Our Blog

Sangmo’s Articles


Tibetan mini prayer flag as vehicle accesory by Sangmo

Tibetan prayer flag

18 February 2016

While cultural assimilation taking place in China occupied Tibet is one of our major contention, the cross adoption of cultural mores in India and other exile diaspora is not analyzed as widely. China’s brutal occupation of Tibet in 1959 that drove His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama and thousands of Tibetans  into exile ensued more than just the spread of Tibetan Buddhism to a niche global audience. In the process of adaptation, certain symbols of Tibetan religion and culture took off and gained more grounds than others like the adoption of momo eating culture. A recent trend we  have all noticed is the use of Tibetan prayer flag as interior car accessory strung across inside the rear window of thousands of cars on the streets of Delhi, Shimla, Dharamshala and everywhere. It is also common to come across bike enthusiast embarking on tours to have their cruiser bike handles decorated with the smaller size Tibetan prayer flag. The frequency of such cars that I spotted on my trip to Shimla few weeks ago had me musing on the phenomena. On the face of it,  it seem as if the perennial prayer of the Buddhist to have the Buddha dharma spread far and wide is getting answered as prayer flag is an important symbol of Tibetan Buddhism. Yet, we must step up to capitalize on opportunities such phenomena presents and ensure that they are accompanied by right narrative versus letting it be. Sometimes, widespread incorporation of certain cultural mores could usher in the end of it by inadvertent changes in meaning and symbolism that occur in the process, grateful to have survived. The prayer flag in Tibet is strung high on the mountain peaks, roofs and trees as the Tibetan people believe that the wind that passes over the surface of the flags  gets  sanctified by the mantras and spreads good will and compassion into all pervading space. As the images fade from exposure to the elements, it becomes part of the universe. Tibetans usually hoist new prayer flag of varying size during Losar (Tibetan New Year). The new ones are strung alongside the older ones and really old ones are burned, not disposed. It is also a common practice in Tibet and Tibetan refugee settlement like Ladakh to hoist  lungta(luck) prayer flags on mountain before important life events to garner luck. Monasteries and households in Tibet also erects vertical prayer flag in the courtyard like the one below. Prayer flag can have different […]

Read more

III – Khunu Lama: Teachings from his life by Sangmo

Khunu lama teachings

03 February 2016

Khunu lama or Negi lama Tenzin Gyaltsen (1894-1977) was the storehouse of the rich Buddhist tradition and practices passed down from centuries. Buddhism bore the brunt of the 1959 Chinese occupation of Tibet that resulted in the weakenening of the tradition and fate of the many great lama becoming untraceable. In that precarious scenario, Khunu lama was one of the few to have absorbed such vast range of teachings and be able to bequeath the key concepts to the leading lamas of Tibetan Buddhism. Because of Bodhicitta by Khunu Rinpoche “It is because of bodhicitta that one gives up the pleasure of meditative concentration, and in order to relieve others of their suffering goes down to the deepest hell as if into a pleasure park.” Insights Apart from the scholarly teaching,  there are other compelling aspects of his lifestyle as a Buddhist practitioner that we can all learn from… Non Sectarianism Khunu lama cannot be more different from other highly realized lama. He is not only a non-Tibetan but also a layman who practiced Tibetan Buddhism. He remained unordained all his life despite almost always being in the company of ordained monks, lamas and rinpoches. After imbibing the  assorted teachings and practices from masters of all sects, he remained unaffiliated to any particular sect. He continued to emphasize the futility of sectarianism and would give a common book Shantideva’s “Guide to Bodhisattva way of life” to all his students, be it H.H the XIV Dalai lama, Ling Rinpoche or H.H the XVIth Karmapa. He is renowned as one of the most influential teachers in the rime (non-sectarian) movement within  Tibetan Buddhism which was founded in Eastern Tibet during the late 19th century. Lay man Practice In early 20th century and still today, layman or unordained practitioner mostly limit their practice to the surface of the Tibetan Buddhism, leaving the sophisticated applications to the ordained and realized. Khunu lama showed that formally practicing the highbrow teachings as a layman could secure the same profound result and is a great example of that possibility. Mastering the Language Before engaging in Buddhist studies, Khunu lama learned the grammar, composition and literacy of Tibetan language. He considered it a prerequisite to master the Tibetan language, the lingo franca of Buddhism to develop clear understanding of it. He spent more than a year in Sikkim and Khamda monastery polishing the Tibetan language and then after becoming a highly realized master in Tibet, moved to India to learn Sanskrit and spent 6 years perfecting it. The emphasis he put on the proper understanding of the scriptures instead of mechanical learning left traces on the type […]

