains next to a lotus pond in this lovely park.

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The Golden Buddha Image

There are many legends and stories regarding the sacred Buddha image inside the Mahabodhi Temple. The earliest Buddha image that was discovered in Bodhgaya dates back to the year 383 CE. The statue is now displayed in the Indian Museum of Calcutta. Although much of it has been damaged, the Buddha’s face can still be seen having a peaceful yet determined facial expression, making it an extraordinary sculpture.

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In the 17th century, a Chinese Buddhist monk by the name of Hsuan-Tsang travelled to Bodhgaya, left a detailed description of the Mahabodhi Buddha image. The description states, “He (the statue) was facing the east and as dignified in appearances as when alive. The pedestal on which the statue rests was 12 feet 5 inches broad and 4 feet 2 inches high. The dimensions of the statue itself with his two knees were 8 feet 8 inches apart, two shoulders 6 feet 2 inches and 11 feet 5 inches high. The Buddha’s features are perfectly depicted and the loving expression of his face lifelike. The statue stands in a dark chamber in which lamps and torches are kept burning, but those who wish to see the sacred features cannot do so by just coming into the chamber. In the morning they have to reflect the sunlight onto the statue by means of a great mirror so that the details can be seen. Those who behold them find their religious emotions much increased”.

The oldest Buddha statue from Bodhgaya dates back 383 CE is now house in the Indian Museum in Calcutta

The oldest Buddha statue from Bodhgaya dates back 383 CE is now house in the Indian Museum in Calcutta

Hsuan Tsang’s legendary story regarding the origins of the Buddha image was about a Brahmin who wished to enshrine a Buddha image after the Mahabodhi temple was built. Unfortunately, he could not find a suitable image or sculptor to carve the perfect image of Buddha for quite some time. One day a man appeared proclaiming he could carve the image of Lord Buddha on the condition that he was given a pile of scented clay, and a lamp to be placed inside the temple. He also gave strict instructions that the door to the temple should not be opened for the next six months. All the instructions were carried out but the Brahmin became impatient towards the end and he opened the door four days earlier than he was suppose to. He was awed struck by the beauty of the Buddha image that was perfect in every detail, except for one small part; the Buddha’s chest was incomplete. Later on came a monk who slept in the temple and had a vivid dream. He dreamt that Maitreya appeared and said that he was the one who carved the image of Lord Buddha. Today it is the most revered Buddha image in the Buddhist world.

The beautiful Buddha statue that sits in the sacred Mahabodhi Temple today

The beautiful Buddha statue that sits in the sacred Mahabodhi Temple today

Another legend is that the Buddha image was made 60 years after the Buddha’s parinirvana by a female disciple who has seen and received teachings directly from him. Being around when the Buddha was alive, she knew exactly what the Buddha looked like. She decided to commission her son to carve the Buddha in the likeness of the Buddha himself. Therefore, this image of the Buddha is said to be sculpted in the exact likeness of the Buddha himself.

In both Nalanda and Vikramasila monasteries had replicas of this same Buddha image. When Lama Atisha was in Tibet in the 11th century, he requested Vikramasila temple to create a painting of the great Mahabodhi Buddha image and sent it to him. An image of this Buddha was then created with the same dimensions as the original one and enshrined in the great stupa at Gyantse, about 100 miles south-west of Lhasa. The last monk from Bodhgaya, Sariputra, took the measurements of this image when he passed into Tibet in 1413. An inscription from the 15th century is found carved on a stone railing in Mahabodhi Temple by a Buddhist pilgrim named Jinadasa of Pavarta. Jinadasa mentioned that he had specially travelled a long way from his home just to gaze at the holy Mahabodhi Buddha. This is the last reference to the sacred Mahabodhi Buddha.

The Mahabodhi Buddha known as the Golden Buddha is the most highly revered Buddha image in the world

The Mahabodhi Buddha known as the Golden Buddha is the most highly revered Buddha image in the world

Later in 1880, the Indian government appointed Joseph Beglar to restore the Mahabodhi Temple. He enlisted the help of the great archaeologist Alexander Cunningham to work on the repairs to the temple but when it was done, they felt something was still missing. They realise it was a Buddha image that was missing from the main shrine and that they needed to find one that fits the shrine space of the great Mahabodhi temple. This was not an easy task although there were many Buddha statues around Bodhgaya yet none of them was suitable. They were either too small or too damaged to be placed on the main shrine. Finally, they found a suitable statue in Mahant, a Hindu monk’s home. Luckily, the statue was not damaged and the size was just perfect for the shrine. A rough inscription found on the base of the statue states that Chhindha Purnabhadra was the one who made the statue around the 12th century. This golden Buddha statue sits on the shrine of the sacred Mahabodhi Temple today, blessing all who gaze at him.

 

A sapling of the original Bodhi tree was rescued and carried off to Sri Lanka by King Ashoka’s daughter Sanghamitta

A sapling of the original Bodhi tree was rescued and carried off to Sri Lanka by King Ashoka’s daughter Sanghamitta

The Bodhi Tree

The Bodhi tree is the most sacred of fig trees as it is under this tree which Buddha sat, meditated, conquered Mara and became enlightened. It is the considered the most significant of the seven sacred sites in Bodhgaya. The original tree was known as Sri Mahabodhi. The great King Ashoka paid special attention to this Bodhi tree, often spending days gazing upon it. This made the queen, Tissarakkha very unhappy and in her jealous rage, she caused the death of the original Bodhi tree, through the use of poisonous thorns.

Fortunately, a sapling of the original tree was carried off to Anuradhapura, in Sri Lanka by King Ashoka’s daughter, Bhijjhuni Sanghamitta, before the tree was destroyed. It continues to flourish in Sri Lanka today. A few years later, a sapling from this tree in Sri Lanka was carried back to Bodhgaya to be planted on the very spot where the original tree once stood. King Ashoka then placed a red sandstone slab in between the tree and the temple to mark the spot where Buddha sat and gained full liberation, known as Vajrasana.

Vajrasana, the red sandstone slab that was built by King Ashoka is placed in between the tree and the temple to mark the spot where Buddha sat and gained enlightenment

Vajrasana, the red sandstone slab that was built by King Ashoka is placed in between the tree and the temple to mark the spot where Buddha sat and gained enlightenment

The tree stands at 80 feet tall and is located behind the Mahabodhi Temple. There is a Buddhist myth that if there was no Bodhi tree growing anywhere on this site, then the land surrounding the tree will be barren for a distance of one royal karisa, which is one square measure of land (nearly an acre). And no being, not even an elephant is able to travel on this land.

This is the very spot which is known to be the Navel of the Earth. Buddhist devotees believe that this is the only spot that has enough merits to support the weight of the Buddha’s great attainment. Others believed that when the world is destroyed, this will be last the place to be destroyed and it will also be the first place for the new world to take shape again. It will be the same spot where the future Buddhas will arise to turn the wheel of Dharma again. It is known that this Bodhi tree miraculously appeared when Gautama Buddha was born.

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No one is allowed to remove any part of this sacred tree, but pilgrims would eagerly pick up any leaves that naturally fall as it is considered a great blessing. Some people have reported the leaves would sometimes be naturally imprinted with seed syllable, for example, Manjushri’s letter ‘DHI’. It is extremely fortunate and a great blessing if we are the lucky one to receive this. Hence, you will notice that the ground around the Bodhi tree is amazingly clean and spotless!

Just outside the barrier gate of the Bodhi Tree, there is stone carving of Buddha’s footprints, which dates back to the 3rd century BC, during the reign of King Ashoka. King Ashoka declared Buddhism as the official religion of the land and with that he installed thousands of stone carvings of Buddha’s footprint all over his kingdom.

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The Seven Sacred Sites

Within the Mahabodhi Temple, there are seven significant and sacred sites associated with Buddha’s Enlightenment which pilgrims can explore. You will find pathways leading to six sacred sites around the beautiful green landscaped lawn and flowering trees.

 

1. Vajrasana

This is the actual spot that the Buddha sat and meditated under the great Bodhi Tree until he was fully liberated. After attaining Nirvana, the Buddha remain here for another seven more days. This sacred spot and the Bodhi tree is now protected by a stone barrier around it. A red sand stone slab built by King Ashoka marks the Diamond Seat where Buddha sat which is between the Tree and the Mahabodhi Temple wall.

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2. Animesa-locana (Animisa Cetiya)

Located on a small hill about 50 metres from the north-east side of the Mahabodhi Temple, towards the right side of the main entrance is Animesa-locana. The shrine here is shaped like a small stupa or a smaller version of the Mahabodhi Temple, with a small prayer hall that houses a beautiful Buddha image. It was here that the Buddha spent his 2nd week after he gained enlightenment, meditating in gratitude at the Bodhi tree. It is said that the Buddha gazed at the Bodhi tree without blinking even once, hence, the tree became known as animeshlochan or ‘unblinking’.

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3. Ratnachakrama

This sacred place lies near the north side of the Temple wall, known as the Jewelled Ambulatory or ‘jewel walk’. It contains stone lotuses that are raised on a platform, marking the steps the Buddha took on the 3rd week after his enlightenment. It is believed that the Buddha took 18 steps back and forth near the Bodhi tree, and where he stepped, lotuses appeared under his holy feet.

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4. Ratnaghar Chaitya

Located on the northwest of the main Temple, this small shrine or the Jewel House houses some small holy images of the Buddha. This is the spot where Buddha spent the fourth week in meditation, where he received visions of his future mission and blue, yellow, red, white and orange rays emanated from his body. These colours are now used in the present-day Buddhist flag.

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5. Ajapala Nigrodha

As we enter the Mahabodhi Temple, there is a stone pillar located just before the descending stairs to the Temple that marks the spot of Buddha’s 5th week of meditation. Originally, there was a Banyan tree there, where Buddha sat and gave a discoursed due to a question a Brahman asked, on the importance of performing good action (karma) and the equality of mankind. Not far from the pillar, you’ll find a brass bell donated by pilgrims from Myanmar in the early 19th century. There are also two female deities, kneeling on each side of the gateway, supposedly left there by the Myanmar missionaries in the 1800s.

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6. Muchalinda Pond

Towards the southeast corner of the Mahabodhi Temple, you’ll discover the remains of a 6 metre high stone pillar, believed to be erected by King Ashoka. It was built to mark Bodhgaya and was moved to its present location in 1956. The pillar has an elephant on top, and it stands just outside the temple railing, on the east gateway. Just south of this pillar is a pavilion and behind it, you will discover the huge Muchalinda Pond. It is said that this is where the Buddha spent his 6th week in deep meditation during which Mara had wanting to distract the Buddha by creating a huge storm. The Serpent King or Naga King appeared and protected the Buddha from the storm with its hood. Today in the middle of this pond, you can see an image of the Buddha with the Serpent King rising to protect him. The statue was donated in the 1990s by a group of pilgrims from Myanmar. There is also a pillar nearby with a semi circular top where people would throw coins on it, as it is believed it would bestow blessings if the coin lands on the top of the pillar. Others believe that if you rub the part of your body that has ailments on the pillar, it will heal itself over time.

