Since the time of Shakyamuni Buddha’s death, Buddhists have constructed stupas containing the relics of enlightened teachers and they have become places of veneration and pilgrimage throughout the world.
What is a Stupa
The Tibetan word for stupa is “chöten.” “Chö ” means “offerings” and “ten” means “basis or support,” thus the stupa is the basis or support for the offerings that have been placed inside it. More than just a symbol, a stupa is an architectural rendering of the Buddhist path– the stages and aspects of enlightenment
Transmitting the Essence of Awakened Mind
When a great Buddhist teacher leaves his or her physical existence, the body that remains is permeated with the essence of awakened mind, possessing tremendous power and blessings. Through its design and contents, a stupa has the power to transmit the essence of awakened mind, on the spot, to anyone ready to receive it.
Represents the Buddha’s First Teachings
In the Tibetan tradition there are eight kinds of stupas representing eight major events in the life of the Buddha. The Tashi Gomang Stupa commemorates the Buddha’s first teachings in Benares (Varanasi) when he expounded the Four Noble Truths and the Twelve Links of Interdependence. These teachings reveal the truth of suffering, the cause of suffering and the skillful means to bring about the cessation of suffering and the path to enlightenment.
Offerings Inside the Stupa
The Tashi Gomang Stupa is totally enclosed and contains many special objects. Offerings were placed underneath it in tribute to the goddess of the earth and local deities. It was considered essential to ask their permission before construction could take place.
The base, or throne of the stupa was filled with juniper which has special powers of purification. Offering vases were placed in the juniper along with musical instruments, medicines, herbs, food, precious substances, silks, brocades and perfumes. Through the blessings of the stupa, these substances will work to bring good health, harmony, peace, and prosperity to its surroundings and the world.
Filled With 100,000 Miniature Stupas
The stupa has been filled with 100,000 tsa-tsas (or miniature stupas) made by volunteers. Within each tsa-tsa is a roll of prayers, and mantras. The tsa-tsas were blessed and consecrated by visiting lamas before being placed inside the stupa.
Life Force Pole
The tsok-shing or “life force” pole (tsok – life-force, shing – wood) was placed in the center of the bell-shaped body of the stupa and reaches to the top of the spire. It was carved from a juniper tree into the shape of an obelisk, with a half dorje (vajra – thunderbolt) at the bottom and a small stupa at the top. Precious relics were placed in the life-force pole and then it was painted, inscribed in gold with the Buddha’s teachings, and wrapped in silks and brocades. It rests on two mandalas, also covered with offerings.
Statue of the 16th Karmapa
The statue of His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, wearing his Black Crown, was placed at the front of the stupa. Artisans in Nepal made the statue and its encasing niche and frame, as well as the ornamentation on top of the spire. The gold leaf finish and additional ornamentation was done in the Baca Grande. Inside the statue is another tsok-shing, rolls of mantras, and relics from all sixteen Karmapas and other saints.
Relics of Meditation Masters
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye
Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
Also inside the stupa are earth, water, and stone from the eight great pilgrimage sites in India; wood from the Bodhi tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment, water from a cave of Milarepa, and other sacred objects.
The Tashi Gomang Stupa embodies His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa. In the words of H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche: “Within the stupa the teacher remains unchanging. The Buddha said that whoever sees the stupa will be liberated by the sight of it. Feeling the breeze around the stupa liberates by its touch. Having thus seen or experienced the stupa, by thinking of one’s experience of it, one is liberated through recollection.”
The Stupa is maintained solely by donations. Please visit the donations page to find out how you can help maintain this sacred monument.
Eye of the Land
“Eye of the Land,” a film about the creation of the Tashi Gomang Stupa, is available from Crestone Films.