Shechen Tennyi Dargyeling Monastery, Baudanath, Nepal
Shechen Monastery, one the six main Nyingma monasteries of Tibet, was destroyed in the late 1950’s. In exile, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche transplanted the rich tradition of the original Shechen Monastery to a new home — a magnificent monastery near the great Stupa of Bodhnath, Nepal. It was his wish that this monastery would maintain the philosophical, contemplative, and artistic traditions of the mother monastery.
In 1980, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche began building Shechen Tennyi Dargyeling Monastery in the Kathmandu Valley. For almost ten years, master craftsmen, stonemasons, sculptors, painters, goldsmiths, and master tailors worked to make the monastery one of the most beautiful examples of Tibetan art.
The walls of the main temple are covered with frescoes depicting the history of Tibetan Buddhism and the important teachers from its four main schools. The monastery has over one hundred and fifty statues and one of the largest Tibetan libraries in the East.
The present abbot of Shechen Monastery is the seventh Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche, the grandson and spiritual heir of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.
Four hundred monks from across the Himalayan region study and live at the monastery. They receive a lively education that, besides Buddhist philosophy, also includes music, dance and painting. In the elementary school, 120 children from age five to fourteen are offered a complete education combining traditional subjects with a modern curriculum.
Once they graduate from the school, they begin a two-year course focused on ritual arts that includes memorization of liturgical texts, learning ritual musical instruments, and training in sacred chants and dances, as well as pursuing their meditation sessions.
In 1989, Rabjam Rinpoche established The Shechen Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies (a philosophical college or shedra) at the monastery. Over 130 students from across the Himalayas are enrolled in its nine-year curriculum. Many of the graduates are teachers throughout the world.
Ceremonies are conducted throughout the year including drupchens (ceremonies lasting nine consecutive days and nights). In connection with these an annual two-day sacred dance festival is held in the monastery’s courtyard. Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche, the reincarnation of Dilgo Khyentse, presides over all the major ceremonies.
Shechen Monastery in Tibet was famous for its particular style of cham (sacred dance). Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche revitalized that tradition.
Throughout the year, Shechen monks organize events for the public and serve the spiritual needs of the local community. Every summer the monks participate in the traditional summer retreat (yarney) practiced since the time of the Buddha. Some of our monks are participating in the Science for Monks program in Dharmsala, India, and in the fall of 2012 Shechen hosted a conference exploring this subject. For more information, see our Summer Newsletter.
The monastery provides for the monks’ complete education in addition to covering all expenses for their food, shelter, clothing, and medical care.
Adjacent to the monastery is the Shechen Guest House for visiting tourists and pilgrims.
You can help to support the monastery by joining one of Shechen’s Sponsorship Programs. This is a heartwarming and unique opportunity to enable a young person to receive an education and become a vital link for future generations.
Tibetan Painting and Monastic Life, a video presented by the Rubin Museum of Art gives a good overview of life in the monastery.