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7. Rajyatana

Buddha spent his 7th week under this small forest tree located on the south-east side of the temple. This is the place where Lord Buddha started teaching to passer-by and gained his first two disciples; merchants named Tapussa (Tapassu) and Ballika (Bliallika) of Ukkala, which is modern day Yangon of Myanmar. They had come to offer Buddha his first meal after being in meditation for seven weeks. In return, the Buddha gave them eight strands of hairs, which are now placed inside the Shwedagon Pagoda at Yangon.

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International Buddhist Temples

Apart from the Mahabodhi Temple, there are other Buddhist temples from different nationalities situated nearby that are worth visiting. Some are within walking distance and some can be easily reached using rickshaws. Most of these temples are open from 6 am to 6.30pm and close between 12 noon to 2 pm. Here is a list of these temples:

 

1. Thai Monastery

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The beautiful Thai Monastery in Bodhgaya was built by the Thai Monarch, at the request of the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1956. It marks the close relationship between India and Thailand. This temple is unique as it is the only Thai temple in India. Its architecture follows the traditional temples of Thailand with its curved shaped roof. The temple faces the main road and is next to the tourist bungalow.

As you walk into the main temple hall, you will notice the quiet and serene atmosphere of the temple. On its altar stands an exquisitely carved bronze Buddha image standing at 25-metre tall.

Inside the main temple hall of the Thai Monastery

Inside the main temple hall of the Thai Monastery

Retreats are held in the monastery yearly especially in January. The monastery’s maximum capacity to accommodate retreatants is at 135 people. They will engage in meditation sessions such as Vipassana Yoga and attend teachings. Taking any kind of intoxicants such as alcohol and smoking is strictly prohibited during retreats.

Address: Bodhgaya, Bihar 824231, India
Phone: N/A
Opening Hours: N/A

 

2. Daijokyo Buddhist Temple

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Another temple worth visiting is the Japanese Daijokyo Buddhist Temple. Built on a 2-acre land that was allocated by the Government of Bihar, the temple was inaugurated by the then President of India, His Excellency Gyani Zail Singh, on February 13, 1983. The temple enshrines a beautiful golden Japanese Buddha statue in the meditation posture. The statue is made from bronze and it was brought over from Japan.

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Outside the temple ground, sits the Great Buddha Statue at 25-metre or commonly known as the 80-foot Buddha Statue. The Great Buddha Statue was inaugurated and consecrated on November 18, 1989, by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. This is the first large outdoor Buddha ever built in the history of India. Together with the Mahabodhi Temple, the statue is the symbol of holy Bodhgaya. It is also recognised as a World Heritage site and attracts pilgrims from all over the world.

The famous 80-foot tall Buddha Statue that is another symbol of holy Bodhgaya

The famous 80-foot tall Buddha Statue that is another symbol of holy Bodhgaya

Smaller statues of the Buddha’s ten great disciples can be seen on either side of the Great Buddha. Sariputra and Maudgalyayana were the first two statues presented and consecrated in November 1993. Following that was statues of the other eight great disciples; Mahakasyapa, Subhuti, Purna Maitrayani-putra, Mahakatyayana, Anuruddha, Upali, Rahula, and Ananda. They were all consecrated in March 1996. All of these statues were carved from sandstone which is the same material used for the Great Buddha Statue.

Address: Bodhgaya, Bihar 824231, India
Phone: +91 631 220 0747
Opening Hours: 7 am to 12 pm, 2 pm to 6 pm (to 5:30 pm in winter)

 

3. Royal Bhutanese Monastery

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The Royal Bhutanese Monastery offers pilgrims a chance to appreciate the intricate and exquisite details of a traditional Bhutanese temple and Buddha images. Built by the King of Bhutan, the Monastery houses a 7-feet tall Buddha statue together with a statue of Guru Rinpoche and 4-armed Chenrezig. The monastery’s interior wall features intricate clay carvings depicting the life story of Lord Buddha.

The monastery’s exterior is beautifully landscaped garden with plants, trees and well-maintained lawn. The monastery also conducts discourses on the Buddha and dharma teachings, meditation sessions for individual and group, peace prayers and other requested prayers. The peaceful ambience makes it conducive place for anyone to do their prayers and meditation.

Three very beautiful Bhutanese style statues of Guru Rinpoche, Lord Buddha and Four Arm Chenrezig is enshrined in the Royal Bhutanese Monastery

Three very beautiful Bhutanese style statues of Guru Rinpoche, Lord Buddha and Four Arm Chenrezig is enshrined in the Royal Bhutanese Monastery

The monastery also has a Guest House with 15 spacious rooms, either air-conditioned or without air-conditioned and attached bathrooms. They provide a 24-hour front desk, 24-hour room service, laundry and parking facilities. The monastery does not charge people for staying but donations are encouraged and welcomed which goes towards the upkeep of the monastery. The only conditions they have is that all guests respect and follow the rules of monastery, and to refrain from bringing in any kind of intoxicants during their stay.

With its architecture being one of the finest, based on Bhutan’s culture and tradition, the Royal Bhutanese Monastery is definitely a must-visit when you are in Bodhgaya.

Address: Birla Road, Bodhgaya
Phone: N/A
Opening hours: 7 am to 7 pm

 

4. Indosan Nippon Japanese Temple

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Just 15 km from the city Indosan Nippon Japanese Temple is perhaps one of the most popular temples in Bodhgaya. Located at Temple Road, it was built in 1972, assisted by the international Buddhist community. Carved from wood, the temple perfectly represents the beautiful fine architecture of traditional Japanese temples. The temple also showcases many traditional Japanese paintings illustrating the Buddha Shakyamuni’s life story.

The delicate traditional Japanese altar inside Indosan Nippon Japanese Temple

The delicate traditional Japanese altar inside Indosan Nippon Japanese Temple

Daily activities held at the temple includes meditation at 6 am and 5 pm.
Address: Bodhgaya, Bihar 824231, India
Phone: N/A
Opening Hours: 5 am – 12 pm, 2 pm – 6 pm

 

5. Metta Buddharam Temple

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This is a newly built Thai temple with a huge spectacular Buddha statue made from white marble. The peaceful and serene surrounding allows pilgrims to sit in quiet meditation. The architecture of this temple is amazing as its unique simplicity in colours draws you to look closely at its intricate detailed structure. The main temple floor is made from wood, giving it a feeling of warmth. The stairs and walkways are decorated with patterns that are made using semi-precious stones in the shape of flowers. There are also scenes of Buddha’s life story painted in the alcoves of the temple. Just below the temple, you’ll find a meditation room with cooling marble flooring, which is especially nice during the summer heat. The mirror tiles on its structure create beautiful reflections from the sunrays, forming a magical scene especially during sun set and sun rise.

Address: Sujata Bye Pass Road, Bodh Gaya 824231, India
Phone: +91 631 220 0090
Opening Hours: N/A

 

6. Burmese Vihara Monastery or Myanmar Buddhist Vihara

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The Burmese Vihara Monastery offers pilgrims a glimpse of traditional Burmese temple architecture and culture. The temple is beautifully carved ornate roof and temple structure must be seen to be appreciated. It is one of the first monasteries you will notice if you are coming from Gaya. Try to visit this temple during the mornings or mid-afternoons as the temple gate closes by 4 pm. The main temple hall is spacious and it enshrines a serene Burmese style Buddha statue smiling down at you.

The monastery also has a huge guesthouse that offers accommodation to pilgrims at no cost, but donations are very much welcomed.

Address: Gaya Village, Bodh Gaya 824231, India
Phone: +91 631 2200 721
Opening Hours: Temple gate close by 4 pm
Website: http://bodhgaya.myanmarvihara.org/

 

7. Vietnamese Temple or Vien Giac Institute

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Located just behind the Kalachakra Maidan, this beautiful Vietnamese style architecture temple offers and very calm and peaceful environment to do one’s meditation. All you need to do is request nicely. The tastefully decorated temple enshrines a small but beautiful Buddha statue. There are no monks in this temple but there is a caretaker who speaks rather good English, who is more than happy to show you around the temple.

The colourful altar inside the Vietnamese Temple

The colourful altar inside the Vietnamese Temple

Address: Kalachakra Ground, Bodh Gaya, India
Phone: +91 631 2200 237/252
Opening Hours: N/A

 

8. Chinese Temple

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The Chinese temple is located about 100 metres from the Mahabodhi temple. The temple was founded by Buddhist monk in 1997 but it has since been refurbished. It presents the beauty of traditional Chinese temple architecture with detailed Chinese elements carved all over the temple. Its woodwork is considered one of the oldest and most intricate. Inside the temple’s prayer hall housed three smiling golden Buddhas. The walls and ceiling have intricate Chinese paintings depicting Buddhist stories and mandala like flower motifs.

The Chinese Temple is enshrined with three smiling Amitabha Buddhas

The Chinese Temple is enshrined with three smiling Amitabha Buddhas

Address: Bodh Gaya 824231, India (100 meters from the Mahabodhi Temple Complex)
Phone: N/A
Opening Hours: 7 am – 7 pm daily

 

Other Places to Visit

 

1. Barabar Caves 

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The Barabar Caves located around 24 km north of Gaya, in the Makhdumpur region, is the oldest surviving rock-cut caves in India dating back from the Maurya Empire (322 – 185 BCE). It is an important archaeological site with inscriptions from the Ashokan era found in these caves.

These caves are found in the twin hills of Barabar and Nagarjuni. The caves at Nagarjuni Hills date back to the 3rd century BC of Ashoka and his son Dasaratha Maurya period. They are younger and smaller compared to the Barabar caves. Although King Ashoka and his son were Buddhist, they allowed other religious sects such as the various Jain sects to flourish as the believed in religious tolerance. The caves were utilised by a group of ascetics from the Ajivika sect.

The caves in Barabar Hill consists of two chambers that are carved out of the granite rock. The first chamber is usually for devotees to congregate, which looks like a large rectangular hall. The second chamber is smaller and shaped like domed, which is meant for worship. These chambers had structures that looked like at one point there could have been small stupas in them. Amazingly, inside the cave’s surface is extremely smooth, like as if it has been polished, and it creates an echo type of effect.

The Barabar Caves are well known due to the author E.M. Foster’s visits to India which were featured in his best seller ‘A Passage To India’, calling them ‘Marabar Caves’ in his story.
Another unique thing that can be found in the Barabar caves is its magnanimous arches which are rare in ancient history.

The arch-like shape facade of Lomas Rishi Cave, presents a more contemporary timber type of architecture. Above its doorway, you’ll see a row of elephants carved out, proceeding towards what looks like stupas along the curved architrave.

