02.12.2010, India

Celebration of First Karmapa Düsum Khyenpa’s 900th Anniversary

Karmapa International Buddhist Institute, New Dehli, Anniversary, Ceremony

On December 2, 2010, a day of religious festivities at KIBI (Karmapa International Buddhist Institute) in New Delhi marked the beginning of the month-long celebration of the 900th anniversary of the first Karmapa Düsum Khyenpa’s birth year.

Düsum Khyenpa, the founder of the Karma Kagyu, or Karma Kamtsang lineage, was born in 1110. He was the first master in the history of Tibetan Buddhism to give indications concerning his next rebirth, and the second Karmapa, who was to become known as Karmapakshi, announced from an early age on that he was the reincarnation of Düsum Khyenpa. The latter was thus at the origin of the oldest lineage of consciously reborn masters (tulkus).

The joyous event at KIBI was organised by SABA (South Asia Buddhist Association) and presided over by Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche. About 150 monks and lamas from Ladakh, Sikkim, Darjeeling, Nepal and Tibet came to the Indian capital to attend the ceremonies and to meet with Shamar Rinpoche. The celebrations were open to all, and many practitioners and devotees, both Asian and Western, gathered to join in the festivities.

In the morning the monastic sangha assembled in the temple for a symbolic reading of the sacred texts of kangyur (the original words of Buddha Shakyamuni) and tengyur (the commentaries of great masters on the Buddha’s teaching).

A sumptuous lunch was then served to all visitors – lamas, monks and lay-people alike – under the colourful tents which had been set up in the grounds of KIBI for the occasion.

The monastic sangha then gathered for the chökhor ceremony – a circumambulation of the KIBI premises with the sacred texts of kangyur and tengyur. The procession was led by the traditional gyaling players, followed by a senior monk carrying a large thangka of the first Karmapa, Düsum Khyenpa. Then came the other monks, each of them carrying two volumes of the sacred texts.

Once the chökhor was completed, everyone assembled once again in the temple, and Shamar Rinpoche now addressed the assembly in a succinct speech about the life and activity of Düsum Khyenpa and the history of the Karmapas.

He explained that every single one of the Karmapas has been like a living Buddha and finished by saying that “when you think of this great bodhisattva you will receive his blessing, just as if he were truly present here now. It is said in all of the Buddha’s teachings that when you think of a great bodhisattva’s name or the activity he generated to help sentient beings you will be able to create great merit and to follow the bodhisattvas in all your future lifetimes until you achieve enlightenment.” To conclude with, he requested all those present to contribute their wishes for the benefit of all sentient beings and for world peace.

Shamar Rinpoche’s speech was followed by a Milarepa puja with prayers addressed to Milarepa and the first Karmapa and a tsok offering, followed by the recitation of various wishing prayers, among them the “King of Wishing Prayers”, Samantabhadra’s sangchö mönlam which is also the main prayer recited during the Kagyu Mönlam. The tsok offering was shared among all the participants, and once again tea was offered and Prasad distributed to one and all.

The evening saw the KIBI temple illuminated by garlands of lights, and devotees lit hundreds of butterlamps.

The festivities will continue for a month, with the final highlight on December 30, 2010, when once again a whole day’s celebration in memory of the first Karmapa Düsum Khyenpa will be conducted, this time in Bodhaya, the place where the historical Buddha reached enlightenment. Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche, accompanied by many Rinpoches and monks, will once more lead the celebration.

The 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje, the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, will also make a public appearance on this concluding day of the festival.

Report: Rabjam Rikki Catty

See article in Frontier India here


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Normally in life, greed – and in most cases even ambition – are things we need to slowly renounce. But while generating your qualities, such as bodhicitta, you need to be very ambitious, almost greedy