Wednesday, December 21, 2016

India Adventure III: Two months in India with my mom

In 2013 and 2015 my mom joined me in south India for His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama's Jangchup Lamrim teachings.

Last year, we got to attend two teachings in Bangalore at the Tibetan Buddhist study center Choe Khor Sum Ling (CKSL) prior to traveling to Tashi Lhunpo Monastery for His Holiness' teachings. American nun Venerable Thubten Chodron taught on Living with an Open Heart on December 16.

Venerable Thubten Chodron teaching at CKSL, December 2015.
American nun Venerable Amy Miller taught on Conquering Stress and Anxiety at CKSL the following night. I had gotten to hear Venerable Thubten Chodron teach in the US before, but this was my first time receiving a teaching from Venerable Amy Miller. I was so thankful for the opportunity.

Venerable Thubten Chodron pointed out when we compare ourselves to others based on what we see on Facebook, we are doing this based on illusion - what we are seeing online is what our friends chose to post, the image they want the world to see.

Venerable Amy Miller taught when we review the day before bed, we tend to focus only on the things that we did wrong that day. We should also acknowledge and rejoice in the things that we did well.

While in Bangalore prior to His Holiness' teachings my mom and I attended a performance of The Insect Play performed by elementary school students who attend Mallya Aditi International School. My friend Dee is the drama teacher, and kindly invited us to see the beautiful play she put on with her standard 4 (nine year old) students. The costumes, made by one of the parents, were gorgeous.

Dee and my mom after the play.
In 2013 my mom left India after His Holiness' teachings. In 2015 we continued on to explore India together for another one and a half months after His Holiness' teachings had concluded at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery.

Bangalore

After the teachings ended at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery we returned to Bangalore.

We got to see my friends Shilpa and Aditya who are involved with an animal welfare NGO in Bangalore, Compassion Unlimited Plus Animals. Shilpa arranged for us to visit the Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation Centre located on the outskirts of Bangalore in Bannerghatta National Park. Shilpa instructed us to leave WRRC by the late afternoon because large wild animals roam the park, including the area around WRRC.

We were the only visitors at WRRC that day, and got to spend it with WRRC's incredible veterinarian, Dr. Roopa Satish. She told us many stories about the development of wildlife animal welfare in India. It was amazing to get to spend this time with her.

The most memorable was her strongly delivered point that we keep wildlife in our homes (parrots, snakes, etc) to entertain us. This is terribly wrong. We have so many gadgets to entertain us ... TVs, smart phones, tablets, etc. Wildlife belong in the wild. They are not objects of entertainment.

She gave us a tour of the WRRC property where we got to see several species of animals housed in comfortable, large enclosures including former pet monkeys that were learning how to survive in the wild before being released by WRRC. She explained people bring wildlife to WRRC for rehabilitation like this, and then WRRC releases them back into the wild once the animals are ready.

Dr. Satsish invited me to release one of the rehabilitated black kites into the wild. She put the large bird into my hands, and told me how to throw it up into the air.



Dr. Satish let my mom and I know that after release the black kites return to their former enclosure and spend the night there, before returning to the forest. The black kite I released was now free to do as it chose.

We also got to meet a baby chipmunk that had been brought to WRRC that day. Dr. Satish was hand rearing the chipmunk, and showed us how to do it. (This would prove invaluable later.)

Aditya arranged for my mom and I to visit the Large Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Center (LARRC) in Bangalore, another project affiliated with CUPA. My mom and I bought about 13 pounds of carrots from a roadside vegetable stand on our way to CUPA to feed to the rescued horses, cows, donkeys and other animals living at LARRC. We were swarmed by the free roaming animals, who gently prodded us looking for the carrots. It was one of the highlights of my mom's trip to India.

Naiomii, one of CUPA's residents. Photo by CUPA.

