The Most Illustrious Panchen Sonam Drakpa

By | Dec 17, 2018 | Views: 1,590
Panchen Sonam Drakpa. Click on image to enlarge.

Panchen Sonam Drakpa. Click on image to enlarge.

Within the lineage of Dorje Shugden’s incarnations, none is more illustrious than Panchen Sonam Drakpa. In that lifetime, he became the 15th Gaden Throne Holder and the Abbot of the Three Seats (of learning), i.e., the three main Gelug monasteries, Gaden, Drepung and Sera. He was the unmistaken incarnation of the pure monk Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen who was a direct disciple of Je Tsongkhapa.

In ancient India, a scholar or expert in the five major and five minor sciences was awarded the title of “Pandit.” The five major sciences were logic, grammar, medicine, religion/philosophy and crafts while the five minor sciences were semantics, astronomy/astrology, performing arts, poetry and composition. Due to his great scholarship, Sonam Drakpa was given the title of “Panchen,” which is derived from the Sanskrit-Tibetan hybrid Pandita Chenpo which means “great scholar.”

Sonam Drakpa was born in the earth dog year of 1478 into the family of Nangpa Ralampa near Tsetang Monastery in Lhoka, Central Tibet. At a tender age, he received his novice vows from Lachenpo Sonam Tashi who bestowed upon him his ordination name Sonam Drakpai Pel. Subsequently, the young Sonam Drakpa entered Tsetang Monastery and received his early monastic education which included reading, writing and the rigorous daily memorisation of prayers and important scriptures.

He studied pramana or “valid cognition.” Later, he travelled to Yabzang to further his understanding of this subject with the scholars there. At Yabzang, he also learned grammar, poetry and composition and received teachings on traditional philosophical texts from Choje Dakpo Rabjampa and other scholars.

 

Formal Education at Sera and Other Monasteries

Sonam Drakpa went on to study at Sangpu, Nyimatang, and particularly at the great monastic seat of Sera where he studied for twelve years with Yongzin Donyo Palden. While at Sera, he examined major philosophical treatises like the Abhisamayalamkara (Ornament of Clear Realisation), Mulamadhyamakakarika (Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way), Abhidharmakosha (Treasury of Knowledge/Treasury of Phenomenology), Pramanavarttika (Commentary on the Compendium of Valid Cognition) and the Vinaya (A Compendium of Ethics).

Panchen Sonam Drakpa (central figure). Click to enlarge or click here for more high resolution Buddha images.

Panchen Sonam Drakpa (central figure). Click to enlarge or click here for more high resolution Buddha images.

These five treatises became the five major fields of learning which provided the foundation for the curriculum of Gelug monasteries. A candidate for the degree of Geshe Lharampa must pass the final review of these five treatises.

During this period, Sonam Drakpa sought out many eminent lamas for teachings. These lamas included Nyelton Peljor Lhundrub (1427-1514), Donyo Pelden (1445-1524) who was the 10th Abbot of Sera Monastery and Tonpa Khetsun Yonten Gyatso (1443-1521). They were some of the leading masters of his time. While studying the traditional treatises, he also received many teachings on tantra. When he turned twenty, he received his full ordination vows from the great Wona Lama Sanggye Zangpo.

At the age of twenty-seven, he enrolled in the prestigious Gyutö College and engaged in the study of tantra for three years under the great tantric master, Choden Lodo. This master gave him many teachings, initiations, empowerments, esoteric instructions, and transmissions on tantra. In this manner, Sonam Drakpa became steeped in the knowledge of both Sutra and Tantra.

In the great debate courtyard of Tsetang Monastery, he was awarded the title Rabjampa “One with Unobstructed Knowledge” due to his dialectical skills and scriptural knowledge. The foremost scholars and masters of his day showered him with praises and his fame spread all over Tibet.

H.H. the 2nd Dalai Lama Gedun Gyatso (central figure). Image credit: himalayanart.org. Click on image to enlarge.

H.H. the 2nd Dalai Lama Gendun Gyatso (central figure). Image credit: himalayanart.org. Click on image to enlarge.

The following year, Sonam Drakpa returned to Gyutö College and resumed his advanced studies in tantra under the same master. This time around, he studied tantra more intensely than before. Soon, he became one of the greatest tantric masters in Tibet and he would go on to compose a comprehensive guide on the general practice of Tantra.

Sonam Drakpa also studied under the master Kunga Gyeltsen (1432-1506), a prominent Gelug historian and master from Tsetang Monastery along with a relatively obscure master Rinchen Chozang who probably was a recluse. When he was thirty-four, Sonam Drakpa was appointed to the respectable post of Lobpon, the ritual master of Gyutö Tantric College. During his time in office, he gave a wide range of teachings on tantra. He retired from this post at the age of forty-seven. In the following year, the 2nd Dalai Lama Gendun Gyatso, who was also one of his main teachers, appointed him as the Abbot of Drepung Loseling Monastery.

 

Ascending the Throne of Je Tsongkhapa

Sonam Drakpa remained as Abbot of Drepung Loseling Monastery for five years, performing various duties, upholding the monastic tradition and giving many teachings. Then, in 1529, at the age of fifty-two, Panchen Sonam Drakpa ascended the throne of Je Tsongkhapa to be the 15th Gaden Tripa. Upon ascending the throne, he recited the following verse:

May all conducive conditions arise
and all obstacles be pacified,
in order to increase infinitely,
the doctrine of the spiritual king, Tsongkhapa.

Later, at the Great Prayer Festival of Lhasa (Monlam Chenmo), he recited the following verse:

By the merits of the three times
of myself and others,
May the doctrine of Lama Tsongkhapa
blaze forever.

These two verses are known as the “Prayer for the Virtuous Tradition” and form an essential part of the dedication prayers recited by all Gelug practitioners. To this day, all tulkus, lamas, geshes and ordinary practitioners within the Gelug lineage recite these verses that were originally from this great pandit. Indeed, this prayer embodies the courage and devotion of an erudite master who represented the Gelug tradition and its founder well.

Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen. Click to enlarge or click here for more high resolution Buddha images.

Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen. Click to enlarge or click here for more high resolution Buddha images.

It is important to note that this same fortitude was carried over to his reincarnation, Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen, who fulfilled the promise made in a previous life as Duldzin Drakpa Gyeltsen, with the supreme aim of protecting the pure teachings of the Second Buddha, Lama Tsongkhapa, during these degenerate times.

Sonam Drakpa remained in office as Gaden Tripa for seven years, performing his duties with grace and dignity by giving many public teachings and presiding over state and religious events.

During the Monlam Chenmo festivities, he would give teachings to the public. This great Buddhist festival in Lhasa was a yearly celebration started by Je Tsongkhapa in 1409 with the aim of praying for world peace and prosperity.

Upon the completion of his term, Trichen Sonam Drakpa retired and settled in Gaden Monastery. From that time on, he would travel to several monasteries including Kyormolung, Pakmo Chode, Nyiding, and Chode Rinchenling, in order to give teachings.

 

Ascending the Thrones of Gaden, Sera and Drepung

Panchen Sonam Drakpa. Image credit: himalayanart. Click on image to enlarge.

Panchen Sonam Drakpa. Image credit: himalayanart.org. Click on image to enlarge.

When he was sixty-six and after the 2nd Dalai Lama, Gendun Gyatso, had entered clear light, the administration of Drepung Monastery and benefactors unanimously agreed that a successor was needed and therefore, they requested Panchen Sonam Drakpa to ascend the throne of Drepung Monastery. He accepted the post and served for four years. This was on top of being the Throne Holder of Gaden at that time.

Furthermore, the Sangha or monastic community of the great monastic seat of Sera also requested him to be their Abbot, and he held that position as well, caring for this great Mahayana University. He served as the Abbot of Sera Monastery for about nine years. Thus, Paṇchen Sonam Drakpa was unique in that he was the only person in history to have served as Abbot of all the three main Gelug monasteries.

 

Becoming the Tutor to the Dalai Lama

H.H. the 3rd Dalai Lama, Sonam Gyatso. Image credit: himalayanart.org. Click on image to enlarge.

H.H. the 3rd Dalai Lama, Sonam Gyatso. Image credit: himalayanart.org. Click on image to enlarge.

Later, in 1552, Sonam Drakpa became the tutor of the 3rd Dalai Lama, Sonam Gyatso (1543-1588). The young Dalai Lama took up residence in the Panchen’s ladrang at Drepung. Thus began his studies and training under the tutelage of the Panchen. He was given numerous teachings and initiations, principally on Guhyasamaja, the “King of the Tantras,” along with a detailed commentary on this vast tantric system. It was known that, although Panchen Sonam Drakpa was an expert in all the major tantric systems, his main practice was that of Guhyasamaja.

While presiding as the Abbot, the great Panchen gave the Dalai Lama his novice vows, with Sangpu Choje Legpa Dondrub as the action master. Thus, Panchen Sonam Drakpa gave the 3rd Dalai Lama his name “Sonam,” when he was seventy-two, in the year of the earth bird.

