The First Shangpa Rinpoche
The first Shangpa Rinpoche later returned to Nepal and after that, he travelled to Mustang and gave teachings to the King of Mustang who became a close disciple. The King of Mustang followed him to many places, while receiving the teachings and engaging in practice. He mastered the practice of Chod under Shangpa Rinpoche’s guidance.
Once when the first Shangpa Rinpoche was in Marang Village, Upper Mustang, the people came to ask for his help, as they felt the presence of negative forces in their village. Seeing the need to provide blessings and to restore peace and confidence in the people, Rinpoche built eight stupas in the village.
Wherever there was news of disaster, the villagers would seek to see Rinpoche and he would build stupas to bestow blessings. In this way, Rinpoche built many stupas in different parts of Mustang to bring benefit to the villagers and place. Due to his compassionate activities, the villagers of Mustang respected him greatly and consulted him for their problems. Gaining great confidence and love in the hearts of the people, Rinpoche also gave them many heart teachings which benefitted them greatly.
Jomson - Ku-tsab Ter-nga Temple
|Fig 9. Kutsab Ternga Temple|
The first Shangpa Rinpoche also rebuilt the Kut-sab Ter-nga Temple in Jomson. This was a very old temple that housed five treasures representing Guru Rinpoche. It was said that one great Lama who wished to build a temple to enshrine the five treasures did a prayer to the dharma protectors. A crow came and took one plate of his Torma offering. He then followed the path of crow on its flight. The crow finally dropped the plate at that place in Jomson. The Lama then decided to build the temple there.
When the first Shangpa Rinpoche visited the temple, it was already in a state of ruin. Certain parts had already collapsed. Rinpoche decided to restore the temple. He stayed for almost three years in the region in order to complete its restoration. Of the little money that was given to him, he dedicated all to the restoration of the temple. Rinpoche installed a big Mani wheel and each day he would sit near the Mani wheel reciting mantra and turning the wheel. When the work was completed, he performed many grand pujas and made Mendrup pills as well. He handed over the newly restored temple to the village and ordained several monks.
Pilgrims today can contemplate the words of the first Shangpa Rinpoche inscribed on a tablet on the temple wall. I share them here with my explanation and translation.
|Fig 10. Words of the first Shangpa Rinpoche inscribed on a tablet|
"I pay homage to the Triple Gem in the auspicious month of the Water Dragon year;
In the land of Guru Rinpoche's prophecy called Ku-tsab Ter-nga as uncertainty loomed, Shangpa in yellow robes wandered everywhere on foot;
Lobsang Chophel by chance reached this holy land.
In early times, this place flourished with dharma, with time, it became mere ruins.
Thus sincere disciples and sponsors from Nepal and western Tibet, particularly the residents of the twelve villages surrounding Mustang contributed towards the rebuilding of this place.
Their devotion and contribution were for both the living and the dead.
In order not to waste illusion-like wealth, spending 20,000 Nepalese coins,
Everyone began the restoration of the dilapidated temple, led by the head of the Sangha of Sonpo village Prasad.
In the spring of the Fire Monkey year from 1st to 15th (full moon), for half a month, Shangpa Lama, monks and nuns, altogether sixty of us, conducted the nectar-pill making ceremony. This auspiciously coincided with the consecration of the temple.
By this merit may the Buddha Dharma sustain and flourish, and may all great masters live long.
May all sentient beings be endowed with happiness.
Ultimately, may masters and disciples within one Mandala all atain perfect enlightenment."
Today the elder monks from the Ku-tsab Ter-nga Temple, who knew the first Shangpa Rinpoche recall much of those times when he was present. With each visit, I learn from them the stories of how the temple was built as well as what the first Shangpa Rinpoche has said and other anecdotes.
|Fig 11. The 2nd Shangpa Rinpoche and Kut-sab Tern-nga Lama-elders|
There were also joyful tales told and retold by the monks like this one: During the stay of the first Shangpa Rinpoche in Jomson, the lives of people there were threatened by famined caused by drought. In order to bring benefits and blessings to the people, Rinpoche made and buried many treasure vases in the Dhumba Lake near the temple. These meritorious acts brought rain that relieved and gladdened the villagers.