The arch-like shape facade of Lomas Rishi Cave, presents a more contemporary timber type of architecture. Above its doorway, you’ll see a row of elephants carved out, proceeding towards what looks like stupas along the curved architrave.

The Sudama cave was dedicated by King Ashoka in 261 BC and the arches are of bow shape. These caves have a domed like chamber with a rectangular hall for gatherings.

The Sudama cave was dedicated by King Ashoka in 261 BC and the arches are of bow shape. These caves have a domed like chamber with a rectangular hall for gatherings.

Karan Chaupar has a single rectangular room with amazing polished surfaces with inscriptions dating back to 245 BC

Karan Chaupar has a single rectangular room with amazing polished surfaces with inscriptions dating back to 245 BC

These caves are quite an amazing sight and they are worth visiting. The carving of the entrance of Barabar caves are so sharp and precise, that it looks like it is being cut using modern laser cutting technology. These caves play an important role in Buddhist history as several Jataka tales are depicted on their walls. They help to educate as well as preserve the history and the development of Buddhism in different stages. Buddhist and Hindu sculptures can also be found around the area.

Address: Barabar Caves, Barabar hill, Jehanabad, Bihar, 804408, India
Phone: +91 612 2234194
Opening Hours: 6 am – 6 pm
Entrance Fee: Free

Note: If you intend to hire a local guide, be sure to ask them for their official ID which is a Bihar State’s Tourism Development Corporation ID card. The cost to hire a guide is around Rs.500-1000 (depending on how well you bargain) for an entire day trip on a motorcycle.

 

2. Dungeshwari Cave Temples

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Dungeshwari Cave Temples also commonly called Mahakala caves is just around 12 km northeast from Bodhgaya. Here you’ll discover three ancient holy caves where Buddha meditated for six years. These are the caves where Lord Buddha went through self-mortification, eating only one grain of rice a day. After practising such extreme austerities for years, Buddha realised that the middle path is required to achieve supreme enlightenment. Hence, the Dungeshwari Caves commemorates this special event.

Many pilgrims would come to these caves to meditate, offer butter lamps and receive great blessings. Many say that the compassionate energy of the Buddha can be felt strongly in these caves.

Many pilgrims would come to these caves to meditate, offer butter lamps and receive great blessings. Many say that the compassionate energy of the Buddha can be felt strongly in these caves.

Another Buddha statue found in Dungeshwari Cave Temples

Another Buddha statue found in Dungeshwari Cave Temples

These caves are also known as Sujata Sthan to the locals and very popular amongst Buddhist as well as Hindu pilgrims. It is said that you feel the energy of Buddha’s great compassion and humility when meditating in these caves. Hence, visiting such holy sites generates great blessings from the enlightened one.

Inside these three caves contain two Buddhists shrines as well as one Hindu shrine. One of the Buddhist shrines houses an emaciated Buddha covered in gold and the other shrine has a 6-feet tall Buddha statue. In the Hindu shrine, you will find the deity Dungeshwari.

Address: Bodhgaya, Bihar 824231, India. Located on the Phalgu River
Phone: N/A
Opening Hours: 10 am – 5 pm daily
Entrance Fee: Free

 

3. Archaeological Museum in Bodhgaya

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Established in 1956, the museum has two main galleries, an open courtyard as well as two verandas showcasing various antiquities. You can find exhibits of Buddhist and Brahmin stone sculptures from the Pala period. Various scenes associated with the Buddhist pantheon, Zodiac signs on railings from the Sunga age and more.

In the first gallery, you will discover ancient sculptures such as a standing Yakshi (a female earth spirit), a crowned Buddha in bhumi sparsa (earth touching) mudra, Maitreya Buddha, various images of Lord Buddha in different poses, a standing image of Manjushri, just to name a few.

In the second gallery, you’ll find sculptures of Buddhist and Brahmanical faith. The museum’s courtyard displays a collection of 2000-year-old granite and sandstone railings, pillars, cross bars and stones that were salvaged from the Mahabodhi Temple.

There is a huge image of a standing Buddha in the abhaya mudra or the mudra of no fear at the outer veranda of the museum.

Address: Bodhgaya, Bihar 824231, India
Phone: +91 631 220 0739
Opening Hours: 10 am to 5 pm Closed on Friday
Entrance Fee: Rs. 10 (Adults) Children 15 years and below – Free
Website: http://asi.nic.in/asi_museums_bodhgaya.asp

 

Major Buddhist Festivals in Bodhgaya

 

Kagyu Monlam Chenmo

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“In Tibetan aspiration is known as ‘monlam’ and dedication is known as ‘sngo ba.’ These two go hand in hand. Aspiration is the one that initiates our accumulation, and dedication is the one that completes our accumulation of merit and wisdom as well.”

~ Thaye Dorje, the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa

Source: http://www.kagyumonlamchenmo.org/

This is a large prayer festival known as The Great Prayer Festival held by the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism in Bodhgaya. It usually falls in late December to early January, corresponding from the 4th to the 11th day of the first month of the Tibetan calendar.

In the sutra called “A Wall of Flowers”, it mentions that any aspiration prayers made near a stupa that contains one of the Buddha’s relics, their prayers will definitely be fulfilled. What better place is there in this world that is filled with Buddha’s relics and energy than the sacred Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya.

The benefit from having a large number of people congregating in one holy place to do aspirational prayers would be that each individual gets to accumulate the amount of merit of every person that is present doing the prayers.

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The great Indian Buddhist master Nagarjuna once said, “if one makes aspiration prayers together with a highly developed Bodhisattva, the resulting prayer is so powerful that one can avert famine, natural disasters, and purify a great amount of negative karma”. This is the reason why every year hundreds and thousands of Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims, from four different schools, come together to do these aspiration prayers in numerous holy sites in India.

Previously two high Lamas who made aspirational prayers during the Monlam festival were His Holiness the 17th Karmapa Thaye Dorje and Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche in 1996. Both are known to be great bodhisattvas. Hence, the Kagyus believe that reciting prayers even just once with such highly attained beings, have greater effect than if one were to do it on their own a million times over.

For more information, visit: http://www.kagyumonlamchenmo.org/

 

Nyingma Monlam Chenmo

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Similar to the Kagyu’s Monlam Chenmo, every year from January to February, thousands of Nyingma practitioners from different lineages all around the world would gather here in Bodhgaya to make aspirational prayers during this great prayer festival.

The Nyingma’s pray for the preservation and continuation in turning the wheel of Dharma to benefit all beings, for the long life of great teachers from all Buddhist traditions as well as world peace. It is opened for all to join and booking is not required.

For more information, visit: http://nyingma-monlam.org/wordpress/

 

Vesakha or Wesak Day

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Held on the full month of the month May, this is the biggest Buddhist celebration known as Buddha Purnima or Buddha Day. It is held during the full moon of the Vesakha month celebrating Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and parinirvana. Buddhist pilgrims from all over the world would flock to Bodhgaya and engage in numerous virtuous practices to collect enormous amount of merits on this holy day. It is said that one’s merit is multiplied a million times over during significant occasions associated with an enlightened being such as Buddha Shakyamuni or Lama Tsongkhapa. One can engage in any of the five preliminary practices, recite millions of mantras, prostrations and more during this special day. Some may even wish to observe the eight precepts.

 

Buddha Mahotsava Event

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This is a Grand Buddhist Cultural Festival that is an annual three-day celebration, marked by cultural and religious festivities. Many renowned artists and cultural performances from all over India as well as other parts of the world would take part in this colourful celebration.

This celebration was started by the Prime Minister, Atal Bihar Vajpayee in 1999. Its objective was to promote Bodhgaya as an important pilgrimage as well as tourist destination.

 

Mahakala Puja

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Another very popular festival in Bodhgaya is the Mahakala Puja. This puja is conducted in a Kagyu monastery by the Karma Kagyu Sangha community. A three days extensive Mahakala ritual is performed to purify and remove obstacles a few days before the coming new year.

For more information, visit: www.facebook.com/KagyuMonlamChenmo

 

Kalachakra

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Every year the Kalachakra initiation conducted by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from all around the world. This event is organised by The Department of Religion and Culture of Central Tibetan Administration together with many international sponsors. It is usually held on the 11th month following the traditional Tibetan calendar, which is usually in the month of January. It is recommended that you check the official website to find out the latest details.

For more information, visit: http://www.kalachakra.in/

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Do’s and Don’ts

  • Mobile phones with camera are not allowed inside the Mahabodhi Temple. Security will check your bags.
  • Cameras are allowed but you are required to purchase a camera ticket for Rs. 100 per camera. Video camera tickets are Rs. 500 per camera.
  • You may keep your bags, mobile phones with cameras in the lockers provided. They are located just 50 metres west of the entrance.
  • Circumambulate the stupas and other sacred monuments in a clock-wise direction.

 

Respect

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  • Please remove your shoes before entering the Temple complex. You may wear socks.
  • Please be mindful to preserve the peace, tranquillity and sacredness of this holy area.
  • Do not climb onto any statues, buildings or monuments as it is considered extremely disrespectful and inauspicious. Bear in mind these sites are sacred to many people and they are being preserved for future generations.
  • Please dress decently, this is after all, a temple. It is recommended to wear loose comfortable clothing that are not revealing. Please do not wear shorts, or sleeveless tops, singlets to holy sites and temples.

 

Beware

  • An unfortunate bombing incident occurred on 7th July 2013 within the temple complex. Five people were injured. One bomb exploded near the holy Buddha image and the other near the Bodhi Tree. Three other bombs were found and defused. Fortunately, the Buddha image and the main temple was not damaged. Hence, ever since then security has been extremely tight.
  • Do not be fooled by people on motor bikes claiming to be tourist guides. They will charge you more than the actual cost which is supposed to be around Rs. 500 – 1,000 for a day trip on motor bike, no matter the distance. Request to see their official Bihar State – Tourism Development Corporation ID card first and then bargain for a better rate.
  • Like any other tourist spots, street vendors and shops will usually charge more than the usual rate for their goods, just be prepared to bargain.
  • Cows are sacred animals in India and even more so in a spiritual place like Bodhgaya. You will see many of them all along the streets. So be careful not to hit, harm or injure them in any way as it is illegal, and you can be heavily fine. There have been cases where foreigners are fined for such offences.

 

Beggars

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Bodhgaya has a huge population of beggars and they are usually hanging around outside the entrance of temples. These beggars gather in different groups, controlled by gang members. Children as young as seven or eight years old are being used to beg as tourists would tend to have a softer spot for kids. However, at times, they can be quite aggressive and persistent. So beware and if you do decide to help them, it is better to give in kind, such as food or clothing. It is also wise to do it discretely, otherwise, you will be swamped with beggars crowding all over you. Try not to give them cash, as we do not know what they will end up using it for and they tend to return to beg for more. Word gets around fast and you will be targeted especially if they know you are generous and will donate in cash. Some of them may even be picky, requesting for certain things. So do watch out, smile, be polite if you do not wish to donate and move along.

