Author Topic: Nepalese woman sponsors a Kangyur recital  (Read 5529 times)


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Nepalese woman sponsors a Kangyur recital
« on: July 17, 2012, 01:55:34 PM »
I really admire the courage and devotion of this woman to use ALL of her life savings to sponsor a Kangyur reading. How many of us would actually be able to do that? I really rejoice for her meritorious action! Hope to hear more of these in the future :)

A Rare Buddhist Ceremony in Queens, Paid for With a Life’s Savings
Brian Harkin for The New York Times

Dayangji Sherpa, left, dances at a celebration in Elmhurst, Queens, marking the end of a monthlong reading of the Tibetan-language Buddhist liturgy. Ms Sherpa, a 54-year-old home health care attendant, used her life savings of about $50,000 to sponsor the reading, a rarely held ceremony. More Photos »
Published: July 16, 2012

Dayangji Sherpa lives with her 25-year-old daughter, Nima, in a one-bedroom apartment in Woodside, Queens, where they sleep in the same bed to save money. But on Sunday, they stood on a dais before an altar of glittering gold Buddhas while some of the highest-ranked Buddhist monks from around the region bowed their heads to the women and showered them with benedictions. It was the culmination of a rare ceremony where every single text of their Buddhist canon is read from morning until night by monks, who are fed, housed and paid by a sponsor until all 108 books are read.

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It took more than a month. And it cost more than $50,000 — the elder Ms. Sherpa’s life savings.

Completing the Kangyur, the Tibetan-language version of the sacred Buddhist texts, is done as a form of prayer for peace for all sentient beings, several monks explained. For nearly 40 days, ending last week, about a dozen monks called from around the region read eight hours a day, aloud and simultaneously, seated cross-legged in a converted brick church in Elmhurst.

There had never been such a reading in New York, according to Urgen Sherpa, 41, a former general secretary of Sherpa Kyidug, which represents Sherpas in the United States, including an estimated 2,000 to 2,500 in New York. (Mr. Sherpa is not related to Ms. Sherpa: many Sherpas, who are an ethnic group from high in the Himalayas in eastern Nepal, use the surname.) Kangyur readings are rarely commissioned even in Nepal, Mr. Sherpa said, because of the high cost.

Ms. Sherpa, 54, a home health aide, estimates she paid about $111 per monk per day. It included twice-daily meals of Nepalese and Tibetan comfort food at Himalayan Yak restaurant on Roosevelt Avenue and an attendant to provide an endless supply of traditional salted butter tea. Other members of the community also made donations.

“People can do this, but nobody does it,” Ms. Sherpa said. “I’m not rich. I wanted a do a good thing.”

In a fur hat, her long braid laced with pink thread, Ms. Sherpa doled out envelopes of money to each monk on Sunday, her daughter following behind her. As trumpets sounded and cymbals clashed, she limped across the dais on her artificial leg: When she was 8, her leg was amputated after it was crushed by an avalanche while she tended yaks near Kunde, her village. At 22, her family disowned her when she eloped with a man from a lower caste. When she was five months pregnant with Nima, the couple split up; Ms. Sherpa raised her daughter alone, eventually immigrating to the United States about a decade ago.

Even in a religion that rejects materialism, her modest means made the ceremony noteworthy, said Sherry Ortner, an anthropology professor at the University of California Los Angeles and an author on Sherpa culture.

Ms. Sherpa’s father and grandfather, who owned a successful teahouse near the Mount Everest base camp, each sponsored such a reading in the past. Ms. Ortner said that in Tibet and Nepal, such events are typically paid for by the wealthy. That a person of lesser means is sponsoring the Kangyur in the United States suggests that in the diaspora those old hierarchies are shifting. “The status system is changed,” she said.

Spending her savings was an act of faith, said Mr. Sherpa of the community association. Buddhism rejects materialism as one of the Three Poisons that lead to suffering. “She is giving away some materials,” he said. “That means a destroying of one of the poisons: greed, attachment.”

