Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Gathering of Nobles!

Sera Jey… one of the biggest monasteries in this era. Around 35oo monks study and practice buddhism currently. We used to perform Haya-Griva retreat annually with huge gatherings of monks for 9-10 days. Haya-Griva is the chief deity of our monastery and is also known as horse headed (tam-din). This year, there was a huge gathering of around 2ooo spiritual monks in the monastery.

It was around 5:45pm and all the monks were already assembled infront of the  monastery and having the glimpse of the gliding spire and religious wheel flanked by two deers at top. The wheel symbolizes unity of all things, spiritual law and Shakyamuni himself. There is a white board hanging with the big letter which reads as Sera Jey Monastic University. It was written in three main languages- Tibetan, English & Kannada. When the evening sun came at the horizon, the big walls of monastery were ablaze with golden radiance directly falling on it.

When the monks with their long scriptures covered by a yellow clothes on hand, were calmly sitting at the monastery yard and talking with each other. The first strike goes on the gong which make a big sound 'GONG…'. The temple incharge slowly open the wooden main gate making some old & cracking sound like 'kwai…..k'. Sound similar when we push an heavy iron object on the floor. Then, there goes another strike. Monks began to enter the prayer hall in seniority order, passing the huge door which is nicely carved at its corner. At the top of the entrance, there is the statues of seven valiant snow-lions welcoming us. Inside the prayer hall, the walls were covered with very beautiful Thanka-paintings - life of Shyakya-muni buddha (Jataka Tales), all the photos of reincarnation of His Holiness, venerable Tsong-kha-pa and many other highly great lamas, and many deities. The pillars were adorned with decorative hangings & pennons. Three huge religious victory-emblems were hanged below the ceiling at the centre of the prayer hall in different colour. It is considered as one of the eight auspicious signs and signify the victory of Buddhism over ignorance & death. There was a wide Thanka painting of Haya-Griva in wrathful mood, unfurled from the center so that everyone can see him while meditating. He is considered as the dispeller of obstacles with his healing power. His statue is mostly depicted with a consort showing amorous pose which personifies very secrect meanings of Tantra. It is very difficult to understand its meaning unless we learn some basic Tantrism.

The monks spread out the coverlet and took their seats. I too got some space with my friends (Dhontsering & Ngatsering) between the two pillars. Right away the disciplianry gave a signal to the Chanting Master and he began the ritual recitaion(Sadhanas) with his roaring voice. The senior monks had already memorized the texts so they recited the prayers by heart in meditative pose while the new-comers began to flipe their long scriptures to catch up the recitation with the Chanting Master.  Soon the prayer hall was enveloped by the atmoshpere of 
recitation of the texts. Our abbot had preached the sermon on the importance of such gathering.
After preforming ritual recitation(Sadhanas) for around 20-25 minutes, Chanting Master made the scheduled pause to be in deep meditation of Haya-Griva. Now, it is the time to visualize and reflect the qualities of Haya-Griva and recite the mantra - 'Hri Vajra Korta Haya Griva Hulu Hulu Hum Phed' in earnest.

Actually, it is the Sanskrit words and different monks read it in different pronunciation. The prayer hall was wrapped with pin-drop silence. An outsider can never believe it. There were more than 2ooo monks be seated in around 40 rows- each rows includes 45 to 50 monks. Starting from middle three rows one can notice the  Rinpoches, Tulkus, Geshes  (graduated after learning five major texts of Buddhism) and the most senior monks were sitting in meditative posture and chanting and reciting the mantra with full of intention. It has been around 7:30pm but there was still same silence prevails. "Are they alive or not"- I asked myself. I actually was really very tired. After sitting for more than an hour without motion (in folded leg) had made my back pain. I looked up to my friends and they were still in energetic mood. They had already finished chanting of the mantra 4ooo times within an hour. I counted mine, and it was much behind. I feel ashamed to say, it's a secret. As I was feeling uncomfortable, I turned  my head to all the directions and just wondered in my own land. I thought I was the most naughtiest monks there. But I got some partners around me. There were three little kids of around 8-9 years with long rosaries on hand behind me. They were not chanting any mantras but just playing funny games with full of smiles on their faces. Right infront of me, there was a monk brooming his long beard and looking around like me. I could not control my emotions and laughed my lungs out. Not so far, there was a novice monk whose cheeks were still red and making various funny faces to others. The monks around him were giggling on him. He is no less than a comedian to those monks who sits near him. Some of the monks were just jotting down the counting of mantras. A monk at a bottom of line had written some short messages and was trying to pass it to his friend who is in the middle of the line. It's really funny. It was little cold during that time and the ceiling fans were on. I think some monks who sat beneath the fans might had allergy of cold. One monk angrily turned his face towards the monks who was near the door where all the switch boxes exist. He signalled him to turn off the fans. But the monks near the switch box didn't like his way of saying and didn't care his words. The sick monk wrote a message saying sorry and requested him to stop it. Then, the monk stopped the fan. After watching all these happenings, I was bit relaxed and tried to concentrate on reciting mantras. As soon as I tried to concentrate on the mantra, our Chanting Master restarted the recitation with his loud voice. So no more time to chant the mantras. Time and tide waits for none.

