In a historic first, His Eminence the 12th Tai Situ Rinpoche, Pema Donyo Nyinje (also known as Guru Vajradhara), began performing the 38th Kagyu Monlam Chenmo (otherwise known as the Red Crown Ceremony) on January 16, 2024 at the sacred Buddhist heart of Bodh-Gaya.
Students of Tai Situ Rinpoche, including His Eminence Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche and His Eminence Kyingpo Gyalton Rinpoche, arrived in Bodh Gaya on January 10 and were received by His Holiness Sakya Gongma Trichen Dorjechang. The ceremony is underway and will take place over 11 days, from January 14 to 25 (see video footage of the ceremony here).
Buddhist scholar Adele Tomlin has contextualized this historical Kagyu Monlam within current issues within the Kagyu-pa lineage. “The devoted disciples of His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, and of the Karma Kagyu in general, were delighted that Tai Situpa, having been personally invited by the 17th Karmapa to conduct the Kagyu Monlam there, was able to perform the sacred ceremony in the Karma Kagyu lineage for the first time in Bodh Gaya. He had been banned from going there for many years due to the defamation and slander of his reputation as a "Chinese spy" by certain vested interests.
The groundwork for Tai Situ Rinpoche's presence and chairing this year's Kagyu Monlam was laid last year, when in August 2023, a post appeared on the Kagyu Monlam Facebook page announcing: "This year, following the wishes of the seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa, a delegation including Lama Karma Choedrak, the executive director of Monlam; Choeje Lama Phuntsok; and Gyaltsen Sonam, the administrator of the Tsurphu Ladrang, among others, visited Guru Vajradhara specifically to request him to preside over the Monlam. (Facebook Kagyu Monlam)
The historical and current importance of Tai Situpa in the ser-dren (the master-disciple transmission of lineage holders is known as the Golden Garland of the Kagyu Fathers) within the Karma Kagyu is essential, as is the artistic and literary heritage of Palpung Monastery. Additionally, the 16th Karmapa, Rigpe Dorje, personally entrusted his handwritten letter about his future rebirth to the 12th Tai Situpa in an amulet, which all the main heart sons of the Karma Kagyu (bar Thaye Dorje, the 14th Zhamarpa) accepted as authentic. (as you can see and hear in this video). Furthermore, the big terton or treasure revealer, Chogyur Lingpa (1829-1870), predicted via a hidden treasure revelation by Guru Padmasambhava himself, regarding the incarnations of the 15th to 22nd Karmapas, that the 17th Karmapa would be "one mind" with Tai Situpa .
His Holiness the Karmapa said that the Kagyu Monlam, held every year, aims to "spread the seeds of benevolence and pure motivation, to activate their power and thus to bring true peace, love, happiness and well-being in the world. world. » (Kagyu Monlam Facebook) Nevertheless, as Tomlin notes, "Strangely, the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, who was recognized by the 12th Tai Situpa and the 12th Gyeltsab Rinpoche and the vast majority of Karma Kagyu monks and laypeople in Tibet and in exile, was unable to return to India to teach at Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim and perform the Black Crown Ceremony there or elsewhere. We still don’t know why or who is preventing this important event from happening.”
Tomlin speculated that it could be forces within the dominant Gelug-pa school blocking it (perhaps even contrary to the wishes of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama), or Indian government officials. She also speculated that the delay could be due to groups associated with or supporting the Zharmapa 14, who are remaining to regain full control of Rumtek Monastery.
“Whatever the reason,” she notes, “the followers of the Karma Kagyu of the 17th official Karmapa in Tibet and in exile are becoming increasingly impatient and frustrated with this blocking of their activities and sacred Dharma teachings. guru and leader of the group. Karma Kagyu for over twenty years, since the 17th Karmapa escaped from Tibet and traveled to India to meet his Karma Kagyu teachers.
Additional reporting and commentary from Adele Tomlin
ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE 38TH KAGYU MONLAM CHENMO (Kagyu Monlam Facebook)
THE “RED CROWN THAT FREES IN SEEING” KAGYU: The black and red crowns of Karma Kagyu by the 1st Jamgon Kongtrul and the historic “red crown” ceremony of the 12th Tai Situ Rinpoche in Bodh Gaya, January 2024 (Dakini Translations)
'UNION OF MIND WITH TAI SITUPA': Prophecy of Guru Padmasambhava on the 15th-21st Karmapas, as revealed by the famous treasure revealer Chogyur Lingpa (Dakini Translations)
Kagyu Monlam: Spreading the seeds of love and compassion
Guru Varjadhara Kenting Tai Situ Rinpoche performs the Red Crown Ceremony (Kagyu Monlam)
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