Guest Speaker Series
The Institute organizes and presents international seminars and workshops where students participate and engage at a higher level of understanding on a wide range of important social issues. The seminars are attended by students, teachers, staff, and professional members from international, national, and local communities. The students also become involved in the seminars as speakers and presenters on a variety of subjects offering their unique and different perspectives to the seminar participants.
Past seminars and workshops have included presentations on Business Beyond Self Interest, New Ways of Seeing; Exploring Sacred art and the Environment, An Introduction to Tibetan Medicine and Hypertension, and the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Most recently SINI welcomed to professors from O.P. Jindal University who hosted a two-day seminar on GIS and mapping techniques.
In December, the Institute hosts a Sanskrit intensive short-course program that is based on the study and reading of the Manjushrinamasanghiti, known as Chanting the Praises of Manjusrinamasanghiti. This course is primarily geared towards the resident khenpos, however, it is open to outside students as well. SINI also carries out the annual Sanskrit reading of the Manjushri Namasanghiti in Bodh Gaya during the last five days of the Nyingma Monlam.
The Manjushri Namasangiti is a profoundly important and sacred text for both Sutrayana and Mantrayana studies. The entire ground, path, and fruition of the Kalacakra Tantra can be found in the contents of the Manjushri Namasangiti. Spoken by the Buddha, these teachings originally were preserved in 100,000 chapters, though all that remains today are the sections collected by Manjushrimitra.
For centuries, this text was revered and studied in India by the Six Charioteers, the Mahapanditas at Nalanda and Vikramashila, and by great enlightened ones such as dGa’-rab rdo-rje, Manjushrimitra, Vimalamitra, and Guru Padmasambhava, whose Devanagari copy was found in the twelfth century at bSam yas. In Tibet the text was translated by Rin-chen bZang-po, who had had the opportunity to read all 100,000 chapters. But there exists a Tibetan translation preserved at Tun Huang, which indicates it must have been translated earlier as well. In the late tenth or early eleventh century, Smirtijanakirti made a commentary and soon after so did Rongzom Mahapandita.
These teachings hold wisdom as profound, but more esoteric than Prajnaparamita. Many of Tibet’s greatest masters and lineage holders have found inspiration and awakening through study and recitation of the Manjushri Namasangiti. Practiced by all schools of Tibetan Buddhism, it is exalted in the Nyingma tradition as an Atiyoga text. To offer these prayers at Bodh Gaya seemed to be an unsurpassed antidote to all the darkness, confusion, and suffering enveloping our world.
Manjushri represents the Enlightenment of the Tathagata and symbolizes the embodiment of Prajnaparamita, the Perfection of Wisdom. ‘Jam is Shanti or peace, while dPal has seven meanings, of which the most commonly known is ‘glory’. Appearing as a Bodhisattva, he leads living beings to the realm of Enlightenment by lightening up the kleshas and obscurations through study, practice, and prayer. As his mighty sword cuts through the dark veil of ignorance, he opens up wide vistas of prajna, transcendent wisdom, leaving only boundless fields of light in his wake. Manjushri is the Dharmakaya agent of perfect and immaculate knowledge. This boundless understanding so vastly exceeds the realm of words and concepts that even the Lord Buddha could not express it. The chapters of the Namasangiti are only a symbolic gesture, but they offer the finest exaltation of Manjushri’s sublime qualities that language can possibly convey.
I am delighted to see these teachings being made available, renewing the ancient transmission and bringing the practices alive. Assembling together to chant this precious text, visualizing the Mandalas of Namasangiti, and meditating on the meaning will transform the outer and inner atmosphere. Within the deep penetration of Manjushri’s awakening, the very obstacles themselves can serve as meridian points that provide direct entrance into the process of enlightenment. In this dark time of the Kaliyuga, chanting the Manjushri Namasangiti will evoke the most precious wisdom and help restore the light of the Dharma for the benefit of future generations.
Tarthang Tulku Kunga Gellek Yeshe Dorje first offered this brief introduction on the Full Moon, June 18, 2008 in conjunction with the 15th renovation of the Swayambhu Stupa, Nepal. This text is now reprinted on the occasion of the gathering of Sanskrit readers in Bodh Gaya, January 27-29, 2015.