Images of Drikung Katsel Monastery, Tibet


Katsel Monastery, one of the oldest monasteries in Tibet, was built by Dharma King Songsten Gampo in the 7th century in an effort to control a local demonic force that was interfering with establishing the Dharma in Tibet. This force was seen as a great ogress, and a system of twelve temples were built to control her. The Jo Khang nails down her heart, and Katsel binds her right leg. The Nyingma, Gelug, and Kagyu lineages of Tibetan Buddhism all have shared in Katsel's rich history. In the 16th century, Rinchen Puntsok, the 17th Drikung lineage holder, gave Yangzab teachings at Katsel, and from that point on, Katsel became Drikung Kagyu.

A historical highlight: Lama Sonam said that Takpa monastery has a close connection with Katsel, and they have helped each other in the past, and are still helping each other today. During the Mongolian invasion of Tibet, Takpa monastery, a Gelug institution, gave Katsel tea cups with the Gelug insignia on them. Tagtdu Rinpoche showed the Mongolian leader these cups, and Katsel was spared from the fate of being burned. The other monasteries in the area were not so fortunate. During the recent Cultural Revolution, Katsel was completely destroyed. The pictures are the result of the recent effort to rebuild Kasel.

From Hun's Summer 2007 Blog:
Katsel Monastery is one of the most ancient sites - being one of the temples built by the order of King Songtsen Gampo, serving as a "stake" to hold down the srinmo that is Central Tibet. Sometime in its history, Katsel came under the influence and control of Drigung Kagyu. Today, Nyidak Rinpoche is the head-lama there and has tirelessly worked on reconstruction. Katsel currently has 36 monks in residence.

After the passing of Drubwang Tenzin Nyima Rinpoche (the Thripon of Drigung-til) last year, Nyidak Rinpoche is the most senior lama in the area. As you can see in the pics above, Rinpoche is highly revered and an endless flow of pilgrims come to seek his blessings. He does not assume the air of an important lama but definitely carries the burden of one. "May the Lama have good health and long-live, And that his enlightened-activities spread far and wide."

Our driver Lobsang had an interesting experience while at Katsel. We had all gone down to look around Katsel and there were no signs that Rinpoche was in but Rinpoche returned about 20 minutes later from Meldro Gongkar town nearby. We were all ushered into the guest room. Very soon lots of Tibetan pilgrims were gathered outside the room seeking blessings from Rinpoche. We didn't want to take up more of Rinpoche's time. After Rinpoche gave each of us a katag and blessing we left. Our cook, his assistants also got Rinpoche's blessings. As we were walking down to the bus, Lobsang came running towards the guest room with katag and offering in hand, having realized that Rinpoche had come back. He handed the keys to the bus to Bill G. and told us to go ahead first.

We sat in the bus for a few minutes before seeing Lobsang running back to the bus, huffing and puffing. When he got to the bus he related to us that he had gone to see Rinpoche with a specific problem/question that he needed advice on. But when he finally found Rinpoche, Rinpoche was already surrounded by many pilgrims and thus he thought he had lost the chance. But he pushed his way through the crowd (it's acceptable here) to offer Rinpoche the katag and offering. When he finally got close to Rinpoche, Rinpoche turned around, looked at him and gave him the answer to his question! Lobsang was so shocked and awed that he just put the katag and offering on a table and ran off! As the prayer says, "Lama Khyenno" ("The Lama Knows!")

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