In this manner, Panchen Sonam Drakpa had effectively altered the incarnation name of the Dalai Lama from Gendun to Gyatso, which literally means “ocean.” For many scholars, the giving of this name is a prophecy by the Panchen that the Dalai Lama’s work would become vast like the ocean. The 3rd Dalai Lama was carefully nurtured to become the lama that would bring Dharma to the fierce Mongol tribes. In fact, the Mongols would give him the name “Dalai Lama” which, in Mongolian, means “Ocean Teacher.”

Some of the Panchen’s disciples were among the most important lamas of his time. They included the 21st Gaden Tripa, Gelek Pelzang (1505-1567), Lhatsun Sonam Pelzang who studied in Tashilhunpo, the 25th Gaden Tripa Peljor Gyatso (1526-1599), and the Second Demo Peljor Tashi.

Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse. Click on image to enlarge.

Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse. Click on image to enlarge.

 

Nechung and Panchen Sonam Drakpa

During Panchen Sonam Drakpa’s lifetime, he was reminded by the Dharma Protector Nechung Dorje Drakden of the promise that he made in his previous lifetime as Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen, to arise as the Protector of the Gelug teachings.

In his text, Music Delighting the Ocean of Protectors, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche gave the following account of Nechung reminding the Panchen of his promise:

“Manjusri of Blissful Intelligence has insisted that I should principally protect the Geden Teachings, but since I have already sworn to Padmasambhava that I would protect all of Buddha’s Teachings in general, there is no way that I can principally protect only the Geden Teachings. Now Panchen, you yourself, among holders of the Geden Teachings these days, have the highest qualities of learning and realisation. Not only that, you must arise as a wrathful protector of the Geden Teachings to fulfill the commitment you have previously made!”

At that time, the master did not commit and said he would check. Perhaps, the conditions at that time were not right for him to arise as a Dharma Protector yet. This would only manifest later, in his reincarnation as Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen (1619-1656).

 

The Legacy of His Written Works

Since the age of thirty-six, Panchen Sonam Drakpa had been composing various texts on both Sutra and Tantra. His contribution in this field was highly beneficial. As Je Tsongkhapa had said:

“Of all one’s deeds, the ‘deeds of speech’ are the most valuable.”

Among Sonam Drakpa’s compositions were Guhyasamaja (Secret Assembly Tantra), and commentaries on the Prajnaparamita (the Perfection of Wisdom), Madhyamaka (Middle Way philosophy), Vinaya (moral and monastic laws), Pramana (logic and epistemology), and Abhidharma (the theory of mental and material realities). His commentaries became the five major subjects of study in the traditional Gelug monastic curriculum alongside history and other subjects.

Professor Nawang Jinpa, in his Foreword to the English translation of Panchen Sonam Drakpa’s work Overview of Buddhist Tantra, said:

“Panchen bSod-nams grags-pa-dpal was a person with an extraordinary talent for teaching, debate and writing.”

Professor Nawang also added that, in his colophon to dBu ma’i spyi don zab don gsal ba’i sgron me, the Panchen wrote:

In the field of teaching, I am [next to none!] Knowing that
I would outdo them in this field, Arya Asanga and his
brother transmigrated into another realm.

In the field of debate, I am [next to none!] Knowing that
I would find out the areas they had contradicted and
that I would examine them and put forth my arguments,
the logician Digh-naga and Dharmakirti tactfully bypassed me.

In the field of writing, I am [next to none!][In my eyes,]
Arya-sura was just good at spreading the works, which
are like ‘disputes between an insect and a field.’
I am the learned man. Peerless in the field of teaching,
debate and writing!

After quoting Panchen Sonam Drakpa, Professor Jinpa referred to a significant remark from Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche regarding the Panchen’s proclamation. He said:

“For some, this passage might sound utterly nonsensical, but the most learned master of our age, the talented teacher, logician and writer, the late tutor to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Yongs-’dzin Khri-byang rDorje-’Chang, said: “Now, some people of our time, who consider themselves learned scholars, think that this is utter nonsense; but they are wrong.”

Instead of showing disapproval of the Panchen’s open declaration of confidence in his knowledge and skills, His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche openly defended the great scholar. We can deduce from his remark that he knew, deep down, that the Panchen was right and he agreed with him. This passage clearly illustrates Sonam Drakpa’s dauntless courage and unwavering confidence in expounding the Dharma, which is one of the qualities of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

Panchen Sonam Drakpa’s entire collection of written works were compiled into 45 volumes on various subjects, including major commentaries on Sutra and Tantra, sadhanas of tutelary deities, history, religious history and so forth. Some of these texts have been selected as the main textbooks (Yigcha in Tibetan) which are still used in many Gelug monasteries, especially in Drepung Loseling and Gaden Shartse monastic colleges and in a number of monasteries in Mongolia as well. This is a testament to the clarity and accuracy of the Panchen’s amazing works.

The Significance of the Text

Overview of Buddhist Tantra by the great master Panchen Sonam Drakpa

Overview of Buddhist Tantra by the great master Panchen Sonam Drakpa. To read the entire PDF click here.

Overview of Buddhist Tantra by Panchen Sonam Drakpa is published by the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives (LTWA), which is based in Dharamsala in North India. Dharamsala is also where His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama has his official residence and where the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) has their headquarters. The LTWA was established by the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Administration in order to preserve the ancient texts of Tibet both spiritual and secular, and in the process, translate them to various languages including English.

Panchen Sonam Drakpa’s Overview of Buddhist Tantra is one such text that has been translated into English. What is very interesting is that in the foreword to this book, it says Panchen Sonam Drakpa’s previous life was Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen, who was one of the five main disciples of Lama Tsongkhapa. It also notes that Panchen Sonam Drakpa later reincarnated as Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen. Thus, the LTWA acknowledge that Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen, Panchen Sonam Drakpa and Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen are of the same mindstream.

Now, it is very interesting they say this because if Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen’s previous life was the renowned and erudite 45-volume text composer Panchen Sonam Drakpa who was the abbot of the three great Gelugpa monasteries and the 15th Gaden Tripa (the holder of Lama Tsongkhapa’s throne) and moreover the teacher of H.H. the 3rd Dalai Lama and a great master in his own right, it is impossible for Panchen Sonam Drakpa’s future life as Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen to become an evil spirit with a negative mind.

A thangka of Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen (main figure), Brahmarupa Mahakala (top right), and Dorje Shugden (bottom right). Click to enlarge or click here for more high resolution Buddha images.

How can a heart disciple of Lama Tsongkhapa (Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen) reincarnate as the erudite masters Panchen Sonam Drakpa and Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen, then all of a sudden due to “negative prayers” become an evil spirit called Dorje Shugden? This is not logically possible because the minds of enlightened masters of this calibre do not suddenly regress and degenerate into negativity. This is like saying the Bodhisattva Manjushri will become an evil spirit if he makes negative prayers. Illogical!

The incredible thing is that the above information is all printed by the LTWA, which is operating under the Dalai Lama’s guidance and the Tibetan leadership’s auspices. They are contradicting themselves. On the one hand, the Tibetan leadership says that Dorje Shugden is an evil spirit who arose because Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen made negative prayers and on the other hand, they have printed this book acknowledging the qualities of Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen’s mindstream!

Prior to the onset of the Dorje Shugden ban and controversy, everyone in Tibet knew that Dorje Shugden was Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen, who was previously Panchen Sonam Drakpa, who was previously Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen. Everyone knew they were of one mindstream. They were collectively known as the Three Drakpas and were widely revered across the land.

So, the LTWA prints a translation of Panchen Sonam Drakpa’s book, praises his tremendous qualities, recognises his previous life (Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen) and future life (Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen), then the Tibetan leadership claims that Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen became the evil sprit Dorje Shugden? It totally doesn’t make sense. The contradiction is clear.

This also shows how disorganised the Tibetan leadership are because they don’t know what they are printing and they end up contradicting themselves! This book came from a time before the Dorje Shugden ban and now that the Tibetan leadership have decided to make Dorje Shugden the scapegoat for their failures and twist historical facts around, it is ironically their own publication that is exposing their lies.

Overview of Buddhist Tantra, page ix. Click to enlarge.

Foreword to Overview of Buddhist Tantra, page ix. Click to enlarge.

Overview of Buddhist Tantra, page x. Click to enlarge.

Foreword to Overview of Buddhist Tantra, page x. Click to enlarge.

Overview of Buddhist Tantra, page xi. Click to enlarge.

Foreword to Overview of Buddhist Tantra, page xi. Click to enlarge.

 

About LTWA

The Library of Tibetan Works and Archives (LTWA) is a Tibetan library based in Dharamsala, India. The library was founded by H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama on 11 June 1970, and is considered one of the most important libraries and institutions of Tibetan works in the world.

