International Drikung Kagyu Council
Honoured to organise the 800th Commemoration of Lord Jigten Sumong's Maha Parinirvana.

Generously hosted by:


Main monasteries in Purang and Limi

Kailash  |  Lapchi  |  Purang and Limi

Monasteries in the region of Purang

Chenga Sherab Jungne (1187-1241) bestowed the king of Purang, Jowo Atigman (jo bo a tig sman), with spiritual teachings and the transmission of Mahamudra. In turn, as a token of appreciation, the king presented the Drikung order with additional territories and with the famous shrine of Khojar (kho char lha khang), known as the shrine of Khojarnath. Up to the present day the impressive building, surrounded by whitewashed stupas and a large wall of mani-stones and yak-skulls inscribed with mantras, is one of the foremost objects of pilgrimage in western Tibet. During the period in which Drikung took control of Khojarnath, in 13th and 14th century, the Drikungpa found also patronage in the Buddhist rulers of the Khas Malla kingdom in Western Nepal. 

When Denma Kunga Drakpa (ldan ma kun dga' grags pa) was living in the region during the 16th century, he became not only the root master of the king of Guge, Jigten Wangchug Pekarde ('jig rten dbang phyug pad dkar lde), but also of the district commissioner of Purang, Sonam Rabten (bsod nams rab brtan). They both restituted to the Drikungpa a number of estates that had been lost.


Gongphur Monastery

Gongpur001The most important Drikung monastery in Purang is Gongphur Gompa. Gongphur Monastery is situated on the slope of the mountain Tegla Kar, just outside Purang County. The monastery consists of six cave-temples including the Dukhang (assembly hall), Kangyur Lhakhang (the Sutra Temple), Gonkhang (Dharma Protectors' Room), and Palde Lhakhang (a small shrine room). Two caves are used for retreat, and there are caves where the monks live. 

Gongpur002The monastery was offered by the king of Purang to Senge Yeshi, a close disciple of Kyobpa Jigten Sumgon, in the 13th century. Since then it has been a monastery of the Drikung Kagyu tradition. Up to the present day, a continuous lineage of reincarnations of Druptop Senge Yeshi (Limi Tulku) has served as the head of Gongphur Monastery. In 1994, the current Reincarnation of Senge Yeshi, Senge Tenzin Rinpoche, was recognized and enthroned by His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang at Jangchubling Monastery in Dehra Dun, India.

Gongphur is among the few monasteries in Tibet still keeping precious sacred objects, which could be saved during the Cultural Revolution. The main object of devotion of the monastery is a standing Achi Chokyi Dolma statue in the assembly hall. It is said that among the relics inside the statue is a finger of Kyobpa Jigten Sumgon. Another very precious statue of the monastery is one of Kyobpa Jigten Sumgon himself. It is one of the famous statues with “tooth imprint”. There are two versions of the story, how these statues came into being. During Kyobpa Jigten Sumgon’s lifetime a thousand statues in his likeness (sku 'dra) were made. Some say that Jigten Sumgon was asked to bless them, and in doing so, bit one of the statues on the head. Others report, that he imprinted his tooth on one of the statues in order to testify, that the statue truly resembles him. Miraculously the same tooth imprint appeared on all the other statues as well. Later these statues were distributed among the Drikung Kagyu monasteries. Some of them are still kept in various places and are highly revered. In Gongphur there is also a hand print of the previous Chetsang Rinpoche, Shiwe Lodro (1886-1943).

The monasteries in the remote Limi area used to be strongly connected with Gongphur Gompa. Nowadays however they are separated by the border, as Lime is situated just across the border in Nepal. When Gongphur was reopened in 1985 just one monk survived from the times prior to the Chinese occupation, who could perform the rites and rituals for the needs of villagers, and teach novice monks. There were about a dozen monks living at the monastery recently, but as the government only allows five monks to live in the monastery, some of them escaped to India to pursue higher education in the major monasteries like the Drikung Kagyu Institute and others.


Monasteries in the region of Limi

The exquisitely beautiful valley of Limi in the Humla region of Nepal, bordering with Tibet close to Purang and the Mount Kailash area, is very remote and even today not accessible by driving. Therefore Tibetan culture and the Drikung tradition could survive there unbroken up to the present. A river winds its scenic way through the valley with the three villages of Zang, Weltse and Til and their monasteries Zang Phelgye Ling, Weltse Rinchen Ling and Til Kunzom Dho Ngag Ling. Limi’s isolation was the reason why a multitude of ancient, rare and very precious religious objects could be preserved in these monasteries. Moreover, during the great exodus from Tibet in 1959, the prudent people of the area acquired many artifacts from émigrés in Kathmandu for their temples and monasteries, which now house superb collections. The most precious thangkas and statues remain under lock and key, guarded by the most trustworthy members of the community.