Read more

The Great Monkey Year (2016) Teachings -Dehradun,India. by Sangmo

drikung kyabgon chetsang rinpoche

25 January 2016

The Tradition The tradition of holding extensive summer and winter teachings has continued without decline since the time of Drikyung Kyopa Jigten Sumgon – the Dharma king of three worlds. Later, with Trinley Zangpo, the 26th throne holder,the institution of four teaching – the Monkey Year Teaching, the Boar Year Teachings, the Horse Year Teachings and the Snake Year Teachings was established and became widespread in land of snow. Traditionally, during the Monkey Year, the throne holder, H.H the Drikung Kyabgon transmits the special close lineage of the Drikung Kagyu: Lord Jigten Sumgon’s Great Arising of Bodhichitta, the Great Drikung Phowa, and so forth. Following this revered tradition, His Holiness will bestow the elaborate Monkey Year Teachings this year at Jangchubling Monastery in  India, the main seat of the Drikung Kagyu lineage. Special Announcement Drikyung Kagyu Teaching Committee announced on January 19, 2016 that the Monkey Year Teachings will now be bestowed for four days from Feb 16-19 instead of the previous starting date of Feb 14.The committee further explains in their Special Announcement that the change was triggered by a short notice they received from the office of the Drikung Labrang informing  that the supreme head, H.H the Drikung Kaybgon Chetsang Rinpoche is required to attend an important event elsewhere on February 14 and 15, 2016. However, for the sake of all the participants coming from other states or countries, the supreme and accomplished  Siddha Dorzin Drubwang Dondrup Palden, who has spent over two decades in retreat in the snow mountains of Lapchi, the special practice place of Jetsun Milarepa – and who possesses perfect realization of the ultimate lineage, will grant experiential instructions of the common and uncommon preliminaries, on Februay 14 and 15, 2016 at the College for Higher Studies . The committee hopes that eveyone will be able to attend this auspicious occassion. The Teaching Program February 16, 2016 Explanation of taking refuge, which is the entrance to the teachings Bestowal of the refuge vows, which belong to the outer individual liberatoin vows Bestowal of Lord Jigten Sumgon’s Great Arising of Bodhichitta, which belongs to the inner bodhisattva vows. February 17, 2016 Teachings on the distinction between the sutra and the tantra vehicles The preparatory stages of the Great Empowerment of Hevajra according to Marpa’s system February 18, 2016 Bestowal of the main part of the Great Empowerment of Hevajra according to Marpa’s system Practice instruction and reading transmission of the Hevarjaritual […]

Read more

II – KHUNU LAMA: Dalai lama called him the Shantideva of our time by Sangmo

Shantideva of our time

22 January 2016

H.H the XIV Dalai lama was 21 years old when he first met Khunu lama briefly in 1956, on the 2500th anniversary of Buddha Jayanti in India. Khunu lama was already 62 years old. The meeting was brief but it set the precursor for the more intimate meetings that took place years later. Rime Scholar at the Buddhist inter-school meeting After the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959, Tibetan Buddhism and culture suddenly came under threat. H.H the XIV Dalai Lama organized a Buddhist inter-school meeting in Mussoorie to deliberate on measures to preserve the Tibetan Buddhist tradition in exile. It was a unprecedented meeting of so many prestigious Buddhist lamas coming together. Khunu Rinpoche went to Mussoorie at the Dalai Lama’s request to instruct the Tibetan refugees in grammar and poetry, remaining there for nearly a year. Khunu rinpoche happened to be there at the meeting although he is not known to have taken part formally. Yet he left a lasting impression on many participants because of the depth and range of his knowledge. Surprise Visit After witnessing the depth of Khunu lama’s wisdom, H.H the XIV Dalai lama visited Bodhgaya with just his personal security. Khunu lama was recovering from a serious illness that affected his sight and rendered him weak. He was unable to see properly. When he was informed by the private secretary about who the visitor was, he objected and claimed not to be able to receive Dalai lama as he wore no appropriate clothing and had no chair for His Holiness to sit on. As the Dalai Lama insisted on speaking with him, they both remained standing and had a talk. Transmission of  Bodhicaryavatara His Holiness the Dalai lama visited Bodhgaya again and requested Khunu Lama to give him a transmission of  Shantideva’s Bodhicaryavatara, also known as A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life. During this transmission, His Holiness was so overwhelmed by Khunu Lama’s knowledge of the text, level of compassion and purity of mind that His Holiness asked for a commentary to be provided with the text. Following the transmission, in the presence of a crowd of people, H.H the Dalai lama prostrated to Khunu Lama in the middle of a road. This public display of immense respect immediately brought him to the attention of many and changed Khunu Lama’s life from one of quiet asceticism to highly revered figure in the Buddhist world. Reference to Shantideva The core teachings Dalai lama received from Khunu rinpoche were the concept of […]

