Rumtek Monastery

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Rumtek Monastery
Vikramjit-Kakati-Rumtek.jpg
Rumtek Monastery
Tibetan name
Tibetan རུམ་ཐེག་དགོན་པ་
Wylie transliteration Rum-theg Dgon-pa
Rumtek Monastery is located in Sikkim
Rumtek Monastery
Rumtek Monastery
Location within India
Coordinates: 27°19′55″N 88°36′07″E / 27.33194°N 88.60194°E / 27.33194; 88.60194
Monastery information
Location Near Gangtok, Sikkim, India
Founded by 9th Karmapa, Wangchuk Dorje
Wangchuk Dorje
Founded 16th century
Type Tibetan Buddhist
Sect Kagyu
Dharma Chakra Centre
Prayer Wheels in the Monastery
Students of Rumtek Monastery

Rumtek (Tibetan: རུམ་ཐེག་དགོན་པ་,Wylie: Rum-theg Dgon-pa), also called the Dharmachakra Centre, is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery located in the Indian state of Sikkim near the capital Gangtok. It is a focal point for the sectarian tensions that characterize the Karmapa Controversy.

History[edit]

Rumtek Monastery, Gangtok, Sikkim
Rumtek Monastery Buddha

Originally built by the 9th Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje in 16th century, at the same time as Phodong Monastery and Ralang Monastery, Rumtek served as the main seat of the Karma Kagyu lineage in Sikkim for some time. But when the 16th Karmapa arrived in Sikkim in 1959, after fleeing Tibet, the monastery was in ruins. Despite being offered other sites, the Karmapa decided to rebuild Rumtek. To him, the site possessed many auspicious qualities and was surrounded by the most favorable attributes. For example, flowing streams, mountains behind, a snow range in front, and a river below. With the generosity and help of the Sikkim royal family and the Indian government, it was built by the 16th Karmapa as his main seat in exile.

After four years, construction of the monastery was completed. The sacred items and relics brought out from Tsurphu Monastery, the Karmapa's seat in Tibet, were installed. On Tibetan New Year's Day (Losar) in 1966 the 16th Karmapa officially inaugurated the new seat called, "The Dharmachakra Centre, a place of erudition and spiritual accomplishment, the seat of the glorious Karmapa."

The monastery is currently the largest in Sikkim. It is home to the community of monks and where they perform the rituals and practices of the Karma Kagyu lineage. A Golden Stupa contains the relics of the 16th Karmapa. Opposite that building is a college, Karma Shri Nalanda Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies.

Rumtek is located 24 km from Gangtok, the capital of the Sikkim, at an altitude of about 1500 m.

Controversy[edit]

Rumtek lamas

Rumtek was at the centre of the Karmapa controversy with a lengthy battle being played out in the Indian courts. Two rival organisations, each supporting a different candidate for the 17th Karmapa, claimed stewardship of the monastery and its contents. The two organisations are the Tsurphu Labrang (supporting Ogyen Trinley Dorje) and the Karmapa Charitable Trust (supporting Trinley Thaye Dorje).

Neither candidate resides at Rumtek since monks supporting Trinley Thaye Dorje were thrown out of Rumtek by Ogyen Trinley Dorje's followers.[1] Since 1992, the monastery has been the site of pitched battles between monks supporting one candidate or the other.[2] Armed Indian soldiers still patrol the monastery to prevent further sectarian violence.[1]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 27°19′55″N 88°36′07″E / 27.33194°N 88.60194°E / 27.33194; 88.60194

Rumtek Monastery, Sikkim, India, Photographer : Vikramjit Kakati