We also spent time in Bangalore visiting with my friends Sowmya and Nelson. Nelson took us to Yogi-sthaan, a cool macrobiotic, vegan friendly cafe in Indiranagar, a neighborhhood in Bangalore. My mom really enjoyed learning about their work in Bangalore. Sowmya is the founder of Prafull Oorja. Nelson was studying to be a therapist, a profession he said is in need of more practitioners in India.

Yogi sthaan in Bangalore.
Mumbai and Aurangabad

My mom and I then flew from Bangalore to Mumbai. Once in Mumbai (Bombay) we spent the night in a hotel within walking distance from the Dadar train station, and then took an eight hour train ride from Mumbai to Aurangabad, the city nearest the Ellora and Ajanta Caves.

Flower arrangements are offered in temples. These young women are making
flower arrangements around the corner from our hotel in Mumbai.

I rarely see cats in India ... this is for my cat loving friends. Streets of Mumbai.

Approaching the Dadar train station in Mumbai ... street vendors.
 In Aurangabad, we stayed at a hotel that caters to tourists visiting the Ellora and Ajanta Caves. We were picked up at the Aurangabad train station by a complementary taxi arranged by Mr. Ashok, the travel agent who runs his own business out of a shop in the hotel's parking lot.

We visited the Ajanta Caves on our first full day in Aurangabad. I had researched and decided to try the new luxury bus service that would take us on a day trip to visit the Ajanta Caves. We picked up the bus from the Aurangabad bus station which was within walking distance of the hotel.

Government bus service sign at the Aurangabad bus station
in the early morning.
It may have been cheaper to hire a taxi for the day from Mr. Ashok (who had the best prices in Aurangabad based on my limited price shopping) if we had had more people in the car, but the bus service turned out to be fine. Since it is a tour package, we did not get to chose how much time we could spend at the Ajanta Caves and would have liked to have spent more time there, but it was fine.

The approximately thirty Buddhist caves that make up the UNESCO World Heritage site the Ajanta Caves were carved into a 250 foot high U shaped wall of rock in a west India jungle 2,000+ years ago.


Ajanta Caves.
Textural records indicate the caves were used by monks during the monsoons in India, and as a resting spot for merchants and pilgrims. The caves were re-discovered in 1819 by a British colonial officer while on a tiger hunting party.

Ajanta Caves.

Artists illuminated the interior of the caves by spilling water onto the floor, so that the water would reflect light onto the walls, thereby allowing the artists to see what they were doing. They also painted by the light of lit incense sticks.

One of the Ajanta Caves.

I am convinced it is impossible to capture the beauty and power of the Ajanta Caves with a camera but of course I had to try.

Buddha statue inside one of the Ajanta Caves.

Ajanta Caves.

Ajanta Caves.

Ajanta Caves.

The following day we hired a taxi and driver from Mr. Ashok to take us to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site Ellora Caves. Much closer to Aurangabad than the Ajanta Caves, by hiring a taxi we had more time to spend exploring the Ellora Caves.

Unlike the Ajanta Caves, the Ellora Caves represents not just Buddhism but other religions that originated in India: the complex of 100+ caves contains five Jain caves, 17 Hindu caves, and 12 Buddhist caves. They were cut into the rocky cliff between 600 - 1000 AD. The Buddhist caves are believed to have been carved between 630 - 700 AD.

Ellora Buddhist Caves.
Eleven of the Buddhist caves are multi-storied monasteries that contain living quarters, sleeping quarters, prayer halls, shrines, kitchens, and other rooms.

Ellora Buddhist Caves.

The most remarkable was the Vishvakarma Cave, the one who accomplishes everything, or the architect of the gods built around 650 AD. The central Buddha statue is 15 feet high. He is in the teaching pose, and is sitting in front of a Bodhi tree.

My mom and I in the Vishvakarma Cave, Ellora.
The other unforgettable aspect of the Ellora Caves was that while each cave contained a similar sized and positioned room that seemed to be intended for the cave's main Buddha image, the Buddha image was absent from some of the caves.