Weltse Rinchen Ling 

Weltse002LimiVairoWeltse Rinchen Ling is the central monastery of the three monasteries of Limi. It is also the headquarters of the Limi Tulku (currently Senge Tenzin Rinpoche). Weltse Rinchen Ling Monastery was established in the early 10th century by the famous translator Rinchen Sangpo (958–1055). It used to follow first the Kadampa tradition and later that of the Sakyapa. In the 15th century the monastery was turned over to the Drikung Kagyu Order by a ruling of the king, because a sectarian clergyman of the Sakyapa Order had killed a Drikung Kagyu monk.

Among the principal objects in the monastery is a four meters high golden image of Maitreya dating from the time of the foundation of the building. Apart many other valuable effigies and thangkas the monastery houses a three hundred years old and three storeys high appliqué thangka of Kyobpa Jigten Sumgon.


Zang Phelgye Ling 

Zang002In the early 13th century Chenga Sherab Jungne (1187-1241), one of the main disciples of Jigten Sumgon, founded Tilchen monastery on the hilltop of Zang village, near his meditation cave (Gompug) on the side of a rocky mountain. As the local populace was unable to pay the heavy taxes imposed on them during the 15th century by the legendary five brothers of the Kingdom of Zumling, they were forced to shut down the monastery. They transferred the religious items and valuable possessions to Weltse Monastery. About 400 years ago the local people decided to reconstruct the monastery and named it Zang Phelgye Ling. All the sacred objects were brought back.

Today the monastery keeps many important ancient objects, including a set of unusual masks for the monastic Vajra Dances, as well as contemporary works, like three giant thangkas for the assembly hall of the monastery. The roof of the hall had to be raised because of the size of the images. 


Til Kunzom Dhongag Choling 

Thil009This monastery was built on the spot where Lama Kunzom practiced solitary retreat in the 12th century. The hill where the monastery is situated is like a white snake heading up and a black snake heading down. The building is located exactly on the ear of the black snake. Lama Kunzom offered the monastery to Druptop Senge Yeshi.

The monastery has many special religious objects, including some outstanding wall paintings, especially in the cave where Lama Kunzom practiced. But the most important religious object in this monastery is a so-called “speaking statue” (gsung byon ma) of Buddha Shakyamuni. It is reported that this image, whenever an epidemic spreads through Limi, takes on the sickness itself. Black spots appear on the face of the image and when the disease goes away, the image recovers its normal appearance. Traditionally, such cases are kept secret by the monks and they cover the image in a clean cloth.


Main monasteries in the Lapchi region

Kailash  |  Lapchi  |  Purang and Limi

Lapchi001Lapchi Snow Mountain is situated in the eastern part of Nepal on the border with Tibet, at a height of about 4850 meters. It is not only considered to be the speech mandala of Yidam Chakrasamvara, it is also sacred place that had been blessed by the presence of siddhas and masters through the centuries. Before Milarepa (1040-1123), the Mahasiddha Saraha and Padmasambhava meditated in the caves of Lapchi. Milarepa left his mark in many places, such as footprints and sacred springs. Lapchi is closely bound up with the history of the Drikung Kagyu. Kyobpa Jigten Sumgön had sent countless Vajrayana practitioners there and in the centuries that followed many outstanding masters from the Drikung lineage went to Lapchi to advance their practice. It is said that, through Jigten Sumgön, the Dharma radiated in this holy place like the rays of the sun shining on the snow-covered mountains. Many practitioners went on extended meditation retreats in one of the numerous sacred caves. The 6th Chungtsang, Tenzin Chökyi Lodrö (1868–1906), wrote a guidebook for pilgrims about the holy places at Lapchi.

The main monastery and temple there is Chöra Gephel Ling. It had been built by Shabkar Tsogdrug Rangdrol (1781-1851) on the small plain of Chöjung Mathang around 1830. Before he came to Lapchi the cavo of Rechen Phug was used as the assembly hall for the yogis in the area. Until recently the retreat houses and the temple were in very bad condition on the verge of collapsing. His Holiness the 37th Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche , who often goes on retreat to Lapchi, installed Nubpa Rinpoche as Dorzin and delegated him the responsibility of restoring the place. Due to the compassionate aspiration and assiduous efforts of Nubpa Rinpoche important parts of the old structures at Gephel Ling were restored and new retreat rooms rebuild and new ones erected at the three important retreat centers “Sehrpa Dorje”, “Nyanyod” (left ear mandala of Chakrasamvara), and “Heart of Chogsham” (body form of Vajravarahi).