 

How To Get There

By plane

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To get to Bodhgaya is quite easy as there are planes that fly directly to Gaya airport which is around 17 kilometres to Bodhgaya. From the airport, you can take a taxi which is roughly 40 minutes to Bodhgaya.

Here are some examples of airlines that fly directly to Gaya:

  • Druk Air
  • Thai Airways
  • Indian Airlines flies from Kolkata
  • Air India fly from New Delhi
  • Indigo fly from New Delhi

Note: Do check with your travel agent for the latest schedule, timing and other possible flights.

Alternative airport: Patna Airport (115 kilometres to Bodhgaya)

There are multiple flights from Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Lucknow and Hyderabad that flies into Bodhgaya. It is recommended that to check the latest schedule with your local travel agent or the airport. From Patna Airport it is around 3 hours and 42 minutes by car or taxi to Bodhgaya.

By train

Alternatively, you can take the train from New Delhi, which is a one night’s journey (15 hours) to Gaya. It would cost around Rs. 1630 – Rs. 3740 depending on the type of class carriage you are taking. For more details, you can check here: https://www.90di.com/trains/DELHI/GAYA

Another place to take the train from would be Patna, which is an express train and takes about 2 hours to reach Gaya. The cost is Rs. 34 as of January 2008.

You can also catch the train from Calcutta, which will take around 8 hours. Tickets in the Second Class carriage with air conditioning will roughly cost Rs. 1,600.

Gaya Station is just 16 kilometres to Bodhgaya. From the station, you can take a bus or a rickshaw to Bodhgaya. Rickshaw prices may vary depending on time of day and how well you bargain. It roughly cost between Rs. 80 -120.

By bus

Bodhgaya and the town of Gaya are connected via the main road. There are regular bus services between these two towns. The Bihar state of Tourism Development Corporation has buses running daily to the holy site and its township. They can be reached via phone: 0612 222 5411

Buses also run to and from Varanasi, Nalanda, Rajgir, and Kathmandu. A good website to check availability, pricing and schedule for various transportation for your travels is: https://www.makemytrip.com/

 

Accommodation

Spending a day in Bodhgaya is not enough to cover all the sites and soak in the blessings. Some pilgrims would stay here for months like H.E. Tsem Rinpoche who went there to do retreats. It was during this time that Rinpoche met and made friends with a Malaysian monk, Rev. Khoon, and this led to Rinpoche’s visit to Malaysia later on and the rest is history.

Below are a few recommended accommodation. We would advise you to book in advance, especially during peak seasons, and to do further research based on your budget and requirements.

 

1. Burmese Vihara

Situated on Gaya Road, the monastery offers basic but clean accommodation. It mainly caters to Burmese pilgrims, however, if you can still enquire as they often have rooms available for others. They do not charge for their rooms, hence donations are encouraged.

Address: Gaya Village, Bodh Gaya 824231, India
Phone: +91 88043 92995
Website: N/A

 

2. Mahayana Guest House

Very clean rooms with hot showers and just a 5-minute walk to Mahabodhi Temple. They also have free Wi-Fi, airport transfers, a book shop and a coffee house. It is very safe to stay there and you can leave your things in the room while you head down to the temple. It is recommended to book at least a month in advance, as it can be full during peak season.

Address: Opp. Jai Prakash Park, Bodhgaya, Gaya, Bihar 824231, India
Phone: +91 631 220 0756
Website: N/A

 

3. Kundun Bazar Guest House

Comfortable and clean room with hot showers. Located near the old Vietnamese Temple, they provide many types of rooms, from single rooms to fully serviced apartments. Amenities include bike rentals, an internet cafe, snooker bar, self-service kitchen, laundry facility, tour packages, money exchange service and more.

Address: Bhagalpur Rd, Bhagalpur, Belsar, Bodhgaya, Bihar 824231, India
Phone: +91 95467 93434
Website: http://kundanbazar.in/

 

4. Rainbow Guesthouse

Clean rooms with TV with hot showers and a 24-hour front desk service. The guesthouse also offers car rentals and is just 600 metre to Bodhgaya Bus Station.

Address: Temple Street, 824231 Bodh Gaya, India (Near Burmese Monastery)
Phone: +91 94312 80810
Website: N/A

 

5. Hotel Tokyo Vihar

The hotel is located opposite the Japanese Temple and around 300 metres to the Mahabodhi Temple. Rooms are clean, with comfortable beds and nice bathrooms. The hotel was recently renovated and the rooms look new. Amenities include, free Wi-Fi, laundry service, postal service, safe deposit, telephone conference system, doctor on call service and transport as well as 24-hour room service.

Address: Opposite to Japanese Temple, 824231 Gaya, Bihar, India
Phone: +91 631 220 1141
Website: http://www.hoteltokyovihar.com/index.html

 

Sources:

  • http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/travel/my-bodhgaya-vajrayogini.html
  • http://wikitravel.org/en/Bodh_Gaya
  • http://www.mahabodhi.com/History/history.html
  • http://bstdc.bih.nic.in/bodhgaya.htm
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodh_Gaya
  • http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/buddhistworld/bodgaya.htm
  • http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Bodh_Gaya#Name
  • http://www.bhantedhammika.net/essays/the-buddhas-true-face
  • http://www.bodhgayatemple.com/?pg=premises
  • http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1056
  • http://bodhgaya.myanmarvihara.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=14&Itemid=26
  • http://www.cpreecenvis.nic.in/Database/BarabarCaves_2412.aspx

 

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  1. wan wai meng on Aug 10, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    Wonderful article about all the holy places around Bodghaya, and how one can also interact with the buddhist establishments and site. Wish I can bring my parents and family to visit this place soon. Will be a blessing for everyone.

  2. ann on Aug 10, 2017 at 12:18 am

    great information well presented…. I am Scottish u.k but have lived and practiced in Bodhgaya for 11 years….I have a social project in bdhgaya the karma project trust.and fund it by taking people on pilgrimage from 1 pilgrim to 50 pilgrims in the past….I was also one of the organisers of the dalia lama talk to youths on 31st December 2016 Bodhgaya….I am only woman foriegner registered bihar tourist guide in bihar if I can help you at any time please contact me on the email given……metta from bodhgaya

  3. APU CHOWDHURY on Aug 5, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    A SOOTHING BALM FOR THE DEJECTED, WOUNDED MIND
    VERY MUCH ENLIGHTEMING

    img1501147965985

    img1501185722163

  4. Joy Kam on Aug 3, 2017 at 11:40 pm

    If given another chance… I would definitely go to Bodhgaya again and if time permits do a prostration retreat there. The whole area is just buzzing with a strong energy of peace, serenity, calmness and sacredness. Words just cannot describe the feeling and you just basically want to be there to do your spiritual practice. It is just so conducive.

    But the funniest part is that inside is filled with Buddha’s blessings and compassion, but just right outside the entrance gate is huge groups of beggars! It appears that Bodhgaya is the perfect place for us to see all the realms, and this makes it even easier for us to meditate on the impermanence of life.

    Like what this blog post said being there you collect a tremendous amount of merits not just for this life but for all future lives. Thank you Rinpoche for bringing us there in 2004 and granting refuge to many on that trip. I will never forget that day and the greatest experience in my life.

  5. Samfoonheei on Aug 2, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    It will be wonderful to make a pilgrimage to Bodhgaya for every Buddhist and get connectted with the holy and energy. Every year thousands of Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims worldwide will visit these Holy site. Just Bodhgaya itself ,there is so many beautiful places to visit. And there a number of major festivals like the Mahakala Puja, Nyingma Monlam Chenmo , Wesak Day and so forth whereby locals, tourist and pilgrims could able to see and take part.
    I have not been to Bodhgaya but love to one day if got a chance.
    Thank you Rinpoche for these beautiful and very informative post.

  6. Paul Yap on Aug 1, 2017 at 10:41 pm

    I really like doing circumambulation at Bodhgaya Stupa, especially during winter night. I can just walk around the stupa the whole night. I love the peaceful energy, lots of people is doing meditation and prayers here.

  7. Fong on Jul 30, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    Reading articles like this makes me wish to go to Bodhgaya. It brings home the act that one should really go on pilgrimage to connect with the Buddha and his teachings.

    Here the information is detailed enough for us to enable us to plan our trips there carefully and to know what to look for in our planning.

  8. Pastor David Lai on Jul 30, 2017 at 6:12 am

    I have been to Bodhgaya twice and I thorough enjoyed each time. The place has tremendous blessings and the sight of so many people single-pointedly engaging in various Dharma practice of meditation, mantra recitation just adds to the atmosphere that encourages one to practice as well. This is not to mention the ancient awe-inspiring monumental structure of a temple that is the Mahabodhi stupa.

    I love the fact that the temple grounds is littered with shrines, stupas and various other artefacts. This is not to mention the central icon, the sacred Buddha statue enshrined within the temple itself. It is a exquisite statue that is really one of the most beautiful statues of Lord Buddha in the world. It’s no wonder that it has inspired many legends of its divine origins, which I won’t be surprise if it holds some truth in it.

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  • Stella Cheang
    Tuesday, Aug 22. 2017 10:58 PM
    Danny Bowman’s case is extreme, more of a mental problem instead of a vanity issue. However, many people around us are addicted to taking selfie. Even though it might be just showing off their beauty to gain attention, it should not be dismissed lightly. Because of their excessive love for themselves, they lack the empathy for others. This is the real issue. When someone place all the attention on themselves and expect others to do the same, it is against the practice of Bodhicitta. And if it not corrected at early stage, it will become a habituation and strong imprint that will also affect them in their next life.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/current-affairs/selfie-addiction-is-no-laughing-matter-psychiatrists-say.html
  • Stella Cheang
    Tuesday, Aug 22. 2017 05:59 PM
    Thank you, Rinpoche, for this sharing on Dr. Joona Repo’s work. In his book “Phabongka Dechen Nyingpo: His Collected Works and the Guru-Deity-Protector Triad,” Dr. Joona Repo’s impartial recollections of Pabongka Rinpoche serves to debunk certain perception people have towards this erudite master, who was brought into question because of his emphasis on Dorje Shugden and what was deemed as sectarianism practices.

    Through presenting the vastness and diversity of the works by Pabongka Rinpoche and records of his teaching against sectarianism, this book empirically presents a balanced view of Pabongka Rinpoche against those baseless allegations. The fact that Pabongka Rinpoche wrote extensively about Vajrayogini and had visions of Heruka proved that he is no ordinary Lama.