I have been taught that there will be periods of time in which no Buddha will appear on this earth. When I walked into the first cave that was missing the Buddha, I was shocked. WHERE was the Buddha? I recalled the teaching I had received, and got a taste of what it might feel like to be living on this earth without Buddha as a guide to perfect happiness. That feeling still sits inside of me almost a year later.

While exploring the Ajanta Caves, we had met an American Buddhist named Casey and her travel partner, a Tibetan monk born in Tibet, Geshe la. We saw them again at the Ellora Caves, and were then on the same train returning from Aurangabad to Delhi.

Casey invited us to join she and Geshe la on an afternoon visit to the 109 Buddhist caves in Mumbai, the Kanheri Caves. The caves were carved into rock between 1st century BC and 10th century AD. The caves were a Buddhist settlement where monks lived, studied, and practiced Buddhism.

In the late 10th century Atisha came to the Krishnagiri Vihara to study meditation under Rahulagupta.

Casey, me, my mom, and Geshe la visiting the Kanheri Caves, Mumbai in the background.

Kanheri Caves.

Kanheri Caves.

We decided to take the (crowded) Mumbai metro from the Kanheri Caves back to our respective hotels. We traveled during rush hour, and nearly lost Geshe la on the adjacent train. He doesn't speak English or Hindi, didn't know the name of the hotel, and we were unable to reach him by phone from the train car we shared with Casey. Fortunately we all got off at the proper train station, and Geshe la was laughing so hard his belly shook. All's well that ends well.

Varanasi

From Mumbai we traveled by flight north to Varanasi for a very different experience.

Dating to the 11th century BC, Varanasi is a Hindu place of pilgrimage. Pilgrims come to bathe in the Ganges River and perform funeral rites. There are also 2,000 temples in town.

Varanasi, which I first visited in 2014 feels like an ancient European city with very narrow, dark streets that wind between stone walls and shops tucked into alcoves. The streets are really only navigable by foot - human feet, bovine hooves, street dog paws, and so on.

Streets of Varanasi.

Streets of Varanasi.

While in Varanasi we stayed in an Israeli owned guest house in a room with a balcony overlooking the Ganges River. Each morning wild monkeys would come to visit our balcony to see if we had any food for them. (For this reason the windows and door leading to the balcony had to remain closed at all times.)

Early morning view from our balcony at Bhadra Kali Guest House.

We spent a lot of time walking up and down the ghats that make up the boardwalk along the Ganges River, stopping to look at temples, pilgrims, residents, bovine, street dogs, and boats.

Ganges River ghats.

Ganges River ghats.

Ganges River ghats.

Ganges River ghats.
Buffalo on the ghats. (They are butchered and sold for food. Ex - "Buff momos.")
Street puppy on the ghats.

Street dog on the ghats.

Goats on the ghats. (Goats are also butchered and eaten.)
We also passed through a market near Ahilyabai and Dashashwamedh Ghats on our way to and from our favorite eatery in Varanasi, Dosa Cafe. (If you are looking for Dosa Cafe then you can also ask a local for directions to the nearby and well marked Dolphin Restaurant near the aforementioned ghats.)

Buying groceries in the market.

Street dog life.

Dosa Cafe.
My mom enjoying her uttapam and tea at Dosa Cafe.
One afternoon we took a cycle rickshaw to the nearby Benares Hindu University campus, home to the university's Bharat Kala Museum.

Dancing Shiva. Photo found here along with many others from the museum.
The art and archeological museum houses Buddhist and Hindu sculptures, many of which used to grace the streets and temples of Varanasi but are now safely kept inside the museum. The museum also has a beautiful collection of rare Gujarati, Rajasthani, and Pahari miniature paintings.

Collection of Bharat Kala Bhavan. India before the Mugals,
probably painted in Japiur-Delhi. Photo from Pinterest.
I also enjoyed the museum's collection of paintings by Nicholas Roerich.

Pilgrim by Nicholas Roerich, 1932. Photo from here.

