At 6:00 a.m. this morning, the ceremonies for the ritual opening of Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche's Purkhang, or cremation stupa, began as scheduled. Led by Sangter Tulku Rinpoche, the Vajra Master of Benchen Monastery, Lama Tsültrim Rabten, the Retreat Master Lama Karma Gyatso, and our three Khenpos, Sönam Gyurme, Tsöndrü and Tsewang, as well as Rinpoche's closest former attendants and administrators, Lama Geleg, Tenpa Yarphel, Sherab Wangchug, Jinpa Lodrö and Tashi Öser, preparations were begun to retrieve Rinpoche's precious remains out of the remaining cremation ashes.
At first a brief purification ritual was conducted to cleanse away any possible contaminations of the surroundings. This was followed by a short ceremony known as "The Descent of Blessing." After this a serkyem or special drink offering was presented to the dharma protectors and local deities on each of the purkhang's four sides.
Photos by Karma Sherab Wangchug of Benchen Monastery
That concluded, the openings of the purkhang, which had been sealed with bricks right after the cremation's conclusion, were opened and the retrieval of the Precious Remains began. There was a surprising amount of bone matter, first and foremost among them a large piece of Rinpoche's skull, spine and joints. The skull was placed in a special copper receptacle, and all other remains were placed in a large copper vase. What else remained in the way of ashes etc. was placed in various brocade and silk sacks. After all was retrieved Rinpoche's remains were led in a ritual procession around the monastery and were eventually placed in his personal quarters.
As an auspicious circumstance for Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche's swift rebirth, good health and long life, auspicious prayers as well as tea and sweet rice were offered both in the main shrine hall as well as in the presence of Rinpoche's remains. Today also coincides with the last day of an elaborate long-life practice, known as Tsedrub Sangdü, which was performed during the last week, for the long life of H.E. Drubwang Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche and the future incarnation of Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche. The corresponding tormas and long-life substances were offered to Rinpoche's Precious remains.
Tomorrow, 1 June, Rinpoche's oldest and closest attendants, Lama Geleg Paljor, Tenpa Yarphel, Sherab Wangchug, Jinpa Lodrö, Tashi Öser and Karma, will travel to India to meet H.H. the Karmapa. They will relate to H.H. all the details of the last weeks and will officially request H.H. to look for the rebirth of Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche, so that we will be swiftly re-united with him. After the return of those six, we will look very slowly and carefully through the Precious Remains of Rinpoche, to see what relics he might possibly have left us. We will keep you informed on this website. Do check back from time to time. All the best for all of you from Kathmandu.