Preserving the heritage

In the 1960s, the condition of the monastery and of the village of Tabo was not good. Seeing this situation, two monks – Lama Sonam Tobgye and Lama Sonam Ngödrub (Angrup) – took action, with the aim of preserving Tabo’s heritage. As Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche, who was the debating partner of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, had previously visited Tabo for two days in 1969, the two monks and the local communities of Tabo, Lari and Poh invited him to come back to Tabo in the early 1970s. He arrived at Tabo in 1973. At a time when transport was very difficult – with horses, yaks and mules being the main means of transport – he spent two months going from village to village to provide teachings. He soon became very respected as a spiritual teacher throughout the Spiti Valley.

 

In 1976, Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche appointed Geshe Sonam Chhondan and Geshe Sonam Wangdui to help revive Buddhist practices in the valley. He himself visited Tabo again in 1979, when he provided teachings in Buddhism, as well as blessings to both fully ordained and novice monks, and again in 1981, when he provided teachings on Tsong Khapa‘s Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment (Lamrim Chenmo), as well as several initiations, including Yamantaka, Guhyasamaya and Cakrasamvara. Through the collective work of Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche, Geshe Sonam Chhondan and Geshe Sonam Wangdui, Tabo again became an active centre for the study and practice of Buddhism for an increasing number of young monks, as well as for the lay people in the surrounding community.

 

In 1983, Tabo Monastery successfully organised the Kalachakra initiation at Tabo, which was given by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, accompanied by Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche. Afterwards, at the request of His Holiness, Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche undertook a solitary meditation retreat at Tabo for a month. After completing his meditation, he gave a teaching on The Bodhisattva’s Way of Life (Bodhicaryāvatāra) in the Kalachakra Temple. In 1983, Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche and Geshe Yeshe Chhodan passed away and the responsibility for the monastery remained solely with Geshe Sonam Wangdui.

 

It was under the guidance of Geshe Sonam Wangdui that the monks and the villagers conducted the millennium celebration of the monastery’s founding in 1996. That same year, another Kalachakra initiation was held by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Geshe Sonam Wangdui’s concern also extended to the environmental sphere: under his guidance and inspiration, the villagers developed an environmental focus and undertook work to transform many barren areas in the vicinity, making them flourish. Geshe Sonam Wangdui passed away on 11 August 2013.

 

The responsibility for the spiritual life of Tabo Monastery now rests with Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche (II), who is the reincarnation of Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche, as recognised by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Furthermore, on 22 April 2015, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama appointed Tulku Tenzin Kalden Rinpoche as Abbot of Tabo Monastery. Under his guidance, the monks and local communities are continuing to make progress in the spiritual as well as social realms.

Lama Sonam Ngödrub (Angrup)

Lama Sonam Ngödrup (Angrup) was born in Tabo in 1937. His admission to Tabo Monastery took place in 1951. 13 years later, he was ordained into the full order of bikshu in a ceremony led by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama at Dharamsala (India). He received a monastic education, including mantra chanting, performing the ritual cham dance and other ritual activities, and he undertook several retreats.

 

After holding the position of chanting master at Tabo Monastery, in 1970 Lama Sonam Ngödrup (Angrup), alongside Lama Sonam Tobgye, became joint Head Lama of the monastery, with each taking on the position for alternating three-year periods. The two lamas played an important role in the monastery’s development: together with the local communities of Tabo, Lari and Poh, they invited Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche to visit Tabo, and they also sent requests to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to lead Kalachakra initiations at Tabo Monastery. They also invited the current Abbot, Tulku Tenzin Kalden Rinpoche, to Tabo Monastery.

Lama Sonam Tobgye

Lama Sonam Tobgye was born in Kyurud in 1939. His admission to Tabo Monastery took place in 1950. 14 years later, he was ordained into the full order of bikshu in a ceremony led by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama at Dharamsala (India). He received a monastic education, including mantra chanting, performing the ritual cham dance and other ritual activities, and he undertook several retreats.

 

After holding the position of chanting master at Tabo Monastery, in 1970 Lama Sonam Tobgye, alongside Lama Sonam Ngödrup (Angrup), became joint Head Lama of the monastery, with each taking on the position for alternating three-year periods. The two lamas played an important role in the monastery’s development: together with the local communities of Tabo, Lari and Poh, they invited Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche to visit Tabo, and they also sent requests to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to lead Kalachakra initiations at Tabo Monastery. They also invited the current Abbot, Tulku Tenzin Kalden Rinpoche, to Tabo Monastery.

Photo by Eike Roswag-Klinge
Photo courtesy of Tsenshap Serkong Labrang
Photo by Rudi Kreisel

Contact

Tabo Monastery
The Institute of Studies in Buddhist Philosophy and Tribal Cultural Society (ISBP & TCS)
Village and P.O. Tabo
Distt. Lahaul and Spiti
Himachal Pradesh 172113
INDIA

 

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