A way of paying tribute to Penor Rinpoche

by M B Maramkal, TNN, May 4, 2009

BYLAKUPPE, India -- Hundreds of Buddhist monks, scholars and devotees from Tibetan camps in India and other parts of the world are making a beeline to this Tibetan settlement camp to pay their reverences to the departed monk whose body is being preserved here at Nyingma Monastery's golden temple since the last 31 days.

Penor Rinpoche, one of the top men in the hierarchy of Tibetan Buddhism next to Dalai Lama died on April 3. He was heading Nyingma Monastery, one of the four traditions and schools of thought of Tibetan Buddhism.

Nyingma thought of school of Buddhism involves itself with ancient translations of Tibetan Buddhism and their studies. Born in Tibet in 1932, Penor Rinpoche was one of the high order Lamas to accompany Dalai Lama to India after the Chinese intrusion of Tibet in 1959. The monk also ran a charity foundation.

Though preserving of monks bodies is not a new phenomenon in Tibet, this is the first time the body of a monk is being preserved in a monastery in Karnataka and second such incident in India. Ling Rinpoche, one of the religious teachers of Dalai Lama is being preserved at Dharmashala in Himachal Pradesh for the last 20 years. One more monk's body is being preserved in Nepal.

As per the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, bodies of monks of high order are
preserved. According to Tibetans this is done for two reasons. Firstly to
help the followers and devotees of the respective schools of thoughts of
Tibetan Buddhism to pay their homage and perform various obsequies
associated with Tibetan Buddhist traditions and secondly as a generation to the departed monks.

The body of Rinpoche pasted with mud has been kept at golden temple and after various rituals and poojas it will be shifted to the first floor and will lie in a state of rest for a year. On completion of one year, religious heads connected with Nyingma monastery will decide whether to cremate the body or preserve it further.

"We have used both modern techniques and Buddhist traditions and customs to preserve the body of Penor Rinpoche to prevent it's decomposition", Sonan Tsewang a Buddhist scholar from Nyingma Monastery revealed to the Times of India, adding that three monks incarnated by Penor Rinpoche and other three scholars of Nyingma thought of school based on various parameters of Buddhism will decide whether to cremate and recover the relics or to preserve it indefinitely. It is said that disciples of Penor Rinpoche are spread all over the world and many are yet to visit Bylakuppe.