The First Shangpa Rinpoche
Pilgrimage to Holy Places
The first Shangpa Rinpoche then went on pilgrimage to some holy places. A Tibetan man who served as his interpreter mentioned that when the first Shangpa Rinpoche saw the landing of an aeroplane for the first time at the Pokhara airport, he 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. Thus 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 His Holiness Dalai Lama and His Holiness Karmapa, along with many high Lamas were specially invited by the Indian government for the 2500th anniversary of Buddha's birth. He made many lamp and Tsog offerings at all the holy places. In the sweltering heat of India of that season he started to feel unwell. Together with his entourage he then went back to Nepal and from there, back to western Tibet.
Signs of Spiritual Accomplishment while Entering Nirvana
After Shangpa Rinpoche returned to Goshar Gompa in western Tibet, he asked my father to draw a thangka of the eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche. He told my father this might be his kyetag - mark of rebirth. Traditionally when someone has died, Tibetan people would draw a kyetag or purchase a statue to dedicate to the deceased. When the thangka was finished and offered Shangpa Rinpoche, he wanted to give my father presents but my father declined. However, Shangpa Rinpoche insisted and so my father accepted one piece of gold from him. By that time, Shangpa Rinpoche was very ill and my father had been drawing the thangka without much rest. While my father was there, Shangpa Rinpoche gave many important teachings to him, as well as to the many monks and lay people individually. His main teaching was about developing loving kindness, cultivating compassion and the practice of Chenrezig with the recitation of the 6 syllables mantra.
When his condition continued deteriorated, all the monks and my father offered khatas and other offerings to request him not to pass away and to remain. He told them that this time he could not continue to stay. However, his mission was only partially completed so they did not have to worry as he would come back again to see them. Till then they must practice well and develop Bodhichitta constantly because this human life is very precious and they should not waste it but make full use of it to liberate oneself and others from Samsara.
|Fig 14. Yellow flowers bloomed beautifully on the passing away of the 1st Shangpa Rinpoche|
My father was very sad that Shangpa Rinpoche was certainly going to pass away. He came back home and told this sad news to my mother. Both my father and mother cried the whole night. Shangpa Rinpoche passed away on a full moon day, in the early morning in the year 1957. When he passed away, there was a little bit of snowfall especially at the place where he had entered Samadhi.
The Tibetans believe that this sign was actually a rain of flowers showered by the Dakinis, welcoming one to a pure realm. One old disciple called Gelong Nam-kha told us that when Shangpa Rinpoche passed away and entered into the Thug-dam (Samadhi), the sky was filled with rainbows and also clouds shaped like all the eight auspicious signs manifested. His body remained in Samadhi for a week. It was the 8th lunar Tibetan month and usually the coldest season of the year. During that week however, the weather turned unusually warm, and a special kind of yellow flower, which was rare in that region, bloomed nearby. After he passed away, his body was preserved at Goshar Gompa until 1960. His disciples brought the body to Dolpo. They sought guidance from His Holiness the 16th Karmapa whether to creamte or preserve the body.
Some disciples asked His Holiness whether Shangpa Rinpoche had taken rebirth and how they may find him. His Holiness asked them to do a grand puja for his reincarnation. He also said that Shangpa Rinpoche's body should be brought back to Nepal for a proper cremation, which would be beneficial for the reincarnation. Following the instructions of His Holiness, the disciples returned and carried out His Holiness' advice. In 1961, the body was cremated in Dolpo. Eventually His Holiness sent a letter containing my parents' names and my zodiac animal as a direction to the reincarnation of the first Shangpa Rinpoche.