History of the Samtenling monastery and the present monastery
It was with the blessing of 7th Dalai Lama and the 5th Penchen Rinpoche that the "Mani La Kha Temple" of Kyidrong known to Tashi Samtenling Monastery. Kyidrong which, means "Happy Valley" in Tibetan. The valley was also blessed by many other influential scholars, great practitioners, abbots, and lamas like the abbot Shantarakshita, Guru Rinpoche, Kamalashila, Jetsun Milarepa, Rendawa Shonu Lodro and so on. Particularly the spot was frequented by Jowo Je Palden Atisha to preach the Kadam tradition and he inscripted mani mantra on a rock to inspire the later followers. Therefore, the spot is called "Mani la kha".
The valley is located at the southern border of Tibet and Nepal. The author of "Seven years in Tibet" had described well in his book about the magnificent valley Kyidrong. In 18th century, the great practitioner and the personal tutor of H.H. the 8th Dalai Lama, Yeshi Gyaltsen established the original Samtenling Monastery in year 1756, at the spot.
Yongzen Yeshi Gyaltsen was born at Tsang Ta-Nak in Tibet in 1713. He studied Tashi Lhunpo monastery, Zhigatse, from where he obtained the highest academic degree(Kachen). He went to Kyidrong at the age of twenty three and resides there for fifteen years, where he interspersed long periods of solitary meditational practice with the granting and teaching to his disciples. Subsequence to this, he acted as the personal tutor of the 8th Dalai Lama for twelve years. He is held to be one of the greatest religious figures in Tibet. Combining great learning, pure conduct and the highest level of spiritual development. He also wrote protifically, leaving a legacy of 18 volumes of works pertaining to Buddhist philosophy, practice and ritual. He was well known in whole Tibet as a great practitioner of Lojong(training of mind). In Tibet, this monastery was the main center for Lamrim (The stage of paths) practitioners and obtaining the knowledge of the highest level in Buddhist Philosophy for people living in Tibet and Nepal border area. Samtenling's unique traditions basically derived from that time and have been uninterruptedly continued since then. Over the centuries Samtenling became particulary renowned for its careful observance of the monastic disciplines.
The present Samtenling Monastery is first monastery to be under the administration of The His Holiness The 14th Dalai lama and the tibetan Government. It’s recognised as the only one tibetan government monastery in Nepal.
The present Samtenling monastery is situated just next to the magnificent Bouddha Nath Stupa, Kathmandu, with a number of other monasteries. It is the oldest and first ever Tibetan monastery to be established in this historical location. After the upheaval in Tibet, the monks left their monastery, entering into Nepal in 1960. They reestablished the monastery close to the historic Bouddhanath Stupa in Nepal. From then until now they have worked hard to preserve their own unique traditions of chanting and ritual activities. In accordance with the wishes of the monastery's founder, they have maintained the practice of the stage of the path of rituals of the three main tantric deities of the Geluk tradition. As well as these activities, the monastery presently also provides a modern education for the younger monks. And in addition, there is training in some of the monastic arts : such as ritual decoration and offering, chanting, the playing of religious musical instruments and the performance of propitiation and tantric ceremonies. At present, the monastery has a hundred monks under its management including both the old and young monks. Most of these monks are from Tibet origin while many others are from the remote Himalayan regions of Nepal bordering Tibet such as District of Rasuwa, Manang, Sherpa and Tamang, etc. Moreover, the monastery also runs a school for its younger monks with a sole aim of providing the moral education apart from religious studies including courses in languages, etc. The number of young monks keep on increasing year by year due to many arrivals from Himalayan region which they cannot refuse to enroll them in the monastery.
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