The library contains sources which were relocated from Tibet during the 1959 exodus, including important Tibetan Buddhist manuscripts and archives related to Tibet’s history, politics, culture and even art. It possesses more than 80,000 manuscripts, books and documents; over 600 thangkas, statues and other artefacts of Buddhist heritage; 10,000 photographs; and many other materials.

The primary objective of the library is to provide a comprehensive cultural resource of the highest standards and to promote an environment to facilitate research and the exchange of knowledge.

Source: Wikipedia

 

Foreword to Overview of Buddhist Tantra

The Wylie translation system used in the actual text (as shown above in the three images) may be confusing for readers. Therefore, for ease of reference the foreword has been reproduced below using the more common phonetic translation system.

Foreword

O Choje Sonam Dragpa Pel! (Chos-rje bSod-nams grags-pa-dpal!)
In the vast expanse of Your bodhi-mind,
The mind that the Buddhas have lauded for as many as one hundred times,
You have developed “merit” shining like the sun.
Through Your skill in learning, debate and writing,
As illuminating as one hundred thousand sun rays,
You have developed in You a complete knowledge of the entire sutras and tantras,
Resembling a garden of flowers in full bloom.
The power of Your speech is like the sun;
The fame of your name has reached the three realms of this world.
O Sonam Dragpa, the teacher of teachers!
I bow down at your feet.

In the vast garden of Your great teachings,
The intelligent young people gather for
The ‘six ultimates’ and the ‘four modes of transmission,’
Just as they are attracted to
The one hundred thousand types of nectar
Dripping from a flower of one hundred petals.
May I be able to experience
The taste of the secret tantra!

Panchen Choje Sonam Dragpa Pel (Panchen Chos-rje bSod-nams grags-pa-dpal), the holder of sutra and Vajrayana teachings, was a master whose outstanding learning and spiritual accomplishments are well known by all the learned ones in Tibet. His first incarnation came in the form of one of the five prestigious disciples of Lord Tsongkhapa (Tsong-kha-pa) and became known as Vinaya Holder Dragpa Gyaltsen (Grags-pa rgyal-mtshan). Then came Panchen Sonam Dragpa Pel (Panchen bSod-nams grags-pa-dpal), the author of the present text. The next was Nagri Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen (mNga’-ris sPrul-sku Grags-pa rgyal-mtshan). In this way, a line of his incarnations, each with the Dragpa (grags-pa) surname, followed successively.

Panchen Sonam Dragpa Pel (Panchen bSod-nams grags-pa-dpal) was born in the 14th century in Tsetang (rTsed-thang) in the Lhoka (Lho-kha) region of Central Tibet. He entered the great seat of learning, Sera Thekchenling (Se-ra theg-chen-gling) monastic university, where he became the personal disciple of spiritual master Donyo Dangden (Dhon-yod dang-ldan) and His Holiness the Second Dalai Lama Gedun Gyatso (dGe-‘dun rgya-mtsho). Under

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them, he studied the entire teachings of sutra, tantra and their commentaries, and became known for his outstanding learning. He also received from them the empowerments, reading transmissions, guides and instructions of the entire body of spiritual training. On becoming the fully blessed one, the Dalai Lama appointed him the abbot of the Loseling (Blo-gsal-gling) college, one of the four colleges of Drepung (‘Bras-dpung)- the most prestigious monastic university in Tibet before 1959, with over 10,000 monks on its register. He continued to be the abbot of this college for the next six years; and after him the tenure for each of his successors in this position was fixed for a period of six years, a rule that is followed even today.

He was then appointed the head of the Gelugpa (dGe-lugs-pa) order, the throne holder of Gaden (dGa’-ldan), thus becoming the 15th regent of Lord Tsongkhapa (Tsong-khapa), the second Buddha. In his eulogy to him, Khedrub Gelek Pelsang (mKhas-grub dGe-legs dpal- bzang) says:

O Lama, the second successor of the Unsubduable One,
The regent of the Lord of Dharma,
You are the one who made the virtuous qualities thrive;
You are the one who ascended to the golden throne uplifted by the fearless lions.
May Your success thrive forever!

He continued to be the throne holder for the next seven years, during which time he promoted the spread of Lord Tsongkhapa’s (Tsong-kha-pa) precious teachings, the Gelug (dGe-lugs) tradition, across the land in all directions. He also paid special attention to the practice of monastic rules and the learning and meditation of Buddhism in the monasteries such as Sera (Se-ra), Drepung (‘Bras-spungs), Kyomolung (sKyo-mo-lung), Phagmo Chode (Phag-mo chos-sde), Nyeding (Nye-sdings), Ödna (’Od-sna) and Chöde Rinchen (Chos-sde rin-chen) etc. and improved them to a great extent. He taught the Third Dalai Lama Sonam Gyatso (bSod-nams rGya-mtsho) as the latter’s spiritual master. It was from him that the Dalai Lama received the name Sonam (bSod-nams).

His contributions in the literary field are enormous; and, indeed, they are the most valuable of all his contributions. Tsongkhapa (Tsong-kha-pa) has rightly said:

Of all one’s deeds,
The ‘deeds of speech’ are the most valuable.

Panchen Sonam Dragpa Pel (Panchen bSod-nams grags-pa-dpal) was a person with an extraordinary talent for teaching, debate and writing. In his colophon to Bu mey chi don zab don sel wey dron mey (dBu ma’i spyi don zab don gsal ba’i sgron me), he wrote:

In the field of teaching, I am [next to none!] Knowing that

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I would outdo them in this field, Arya Asanga and his brother transmigrated into another realm.
In the field of debate, I am [next to none!] Knowing that I would find out the areas they had contradicted and that I would examine them and put forth my arguments, the logician Dignaga (Digh-naga) and Dharmakirti tactfully bypassed me.
In the field of writing, I am [next to none!][In my eyes,] Arya-sura was just good at spreading the works, which are like ‘disputes-between an insect and a field.’
I am the learned man. Peerless in the field of teaching, debate and writing!

For some this passage might sound utterly nonsensical, but the most learned master of our age, the talented teacher, logician and writer, the late tutor to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Yongdzin Trijang Dorjechang (Yongs-‘dzin Khri-byang rDorje-‘Chang), said: “Now, some people of our time, who consider themselves learned scholars, think that this is utter nonsense; but they are wrong.”

Panchen Sonam Dragpa Pel (Panchen bSod-nams grags-pa-dpal) wrote over 45 volumes of books dealing with many different subjects, such as the commentaries on the sutras and tantras, the saddhana manuals of the tutelary deities, history, religious history and so forth. Among these, one that is very important for all who wish to learn and meditate on the path-of the practical aspect of Buddhism in general and that of Vajrayana in particular is the Leg shey gyu de chi nam par shagpa kelsang gi yi trod (Legs bshad rgyud sde spyi’i rnam par bzhag pa skal bzang gi yid ‘phrod). In this book, he has explained precisely how the four tantras differ from one another. He has also fully described the stages of the two spontaneous path practices of the Vajrayana tradition, dealing with the ‘six ultimates’ and the ‘four modes of transmission’, thus interpreting without mistake the intention of Adhi-Buddha Vajradhara.

May the reprint of this text, which the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives is publishing herewith, bring peace and happiness in this world!

Prof. Nawang Jinpa
St. Joseph’s College
Darjeeling

January 24 1996

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To download and read the Overview of Buddhist Tantra by Panchen Sonam Drakpa in PDF format, click here.

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Establishment of his Ladrang

Just before entering clear light, Panchen Sonam Drakpa established his ladrang in Drepung Monastery which became known as Zimkhang Gongma or Upper Residence Estate.

It was known by that name because it was built on higher ground, on the hill just above the Ngakpa debate courtyard. The ladrang became a seat of great power and influence due to the fact that the illustrious Panchen served as the Abbot of three great monasteries and assumed the position of Gaden Tripa as well. After Sonam Drakpa, no other lama or tulku in the Gelug Order had the honour to serve in this manner again.

Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen (center), Panchen Sonam Drakpa (left) and Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen (right). Click to enlarge or click here for more high resolution Buddha images.

The Three Drakpas: Panchen Sonam Drakpa (left), his future incarnation as Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen (centre), and his previous incarnation as Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen (right). Click to enlarge or click here for more high resolution Buddha images.

The ladrang became famous and served as the seat of later incarnations until the time of Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen. In addition, Panchen Sonam Drakpa’s incarnation line became officially known as the Zimkhang Gongma line of incarnations. Hence, Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen was officially known as the 4th Drepung Zimkhang Gongma tulku. The ladrang was also a popular destination for pilgrims who came to Drepung to make offerings and to perform circumambulations on the sacred path around the monastery.

 

The Sacred Relics of Panchen Sonam Drakpa

In 1554, Panchen Sonam Drakpa entered clear light and his great disciples from different regions performed extensive prayers and rituals. For fifteen days, he remained in clear light meditation (thugdam) after his breathing had stopped.

