Following in the Buddha’s Footsteps
Inaugural Teachings at Buddha Pada, India
We are delighted to report on Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s recent teachings at Buddha Pada, a newly established Himalayan center for the study and practice of ancient Indian wisdom traditions, in Kalimpong, North India. KF-India welcomed the opportunity to sponsor this teaching, and we are looking forward to supporting future activities at Buddha Pada, as they work to revive interest in Buddhism in the region.
In early March 2020, Rinpoche visited Buddha Pada (Pāda is a Sanskrit word meaning foot, or footstep) and gave a 6-day inaugural teaching. Buddha Pada, a new collaborative center-space of Siddhartha’s Intent India, is in the tradition of the three rays, or özers—Longchenpa, Trengpo Sherab Özer, and Jigme Lingpa. The center is under the guidance of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and Nyichang Khentrül Rinpoche. The event was jointly organized by Siddhartha’s Intent India and Kalimpong Shree Nalanda Foundation.
View of Buddha Pada
Rinpoche gave an introductory teaching on Buddhadharma based on the preliminary practices of Longchen Nyingthik of Jigme Lingpa and Konchok Chidü of Jatsön Nyingpo, and he also gave initiations for these practices. The event was attended by more than 1,200 people, both Buddhists and non-Buddhists, from Bhutan, Nepal, and the local Buddhist Tamang, Sherpa, Gurung, Bhutia, and Lepcha communities. There were live translations of the teachings in Nepali and English, by Prof. Punyaprasad Parajuli, assisted by Sey Namkha Dorje and Khenpo Sonam Phuntsok.
Rinpoche painting the eyes of Guru Rinpoche at the inaguration of Buddha Pada
On day 5, Khyentse Rinpoche addressed and interacted with more than 400 children from ten schools in Kalimpong. He answered some interesting questions from the children, introduced some basic Buddhist concepts such as impermanence, and taught them shamatha meditation methods. As Rinpoche always does, he told the children that the most important thing in life is to have fun and that they should be kind to others and also to themselves. Also, they “should study, but not for getting a job, but to be prepared for the next fun.” After that, he gave the Manjushri dharani oral transmission. The joyful session ended with the group singing Resam Piri Li, a traditional Nepali folk song.
Rinpoche teaching local school children
The pristine white Buddha Pada temple was decorated with marigolds, glistening in the morning sun. As an enthusiastic group of students of the two rinpoches came together at the center, the mood was vibrant and bright.
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche with Nyichang Khentrül Rinpoche
Buddha Pada will be soon announce their program and activity calendar, offering a variety of study and practice programs in Buddhism, Indian culture, and ecology. Watch for more information on the it’s website.
Audience at the teaching
Four books in Tibetan and Nepali languages were distributed for free. (Professor Punyaprasad Parajuli of Lumbini University, Nepal, spent 3 months completing the Nepalese translation of the books.) The books are Life and Teaching of Jetsun Nyingpo; Detailed Explanation of Buddha’s Qualities: How to Do Buddha Sadhana; Longchen Nyingtik Practice; and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo’s Commentary and Explanation of Longchen Nyingtik.
Food and Volunteers
Food was offered free to those staying at the center, and lunch hour was usually a rush. Lunch was served to about 200 people, including guests and students. Free lunch packets were distributed to all those attending the teachings.
Cooks came from Bhutan and Deer Park, a Tibetan women’s group served tea and snacks, Bhutanese volunteers managed the logistics of the puja, and students from Siddhartha’s Intent Japan served both rinpoches.
Several of the 6 days also included other special events, such as cultural presentations by the Tamang community folk singers and Japanese temple music and folk songs.
Nyichang Rinpoche distributed origami paper cranes, representing happiness and peace, to all participants. 4,800 cranes were specially made for this event, offered by 163 people in Japan, most of whom are in hospice and who expressed that this was their way of giving something back to the world.
About Buddha Pada and Kalimpong
Buddha Pada is a 3-hour journey from Bagdogra airport, on winding roads through the Teesta River valley, and just a 20-minute drive from the town center of Kalimpong. Buddha Pada has been under the guidance of Nyichang Khentrül Rinpoche, who was born in Tibet and is the only high Tibetan lama living in Japan most of the time. Nyichang Rinpoche recently invited Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche to develop and guide the activities of Buddha Pada. The center, which took 14 years to complete, was designed by Japanese architects from Kobe. It was a labor of love for two of Nyichang Rinpoche’s students, Kelsang Bhutia and Inomoto, who were responsible for building the center and supervised the construction. It is associated with the Palri Thekchok Ling Trust and Kalimpong Shree Nalanda Foundation.
Kelsang and Inomoto
The center has three teaching halls that can seat 400 to 500 people; three classrooms that can each accommodate 20 participants; and two separate dining areas and kitchens. It can provide accommodation for about 70 people.
Kalimpong is located in the northern part of the state of West Bengal and is adjacent to the state of Sikkim. It is set in the foothills of the Himalayas at an altitude of 1250 m above sea level. Until the 18th century, Kalimpong was a part of the Kingdom of Sikkim and was ruled by Sikkimese rulers. It was later taken over by Bhutan, and in the 19th century the British assumed control of Kalimpong and merged it into the present Indian state of West Bengal.
Photo credits: Jamyang Zangpo and Uma Pitta
Revitalizing Buddhist Traditions
One of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s aspirations is to revive Buddhism in traditionally Buddhist countries, and India is where Buddha Shakyamuni spent most of his life teaching more than 2,500 years ago. While Buddhism is less prominent in India today than it was in King Ashoka’s time, there is a growing interest in Buddha’s teachings, especially among the younger generation.
KF-India was established in 2011 to promote Indian wisdom traditions. Over the years, KF has supported various programs at Deer Park Institute in Bir, a small town at the foothill of the Himalayas; sponsored Tripitaka chanting events, organized by the Light of Buddhadharma Foundation International, in Bodhgaya and other heritage sites; strengthened Buddhist studies programs at Pune University; and supported various Buddhist grassroot organizations in India. Buddha Pada, the latest project supported by KF-India, shares the aspiration to revive interest in Buddhist study and practice in India.
For more information about KF-India, please read an interview with Uma Pitta, administration manager.