Read more

FAQs about Kalachakra 2017 answered by Sangmo

Kalachakra 2017

19 January 2016

Omalaya Travel is happy to offer its customized Kalachakra tours to India to the devotees wishing to attend the precious Kalachakra 2017 Empowerment teaching. Omalaya-designed spiritual journeys are rooted in individual’s quest for self discovery and we incorporate the same outlook in designing the Kalachakra 2017 tour package. Omalaya Travel operated a successful Kalachakra tour to Ladakh in 2014. Omalaya-led devotees can receive Kalachakra initiation, teaching & empowerment under the expert guidance of tour’s spiritual guides like Geshe Tsering with Dr Chok and Geshe Lobsang with Tulku Phuljung.   H.H the  XIV Dalai lama announced Kalachakra 2017 The Dalai lama announced the 34th Kalachakra by saying ‘Those of you who’ve come from abroad, tomorrow’s the start of 2016 – a Happy New Year to you all. Now you’ll go home, but those of us who are still here will meet again when we hold the Kalachakra  Empowerment in Bodhgaya in January 2017. In the meantime, the way to ensure a good rebirth  is make your life meaningful now. Be happy and ‘Tashi Delek’. It was a special new year gift, specially after the unforeseen cancellation of Kalachakra 2016. When is Kalachakra 2017 ? 34th Kalachakra is scheduled to take place in January 2017. Although the official dates are not announced yet, it will most certainly be held in early January because Kalachakra event usually last around 12 days and the final day is always held on the auspicious day of Kalachakra full moon.  12 January  2017 happened to be one such day according to Tibetan calendar. So, Kalachakra 2017 should take place in the first two week of January 2016. Where is the location  for Kalachakra  initation  2017 ? For the 5th time, Bodhgaya is fittingly the location for Kalachakra 2017.Bodhgaya is the most sacred pilgrimage site for Buddhist. The town is located at 110 km from Patna, capital of Bihar in east India bordering Nepal to its north. The place is well connected with all major cities and towns in India, with daily flight and trains operating to and fro. The town can be reached by bus, taxi or other commuting facilities. Do I need to register to attend Kalachakra 2017 ? Yes. Registration is required to attend the Kalachakra event. Registration will be made available online very soon by official organiser. Devotees can also register in-person after reaching the venue but it could mean a long wait time as the place will be thronged by devotees. There is no payment or fee required for online or in-person […]

Read more

I – Khunu Lama, the quiet master by Sangmo

Khunu lama

15 January 2016

Khunu lama Rinpoche Tenzin Gyaltsen, also known as Khunu lama or Negi lama was a prominent scholar of Rime, the non-sectarian movement in Tibetan Buddhism. He was born in Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh in Northern India. He went to Tibet to study and practice Dharma for about three decades and then returned to India  for the remainder of his life. He continued learning and teaching at many sacred places, passing on the rich heritage of Tibetan Buddhism to the leading Buddhist masters in India. H.H the XIV Dalai lama is the most eminent of the student, who duly exalted Khunu Lama as the Shantideva of our time at 1985 Kalachakra in Bodhgaya. Life Account Khunu lama was born in 1894 in Sunam village in the forest clad district of Kinnaur ,one of the administrative district in modern day Himachal Pradesh. It is located in the northeast corner of the state bordering Tibet to the east. His mother was a Drukpa Kagyupa and his father, a Nyingmapa. He was born in an affluent family but left home in his late teenage years to embark on a spiritual journey that lasted a lifetime. He left for Kullu first and then moved to  Gangtok to learn  grammar, literacy and composition of Tibetan language from the renown literary scholar and grammarian Orgyen Tendzin Rinpoche (1863-1936). Khunu lama was focused on mastering the language as the tool for proper understanding of Buddhist text and teachings. After learning the language rigorously, he moved to Tibet. Tibet Central Tibet He traveled extensively in Tibet, learning from different masters in different monasteries. On his  way from Sikkim to Lhasa, he stopped at the Tashi Lhunpo monastery in Shigatse where he continued his studies of grammar and poetry and began serious study of  Buddhist philosophy.  After three years there, he went to Lhasa where he studied further at Sakya, Drepung and Ganden monasteries, the great three of Gelugpa lineage. He taught literary science at the famous Medical and Astrological centre and was a tutor to several noble families. At Drikung Til, he studied with the accomplished Drikung master Drubwang Amgon Rinpoche. He also studied Mahamudra at a Drukpa Kagyu centre called Khamda. At the request of the Sixth Panchen Lama, Chokyi Nyima (1883-1937), he returned to Tashi Lhunpo monastery and taught at the school for prospective civil servants. It was there that he met Katok Situ Chokyi Gyatso, who was on pilgrimage in Central Tibet. His command of Tibetan grammar earned him fame, which  also resulted in jealousy that prompted him to move to eastern Tibet, Kham where he  stayed for about 15-19 years. Kham, Eastern Tibet […]

Read more

Check out our latest
Articles, Videos, Events,
Recipes and more!

Scroll To Top