Ven. Tulku Damchoe Rinpoche
Hinang Thrangu Tashi Chopheling Monastery was built in Nubri, Nepal, by Ven. Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, and he consecrated the monastery in April 2009. Tulku Damcho Rinpoche formally accepted the role of spiritual head of Nubri Thrangu Monastery. Every year, the monastery offers Mani (Chenrezig) pujas, Guru Rinpoche pujas and Mahakala Pujas for the residents of the region. There is also a free medical clinic to serve the locals as well.
The monastery currently has 20 monk students from ages 4 to 13. Children begin with learning the alphabet, spelling, reading, and proceed to the memorization of prayers and other relevant texts and observing daily monastic rules and regulations.
They also learn various ritual arts, metrical rhymes, trumpet, making tormas, etc. As they proceed to higher classes, they learn grammar, prosody or literary science. English and arithmetic are also taught. After completion of their studies at the monastery, they will be sent to Namo Buddha Shree Mangal Dvip Branch School for further studies.
In the high Himalayas of northern Nepal near the border of Tibet lies the area known as Nubri and the village of Kemanlung. Nubri is located in the province of Gorkha at an altitude of over 4000 meters. This area is very remote and is a seven-day walk from the nearest road. Most people in Nubri manage a subsistence living by farming and animal herding.
Ultimately, Nubri has only its raw untouched beauty and the blessings of Dharma. Difficult transportation and the lack of communication prevent the outside world from encroaching; remoteness and inaccessibility provide a serene and undisturbed environment perfect for the practice of Dharma.
The Nubri Thrangu Monastery is the central monastery in the region and there are few outlying monasteries. The people seek out the Thrangu monks for their requests for prayers because they have great confidence in the Nubri religious community and hold it in high esteem.
Due to the remote area, life at the monastery is very hard. Even obtaining the bare essentials is problematic. Food and groceries have to be bought in the market in the lowlands biweekly; then goods are carried on mule back loaded with five quintals of rice, meal and flour.
It is Rinpoche's aim that all the young monks should get a Buddhist education along with a modern education. So in 2010 the young monks started to go to school in the nearby village called Lhi, a one-hour walk from the monastery. There, the young monks receive a modern education along with the lay children of the villages.
Every year, a Mani Puja is organized at the monastery. Monks from Thrangu Monastery in Kathmandu are invited to perfom puja. During mani puja, lay people from the nearby villages come to recite mani mantras. All the food and other commodities are provided by the monastery. At the end of the puja, Ven Tulku Damcho gives a teaching to the villagers.
The main aim of doing this Mani Puja is to encourage all villagers to practice Dharma continuously with more energy and enthusiasm.
Currently, there are twenty three young monks, a teacher, and a manager of the Monastery. Every two or three years, new staff monks from the main monastery are appointed to the Nubri monastery.
Most of the food is brought from the nearby market called Arugat. It takes 3 to 4 days each way to travel down to the market and return to the monastery. All the food is carried on mules. The porters may take 7 to 8 days to reach the monastery and they charge NRS.130-150 per kg.
There is now a health clinic and a school. When people get a serious sickness, it is very difficult for them to reach the main city quickly for a checkup. This health clinic is a great boon to the villagers.
Most of the people in the area engage in subsistence farming, working from morning to sunset in the fields. They want their small children to get a good education, but they cannot afford to send them away to school in the city. The monastery in Nubri gives children the chance to practice and learn Buddhism; they receive a modern education as well, and their parents can easily see their children any time. The monastery is striving to provide good facilities and educational opportunies for the people of the area.
In the future, the monastery is planning to build the eight auspicious stupas round the monastery. There is also a plan to construct a new hostel for the young monks. There is only one hostel now, and it might not be adequate in the future when the number of monks increases.