Monasteries & Dharma Centres
In 1979, at the age of thirty-three, H.H. the Gyalwa Karmapa sent him as his representative to Australia and New Zealand to spread Dharma. Rinpoche stayed in Australia for about seven months giving refuge ordination, Bodhicitta vows, Mahamudra, guidance and instructions on “Nyung-ney” (the fasting practice of the Thousand Arms Thousand Eyes Avalokiteshvara), empowerments and oral transmission of various yidams. During his stay in Australia , Rinpoche established two new Karma Kagyu Dharma centres, Karma Tashi Choling in New South Wales and Kagyu Evam Choling centre in Melbourne City, the latter is under the direction of Ven. Traleg Rinpoche. In Sydney there was already a Kagyu centre, named by Karmapa as Kagyu Dongag Choling. Rinpoche completed the legal documentation for this Centre and legally set up the trust.
In New Zealand, a Dharma centre named by Gyalwa Karmapa as Karma Kagyu Thegsum Choling has already been established. This centre was offered to Karmapa by one of the disciples of Ven. Karma Thrinley Rinpoche. H.H. the 16th Karmapa was the founder of this Dharma Centre and Beru Khyentse Rinpoche is the Spiritual Director. Acting in the capacity as the Spiritual Director, His Eminence Beru Khyentse Rinpoche sent two lamas from his Mainpat monastery to be the resident lamas.
Rinpoche gave many teachings and introduced Buddhism to many people. In that same year, Rinpoche visited Malaysia Kagyu Centre at Kuala Lumpur, gave empowerments and teachings of the Kagyu lineage, beginning with the chanting of sadhana. Rinpoche had also established a new centre in Seremban near Kuala Lumpur, besides having visited the whole of Malaysia propagating the Dharma among old and new disciples.
At the invitation of the Sakya Dharma centre in Singapore, Rinpoche also gave numerous empowerments, oral transmissions, instructions and teachings. At that time a monk called Rev. Tashong from a Mahayana monastery approached Rinpoche and requested him to visit his temple. Rinpoche agreed and gave empowerments, oral transmissions, instructions and teachings in the Karma Kagyu tradition, thereby introducing numerous disciples to Vajrayana Buddhism. At Rev. Tashong’s request Rinpoche established the first Karma Kagyu Centre in Singapore and named it Karme Chodhey Dharma Centre. Rev. Tashong himself was a Vajrayana practitioner as his teachers were those who had received teachings from previous Beru Khyentse Rinpoche and the late Bo Gangkar Rinpoche during their visit to China.
Later H.H. Gyalwa Karmapa, Kyabje Sharma Rinpoche and many other Kagyu Lamas visited the Karme Chodhey Dharma Centre and today, it has flourished into a large and well-known Centre spreading the Dharma in Kagyu tradition. At present, resident abbot, Ven. Shangpa Rinpoche is managing it under the direction of Kyabje Shamar Rinpoche.
Having performed many Dharma activities, Rinpoche returned to New Delhi at the end of 1979, and met with H.H. the Gyalwa Karmapa. Rinpoche informed His Holiness about all his Dharma activities and particularly about the establishment of various Dharma Trusts and Centres. His Holiness was very pleased to hear the news, and praised Beru Khyentse Rinpoche for his achievements. A few weeks prior to the laying of the foundation for the new Monastery at New Delhi, the Gyalwa Karmapa’s old illness became serious and He had to be hospitalized. However, His Holiness recovered gradually.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama with Beru Khyentse Rinpoche, at the main entrance of Rinpoche’s Monastery in Bodhgaya, 1990.Beru Khyentse Rinpoche upon returning to Mainpat found that his new monastery had been completed. He had initiated the construction of this monastery before leaving for Australia. Rinpoche had always wished to build a Kagyu monastery in Bodhgaya. For this purpose in 1977, he applied to the Central Government of India and the State Government of Bihar for permission to buy two acres of land. Finally in 1982 after five years, Rinpoche received the approval with the relevant papers from the local authorities at Bodhgaya. That year during His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visit to Bodhgaya, he visited the new site of the Monastery as requested by Rinpoche and performed the consecration ceremony and prayers.
