Tibet’s Drukpa Buddhist sect to woo Indians

IANS, March 28, 2009

New Delhi, India -- 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.

The sect is set to host its first annual Drukpa Council April 6-15 in Kathmandu to familiarise followers of Buddhism with the faith, Drukpa spokesperson Jigme Semzang Soo told IANS here.

“Drukpa, rooted in spirituality and principle of service to mankind, teaches that others should be enlightened before self, unlike many other Buddhist schools of thought which preaches enlightenment of the self. One of the primary objective of the conference is to bring the order to India,” said Soo, who gave up her job as a software executive to join the order.

Members of the congregation will display the sacred symbol of the Drukpa, the heart relic of a spiritual head of the order, the fourth Gyalwang Drukpa, for the first time in 400 years.

The order is now led by the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa.

Drukpa, one of the four sects of Mahayana Buddhism, is the predominant religion of Bhutan and has a wide following in Nepal, Tibet and Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir.

But it has few followers in the rest of India although Buddhism originated from this country.

Drukpa has an interesting lineage. In the 12th century, the great lord of human compassion, Avalokiteshvara (an incarnation of a Tibetan king), appeared in Tibet as Drogon Tsangpa Gyare, a Buddhist monk.

One evening in 1206, Tsangpa saw nine dragons fly into the sky from the ground (in Namdruk) and named his lineage Drukpa - or the lineage of the dragons. Tsangpa Gyare became the founder of the lineage and came to be known as the first Gyalwang Drukpa.

The teaching of the first Tsangpa, Soo said, were sometimes attended by as many as 50,000 people at a given time.

It was recorded that he had 88,000 followers, of whom 28,000 were enlightened yogis. His order became known for purity, simplicity and asceticism and the profundity of its spiritual teachings.