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Mipham the Great: Celebrated Worldwide
Mipham Thangka hanging in the vast Golden Temple at Namdroling

Mipham Thangka hanging in the vast Golden Temple at Namdroling

The life of Mipham the Great was celebrated worldwide today (Sunday 21 June 2009) in Shambhala Centres and Tibetan Buddhist monasteries. Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, who was recognized as the rebirth of Mipham the Great by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, continued the practice this year of sponsoring the Mipham Monlam (commemoration ceremony) at Namdroling Monastery in southern India. He asked President Reoch to attend on his behalf. The President has just sent us these photos and report.

By President Richard Reoch

Known as “Lord of the Kingdom of the Dharma”, Jamgon Mipham Namgyal Gyatso, lived from 1846 to 1912. He was one of the greatest meditation masters, scholars and teachers of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. He was a leader of the Rime (ecumenical movement) that brought together teachings from all the major schools. His life and writings are a heart-treasure of the Nyingma Lineage and his works are studied in virtually all monastic colleges. An ornamental thangka of Mipham was raised high over the main shrine of the vast Golden Temple at Namdroling for the day of commemorative practices and
celebration.

Making Offerings at the Mipham Monlam

Making Offerings at the Mipham Monlam

Making Offerings

A gathering of more than 4,000 people, including tulkus, khenpos, monks, nuns and lay practitioners assembled throughout the day. The main practices were sadhanas devoted to Peaceful Manjushri and Mipham the Great (as practiced at Shambhala Centres), as well as protector chants, dharma talks
and debates by senior members of the monastic community. Among the most moving moments was the offering of hundreds of khatas lasting more than two hours. The entire day, including the ganachakra, great feast offering, was sponsored by Shambhala on behalf of the Sakyong and Sakyong Wangmo.

Nuns of Tsogyal Shedrup Ling participating in the Mipham Monlam

Nuns of Tsogyal Shedrup Ling

Nuns of Tsogyal Shedrup Ling

The Namdoling complex includes Tsogyal Shedrup Ling Nunnery, which means the “Land of Yeshe Tsogyal for Study and Practice.” It houses over 600 nuns. They performed the same sadhanas in their packed shrine room throughout the day. The many descriptions of the remarkable qualities of Mipham the Great, include this verse:

His awareness-emptiness transformed into the wisdom of Manjushri,
The eight treasures of knowledge opened to him,
He had dominion over the practical and scriptural understanding of the buddhadharma –
To Mipham the Great, I pay homage.

Mipham and Shambhala

There is an extraordinarily close connection between Mipham the Great and the Kingdom of Shambhala.

Towards the end of his life, Mipham the Great wrote the seed syllable of Manjushri, DHIH, on the tongue of the infant Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche,who was to later to become the supreme head of the Nyingma Lineage and the personal teacher of Sawang Osel Rangdrol, later to become Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.

One of Mipham’s last works was an extensive explanatory transmission of the Kalachakra Tantra, said to have been taught by the Buddha to the first king of Shambhala. Based on his visions of King Gesar of Ling, he composed devotional songs and practices invoking the great Buddhist drala king. Before he entered parinirvana, Mipham the Great revealed that he would be going to Shambhala in the north.

Khandro Tseyang Leading the Gesar Dance at Namdroling Monastery

SemoTseyang Ripa leading the Gesar Dance at Namdroling Monastery in 2005

Just over eighty years later, it was His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, the successor to Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche as supreme head of the Nyingma Lineage, who recognized Sawang Osel Rangdol as the rebirth of Mipham the Great and crowned him as the King of Shambhala, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche in 1995.

A decade later, it was at Namdroling Monastery that the Sakyong and then Semo Tseyang Ripa met for the first time, during the Manjushri empowerment conferred on the Sakyong by His Holiness. This was followed in 2008 by the Sakyong Wangmo empowerment of Khandro Tseyang in Halifax, the Shambhala capital. It was the last major ceremony conducted by His Holiness in this lifetime.

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