Showing posts with label Buddhist. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Buddhist. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The world highest statue of Guru Padmasambhava

The added attraction of the 135 ft tall statue of Guru Padmasambhava at Samdruptse in South Sikkim finds one of the many reason for the tourist to visit Sikkim. Around hundred kilometers from Namchi the world’s highest statue of Guru Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche as he is regularly known as has already become a pilgrim center for Buddhist followers in and around the state. The statue is made of copper and cement and the total cost of the statue is around Rs 6.76 crores. The total height of the statue from the ground is 151 ft.

The foundation stone for the statue was laid by the His Holiness the Dalai Lama on October 22, 1997 and formerly inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Sikkim, Pawan Chamling on February 18, 2004.

Guru Padmasambhava is regarded as a patron saint and the force behind the introduction of Buddhism in Sikkim.

He visited Sikkim in the 8th century and did his meditation. He established Nyingma Order of Tibetan Buddhism.

Samdruptse have been a site of mediation for monks for years since this place is related with Ngadak Sempa one of the three saints who met at Yaksum to coronate the first king of Namgyal Dynasty in Sikkim.

"The statue at Sandurptse was designed according to traditional Buddhist ideals and moulded as per the measurement and other details as explained in Thekcha created by the famous Vajrayana teacher Je Mephan Rimpoche. The entire project cost was around Rs.67,600,000 ($1,512,466), the statue alone cost Rs.45,500,000 ($1,018,006). "

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sikkim Mahinda Thero: A national hero of Sri Lanka

Sikkim Mahinda Thero


I first heard about S Mahinda Thero during 2005 while at Kolkata when I was asked by one of a stamp dealer whether I was interested on a 20 paisa stamp of S Mahinda Thero issued by Sri Lankan Postal Department in early 1970s. I collect philatelic items on Buddhism but I never had a sense of whom he was talking about. He told me, as I was from Sikkim so I might be interested to know more about the person and he went on to add it was Sikkim Mahinda Thero, a Buddhist monk who is regarded as a national hero, a famous poet in the Sinhalese language whose poetry promoted patriotism and the revival of Buddhism to this part of the Island. He promised to send me the stamp of S Mahinda Thero from Colombo through mail but since then I had never heard from him. But towards my limited concern it was enough to have knowledge of such person who is keeping the name Sikkim with honour and pride in Sri Lanka.
I had the name of S Mahinda Thero within me but never got an opportunity to look at more about him until a year back when I was told by my younger brother about his penpal friend from Sri Lanka. I believe she could help me increase my little knowledge about S Mahinda Thero. A letter arrived from Gayani Amarasinghe after a month I had penned down. She was more than curious about my inquiry about their national hero; according to her they call him "Tibbet Jathika Sikkimmhe Mahinda Thero" which means The Mahinda Thero of Sikkim the Tibbetian. She even added his poems are found in the school text books too. My fascination towards this Buddhist monk cum poet was growing.
Gayani writes in her letter recalling how her father would remember the uncertain death of S Mahinda Thero on March 16th 1951 was little expected when the country needed more of his patriotic poetry then. Her father would sing lullabies of the great poet for his younger brother and even she had heard her father sing for her when as a child. Gayani shared her favourite S Mahinda Thero's poem (English translation) she liked the most:
"Freedom is a diamond crown
Religion is a diamond lamp
If (someone is) able to protect these
It's you my child."
More than fifty years after his death he is still remembered as a nation's delight. The role played by S Mahinda Thero in invoking the national pride among the locals through his writings were widely appreciated and till today had been described by some as being more Sri Lankan than the Sri Lankans themselves. His writing along with the revival of Buddhism also promoted patriotism, national pride, equality and national independence.
Here I take a reference of an article "Tibet and Sri Lanka" written by Venerable Dhammika, where a small background about S Mahinda Thero is shared. According to the article S Mahinda Thero was born into a noble family in Gangtok as Tashi Namgyal in 1901. This cleared my earlier confusion about the name of S Mahinda Thero, where Gayani wrote he was born Vasilingal, I was rather confused and to similar extent I found the other name of the great reverend where he is referred as Tasilmgal, so these names are nothing but poor version of Tashi Namgyal. Nevertheless of his four brothers one was the Prime Minister of Sikkim, another became a professor of the Tibetan language at Calcutta University, while the third brother like Mahinda became a monk and joined him to Sri Lanka. The monk brother latter got his name Punnaji.
There is an interesting incident about how Mahinda came to Sri Lanka; it was a German monk Nyanatiloka at his tour at Australia during the broke-out of the First World War was denied permission to Sri Lanka, his resting place then. Instead he left for Tibet, since it was another Buddhist hub. But to his surprise Tibetan borders were closed to the visitor and he landed at Sikkim, then an unknown mountain country. He was helped by the royal family of Sikkim, where he involved in the matters of the state of Sikkim's Sangha. It took very less time for a German monk to convince sending monks to Sri Lanka would help reform the religious fronts in the Sikkim State itself. Thus Tashi Namgyal and his other brother came to learn Buddhism in Sri Lanka. The two brothers went on to settle in Sri Lanka for rest of his life and came to be known as Ven. Sikkim Mahinda Thero and Ven. Sikkim Punnaji. Well little is known about the Ven. Sikkim Punnaji!
In 1914, they arrived at Nyanatiloka's Island Hermitage at Dodonduwa. Later they studied at both Mahabodhi College and Vidyodaya Pirivena. In 1930 Mahinda took his lower ordination under the great Venerable Lunupokune Dharmananda and in 1931 his higher ordination. He quickly mastered the Sinhalese language and later used his considerable facility in it to write a large amount of fine poetry. His writings exposed and condemned the national apathy that existed and were fervent appeals to awaken patriotic feelings.
In his life time he wrote over 40 books both prose and verse in Sinhala. He passed away on May 16, 1951 and it is believed that his ashes are still kept in a pot hanging on the roof of the Mahabellana Temple. When Mahinda came to Sri Lanka he was a layman but after his death he is regarded as a national hero. A man with a single cloth to wrap his body has a statue after him at a temple in Panadura, a road named after him 'S. Mahinda Himi Mawatha and finally honouring him with a postage stamp.
S Mahinda Thero was born in Sikkim but he was often referred as from Tibet simply of one reason that Tibet was a more popular name then Sikkim in those days. Here I am sharing the words of Venerable Dhammika who state "He (S Mahinda Thero) is mainly remembered today for the religious poems and verses that he wrote for children, a genre virtually unknown before him. He also wrote rousing patriotic poetry urging Sri Lankans to be proud of their own culture and religion and to struggle for independence from Britain. Recently some erotic love poetry has come to light as well. Mahinda's other literary works include a translation from Pali into Sinhalese of the classical poem Sadhammopijana and a biography of King Prakamabahu."
A popular anecdote on S Mahinda Thero says a few years back a Chinese scholar was send to Sri Lanka from China to research on the writings of the Mahinda on the purpose of highlighting the Chinese contribution to Sinhalese literature. But when it was discovered that Mahinda was from Sikkim and not Tibet, the research was closed down. Out here can this not be a fitting tribute if we (?), from Sikkim collect his memoirs and preserve it, what more can be done about a person who speaks pride to be a Sikkimese?
Nidahasa Maha Muhudak ve
Ehi Ulpata Puta numba ve
Ebawa Sihikota Melove
Yutukama Itukalayutu ve,
(If the ocean is the freedom, its fountain is the baby in the cradle. When the son is told that it is his responsibility to protect the motherland from various challenges, the motherly lover affection also flows along with it.)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Peace marchers set off from Siliguri to join protests in Tibet

