On Friday, 15 September at the Tabernacle in Notting Hill, six Tibetan Buddhist Monks from one of the largest Monastic Universities of His Holiness The Dalai Lama will be giving residents and visitors the opportunity to be transported to the Himalayas. Witnessing a stunning and mystical cultural experience of multi-phonic chanting and sacred performance visitors will be given a glimpse of ancient temple activities.
The monks are based in the Gaden Ngari Khangtsen Monastery, exiled in Mundgod, India. Their visit to the UK is part of a world tour and the purpose of the tour is to raise awareness of ancient Tibetan culture and traditions and engage with communities around the globe to promote world peace.
Their presence and their practise is very powerful for clearing negativity, dispelling fear, healing and protection and encouraging peace in the areas they perform. There is a very strong recognition and empathy for the fact that there is much disturbance and suffering in the UK at this time. This is why the Gaden Ngari Monks feel it is very important that they bring the wisdom of their teachings and share great love and compassion with the people of our nation and particularly this area of London after the recent tragedy at Grenfell Tower.
This mesmerising one-and-a-half-hour stage performance combines multiphonic chanting and music into an unforgettable experience. The pieces are drawn from authentic temple activities, performed for thousands of years in Tibet and the ancient rhythms and colorful intricate costumes delight audiences of all ages.
The event is open to all and has great appeal to a very wide audience of all ages, religions and beliefs inspiring art, music and culture lovers alongside spiritual seekers of all races, cultures and faiths simply looking for ways to encourage more peace and harmony, both in themselves and their communities and the world.
The monks use multiphonic chanting known as zokkay (complete chord). Each of the main chant masters simultaneously intones three notes, thus each individually creating a complete chord. The Tibetans are the only culture on earth that cultivates this most extraordinary vocal ability.
The first half of the performance is of a spiritual nature, which will oﬀer the audience a chance to experience the ancient Buddhist chants and sacred rituals. All these rituals are deeply meaningful and symbolic. The second half of the performance is a cultural performance.
The Gaden Ngari Monks History
When Je Tsongkhapa (1357-1419) studied, researched, practiced and incorporated the salient features of all existing traditions of Buddhism in Tibet into one practice, young minds even from remote regions of northern India and others across the northern Himalayan belt also rode and trekked the long route into central Tibet, to study at his feet at Gaden Monastic University (founded 1914).
As the number of such foreign students and spiritual aspirants grew, Ngari Chikhang (“common house for scholars from Ngari region”) was opened at Tsongkhapa’s monastery. Owing to its helpfulness and success, the Chikhang gradually became Ga-shar Ngari Khangtsan (“Ngari administrative house at Gaden Shartse Monastery”). It continued to receive and house and care for these students. After their studies, some returned to their native regions, and infused their regions perennial way of life and belief with the fresh vigour and sublimity of the wisdom and method of liberations from suffering and deep compassion and understanding towards all beings, giving existence and life itself a new dimension and meaning.
When Communist China entered and later overran Tibet in March 1959, like many other monastic institutions, only seven members of Ngari Khangstan managed to escape to India. The rest died, dispersed, or disappeared behind prisons in Tibet. When Gaden monks, now refugees in India, shifted en masse and moved from the 1st Tibetan refugee transit camp at Buxa Duar in Bihar to South India in 1967 to start life as refugees in agricultural settlements, two out of these three came: Lozang Khyenrab and Lozang Sherab.
Exile from Tibet – Life in India
As Tibetans began their life in exile in the lush green countryside of South India, Lozang Khyenrab (49) and Sherab (35) dedicated their life to the reestablishment of Gaden Shartse Monastery. Lozang Khyenrab was asked to lead the monastery’s religious services branch in Shillong, India’s eastern state that borders on Yangon (Burma), to give solace and advice to surviving Tibetan refugees, perform religious services and to send any donations that trickled in to the south.