Panchen Sonam Drakpa. Click on image to enlarge.

Panchen Sonam Drakpa. Click on image to enlarge.

When his meditation was over, his sacred remains had miraculously transformed to about a foot in height, which meant that he had achieved the rainbow body through his practice of Guhyasamaja.

After his body was cremated according to tradition, many amazing relics were found in the ashes. His heart, tongue and eyes were not burnt and an extra heart even appeared along with a small image of an eleven-faced Avalokiteshvara and numerous relics with sacred syllables that had naturally formed on them. His disciples constructed a new silver reliquary stupa at Drepung to house these relics.

The extra heart was placed at the heart of a golden statue of the Panchen himself along with the Avalokiteshvara relic; these two were enshrined at Zimkhang Gongma. Unfortunately, the ladrang and other objects of Panchen Sonam Drakpa did not survive the destruction that occurred during the lifetime of Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen.

 

Praise of Panchen Sonam Drakpa

His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, in his text, Music Delighting the Ocean of Protectors, highlighted Panchen Sonam Drakpa’s qualities and included the Praise of the Panchen written by the 2nd Dalai Lama, Gendun Gyatso:

“Panchen Sonam Dragpa’s wisdom was so encompassing of the Scriptures of Sutra and Tantra, all of the inner and outer fields of knowledge, as well as the stories and biographies of holy beings, that the Lord Omniscient Gedun Gyatso venerated him with praise.”

Known (Dragpa) as a river with a bubbling smile flowing with hundreds of Sutras and Tantras,
Over previously gathered merit (Sonam) of gold, and wisdom as vast as the jeweled earth,
Exquisite with foaming waves of poetry and garlands of pearls of stories,
You spread eloquent Teachings, not heard before, that adorn the ears of those of earth.

Professor Nawang Jinpa from St. Joseph’s College, Darjeeling, included the following Praise of Panchen Sonam Drakpa in his Foreword to Overview of Buddhist Tantra, on 24 January 1996:

O Choje Sonam Dragpa Pel!
In the vast expanse of Your bodhi-mind,
The mind that the Buddhas have lauded for as many as one hundred times,
You have developed “merit” shining like the sun.
Through Your skill in learning, debate and writing,
As illuminating as one hundred thousand sun rays,
You have developed in You a complete knowledge of the entire sutras and tantras,
Resembling a garden of flowers in full bloom.
The power of Your speech is like the sun;
The fame of your name has reached the three realms of this world.
O Sonam Dragpa, the teacher of teachers!
I bow down at your feet.

In the vast garden of Your great teachings,
The intelligent young people gather for
The ‘six ultimates’ and the ‘four modes of transmission,’
Just as they are attracted to
The one hundred thousand types of nectar
Dripping from a flower of one hundred petals.
May I be able to experience
The taste of the secret tantra!

 

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About Pastor David Lai

David is a lay Buddhist pastor of Kechara and a longtime student of H.E. Tsem Rinpoche. Initially a reluctant writer, he now finds himself writing for a living and has published four books including his autobiography, There's No Way But Up and Conversations in Love.

David is a lover of Buddhist art and whenever he can, he shares his knowledge of the Dharma with everyone, giving frequent teachings and writing on his blog www.davidlai.me.
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10 Responses to The Most Illustrious Panchen Sonam Drakpa

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  1. Wai Meng Wan on Jan 1, 2019 at 1:38 am

    Panchen Sonam Drakpa was one of the greatest lamas that the Gaden tradiiton has produced long live the gaden tradition

    • Wai Meng Wan on Jan 1, 2019 at 2:03 am

      Panchen Sonam Drakpa was one of the greatest lamas that the Gaden tradition has produced. Some of the textbooks composed by Panchen Sonam Drakpa are still being used in Gaden Shartse and also Drepung monastery.

  2. Samfoonheei on Dec 23, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    Panchen Sonam Drakpa was unique in having served as abbot of the three main Gelug monasteries – Ganden, Sera and Drepung. Great Scholar and Spiritual Master of the Dalai Lama the great master Panchen Sonam Drakpa,was a multi talented scholar having mastered in many fields such as astronomy/astrology, performing arts, poetry, composition and so forth. Amazing he did received many intensely teachings from many great teachers.
    In his later life after retirement he gave teachings to several monasteries. He was a prolific writer and composed many written works on various topics including history , religious history, on Sutra and Tantra to name a few .To this day in his writings are used as textbooks by monks. He was truly a great scholar
    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor David for this sharing of a GREAT Lama.

  3. Choong on Dec 22, 2018 at 4:07 pm

    The fundamental cause of being born in the ghosts and spirits realm is dying with insatiable desires such as wealth, power, prestige, fame, pleasure, etc.

    There is not a single iota of evidence that shows Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen died while in this state of mind. On the contrary, as this article and other biographies and commentaries of his previous lives detail, his mindstream such as when as the vessel Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen, was one who was scholarly, humble, brilliant at sutra and tantra, devoted and extremely meritful at serving the Dharma.

    I remember that Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen who was one of the heart disciples of Je Rinpoche held the Vinaya so well that he was reknowned for it and he even turned down Je Rinpoche’s request to be the head lama (Gaden Tripa) of Je Rinpoche’s congregation.

    It is clear that accusations of Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen being reborn as a perfidious spirit is without basis.

  4. Chris on Dec 18, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    Thank you, Rinpoche and the blog team for this amazing article. Panchen Sonam Drakpa, in my opinion, is the most erudite and powerful lama among all other Dorje Shugden’s incarnations. He is the only who served as the Gaden Tripa as well as the Abbot of all three major monasteries of the Gelug traditions

    There are no other lamas in the history that manage to do that. This is how good he is. So, how can a high lama with such calibre or attainments become an evil spirit when he dies? Lamas that have such attainments or accomplishment will be regarded as enlightened due to the nature of their work. Minds that have such level of attainments will not degenerate, unlike normal minds.

    Hence, it is not logical to say that the reincarnation of this very same mind which is Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen will become an evil spirit that will harm Tibet and also His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It is just not possible. Anyone that actually knows a little bit about Tibetan Buddhism will be able to know that it is a lie. That is why it is safe for us to conclude that Dorje Shugden is an enlightened protector because before he arose as a Dharma Protector, his mind had already reached enlightenment.

  5. Tsa Tsa Ong on Dec 18, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    Another truly inspiring and interesting history of one of the three Drakpas whose emanation is none other than the enlightened protector Dorje Shugden. Part of the story that stood out, “In 1554, Panchen Sonam Drakpa entered clear light and his great disciples from different regions performed extensive prayers and rituals. For fifteen days, he remained in clear light meditation (thugdam) after his breathing had stopped.
    When his meditation was over, his sacred remains had miraculously transformed to about a foot in height, which meant that he had achieved the rainbow body through his practice of Guhyasamaja.” Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor David for another great write up on another erudite High Lama, Panchen Sonam Drakpa.🙏👍👏👏😍⭐️

  6. Jacinta on Dec 18, 2018 at 11:42 am

    We certainly have heard of Panchen Lamas’ line of incarnations and how great He was in spreading Dharma across Tibet and then in China.

    So one can imagine that even the title “Panchen “ (Great Scholar) was accorded to this great Master and thenceforth He was widely known as Panchen Sonam (Ocean) Drakpa ~ just by the name of it, we know how great thou art!

    Panchen Sonam Drakpa has been the Abbot of the three great monasteries namely Sera, Drepung and Ganden, not to mention that He was even the Abbot of Gyutö Monastery as well! His short biography was even mentioned by Lobsang Tamdin, a renown Mongolian Scholar https://bit.ly/2PwboSx . His works and contribution in Dharma was so extensive that He was later known as the Great Master of both Sutra and Tantra.

    And now, His work is being translated, mentioned and published by the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives (LTWA), which is based in Dharamsala. (The LTWA was established by the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Administration in order to preserve the ancient texts of Tibet both spiritual and secular, and in the process, translate them to various languages including English. )

    As Pastor David has mentioned “prior to the onset of the Dorje Shugden ban and controversy, everyone in Tibet knew that Dorje Shugden was Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen, who was previously Panchen Sonam Drakpa, who was previously Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen. Everyone knew they were of one mindstream. They were collectively known as the Three Drakpas and were widely revered across the land.”

    Hence it is ILLOGICAL to claim otherwise! On one hand, they study the work of this great Master and then in another hand, they dismissed the enlightened qualities of His successive incarnation when He was known as Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen? Illogical!

    Also the two famous dedication prayers that Pastor David Lai has mentioned can be found and are still being recited today in all over the monasteries and in my daily sadhana too. In fact, daily, all of us are praying and making connection with this great Master. So, how can one ignore His enlightened qualities, works and contribution, and then on the other hand repeatedly claim that He was a spirit? Again Illogical…

    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor David Lai for this article. Really though provoking.