    Pabongka Rinpoche was, in fact, the reincarnation of a well-known scholar Changkya Rolpay Dorje who was the Royal Tutor to the Chinese Emperors. Because of this sensitivity, Pabongka RInpoche was not recognized his lineage by the power of the day. This in itself is a hint that there are more than meet the eyes.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/great-lamas-masters/the-collected-works-of-h-h-pabongka-rinpoche.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Tuesday, Aug 22. 2017 12:24 PM
    Very inspiring and powerful quotes for us to have a deep thought of it. Which we will need to remember at all times in our spiritual journey.
    I do loves these quotes…
    Remember, if we wish to make an offering to our teacher, no offering is greater than that of our own dharma practice..~Geshe Tsutrim Gyeltsen

    Never abandon your spiritual teacher no matter how many inner obstacles you need to overcome……~Tsem Rinpoche

    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing all these powerful quotes which will change our lives and should not be ignored.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/inspiration-worthy-words/quotes-that-should-not-be-ignored.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Tuesday, Aug 22. 2017 12:23 PM
    Wow beautiful and meaningful this precious poem wrote by Rinpoche.And the lyrics of the song made from the poem below by Gavin Gooi is fabulous. Could not beliveve it from a poem to a lovely songs. Nice to hear and i love listerning each and every words said….very touching poem from sadness to happiness expressed .Rinpoche’s Guru Devotion and the love for His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche .
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing .

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/me/a-poem-to-my-teacher.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Tuesday, Aug 22. 2017 12:22 PM
    Its a interesting post with 2 giants countries discussing over movie market. Hollywood producers who are increasingly looking to tap the country’s fast-growing box office into China market.However there is restriction .They hopes China will increase the quota and the share of revenues more in line with international markets. And even has openly criticized China on trade.China is likely to raise the quota of imported films as part of recent trade talks.
    China are trying to protect its growing domestic film industry from Hollywood domination. The most best measure is the strict quota limiting the number.
    Brad Pitt was back in China nearly 20 years after being baned over a film about Tibet .Time has changed China policy on celebrities entering China.
    Thank you Pastor Loh Seng Piow for sharing.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/current-affairs/china-raises-movie-quota-hollywood-on-best-behavior.html
  • Tsem Rinpoche
    Tuesday, Aug 22. 2017 10:05 AM
    You won’t believe what this former Citibank vice president has to say. One of the most powerful and inspiring speeches you will ever hear in your life! Plse take a few moments to listen to this. It is worth it.-
    https://www.facebook.com/mercyforanimals/videos/10152917764269475/?hc_ref=ARTTZV6szVgZXaepZJFJ_-wCZ1U-SiyFA3jzC20EoNgCNwsOyTV_ELImvK3Lq_IgBBQ
  • Lin Mun
    Monday, Aug 21. 2017 09:48 PM


    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing these precious pictures. It shows so much about Guru Devotion and a very close Guru and student relationship. The love and care of a Guru to his students are unlimited.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/great-lamas-masters/gurus-love-their-students.html
  • Stella Cheang
    Monday, Aug 21. 2017 07:53 PM
    This article reminds me of how, in general, people understand the need to have a strong and fit psychic body but rarely willing to take action to go through the training. Let alone Dharma training of the mind which is much more tougher. Because our habituation has conditioned us to perceive and think a certain way, and the need to unlearn and relearn is not part of our program.

    To me, understanding the need to be trained and having the courage to go through the training is a process in itself. The mind has to be conditioned to understand the need of the training which is to eliminate the “i” and the importance of the training which is to speed up the journey of crossing the ocean of samsara.

    Most importantly, we must recognize it is very rare for us to be in a perfect human condition, meet the dharma and the perfect Guru, therefore, we must not imagine that we have time by thinking there will always be tomorrow. Actually this is the conversation in my mind sometimes… lol.

    Thank you, Rinpoche, for this article.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/inspiration-worthy-words/training-shouldnt-be-optional.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Monday, Aug 21. 2017 10:54 AM
    A beautiful true story shared, I have seen patients suffered under cancer treatment ,at times I felt sad for them and lost of words at times. Most practitioners I have come across thinks of their profit but did not take a real effort to understand their patients pain. When we care for our patients, encourage them really makes a big difference in their life. In my line of duty I have seen many patients suffered in pain, fear, anxiety and very emotional. When we are in the patients shoe,, we can understand and feels the pain as well. As a health provider its only my duty to provide words of encouragement, help and care for them.
    Dr.Richard Teo spoke the very truth ,to inspire the younger generations of furture doctors when embark on their journey to be in health professioner ,to think of others too. Do agree with Dr.Richard Teo in private practice doctors made lots of money but at the end of the day they are not happy in life. We go through life attaching to things, wanting them to last forever. But they don’t last anyway. .Over time, we just came to accept that all good things in life must end. Nothing is impermanent
    Since we all know death is inevitable. To Live a meaningful life till to the fullness to learn and practice Dharma ,to transform ourselves, lighten up and makes us a better person.If you want happiness for a lifetime, helping, caring for others can change our life. We should always appreciate people when they are alive.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing these inspiring post and hope more people will be inspired . Saluting Dr Richard Teo, who have touched the lives of thousands on views of life at the end of his lives.At the time of writing he has passed away since in 2012.May he have a swift rebirth.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/inspiration-worthy-words/this-will-change-your-life.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Monday, Aug 21. 2017 10:53 AM
    Amazing worth travelling there to see for myself such a holy place. Being there will be a tremendous blessing as it is one of the places where Manjushri the Buddha of Wisdom’s energy abides.Wow ….As a natural reserve it is the home of China’s three holy mountains, which are Jampelyang, Chenresig and Chana Dorje.Looks very beautiful and the scenic views were just amazing to be there.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing ,i would like to travel there someday to enjoy the beauty of these Holy mountains.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/travel/excellent-travelogue-of-holy-places-in-tibet.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Monday, Aug 21. 2017 10:52 AM
    The former N.B.A. player Stephon Marbury has become a beloved celebrity since playing for professional basketball in China. Marbury was able to change China’s basketball culture.From NBA to CBA …he lead the team to national victory, winning three Chinese Basketball Association.
    A 300-square foot museum dedicated to Stephon Marbury’s career was opened in China, where the former NBA star has flourished since deciding to play there.He was given a Green card for his outstanding contributions.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing this inspiring…Never give up even though he failed with the NBA but he found success after playing for CBA.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/current-affairs/stephon-marbury-embraces-china.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Sunday, Aug 20. 2017 03:09 PM
    Beautiful ,meaningful songs if you listern and reading the lyrics.
    In the stillness of remembering What you had,And what you lost…,And what you had…and what you lost …..well said i love this part.
    Fleetwood Mac was not my favourite singer though yet i enjoyed this oldies songs.
    Since now i have Dharma in me i do like to listern to Buddhist songs example of Tsongkhapa’s blessings songs and Tibetan music.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing this meaningful song for relaxing after a stressful day.
  • jason
    Sunday, Aug 20. 2017 02:56 AM
    Past few years, my grandmother,Aunty, Uncle passed away. I feel sad but this also create awareness to me that death is the final destination of everyone in samsara. Practicing of Dharma really help me in knowing that we must achieve final liberation and no more rebirth.
    Besides that, we must appreciate the moment we gather with anyone and share Dharma to them.
    Thanks Datuk May to remind me that to spend more time with the love one. I really grateful to my family and friends.

    Jason

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/guest-contributors/a-generation-gone.html
  • Tsem Rinpoche
    Sunday, Aug 20. 2017 01:03 AM
    For steven d –

    Dear Steven, Thank you for your question. I appreciate your wish to become better, improve your health and to continue your journey.

    In regards to your question, there are many dimensions that need to be addressed in order to ‘assign’ a specific Buddha’s practice for a person. Some of the factors are:

    1. Temperament
    2. Malady
    3. karmic affinity
    4. Immediate pressing needs
    5. Long term needs
    6. If the person has been in dharma and understand dharma well
    7. How much time a person has daily or in general for practice/what other practices they have
    8. Living conditions (has space and quiet or with busy family)
    9. If the person is willing to take vows as there are ‘higher’ and more in-depth practices if vows can be taken
    10. How many or what other sadhanas/practices is already being done. Sometimes we can intensify one of the practices the person is already doing.

    These are a few of the factors I would examine before I suggest a practice for someone.


    Remember to always go for a qualified medical treatment in your country or place of residence and then with this treatment you can apply various spiritual practices in addition to the medical treatment.

    Spiritual practices can help heal as they purify the karma fueling the problem but medical treatment takes care of the problem that is karmically already opened. So important to do both. By doing practice you can ‘lessen’ the problem either by intensity or duration. and sometime get well. If you ask me to give a general sweeping answer for the general crowd or for a person I don’t know much about, I would suggest these practices:

    1. Black Manjushri http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=70674
    2. Avolokitesvara (Chenresig) (four armed, thousand armed, etc)
    3. Loma Gyonma http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=64691
    4. Medicine Buddha http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=44277

    Any of the the above four practices is helpful in general and overall. You don’t have to do all but just one would suffice and according to your tradition of Buddhism. You do not need initiation or take on vow commitment but you can do these practices daily and or in full retreat. Would be good to be vegetarian with good motivation as less harm done to other sentient beings directly and indirectly will help the healing process. Read up on the practices well before starting. Much information on the internet.

    It is good to learn up on the 9 round breath meditation daily also. Take 20 minutes daily to do this breath meditation. You can do the breath meditation first and then any of the four practices you choose or just breath meditation alone. (Theravadin Buddhist can just do the 9 round breath meditations daily and be consistent with this practice and you will see your mind release, open up and become calmer. You can do this breath meditation no matter who you are and if you are ill or healthy. This meditation has many benefits you can research and learn up. No ill effects with this meditation even if done ‘wrongly’.) Breath meditation is highly recommended by me for all persons both spiritual or not, young or elderly, Buddhist or otherwise as using the breath powerful and can be done anywhere and anytime. Breath is fundamental and we must breathe, so this is using meditation to manipulate the breath to heal our bodies and bring some peace to our minds. Done daily is highly beneficial.

    I hope this sincerely helps you. I send you my good wishes and for your healing. We all need healing. May you be happy, well and achieve your goals, Tsem Rinpoche
  • steven d
    Saturday, Aug 19. 2017 10:28 PM
    Namaste,

    Thank you for sharing all this beautiful buddha images, prayers and information for so many to learn from and be guided.

    Question for Rinpoche:

    What practice, prayer or deity (‘s mantra) would you advise for the uninitiated in regards to healing the causes of trauma, ptsd, dissociation and grounding into your physical body?

    I got diagnosed with PTSD 6 yrs ago, at age 29, right after my spiritual awakening after which all the past rauma revisited me in the course of 2 weeks.

    I wasn’t under the guidance of a lama or teacher at that time and still am not.

    Are there any practices you would advise? As there are so many people with trauma and PTSD (10% of the population in Western countries) , there would be so many to benefit from your wise words.