Sherab joined the new administrative board of Gashar Monastery serving, on a voluntary basis without any remuneration (as all monastic posts are even to this day) for three consecutive terms of three years. While at this post, he continued to attend on Ven. Lati Rinpoche who was reviving Shartse monastery from its very roots in India.
While the two last members submerged themselves in the larger undertaking of re-establishing their monastery, Ngari Khangtsan, the administrative house for Indo-Tibetan race from the northernmost regions of India, began to sink into neglect.
Gashar Ngari Khangtsan Today
With no mass base within the Tibetan exile community, too small for the Indian government to take any notice, Ngari Khangtsan languished. It could not do anything for itself, as its two members were occupied elsewhere. In a monastic college like Shartse, students live and are cared for in hostels provided by their respective administrative houses. Some built large hostels: others, modest ones. But Ngari Khangtsan had none. Some new students came, became house students or our two elder members, and were housed in an abandoned shelter at the edge of the monastery which earned the name “police check post”. Young students came – and left, after they had had enough of the “check post” which had no proper amenities such as water and hygienic conditions.
Taking out whatever money they had collected and saved over the period of nearly a decade and half since 1967, and with additional help from Ven. Lati Rinpoche and Ven. Lochen Rinpoche, Lozang Khyenrab and Sherab built a modest eight-room, single-storey hostel in 1980.
With the new hostel arrived new students. These young students, aged between 8-14, were either orphans, from extremely poor families, or from parents who wanted their children educated in their own culture.
The number of students joining has grown steadily since then. The earliest students who came and stayed, have become young and responsible Buddhist monks with piety and gentleness in their hearts. They have become responsible members. Each year as they return to their border regions below the Himalayas, they bring to their native lands a fresh and better understanding and appreciation of their region’s centuries-old way of life. Creating new respect for their centuries old way of life.
Ngari Khangtsen today has a total of about 200 students of all ages including workers, teachers and administrators. Though the number of students and members has increased more than twenty times, there has not been any increase in terms of living facilities. Within the hostel built about three decades back, six to eight students share a room by sleeping on the floor at night. Those who cannot be accommodated live in makeshift shelters or on rent. As it is not possible to go on continuing like this in the future, Ven. Sherab, the sole surviving member of Ngari Khangtsen from Tibet in 1959, who is currently completing a three-year retreat, has conveyed that he would be able to die in peace if a new hostel could be built where all the members of Ngari Khangtsen can live together as one family under one roof. Thus was born the idea for a cultural fund raising tour for Ngari Khangtsen.
About six centuries ago, when native students from these regions first went to Tibet, it was to acquire first-hand knowledge of a part of the world’s finest civilisations that were preserved in Tibet. Returning to their native surroundings they shared the knowledge and insight of living life in peace and harmony with nature with their native indigenous people. Their way of living has survived to this day. At the threshold of the 21st century, the same challenge of the survival of an indigenous way of life still looms, with perhaps even greater stakes. The young natives, born centuries apart, but nurturing the same faith and dream, are taking a stand through understanding and compassion.
All funds raised during this tour will be used to build hostels for orphaned and disadvantaged children that the Monastery takes care of and to help with a project to build a library and school.
Each of the offerings brought by the Gaden Ngari Monks to our shores have been conceived and arranged with the utmost care on the basis of their authenticity, benefit to audience members and all sentient beings.
By your support, by your purchases, by your concern and interest, you will help them to stand on their own feet and work even harder to meet their challenges.
The monks are available for private healing appointments.
Harrow Arts Centre
Performance: Saturday, 9 September, 7.30-9pm
For tickets: www.harrowarts.com
35 Powis Sq, off Portobello Rd
Performance: Friday, 15 September, 7.30-9pm
For tickets www.tabernaclew11.com
Sacred Sand Mandala:
Heath Robinson Museum
50 West End Lane
Opening Ceremony: Friday, 8 September, 10am
Mandala Construction: Friday and Saturday, 10-5pm
Closing Ceremony: Sunday, 10 September, 12pm