On Sunday, January 6, 2008, a celebration was held at Sakya Monastery in honor of the completion of the Sakya Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism. Founded by H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya, the monastery has been continually engaged in remodeling and construction since 1984.
The celebration included a rare viewing of the monastery’s two protector deity statues. The protector deity statues at Sakya Monastery have been under construction for two years. Their completion signifies the completion of the monastery itself and has been a lifelong dream of H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya.
All Tibetan Buddhist monasteries contain representations of the Buddha’s body, speech, and mind. The body is represented by the statues and the speech by the Dharma texts (specifically, the collection of texts called the Tenjur and Kenjur which constitute the Buddhist canon.) The mind of the Buddha is represented by the stupa. Protector deity statues are necessary in order to protect these three representations of the Buddha, as well as to protect Dharma practitioners.
Protector deity statues are revered by all four seats of Tibetan Buddhism. The statues of Mahakala, a 13th level bodhisattva, and Palden Lhamo, the wrathful manifestation of Sarasvati and tutelary deity of the Sakya Phuntsok Phodrang, were consecrated by H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya and monks in Sakya Monastery on December 11, 2007.
These exquisite sacred works were hand-molded by two renowned artists from Bhutan. The statues were painted by Lama Migmar Tsering from Jyekundo Monastery in Kham, East Tibet. Lama Migmar is a sculptor and painter and has worked for Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in many Asian countries.
The protector deity statues may be viewed only on rare occasions and are not permitted to be photographed.
Sakya Monastery has been greatly blessed by H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya’s daily presence as well as by many Tibetan lamas of all four sects of Tibetan Buddhism who have taught and bestowed initiations at the monastery. The monastery was especially blessed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama who consecrated it in 1993.
Over the past 24 years many people have assisted in the building of the monastery. Outstanding among them is John Vichorek, who dedicated every Saturday over the past two decades to assisting H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya with engineering projects. The generous contributions—both monetary and physical—from patrons, supporters, and monastery members have made this great project a reality.
Contributor: Laura Ellis
Photo: Courtesy of Sakya Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism