The original Triten Norbutse monastery
It was established in the fourteenth century in Tsang, Central Tibet by Shen Nyima Gyaltsen, a Nagpa of the Shen lineage who was particularly known for his tantric powers, and his commentary on the Ma Gyud, Mother Tantra. The monastery thrived for many centuries, thanks to the devout support of several surrounding bonpo villages, and it became important for the study and practice of the Ma Gyud and the protector Red Mule Sidpai Gyalmo. Triten Norbutse was completely destroyed during the Cultural Revolution.
The story of the modern Triten Norbutse monastery in Nepal began in 1977, when Yongdzin Rinpoche traveled from Menri monastery, India to Swayambhu near Kathmandu in search of a land for a monastery to serve the bonpo community in Nepal.
3 main purposes in establishing a Bön monastery
- to preserve the bonpo culture and religion outside Tibet;
- to provide a full education and practice program for the Bonpos of Dolpo and Mustang, the outer regions of Nepal; although there are over twenty Bön monasteries in these areas, none of them are able to offer this possibility.
- to serve as a centre for the social and religious life of the bönpo communities.
When Yongdzin Rinpoche first went to see the land, there was no proper path from the Ring Road, and the land itself, which was on the side of a steep mountain, was jungle overgrown with weeds.
In 1987, Triten Norbutse Monastery was established by H.E. Yongdzin tenzin namdak Rinpoche on a hill facing the Great Stupa of Swayambhu.
In 1991 the building of a new Gompa began supervised by Yongdzin Rinpoche. Artists were called from Bhutan to make the large statue of Tonpa Shenrab, sponsored by a bonpo layman, Ma-rong Chö-je and his family in Dolanji. The other two statues, of Drenpa Namkha (representing the power of all the siddhas) and of Nyamed Sherab Gyaltsen (founder of the original Menri monastery) were made by Tibetan sculptors and offered by two other bonpo families (Tenzin Ngo-drup and Jam-ga) in Dolanji. The internal decorations and the pictures of the Guardians, Midu and Sipe Gyalmo, were drawn by Bhutanese artists, while the 19 painted mandalas, the pictures of the 1000 Buddhas, the large pictures of Nampar Gyalwa and of Sherab Jyamma (the Goddess of Wisdom), the drawings of the Buddhas of the three times and of Nyamed Sherab Gyaltsen and all the external decorations are the work of Triten Norbutse's monks.
In 1992 a large prayer wheel (khorchen) was built, sponsored by Tenpa Rigdzin and his family in Kathmandu, and many new volumes increased the monastery library. These include texts of all the major traditions of Tibet as well as books in many other languages. Following his visit to Tibet in the same year Yongdzin Rinpoche brought back several books that were no longer available outside Tibet, in order to publish them in India; these were also added to the library, which also housed the first copy of the BönbKa-gyur (Canon) outside Tibet, composed of 149 volumes. 1992 was also the year when Geshe Nyima Wangyal, who had studied under Yongdzin Rinpoche's guidance at Dolanji and was among the first to complete the Geshe course there, was enthroned as Abbot of Triten Norbutse.
Over the next two years, dark house and retreat halls and a new enlarged kitchen were built. The Dialectics School and Meditation Group were officially established in 1994 and in November 1995 the monastery was inaugurated with seven days of puja also in the presence of H.H. Menri Trizin Rinpoche. A house for the teachers of the monastery was begun in 1995 and completed in 1996
A new junior Lopon, Tenpa Yungdrung, was also elected in 1996 to teach the younger monks Logic, Grammar and Sutra studies. At this time five Geshes from Dolanji also began teaching a number of other subjects.
During 1997, new accommodations for 60 monks were finished, along with a stupa in commemoration of the Abbot of the bonpo monastery at Dhorpatan, Yundrung Kuleg, who had passed in 1996.
One of the 120 types of stupas described in the biography of Tonpa Shenrab, was also built. A senkar li li bang bang (gsas-mkhar li li bang bang): this rotating metal stupa holds 108 butter lamps that are offered to the 45 peaceful and 80 wrathful deities (zhiduk). This stupa is used to purify the local environment, as well as to purify the spirits of the dead so that they will gain a higher rebirth.
- the academic program (mkhas pa pan di ta yi lugs) in 13 years leading to the Geshe Degree: it includes the studies of Sutra, Tantra and Dzogchen and Debate, Tibetan sciences and arts namely astrology, poetry, medecine, grammar, iconography such as mandala and calligraphy. There are also courses on religious rituals, arts and music.
- the meditation training program (ku sa li'i lugs): its focus is Dzogchen, the Great perfection which is a system of meditation on the Nature of Mind. this program transmits the entire teachings on the 4 major bonpo Dzogchen texts.
Present achievements and plans:
- The monastery continues to archive ancient texts and artworks in books and e-books available for students, monks and scholars.
- A centre for the practice of traditional Himalayan/Tibetan Medicine is scheduled where both patients and scholars can come and share knowledge and experience.
More Information: www.triten.org