In 1982, at the age of thirty-six, Rinpoche visited Tibet to meet relatives and to give teachings. When he first met his relatives at Lhasa and Nyethang, it was difficult for them to recognize each other and needed introduction. There were mixed feelings of happiness and sorrow. On reaching Kham Nangchen, Rinpoche could recognize the places, but could not recognize the monks and the people. That year Rinpoche applied to the Chinese Government for permission to rebuild the Tashi Gang monastery at Nyethang and the Tharjay monastery at Nangchen. Moreover, in order to prepare the monks for the three year and three months retreat, Rinpoche gave numerous empowerments, oral transmissions and instructions to them.
In 1983 Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche gave complete empowerments of the Rinchen Terzod (Treasure of Jamgon Kongtrul) to the Kagyu Gyalwa Yabsay and many other Rinpoches, lamas, monks and lay people at Sonada, Darjeeling. Rinpoche also attended this ceremony and received all the empowerments. In 1985, Rinpoche visited Tibet again and gave many empowerments and oral transmission to the first batch of retreat monks in Nangchen who had started their retreat in 1984. Regular batches of monks for retreat have been organized since then. That year, Rinpoche received permission from Chinese Government to rebuild both the monasteries at Nangchen and Nyethang. Rinpoche furnished the monastery with many statues, thangka paintings, a complete set of Kangyur and Tangyur texts consisting of 103 volumes and 215 volumes respectively that he had brought with him. Rinpoche funded the reconstruction of the monastery.
In that same year Rinpoche’s monastery at Bodhgaya was completed along with an 11½ft. gold plated Buddha statue made of copper. This monastery had its entire wall painted with life-size paintings of Twelve Deeds of Shakyamuni Buddha. Beru Khyentse Rinpoche officially invited H.H the Dalai Lama for the consecration of the monastery, statues and to bestow blessings. H.H the Dalai Lama with great kindness fulfilled all the wishes of Rinpoche and also gave teachings on Gampopa’s ‘Jewel Ornament of Liberation’. Rinpoche made offerings of statue, scripture and stupa as mandala offerings to symbolise long-life and the turning of Wheel of Dharma by His Holiness to benefit countless sentient beings. In 1987, construction works started and the foundations of the new Nangchen Monastery and the Ani Nunnery were laid. At present, there are about forty nuns in the Tharjay nunnery where they observe regular ‘nyung-ney’ fastings. Some of these nuns have carried out retreats two or three times. Rinpoche had provided full financial support to the Tharjay monks and nuns community.
President of India, he inaugurated Beru Khyentse Rinpoche’s Bodhgaya Monastery. Rinpoche presents offering to President. 23rd December 1988. The President of India, His Excellency Shri Ramaswamy Venkatraman inaugurated Rinpoche’s monastery in Bodhgaya, on 23rd December 1988. Among other guests were His Excellency the Governor and Honorable Chief Minister of Bihar and Representatives of all the other monasteries and Institutions in Bodhgaya. The inauguration ceremony was held for three days from 23rd to 25th December 1988. Rinpoche delivered the opening speech and gave a brief accounts on the History of Buddhism in India and Tibet, the Kagyu lineage and monastery, its significance and objectives. Rinpoche presented His Excellency and the other guests with a thangka painting, a Shakyamuni Buddha statue and khathak as souvenir. In return, His Excellency made a personal donation to the monastery. In addition to that, on behalf of the Government and the people of India, he donated two solar lighting systems to the monastery. It was on this occasion that H.H Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche sent a personally handwritten letter and praised the Dharma activities of Beru Khyentse Rinpoche.
Since the completion of the monastery at Bodhgaya in 1986, many important lamas of different schools of Tibetan Buddhism had visited and stayed in the monastery performing prayers, teachings, oral transmissions and empowerments. Therefore, H.E. Beru Khyentse Rinpoche’s Monastery at Bodhgaya became a Centre of various Dharma activities. Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche had also regularly visited and stay in this monastery during winter between 1986-1989. He performed grand Monlam prayers under the Bodhi tree every year.
