Monasteries 宗薩欽哲仁波切的寺院事業 from Khyentse Foundation on Vimeo.
This video gives a brief history of the Dzongsar Shedras and how Rinpoche came to be the patron of over 1500 monks. It gives a brief biography of Rinpoche’s early life.
Dzongsar Monastery was built on a promontory overlooking the great Khamje Valley in Derge (pronounced De-gay) in 746 by a Bönpo lama. Derge is a county in the Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province, China. The Yangtze River (known in the Derge region as Golden Sands river) divides Kham from the Tibetan Autonomous Region. Throughout its 1,300 year history, the monastery was supported by the villagers of the surrounding areas. These devoted practitioners were the earliest patrons of the monastery. Dzongsar has been though many changes over time. “First it was a Bönpo monastery and later Nyingma, and even later it became a big Sakyapa seat,” said Rinpoche.
The monastery was the main seat of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö and is the birthplace of the Rimé movement of nonsectarian Buddhism. Together they set the intention to build a shedra, a monastic college, in the valley below the monastery. Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo predicted that if they built a center for learning, many great masters would manifest to teach there.
“And this is so true,” said Rinpoche. “Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö came as a reincarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo. Usually incarnations try to finish their past incarnation’s activity. So he set about establishing the shedra. This was a big turning point for Sakya, Kagyu, and Nyingma schools. Learning the sutras and shastras was almost nonexistent, especially in East Tibet. Everyone had become very ritualistic. Many had not even heard of the Bodhicharyavatara or Madhyamika.”
In its golden age, the monastery encompassed 23 temples and many hermitages and retreat areas. The Rimé library of Jamgön Kongtrül, Chökyi Lingpa, and Khyentse Wangpo contained an extensive nonsectarian collection of texts that made it possible for monks and others to study all eight sects of Buddhism. This extensive library of precious texts and much of the monastery were almost completely destroyed in the 1960s. The monastery was rebuilt in 1983, under the supervision of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche.
From Dzongsar Institute, it is a 3-day journey to reach Chengdu, the nearest major city, or 2 days to reach a fairly good size town, provided that weather and road conditions allow. Although it is a logistic disadvantage, the remoteness preserves the Dzongsar Valley as an ideal spot for studying and meditating, free from distraction.