Til Kunzom Dhongag Choe Ling Monastery
The monastery was built on the
spot where a Buddhist practitioner came on a solitary retreat in
the 12th century. His name was Lama Kunzom. The cave where he meditated
is still below the monastery. The hill where the monastery is situated
is like a white snake heading up and a black snake heading down.
The monastery is located on the ear of the black snake, which symbolises
that it is famous for its contents. (If the monastery had been situated
on the mouth of the snake, it would have received endless offerings).
Lama Kunzom later offered the monastery to Druptop Senge Yeshi,
who was a disciple of Kyabpa Jigten Sumgon, the founder of the Drikung
Kagyu Order. "Druptop" translates as Mahasidda in
Sanskrit and is used as a title for Buddhist practitioners. "Drup"
literally means practice and "Top" means achieved, in
Druptop Senge Yeshi was on a
meditation retreat in the hermitage of Lotsa Wa Rinchen Zangpo at
Chaye Namkha Zhong, not far from Tel village. There is a story about
Lama Kunzom and Senge Yeshi. Lama Kunzom had an audience with Senge
Yeshi. Afterwards, Senge Yeshi became very ill and thought he wasn't
going to live any longer, despite the prayers of all his fellow-meditators.
So his friend, Rinchen Senge, went to inform Lama Kunzom of the
situation. Lama Kunzom wrote a letter requesting Senge Yeshi not
enter pari-nirvana and sent it to him with a scarf, Katag in Tibetan.
When Senge Yeshi read the message, he said to his followers, "Even
Lama Kunzom has asked me to stay. I will try to meditate and all
of you must pray and perform a long-life ritual." Senge Yeshi
eventually recovered from his illness and lived on as the spiritual
master of the religious practitioners in the region. After Druptop
Senge Yeshi's pari-nirvana, he disappeared. Because of the people
of Limi's unshakeable true faith in Druptop Senge Yeshi and Senge
Yeshi's great compassionate wish to be a guide to the path of the
liberation, he has emanated in continuous reincarnations to the
present day. The reincarnations of Senge Yeshi have served as the
head of the spiritual world of Limi for centuries and they have
earned the title, Limi Tulku (the reincarnation of Limi). The current
reincarnation is known as Senge Tenzin and was born in the western
part of Tibet in 1981.
main contents of Kunzom Dhongag Choeling are: a 25-inch-high image
of Thupa ( Buddha Shakyamuni) which is over a thousand years old.
The villagers refer to the image as Sung-Jon-Tashi-Od-Bar (the great
shunning speaker), as it is believed the image has spoken 13 times
at different periods of history. There is a 12-inch Gyalwa Jampa
(Buddha Maitreya) on the left side of the Thupa, and a 12-inch Chen-Ri-Zig
(Avalokiteshvra) on the right. All three images are made from Ser-Sang.
"Sang" means copper, and is one of the materials popularly
used in the making of images; "Ser" means gold, and can
be used either for the whole image or only for the face. The wooden
altar for the three images is one and a half meters high and is
covered in over 37 images, Krie-Drug (six thrones) and Gyan-Drug
The importance of the Thupa
images cannot be expressed in words. Still today, when a epidemic
spreads through Limi, the image takes the sickness and becomes sick
himself. How do we know this? Because black spots appear on the
face of the image and when the sickness 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.
A remarkable footprint of Drikung
Che-Nga Langpa and his yak are one of the monastery's precious objects.
Originally, they were at Aru La pass, where a visitor has a clear
view of Tel Kunzom Dhongan Choeling. Drikung Che-nga Langpa prayed
that they would always have a Druptop (mahasidda). Right up to the
present day, Til monastery has always had a Druptop.
There are over 50 small images,
which represent enlightened Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Dharma Protectors
and others, which have been made from a wide variety of materials.
The monastery also has some old Thangka paintings and some beautiful
wall paintings, especially in the cave where Kunzom Lama lived.
In 1997 a new hall was inaugurated
by the current His Holiness the Drikung Chetsang Rinpoche. The main
contents of the new temple are: 36-inch-high images of Thonpa (Buddha
Shakyamuni), Guru Nangsed Zelnon, (one of eight Guru Pedmasambhava),
Kyabpa Jigten Sumgon, (the founder of the Drikung Kagyu Order).
Together these three symbolize the three embodiments known as Kayas
in Sanskrit and Ku Sum in Tibetan. The embodiments are: Choe Ku
(Dharmakaya) who is Buddha, the enlightened one; Long Ku (Sambokaya)
is Guru Nangsed Zelnon, who is the embodiment of knowledge; and
Tulku (Nirmakaya) is Jigten Sumgon, the reincarnated one. These
three are seen as one entity but have different appearances to benefit
living beings. The idea can be used with other beings who are Enlightened,
who are an embodiment of knowledge and wisdom and who are a reincarnation,
as long as it is genuine. We can place a value on these images because
they were made recently in Kathmandu. The base of the images is
copper, burnished with gold. The gold alone cost 308,000 Nepalese
rupees (US$ 4278) and there are also 130 settings of precious jewellery.
Kunzom Dhongag Choeling is in
Til the nearest village to the northwest of Limi. There are 40 households
and over 200 people. The villagers of Til are known as Tilwa.