In October 2008, I led a group of 61 pilgrims to Nepal to visit the holy power places in Kathmandu valley. Going on the Nepal pilgrimage was an extremely rewarding experience and for some people, it changed their lives. During the pilgrimage, I gave many Dharma talks to help everyone set a correct motivation. I also gave many explanations on the significance of the various holy places which had made our pilgrimage so much more meaningful and powerful.
KATHMANDU GUEST HOUSE, THAMEL
At Kathmandu Guest House where we stayed during the pilgrimage. I gave a Dharma talk in the morning before we embarked on our visits to the holy places
On our way to the Chenrezig Temple, known as Jal Bahal in Nepali, behind the busy main streets of Kathmandu
Me making a prayer at the entrance of the Chenrezig temple
Chenrezig statue in the temple. This statue is one of the very famous set of three statues known as the “Self-Arisen Three Brothers”. One statue is with H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama at Dharamsala and another one is at the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet.
Offering a butterlamp at the Chenrezig temple
Dedication prayers led by me at the Chenrezig temple
BUYING FLOWER GARLANDS IN THE STREETS OF KATHMANDU
Buying flower garlands for pilgrims to make offering
ARA CHAPEL AT THAHITY CHOWK
Making offerings at the Tara Chapel behind the alleyways of Thahity Chowk in the middle of Kathmandu City
H.H. Trijang Rinpoche has recommended praying to the White Tara statue (the centre statue in the picture above) within this chapel. I explained that this White Tara statue had “flown” in from Tibet and since Trijang Rinpoche had made this recommendation, it must be a very special and blessed statue. The White Tara statue is flanked by Green Tara on its right and Yellow Tara on its left.
BOUDANATH STUPA AT BOUDHA
Pilgrims at Boudanath Stupa, one of the largest and holiest stupas in Nepal built in the 14th century. Tibetans believe that this stupa enshrines the precious bone relic of the Buddha. The area around the stupa houses a community of 16,000 Tibetans. Tibetans and pilgrims from around the world gather and circumambulate around the base of the stupa every single day. We are so happy to be here.
Explaining the significance of the Boudanath Stupa to the pilgrims
SELF-ARISING TARA CHAPEL AT PHARPING
Me with pilgrims at the base of the Self-Arising Tara Chapel at Pharping, 19km south of Kathmandu
Giving an explanation of the Self-Arising Tara outside the chapel
Inside the Self-Arising Tara Chapel
A Tara image has spontaneously arisen from the surface of a rock. After being discovered by a meditator, pilgrims flocked there to make offerings and donations. Eventually a chapel was bulit to enshrine the image on the rock. The image has miraculously became clearer over time.
GURU RINPOCHE’S CAVE ABOVE THE TARA CHAPEL
Here I gave an explanation on Guru Rinpoche’s cave. Guru Rinpoche or Padmasambava, who was renowned for the spread of Buddhism in Tibet, perfected his tantric meditation in this cave before entering Tibet. To indicate his presence, Padmasambava left a miraculous hand print on a solid rock at the entrance of the cave.
Touching the handprint of Padmasambava with my forehead
An old monk greeting me outside Guru Rinpoche’s cave
Walking down from Guru Rinpoche’s cave with our large group of 60 people.
VAJRAYOGINI CHAPEL AT PHARPING
I gave a Dharma talk in front of the Vajrayogini Chapel at Pharping. This chapel lies within a short distance from Guru Rinpoche’s cave. The Tibetans believe that this chapel is associated with the Pamtingpa brothers, who were some of the earliest Vajrayogini lineage holders who were initiated by their Guru, the Great Naropa himself into this practice. So this Chapel to Vajra Yogini is very significant and important to visit.
Feeding a stray dog outside the Vajrayogini Chapel
MAHABOUDHA STUPA AT PATAN
Pilgrims gathering around me in front of the Mahaboudha Stupa to listen to an explanation on the origins of the stupa. Located at Mahaboudha Temple or “Temple of a Thousand Buddhas”, this stupa is covered with hundreds of little Buddha plaques and has a statue of Shakyamuni enshrined at the bottom. It is a replica of the Mahabodhi Stupa at Bodhgaya built to commemorate Lord Buddha’s mother, Queen Maya Devi. Nearby is also another Chapel to Vajra Yogini.
BIJASWARI VAJRAYOGINI CHAPEL
Leading the prayers to Vajrayogini at the first Vajrayogini Chapel in Nepal, the Bijaswari Vajrayogini Temple, a short distance away from Swayambhunath Hill. This chapel started as a family’s personal place of worship and was later opened to public and became an important centre for worship. Today, the chapel is still cared for by the descendants of the family who built it. This chapel I have visited many times to offer tsok, prayers and bring students/friends here. This chapel contains 4 sacred forms of Vajra Yogini. Very rare to see in one place.
This is one of the very old and sacred image of Vajra Yogini inside the Bijaswari Vajra Yogini Chapel.
The Swayambhunath Stupa
Explaining the significance of the Swayambhunath Stupa
MANJUSHRI’S TEACHING SITE
Leading a prayer to Manjushri at Manjushri’s teaching site, a courtyard a short distance away from Swayambhunath Stupa. It is believed that Manjushri gives profound teachings to celestial beings at this very spot once a year. I offered a oral transmission of Manjushri prayers to the students here.
NAROPA’S CAVE AT PASHUPATINATH
Performing a Vajrayogini puja in Naropa’s cave at Pashupatinath. Pashupatinath is regarded as one of the holiest sites of the Hindu world and is included within the 24 holy places of the Tantric Buddha Heruka Chakrasamvara. Naropa practiced intently the Vajra Yogini tantra in this cave and became enlightened. He had visions of Vajra Yogini. It is a very important site for us to visit and make aspirational prayers. There is a beautiful statue of Naropa inside the cave. Next to this cave is the cave of his guru, Tilopa. Fantastic!
Pilgrims doing their own prayers outside the Naropa cave where I was engaging in the Vajrayogini puja
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This is just a brief bio account in pictures of my life till now…a more extensive book will be coming out on my life as instructed by my teacher.
Much care, Tsem Rinpoche
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