Bodhgaya main Stupa and Bodhi Tree. Buddha attained enlightment under this tree.
Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche transmitted all the teachings and empowerments of Shangpa Kagyu tradition to Beru Khyentse Rinpoche and particularly the empowerments of the Six-armed Mahakala. At that time, Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche organized the first Translators’ Committee at Bodhgaya Kagyu monastery and translated into English, the Sheja Kunkhyab (The Treasury which is an Encyclopedia of Knowledge), a composition of Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche.
His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche, H.E. Beru Khyentse Rinpoche, at the main entrance of Beru Khyentse Rinpoche’s Monastery, January 1989.Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche had also regularly visited Bodhgaya monastery during winter from 1985 to 1990 and gave teachings and performed aspiration prayers as requested by Beru Khyentse Rinpoche. Both the Rinpoches and many other high Lamas and many monks performed the One Hundred Deities’ Bardo prayer and a big Drubchen to make Dharma medicine. Beru Khyentse Rinpoche had also received many teachings from Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. These included all the empowerments in the Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo’s kabum, oral transmission of the secret tantras, all the teachings of Tsasum Osel Nyingthig, instructions and oral transmissions of the Longchen Nyingthig preliminary practices and the seven treasures of the Longchen. Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche had also composed a long-life prayer for Beru Khyentse Rinpoche.
Beru Khyentse Rinpoche’s countryside Nepal Manang Kagyu monastery, located near Milarepa cave and the Gangapurna snow mountain. Rinpoche proposed to build a 3-year retreat centre next year, for the benefit of monks and laymen.
Beru Khyentse Rinpoche’s Nepal Boudhanath Monastery, complete with monks and visitor rooms, which is just five minutes walking distance away from the Boudhanath Stupa. Construction started since 1987 and completed in 1993. Rinpoche’s temple in Boudhanath, Nepal started in 1987. It consisted of six floors with monks’ quarter and a guest house which was completed in 1990. In 1990 and 2002, Rinpoche and his family and attendants went on a pilgrimage to Tibet visiting places such as Samye Monastery, Chemphu Cave, Yarlung Valley holy places, Gyangtse Palgon Stupa, Tashi Lhunnpo Monastery, Sakya Monastery, Mount Kailash or “Gang Rinpoche”, Tso-Mepham “Mansorovar Lake”, Pretapure Holy Hot Spring, and Purang Karchang Jovo Holy Land. In the south of Lhasa Lhodrag area, the original residence place of Marpa Lotsawa, was a nine storeyed palace build by Milarepa at the instruction of Marpa Lotsawa. Milarepa built that building, which is now more than eight hundred years old, without any assistance. Rinpoche had visited all these holy places during his pilgrimage tour of Tibet.
That same year Rinpoche had also visited his birthplace, Nyethang area. As a result of the Cultural Revolution, the Tashi Gang Monastery, which had a long history, had been badly damaged. It was build by Chogyal Phagpa of Sakyapa School, some seven hundred thirty nine years ago with many old objects left in this monastery. All the other objects were destroyed except for a 2ft. stupa called the Kadam Stupa, which was hidden by a family who had survived the destruction of the Cultural Revolution. Rinpoche bought this stupa from the family when he first visited Tibet in 1982 and placed it in the safe keeping with one of Rinpoche’s relatives. This stupa was returned to the Tashi Gang Monastery when the Chinese Government granted permission to reconstruct the monastery in 1990. Due to insufficient funds, restoration works could not be carried out. As a result, Rinpoche assisted with the repair works.
Two floors of the temple were still intact but were without the paint and the statues. Therefore, everything had to be re-built. Rinpoche added another floor to the existing two floors and monks’ quarter, library, kitchen, guesthouse and a small shop for the monastery to generate some income. The second floor of the monastery had the Mahakala shrine. This shrine had been repaired and a new 22ft high clay status of Hevajra has been built. The Mahakala shrine had many paintings of old dharma protectors and yidams of the Sakyapa School.
