On 21 April 2004, Rinpoche revealed his aspirations of building a monastery in Bhutan to His Holiness the 17th Karmapa in India. His Holiness not only commended and supported the idea, but also conferred the name ” Karma Thegsum Dhechenling” to the proposed monastery and blessed Rinpoche’s future dharma activities both to Buddhism and the Karma Kagyu Lineage as a whole. This made an auspicious origination for the construction of Karma Thegsum Dhechenling.
To ensure proper management of the monastery upon its completion and to train up young monks as soon as possible, Rinpoche set about recruiting monks at the start of the project. The recruitment received overwhelming response and 27 young boys were recruited. At the same time, construction works also commenced on 29 April 2004.
To remove obstacles and assist in the success of the project, a three-storey high “Stupa of Victory” was constructed near the monastery site. The stupa consecration ceremony was held on 29 May 2006. Over the past few years, Rinpoche has worked tirelessly to bring the project to fruition. The multifarious works included road construction, building huge water tanks, laying electric cables, planting trees, selecting construction materials, timber seasoning, design and construction of the monastery building, wood crafting, stupa construction, building monks’ quarters and etc..
The main shrine hall houses the three large statues of Buddha Shakyamuni, Padmasambhava, and the 8th Karmapa. In the course of designing these statues, the renowned Bhutanese artist Lopon Karma took the maquettes to India to seek the advice of His Holiness the Karmapa. Within the nine-day period, the maquettes were placed in the Karmapa’s room and were blessed by His Holiness. The Karmapa also gave valuable views on the modelling of the statues. He was very impressed with the design of the Padmasambhava statue with Bhutanese features. As for the Buddha statue, His Holiness suggested that it should be modelled upon the statue of Buddha Shakyamuni in Bodhgaya, India. The most wondrous statue of all is the 8th Karmapa statue is modelled on a statue which the 8th Karmapa had made of himself.
All the three large statues (the statue of Buddha Shakyamuni is about three storeys in height, while the other two statues are two storeys high) in the main shrine hall is inlaid with gold. The other statues of Avalokiteshvara, Green Tara, Vajrapani, Medicine Buddha, Vajrasattva, Thousand- Armed Avalokiteshvara, Green Tara, Vajrakilaya, Guru Rinpoche, Zhabdrung Ngagwang Namgyal, Pema Lingpa, Vaishravana, etc. (each measuring six feet in height) are all beautifully made and inspire reverence in anyone who see them. The four walls of the main shrine is covered with huge frescoes measuring up to 25 feet in height, depicting Vajradhara; the lineage measters Tilpoa, Naropa, Milarepa; the 1st, 3rd, 8th and 16th Karmapas; Zhabdrung; Pema Lingpa and etc..
Karma Thegsum Dhechenling is the only monastery in Bhutan that adopts the Karma Ghadri painting style (one of the major schools of Tibetan thangka painting), which is a combination of the painting styles of the Tibet, ancient India and China. This style was also employed by the 10th Karmapa in many of his paintings. On the ceiling of the main shrine hall are 35 mandalas of the Karma Kagyu lineage, all exquitely and meticulously painted. Also, surrounding the monastery are 32 stupas built in the form of the eight great stupas of the Tathagata. Commemorative of the eight great events of the Buddha’s life, the stupas will bring protection and prosperity to the monastery and its dharma activities.
Karma Thegsum Dhechenling brings together the artistic, cultural and religion. The fine materials employed, the exquite workmanship and the distinctive style have won numerous acclaim from the various sectors. To date, around HK$26 million was spent on the construction project and each dollar spent is well worth.
To help promote the dharma activities of the Karma Kagyu lineage, Rinpoche commissioned the production of a giant thangka of the Karma Kagyu Lineage Refuge Tree in Nepal on 4 April 2009. Measuring 50 feet on each side, it is by far the world’s largest thangka of the Karma Kagyu Lineage Refuge Tree, with the figures of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, Yidams, Dharma Protectors, Sanghas and Kagyu lineage masters all finely appliqued. This giant thangka will be displayed each year together with prayers, pujas and lama dances in the festival, thus create karmic connections between sentient beings and the Buddha.
On this auspicious occasion of the official consecration of Karma Thegsum Dhechenling, we extend our warmest welcome to everyone who are connected to us, in one way or another, to come and join in the celebrations.