    DAG-SOG JIN-NYEH SAG-PA GE-WA DEE
    TAN-DANG DRO-WA KUN-LA GANG-PHAN DANG
    CHE-PAR JE-TSUN LO-ZANG DRAG-PA YI
    TAN-PI NYING-PO RING-DU SAL-SHEH SHUG

    CHO KHI GYAL PO TSONG KHA PA
    CHO TSUL NAM PAR PHEL WA LA
    GEK KI TSHAN MA ZHI WA DANG
    THUN KYIN MA LU TSHANG WAR SHOK

  7. Bradley Kassian on Dec 18, 2018 at 6:05 am

    Panchen Sonam Drakpa is an inspiration. He was a Ganden Throne Holder and abbot of Ganden, Drepung and Sera. “He is the only person ever to have received this honour.” A very great scholar/pandit. His texts form the core curriculum for the Loseling College of Drepung Monastic University, the Shartse College of the Ganden Monastic University, and several other Gelugpa monasteries. Panchen Sonam Dragpa’s collected works spans fourteen volumes. He was taught by the second Dalai Lama, and in turn later became the teacher of the third Dalai Lama. Panchen Sonam Dragpa also became known as an incarnation of the great lama and historian Buton Rinchen Drub. He is also considered one of the previous incarnations of the “Great King” Protector Dorje Shugden. I rejoice in all his accomplishments. Thank you Rinpoche, Pastor David Lai, and blog team for sharing a biography of this great being. 🙏😀

  8. claudio cipullo on Dec 17, 2018 at 8:55 pm

    tx,very usefull.champa togmeitaly

  9. Datuk May on Dec 17, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    Reading the historical and logical truth works of Panchen Sonam Drakpa in relation to his previous incarnation as Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen and the reincarnation of Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen who arose as Protector Dorje Shugden affirms my believe that Dorje Shugden is an enlightened Protector who is here in today’s degenerated times to protect the tradition of JeTsongkapa and to assist us on our spiritual path.

    Dorje Shugden is an enlightened Dharma Protector who is here with us today to protect and guide us along our practice of the Dharma and to gain merits for a better rebirth.

    Thank you, Rinpoche and Pastor David for this profound learning.

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  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Jan 23. 2020 08:31 PM
    Rejoice to those able to witness such an auspicious trance in Wisdom Hall at Kechara Forest Retreat, Bentong . A privilege for many fortunate ones, to witness to our Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden and Karcho Marpo, via the Panglung oracle in full trance, which is very rare. The very first time opened to public and is a tremendous blessing and great merits for all. Panglung Kuten (oracle) was the most famous oracle of Kache Marpo and Dorje Shugden before 1959 in Tibet. Tibet has an ancient and popular tradition of oracles which involves Dharma Protector to descend into a human oracle. Panglung kuten is a very well-known oracle of over 7 great Dharma protectors, who are able to enter him, take full control of his body and speech. Many people from Tibet, Nepal , India and over the world came to seek accurate prophecies, advise and healing from this well- known oracle. For me been able to watch the video is a blessing and pictures tells me a thousand words as I only came to know Kechara in 2016.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/dorje-shugden/700-meet-a-buddha.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Jan 23. 2020 08:15 PM
    Many Dharma practitioners rely on Dharma protectors when they seek protection . Dharma protectors play various roles in different aspects of Buddhism . The practice of Dharma protectors has evolved through a long history in India and Tibet. In all traditions of Tibetan Buddhism history, various forceful spirits were tamed by great figures like Guru Rinpoche to become protectors of Buddhism. The purpose of this Dharma Protector practice is to remove obstacles and gather all favourable conditions for their spiritual practice. Within the Nyingma tradition they have Rahula as one of Dharma protectors, Ekajati as the main protector of the Dzogchen teachings while Dorje Shugden is Gelupa Dharma protector and there so many others dharma protectors been practice. Each of the wrathful forms of each protectors varies , depicting their believed willingness to defend and guard practitioners from dangers and enemies. Dharma protectors has benefited countless of sentient beings , granting protection wisdom, material needs and so forth.
    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor Niral for this knowledgeable post.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/dharma-protectors-of-tibetan-buddhism.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Jan 23. 2020 08:12 PM
    Begtse Chen is one of the main protectors of the Geluk School of Tibetan Buddhism and especially revered in Mongolia. The origin of Begtse Chen can be traced to a pre-Buddhist deity in 16th century . Begtse Chen is the main protector associated with the Hayagriva cycle of Tantric Deity meditation practice.
    In Tibetan Buddhism Begtse is believed to have originated in India. The practice entered Tibet with Nyen Lotsawa in the 11th century. As a protector deity that does battle with the forces of evil and the wicked and guards the righteous and faithful . His terrifying, monstrous face it appearance serves only to frighten demons and dark spirits away and serves as a beacon of justice as well as a guardian of wisdom to all who see and revere him. Their wrathful forms depicting their believed willingness to defend and guard everyone from dangers and enemies. Interesting read to understand better of this Dharma Protector.
    Thank you for this sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/the-dharma-protector-begtse-chen.html
  • S.Prathap
    Thursday, Jan 23. 2020 04:33 PM
    This story is very inspiring.Plants are very important nowadays as we, humans, require oxygen to live. The confidence level in the man has influenced him to change the barren land to a place filled with thousand of various plants.
    Youngsters should take this man as a role model not only for planting trees but for the confidence in him. Not only confidence, but even loaded of courage in him.Thank you very much for the good and inspiring article.

    https://bit.ly/2TOHbmZ


  • S.Prathap
    Wednesday, Jan 22. 2020 04:38 PM
    As we can see in the video these people can help others through these powers , such abilities can also be developed through reciting mantras consistently on a daily basis.It is really interesting of to understand the existing of psychic, which may come from birth or by disaster like lightning.
    Always fascinated by people who have psychic powers. Wonder how it feels like to be able to know and see things the way they do. Personally I don’t know anyone with this ability.Thank you very much for this interesting and educational article.

    https://bit.ly/37jKFBR


  • Samfoonheei
    Monday, Jan 20. 2020 04:09 PM
    Thank you Pastor David for sharing all the wonderful encounters of shopping with Rinpoche. As we know Rinpoche rarely goes shopping for himself but as gifts for various students. Reading this post simply have me thinking, one must be observant to develop knowledge, and to apply what we read from the Lamrim topics into our lives. Being observant of our surroundings and practicing situational awareness at all times.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/one-minute-story/tales-with-my-lama-the-shopping-experience-with-rinpoche
  • Samfoonheei
    Monday, Jan 20. 2020 04:08 PM
    nteresting ….in Tibetan culture wild mushrooms spotted is a symbol of good luck. At Kechara Forest Retreat ,H.E. Tsem Rinpoche’s private garden, mushrooms been spotted which is considered a good omen something good or arrival of good news , very auspicious symbol. Associated with nature and the beauty of the forest, having mushrooms popping up on one garden is rare and is very auspicious in Tibetan Buddhism, which will represent the Dharma will flourish in the near future. It’s indeed an auspicious sign.
    Thank you for this sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/one-minute-story/an-auspicious-omen-in-kechara-forest-retreat
  • Samfoonheei
    Monday, Jan 20. 2020 04:02 PM
    Religion should not come into politics as it is not one religion among other. These two should not mixed together or the results would be catastrophic To these days religion and politics seem to be all mixed up. It is happening to the present day where the Tibetan Leadership is against the Dorje Shugden practice. Its far too long the Dorje Shugden controversy been going on which is unnecessary and illogical causing sufferings, disharmony , discrimination and so forth among practitioners and non-practitioners. The Tibetan people should be given religious freedom to practise how and what they want. The Dalai Lama who promotes peace and harmony should do more to help those affected by the ban and not specking against them causing confusion. Hopefully the previous advice against Dorje Shugden should be retracted for the sake of a peace and harmony. It would be wonderful if Dalai Lama could have discussion with the Chinese leadership to solve the present problems once for all. China is a great and powerful nation, it would be good to have a good closer relationship . May Dalai Lama live long and back to his homeland Tibet soon. And may Dalai Lama lift the ban against Dorje Shugden .
    Thank you Rinpoche for this sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/dorje-shugden/dalai-lama-china-shugden.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Sunday, Jan 19. 2020 09:16 PM
    Tsem Rinpoche was one definitely a modern Lama ,it was Rinpoche that we have online knowledge , learning and practicing Dharma. Being one of the first lamas to recognise the benefits of using the Internet to spread dharma teachings for free. We are very fortunate to have met Rinpoche , whereby we are able to learn, practice Dharma teachings. I myself got to know Rinpoche through his blog . Since I stumbled across Rinpoche blog, there is no stopping for me. I have visited it daily and to increase my Buddhism knowledge . Its amazing each day I learn something new , really interest and inspiring.
    Rinpoche had set the blog to preserve the teachings as taught by his many Gurus. Rinpoche was truly a modern Lama yet maintaining all traditional commitments, guru devotion, daily practices and so forth.
    Thank you Rinpoche with folded hands and Pastor Jean Ai for sharing this wonderful post.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/one-minute-story/growing-up-with-rinpoche-the-traditional-modern-lama
  • Samfoonheei
    Sunday, Jan 19. 2020 09:14 PM
    Helmut Gassner, known as Venerable Gelong Jampa Lungtog is a senior Buddhist monk from Austria. He was an electrical engineer before, and became interested in Buddhism after meeting Venerable Geshe Rabten Rinpoche. Throughout his lifetime, he has translated for many high lamas, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and is a strong advocate for the practice of Dorje Shugden. Helmut Gassner were annoyed and upset by the ban of Dorje Shugden by Dalai Lama ,as he knew that the practice of Dorje Shugden is an integral part of the Gaden Tradition. He bravely spoke about it in his speech at the Friedrich-Naumann-Foundation in Germany. Its wonderful of him to tell the truth with his experience and knowledge. May more people dare to speck up about the truth.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/great-lamas-masters/translator-ven-helmut-gassner-on-dalai-lama-and-dorje-shugden.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Saturday, Jan 18. 2020 02:42 PM
    Great teachings and inspirational for us to ponder, thank you Rinpoche. Each words and sentence tell us a thousand words. Great things never come from comfort zones, is the result of hard work and hustle over time that one is successful. We ourselves got to put in action as no one else is going to do it for us. Sometimes later becomes never. We have to use each day as an opportunity to improve, to be better and to transform our mind. It might sound like a lot of work but with determination and hard work nothing is impossible in life.
    Thanks again with folded hands.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/inspiration-worthy-words/if-you-are.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Saturday, Jan 18. 2020 02:39 PM
    Interesting biography of Gendun Gyatso the second Dalai Lama. Gendun Gyatso previous Incarnations was Gendun Drub the First Dalai Lama b.1391 – d.1474. He was born an extraordinary child, able to speak in song of his previous life and expressing the wish to return to his monastery, Tashilhunpo. Even before he finished his studies , incredibly he could give teachings and give initiations. He was a renowned scholar and composer of mystical poetry, who travelled widely to extend Gelugpa influence. He was remembered as one who built the monastery Chokhor Gyel Metok Tang and involving an extremely important decision of Lhamo Latso. Lhamo Latso is a sacred lake located in southern Tibet where senior Tibetan monks go for visions to assist in the discovery of reincarnations. It is one of the most significant pilgrimage destinations in Tibetan Buddhism as to this day. He left a legacy with many volumes of verse, composition, and practice instructions.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this sharing .

