TSECHEN TENPAI GATSAL SHEDUP CHOKHORLING: THE SAKYA CENTRE
Noble Activities: Major Projects Under the Guidance of His Holiness the Sakya Trizin

The Sakya Centre is the main seat of the Sakya Order of Tibetan Buddhism and the personal monastery of His Holiness Sakya Trizin. The Centre is a monastic Institute, which also offers traditional education in Buddhism, rituals, ritual music and dance, art and other related subjects. After completing their studies at the Centre, monks can attend either Sakya College or the Sakya Institute of further education in Higher Buddhist Studies. In order to accommodate the ever-growing number of new applicants into the monastic life as well as to ensure a good education, we have proposed starting a separate monastic school to train young novice monks. The new school would greatly relieve the mounting pressure on Sakya Centre. His Holiness the 41st Sakya Trizin has initiated this new academy and I have assumed responsibility for realizing this project.

The Centre is a charitable society registered under the Societies Registration Act of XXI of 1860. It accepts students from all over India and from the neighboring countries of Nepal and Bhutan irrespective of caste, creed or race. The number of Sangha increases every year with new entrants joining the Centre regularly. Presently, there are over three hundred monks at the Centre ranging from the very young to the very old. The main source of income for the Centre are the donations from devotees and aid agencies, as well as sponsorships and grants through the Central Tibetan Administration in Dharmasala.

Beginnings

The 1959 invasion of Tibet by China triggered a massive exodus of Tibetans to India and neighboring countries and left a large void in the religious and cultural life of the Tibetans. Once in India , under the benign leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and with humanitarian help from the government of India and various aid agencies, rehabilitation centers and schools were soon established and efforts were made to preserve and promote the distinct religious and cultural heritage of the Tibetans.

His Holiness Sakya Trizin formally established the Sakya Centre in 1964. One of the primary objectives of the Centre was, and is, to preserve and promote the rich cultural heritage of Tibetan Buddhism in general and in particular that of the Sakya Tradition. In the initial years of its inception, the members faced many difficulties due to lack of funds, language difficulties and problems in adjusting to the new environment.

In the beginning, the caring owner of Pratap Kothi kindly rented his hall to the Centre, and for quite some time this served as the Sakya Centre. Soon the Centre had to vacate the hall and the monks had to live in tents on another piece of land also kindly provided by the owner of Pratap Kothi. The tents not only served as dormitories, but also as the shrine room and kitchen, etc. After some time the monks had to disperse from this makeshift establishment due to acute financial difficulties and it was not possible to run the Centre. However, with the blessings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the thoughtful guidance of His Holiness Sakya Trizin, together with the continuous efforts and dedication of the then members, Sakya Centre once again was re-established, this time in an old rented bungalow at 187 Rajpur Road , Dehradun.

It soon became necessary to secure the bungalow and the land around it in order to accomplish the objectives of the Centre. His holiness the Dalai Lama kindly gave financial support so that the property could be purchased. Loans and donations from various aid agencies and individual supporters also contributed to this major event. Monks once again gathered and young monks also joined the Centre.

A study curriculum was then developed and Sakya Centre functioned as a monastic institute imparting traditional education to the young monks while the elder monks continued with their spiritual practice as they had in independent Tibet . The Center therefore managed to take firm root and is now a vibrant and energetic religious community.

The New Temple Complex

His Holiness Sakya Trizin laid the foundation stone for the new temple complex in 1990. Construction was started in the same year and was completed in September 1994, all during Lama Jamyang Lekshey’s tenure as General Secretary of the Sakya Centre. The local Tibetan community contributed greatly to the construction of the temple. The Centre had been using an old house as the main shrine hall for many years. This building was quite old, the roof leaked and the building itself was not strong. In addition to this, the number of monks had increased and the old temple did not have enough room for all of them. Although Sakya Centre would have preferred to buy the adjacent land in order to build a larger temple, there was no land available for sale so there was no alternative left other than to dismantle the old temple to make way for the new one.

The new temple building has been constructed to serve not only as a shrine hall but also as a multipurpose complex. The ground floor has all the classrooms. The main shrine hall is located on the first floor and on the second floor there is a Mahakala shrine hall, as well as rooms for visiting high lamas. On the top floor there is a small Lamdre shrine room.

The Curriculum

Sakya Centre is basically a monastic institute and its course of study is based on the traditional monastic educational system followed by monasteries in Tibet . However, awareness of the ever changing world and the importance of a modern education has led to the availability of additional courses such as English, Hindi, Mathematics, etc. The first semester of the academic year starts in the beginning of the fifth lunar month. This leads straight into the second semester, which starts in the beginning of the tenth lunar month. The students’ holidays commence on the fifteenth of the third lunar month and lasts for one and a half month. The curriculum includes the study and practices of:

Classes I, II, III: Daily prayers. Praises to Lord Buddha, The Sixteen Arhat Ritual, Praises to the Six Ornaments and the Two Excellencies. Praises to Mahasiddha Virupa and the Five Sakya Masters. The Tara Ritual and the Samantabadra Prayer.
Class IV:  The Mahavairocana Ritual
Class V:  Mahakala Puja
Class VI:  Vajrakilaya Puja
Class VII:  Chant master of Annual Vajrakilaya Drubcho
Class VIII:  Ritual music, making of ornamental offering cakes, drawing of sand mandalas, and finally retreats on Vajrapani Butadamara and other deities.
After completing Class VIII, students can either join Sakya College or the Sakya Institute in order to study Buddhist Philosophy.

For a list of some of the annual grand rituals and pujas followed by the Sakya Centre in India , please visit the schedule page (click here). These rituals and pujas are usually performed with His Holiness as the Vajramaster. In additional, at the requests of devotes and sponsors, pujas and scripture recitations are also held frequently. For more information and to learn how you can support this activity of His Holiness the Sakya Trizin, please visit the Centre's website.

sources: Sakya Centre website and Palden Sakya News Magazine

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