Has Guru Padmasambhava physically visited Sikkim is a question often asked by many rationalists. The Sikkimese speakers at the South Asian conference for the celebration of the birthday of Guru Padmasambhava held in Paro, Bhutan, organised by the Centre for Bhutan Studies and GNH research and sponsored by the Centre for Escalation of Peace Delhi, India convinced the audience that Guru Rinpoche indeed visited Sikkim and that Sikkim is the most sacred hidden land of Guru Rinpoche.

According to Guru’s prediction, Gyalwa Lhatsun Namkha Jigme revealed volumes of mind treasure texts. The two-day conference deliberated on the sacred places where Guru visited, performed his miraculous activities, including hiding of some sacred places and scriptures for the future generations.

In a tribute to Guru Rinpoche, a giant 110-foot Thongdrol of the Guru was displayed at Paro Rinpung Dzong in the presence of Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay. Participants of the conference, including scholars and spiritual leaders of the South Asian region, lit a thousand butter lamps.

Addressing the gathering, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said that the common and ancient spiritual heritage stemming from Guru Rinpoche is a vibrant strand of unity in the region. “Scholars, media and spiritual leaders from South Asia need to strengthen scholastic understanding of the importance of Guru Rinpoche through greater research and archaeology,” Lyonchoen Tshering Tobgay said.

The President for Centre of Bhutan Studies and GNH Research, Dasho Karma Ura, said that Guru Rinpoche left a lasting impact in the region, spreading cultural and spiritual values. However, for Bhutan, Guru Rinpoche’s influence is so profound that he in fact brought legal principles to the country when he first came to Bhutan at the invitation of the king of Bumthang, Sindhu Raja, to settle a conflict with neighbouring king of India, Naochhe, during the eighth century.

Former Thrimchi Lyonpo Sonam Tobgye said: “It was Guru Rinpoche who espoused the rule of law, even those that many legal scholars are wrestling with today”.

Professor Punya Prasad Paranjule, Professor of Buddhism and Himalayan Studies of Lumbini University, gave a brief power presentation of the places Guru Rinpoche visited and blessed in Nepal. However, he said that during the 240 years of the Hindu kingdom, many of these sacred places were marked as the dwelling places of Mahadev.

Lopon Tenpo Gyatsho, representing Sikkim, gave a brief description of the sacred sites that were hidden by Guru Rinpoche for future tantric revealers to explore so that his true followers of this era could once again connect to the wisdoms of Guru Rinpoche. He explained about the four sacred caves, and the heart of the sacred place, which is Tashiding, the Vajraasan of Vajrayana (Sangnak Gi Dorjiden) or the Bodhagaya of Vajrayana.

Khenpo Wangyal Dorjee Bhutia of Sikkim introduced Gyalwa Lhatsun Namkha Jigme and dwelt on the uniqueness of Drejong Zogchen, a great mind treasure of the Guru Rinpoche. Khenpo said that Gyalwa Lhatsun Namkha Jigme was the revealer of Rigzing Sogdrup and Rewo Sangchoe text, recited by all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Yet he himself remained a forgotten saint of the Nyingmapa world. “Even in Sikkim, Gyalwa Lhatsun Namkha Jigme did not receive much attention, although he is mentioned here and there.”

Guru Rinpoche said in Leu Dunpa text, his Vajra Voice: “Sangye Tenpa tharu Gyalpar zod”, meaning Buddha Dharma will eventually be revived from the border of Tibet, which is happening today. Today, when there is renewed interest even amongst the Westerners and scientists in particular to understand the science of mind of Buddhism, it is even more relevant to organise more of such conferences in the Himalayan belt to create awareness of the wealth of Buddhist philosophy that our treasure revealers have left for us.

More than two hundred of Lhatsün Namkha Jikmé’s writings, Accomplishing the Life-Force of the Vidyadharas and The Spontaneous Song of the Cloudshave, have survived. His Sungbums or biography is a treasure box deliberating on the science of mind. It is time for us to come out of the incubation.

The discussion in the conference saw professors and scholars from the Mahabodi Society of India trying to prove that Guru Rinpoche was indeed born in Odisha or Orrisa contrary to the general belief that he was born in Swat Valley in modern day Pakistan. Uddiyana, a scholar said, is in Odisha, not in the Swat valley. There is archaeological and historical evidence proving this, a member pointed out.

“Tibetans and Bhutanese should move away from the conventional destination of Uddiyana,” said (Dr) Sourendra Kumar Mohapatra, trustee of Maha Bodhi Society of India.

The conference concluded with a passionate presentation by Ven Professor Geshe Ngawang Samten, the vice chancellor of Central University of Tibetan Studies, saying that the root cause of imbalance in the world today is the lack of clear understanding of what we call education. He said that for a holistic education, it is important to incorporate the three root teachings of Buddha – good conduct or morality (Shila), mental development or meditation (Samadhi) and finally wisdom or insight (Prajna) into our education system.

He praised the Bhutanese government for its continuous effort in walking the path of Buddha and that the philosophy of Gross National Happiness is the only way for a sustainable development.

Contributed by  Jamyang Dorjee Chakrishar

The writer is a retired civil servant of Government of Sikkim and a master calligrapher