Rinpoche offered the Tashi Gang Monastery the special stupa, which was originally built by Chogyal Phagpa, the founder of the monastery. In addition to this, many statues and religious texts were also brought in from India and kept in this monastery. In 1992, Rinpoche funded the construction of the 40ft. Namgyal Stupa outside the monastery. It housed a statue of Namgyal Ma and a big 7ft high brass Mani wheel. The original Namgyal Stupa had been destroyed during the Cultural Revolution.
In 1987, Rinpoche began to build the Tharjay Monastery in Nangchen and was completed in 1995. In 2008, it was found that the main shrine hall was near to collapse and needs to be rebuilt. Since then, Rinpoche has rebuilt a 7-storey main shrine hall and institute, and will open on 20th July 2015. The main shrine hall has a 10m Shakyamuni Buddha, Dipankara Buddha (7m), Maitreya Buddha (7m), Shariputra (3m) and Moggallana (3m) statues. It also has Guru Rinpoche, Amitabha, Medicine Buddha, Thousand Arm Avalokitesvara statues. On the first floor of the main shrine hall, there are Mahakala, Mahakali and Dorje Drolo shrines. There are also 45 Kagyu lineage Thangkas and 2 big Mani wheels.
In 1997, Rinpoche built eight stupas around the Tharjay Monastery. Each of these stupa measures 15ft. high.
Beru Khyentse Rinpoche’s Tharjay old Nunnery, East Tibet. Rinpoche rebuilt this nunnery on the same site when his monastery was destroyed by the communist during the cultural revolution.Namchen Tangla, a county within the Qinghai-Tibet plateau region is rich in culture and history. Located around 5,000 meters above sea level, its scenery ranked among some of the best on earth although its climatic conditions are generally harsh.
And like most other parts of Tibet, Buddhism is very much alive in Nanchen with its congregations of lamas and anilas (nuns). However, what sets Nanchen apart is its larger population of anilas. Their present way of life has not change much from the way it was a few hundred years ago adhering strictly to the Buddhist monastic rules which prohibits commerce of any kind. They depend solely on the generous handouts and donations from the lay devotees. However, due to geo-economical reasons, there were only so much that the lay devotees could do which was far from sufficient. Apart from having to endure the harsh climate, most anilas suffer from malnutrition and poor health.
In 1987, in an effort to alleviate the anilas’ hardship and suffering, H.E. Beru Khyentse Rinpoche initiated the “Tharjay Nunnery Project”. He built a nunnery that provides basic accommodations, facilities and proper meal for them. The Tharjay Nunnery is special because it is one of the very few places for women who wish to seek refuge under Guru, Buddha, Dharma & Sangha.
In the last 16 years, the congregation had grown considerably, necessitating the need for the nunnery’s expansion. In the first half of this year, Beru Khyentse had started the construction of a new two-storey building. The ground floor will house the main shrine, seven sleeping quarters, a Mani Wheel room and a small medical dispensary. The first floor will have 12 rooms, one for the abbot and the rest for visiting Rinpoches, lamas, anilas and lay retreat seekers.
Shedra Institute, Retreat Center and regular Monastery monk’s curriculum:
Monks learning Sutra, Tantra and treatise at the Shedra Institute learn English, Tibetan, Hindi and Mathematics in their primary classes till class eighth. Thereafter, they join the Shedra Institute and begin their studies starting with the study of poetry and grammar, then moving on to study texts such as letter to a friend by Nagarjuna, Words of my perfect teacher by Paltrul Rinpoche, Dakpo Rinpoche’s Jewel ornament of liberation, Shantideva’s Bodhisattva’s way of life, Dialectics, Madhayamika, Prajnaparamita, Vinaya, Abhidharma, Pramana etc. It takes nine years for a student to complete his studies at the Shedra Institute.
Retreat monks in their first year of the three years retreat, practices a week’s accomplishment prayer of the Vajrakila, a week’s accomplishment prayer and meditation of Tara, five month’s practice of the general and extraordinary preliminaries of the Karma Kagyu tradition and completes the four hundred thousand practice of prostration and refuge, Dorje Sempa sadhana, Mandala offerings and guru yoga. Thereafter, they practice guru yoga of Marpa, Mila, Dakpo Rinpoche and Karma Pakshi for four months followed by two months practice of Shamatha and mind training. At the end of first year they practice Mahakala for one week.