    I have read that certain deities have more affinity for certain diseases/imbalances. Are there any deities that are specifically related to releasing trauma or the above-mentioned afflictions/asymptoms.

    In love

    Steven


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The Known and unknown are both feared,
Known is being comfortable and stagnant,
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One shall never know if one fears the unknown more than the known.
Who says the unknown would be worse than the known?
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I pity men who occupy themselves exclusively with the transitory in things and lose themselves in the study of what is perishable, since we are here for this very end- that we may make the perishable imperishable, which we can do only after we have learned how to approach both.~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

(This quote is very powerful from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. He seems to be a powerful thinker and can think beyond daily and ordinary thoughts. Like I shared, only the study of dharma is going to lead to the imperishable. Any other studies of this world only are temporarily beneficial which is perishable. Of course he is not referring to dharma, but he realized ordinary pursuits leads to perishability. If he knew dharma, he would see the vastness of Buddha\'s omniscience.  Tsem Rinpoche)
2 days ago
I pity men who occupy themselves exclusively with the transitory in things and lose themselves in the study of what is perishable, since we are here for this very end- that we may make the perishable imperishable, which we can do only after we have learned how to approach both.~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (This quote is very powerful from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. He seems to be a powerful thinker and can think beyond daily and ordinary thoughts. Like I shared, only the study of dharma is going to lead to the imperishable. Any other studies of this world only are temporarily beneficial which is perishable. Of course he is not referring to dharma, but he realized ordinary pursuits leads to perishability. If he knew dharma, he would see the vastness of Buddha's omniscience. Tsem Rinpoche)
One of the nicest Taras I\'ve seen. I like her shade of green and the lotus on the left which is lower as her hand is lower so it\'s very balanced looking. Her face looks young, motherly, kind and yet regal.
2 days ago
One of the nicest Taras I've seen. I like her shade of green and the lotus on the left which is lower as her hand is lower so it's very balanced looking. Her face looks young, motherly, kind and yet regal.
(1st photo) Kyabje Lati Rinpoche in the centre and Ven Kensur Rinpoche Lobsang Phende on the extreme right. After the unfair ban against Dorje Shugden practitioners was forcibly instituted by Tibetan leadership onto the people and monasteries, the monasteries split. Over 600 monks from Gaden Shartse Monastery left and set up Shar Gaden Monastery. The Tibetan leadership did their best to get the authorities to close Shar Gaden Monastery but Shar Gaden had registered so there was nothing Tibetan leadership can do. It was very sad. Kensur Rinpoche Lobsang Phende left Gaden Shartse Monastery to be the abbot of the newly formed Shar Gaden Monastery in South India where they can continue Dorje Shugden practice. Prior to the ban Lati Rinpoche and Kensur Rinpoche Lobsang Phende can meet up, share and be close as they all had been very close. After the ban this was not allowed anymore. Dorje Shugden and non-Dorje Shugden people had to be segregated. They cannot mix. The previous prime minister of the Tibetan exiled government said that Dorje Shugden people and non Dorje Shugden people are like the mustache and the mouth and it has to be separated. Tsem Rinpoche
4 days ago
(1st photo) Kyabje Lati Rinpoche in the centre and Ven Kensur Rinpoche Lobsang Phende on the extreme right. After the unfair ban against Dorje Shugden practitioners was forcibly instituted by Tibetan leadership onto the people and monasteries, the monasteries split. Over 600 monks from Gaden Shartse Monastery left and set up Shar Gaden Monastery. The Tibetan leadership did their best to get the authorities to close Shar Gaden Monastery but Shar Gaden had registered so there was nothing Tibetan leadership can do. It was very sad. Kensur Rinpoche Lobsang Phende left Gaden Shartse Monastery to be the abbot of the newly formed Shar Gaden Monastery in South India where they can continue Dorje Shugden practice. Prior to the ban Lati Rinpoche and Kensur Rinpoche Lobsang Phende can meet up, share and be close as they all had been very close. After the ban this was not allowed anymore. Dorje Shugden and non-Dorje Shugden people had to be segregated. They cannot mix. The previous prime minister of the Tibetan exiled government said that Dorje Shugden people and non Dorje Shugden people are like the mustache and the mouth and it has to be separated. Tsem Rinpoche
You can see in this 2nd photo, Kyabje Lati Rinpoche blessing a child and Kensur Rinpoche Lobsang Phende standing next to the child. The monasteries were happy, united and had good samaya with each other prior to the ban. The ban destroyed everything and unity and harmony. It is very sad to see this. These pictures are from Kensur Rinpoche Lobsang Phende\'s collection. Tsem Rinpoche
4 days ago
You can see in this 2nd photo, Kyabje Lati Rinpoche blessing a child and Kensur Rinpoche Lobsang Phende standing next to the child. The monasteries were happy, united and had good samaya with each other prior to the ban. The ban destroyed everything and unity and harmony. It is very sad to see this. These pictures are from Kensur Rinpoche Lobsang Phende's collection. Tsem Rinpoche
His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche on the throne, His Eminence Lati Rinpoche (next to Zong Rinpoche) and below Lati Rinpoche is Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche (sitting below Lati Rinpoche). This is a puja in Gaden Shartse Monastery. A rare and blessed photo and nice to save. Tsem Rinpoche
4 days ago
His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche on the throne, His Eminence Lati Rinpoche (next to Zong Rinpoche) and below Lati Rinpoche is Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche (sitting below Lati Rinpoche). This is a puja in Gaden Shartse Monastery. A rare and blessed photo and nice to save. Tsem Rinpoche
ou can save this rare thangka of 1,000 armed Heruka. I\'ve never seen this thangka or any of this form before and it\'s the first time. You can print out or keep or use. I found this online and it\'s beautiful. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche mentioned this Heruka 30 years ago to us and since then I have never seen this in painting or statue at all till now. He has many legs and many faces too. Very special and unique. Seeing Heruka or thinking of Heruka plants the seeds of enlightenment in our mindstream. Tsem Rinpoche
4 days ago
ou can save this rare thangka of 1,000 armed Heruka. I've never seen this thangka or any of this form before and it's the first time. You can print out or keep or use. I found this online and it's beautiful. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche mentioned this Heruka 30 years ago to us and since then I have never seen this in painting or statue at all till now. He has many legs and many faces too. Very special and unique. Seeing Heruka or thinking of Heruka plants the seeds of enlightenment in our mindstream. Tsem Rinpoche
This is Venerable Lhakpa Tsering from Tibet. He has passed away a few years back of natural causes and as he was older. He was one of the high ranking and official oracle of Dorje Shugden, Namka Barzin, Kache Marpo and several other high protectors. He was famous in Tibet for his correct trance of Dorje Shugden and extremely powerful clairvoyance advice of Dorje Shguden. He has been taking trance since Tibet. In 1959 he left Tibet for India and settled in Kalimpong. He continued to take trance in Kalimpong of Dorje Shugden for government officials, local persons, high lamas, monasteries, nuns, monks and even foreigners. For over 40 years his wonderful oracular ability to take trance and give advice and prophecies has benefited so many people. He was trained and blessed as an oracle by the previous Dromo Geshe Rinpoche of Sera Jey Monastery. I\'ve had a chance to stay at his house, meet him and see him in trance. It was a great blessing and amazing experience. Tsem Rinpoche
2 weeks ago
This is Venerable Lhakpa Tsering from Tibet. He has passed away a few years back of natural causes and as he was older. He was one of the high ranking and official oracle of Dorje Shugden, Namka Barzin, Kache Marpo and several other high protectors. He was famous in Tibet for his correct trance of Dorje Shugden and extremely powerful clairvoyance advice of Dorje Shguden. He has been taking trance since Tibet. In 1959 he left Tibet for India and settled in Kalimpong. He continued to take trance in Kalimpong of Dorje Shugden for government officials, local persons, high lamas, monasteries, nuns, monks and even foreigners. For over 40 years his wonderful oracular ability to take trance and give advice and prophecies has benefited so many people. He was trained and blessed as an oracle by the previous Dromo Geshe Rinpoche of Sera Jey Monastery. I've had a chance to stay at his house, meet him and see him in trance. It was a great blessing and amazing experience. Tsem Rinpoche
Why seek anything else when you have the illustrious practice of Vajra Yogini from the lineage of the Crazy Wisdom Mahasiddha Naropa? Nothing in samsara created by ordinary men can surpass the practice of Vajra Yogini elucidated to us by the Buddha. Nothing in samsara’s knowledge no matter how incredible can surpass the knowledge embodied in the dharma by the Buddha. Samsara knowledge is limited. When we study Buddha’s knowledge (Dharma) it guarantees our future with no limitations. Spend more time studying dharma than samsaric knowledge. Why even compare? Surrender samsara as death and loss are it’s only results and engage in Dharma practice all the way. Vajra Yogini is dharma and dharma is Vajra Yogini. Give everything for Vajra Yogini’s practice. Start now as a preliminary practice even without initiation (blog article: Starting on Vajra Yogini Now- http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=4395). Humbly, Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
Why seek anything else when you have the illustrious practice of Vajra Yogini from the lineage of the Crazy Wisdom Mahasiddha Naropa? Nothing in samsara created by ordinary men can surpass the practice of Vajra Yogini elucidated to us by the Buddha. Nothing in samsara’s knowledge no matter how incredible can surpass the knowledge embodied in the dharma by the Buddha. Samsara knowledge is limited. When we study Buddha’s knowledge (Dharma) it guarantees our future with no limitations. Spend more time studying dharma than samsaric knowledge. Why even compare? Surrender samsara as death and loss are it’s only results and engage in Dharma practice all the way. Vajra Yogini is dharma and dharma is Vajra Yogini. Give everything for Vajra Yogini’s practice. Start now as a preliminary practice even without initiation (blog article: Starting on Vajra Yogini Now- http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=4395). Humbly, Tsem Rinpoche
The young Tsem Rinpoche with his cousin Sada Andreyev. She visited him in Los Angeles. Taken in Tsem Rinpoche\'s room in Thubten Dhargye Ling Dharma centre.
3 weeks ago
The young Tsem Rinpoche with his cousin Sada Andreyev. She visited him in Los Angeles. Taken in Tsem Rinpoche's room in Thubten Dhargye Ling Dharma centre.
Young Tsem Rinpoche with his cousin Sonia Waskin. She visited him in Los Angeles, California.
3 weeks ago
Young Tsem Rinpoche with his cousin Sonia Waskin. She visited him in Los Angeles, California.
Pictures of the teenage Tsem Rinpoche with his two cousins Sonia and Sada. Taken outside of Thubten Dhargye Ling Buddhist Centre where Tsem Rinpoche was living. Los Angeles, California, USA
3 weeks ago
Pictures of the teenage Tsem Rinpoche with his two cousins Sonia and Sada. Taken outside of Thubten Dhargye Ling Buddhist Centre where Tsem Rinpoche was living. Los Angeles, California, USA
Pictures of the teenage Tsem Rinpoche with his two cousins Sonia and Sada. Los Angeles, California, USA
3 weeks ago
Pictures of the teenage Tsem Rinpoche with his two cousins Sonia and Sada. Los Angeles, California, USA
The young Tsem Rinpoche with his parents Boris and Dana Bugayeff. And on the extreme right is Tsem Rinpoche\'s cousin Toktun Gugajew. This was in Howell, New Jersey, USA
3 weeks ago
The young Tsem Rinpoche with his parents Boris and Dana Bugayeff. And on the extreme right is Tsem Rinpoche's cousin Toktun Gugajew. This was in Howell, New Jersey, USA
Tsem Rinpoche attending the wedding of Carmen Kichikov\'s brother. Tsem Rinpoche is 2nd from the right and in his adolescence. Howell, New Jersey, USA
3 weeks ago
Tsem Rinpoche attending the wedding of Carmen Kichikov's brother. Tsem Rinpoche is 2nd from the right and in his adolescence. Howell, New Jersey, USA
When my adorable Dharma boy came home to me. I love you Dharma boy. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
When my adorable Dharma boy came home to me. I love you Dharma boy. Tsem Rinpoche
Tsem Rinpoche in Taiwan as a baby where he was born
3 weeks ago
Tsem Rinpoche in Taiwan as a baby where he was born
Tsem Rinpoche as a baby holding an umbrella
3 weeks ago
Tsem Rinpoche as a baby holding an umbrella
Think about this...
3 weeks ago
Think about this...
Our frustrations have meaning when it\'s for others and a greater cause.
3 weeks ago
Our frustrations have meaning when it's for others and a greater cause.
It is much better to be doing good things for others than just for ourselves.
3 weeks ago
It is much better to be doing good things for others than just for ourselves.
Contemplate this please...
3 weeks ago
Contemplate this please...
Is there life beyond the grave? If the soul exists, does it survive death? If so, when did the belief first arise that the soul may reincarnate, to be born anew in another physical body? Before we unlock the future we must find the keys to the past. I’m Leonard Nimoy. Join me and open the door to ancient mysteries beginning now, here on A&E. Continue reading here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=37831
3 weeks ago
Is there life beyond the grave? If the soul exists, does it survive death? If so, when did the belief first arise that the soul may reincarnate, to be born anew in another physical body? Before we unlock the future we must find the keys to the past. I’m Leonard Nimoy. Join me and open the door to ancient mysteries beginning now, here on A&E. Continue reading here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=37831
It was a great honour for myself and Kechara to have His Eminence Kensur Rinpoche Jetsun Lobsang Phende visiting us. He is a courageous and extremely brave abbot emeritus of the monastery during it\'s most difficult time.~Tsem Rinpoche - Please read more here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=132602
4 weeks ago
It was a great honour for myself and Kechara to have His Eminence Kensur Rinpoche Jetsun Lobsang Phende visiting us. He is a courageous and extremely brave abbot emeritus of the monastery during it's most difficult time.~Tsem Rinpoche - Please read more here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=132602
This is a powerful picture of Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen, Kensur Kyabje Lati Rinpoche and the current incarnation of Trijang Rinpoche meeting together in the year 2000 when Trijang Rinpoche was 18. All three lamas are Dorje Shugden practitioners. In fact Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen was the one that first encouraged my practice of Dorje Shugden when I was 16 years old when I joined his beautiful Thubten Dhargye Ling centre in Los Angeles. I lived with Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen for 8 years before proceeding to Gaden Monastery in South India. Later Kyabje Zong Rinpoche came to our Los Angeles centre and granted sogtae (permission ceremony) to practice Dorje Shugden for life as requested by Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen. Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen had tremendous faith in Trijang Rinpoche. 