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/great-lamas-masters/the-second-dalai-lama-gendun-gyatso.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Saturday, Jan 18. 2020 02:38 PM
    Master Cheng Yen is a Taiwanese Buddhist nun, most known for her work as a teacher and philanthropist. She is the founder of the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation, a non-governmental organization.
    She is involved in various charitable works such as international disaster relief, environmental protection and preservation, community volunteering, health donations and so forth. She is an extraordinary Buddhist nun who has devoted whole her life to helping others,and was recognized internationally with numerous awards to date. Master Cheng Yen continues this noble path of teaching the Buddha Dharma, skillfully revealing how this ancient wisdom is as relevant today, as ever. And, she is a truly inspirational force when it comes to helping us realize that we should put compassion in action by alleviating the suffering of others. She is also known as Mother Teresa of the East to many.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this inspiring post.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/great-lamas-masters/mother-teresa-of-the-east.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Friday, Jan 17. 2020 05:58 PM
    Thank you Rinpoche for the sharing . FEARLESS is getting back up and fighting for what we want over and over again without giving up. Successful people have no fear of failure they stay open to all possibilities of the outcomes. We embrace change, even change that appears negative by thinking positive. Being fearless is more about who we are, rather than what we do. Fearless people are great, they are full of life, good energy, passion and self-belief. We must try as we never know if we do not try. Keep trying as the success rate is higher than we thought.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/inspiration-worthy-words/thoughts.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Friday, Jan 17. 2020 05:54 PM
    Happiness is not made by what we own, it is what we share and giving generously and sincerely. A simple gift by June Tang tells all. Given sincerely from her heart on her birthday to Rinpoche . It’s all done without money, that’s very true and that’s what I consider true generosity for sure. Giving what she could. She give all and yet she feel as if it costs her nothing. But to Rinpoche its mean a lot of sincerity We seek to give with an open, pure heart, with no attachment to what we are .
    Quoted… no true spiritual life is possible without a generous heart. Generosity allies itself with an inner feeling of abundance—the feeling that we have enough to share.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this sharing .

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/study-groups/its-all-done-without-money.html

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I must thank my dharma blog team who are great assets to me, Kechara and growth of dharma in this wonderful region. I am honoured and thrilled to work with them. I really am. Maybe I don't say it enough to them, but I am saying it now. I APPRECIATE THESE GUYS VERY MUCH!

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The Unknown

The Known and unknown are both feared,
Known is being comfortable and stagnant,
The unknown may be growth and opportunities,
One shall never know if one fears the unknown more than the known.
Who says the unknown would be worse than the known?
But then again, the unknown is sometimes worse than the known. In the end nothing is known unless we endeavour,
So go pursue all the way with the unknown,
because all unknown with familiarity becomes the known.
~Tsem Rinpoche

