HISTORY ABOUT THE GONJANG MONASTERY
Gonjang Monastery Terton Shakya Zangpo’s sixth reincarnation Rigzin Pema Choephel (1773-1836) studied from Rigzin Kunzang Dorje who was the spiritual son of previous Rinpoche. He was intelligent, kindhearted and very bold since his childhood. He was great scholar and poet had written many valuable texts. He also took renovations to the fabric of the Great Stupa as his predecessors.
In the early 19th century, it was Rigzin Pema Choephel who was also responsible to construct the first ever Gonjang Monastery at Tingkey, Tsang province which was named as “Gonjang Samten Choephug”. It is said that when Rigzin Kunzang Dorje (spiritual heart son of the fifth Yolmopa and the spiritual teacher of sixth Yolmopa) was under regorous meditation practice at a cave which is situated on the north of Zar and Phukut village in Tsang Tingkye, attained the stage of highest realization or complete accomplishment through his unwavering contampletion. 5th Yolmo Tulku Rigzin Thutop Dorje visited the cave and bestowed his fiscal teaching to his heart son Rigzin Kunzang Dorje along with many disciples. He was overjoyed by hearing the achievement of his heart son. He also blessed this cave as a sacred place or an ideal place for the establishment of Dharma center. In advance, he gave the name of Gonpa as “Gonjang Samten Choephug:”. (Gonjang – Monastery at north, Samten – contemplation, Choephug – sacred cave)
Hence the Gonjang Monastery came into being and thereafter successive Yolmo Tulkus were named as Gonjang Tulkus. Rigzin Pema Choephel dedicated his whole life in search of knowledges for the sake of others. He gave more important in spiritual and acadamic development. Therefore the construction of images and gonpas, collection of rare and invaluable scriptures, acadamic studies were his first priority, for these are the source of gaining insight knowledge. They represent the preservation of body, speech and mind of Buddha.
During his tenure, he collected volumnious religious texts both sutras and Mantra such as two sets of “Kagyur and Tengyur” (Buddhist canon of Tripitaka and its commentaries) and two sets of “Nyingma Gyud Bhum” (Esotric tantric texts of Nyingma school) which are extremely difficult to find.
Some of his divine activities were highly appreciable such as constructions of many Bridges and saving the life of living beings which are so beneficial to boundless beings. It is very important to note here that a set of “Nyingma Gyud Bhum” Text was brought here in India by the desciple of Gonjang Rinpoche was the main source of its publication in India after 1959 invasion. (Published by H.H. Dilgo Khyentse, New Delhi).
Xth Yolmopa the present Tingkey Gonjang Rinpoche is trained traditionally under several renowned Nyingmapa masters. After completing his studies and practices, three year retreat under the Guidance of H.H. Dodrup Rinpoche. His Chagzod Thardel Dorje initiated for the construction of Monastery. The foundation stone of Gonjang Monastery at Gangtok was laid by H.H. the XIVth Dalai Lama in the year 1981. It was started from the small group of monk students in the Sheda. It has emerged as one of the prime center of Buddhist learning in Sikkim. The main objective of this organization is for the preservation and development of our rich culture in this part of the world.
Being rather backward and destitute the establishment of this organization is inevitable so as to promote and educate the younger generation both physically and mentally.
Our monastery cum Shedra was recognized and registered under Sikkim government. We have now about 100 students that are studying in the institute. Monk students are taught all kinds of monastic education along with Tibetan language and English. Comparative studies of Indian and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy based on moral values are taught. Gonjang Institute is for complete nine years course similar to other Nyingma institute like; H.H. Penor Rinpoche’s Nyingma Institute in Mysore, South India. Annual examinations are held every year. We also invite renowned scholars and Rinpoches to our Institute and organized talks and lectures on Buddhism, language, culture and religious discourse and other subject to impart and promote higher understanding of our profound teaching among our students.