His Holiness Gyalwa Karmapa and
His Holiness the 37th Drikung Kyabgon, Chetsang Rinpoche in 2005.
 
 
 
 
Lamayuru Monastery in Ladakh - An Unequalled Response
 
 
 
 
 
According to legend, the valley in which Lamayuru Monastery firmly stands was once a lake. -- General view from the northwest.
 
 
 
 
 
Monastery complex and Stupas
.
 
 
 
The Dukhang and main Stupas above the village comprise the sacred mandala of Lamayuru Gompa. There is still a small cave in the Dukhang where Mahapandita Naropa meditated. To invert suffering in the world, Lochen Rinchen Sangpo came, established five Lhakhangs and built many Stupas, some of which still exist in a ruined yet dynamic condition. In the 13th century, the community was influenced by different schools of the religious movements in Tibet. In the 16th century, Lamayuru became the centre of the Drikung Kagyu School. -- View from the southwest.
 
 
 
 
Lord Buddha and Mahasiddhas on the shrine  in the upper floor of the Dukhang at Lamayuru.
 
 
The mountains are filled with Drikungpa practitioners,
and all the plains are filled with Drikungpa patrons.
-- Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye the Great, The Treasury of Knowledge
 
 
The Fourth Drikung Kyabgon, Chetsang Rinpoche, Tendzin Pemai Gyaltsen, head of the Drikung Kagyu with its main seat in Lamayuru, wrote: “To dispel all suffering and the causes of suffering and to establish all beings in the ultimate state of peace and happiness, Lord Buddha Shakyamuni gave the limitless teachings of Sutra and Tantra. Thus, he benefited all beings.
“Later, in the northern Land of Snow, he took birth as the peerless Kyabpa Jigten Sumgon, the Great Drikungpa, Ratna Shri. With his immeasurable compassionate wisdom, he turned the vast Wheel of Dharma for limitless sentient beings and founded the Drikung Kagyu Lineage.
            “The Kagyupa Lineage was founded in India by the great yogi Tilopa and was brought to Tibet by Marpa, the great translator and principle disciple of Naropa. The principle disciple of Marpa was Milarepa, who attained enlightenment in one lifetime and became a key inspiration for Dharma practitioners. Milarepa’s chief disciple was Gampopa, whose coming was prophesied clearly by Lord Buddha. Gampopa gathered many disciples and through them the Buddha’s teachings flourished like the rising sun. From Gampopa there came the four elder lineages, which are: Barom Kagyu, Tselpa Kagyu, Kamtshang or Karma Kagyu, and Phagdru Kagyu. Gampopa’s principle disciple was Phagdru Dorje Gyalpo, who gathered together 80,000 disciples and thus benefited many sentient beings. From Phagdru Dorje Gyalpo came the eight younger Kagyupa Schools, which are: Drikung Kagyu, Taklung Kagyu, Drukpa Kagyu, Triphu Kagyu, Yelpa Kagyu, Martsang Kagyu, and Yasang Kagyu. Jigten Sumgon (1143-1217) was the successor of Phagdru Dorje Gyalpo and because of this the Drikung Kagyu School is considered both an elder and a younger school.”1
 
 
 
 
Images of Shri Naropa and Jetsun Milarepa in Naropa’s Cave in Lamayuru.
 
 
 
Shri Naropa
 
 
In the north, in the hermitage of Ravishing Beautiful Flowers,
the learned Mahapandita Naro showed the mark of a siddha, indivisible prana and mind.
-- Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, The Song of Lodro Thaye
 
 
Ken Holmes wrote, “Naropa’s life is very reminiscent of the twelve stages of the life of the Buddha.”2 The twelve deeds are: “To leave the heavens and manifest on earth at the most appropriate time; to enter the womb of a mother so as to be born in the most appropriate family for what will follow; to be born miraculously; to grow up showing unique physical prowess and mental intelligence; to enjoy consorts and the finest pleasures that worldly life can offer; to leave worldliness; to practice asceticism more radically than anyone ever did and then renounce it for its inadequacy; to go to the place where all the Buddhas of this world manifest enlightenment, there to vanquish the negative energies of the world; to show recognition of the Middle Way and attain enlightenment; to teach the universal truths; and to enter nirvana.”3 Ken Holmes continued on the life of Naropa: “The future Naropa realised that the time had come to enter the human life that would bring him to full enlightenment. In the clarity of his meditation, he could see his future father, the Buddhist King Santivarman, who longed for a son and who himself had some physical signs of an enlightened being. His future mother dreamt of voidness and bliss inseparable and of light filling the entire country. Some time later, Naropa was born, his body bearing the marks of a future Buddha. The earth shook, many rainbows appeared, and thunder rumbled. It was approximately the year 1016, in Bengal.”4
 
Venerable Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche also presented a detailed account of the life of Naropa and taught, “Naropa was born a prince in India. From the day of his birth, he was a very exceptional being endowed with special qualities. He was so pleasant to behold that simply to gaze at him was to experience joy and a sense of happiness. Even in childhood, he possessed profound wisdom and a sense of loving-kindness and compassion for others.         
            “The king, queen, and all the attendants agreed that the most appropriate place for such an extraordinary son of a noble family would be a monastery. Just as precious jewels should not be kept in filthy water but placed upon an immaculate shrine, it did not seem befitting for Naropa to dwell in the midst of worldly people. His rightful place was to be among practitioners of Dharma.”5
 
The site of the Gyalwa Karmapa states that Mahasiddha Naropa left no physical remains when he passed away in the year 1100, but that his “body of teachings, however, continues. Today it is the Gyalwa Karmapa who is the custodian of these precious methods, whereby a person may attain enlightenment in a single short lifetime.” 6
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
An unequalled response that bears the whole of its past within.
 
 
Photos of Lamayuru taken by Gaby Hollmann in 1984, compiled in 2007.


1 Chetsang Rinpoche, Prayer Flags. The Life & Spiritual Songs of Jigten Sumgon, translated by Khenpo Rinpoche Konchog Gyaltsen, Tibetan Meditation Centre, Washington, D.C., 1984, pp. 1-2.
2 Ken Holmes, Naropa, in the site: Samyeling.org, March 2006.
3 Ken Holmes, Buddha Shakyamuni. The historical Buddha, in the site: Samyeling.org, March 2006.
4 Ken Holmes, Naropa.
5 Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, The Life of Naropa. Teachings presented on March 25-30, 1986 at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra in Woodstock, N.Y., published in Densal, vol. 8, no. 1 & vol. 8, no. 2, 1987. - See especially Ven. Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Songs of Naropa, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, Boudhanath, 1997.
6 The Dharma Fellowship, Biographies: Mahasiddha Shri Naropa, in the site of H.H. the Gyalwa Karmapa: Kagyuoffice.org, March 2006.