Photos On The Go

Click on the images to view the bigger version. And scroll down and click on "View All Photos" to view more images.
One of our adorable Kechara Forest Retreat\'s doggies, Tara, happy and safe, and enjoying herself in front of Wisdom Hall which has been decorated for Chinese New Year
5 days ago
One of our adorable Kechara Forest Retreat's doggies, Tara, happy and safe, and enjoying herself in front of Wisdom Hall which has been decorated for Chinese New Year
Fragrant organic Thai basil harvested from our very own Kechara Forest Retreat farm!
5 days ago
Fragrant organic Thai basil harvested from our very own Kechara Forest Retreat farm!
On behalf of our Puja House team, Pastor Tat Ming receives food and drinks from Rinpoche. Rinpoche wanted to make sure the hardworking Puja House team are always taken care of.
7 days ago
On behalf of our Puja House team, Pastor Tat Ming receives food and drinks from Rinpoche. Rinpoche wanted to make sure the hardworking Puja House team are always taken care of.
By the time I heard about Luang Phor Thong, he was already very old, in his late 80s. When I heard about him, I immediately wanted to go and pay my respects to him. - http://bit.ly/LuangPhorThong
1 week ago
By the time I heard about Luang Phor Thong, he was already very old, in his late 80s. When I heard about him, I immediately wanted to go and pay my respects to him. - http://bit.ly/LuangPhorThong
It\'s very nice to see volunteers helping maintain holy sites in Kechara Forest Retreat, it\'s very good for them. Cleaning Buddha statues is a very powerful and effective way of purifying body karma.
1 week ago
It's very nice to see volunteers helping maintain holy sites in Kechara Forest Retreat, it's very good for them. Cleaning Buddha statues is a very powerful and effective way of purifying body karma.
Kechara Forest Retreat is preparing for the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations. This is our holy Vajra Yogini stupa which is now surrounded by beautiful lanterns organised by our students.
2 weeks ago
Kechara Forest Retreat is preparing for the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations. This is our holy Vajra Yogini stupa which is now surrounded by beautiful lanterns organised by our students.
One of the most recent harvests from our Kechara Forest Retreat land. It was grown free of chemicals and pesticides, wonderful!
2 weeks ago
One of the most recent harvests from our Kechara Forest Retreat land. It was grown free of chemicals and pesticides, wonderful!
Third picture-Standing Manjushri Statue at Chowar, Kirtipur, Nepal.
Height: 33ft (10m)
6 months ago
Third picture-Standing Manjushri Statue at Chowar, Kirtipur, Nepal. Height: 33ft (10m)
Second picture-Standing Manjushri Statue at Chowar, Kirtipur, Nepal.
Height: 33ft (10m)
6 months ago
Second picture-Standing Manjushri Statue at Chowar, Kirtipur, Nepal. Height: 33ft (10m)
First picture-Standing Manjushri Statue at Chowar, Kirtipur, Nepal.
Height: 33ft (10m)
6 months ago
First picture-Standing Manjushri Statue at Chowar, Kirtipur, Nepal. Height: 33ft (10m)
The first title published by Kechara Comics is Karuna Finds A Way. It tells the tale of high-school sweethearts Karuna and Adam who had what some would call the dream life. Everything was going great for them until one day when reality came knocking on their door. Caught in a surprise swindle, this loving family who never harmed anyone found themselves out of luck and down on their fortune. Determined to save her family, Karuna goes all out to find a solution. See what she does- https://bit.ly/2LSKuWo
6 months ago
The first title published by Kechara Comics is Karuna Finds A Way. It tells the tale of high-school sweethearts Karuna and Adam who had what some would call the dream life. Everything was going great for them until one day when reality came knocking on their door. Caught in a surprise swindle, this loving family who never harmed anyone found themselves out of luck and down on their fortune. Determined to save her family, Karuna goes all out to find a solution. See what she does- https://bit.ly/2LSKuWo
Very powerful story! Tibetan Resistance group Chushi Gangdruk reveals how Dalai Lama escaped in 1959- https://bit.ly/2S9VMGX
6 months ago
Very powerful story! Tibetan Resistance group Chushi Gangdruk reveals how Dalai Lama escaped in 1959- https://bit.ly/2S9VMGX
At Kechara Forest Retreat land we have nice fresh spinach growing free of chemicals and pesticides. Yes!
7 months ago
At Kechara Forest Retreat land we have nice fresh spinach growing free of chemicals and pesticides. Yes!
See beautiful pictures of Manjushri Guest House here- https://bit.ly/2WGo0ti
7 months ago
See beautiful pictures of Manjushri Guest House here- https://bit.ly/2WGo0ti
Beginner’s Introduction to Dorje Shugden~Very good overview https://bit.ly/2QQNfYv
7 months ago
Beginner’s Introduction to Dorje Shugden~Very good overview https://bit.ly/2QQNfYv
Fresh eggplants grown on Kechara Forest Retreat\'s land here in Malaysia
8 months ago
Fresh eggplants grown on Kechara Forest Retreat's land here in Malaysia
Most Venerable Uppalavanna – The Chief Female Disciple of Buddha Shakyamuni - She exhibited many supernatural abilities gained from meditation and proved to the world females and males are equal in spirituality- https://bit.ly/31d9Rat
8 months ago
Most Venerable Uppalavanna – The Chief Female Disciple of Buddha Shakyamuni - She exhibited many supernatural abilities gained from meditation and proved to the world females and males are equal in spirituality- https://bit.ly/31d9Rat
Thailand’s ‘Renegade’ Yet Powerful Buddhist Nuns~ https://bit.ly/2Z1C02m
8 months ago
Thailand’s ‘Renegade’ Yet Powerful Buddhist Nuns~ https://bit.ly/2Z1C02m
Mahapajapati Gotami – the first Buddhist nun ordained by Lord Buddha- https://bit.ly/2IjD8ru
8 months ago
Mahapajapati Gotami – the first Buddhist nun ordained by Lord Buddha- https://bit.ly/2IjD8ru
The Largest Buddha Shakyamuni in Russia | 俄罗斯最大的释迦牟尼佛画像- https://bit.ly/2Wpclni
8 months ago
The Largest Buddha Shakyamuni in Russia | 俄罗斯最大的释迦牟尼佛画像- https://bit.ly/2Wpclni
Sacred Vajra Yogini
8 months ago
Sacred Vajra Yogini
Dorje Shugden works & archives - a labour of commitment - https://bit.ly/30Tp2p8
8 months ago
Dorje Shugden works & archives - a labour of commitment - https://bit.ly/30Tp2p8
Mahapajapati Gotami, who was the first nun ordained by Lord Buddha.
8 months ago
Mahapajapati Gotami, who was the first nun ordained by Lord Buddha.
Mahapajapati Gotami, who was the first nun ordained by Lord Buddha. She was his step-mother and aunt. Buddha\'s mother had passed away at his birth so he was raised by Gotami.
8 months ago
Mahapajapati Gotami, who was the first nun ordained by Lord Buddha. She was his step-mother and aunt. Buddha's mother had passed away at his birth so he was raised by Gotami.
Another nun disciple of Lord Buddha\'s. She had achieved great spiritual abilities and high attainments. She would be a proper object of refuge. This image of the eminent bhikkhuni (nun) disciple of the Buddha, Uppalavanna Theri.
8 months ago
Another nun disciple of Lord Buddha's. She had achieved great spiritual abilities and high attainments. She would be a proper object of refuge. This image of the eminent bhikkhuni (nun) disciple of the Buddha, Uppalavanna Theri.
Wandering Ascetic Painting by Nirdesha Munasinghe
8 months ago
Wandering Ascetic Painting by Nirdesha Munasinghe
High Sri Lankan monks visit Kechara to bless our land, temple, Buddha and Dorje Shugden images. They were very kind-see pictures- https://bit.ly/2HQie2M
8 months ago
High Sri Lankan monks visit Kechara to bless our land, temple, Buddha and Dorje Shugden images. They were very kind-see pictures- https://bit.ly/2HQie2M
This is pretty amazing!

First Sri Lankan Buddhist temple opened in Dubai!!!
8 months ago
This is pretty amazing! First Sri Lankan Buddhist temple opened in Dubai!!!
My Dharma boy (left) and Oser girl loves to laze around on the veranda in the mornings. They enjoy all the trees, grass and relaxing under the hot sun. Sunbathing is a favorite daily activity. I care about these two doggies of mine very much and I enjoy seeing them happy. They are with me always. Tsem Rinpoche

Always be kind to animals and eat vegetarian- https://bit.ly/2Psp8h2
8 months ago
My Dharma boy (left) and Oser girl loves to laze around on the veranda in the mornings. They enjoy all the trees, grass and relaxing under the hot sun. Sunbathing is a favorite daily activity. I care about these two doggies of mine very much and I enjoy seeing them happy. They are with me always. Tsem Rinpoche Always be kind to animals and eat vegetarian- https://bit.ly/2Psp8h2
After you left me Mumu, I was alone. I have no family or kin. You were my family. I can\'t stop thinking of you and I can\'t forget you. My bond and connection with you is so strong. I wish you were by my side. Tsem Rinpoche
8 months ago
After you left me Mumu, I was alone. I have no family or kin. You were my family. I can't stop thinking of you and I can't forget you. My bond and connection with you is so strong. I wish you were by my side. Tsem Rinpoche
This story is a life-changer. Learn about the incredible Forest Man of India | 印度“森林之子”- https://bit.ly/2Eh4vRS
8 months ago
This story is a life-changer. Learn about the incredible Forest Man of India | 印度“森林之子”- https://bit.ly/2Eh4vRS
Part 2-Beautiful billboard in Malaysia of a powerful Tibetan hero whose life serves as a great inspiration- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
8 months ago
Part 2-Beautiful billboard in Malaysia of a powerful Tibetan hero whose life serves as a great inspiration- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
Part 1-Beautiful billboard in Malaysia of a powerful Tibetan hero whose life serves as a great inspiration- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
8 months ago
Part 1-Beautiful billboard in Malaysia of a powerful Tibetan hero whose life serves as a great inspiration- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
The great Protector Manjushri Dorje Shugden depicted in the beautiful Mongolian style. To download a high resolution file: https://bit.ly/2Nt3FHz
8 months ago
The great Protector Manjushri Dorje Shugden depicted in the beautiful Mongolian style. To download a high resolution file: https://bit.ly/2Nt3FHz
The Mystical land of Shambhala is finally ready for everyone to feast their eyes and be blessed. A beautiful post with information, art work, history, spirituality and a beautiful book composed by His Holiness the 6th Panchen Rinpoche. ~ https://bit.ly/309MHBi
9 months ago
The Mystical land of Shambhala is finally ready for everyone to feast their eyes and be blessed. A beautiful post with information, art work, history, spirituality and a beautiful book composed by His Holiness the 6th Panchen Rinpoche. ~ https://bit.ly/309MHBi
Beautiful pictures of the huge Buddha in Longkou Nanshan- https://bit.ly/2LsBxVb
9 months ago
Beautiful pictures of the huge Buddha in Longkou Nanshan- https://bit.ly/2LsBxVb
The reason-Very interesting thought- https://bit.ly/2V7VT5r
9 months ago
The reason-Very interesting thought- https://bit.ly/2V7VT5r
NEW Bigfoot cafe in Malaysia! Food is delicious!- https://bit.ly/2VxdGau
9 months ago
NEW Bigfoot cafe in Malaysia! Food is delicious!- https://bit.ly/2VxdGau
DON\'T MISS THIS!~How brave Bonnie survived by living with a herd of deer~ https://bit.ly/2Lre2eY
9 months ago
DON'T MISS THIS!~How brave Bonnie survived by living with a herd of deer~ https://bit.ly/2Lre2eY
Global Superpower China Will Cut Meat Consumption by 50%! Very interesting, find out more- https://bit.ly/2V1sJFh
9 months ago
Global Superpower China Will Cut Meat Consumption by 50%! Very interesting, find out more- https://bit.ly/2V1sJFh
You can download this beautiful Egyptian style Dorje Shugden Free- https://bit.ly/2Nt3FHz
9 months ago
You can download this beautiful Egyptian style Dorje Shugden Free- https://bit.ly/2Nt3FHz
Beautiful high file for print of Lord Manjushri. May you be blessed- https://bit.ly/2V8mwZe
9 months ago
Beautiful high file for print of Lord Manjushri. May you be blessed- https://bit.ly/2V8mwZe
Mongolian (Oymiakon) Shaman in Siberia, Russia. That is his real outfit he wears. Very unique. TR
9 months ago
Mongolian (Oymiakon) Shaman in Siberia, Russia. That is his real outfit he wears. Very unique. TR
Find one of the most beautiful temples in the world in Nara, Japan. It is the 1,267 year old Todai-ji temple that houses a 15 meter Buddha Vairocana statue who is a cosmic and timeless Buddha. Emperor Shomu who sponsored this beautiful temple eventually abdicated and ordained as a Buddhist monk. Very interesting history and story. One of the places everyone should visit- https://bit.ly/2VgsHhK
9 months ago
Find one of the most beautiful temples in the world in Nara, Japan. It is the 1,267 year old Todai-ji temple that houses a 15 meter Buddha Vairocana statue who is a cosmic and timeless Buddha. Emperor Shomu who sponsored this beautiful temple eventually abdicated and ordained as a Buddhist monk. Very interesting history and story. One of the places everyone should visit- https://bit.ly/2VgsHhK
Manjusri Kumara (bodhisattva of wisdom), India, Pala dynesty, 9th century, stone, Honolulu Academy of Arts
9 months ago
Manjusri Kumara (bodhisattva of wisdom), India, Pala dynesty, 9th century, stone, Honolulu Academy of Arts
Silver Manjusri figure from Ngemplak Semongan (Indonesia). Apparently during the Shailendra Dynasty, Mahayana Buddhism was very strong in Indonesia. This Dynasty promoted Mahayana Buddhism and Manjushri was a principal Buddha of worship.
9 months ago
Silver Manjusri figure from Ngemplak Semongan (Indonesia). Apparently during the Shailendra Dynasty, Mahayana Buddhism was very strong in Indonesia. This Dynasty promoted Mahayana Buddhism and Manjushri was a principal Buddha of worship.
In Buddhism: The Importance of Having a Clean Room- https://bit.ly/2ZgrbKS
9 months ago
In Buddhism: The Importance of Having a Clean Room- https://bit.ly/2ZgrbKS
There is an area near Lumbini, Nepal, they have sightings of Yeti for hundreds of years. So they have signages in the area with Yeti artwork to highlight this. Interesting. TR
9 months ago
There is an area near Lumbini, Nepal, they have sightings of Yeti for hundreds of years. So they have signages in the area with Yeti artwork to highlight this. Interesting. TR
Click on "View All Photos" above to view more images