Pema Sherpa, a nanny, makes $700 a week and has supported one of the monks for the past two years and will continue to do so indefinitely, providing him a room in her house and $600 a month. She explained Dayangji Sherpa’s generosity: “What do you need in life? You have food, shelter, what else do you want? This is karma.”

As the final ceremony wrapped up, Nima wearily removed her hat. She had quit her job at a bus company to tend to the monks, brewing vats of butter tea in the basement and even cleaning the toilets. Her devotion was to her mother as much as the faith, she said, explaining that her Nepalese peers felt similar commitment to their parents: “We feel like we owe them our life, because they’ve done so much for us in our life.”

After nearly 40 days bound to the monks, the moment was bittersweet, she said. Not that there was time for nostalgia. “First thing I’m going to do tomorrow,” she said, standing in her floor-length traditional gown, “is wake up and look for a job.”

« Last Edit: July 20, 2012, 09:32:32 AM by Big Uncle »


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Re: Nepalese woman sponsors a Kangyur recital
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2012, 11:57:24 AM »
Rejoice! Brought tears to my eyes for all that she went through and the offerings from her savings. How many of us can do so I wonder too Ensapa. Wouldn't it be great if I can read Tibetan! So I can also be part of the recitation when the time comes.

The meaning of “Kangyur” is “the translated words (of the Buddha)”. It is the entire collection of texts regarded as buddhavacana or “Buddha-word”, translated into Tibetan.

The texts considered to be “Buddha-word” are the records not only of the Buddha’s own discourses, but also of teachings and explanations given by others––often by his close disciples with his approval, or by other enlightened beings. Also included are systematic compilations of the Buddha’s pronouncements on particular topics, e.g. the rules of monastic discipline in the Vinaya texts.

The genres or categories of texts contained within the Kangyur include:

Vinaya (dealing mainly with monastic discipline)
Prajñaparamita (the texts on the “transcendent perfection of wisdom”)
Avatasaka (the “Flower-Ornament” collection of related sutras)
Ratnakua (the “Heap of Jewels” class of sutras)
Other sutras
Tantra (the texts of the Vajrayana or “adamantine vehicle”)
Nyingma Tantra (the tantras brought to Tibet in the early translation period)
Dharai (short texts based on formulae for recitation)
Kalacakra (tantras belonging to the “Wheel of Time” class)

The texts were brought to Tibet from India and translated into Tibetan over a long period. The “early period” of translation started in the 7th century, reaching a high point in the 8th and early 9th centuries with a well-developed centralised organisation under royal patronage. There was a break during political upheavals from the mid 9th century, and the “later period” started in the late 10th century.

Multiple copies of the manuscripts of the translated texts were made and kept in different monasteries, but they were not treated as a formalised collection for several centuries. The work of ordering and classifying them into genres began with simple descriptive inventories, and by the early 14th century major efforts were being made to collect copies and compile and edit definitive collections, perhaps inspired by the example of what Chinese scholars had done, as well as in response to the circulation of multiple versions and variations of many texts.

Tenzin K

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Re: Nepalese woman sponsors a Kangyur recital
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2012, 11:53:16 AM »
Wow, Dayangji Sherpa indeed is a great lady. Sponsoring the Kangyur using her life saving really shows her great spiritual practice.

By contributing to the recitation of the Kangyur, you create a vast amount of merit and there is so much purification. Even very heavy obstacles are removed. In India, Tibet and Nepal, there is a tradition of making request to the great monasteries to perform recitation of the Kangyur, when one experiences great obstacles, such as life threatening obstacles, obstacles for success or heavy sicknesses.

By making extensive prayers and offerings with sincere motivation, unfavourable circumstances that bring problems can be changed. It is said that prayers performed by ordained ones are particularly powerful and effective as they are done on the base of pure morality. In addition, making offerings to an assembly of sangha during a puja collects extensive merit and purifies obstacles.