Dharamshala: Khenpo Sonam Tenphel, the Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, attended the 900th birth anniversary of Shargyalwa Kathokpa Chenpo Dampa Desheg – the founding master of the Kathok Monastery – and the launch event of the Kathokpa Dampa Desheg’s biography at Nyingma Kathok monastery in Kham Kathok Tibetan settlement, Sataun, Himachal Pradesh on 29th July 2023.
The event was graced by the chief guest Kyabje Minling Khen Rinpoche, the special guest Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel, and attended by other guests including Kyabje Tang Rinpoche, Gyashoe Kyabtrul Rinpoche (head of Nyingma Kathok monastery), Kyabje Khen Rinpoche (Nyagyur Kathok Shechen Beroling), Additional Secretary Kunga Gyaltsen (Department of Religion and Culture (DoR&C), Ju Tenkyong (Director of Amnye Machen Institute), TSOs, LTA chairs, and general public.
The event proceeded with reading of the statements of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Shaychen Rabjam Rinpoche (Chair of Nyinma Monlam Chenmo) on the occasion, followed by welcome address by Gyashoe Kyabtrul Rinpoche, followed by addresses from Kyabje Minling Rinpoche, Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel, and DoR&C’s Additional Secretary, the launch of Kathokpa Dampa Desheg’s biography, and introduction of the book and the founding history of Kathok by Ju Tenkyong.
Marking the auspicious event, the Speaker in his address highlighted the significance of commemorating important events and individuals who have contributed greatly to the society.
“Speaking from the religious perspective,” added the Speaker, ” Kadmpa Dampa Desheg is the founding master of the Kathokpa. From his birth to death, Dampa Desheg had served the dharma immensely which is apparent in his biography. He was born in Kham, studied in Ü region (centre Tibet) from numerous great masters, and became one of the most notable scholars in Ü region. As prophesied by Lama Dzamtonpa that Dampa would accomplish the rainbow body if he practiced at the Kampo mountains and his lineage would last for more than thousand years if went to Kathok. He went to the Kathok and propagated dharma. He meditated in the cave of Vairochana (the translator) and attained higher realizations.”
The Speaker further shared his experience of visiting Kathok in Tibet where the speaker had received Nyingma transmissions from Kathok Moktsa. He spoke about the Dham-Tsang-Jam Sum lhakhang there and explained what these three syllables signify, and how significant it is for dharma in general and Kathok in particular.
Speaking on the importance of theory and practice in learning and realization of dharma, the Speaker shed some light on how Dhampa Desheg had built centres for learning and practicing in Kathok monastery and stated that hardships endured in propagating the dharma by Dhampa Desheg is an exemplary inspiration for the lay persons in following the path of serving the dharma.
As Kathok is one of the six mother monasteries of Nyingma – Dor and Min monasteries in upper Tibet, Shey and Dzog monasteries in centre Tibet, and Ka and Pal monasteries in lower Tibet – and has played a significant role in preserving the dharma. He also spoke on the relevance of Buddhism in today’s modern world and said, “the true essence of Buddhism is to be a good human being with a sense of benefiting others.”
He further spoke on the need of preserving the distinct Tibetan language, culture, and religion, and added, “As we celebrate the birth anniversary today, we can witness the well preserved Tibetan culture over the last 900 years and all of us should commit ourselves to preserve it for the next 900 years to come or more.”
The Speaker applauded the launch of the Kadampa Deshek’s biography by Ju Tenkyong (Director of Amnye Machen Institute) and the settlement office of Kham Kathok for their commendable contribution. He concluded his address by praying for a long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and swift resolution of the Sino-Tibetan conflict.
Finally before the conclusion of the event, the guests were honoured with mementos.
Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel also spoke on the founding history of Tibetan Buddhism at a talk event held that afternoon.