A Visit to H.H. the Karmapa

As previously reported, Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche's closest attendants, Lama Geleg Paljor, Tenpa Yarphel, Sherab Wangchuk, Jinpa Lodrö, Tashi Öser and Karma went to see H.H. the Karmapa, mainly to express their gratitude for his never-ending support in this difficult time, also on behalf of all of the Benchen Monastery community. Before doing so, they had requested H.E. Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche's blessing and advice. Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche fully agreed with the mission and gave his wholehearted blessing for it. Having thus travelled to India, on the morning of 4 June, which corresponded to the 15th day or full moon of Saga Dawa, they were then fortunate to actually see H.H. the 17th Karmapa Orgyen Thrinle Dorje at his residence at Gyutö Monastery in India. On this occasion, Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche's attendants were able to offer a full set of wooden and fully painted Phurpas, required for the extensive Vajrakila-Drubchen, to H.H. This was one of the express wishes of Tenga Rinpoche and he asked repeatedly to go ahead with this.

During the meeting H.H. the Karmapa took lots of time to listen to all the details of what had occurred, from the time shortly before Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche's passing until the cremation and retrieving of his Precious Remains. These events were mainly related by Tenpa Yarphel, the General Secretary of Tenga Rinpoche. During this audience, among other things, H.H. the Karmapa's advice was asked as to where and how to keep the Precious Remains of Rinpoche.

To give a more complete list of what Rinpoche left us, there is a large piece of Rinpoche's skull, his entire spine, thigh bones and joints. However the most precious and miraculous is that Rinpoche left us his heart, tongue and lungs. These pieces have melded together with parts of the spine. Photos were taken of all of these for H.H. the Karmapa to have a good look at them. H.H. rejoiced greatly and said that for a master to leave his heart etc. is the greatest and most holy of all relics! H.H. also remarked that just the way Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche remained in Thugdam, was the ultimate sign and proof of how great and incomparable a master he was.

Photos by Benchen Monastery

H.H.'s advice now is the following: Rinpoche's heart and skull should be enshrined in a statue that will be made to look like Rinpoche himself. This statue will be placed in front of the stupa which will house the majority of the other Precious remains. The larger pieces of bone matter will be enshrined in the aforementioned stupa, which will be five feet tall, to be constructed in the monastery's Tara shrine room. Another, three-story large stupa will be constructed in front of the Naro-Drubkhang, Benchen Drubde Ösal Ling, in Pharping. This large stupa will contain many tsatsa which will be prepared from whatever smaller bone matter and cremation ashes are left. In the groundfloor of this stupa will be an accesible room that will contain a three-dimensional mandala of White Tara and paintings of her various aspects.

Both stupas will be constructed according to the ritual tradition of "Drime Namnyi." The stupa in the Tara shrineroom will be of the type called "Jangchub Chörten" or "Enlightenment Stupa," according to the measurements and directions of H.H. the 15th Karmapa Kakhyab Dorje. Already a few years ago, when Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche visited H.H. the 17th Karmapa in Gyuto Monastery in India, the construction of such a stupa was discussed and approved by H.H. At this time the Gyalwa Karmapa actually drew a sketch of such a stupa and marked all the various parts of it by name. This happened while H.H. requested Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche to introduce to him the various types of stupas and their designs. H.H. then took the opportunity on this occasion to introduce Tenga Rinpoche to a slightly variant tradition of stupa design, originating with the 15th Karmapa Kakhyab Dorje. Rinpoche's reliquary stupa will be constructed according to this tradition. The stupa in Pharping will be of the type known as "Lhabab Chörten" or "Descent from the Tushita Heavens Stupa" which signifies Buddha Shakyamuni's descent from the heavens of the gods to earth.

H.H. the Karmapa said: "Since Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche served for so many years as H.H. the 16th Karmapa's Vajra Master in Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, it would be very good if a few of Rinpoche's Precious Relics could be sent there as well, in order to serve as a support and inspiration for our faithful followers there. I will then personally ask them to construct a small stupa there to contain these Precious Remains." Accordingly we will offer a small portion of the relics to Rumtek monastery.

Previously, while thanking H.H. for his support and help, an official request on behalf of Benchen Monastery was presented to H.H. the Karmapa, asking him to please keep in mind to look for the rebirth (yang srid) of Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche. On this matter H.H. said that he had already discussed the same with Rinpoche several years ago, when Rinpoche came to visit him in Gyuto Monastery. On the occasion Tenga Rinpoche had remarked that he would definitely not be reborn in Tibet, but rather closer to H.H. the Karmapa so as to make it easier to establish contact with him. When discussing the matter, H.H. the Karmapa mentioned that he had the hope that the rebirth of Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche would return soon.

On that same day, in the afternoon of 4 June, Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche's attendants then went to Palpung Sherab Ling in order to pay their respects to H.E. the Kenting Tai Situ Rinpoche. Through the great help of Situ Rinpoche's staff, it was very easy to have an appointment with H.E. and they took to opportunity to thank him for all of his help and support. On the occasion they also received the oral transmission for a prayer for the Swift Rebirth of Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche which Situ Rinpoche had recently composed.

On the next day, 5 June, H.H. the Karmapa invited Tenga Rinpoche's attendants for lunch at the Norbu Lingka. During this lunch most of the aforementioned advice on how to proceed with the Precious Remains and the construction of the stupas was pronounced by H.H. During the later part of the meal, H.H. gave more precious advice on which we will report in a few days time. Please check back frequently.

All in all, we were overjoyed and felt extremely blessed by the very warm welcome and reception by H.H. and his staff. We would also like to express our heartfelt thanks for the hospitality and help of the entire Tsurphu Labrang.

Benchen Monastery Office

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