February 12th marked the successful conclusion of the 33rd Nyingma Monlam World Peace Ceremony, founded by Tarthang Tulku.
Learn more about the history of this auspicious event, the texts distributed this year, and food offerings made to local residents in Bodhgaya.
A Promise of Continuity
Since 1959, Tibetans in exile have struggled to keep their wisdom tradition alive in the face of extraordinary challenges. Founded by Tarthang Rinpoche in 1989, the Nyingma Monlam Chenmo World Peace Ceremony was created to support these efforts, nurturing study and practice in the Tibetan and Himalayan Sangha, strengthening community bonds, and honoring one of the most sacred places in the world–Bodh Gaya, the home of the Bodhi Tree under which the Buddha became enlightened.
The first year of the ceremony, 600 lamas and practitioners of the Nyingma tradition gathered to pray for peace and harmony for the world; as an offering from the founder, 1,200 sacred books were printed and distributed to the participants by the Yeshe De Project. Over the ensuing decades, those numbers would grow, with more than 8,000 monastics and tens of thousands of lay participants gathering together for ten days of prayer and practice beneath the Bodhi Tree.
Since 1989, Yeshe De has published more than 7 million books. 5.5 million books, 3.25 million sacred art reproductions, and 174,400 hand-turned prayer wheels have been freely offered to the Sangha at the ceremony. More than 3,300 monasteries, nunneries, and Dharma centers in Asia receive books through the distribution–books that range from critically endangered esoteric texts to the well-known works of beloved masters like Patrul Rinpoche and Lama Mipham. At the heart of our offering: the distribution of 10,000 sets of the Tibetan Kangyur, the collected words of the Buddha, comprising 1,158 texts in 133 volumes. Historically in Tibet, only the largest monasteries had their own set of Kangyur; our distribution has reached even small and remote centers that have never before had access to their own copies of these central texts.
This year, we are delighted to see more than 400 lamas and practitioners return to Bodh Gaya to pray for world peace and healing, journeying from all over India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, and the lands of the Himalayas. Many have traveled for weeks in order to participate in the Monlam.
Even as production costs have increased, with labor difficult to gather, and ocean shipments to India largely halted, Tarthang Rinpoche’s commitment to the Sangha remains unshakable. Despite the expense of air freight and the serious logistical challenges posed by the pandemic, Rinpoche was determined that sacred texts be made available to all those who could make the journey to Bodh Gaya. For their sake, new text offerings have been prepared by Yeshe De and shipped to India by plane. This gesture, small as it seems in comparison to our previous distributions, is a symbol of our dedication to the continued survival of the Tibetan Dharma, to the flourishing of all its traditions, and to the welfare of all sentient beings.
We wish to express our gratitude to the Nyingma Monlam Committee for their tireless efforts to support and organize the Monlam Chenmo; to the Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee, especially Secretary Nangzey Dorjee, for allowing the 33rd Monlam to be the first of the year’s ceremonies to be held at the Mahabodhi Temple in 2022; and to all the participants who made the difficult journey to Bodh Gaya. Our heartfelt thanks to all our supporters, donors, community members, and volunteers, whose generosity and hard work made these offerings possible.
We also wish to thank the Mandala of TNMC Organizations for their decades of support for the Monlam Chenmo and the text distribution, including Yeshe De and Dharma Publishing (est. 1963); Tibetan Aid Project (est. 1969); Nyingma Institute (est. 1972); Odiyan Retreat Center (est. 1975); Nyingma Centers International (est. 1976), including the centers and groups in Sao Paulo, Rio, Porto Alegre, Buenos Aires, Amsterdam, Koln, and Israel; Ratna Ling (est. 2004); Mangalam Research Center (est. 2008); Dharma College (est. 2012); and Sarnath International Nyingma Institute (est. 2013).
We dedicate the merit of our activity to the longevity of the lineages of wisdom, and to peace and healing for all beings.
“Strong are the waves of samsara; caught in its current, how can peace, happiness, health or wholesomeness last long? How urgently important our Nyingma Monlam Chenmo World Peace Ceremony is now, in the face of this suffering. For the sake of all who dwell in the Six Realms, we need to carry on, showing, sharing and shining without hesitation. In this brief, critical window of time, this precious here and now, my students and I will continue to do all we can, as long as our opportunity lasts.”
Founding Head Lama
Tibetan Nyingma Meditation Center
Food Offerings for the Sangha and Needy Local Residents
Due to the closure of most restaurants and hotels in Bodh Gaya, pilgrims currently visiting have had a hard time getting safe and nutritious food. Thanks to the Nyingma Monlam, both practitioners, and local residents are receiving nourishing daily meals for the duration of the ceremony.
Every year, we have offered food to the neediest residents living near the Mahabodhi Temple. Over time, the offerings have evolved from dry rations of rice and dal to fully cooked meals. This year, due to the widespread loss of jobs and the downturn of the Indian economy, some who have never before had to receive food are now in dire circumstances. In response, TNMC has increased its food offerings to both ceremony participants and the residents of Bodh Gaya, sponsoring professionally trained cooks from a local restaurant to prepare healthy and delicious vegetarian food for over 1,000 people daily.
The Offering of Light: Butterlamps for World Peace
Every year, TNMC offers hundreds of thousands of butterlamps at the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya. These offerings of light are symbols of Citta, the enlightened mind of the Buddha. Tarthang Rinpoche has encouraged all of us to continue to pray for peace in the world. May the light from these lamps illuminate our hearts and the hearts of all sentient beings.