Lapchi002The famous old Jangchub stupa is standing at a place sacred to Vajrayogini. One day Shabkar Tsogdrug Rangdrol expressed the wish to build a stupa there. That day so many of his pupils were present, that each had to bring only one stone in order to erect the stupa in just one day. Until not so long ago the stupa was a dismal sight and was in imminent danger of caving in. Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche sent a specialist from Ladakh, who constructed a new stupa covering the ancient one. This way the original stones were preserved inside the new structure in their original state, just as they had survived the passage of time. 

Nubpa Rinpoche has sent several of the monks now living at Gephel Ling Monastery to study at the Drikung Kagyu Institute in India and in recent years more and more practitioners, quite a few from the west, come for retreats to Lapchi.

Not only buildings must be saved from ruin in Lapchi, animals in the region must be protected, too. After their second calving dzomos, the female offspring between yak and cow, yield hardly any milk, and the farmers neglect them. Mostly they die in winter when feed is short, or when they fall into ravines, leaving their helpless calves behind. Chetsang Rinpoche has initiated a program to save these animals. The calves are being gathered in newly built stable where they now spend the winter. A Nepali was hired to care for them, and they will be distributed among the farmers once they have grown bigger and stronger. 


[Thanks to Sherab Drime (Thomas Roth) for providing very useful information on Lapchi together with some beautiful pictures]


Main monasteries in the Kailash region

Kailash  |  Lapchi  |  Purang and Limi

Among the important early Drikung leaders in the Kailash region we find Chenga Sherab Jungne (1187-1241), one of the main students of Kyobpa Jigten Sumgon, who out of modesty had refused to become his master’s successor on the throne of Drikung. From 1219 to 1225 Chenga Sherab Jungne lived with a following of 500 monks at Mount Kailash and founded the monasteries Jakyib (bya skyibs) and Darlung (dar lung). 


Gyangdrag Monastery

gyang001Gyangdrag Monastery is the oldest and most important Drikung monastery in the region. It was founded by Ghuya Gangpa in the beginning of the 13th century. Because it was located so close to the holy places it was called Gyangdrag (rgyang grags), which means „calling distance“. It still is the main Drikung monastery in that area. Ghuya Gangpa organized the spiritual life of his hermits under the supervision of a retreat master (rdor 'dzin) and controlled the spread of the Drikungpa in the region for 25 years. Tsang Nyon Heruka (gtsang smyon he ru ka, 1428[1452]-1507), the famous “Mad Saint” of Tsang, made several pilgrimages to the Kailash region. During his last visit around the year 1500 he stayed for some time at Gyangdrag as the guest of the Drikung Dorzin.

gyang003When Denma Kunga Drakpa became the Dorzin at Gyangdrag Monastery around the middle of the 16th century, the monastery was in an advanced state of decay. He practically had to rebuild the monastery and at the same time sent many of his pupils from Western Tibet to study at Drikung. After an invitation by the king of Ladakh he left the Kailash region and established himself in Ladakh. 

In the late 17th century Gyangdrag received some support from the 5th Dalai Lama and from the regent Sangye Gyatso. Although funding from governmental sources seems to have ceased after this period, the series of Dorzin continued without interruption until present. Since the founding of
Gyangdrak Monastery, there have been 33 Vajra Holders. The first was Ghuya Gangpa. In 1984 the Ngakpa Wangthang Dorje (dbang thang rdo rje), a native from the Kailash region was installed as the Dorzin at Gyangdrag. In 2007 he was removed from his post by Chinese authorities, accusing him of having erected a statue of Guru Rinpoche without permission.


Serlung Retreat Center

SerlungGyangdrag Monastery is situated above Darchen. The monastery was rebuilt in 1986. Not far from is the Serlung Retreat Center, which was founded by Dordzin Konchok Gyudzin, a disciple of the 2nd Chetsang Thrinle Sangpo (1656-1718). Thrinle Sangpo had instructed his disciple to establish this monastery on the eastern shore of Lake Manasarovar. After its founding, Serlung Monastery was headed by successive rebirths of the Serlung Tulku. It was destroyed after the Chinese invasion, but has been rebuilt in 1981 by Khenpo Konchog Chopel Rinpoche, who lives there today with a group of monks.