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    This dog thanks his hero in such a touching way. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Join Tsem Rinpoche in prayer for H.H. Dalai Lama’s long life~ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYy7JcveikU&feature=youtu.be
    9 months ago
    Join Tsem Rinpoche in prayer for H.H. Dalai Lama’s long life~ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYy7JcveikU&feature=youtu.be
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    10 months ago
    These people going on pilgrimage to a holy mountain and prostrating out of devotion and for pilgrimage in Tibet. Such determination for spiritual practice. Tsem Rinpoche
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    10 months ago
    Get ready to laugh real hard. This is Kechara’s version of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane!” We have some real talents in this video clip.
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    10 months ago
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    10 months ago
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CHAT PICTURES

Throwback KSDS Graduation - All kids were so excited with to perform. Lin Mun KSDS
5 days ago
Throwback KSDS Graduation - All kids were so excited with to perform. Lin Mun KSDS
Throwback WOAH camp 2016 - DIY soap. So interesting. Lin Mun KSDS
5 days ago
Throwback WOAH camp 2016 - DIY soap. So interesting. Lin Mun KSDS
Children learning the method to make water offering to Buddha. Lin Mun KSDS
5 days ago
Children learning the method to make water offering to Buddha. Lin Mun KSDS
Monthly animal liberation in Kechara House. KSDS have opportunity to participate in the meritorious activity every mth. Lin Mun KSDS
5 days ago
Monthly animal liberation in Kechara House. KSDS have opportunity to participate in the meritorious activity every mth. Lin Mun KSDS
Throwback Kids camp 2019 - Wonderful volunteers. Lin Mun KSDS
5 days ago
Throwback Kids camp 2019 - Wonderful volunteers. Lin Mun KSDS
Throwback Kids camp 2019 - The nature of KFR is expressed on this drawing. Lin Mun KSDS
5 days ago
Throwback Kids camp 2019 - The nature of KFR is expressed on this drawing. Lin Mun KSDS
Special thanks to Hue, one of our dedicated members in Kechara Penang Study Group. Thanks for helping out during our bird liberation. ~Jacinta
6 days ago
Special thanks to Hue, one of our dedicated members in Kechara Penang Study Group. Thanks for helping out during our bird liberation. ~Jacinta
Animal Liberation is one of the great ways to show empathy, kindness and compassion to kids. Start them early! ~Jacinta, Kechara Penang Study Group
6 days ago
Animal Liberation is one of the great ways to show empathy, kindness and compassion to kids. Start them early! ~Jacinta, Kechara Penang Study Group
The merits from life liberation are varied and boundless ~Jacinta, Kechara Penang Study Group
6 days ago
The merits from life liberation are varied and boundless ~Jacinta, Kechara Penang Study Group
It is essential for us to properly 'Taking Refuge' before we start any event. “Taking refuge” is where one seeks guidance and to turns to the Triple Gem for liberation and salvation from suffering. We hope these birds will be liberated from sufferings soon. ~Jacinta
6 days ago
It is essential for us to properly 'Taking Refuge' before we start any event. “Taking refuge” is where one seeks guidance and to turns to the Triple Gem for liberation and salvation from suffering. We hope these birds will be liberated from sufferings soon. ~Jacinta
Recitation of Medicine Buddha mantras during Bird Liberation by Kechara Penang Study Group ~Jacinta
6 days ago
Recitation of Medicine Buddha mantras during Bird Liberation by Kechara Penang Study Group ~Jacinta
Paying homage to Lama Tsongkhapa, Dorje Shugden and The Three Jewels by Ms. Leow. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
1 week ago
Paying homage to Lama Tsongkhapa, Dorje Shugden and The Three Jewels by Ms. Leow. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
Mr. Lim offered Serkym to Dorje Shugden on behalf of KISG. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
1 week ago
Mr. Lim offered Serkym to Dorje Shugden on behalf of KISG. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
Ms. Leow offered lights & incense to Lama Tsongkhapa, Dorje Shugden and all Buddhas prior to the puja. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
1 week ago
Ms. Leow offered lights & incense to Lama Tsongkhapa, Dorje Shugden and all Buddhas prior to the puja. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
Kechara Ipoh Study Group has carried out weekly Dorje Shugden puja in Ipoh. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
1 week ago
Kechara Ipoh Study Group has carried out weekly Dorje Shugden puja in Ipoh. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
KISG started our 2020 first weekend with Mother Tara prayer recitations in Ipoh. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
3 weeks ago
KISG started our 2020 first weekend with Mother Tara prayer recitations in Ipoh. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
Kids camp 2019 - Exciting stack up game. The kids enjoyed it very much. Lin Mun KSDS
1 month ago
Kids camp 2019 - Exciting stack up game. The kids enjoyed it very much. Lin Mun KSDS
Kids camp 2019 - Super delicious fried rice and decorated with heart. Lin Mun KSDS
1 month ago
Kids camp 2019 - Super delicious fried rice and decorated with heart. Lin Mun KSDS
Kids camp 2019 - Beautiful farm in Kechara Forest Retreat. Lin Mun KSDS
1 month ago
Kids camp 2019 - Beautiful farm in Kechara Forest Retreat. Lin Mun KSDS
Kids camp 2019 - Completion of puzzle game. Look at their happy faces. Lin Mun KSDS
1 month ago
Kids camp 2019 - Completion of puzzle game. Look at their happy faces. Lin Mun KSDS
KISG carried out weekly Dorje Shugden puja in Ipoh on Tuesday's evening. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
1 month ago
KISG carried out weekly Dorje Shugden puja in Ipoh on Tuesday's evening. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
Long beans from our Kechara Farm 2019 harvested for our community here in Kechara Forest Retreat.
1 month ago
Long beans from our Kechara Farm 2019 harvested for our community here in Kechara Forest Retreat.
Bountiful harvest from our Kechara Farm 2019 for our community. Here are some long beans, four-angled beans, bitter gourds and karelas!
1 month ago
Bountiful harvest from our Kechara Farm 2019 for our community. Here are some long beans, four-angled beans, bitter gourds and karelas!
Bountiful harvest from our Kechara Farm 2019 for our community. This is Malabar spinach which is a herbal healer.
1 month ago
Bountiful harvest from our Kechara Farm 2019 for our community. This is Malabar spinach which is a herbal healer.
Bountiful harvest from our Kechara Farm 2019 for our community. This is Kangkung or water spinach.
1 month ago
Bountiful harvest from our Kechara Farm 2019 for our community. This is Kangkung or water spinach.
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Dorje Shugden
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