It was with much anticipation that we, 20 people from around Australia and New Zealand, boarded flights to India to see the enthronement of Ratna Vajra Rinpoche as the 42nd Sakya Trizin. The enthronement was the first since the announcement that both generations of Dolma and Phuntsok Phodrangs of the Sakya tradition with the required qualifications will take turns in assuming the responsibility of the role of the Sakya Trizin (the head of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism) by seniority of age for a three-year term.
It wasn't straight to Puruwala (the place of the enthronement) for us, as Lama Choedak Rinpoche had a small pilgrimage arranged. It was a precious opportunity and Rinpoche was showing us how much can be accomplished within 24 hours. "Tired" is not a word in Rinpoche's vocabulary: there appears to be some other motivation – bodhicitta – driving him!
We visited a Sakya Nunnery in Dehra Dun on the first evening of arrival and a Tibetan Village where we were welcomed with a small tour and tea. The following morning, we went to Sakya Monastery, also in Dehra Dun, where we were greeted warmly, shown around the temple, and invited to share lunch. We also attended Mindrolling Monastery, near Clement Town, and the huge stupa there. The façade of the stupa is decorated with the future Buddha, Buddha Maitreya, and descending the steps is the present Buddha, Buddha Shakyamuni.
On the day of the enthronement ceremony at the very small Tibetan settlement of Puruwala, we were greeted by blue sky and mountain ranges that suggested we were in a very magical place for a very historic event. The whole of the monastery was transformed appearing as a pure realm, with floating canopies above, white cushions and seats, and flowers everywhere in the temple. The pathways were strewn with petals in the most beautiful display and perfume wafted in the air; it was almost other worldly. Everyone seemed to be in a peaceful space and moved around gracefully.
Many people had traveled far and wide to attend this historic event and six thousand people gathered on the grounds of the monastery including many dignitaries: His Holiness the 41st Sakya Trizin, now called Sakya Trichen or Gongma Trichen, eminences, tulkus, high lamas, khenpos, monks, nuns, lay people, supporters and government officials and dignitaries attended. There were many traditions represented at this historic event.
The ceremony was conducted by His Holiness Sakya Trichen, the 41st throne holder. It was such a blessing to be in his presence and be part of this ceremony. It is very difficult to articulate the sense of feeling, but, needless to say, I felt enormously grateful to Rinpoche and his connection with this Sakyapa Lineage which allowed me the opportunity to be sitting there on this precious occasion. What these masters have been able to continue for the benefit of all sentient beings is a treasure beyond measure and worth celebrating.
We not only had one day of celebrations but 3 days. In the afternoons we had speeches from both His Holiness Sakya Trichen and the newly enthroned 42nd Sakya Trizin, as well as Dzongsar Khentsye Rinpoche and officials. There were also Tibetan cultural performances, beautiful displays of traditional folk dances, singing and music. Somehow, the Sakya Losal Choe Dzong group managed to get an opportunity to perform. I am not sure how Rinpoche managed this one, but there we were up on stage singing "The Four Immeasurables." It felt immeasurably special to sing this on the stage in front of Their Holinesses and honorable guests.
We also had the precious opportunity to have audiences with His Holiness Sakya Trichen, the newly enthroned 42nd Sakya Trizin, Gyana Vajra Rinpoche, as well as Asanga Rinpoche. These were precious moments and we were blessed to spend time in their presence.
This event allowed us the chance to spend time together as a sangha from many parts of Australia and New Zealand in a harmonious and friendly way. We also had the opportunity to meet and share with those from many other countries. Peter Morgan from Tuncurry, New South Wales even had the chance to offer a plan for the Palace garden at Puruwala. This is still in process.
So many people helped with this event: the Tibetan Community worked tirelessly in the preparation and organisation, as well as food preparation, serving and cleaning. Spending time in this environment allows one to drop away the sense of self and see how, when we work for the benefit of others, our own needs are naturally fulfilled. All the masters have demonstrated and continue to demonstrate such kindness through the precious Dharma teachings allowing the Dharma wisdom to continue to flow.
May Dharma flourish in the hearts and minds of all beings.