Celebration of the 1st Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa’s 900th anniversary
The big day had arrived. Preparations for this final highlight of the month-long celebration of the first Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa’s 900th anniversary had been going on for many weeks.
From the early morning onwards throngs of people had been gathering at the Mönlam site at the Mahabodhi temple. The atmosphere was vibrant with expectation and filled with the chant of mantras and the song of the chipmunks.
At 7a.m. an amplified voice told everybody to get up and take up formation in two rows to welcome the representation of Karmapa Düsum Khyenpa. After a little while the gathered crowd of more than ten thousand started to react, and slowly two rows began to form on either side of the path. The queue of people became longer and longer, stretching far beyond the entrance and quite a way along the main street into Bodhgaya.
Once everyone was in place, flowers were distributed to one and all. The waiting began.
Long before the procession came into sight it was already announced by drumbeats and the sound of cymbals, gyalings (Tibetan wind instruments used in rituals) and conches. Then finally, the procession itself became visible, led by several umdzes (chant masters) playing cymbals, followed by a long row of monks in ceremonial garb, playing various musical instruments.
Not long afterwards the heart of the procession came into view: an intricately carved wooden box, open on the sides and carried by four monks on their shoulders like a litter, containing an exquisite statue of Düsum Khyenpa.
In front of this representation of the first Karmapa walked Shamar Rinpoche, Beru Khyentse Rinpoche, Jamgön Kongtrül Rinpoche, Nendo Dorje Lopön Rinpoche and Lodrö Rabphel Rinpoche.
A rain of flowers and offering scarves fell wherever the statue of Düsum Khyenpa passed. After a big khora (circumambulation) of the Stupa the procession was met at the entrance to Mahabodhi temple by the rest of Rinpoches and lamas, and after another small khora the statue was placed on the shrine.
Shamar Rinpoche, wearing his red hat, lit a butter lamp on the shrine and offered a mandala to the first Karmapa Düsum Khyenpa.
It was then that the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje arrived at the venue. He prostrated in front of the Bodhi Tree, lit a butterlamp and mounted his throne, equally wearing his black hat.
The gathered Rinpoches, lamas, monks and nuns then performed the puja of ka gyu chi yi la drub, which is a general practice of Guru Yoga (practice of the teacher), with tsok offering. Both the Gyalwa Karmapa and Shamar Rinpoche were present for this puja, and the consecrated food was then shared out among all the participants. The beggars, too, got their share.
December 30, 2010, afternoon
Throughout the morning, the last preparations had been made in the huge tent which had been set up for the occasion on the grounds of the Kalachakra Maidan.
Thousands of seats had been set out in long rows in front of the large stage where the guests of honour were seated: the Gyalwa Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje, Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche; the registrar of Magadh University; Venerable Chalinda, Chief Monk of the B.T.M.C. (Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee); Mr. Nangzi Dorje, Chief Secretary of the B.T.M.C.; and last but not least the Chief Guest, Mr. Devanand Konwar, Governor of Bihar.
Other important guests included Beru Khyentse and Jamgön Kongtrül Rinpoche, Togden Rinpoche, Mr. Ramdas Athawale, Ex-member of Parliament, and the District Magistrate of Gaya, as well as Prof. Sempa Dorje, the representatives of H.H. Drikung Kyabgön Rinpoche, H.H. Sakya Trizin Rinpoche, H.E. Luding Khenchen, H.E. Thartse Khenchen Rinpoche and H.E. Chobgye Shabdrung Rinpoche and many others.
The programme was officially opened by Gyalwa Karmapa and the Chief Guest lighting a lamp on the shrine.
Next, the Venerable Bikshus of the Mahabodhi Temple recited Mangalam Prayers (prayers for auspiciousness).
Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche then gave the welcome speech, talking about the history of the 1st Karmapa Düsum Khyenpa and the lineage of the Karmapas and giving examples of their extraordinary qualities and achievements.
Next, the Chief Guest of the event, Mr. Devanand Konwar, Governor of Bihar, gave a fervent speech in which he professed his great liking of Buddhism. He said that he was particularly appreciative of the fact that the Buddha’s teachings aim at an inner transformation of the individual. He continued to explain that in his opinion it was this inner change that was most likely to bring the greatest result. He illustrated this statement by telling the story of Angulimala, a mass murderer who, upon meeting the Buddha, had a complete change of mind, turned towards virtue and ended up as a great saint.
Gyalwa Karmapa then presented trophies to the Chief Guest, and there was a short break during which tea and snacks were served.
The programme then continued with a speech in Hindi on the life of the first Karmapa Düsum Khyenpa, delivered by Prof. Sempa Dorje.
Next, the Gyalwa Karmapa took the floor and addressed the audience in a short speech. He said that it was a very auspicious occasion, mainly because this environment was the most blessed place of all, since it was the place where Prince Siddharta had attained perfect enlightenment and had spread the teachings and the knowledge which he himself had understood, for the benefit of all of us.
“And it is due to that that all of us are here today, in great multitude, in peace, in harmony. So what I would like to convey and ask of you is this: Please make wishes and aspirations in the same way as the great bodhisattva Düsum Khyenpa did in the past. Please aspire to benefit all sentient beings, and that all of us may achieve perfect enlightenment, like the Buddha himself. That is what I would like to wish.”
Next, Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche once more took the floor, and this time addressed the audience in Tibetan, with a consecutive translation into Mandarin. He concluded by saying that “When you think of the great Bodhisattva Düsum Khyenpa you will receive his blessings as if he were truly present here and now. This blessing will eliminate any chances of falling into the lower realms in the next life and help ensure that you will be reborn in the Buddha’s pure land and eventually be enlightened.”
Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche’s address marked the end of the formal part of the event.
The V.I.P. guests were invited for dinner at the Kalachakra Maiden, the other guests at Beru Khyentse Rinpoche’s monastery.
After dinner a cultural programme was provided for all the guests, the concept of which had been evolved by Shri H.P. Maurya, the founder of Missionaries of Lord Buddha of Jayantipur, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, especially for this occasion.
The programme consisted of two aspects: First there was a musical performance by Dr. Shivani Matanhalia, a noted vocalist and composer. She rendered a series of beautiful songs, expressing Buddha’s message and philosophy.
Next, a troupe of actors presented the historical play “Hey Tathagat”, written by the late Dr. Chaturbhuj, a famous historian of Bihar, and directed by Shri Sanjay Upadhayay. The play portrays the life and works of Buddha in a theatrical manner, and was much appreciated by the audience.
Finally, some of the monks from the Shedra at Kalimpong performed a lively Snow Lion Dance, which was greeted by peals of laughter and enthusiastic applause.
The event concluded with a closing speech delivered by Lodrö Rabphel Rinpoche, the new General Secretary of the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa. Rinpoche thanked everyone for having come to join in the celebrations. “In this holy place where all the Buddhas attain enlightenment, all the auspicious conditions are gathered. In the presence of our most respected master and protector, the Gyalwa Karmapa, Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche, the Venerable Chalinda, Chief Monk of the BTMC, all the venerable Rinpoches and sangha members, I would like to thank all our generous supporters from all over India, Bhutan, Sikkim, Nepal and all over the world from the bottom of my heart. We have been working together during the hardest period of the Karma Kagyu lineage. So please continue to support our precious lineage with the same effort, diligence and courage, for the sake of all living beings. I hope that we will meet again and again on such joyful occasions. Thank you, and may virtue and auspiciousness increase.”
The evening ended with a display of fireworks illuminating the night sky over Bodhgaya.