Another day, we made a trip to the nearby city of Sarnath where Buddha gave his first teaching after attaining enlightenment underneath the Bodhi Tree in Bodhgaya.

My mom looking towards the Dhamek Stupa built 500 CE,
commemorating Buddha's first teaching.
In addition to visiting the site of Buddha's first teaching, in which he explained the Four Noble Truths - the existence of suffering, its cause, and its end:

The Truth of Suffering
The Truth of the Cause of Suffering
The Truth of the Cessation of Suffering
The Truth of the Path Leading to the Cessation of Suffering

While in Sarnath we visited one of my favorite Buddha statues, housed in one of the city's temples.

Buddha.

Temple housing the large Buddha.
Next time I'm in Sarnath I plan to visit the Sarnath International Nyingma Institute.

I recently stumbled upon this film about the Institute, featuring two Thai monks I met in India in 2014 and then visited in Thailand at Mahabodhidham Monastery. Even this still image introducing the film depicts Damgrondham and Oat. Amazing.


Sarnath International Nyingma Institute from Inner World Films on Vimeo.

One night in Varanasi we hired a young man to take us out for a ride on the Ganges River.

Our oarsman on the Ganges River.
According to the Sydney Herald (this is a great article) more than 3,000 million liters of untreated sewage from towns along the Ganges River enter the river each day. By the time it reaches Varanasi, which also adds most of its untreated sewage to the river, the Ganges River becomes the sixth most polluted river in the world.

Sadly, while rowing along the Ganges River a white dolphin breached the water nearby us. Now I understand why there is a restaurant in Varanasi named Dolphin Restaurant. I never would have thought we'd see a dolphin surviving in the Ganges.

Other nights my mom and I attended the Hindu ceremonies that take place in two locations on the ghats each night. These ceremonies are well attended (and documented on YouTube) by pilgrims and tourists alike. Aarti is a Hindu fire ceremony performed by Hindu Brahmin disciples.

Hindu ceremony on the ghats.
Hindu ceremony on the ghats.
Hindu ceremony on the ghats.
Concession stand.
Bodhgaya

From Varanasi we took the train to Bodhgaya, where Buddha attained Enlightenment underneath the Bodhi Tree 2,500+ years ago.

While in Bodhgaya we attended Geshe Dorji Damdul's Bodhicitta Retreat at the Root Institute from January 15 - January 24, 2016.

Geshe Dorji Damdul teaching in the Root Institute main gompa where our
class was held.
Venerable Geshe Dorji Damdul with Bodhicitta Retreat students Jan 2016.
Photo by Root Institute.
Geshe Dorji Damdul took us to the Mahabodhi Temple to make offerings to the Buddha statue inside of the temple, recite prayers, and take the aspirational Bodhicitta vow.

Geshe Dorji Damdul on the right, watching as his students enter the temple
to make offerings to the Buddha.

My mom and our friend Jayanti waiting in line
outside of the temple to offer their flowers. 
Mahabodhi Temple offerings.

Reciting prayers with Geshe Dorji Damdul.

Geshe Dorji Damdul at the Mahabodhi Temple.

With Geshe Dorji Damdul and fellow students.

A young flower seller outside of the Mahabodhi Temple entrance point.
Geshe Dorji Damdul also took us on a day long pilgrimage on January 22 to Rajgir, arranged by the Root Institute staff and coordinated on site by my friend Lozang, the resident nurse at Tara Children's Project.

First we visited Vulture Peak, where Buddha gave his second teaching after attaining Enlightenment, the Perfection of Wisdom also known as the Heart Sutra.

"Form is empty;
Emptiness is form.
Emptiness is not other than form;
Form is also not other than emptiness."

Geshe Dorji Damdul gave us a teaching there, and we recited prayers together. I filmed it.



Geshe Dorji Damdul and students at Vulture Peak in Rajgir on Jan 22, 2016.

Tenzin surveying the mountains before we descended Vulture Peak.

