Sangchen Ogyen Tsuklag Monastery Trongsa
Reconstruction of the main monastery and proposed Buddhist Academy
The reconstruction of Sangchen Ugyen Tsulag Monaster commonly known as Raphel Midren Lhakang located at Samcholing village under Trongsa County is to upheld the traditional Buddhist architecture equipped with modern facilities. It is approximately one and a half hours from the main Trongsa town. The temple is a further 10 minute walk from Samchoeling Middle Secondary School and temple is of two-story building with notably magnificent wall paintings.
Old temple and hostel of monk living at monastery have become too old to withstand any further weathering from harsh wind and rain. With this new project it will facilitate for proper accommodation of increasing number of monks studying at monastery. It will be much beneficial at organizing community exchange programs with local resident on different auspicious period like annual Tsechus (Three day Mask dance to commemorate birth of Guru Rimpoche) and Drupchens (Week long religious programs for the welfare of all sentient beings).
Head of the Monastery
Monla Khedrup Rinpoche Ugyen Tenzin Thinley Lhundrup was recognized and enthroned as the fifth successive reincarnation of Khedrup Jigme Kundrol who was an illustrious heart son of Jigme Lingpa. He graduated from Ngagyur Nyingma Colleger, Dehradun, India in 2006. Even before completion of his studies, present monastery was offered to him by local community on verge of collapsing. Since then he has been taking full responsibility of looking after Sangchen Ogen Tsukla Monastery and working tirelessly to uphold this historical Monastery founded upon the consort of Guru Rimpoche.
Rinpoche envisions to enlarge the monastery within the 4.4 acre land and make the world’s unique Buddhist University accommodating about 1500 Buddhist practitioners. It will also use as an accommodation for old age people.
Sangchen Ogyen Tsuklag Monastery
History of the Monastery
Monastery was founded in 8th century by the great female practitioner Khandro Tashi Khidren of Chhagkhar who was only the consort of Guru Rinpoche from Bhutan.
Tashi Khyidren had meditated in many places including Paro Taktshang(tiger nest), Singye Dzong etc. Among those holy places, Rephel Mindrol Lhakhang was the one where Tashi Khyidren had built her retreating place. The holy water revealed by Guru Rinpoche and Tashi Khyidren can be seen 15 meters away at the right side of the monastery, and the footprint of the riding horse is found behind the main temple. Later it has become the main seat of Rephel Lama Gyeltsen.
The name of the monastery was originally called “Mi Bran Lhakhang”( roughly it can be translated as “Don’t know where is Lhakhang”). It is said to be named by Second Jamgon Trulku. The reason behind is, the local people of Rephel had begun to renovate the Lhakhang and at the same time some of the patrons went to request for inviting Jamgon for the consecration of the Lhakhang from a year before the Lhakhang was fully renovated. So the next year when the Jamgon Trulku reached Taktse Tangchen Lhakhang to consecrate the temple, the work was still incompleted, and the inviters where ashamed and asked Jamgon to do the consecration ceremony from Taktse Lhakhang. So Jamgon performed the consecration puja without knowing where the Lhakhang was actually located and named it as Mi-bran Lhakhang.
Later this place became important sacred place for many masters including YabjeTenpai Nima, the father of the Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and the 10th Lhalung Thuksey Thekchog Tenpei Gyeltsen.
By 19th century, the temple was renovated again and upgraded to two storey by Jakar Dzongpon Chimi Dorji(the governer of Jakar), Ashi Lemo and Ashi Pema Dechen.
The monastery is the custodian of one of the most highly regarded religious treasures, a wall painting of Zhitro Lhatsog (a mandala of wrathful and calm form deity) from last 8thcentury, a spoken Buddha statue and treasure bell of Terton Sherab Mebar.
In late 2009, the people of Samcholing and Rephel community made a request to Khedrup Rinpoche to take over the monastery and made a request to the Royal Government of Bhutan to offer the monastery to Rinpoche. Rinpoche had accepted the request and gave a new name as Sangchen Ogyen Tsuklag. Today the monastery holds 20 monks and 2 teachers and a Khenpo. The monastery is mainly transmitting the glorious Longchen Nyingthik lineage which is heart essence drop teachings of Maha Sandhi(dzogpa chenpo) an unbroken lineage from Padma Sambhava till our present living masters. The temple is a religious landmark for the community, and hosts a number of religious events every year. Prayers and basic rituals are performed during auspicious days of the Bhutanese calendar.
His Eminence had a great vision to enlarge the monastery in the near future and make the world’s unique Buddhist University accommodating about 1500 Buddhist practitioners. It will also use as an accommodation for old age people.
The current structures of monastery have become old to withstand harsh climate and it has been weathering with passage of time. No major renovation was done since early 19th century and even the local have neglected Monastery. At time of renovation and building Drasha (hostel) surrounding temple having no basic foundation is one of the biggest challenge faced along with maintaining tradition valuable architects intact.
As the monastery is located at the outskirts of central Bhutan in remote village, expenditure of reconstruction project is quite high compared to others. All the materials need to be imported from neighboring towns located near Indian border. Funds generated through different platforms along with donations from various individuals and organizations are exhausting meeting above expenditure. It has drained out most of budget at the initial phase of reconstructions and there bigger worry of completing the current project with lack of funds.
Reconstruction project got started in 2015 under the guidance of His Eminence Khedrupchen Rinpoche. Foundation of reconstruction has been laid and it’s still not yet completed.