Dzutrul Phuk

Nyo Lhanangpa (gnyos lha nang pa, 1164-1224), another ripa and important pupil of Jigten Sumgon sent out to Mount Kailash, founded a hermitage in a place called Lhanang (lha nang) from which he took his name. On the eastern side of the mountain in the area where Milarepa fought his famous contest of miracles against Naro Bonchung he established the shrine of Dzutrul Phuk (rdzu 'phrul phug), “The cave of magical powers”. This cave was the result of the magical powers used by Milarepa and Naro Bonchung to build a shelter in the rock as it was raining very heavily. The current monastery was rebuilt in 1985. There are foot and hand prints on the ceiling of the building and footprints on the roof. The current monastery was rebuilt in 1985. Among the main effigies of the monastery are statues of Shakyamuni Buddha, Guru Rinpoche and Jigten Sumgon. A small group of monks is responsible for the monastery.


Main Monasteries in Western Tibet

Kailash  |  Lapchi  |  Purang and Limi

When Kyobpa Jigten Sumgon was 70 years old, he sent practitioners to three particularly sacred places, in three phases: to Mount Kailash (gangs ri), whose form corresponds to the body of Chakrasamvara, to Mount Lapchi (la phyi) in the present-day border area between Tibet and Nepal, the site of the speech of Chakrasamvara, and to Mount Tsari (tsa ri), the site of the mind of Chakrasamvara. The first group of ripa (ri pa), which are hermits practicing meditation in the mountains, sent by Jigten Sumgon to meditate in the caves of Mount Kailash was led by Nangphupa (nang phu pa, d. 1206), the second by Ngo Chenpo (gngos chen po) and Garpa Jangdor (gar pa byang rdor) in the beginning of the 13th century. In 1215 Jigten Sumgon sent out the third, largest and most important expedition to Kailash. It was led by Ghuya Gangpa (ghu ya sgang pa, also known as Ngo Choje Phuntsog Gyatso, dngos chos rje phun tshogs rgya mtsho). It was Ghuya Gangpa who laid the foundation of the Drikungpa in the Kailash area by establishing a monastery in a valley to the south of Mount Kailash. 

The region of Western Tibet was under the rule of the kings of Guge (or Shangshung, zhang zhung) and Purang (pu rang). The Drikung Dorzins imparted teachings and empowerments not only to the rulers of the kings of Guge and Purang, but also to the kings of Mangyul (Ladakh) and the Khas Malla kingdom in Western Nepal, thus extending their influence over a large area. In return the rulers supported the Drikungpa and presented them with large territories meant for providing the income of their monasteries. The spiritual activities of the Drikungpa and their close contact with the local rulers led to the firm establishment of the sect in the three provinces of Ngari in Western Tibet (mnga ris skor gsum). A peak of the influence of the order was reached under the Dorzin Darma Gyaltsen (dar ma rgyal mtshan), who lived at Gyangdrag Monastery during the reign of the 5th Drikung throne holder Chung Dorje Drakpa (1210-1278). At that time besides Gyangdrag several well-known shrines belonged to the Drikungpa, like Nyanri (nyan ri), Dzutrul (rdzu 'phrul), Riwotsegye (rib o rtse brgyad), Khojarnath and many other places in Purang, Trocho (gro shod) and Kunawar. 

Kunga001With the decline of the spiritual life and scholarship at Drikung during much of the 15th century the monasteries of the order in Western Tibet experienced a time of weakening. Almost no new monks made their way to the far away holy places and the few remaining monks were no more able to sustain the monasteries and hermitages. Some of them were provisionally lent to the Drukpa Kagyu, and eventually remained in the hands of the Drukpa order. 

During the time of the 16th lineage holder Gyalwang Kunga Rinchen (1475-1527), who restored monastic discipline and improved the quality of study in Drikung, the monasteries in Ngari also experienced a period of renaissance. He had dispatched 300 ripa to mount Kailash. Not long thereafter, during the reign of the 17th lineage holder Gyalwang Rinchen Phuntsog (1509-1534), an outstanding personality was installed as Dorzin at Gyangdrag, Denma Kunga Drakpa (ldan ma kun dga' grags pa). He was instrumental for the spread of the Drikung order to Mangyul – the region of what today is called Ladakh.

The Birth of Buddha
Buddha's Renunciation
In Search of Truth
Turning the Wheel of Dharma
Buddha's Parinirvana
Buddha's Teachings

The Four Noble Truth
Dharma Practice

What is the Mind?
Loving Kindness and Compassion

What is Vajrayana?
Why Practice Vajrayana?
Authentic Vajrayana
Levels of Vajrayana
Attachment and Vajrayana
What to Meditate On
Sitting in Meditation
Preparing for Meditation
The Meditation Session
A Meditation Schedule

The Kagyu Lineage
Meaning of Hung Symbol
Meaning of Drikung
Life Story of Achi
The Three Protectors