Venerable Khunpen waiting before the Buddha image on Vulture Peak.

Buddha image, Vulture Peak.

Departing Vulture Peak.

Departing Vulture Peak with Geshe Dorji Damdul.

Departing Vulture Peak.

Departing Vulture Peak with Geshe Dorji Damdul.
Next, we visited Nalanda, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and large Buddhist monastery that was the center of learning from 7th Century BCE to 1200 CE until it was destroyed by Mulim invaders. At its height the school attracted scholars and students from as far away at Tibet, China, Korea, and Central Asia.

Geshe Dorji Damdul also gave us a teaching at Nalanda and led us in prayers. I filmed it.



Geshe Dorji Damdul and Bodhicitta Retreat students at Nalanda, Jan 22 2016.
On the last day of the Bodhicitta Retreat we were able to approach Geshe Dorji Damdul one at a time to receive his blessings. This was done inside of the Root Institute main gompa (temple) where our class was held.

Student receiving Geshe Dorji Damdul's blessings.


Student receiving Geshe Dorji Damdul's blessings.

Geshe Dorji Damdul departing the gompa at the conclusion of the retreat.
After the course ended my mom and I visited several of the temples in Bodhgaya including the Thai government's temple (there are several Thai temples in Bodhgaya), a Tibetan temple, and a Japanese Zen temple.

Thai government temple.

Interior of the Thai government temple.

Tibetan temple prayer wheel.

Tibetan temple prayer wheel.

Tibetan temple.

My mom and I with fellow tourists outside of a Japanese Zen temple.

Buddha images for sale at a roadside vendor in Bodhgaya.
We also took a Bangladeshi monk educated at a Sri Lankan monastery out for lunch one day. I met Dr. Verasambodhi on one of my first days in Bodhgaya in 2014 when he was the abbot of a Bangladesh monastery in Bodhgaya. Now, he is involved with the Mahabodhi Society in Bodhgaya.

My mom and I greatly enjoyed hearing about a book he published based on research he had conducted advocating for the position of women in Buddhism.

My mom and I with Dr. Verasambodhi.
 My mom and I also attended a teaching given by His Holiness the Karmapa on January 30 on "One Ornament of Precious Liberation" held in the Tergar Monastery gompa (temple).

His Holiness the Karmapa. Photo by the Karmapa Foundation Europe.
The large crowd of students present are missing from this photo, but this
is what the Tergar Monastery gompa looked like, with His Holiness the Karmapa
seated on the throne in the front of the room. My mom sat on the red carpet in the middle.
Photo from His Holiness the Karmapa's website.

His Holiness the Karmapa's staff are beyond kind. They not only arranged for my mom to sit in the front of the room with other older students, but they also made room for my mom and I to attend His Holiness the Karmapa's public audience before we left Bodhgaya so that my mom and I could approach His Holiness the Karmapa one at a time, offer His Holiness the Karmapa khatas (white scarves), and receive his blessings.

We also had fun doing an art project with the kids who stay at Tara Children's Project, the only orphanage in Bihar for kids age 18 and under with HIV/AIDS. Tara Children's Project is an initiative of Lama Zopa Rinpoche's FPMT and is associated with the nearby Root Institute.

My mom made these finger puppets for the kids and brought them to India with her.

Tara Children's Project.

Tara Children's Project.
On our last day in Bodhgaya, we ate dinner at our favorite restaurant in town - Tibet Om Cafe, a family owned and run business. The owner, Tsering is lovely. My mom and I particularly like the mom soup.

Momo soup at Tibet Om Cafe.

Tibet Om Cafe.
We were joined for dinner by Sue, an American woman living in Germany who was also in Geshe Dorji Damdul's Bodhicitta retreat at the Root Institute.

My mom and Sue at Tibet Om Cafe.
After dinner the three of us walked to the nearby Mahabodhi Temple for one last visit before leaving Bodhgaya. It was quiet, with moonlight spilling out over the grounds and illuminating the temple and Bodhi Tree.