Phayul[Thursday, March 20, 2008 20:39]
The peace marchers gather at Kalachakra Phodang, Salugara before undertaking their long walk (Photo by Tenzin Nyima for
The peace marchers gather at Kalachakra Phodang, Salugara before undertaking their long walk (Photo by Tenzin Nyima for
Dharamsala, March 20: 300 pro-Tibet activists from the North-East region of India started on a peace march from Siliguri in West Bengal to Nathula Border in Sikkim in their attempt to join Tibetan protests going on in Tibet.

The march was flagged off at 2 p.m. on Thursday from Kalachakra Phodang, Salugara.

The peace march, organised by North-East Zonal Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), has seen the participation of members of Regional Tibetan Women's Association as well as many local Tibetans and Tibet supporters.

Tibetans from Dimapur, Kohima, Shillong, Kalimpong, Darjeeling, Ravangla and other places are taking part in the march to join fellow Tibetans in their ongoing protests against China’s illegal occupation of Tibet.

16-year old Tenzin Passang and 78-year old Mr Lobsang, both from Ravangla Tibetan Settlement in Sikkim, are among the 300 odd marchers.

"The main aim of the march is to join the ongoing protest in Tibet," said Mr. Samdup, the media coordinator of the movement.

Photo by Tenzin Nyima for
Photo by Tenzin Nyima for
“The peace march to Tibet is a determined attempt to join fellow Tibetans inside Tibet in our fight against China’s illegal and repressive occupation of Tibet,” Urgen from Northeast RTYC told over the phone.

Pawo Dawa Gyalpo, president of North-East TYC, said, "This is the moment for action."

The marchers are planning to cover some 170kms in 8 days before reaching Nathu-La, a border post between Tibet and India. Sealed by India after the 1962 Sino-Indian War, it was re-opened in 2006 following numerous bilateral trade agreements.

One news media has, however, reported that the Sikkim government is already considering to stop the protesters at Rangpo, the border between West Bengal and Sikkim.

The marchers are, however, determined to go anyway and are expecting to enter Sikkim on coming on Monday, March 24, on their way to the Nathu-La border.

The peace marchers have put forward the following three demands to the Indian government and the international community to pay heed to:

1. To put pressure on the Chinese government to immediately stop violent crackdowns on Tibetan protesters in Tibet.

2. To urge for investigation by the UN into the brutal killings, detention, torture and arrests in Tibet since the protest started on March 10.

3. To boycott the Beijing Olympics as China has failed to improve its human rights record.

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