Kyabje Lati Rinpoche was innovative, dedicated and very much focused on bringing dharma to many. He had tremendous faith in Dorje Shugden as I had the honour to meet him many times. He would seek advice from Dorje Shugden many times via the oracle of Gaden Monastery. Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen and Kensur Kyabje Lati Rinpoche have since passed away while the current Trijang Rinpoche is a perfect lineage holder and practitioner of Dharma while he keeps Dorje Shugden as his personal protector as he has done so for many lifetimes. 

This is a powerful and beautiful picture of three great lamas of Buddha’s lineage and also of Gaden Monastery. ~Tsem Rinpoche
4 weeks ago
This is a powerful picture of Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen, Kensur Kyabje Lati Rinpoche and the current incarnation of Trijang Rinpoche meeting together in the year 2000 when Trijang Rinpoche was 18. All three lamas are Dorje Shugden practitioners. In fact Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen was the one that first encouraged my practice of Dorje Shugden when I was 16 years old when I joined his beautiful Thubten Dhargye Ling centre in Los Angeles. I lived with Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen for 8 years before proceeding to Gaden Monastery in South India. Later Kyabje Zong Rinpoche came to our Los Angeles centre and granted sogtae (permission ceremony) to practice Dorje Shugden for life as requested by Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen. Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen had tremendous faith in Trijang Rinpoche. Kyabje Lati Rinpoche was innovative, dedicated and very much focused on bringing dharma to many. He had tremendous faith in Dorje Shugden as I had the honour to meet him many times. He would seek advice from Dorje Shugden many times via the oracle of Gaden Monastery. Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen and Kensur Kyabje Lati Rinpoche have since passed away while the current Trijang Rinpoche is a perfect lineage holder and practitioner of Dharma while he keeps Dorje Shugden as his personal protector as he has done so for many lifetimes. This is a powerful and beautiful picture of three great lamas of Buddha’s lineage and also of Gaden Monastery. ~Tsem Rinpoche
A beautiful photograph of a path walking down from Manjushri Hill in Kechara Forest Retreat in Malaysia.
1 month ago
A beautiful photograph of a path walking down from Manjushri Hill in Kechara Forest Retreat in Malaysia.
This picture is of KB lovingly holding Mumu while he tries to stand up. I was in the room with them and someone else took this picture. It is a very sad and poignant picture because just a short while after this picture was taken, Mumu passed away with all of us present. This was the last picture of my little Mumu alive. We immediately did puja for Mumu and he is sorely missed by many as he touched our lives deeply. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
This picture is of KB lovingly holding Mumu while he tries to stand up. I was in the room with them and someone else took this picture. It is a very sad and poignant picture because just a short while after this picture was taken, Mumu passed away with all of us present. This was the last picture of my little Mumu alive. We immediately did puja for Mumu and he is sorely missed by many as he touched our lives deeply. Tsem Rinpoche
For years I have been doing this everywhere I go, no matter where or what country I am in. Always be kind to animals.
1 month ago
For years I have been doing this everywhere I go, no matter where or what country I am in. Always be kind to animals.
Practising makes you better at something. If you keep practising in laziness, that is what you will become good in. If you keep practising generosity, that is what you will develop. Keep practising in what you want to become good at.
1 month ago
Practising makes you better at something. If you keep practising in laziness, that is what you will become good in. If you keep practising generosity, that is what you will develop. Keep practising in what you want to become good at.
Real spirituality is kindness.
1 month ago
Real spirituality is kindness.
Our time on this earth in this lifetime is short. It\'s our choice what will look back on when we are in our final moments.
1 month ago
Our time on this earth in this lifetime is short. It's our choice what will look back on when we are in our final moments.
Materialism, desire and greed never result in happiness.
1 month ago
Materialism, desire and greed never result in happiness.
Never ever eat our friends. Go vegetarian.
1 month ago
Never ever eat our friends. Go vegetarian.
It is a privilege to serve the Dharma and to serve others. Real freedom comes in serving others.
1 month ago
It is a privilege to serve the Dharma and to serve others. Real freedom comes in serving others.
Compared to humans and all other sentient beings, animals have just as much right to happiness and freedom.
1 month ago
Compared to humans and all other sentient beings, animals have just as much right to happiness and freedom.
Dharma is not something I engage in as something separate from me. Dharma has been me since young.
1 month ago
Dharma is not something I engage in as something separate from me. Dharma has been me since young.
How much we are willing to suffer is how compassionate we are.
1 month ago
How much we are willing to suffer is how compassionate we are.
Dharma is the medicine of the mind prescribed by the Buddha.
1 month ago
Dharma is the medicine of the mind prescribed by the Buddha.
How much effort we are willing to put into our practice, is how much results we will get.
1 month ago
How much effort we are willing to put into our practice, is how much results we will get.
What do you worship on your altar, meat or compassion? One develops coldness and encourages lack of empathy, and one choice encourages attainments.
1 month ago
What do you worship on your altar, meat or compassion? One develops coldness and encourages lack of empathy, and one choice encourages attainments.
Where does patience come from? Think about it closely
1 month ago
Where does patience come from? Think about it closely
Indian sadhus and mendicants also very happy to receive Bhagwan Dorje Shugden
1 month ago
Indian sadhus and mendicants also very happy to receive Bhagwan Dorje Shugden
Tsem Rinpoche with the great Geshe Namgyal Wangchen of Drepung Loseling Monastery. Read more: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=132495
2 months ago
Tsem Rinpoche with the great Geshe Namgyal Wangchen of Drepung Loseling Monastery. Read more: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=132495
Some of my favorite people
(1st row) Alexandra David-Neel, Nicholas Roerich, Helena Roerich, Anagarika Govinda
(2nd row) Walter Evans-Wentz, John Blofeld, Bill Porter (Red Pine), Ekai Kawaguchi
2 months ago
Some of my favorite people (1st row) Alexandra David-Neel, Nicholas Roerich, Helena Roerich, Anagarika Govinda (2nd row) Walter Evans-Wentz, John Blofeld, Bill Porter (Red Pine), Ekai Kawaguchi
Do share this message and create more awareness. Thank you
2 months ago
Do share this message and create more awareness. Thank you
All that we want in samsara is just fleeting and illusionary and we are tired of chasing something that is so short lived, Lady Buddha Dakini Vajra Yogini, please embrace me as you did Naropa with great affection and lift me to your Kechara Paradise in my rainbow body. ~Tsem Rinpoche
3 months ago
All that we want in samsara is just fleeting and illusionary and we are tired of chasing something that is so short lived, Lady Buddha Dakini Vajra Yogini, please embrace me as you did Naropa with great affection and lift me to your Kechara Paradise in my rainbow body. ~Tsem Rinpoche
Lady Buddha Diamond Dakini Vajra Yogini, you appear in so many forms, guises and methods out of great compasion to bring me to your paradise of Kechara heaven. Bless me to waste no more time and engage in my spirituality thoroughly and may I see your coral visage soon. Bless me that I surrender all my games, attachments, projections and endless chasing of all that is futile in samsara now.... Tsem Rinpoche
3 months ago
Lady Buddha Diamond Dakini Vajra Yogini, you appear in so many forms, guises and methods out of great compasion to bring me to your paradise of Kechara heaven. Bless me to waste no more time and engage in my spirituality thoroughly and may I see your coral visage soon. Bless me that I surrender all my games, attachments, projections and endless chasing of all that is futile in samsara now.... Tsem Rinpoche
Sri Lanka is one of the most beautiful places I have visited. There is so much to explore. I have compiled 20 MUST VISIT places for you to see in Sri Lanka. Enjoy the post and the great pictures! Enjoy: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=127234
3 months ago
Sri Lanka is one of the most beautiful places I have visited. There is so much to explore. I have compiled 20 MUST VISIT places for you to see in Sri Lanka. Enjoy the post and the great pictures! Enjoy: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=127234
 http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/wp-content/gallery/chat-pictures/chat-8yzmaqog68754.jpg Sacred and holy Lady Buddha Vajra Yogini being escorted from the Vajra Yogini temple on the streets on festival day to bless the masses. Tsem Rinpoche
3 months ago
http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/wp-content/gallery/chat-pictures/chat-8yzmaqog68754.jpg Sacred and holy Lady Buddha Vajra Yogini being escorted from the Vajra Yogini temple on the streets on festival day to bless the masses. Tsem Rinpoche
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    To hear the holy lama's voice, to be in his presence or even to see his form requires us to have the merits. To implement the teachings of the lama is not easy but not implementing the teachings only leads to more difficulties. I was fortunate to be in the presence of my lama and have kept my samaya clean all these years. To see, hear and remember your holy voice and teachings I feel grateful. I only hope by keeping my samaya clean with you now my lama, I may meet you in future lives again without distraction by samsara. I wish my stay in samsara to be shorter and it is possible by your teachings. May I practice and bring your teachings to many tirelessly as many need it desperately. May I not be disappointed by their unruly behaviour towards me and at times I lose strength, but I think of you. For in samsara everything has disappointed me and will continue to as everything in samsara is a forced illusion. I bow to the feet of my glorious Kyabje Zong Rinpoche! ~Tsem Rinpoche
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ASK A PASTOR