My mom underneath the Bodhi Tree where Buddha attained Enlightenment.

Underneath the Bodhi Tree with my mom. Photo by Sue.

The next day we flew from Bodhgaya to Delhi, and then caught a train to Agra.

Even the Bodhgaya airport has a Buddha statute.
New Delhi railway station.

Agra

Agra is the home of the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, and is within close proximity of the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary - places I had visited and enjoyed in 2014.

We stayed at another wonderful budget hotel located within a short walk of the West Gate of the Taj Mahal. The first day, we walked to and enjoyed the Taj Mahal, burial ground for Mumtaz Mahal, one of the wives of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. (Shah Jahan was later buried there, alongside her.)

Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan.
My mom and I in front of the Taj Mahal.

My mom in a doorway to a prayer hall alongside the Taj Mahal.

My mom in front of the Taj Mahal.
The following day we visited the Agra Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the former imperial residence of the Mughal Dynasty and a walled in city.

My mom in front of the entrance to Agra Fort.
We spent our third day in Agra visiting the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, one of India's national parks. We hired a bicycle rickshaw and driver to take us around the park for the day. Our driver was so kind, pointing out birds and mammals and helping us find them using the binoculars my mom had brought with her to India for the purpose of visiting the park.

Bharatpur National Park.

Rented bicycle rickshaw license plate.

My mom with our guide and driver.

Bird watching.

My mom and I in the park.

Amazing monument inside of the park.

Just for fun.

Dharamsala

We took a train from Agra to Delhi, and then caught our flight to Dharamsala.

When we reached the Agra train station in the morning, the handle on my mom's suitcase miraculously functioned when I pulled on it, even though it had been broken for most of the trip. Once inside of the Agra train station, we found our train was delayed by at least an hour. We would have missed it entirely if it were not for a kind railway employee who came running to tell me that our train had arrived on the opposite platform and earlier than expected. We then stepped foot inside of our assigned train car just minutes before the train pulled away from the station. I attribute this series of three fortunate events to the guidance of Lama Zopa Rinpoche who is always looking out for his students.

In Dharamsala we stayed at a very nice hotel, Chonor House which is run by Norbulinkga, founded by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to preserve Tibetan arts and crafts.

Chonor House lounge.

Nomad Room at Chonor House.

View from His Holiness the Dalai Lama's temple ... Chonor House is just
behind the tall tree on the right.

Main entrance to Chonor House.
We were in Dharamsala for Losar, the Tibetan New Year celebrations.

On the first day of Losar we did the traditional practice of visiting His Holiness the Dalai Lama's temple in the morning.

My mom sitting in the center of the photo observing a ceremony taking place
at His Holiness the Dalai Lama's temple.

Losar at His Holiness the Dalai Lama's temple.

I went upstairs to the second floor of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's temple
for the first time, to make offerings to the protectors of Buddhism.
This is the line of mostly Tibetans waiting to make their offerings upstairs.

Downstairs, the young Tibetan boy in front of me takes a piece
of the blessed torma (cake). I did the same.

Another butter statue in celebration of Losar.

Tibetans in beautiful dress outside of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's temple.

Me in front of the temple in not-so-fine dress.
Afterwards we met my Israeli friends Ben and Yaron for lunch, and then did the traditional first day of Losar practice of calling upon our teachers in their homes. Ben is the English interpreter for Lobsang Choegyal Rinpoche. At the time, Yaron was the Director of the Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo Translator Programme for Tibetan language study.

Ben, Yaron, and I after lunch.

Gen Gyatso, my mom, Yaron, and Ben.

Butter statue made by Lobsang Choegyal Rinpoche.

Lobsang Choegyal Rinpoche in his room in Dharamsala.

Lobsang Choegyal Rinpoche, my mom, Yaron and I.

Lobsang Choegyal Rinpoche made these extensive offerings on Losar.
On the second day of Losar, we did another traditional celebration practice and paid a visit to friends in their home.