So each time I visit the temple, I feel I am back to these moments of the past and a blissful feeling arises. In fact the monks and people there always consider me as their Lama. With my assistance, the temple can have good progress. I also offer my help by training their monks at Pokhara. One monk is already in the three-year-retreat and could potentially be beneficial to the temple. Each time I visit, I contribute a little bit of money for the monks' education. While the sum is not considerable, they are deeply appreciative of my gestures of thought and care.
Muktinath - A Holy Place with Sacred Spring Water
|Fig 12. Blessed spring source in Muktinath|
The first Shangpa Rinpoche continued to Mukinath. Muktinath is a sacred place of eighty-four Mahasiddhas who, through their pure vision, found this place to be a mandala of Chakrasamvara. It is also a holy place of Guru Rinpoche. As stated in an old scripture, Muktinath is home to blessed spring water sources, which will purify one's karma immensely.
Even the most negative karma that may remain would manifest less severely. The water can also cure many sicknesses, and even enhance the realisation of one's practice because of the aspirations and blessings of the eighty-four Mahasiddhas. It is renowned for the hundred bronze pipes, fixed by the previous Shangpa Rinpoche, from which spring water flows from spouts in the form of animal heads.
At Muktinath some people offered a small piece of land to him. He built a small temple where he stayed for a while. Later on, he asked a monk, who was also a Tibetan physician, to stay there and he himself left for Manang.
Manang - Milarepa's Cave
At Manang he visited Milarepa's cave. At the same time, he went to a few villages in Manang to give the people initiations and teachings. Manang is also the birthplace of Maniwa Lama Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche. Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche still remembers the time when when Shangpa Rinpoche visited Manang when he was a little boy. One day, Lama Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche found a Buddhist text flying in the sky and he managed to retrieve it. His parents, who witnessed the incident, quickly brought their son to see Shangpa Rinpoche for a blessing. They also asked him the significance of their son having found this text. Shangpa Rinpoche did not mention anything about the text but he kept it. He told the parents that their son must be ordained as monk, otherwise he will face a big obstacle. So his parents took him to Rumtek and the boy became a monk there under His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa. Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche shared his story with me. He also said that due to the guidance from the first Shangpa Rinpoche, that he became a monk and a practitioner without facing any obstacles.
| Fig 13. The second Shangpa Rinpoche with Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche
It was during this period that Professor David Snellgrove, an author on pilgrimage through the Himalayas, met the first Shangpa Rinpoche for the first time at Kagbeni, Mustang while travelling to upper Mustang. The first Shangpa Rinpoche told him that they would meet again soon. True enough, they met for the second time upon the first Shangpa Rinpoche's return to Manang. Professor Snellgrove was the only person to have taken a photograph of the first Shangpa Rinpoche, so that we have this precious impression of his likeness. In his book, Professor Snellgrove mentioned that when he went to see the Lama of Shang Pi Gompa, Shangpa Rinpoche gave him a few coins and asked him to have a drink of chang. He was very surprised that this Lama not only did not expect anything from him, but even gave him money.
I thanked him for having taken a wonderful photo of the first Shangpa Rinpoche, which he passed to me himself during his visit to Nepal eight years ago. At that time he still looked very fit and active. He told me that he had retired and was staying in an island in Indonesia. Since then, I have not met him again.
Shangpa Rinpoche then went on pilgrimage to some holy places. A Tibetan man who acted as his interpreter, mentioned that, when Shangpa Rinpoche was at Pokhara airport and saw an aeroplane landing for the first time, he was very scared and asked the interpreter, "There is such a loud noise coming from the plane, is it going to explode?" The interpreter explained that it was normal for an aeroplane to be noisy. So, Shangpa Rinpoche took the plane to Kathmandu and visited all the holy places there.
After that, with some of his disciples, he travelled to India. At that time, HH Dalai Lama and HH Karmapa, along with many high Lamas were specially invited by the Indian government for the 2500th anniversary of Buddha’s birth. He made lots of lamp and tsog offerings to all the holy places and then, due to the heat of India, he started to feel unwell. His entourage then went back to Nepal and, from there, back to west Tibet.