The new year began with an auspicious program for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s pilgrimage to Bodh Gaya, one of the most sacred Buddhist places on earth.* Following his teachings on Nagarjuna’s Commentary on Bodhicitta at the Kalachakra Teaching Ground (29–31 December), a long-life prayer was offered to the Tibetan spiritual leader by representatives of Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism on 1 January, as part of the Geluk Great Prayer Festival (Tib: Monlam Chenmo).
The long-life ceremony was based on the “Offering to the Spiritual Master” (Tib: Lama Chopa) and was attended by more than 16,000 monks and nuns from various traditions. During the gathering, His Holiness warmly acknowledged the senior Sakya and Gelug hierarchs.
“It so happens that today, on the first day of the new year of the common calendar, we are gathered in this sacred place where monks from the three great seats of learning, Ganden, Sera, and Drepung, are offering prayers. We are also joined by masters of the Sakya, Nyingma, and other traditions. It is because of the interdependence between us that we have gathered here on this occasion.” the Dalai Lama stated. “As for me, I am determined to continue to serve the Buddhadharma, especially the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition, until I’m at least 100 years old.” (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
His Holiness expressed the same determination for a long life during a long-life prayer ceremony in Bodh Gaya organized by the Nyingma school: “I’ve seen indications in my dreams that I may live to be more than 100 years old. I’m in good health, apart from some trouble in my knees, so I’ll be able to continue to support Tibet’s Dharma traditions for some time to come.” (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
The ceremony organized by Nyingma Tradition on 18 January was also part of their Great Prayer Festival held at the Palyul Namdroling Monastery in Bodh Gaya, Ngagyur Palyul Thupten Shedrup Choekhor Dargyeling. The monastery was built in accordance with the wishes of the late Penor Rinpoche (1932–2009), the 11th throneholder of the Palyul tradition, to have a Palyul temple at the holy site to facilitate the participation of thousands Palyul monks from Namdroling Monastery in southern India in the annual Nyingma Great Prayer Festival. The monastery was inaugurated on 19 January 2016 and visited by the Dalai Lama exactly six years later, during his long life ceremony.
The auspicious ceremony was led by Gyang Khang Chotrul Rinpoche, head abbot of Palyul Namdroling and its branch monasteries, and attended by lineage leaders of the Nyingma school: Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche, Dudjom Tenzin Yeshe Dorje, Khochhen Rinpoche, Minling Khenchen Rinpoche, Ringu Tulku, and others.
The head of Shechen Monastery of the Nyingma school, Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche, offered a mandala, long-life nectar, and long-life pills to His Holiness. Khenpo Kunzang Dechen from Namdroling Monastery recited a tribute to the Dalai Lama, along with requests that His Holiness live a long life: “Please do not pass away, stay to teach us. May the Dharma protectors help our master to live a long life. May all sentient beings purify their defilements and find true happiness.” (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
His Holiness then addressed the gathering: “Today, this long-life prayer is being offered to me with unwavering faith and devotion on behalf of all Tibetans. Since circumstances are interconnected, I have been able to serve them at this critical time in Tibetan history.” (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
The last time the Dalai Lama visited Palyul Monastery was in December 2017 when he participated at the Seventh Convocation of Namdroling Monastery in Bylakuppe, Karnataka, India. Namdroling Monastery, Thegchog Namdrol Shedrub Dargyeling was founded by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, who laid the foundation stone in 1963, and consecrated by the Dalai Lama, who also bestowed its name Namdroling.
During his visit in 2017, His Holiness bestowed degrees on 300 graduates, gave an oral transmission of Longchenpa’s Treasury of Absolute Reality (Tib: Cho Ying Dzo) and paid tribute to His Holiness Penor Rinpoche: “The late Penor Rinpoche worked hard. He was the kind of man who, once he had started something, would see it through to the end. His deeds and spirit remain an inspiration for us today. The flourishing of the Dharma depends on people undertaking study and practice, not on their building temples and statues.” (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
The Dalai Lama also consecrated Penor Rinpoche’s memorial chorten at Zangdok Palri temple and another chorten at Tsogyal Shedrupling Nunnery, which is part of the Palyul monastery complex.
* Dalai Lama Returns to Bodh Gaya for the First Time in Three Years (BDG)
Offering of Prayers for Long Life (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
Visit to Tashi Lhunpo Monastery and Convocation at Namdroling Monastery (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
Origin (Ngagyur Palyul Thupten Shedrup Choekhor Dargyeling)
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