Ask the Pastors

A section for you to clarify your Dharma questions with Kechara’s esteemed pastors.

Just post your name and your question below and one of our pastors will provide you with an answer.

Scroll down and click on "View All Questions" to view archived questions.

  • August 22, 2017 01:55
    jason asked: what is the significance of a solar eclipse in terms of sadhana practice besides multiplying merit
    Pastor Niral Patel answered: Dear Jason, Thank you for your question. It is good to see you here. As you have rightly pointed out, during solar eclipses the merit from engaging in virtuous actions are greatly multiplied. Therefore there are many prescribed practices one can do during these times to generate a lot of merit, such as engaging in prayers, making abundant offerings, animal liberation, taking precepts for the day, etc. In terms of sadhana practice, the main benefit here would be the multiplication of merits generated. However on a tantric level, since the movements of the planets are linked to the movement of energy within the universe, and therefore one’s body, there would be subtle changes in the psychic winds within the body as well. On the whole, the patterns of the universe are mirrored within the psychic winds in the body as well. The tantric system that deals with these movements in the most detail is the Kalachakra Tantra, which you can read more about here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/tibetan-astrology/introduction-to-tibetan-astrology.html In the Kalachakra Tantra it is said that when a solar eclipse occurs, merit is either multiplied a thousand, ten-thousand times, or a hundred-thousand times. The sun and the moon are linked with the psychic winds, channels and drops with tantric practice. According to the Kalachakra Tantra everyone breathes 21,600 time every day and our minds are said to ride on the winds within our bodies. The majority of the winds within out body are karmic winds, in that they come about and are affected by karmic tendencies. During an eclipse however, more wisdom winds are said to prevail in the body. As these circulate in the body, doing Dharma practice, especially tantric practices in which you use these winds, one can achieve spiritual attainments at a speed that would not normally be possible. In traditional mythology, there is a celestial body known as Rahu. This isn’t actually a physical planet, but a node on the orbit of the moon. When Rahu appears, he is said to swallow the sun for some time, this is the ancient explanation of a solar eclipse. Rahu is also known as the “dragon’s head”. Within the Kalachakra Tantra, practitioners use Rahu to bring the sun and the moon under control. As the sun is associated with psychic channels on the right side of the body, and the moon with psychic channels on the left side of the body, what this means is that the practitioner controls these energies and brings them into the central psychic channel instead. Thereby the solar eclipse is said to mirror a tantric yogi’s ability to bring the psychic energies of the left and right side into the central channel. Once in the central channel the yogi can engage in the higher psychic energy meditations in order to gain spiritual attainments and even enlightenment. For an everyday practitioner therefore, the main benefit of practicing during a solar eclipse is the multiplication of merit. For a tantric practitioner however, it is a time that they can make use of the energies of nature to boost their practices. I hope this helps. Thank you.
  • August 18, 2017 01:27
    Todd asked: Does Rinpoche have any information on the deity Rakta Yamari, who is believed to be an emanation of Manjushri?
    Pastor Niral Patel answered: Dear Todd, Thank you for your interesting question. Rakta Yamari is indeed a wrathful emanation of Manjushri, in the form of a yidam or meditational deity belonging to the Anuttarayoga, or highest tantra, class of deities. The practice has been incorporated into all four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism: the Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug. Generally speaking some of the wrathful forms of Manjushri can be classified into three groupings, the Rakta (blood-red), Krishna (blue-black), and Vajrabhairava (adamantine terrifying). Since Rakta Yamari is therefore a classification of deities, it would be hard to give information here on all of them. The specific forms of Rakta Yamari differ in how the main figure appears and the number of other deities in the mandala. Of particular note, is that each of these forms and their practices has their own lineage of practice as well. Whilst there are forms of all three classifications within the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism, certain lineages place more emphasis on a particular form than others. For example, within the Gelug lineage emphasis is placed on Vajrabhairava Yamantaka, of which there are two forms in particular that are practiced: 13-deity Yamantaka, and Solitary Hero Yamantaka. In fact Vajrabhairava Yamantaka is one of the three main Anuttarayoga Tantra deities practiced in the Gelug lineage, which we follow, alongside the Akshobhyavajra variant of Guhyasamaja and Chakrasamvara. There are two important lineages of Rakta Yamari practice: the 13-deity Rakta Yamari, and the 5-deity Rakta Yamari practice. Both of these practices can be traced back to an important lineage holder, the Indian Mahasiddha Virupa. In the case of the 5-deity Rakta Yamari lineage, he was taught the practice by a wisdom dakini. I hope this helps. Thank you.
  • August 17, 2017 19:26
    Aldric Wilson DuXing asked: How can the alleged "DiSanShr" "Dorje Chang Fo" Yi Yun Gao be the actual incarnation of Buddha Dipankara Buddha?
    Pastor Niral Patel answered: Dear Aldric Wilson DuXing, Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, I do not know much about Yi Yun Gao to be able to comment on this. However, within Buddhism we do believe that the Buddhas, out of their compassion appear in human form to help sentient beings in whatever way they can. Within Tibetan Buddhism there is a long history of recognising great masters as the physical body emanations (also known as tulkus) of the Buddhas. The logic behind this is that the Buddhas are all compassionate and so help sentient beings in any and all means that they can. This would obviously include taking the physical form of a human. To say that the Buddhas cannot or do not do this, would be limiting the abilities of the enlightened beings, which goes against the scriptures. In fact, in the scriptures it states that Buddhas can emanate out in countless different forms at the same time. This includes animate beings, such as humans, animals, etc., and also inanimate objects such as bridges, or other things. These emanations, or incarnations if in human form, can be recognised by those who have the ability to perceive the enlightened beings, such as highly attained masters or other emanations themselves. That is why you see only the highest masters within the Tibetan Buddhist traditions recognise others as incarnations of the Buddhas. Other methods of confirming this can include checking with an enlightened Dharma protector, such as Dorje Shugden, when in trance of a qualified oracle. Those who really are emanations of the enlightened beings do not actually need to be recognised as such, as they will always help others no matter if they are recognised or not. However the recognition of such beings is more for us, as practitioners to gain merit by helping them achieve their goal of helping other sentient beings. But as I mentioned earlier, these beings do not self-proclaim themselves but are recognised as such by other highly attained masters who are trustworthy and really work for the cause of helping others by upholding and practicing the holy teachings of Lord Buddha. I hope this helps. Thank you.
  • August 16, 2017 00:47
    Anonymous asked: Sorry about the link not working. They can be found at dharmawheel.net and then looked under Tibetan Buddhism and then under topics which are under all the other lineage topics. Since this is recent, the title "Crazy Scandal somewhat related to Gelug hitting Taiwan" should come up. But anyway, here are the sources in that case: https://ladakh2017blog.wordpress.com/2017/08/12/mary-jin-gebis/ https://maisonneuve.org/article/2013/06/18/when-monks-come-town/ https://ladakh2017blog.wordpress.com/2017/08/14/bw-dorje-shugden/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ad355FqDQuo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzvPhv_eldk http://www.blisswisdom.org/statement/1854-1006 https://ladakh2017blog.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/dalai-lama-speaks-to-chinese-devotees-about-bliss-and-wisdom/
    No reply yet
  • August 15, 2017 01:43
    Anonymous asked: Hi, although this is not a question, I would like to bring awareness towards a particular cult in China and Taiwan that has been having scandals with their leader, Mary Jin. The cult has been defaming the Dalai Lama and has begun supporting Shugden here even though that's not really bad. However, I would like to bring attention so they may not begin corrupting the Buddhists here. Even though I used a dharmawheel website, it has links to its sources: https://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=40
    pastor answered: Dear Anonymous, Thank you for bringing this to our attention, however the link you provided does not work. I do not know anything about this particular person or their organisation, so I really can’t say much. However, there are some people out there who use religion for their personal gain, and twist the teachings to suit their greed. These sorts of people are often embroiled in scandals and the like and often have views that go against common sense. That is why it is very important to check that a teacher is qualified, is practicing, and is teaching the Dharma as it should be according to the scriptures. All students are encouraged do to so and this in mentioned clearly in the scriptures themselves. The actions of a teacher should be in line with actions laid out in the scriptures and their views should match the logic laid out in the scriptures as well. Once we see a teacher’s qualities, and we have made sure that what they practice is real and genuine, we can devote ourselves to that person fully. We at Kechara, following the teachings of His Eminence the 25th Tsem Rinpoche, think very highly of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as he is the emanation of the Buddha of compassion, Chenrezig. Similarly, we also believe that Dorje Shugden is the emanation of the Buddha of wisdom, Manjushri. For us, both are enlightened beings, and many practitioners all around world follow this belief as well. We are saddened to see or hear when others talk badly about either, since both are enlightened beings capable of benefiting the world tremendously. Thank you.
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