OUR STORY : THE YESHE DE PROJECT
One of the greatest text project in the world for the preservation of the wisdom of the tibetan buddhism.
Full Circle Wisdom
In 1958 left the young Lama Tarthang Tulku Ripoche his home land Tibet to Sikkim after he has been studying with the greatest masters of Eastern Tibet. The reason for his trip was to be with his root Guru Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö who left Tibet in 1956 and moved to Sikkim. There he received many teachings and was guided to do several pilgrimages including to Bodhgaya, one of the holiest places in Buddhism where Buddha attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. In those days the place was neglected and Tarthang Tulku took a vow to sponsor ceremonies in this place and restore its former glory.
In the following years, Tibet became fully occupied by China leading to the departure of H.H. the Dalai Lama to India. During the following years about one million Tibetan lost their lives and about 6,000 monasteries were destroyed and precious sacred art and Buddhist texts were lost. Thousands of people fled Tibet to India or Nepal crossing the Himalayas carrying sacred art or precious texts to be saved for future generations.
In 60’s Tarthang Tulku was teaching in the Sanskrit University at Varanasi. In his free time he started Dharma Mudranalaya meaning Dharma Press, named after the traditional Tibetan printing house in Derge, Tibet. He had to adopt new printing and business skills and was able to print twenty texts from Nyingma masters enabling practitioners in exile to continue their studies.
In 1969 Tanthang Tulku Rinpoche moved to Berkley California where he established the Nyingma center. In 1975 Dharma Publishing and Dharma Press were born.
The preservation of Tibetan texts started to take shape with three big collections of Tibetan Buddhist Canon and Nyingma school texts that were in total 639 atlas size volumes. They were printed in limited editions and were archived in various libraries around the world to save guard the Buddhist teachings.
In the late 80’s it became possible to print texts in newly created Tibetan fonts and make them available in large numbers and share them with monks and lay people. In 1989 the first Nyingma Mon Lam Chenmo, the 10 days World Peace ceremony in Bodhgaya took place with 500 lamas and monks. This event was the place to offer free of charge the attendants, monks and laymen the books, sacred art and other types of offering.
Some of the texts that were offered are the Kanjur (the words of the Buddha) and Tanjur (commentaries about the words of the Buddha both were offered in several editions. Texts like the Prajnaparamitas (the perfection of wisdom) in various scales and many more. With the texts also sacred art such as, tankhas (Tibetan traditional sacred paintings), prayer wheels, butter lamps, Tsa Tsa (mini Stupa) were offered.
The path the texts follow from the initiation step up to handing over to the monks in Bodhgaya is highly elaborated and requires lots of skills and devotion. The process can be viewed from the bird’s eye as the following: Rinpoche develops plans to support students and the required texts. Texts are located in monasteries and plans are made for acquisition. The text is typed, proofread, corrected and edited. Rinpoche is the final editor of the texts. Then design and sacred art design are prepared under Rinpoche’s direction. After printing, the texts are collated, binding, stored and arranging customs issues. Then the books are transported to Bodhgaya where the texts are finally handed over to the practitioners!
After the Mon lam in 2015 an reflection of the ceremonies was prepared. The results are overwhelming.
- Almost 4 million books were offered in Bodhgaya.
- Over 300,000 books were offered to monasteries in Tibet.
- Total books have been offered is 4,379,232.
- Over 3.45 million thankas have been distributed since 1989
- 175,950 prayer wheels have been offered.
- Over 40 million butter lamps have been offered during the ceremonies.
- 426,000 participants joined the ceremonies during the period from 1989 to 2015 from 3,300 Nyingma monasteries who received the books.
- Also other Tibetan Buddhism schools such as Sakya, Geluk and Kagyu received books.
This project is the biggest text distribution in human history.
More renovation projects have been performed in the area to restore the ancient glory of Bodhgaya. The main projects are, creating a park with Peace Bell, butter lamps house and installations of toilets and more. The city is full with pilgrims from all streams and tourists who fill the city with liveliness.