The house of Karmapa XVI in Eastern Tibet

I continue publishing my notes from the trip to Eastern Tibet that we explored last year. We were constantly looking for some houses, caves where great Buddhist masters of Tibet had spent their lives. And we finally reached the house of H.H. XVI Gyalwa Karmapa Rigpe Dorje.

16th Karmapa

16th Karmapa

In October 2017 we organise the similar trip. We are going to Kham again, and we want to take a dozen of friends with us. We are going to visit new and already discovered places in Eastern Tibet. We are also open to any new connections, that is why if you don’t consider yourself a Buddhist, welcome to our group anyway!

Dates of the trip and the points of entry and exit are published! Look the programm!

May, 31

We woke up early, though left at 8. It was quite comfortable to sleep at 4000 meters. And we had finally acclimatized! We drove up a dirt road for 2 hours through the mountains from Sershu to Denkok, Lyusuy in Chinese. It was picturesque and sprinkled with snow.

Way from Sersho to Denkok

Way from Sersho to Denkok

There is an image of Devachen approaching Denkok that appeared due to Princess Wencheng when she was going from China to Tibet. We found out about this place from a brief explanation of a Nyingma tulku.

image of Devachen by Princess Wencheng

image of Devachen by Princess Wencheng

We found the house of Karmapa XVI very quickly, so called Athub palace, the one that Lama Ole wrote about in his book. That was a birthplace of Karmapa XVI, Shamarpa XIV and his brother Jigme Rinpoche. The house is 260 years old, it belonged to Shamar Rinpoche and Jigme Rinpoche’s family. In 2002 one of Karma Kagyu lamas, tulku Jamyang Dragpe Rinpoche bought the house and made it into his own monastery.

The house of Karmapa XVI

The house of Karmapa XVI

Rinpoche was so welcoming. He showed us the house, gave some food, blessed us with plenty of incredible relics, for example a bowl of Drugpa Kyunle and a purba of Guru Rinpoche. He gave us lots of relics for gaos. There were pills made with Guru Rinpoche’s nose blood, some salt where Karmapa XVI’s body had been kept in before the cremation, a piece of clothes of Karma Norbu, one of the greatest Mahasiddhas of the 20th century, pills made with pieces of Tilopa’s deer rug and all kinds of stuff. After that we have a really powerful gao in Almaty BC now. We spent half of the day talking to Rinpoche, listening to great stories but it’s hard to remember everything. Though I remember that Karmapa XVI’s father Tsevan Puntsog was the son of King Derge.

tulku Jamyang Dragpe Rinpoche

tulku Jamyang Dragpe Rinpoche

The house of Karmapa XVI

The house of Karmapa XVI

Karmapa XVI’s father Tsevan Puntsog

Karmapa XVI’s father Tsevan Puntsog

During Chinese occupation the palace was a battle field between Chinese soldiers and partisans. Once a group of Chinese soldiers were shot inside the house. As a revenge Chinese side machine-gunned the house. It stayed in ruins for many years.

The house of Karmapa XVI

The house of Karmapa XVI

The way the name of the house is spelled has different meanings – Adug and Athub. The word ‘Adug’ is written on the monument to the Archer from Denma which is standing in front of the palace. After we left, we contacted Jamyang Dragpe Rinpoche via WeChat, a very popular messenger in China, about the correct name of the palace and the klan that was living there.

The house of Karmapa XVI

The house of Karmapa XVI

He answered that the initial word was ‘A-dug’ meaning ‘A-splendid’. Later when the klan got a higher status ‘thob thang’, it got a new name ‘A-thob’ – ‘A-status’. Nowadays in many stories it is called ‘Athub’ – ‘A-mighty’ meaning able to dominate over the enemies – disturbing emotions. Though the spelling is different, it is not contradicted. However, now they (the members of the klan) want the name to be written Athub.

The house of Karmapa XVI

The house of Karmapa XVI

Rinpoche is very popular in Lhasa and Denkok.  He regularly takes some talented little boys to teach them. He also explained why there are so many monasteries in Yushu region. It turned out that the government of PRC, especially the government of Qinghai province, allocated millions of yuans to restore the region after the earthquake. Monasteries have got a lot.

tulku Jamyang Dragpe Rinpoche

tulku Jamyang Dragpe Rinpoche

Rinpoche’s disciple Khenpo Gyurme Chopel, whose family lives near by, wanted to take us sightseeing. We didn’t manage to come close to the Dri Chu river (Yangtze). There is a place on the opposite bank where great nyingma lama Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche meditated, but it is impossible to get there without the permit because the opposite bank belongs to TAR. Instead we were lucky to get inside a famous temple of Tara in Lantang. It was built when Princess  Wencheng nailed the Demoness by her left wrist as she had been preventing Dharma spreading in Tibet. The Princess built 108 similar temples in Tibet. There are 3 little ancient statues of Tara, that were given to the temple by Songtsen Gompo, 5th Dalai-Lama and others. The statues can talk, but with us they kept silence. They were taken out of the safe to be shown to us as Khenpo is greatly respected in the city.

speaking statues of Tara

speaking statues of Tara

Then we went to a Sakya monastery. The museum of the region was opened especially for us where the main showpieces were personal belongings and armor of the legendary minister-archer, King Geser named Kalyon Denma. The teacher of Karmapa VIII is considered to be his reincarnation. The statue of the minister is exactly in front of Karmapa XVI’s house, almost in its yard.

statue of Kalyon Denma, the King Geser's  minister-archer

statue of Kalyon Denma, the King Geser’s minister-archer

We also climbed the mountain on the way to Pema-Ra (Lotus gate), where Guru Rinpoche had meditated with Yeshe Tsogyal. High in the mountains over the valley there is his hand print but we didn’t go there. We only got to another Guru Rinpoche image. When we sat there to meditate, 5 eagle started flying above our heads, that was a very auspicious sign.

Dri Chu river (Yangtze)

Dri Chu river (Yangtze)

Khenpo invited us for dinner to his family. We were warmly welcomed and fed with dumplings. The head of the family is a local warden. He wishes to go to Deli to meet H.H. XVII Gyalwa Karmapa but he can not get the exit permit because of his high status.

Dri Chu river (Yangtze)

Dri Chu river (Yangtze)

As the sun set we did kora around the Tara temple. There was a bas-relief by Tibetan master Tangtong Gyalpo. He was famous for making and building 58 suspension bridges around Tibet and Bhutan some of them are still in use. He projected large stupas of unusual design particularly a great Kumbum in Chung Riwoche. He founded Gonchen monastery in Derge and established Tibetan opera. He associated himself with such Buddhist schools like Shangpa Kagyu (Kalu Rinoche – one of Lama Ole and Hannah’s teachers –  also belonged to that school), Nyingma and Sakya.

master Tangtong Gyalpo

master Tangtong Gyalpo

We stayed overnight in a room in Karmapa XVI’s house and spoke with Rinpoche till midnight.

Here is one of his teaching:

“You have entered Dharma gate, that is something that is so difficult to obtain for many kalpas. Current kali-yuga is the time when you should be very careful. Many present lamas and important people for the sake of Dharma though for their own sake only, are whirling around different places like little umbrellas. So called ‘guardians’ are actually fulfilling maras activity. That’s why you should be very careful, once you are tied down by such characters that is definitely a path to hell…

But you have been lucky enough to meet authentic Honorable Lama Thaye Dorje. Beside once you have met any serious teachings, immediately apply them to everything what is happening in your life.”

tulku Jamyang Dragpe Rinpoche

tulku Jamyang Dragpe Rinpoche

to be continued!

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