My mom with friends.
On the third day of Losar, I did the traditional practice of visiting the Namgyal Monastery for their puja. Namgyal Monastery is the monastery of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and sits just below his temple and palace in Dharamsala.

Tibetans were hanging many strands of Tibetan prayer flags on the hillside.

There was a lot of wind. It was a beautiful morning, surrounded by prayer flags
and people smiling as they scaled poles to hang them as high as they could.

Namgyal Monastery puja.

As I circumambulated His Holiness the Dalai Lama's palace and temple,
I stopped in at a room housing a large prayer wheel. I noticed in the photo
on the right, the missing Panchen Lama's face had been imposed onto a body.
Beautiful. The Panchen Lama is a political prisoner in China.
My mom and I had a wonderful time in Dharamsala. On another day we hired a taxi and driver and toured the mountainside, visiting Tashi Jong Monastery and Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery.

In 1958 after fleeing from Chinese occupied Tibet to India, the 8th Khamtrul Rinpoche (1931 - 1980) re-established his monastery in the Himalayas and named it Tashi Jong ("Auspicious Valley"). It was established as a home for the monks, lamas, tokdens, and Tibetan lay people who followed him out of Kham in eastern Tibet to India. Currently approximately 300 lay people and 100 monks live at Tashi Jong, along with the 9th Khamtrul Rinpoche who was born in 1980.

This was my first visit of Tashi Jong, and I knew little about it. It was the day before Losar, and the shops and offices were closed. Amazingly, as soon as we exited our taxi on the monastery's grounds, we were greeted by a kind young man named Marcel, who offered to show us around Tashi Jong Monastery.

Tashi Jong Monastery.

Map of the large Tashi Jong Monastery complex.

Marcel and my mom at Tashi Jong Monastery.
Marcel took my mom and I to visit the remains of a yogi, housed at Tashi Jong Monastery. We learned of the great yogi tradition at Tashi Jong, and that there are yogis residing at Tashi Jong Monastery right now. It was a really unique experience, simply hearing about this from Marcel and walking by the wooded path that leads to their isolated huts.

We next visited the nearby Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery ("Garden of the Authentic Lineage"), established by Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo. My mom had read Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo's biography, Cave in the Snow while we were in Geshe Dorji Damdul's Bodhicitta Retreat, and was happy to get to visit the nunnery.

The 8th Kamtrul Rinpoche, who established Tashi Jong Monastery, was Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo's personal guru.

My mom and I walked into the main gompa at the nunnery and found nuns busy preparing for Losar festivities the following day. We were approached by Tsunma Aileen Barry, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo's assistant. This was very auspicious. She offered to show us around the gompa, and took us up onto the roof for an amazing view of the surrounding mountains. I had never been up there before - it was amazing.

She then invited us to personally offer the chocolate bar we had brought with us to Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo. Since Tsunma Aileen had her camera in her hand, she also offered to take a photo for us. It was one of the highlights of the time my mom and I spent together in India this year.

My mom and I with Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo in her office at the nunnery.
Photo by Tsunma Aileen Barry.

Delhi

After Losar, we flew from Dharamsala to Delhi, where we got to spend the day with our friend Jayanti that my mom had met in Bodhgaya during Geshe Dorji Damdul's retreat. Jayanti is a student of Geshe Dorji Damdul and lives not far from Tibet House, where Geshe Dorji Damdul is the Director.

We paid a visit to Tibet House so my mom could bid farewell to Geshe Dorji Damdul before returning to the US.

Jayanti, my mom, friends and Geshe Dorji Damdul in his office at Tibet House.

Before departing for the airport we made a final visit to one of the Fab India shops in Delhi to do some shopping.

My mom and Jayanti outside of Fab India.
My mom then flew back to the US from the Delhi airport. It was a great two month trip in India.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post. I was at the RI in 12/2015 and it was great to see that some people were still around in January. I like this blog.

    ReplyDelete