The Kagyu Monlam 2019
The Kagyu Monlam has always been the most anticipated and significant event in the Kagyu calendar, and for all Karma Kagyu practitioners around the world. The significance of the location lies in the fact that it takes place under the Bodhi Tree, where the historical Buddha Shakyamuni attained enlightenment, in Bodhgaya, in the state of Bihar.
The Kagyu Monlam first started in 1996 and was organised by the Kagyu Monlam Organising Committee which was formed impromptu following the wishes of His Holiness 14th Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche, in 1996. The Monlam in 1996 was especially organised to invite Trinley Thaye Dorje, His Holiness 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, for the first time. Thereafter, the Kagyu Monlam was organised as and when funds became available. Since 2017, the Kagyu Monlam has been organised under the auspices of South Asia Buddhist Organisation (SABA), a Trust legally registered with the Government of India. The Kagyu Monlam Organising Committee has the responsibility to organise the Kagyu Monlam, under the supervision of SABA.
Every year, Trinley Thaye Dorje, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, presides over the Kagyu Monlam, along with His Holiness 14th Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche (until His Holiness passed from this life in 2014), and many eminent Rinpoches, lamas, monks, nuns and lay practitioners from all over the world.
The Kagyu Monlam 2019 took place from 15-21 December 2019. The Kagyu Monlam began with the arrival of Karmapa at the Maha Bodhi temple. He first visited the main shrine hall and paid his respects, offering prayers before the statue of Buddha. Then, Karmapa proceeded towards the area where the Monlam was to take place, under the Bodhi Tree. Karmapa paid his respects to the Bodhi Tree and also offered prayers. Then, he lit a butter lamp, before taking his seat to lead the ‘King of Aspiration Prayers’ or ‘Samantabhadra Aspiration Prayers’. As usual, the Monlam had a large gathering of venerable Rinpoches, lamas, monks, nuns, and lay students from all over the world.
Every day, aspiration prayers were recited for the benefit of all sentient beings. These prayers were led by Karmapa, except for when Karmapa was granting audiences to, among others, students and dignitaries.
On 19 December 2019, Karmapa performed ‘Jangchok’ at Karma Temple. During the puja, Karmapa ceremonially burns the names of deceased people, which are collected from far and wide throughout the year. The following day, at the request of the Monlam organisers, as well as the devotees who had assembled in Bodhgaya, Karmapa conferred the Chenresig initiation at Karma Temple. There was a huge gathering of almost three thousand people. By the time Karmapa had blessed the last person, it was almost dark.
On 21 December, the final day of the Monlam, the day started with the recitation of the aspiration prayers. Later in the day, a special Tsok offering was made. The Monlam concluded with prayers and aspirations for world peace, and for the opportunity to assemble again in future years.
On 22 December, His Eminence Beru Khyentse Rinpoche, the sangha and many devotees gathered at Karma Temple to bid farewell to Karmapa. Karmapa and his entourage then left for Delhi from Gaya International Airport.
Meeting cum handing and taking over of the charge of the Kagyu Monlam from the old members by the new members of the Kagyu Monlam Organising Committee, Bodhgaya 2019
On 27 December, there was a joint meeting to formally hand over the responsibility for the Monlam Organising Committee. Present were the previous Monlam Organising Committee, headed by Mr Karma Tsering; the newly appointed committee, headed by Khenpo Karma Lekshey; and Yeshey Jungney, Manager / Secretary of SABA, who is responsible for the Kagyu Monlam. Over the last two years, the previous and new committees had been collaborating to organise the Kagyu Monlam. It was agreed that after two years, the full responsibility would be handed over to the new committee, which includes monks representing the various monasteries under the patronage of Karmapa.
After the formal handing over was complete, the newly appointed President and his colleagues were offered a traditional scarf ‘Khata’ by the outgoing President.
On 28 December, a farewell dinner was organised by the new committee. At the end of the dinner, Khenpo Karma Lekshey, the incoming President, took the opportunity to
thank the outgoing members who had been responsible for the organisation of every Monlam, since the first one in 1996. Since then, the Monlam has been one of the most important activities of Karmapa, and has grown over the years. Khenpo sought their guidance and advice, thanked them for their efforts, and expressed his hope to live up to the expectations of one and all.
Note of appreciation:
Khenpo, on behalf of the Kagyu Monlam Organising Committee, took the opportunity to mention that The Yolmo Kagyu Sangag Latsog headed by Ven. Lama Dawa Sangbo Yolmopa, have been closely associated with the Kagyu Monlam since 2000. They have been historically associated with the Karmapas and Shamarpas since primordial times. The monks of their monastery, Yolmo Shedrupling, participate in the Monlam. About 50 or more lay members have been volunteering for the Kagyu Monlam Organising Committee ever since. They assist in areas such as providing security to Karmapa. They approach and all other activities assigned to them with utmost sincerity. The organising committee members are very grateful to them for their voluntary services over all these years and hope that they continue to associate with the new organisation committee that has taken over responsibility for organising future Kagyu Monlams.
Donation towards Covid 19 Pandemic by KMCT
Since the registration, the Trust has not been able to carry out any activities due to Covid 19. However, in an effort to unite with the people of India and complement the efforts of the Government to fight the pandemic caused by Covid 19, the Trust contributed one lakh Rupees to the PM Cares Fund on 21 April 2020. Though the contribution was relatively small in comparison to the magnitude of the difficulty arising from the Covid 19 pandemic, it was the Trust’s sincere effort to participate in the fight against the pandemic and help provide some relief for those suffering.
Charitable activity to mark the Second Birthday of Thugseyla
To celebrate the auspicious occasion of the second birthday of Thugseyla Jigme Chokyi Trinley, on 11 August 2020, the Kagyu Monlam Trust along with other organisations, such as Karmapa Charitable Trust, Nyolo Nendo Foundation, Karmapa Health Care Project, Dechen Chokhorling Nunnery, Rumtek and Rey Katen Namgayling Monastery, carried out charitable activity by distributing essential food items to 108 families in need. Each family received rice, potatoes, cooking oil, salt, sugar, tea leaves, dal and onions. Also, in light of the pandemic, items such as sanitizers, masks, and gloves were handed over to various local government offices and agencies such as the police station, bank and Panchayat Office.
Earlier in the day, the monks of His Holiness Karmapa at Zimchung Monastery, performed the smoke puja. This was followed by a mandala offering, along with the recitation of long-life prayers. Following this, traditional saffron rice with butter tea and traditional scarves were offered to the portrait of Thugseyla.