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Category: Wire

Indian spiritual leaders go green

This is a story filed by Madhusree Chatterjee of IANS and picked up by different news media, including Yahoo News and The Times of India. Click here to download the PDF version from Yahoo News or The Times of India.

New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) Indian spiritual sects are using their wide reach to promote green causes, using the fact that preservation of natural elements is at the country's spiritual core.

Less than a week ago, nearly 1,000 Buddhist monks, nuns and followers set off on a 400-km spiritual trek from Kardang in Lahaul Valley in Himachal Pradesh to Leh in Ladakh across five high Himalayan passes to promote protection of environment and sustainable lifestyles in the region.

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Category: Wire

Big B, pizzas and colas - Tibetan Buddhist masters love it all

April 14th, 2009 - by Anurag Sharma of PTI (Kathmandu)

If you believe spiritual gurus can only be associated with organic diets and religious sermons, think again!

Living a life of hermits hundreds of feet above sea level on the mountains of Kathmandu, these Buddhist masters swear by their love for mushroom pizza, branded colas and superstar actor Amitabh Bachchan.

Unlike some Indian spiritual leaders, masters of Drukpa lineage, a Buddhist Sect from Tibet, are not against fast foods or cold drinks and they say anything done by force doesn't work in society.

"Why would I tell anyone not to have pizza or cold drinks? It depends on the individual's choice and anything by force doesn't work. Mushroom pizza is my favorite food and I also don't mind having a cold drink with my meal," says the XIIth Gyalwang Drukpa, who heads the Drukpa lineage.

Some spiritual gurus like Swami Ramdev and Aasharam Bapu had in the past blamed the use of cold-drinks or junk food for the poor heath conditions in India.

The XIIth Gyalwang Drukpa, who also owns a blogsite with which he interacts with his followers was in Kathmandu where the Tibetan Drukpa lineage is hosting its maiden Annual Drukpa Council (ADC).

Over 2000 practitioners and more than 50 Buddhist masters from 67 countries are participating in the event from April 8-16.

Category: Wire

Buddhist Monks On Walkathon For Environment

A coverage by Kripa Krishnan, PTI. Click here to read news at source.

Manali, May 28 (PTI) Dressed in their deep red robes, monks and nuns of a 800-year-old Buddhist sect have begun a marathon padyatra to propagate environmental conservation and spread awareness about the indiscriminate use of plastics and motor vehicles.

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Tibetan Buddhist sect roots for more women masters

April 13th, 2009 - by Anurag Sharma of PTI (Kathmandu)

They have followers in millions, spread across the world but this 800-year-old Buddhist sect, Drukpa, feels that the world really does not know much about them.

More than 200 monks, volunteers of the sect have assembled here to discuss ways to promote and conserve the heritage. Letting women play a bigger role in this programmes is one step the sect wants to take.

The Drukpas, that has now come out into the open after centuries, is advocating for more nuns and female practitioners.

"Many forms of Buddhism had stopped giving importance to women. They seemed to be afraid of letting them speak freely and because they seemed to think it was against the teachings of the Buddha," His Holiness Jigme Pema Wangchen told PTI.

Wangchen, the present Gyalwang Drukpa and head of the 800-year-old lineage of Mahayana Buddhism, said he advocated for breaking the traditional man-made boundaries.

"Many spiritual leaders accused me of destroying the lineage when I invited nuns last year to perform the traditional masked dance at my monastery in Ladakh. I want to break the boundaries, which are man-made," said the XIIth Gyalwang Drukpa.

The Drukpa-also known as the dragon yogis have so far established more than five Buddhist nunneries in the Himalayas with approximately 500 nuns.

Category: Wire

News of the Pad Yatra at Reuters

To download the original news in PDF format, click here.

The 12th Gyalwang Drukpa, Jigme Pema Wangchen, smiles during a news conference in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh May 22, 2009. The Gyalwang Drukpa are a line of lamas believed to be re-incarnates, and are the heads of the Drukpa school of Tibetan Buddhism. The Gyalwang Drukpa on Friday announced the flagging-off of the Drukpa Pad Yatra (walking pilgrimage) between May 23 to July 3, 2009, when over 600 Buddhist monks will undertake a spiritual journey spanning 400 km (249 miles) across the Himalayan mountains from Manali to Ladakh. REUTERS/Ajay Verma (INDIA RELIGION SOCIETY)

Category: Wire

Tibetans coming to terms with women Buddhist masters

April 13th, 2009 - by Madhusree Chatterjee of IANS (Kathmandu)

The 800-year-old Tibetan Drukpa lineage of Buddhism - based in Nepal and practised in Bhutan and India - is empowering women, reviving the ancient tradition of women masters and monks that the Buddha encouraged.

Its head, the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa, has set a precedent by giving the order to its first ever woman master.