In the second year, they practice outer; inner and secret mantra incantation and accomplishment practice of Vajravarahi for seven months, then comes three month’s practice of extraordinary preliminaries of Naropa’s six yogas and the yoga of psychic heat. Thereafter, one month each is spent on the practice of yoga of illusory body, yoga of dream, yoga of clear light, and yoga of intermediate state and consciousness transference, altogether taking seven months to complete all these practices.
In the third year, the first four months are spent in outer, inner mantra incantation, accomplishment practice and rituals of Chakrasamvara, likewise three months are spent in the outer, inner and secret mantra chanting, accomplishment rituals and sadhana of Red Chenrezig, one month’s practice of Buddha Vairocana, one month’s practice of Buddha Akshobya, one month and twenty day’s practice of Amitabha, one month and seven day’s practice of Chod practice and offering of hundred times Tsog. Thereafter one month’s Jonang tradition practice of Tara ritual, and finally a month’s accomplishment practice of the Mahakala are done. Thus, three years and three months retreat practice is done through a combination of the profound six yogas of Naropa as the method and Mahamudra as path with an impetus from the retreat master through his inherited treasury of vision, experience and accomplishments of the past retreat masters.
Monks in the Monastery learns Torma making, Torma decoration, lama dance, preparation of Mandalas and various geometric figures used in prayers and different tunes of chanting ritual texts from their teachers and through a collected experience of past masters and in accordance with Karma Kagyu tradition. In addition, they learn to blow various dharma wind instruments, different ways of beating the drum for different Tantras and rituals and chiming of bells for different rituals. Reading, writing and practicing also forms a part of their daily exercise. They go through memorization of texts and taking exam too. After completing all these exercise, they are promoted to the rank of chanting master and issued a certificate in the manner of appointing a Geshe.
Karma Dhargye Chokhorling Monastery
His Holiness the 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje named this Monastery as Pal Karma Choeghar Dongag Shedup Thupten Dhargye Ling. His Eminence Beru Khyentse Rinpoche founded this Monastery, and the lineage of this Monastery is Karma Kagyu.
His Eminence Beru Khyentse Rinpoche’s main seat, during the old society in Tibet was situated at Kham Nangchen Dokshok region. It was a very well developed Monastery with many statues, holy scriptures and stupas and with a large Sangha strength. But with the change of political situation in Tibet, this great Monastery too declined and turned to ruins. However, with the advent of favorable environment, this Monastery was reconstructed in 1987, and in 1998 Kham Dhargye Shedra Institute Shedup Namgyal Ling for higher Buddhist studies was established. Prior to that, in 1983, Kham Dhargye Retreat Center, Chagchen Ling was established. In 1990, Kham Dhargye Nunnery, Dechen Palmo Ling was established. Its branch near Lhasa Nyethang Tashigang, the Sakya Dhargye Monastery was reconstructed in 1992.
In India, Karma Dhargye Chokhorling Monastery was established in 1979 at camp no.2, Mainpat, a Tibetan settlement in central India. A three-year three-month Retreat Center was established at this Tibetan settlement in 1966, and it is called Samten Choeling Center. His Eminence’s main seat in exile, Karma Dhargye Chokhorling is situated at sacred pilgrimage place Bodhgaya, and it was established in 1982.
Karma Dhargye Chokhorling Monastery in Nepal was established in the vicinity of Boudhanath Stupa in 1987. In the Himalaya ranges, Nyeshang Manang Kagyu Monastery, an old Monastery with about three hundred years of glorious history has been offered to His Eminence as a branch of Karma Dhargye Chokhorling Monastery. His Eminence has decided to start a three years three months Retreat Center here in 2004.
The total number of establishments in India, Nepal and Tibet are: five Karma Kagyu Monasteries, one Sakya Monastery, two Retreat Centers, one Shedra Institute and one Nunnery, ten establishments in all.