I was unable to attend the ceremonies attending the installation of HH Penor Rinpoche’s precious body, known in Tibetan as a kudung, into the Zangdog Palri temple at Namdroling Monastery in India. Therefore, I’m deeply indebted to Judith Amtzis – one of the translators of the recent edition of Terton Migyur Dorje’s biography – for sending me her firsthand account of being in attendance, with photographs taken by those in attendance. The following is reproduced here, with permission, for your benefit. I’ve done some light editing, and added a couple other images and an astounding video, to illuminate Judy’s lovely text:
“Kathmandu to Namdroling monastery takes a day and a half – two flights to Bangalore, an overnight stay and a 6 hour car ride to the monastery. Even so, after only a shower and short rest, my friend and I went out to see Holiness. Following the kora path halfway around the wide monastery grounds, we went inside. Passing the back of the Golden Temple, where sit three huge statues of Guru Rinpoche, Sakyamuni Buddha, and Amitayus, we went up a rise to the Zandog Palri temple. Suddenly there was Holiness larger than life gazing down compassionately upon those below, chanting in his deep voice a series of mantras: OM MANI PEME HUNG, OM AH HUNG BENZA GURU PEME SIDDHI HUNG, VAJRASATTVA and others, including the most poignant of all - OM AMARANI JIVENTAYE SOHA.
“Holiness wasn’t physically there, of course. He beamed down on the crowd from a gigantic photo on the second floor of the building, and his voice came through loudspeakers, but everyone felt his presence. It was unbearably moving. You couldn’t be there without weeping. The entire temple was bathed in light; flowers surrounded Holiness’ portrait and offerings were set up before it: large bowls full of bottled water and soft drinks, incense, rice, more flowers – everything arranged impeccably, as things are always done at Namdroling.
“I woke up at 5 the next morning, and went out on the balcony. I heard the horns of the morning puja and was drawn back to the Golden Temple. The lhakang was full of monks and nuns, with many foreign guests, mostly from Taiwan it seemed, around the sides. Puja had started at 3 am, so it could be finished in time for the ceremony of moving Holiness from his residence into Zandog Palri, Guru Rinpoche’s Copper Colored Mountain, where he is to remain for at least a year.
“The ceremony was to start at 8:30 and Khen Rinpoche sent a message that we should be in our places at the area reserved for foreign guests by no later than 7. He wanted to be sure we had comfortable seats where we could take lots of pictures.
“We did arrive at 7 and were happy we had followed
Rinpoche’s advice; we had our choice of seats and I found two just near where
the procession would come by. An amazing
thing happened while we watched the preparations. The day was clear, with no wind. Two large ovens were burning sang, and as usual the smoke was rising
right up into the sky. Just when all the
groups participating in the procession to bring Holiness body were in place,
and the body was being brought from the entrance of his residence, the smoke
began pouring in our direction, as though to greet Holiness.
“There were two other events that I heard of surrounding Holiness death that people do consider miracles. I didn’t witness these directly, but did see video and photographic evidence. You’ve probably read about this already since I think it’s been reported on blogs and so on, but I’ll retell the stories here anyhow.
“The first is the rainbow that appeared just after the ceremony of tenshuk the monks and nuns offered Holiness on March 25th, two days before his death. As the ceremony was finishing a rainbow appeared in the sky above the Golden Temple. Unlike most rainbows this one went up instead of curving back down to the ground, and it remained floating in the sky for a long time, long enough for someone to capture nearly two minutes of it on a cell phone camera. People consider this a sign of the dakinis inviting Holiness to the pure realms, and in fact, shortly thereafter, Holiness fell into an apparent coma that led to his being taken to the ICU in Bangalore. (Thank you to Many Flakes, One Bowl)
“Secondly, just after Holiness passed away, the statues in the Zangdog Palri temple began to weep. Many people witnessed this, and while I did not, again I saw photographs. One in particular caught my attention. It is a photograph of Guru Rinpoche, and the position of the lower half of his face, around the mouth and chin, clearly is of someone crying. There are other before and after photos that I have seen, with “before” being when the statues were weeping, and “after” when they regained their composure, but none was as convincing to me as the Guru Rinpoche photo, which you can see here. (Thank you to Rigpa's Ramblings)
“The procession circled the Zandog Palri temple and then went down the path in front of the Golden Temple and into the large monastery courtyard where a huge crowd of local people were gathered. Holiness meant everything to the population of Fourth Camp. He had helped settle the older ones during the difficult early time when the camp and the monastery were being built, and he had fostered the development of a cohesive community where the children of the first refugees could grow up and become educated. The relative prosperity that is now seen in this small community owes a great deal to Holiness’ vast wisdom and his energy. It is hard for me to imagine the sense of loss that must fill these people’s hearts.
“The relationship between the community and the monastery that Holiness sustained will help people overcome their sense of bereavement. A friend told me that in a few months, she and about 400 others, mostly from Fourth Camp, will be participating in a ngondro retreat. People will be doing all the practices together, all day long for six months. She told me how much time would be spent on each section, but I can’t remember exactly, and my Tibetan was too minimal to find out much about it, whether this happens all the time, or is a special event, whether people will come from outside to participate and so on, But it isn’t limited to the young. My friend is 61.
“The procession continued around the monastery and finally ended near where it had begun, by the entrance to the Zandog Palri temple. Holiness’ body was installed inside, and puja began, with many different prayers being recited. At one point in the ceremony, Khenchen Namdrol read aloud a biography of Holiness, recounting his many accomplishments. Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso then read a translation. At several places he, like the rest of us, broke down, and couldn’t continue for a few moments.
* = My own photos