"In Tibetan Buddhism, we have no tradition of 'bikshunis' or women monks who practise the rigours of the faith and become masters on a par with men. But Buddhism is a very modern religion," the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa, who was born in Himachal Pradesh, told IANS in the Nepal capital.

"Buddha Sakyamuni (Gautam Buddha) treated his disciples equally, irrespective of gender.

"We are bringing the liberal gender order of Sakyamuni back despite protests by some Tibetan Buddhists that it is not right," said the spiritual leader.

In March 2008, the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa enthroned a London-born Buddhist nun Tenzin Palmo, recognising her as Jetsunma or "his venerable holiness" for her spiritual achievements.

She came to India in 1964 to study Buddhism. There she met her guru, the Kyabje Khamtrul Rinpoche, and became one of the first European-born women to be ordained a nun. Palmo now heads the Dongyu Gatsal Ling nunnery in Himachal Pradesh.

"I am very proud of Tenzin Palmo and I am encouraging her to bestow on us her lineage so that we can work together to bring the tradition back," the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa said.

He lamented that the Buddhist sects over the past few hundred years had ceased to allow women the freedom to speak on anything fearing that it would bequeath them power.

"I don't blame anyone. The male-dominated culture of our folds had made the masters conservative, which include the Dalai Lama and I. But connecting to people is good and beautiful and is in no way below dignity," he said.

The Drukpa nuns most often cannot be distinguished from their male counterparts in terms of their attire and religious practices, he said. Both have shaven heads and are clad in burgundy and saffron habits.

A high profile woman member of the Drukpa women's wing is 20-year-old erstwhile Chinese princess Jigme Cheneing Khandro from Nancheng province in China. She gave up her life of luxury to become a nun at the age of 12. It is an uncanny throwback to the life of Gautama Buddha himself.

But she protests with a nervous laugh. "Please don't compare my life with that of Sakyamuni," she said here.

The 40th in the 200-year-old line of royal scions, Jigme wants to help people in this life and get enlightened gradually. "It may not happen in this life," she said.

Her day at the monastery begins at 3 a.m. "I pray for two hours from 3 a.m.-5 a.m. and then recite the 'sutras' (mantras). It is followed by activities throughout the day till sundown," Jigme Cheneing said.
The Gyalwang Drukpa encourages the nuns to serve his order "and work in the office".

"I often tell them to drive cars to bring them on the same level with men. Last year, I invited the nuns to perform the traditional masked dance at my monastery in Ladakh.

"Everyone was shocked at the idea of women dancing with masks. But I said I was breaking boundaries - they are all man made - Chinese made, Tibetan made and Indian made...," the Buddhist master said.
The India-born Drukpa head has nearly 400 women nuns in his lineage. One of the managers at the nunnery at the Drukpa headquarters in Kathmandu is a former woman police officer from Jammu and Kashmir, Jigme Thupsten.

The Tibetan Drukpa lineage - or the order of the dragon yogis - which has come out in the open for the first time in 800 years - is hosting its maiden Annual Drukpa Council atop the hills on the outskirts of this city April 8-16.

Over 2,000 monks and high-profile devotees have assembled from across the globe to hear the Drukpa master's discourse on religion and chart plans of action to carry the religion worldwide.

India figures prominently on the list, the Gyalwang Drukpa said.

The sect, an offshoot of Mahayana Buddhism which believes in service and welfare of humanity, has nearly 250,000 followers worldwide. It is the official religion of Bhutan and has a large following in the Ladakh, Spiti, Lahaul and Zanskar regions in Himachal Pradesh and in Nepal.

Category: Wire

Himalayan Trek

This is a story filed by Madhusree Chatterjee of IANS.

New Delhi, May 9 (IANS). The Hemis monastery in Ladakh, a Buddhist state in India, is a flurry of activity through out the year.

It is the hub of an annual Himalayan walk that begins 23rd May and end on 3rd July 2009. The walk starts from Manali, Himachal Pradesh, and finishes in Hemis, Ladakh. covering a total journey of approximately 400km, crossing about five Himalayan passes, the highest of which are Shikunla and Singgela, both measuring approximately 5,200m above sea level

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Category: Wire

Tibet's Drukpa Buddhist sect to woo Indians

March 28th, 2009 - 3:25 pm ICT by IANS (New Delhi)

Drukpa, an 800-year-old Buddhist sect from Tibet, is coming out of its theological cloister to showcase its legacy - and it also wants to woo Buddhists in India.

Read more: Tibet's Drukpa Buddhist sect to woo Indians

Category: Wire

Venerable Master Hsin Tao of Ling Chiou Mountain Visits Zhichen Bairo Ling

Translated from original Chinese article, posted on NowNews (Taiwan).

All photos, courtesy of Venerable Master Hsin Tao and Ling Chiou Mountain.

Read more: Venerable Master Hsin Tao of Ling Chiou Mountain Visits Zhichen Bairo Ling