As soon as our disciplinarian waved his hand, hundreds of junior monks rushed out form the hall towards kithcen to get tea pot. I too thrashed along with them in hurry. Making many shoulder pushes and facing minor obstacles I got a pot. Some received pot full of butter tea while some received sweet tea, and made a long queue outside the entrance. Before that our butler (kitchen master) brought a small decorated tea pot & made an offering to His Holiness and to our abbot. We have some binded custom from the ancient monasteries of Tibet, that we run while we serve teas. Because there were lots of monks and it is imporant to serve all the monks in limited time so that the tea remain as hot as possible. So, when our young monks entered the prayer hall with the tea pots, they started to run row by row serving tea. We the junior monks considered it as the most funniest moment, as different monks have their own style of running. Some naughty monks ran with funny style at the last rows, of which other monks laughed very much. We served tea to all the senior monks but no one drink the tea until the last monk receive his share. Chanting Master recited some short offering prayers to all the masters, buddha, dharma & sangha, and all the monks had their own sip of tea. During the break of having tea, our disciplinarian stood at the middle row and announced the names of the sponsors, and requested to pray for the benefits of all the beings of past and present.

After that, our Chanting Master continued the recitation making some low pitch sound which can be heard from long distance away. Once again the atmoshpere of prayer hall filled up by charming recitaion of thousands of monks that recites in same range. Atlast, we were at the climax. It was time for saying some auspicious verses. I turned around and noticed that all of the monks were in lotus folded hand. Some of them closed their eyes very strongly and showing very faithful emotions on their faces. Our Chanting Master recited some dedication prayers and we recited with him by closing our eyes and reflecting the kindness of His Holiness and all the great masters from the very core of our heart. We visualized Haya-Griva infront of us and prayed for the world peace.

As soon as the prayers come to an end. All the monks departs from the five big gates (four at corners & one at the middle east) in hurry. Now it is the time of searching ones own slippers outside the courtyard. Slowly, the monks returned to their own residents and the noise disappeared along with that. The temple incharge closed the heavy doors, and turned off the bright ceiling lights one by one. There was a ravishing sight when the dim decorative light and huge glimmering lamps were shining infront of the large alter. The temple incharge made three full-length prostration and went to his chamber and slowly closed his door. There was something written behind his door. Oh!  It reads 'Good Night'. It's too late…………bye…bye…

                                            -By a monk of Sera Jey Monastery

Tashi Delek!

Hello World!
Since we are new to this world, we are not used of many things. We have created this blog to let know about the Life of Monks, around all over the world. No need to tell that, the monks really had different life then normal human being.

In other word, Monks are considered as one among the 3 Jewels of Triple Gems. If you are a Buddhist you have to do respect, and have faith on the Monks. Thus monks are the normal persons like us, who are trying to leave, or go far away from this hectic material world. They take vows called renunciation during the time of leaving this material world, and enter the spiritual world...

So, this is a short note for today, to start my new blog. Hope you will like this. We have many more post and amazing stories to tell. Keep reading our blog... Thank You... :)

By the team of A MONK'S LIFE

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